You can un-friend someone - and I don’t mean on Face Book. You can end a friendship that is not working any more - and guess what? You’ll feel better for it.
No, you won’t die and the sky won’t fall in.
It’s taken me a long time to embrace this notion but now that I have I am feeling free of some heavy weights from my shoulders. And, in case you are thinking I’m a nasty person who doesn’t appreciate good friends, let me tell you about one ‘situation’ that took me decades to finalise and let me tell you how free I feel now that I no longer dread the call from these particular friends…or should I say “friends”?
It’s a long story.
Many, many years ago my (future) husband and I were part of a group of older teenagers who socialised together. A boy, we’ll call Neil, became friendly with us and, when he paired up with a girlfriend, (we’ll call her Sally), we occasionally went on outings together.
When my (future) husband and I became engaged, it wasn’t long before Neil and Sally did likewise.
We married before they did. Sally’s dress was modelled on mine: same style, same dressmaker, similar fabric. She borrowed my veil and head-dress.
It seemed a bit weird, but I guess I was flattered at the time.
They built a home less than a kilometre from ours.
Time went by and we saw Neil and Sally occasionally and shared some meals, often with others as well - but we had little in common
Their first baby arrived eleven months after we had our first child. Eleven months after our second child was born, their second one came along.
I could go on………….long story, but you get the drift.
Then we moved away.
Although we were living in a small country town about 300 km from where we had been, Neil and Sally kept up the friendship and came to stay with us at least once a year. We don’t recall offering invitations - they just seemed to arrange the dates themselves.
But I think we were good hosts.
We showed them around the area, fed them well and entertained them.
On one visit Sally brought a home baked fruit cake. Thinking it was a gift, I stored it in the fridge and, as I had already prepared meals and snacks for their visit, we didn’t eat the cake during their stay.
As Neil and Sally were about to leave after three or four days, Sally went to the fridge, took out the cake and said (words to the effect of) ‘Seeing we didn’t eat this, I’ll take it home’.
Gobsmacked we were.
As the years went by, and we stayed living in the countryside, Neil and Sally continued their visits.
After a while, we became used to their taking home of anything they brought with them that hadn’t been consumed.
We sighed at their meanness, but tolerated them.
On one visit, Sally announced that they had decided ‘to have cheap holidays’ that year and proffered a short list of “friends” with whom they planned to stay over the following twelve months.
It was becoming tiresome to put up with them, but we did.
Then two years ago, they phoned in early December to say that they were travelling in our direction soon and I (stupidly, but jokingly) said, ‘So, you’ll come to us for Christmas?’.
‘Yes, if that’s okay’, was the reply.
It was not a happy Christmas time. Neil and Sally bored us senseless with stories centred on their boring lives and the people they knew (and we didn’t). They ate our Christmas fare and watched as we (embarrassedly) opened gifts given to each other and sent to us by our children and siblings.
They had no gifts for each other or from their family members as they ‘didn’t give gifts’. (What?)
They merely sent each of their (adult) children a text, saying, ‘Happy Christmas’.
The days dragged by and became more tedious than ever as we listened to them drone on and prepared to set off to visit our (inter state) family.
Although we tried to remain good hosts, it was becoming more difficult by the day and then Neil, one evening, in the middle of being extra boring – telling us for the umpteenth time about his ‘dodgy’ heart – he uttered a most un-amusing joke.
I questioned the source of such a statement and he suddenly became defensive and then aggressive.
(Had we given him too much of our good wine?)
An argument ensued and Neil suddenly stood and announced that he was going home.
We could hardly believe our good fortune.
But, then realising that it was late at night and they had a long way to go, he made a good attempt to settle down and to call the idea off.
But I was enervated by the good news that they might be going and went to the fridge to find anything they might have brought with them that they could take home.
But the chance was lost; Sally calmed Neil down and they stayed for another night.
The next morning they left.
We have heard from them once since then – via an email which we didn’t answer.
Oh, it’s so good to no longer dread the ‘Neil and Sally phone call’, announcing their next visit!
PS: Over the years we never did visit them – let alone stay. Did they not notice how one-sided the “friendship” was?
The freedom gained from un-friending is so refreshing….why did it take so long?
I’m a newly married young woman in a newly built home. A neighbour comes in for a chat and, as she enjoys a cup of coffee she spies a small spider scuttling across the kitchen floor and quickly steps on it. We both look at the small brown splodge that is all that remains of the spider.
‘What will I do with it?’ asks the visitor.
Do with it? I think, what does she mean? Do with it?
And it is only then that I realise that this is my house and I am the one responsible for keeping it clean - and a squished spider on the floor must be dealt with – by me.
Yes, of course, I had swept the floor and cleaned the house several times since we had moved in, but I had not previously encountered incidental dead spider splodges.
It might seem very strange – and it does seem strange to me now, as I look back on early days - but at the time, the dead spider incident was a revelation of sorts.
In years to follow, years that included messy babies, toddlers and children of all ages, I no longer wondered about who was responsible for cleaning muck off the floor.
I had learned that lesson.
Well, my last blog (Does - or will - Consumerism ever lead to Happiness?) turned out to be what is commonly termed ‘a lead balloon’. The viewer stats hovered around the 20 – 40 mark for days, before descending to single digits and then (strangely) rising to over 100.
I try not to check too regularly on the stats…that is, to see how many ‘hits’ my post has received, but sometimes it’s beyond me to resist the temptation.
I like to see that a few hundred people have read what I have written, not only for selfish reasons but just for the interesting fact of it.
Further stats allow me to see from where the ‘hits’ have originated and sometimes I am very surprised to find that someone in (say) Russia or a Pacific Island has visited.
But, mostly my readers are from Australia, UK or USA.
Heaven only knows how these readers come across my pathetic little blogs. No one ever tells me!
Seeing that the last (unpopular and far too long) blog topic was a (most probably, to most) boring lecture on the art of happiness and the effects of rampant consumerism on our state of mind, I will attempt to write a more light-hearted post next.
I am thinking of writing about how we learn – and learn, and learn – throughout our lives - but not on a studious, academic or serious level, but more on day to day life lessons.
On this I’ll ponder.
Until next time..............
I apologise for quoting other voices so much, but the subject of consumerism and its effect on happiness is a seemingly popular topic and there are many more intelligent souls than I whose words on the topic are worth considering: In reading details of a new book titled, Stuffocation: Living More With Less, by James Wallman, I discovered a debate concerning whether or not materialism and the ability to own more of what we ‘wanted’ made us happier or not. I have not as yet read the entire book but think it will be quite a revelation when I do….but, did I really not suspect that consumerism was NOT the answer to the search for happiness? Or the search for meaning? This is part of what I read:
‘A Hungarian-American economist called Tibor Scitovsky had [a] suggestion to explain why increasing prosperity was not leading to more happiness. In his 1976 book The Joyless Economy, he wrote that it could be because of materialism's 'dark side': all the unintended consequences of material progress such as the harm it does to our health, the environment, and future generations because of 'our reckless brandishing of weapons, extermination of pests, squandering of resources, popping of pills, ingesting of food additives, and use or overuse of every mechanical aid to our comfort and safety'. (my bold accentuating)
I’m not sure that that is the ‘whole story’.
Apparently, since the end of World War 2, when the opportunity to accumulate more goods was emerging, folk (naturally, I suppose) expected that the accumulation of more goods would add to their happiness level.
But it did not happen; in fact, the opposite became the case.
Why is that?
The Pursuit of Happiness
Could it be found in the statement (above) that mentions all the harm our materialism does to our bodies and to our environment?
Or is it more to do with the fact that consumer desires and the ‘need’ to ‘have all we can’ has replaced the previous held mores of family and neighborhood bonding, general goodness, kindness and unselfishness; society and community involvement – even spirituality - and maybe intellectual stimulus?
Does the following add to the answer?
Posted in 2011, by Megan E Birney (on a social psychology site):
‘In his article The Medium Chill, David Roberts suggests that it is this pursuit of happiness that drives our economy. In order for the cycle of spending and debt to work, every consumer needs to believe they would be happier with that new iPad, that designer outfit, and that bigger home. And, in order to achieve these things, we spend the bulk of our time working long hours and putting up with terrible commutes. As Roberts points out, these hours spent working are too often at the expense of our relationships with family and friends.’
Ms Birney goes on to write: ‘Decades of psychological research suggest that strong interpersonal relationships may be more important than material wealth when it comes to feeling happy.’
Questions should we ponder?
And…..in another quote from Stuffocation: Living More With Less, “In today's culture, material goods have become substitutes for deep and genuinely meaningful human desires and questions. Consumer culture has become a sort of pseudo-religion. Instead of pondering meaningful questions, like 'Why am I here?', 'What happens after death?', 'How should I live?', it's easier to focus on questions like 'The blue one or the red one?', 'Will that go with the top I bought last week?', 'What will she think if I buy that?'
Instead of trying to understand who we really are, we reach for the 'Real Thing'. And, brainwashed by the system, when the goods we buy fail to match up to those deep desires, instead of giving up on material goods, we just keep banging our heads against the wall and buying more.”
So, what are we to make of all this?
Is it too late? Has ‘the horse bolted’ and we cannot re-stable it?
Sadly, I suspect so.
But what of our search for happiness?
I don’t have the answer - and I wonder if any books currently available on the subject can truly provide the clues we need.
Perhaps it will take a calamity of some sort – whether world wide or on an individual level - to awaken us to what is real and what is worthwhile.
A simpler life, that is, a life lived more simply seems to be the answer but I, for one, can’t see many people embracing that philosophy.
Here’s a scary quote: ‘Two major new studies by an international team of researchers have pinpointed the key factors that ensure a liveable planet for humans, with stark results.’ published in The Guardian, 17/01/2015)
“We are clearing land, we are degrading land, we introduce feral animals and take the top predators out, we change the marine ecosystem by overfishing – it’s a death by a thousand cuts,”………. “That direct impact upon the land is the most important factor right now, even more than climate change.”
(Re-tweeted by 350 dot org)
Could massive consumerism lead to whether or not the planet Earth is habitable?
But I am digressing back on one of my ‘favourite’ soap box topics of global warming and climate change.
However I think it’s all connected one way or another.
The pursuit of happiness, the future of mankind – happy or unhappy – may possibly, one day, turn out to be dependent on the ruination (or not) of our planet……and how we go about ruining it.
(I think it’s happening now).
I am trying hard to ‘do the right thing’.
I have three sisters and we have decided that for birthday gifts we can only give each other something that can either be eaten or used.
So far, two of my sisters have been given (from me) some (The Body Shop) soap, a large face-washer and a lotto ticket.
Certainly the lotto ticket turned out to be quite useless on both occasions, but it didn’t produce much land-fill – and it almost gave them some happiness!
I don’t usually offer (so called) political comment, but there is something compelling about the horrendous Paris massacre at Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper headquarters that is so upsetting that I feel I must write something. But, what? What can I say? What can a single small person (like me) in a country so far from Paris and the world ‘hub’, be able to contribute to the horror response of this act?
But (by the same token) I think we must ALL respond.
We must unite as decent people and show such mindless terrorists that this is not how life should be lived.
Terror is terror and it serves no purpose whatsoever.
This is not a political situation. It is a social one – a human one.
If some people can be so upset by a cartoon and satirical words that they feel their only option is to violently kill and main their fellow man, then there is not much hope for their flimsy belief system. Theirs is not a religion. It is a system of hate – no more, no less.
Let us remember that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. Let us think on that in all we do, in all aspects of coping (coping?) with war and its consequences.
Let us not be afraid - as the Parisians are now claiming.
Je suis Charlie.
It’s the first day of the year – 2015.
I’m sitting here at the keyboard wondering what New Year’s Resolution I should be making: a ridiculous concept really. I suppose that the first day of the year is the appropriate time to ‘start anew’, to make a big decision to be a better person, but it’s rubbish really.
Making new year’s resolutions are usually just a passing conversation starter, a pile of wishful thinking or simply another way necessitating a ‘beating yourself up’ situation later - when you have not kept up with the promises you made to yourself.
So, here I am (as I said) sitting at the keyboard and wondering about the new year that has just begun.
I’ve just dispensed with any promises to myself – yes, even the ones that I am keeping secret, about trying to smile more and trying to listen more to what others have to say.
I’m pondering the possibilities presented by 2015 and being grateful that I am still here. Many people I know (knew) are no longer here; I am fortunate to be still living here on our lovely planet Earth.
Perhaps that’s reason enough for a new year’s promise (?): Be grateful.
Come to think of it, promising myself to smile more often is perhaps not a stupid plan. Smiles cost nothing and are easy to produce. I read where even a
fake smile will do wonders for your emotional well-being. So, perhaps I will try to smile more often. Helps you while you are helping others…well, sort of.
AND: 'Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles.’,
so said George Eliot.
My other original (and once secret) suggested ‘resolution’ concerned listening more intently to what others have to say. That’s probably another helpful habit to adopt. Only recently I read that, when in conversation, (instead of what we usually do, that is, wait for a pause in the other person’s speaking to quickly insert our own contribution) it is better to look at our conversing acquaintance and (at the pause) simply ask ‘what happened next?’, or a similar appropriate query, to give him/her a chance to talk some more. They will appreciate it and you just might learn something – as well as how to be considerate.
So, here I am, promising NOT to make any New Year’s promises and I have already formulated two.
Not bad; first promise (to not make any promises) broken and it’s not even lunch time, January 1.
It’s a very warm day today. Not too hot, though a little humid. The sun s shining and there’s a slight promise of rain. I can almost hear the plants in my garden growing.
That’s something to be grateful for.
I’m happy and well.
My immediate family members are all happy and well.
That’s a heap of facts to be grateful for.
I have a lovely home – and it’s paid for; big reason to be happy – and grateful.
If the weather becomes too hot, here in the sub-tropics, there is a pool in the back yard to slip into and cool off.
I have a pile of library books yet to read.
I have emails to read and answer.
What a huge amount of reasons I have to be grateful.
So, my biggest new year’s promise or ‘resolution’, (apart from not making any!) is to be grateful – every day.
Every day in 2015 - and every year thereafter that I am alive.
Phew! A big ask!
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.