Rewriting the rule-book?

We so easily slip into a dangerous state of mind – the feeling that we are somehow not living up to scratch. Whether through the scrutinising eyes of the public, the opinions of our friends or the diktats of our employers, we can become obsessed with getting everything ‘right’.

But who wrote the guidelines, here? Who set these rules which, from dawn till dusk till dawn again, we contort ourselves to fit around? Society, of course. And society is made of nothing but people like you and me. So, who’s to say we can’t ignore the rules?

Of course we can’t – not really. Or at least, if we choose to ignore them, we need to find an equally viable means of keeping ourselves in check, keeping from falling apart as a civilisation. Instantly, alarm bells rattle our minds; thoughts like ‘I can’t forget what my boss will think if I don’t do this work perfectly’, or, ‘If I don’t care about not getting the job, what will my friends think of me?’ whizz through our heads. We need the rules, otherwise we can’t be trusted not to fail.

But, to follow this automatic fear, we’re forgetting that we ourselves can be perfectly reliable rule-makers. Why should we not trust our own standards? Of course, there would be no way of maintaining a status quo. But do we have one anyway? Do not millions of people do great, terrible and downright unimportant things according to their own precepts every day? If you’re the sort of person who has these fears, perhaps you’re also the sort of person least likely to abuse your own standards.

This probably makes no sense, it’s only my ramblings. But a very hopeful thought has come with this ramble. I’m sure we can trust ourselves to say the right thing, do the right thing, be the right person. We don’t need our actions to be cross-referenced according to a thousand other people’s policies.


Some Wise Words (not from me)

How often do you feel that you deserve more happiness?

I want to draw your attention to a quote I read this morning:

“No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find.”

It’s from C.S. Lewis’s ‘The Great Divorce’, which I know nothing about (it’ll certainly be on my radar now, though). Recently, I know I’ve definitely begun to feel weary with my own ‘problems’. From my career, to my friendships, even down to my personality, I’ve felt like every day hurls a hundred different reasons to be unhappy with myself.

This isn’t to say I’m ungrateful for what I do have… at least not actively (perhaps all ungrateful people are ‘passively’ so, though?) For me, the problems are less the things and experiences I have, and instead how those things will be perceived by others. It’s mad, I know, but it hurts me to feel that a friend may watch me work in a nauseatingly boring desk job, more than working said job itself.

As time goes by, I’m more and more alarmed by the qualities this… restlessness is evincing. I feel envy, and pride, bubbling in my throat when I speak with friends, hear of their new jobs or fantastic trips away. To become bitter and jealous would be awful.

The world owes us nothing. The world isn’t fair. People get things they don’t deserve, for good or bad. And yet the world gives us far more than many. That’s as much hand-holding as we can expect. The rest of it’s down to us.

I’ve been lulled into the expectation – common across many circles of today’s world – that we can simply tick a list of generic, linear boxes, and as if by clockwork happiness will fall upon us.

Think for a second. Have you tricked yourself into this false premise? Rolled into it, like a warm blanket, at some point in the haze of days, weeks, months in the 9-5? Then listen to the likes of Mr Lewis.

We need to turn over, dust off and scour every moment of our lives that we can get our hands on. We need to find the happy sides, and leave the more sobering ones to find us themselves. As the recent – and unexpectedly important – Pixar film ‘Inside Out’ makes clear, sadness is a crucial aspect of life. But if we seek it, it’s all we’ll ever find.