They say “when you look good, you feel good.” So what change can you make to improve how you feel?
According to scientists from Harvard and Boston University, applying bright color to the lips not only makes the wearer feel more confident, others will perceive you to be more reliable and competent than those going without.
Researchers also discovered that students who wear makeup actually score better on tests. Wearing cosmetics apparently leads to overall enhancement in self-esteem, attitude, and personality that carries over to the exam room.
Now while these studies were conducted on women, we’re confident in this age of experimentation and fluid gender roles, men can also benefit from a bold choice of color.* After all, guys weren’t shy about applying foundation a few hundred years ago. An 18th century gentleman usually owned a dressing-box that held his razor cases, scissors, combs, curling irons, oil and scent bottles, rouge and powder. Even soldiers wore wigs throughout the 18th century.
A hundred or so years later, androgenous rock stars of the 1970s (and 80s and 90s…) weren’t shy about accentuating their attitude with makeup. The New York Dolls made red lipstick the cornerstone of their first album cover.
So if you want to give your day a boost, score better on multiple choice tests, and provoke discussion on that next zoom call, you may just find dabbing on some Tom Ford Scarlet Rouge provides the spark you’re looking for. **
*The market for men’s cosmetics is predicted to grow $49 billion this decade.
**Of course, if you prefer using your natural gifts to win friends and attract people, remember the words of Dale Carnegie: “A smile costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give.”
In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd. — Miguel de Cervantes
That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in another. — Adlai E. Stevenson
Stay hungry. Stay foolish. — Steve Jobs
When someone calls you a fool, do you take offense? Or thank them for their perspicacity?
The wise among us realize that our foolish nature is something to be embraced — and as often as possible. The godmother of show business reinvention, Cher, says, “Unless you’re ready to look foolish, you’ll never have the possibility of being great.”
Elon Musk was thought to be a fool to the 10th power when he began an electric car company from scratch, and a reusable rocket ship company after that. Both agree that you must free the wild child inside you rather than timidly hide beneath a veneer of “respectability” if you want to make your mark.
So the question is, how will you embrace foolishness today? What pranks are you planning to shake up the status quo? What could you do tomorrow, next week, or next month that will have the office, locker room, or family den buzzing with conversation (after the shock wears off)? And is one day really enough to play the fool card, or should we advocate for more time to really explore this vitally important side of life?
At the very least, the United States could follow the example set by the city of Odessa in Ukraine. Here, the first of April is a holiday, complete with a festival that includes a large parade, free concerts, street fairs and performances. Festival participants dress up in a variety of costumes and walk around the city playing pranks with passersby.*
Based on the ideas generated by the fools among us, one could argue that businesses giving their employees the day off to act foolishly could wind up generating the brainstorms that lead to a better planet for all. (Or a 22% boost in productivity, one of the two.) Let’s try it and see what happens.
*In 18th Century Scotland, they did Odessa one better, as the April Fools tradition was a two-day celebration, starting with “hunting the gowk” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by “Tailie Day,” which involved pranks played on people’s backsides, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them. Not that we want to give you any ideas.
Do you ever feel like you’re being held captive by societal norms? (You know, all the nonsense you’ve absorbed over the course of your life from well-meaning parents, teachers and authority types.) It’s as if you were Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver, tethered by ropes. Except yours are internal and prevent you from unleashing the full power of your imagination on the universe.
So what’s a simple way to unglue yourself and experience blue skies again?
At SuperOptimist headquarters, when the walls start closing in, we turn to artists of the Dada period for inspiration. Emerging from the ashes of World War I, Dadaists saw society’s view of “normality” as irrational and created art that completely challenged traditional views of class, religion, politics, technology and morals.
Their reactions to society’s hollow constraints are just as valid in 2021 as they were a century ago, when Tristan Tzara published a short poem on how to free yourself from rigid thought with an act of anti-authoritarian aplomb.
Découpé (or cut-up) is performed by taking any piece of linear writing — say, a newspaper article, a page from a book, or the instruction sheet for plugging in a wifi router — and remodeling it in a spontaneous and uncontrolled way. By doing so, you will bypass the inner critic who demands that things be neat, ordered, and understandable. Here are Tzara’s instructions, slightly modified.
Take some scissors.
Cut out each of the words that makes up the piece of writing.
Put the words in a bag, a hat, or shoebox.
Remove one word at a time from the bag.
Copy the words in the order in which they left the bag.
According to Tzara, the poem that you construct will resemble you.
While a newspaper article is a perfectly good material for your initial foray (after all, they’re basically publishings the same stories now that they were in Tzara’s time), we prefer taking an expensive book that society has deemed important and valuable, and cutting up a page to prove that even “great art” should not be held in such high regard. This is a good step to freeing yourself completely from the social construct, and letting your superego know who’s boss!
As you contemplate your next act of non-compliance, enjoy this short film that brings Dada into the present, and see if that doesn’t shake you loose from whatever’s holding you back. Better to embrace nonsense like this than the nonsense we call “success.”
Having a special number that has sacred meaning for you is something that’s simple to do, but offers invaluable strength when facing daily challenges like deciding what PIN number to program into your ATM card.
One case in point: the number four (“4”) is sacred to the Zia Indians, as this digit embodies the powers of nature – the four directions of east, west, north, and south, the seasons, and the ages of man. 4 was also Babe Ruth’s number, a fortunate choice as he powered the Yankees to 7 world championships and hit 714 homers aided only by hotdogs, not steroids.
Of course, the Chinese would disagree. 4 is a dreaded number in their view. This is because it sounds similar to the Chinese word ‘si’ which means ‘death’. The Sultan of Swat died at age 53, so they might have a point.
For your number, you may want to reflect on the best year of your life thus far. Then again, you could just pick a number out of a hat and immediately tattoo it on your chest in a sign of “letting go.” Whatever you decide, choose a number that means something to you.* Write it down and place it in your wallet for easy referral.
Use your new number as often as you can. If you’re drafted by a professional sports team, request the number on your jersey. When asked how many silver dollar flapjacks you want at breakfast, request this number. If you customize your license plate, use it after your nickname, or “go big” and legally change your name to a number as our extremely successful friend 834,216 did.
May your number prove to be a winner in all areas of life. Good luck to you!
*If want to get esoteric about it, you could ask a numerologist to “do your numbers” for you. Among them are your life path, your destiny, your soul urge, and your inner dream. Some swear by it. Some swear at it. It’s entertaining, whatever your view.