25 Essential Pieces of Advice That Everyone Tends to Ignore
Honesty really is the best policy.
Whether it’s warranted or not, you’re bound to come across snippets of advice from various friends, family members, and other folks in your life. However, in between all the platitudes you’ll find on a greeting card—like “absence makes the heart grow fonder” or “life is a journey, not a destination”—there are actually some untarnished gems out there that are actually worth listening to. To remind you that sometimes clichéd sayings are clichéd for a reason, we’ve rounded up the most essential pieces of advice you need to start hearing and heeding stat.
“Don’t worry what other people think.”
Even if you say this all the time to others, you need to be listening to it, as well. The fact is, people don’t judge you as harshly as you think—and there’s science to prove it.
One 2001 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology notes that “people’s excessive fear of social censure often comes back to haunt them.” The researchers behind the study advise that individuals “put aside some of their concern about others’ reactions when deciding what choices to make in life,” seeing as the negative thoughts are often much worse in their heads. So next time, pause before obsessing over what someone’s look or text message really meant.
“Timing is everything.”
When it comes to your love life, your career, or in any other aspect of life, timing really is everything. For instance, look at actor Jason Statham. His Olympic-diving goals fell short, but had he made it to the big leagues, he might have never been scouted as a model, or kickstarted a massive, franchise-leading Hollywood career, including roles in the Transporter franchise and the Fast and the Furious movies.
“Honesty is the best policy.”
While we’d all like to think our little white lies don’t do that much damage, that’s not always the case. According to a 2016 study in Nature Neuroscience, those little white lies add up—steadily desensitizing our brains to dishonesty. According to researchers, it’s a “slippery slope” in that “what begins as small acts of dishonesty can escalate into larger transgressions.”
“A little kindness goes a long way.”
Having a nasty attitude only begets a nasty response. Even if someone is rude to you, being kind to them can show them that there is some good in the world, while being equally rude will only feed on their negative behavior.
Actually, there is proof that small acts of kindness benefit not just those on the receiving end, but those doing them as well via what’s known as the “positive feedback loop.” “Engaging in one kind deed (e.g., taking your mom to lunch) would make you happier, and the happier you feel, the more likely you are to do another kind act,” says psychologist Lara Aknin, who’s studied the subject.
“Get seven to eight hours of sleep every night.”
Getting enough sleep is vital to your well-being. Not snoozing for the suggested seven to eight hours nightly can lead to weight gain, heart problems, and issues with your immune system. In fact, your life could depend on getting the recommended hours of sleep each night. According to a 2010 meta-analysis on sleep duration published in the journal Sleep, people who reported consistently sleeping five hours or less per night have a 12 percent higher risk of all-cause mortality.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
As this age-old saying urges, making assumptions about someone else does not make you look, or feel, any better. Making assumptions can actually lead to spirals of negative thinking.
“We unconsciously make assumptions and judgments about (1) other people’s behavior, (2) other people’s intentions behind their behavior, and (3) our own behavior and intentions,” explains licensed marriage and family counselor Diane Zimberoff. “Our assumptions are directly related to what we project onto others.”
“Life has a way of working itself out.”
Life will never give you everything you want—but that’s okay! Sometimes, through not getting what you want, you end up exactly where you need to be.
Need proof? Look at Steven Spielberg. He was rejected three times by the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, and, wound up at California State University, Long Beach. While he was there, he was offered an unpaid internship at Universal Studios that kick-started his career. Suffice it to say that—with four Academy Awards—everything worked out pretty well for Spielberg.
People aren’t nagging you to put on sunscreen just to hear themselves talk. Rather, this piece of advice is for your own benefit: Per one 2018 study published in JAMA Dermatology, wearing sunscreen regularly can reduce your risk of developing melanoma by 40 percent.
And don’t think that the end of summer also means the end of your sunscreen use. According to Amy Strohmaier PA-C, a dermatology physician assistant at Suncoast Skin Solutions in Florida, sporting sunscreen in the winter is vital, too. Why? The UVA rays that can cause wrinkles and cancer are just as prevalent in the winter months as they are in the summer months.
“Always be nice to customer service representatives.”
It’s not always easy to be on your best behavior when dealing with customer service representatives—but remember, they’re human too! Not only will lashing out ruin their work day, but it might also cause a chain reaction for the dozens of customers who will later have to deal with this representative who’s now in a bad mood.
“The reality is that our negative customer service experiences are far more memorable than our positive ones,” Bill Crutcher, the president of the National Customer Service Association, explained to ABC News. “We typically embellish those negative events to anyone that will listen, thereby affecting the original source business well beyond that single frustrated customer.”
“Don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.”
Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is a recipe for one thing: overspending. In fact, University of Minnesota researchers found that hungrier shoppers spent 64 percent more money than those who were less hungry—not just on food-related items, but also on things like clothing.
“Don’t make emotional decisions.”
Heightened emotions—and anger especially—can cloud a person’s judgment. It’s unsurprising, then, that researchers at University College London found that most irrational behavior stems from the inability to ignore emotions. The study authors hypothesize that “more ‘rational’ individuals have a better and more refined representation of their own emotional biases that enables them to modify their behavior.”
“Don’t believe everything you read.”
You should never take something you read on the internet at face value. A Health Feedback study—ironically posted on the internet—of the most popular health articles shared on social media in 2018 found that three-quarters of the top 10 posts relayed some type of false information, and these came from well-known websites like The Guardian and The Daily Mail. What’s more, only three of the top 10 articles received a high or very high credibility rating; the rest received ratings that were neutral, low, or very low. Double-check your sources, folks!
“Don’t text them.”
When going through a painful breakup or the end of a toxic friendship, it’s hard not to reach out to the person who hurt you. But, as friends and family will remind you, keeping a line of communication open between you and the person you’re trying to distance yourself from will only prevent you from healing and moving on, ultimately leading to more suffering in the long run.
And don’t think that you’re cheating the system by silently stalking that person on social media. According to a 2012 study in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, even just keeping tabs on your ex via Facebook is harmful to your mental health. The data from 464 participants showed that Facebook surveillance was associated with “greater current distress over the breakup, more negative feelings, sexual desire, and longing for the ex-partner,” as well as “lower personal growth.”
“You shouldn’t have the same password for everything.”
Though it makes it easier to remember on your end, you shouldn’t have the same password for everything. A 2017 study released by Google revealed that 1.9 billion passwords had been stolen the year prior—and if you have the same password for everything, then all it takes is a hacker gaining access to one of your accounts before they control everything.
“You don’t need to hold on to everything.”
It can be hard to let go of things you feel might be of use in the future or to do away with items that have sentimental value. However, living with too much clutter—something that Americans list among the top five stressors in their lives—can bring your spirits crashing down. And conversely, one 2017 University of Zurich study even found that giving things away made people feel happier. So, if you’re in need of some feel-good vibes, then take a page out of Marie Kondo’s book and donate some of your old stuff!
“You should visit the doctor regularly!”
Many Americans don’t go to the doctor as often as they should. One 2018 survey conducted by the West Health Institute revealed that in the year prior, a staggering 44 percent of Americans skipped doctor’s appointments despite the fact that they were ill or injured.
And though it might not feel like a missed doctor’s appointment or two makes a difference, regular checkups could be the difference between life and death. For example, according to 2014 research from Henry Ford Hospital, the risk of dying from melanoma dropped by 90 percent when someone regularly visited a specialist prior to their diagnosis.
“Maybe you should go to therapy.”
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately one in five adults in the United States live with mental illness in any given year. However, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that only 19.8 million out of the 46.6 million adults suffering from mental illness sought professional help in 2017. Therapy has been shown to have both emotional and physical health benefits, so if you think having a therapist might help you out of a rut, don’t let any feelings of stigma or uncertainty stop you from reaching out to a professional.
“You should care about the Earth more.”
We only have one planet to live on—and yet, many tend to take this fact for granted just because they don’t think it directly affects them. However, this is far from the case. According to the American Meteorological Society, Earth’s rate of warming has nearly doubled since 1975, and this has resulted in rising water levels, loss of ecosystems, and sporadic weather systems—just to name a few consequences.
On top of that, climate change has been shown to have detrimental effects on our overall health. Australia, for instance, experienced 532 heat-related deaths from 2000 to 2009—the same amount it experienced in the three decades prior combined.
“If you don’t think it’s funny, don’t laugh.”
It turns out, falsified emotions may not be as well-hidden as we’d all like to imagine. A 2014 study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior found that when subjects were exposed to fake laughter, only 37 percent were fooled. Awkward!
What’s more, according to a University of Royal Holloway London study, fake laughing just for the sake of it can leave the recipient of the falsehood more anxious than appreciative. So let yourself laugh if it’s genuine—but otherwise, you’re better off forgoing the fake laughter.
Particularly if you’re looking to better connect with someone, asking questions is the way to go. Why? Research conducted at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2016 found that mutual understanding between two strangers greatly increased when they communicated via questions and words rather than non-verbal cues. Ask more questions and you might just make a new friend!
“Start saving for retirement as early as possible.”
If history has taught us anything, it’s that the economy is a fickle beast. That’s why saving for retirement as early as possible is important. The folks at financial services corporation Fidelity say that, by the time someone is 25, they should be setting aside 15 percent of their income in order to maintain the same lifestyle in retirement. But if that’s too much, you can start smaller and increase the amount you’re saving as you go. Even if you set aside just $50 a month starting at age 25, you’ll have saved $15,ooo by the time you’re 50!
“Pay yourself first.”
The method of “paying yourself first” involves setting aside a little part of your paycheck in order to save up for something indulgent or unexpected. And if you pay yourself first, you might just find that your mood is all the better for it. According to a survey of 1,025 American adults by Ally Bank, there is a strong link between saving money and feeling good overall. Eighty-four percent of people surveyed said that having money saved contributed to their overall sense of well-being, even more so than things like eating healthy foods, having an enjoyable job, and getting regular exercise.
“Treat others how you would like to be treated.”
Like the timeless Maya Angelou adage says: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And Angelou is right—though it’s not just the positive emotions that people will remember. Rather, according to a Review of General Psychology study titled “Bad Is Stronger Than Good,” folks are much more likely to remember all the times when we treated them poorly.
“Bad emotions, bad parents, and bad feedback have more impact than good ones,” the study notes. “Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.” So, when you treat someone poorly, just remember it’s not something they’ll easily forget.
“Always ask for a raise.”
Don’t let yourself get so comfortable in your career that you find yourself sticking with the same salary for years at a time. Though asking for a raise may seem intimidating, it can contribute to a better work environment that benefits employees and employers alike.
In fact, according to a 2018 study published in the B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, even just a $1 increase to the minimum wage resulted in a 32 percent decrease in illness-related employee absences.
“Believe in yourself.”
Not only is believing in yourself good for your overall well-being, but it also has major health benefits. In a 2019 study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, people who were kinder to themselves tended to experience slower heart rates and reduced sweat responses—two signs of better health and fewer heart problems—than those who spoke critically of themselves. And for more on these benefits, check out The Major Health Benefits of Being Kinder to Yourself.
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