A Lazy Man’s Guide To Being (Slightly) Better – 4 Step’s To Living A Better Life

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Don’t Worry, There’s Still Beer and Netflix



“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”
― Mark Twain


I am a serial procrastinator. I always have been. Sometimes I make myself feel better about it when I read articles like this one, which mentions procrastinators being more creative, or this one which says that procrastination is one of the 11 common traits of highly intelligent people. But really, at the end of the day, laziness and procrastination have kept me from living up to my potential in many ways.


So how do I find a way to continue to go out with my friends on a Tuesday, binge Netflix after a long week, skip the gym when I’m not feeling it, and still be reasonably healthy, happy, and productive? Well, I won’t pretend I’ve got it all together, but I think a few of these strategies can show you how I’ve balanced a carefree attitude with, among other things: publishing two books of poetry, becoming a college professor, losing 30 lbs, getting engaged to a girl way out of my league, running an indie music podcast and blog, and learning 3 new instruments, all while still working my day job as a high school teacher.


1. Wake Up Early (Unless You Stayed Up Too Late; Fuck That Deal With It Tomorrow)


I would not describe myself as a morning person. Despite places like Forbes telling me how beneficial it is to wake up early, I spent my teens and 20s staying up way too late every night, playing video games, skateboarding at 2 am during college (the streets were just so empty and smooth), drinking with friends, scrolling through Reddit, binge watching TV shows I’ve already seen, drinking not with friends, and, well, you get the point. I still like to do much of this occasionally, but I try to make sure 4–5 days a week I am awake by 5:30 am.


To do this, I have a cheap automatic coffee maker that starts at 5:15 am every morning. I also have 2 alarms on my phone, one for 5:30 and one for 5:45. My goal is to get up on the first one, but I can still be productive if I don’t until the second one. All I have to do is make it to the coffee maker. Then I have a cup of coffee and 45 minutes to an hour to read, write, listen to music/a podcast, whatever I am feeling that morning to ease myself into the day. This year, my goal is to write during that period (almost) every day. What about you? Start a blog, knock out your reading list, play an instrument, exercise, whatever helps you feel like you started your day accomplishing something small is a perfect way to gain momentum for a productive day.


Now here’s the important part for all of these points. You don’t have to always do it; just pick back up the next day. For example, Halloween this past year was on a Thursday. I had to work Friday, but I still found myself drinking a borrowed Modelo at a stranger’s house at 4 am. Did I wake up at 5:30 am on that Friday? No way. I did still make it to work for my 8 am job, with 3 alarms and an extra back up plan in the form of making a coworker call me if she didn’t hear from me by 7 am (she did not, but her 3rd call did the trick). The point of that story isn’t that I’m an idiot (I am), but that it is okay to slack off sometimes, as long as you don’t let that keep you from setting your alarm for 5:30 the following day.

2. Work Out 3 Days A Week (Unless You Don’t Want To Because The Witcher Just Came Out On Netflix)


In July of 2018, I was the heaviest and most out of shape I have ever been, and I felt it in every aspect of my life. I had no energy. I didn’t feel attractive. I didn’t have any discipline to complete projects. I have always spent some time in the gym, but haven’t always had a specific vision for what program I wanted to follow, and what goals I wanted. I don’t know what fitness practice you should follow. If you are really interested, this is the one I follow, there are a million programs for you to find, and if you are only working out 3 days, you’ll want a full-body workout. This will involve 3 things: Push, Pull, Legs. Push something (bench press, overhead press, incline press, etc.), pull something (pull ups, pull downs, rows, etc.), and do legs (deadlifts, squats, cleans, etc.).


Getting into a consistent exercise routine has done wonders for my energy levels, my self-esteem, and my overall health. But just like with waking up early, it’s okay to miss a day, just don’t miss two in a row. I have missed workouts to grab drinks after work, to hurry home and watch a new show, to hang out with my fiancé, and I just made up for it next time. Who am I trying to be? The Rock? If you get bored with a work out, change it up. If you don’t want to lift weights, run, rock-climb, kayak, swim, do yoga, bike. Just find something you can stick to most of the time, and don’t let one off day derail your whole practice.

3. Eat Healthy (Or Go Get That Burrito Man, It’s So Delicious)


Another aspect of losing unwanted fat, boosting my energy levels, and just feeling better overall was getting my diet in order. For the most part, 5 days a week I eat a smoothie for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and some sort of meat and veggies for dinner. I keep it relatively simple, but if you find out you like cooking, the sky’s the limit. I meal prep most of my lunches on Sunday before the week starts, so that I’m all set and not tempted to buy fast food for lunch out of laziness. Automating my life in these various ways has made it much easier to trick myself.


Another thing that has helped me a ton is getting a calorie tracker app. I set up my calorie goal based on my fitness goals, and then I log my calories every day. Do I know I’m meeting friends for wings and beer on a Saturday? Maybe I’ll skip breakfast so I come close to hitting my calorie goal, or I’ll run in the morning so I get an extra 300 calories to consume. I know there are a million diets: low fat, low carb, keto, paleo, but honestly, the easiest thing for me is just counting calories. If your calories in are less than your calories out, you lose weight. Simple.


I love wings, pizza, burritos, pasta, beer, and brunch. A few times a month, I indulge heavily on these things. The trick is limiting it to no more than 4–5 times a month, and trying to sync it up with work out days, or working out a little extra the next day. Using this method, for the most part, I’ve found I’m able to have my burrito and eat it too, while still having a relatively healthy lifestyle.

4. Get Your Financial House In Order (But Definitely Still Buy That New Guitar)


You’re probably getting used to the method now. Find a way to automate and trick yourself into accidentally being better at a part of your life you are struggling with. I grew up with pretty terrible examples of personal finance from my parents. They are great, and I love them, but they made way too much money throughout their lives to keep so little. Throughout my 20’s, I found myself making the same mistakes. I still am not as frugal as I could be, but I have built in a couple of methods to help me budget, save, and pay down debt.


Budget a couple of times a year.


I don’t budget every month. I don’t even stick to it that strictly, but it is helpful to look at what you’re spending, in what category, and try to pare it down in order to meet your savings goals, or pay off debt.


Automate spending when you get paid


As soon as I get paid, I send 10% to my savings, I pay my bills (or have a lot of them set on auto-pay), and I pull out cash for my “fun budget”. Why do I pull out cash? Well, I have found that if I don’t, and I just spend with my debit card and guesstimate, the money doesn’t last the month. With the cash method, when the cash runs out, I can’t go to bars, or out to eat, or buy a new book, or buy musical equipment, etc. until next month. The good news is, I have a set amount each month where I can do those things. Don’t deprive yourself of fun, just set an automated end limit.


Set up some sort of investment account


This is a headache for like a day, and then it’s automatic. If your work has a 401(k) and matches some percentage, you HAVE to enroll. Tomorrow. You’re missing out on free money. Let them take that money out of your check before taxes, and just pretend it never existed. If your work does not have a program like that, open up a simple investment account with the company of your choosing. I have an Acorns account that automatically invests when I spend money on my debit card, and a Robinhood account where I send a little money each month and buy some stocks for fun. You can make this all very complicated if you want, but the easiest thing to do is buy an index fund (a fund that follows the stock market as a whole), and put money in it every month. Don’t take the money out when the market goes down (unless you’re about to retire). Don’t stop putting money in. Reinvest gains. And down the line, you’ll be happy you did. History tells us you’ll make approx 8–12% back on your investment over a lifetime.




I know this list kind of jumps around a bit. It’s meant to hit on the biggest things I’ve struggled with as a generally lazy guy. My girlfriend, who is very self-motivated, read this article and said she didn’t understand it. I’m betting that there are some of you like me though, that can use systems of automation to trick yourself into improving your lifestyle. I’ve always been overwhelmed when I read about Steve Jobs waking up at 4 am and being productive for 15 straight hours. That’s never going to be me, but I have found ways to be a little better version of myself, and achieve some of my goals, by focusing a little of my time on them. The most important thing to remember is: don’t deprive yourself of the things you enjoy, healthy or not, but don’t let those things keep you from working hard in short spurts to achieve whatever you’re dreaming of doing…tomorrow.

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“I’m Lovin’ It”: How Brands Make Money Off Of Emotional Manipulation

Am I Going To Get Sued For This?



“Advertising is legalized lying.” — H. G. Wells


People see between 4,000 and 10,000 ads a day according to some experts. That same article mentions an anecdotal account of a man who counted 487 ads before he finished his breakfast. Of course all of these aren’t necessarily formal advertisements, but just glimpses of logos or slogans. Still, the unavoidable fact is that we are exposed to a ton of ads every day.


And brands are paying for your attention. In 2019, Nike spent approximately 3.75 Billion dollars on advertising. So what are they spending their money on? How does that money translate into paying customers and brand loyalists that allow Nike, and other companies, to profit off of their hefty investment? By the way, if you were wondering like I was, Nike reported 39.1 Billion dollars in revenue for 2019, so yeah, I guess it was worth it.


They Aren’t Selling A Product, They Are Selling An Emotion


“Certainly, it seems true enough that there’s a good deal of irony in the world … I mean, if you live in a world full of politicians and advertising, there’s obviously a lot of deception.” -Kenneth Koch


Let’s stick with Nike for a moment. Think to yourself about a Nike ad you remember…just do it…


…Okay. Got one? The one that first came to mine to me was “Unlimited Will”, which features Kyle Maynard, a mountaineer who has no arms or legs. The ad shows a close up of Kyle climbing, and then it slowly pans to reveal he is climbing a mountain, and he jokingly says “he left them at home” when the narrator asks about his limbs. The screen goes black, and the classic “just do it” comes up on the screen. What is Nike actually selling here? At first, I didn’t even notice any Nike gear at all in the ad, but upon a second watch I noticed Kyle wearing a Nike beanie. Is this an ad for a Nike beanie? No. Of course not.


Nike has effectively branded “just do it” as a message of empowerment. Last year they featured Colin Kaepernick in an ad that your boomer parent, or co-worker probably grumbled about for a few days. The ad itself is really inspiring honestly, with multiple examples of people who have overcome their circumstances, sacrificed for a greater cause, and generally showed the good and socially impactful side of sports and humanity. So what’s my problem? It honestly just feels so disgustingly cynical. I’m sure people have been inspired to do great things by “just do it,” but all I can see is a company using convenient emotional appeals to make loads of money, while operating sweatshops in third world countries, and doing damage to the environment.


Don’t think I’m just hating on Nike (while I wear my Nike sweatpants like the huge hypocrite I am).


Do any of you remember the “America The Beautiful” campaign from Coca-Cola during the 2014 Super Bowl? It featured “America The Beautiful” being sung in many languages, while an ethnically diverse group of people, doing various activities flash across the screen. Just like the Nike ads, I am supportive of the message. America is at it’s best when it embraces the melting pot of diversity that makes us great. It would make a great art project, but instead, it’s being used to sell diabetes in a bottle, not to mention Coca-Cola’s own share of unethical behavior, including racism ironically enough.

The main reason companies use these emotional techniques in their advertising is because it works. People that try to teach others how to brand and advertise, encourage emotional advertisingAllTheTime. . Psychology Todayused MRIs to show that people use emotions rather than information to choose a product. But not you right? Next time you see one of these, you’ll see right through it, and then research the company who tried to manipulate you. Right?




Alright, let’s look at one more, just for fun. I had actually not seen this one before I started researching for this article, but I had to share it after my jaw nearly hit the floor. Check out this one from the U.K. for McDonald’s from 2017.


Is that a commercial about getting emotional over ordering the same fish sandwich with tartar sauce from McDonald’s that your dead father used to? Yes, yes it is. The encouraging thing, is it has just about as many “dislikes” on YouTube as “likes.” So it seems that sometimes, people can see right through the heavy handed emotional manipulation. Let’s hope more people can start to see emotional appeals in advertising as the logical fallacy that they truly are.


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The Reverse Scientific Method: Why Conspiracy Theories Are So Convincing

How To Recognize The Difference Between Pseudoscience and Science



“… if you assume a big enough conspiracy, you can explain anything, including the cosmos itself.”
― Fritz Leiber, The Big Time


If you haven’t seen it, there’s an excellent documentary on Netflix about Flat Earthers called Behind the CurveIt may not sound like a great way to spend an hour and a half, but I promise it is super entertaining. It’s not only entertaining though; the documentary reveals several reasons that conspiracy theories can begin, spread, and prosper, and surprisingly it is not just due to a bunch of crazy people. Honestly, nothing is just due to “crazy people;” that is always too simplistic, so let’s look into why intelligent people can be duped by lies, misinformation, and a distrust of authority.


1. It’s A Community


Conspiracy nerds are kind of weird. I mean everyone worth knowing is kind of weird, but a lot of people who spend a lot of time researching conspiracies, buying conspiracy books, making conspiracy YouTube channels, and posting on conspiracy forums, march to the beat of their own drum. The documentary, Behind The Curve shows several of these interesting characters, like Mark Sargent, who has 84k subscribers on YouTube. He’s written a flat earth book, spoken at flat earth conferences, and even runs a flat earth forum called “enclosed world.”


There’s a whole rabbit hole of flat earth content creators, and many of them, while seeming quite nice, are also a little strange. And yet, thanks to the internet, they can all talk to each other, go on each other’s podcast, buy each other’s merch, and have real world meetups. That’s awesome and cute, especially when it comes to something relatively harmless like believing the earth is flat. It is not so awesome when it comes to alt. right terrorist groups posting manifesto’s on 8chan before they commit domestic terrorism, like we saw in El Paso in 2019.


The internet is a beautiful and scary place. But the simple fact is, people who may have not always had someone to talk to about their weird thoughts, now can find many like-minded individuals online. That is great most of the time, but you can also find yourself in echo chambers, where you, and a group of people who think like you, continually reinforce each other’s fantasies until they look an awful lot like reality. A lot of the dogmatic stubborness of some conspiracies stem from the sense of community built around them. Of course you might say the same about CNN comment sections, or r/politics on Reddit. It is difficult to be objective and find objective truths.


“Feedback loops, echo chambers, circular reinforcement. All could play a part in escalating the utterly imaginary to the level of reality, sometimes with fatal consequences.”
― Jasper Fforde, Early Riser

2. Their Science and Facts Back Them Up


Okay, okay, how am I going to show you that science backs up some outlandish theories such as flat earth or Trump being a time traveling soldier from 2036? Well, sometimes conspiracy books, videos, and websites, look like they are using science, at least to someone who knows (only) a little bit about science. Let me show you what I mean with two strange examples and why it is so easy to confuse science and pseudoscience.


  1. This image is from the Flat Earth Society wiki:


“The picture below illustrates how the sun moves and also how seasons work on a Flat Earth. The apparent effect of the sun rising and setting is usually explained as a perspective effect.”



Now, of course the seasons could also be caused because the earth is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees, and as it travels around the sun, some parts of the year, the sun is pointing more directly at certain places than others. At least that’s what this homework help site for primary students in the U.K. tells me.


If you do not have a good understanding of the underlying functions of the earth, our galaxy, and physics at large, the graph above, and the “perspective effect” could very well look scientific.


This also is a perfect example of the Dunning Kruger effect which says that when people have insufficient knowledge about a subject they ALSO have insufficient ability to know they don’t have sufficient knowledge. If I am looking for a scientific justification for my beliefs, and I trust any scientist that justifies my belief, regardless of what “most” scientists say, I can easily feel informed and confident in an incorrect belief. Of course, I am also not a physicist and I’ve never been in space, so I could be getting duped by believing the status quo too I guess, except…


2. Science follows the scientific method, pseudoscience goes backwards


If it has been a while since high school science class, the scientific method looks like this:


1. Ask a question
2. Do background research
3. Construct a hypothesis
4. Test your hypothesis with an experiment
5. Analyze the data
6. Draw a conclusion (and I’ll add, EVEN IF the conclusion is different than your hypothesis).


In Behind the Curve we see several Flat Earth “scientists” buy a laser controlled gyroscope to prove that the earth is not rotating. The earth makes a full 360 degree rotation approximately every 24 hours, which is why we measure a “day” every 24 hours. If you divide 360 by 24, the earth should rotate about 15 degrees every hour. In the documentary, they set up their gyroscope and wait an hour, and what do you know, it registers a 15 degree rotation. This is a great example of the scientific method.


  1. Ask a question: Does the earth rotate 360 degrees in 24 hours?
  2. Do background research: If the earth rotates 360 degrees in 24 hours, it should rotate 15 degrees in one hour. A gyroscope, if place unmoved on the earth, should register this rotation if the earth is in fact rotating.
  3. Construct a hypothesis: The earth does not rotate because it is a flat plane and the celestial bodies are a projection that move across it.
  4. Test your hypothesis: Leave gyroscope in one place for an hour.
  5. Analyze the data: The gyroscope registered a 15 degree rotation in one hour.
  6. Draw a conclusion: The earth does in fact rotate 360 degrees in 24 hours.


What happens in the documentary though, is they decide they do not like the conclusion because it does not match their hypothesis. So they go back to the drawing board to find an experiment that will make their conclusion match their hypothesis. This is the scientific method backwards. It is not meant to work backwards from a conclusion to find evidence. It is okay to be wrong about your hypothesis in science. It is not okay to be wrong about your hypothesis in conspiracy dogma.

3. There Is Comfort In The Conspiracy


“Conspiracy theories are really attractive. Figuring out patterns is one of the things that gets your brain to give you a nice dose of chemical reward, the little ping of dopamine and whatever else that keeps you smiling. As a result, your brain is pretty good at finding patterns, and at disregarding information that doesn’t fit. Which means it’s also pretty good at finding false patterns, and at confirmation bias, and a bunch of other things that can be fatal. Our brains are also really good at making us the center of a narrative, because it’s what we evolved for.”
― Elizabeth Bear, Ancestral Night


What is scarier? If an elite group is in complete control of everything and is trying to brainwash the public about round earth, Bush “doing 9/11”, lizard-aliens, time-traveling Trumps, and poisonous vaccines, OR if the world is messed up and tragic, and no one is pulling the strings? What if terrorists groups just get past security and kill thousands of people sometimes? What if we elect a bankrupt celebrity as President? What if pharmaceutical companies are greedy, maybe even sometimes “evil”, without them intentionally causing a rise in autism?


Chaos is scary. We grow up hearing stories with villains and heroes and endings tied with a bow. I think most of us see ourselves as heroes, and when villians threaten our families, our communities, our religious beliefs, our country, or our other ideals, we want to point it out, find out the cause, and try to overcome the evil. It can be comforting to find a group of people, a book, a YouTube channel, which seem to have answers, connecting seemingly disparate dots. It gives you hope that maybe you, and others like you, can overcome the bad in the world.


I’m afraid the truth is, there is plenty of bad in the world, but I don’t think it has an identifiable face. I don’t think we are being lied to about every single thing in order to get away with unimaginable evil. I think the evil we are facing is pretty clear, and at times, it feels hopeless. Corporate greed, genocide, racism, misuse of power, and many more terrible realities do rain down on people every day, and I wish there was an easy answer to the most important question:




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Full Length Collection available on Amazon!

I am so happy to announce my first collection:The Cosmic Hello: Lessons in Co-Dependency is now available on Amazon.

Here is the back cover blurb:

C. Alexander is a small-town Southern born poet who now lives in New England. He has his MFA from Lindenwood University, and dabbles in print and spoken-word poetry. He has a spoken word EP called “Cosmic Aging” that you can find from all online music sources. He has been published in The Eunoia Review, Paragon Journal, Scarlet Leaf Review, The Stray Branch and The Inflectionist Review among others.

“Couples therapy sessions slowly morphed into solitary therapy sessions. My therapist kept coming back to the question of my passions, and where I was headed. I knew it was writing. So I wrote. I wrote my pain of loss. I wrote my confusion about the existential questions that plagued me as someone who grew up in the bible belt, but had a hard time swallowing the bigotry I saw. I wrote my struggle through heartbreak and single life. I wrote my triumphs in self-confidence, and ultimately I wrote a new love story, with a new person. Ultimately, it’s not about meeting the right person; instead, it is about finding out that you are quite capable of loving yourself, and anyone else loving you is just a wonderful sprinkle on top.”