Tag Archives: cuddle

Jeremy Bentham Could Do With A Hug

altruism

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.

Red Dwarf Fixes Everything

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Hello, lovely reader.  I hope you’re having a beautiful weekend.

I had a wonderful evening yesterday with some of my favourite people on the planet, which I then went and ruined by drinking far too much and behaving like a prat.  I am now deep in the throes of PASH (Post-Alcohol Self-Hatred) and I woke up fairly convinced that everyone hates me and that I have utterly destroyed my own life.

Being the incredible and lovely human being that she is, my best friend gave me a massive cuddle as soon as I was properly awake and said all sorts of nice things that I definitely didn’t deserve to hear.  Our other friend was similarly lovely, and on the way home we had a very interesting conversation which I’d like to share with you.

When that whole “time to talk” thing came up a few months ago, I paid lip service to it.  So many friends of mine had the courage and dignity to speak about their mental health issues, and I was (and still am) incredibly proud of them.  I did not follow suit.  I should have, but I didn’t.  I was a wuss about it.

Mental health is a very tricky thing, because in so many people’s eyes (including your own, sometimes), it defines an enormous part of your identity.  It’s so easy to look at yourself in a purely one-dimensional fashion, and to focus on one big, bad thing about yourself.  Odds are that nobody else sees you that way, and that you are a lot less crazy in the eyes of your loved ones than you are in your own.

Ok, so here we go: I have manic depression.  It’s why I tend to overreact to stupid stuff and obsess over trivia.  It’s why I say dumbass things when I’m drunk (and also why I get drunk in the first place), and letting out the crazy when I’ve had a few glasses of wine means that I don’t have to remember it the next day.  That’s not an excuse, by the way: no one forces me to get drunk or behave like an eejit.  I make that (dreadful) decision entirely on my own.

Assuming I manage to sort my self out and stop making terrible choices, will I automatically like myself more?  I don’t really know.  On the way home my friend Vince and I were talking about how difficult it is to like yourself, and wondering whether it’s something that you can change.  Some people seem to be born assured, mature and self-aware, while others (i.e. me and some of my friends) spend a lot of time worrying about who we are and what on earth we think we’re doing.  Emotionally speaking, we are three million years into deep space and we’ve woken up with a traffic cone.

Essentially, it would be lovely to be emotionally self-sufficient and be able to comfort myself when I’m feeling low, but I’m not sure how to do that.  In the meantime, I’ve got an amazing group of friends who forgive me when I’m badly behaved, and cuddle me when I’m feeling guilty/hungover/completely lost.  I also have the Red Dwarf box set, which is a godsend on days like this.

I am very proud of my friends and loved ones who are open about their mental health issues, and I hope that they can forgive me for having been a coward about it.  If you live with metal health difficulties or love someone who does, then you are a wonderful human being who deserves first dibs on all the Quality Street tins from here to eternity.

Sorry this post was a bit more serious than t’others; I promise tomorrow’s will be full of whimsy.  Have a fantastic rest of your weekend.