How To… economize language and not express neediness.

A common feature of modern human speech is obvious neediness. Perhaps because of the pervasive culture of offense we live in, perhaps because of the steady insecurity that comes with editing and revising emails and comments online, perhaps it’s simply because we communicate more and feel more and more intimidated by the people around us.

Whatever the reason, most people communicate in a way that is needy, insecure and desperate for approval. And this isn’t healthy. We shouldn’t always speak and write as though the audience could sentence us to death.

1: Start with the basics.

Don’t try and build up or lead up to everything you say. Don’t pad it. Consider the difference:

“I am sorry to bother you right now and I know you’re busy and I don’t know if you can help. But I just wanted to ask whether you had a few minutes to help me move the bookshelf so I can clean and repaint the wall behind. I don’t want to be a bother but it really needs doing and the shelf is so heavy. I won’t need you to move it back, I can walk it in myself, but I’m scared of it tipping when I move it out.”

“I know you’re busy, but if you have a minute today could you help me move the bookshelf so I can get behind it. I can move it back on my own. Thanks.”

Which one is clearer about your intent? Which one is more likely to be listened to? Which one would make you an uncomfortable recipient? Which one makes you sound whiny and needy?

2: Identify the basics.

If you don’t know what the basics are, ask the following questions:

Who? The friend and you.

What? Move the shelf.

When? Today.

How long? A few minutes.

Why? So you can clean behind it.

All other details are irrelevant. Likewise for any other situation. Don’t say more than you need to be clear and concise.

3: Extra information.

Sometimes a situation is emotional or a person is involved and they would like to know more about it.

If the situation is an emotional one, then add an acknowledgement of their feelings or a mention of yours. You still don’t need to go on about it, justify your feelings or anything of the sort. Just explain as simply as possible and leave it at that. Compare:

“I’m so sorry and I’m sure you’re angry at me and I wish you weren’t. There isn’t anything I can do and I don’t want this to come between us or hurt you. Please forgive me.”

“I know you’re angry, and I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

If the situation is one where they’re very involved they may want more details. But even so, these details only need to be mentioned, not explored and repeated. Compare:

“I was thinking we should repaint the walls in green, the same as the kitchen, we have a bucket left and everything should go with it. But perhaps blue would work as well, only the curtains don’t quite match. What do you think?”

“I’m torn between the green we used in the kitchen and a blue. We still have some green. What do you think?”

Even when elaborating or emoting, you can be clear and concise and eliminate neediness or anxiety.

4: Wait for questions.

If anyone wants more details, generally they will ask. Offloading everything you know about something won’t give them the information they need, it will just confuse them and make you seem nervous, needy and insecure. Compare:

“Sorry I’m late, but I ran into Sam. We got caught up talking about the elections and our favourite show. Apparently the show will be very good this season and I’m really looking forward to it, if you can let me have the TV to myself on Sunday. We just stood there and talked and before I knew it we had been there for two hours. I tried to leave but Sam just kept talking so I stayed a bit longer.”

“Sorry I’m late, I ran into Sam and we had a chat. By the way, my favourite show is back on Sunday and I’d like the TV to myself if possible.”

Then, perhaps the person you’re apologizing to will question the three or more hours you were missing. And you can explain after that “I got caught up, I noticed after two hours but it was hard to leave.” But preempting someone’s questions could annoy them and leave them without the information they actually want.

5: Emotions and offense.

A big reason why we overwork our words is because we want to elicit or prevent a specific response. And we get so caught up in it that, even when it would have been possible, we can make it worse.

The first step to tackling this problem is to acknowledge that emotions are unreasonable and therefore, no matter how much information or of your own emotions you throw at them, some people will feel differently, some people will be offended and some people will overreact. Nothing you do will ever stop someone from feeling.

However, when someone is open to change and reason, often a little goes a long way.

Don’t assume you know exactly what they’re feeling. Ask.

Don’t try and argue against their emotions.

Don’t get caught up in a battle over who got offended or hurt.


“Person1: I am angry that you said that.

Person2: You can’t be angry. That’s not at all justified. What is there to be angry about? I’m unhappy, but there’s no reason to be angry.”

“Person1: I am angry that you said that.

Person2: There’s no reason to feel that way.

Person1: Well I do and it’s your fault.

Person2: How is it my fault?”

“Person1: I am angry that you said that.

Person2: That’s how you feel. That’s fine but it doesn’t concern me.”

In all three cases person1 is looking for a response and person2 feels that the anger is over the top and an apology isn’t warranted. However only in the third example does person2 achieve what they want: end the conversation having made their side clear.

6: Stop yourself.

When you catch yourself getting caught in an argument, going on and on or expanding on something endlessly, you need to stop.

Stop talking. Take a deep breath. Think of the most concise way to sum up your point and finish on a summary. You don’t need to finish the ramble first!

7: Move on.

Sometimes a remark may fall awkwardly, or something may need justifying. If you’re making yourself uncomfortable and trying to talk your way out of awkwardness, don’t carry on, just stop and change the subject.

Awkwardness only gets worse the more you speak or justify. By stopping you make the moment less memorable and by moving on you can make yourself comfortable again.

8: Use plain words.

People use all sorts of euphemisms and fancy terms when they feel they are in society that’s too polite for common language.

But every layer of higher language, euphemisms and extra description you add makes it harder for you to be understood, meaning you need to talk more to explain what you were saying. Being vague when giving commands isn’t the same as delegating. Compare:

“Would you let the dog out through the conservatory into the small garden for a moment?”

“Please let the dog out in the back garden.”

“I need something starchy and sweet, some greens to go with it and please be back before five or we won’t have anything to eat.”

“Bring sweet potatoes, some greens and be back before five for dinner.”

You don’t need to use complicated language, euphemisms or vagueness to make yourself sound more distinguished.

9: Think rather than feel.

This starts just as how you express yourself. Thoughts and statements need less justification than feelings and opinions. So swap…

“I feel…” for “I think…”

“In my opinion…” for “I find…”

“I believe…” for “As far as I’m aware…”

Essentially, step everything up in terms of certainty and clarity. Communicate what you know and understand above what you feel.

After a while you will also start thinking in terms of what is certain and clear, rather than in terms of what you feel and sense. By doing this you make your communication clearer.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with explaining… when asked, feeling… when it doesn’t run your mind, or expanding… when the information is necessary.

But if you can economize your language just a little bit and make yourself just a bit clearer, more secure and more decisive, then you will come across as more secure, more confident, more reliable and more sensible.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

10 Reasons You’re Told To Avoid Unmonetized Work.

Many people are unhappy to do unmonetized work. And that’s fine. It’s your choice to only do work you’re paid for and to pay others to do your unpaid work. But some people definitely get defensive and even hostile when you mention your own decision to do unmonetized work.

Whether you’re a home-maker or a community gardener, whether you’re making your own bread or building your own furniture, someone always emerges with a critical eye. Often they just feel the need to counter your points with comments about how they couldn’t possibly do unmonetized work. But sometimes when you defend your choices the critics become hostile. It becomes clear that they’re for some reason unhappy with the fact you’re doing something for yourself.

Which, on the surface, isn’t very sensible. After all, if you don’t care when they hire a gardener or buy a pie, why should they care when you trim the hedge or bake a pie?

Well here are ten reasons why various types of person may feel insulted, cheated or ostracized by your choice to be self-sufficient.

1: Greed.

The biggest one is a personal demon.

Some people are simply too greedy to do anything for free. They can’t see why anyone would or should do anything for free.

These people, deep down, see some benefits from self-sufficiency and know they have some time to put into unmonetized work. But they don’t want to.

And when they see someone work for free, it touches on a negative aspect of their own mentality. So they have to make you doubt yourself, make you admit that for them it would be impossible, anything to justify their own greed.

2: Import, value and sales taxes.

Governments have a vested interest in you not making anything on your own. When you start with simple goods the tax you pay on them is minimal. The real tax money is in luxuries.

When you make your own wine from foraged fruits, the government has no tax power over your drinks, they make no money on them. They would much rather you bought a bottle of wine at the store.

3: Power thirst.

Some people have an amount of control over you through the services they offer.

If the person presenting the critique is asking you to hire them, offering their services for cheap or for free, anything to stop you from doing the job yourself… then they enjoy having power over you.

4: Rat race.

For many everyday people, the concept of the rat race is a sort of comfort. The idea that everyone from the bottom to the top of the 99% is trapped. Nobody has a choice. Taxes are inevitable. You have no way out, even past retirement.

It can trigger a sort of envy and anxiety for some when they see that you can do your own work for free and cut costs that way.

5: Neediness and loneliness.

Similar to the power-hungry, the needy and lonely fear losing you. But they aren’t trying to manipulate you or control you. They simply fear that by changing your habits you are adopting a culture that’s too different to theirs.

These people want reassurance that they will be a part of your life even if you stop shopping for clothes and spend your evenings baking pies.

6: Products to sell.

Obviously, anyone with a finished product to sell doesn’t want you to make your own.

If someone is telling you about the dangers of home-canning or gardening, trying to dissuade you from cooking from scratch or ironing at home, then ask yourself whether they are selling the product you were trying to make.

7: Income taxes.

Of course, another way the government benefits from monetized work is income tax. When you earn money, you pay taxes on it. When you use that money to hire someone, they pay taxes on it. But if you do the work yourself then to tax money is paid on it.

8: Retirement.

Some friends and family may have concern for you if you choose to do unmonetized work. Whether it’s your only work or you also have another job, the fact that you’re dedicating hours to work that doesn’t involve money can make some people concerned for your retirement plans.

Sometimes this comes from a selfish place: they do not want to care for you. But often it just comes from confusion and concern.

9: Welfare.

If you’re doing unmonetized work then welfare becomes a hot topic.

On the one hand, if you’re not on welfare some people come to believe you are entitled to it and believe welfare would be a better option than self-sufficiency.

On the other hand, if you receive any welfare at all, other people will insist that you should spend your time working for money instead.

10: Crab bucket.

Ultimately, if you do unmonetized work you can’t be doing anything right.

We live in a culture where we are encouraged to use and consume, to earn and to spend. By stepping out of the money cycle in any aspect of your life you are defying our culture, our society.

And nobody wants their friends, their subordinates, their family or their coworkers to belong to a different society than them. Be it because of their job, their ideology or their personal demons, there are many crabs in the bucket that want to pull you back.

It’s up to you to decide what you will do.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

MacDonald’s Sex.

From what I have read and heard, the MacDonald’s Sex epidemic is a fairly novel, increasingly common complaint across the Western world, from young newlyweds to boomer couples and old married folk, from teens to centenarians, from men and women.

What is MacDonald’s Sex? It’s sex that does the job, hits the spot, makes you feel better for a short while… but in the long run leaves you in a slump, bored out of your mind and questioning your life choices.

It’s characterized by…

1: Short sessions. Whoever is finished first wants it over with quickly, more akin to quick masturbation than actual sex.

2: Semi-frequency. It’s actually not a dry well at all. Perhaps not daily or every other day, but definitely once or twice a week.

3: Goal-orientation. The goal is always in mind. Like a burger during a long road trip, you just want it over with so you can focus on other matters.

4: Lack of exploration. Because there isn’t much time nothing is attempted or introduced that could possibly lengthen the session or take your mind off what you need to do later.

5: Lack of variety. And when no exploration happens, the mix won’t exactly have much in it.

6: Distraction. Due to brevity, familiarity and boredom, neither party is exactly in the moment.

It’s basically reducing sex to it’s most basic function, the same way junk food reduces food to appetite->hunger->feeding. There is no thought put into the ingredients. There is no thought put into the greater physical and psychological aspects of sex. There is no desire to fully enjoy the experience. There is no attention paid to the actual act taking place. The couple may as well be rabbits in a field, for all the bonding, socializing and enjoyment they derive from the act.

And it’s actually pretty sad.

However long you’ve been with someone.

However many constraints your faith or morals place on the act.

However rushed or stressed or tired you are.

There’s no reason why at least once a week you can’t make time to feel like a human couple during sex.

It’s in your power to make it a deep, emotional, intense, spiritual moment.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

How To… be alone together.

Many relationships seem to suffer from a close contact issue. And a lot of this is because women and men bond differently.

Men bond by sharing experiences, through active contact, whereas women largely bond through conversation and brain-picking.

Which makes sense when you consider that women benefit the most from exploring a man’s status, interests and behaviours before any children are brought into the picture, whereas men enjoy pair-bonding as a small part of a very active life.

The easiest way to bridge this gap in your everyday life is to spend some time, as some men put it, “being alone together”.

1: Find shared interests.

This is much easier when you find something you enjoy together. The idea is to pick something easy that you can sit back and enjoy together without there being any pressure on talking, interacting or generally socializing.

Please make sure you’re actually both interested in it. There’s nothing worse than putting a film on and trying to just relax in silence and having someone speak throughout the entire film.





2: Find relaxed solo interests.

If you can’t find a shared interest, find two interests that overlap. Ideally neither should require dead quiet and only one should hog a particular space or item of media.


-a film and a craft

-a game and some music

-some music and a book

-a game and a book

3: Find some time to yourselves.

Maybe the issue isn’t so much the activities as that you don’t get any peace and quiet. The second the children, work, pets and other duties are out of the way, you’re so short of time you just try and cram everything in.

Instead of using all your time together and every date night actively, try and have a few quiet ones. If you’re feeling stressed and tired, cancel dinner plans and sit in with a pizza. If you’re oversocialized don’t push yourself to talk. The company is golden, but sometimes the active, energetic aspects of time together can be draining.

4: Just relax.

Perhaps you don’t want to do anything particular. Perhaps everything feels like too much.

There’s nothing wrong with curling up together on the sofa or in bed and just relaxing. Appreciate the company, the silence, the touch. Doze off if you want to. A nap doesn’t hurt. Just try and be present, enjoy your partner’s presence and unwind.

And it really is that simple.

Make a little time, find something relaxing and enjoy some peace and quiet in each other’s company.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How do you enjoy relaxing? Are there any overlaps between your “me time” and your shared interests as a couple? I love hearing how everyone makes these things work… it’s so different for everyone!

10 Things In Defence Of Adult Colouring Books.

Adult colouring books are a surprisingly divisive topic. On the one hand their lovers declare they’re just a bit of harmless fun. On the other their opponents believe they’re a marker of how infantile their users and our society have become.

Generally I find myself siding with the less emotional argument. Which in this case is that they are an infantile pursuit. However, this time the less emotional argument still has an emotional foundation. What emotional foundation? That we should necessarily eschew things that are infantile in favour of more mature pursuits, and that we should have a lesser opinion of people whose pursuits are not highly intellectual or explicitly adult.

And I don’t think that’s right. Because there are many reasons to engage in infantile habits and hobbies, some of them far more valid than attempting to maintain an appearance of maturity. So here are ten reasons why adult colouring books are beneficial, from least to most significant.

1: Fun.

Everyone likes to have fun in some way. The only people who avoid having fun to appear mature are those who never progressed beyond the teenage mentality that maturity is boring. Humans like to have fun. The sensation of “fun” is your body telling you that you are either learning a life skill (risky fun) or safe and secure (quiet fun). If it feels good, chances are it’s because on some level you need it. Not all good feels will be contextually appropriate, but not all of them are sinful or harmful either.

So before I address the other positive aspects of adult colouring books, I’d like to raise the first, most central point: there are many hobbies as pointless, unproductive, unintellectual and infantile as this. In fact, there are many that are moreso. If you see it as appropriate to attack colouring books, then you should probably also set your sights on video games, TV, chance-based board games, trash fiction, most films, shopping, casual blogging, social media, listening to music, etc.

2: Inexpensive.

Plus, something adult colouring has on most of those hobbies, is that it’s actually pretty cheap. The books are sometimes costly, but you can always buy printable versions or photocopy a book or find one on the cheap. And compared to a night out, a new DVD, a game, a restaurant meal or a cinema ticket, even the priciest colouring books are actually pretty cheap.

3: Motor function improvement.

In the modern world we often find ourselves engaging in repetitive motions at work. Typing, clicking, sorting, carrying, pressing buttons, steering. Most jobs are UNIT jobs, that basically means you are one tiny gear and your job is to turn clockwise until you sign off. This can actually affect your muscle memory, cause cramping of hand and arm muscles and mess with your coordination out of work, like the stereotypical powerlifter who doesn’t know his own strength. Like most fine-tuned activities, colouring improves your hand-eye coordination, your eye focus, your hand steadiness and your hand’s range of motion. You may not be an expert artist, but after a while you start using a variety of motions and techniques to get these tiny, precise patches coloured.

4: Attention span improvement.

With the nature of most modern work and entertainment, most people’s attention spans are awful. We’re used to immediate gratification, swapping from tab to tab, pausing our films and TV shows, checking social media every two minutes… Having something you can sit down to and immerse yourself in does wonders for patience, attention, comfort and general serenity.

5: Normalizes relaxation.

Between the flood of women entering the workforce, the decline in small business and the desperate need to compete in the market, political forces, companies and activists alike go on about the sanctity of work. From one extreme, where Marxists believe all your labour should be yours, to the other where Nationalists believe all your labour should serve your people; from feminists claiming that women need to work as many hours as men in the same roles, to anti-feminists claiming that women’s work is generally less useful than men’s, monetized work seems to be the only value anyone has any more.

Which means the pressure to work hard and never relax is immense. Taken to the extreme, we get the stereotypical Japanese businessman. It isn’t actually good. But most of our entertainment options are presented as social, energetic options by force. Go to a party, go hiking, do some networking, go dancing… Having a widely approved and supported hobby that is actually calm and quiet could do society wonders.

6: Brain-stimulating.

Believe it or not, your brain is very much active when you do things like colouring. By focusing on shapes, patterns and repetition we engage the part of our brains that deals with number and space problems. By indulging in bright colours we engage the part of our brains that gains pleasure from pretty things. By developing our motor skills we engage the part of the brain involved in proprioception and detailed work. By working through different colours and balancing them we engage the part of the brain that naturally leans toward creativity. Unlike zoning out to a screen or knee-jerk-arguing on facebook, colouring is actually very good for your mental functions as a whole.

7: Family oriented.

Again, a lot of modern hobbies fall short here. We live in a culture that worships the individual so much that few hobbies engage more than one or two people at a time. Reading, blogging and cooking are preferably solitary activities. Clubbing, social networking or watching TV are engaged in by everyone, but rarely together any more. Sports, shopping or games can be social but are usually only appreciated by one or two members of the family.

However colouring is actually pretty good for everyone. Those with artistic talent can draw. Those without can colour. Children get their colouring books. Adults get theirs. Sharing time and space like that, helping each other out and taking it easy could be just what your family needs on, for example, a Friday night.

8: Productivity.

I could easily list a large number of highly productive hobbies. But the most common relaxation habits among modern humans are not productive. Watching TV, social networking, playing simple games, reading trash and shopping are not productive, especially not in the way most people use them. However colouring, as we have seen, has many benefits. It is productive in that it’s actually good for you. And it’s productive in that at the end you have a completed object to show for it, which in and of itself is also rewarding.

9: Stress relief.

We’re all stressed. We work fast-paced, low-reward, high-contact, high-pressure jobs. Even if one trait is absent in your job, the other three are probably there. When we don’t work such jobs we feel stressed because we’re not doing enough. Stress relief is vital for humans to function. We’re not designed to be continually pumping adrenaline and epinephrine into our systems. We need to get some dopamine, serotonin and GABA in there as well. Otherwise you end up… well, like me. Except most people don’t need to be stuck in that sort of a loop.

By relieving stress with a simple, mentally stimulating, quiet, low-pressure activity you can make yourself better able to function at work, in your social circles and in life in general.

10: Natural creativity.

The big one. Humans are naturally creative. We want to create, to produce, to make marks and sounds and shapes. It’s what got us so far to begin with, combined with our deep curiosity.

But unless they are exceptionally talented or have the time to develop a skill, most people will never create wonderful art. There just isn’t the time, the financial incentive or the resources to make everyone a great artist. If we want to unleash our natural creativity we can write poems, compose story plots, doodle… and now we also have the option to do a colouring book page.

I personally have never had to use a colouring book. Not since I was very little, anyway. But I’m not some sort of a snob who thinks that just because someone can’t draw as well as me, they should miss out on the colouring. Colouring is fun. It’s relaxing. It’s productive and healthy and engaging. And if that’s how you want to let out some creativity, then by all means go ahead.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

What do you think about adult colouring books? What do you do in your spare time? Do you think there is ever anything “too infantile” for an adult’s hobby, if the rest of their life is in order?

Junk Food Is Entertainment For The Poor, Uneducated & Lonely.

We all know that junk food is bad for you. Even in moderation, it’s bad for you. Whatever you do, you’d be better off not eating junk food at all.

Some of us will therefore prioritize health and avoid it.

Some will indulge it from time to time, the same way we indulge alcohol or trash television.

But some of us end up consuming junk food very often, possibly for every meal, even between meals, even getting up at night to eat some.

And there is a reason for that.

It’s not just because we crave carbs, fats, sugars and salts. If that were the case, then why wouldn’t we see people eating buttered potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes the same way they do hamburgers? There are a few key differences.

The first is that fast food is fast. You can go outside right now and within 30 minutes you could be eating junk food.

Next, fast food is tasty. Junk food is carefully balanced to have the right combination of textures and flavours to keep us coming back for more.

It is also a shared cultural experience. You bond with people over food and junk food and takeout is a cultural theme.

It is everywhere. Not only is it fast, you’re very unlikely to be more than a few hours away from your closest junk food restaurant.

And finally, it’s simple. You just take the food and eat it whilst watching TV or sitting on a park bench.

Now, think about this for a moment, how often do you see these scenes in everyday life?

Parents and children silently staring at a TV as they eat pizza.

Kids going to get chips and dips together as an outing.

Families buying take-away food on a car journey.

Couples splitting a ready meal or take-away every night.

This all happens for the same reason: junk food is treated as a source of entertainment, rather than as sustenance. We don’t eat junk food to stay alive, we eat it for fun.

And when you don’t have the money, education or connections to enjoy yourself another way, is it any surprise that for many people junk food becomes just another thing to do, a source of entertainment to keep you busy until the next show is on?

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

How To… spend more time together.

It’s a common complaint and one I’m understanding more the more effort I put into paid work, garden maintenance, self improvement and puppy training.

As you add things into your life, you find that time with your loved ones gets pinched a bit and some people are even accidentally cut out entirely for weeks at a time. Which is no good. Whether you want the calm and quiet of just sitting with your partner or whether you need to be thrown into a party to feel at home, we all want to be a little bit social.

So here’s how to make time for those you love.

1: Do things together.

Well, that sounds obvious, doesn’t it? The problem is in how we apply this. We think to ourselves “well, I have ballroom dancing and the kids have playgroup, so how can we fit in a shared activity?”

In reality, the solution is a bit simpler: we try and fit into each other’s activities, or find new activities we can share. Rather than add more and more and more to our days, it may be wiser to cut some things out and start over, working on our hobbies and tasks together.

2: Discuss schedules.

It’s important to talk our schedules through as we plan our weeks. Both for working out shared activities and so that our flexible plans don’t clash. If you need to go shopping, for example, it’s better to do it when your partner and children are also busy.

By building a set schedule and discussing the whole family’s schedules you can find time to spend with each other.

3: Together but alone.

Just because you don’t share your hobbies or one of you have work doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t spend time together.

Jon and I frequently spend time together in the same room, him doing his thing and me doing mine. Just because I suck at gaming or I have writing to do doesn’t mean I can sit next to him as he plays a new game.

4: Date night, family night, play night.

Try and make time at least once a week to spend together. Even if you’re too busy and your schedules and activities rarely match up, having a night a week when you can

-catch up on the week’s events

-plan the next week

-have some fun together

will make a big difference to your life.

5: Have a break.

If you literally can’t find an hour a week to spend with your friends and family, then maybe you’re working too hard.

Think of when you can plan in a proper break to have fun with your loved ones, revise your workload and schedule and get into a healthier, happier life.

And that’s how we can try and spend more time with our loved ones, even when we’re insanely busy. Like with a lot of these How Tos, it isn’t a hard concept. The key is just in making the effort to follow the steps through.

How do you make time for your loved ones? What do you like doing on family days?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!