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New Year, New You: 2016

21 ways to change your attitude and your life.



It's become something of a tradition for the Flyer staff to offer a few resolutions for our readers in the first issue of each new year. We don't do it because we think you're incapable of coming up with your own resolutions. After all, who knows better than you what you need to do to improve your quality of life? No, we do it because we think it's important for all of us to refresh our browsers, as it were, every now and then. And sometimes ideas from others can spark an interest you didn't know you had or send you on a path to new discoveries. So, without further ado, here are a few suggestions to mull over as 2016 begins. Become an expert in something Memphis-related. A year may be a short time to know everything there is to know about local barbecue restaurants, but it's more than enough time to figure out which smokehouse serves the best sausage sandwiches or which local coffee roaster makes the darkest brew. One could spend a lifetime poring over all the music recorded in Memphis, but 12 months is a generous amount of time to visit all of the city's music-themed museums and learn all the dance steps Rufus Thomas sang about. — Chris Davis


See a brand new play, musical, dance performance, or opera before anybody else does. Memphis' performing arts scene has grown at an unprecedented rate in the past decade. New playhouses opened, new companies launched, and every year Memphians have more opportunities to take in great new work by regionally affiliated artists. If you're looking for a place to start, try Byhalia, Mississippi by Evan Linder, which opens at TheatreWorks this week. Linder's a Memphian living in Chicago, where he cofounded The New Colony theater company. His previous writing efforts include the popular comedy 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche and The Warriors, a revealing docudrama built around interviews with survivors of Jonesboro's Westside school shooting. If you're in the market for something more tuneful, an original pop opera based on Jacques Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann is coming in February. — CD


If you really want to be a better person in the ensuing year, stop killing Joe Cocker on the internet. The soulful yet incomprehensible singer died for the first and last time in 2014 and is unlikely to pass away again, no matter what you saw on Facebook. You know who else isn't going to die again any time soon? Andy Griffith. So when somebody shares a link mourning Mayberry's favorite sheriff (again), don't share it. If you're not sure whether or not a celebrity who's currently dying on social media is already dead, it only takes a second or two to check facts using a powerful internet tool called Google. The same can be said about that easy-to-read pie chart about the true costs of ObamaCare or that crazy Sarah Palin quote that sounds exactly like something she might say. Bad information is easier to spread than it is to correct. So check facts before passing along internet content. And, for the love of God, stop killing dead people. — CD


Don't be afraid. Are you afraid of terrorism? Sure, we all are. But did you know that the number of people killed in the United States by terrorists this century is less than one percent of the number killed by random gun violence? Humans are lousy at assessing risk. For the vast majority of people in America, the most dangerous thing you will ever do in your life is drive a car. And yet, you jump behind the wheel with no hesitation every day and support giving up your civil liberties and spending billions on pointless and never-ending wars that really don't reduce terrorism at all.

Terrorism is a tactic that uses the media's search for a sensational story and the average person's bad grasp of statistics to force us into making bad decisions. This is true whether its employed by white Christians with a AR-15 or brown Muslims with a suicide vest. It loses its power if we remain unafraid and refuse to overreact. If you want to defeat the terrorists, keep calm and carry on. If you want to maximize your odds of living a long time, exercise. — Chris McCoy


Vote. 2016 is a national election year. Notice I didn't say "important" election year, because they're all important. Get out there and vote in every primary and general election. Don't just argue on the internet. Hate a politician? Vote against him. Love a politician? Vote for her. Exercise your franchise. — CM

Question your assumptions. Is there an issue in your life that bothers you? Some factor you just can't seem to turn around? Use the new year as a opportunity to change your perspective. Are you sure you're attacking your problem from the right angle? If your methods of making things better aren't working, don't be afraid to discard them and look for better ideas. Don't let pride get in the way of needed change. — CM Add essential oils to your medicine cabinet. Don't completely ditch the pharmaceuticals, but at least push those pill bottles aside to make room in your medicine cabinet for essential oils. Created from the pure oil of various plants, essential oils are nature's medicine. Their use isn't F.D.A. approved, but I've been using oils for years to cure headaches, clear my sinuses, reduce stress, and induce sleep. Rub a few drops of peppermint oil on your temples to ease a headache. Dab lavender oil on your pillow to help you sleep. Diffuse eucalyptus oil to help clear up a stuffy nose, and try tea tree oil to treat minor cuts and scrapes. While not all essential oils are safe to consume, a few brands, like doTERRA and Young Living, specialize in oils that may be taken internally. I Love Juice Bar in Midtown uses these food-safe oils in their essential oil shots, which combine various oils with fruit juice. The Energizer shot is made with coconut water and wild orange and peppermint essential oils, and the Sniffle Stopper combines lemon and ginger juice with a blend of wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary oils. — Bianca Phillips


Do yoga ... with beer. Yoga and beer might seem like an unlikely pairing, but there's really no better way to relax than sipping a local craft beer after an hour-long class of upward-facing dogs, triangle poses, and planks. Brewery/bar yoga is a trend sweeping the nation right now, and Memphis is in on the fun. Bendy Brewski Yoga offers weekly classes at High Cotton Brewing Co. (Thursdays) and the Rec Room (Mondays). For $15, you get an hour of beginner-friendly, hatha yoga, followed by a beer of your choice from the taproom at High Cotton or the bar at the Rec Room. Drinking beer after yoga class offers a chance to socialize with classmates, something that's missing from traditional yoga classes where students don't get much time to talk. — BP

Don't give so many f*#ks. Stop caring so much. Seriously. Just stop. Don't worry about what people think of you. Don't spend any time seething over something someone said on your Facebook post. Don't get your panties in a wad over some dude cutting you off in traffic. Stop all that nonsense, and LET. IT. GO. Last January, I read a widely shared and artfully crafted online essay by author Mark Manson titled "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*#k," in which Manson opines that the key to happiness is knowing when to give your f*#ks and when to save them. Look it up, and read the whole thing. It takes about 12 minutes, but it's 12 minutes you won't regret spending.

Wrote Manson: "Because when we give too many f*#ks, when we choose to give a f*#k about everything, then we feel as though we are perpetually entitled to feel comfortable and happy at all times, that's when life f*#ks us."

He's not saying we shouldn't care about anything, but rather, that we should be selective about what we choose to care about. When you reserve concern for the things that really matter, you're not setting yourself up for nearly as much disappointment. Life is less stressful that way, and who doesn't want that? — BP


Use apps to change yourself. I'm overweight, according to the federal government. (Thanks, Obama.) I'm no techie. I don't code. I've never hacked a mainframe or whatever they do in movies. But I do have a smartphone, I understand how to use it, and it's with me all the time, every day. That's why I'm suggesting three apps to help you in the new year. — Toby Sells

Lark. My BMI (calculated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) puts me closer to the government's obese territory than I like to admit. I know I gotta watch what I eat, but it's tough. I've tried online calorie trackers in the past, but I hate them. It's tedious work and largely inaccurate. I gave up on trackers until I ran across the Lark app two weeks ago.

The app "talks" to you in a friendly, text-message format that should be comfortable to anyone with a smartphone. It tracks food, yes, but it also talks to you about the quality of the foods you eat. (Bacon is a processed meat, apparently. Who knew?) In that way, Lark is a personal coach and nutritionist. Lark also tracks your sleep and activity. It does both based on the movement of the phone, so it's not precise on these two functions. But, overall, Lark is great for anyone looking to track their behavior to change it in the future. — TS

Dry January. This year I'm going for the New Year's resolution trifecta: losing weight, quitting smoking, and drinking less. (Insert incredulous eye roll here.) Drinking is the root that affects the other two. I smoke only when I drink, and hangovers convince me to eat like crap and they certainly don't motivate me to work out.

So for my three birds, I'm going to try one stone: Dry January. That's right, no drinking for the entire month. A friend of mine does this every year, and it always sounds terrible. Dry January has existed in the United Kingdom for a while, long enough for there to be a hashtag (#dryjanuary) and an app called (you guessed it) Dry January. The app lets you track your dry (or wet) days. It offers helpful hints to stay on the wagon and a money tracker to show how much you've saved by abstaining. — TS Memphis Public Library. We know you rewatched Cajun Pawn Stars this year. We know it was probably an accident and that you feel kinda bad about it. So, how about this year, you read a f*@cking book? Sounds good and all but can you even imagine doing something so completely 20th century like walking into a library? In Memphis, you don't have to. 

The Memphis Public Library has a vast collection of digital content you can download to your computer, tablet, or phone. It hosts a family of seven mobile apps that give you access to free (FREE!) books, audio books, magazines, music, and more. Did I mention it's all free? All it takes is a library card. (Insert the Reading Rainbow theme song here.) — TS


Read Moby-Dick. What gets lost in the fact that this is a really thick classic novel that is infamously hard to read is the fact that it's often hilarious and always a brilliant, dark, eloquent summation of the dark, doubtful side of the American psyche. There's also a lot of stuff about whale parts. If you need more convincing, there's even a great book — Nathaniel Philbrick's Why Read Moby-Dick? — that will do a better job convincing you of its ultimate value than I can here. You'll feel smarter after you read it, you'll see the world in a different way, it will never quite leave your mind, and you might even find yourself deliberately stepping into the street and methodically knocking people's hats off. — Kevin Lipe

Get things off your mind. I firmly believe that if you're not keeping track of your to-do list somewhere, you're trying to remember the whole thing all the time. Whether you're doing that on purpose or not, it's stressful, and eventually you'll feel stressed out and not even remember why. The biggest thing you can do is write stuff down instead of trying to remember it. Whether you use a complicated system like David Allen's Getting Things Done (which I recommend, but it can be daunting) or a checklist on a Post-it Note, quit trying to remember stuff, and you'll feel a lot better about all those things you're supposed to get done. — KL

Buy things that will last. It's never been easier to get a great deal. We're flooded with things that are cheap, designed to look good, wear out fast, and need to be replaced. It's far more satisfying to do your homework, spend a little more up front, and own something that you can have forever. This applies to everything. Knockoff boots, or an expensive pair of Red Wings? I know which ones you'll still be able to wear in 20 years. Cheap new dining room table, or find one at an antique store that's already been around 50 or more years? It's a lot easier to worry less about the "stuff" you own when you know the things you have are going to stand the test of time. — KL

Go to a concert at a DIY venue. From the Buccaneer to the Buckman Center, there are plenty of shows happening every night of the week in Memphis. There are also DIY spaces (usually accessible by Facebook event pages) taking place all over town at places like Found, Goner Records, and Amurica that are practically begging for your attendance. Better yet, host a DIY show yourself! All you need is a PA, a power strip, and a (semi) empty room. Remember: Some of the biggest bands in Memphis got their start playing in someone's living room. — Chris Shaw

Go to a Memphis Tigers basketball game. The attendance this season has been downright sad. We've all heard the excuses. You're over Pastner. You knew Austin Nichols would leave. You're doing your part to show the University of Memphis that the fans demand a new coach by not renewing your season tickets. Actually, the only thing you're doing is making our city look bad when Tiger games get televised nationally on ESPN and its sister stations. Go to a game. It's cheap, fun, and a good way to show possible recruits that Memphis is still Tiger Country. — CS


Support local music by buying something from a band. Just about every local record store in the city has a local music section, so if you can't make it out to see a band live, search for their album/cassette/CD/single at your favorite record store. Even Spin Street has a local music section. If you can make it out to a local concert, buy something! A lot of times local bands are opening for touring bands, meaning their cut of the door is less and their merch sales are what keep them going. Look at it this way: A seven-inch record usually costs the same as a beer, and it lasts a whole lot longer. — CS

Get oblique. Back in 1975, musician Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt created a set of cards called Oblique Strategies. The set has gone through several updates and is also available in an iPhone version, but I recommend getting a box of the cards. Got a problem? Need a fresh approach? Pull a card out of the box. If nothing else, it will give you something to think about. I'll try it right now: "Repetition is a form of change." Repetition is a form of change. — Bruce VanWyngarden


Relax. There's a new spot on Madison downtown called Relax H2O. If you're a downtown worker, this place may be the answer for you when the stress of that impending deadline strikes. Relax H2O features oxygen bar therapy, massage chairs, and aqua massage beds. Open Monday through Saturday with Sunday appointments available. Call 421-8351 for more info. — BV


Get out on the water. I make this one of my recommendations every year. The magnificent waterway that's at our front door is enjoyed by way too few Memphis residents. And the Ghost River section of the Wolf River is also just sitting there waiting for you. You don't need to buy a big boat. Just drop by Outdoors Inc. or your favorite sports and outdoor store, including the Bass Pro Pyramid, and get yourself a kayak. You'll be amazed at what tranquility is available just a short hop away. Not to mention, exercise, bird watching, and just getting into the flow. Kayaking is easy and affordable. Do it once and you'll be hooked. — BV

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