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12 Life Lessons from ‘Seinfeld’

12 Life Lessons from ‘Seinfeld’

For a show that was mostly about stifling character growth and empathy, Seinfeld sure taught us a lot about being a better person. Almost every episode has some kind of lesson on how to improve your life, but it’s more on the audience to decipher the moral. It’s also probably on the audience because the writers of the show weren’t trying to wax poetic on the woes and hardships of life in 90s New York. More they wanted to show four shitty people be shitty to each other and everyone else. Still, like we said, there was a lot to learn from the show about nothing. Here are 12 life lessons from Seinfeld.

Sometimes All Your Sex Life Needs is a Change of Pace

Without exception, everything in life can get stuck in a rut. Eating at the same place for lunch every day, even if you loved it the first few times, will eventually make you bored with the food or outright hate it. The same old exercise routine won’t give you results if you do it for weeks or months at a time and your motivation to do it will evaporate. And yes, even sex can eventually become a chore if you’re doing the same thing every time you and your partner meet up in the bedroom.

Now, when we say “change of pace,” we’re not saying to go stepping out on a partner of a long relationship. What we’re saying is get a little adventurous. Try something that’s a little out of your comfort zone or against the routine. It doesn’t even have to be a sex-related change. Maybe you and your girlfriend or wife have been talking about painting the living room a different color. Maybe you’ve been hitting the gym after work for years and always wondered what the morning would be like. It could be something as simple as visiting your significant other for lunch one day or changing the side of the bed you sleep on. Hell, eat an exotic fruit. Just make it something you don’t normally do. Making a change in one area is inevitably going to affect other things, and it might just be the shift you and your partner need to get things going again.

It’s Worth Having an Alias 

In this case, we’re talking an alias for general shenanigans and borderline, low level illegalities. Absolutely, in no way, are we talking trying to avoid felony charges by using a fake name. If you’ve laundered money or killed someone or something, don’t try to avoid the punishment by using a Seinfeldian alias. And, even more so, don’t come to a men’s lifestyle website for nuanced legal advice. We just tell you what hotels are best to get drunk at, so don’t go thinking we’re licensed to practice.

The alias level we’re talking about is meeting someone at a bar who you don’t want to give your real name. Someone who’s been chatting you up and won’t take a hint, so you give them a fake name for them to futilely Google or Facebook or Snapchat or whatever other forsaken thing people are passing off as social media these days. Your name is the most direct way to contact you and it’s your prerogative if you want to deny people that avenue.

There’s also the added benefit of it becoming a running joke with your friends. We’ve known a few guys who landed on excellent aliases by accident, stuck with them, and occasionally turned using them into the most entertaining part of our nights out. As long as it doesn’t get overused, “Sebastian von Cargyle” might accidentally become the highlight of your night.

Privacy and Home Security are of the Utmost Importance

Pretty much no one gets through their entire life without being the victim of some kind of crime, whether it be a mugging, having a bike stolen, being plagiarized on the Internet, or getting murdered. Luckily, that last one is pretty rare, if we’re looking at the stone cold numbers of it. And even if it’s inevitable, that doesn’t mean you can’t do some things to minimize your losses. If you’re getting mugged, don’t carry all your credit cards and cash on you or in your wallet. If you have a history of people stealing your bike, buy a better lock. Plagiarized on the Internet? Invest in some copyright protection. Murdered? Try not to get murdered.

Maybe the most unsettling one is having your house broken into. Everything else generally happens outside in the world. If you don’t go outside, they probably won’t happen. But all you need to do to qualify for home burglary is live somewhere, so unless you’re a nomadic tribesmen, you’re as likely as the rest of us. In preparation for that, get yourself a strongbox and put important stuff in it. Passports, cash, sentimental jewelry, legally binding documents, any of those qualify as important stuff. Definitely as stuff you don’t want ending up in the hands of a thief. Plus, thieves generally just take what’s lying around and won’t spend the time or the energy to break into a strongbox or safe. This isn’t Ocean’s Eleven. It’s also an area where we’re thankful people aren’t more hardworking or ambitious.

Just don’t leave the key to the thing sitting around. It’s pretty easy to guess that the conspicuous key unlocks the conspicuous box and at that point, you have to shoulder at least a little bit of the blame.

It’s Possible for Your Standards to Be Too High

We’re not ecstatic about the idea of fix ups, but sometimes they can be fun ways to meet new people. It’s like Tinder, but before Tinder may have killed romance and human decency as we knew them. Besides, sometimes your friends know you better than you know yourself and someone fixing you up might just be the right way to go.

But—and this is a big one—don’t go into the thing like George Costanza. You are not God’s gift to humanity. There’s nothing that you have that dozens of other guys haven’t got. The concept of “average” exists for a reason, and we don’t mean that as an insult. We’re talking purely statistically. Most people are fine and chances are, we’re all most people. So go into a date with that attitude. Everyone has redeeming qualities and we’re convinced that the baseline for human existence is “attractive” anyway. Not everyone’s a 10, but 10s occur as often as 1s, and we find that encouraging.

That being said, at least have some standards. There are very few things in relationships more depressing than people who run from person to person, all of whom are clearly bad for them. If you don’t like someone, that’s an acceptable and human reaction. Just don’t go holding out for a chance encounter and ensuing rom-com with Kate Upton.

There’s another side of this too, and recognizing it may help you deal with rejection. Not everyone is going to find you attractive. But don’t worry, someone will, and it won’t be because either of you are settling.

Respect Deadlines

Deadlines have the connotation of only really being for writing jobs. Journalists, authors, and advertisers bear the majority of deadline pressure, though some is expanded to anyone working in data entry or software programming. And right about now, those of you who don’t have jobs that fit those categories are thinking we’re ignoring the very real stress of your own professional deadlines. But that’s our point. Everyone has them. No matter what job it is, most of it is about having certain tasks done by a certain time. Janitors have to have stuff clean by a certain time, teachers need kids to be taught by a certain age, mailmen have to deliver stuff by the end of their day, and the thousands of other tasks people get paid to do. If no one paid attention to their deadlines, there’d be mass chaos.

And you might think we’re being a little too ambitious with our definition of deadlines, or maybe making deadlines sound more important than they really are. To that we say, yeah, probably. But it’s better than having Philip Baker Hall on our ass for any one of dozens of minor infractions. The world would run smoother if someone like the the library cop was haunting us.

Sometimes All You Need is a Good Shower

Someday soon, or maybe someday recently, you will have a day where the only thing that feels like it might make it better is a good shower. That is, if you shower at night. For our morning shower brethren, your morning routine has the potential to make or break your day. If you can’t start it right, you may as well call in sick and not start it at all. And if you’re out of sick days, you’ll find yourself closely followed by the gray cloud of mild depression all day, all because something went wrong in your shower.

It could be that the water pressure’s off, someone used up all the hot water, you forgot your towel, or maybe even something just up and breaks while you’re trying to bathe. Whatever it is, you’re in a bad mood and nothing’s going to bring you out of it. Nothing quick, anyway.

On the flip side, maybe you’re whole day’s been shit so far, so you find that perfect shower temperature and just stand there for awhile. Thanks to that, you’re feeling more productive, motivated, optimistic, and capable. It’s an odd power for something to have, since there isn’t really a natural analog. Sure, waterfalls and rain exist, but waterfalls are more pounding than relaxing and getting caught in the rain can be downright depressing. If someone knows the science behind mood-lifting showers, please tell us, because until then, we’re chalking this one up to miracles.

Don’t Smoke

This one is more self-explanatory than the rest. And based more in science. Though, appropriately enough, Seinfeld goes for the more superficial approach. Aesthetically, smoking works for World War Two movies, James Dean in that one picture, and old priests. If you’re not any of those things, put whatever smoke delivery apparatus you use away. Smoke from cigarettes, pipes, and yes, even cigars (though cigars are a smaller risk, if used in diligent moderation), simply put, hurts your appearance, and if that isn’t an immediate and direct enough effect to persuade you to quit the habit, just be glad your lungs are on the inside of your body. If you don’t want to look like your dad’s old baseball mitt, it’s probably a good idea to leave tobacco in the store or, better yet, on the plant.

You’ll Avoid a Lot of Headaches if You Just Let People Have Their Quirks

It’d be a scarily high number if someone took the time to count up, both in Seinfeld and real life, how many relationships ended because of someone’s weird quirk. People spend so much time agonizing over inconsequential character flaws that they forget this is the man or woman who’s supported them for the last however long. Sure, your guy or girl might chew way too loudly or tap their fingers when they’re bored, but those aren’t worth forgetting you can spend hours in silence together, that you both love Italian/Brazilian hybrid diners, or whatever else it is that people find to connect on a deeply personal level.

The point is, if someone spends the flight staring straight ahead, accept it. Neither of you is going to get hurt by it, no one’s losing anything, and for all you know, the book you’re reading may be a shitty waste of time (in which case, you may as well have stared straight ahead). Plus, if you guys go and blow up on each other over nothing, you never know who else you’re victimizing. There were a lot of other people on that flight whose already miserable time was made much worse by constant bickering.

Do the Opposite to Broaden Your Horizons

This is one where we should let the clip do most of the talking, but we’ll still put some description here. Mostly to advise moderation. Don’t go all in on the opposite stuff, since that’s likely to cause problems with family, friends, and the like. Try it out in fairly low stakes situation first, maybe food. If you’re usually eating burgers, try a salad. Some of them are good. Sticking with food, try a different restaurant. If you’re hitting American gastropubs every other day, give yourself permission to try the Japanese place down the street. For us, “Do the Opposite” is more about broadening our horizons than mistrusting our instincts. Being too comfortable gets you in a rut and the fastest way to get yourself out of one is disrupting your routine. Plus, you’ll usually get a good story out of it too.

Ultimately, Style is Whatever You’re Most Comfortable Wearing

There are a ton of sites out there devoted to telling you what you will and won’t look good in, regardless of whether or not the editors of the magazine have actually met you. Hell, we even do it sometimes. In our defense, and we’ll only speak for ourselves here, we fully recognize that style varies from person to person. That’s why, when we’re writing up some style tips, we try to present them to you as suggestions instead of the mandates you might find on other sites. Ultimately, style is about what you feel most comfortable in or what you think prepares you best for whatever you’re doing.

If you’re not a fan of jeans, wear khakis or corduroys. If you want to walk around ensconced in velvet or only wearing a bra, you can totally do that. That’s fine. It’s your money, your time, and your image, do what you want with it. Don’t let some knit picky people in New York or Paris tell you what you can and can’t wear. We have a hard time believing those outfits are comfortable anyway. Also Watch

If You’re Going to Manscape, Plan Ahead

Most guys these days do some kind of maintenance on their body hair. Trimming, shaving, waxing, it’s all viable, even if there are several schools of thought on what to cut, how much to trim, and exactly what’s attractive to women anyway. But the main advice that no one seems to give is, know what you’re comfortable with. Everyone starts, or experiments, or changes things up at some point, but if you just dive right in, you’re going to end up making mistakes. And depending on the mistake, there could be some long lasting consequences.

For example, if you’re in a relationship, it might not be a great idea to give your partner unrealistic body hair expectations, especially if it’s the start of a new relationship. Manscaping can be a lot of work that quickly approaches tiresome and monotonous, so don’t go making commitments to things you won’t want to keep up. If your chest is on the hairy side, don’t feel self-conscious. Superman (and Wolverine) has a hairy chest, and chicks seemed to dig that. Sure, most of us aren’t as jacked as Jerry Seinfeld’s favorite superhero, but we keep ourselves in decent shape, so some of those Super-perks should be coming our way.

Leave Work at Work

The lucky few of us had hobbies we enjoy and were able to start making some money off them. The rest of us have jobs we do so we have money to do the things we actually like. For that second group, it doesn’t matter how good they are at what they do, they just want to be done with work after they leave the office or construction site or woodshop or cab or whatever it is they do to pay the bills. Whether or not you think they’re job is enjoyable doesn’t matter. It may have been played for laughs, but there’s some truth to how bored Chris O’Dowd’s character is with topless female trampolining. Eventually, even topless women become routine if that’s your job.

If you do end up dating or marrying someone with what you think is an enjoyable job (like masseuse), don’t go thinking that means you get for free what others have to pay for. Theirs is a job like any other and when they get home, they want to veg out on the couch too. Putting pressure on them to extend their job into their personal life is going to cause some unwanted and unnecessary friction that could eventually blow up in both your faces. Sure you may have gotten a massage or two out of that, but wouldn’t it be better to just find a different parlor, get a massage, and still have a partner who loves you?

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