100 Alternative Changes to Transform Your Life in 2024

New Year, new you... Dean Burnett Style

The Guardian recently published 100 tiny changes to transform your life: from the one-minute rule to pyjama yoga, no doubt to tie in to the whole ‘New Year, New Me’ attitude that pervades society every January 1st.

Yoga features in a lot of advice. Either it’s helpful for many, or ‘Big Yoga’ are too powerful.

It’s an inoffensive enough list that includes the reasonable, the alternative, the questionable, the cliched, and the painfully obvious disguised as insight. So far, so Guardian.

But as someone who was once regularly employed by that prestigious publication, I know how hard it is to get published by them. What about all the suggestions that didn’t make the cut? Don’t they deserve the opportunity to change lives too?

With that in mind, here is an alternative list of 100 small changes to make in 2024 to change your life.

Remember, not all change is for the better.

  1. Eat your alarm clock. If, once it goes off, you immediately eat your bedside clock, you get rid of both the option of hitting the snooze button, and the need to make breakfast. It’s a far more efficient way of starting the day. M Lotito, Grenoble.
  1. Put cement in your ears. If your ears are permanently clogged, you can’t hear any depressing news or uncomfortable opinions. Or anything else, to be honest. E. Schmembley, Wembley.
  1. Don’t bother painting realistic-looking tunnels onto cliff faces. Seriously, you’re just wasting your time. The laws of physics don’t seem to apply to that damned Road Runner! W.E. Coyote, US
  1. Schedule your life for the next 100 years. Can’t die if you’ve barely made a dent in your to-do list, right?… right? S Brown, Dudley.
  1. Photosynthesise. I started photosynthesising at a very young age. Best decision I ever made. Over 2000 years later, my grocery bills are still minimal. G. Sherman, California.
  1. Scream at your reflection in the mirror. Honestly, if it’s anything like mine, that guy has it coming. He knows what he did. Anonymous, Cardiff.
  1. Buy underwear. I know ‘clothes you wear under your clothes’ might sound ridiculous to most people, but seriously, they can be a game changer. A. Hugankiss, UK. 
  1. Listen to music at the abattoir. The background sounds of mass bovine slaughter were starting to get me down until I put the Lighthouse Family on full blast in my ‘Beats’. E. Roberts, Wales.
  1. Follow the 1-year rule. If you’ve got a task or job that looks like it’ll take a year to complete, just don’t bother. Your life will almost certainly fall apart, but it’s a small price to pay for a short-term reduction in stress. H. Jass, Australia.
  1. Stop paying your heating bill. Save money and enjoy the supposed health-boosting benefits of cold-water baths and showers, without having to expend any willpower. What’s not to like? W. Hoff, Netherlands.

Pants. A lot of advice boils down to pants.

  1. Eat food regularly. A regular diet of food will keep your metabolism active and sustain you through the day. Capt. Obvious, Christchurch. 
  1. Buy my book. My new book, ‘Hijacking Tenuously Related Articles for Self-Promotion’ is available now. Buy it and it’ll change your life. And, to a smaller degree, mine. T. Robbins, US.
  1. Rescue wasps. Rescuing trapped or injured wasps helps you feel significant and meaningful, and there’s always plenty of opportunity because nobody likes wasps. Which is fair, because they are bastards. T. Saxondale, Stevenage.
  1. Go outside. There are actually more things outside your home than inside it. And if you have agoraphobia, crippling anxiety, or some other condition that keeps you indoors, have you tried not having that? G. Neeus. Melrose.
  1. Push pins into your scrotum. I never knew what it was like to push pins in my scrotum, but then I pushed pins in my scrotum, and now I do.  It’s horrific. M. Butreeks, Oregon.
  1. Read the terms and conditions. I started reading the Terms and Conditions for everything I sign up for, download, or buy, and it’s changed everything. I get nothing This feels significant, in some way. B. Wyatt, US.
  1. Take food to work. If you take food to work, you can eat it at work, so you don’t have to go out and buy lunch. This leaves you even more precious time and sweat to sacrifice to your uncaring employer, hastening your journey to the sweet release of the grave. Everybody wins! I. Listic, Aldershot.
  1. Cut your own hair. Some lessons from lockdown are worth holding onto, like the cutting your own hair. Much cheaper, more convenient, and nobody will care what you look like, apart from your new wife and your wedding photographer. J. Brydon, Fulham.
  1. Smile more. Go on, darling. Give us a cheeky one. It might never happen! Right lads? Ha ha haaaaa! [Speeds off in transit van]. C. Caller, London.
  1. Stop replying to work emails. I stopped in Mid-June 2024, and nobody has noticed yet. It was both relaxing and liberating. And, after thinking about it more, alarming and depressing. But that’s still a change. M. Rotch, US.

If you advise someone to ignore their emails, via email, your laptop will catch fire.

  1. Do handstands in the shower. Improve your upper body strength, get energised for the day ahead, and experience a very deep clean, by incorporating this into your morning routine. B. Pollard, Swansea.
  1. No, buy my book. Actually, you should by my new book ‘Even More Aggressive and Embarrassingly Shameless Methods of Self-Promotion Than That Last Book’. It’ll change your life slightly more. D. Chopra, New Delhi.
  1. Give up alcohol, coffee, sugar etc. If there is anything in your life which gives you even a smidgen of pleasure and enjoyment, be sure to stamp it out! So as to conform to some arbitrary ideal that depends on suffering. L. Whiteadder, London.
  1. Sign up to X. It’s not ‘Twitter’ now, it’s X. X! It’s MUCH better. The constant outages and glitches are actually improvements! You should be honoured to pay to experience them! So sign up and change your life. Please. PLEASE! E. Musk, US.
  1. Stop building roads that lead directly into mountains and sheer cliff faces. This is more specific to the people responsible for the road system in Nevada and other desert states. But seriously, why? You’re wasting your own time, and that of hardworking, hungry predators. W. E. Coyote, US.
  1. Walk your dog. You see more of the outside world, get more exercise, your pet becomes happier, and the horrible stench that pervades your house eventually fades away. I should have done this from day one. B. O’Problem, Cork.
  1. Hack your left leg off. You can lose weight instantly and save wear and tear on expensive shoes by hacking your left leg off. Unless you’re left-footed, in which case hack the right one off. Be sure not to make that mistake, or you’ll feel stupid. S. Leather, Birmingham.
  1. Hire a life coach. Who knows better about how to live life to the fullest than someone who spends theirs giving other people advice in exchange for modest fees? No, it’s not a joke question! L.Coach, Superlifecoaching Industries HQ, Lot 6. West Av Industrial Estate, Bury.
  1. Sleep more. Nobody sleeps enough these days. So, try staying asleep for longer. That will help. Capt. Obvious, Christchurch.
  1. Remember happy things. Recalling past happiness and joyful experiences is a quick and easy way to briefly escape the crushing tedium of your experience. M. Van Bolsen, Canberra.
  1. Buy crystals. Crystals are nice. They’re fun to look at and have interesting geological properties. They do sod all beyond that, but why would they need to? M. Anning, Lyme Regis.

Crystals can be good for you, if you like them and having them makes you happy. That’s the extent of their powers, though.

  1. Purchase food in bulk. Make sustaining your pathetic existence even cheaper by buying large quantities of ingredients up front to mathematically lower the average cost per individual meal, then claiming the money you spent back from the Telegraph, after submitting the article you wrote about how easy it is to eat for cheap. I. Oakshott, Isle-of-White.
  1. Spend at least 10 mins a day writing. This will improve the output and quality of your work. Unless you’re a carpenter, or electrician, or any occupation which doesn’t involve writing. Then you’re just wasting time. H. S. Thompson, US.
  1. Just block the trolls. If someone furiously takes issue with something you’ve created, you don’t have to debate or humour them. Just block them. It’ll leave them screaming into the void, which is one of their favourite pastimes anyway. T. Burton, London.
  1. Organise your sock drawer. Taking a messy sock drawer and organising it, so every item is filed away correctly from S to S, is oddly soothing, and saves time. I imagine. J. Frink. Brighton.
  1. Become aquatic. Giving up a land-based existence and adapting for life as a sea-dwelling mammal gets rid of all concerns like housing prices, career progression, being ‘beach body ready’, and so on. Stretches the definition of a ‘tiny’ life change, admittedly. A. Dolphin. The Pacific.
  1. Sign up to the Cosmic Shambles network Patreon. Experience all new amazing and insightful content to enrich your mind, before anyone else, for the lowest possible price. S. Hameless, Plugville.
  1. Seek out medical intervention. If you’ve a serious health-based problem that is impacting on your life and ability to function, this problem could be reduced by seeking out expert medical advice and subsequent intervention. Capt. Obvious, Christchurch. 
  1. No, you should definitely buy my book. Ignore all the other self-promotion and that Patreon thing (although that sounds great), you should buy my book ’12 Ways To Enrich Yourself Through The Gullibility Of Others By Dressing Up Your Rudimentary Right-Wing Ideology In Rudimentary Intellectual Trappings’. It’s only £39.99 and will benefit me greatly. J. Peterson, Canada.
  1. Be extra thankful. Make sure you are obscenely and openly grateful for any fragment of manners or basic consideration you receive from others, lest you start thinking you have inherent worth and end up behaving accordingly. I. Complex, Frome

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  1. Leave your wife. If your relationship isn’t working for you, or you’re just bored of your partner and several children, or even if you just want to sleep with someone else, just leave your wife. They’re not you, so what do they matter? You’ll be happier, that’s all that’s important. Johnson, GB News, London.

If you’re bored of your wife, just get another one. They’re more marriage ‘suggestions’ than ‘vows’, when you think about it.

  1. Stop buying ACME products. Seriously, just… don’t. W.E. Coyote, US.
  1. Keep breathing. You know how you’re always breathing? Keep doing that. Doing otherwise is not medically advisable. Maj. Breakthrough, Great Yarmouth.
  1. Avoid chemicals. Chemicals are undeniably bad for you, so cut them from your life entirely, and your life will be very different. Largely because you’ll logically have transitioned into an energy-based non-corporeal life form, free from the trappings of matter. G. Paltrow, California.
  1. Embrace plants. Fill your house with green things. Spray them regularly. Talk to them. Tell them your deepest, darkest secrets. Become physical with the plants. Get caught cavorting with them naked by your unsuspecting mother-in-law. Surrender to the relevant authorities. Your wellbeing is important. D. Belamy, London.
  1. Eat food. Have you tried human food? Seriously, it’s great. Consume as much as you can, to make your fleshmass extra succulent. B. Snatchers, Neptune.
  1. Learn to enjoy things you hate. If there are things in your life that you hate, or just don’t like, then convince yourself you do like them. Altering your personality at a fundamental level will surely change your life. Neeus. Melrose.
  1. Give up your car. Be more environmental and give up your car, and instead rely on public transport, a consistently cheaper and 100% stress free option. Harper, Gloucestershire.

49 – 50. Do the opposite. For every piece of advice you encounter, there’s inevitably someone who advises doing the exact opposite in pursuit of                                      the same outcome. So, for everything that’s been said so far, also do the opposite. It’s bound to change something. P. Weiner, US.

  1. Avoid the allure of quick and simple ‘advice’: The way our brains are wired means we’re heavily inclined to avoid uncertainty, while embracing low-effort solutions. As a result, it’s human nature to want quick solutions, simple steps, and easy answers. And there are plenty of people out there more than willing to provide such things.

But the unavoidable fact is, almost all such advice is ultimately of little to no value. Because the life of an individual, as in the situation and context in which they exist, combined with their own unique personality and traits, is frighteningly complex and uncertain. The odds of there being one simple and easy solution to all their issues are extremely remote. The odds of a complete stranger knowing what that solution is without having met them, even more so.

That’s why so much ‘helpful advice’ is ultimately some variation of “Eat differently”, “Move more”, “Do something very rudimentary that almost certainly won’t harm you”. The more cynical examples often incorporate “Have more money”, “Have a different life” or “Be someone different”. Yeah, thanks for that.

But people will still cling on to such advice, no matter how cynical, because it offers the possibility of control, autonomy, over our lives, when we often feel we lack that. But the person who has most insight, and therefore control, over your life will always be you. And it doesn’t help to surrender it to some blowhard with a book to sell. D. Burnett, Cardiff, UK.

  1. Seriously, don’t by ACME products. I cannot stress that enough. W.E. Coyote, US.

Dean Burnett’s latest book “Emotional Ignorance: Misadventures in the Science of Emotion” is available in paperback from Jan 4th, 2024. Signed copies available from the Shambles shop here.

He can be contacted via Facebook, Instagram, Threads, Bluesky, Mastodon, and yes, Twitter. Or, just use his website.

Dr Dean Burnett is a neuroscientist and best selling author of such books as The Idiot Brain and The Happy Brain. His former column Brain Flapping for The Guardian (now Brain Yapping here on the CSN) was the most popular blog on their platform with millions of readers worldwide. He is a former tutor and lecturer for the Cardiff University Centre for Medical Education and is currently an honorary research associate at Cardiff Psychology School and Visiting Industry Fellow at Birmingham City University.  He is @garwboy on Twitter.

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