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upworthy
Well Being

People shared the small changes they made that improved their lives in big ways

daily habits, atomic habits, james clear, self improvement

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear notes that “your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits … you get what you repeat.” Basically, if you want to predict where your life is leading, take a look at your daily choices. And Clear is certainly not the first or last motivational speaker to promote this wisdom. Pick up any self-help book, and it will most likely tout the message of how small, incremental changes can have an enormous impact on our lives.

A recent thread on AskReddit posed the question: What improved your quality of life so much you wished you did it sooner? For those of us who still can’t seem to tick off things like “drink more water” from the to-do list (despite knowing full well all the benefits) it might help hearing success stories from real, everyday people.

Here are some of the highlights:


Swimming for back pain

back pain, back pain remediesGiphy

“Drugs, bed rest for weeks, chiro, deep massage, electroshock. Then I swam some laps and over a three day period months of decrepitude vanished. I couldn’t believe and am now obsessed with swimming." – DontShootTheFood

“Most people who have back pain (especially lower back pain) have it as a result of sedentary lifestyle (exacerbated by sitting in office chairs for a long period of time). Swimming is a fantastic total body and core workout which just builds and balances strength to reduce back pain. If you have pain due to an injury, it may not be as effective." – hanksredditname

Managing road rage

road rage, driving habitsGiphy

“Someone wants to pass me when I'm in the left lane? Move over and let them pass. Someone wants in my lane? That's ok, I don't consider the gap ahead of me to be my real estate. Semi puts on their blinkers when I'm intending to pass? Let off the speed and flick my high beams to let them know there's enough room to enter my lane. All of this helps traffic flow better, makes things safer, and actually feels good to do. And all it required was to stop feeling like all of those things were a personal attack on me and my desire to get to my destination." – Buddahrific

Setting boundaries … even with family

setting boundaries, healthy lifestyleGiphy

“I used to feel like I had to hang out with people when they asked, and as an introvert would resent losing my ‘me’ time. Now I'm just honest with people and say I'm tired, or that I had a long weekend of Great British Bakeoff and dog snuggles that I was really looking forward to. Might sound lame but I'm 150% happier.” – Acceptable-Place0872

“…I'm in my late twenties and talk to neither of my parents. I forgive them for what they did, but I don't want a relationship of any kind with them and have made that very clear. I just stopped picking up the phone, texting back, messaging back at all. My brother still talks to one, but he suffers for it. I know I made the right decision.” – thekindwillinherit

Exercising for more than just your body

exercise, exercise and mental health, mental healthGiphy

“I wish more people knew exactly how helpful exercise really is for both mental and physical health! Throughout high school I was seeing psychologists for anxiety and other issues and they repeatedly told me to eat healthy and exercise to improve my mental state. It's pretty easy when you are in a bad place to dismiss that and say 'a chemical imbalance in my brain isn't going to fix itself if I go for a run' so I never followed their advice. When I was around 20 I got a gym membership and actually started exercising for unrelated reasons and WOW does it help a lot! If you have mental health issues, a healthy lifestyle might not totally fix you but it will DEFINITELY help.” – vindaflyfox

Breaking free from phone addiction

social media, phone addictionGiphy

“Disable your push notifications in tandem with uninstalling all social media apps. It's quite fascinating how much better you feel when social media isn't installed. Bye bye FB/Meta, Insta, Twitter, all of it gone. Talk about liberating. Took me about a month of "training", but now I hardly ever look at my phone, and I no longer feel phantom vibrations while it's in my pocket. It's disgusting how we've become slaves to our devices.” – dj92wa

Improving sleep

sleep, sleep and health, improving sleepGiphy

“I’ve been using my CPAP for a few weeks now and I actually know what it’s like to have energy and motivation and not be a zombie by 2 pm. If anyone else feels like that, I heavily recommend talking to your doctor about having a sleep study done.” – whomikehidden

“Sunrise Alarm Clock. I wake up so much better during the dark winter months.” – herbstavore

Decluttering

cleaning, cleaning tips, declutteringGiphy

“...A consistently clean home is amazing and doesn’t take a ton of time. 10-15 minutes a day I can keep things fairly tidy.” – unwinagainstable

“Nothing feels so relaxing when everything is in its place, organized and uncluttered. This obviously goes for at home, but also a clean car, clean desk, clean and organized computer and filing. Taking notes and reminders and deleting them when the task is done really relieves the mind. You can relax and focus better when your brain isn't cluttered and overwhelmed.” – KanataCitizen

Walking for an hour

walking, walking benefitsGiphy

“This literally saved my life. A lot of people think just going out for a walk has minimal benefits, but it has both great physical and mental ones. Highly underrated (and free).” – grittypitty

Journaling affirmations

journaling, affirmations, affirmation journalGiphy

“…it helps remind me of my values, which helps me make better decisions each day, and having done it for three years now, I can see the progress I’ve made in learning not to sweat the small stuff. It’s encouraging. I’m figuring myself out.” – babblewocky

Dropping sarcasm

better attitudes, self improvement, mindsetGiphy

"I thought this gave me sharp, dry wit but really it was one step up from a teenager's whiney voice making fun of people. It really was a low form of humor and, indeed, the perfect analog to the pseudo-intellectualism of the cynical act. It's so easy to be sarcastic and nasty and it gets old REALLY fast.” – zazzlekdazzle

Opting for positive content

positivity, postive contentGiphy

“I stopped consuming true crime content this past summer. It overall made me a more fearful, less empathetic, and more judgemental person by nature. The content encouraged my negative thought spirals and called it awareness. Never going back.” – notwest94

Practicing gratitude

gratitudeGiphy

“It is small but it genuinely makes a big impact. I had an assignment for a university course last year where we had to spend one week noting down something positive/good each day and then the next week negative things and I hadn’t realized just how much my life has improved until the week where I focused on negative things, it really solidified how much of a difference it made on my mood, how I felt about myself, and even how much I accomplished.” – supersaurus65

millennial-grind.com

There were some other great contenders: daily dancing, seeing a therapist, stretching before bed and at waking … just to name a few. But no matter the habit, they planted seeds for not only a new life, but for a new identity. As Clear would put it, “every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”

Let authors like Clear help guide you—and stories like the ones above help inspire you—as you forge a better path for yourself, one small step at a time.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

The grandmother was suspicious.

A grandmother always felt her middle granddaughter Lindsay, 15, looked slightly different from the rest of the family because she had blonde, curly hair, while the rest of her siblings’ hair was dark “I thought genetics was being weird and I love her,” she wrote on Reddit’s AITA forum.

But things became serious after Linday’s parents “banned” her from taking things a step further and getting a DNA test. If the family was sure their daughter was theirs, why would they forbid her from seeking clarity in the situation? After the parents laid down the law, the situation started to seem a little suspicious.

“I told my son and [daughter-in-law] that there was something fishy around her birth she needed to know. They denied it and told me to leave it alone,” the grandma wrote.


Lindsay wouldn’t give up her quest. She approached her biology teacher, who admitted that it was “odd” for her to have such different traits. This confusion was too much for Lindsay, so she went to her grandmother for help. “She came to me distressed, asking me to buy a DNA test since she needs to know,” the grandmother wrote.

dna tests, paternity tests, grandmothers

She had blonde, curly hair. But her siblings all had black hair.

via Allef Vinicius/Unsplash

The grandmother purchased a DNA test and it proved their suspicions. “Long story short, she is not her mother's kid,” the grandmother wrote. “My son got someone else pregnant and her bio mom gave her up.”

The interesting thing was that Lindsay was a middle child. So, the dad had a baby with another woman while he was with his wife. This revelation begs the question: How did the family suddenly have a baby out of nowhere without people being suspicious?

“They were on the other side of the country when she was born, and I met Lindsey when she was about 6 months old. Really not hard to hide the whole thing,” the grandmother wrote. “Our family has a history of miscarriages, so it’s common to drop news about a baby late in the pregnancy. They did the same with their oldest and didn't think anything about it.”

The big revelation has caused friction in the family. The family no longer talks to the grandmother, which makes Lindsay even more furious about the situation.

Should the grandmother have taken such drastic steps if she knew what could happen if her suspicions were true? The commenters on Reddit overwhelmingly supported the grandmother’s decision. The big reason was that Lindsay needed to know her family history for medical reasons.

"Your son and his wife suck for lying to her until she is 15 about something so important and trying to keep lying to her even after she obviously started to question things. There are medical reasons a person might need to know what their genetics are/are not, and if you hadn’t helped her, she would have found out some other way," Shake_Speare423 wrote.

Another commenter noted that protecting the parents’ lie wasn’t nearly as important as Lindsay’s mental health.

"People have a right to know their genetic heritage. Lying about adoption is linked to increased suicidal ideation, anxiety, and depression. You put her safety and comfort ahead of your son’s preferences. Parental rights do not have greater value than a child’s right to access comprehensive medical care, and hiding an adoption does precisely that. Maybe some things, like a child staying healthy, should matter more than a parent's right to lie, gaslight and manipulate their child as they see fit," RemembrancerLirael added.

The commenters overwhelmingly supported the grandma for putting herself into an uncomfortable situation to protect her granddaughter’s mental and physical health. However, one commenter noted that she could have gone about it in a less polarizing way.

“Bit out of the norm for the responses here, but you should have gone through your son [and daughter-in-law] and convinced them. Told them that the biology teacher had highlighted that she had traits that didn't make sense, etc. and convinced them that Lindsey would find out either way,” PhilMcGraw wrote. “It would have allowed them to find a way to tell her without it being forced on them angrily. A DNA test is the absolute worst way to be told. I'm sure they would have much rather told her than let her find out by a DNA test if that is what was coming.”


This article originally appeared on 11.29.23

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Joy

Can you figure out what this doodle is?

Once you see it, you’ll never unsee it.

via Facebook

Do you see it?

Facebook user Savannah Root from Missouri stared at the photo above for hours before she finally figured out what it was.

Everyone that sees it either gets it right away or sits there stumped. The picture is so mystifying that after one week, it's been shared over 33,000 times.


For the solution, scroll down past the comments to reveal the hidden picture.

comments, social media, confusion

Is it formidable?

assets.rebelmouse.io

realization, challenge, solution

Amazing!

via Facebook

eureka, misconception, hallucination, image, puzzle

A light bulb moment.

via Facebook

shame, fear, stress

Stressing out.

via Facebook

talent, insect, cowboy

Not an insect.

via Facebook

It's a cowboy with half of his face obscured by a shadow. Facebook user Cristian-Dumitru Popescu created a cool graphic that explains it.

doodle, illusion, brain teaser.

The cowboy face breakdown.

via Facebook

This article originally appeared on 09.23.17

@tabathalynnk/TikTok, Photo credit: Canva

They've still got the moves

Ready to get transported back to the Decade of Decadence? Cause this wholesome new TikTok trend is gonna put you right back in the attitude-filled, neon colored post-disco era otherwise known as the 80s.

Specifically, it’s going to take you back to an 80s dance club.

In the trend, kids ask their parents to “dance like it’s the 80s,” as the 1984 track “Smalltown Boy” by the British pop band Bronski Beat plays in the background. The song's high energy tempo mixed with heartbreaking, anguish-ridden lyrics make it a fitting choice to bring us back to the time period.

As for the parents—let's just say that muscle memory kicks in the minute the tune begins to play, and it’s a whole vibe.


Check out Tabatha Lynn's video of her mom, Leanne Lynn, which currently has over 8 million views.

@tabathalynnk My moms 80s dance moves, I wanna be her when I grow up 😍 our kids better not ask us this in 30 years 😂 #80s #momsoftiktok #dancemoves ♬ original sound - Tiktok / IG strategy 🚀

Leanne and Tabatha told TODAY that since going viral, the dance is now a common “topic of conversation in the family text group.”

There are two factors here that folks really seem to connect with.

One: 80s dancing was simple. Just moving to the rhythm, maybe a head bob for some flair or a robot if you’re feeling adventurous. Of course, the 80s had ambitious moves like the worm and the moonwalk, but for the most part it was just about groovin’ to beat.

@marynepi One thing about Ms. Suzanne, shes gonna slay. #fypage #dance #slay #80s #yasqueen #trending #trend ♬ original sound - Tiktok / IG strategy 🚀

Then there’s seeing the parents light up at the chance to go back to the days of their youth.

“I can literally see the young women in these women spring out in fluidity. Love this trend,” one person commented.

@lavaleritaaa Love her 😭 “Se me espeluco el moño” 😂 #80s #momdancechallenge ♬ original sound - Tiktok / IG strategy 🚀

Another seconded, “I love seeing moms remember when they were just themselves.”

Of course, dads are totally rocking this trend too. Check it out:

@chrisbrown711 I dont normally do trends but i got in on this one. How did I do? #fyp #blessed #80sdancechallenge #80smusic #80s ♬ original sound - Tiktok / IG strategy 🚀

The 80s was a time of rapid expansion for music. Much of this we have the birth of MTV to thank for, which subsequently dropped music videos, CDs and a vast array of sub genres straight into the heart of pop culture.

Plus, the 80s brought us the synthesizer, which remains a strangely satisfying sound even in 2024. So while the era might have brought some things that most of us would prefer not to revisit—like acid washed denim and awful, awful hairstyles—some of its gems are truly timeless.

The trend also shows how, even though the weekly outing to a dance hall might be a thing of the past, people inherently want to bust a move. Luckily, there’s no shortage of clubs that cater to someone’s music tastes, no matter the era.

Speaking for 00s teens everywhere…just play the Cha Cha slide and we’ll come a-runnin.

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

A collage of Dalton Ross .


Dalton Ross wanted to make sure his family didn't miss him too badly while he was studying abroad in London.

To help them cope, the 22-year-old Tennessee native did what any selfless college student would do...


He sent his mom a life-size cutout of himself.

art, imaginative, artistic, family dynamics

The life-size cutout of Dalton Ross.

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

"I thought maybe they'd put it in the living room corner until I got back to remember I exist," he explained about the cutout, which came with a short note: "You're welcome.”

But like any clever mom, Susan Talley couldn't just stash this amazing piece of work away when it arrived about two months ago.

tomfoolery, family tradition, clowning

Guess who’s coming to dinner.

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

No, no — she had better plans in mind.

Talley decided the cardboard version of her son could be a great companion "while the real one is in Europe." So she brought him along with her to events, like basketball games ...

Can you spot cardboard Dalton in the stands?

farce, levity, witticism

Defense! Defense!

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

... trips to the doctor's office ...

doctor visit, hilarious gags, connection

Hello doc.

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

... and sub sandwich runs.

sub sandwich, family pranks, photography

One meatball sub please.

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

Fake Dalton celebrated Valentine's Day with a fellow inanimate object.

Valentine\u2019s Day, inanimate object, dating

The strange and uncomfortable.

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

He enjoyed playing with a furry, four-legged friend in the sunshine.

dogs, parks, family pets

Some complicated fetching.

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

And he appreciated a good bedtime story, just like the rest of us.

Dr. Seuess, bedtime story, community

Reading Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!"

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

The photos of fake Dalton are spreading like wildfire.

sons, Facebook, Imgur

Out and about for lunch.

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

Without showing her son the photos first, Talley went ahead and uploaded them to Facebook. And after Dalton shared them on Imgur — explaining his mom "seems to be entertaining herself" while he's gone — the story sent the Internet into a buzzy frenzy.

"The attention is crazy," Ross told Upworthy, noting the story has gained so much traction that a restaurant featured in one of the photos, O'Charley's, sent the family a gift card.

"I hope my mom's holding up all right," he said. "It's awesome though.”

Fake Dalton has been hitting the batting cages...

batting cages, unique travel, fun activities

Batter up.

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

... taking in some nightlife...

entertaining, Dalton Ross, family love

Out on the town.

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

... and celebrated Easter with his family.

Easter, connections, life abroad

Easter with the Ross family.

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

Although the viral reaction to the photos has been a bit nuts, Ross isn't all that surprised his mom was up for a good laugh.

mom, life-size, humor

Out and about.

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

"Oh yeah, my mom is very funny," he explained to Upworthy. And it's a good thing, too: Laughter can be a great tool in improving the quality of family dynamics and boosting a loved one's emotional health. (A student studying abroad should especially keep that in mind, considering being away from loved ones and familiarity can be tough.)

"We're a big family of jokesters."

Bravo, mom, for setting the bar very high ahead of April Fools' Day.

uplifting, parents, laughter

Let’s clean it up.

All photos courtesy of Dalton Ross, used with permission.

This article originally appeared on 03.30.16

I’m late.


This post was written by Tim Urban and originally published on Wait But Why.

I woke up this morning to a text. It was a link:

"optimistic-people-have-one-thing-common-always-late.”

Intriguing. Nothing's better than the headline: "The reason people are [bad quality that describes you] is actually because they're [good quality]."

I got to reading. And as it turns out, according to the article, late people are actually the best people ever.They're optimistic and hopeful:

"People who are continuously late are actually just more optimistic. They believe they can fit more tasks into a limited amount of time more than other people and thrive when they're multitasking. Simply put, they're fundamentally hopeful."

They're big-thinking:

"People who are habitually late don't sweat over the small stuff, they concentrate on the big picture and see the future as full of infinite possibilities."

Late people just get it:

"People with a tendency for tardiness like to stop and smell the roses…life was never meant to be planned down to the last detail. Remaining excessively attached to timetables signifies an inability to enjoy the moment."

By the end of the article, I had never felt prouder to be a chronically late person.

But also, what the hell is going on? Late people are the worst. It's the quality I like least in myself. And I'm not late because I like to smell the roses or because I can see the big picture or because the future is full of infinite possibilities. I'm late because I'm insane.

So I thought about this for a minute, and I think I figured out what's going on. The issue is that there are two kinds of lateness:

1. OK lateness. This is when the late person being late does not negatively impact anyone else — like being late to a group hangout or a party. Things can start on time and proceed as normal with or without the late person being there yet.

2. Not-OK lateness. This is when the late person being late does negatively impact others — like being late to a two-person dinner or meeting or anything else that simply can't start until the late party arrives.

John Haltiwanger's Elite Daily article is (I hope) talking mostly about OK lateness. In which case, sure, maybe those people are the best, who knows.

But if you read the comment section under Haltiwanger's article, people are furious with him for portraying lateness in a positive light. And that's because they're thinking about the far less excusable not-OK lateness.

1. OK lateness. This is when the late person being late does not negatively impact anyone else — like being late to a group hangout or a party. Things can start on time and proceed as normal with or without the late person being there yet.

2. Not-OK lateness. This is when the late person being late does negatively impact others — like being late to a two-person dinner or meeting or anything else that simply can't start until the late party arrives.

John Haltiwanger's Elite Daily article is (I hope) talking mostly about OK lateness. In which case, sure, maybe those people are the best, who knows.

But if you read the comment section under Haltiwanger's article, people are furious with him for portraying lateness in a positive light. And that's because they're thinking about the far less excusable not-OK lateness.

All of this has kind of left me with no choice but to take a quick nine-hour break from working on a gargantuan SpaceX post to discuss not-OK late people.

When it comes to people who are chronically not-OK late, I think there are two subgroups:

Group 1: Those who don't feel bad or wrong about it. These people are assholes.

Group 2: Those who feel terrible and self-loathing about it. These people have problems.

Group 1 is simple. They think they're a little more special than everyone else, like the zero-remorse narcissist at the top of Haltiwanger's article. They're unappealing. Not much else to discuss here.

Punctual people think all not-OK late people are in Group 1 (as the comments on this post will show) — because they're assuming all late people are sane people.

When a sane person thinks a certain kind of behavior is fine, they do it. When they think it's wrong, they don't do it. So to a punctual person — one who shows up on time because they believe showing up late is the wrong thing to do — someone who's chronically late must be an asshole who thinks being late is OK.

But that's misunderstanding the entire second group, who, despite being consistently late, usually detest the concept of making other people wait. Let call them CLIPs (Chronically Late Insane Persons).

While both groups of not-OK late people end up regularly frustrating others, a reliable way to identify a Group 2 CLIP is a bizarre compulsion to defeat themselves — some deep inner drive to inexplicably miss the beginning of movies, endure psychotic stress running to catch the train, crush their own reputation at work, etc., etc. As much as they may hurt others, they usually hurt themselves even more.

I spent around 15% of my youth standing on some sidewalk alone, angrily kicking rocks, because yet again, all the other kids had gotten picked up and I was still waiting for my mom. When she finally arrived, instead of being able to have a pleasant conversation with her, I'd get into the car seething. She always felt terrible. She has problems.

My sister once missed an early morning flight, so they rescheduled her for the following morning. She managed to miss that one too, so they put her on a flight five hours later. Killing time during the long layover, she got distracted on a long phone call and missed that flight too. She has problems.

I've been a CLIP my whole life. I've made a bunch of friends mad at me, I've embarrassed myself again and again in professional situations, and I've run a cumulative marathon through airport terminals.

When I'm late, it's often the same story, something like this:

I'll be meeting someone, maybe a professional contact, at, say, a coffee place at 3:00. When I lay out my schedule for the day, I'll have the perfect plan. I'll leave early, arrive early, and get there around 2:45. That takes all the stress out of the situation, and that's ideal because non-stressful commutes are one of my favorite things. It'll be great — I'll stroll out, put on a podcast, and head to the subway. Once I'm off the subway, with time to spare, I'll take a few minutes to peruse storefronts, grab a lemonade from a street vendor, and enjoy New York. It'll be such a joy to look up at the architecture, listen to the sounds, and feel the swell of people rushing by — oh magnificent city!

All I have to do is be off the subway by 2:45. To do that, I need to be on the subway by 2:25, so I decide to be safe and get to the subway by 2:15. So I have to leave my apartment by 2:07 or earlier, and I'm set. What a plan.

Here's how it'll play out (if you're new to WBW, you're advised to check this out before proceeding):

lateness, behavior, science

Making plans on time.

psychology, procrastination, patient

Maybe some procrastination.

avoidance, mental health, mistakes

Avoiding the issues.

delay, loafing, trifling

Arguing over avoiding the issues.

toying, delaying, loitering

Some dawdling.

dabbling, frittering, dilly-dallying

Some more dawdling.

frizzling, puttering, excuses

And some lingering.

last-minute, slow, delayed

And some more lingering.

belated, tardy, jammed

Is this dragging my feet?

lagging, dilatory, unpunctual

This is dragging my feet.

held up, in a bind, missed the boat

This is becoming a problem.

tired, worn, strained

This is feeling uncomfortable.

thin, peaked, pinched

This IS uncomfortable.

fraught, haggard, worn

This IS a problem.

dependable, accurate, conscientious

But I’m cool.

periodic, timely, ready

So cool.

quick, reliable, heedful, meticulous

Ice cold like a fighter pilot.

minutes, seconds, careful

I’m a chillin’.

lag, postpone, setback

Now worries my way.

stoppage, filibuster, hindrance

Not thinking about it.

bind, lingering, tarrying

Positive thoughts.

stoppage, difficulty, gridlock

Positive action... well now.

obstinate, customs, method

It will all workout.

madness, mental health, regulations

Maybe I’m gonna be late.

anxiety, despair, dismay

I’m gonna be late.

aversion, disquiet, distress

Oopsie.

fearless, logjam, impasse

And that’s the traffic.

furious, frantic, rash, audacious

It’s the traffics fault.

careless, foolhardy, hopp

This map is broken.

denial, circumstances, schedule, madcap, impetu

Perfect timing on being late. Nailed it.

CLIPs are strange people. I'm sure each CLIP is insane in their own special way, and to understand how they work, you'll usually have to get to some dark inner psychology.

For me, it's some mix of these three odd traits:

1. I'm late because I'm in denial about how time works.

The propensity of CLIPs to underestimate how long things take comes out of some habitual delusional optimism. Usually what happens is, of all the times the CLIP has done a certain activity or commute, what they remember is that one time things went the quickest. And that amount of time is what sticks in their head as how long that thing takes. I don't think there's anything that will get me to internalize that packing for a weeklong trip takes 20 minutes. In my head, it's eternally a five-minute task. You just take out the bag, throw some clothes in it, throw your toiletries in, zip it up, and done. Five minutes. The empirical data that shows that there are actually a lot of little things to think about when you pack and that it takes 20 minutes every time is irrelevant. Packing is clearly a five-minute task. As I type this, that's what I believe.

2. I'm late because I have a weird aversion to changing circumstances.

Not sure what the deal is with this, but something in me is strangely appalled by the idea of transitioning from what I'm currently doing to doing something else. When I'm at home working, I hate when there's something on my schedule that I have to stop everything for to go outside and do. It's not that I hate the activity — once I'm there I'm often pleased to be there — it's an irrational resistance to the transition. The positive side of this is it usually means I'm highly present when I finally do haul my ass somewhere, and I'm often among the last to leave.

3. Finally, I'm late because I'm mad at myself.

There's a pretty strong correlation here — the worse I feel about my productivity so far that day, the more likely I am to be late. When I'm pleased with how I've lived the day so far, the Rational Decision-Maker has a much easier time taking control of the wheel. I feel like an adult, so it's easy to act like an adult. But times when the monkey had his way with me all day, when the time rolls around that I need to stop working and head out somewhere, I can't believe that this is all I've gotten done. So my brain throws a little tantrum, refusing to accept the regrettable circumstances, and stages a self-flagellating protest, saying, "NO. This cannot be the situation. Nope. You didn't do what you were supposed to do, and now you'll sit here and get more done, even if it makes you late.”

So yeah, that's why I'm late. Because I have problems.

Don't excuse the CLIPs in your life — it's not OK, and they need to fix it. But remember: It's not about you. They have problems.


This article originally appeared on 04.07.16