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Memo From JB: A Happier Life

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My 10 tips for turning your frown upside down.

By JB Hager, Photo by Rudy Arocha

As we approach the 2016 halfway mark, i’ve been contemplating about this undoubtedly difficult year so far. We’ve lost several iconic celebrities, which punched a lot of people right in the gut. We’ve had some national tragedy that broke our hearts. Add to that political buffoonery that has made the TV show Jersey Shore seem like an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.  I’ve come up with 10 easy things you can do to make your life better for the remaining half of 2016, or to, as your mother would say, “turn that frown upside down.”

1. Take a break from social media. Trust me, you are going to make it through the day without seeing Kim Kardashian’s posterior or a dachshund in a hot-dog-bun costume. Social media is mostly negative. For every lion hugging the man that freed him a decade ago, there is one grabbing an idiot tourist by the camera strap.

2. Ride a bike that is far too big for you. I know that sounds weird, but it immediately, whether consciously or subconsciously, makes you feel like a kid again and takes you back to simpler times. If you crash and need first aid, definitely use a bandage displaying your favorite superhero.

3. Fire a toxic friend. One of the best things I ever learned came from money guru Suze Orman, who explained that after the age of 40, you should have the courage to get rid of your toxic, energy- sucking, why-am-I-friends-with-them friends. You know that person who has to one-up every story you share? She’s fired! It’s liberating.

4. Stop watching local news. They are desperate and in the scare business. They have completely lost all standards and reality when it comes to instilling fear in your life: “Shark attack on African Coast dismembers swimmer. How many sharks are in Lady Bird Lake? Find out tonight at 10.”

5. Adopt a ridiculous pet. I got a sickly, wiry, death-row puppy who’s so ugly he’s cute. My daughter has a pet pig. He grunts for food when he sees me. I pretty much laugh every single time I enter my house.

6. This is not a very popular thing to do at my house, but I occasionally sneak up on my wife and scare her. I don’t do so with a loud yell or grab. I just quietly walk up and lurk about her periphery. It’s so worth the slap in retaliation. Isn’t it weird that her momentary fear brings me joy? Be careful doing this with some Texans, as many are armed.  7. Stop going to couple’s dinners. My wife loves these. My theory is that she is just bored with me after 18 years of marriage. Apparently, being alone with me for an entire evening is daunting. Given today’s divorce rate, two people wanting to be together is miraculous enough; four or more is downright impossible.

8. Watch Game of Thrones. I’m a big fan of the show. Although it’s never mentioned when the story takes place, it’s safe to say it is not the Summer of Love, 1969. There is no shortage of methods to be killed, dismembered or boiled, sometimes all three, and often by a family member. It should make you realize your spouse’s snoring can be tolerated.

9. Find a place you like to go eat when looking, possibly even smelling, horrific. My wife and I found a dive restaurant and bar near us that we honestly have no problem going to after a full day of yard work. No shower? Off we go. It settles those “I don’t want to get cleaned up but there’s nothing in the fridge” evenings.

10. Last but not least, my favorite thing to cheer me up is to go to a 24-hour WalMart after midnight and just look around. If that’s not a confidence and attitude booster, I don’t know what is.

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