Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
Pretty good day
Simple habits to make any day better. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
About a month ago I wrote a sort of stream of conscious listicle for Inc.com: 101 Very Simple Habits That Will Improve Your Life Today. Little things like:
"Think of two people you can introduce to each other. Then offer to do it," or
"Learn a phrase in another language," or
"If you can go on a boat, go on a boat."
Then, I got the idea to do a second, similar article. Quite a few readers chimed in with suggestions, and we ran it.
(I’m not sure I’ll do this a third time, but if you have similar suggestions, I’d love to feature them in a comments.)
#4. Eat real oatmeal. Top it with nuts, cinnamon, and fruit.
You can replace this with whatever your go-to, hearty breakfast might be, but if I'm eating well in the morning and I’m not eating eggs, I'm probably eating oatmeal.
My wife gets all the credit for this; I doubt I had oatmeal more than a few times in my life until she introduced me to it her way. It’s a good way to start any day.
#8. Drive at the speed limit or lower in areas where there are pedestrians.
Maybe this is a sign that I’m getting older, but I've definitely become the guy who drives no higher than the speed limit on surface streets, and who maybe annoys the younger version of himself driving behind him.
Interstates and other limited access highways are another story. But you reach a point in life -- or at least did -- where you realize that there are too many times when a slightly higher speed, or a slightly slower reaction, could have resulted in tragedy. So if there are people walking and biking, I really feel like there's not much worth risking for the rush.
#33. If you see someone who looks like they're having a bad day, drop a $5, $10 or even $20 on the ground near them, and then tell them: "I think you dropped something."
My grandfather has been gone for almost 40 years, God rest his soul, but this was his trick. I don't remember if I saw him do it (probably not) or he told me about it (possible) or my mom or one of my aunts explained it (most likely).
The point is that you can give someone a bit of charity while also letting them retain their pride. You know you dropped the money. They know you dropped the money. But, you can both just suspend our disbelief.
#58. Look up an old boss you haven't talked to in a long time, and tell them you learned things from them you still use today.
One of the nice benefits of writing this newsletter is that from time to time I get to mention one of my mentors years ago, Barbara Johnson, a lovely person and a much better trial attorney than I was, and who died as as result of cancer 20 years ago.
I can't tell her how much I appreciate her, but I can tell a lot of other people! Every time I’ve done it I’ve felt better all day.
#70. Tell a mom or dad -- especially if they look tired -- that you think they have a beautiful family.
I like these sort of "all purpose compliments" that you can file away.
#82. Hold a door for a lot of people. You'll rarely have so many strangers thank you in quick succession.
I had *just* had this happen before I wrote the list. I went to pick up dinner for my family at a Chinese restaurant, and ran straight into a family reunion; probably 30 people walked through the door as I held it. It got to be pretty funny.
#98. On a clear night, spend 10 minutes just staring at the stars.
Honestly, I should do this more often.
#99. Reach out to someone you went to school with just to say hi. If you feel odd doing this, think of a specific story and tell them it popped in your head and prompted your call.
Last summer, one of my friends from grade school many many many years ago reached out, having put 2+2 together after reading an article and realizing that the Billy Murphy he knew back in like 5th grade might be Bill Murphy Jr. now.
Having written this suggestion, I took myself up on it and we did a video call last week. I'm not going to say we picked things up just like it was 40 years ago, exactly. I mean, that would be a lot to ask. But it was a good feeling to connect, and a great start to the day.
Hmmm. I like the way these turned out. But once agan, if you’ve got another simple habit to improve your daily life, let us know in the comments.
7 other things worth knowing today
A bipartisan* group of Senators is talking about raising the retirement age on Social Security to 70. Other options on the table include changing the existing formula that calculates monthly benefits from one based on a worker’s average earnings over 35 years to a different formula that’s based instead on the number of years spent working and paying into Social Security. (Semafor)
Nearly 200 people have been arrested for alleged poor building construction following the catastrophic earthquake that struck Turkey earlier this month, Turkey’s Justice Ministry said. About 50,000 people were killed across Turkey and Syria after the earthquake struck on February 6. (CNN)
Hong Kong is lifting its mask mandate, one of the last such policies in the world. Starting Wednesday, people will no longer be required to wear masks indoors, outdoors or on public transportation, though facilities like hospitals and nursing homes can still require employees and visitors to wear them, Mr. Lee said. Previously, those who failed to wear masks in public were fined about $635. (NYT)
A sugar replacement called erythritol – used to add bulk or sweeten stevia, monkfruit and keto reduced-sugar products – has been linked to blood clotting, stroke, heart attack and death, according to a new study. “The degree of risk was not modest,” said lead study author Dr. Stanley Hazen, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute. (CNN)
Today’s U.S. active-duty force abuses alcohol 20% more than the general population, smokes 50% more, and has a 17% obesity rate. What about the Army lifestyle explains how America’s healthiest 1% can become so unhealthy? Basically, an army major argues that AAFES -- what people might still think of as "the PX" from old movies -- should stop selling no-tax alcohol junk food, and other stuff. (Military Times)
Just a few hours before President Carter underwent his first radiation treatment for brain cancer in 2015, he spoke of his hope, in the time he had left, to purge the world of a parasitic worm disease. “I’d like the last Guinea worm to die before I do,” the 39th president told reporters. The 98-year-old, now in hospice at home in Plains, Ga., is on the cusp of reaching his goal: The number of reported human cases dwindled in 2022 to 13 — an all-time low. (LA Times)
Homicide clearance rates have decreased to their lowest level from 71 per cent in 1980 to around 50 per cent in 2020, according to analyses of FBI data by the Marshall Project and Murder Accountability Project. Although US police have solved more murders than in any year since 1997, because of the increasing number of homicides, the clearance rate has dramatically declined to a little below 50 per cent. (Daily Mail)
[Great response yesterday! Want to suggest a link for a future edition of “7 Other Things?” Here’s how!]