Tag Archives: behaviour

My (Slightly Less) Naughty Little Sister

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Hello, lovely reader!  How’s life treating you today?

Does anyone remember those stories about a little girl who was incredibly naughty, but essentially loveable?  They were called “My Naughty Little Sister”, and I remember reading them as a child and feeling a bit cheated by the stories’ inevitable happy endings.  If I’d got up to half of her shenanigans, I would never have been able to charm my way out of trouble the way that little girl did.  In fact, on many occasions I was that naughty, and it’s shocking how useless a winning smile and puppy dog eyes are when you’re dealing with angry teachers/parents/older siblings.

Anyway, as most of my social circle know, my siblings are the most important people in my life.  We are five very different people who happen to have the same face, and despite the obligatory childhood scraps and rivalries, we have ended up being very close friends as adults.  Last night I had a long phone conversation with my little sister: nothing major, just a nice, lengthy catch up and a bit of gossip.  But it was, as all of my conversations with my siblings are, very rewarding.  There are a few reasons for this, and for the existence of siblings in general being a brilliant thing.

First of all, there is nothing like having someone just like you around to validate your existence (and personality, in some cases).  I know that I can say to my little sister “I’m worried about this”, or “I really don’t like that”, and she will always understand where I’m coming from.  Like everyone else, I sometimes worry that I am very weird and that everyone else is a lot better at life than I am.  Having four people in my life who share my neuroses, genetic predispositions and slightly odd frame of cultural reference makes me feel like a proper human being.  I may well be very weird, but I am not alone.  Having siblings puts you into context, and that’s extremely valuable.

Secondly, siblings – even twins – are never entirely identical as people, and it’s a constant source of pride and joy to me that my siblings all pursue different ambitions.  It’s amazing how different close relatives can really be, and talking to my little sister about her degree (which is in science, of all things.  Can you imagine?) reminds me how important it is to respect other people’s passions.  It’s easy to go through life assuming that we know pretty much everything about our nearest and dearest, and we may not share their beliefs or aspirations, but it’s always worth checking in on them from time to time.  I love hearing my little sister talk about her life, because it’s so different from mine.

Thirdly, I am a very typical big sister in that I hate the idea of my younger siblings repeating my mistakes.  I mean, really.  If you’re going to mess things up then at least have the decency to be original about it.  Jeez.  Seriously, though: I have messed up enough times and been hurt often enough to recognise the danger signs in my little brother and sister, and I dread to think of them going through some of the rubbish that I put myself through at their age because of pride, misplaced affections or your basic, thoughtless drunkenness.  Thankfully, my younger siblings are a lot more sensible than I am, and my little sister in particular is a wise old soul (for a twenty-one year old).  Talking to her and hearing her opinions reminds me that she is a lot smarter than I was at her age, and if she is slightly less naughty than I am, that can only be a good thing.

I know that I am very, very lucky to get on so well with my multitudinous siblings, but I think that the essential elements of our relationships are the same for friends and family members from all walks of life.  It doesn’t matter how alienated you may be now, or how little you think you have in common: your siblings are the people most like you on earth, whether that’s in terms of personality or physical appearance, and their influence on your life is incomparable with anything else.  Even if they annoy you, bore you or just have far too many embarrassing stories to tell about you: they will always be a huge part of who you are.

And that’s a very good thing, because you’re wonderful.  Have a cracker of a Wednesday.

Grumpy Alert

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Hello, dear reader.  How are you?

Let’s be honest: on some mornings you wake up and just don’t feel right.  You might have had a bad day yesterday, or not slept very well.  You might wake up with a headache or find that you’ve overslept.  It might be for absolutely no good reason at all, but the fact is that some days just start with a bit of a black cloud.

As I’ve said before, we shouldn’t be quick to decide that we are having a bad day.  However, it’s inevitable that people will be in a bad mood from time to time.  When that happens, it’s important to know how to deal with it.  Here are a few ideas:

Communicate
This will vary from person to person, depending on how they tend to handle stress.  If you’re spending time with colleagues or friends who might need a bit of a heads up about your frame of mind, make them aware.  If someone in your life tells you that they’re in a bad mood, accept the information and ask them questions (depending on how much or little they need to talk).

Don’t Make A Chain
One bad occurrence does not necessarily lead to another: just because you overslept doesn’t automatically mean that it’s going to rain.  If you avoid linking small bits of bad luck together, your bad mood won’t last quite so long.

Distract
If you are in a bad mood, you need to stop thinking about it.  Do something else.  Distract yourself with something shiny, or read a book.  If someone in your life is feeling a bit moody, talk to them about a completely unrelated topic, or show them an amusing post on Buzzfeed.  It might not permanently fix the problem, but a distraction is a nice rest from feeling down.

Treat Yourself
Buy a proper coffee with a fancy syrup in it, or download that new album on iTunes.  You are a marvellous human being who is worth investing in, especially when you’re not feeling quite right.  If someone else is in a bad mood, treat them a little bit.  Reminding someone that you care about them, even in a small way, is an excellent tonic for the blues.

Have a fantastic Tuesday.

5 Things It’s Actually Ok to Do

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Hello, and welcome to Thursday!  Do come in.  Don’t worry about taking your shoes off or anything.

We live, as I’m sure you already know, in a society that is almost entirely based on rules and regulations: please stand on the right, do not feed the pigeons, and don’t mention the war.  I have come to the conclusion that there are certain behaviours which we shun theoretically, but which in practice are actually completely ok to do.  Here are a few things that society might frown upon, but we as individuals should embrace:

1) It’s ok to be the mad people laughing on a train

Last night, my house mate and I found ourselves travelling home via the Northern Line, and a slightly bizarre conversation took place:

Train announcement: “This train terminates at High Barnet.”
Ash (turning to me): “YOU terminate at High Barnet!”
Me: “It’s true.  I do.”
Ash: “Every day!”
Me: “I know.”
Ash: “Always terminating at High Barnet!”
Me: “Except for that one time when I terminated at Edgware.  That was weird.”

As you can tell, Ash and I are not prone to sensible discussion.  This silly little interchange had us laughing like drains for much longer than was decent or necessary, and we were unquestionably the crazy (and I dare say annoying) people in our tube carriage.

2) It’s ok to stay in on a Saturday night

There’s always something to go to, isn’t there?  Friends’ birthdays, colleagues’ leaving drinks, pub quizzes, house-warming parties etc. all claim our time and livers, weekend after weekend.  But we are allowed to say “no”.  We are allowed to stay home, get into our pyjamas at 7pm and watch rubbish television until bedtime.  We’ve earned it.  I’m not suggesting that we become hermits, but I think that a quiet night in every so often can do us the world of good.

3) It’s ok to talk about stuff you find fascinating

I am, as I’m sure my friends will tell you, full of absolutely useless information.  I am also prone to “geeking out” (i.e. rambling) about topics that intrigue me, and I tend to enjoy spending time with people who are similarly verbose about their interests.  Even if we might sometimes get carried away, or not find an audience who share our keen enthusiasm, it is absolutely alright to talk about stuff that you are interested in.  After all, your interests a massive part of who you are, and people LOVE who you are.

4) It’s ok to be angry with someone

Again, I’m not condoning socially unacceptable behaviour: throwing stuff and yelling is probably stretching this one a bit far.  What I mean is, it’s alright to go through the feeling of anger about a person or a situation.  Stuff happens and people hurt us sometimes.  That sucks.  But if we repress the perfectly natural reaction (i.e. anger), then we are dismissing an emotion that has a valid place in our psyches.  Let’s be realistic: find a friend, have a rant, eat a lot of cheese and wait for your anger to subside.

5) It’s ok to not get current trends

What the hell is with the backwards cap coming back into fashion?  Why do people like Wagamama so much?  What is the big deal about Game of Thrones?  It’s totally ok not to be engaged with things that are apparently sweeping the world/nation/your social group.  You’re an individual, and if you don’t like something that’s popular with your peers, it doesn’t say anything negative about you.  You’ve just got your own style.

I decided to compile this list because I think we worry far too much about what other people think of us, especially strangers whom we pass in public, or friends who know us well enough to love us regardless of our idiosyncrasies.  The whole point of life (surely) is to enjoy it and do our best in it, and if we are spending time worrying about the opinions of others, that is time we are wasting.  We could be spending that time singing at the top of our lungs even though we can’t hold a tune, or watching terrible 90s sitcoms because we’re feeling a bit nostalgic.

Bearing that in mind, go and have a brilliant Thursday.  If anyone needs me, I will probably be boring one of my colleagues with Spaced trivia.

Jeremy Bentham Could Do With A Hug

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Hello and welcome to this year’s gazillionth bank holiday Monday!  I hope that you’ve got some lovely activities planned.

Altruism is a very tricky business, and lots of people don’t really believe that it exists.  The philosopher Jeremy Bentham argued that humans exist to maximise their own pleasure and minimise their own pain, and that supposedly selfless acts are nothing more than our attempts to feel good via other people’s gratitude, social status, smugness, etc.  (Does anyone else get the feeling that poor Jeremy hasn’t had a lot of love?  Someone give him a cuddle.)

Bentham’s bleak assertion may not sit well with some of us, but it actually taps into something that we’ve all experienced in some way.  We all know the phrase “nice guys finish last”, and that’s a pretty fair summary of how we feel about unrewarded kindness: it’s not fair, and if it’s not fair, why should we bother?

Firstly, life is not fair, and we already know that.  We’re working within an unfair system where hard work is not always rewarded with promotion, love is not always requited and people don’t always say thank you when you hold a door open for them.  Therefore, choosing how to treat others based on what’s ‘fair’ is arbitrary and a bit useless, and deciding whether or not to perform a selfless act based on the injustice of the world is ridiculous.  “I will not help that small child get safely out of the path of that speeding car, because last week a child just like him bashed into my knees at the supermarket.  Fair’s fair.”  Fair is stupid, so forget about it.

Secondly, if you’re that fussed about getting rewarded in the first place, then you’re not being altruistic.  That’s not a criticism of you personally, by the way: after all, who doesn’t like to be rewarded?  Altruism is essentially being kind, generous etc. without any notion of reward: a truly altruistic act is performed by someone who does not even think about the pay off, let alone seek it.  This is sometimes difficult to imagine, and it can get very complicated when we have the best of intentions: making some we love feel better when they’re sad isn’t even altruistic, because their happiness makes us feel happy, because we love them.  Aren’t we selfish gits?

So it may not be real selflessness, and it may be that altruism doesn’t exist at all, but being kind and generous without requiring anything in return is very important.  This is partly because we all have systems of morals, and the one thing that just about every religion in the world can agree on is that being kind to people is important, but also because it means that we can be proud of who we are and how we behave.

Let’s be honest: showing someone love, kindness, sympathy and support can be very demanding, and if the gesture is either refused or ignored we end up feeling foolish.  I don’t know about you, but one thing I hate is being made to feel like an idiot (largely because I can do it just fine by myself without any help from others, thank you).  But showing someone love does not make you an idiot: it makes them the idiot if they don’t appreciate it.  And why would you want gratitude from an idiot?

If you’re still feeling a bit under-appreciated, I could always make you some biscuits.  How’s that?

Have a spectacular Monday.

Weird Wisdom

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Good morning, dear reader!  How are you doing?

Our lives are filled with wise and wonderful (and slightly weird) people.  My favourite thing about my weird/wise friends is the bizarrely pithy stuff they come out with from time to time, and today I would like to share a few of those with you.

My friend Lauren and I are very similar, particularly in terms of how much we worry about things (i.e. way too much).  She and I both have an unfortunate tendency to over-think stuff, which is both bad and good: bad because it takes up quite a lot of our time, but good because we never have to explain ourselves to each other.  Recently we were having a long, involved and fairly over-thought conversation about stuff we’ve said that we wish we could take back, and the idea that you can ruin a lovely situation by saying something prattish.  Lauren came out with this nugget of wisdom: “You can’t say something irreparable to the right person.” It’s true that we all say things from time to time that we wish we hadn’t, but Lauren is absolutely right: if someone really loves you and understands you, you can always fix whatever silly thing you’ve said.  If they won’t let you fix it, they’re probably not a keeper.

Another friend of mine has an incredibly scary, fraught and high-pressure job, and it is still a wonder to me that she doesn’t spend all of her free time drinking wine, muttering and rocking back and forth in a corner.  She is actually a very upbeat and lovely human being who is always up for new experiences, which produces very mixed results.  (For example, she’s just gone camping for a week, and I’m not convinced that she will have packed anything except coffee and sandals.)  I love that my friend is so good at seizing life’s opportunities, but I love this statement of hers even more: “I should really Google things before I agree to them.”  Shouldn’t we all?  Life is for living, but with a due sense of caution and a clear understanding of what the plan is.

Last but by no means least, one of my favourite things about living with a close friend is that we have learned to appreciate (or at least tolerate) all sorts of weird behaviour from one another.  We reached a pinnacle of love and friendship fairly recently when Ash gave me this (sort-of) compliment: “I really enjoy how sometimes you sound like a Greek man.”  I wasn’t aware that I did, but if I do, I’m glad that my best friend enjoys it.  It’s very important to surround yourself with people who enjoy the weird things about you.

Speaking of which, two of my friends stayed over last night, so I should probably go and offer them beverages.  Have a miraculous Sunday.  Surprise someone with a romantic gesture or something.

The Recovery Position is Not A Game

Hello, lovely reader!  How are you?  Sorry this is being posted so much later than usual.  Last night I was networking, then catching up on paperwork, and then my friends and I decided to play a very long game of “Who’s had the weirdest/worst/most unbelievable day?” and I didn’t get off the phone ’til stupid o’clock in the morning.  Ay, as they say, caramba.

If you’ve seen yesterday’s post, you will already know that I have just completed a two day first aid training course, so I am now qualified (shiny certificate pending) to help people who are unwell.  Bizarrely, I had cause to use my first aid skills almost the second I got to Victoria station after training, which was very odd.  I did remember what I was supposed to do though, which was nice.

I also had this conversation with my friend David, whose girlfriend is one of my best buds from university (and is just a little bit strange, as you can see):

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And I am proud, but I also feel a bit sorry for David…being put into the recovery position when you don’t actually need to recover is quite bewildering.

I am not in the least surprised by my friend’s silly behaviour, because I’ve known her long enough to anticipate her responses to things.  This is obviously not one hundred percent foolproof, because people can always surprise you.  However, being able to work out what someone’s likely response to a given scenario (or blog post) will be means that you are very well-equipped to make people laugh, feel better about themselves, and generally enjoy their relationship with you.

It’s sometimes the case (and I’m definitely guilty of this) that you anticipate people’s reactions in a negative way, for example, assuming that you can’t tell a friend about a problem because they’re a story-topper, or assuming that your outspoken vegetarian friend will have no sympathy for your meat-induced bout of food poisoning.  Sometimes this may be true, but not always.  Sometimes the notoriously bad listener will pay attention, the wreckhead will suggest a quiet night in and the emotionally unavailable one will ask how you are.  With that in mind, let’s not put people into boxes.  They’d need air holes, for a start.

Have a Thursday of dreams, rainbows and, wherever possible, cake.

Sticking to Your (Metaphorical) Guns

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Good morning, lovely reader.  How is your weekend going so far?

As those of you who have read this post about me bullying a pepper pot will already know, I recently made a sweeping declaration about a particular aspect of my life, i.e. that if something hadn’t changed by a certain point in time, I would have to radically change my behaviour.  Without delving too far into the hows and the whys and the “do you mind if I don’t?”s (sorry – I can’t resist the opportunity to include a Blackadder reference), I will tell you that the deadline for something to change is today.  I now realise that I was being ludicrously optimistic about that time frame.  Radically changed behaviour, here I come.

When my house mate gave up smoking, she went completely cold turkey straight away.  I have rarely seen such impressive will power, especially given that she went to a snazzy industry party in Soho three nights later and could very easily have reneged on her decision.  She was out in central London with a lot of booze, a lot of smokers and some very famous actors, but she didn’t give in.  Amazing, isn’t it?  I know.  She’s a legend.

It is examples of self-control like that one which make me determined not to go back on my deadline thing.  It’s going to be painful and difficult.  I will probably change my mind about it in the next few days, hours or even minutes.  I feel incredibly sorry for my friends, who are going to have to put up with a lot from me for the next few weeks, but it has to be done.  This may have started with a sweeping declaration and an unfortunate condiment container, but I think we all know that when we try to make big decisions about our lives it’s because we recognise that something is wrong, and our job as human beings with a sense of self-preservation is to get the heck out.

Who knows what we are missing by pursuing things that are bad for us?  What kind of amazing stuff is happening that we don’t even know about because we’re too busy being addicted to a harmful substance, malingering in a dead end job or chasing after someone who doesn’t love us?  I can tell you for certain that you are a fascinating person with a lot to offer, and I hate to think of you wasting your time on something that is hurting you or holding you back.  Make the decision to stop what you’re doing, and then stick to your guns.  I cannot stress enough how utterly and completely metaphorical these guns should be (unless you’ve got water pistols, which are just cool).

Have the kind of Sunday that will make for a great anecdote tomorrow.