1. The "I'm So Exhausted I Could Fall Down" Conversation
We're all running on empty; we all have too much on our plates. But dishing about our exhaustion not only gets a little—you guessed it—tiring, it may also make us more tired. Thinking you've had a good night's sleep has the same benefits as actually having a good night's sleep, new research suggests
. This is not to say you should stay up all night getting stressed out about how you need to think positively and get to sleep, mind you. This is only to say: We can talk instead about something actually refreshing, like, I don't know, laughter yoga
2. The "Complicated-Food" Conversation
Be the topic Paleo diets, juicing recipes, gluten allergies or your penchant for locally sourced shaman-approved pork sausage, let's all just agree to talk about food 30 percent less. Please?
3. The "Ye-Olde-Blame-the-Parents" Conversation
Are you older than 25 years old? Have you moved out of your parents' house? Are you within driving distance of a licensed therapist? However difficult, lonely or even flat-out horrible growing up was (and I do not say this lightly), remember that you have both the right to not like your parents and the right to still be upset. But your choices are not their fault anymore. Simply by being an adult, you have earned the privilege of blaming—and freeing—yourself.
4. The "Ye-Olde-Blame-Anybody-Else" Conversation
As nutty as it sounds, I have a perfectly sane and lovely neighbor who blames everything that is wrong with her existence on her hairstylist, who perpetually ignores her directives and gives her a haircut that causes her bad self-esteem and a feeling of powerlessness. And, guess what? It's been going on for years. She keeps going back—as so many of us do, to the lousy boyfriend or to the friend who cancels five minutes before she's due to arrive. If someone has done some wrong to you more than three times, and you have said or done nothing to change things, then your blaming quota is used up. Time to move on to discussing your part in the turn of events.
5. The "But Where Do YOU Want to Go?" Conversation
Did you know that the average person spends 37 percent of her life deciding where to go to dinner? Okay, so that's not actually true, but it sure feels that way when you're engaged in a hot and heavy volley of "Whatever you want to do!" Adopt this handy rule my co-worker swears by: If someone is coming to your neck of the woods, choose the restaurant; because, after all, you would know best. If you are going to his or her geographical location, your companion chooses. Spend all that time you've saved agonizing over what to order. Wait, no, I mean, laughing over glasses of wine with your friend.
6. The "This Old Thing?" Conversation
Women are bad at taking compliments, a phenomenon comedian Amy Schumer takes to hilarious (and pretty intense) lengths in this sketch
. Chances are, if it makes you laugh it's because you know exactly what she's getting at. Praise a female friend's dress and she'll say, as one of the characters did, "I paid like two dollars for it. It's probably made of old Burger King crowns." Buck the system! By which I mean, instead of protesting with a, "What do you mean I look cute? I look like a cow!", hear what the person is telling you, acknowledge that she might even be telling the truth and say what the last woman in the skit does. (Hint: In French, it's pronounced merci
Amy Shearn is the author of The Mermaid of Brooklyn: A Novel and How Far Is the Ocean from Here?
Next: 9 things your friend wishes she could say