What Makes a Person “Cool”? (Being Subtle, Aware of Social Cues, and Having Something Exclusive)

I asked dozens of people in real life and on facebook in order to find the answer.

There are some things in life we recognize and encounter everyday, yet we don’t understand them.  For example, questions I constantly ask myself as I am writing each day are “is this funny?” and more importantly “is this interesting?” Both humor and being able to captivate a person’s attention are not really cut-and-dry, black-and-white issues, though I am definitely a cut-and-dry, black-and-white person.  It takes being very observant of social cues and even pop culture, at least in my experience, to make it work.  The difficulty and creativity in the search to be both funny and interesting is that both of those things are abstract, moving targets.

I am so overaware (it’s a made-up word but if I keep using it I think I can get it to catch on) and intrigued by marketing tools and methods.  For example, from now on, anytime you see an ad for a clock (not digital) or even just a new clock for sale in a store, you will be amazed at how many of the clocks show “10:10” as the time.  My guess is that “10:10” easily shows both arms of the clock and also it’s a time that many people are awake for both times each day, both morning and night.

Another interesting observation is how many African-American models wear purple in magazine ads and commercials on TV.  From JC Penny catalogs to The Princess and the Frog, purple is present.  Notice how few people of all other races were purple in ads.  I’m sure it’s because the color purple compliments darker skin tones much better than it does for lighter ones, and because purple is a color of royalty, which is a common theme in African-American culture- like the way bishops are often common in African-American churches.  And it may be stretching this concept, but the Disney movie The Lion King takes place in Africa, and as the title explains, it is a movie about a kingdom, even though it’s about animals instead of humans.

So keeping all these things in mind, I started thinking about an important and invisible factor in selling a product: being cool.  Apple computers are definitely cool, as is Steve Jobs who started and runs the company.  Is it because of those TV ads starring Justin Long, portraying PC’s as nerdy and Mac’s as hip?  I don’t think so.  Those ads just cleverly symbolized what many clued-in consumers were already aware of: Mac’s are cooler than PC’s.

Apple has always made their own rules, not being limited to the guidelines and expectations of other computer programs or even customers.  But they get away with it because Apple basically writes The Book of Cool when it comes to media technology: User-friendly computers that don’t really get viruses, iPods, iPhones, and iPads, all of which use a minimal number of buttons, and are so cool they don’t easily interact with other Apple products.

This being said, “coolness” is important in selling a product.  And that’s why marketing departments exist- to try and figure out, or at least convince people what is cool, so the product can be sold.  But the art of being cool doesn’t just apply to big companies and marketing teams, it also matters to us as individuals.  People are often drawn to other people who they think are cool; therefore being cool yourself may in turn attract other cool people.  I mean, some people are fine with regularly attending Star Wars conventions or sharing a house with 8 cats all named after cupcake flavors.  But just as that “uncool” example shows, even if we truly don’t care what other people think about us, being cool is definitely better than being uncool, if given the choice.

So what makes a person “cool”?  I’ve asked dozens of people both in real life and on facebook to find out the answer.  There were mainly just a few different answers, some being gender specific, some not:  Some males answered “money and material possessions” while some females answered “appearance and clothing”.  But the most reoccurring answer I received was “being confident to the point that the person truly doesn’t care about what other people think or say about them”.  Another similar answer that resonated well with me was “a cool person has something you don’t, even if it’s just confidence”.

Interestingly, the age of the people I asked made no difference to the kind of answer I got.  Not only do older people think that “confidence” defines being cool, but I also realized that being young isn’t a requirement in order to be cool.  I can think of three musicians who I’ve listened to my entire life who are still making music and for whom I’m still buying their albums and happen to all be currently right around 60 years old: Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Phil Collins. Age has nothing to do with being cool.  If anything, being young is a major disadvantage in being cool, since life experience is lacking.  Most teenagers only think they know what is cool, but many of them are trying so hard to be cool that they are not- which brings me to the first Rule of Being Cool.

The Rules of Being Cool

1) If you realize or acknowledge that you are cool, you either never were cool or are now no longer cool. Like John Mayer.  I will always love his music, but I refuse to think he’s cool anymore.  By the time he publicly started dating celebrities then disrespecting them later in magazines while making an arse of himself with prideful comments and talking about how much money he makes, it became official: John Mayer is aware that he’s cool, which officially disqualifies him for being cool.  I can’t totally discredit the guy, after all, he did pen the song “83” (I’ve been obsessed with the year 1983, since 1995) and it was one of his concerts that transformed a friendship into a dating relationship into a marriage into a family (the first date my wife and I went on was a John Mayer concert).  But John Mayer is officially disqualified from being cool.

2) You must be aware of social cues, but not become ruled by the expectations of other people. Obviously if a person doesn’t care whatsoever what people think, he could be rude, selfish, and only shower once a week.  But it takes more than not caring what people think and participating in personal hygiene, it takes being aware of the social expectations that actually matter: Like being friendly, positive, and simply passionate about things that are important, while not being self-centered, vain, or overly aggressive. Why?  Because a person who has these attributes I just listed in italics is a confident person.  When I meet a person who is constantly being negative and is generally condescending to others, I see a person who is unhappy, unfulfilled and desperate to find confidence; needless to say, that’s not a cool person.

3) You must have something that others inspire to have. Whether it’s wit, aggressiveness, style, a high income level, or personal character, just to name a few examples, we use other people as models for our lives.  Yes, being cool depends on who you ask, since it’s largely based on perception.  Yet still, confidence can always be found as the foundation of coolness.

And that’s it.  That’s how I define what makes a person cool.  From Zack Morris in the fictional world, to my own family and friends in the real world, I am blessed to know cool people.  Just as iron sharpens iron, so do cool people enhance each other’s coolness. Therefore, be cool to one another.


Unnecessary Bonus…

Ethnic Backgrounds of Celebrities Mentioned in This Post:

Steve Jobs (half Syrian, half English)

Justin Long (half Polish, Sicilian, English)

Phil Collins (English, Irish)

Bruce Springsteen (50% Italian, 37% Irish, 13% Dutch)

Tom Petty (English, 1/4 Native American Indian)

Henry Winkler as “The Fonz” (Jewish)

John Mayer (half Jewish, half German)

Mark-Paul Gosselaar (half Indonesian, half Dutch)






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The Unholy Trinity of Food: Sugar, Fat, and Sodium Cause Obesity, Heart Disease, Cancer, Depression, Inactivity, and Hyperactivity

Sugar, fat, and sodium.  The three most rare food elements found in nature are the same three that have caused a national epidemic of obesity, heart disease, cancer, as well as allergies, depression, inactivity, and hyperactivity.

Given that these health problems have been steadily increasing since World War II, it only makes sense to return to the way people lived before the 1940’s.  In order to do that, we must take matters into our own hands and fight the Unholy Trinity, by simply avoiding this enemy as much as possible.  The members of the Unholy Trinity are none other than sugar, fat, and sodium.

Sugar:

Consider a time in history when food couldn’t be bought in boxes or bags.  A time when people cooked their own food based on ingredients they either grew themselves or traded at the local market.  Most likely, the people simply ate fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread, oats, and lastly, meat, as they could afford it.  And they drank water, wine, and beer.

foods high in sugar

Did they eat ice cream, cookies, and cakes?  Did they eat Nutrigrain cereal bars which are also loaded with sugar?  No.  While they could get their hands on sugar, which wasn’t necessarily easily obtainable, they mainly only cooked with sugar in very rare occasions.

Cavities were much rarer in those days.  A person’s intake of added sugar directly affects his or her ability to fight off cancer and disease.

Sugar is a drug that is so easy to get a hold of these days.  But it hasn’t always been that way.

Fat:

In order to eat foods high in fat, a person must have access to an animal that is either milked or killed for its meat.  We do, we just forget about how much trouble that is.  We just buy it from a store or restaurant.  Because we’re so far removed from livestock and farms, we don’t realize how easily we’re consuming animal products on a daily basis.

foods high in fat, obviously

There is such an awareness of women’s breast cancer and finding a cure for it.  But my question is this:  For all the money we’ve already donated to research, what have we learned?  While it’s important to find a cure, what have we learned about prevention?  After all, it’s better to avoid getting breast cancer all together than to ever have to fight it.

 

Until theres’s a cure, which I hope we find as soon as possible, there’s prevention.

The smartest thing to do is to look to the women who are not getting breast cancer:  Asian women living in Asian countries.  Specifically Japanese women. They are the least likely to get breast cancer.  Why?

Very low fat content in their diets. http://www.cancerproject.org/survival/cancer_facts/breast.php

Very high intake of chlorella, which is found in seaweed, which they eat regularly (namely in sushi). http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0NAH/is_1_29/ai_54062648/

Research over the decades has shown us that the #1 reason women get breast cancer is from a high fat content in their diet.  Unsurprisingly, American has the highest rate of breast cancer in the world.  Breast cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in America, and the 2nd most common cause of cancerous deaths.

Just in case we need more evidence of how to avoid breast cancer, when Japanese women move to America and adopt an American lifestyle and American diet, their immunity to breast cancer disappears.

So it’s a little ironic that from time to time M&M’s does a campaign where they donate a portion of the profit from their pink M&M’s to breast cancer research. The more M&M’s we buy (and eat), the more money that is spent to learn what we already know:  That the more fat in a diet a person has, the more likely a person is to get breast cancer.  And the more M&M’s a person eats, the more fat they are adding into their diet.

That actually makes me angry.

Sodium:

Let me ask myself a question:  In real life, how many times have I seen salt on its own in nature?  The answer:  Never.

Yet salt is everywhere and in everything.  Especially in appetizers at restaurants, frozen foods, canned soups, and all meat.

My boss got an app on his iPhone called My Fitness Pal.  It counts all his calories based on sugar, fat, and sodium to help him make sure he’s eating right.  He was eating perfectly.  Only lean, organic meats along with whole grains, fruits, and veggies.  Yet he kept going over his sodium.

foods high in sodium

I told him, “It’s from the meat.  Only eat meat in one of your three basic meals every day and see if that works.”

It did.  We eat too much meat.  And it’s giving us too much sodium, which leads to hardening of the arteries and heart disease.  But that’s a different post, and I haven’t finished it yet…

I have found that the best way to avoid fat and sodium is to avoid sugar.  Sugar is the easiest unholy member to get a hold of.  Because it’s even in wheat bread (unless it’s Ezekiel Bread).  To find food without added sugar, in most cases, means it’s a food with low fat and low sodium.  And a food without added sugar most likely means it’s not a processed food.

So ultimately, the bottom line is this: The best way to avoid the Unholy Trinity is to avoid processed foods– 1) anything that comes in a box or bag, 2) anything that has more than 6 ingredients (because more than that means those ingredients probably include either chemicals or one of the Unholy Trinity), and 3) anything that can last a long time in your pantry or fridge before it goes bad.

It’s a lot of trouble though.  To avoid sugar, fat, sodium, and processed foods.  To have to plan and prepare healthy meals ahead of time to avoid being tempted by convenience foods.

Is it worth it?  Is it worth the trouble to be healthy and avoid cancer and disease?

For a lot of people, it’s not.