As I start writing this, I have no idea where it might end up. Such is the life of a writer with a lot to say but with a brain spinning around a whole bunch of ideas and can’t seem to land on just one. Here goes.

You may know what Life Hacks are. Social media offers a lot of them. Wikipedia describes them as “any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life.” To me, Life Hacks are little things that make life easier, better. I look at them as things that you might not think about. The best ones make you think “I should have thought of that.”

As you might guess, my Life Hacks are more health oriented. Well, at least part of them are.

Such as, if you ever take a shower in a public shower (think locker room, at the gym) you should wear shower shoes. Mine are just simple flip-flops. I think I gave two bucks for them.

When I was 11, I attended Boy Scout camp for the first time. Camp Buck Toms near Rockwood holds a lot of great memories for me. Alas, it was also my firsts encounter with a public shower. To make a long story short, I got a raging case of Athletes Foot that stayed with me until I was well into my 40’s.

The webspace between my 4th and 5th toes itched and peeled for 30+ years. It also blessed me with that old man’s toenail fungus (yeah, gross) that only medical science could cure. So it should come as no surprise that the only time I’m barefoot in any shower other than that found in my own house finds me in shower shoes.

If you are ever tempted to put your fingers in your mouth, don’t. Your initial reaction was probably “I would never do that.” Well, yeah, you do. Unless you have literally just washed your hands, keep your hands out of your mouth. We tell our athletes that all the time. They generally don’t listen.

Our hands come in contact with so many germs that easily go straight from, you guessed it, your hands to your mouth. All kinds of nasty stuff. OK, so maybe you don’t do that. But do you ever pick up food with your hands and put it in your mouth? Same pathway.

You mom always insisted on washing your hands before dinner. There’s no telling what frogs and snails and puppy dog tails that those hands had been in contact with. Don’t want to get sick? Wash your hands regularly. Keep your hands out of your mouth. (Do I really need to say it four more times for it to sink in?)

Ever have trouble plugging your charger into your smart phone? Ever wiggle and twist and still can’t get a good connection? That means that you probably carry your phone in your pocket. And pocket fuzz gets all in that little hole and keeps devices from making a good connection. I just learned that last week.

Some Life Hacks are more Life Philosophies. As in — seek out opportunities to laugh. Then let it loose. I love hearing a good laugh. One of the guys at my bike shop has a unique laugh. I love to hear it. He shares it often.

Smile more. If answering the phone is part of your work, think of something to smile about before you pick up the phone. It will come across in the phone call. Oh, and squint your eyes a little when you smile for a photo. It looks a lot more natural.

Be present. Don’t always be thinking about what you have to do next, where you have to be tomorrow. Be present in the present. Life is too short to be thinking about what’s coming next. Be where you are now.

Be grateful. We all have something to be thankful for. Rarely do our burdens exceed our blessings although it might seem that way at times. And even if they do, we have to have Hope that things will get better.

I told you that I wasn’t sure where this would end up. I guess it’s ended up with this: Dad’s three rules for school. Be smart, be good, be happy. The rest of life will generally take care of itself.

Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Email to write to him.

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