27 ways to be an (even) better person & practically levitate with awesomery.


I’m 27 years old.

Old enough to have mastered the fundamentals of adulthood. Wise enough to know that I’ve still got a few missing stones in my pantheon of awesomery.

This list is one-part rallying cry to the universe — and one-part thorough reminder, to myself. Buddha knows, I need it.

Because we’re ALL unfinished sculptures of excellence, yes?

27 ways to be an (even) better person…

1. Maintain a vigorous sense of perspective. 99.9% of the things that seem absolutely urgent, completely infuriating, massively critical & totally MANDATORY won’t matter (to you, or the universe) in 100 years. Or even 100 days.

2. If your country is at war with another nation, make a concerted effort to be able to identify that nation on a map.

3. Learn to sit comfortably in silence.

4. Don’t go to life-altering concerts and spend the entire time peering through your smartphone & filming the proceedings.

5. When your mom wants to take your picture, let her. Even if you feel bloated, oily or disheveled. She doesn’t care. She loves you. Don’t harsh her mellow.

6. Pay attention to nuance.

7. Reign in the impulse to ‘fix’ everyone. Experiment with listening, nodding & not fixing.

8. Don’t be one of those people who is perpetually tardy, never has enough cash, chronically undertips, or straight-up flakes out.
Just don’t.

9. Come bearing gifts. A bottle of wine. A potted orchid. Homemade currant-lemon scones. Genuine compliments.

10. Hand-written thank you notes. Always, always, always.

11. Don’t ignore (or lie to) volunteer fundraisers on street corners. Make eye contact. Be a human being. Tell them, “no, thank you.”
Or my personal catch-all, “I respect the work you’re doing, but I prefer not to make financial decisions on street corners.”

12. Don’t whip out your smartphone for a surreptitious whirl through your incoming feed, when you’re socializing with (actual!) human beings. Who showered, dressed up & migrated across city blocks to be with you.

13. Know your limits. But transcend your limitations.

14. If you can’t remember the last book you read (because it was in junior high, and you just read the Cliffs Notes anyway) this is a problem. Remedy it.

15. Memorize (or write) one really good, solid toast. For weddings, bar mitzvahs & quinceañeras. Or impromptu celebrations.

16. Stop calling people ‘retarded,’ when you mean ‘dim-witted.’

And if you slip up once or twice, express profound remorse. Thrice in one evening? Slap yourself across the face. Grandly & forcefully.

17. Don’t assume you’ll be on ‘the list’ when your friend has a event, or that you’ll eat for free at their cafe, or that you’ll get a stack of free books from their launch party. Pay. Pay double. Show up. Be supportive.

18. Be KINDER than seems necessary. And more GENEROUS than seems reasonable.

19. Don’t say you will, if you won’t.

20. Don’t leave cruel, irrationally mean-spirited comments on perfectly lovely blogs. If something dramatically irks you, craft an elegant, respectful email. Get it all out of your system. And then delete it. You’ve got far more important things to do, no?

21. Learn how to pronounce the names of unfamiliar vegetables.

22. Keep it classy.

23. Get to the bottom of your Jealousy. Don’t be oblivious to your insecurities (or desires).

24. Make no secret of your disappointment, if indeed you have been gravely disappointed. But create a ‘teachable moment’ out of your distaste. Be vocal, and constructive.

25. Have an OPINION. It’s SO refreshing!

26. Treat the elderly with a combination of respect, awe & fascination. Ask questions. Lean into the stories.

27. Leave everything — apartments, national parks, people’s hearts —
in better condition than you found them.



And now, a brief word from our sponSOAR . . .

Remember your high school career counselor?

The one with the awkward ‘motivational’ posters of soaring eagles & stupefied kittens adorning her office?

The one who told you to raise your GPA, enroll in a few more AP classes —
and quit skipping gym, young lady?

She may’ve had a few solid points. But she wasn’t Sabrina Ali.

Sabrina Ali is the vocational strategist we all wish we had, back in high school. Inventive. Spiritual. Visionary. ENCOURAGING.
And, y’know, flat-out gorgeous. Doesn’t hurt.

Sabrina is in the business of activating human potential – and she’s led workshops in Canada, the US, Malaysia, Sweden, Norway, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, and beyond. Her coaching framework is based on the FIRO Theory® — the same methodology used by the US Navy. Ahoy!

She believes that no one exactly like you has ever walked on this earth — and that every cycle of your career evolution needs to feel meaningful.

Her latest offering to the ‘verse is The Bliss Kit: a digital guide to authentic career creation.
It’s a downright massive collection of inspiring tools, PlaySheets & strategies to help you re-orient your career & create a life of purpose.

Whether you’re making $10 an hour flippin’ veggie burgers or $100K a year as a corporate honcho,
The Bliss Kit has a slice you can use. Buy the whole Bible — or just a $20 Byte.
And re-invigorate your vocation — this time, with feeling.


creativity // inspiration non // sequitur


Dear Alex,

This list is particularly soul-stirring and poignant for me because I am in the process of defining my personal brand of magic and getting CLEAR on what I want. As in, I’ve been scribbling in my journal for over an hour and teasing out the things that matter most to me and are sacred.

So it’s truly serendipitous, I think, that you published this post TODAY. Right now. I’m bowled over. Thank you for this. It’s my favourite kind of post, the type that reaches through the screen and gives my heart a big ol’ squeeze. The type that lets me know it’s OK to be a work-in-progress as long as I keep striving for excellence. Thank you. Thank you.

Oh, and I think your wee-book on magnetic clarity may have had something to do with my soul epiphanies as well. I read through it and told myself I’d “answer the questions later”, so perhaps I’m answering them right now as I pour my soul on the page? How wondrous. :)

Thank you again for your wit and fire. You are awesome. I love you. Total girl-crush going on.


wow, especially the last one touched me deeply!

Dear sweet young but overly wise, Alexandra. What an awesomely thought provoking list!!!!! I recently turned 42 and since I’m so old, it would take me forever to write a list quite like yours but write a list nonetheless I did, lol. Mine talks of things like bacon and wine and grey hair being sexy, the IRS, and all…I may need to up my game for my 43rd birthday list…thanks for the inspiration!

These are fabulous- thank you for the smart, funny and utterly true reminders.

Oh, how I love these. Congratulations on being thoughtful and generous and a lovely human being.

Ann on May 1, 2012 Reply

Alex, I wouldn’t mind a book that consists of your posts.
I’d keep it :
1. By my bed.
2. In the bathroom (sorry :)
3. In the car.
4. In my dropbox.

You’re so brilliant, again. You make me S T O P and listen.
Thank you.
:: Marta

Alex – you rock! These truly are awesome rules to live by. Long may they be shared (and adhered to) by all.

Alex, this is wonderful. You’ve highlighted many things to be shared with others. Well done!

Fabulous list!! I feel like I have also started to pay attention to these sorts of things in more recent years, but there are certainly some that I need to work on! ps. I had to google the meaning of nuance hahaha


Andrew on May 3, 2012 Reply

Wow this is a fantastic list and I agree with them all. I especially related to #5 and #16 – I always squirm when my mother tries to take my photo! Awesome post x

Liz on May 3, 2012 Reply


Lisa T. on May 4, 2012 Reply

#2 breaks my heart. #13 makes it sing. Thanks, Alexandra!

Awesome post – I loved each and every one of these tips.


This is really well written and all of your points resonated with me but especially number 20 about not leaving mean comments! I’m never going to understand why anyone would want to spread negativity but the internet seems to encourage it. Thanks for writing such a beautiful post.

This is marvelous. How are you only 27?

Absolutely awesome, thank you for sharing!

I second Martas comment and the last part of Otitis too! You are simply genius!

3. Learn to sit comfortably in silence.
>> My problem with this is an unique one. I was deaf part of the time when I was young, due to Eustachian tubes that are too straight and tended to collapse if I was sick at all (which I was a lot). I don’t have any memories of being deaf, but it left me with a speech problem that took years to conquer and the occasional bouts of hearing impairment when I’m really sick, especially in my left ear. But most importantly, it left me with a huge fear of silence. I have learned, slowly, to cope by paying attention to the noise that is within the silence – right now, as I sit in my house with my family asleep, I hear the sound of the ceiling fan in my parents’ room, my mother snoring, the high-pitched buzz of electricity and the slightly lower pitch of my laptop, the sound of my laptop’s hard drive and fans, the soft breaths of my dog and the two cats sleeping in here, the engines on the highway in the distance. If I concentrate, I hear the frogs outside. The world is never truly silent, but everyone should learn to listen to the background noise.

4. Don’t go to life-altering concerts and spend the entire time peering through your smartphone & filming the proceedings.
>> True fact. I got to witness Zenyatta, one of the greatest racehorses of all time, win the Apple Blossom Handicap in 2010. And by “witness,” I mean I looked through the lens of my camera, after I’d stood waiting for a spot at the wall next to the track for four hours in the sun. Did I get some awesome pictures? Yes. Do I feel like I missed out on something? Also yes. The chances that I will ever personally watch a racehorse of her caliber run again are slim. If I ever do again – there will not be a camera present.

This is beautiful, and somehow exactly what I needed to find right now. Thinking about my own list now.

What a lovely, wonderful, truth-spittin’ blog post. Love it.

Aaawwww, you’re lovely. My favourite:

Be KINDER than seems necessary. And more GENEROUS than seems reasonable.


This is a fantastic list. As a young woman dipping her toe into the waters of her twenties, I found several things in this list I would like to improve or work on doing better.

Thank you so much for writing this post,

Lovely List. Can’t tell you how much I needed it today.

Thank you for this. Thank you so so much.

Katrina on Sep 12, 2012 Reply

You’re ability to wordsmith on a consistent basis makes me so incredibly happy. I love reading your work & this article was a perfect start to my morning, especially the bit about financial decisions on street corners. You’re all kinds of awesome.

I was enjoying your incredibly spiritually orgasmic blog and this list just did me over. You are my new best friend. You were bookmarked at reason 16 (although I was ready to bookmark you anyway for being awesome), but especially at that point because this is something that deeply affects me and I’m glad that there is someone who feels the same. Thank you, so much. <3

Brandy on Mar 6, 2013 Reply

Beautiful. Poignant. Perfect. I must remember this, come back to it and share it.

I love this list. Maybe I’m connecting with you because we are the same age and both of us are named Alexandra :)

I want to know what it is with the number 27. Go to Google and search

“27 Ways To ‘ and you’ll have pages. Not to mention all the rock stars that die at 27..the number comes up continuously for me ever since most of my school books one year were 27 and I saved 2 lives on June 27th at 99E 27th Street

Stephen John on Sep 3, 2013 Reply

So much wisdom. So much beauty. Thank you.

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