25. Look closely.

That’s all it says: look closely. If someone said that to me I suspect my life would not be improved slightly but in danger. “Look closely!” implies there is a knife near my person or a venomous creature slowly creeping up behind me with nasty big pointed teeth. Oh the horror.

What the author of this list probably means by this is to not take things as they are presented. Don’t accept things right away as gospel. Who leaps to mind here is Snow White the dimwit who should have asked a few logical questions when a stranger showed giving out apples.* There is a distinction between misinformation and disinformation. The former is falsity sincerely presented as truth. Someone’s colleague sincerely believes bad things happen when Mercury is in retrograde and they warn others to do nothing major until it ends. My great aunt told me red meat must be eaten daily or I wouldn’t grow strong. Disinformation is diabolical, something the presenter deliberately knows is false yet they are passing if off as truth, done for malevolent reasons not disclosed. Most so-called truisms flitting about these days are more misinformation than disinformation – or so I hope. I don’t know what bothers me more: the villains who write this sort of stuff or the people who take it in at face-value truth. Alas, Babylon! This is a tale as old as time. All the same, there is a part of me that feels we ought to know better.

One of the foundations of counseling is looking closely at feelings, emotions, and actions to learn about them so in our response to them we may do differently. The studies of science and history do similar.

Now that I’ve written some on this topic, I have changed my opinion on this tip. Tip #25 isn’t something to slightly improve your life, this is something to greatly improve your life. Look closely, today and ever day, at all you see, do, and feel.

*“The Poem ‘Goblin market” also comes to mind here:

“We must not look at goblin men,

We must not buy their fruits:

Who knows upon what soil they fed

Their hungry thirsty roots?”