How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps.

Photo: Aris Jerome Model: Ashley Moore

Photo: Aris Jerome
Model: Ashley Moore

The covers of most men’s and women’s magazines have similar headlines: get great abs and have amazing sex.

From the looks of it, these two issues have been recycled over and over (with some other stereotypically gender relevant articles thrown in) on every Men’s Health, Maxim, Cosmo and Glamour cover since the dawn of time. In fact, I’d bet that if we could get a better translation of cave drawings, they would read something like “Grok get flat belly; make girl Grok moan with joy.”

And we keep buying them. We keep buying this lie that these things will make us happy. I’ve had washboard abs (past-tense) and I’ve had some pretty phenomenal sex. Neither one made me a better person; neither one completed me or made my life more fulfilling.

We chase this idea of “I will be happy when…”

I will be happy when I have a new car. I will be happy when I get married. I will be happy when I get a better job. I will be happy when I lose five pounds. What if instead we choose to be happy—right now?

If you can read this, your life is pretty awesome.

Setting aside our first world problems and pettiness, if you are online reading this, you have both electricity and wifi or access to them. Odds are you are in a shelter of some sort, or on a smart phone (and then kudos to you for reading this on the go). Life might bump and bruise us, it may not always go the way we plan and I know I get frustrated with mine, but here’s the thing

You are alive.

 

Because you are alive, everything is possible.

So about those eight tips…

1. Stop believing your bullshit.

All that stuff you tell yourself about how you are a commitment-phobe or a coward or lazy or not creative or unlucky? Stop it. It’s bullshit, and deep down you know it. We are all insecure 14-year-olds at heart. We’re all scared. We all have dreams inside of us that we’ve tucked away because somewhere along the line we tacked on those ideas about who we are that buried that essential brilliant, child-like sense of wonder. The more we stick to these scripts about who we are, the longer we live a fraction of the life we could be living. Let it go. Be who you are beneath the bullshit.

2. Be happy now.

Not because “The Secret” says so. Not because of some shiny happy Oprah crap. But because we can choose to appreciate what is in our lives instead of being angry or regretful about what we lack. It’s a small, significant shift in perspective. It’s easier to look at what’s wrong or missing in our lives and believe that is the big picture—but it isn’t. We can choose to let the beautiful parts set the tone.

3. Look at the stars.

It won’t fix the economy. It won’t stop wars. It won’t give you flat abs, or better sex or even help you figure out your relationship and what you want to do with your life. But it’s important. It helps you remember that you and your problems are both infinitesimally small, and conversely, that you are a piece of an amazing and vast universe. I do it daily; it helps.

4. Let people in.

Truly. Tell people that you trust when you need help, or you’re depressed—or you’re happy and you want to share it with them. Acknowledge that you care about them, and let yourself feel it. Instead of doing that other thing we sometimes do, which is to play it cool and pretend we only care as much as the other person has admitted to caring, and only open up half-way. Go all in—it’s worth it.

5. Stop with the crazy making.

I got to a friend’s doorstep the other day, slightly breathless and nearly in tears after getting a little lost, physically and existentially. She asked what was wrong and I started to explain and then stopped myself and admitted: I’m being stupid and have decided to invent lots of problems in my head. Life is full of obstacles; we don’t need to create extra ones. A great corollary to this one is from The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz : Don’t take things personally. Most of the time, other people’s choices and attitudes have absolutely nothing to do with you. Unless you’ve been behaving like a jerk, in which case…

6. Learn to apologize.

Not the ridiculous, self-deprecating apologizing for who you are and for existing that some people seem to do (what’s up with that, anyway?). The ability to sincerely apologize—without ever interjecting the word “but”—is an essential skill for living around other human beings. If you are going to be around other people, eventually you will need to apologize. It’s an important practice.

7. Practice gratitude.

Practice it out loud to the people around you. Practice it silently when you bless your food. Practice it often. Gratitude is not a first world only virtue. I saw a photo recently, of a girl in abject poverty, surrounded by filth and destruction. Her face was completely lit up with joy and gratitude as she played with a hula hoop she’d been given. Gratitude is what makes what we have enough. Gratitude is the most basic way to connect with that sense of being an integral part of the vastness of the universe; as I mentioned with looking up at the stars, it’s that sense of wonder and humility, contrasted with celebrating our connection to all of life.

8. Be kind.

Kurt Vonnegut said it best (though admittedly, and somewhat ashamedly—I am not a Vonnegut fan):

There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—”God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

 

Kindness costs us nothing and pays exponential dividends. I can’t save the whole world. I can’t bring peace to Syria. I can’t fix the environment or the healthcare system, and from the looks of it, I may end up burning my dinner.

But I can be kind.

If the biggest thing we do in life is to extend love and kindness to even one other human being, we have changed the world for the better.

That’s a hell of a lot more important than flat abs in my book.

 

 

katebKate Bartolotta is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for elephant journal and The Good Men Project.  She is determined to change the world—one blog at a time. Connect with Kate on Twitter, Facebook and Google +.

 

 

 

136 thoughts on “How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps.

  1. As an LA native, number 5 is my favorite and number 7 is literally the best sign of a growing person. It’s not easy to rule the world in 8 steps, but this is beautiful. Thank you!

  2. With all due respect, great sex DOES make my life more fulfilling. Not on its own, of course. Still, there are entire RELIGIONS built around sex for a reason. And for the record, I don’t have flat abs, and I don’t buy those magazines.

  3. Thank you for this. These are all such awesome reminders especially #1 for me. Slightly disappointed by the g-d word in the quote you chose for #8 on kindness but other than that – excellent job. Blessings!

  4. All good points. Let me tell you though what’s up with people who seem to be apologizing for who they are or for existing. Those are the people who have been extremely emotionally abused sometime in their lives. They may have been raised by narcissists or psychopaths. They are the ones we need to be kindest to.

  5. I think a better quote for #8 would be this one, variously attributed to Plato, Socrates, St. Phylo of Alexandria, or Ian MacLaren (who knows?): “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Everyone is going through struggles, mostly hidden, and kindness is the best way to touch someone’s heart.

  6. I got dumped yesterday. Haven’t done much this morning but think about where my life falters. But you read this and realize “i got it good”. So thank you.

  7. Pingback: Post a random thought - Page 6186 - Playa del Carmen, Mexico forum

  8. Not to be a downer, but… I find articles that describe happiness as an effort to be exceptionally depressing.

    It’s very, very easy to stop being afraid, to stop doubting, to stop spinning problems out of nothing. What is difficult is to fill the thoughtless void that is left behind. There is something much, much worse than being neurotic, afraid, self-defeating, and consumed by stress. Emptiness and apathy are fearless, impulsive, and utterly freeing.

    Being gracious, being kind, letting people in, focusing on the positive, riding bikes into the sunrise– what happens when this fails to fill that void? Effort is effort, and effort is easy. Effort is straightforward. Happiness is none of these.

  9. Kate,

    Awesome! Totally fucking awesome. Thank you for this. P.S. You seem to be missing a word in this phrase “eventually you will to apologize”. I would love to know your complete thought here. :)

  10. i absolutely love this! kate, you are a fantastic writer and your honest, carefree way of looking at the world is just what we need. and from an avid and obsessed kurt vonnegut lover, trust me, he’s worth another read (or ten).

    • Stephen: Flat abs = no sugar/grain/dairy + high intensity intervals + every kind of plank you can think of (and again, and again, and again). I like to stay fit, but I’m not interested in trying to get back to a six pack/eight pack, because let’s be honest…it looks a bit reptilian and also because gelato exists.

  11. Pingback: How to Get Flab Abs, Have Amazing Sex, and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps. | No coffee, no prana.

  12. I liked your article until you started talking about ‘setting aside our first world problems’ because after all, we have electricity and a shelter. Yay. You know what? I have complicated PTSD from sexual abuse. Yes, I’m white. And middle class. And young so full of opportunities. No, I can’t say that I’m happy. And that has nothing to do with ‘first world problems’. Yes, someone at the other side of the world is dying because he/she’s hungry/shot/ill. Does that mean I’m supposed to be greatful because after all, I was ‘only raped’? I’m healing slowly and I will take all the damned time I need to do that. If I could talk about it to people, freely, I would heal much faster. That’s a fact. You know why I don’t talk about it? Because I’m white and middle class, so people expect me to ‘just get over it’ and don’t think it’s so bad as when a black girl get’s raped. That’s also a fact. And the ‘first world problems’-hype is not gonna improve this situation.

    • Oh, I’m so sad that you took “first world problems” that way! PTSD, sexual abuse, and many other things that we experience are in no way “first world problems.” I was making reference to the fact that we often get bent out of shape out of little things like someone getting our coffee order wrong or over-analyzing a text from someone or internet not working as fast as we like…you know….”First world problems!”

      Healing from trauma takes time, and I wish you well. I hate when people talk about traumatic life events and brush them off with “everything happens for a reason.” I’m sure you will find some wonderful things that come forth in your life as part of that healing process, but I would never seek to minimize that in any way.

      Have a beautiful week, Josha.

    • I sympathize with you and had a similar reaction. I know that the author isn’t trying to say “just think yourself out of your depression!” She’s trying to reach a different target audience; people who work themselves up over every tiny imperfection.

      Still, though. I would have felt better if “and if you think you may have an issue with depression/anxiety/etc., seek professional help.”

      Seriously, though. The absolute worst thing you can do for a friend with depression is to give them a list of things that will “make them happy.” There’s nothing that sounds more condescending, intentional or not, than another oblivious person telling us we just need to cheer up and look at the bright side because don’t we have it pretty good? Because not being happy, or thinking of happiness as some kind of accomplishment, is another thing for us to feel inadequate about.

      The tips in this article are overall pretty good. However, I’d add that not allowing yourself to express negativity, rant, and complain on occasion can be really harmful. Sometimes you just need to let it all out! (Even if it means complaining about first world problems.)

    • I was with you until: “Because I’m white and middle class, so people expect me to ‘just get over it’ and don’t think it’s so bad as when a black girl get’s raped.”

      Um, false. Our society exhibits far more outrage, sympathy, and activism on behalf of white women than black women. The fact that you think the reverse suggests you have some privilege that needs checking. I realize that you’re suffering, but that doesn’t give you free reign to toss fellow survivors under the bus.

  13. Happiness is such a sought after word, feeling, state of being. So many people have written books,articles even made a career out of helping others find happiness. I think its the one thing that if bottled would make the seller the richest person in the world. Thank you for giving us ways of trying to achieve it, ways of trying to prevent obstacles from reaching it, but as some of your commentors have mentioned its not an easy task , I dare to say its probably one of the hardest achievements for the human race. But I am very grateful that people like you take the time to try to remind us of how we can try to achieve it and I am sure all will take your suggestions to heart, its just that sometimes others things are so powerful, the weight of lifes torments are so big that happiness is only but a dream.

  14. What happens when you wake up from this dream, and have to live in the real world? I practice these tips every day and i am miserable almost every day. Why? Health issues, spouse, bills, jobs, or lack there of, kids, inlaws, money, no time for physical relationship, to busy for friends, blahblahblah. So you can stick your thumb up your butt and stare at the sky all you want, but that doesnt change the fact that the majority of live is not pleasureable and if it was we wouldnt slave away all year saving for vacation, or get hammered every weekend, or spend money we dont have to buy Christmas presents for everyone to mask the fact that their lives are unhappy also. So your hippie paradise is fine in theory, but then again so is Communism. Depressed yet? Welcome to life.

    • You need to accept the health issues, spouse, bills, jobs, kids, inlawys, money etc etc. Just accept it. Once you accept it. See what you can do to change it. Take responsibility for your actions. You are the sole person who lets these things bother you. Think of it like a game. We’re all playing this game of money,health, kids, jobs etc etc. If you don’t take any of these problems seriously, you are always happy. It seems like you are doing decent for yourself with even having the ability to have these problems. Be grateful for what ya got, fix what you can and accept the rest. Don’t make life so difficult, it’s not.

      • You might want to give it a rest. Real world problems do exist in America. Let me list the ways: Health issues that you’re not sharing with anyone, bills you can’t pay, jobs, you don’t have. Sometimes, it’s like an ongoing battle just to get through the day, not to mention family members who don’t care for one another. Depression is real.

        • Depression is real, but you know what DOESN’T make it better? Coming to happy blog posts and attempting to ruin it for everyone by complaining about it (especially in such a rude way.) If you are alive, you have problems. I am willing to bet a vast majority of us here are busy, have unpaid bills, in-law issues, and are stressed. Guess what? We still CHOOSE not to let those ruin us. As long as you let common problems ruin your state of mind, I promise you will always be miserable. The real issue is not the problems. It’s not even talking about the problems, The real issue is HOW you talk about the problems and how you choose to react to them.

    • Life gives us choices, we can look at the negative and stew in it or look at the better healthier things around you and appreciate them. My ex had his issues and left I could have been dramatic and devastated hateful all of that, but one day looking at the empty space in the closet feeling sad then mad then I chose to see it as a positive, I had more space in my closet and I moved my cloths over.
      Your choice is misery it’s your reality but it doesn’t have to be.

    • Derek,

      Sorry to hear that you have health problems. The rest sound like blessings to me. If your spouse is making you unhappy..did you ever think that this exact post could be why? Your children are blessings, this is their childhood. Don’t mess it up. Find time for a physical relationship. I have four kids. We find time. Don’t get hammered on the weekend, save the money for a better vacation :) Spend less at Christmas, no one will care. And if you did follow this each day..you wouldn’t be writing this in a miserable fashion. You are blessed. Bills mean you have things. Don’t like the bills? Don’t have the things. Ger rid of cable, cell phones etc. It will bring your bills lower and make them less of a stress.

      Absolutely love this article thank you for writing this.

  15. What a great reminder on what life is really all about. While I still strive for those flat abs.. I know that at the end of the day it is the smaller things in life, a helping hand, and a night of star gazing, that really makes life so beautiful! Happy Friday :)

  16. I believe we are put here on earth for one reason, to care for each other …. #8 says it all, everything else will fall into place …. “Given the choice between being right and kind, I think it’s better to be kind.” — Ernie Harwell

  17. Really, really good post. Wise insights. I have to admit, I got baited into the article because of the headline. But I stayed because it was oh-so good. (Not as good as Amazing Sex, but still satisfying!).

  18. You shared some really wonderful and important info but the last and so important about kindness, whoever that was you quoted- it just doesn’t make sense to talk about kindness and use God’s name in vain in the same sentence- just doesn’t go together. Too bad he shared something so important in the way he did.

  19. I love this article, Its a huge part of a bigger picture of loving yourself. In addition, say nice things to yourself. Most of us would never talk to other people the way we talk to ourselves when we put ourselves down. Learn to control that voice. But on a different note, everyone here is capable of helping with the environment and health care or any cause you want to. If you have internet join internet petition sites if you don’t have time to actively protest or money to donate. Help by signing something that someone else is working towards. It takes about as long as it takes to check mail. Go to sites like Rainforest Action Network, Change.org or Sierra Club. Seeing something you helped make happen by just signing is a great way to help.

  20. Pingback: How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps. | Flat screens

  21. Pingback: What I’ve Been Reading: September 15, 2013 | Refrigerator Rants

  22. I like this article, but the picture of the impossibly thin woman with the washboard stomach was a poor choice, given the point that’s being made here.

  23. I love you for writing this. It needed to be said even though we all really knew it all already. I am printing this and reading it everyday. I am sending it to my husband, teenage sons and twenty something nieces. I might creeping toward 50, but I am choosing to live the rest of my days happy, fulfilled and grateful. Oh and with kindness. The kind of kindness that makes you feel warm and content. There is no greater joy than making someone else happy. Thank you!!
    PS. I probably will never have flat abs and I am really ok with it.

  24. Pingback: How to Have Flat Abs, Better Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps — The Good Men Project

  25. Pingback: How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps. | {Be You} | Yep, I'm the Worst

  26. Pingback: The Most Important Decision We Can Make. | {Be You}

  27. I don’t print much stuff out these days, it’s a waste of paper. However, some things NEED to be printed out and read EVERYDAY! This is one of those things.

    Great post, thanks you :)

    Time to switch on that printer…

  28. I love this so much! I’ve reached a very important point in my life where wise words and tactful thoughts are processed and actually retained! This small chunk of awesomeness will be used and admired for it’s wit and character and obviously the great content it holds. Thank you for being brave and ambitious; I can see it in your writing you have these strengths of character and I will be following you from now on for the sake of a small amount of words packed with ALOT of wisdom.

  29. Pingback: How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps. | Mnemosyne and my musings

  30. “I’ve had washboard abs (past-tense) and I’ve had some pretty phenomenal sex. Neither one made me a better person; neither one completed me or made my life more fulfilling.”

    I have washboard abs now and have been recently enjoying amazing sex (and I’m a 46-year-old male) and I can honestly say both have been making me very fulfilled. Seriously. It’s wonderful having both these things – and I recommend them to everyone!!

  31. I’m going to have to weigh-in on this one. Exercise helps your circulation and keeps you healthy, which in turn helps you have better sex and feel happy, since it feels good to be healthy. No, you don’t need to have perfectly flat abs or a six-pack in order to be happy of course. However, being in shape and eating the right things to stay in shape and be healthy is only one aspect of being happy, but it definitely is one of the very important factors. I totally agree with the steps that are listed in the article about helping one be happy, but one of the most important steps, if not #1, is to be healthy. Exercise and eating correctly is a huge factor in keeping you happy. If you don’t believe me, go eat junk food and see how you feel, or go sit in a chair day after day without exercise and see how you feel. My reply is given with love.

  32. What a great succinct article that gives everyone a kick in the ass and displays life’s little reminders so well. Number 5 is one that will keep me reflecting for a while.

  33. Pingback: When In Doubt, Turn to Nature. Oh, I’ve got my writing mojo back! | Chloe's Countertop

  34. Tough but true words! Really we have to get our priorities right and choose to enjoy the life we have and then make it better! Interesting choice of words Kate… It seems to have made the impact you planned!

  35. I totally agree!! Except for the wifi part–I don’t have wifi. Nope. My desktop computer is still attached to a modem via wires. But I’m old-fashioned like that. ;)

  36. Great article, I agree with every single one of your points..Life is too short to worry about everything, you just gotta enjoy as much as possible by getting satisfaction from being kind and helpful to others and not giving a damn about all the little details in life that do or might go wrong.

  37. Pingback: Five Things Friday 9.20.13 - Fitting It All In

  38. thank you for #4!!!! I’m so guilty of this- and didn’t even fully realize it ’til you put it into honest words right in front of me. Tomorrow- I start to “go all in”!

  39. Hooked me with the headline, befriended me with content, but really made me respect you with the comment conversation you created. Bravo. More thinking writers like you, please. And agreed, being grateful everyday is definitely a key to happiness. Thank you for this great little piece.

  40. Um, why the weird (and way overused) symbolism in the photo? One eye, “peace” symbols — or are they devil’s horns? Come on — your whole story is supposedly about being “original” and being “YOU” and then you use these trite cliches in your photo? Or maybe I am taking it too literally and missing the irony”of it? Please explain the photo choice. Thank you.

  41. I love this and I agree wholeheartedly. I’ll definitely be passing this on to my loved ones. I think number one is one of those that is so crazy integrated into the way so many of us think. What’s crazy is yeah, deep down we all know it’s a heap of crap, but we for some reason keep doing it. I also love that you put in look at the stars. I do that every chance I get. It is a very grounding practice and I feel like it helps you practice gratitude because look how vast the universe is! It’s huge, but somehow we find love and the things we need. It’s incredible. Thank you for this post, it totally made my day!

  42. Pingback: How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps. | {Be You} | Au Naturel

  43. no 2 – we have been sold the ”just one more” concept so badly. Just one more holiday, one more job, one more car. Its fruitless, it’s exhausting.
    In the end, someone to love and be loved by, thats all that matters in my book

  44. Pingback: How to Get Flat Abs | the happiness project

  45. Pingback: How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps | Energy For Life

  46. Pingback: Tough Love of the Friend Variety. - Simply Complicated Life

  47. Pingback: Thursday, 9/26 | thanksgiving thursday

  48. Pingback: Lipstick Junkie |

  49. Great reminder! Thank you. ~ I just finished rewriting my business mission statement and goals as I updated my website and your Be happy now is so true. I remind all my clients not to wait for the right time, or for something to be perfect. That never comes, these are the days to remember, this here and now is where it’s beautiful.

  50. Pingback: The Dream of a Falling Yogi | The Diary of a Fledgeling Yogi

  51. Thank you for this. I’m sick of hearing and reading all the shit that is out there. Pessimism is all around, and it’s nice to be actually be inspired by words every so often. We just can’t let obsession with looks and materialistic things get the best of who we are. Keep posting & God Bless.

  52. Pingback: Travel Links of the Week - 9/27/13 - Travel Junkette | Travel Junkette

  53. I believe that perspective is directly attached to your emotional well being and your emotional well being fuels your perspective. Of course we can not always be happy. Things fall apart and come together and fall apart again and among all of this there is life to attend to which doesn’t stop for anyone. I find this article inspiring not because i think there is some magical solution to the harder parts of life, but because it reminds us that there are options to soften the blows.

  54. Pingback: Quarter Life Living

  55. Pingback: Paddy says “Suck my Click and Pump my Link”, New Zeeland stars, North Korean weed, Kiev dead guy & more | TravelBloggerBuzz

  56. Pingback: How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule The World in 8 Easy Steps | The World On My Back

  57. Pingback: The Most Important Decision We Can Make | Allowing true love. Books and Subliminal Audios

  58. I hate to admit it, but it was the caption that caught my attention – all for the wrong reasons. So, the timing of this article is obviously coming at a perfect time for me. Thanks for reminding me what is important in life – and especially for the reminder of the importance of appreciating the blessings in my life and of the importance of expressing gratitude. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  59. Was directed to your blog by your dad :) and today, I can tell you, I’m grateful to you both. Thank you for this beautiful and relevant piece.

  60. Pingback: Becoming Minimalist: newsletter n. 29, 30 e 31 (e 32) | viaggioleggero

  61. Pingback: “How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps.” | Yoga for Dinner

  62. you said “I can’t bring peace to Syria” but at least you’re giving it for someone who is living there by your words :)
    thank you and pray for us

  63. Pingback: Clarity: Love Life | Keep Calm & Hong Kong On!

  64. Nice post, lots of good points. I thought the comment about Oprah was not nice, however, and thought it was contradictory to number 8 about being kind. Is it really necessary to put someone else down to make a point?

    • The statement isn’t putting Oprah down, but instead pointing out that we don’t need to do these things because they are a pop culture ideal.

  65. thankyou so much for this. i am working on my senior thesis right now and way too inside my own head lately needed a little reminder like this, I needed to hear it :)

  66. Loved it, thanks for this kind note!…
    I needed something to lift me up during finals !! :P
    cheers eveyone life is beautiful

  67. Pingback: Things: the “purge my browser of ridiculous amounts of” Links Edition | the Pike Place Kitchen

    • Absolutely! I linked/credited as it was attributed, but I’d much rather credit you! Thanks for letting us know.

  68. Pingback: Wijze woorden voor 2014, must read : How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps | iloveworkingout

  69. Pingback: The Weekly Reading List | Clare Barry

Continue the conversation...