Mandatory Disclaimer: The following does not constitute medical advice.  Please consult a physician before making any dietary or health-related lifestyle changes.

I’m not going to regurgitate the same advice that’s been plastered all over the internet–having a regular sleep schedule, keeping your bedroom cool and dark, etc.  Don’t get me wrong, this common knowledge has helped me, but you can just google it if you need a reminder.  The following is a list of uncommon tips that I’ve discovered that help me fall and stay asleep.

#1 – Eye see what you did there.  Close your right eye, or your left eye, depending on which is your dominant eye.  When you close the dominant eye, your brain has more difficulty keeping your fellow eye awake.  If you’re not sure which eye is dominant, visit your optometrist and s/he can tell you.

#2 – I have a blue house with a blue window.  If you have a Samsung or an iPhone, turn on your blue filter–all day, and not just at night.  You’ll get used to how your phone looks in no time.  Near blue light is excitatory and can disrupt your circadian rhythm.

#3 – Put your eggs in more baskets.  Trouble sleeping is often related to anxiety–waiting for someone to get back to you about a job, a date, an important purchase.  Spread your eggs out and you’ll worry less.

#4 – Rock-a-bye Baby.  Put yourself out there.  Go out on a limb, and do it often.  The more you put yourself out there, the more you’ll get rejected (though the frequency with which you get rejected will decrease).  Experience with rejection turns down the volume on the rest of your life.

#5 Ohmmm.  Ohmmm.  Seriously, learn to meditate.  This is probably my least favorite thing to do, but a reliable last resort when nothing else works.

#6 – Ice ice baby.  Exercise and a cool shower wakes most people up, but I find it puts me to sleep right afterwards.

#7 – No caffeine after lunch.

#8 – No sugar 2 hours before bed.

#9 – Don’t live in a cave.  I don’t recommend complete black-out curtains, 85-90% is better I think.  That little bit of light in the morning will help you wake up easier, which will help you fall asleep easier the following night.

#10 – Wear a “thundershirt.”  My dog prefers full-on nakey, but I’ve found the combination of a well-fitted shirt and a cool bedroom helps me mellow out and sunset into sweet deep sleep.

#11 –  Wear socks to bed.  It helps during those cold winter months.

#12 – Crack a window open, in a room other than your bedroom.  I keep my bedroom window closed to help control noise and temperature, but that bit of fresh air trickling in from the other side of the house does wonders for regulating my breathing and preventing nightmares.

#13 – Yare Yare.  Read a Japanese visual novel.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve fallen asleep reading Steins;Gate.  Thanks Kurisu!

#14 – Learn from the massage parlors…  If your inability to sleep is due to a dry throat, try a humidifier.

#15 – Learn from the koalas…  If your inability to sleep is due to a post-infective cough, try rubbing eucalyptus oil on your chest, neck, philtrum, and soles of your feet.

#16 – Learn from Seneca…  Limit your time on facebook.  Personally, I login only once/week.

“Associating with people in large numbers is actually harmful: there is not one of them that will not make some vice or other attractive to us…”

Discipline is Happiness

It seems whenever I let myself go even for just a few days (assuming I hadn’t planned to), something falls apart–I get fat, I make a mistake at work, I get fat, I forget how to write, I get bored, I get depressed, I begin ruminating on past injustices, I have to do damage control on a relationship, damage control on a friendship, damage control on my dog, who has gotten fat–you get the idea.

When I stick to the plan, everything clicks.  I’m content and even-keeled.  My body delivers on the energy I need.  I do my work.  I do my writing.  I do other things… and I fit into my jeans!  And my dog looks good!  And I look good!  And everything is so good!–so why–WHY–do I ever let myself go?  Why does anyone let themselves go?  I’m still trying to figure that out…

But the answer seems to do with payoff.  Things you have to do, have an immediate and/or guaranteed payoff: food, money, pleasure, stress relief, a sense of completion.  Things you ought to do, have an uncertain payoff.  Is this book even going to get published?  Am I even going to lose weight?  Am I going to just get rejected?  Am I just WASTING MY TIME?

Still, I find the alternative–a kind of relentless ennui–to be far worse.  So I get back on that train and I get back to work.  And you know what?  It gets easier.  That hollowness we all sometimes feel shrinks another 1%.  And you feel better because for today at least, you’ve made progress.  Don’t worry about tomorrow yet.  Just one step at a time, one foot in front of the other.

Summer Rain

When I was single in New York, I loved it. I had already decided I would be ok being single for the rest of my life and could even live happily that way. But there were some nights that were out-of-the-blue brutal, especially in the summer, where I was like “Fuuuuuuu…. I just wish I had someone right now.” That was when I wrote out this poem, line by line, and unlike my usual writing style, left it unedited. I wanted to honor it for what it was: an outpouring of emotion, in written form.

Peaches on the table
Clothes on the floor
A tippy-tap at the window
And no one at the door.

A continual burning
Of a candlelit flame
And the warmth of your body
Amidst the cool summer rain.

Shut Up and Do Nothing

I talk a lot about action.  My favorite philosophy book: the Bhagavad Gita.  For me, no other philosophy is as applicable today as when it was written. Still, non-action is occasionally preferable to action.

For example, shutting up during a negotiation until your counterpart stumbles or buckles under the pressure.

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The Jealousy Cure

a full gas tank

In my experience, I’ve found only 2 ways to effectively deal with jealousy.  Fortunately (or unfortunately), some of my friends are better-looking than me, taller than me, make more money than me, and are more popular with the ladies…

…Not that it’s a competition, but let’s face it, sometimes it is.  And sometimes, it sure feels like you’re getting creamed.

One way to deal with jealousy is to tear the other person down.  Diffuse.  Detract.  Talk trash.  Obviously this is a very low-level way of coping, but sometimes you can’t help it and boy, does it feel good, am I right?

Just kidding.  Or, perhaps, half-kidding.

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