If you could change one thing about yourself

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So let's set some conditions first.


It can't be anything too easy, like I'd want to be blond, because if that was really something you wanted to do you would have done it already.


And it can't be your economic status, because that's something you can change, maybe, with some initiative and luck, and everybody wants to be wealthier, except for someone who's slept on a bed of money for too long and is having back problems because of it so they want to give some away to get the lumps out.


And it can't be an addiction issue, like smoking, or drinking, because that's just too easy. Yeah, no one wants to be killing themselves with bad habits. So over-eating is out, bulimia is out, pellegra, or whatever that weird eating disease is called. In fact, let's just eliminate eating fetishes all together and sex habits, because almost everybody wants more sex when they aren't getting it, and nymphomaniacs can never get enough. It's surprising that social media hasn't been able to bring these groups together, but maybe it has and I'm just out of the loop. Maybe that's what those friend requests with young girls who want to have a great .... now means and I'm just square.


Okay, now there's something you could change. I don't want to be as square. I want to be able to loosen up and not feel guilty about it. Or you could go in the opposite direction. I want to be more square and not feel stupid about it, as if I'm denying myself some pleasure when I don't go to the bar and get wasted. This feeling that I should be getting more all the time when I'm already getting more than anybody I know, when it would be better for me if I got a lot less, but I can't stop being so cool.


Which of these positions do you think is more problematic? I think in our society we're programmed to feel as if we're missing out on pleasure all the time, too square. All of the ads, all of the cartoons, all of the Black Panthers appear to be living in a world where every moment is titillated with excitement and pleasure, and all I need is to get my hands on some vibrainium. Coming soon to a Disney store near you, just like plastic Harry Potter wands that look like real sticks. We consume because it's safe for a square to consume more stuff, but not do anything cool. Doing something cool is dangerous. It means we might defy convention. Consumption in this society is convention.


Okay, so try it. Try not being so square for a day. Do something that you don't allow yourself to do that isn't stupidly harmful, but might be fun. Like maybe dance alone at a bar to a song you like. Guys should do this. Macho guys. Slow dance with themselves.


Women might want to ask a guy to dance. A completely inappropriate guy. A guy so young and handsome that it makes you tingle just to walk by him. Ask him to dance and if he says no, just start dancing for him. Dance sexily and shamelessly, then after you fail, go back to your husband and say, "Well, I tried," and watch the reaction. I'll bet he'll tell you he'd never imagined you were so cool.


Me personally, I always want to be less angry. I've had anger management issues since I was a little kid and my older siblings would do cruel stuff to me that I couldn't do back to them because I was so much smaller and there was only one of me. That's what sucks about being the youngest, there's only one of you, and you're the smallest. There's only one oldest too, but they're usually the biggest, at least for some extended period of time. Enough time to do significant damage to the psyche of the youngest.


There's this voice in my head all the time telling me everything I'm doing is wrong and it's the voice of my older siblings. My parents never did that. They encouraged me, but then they didn't want to pay for lessons, but that's another issue. My siblings would tell me I did something terribly when I did it well. They'd lie to me all the time and I wasn't old to enough to understand why they would want to lie to me. Why they wouldn't want me to succeed in all of the areas where I was better than they are. I thought they'd want me to beat them fair and square.


So I have this anger problem and it's invaded every relationship I've ever had and everything I do, even stuff I do with myself, that isn't for public consumption. I'm always telling myself I could do better and it's true, that's the terrible part. I could, I really could, based on models of perfect, peak performance. But how often does that happen? Once. A peak performance is a magic moment, not an everyday occurrence, but my siblings would always demand, prove it, prove it again, and like the little idiot I was, I'd try until I failed and then beat myself up at their behest.   


Damn, it took me a along time to figure that out, but once I did I was much less angry at myself and much nicer when I didn't live up to my unrealistic expectations, the one's inculcated into my being by a corrupt system. And this process of becoming nicer is what I work at everyday, not letting the voice tell me to be pissy because things aren't going my way. Because, when I step back and look at where I've been, what I've come through, they are going my way. I've got a beautiful feeling everything's going my way.


Today no one will hold me down and tickle me until I can't breathe, or drape a wet washcloth over my face as I sleep. In fact, there's a good chance that I will be able to sleep as long as I want without any disturbance. And in my life, that's huge.


Dino Manalis Added Feb 26, 2018 - 3:16pm
 I would certainly love better health.  I'm legally blind; hearing-impaired; diabetic; with balance and other problems.  I try to be positive, could be better, could be worse.
mark henry smith Added Feb 26, 2018 - 3:26pm
Dino, health can always be worse if you're still kicking. You seem like a very nice person. Have you tried any stretching routines to keep more limber? Tai chi done very gently can be wonderful for balance. One of my areas of study is exercises for any condition, since I believe the body is the greatest self-healing mechanism we have. Not that exercise can cure near-sightedness, or a hernia. Not yet at least.
George N Romey Added Feb 26, 2018 - 3:48pm
Well age.  Things are much easier at 35 than 58.  Since that's not possible my lack of patience.
Dave Volek Added Feb 26, 2018 - 4:05pm
Good question indeed.
Since you took the vices away, that makes one really think.
My current life situation has me in contact with a lot of kids who are missing a second parent in their lives or are living in a semi-dysfunctional household. I think I have been a positive influence in their lives, albiet I am still very much on sidelines. I would like to have more energy such that I can maintain my own family and help these kids along a little bit to help make them better people.
Tom C. Purcell Added Feb 26, 2018 - 5:29pm
IDK, sometimes I wish I wasn't an American.  Sometimes I wish I was more tolerant.  Some days I wish I were bolder and more active on behalf of kin and country, some days I wish my tongue wasn't so sharp.  
When I was 6 I wanted to be a farmer like my Dad and Grandpa and so many Purcells since the time of Charlemagne.  At 10 I wanted to be pro football player.  At 12 I wanted to make a living as a writer.  At 15, briefly, I wanted to be a chef or rock & roll star, then a writer again.  At 20 I wanted to be a fireman or EMT.  Between the ages of 23 and 35 I worked too many hours for too few dollars, just trying to make ends meet and when they did it was only just.  Between 23 and 35 I wanted a decent night's rest.  At 36 I wanted to work with animals in a professional way, because people are so sucky, and was recruited and earned my degree to do so, but quickly realized that I could make more money as a cashier at a supermarket, so I started writing again. 
But now that I have a six month old, all that matters is what I can do for his well being, which does include the well-being of my fellow man.  Like any father, I just want to teach my son to be a better man than I am, and that's where my wishes revolve now.
James Travil Added Feb 26, 2018 - 6:56pm
If I could change one thing about myself I would be in perfect physical condition. I'm not that bad off, but who wouldn't want to be built like a bodybuilder?
Baring that I would like to have been born in another time. Most people who say that want the past, but I don't romancize the past, the past sucked. No real medicine, more bigotry and ridiculous superstition. Shorter lifespan. More diseases and famine. It just sucked outside of the movies and fantasy novels. No I wish I was born in the future, maybe a few hundred years from now. I would love to see the advancements and live in a more enlightened time.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Feb 27, 2018 - 3:52am
I'd be 6'1" 200 rather than 6'5" 285. Wish in one hand spit in the other which one fills up faster?
wsucram15 Added Feb 27, 2018 - 6:59am
well-being, completely.  
So wellness begins with me and at times its a struggle.  I would like it not be so much work to be relaxed.  More focused and meditative.
Doug Plumb Added Feb 27, 2018 - 12:34pm
I would be a hard body again. I would like to have more patience and better listening skills.
mark henry smith Added Feb 27, 2018 - 2:26pm
I am so pleased with what I read.
Dino, George, Jeanne, James, Doug, there are simple ways to greatly improve how you feel inside your body. I do a stretch routine for a half-hour a day when I'm doing something passive like listening to the radio. I've been doing it for forty years now and I believe it is one of the reasons I still feel so good, but l'm waiting to get a second, female opinion.
Dave, wonderful, to be a role model for kids who need one I can't think of anyone better, what I did to get more energy was take a long time to heal from some serious emotional issues, really work at figuring them out and formulating a plan of attack. The first step was imaging how I would feel without them in my life and then one day that was me.
James, very interesting answer, but it's not really changing anything about yourself to be you in the future, but if you imagined you were living in the future now and started behaving as if this was the really-cool future you imagine, that might be cool.
Jeffry, you're the first person I ever heard of who wanted to be shorter. I bow in admiration.
Tom, beautiful. I have been told all of my life not to live my dreams because they lead to disappointment. But they lead, as you show, to more dreams. To raise your son to be a better man than you, a better person, I would say, be that person you would like him to be and you will improve the chances by half.
What I would like to say to all of you is thank you. I have been much inspired by your thoughts and the key appears to be to imagine what you want to change, imagine what you would be with that change, and be it. Except, Jeffry. There is a procedure that I heard of to make a person shorter, it involves dropping a person from an airplane without a parachute. Some have survived it, but none have recommended it after. I recommend higher door jams and a longer bed to make you feel shorter.
Love and peace, this is becoming a great day.           
Tom C. Purcell Added Feb 27, 2018 - 2:30pm
"To raise your son to be a better man than you, a better person, I would say, be that person you would like him to be and you will improve the chances by half."
These are the wisest words I've found on WB in a long time.  Maybe it sort of goes without saying but it's just well said and worth repeating.
mark henry smith Added Feb 27, 2018 - 2:39pm
Thank you, Tom.
wsucram15 Added Feb 27, 2018 - 3:10pm
MHS..its a good article as always thanks for the  article about looking inward.
mark henry smith Added Feb 27, 2018 - 4:07pm
Thank you Jeanne.
Your constitutional pieces are wonderful, but the comments take up hours. I keep forgetting to like articles that I like and that has been my habit since I started on here. I will go back and change that now.   
Flying Junior Added Feb 28, 2018 - 3:25am
I'll bite.  I have known some very beautiful people in my life.  I don't mean just all of the colorful characters that have walked across the stage of my life that have made it so interesting.  I've known some people that have a gift of loving others.  Some time ago, I decided that I would strive to be more like these people.  I would cultivate an ability to see the best in others and let them understand that I loved and cared about them.  I think that way of thinking has helped me become at the least that which in my own mind is a better person than I was when I was very young.
But this may be a tear in the fabric of the space-time continuum for all I know.  May be a portal to another dimension that is opening only for an instant, a fraction of a second.  Maybe MHS is writing a script for a turning point in my life.  A Twilight Zone twist of fate.  I have to be careful what I wish for.  I don't want to say that I wish I was less selfish and more community-minded.  If I truly became a person who lived humbly and gave of himself to help those in need around him, or if I considered giving up my own creature comforts so that I could give of my time and share my prosperity with those that were less fortunate than myself...
Well, I just don't think it would work out.  So I will stick with the first idea and try to be the kind of person that looks for things that he can admire in others.  I like to give honest praise of people who show good faith and hard work.  It doesn't cost anything to say something nice.  But it can go a long way.  I like to encourage those who are faltering.  I most enjoy giving love and support to our youth.
mark henry smith Added Feb 28, 2018 - 12:03pm
Flying, I think that was lovely.
I might be writing a script for a turning point in everybody's life. Who knows? I don't write with the intention of my work doing anything except becoming read by someone other than myself.
Honestly, I have always seen myself as the kind of person who desires to cultivate love in the world, it's just that I was never very good at it for reasons I found hard to fathom. Okay, I'm very competitive, but I try to be a good sport about it, but no one likes to lose, and it all gets very testy when the people you're playing cheat, and it's like that in so many things, people cheat, and lie, and steal, and you want to love them, but you don't want to encourage the behavior, and then you get drawn into a battle of hidden agendas and if you're smart enough to figure them all out, that only makes it worse, so it's problems all around.
People want to play their up-side down games and eat their upside-down cake too. I don't think it's a sin to live well, in fact I think it's preferred, but it's all in the getting, how you get that extra piece of pie. Teach kids to play fair, work hard, be honest, love truly, sex restrainedly, until the gloves come off on the lady fingers. And be that person you want to be, take the steps, one at a time, small steps towards achievable goals, not like a Napoleon. Sorry, I answered an ad for a pastry chef job this morning.   
Jeffry Gilbert Added Feb 28, 2018 - 12:55pm
Jeffry, you're the first person I ever heard of who wanted to be shorter. I bow in admiration.
When you are my size you don't fit anywhere. Try getting in and out of a car, hitting your head every day, no place big enough for your feet and your knees up around your shoulders. All this in a so called luxury car. Try this on a 5 hour drive in to the city. 
Try walking into a store and never finding anything large enough to fit you. ANYTHING! Try having to have everything custom made. 
Try having everyone you meet be consciously or unconsciously afraid of you. Of having to always remember to speak softly for the same reason. 
Try being the target of every small man wanting to prove he can beat the big guy. Bad enough in your teens and twenties even worse in your sixties. 
Try being so large you're unable to work on your own boat. Not being able to squeeze into places designed by some skinny 5'8" pencil necked geek. 
How about never being anonymous. Always attracting attention everywhere just because you're big. 
Yeah, I'll take average size every day and twice on Sunday. 
mark henry smith Added Feb 28, 2018 - 1:08pm
Jeffry, thank you. How's the air up there? Just kidding.
I had never thought of all of those difficulties being a person of completely average dimensions, except I have a huge ass, so my pants wear out in the strangest way. Most people rip their pants at the knees. I split mine in the thighs. That's right, the thighs wear out because of the pressure my huge butt creates. But it's a small price to pay for the balance I have.
And it has been expressed to me that tall men a decided advantage with the ladies. Have you found this to be true?  
Jeffry Gilbert Added Feb 28, 2018 - 2:27pm
Have you found this to be true?  
Is that true? And all this time I thought it was my sense of humor and deep blue eyes. 
I can testify that very short women seem to have a greater attraction to tall men. 
Jeff Michka Added Feb 28, 2018 - 6:59pm
I can testify that very short women seem to have a greater attraction to tall men.-It might be very un-PC but have to ask, do you think they like the tall guys because they have to go up on them?
Leroy Added Feb 28, 2018 - 8:18pm
I only wish that I could show my son the same work ethic my father showed me.  He retired to hand over the reins to my eldest sister.  She robbed him blind, but that is another story.  When he could barely walk, he bought a golf cart.  He had a passion for heavy equipment.  He would buy the equipment, fix them, and resale them.  He would ride the golf cart over to the equipment, climb underneath, and work on it.  He bought and sold property.  He was remodeling a house the day he passed on.  He never quit.  He was always looking for an opportunity to make money.  He didn't love money, but he enjoyed the pursuit. 
Nobody's Sweetheart Added Feb 28, 2018 - 10:20pm
Nothing...absolutely nothing! I'm FAR too perfect for this world.
Leroy Added Mar 1, 2018 - 12:10am
It seems that in most cultures, women are attracted to everything that is different from their own.  White women want to tan themselves to become darker and are attracted to dark foreigners.  Dark women want to lighten their skin and are attracted to white foreigners. My wife is 16" shorter than me and has a dark complexion.  I'm pink, she says.  I am everything her culture is not.  She likes everything big.  Her parents were overjoyed when our son was born because he was big.  The doctor in China referred to him as a "giant baby."  That's good in China.  
When I first started going to China, I would hear, "NBA, NBA, NBA."  Just about every day someone wanted to take a picture with me.  No anymore.  With MacDonalds and KFC on every corner, the youths are nearly as tall as me, some taller.
Leroy Added Mar 1, 2018 - 12:11am
"Nothing...absolutely nothing! I'm FAR too perfect for this world."
Wish that I could say that I was perfect too, but I made a mistake once.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Mar 1, 2018 - 12:35am
but have to ask, do you think they like the tall guys because they have to go up on them?
As I'm taller from my ass to my chin than from my ass to the ground she'd have to be three feet tall to manage that. Mine's 4'10".
mark henry smith Added Mar 1, 2018 - 12:58pm
Interesting. Is the reverse true? Do tall men prefer short women? Maybe it's a convenience thing. As a team you can reach all the high stuff more easily and she can reach all the low stuff more easily.
My ex used to say she was perfect, using a philosophical argument, that because there can't be a better you, you are by default the perfect you. I thought it was a perfectly awful argument. I never claim perfection, because I know that without mistakes I wouldn't make anything, like this limerick for one sexually obsessed person on writerbeat who obviously has issues and should get help.
Fired Up
I once had a girlfriend who liked
to have her afternoons spiked.
But before we could start
she'd want me to fart
as a match behind me was striked.
The relationship didn't last. It wasn't that easy to fart on command, or that pleasant away from her company.
Leroy, wonderful story. From what I've heard from others Asians have little hesitance in showing their fascination with other people's differences.
Riley Brown Added Mar 1, 2018 - 5:24pm
I'd have to say wealth.  If I could make myself truly very wealthy then I could do all sorts of things that I think would benefit my family, my friends, and the world. 
Katharine Otto Added Mar 2, 2018 - 11:06am
Thoroughly enjoyable question and responses.  This is one thing I like about WriterBeat. 
Change is inevitable, so my wish is to grow in grace, understanding, compassion, and wisdom.  I also want to lighten up, because I tend to take things too seriously. 
Like you, I tend to look for things to like about people, but have had to learn to do the same for myself.  The idea of being perfectly you resonates, because nobody else can do it, so there's no competition. 
My anger can be intense too, but it backfires on me, so I've learned to curb it and usually redirect it to something useful.  I wish I would exercise more, but have gotten lazy.  
mark henry smith Added Mar 2, 2018 - 11:30am
Riley, me too. I have had an attitude of disdain for wealth, that it leads to bad decision making, but I'm old enough now that I believe I am inured to all of my terrible habits. As I told my golf buddy, I'm glad I was never rich because I would have bonged myself to death. It appears I have smoking under control. I smoke socially only and moderately. If I don't want to smoke, I just don't go there.
Katherine, so much on the same plain. I didn't like the ex's argument, because it means you don't have to work at it, but I can see the advantage of reveling in one's originality now that I'm older.
I truly love all people, but really like few. I let anyone teach me what they want to teach and I will do the same. I believe we are all examples of our weltenschuuang, try saying that three times fast, our world view, whether we want to be or not, so stop denying.
I know I can be extremely violent if the situation calls for it and I'm extremely hesitant to use violence as a recourse, but because of my strength and skills in martial arts I'm extremely confident and that has caused even the most determined perp to just back away.
Don't wish to exercise. Just do something. Add ten minutes a day of stretching or walking. We treat exercise as if it has to be sweating and hurting, when it's just moving.
Love to all of you.     
Riley Brown Added Mar 2, 2018 - 6:21pm
Mark I'm not to proud to say I'd like to be wealthy enough to not have to every worry but not wealthy enough to attract attention.
Stephen Hunter Added Mar 3, 2018 - 9:53am
Mark, great article and it is so emotionally healthy to look inside and ask this question. Because we all have the ability to change. 
Like you, for me it would be the anger/blaming reflex. However I am working on that with meditation. You do have to go back to your past and release the emotions generated at the time that still stick with you.
mark henry smith Added Mar 3, 2018 - 12:46pm
Riley, my landlord is exactly that kind of person. From the way he dresses, the way he lives, you'd never know how much he's given to philanthropic organizations that he supports, but last night, when power was out and a neighbor with a generator, and wealth invited me over to eat and hang, I was told of some of his charitable givings. A wonderful serendipitous evening, when I would have been alone in the dark.
It showed me another side of wealth. The fluently generous side.
Stephen, as I wrote earlier, a woman challenged me to accept a proposition, that what I saw as an aggressive attitude really was angry. I denied and she asked me to imagine that I didn't have that attitude anymore, whatever I wanted to call it, and see what that felt like. I tried and couldn't do it, but in trying to release whatever it was I realized that she'd been right, it was anger.
It took me several days, but having identified what the issue was I was able to isolate it and slowly pry it away from me belief that it was a positive component of my identity. One day it happened, this edge, this chip, this tough guy personae fell away and I was exhausted. So exhausted that all I could do was sleep all day and my normal berating myself for being so lazy, wasn't there. The hyper-self-critical voice that I saw as motivating, but was really limiting me to a very narrow range of behaviors and relationships just wasn't there.
In the last few months, my health improved, my outlook improved, my writing improved, my poetry improved, my performing, singing, numbers of people I'm connecting with improved. I thanked the woman for helping me and she said all she did was tell me what I was ready to hear. And I had to say, "That's a lot of all." We'd talked for hours and hours.
Meditation is wonderful in finding the voices the need to be muted and the ones that need to be strengthened.
Thank you all.     
Stephen Hunter Added Mar 4, 2018 - 9:30am
Thanks Mark Henry- wise words indeed!