People love giving advice, whether or not we ask for it. But there’s a lot of advice there that we give out of reflex and does more harm than good, such as… While it’s nice to always go to bed with your loved one in good spirits, there are simply some things that need time to get worked out. More often than not, hurrying resolutions for lingering issues adds up small transgression upon small transgression until both of you are overwhelmed and completely unable to deal with it.
There’s also the fact that sleeping it off then discussing it the next day like calm, rational people might do more for you, too.
Better Advice: “Don’t make big decisions in moments of intense emotion.”
One of the first things you’re taught as a sickly kid is also one of the most harmful. Leaning back while suffering through a nosebleed just sends the blood down your throat, which is never a pleasant sensation.
Think of how many other similar pieces of “medical” advice we’ve gotten over the years, from ways of preventing pasma to our household attempts at alternative medicine because of what our mom’s friend heard from another friend.
Better Advice: “Pinch the bridge of your nose and apply a cold compress if you have one.” This stems the blood flow better, because there’s no reason you should have to prevent the blood from getting out of you. It’s not like keeping it from dripping means you stop bleeding – the blood just goes someplace else other than your veins.
This would have been great advice, if we realized that it doesn’t mean all we ever do is wait. This advice is perfect for the concept of delaying gratification, not so much for getting a job by sitting around and expecting an offer to land on your lap.
Advice like this is every bit as pernicious as “God has a plan for me,” when we think God’s so-called plan is an excuse for our inaction. For all we know, His plan may very well have been for us to get off our behind and start getting a job. And speaking of getting a job…
Better Advice: “Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa.”
No. Just no. Following your passion always needs to be tempered by obvious practicality. It’s nice to think that we could be anything we put our mind to, but not every teenage boy can be a high-paid porn star just because that’s what they love.
Even if you’re doing what you love for a living, there’s also the risk of ending up hating that very thing because it’s now work. Ask any professional magician.
Better Advice: “Learn to love your job,” with obvious limitations.
You also only die once, so maybe cut it out on doing all that crazy stuff every now and then, okay?
Better Advice: “Live every day as if it were your second to the last.” Your last day of life may be filled with all sorts of stupidity and debauchery, but your second to last day is all about setting things right. Also, don’t take advice like this too literally.
What does this even mean? No, really. It’s the kind of advice that pretty much epitomizes the concept of “useless,” because it just doesn’t give you anything to work with, really.
Better Advice: “Don’t do what I did.” Specificity helps.
Condescending advice that only makes sense years down the road is not the kind of advice that benefits anyone.
And what’s to say that the world you live in at the moment is any less real than the world they live in? Ultimately, people have different capabilities at different points in their life, and this advice is borne out of a lack of empathy, and not particularly actionable.
Better Advice: “These things may not make sense to you right now, but not only will it make sense when the time comes, it’s not as big as a deal to follow it as you may feel it is.” Don’t be condescending. Condescension, of course, is when you assume so little of the intellect of the other person that you have to explain every little thing, like I’m doing right this very moment. This is the kind of affirmative advice that really does nothing and makes people think lethargy is all right. What if who you are is an annoying person who really doesn’t respect boundaries? What if who you are is a person who routinely gets into explosive outrage over the tiniest of things? Are you just going to carry on that way because it’s “who you are?”
And, oh. Who else were you going to be other than yourself, to begin with? No matter how much you change yourself, you’re still yourself. Let’s not get too existential here.
Better Advice: “Be the best self you can be.” Not for other people, but for your own well-being.

Janus Dosequis Harvey

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