Good advice is free for the taking

Looking back over my life, I often think of the best advice I have ever received.

For me, a few things come to mind.

At the top of the list would probably be there’s more than one way to solve a problem.

Elyse Kaner
Elyse Kaner

That’s why writing is so appealing to me. If you give a roomful of writers an assignment on a single subject, inevitably they will come up with a myriad of approaches. Similarly, if one word doesn’t work, another surely will. The same with thoughts. If you’re not getting your point across, you retool and try again.

Recently, sleepless nights have been all too frequent for me. I lie awake sometimes until 4 a.m., tossing and turning, thinking of story endings, work, responsibilities to family, home and environment, etc. You get the picture.

So how do I solve the problem? I go back to the old advice, there’s more than one way to solve a problem. First of all, technology has been way too intrusive in my life lately. I find myself checking phone messages, texts and emails to the point of obsession. OK, fine for the daytime, but do I need to do this late at night? Won’t things wait until tomorrow?

It’s pretty well-known that gazing at blue screens before you go to sleep is a no-no. It keeps you awake. The same with watching action-packed TV adventure shows with changing scenes flashing before your eyes about every five seconds as if to suggest that American’s attention span has dwindled to gnat-like proportions.

Also, watching the news on TV late at night, especially bad news, for some, is an open invitation to weird dreams and the sleep fairy to pass you by. So I removed the TV from my bedroom. I now shut down the blue screens and TV well before bedtime.

I even turn the lights down low about a half-hour before retiring as bright lights, especially blue light, suppresses the formation of melatonin, a necessary hormone that regulates sleep.

Another thing I do to ensure a good night’s sleep is to meditate for about 10 to 15 minutes. It quiets the mind and invites relaxation. Further, I lie on the floor and do some yoga stretches.

Do I sleep better? You betcha, to quote a former politician, who could see Russia from her home in the U.S. Never mind that it takes me longer to prepare for sleep than the actual hours of sleep I get.

When I was in high school, my mother gave me some good advice, although I didn’t quite understand it at the time.

“No matter how good you are at something,” she said, “there is always someone who will be better than you are.”

Sounds a bit cruel at first. But I’m sure she told me this to deal with disappointment. Surprisingly, it has helped greatly. And I do realize, she was right.

Years ago, I once read a column written by someone seeking best advice. A reader wrote that the best advice she had received was to close kitchen drawers. Good idea. Every time I clean my counters, I think of this. It’s saved me many hours, I’m sure, of cleaning bread crumbs from utensil organizers.

Here’s some more advice from the famous that I found on

“My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife you’ll be happy; if not you’ll become a philosopher.” – Socrates.

“The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.” – Oscar Wilde.

And, “a word to the wise ain’t necessary – it’s the stupid ones that need advice .” – Bill Cosby.

How about you? What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?