It's time for us all to rise up off our beautiful behinds and DIY the shit out of everything.

We are a massive group of the laziest, most inept people to ever walk the planet. While there aren’t any supportive facts to back up such a claim: Just look around. We start our cars from the comfort of a breakfast table, order pizza because we can’t cook, pay egregious prices for barely digestible coffee (when we can make it at home just fine for a fraction of the cost), skim over articles without deeply reading important content, allow TVs or iPads to raise children and etc. etc. etc. …

We need to start doing shit for ourselves again.

The hell did we go wrong? When in our history did we just give up and allow our lives to be controlled by outside forces? Are we honestly better off? Sure, we cure a few diseases and help the poor sometimes and attach cute Lego wheelbarrows to legless dogs so they can walk again; but where is all of this taking us?

On a direct train to Worthlessville, that’s where. Population everyone.

We’ve lost our way. We’re supposed to be the great evolutionary constructs of the universe complete with opposable thumbs and unfathomable intellect. But where we’re at now is sad. It’s sad because as creative beings we aren’t using ourselves to a full potential. Locked away in consumer-driven habit, we’re allowing blips and blops on a screen to live the life we should be out there physically building. We aren’t supposed to be prisoners of our own devices.

And there are proven advantages of doing things for yourself instead of letting others or technologies do it for you: saving money, building character and having an overall healthier lifestyle are just a few. The perpetual laziness isn’t a hard cycle of habit to break, either. All it takes is a desire to make a better being out of the life you’ve been given and to run as fast and far away from debilitating apathy as possible.

The betterments from a shift in habit are real …


Most of us are broke

According to CNN Money, 76 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. It doesn’t matter what size the paycheck is, people spend it. Not only are we quickly blowing every cent we make, but a report released by Moebs Services claims banks and credit unions made over $32 billion in overdraft fees during 2012 — a 1.3 percent jump from the previous year. So even when we’re clamless, the banks find a way to take even more.

Obviously saving money should be an everyday priority for everyone. Doing things yourself can save a proverbial boatload of cash. And the reasoning behind the inevitable savings is simple to understand too.

This past weekend my car died in a shopping center parking lot. I bought a $30 dollar rope and had my wife and her little meep-meep Suzuki tow me to the nearest auto parts store. The shop tested (for free) the battery and alternator. We found they were both at fault and the entirety of it ran me a little over $300 dollars (plus about 7 hours worth of work on my end) to replace. After I finished, I called around to a few shops in town and wasn’t quoted anything less than $800 dollars for the exact job I did on my own.

And it’s not like I’m some sort of mechanically trained wizard of all that is the automobile. No, I have YouTube and a general knowledge of how things work because I pay attention. By my last guesstimate, I’ve saved my family well over $2,000 dollars by doing car repair work/maintenance myself. As an opportunity cost: That’s a lot of foot long sandwiches.

But there isn’t any reason to immediately go out and start assuming the role of a master engineer while attempting to fix every complicated situation out there. Start small. Learn to sew on missing buttons, fix holes, buy groceries for the week and pre-make lunches on Sunday nights — little moves gain big savings.

Health benefits are aplenty

Forget every reservation you have about growing your own food. Gardening doesn’t require much effort. You probably have a green thumb hidden inside of you somewhere (everyone does) and there aren’t any age restrictions — as if grandma and grandpa get to have all the fun.

Starting up a garden can be as time-consuming or carefree as you’d like. Even throwing up a few spice plants on the windowsill is enough to reap the life-long benefits that come with home-based horticulture. The take is always chemical-free, fresh and — best of all — delicious.

Along with the positive physical side effects of not shoving garbage down your throat, there are also strong mental health benefits to gardening, so much so that a field of medicine called “horticultural therapy” is a real thing. The field is being used to treat people with psychiatric disorders (read: probably everyone). As it turns out, gardening is great for anxiety, and when you’re less anxious, you sleep better, and when you sleep better, everything’s better.

Our health is one of the few things left in the world we have complete control over. A few cheap buckets from the store and good organic soil from a local nursery are about all anyone needs to begin a journey into self-sufficiency. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll figure out how to make bacon plants and never have to go to the store again …

There’s a real sense of satisfaction

I don’t often have to look at Facebook likes or Twitter notifications to know that I’ve done something productive with my time here on earth. Sometimes I just need to stand back and revel in finished accomplishments. It’s easy because they’re all around me.

A few months before my daughter was born we were moving away from one apartment and into another. As me and my wife were pulling out and saying our goodbyes to the back alley we called a driveway for so long, we saw a downtrodden soul of a man pulling out an even more beat-up rocking chair to the dump. When the man broke the corner and was out of sight, we both glanced at each other and smiled. I immediately threw the bits and pieces of it into the van. The following weekend I took it apart, sanded away the previous stain, re-upholstered the cushions, refinished the still-good parts and put it together it in time for the baby to have a place to nurse. After parts and supplies (and one or two Angry Birds Band-Aids) the chair ended up costing us around 60 bucks. The savings alone are worth the effort, but the sense of accomplishment that came with it when I threw in the last screw is something that will never go away. I built a chair for my daughter. That’s something real.

Working towards an achievement elevates the mind in ways no other action can. Always remind yourself: Putting in dedicated work has never resulted in anything sub-par.

Embedded knowledge is important

We’re sentient beings that don’t want to learn anymore. Our capabilities are currently boiled down to be simple flesh extensions of Google, and most of us can only recite the first search result or Wikipedia entry when faced with a question. This is our reality now. What exactly is controlling whom, and why are we allowing it to happen?

Real instinctual knowledge is important. It’s what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. The brain is a gift — from whatever deity — and is ours to use as we see fit. But we aren’t using it! It’s just blobbing away in a secure cavity waiting to tell what fingers to move for the next right swipe.

Knowledge is only productive when you really take it in, critically develop the processes around it and use it. And use it often. It’s proven our long-term memory works this way, so while jumping to the phone for a quick answer is easiest, it doesn’t make us any more brilliant.

As far as we know our capacity for information is infinite if we store it correctly. My hope is that we can keep testing that boundary. Challenge yourself to answer questions without the phone and if you’re stuck on a problem, work through it. You might be surprised at what’s actually sitting in that dome of yours just waiting to be used.

Because it’s fun

I love drinking beer that I make in my own kitchen. Is it easier to go out and buy a case of PBR and wallow away in my own piss-tasting misery that way? Sure it is. And it would be just as easy to order Mediterranean food from the family-owned eatery down the street when I’m hungry, but I love cooking — why would I want them to make it for me? I’m not a toddler; I can make my own food once in a while.

What fun is it to have others do your work for you anyways? I suppose I was never raised to understand that side of humanity. Maybe I'm old-fashioned. Maybe I'm not as hip as I think I am. One thing I do know, is that enjoying my time here on this planet is important — why let anything get in the way of that?


Plenty of studies available show leisure time is prominent in our lives now more than ever. Advancements in technology have given us — as opposed to workers in, say, the ‘60s — opportunities to cut workweeks down and be available for play more. Even though it doesn’t seem that way for most of us, there is usually adequate time available in the day to do the things we want to — so long as the life-sucking devices we call innovation aren’t used as a secondary reality and killing what free time we have.

If our days feel short, science says, it’s because we’re loading them up with too much filling chaos. It’s all perception. Change that, and what excuses are left?

I get a kick out of fixing, and tinkering, and building, and buying new tools and knowing how the world around me works. It may be easier to go out and have someone else do the work for me — which I still do on occasion — but it makes me feel helpless.

Having others do my work feels like a scam; as if I somehow couldn’t figure out the task independently and was forced to pay a premium to have someone hold my hand and gently walk over a difficult river of profundity. It makes me feel like an idiot.

But look at me; I’m no better at times with mundane distractions and time management. Because often I’m ripped from a physical existence and thrust into an electronic one just like everyone else. I need the highest score on a Scrabble knock-off and feel I’m genuinely interested in giving a thumbs up to what high school friends are doing that I haven’t had an actual conversation with in almost 20 years.

Such is life, though, and I’m trying to fix it.

Because so far I’ve been able to fix and do everything I’ve ever tried. Can you?

The answer is always: Of course you can.