It's about life skills that simply must be mastered - they say "before the age of 40", but I don't believe it's ever too late to start learning new tricks. So here are a few of my favorites:
How To Spot A Good Opportunity
"A lot of people ask me how I knew 'Mad Men' or 'Breaking Bad' would make great TV. I knew because when I read those scripts, I felt something. I didn't do any market testing or focus groups -- I just asked myself, 'Would I want to watch this?' When you're weighing an opportunity, make the question that simple: 'Do I really want this, or am I doing it for the money or the prestige or because I think I should?' It can't just be about those things. It has to make you feel good, too. And by the way, if opportunities aren't knocking, you can make your own. When I was looking for work several years ago, I took everyone I knew in New York, where I'd just moved, to dinner or drinks or tea. I explained that I was open to anything. Six months later, one of those dinner dates called about a possible job at AMC. If I hadn't put myself out there, that never would have happened."
-- Christina Wayne former senior VP at AMC, current president of Cineflix Studios, and an executive producer of the new BBC America series "Copper"
How To Not Sweat The Small Stuff
"The thing that's grand about spending your time thinking about the universe is that it makes you feel insignificant. I don't mean that in a bad way. If you understand that we've now discovered entire solar systems that contain planets similar to Earth -- and that those are just the ones we know about, since most of the stars we've looked at are within about 300 light-years of Earth and the distance to the center of our galaxy is nearly 100 times that -- then you realize that the laundry you've left undone and the dumb thing you said yesterday are about as significant as slime mold."
-- Alyssa Goodman, professor of astronomy, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
How To Let Go Of Anger
"Anger is like a storm rising up from the bottom of your consciousness. When you feel it coming, turn your focus to your breath. Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body. Then look at, or think of, the person triggering this emotion: With mindfulness, you can see that she is unhappy, that she is suffering. You can see her wrong perceptions. You can see that she is not beautiful when she says things that are unkind. You can also see that you don't want to be like her. You'll feel motivated by a desire to say or do something nice -- to help the other person suffer less. This means compassionate energy has been born in your heart. And when compassion appears, anger is deleted."
-- Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk and author of Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
How To Buy Great Wine
- "See if an expensive wine's producer also makes a value bottle -- it's likely to be crafted with the same care.
- Serve wine with food from its region. For pasta, look to an Italian bottle. For paella, go Spanish.
- If all else fails, try Malbec from Argentina, Merlot from France, Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy, and Chardonnay from Australia. Pinot Noir pairs with almost anything. And you can't go wrong with bubbly."
How To Know When To Quit
"After my first book was published in 2000, I spent two and a half years writing a novel. But it never felt right. I didn't even name it -- it was the poor, misshapen beast child I kept hidden under my bed. Then I showed it to my agent. 'None of the things you do well are in evidence here,' she said. I was devastated, then relieved: I had failed, and now I could stop. If you don't feel a shiver of excitement or fear, if there's no emotional risk involved, let it go. You can't discount how hard it will be to leave your bad marriage or stop writing your bad book, but if you're unhappy, nothing can get better as long as the status quo stays the status quo."
-- Elissa Schappell, author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls
How To Listen Better
"Start by doing everything you can to fire up the 'mirror neurons' in your brain, which mimic what others are experiencing. You can subtly imitate the other person's posture, even match the pace and depth of their breathing. Your words can also mirror what the other person is telling you. For example, you might say, 'What I'm hearing is that it distresses you when your husband wears his tiara in public' or 'Wow, I can tell just from your voice that you're under serious pressure.' Don't add advice or commentary -- just reflect. If you simply must add something, ask the speaker to disconfirm what you say. In other words, ask to be told where you're mistaken -- and mean it. 'I'm thinking it's not so much that you're embarrassed as that you want a tiara of your own -- am I wrong about that?' Do not ask to be told that you're right; it turns a listening ear into a bid for authority, and no one will want to talk to you then."
-- Martha Beck, O's resident life coach and author of Finding Your Way in a Wild New World