101 Things NOT to Do Before You Die
  • 101 Things NOT to Do Before You Die
  • 101 Things NOT to Do Before You Die

101 Things NOT to Do Before You Die

by Robert W. Harris

A witty, subversive guide that turns conventional "wisdom" " upside down!

Too many books tell us what to do to achieve happiness—-unfortunately, often at great risk, expense, or effort. 101 Things NOT to Do Before You Die is not one of those books. It's a book for the rest of us.

Robert W. Harris says it's what we don't do that

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A witty, subversive guide that turns conventional "wisdom" " upside down!

Too many books tell us what to do to achieve happiness—-unfortunately, often at great risk, expense, or effort. 101 Things NOT to Do Before You Die is not one of those books. It's a book for the rest of us.

Robert W. Harris says it's what we don't do that determines our happiness quotient. Using the exciting principle of "selective inaction," the author helps us adjust our thinking so we can make more satisfying decisions in everyday situations.

For example, do you think you'll feel complete if you try to run with the bulls? Don't do it! Do you feel compelled to drive around searching for the "best" parking spot? Don't do it! Are you sometimes tempted to confuse Randy Quaid with Dennis Quaid? Just don't do it!

Do you think that you should watch the colorized version of It's a Wonderful Life? Or ponder the lyrics to "Louie, Louie"? Or read War and Peace? Or push an elevator button more than twice? Think again! In many cases, you'll be better off not doing what "they" say you should do. Let 101 Things NOT to Do Before You Die be your guide to getting more out of life—-simply by doing less.

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Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.66(w) x 8.14(h) x 0.52(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Don't watch the colorized version of

It's a Wonderful Life

Colorization—the process of adding color to black-and-white films—was invented by Wilson Markle and Brian Hunt in 1983. Since then, dozens of classic films have been "fixed" by anti-black-and-white zealots. They even colorized Casablanca (ironically, Humphrey Bogart's face was actually gray). Fortunately, Citizen Kane has escaped—at least for now.

Colorization has been referred to as "cultural vandalism" by The Writers Guild of America West. Critic Eric Mink called it a "bastardization" of film. And Gilbert Cates, then president of the Director's Guild of America, said that it ". . . is a process of dissembling the historical and artistic fabric of our landmarks." Yet many people watch these colorized movies. Don't be one of them!

Insist on the original black-and-white. If you're ever watching an old movie on TV and you suspect chromatic trickery, check your movie guide to see how the original was produced. If it was in black-and-white, don't panic. Just take your remote, open the Video menu, and drain out all of the color. Then you can watch the film as it was intended to be watched.

Other classic movies not to watch colorized

The Absent-Minded Professor

Adam's Rib

Arsenic and Old Lace

Bringing Up Baby

King Kong

The Maltese Falcon

Miracle on 34th Street

White Heat (presumably the white part remains white)

Yankee Doodle Dandy

Fun activities

Write a scathing letter to Ted Turner, a vocal proponent—and bankroller—of movie colorization.

Start an Anti-Colorization League in your neighborhood.

Protest colorization with a silent candlelight vigil.

The inventors of colorization were Canadian—still are, for all I know.

Colorization was first used in 1970 on film of the moon taken by Apollo astronauts.

Some older TV shows are also being colorized, so stay alert!

Chapter Two

Don't try to bathe with a sliver of soap

Frugality is a virtue. Of course. Waste not, want not. When frugality improves the quality of your life, it's a good thing. But when frugality becomes an end in itself, it's time to step back and get some perspective.

Some people believe that saving fractions of pennies is worthwhile. They are excessively frugal with everything, even those things that cost very little—like soap. These folks, for reasons unknown to science, use a bar of soap until it becomes a paper-thin sliver about the size of a postage stamp. Only then do they indulge themselves by opening a new bar. Don't be one of them!

Accept the fact that soap is inexpensive. When a bar no longer gives a good lather, toss it, no matter what its size. And realize that your perception of soap, and every other thing you interact with in your world, affects the quality of your life. If your mind continually gets "just scraping by" messages, it will try to ensure that you just scrape by. But if it gets "enjoying life's bounty" messages, it will try to ensure that your cup is always running over. Trust me on this one.


Napoleon Bonaparte once sent a letter to his wife in which he told her not to bathe during the two weeks that would pass before he returned home.

A man often pays dear for a small frugality.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.

—Bill Cosby

Wash four distinct and separate times, using lots of lather each time from individual bars of soap.

—Howard Hughes


If a little sliver of soap takes a short bath in warm water it can often become supple enough to conform to the contours of its big brother, the new bar that just arrived. With a little gentle pressure these two will cling together. . . . The purpose of this soap splicing is twofold. One is that it affords some respect for the pith of the piece that once was much greater. . . . And secondly, why discard something that is still useful? . . . There is the added pleasure of seeing a successful splice take hold and providing a good home for the aging, squinny sliver.

—Raymond Weisling www.geocities.com/Tokyo/8908/clatter/soaps.html

Chapter Three

Don't hunt for the "best" parking spot

Most people buy into the conventional notion that "good" parking spots are those near a store and "bad" ones are those farther away. So when they go to the mall, they drive up and down the lanes, desperately hoping that someone will pull out of a good spot. If, after five or ten minutes, it finally happens, the adrenaline surges. Then they drive like maniacs to beat the other shoppers to the coveted spot.

This irrational behavior has profound effects on psychological health. When these people get a good spot, they feel like a million bucks. When they don't, they grumble and complain and swear under their breath at the lucky jerks who did. They let fate determine their mood. Don't be one of them!

Always park far away from the store you are patronizing. You can do it if you simply reorganize your thinking. Just tell yourself that the close-in parking spots are the bad ones and the distant ones are the good ones. The energy you now devote to tracking down parking spots can then be channeled into more productive activities.

Reasons not to park close to a store

Walking is good exercise.

You're less likely to get dings on your doors.

The anticipation of encountering items on sale has longer to build.

You'll save gas and therefore spew less pollution into the air and therefore get to think of yourself as a more responsible passenger on Mother Earth than your fellow shoppers.

Fun activities

Mentally note the number of instances of parking rage that occur between your car and the store.

When you leave the store, point and silently mouth, "I'm leaving," to someone waiting for a spot and see how long they follow you.

The difference between a "good" spot and a "bad" one at Wal-Mart is typically around 150 feet.

Parking spaces vary in size, but usually are eight to nine feet wide.

Leon James, author of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving, says research shows that people who know someone is waiting for their spot will take several seconds longer to pull out just to "reassert their freedom."

I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn't park anywhere near the place.

—Steven Wright

Copyright © 2007 by Robert W. Harris. All rights reserved.

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