Jewish World Review Feb. 4, 2003 / 2 Adar I, 5763

David Martin

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Consumer Reports

Dare to be average | Are you depressed, unhappy, unfilled? Have you often wondered what your life would be like if only you could unload all your worries and neuroses? Have you ever wanted to be more than you are?

Of course you have. And why? Because you've been subjected to a never ending onslaught of newspaper ads, junk mail and infomercials telling you how to overcome your boring humdrum life by doing everything from losing thirty pounds to getting buns of steel to buying real estate with no money down.

Everyone from Anthony Robbins to Charles Givens has assaulted you with entreaties whose underlying message is "I'm OK; you're so-so" and whose upfront message is "Send me $200 and I'll make everything okay." You can't turn on the TV today without one of these motivational gurus urging you to change your life.

Well, I'm here to tell you that your life is alright just the way it is. You don't need to lose thirty pounds, you don't need a fancy new car and you sure don't need more "personal power", whatever the hell that is.

You need an antidote to the pop psych, simplistic aphorisms of Messrs. Robbins, et al. The answer? Just follow my easy six-step program "Dare to be Average."

I'm offering my six-step program to anyone who can read this page. It's a simple inaction plan for those who don't want to get ahead or expand their horizons or lose any weight. In other words, it's a way for us everyday slobs to get on with our lives and enjoy the occasional relaxing break we get when the hyped-up motivational wizards can't get at us.

My "message for the mediocre" is really quite simple: don't change, you're fine just the way you are. And here's my simple six-step program to ensure that you continue to meet that goal:

(1) Stop worrying about getting rich; wealth only creates a whole new series of problems. What would you do with ten million dollars anyway? You'd have to hire a lawyer, an accountant and a personal bodyguard and you'd no longer be able to enjoy anonymity. Life would become a series of one financial headache after another. So, if you have any excess cash, just stick it in the bank and forget about it.

(2) Stop worrying about "personal growth"; it's highly overrated. What's wrong with laying back, reading, watching TV or just lazing the day away? Nothing, of course. The only reason you've been feeling guilty about it at all is because Anthony Robbins and his gang have made you feel that way. Well, forget it. It's time to get back on that sofa and enjoy those Mash reruns guilt-free.

(3) Stop worrying about diet and health. What's the point? In the last ten years we've been told margarine's good for us and then we're told it's bad for us. Alcohol was bad for us; now it's good. Oat bran was a miracle cure; now it's suspect. Regular coffee was out; decaf was in. But now decaf is supposedly worse than regular. If you had just stuck to your old meat and potatoes diet from ten years ago, you'd be better off today and you wouldn't have suffered through the stress and worry of trying to keep up with the New England Journal of Medicine.

(4) Stop worrying about fitness and exercise. Let's face it - no one ever sprained an ankle in a rocker-recliner. So, throw out that fancy exercise equipment that Jane or Jake or some other TV personality sold you for three easy payments of $39 and enjoy living again. If you leave that portable gym in the corner of the rec room, you're just going to feel guilty and inadequate every time you look at it. So chuck it out and ensure that the toughest exercise you ever engage in again is operating the remote control.

(5) Stop getting sucked in to buying every new glitzy device hawked on the tube. Believe it or not, you don't need a power walker or a food dehydrator or a ginzu knife set. Before phoning that 1-800 number or sending in a cheque for $79.95, stop and think where that convection cooker is going to end up. Right next to the two dozen other gizmos that you thought you couldn't do without but now gather dust in the corner of the basement. Just remember, when's the last time you used the Pocket Fisherman, the Vegematic or the Pattystacker that you bought twenty years ago?

(6) Stop worrying about getting old. It happens to everyone and you can't avoid it. We age, our hair falls out, our skin wrinkles and we eventually die. That's life. Save your money and stop believing the infomercial wizards trying to sell you the fountain of youth. For women, that means stop buying the infinite variety of anti-wrinkle skin creams. For men, it means no more purchases of toupees, hair weaves or hair plugs; it's a lot cheaper to just buy a hat.

Now you're probably saying to yourself "Hey, this guy's right - I don't need to buy all those things - but how do I buy a copy of his amazing new videotape?" You don't. That's the whole idea. No more exercise videos, no more dieting infomercials and no more personal growth audiocassettes. You don't need them.

So don't send me any money, don't call my 1-800 number and please don't write me. I don't want to be bothered. I've got better things not to do.

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JWR contributor David Martin is an Ottawa-based lawyer and writer.Comment by clicking here.


© 2003, David Martin