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I love listening to advice. Most of it is unsolicited so it’s usually an adventure of where the journey is going to go. I don’t follow much of it, but listening to it can be pretty entertaining. On a rare occasion it can even be helpful. “Rare” is the key word in that sentence. The difference between advice and opinion is often lost on me, other than the word ‘advice’ seems a lot more official than the word ‘opinion.’ Who wants to listen to someone’s opinion when there is advice to be had? I’m skeptical of all advice, but I’m especially leery of any advice that will affect me and my loved ones on a personal level.

On the public side there is political advice which is almost completely based on telling half of us exactly what we want to hear and telling the other half exactly what we don’t want to hear. Almost nobody is swayed one way or the other by political advice. It took me a while to figure it out, but political advice is somewhere around 100% venting, and nothing more. In fact, a good amount of political advice is what people think politicians should have done (past tense) as opposed to what they should do moving forward. Hind-site advice is by in large useless, but much more insightful than forward thinking advice. If not more insightful, it’s typically more accurate. For what it’s worth, my advice is that political advice that comes from politicians should be completely ignored. If by chance you accidently hear some of it, disregard it.

My wife asks me for advice about clothes, but she rarely (never) listens to what I say so there’s little pressure on me to give the right advice. On the down side she gets highly offended if I don’t put serious thought into the soon to be ignored wardrobe advice. I just fake it sometimes and pretend she’s going to listen to what I say. She doesn’t.

Then of course there is financial advice. I’ve been told more than a few times that $800,000 is the amount needed in the bank to comfortably retire. That’s the number that financial guys throw around as if it’s attainable by most folks. My humble advice to those who would like to retire financially secure is to be rich before you retire. You’re welcome for that free advice.

A few days ago I talked to someone who told me, with a certain amount of confidence, that I should continue to live on my boat, but due to the upcoming construction at the marina I should move to another slip… or I should move back to a condo in St Pete… or I should go back to the Caribbean. It was all good advice packed into a five minute conversation, even if it seemed like almost all options were being thrown at me at once, thus rendering the advice nearly worthless. I now feel quite strongly that the general consensus is that I should NOT stay on my boat in the slip where it is currently parked. And that’s where a lot of advice ends up. It’s not so much what I should do as opposed to what I should not do. I should not stay where I’m at. Good advice once I weeded through the conversation just a bit.

A few years ago I was overweight and a doctor advised me to lose some pounds and get in shape. So, I changed my diet and ate right. Then I started exercising and I got back in shape. Once my goal was reached, the result was that from the neck down I looked twenty years younger and from the neck up I looked twenty years older. Depending whether or not I had a shirt on, the advice was either great advice or bad advice. I’m a little chubby again now, but my face looks younger than when I was skinny. I keep my shirt on.

We own a sailboat, but my wife doesn’t like sailing all that much. She doesn’t like all the heeling (leaning far to the side). Something about water coming over the side of the boat while we’re three miles offshore makes her feel uncomfortable. Go figure. Some of my friends have told me, “Hey, man. Just take her out and let it rip. Ride the wind and the waves and she’ll get used to being out there. She’ll love it.” It sounds like reasonable advice, but they’re all divorced so I’m on the fence on following that advice.

One of my favorite pieces of advice is when people say stuff like, ‘trust your gut’ or ‘trust your inner voice.’ But that’s only good advice if the person your advising doesn’t have crazy voices constantly chirping bad advice in their head. I’ve met more than a few people who would be sadly mistaken if they constantly followed their gut instincts. In fact my advice to those folks would be to seek and follow outside advice. By outside, I mean outside their social circle.

So, with all that said, of course, I need to give some advice of my own. My advice? Listen to music. I’ve never heard of anyone going wrong by listening to music. Music stirs the soul. Music lifts people up. Music inspires. Music celebrates. Music liberates. Music heals the wounded. Music bridges that gap. Listen to music. How can you go wrong with tunes tumbling around in your head? How can you go wrong with that advice?

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