Category Archives: Philosophy

Oranges, apples, bananas

I read an interview the other day. It was one of those ‘what do you usually eat?’ features, designed to encourage people to eat more healthily. The guy being interviewed scored a perfect 10. He was some sort of yoga teacher and clearly lived a life he loved – it wasn’t just his diet that was balanced (from what I could gather after reading one interview, that is) but his whole approach to life.

Photo credit: basketman at freedigitalphotos.net

Photo credit: basketman at freedigitalphotos.net

After reading his interview, to which I thought I wasn’t paying a great deal of attention, three words stuck in my head, ‘oranges, apples, bananas.’ It was simply him listing his preferred fruit intake but something about these words really stayed with me. What it the fact that these fruits were childhood staples? Because I liked the way the words sounded together? Or perhaps I was struck at how these simple words could sum up this perfectly balanced life…? I still don’t know. Sometimes words surprise me.

Oranges, apples, bananas…

What do these words mean to you?

Happiness is…

I’ve been over at Matt Madeiro’s blog, Make Every Day Count this week, reading about Happiness. Matt shares his definition of happiness, and offers a ‘homework assignment.’ I decided to take on this challenge, and share my thoughts with you. If you’d like to share your thoughts on these questions, you can either do so below, or pop back to Matt’s blog and comment there. If you’d like some inspiration as to what happiness might be, you could even buy Matt’s e-book, Happiness is… It’s available from amazon for less than £1. That’s something to smile about.

Matt – here’s my assignment.

I gave this a lot of thought and had some long discussions with friends and colleagues about the human nature and what makes us happy but the answers, in the end, were quite simple for me…

“What’s my definition of happiness?”

Happiness is acceptance.

I used to think that my happiness depended on a wide range of factors, from the weather, to whether people liked me and a whole host of other things in between. However, as I’ve grown (a bit. I still have a lot more growing to do), I’ve realised that for me, happiness is about accepting who I am, who others are  and the way things are in the present moment. This can mean accepting that I’m having a crap day, for example – instead of complaining about it. I’ve found that it’s only once I have accepted things as they are, that I can do something about changing them. Or not. Sometimes it’s not that things need to change, I just need to change my perception of them.

“Am I there yet? Do I fit that description?”

Yes. No. Sometimes.

This one was harder to answer. Some days I’m there. I equate happiness with being content rather than being in a permanent state of joy, and some days I am content. Some days I am even joyful. I have a lot to be grateful for. However, I’m only human and sometimes I get caught up in ‘stuff.’ It’s hard not to. It helps to stay in the present moment as much as possible, but when things look bad, sometimes looking to the past or future can help. I always keep in mind what has become a bit of a mantra for me: ‘This too shall pass.’ I can look back and say ‘I’ve been in worse situations than this and got through it.’ Or I can look to some unspecified point in the future to when the crapness has passed.

Today, it was sunny. I spoke to a couple of good friends, caught up with my Nan, spent some quality time playing with my son, sat down for a couple of hours to do some writing and when I have finished, I am going to eat a delicious meal. Sometimes it’s just the little things.

Today, I am Happy. Are you?

A really refreshing dream

I had a really vivid dream last night. I wouldn’t usually share my dreams here, after all they are often intensely personal. Writing this almost feels more like a journal entry…. But I guess it doesn’t hurt to get personal once in a while.

The dream, which, unusually for me, I remember in detail (but will describe in brief!) began with me standing on top of a very high wall – let’s say cliff height. It was a long drop. On one side, birds were eating each other on top of muddy water. On other, the water was clear and still but there were many dangerous obstacles in it. I looked down at the birds, then back to the obstacles and decided to take my chances. At least the water here was clear. I dived in and hoped for the best. After what seemed like no time at all, I reached the shore. I had arrived at a holiday resort on a tropical island. With wet clothes, now in rags, and no money on me, I walked confidently into the hotel, knowing someone would help me get to where I needed to be.

So, if this dream is so personal, why am I sharing it..? Well, although several dream dictionaries offer different interpretations, I think that, for me, this dream serves as a metaphor for life. I can sit on the wall for the rest of my life, or I can leave those birds eating each other behind and take the plunge into something new. There may be obstacles along the way, but if I can see them, I can do my best to avoid them. The jump is a leap of faith, and, though it is not without risks, I may end up somewhere beautiful.

I had very little sleep last night as the baby was up every two hours, but after this early morning dream I woke up feeling so refreshed, and more importantly, motivated. I wanted to share this little piece of me with you, to let you know where I’m at. Who knows, it may say something to you too…. If so, or if you have any alternative dream interpretations, I would love to hear from you.

Terry’s Taxi

Sometimes I meet people who can teach me so much in such a short space of time. For them, I might just be passing through… For me, these people can have a massive impact on what happens next in my life, and I never forget them. Terry is one of these people and I would like to share his story with you.

So, I was in Richmond on Sunday, running late for something, and in a fabulous mood. My day had started well, the sun was shining, and all was well with the world. Even TfL‘s weekend engineering works messing up my travel plans couldn’t get me down.

Having arrived at Richmond station, needing to be in Gunnersbury about half an hour before, I started out for the relevant bus stop, but something made me change my mind and opt instead for the luxury of a black cab for this short journey. I’m so glad I did, because had I got on the bus, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of meeting Terry.

As I leaned into the cab to ask about the length and fare for my journey, I was struck by an effervesence not dissimilar to what I had already been feeling that morning, and somehow even lighter, like this was someone for whom life really was a breeze.

Terry and I had a chat about life and love, and although he came out with a lot of cliches, ‘Life’s too short,’ ‘There’s always someone worse off,’ ‘This isn’t a dress rehearsal,’ ‘You only get once shot at this,’ somehow, they didn’t seem like cliches coming from Terry, he really meant them, and really lived them. He told me about how he had lost both his brother and sister at a young age, and, rather than let the grief defeat him, it completely changed his outlook on life, made him want to grab it with both hands. He told me about how, after years of working for someone else, he had finally realised his dream of being his own boss, working when he wanted. He now works really hard when he feels like it, so that he can indulge his passion, taking himself off on holiday for at least two months of every year, thus making his work fit around his life, rather than the other way around.

I asked Terry if it had been difficult, learning The Knowledge. He really had to think about it, and as he did so, I noticed he kept chuckling to himself. ‘Yeah,’ he said, shrugging and shaking his head at the same time ‘I suppose it was… I used to get up at the crack of dawn and drive around all day…’ he trailed off and laughed. When I mentioned the research which shows that London’s Black Taxi drivers have a larger hippocampus after studying The Knowledge, his face lit up and he agreed, then told me about how it changed the way he accesses information. ‘I never forget a face,’ he said – then told me about a woman he had picked up once, and as soon as he saw her he remembered where she lived. This woman was shocked, as she hadn’t taken a taxi for several months ‘But once I’ve taken someone somewhere,’ explained Terry, ‘I never forget,’ thus demonstrating that his memory of faces has become closely linked with the map of London he has in his mind. Amazing.

The last words Terry and I exchanged were about his philosophy on life, which he said his father taught him:

‘As long as the rent is paid, and there’s food on the table, all that’s left to do it have fun!’

What great words to live by. The journey went all too quickly, and Terry’s laughter was still ringing in my ears well into the afternoon. I can almost hear it now.

I did ask Terry if he minded whether I wrote about him, and, if anything, he was just a little curious and said he didn’t mind at all.

Terry – if you happen to be reading this, thanks for keeping my energy high yesterday, and for reminding me what life should be all about. Mate, it’s clear to see, that not only do you truly love life, you really do LIVE every minute of it.