Choosing the Happy pill

Sometimes it feels like life has you on the misery train, or in an economy seat on Dreary Airlines flying over the Gulf of Despair. But sometimes you have to shake yourself out of it, take a happy pill, and keep on moving. Just to be clear, we are talking theoretically, I am in no way condoning drugs. That being said, I am now going to share how I overcame feeling perpetually overcast, and how a change of perspective helped me to see things more positively.

Recently I got to a point in life where everything just seemed to be stressing me out. I would hear myself talking to other people and realised that most of the time I was moaning, or complaining or criticising, or generally being miserable and cynical. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a realist and a bit of a cynic, but it was becoming excessive.

After a few people pointed this out to me, and I introspectively examined myself, I noticed the trend in my behaviour, and I made the connection to why it was I always seemed to have a grey cloud over my head. It was because I was getting caught up in the monotony of everyday life and I was using a lot of energy to focus on the negative aspects rather than the positives. For example, I felt as though I was being treated unfairly at work, I felt like I was falling behind at university, I was always unpunctual and I wasn’t using any of my time to do anything fulfilling, or generally fun. And when you add those aspects together, it makes an ugly concoction.

Upon realising this, I tried to work out how I could improve my outlook on life and become more pleasant, positive and productive. In doing so, I came to the conclusion that I had the power to change most of these things by changing the way I saw them. The key was to look at things from a different angle. When it came to being mistreated at work, I examined from a new perspective. I thought, maybe I could try to work a little bit harder, faster and more efficiently, as well as being more proactive. And, at the end of the day, if I knew in my own mind that I was making an effort to work well, then if anybody had a problem with the way I worked, it wasn’t my fault. And just like that, a weight was lifted from my shoulders and I didn’t find going to work so stressful. I found myself smiling more and feeling lively and friendlier. This didn’t always change the coarseness that some colleagues addressed me with, but it bothered me less.

If you have a leader, be it a teacher or a boss, who you feel treats you unfairly, my best advice is to make sure you are doing everything in your power to be the best you can be, so as not to give them any ammunition to use against you. In a way, it can be motivating to have someone aggravating you, as in wanting to prove them wrong, you are improving yourself at the same time. This ties in to my problem with punctuality.

In all honesty, up to this point in time, my punctuality wasn’t that awful, if I ever was late, it was never more than five minutes, however, on one occasion, I was only a minute late and I got in trouble with my boss. At the time I found this outrageous and put it down to several things, I even went to the extremity of suggesting it could be racially aggravated targeting in the workplace. Whether or not that was the case, or just my brain being extra, the fact of the matter was, be it one minute or an hour, I was late. My manager made the point that I should be arriving with ten minutes to spare for my shifts. Which was fair. But try telling me that at the time.

In the weeks following this, out of (retrospectively silly and juvenile) spite, I would leave my house sometimes two hours early, arriving at work with an hour to spare, just so I could saunter past my manager looking smug. But funnily enough, for the next two following weeks he was nowhere to be seen, and my newly found spectacular timekeeping was going unnoticed. As you could probably guess by now, the thought that he was avoiding me out of shame embarrassingly did cross my mind. But at the end of the day, this experience has instilled in me the importance of being on time, and being on time has endless benefits; you don’t have to rush, you have time to relax and to be more observant. It also gives you time to mentally prepare yourself for the day. You are less flustered, more energised and it does contribute to helping you become more positive. I do still grimace a little bit every time he greets me, but I’m working on it and it takes time 😂.

As for the falling behind with my work, I haven’t completely solved this yet, but I have improved greatly, simply by setting myself small goals. For example, if I have a book to finish for the week, I will separate the book into sections and read a section a day until I finish it. And as for my life feeling monotonous, I have been trying to branch out and try new things lately; for example, I’ve been trying new foods and have been trying to eat healthier, I have been going on more walks, I have been trying to be more social and I am considering joining the gym, although I’ve been “considering” this since the beginning of the year. But to be fair, I have actually researched the prices now! Although the freezing cold winter weather has been putting me off. But I digress.

In throwing these things into the mix, I have livened up my life a little bit and a week doesn’t necessarily look the same as the next anymore, which is what I needed. All in all, I am feeling lighter, freer (free-er?) and happier, and it shows in my conversations, my attitude and my general mood. So, I would definitely go as far as to saying that this intervention was a success, and would absolutely recommend it to anyone who was feeling similar to how I was before it. And I think I finally understand what people mean when they say that happiness is a choice.

As always, don’t hesitate to leave a comment, and feel free to follow me on Twitter for updates: @ChrisCultureUK.


Would Total Honesty Make The World a Better Place?

It could be argued that a more honest world would be utopian, because “honesty is the best policy”. It could also be argued that a world with no lies could create dystopia as “the truth hurts”. Either way, it would be interesting to see how different our world would be if the ability to lie or be dishonest was taken away. Let’s explore some of the potential pros and cons of this theoretical world.

First of all, although it may be obvious, I think I should clarify and outline what I mean when I refer to honesty and dishonesty. In the context of this blog post, honesty pertains to telling the truth despite the consequences, while dishonesty relates to implicitly or explicitly withholding information that is true and correct.

That being clarified, let’s get back to business. I will start with the pros of living in a world with no lies:

I think the biggest advantage to complete honesty is that you would always know where you stand with people. This would make life a whole lot easier as you would be able, without overthinking it, to tell the people you love how you feel about them, you could make your feelings known to that special person and instantly get an “I feel the same way” or an “I don’t see you that way”, without all the guess work and mind games. You could also have the confidence to let people know when they have upset you, without feeling guilty.

In addition to this, in a hashtag no filter world, people would be more straightforward, and as a result we would always know what was going on, we would see what needs to be improved, and be able to be more efficient. For example, if you didn’t get the job after an interview, the interviewer would be able tell you what exactly it is you did wrong and were lacking, so that the next time you could be more equipped. Therefore it would give us opportunities to better ourselves and increase our strengths.

Going back to the points about being confident enough to tell people when they have upset you, and telling people how you really feel, I think this has the potential to be very beneficial as it could repair broken relationships. A lot of the time people hold grudges because of how they view a certain situation, when in actual fact, they have misinterpreted the whole thing. Given the opportunity to be honest and say what we really think, the truth would come out and people could be given the chance to see things in another way. It could give insight behind peoples’ actions and help to explain or justify why they have behaved the way they have. For instance, a bully could be able to recount a traumatic experience which has troubled them and has caused them to act out in a negative way. As a result we would be able to learn more about each other and appreciate people with a greater understanding of them.

On the flip side, living in a world free of lies also has the potential to be very dark and dangerous. In the world we live in now, I would like to think that most of the time, we think about how the other person will react before we share our thoughts. Oftentimes, this results in us slightly altering what we actually want to say so as not to offend the other person. However, with the power to tell people how you really feel, it could create a culture of negativity and targeting; people may be more blunt and mean. Without having to vet your thoughts before letting them out of your mind, you have the power to let rip into people and destroy them, highlighting every flaw you have found in them and every little niggling thing they do that annoys you, or worse, they could do the same to you!

Total honesty could, and would very likely, reveal the ugly side to people, and the world in general. Perhaps there is a reason why we have the ability to think before we speak and why our brains are considerably larger than our mouths. Although, in an ideal world, the benefits of having the ability to tell people how we really feel would outweigh the disadvantages, in reality I think it would be the other way around. I think we would spend more time nagging and bickering than complimenting each other, as I guess it is just human nature. Also, it wouldn’t always be nice to know what people think of you as it may be the complete opposite to the vibe they give to you, or what you may have initially believed. It could also reveal that people who you thought were pleasant, are actually quite rotten; it could expose negative attributes such as racism, prejudice, ageism, sexism, homophobia etc.

Additionally, if you happened to be considered an unpleasant or unfavourable person and were constantly reminded of this by people, it would be disheartening, as well as damaging to morale and self worth. This could result in depression, self loathing and may even lead to an increase in suicide rates. It could ruin relationships, cause people to be more closed, shy and unsure of themselves, and could create a hostile and volatile environment.

So to answer the question ‘Would total honesty make the world a better place?’, objectively I would have to say no. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning lying in any way, but, as outlined, things can get ugly very quickly once the floor is opened to share how we really feel. Sorry just wouldn’t cut it once the damage of complete and utter honesty sets in. We have to have the ability to cushion and mould, depending on the person, because at the end of the day we all have different levels of sensitivity. No two people will react the same to a certain situation. We have to package the way we say things to people depending on their personalities because as humans we are all unique and different. That is what sets us apart and makes us who we are. Therefore, the world we live in now trumps (sorry America) a world where complete honesty would be eradicated.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @ChrisCultureUK. 🙂

Should you forgive when people continue to do you wrong?

It is fair to say that we have all been disappointed by another person at least once in our lives; if you haven’t already, then rest assured, you will at some point in your life, guaranteed. You may even be disappointed by someone’s actions towards you more than once in life, which bears the question; should you forgive when people continue to do you wrong?

I’m sure you’ve heard the sayings ‘Forgive and forget’ and ‘Turn the other cheek’, but to what extent are these philosophies useful when it comes to repeat offenders? Are we expected to continually make allowances for people who have no regard for the feelings of others? I, for one, have been on the receiving end of being let down on numerous occasions by the same people, and from experience, I can say that it can be disheartening and frustrating. But it has opened my eyes to how people can be, and given me insight into the way forgiveness can and should be shown.

It all depends on the situation and the person at hand. This covers several fields; the relationship you have with said person, their integrity, and the act that they continue to carry out, or to omit from doing. In addition to this, what also comes into play is to what extent their actions affect you, how you have responded in the past, and what they have subsequently done thereafter.

A mistake is defined as; an act or judgement that is misguided or wrong. As humans, we are allowed to make mistakes because it gives us the opportunity to learn from the experience and do better in the future. However, as the saying goes, ‘We are what we repeatedly do’, so if a person continues to make the same mistake it shows a lack of care, growth, and a personal choice to continue to behave this way. A personal choice to make the wrong decision in a situation, which is the point where I would say, they begin to take liberties. And once people begin to take liberties, in my opinion, they show themselves to be presumptuous, impertinent and audacious. In other words, they lack respect, and have no problem in showing it. This goes for relationships at any level; be it associates, colleagues, acquaintances, friends or family members.

The worst part about people who let us down repeatedly, is that a lot of the time, on the other hand, they can be lovely people. They can be caring, funny, considerate and great to be around. However, a person who repeatedly lets you down, repeatedly makes you feel bad about yourself, repeatedly is not there for you, and repeatedly says or does things to you which you have made clear you do not like, do not approve of, do not want, or do not appreciate, is undependable, unreliable and fickle. There is only so many times you can make allowances for someone. You shouldn’t have to feel exhausted and tired of making excuses for the same person over and over again; there has to be a point where you say ‘No more. Enough is enough.’

I definitely believe that if we ever find ourselves in situations like these, we have the right to put a stop to it. Be that, with of without the knowledge of the other person. Oftentimes it can be better if the other person does not know you have decided not to grant them anymore chances, as they can be known to wear you down or talk you out of it. But sometimes, it is good to give people a piece of your mind, and let them know just how they have made you feel. It can be humbling and eye opening for them. However, it is up to you to discern how the person will react and whether this method will be effective in your personal situation. Nevertheless, the option still stands for you to take action on your own terms, without the other person knowing. You can make a personal decision to distance yourself from the situation. This doesn’t have to mean cutting yourself off from the person completely, but perhaps just lowering your expectations of them and choosing not to continue to put yourself in a place where you can allow them to do what they usually do.

For example, if you constantly invite someone to your birthday party each year and they constantly make excuses as to why they can’t make it; don’t invite them any more. It doesn’t mean you have to stop being friends with them; it just means you are saving yourself from unnecessary stress and aggravation. Another example; if you are constantly left out from group activities, don’t expect to be invited, and then you will find that you won’t care. Let me clarify what I mean by this; by accepting this fact, you are simply accepting that you are not doing anything wrong on your part, but it is the other person who is being bitter, which is unflattering and juvenile. You will often find that petty behaviour like the aforementioned can be quite humorous once you see it for what it really is; childish. In saying this, I am not discrediting the act of forgiveness; on the contrary. You may have heard the saying ‘Forgive and forget’, well I think we should ‘forgive and accept’.

To forgive is to ‘simply stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake’, and to accept is to ‘take what is offered.’ Therefore in doing this, you are deciding not to waste time and energy on the negativity that people present you with.

To reiterate this, here is a video of Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama discussing forgiveness, which more or less follows what I’m saying:

At the end of the day, we all have our flaws, and none of us are perfect, however, I believe we should all strive to better ourselves and learn from our experiences in order to grow. And to grow, sometimes we need to let go of certain things that may be holding us back. At the end of the day, we all grow and different speeds, and life has a funny way of showing us this, so don’t be disheartened if you have to distance yourself from certain people, as not only are you bettering yourself, but you are setting an example for others. Whether or not they choose to accept that is their choice. But it is important to remember that your priority should be your own happiness and you shouldn’t let other people take it away.

Let’s Talk About… (#7) – Being the Bigger Person

Often, for no apparent reason, people may seemingly dislike you or treat you a little more coarsely than they treat others. The most obvious explanations would be that they are  jealous, or have their own issues or have low self-esteem. Whatever the case may be, it often leaves you feeling, if not upset, then confused about why they treat you the way they do. As children, we would refer to these people as ‘playground bullies’, but in reality, you can encounter bullies at any age.

The thing about situations like these is that a lot of the time when you try to confide in someone you trust and explain to them how the other person is making you feel, the response is usually; “Don’t worry about it, I’m sure you’re just imagining it!”, or “Just ignore them and they’ll get bored and leave you alone” or the worst response you could possibly hear; “Well you must be doing something to annoy them!”. Unfortunately, when the other person is subtle in their ways, in that it is only noticeable to you, then it is near impossible for another person to understand how you feel and how hurtful it can be. In addition to this, it’s often as if these people know exactly when to strike; either when you’re having a really  good day, or perhaps when you’re having a rubbish day; right on cue, they come along with a snide comment to ruin your day. It can get to the point where you dread going somewhere for fear of seeing that person.

In my work environment, I experience these types of scenarios pretty often; be it from a manager or even customers. For example, when managers make jokes which they think are funny but are at your expense and expect you to laugh with them, or when customers are impatient/rude/demanding/insulting/racist. It can be exhausting having to smile through it all. However, that is exactly what you must do. Think about it; if people are so bitter that they would try to make someone else miserable, then why give them the satisfaction and allow them to drag you down to their level and join them in Mopeyville?

What I have realised is that when people behave in this manner they are simply reflecting their own personal issues and feelings. You should feel sorry for them; why would you want to make someone feel bad about themself just because you do. In reality, when you do feel bad about yourself, the best way to make yourself feel happier is to bring joy to other people. In this case, even if you are doing something to annoy them, then it’s being nice, and who can really complain that someone is being nice to them? There is a classic saying; ‘Kill them with kindness’, and that is literally your best bet. It will frustrate the other person even more until they see the error in their ways. A lot of the time, you may never know that the other person acknowledges the error in their ways and you may never get an apology, but at least you will have a clear conscience as you did nothing to aggravate the situation on your part.

All this is not to say that you should smile through someone taking advantage of you or persistently bringing you down and being either verbally or physically abusive towards you. In some cases, it is definitely necessary to speak out and stand up to the other person; to defend yourself. The message of this post it to not allow others to diminish your happiness on account of their bitterness and ‘hateration’.