Tag Archives: connection

“Find a happy place, find a happy place!!”

9c3851bab6c765bcf2ffba947af564a7

Good morrow, fair reader!  How fares the world with thee today?

Ahem.  Anyway, today I’d like to talk to you about happy places, and the different forms they take.  We all have literal locations that we love, but we also have mental go-to places that put us in a better mood.  Here are a few examples of the best happy places.  I hope that you have at least one of each of these:

The Happy Place of the Past
Isn’t it weird that when someone asks you to think of a song, every tune you’ve ever heard goes straight out of your head?  It’s the same when we’re asked to remember a time we felt truly happy.  That’s not to say that we’ve never been happy, but that the pressure of recollecting our bliss on demand is a little too much to deal with.  When we are at leisure to consider, we can all think of a period in our lives that brought us real joy.  Whether it’s a childhood era, an irresponsible summer in adolescence or an eye-opening travel experience, each of us has a memory that can bring back a lot of warm, fuzzy feelings.

The Happy Place that’s a Person
Sentimentality alert – our loved ones are also our happy places.  Whether it’s a partner, a family member or a best friend, the right person can immediately transport you away from your woes and worries into a place that only you two know about.  When we talk about real love, isn’t that what we actually mean?  The people we love don’t have to be perfect, or entirely compatible with our every personality aspect, or even physically present – they just have to represent a safe and happy place. Keane know what I’m talking about.

The Happy Place that Never Lets You Down
Some places make us happy time after time.  Lots of my friends have theatres that they always enjoy visiting, or pubs that always deliver a great night out.  Especially when we feel lost in general, or when life is confusing and annoying us, it’s a great thing to know that there is somewhere we can go that will always make us feel better.  If you’re stuck for ideas (and you happen to be in Richmond), I would like to recommend The Farmery, which I have visited three times in the last week.  I’m not even a tiny bit embarrassed about that.  Their frozen yoghurt is seriously tasty.

The Happy Place that’s a Good Old-Fashioned Metaphor
Whether it’s a memory, an idea or a vague daydream, we all have a handy bit of our brain that allows us to transcend the humdrum and the horrible.  We might not like to publicly admit the exact nature of our personal happy place, but it’s very healthy and helpful for us to have them.  Heck, have more than one.  Have as many as you like.  As long as you daydream in moderation, there is no limit to the places your mind can take you.

The Happy Place that’s Yet to Come
This might be a literal location – for example, I really want to visit Egypt one day – or it might be an ambition that you hold dear.  Either way, the best days of your life might not be ahead of you (although I sincerely hope that they are), but there is definitely happiness of some kind waiting for us one day.  If we keep working towards what we want and where we want to be, we can take comfort from the fact that we will always be moving closer to another, exciting happy place.

Have a glorious Wednesday.  May the place you are in be extremely happy.

Crowded Carriages Are All in Your Head

Tube crowding

Good morning, you marvellous creature.  How’re you doing?

Today I would like you to imagine that your brain is a London Underground tube carriage.  What do you think it would be like?  Is it full of commuters?  Is there a school trip of fluorescently-clad children accompanied by one harassed teacher?  Maybe it’s the last train home, and a few sozzled friends are giggling manically in the corner.  For many of us, it will be the one with a homeless person wandering through asking for change, and a baby screaming at top volume.  In other words, our brains are crowded, noisy, awkward and confusing.

There are approximately 34 seats per tube carriage on London Underground trains, but you hardly ever see a train carriage that’s just neatly filled with 34 seated people, do you? In the same way, our thoughts and feelings do not sit neatly in our brains in a designated space; they run around and confuse us.  For example, the items on your mental to do list are like the school kids on a day trip, who run around and worry you in case one drops off.

Life is difficult , and worrying, and exciting.  It’s also going by very quickly.  Particularly in cities and especially for people who have busy lifestyles, it’s difficult to feel properly connected to one another.  (Like ships passing in the night, perhaps.  I have no idea where this transport obsession has come from, by the way.  I’ll be banging on about the “aeroplanes of ambition” next, I expect.)  It’s so irritating in its self-exacerbation: we get stressed out because we’re so busy and we have no time to see our friends and loved ones, and then we get more stressed out because we haven’t seen our friends or loved ones for ages, ad infibloodynitum.

It’s not easy to do, and for some people social stuff goes completely out of the window when the pressure’s on at work or what have you, but we have to keep connections with people during times of stress.  I’ve got a huge to do list on my desk (and I’m genuinely starting to think that it might be sentient), but I am aware that I’ll go loopy if I don’t talk to a good friend today.  Similarly, my friend Laura is studying all morning in the British Library, and her PhD will make her crazy if she doesn’t switch of from it for half an hour, so to solve both of our problems we are going to drink coffee together and have a chat.

Sounds like I’m encouraging procrastination, doesn’t it?  I’m honestly not.  I believe in working hard and doing something you’ve set out to do, but I also believe that burning out and cutting yourself off from people is an incredibly stupid and damaging thing to do.  Thinking that you are alone with your crowded carriage mind is silly, because everyone feels like that.  Also, when did you last see a train with six empty carriages and one full one?  Exactly.  Now go and ring someone who likes you.

Have a fantastic Tuesday.

The Tinder Tantrum

tinder2

Good morning, dearest and darlingest reader.  How’s the world with you?

Yesterday was a lovely day for me, partly because so many of my close friends had lots of good news to share, but also because I got to spend most of the afternoon on Skype to my friend Steven, who is currently teaching dramatic stuff to bambinos in Italy.  Steven is a very good friend to have for many reasons, but mainly because he is just as good at silly voices/inane chatter as he is at serious and intellectual discussions.

In a slightly odd mixture of the two, yesterday our conversation wandered into Tinder territory, and the conundrum of online dating in general.  I should make two things very clear before I continue:

1) I have absolutely no problem with people who go in for online dating,  nor would I judge anyone for the origins of their relationship.  One of my friends is now blissfully happy with (and engaged to) a guy who got hideously drunk on their first date and behaved like an idiot, so it clearly doesn’t matter how things start out.

2) Having said that, I fear and mistrust online dating with an extremity of feeling that I usually reserve for my hatred of Keira Knightley.

If the good people at match.com are to be believed, a quarter of relationships now start online.  This is all very well and good: modern life is very busy, stressful and it flings us into all sorts of faraway geographical locations and bizarre schedules.  In times and places like these, it makes sense to engage with your dating life through a convenient and easy to navigate service.  I think that there’s something quite sweet about talking to someone for a bit before you meet them to gauge how well you get on, and obviously it’s handy to be able to pick and choose the photos that go onto your profile.  Best face forward and all that.

However, there are some very practical issues to consider when dipping one’s toe into the man-made reservoir of online dating: firstly, the safety issue.  It’s a well-worn topic, but you can pretend to be anyone you like online, and that’s just creepy.  Watch an episode of Catfish and you’ll see where I’m going with this.  In addition, real life doesn’t work like that: you don’t get to re-write conversations half way through because you’ve realised that the sentence you’re about to say doesn’t come across very well, or re-style your hair to look more like that photo of you from so-and-so’s wedding when you looked really nice.  It’s just not possible, unless one of you has got hold of Bernard’s Watch, in which case we should probably be putting it to better use than manipulating dating situations to your advantage.

If you’re particularly busy and/or attached to the idea of smartphone apps, then Tinder is the online dating forum for you.  Call me naive, but the idea of simply swiping through reams of potential partners makes my skin crawl.  According to Steven, the guy who invented Tinder said in an interview that he doesn’t understand why people have a problem with the app’s format, because it’s simply a digital translation of what we do when we are out in bars, clubs, etc.  We scope out the talent, if you’ll excuse that hideous turn of phrase.  It’s a valid point, but we are evolved to look for potential partners when we’re around other human beings: we’re trying to continue a species, here.  Smartphone apps and technology in general are supposed to be making our conscious processes better, not bolstering our innate instincts.  Educational podcasts, tools for early learning, apps for locating the nearest pub showing the Arsenal match and more are all there to challenge our brain power and help us to see as much of this amazing world as possible.  (With the possible exception of the football/pub app, which I realise is just something I find very handy on a Saturday afternoon.)  Why do we need apps and websites to help us do something that we can do perfectly well on our own in the real world?  We’re hard-wired to find each other attractive and then do something about it.  There’s no need to bring Apple into this.

My main problem with online dating is that it takes all the fun out of meeting someone and finding that you share a spark.  This conversation happens between the women in my social circle quite a lot:

“I really like *insert guy’s name*.”
“Aw, that’s great!”
“No it isn’t.  He gives me butterflies, for Christ’s sake.”
“Oh dear.”
“Exactly.”

My friends and I don’t like liking people.  It makes us feel vulnerable and girly and, as you can see, a bit grumpy.  But I would so much rather get cross about being emotionally exposed than go about my love life in the same way I go about banking or applying for jobs.  Ok, the butterflies are a pain, but they’re also pretty important, and you don’t get them with an app.  How can someone give you butterflies when you’ve never seen them smile at you?

I think the crux of the matter is that underneath many, many, many layers of sarcasm and a predisposition to sneer at lovey-dovey stuff, I am actually a bit of a romantic.  Urgh.  How embarrassing.  As I said, I don’t have a problem with online dating per se, but I hope that it never overtakes the joy of meeting someone for the first time and feeling like your insides have become the London Butterfly House.

Have a truly joyous Tuesday.  Make sure you drink plenty of water.