You’re not “Nice”.

Everyone wants to be “nice”. Some people go as far as to say “I’m a nice person”, “be nice” and will affirm they are “nice” if you ask them whether they think they are. But it can be hard to pinpoint what they mean.

“Nice”, as per the dictionary, means “giving pleasure or satisfaction; pleasant or attractive”. There is no popular definition that denies this, there is no requirement to being “nice”, it is just “something pleasant”. This gives us a problem: you can’t decide whether you are nice. Only other people can decide whether or not you are nice.

If you call yourself “nice” you can mean only two things:

  1. You are pleasing to yourself, you approve of yourself. Which means nothing as all healthy humans, and many unhealthy ones, enjoy themselves and approve of their own behaviour.
  2. You seek to please others and be approved of, and believe your behaviour is pleasing and worthy of approval. Which means nothing as you don’t get to decide what other people enjoy.

And there are two motivations behind calling yourself “nice”, both of which can result in either of the two meanings.

  1. You are ignorant of what you are saying and responding to how you were educated. Your parents told you “be nice”, meaning “appease and please” and you did so. All you mean is “I want to make others happy” or “I’m doing what I think is right”.
  2. You know that niceness comes from others and you are demanding their approval or, in the case of “be nice”, that they should act as you want them to. What you mean is “you should agree with my morals” or “you should appreciate that I’m not actively hostile”.

Quite simply: you can aim to please others and garner approval, but you cannot make yourself “nice”. How nice you are is not up to you.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

As a side note, Twitter really has improved my succintness.

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How To… be better than your man.

Confused? Let me explain.

If we aim to be excellent homemakers, we are therefore aiming to improve ourselves. And in this improvement we should find that in some areas we begin to surpass our partner. After all, the breadwinner, even if they are also working on self-improvement, will be excelling in other areas. They may have been a great cook to begin with, but we aim to be an excellent cook. They have no interest in gardening or DIY but we are mastering them both. In short: in some aspects we will be better. And there is a right way to handle this. We will use budgeting as an example, as it is a personal one I have more knowledge on.

1: Acknowledge each other’s abilities.

Regardless of what your relationship dynamic, acknowledge and accept that even if you are great at budgeting, this does not make you superior as a human being. First of all, your superiority in this area does not mean they are no good at all at budgeting. And secondly, they are better in other areas which at other times may be more important.

Key here is also that they acknowledge your abilities. To say you are great at budgeting in no way takes away from the fact that they can handle their budgeting when they need to, nor does it cancel out their own abilities.

2: Acknowledge your own limitations.

Likewise, we need to accept our limitations. Just because we are better at budgeting does not make us absolute experts. There will be nuances they are more familiar with, or the situation may be one that you have not handled yet. It is impossible to know everything.

Again, your partner is likely aware of their personal limitations. They know that you have an edge in most areas and are unlikely to be being stubborn when they refuse your help. It is more likely that the nuances and your limitations concern them.

3: When a decision involves you both, talk about it first.

Regardless of how expert you are at budgeting, or whether or not your skills are superior, do not make decisions that involve them without talking about it. It is one thing to offer advice from experience or to make a final decision when it is up to you. It is another thing entirely to walk up to your partner and declare you’ve moved your life savings into a form of investment. Even if the end decision is exactly what you expected it to be: don’t assume, ask.

4: When they are struggling, offer help.

When the final decision is up to them, do not attempt to wrangle it from them or undermine them. Instead, offer your advice and let them listen to as much as they want or need to. If the decision affects you both, your partner will be willing to hear reasonable input. And if they are genuinely having a hard time, they may welcome some help. But the key is to offer, never to force.

5: Do your best, but know when to back down.

Sometimes your awareness of the specifics is not good enough to carry you through. Sometimes they are determined to make a certain decision even though you fear it. Know when it is not your place to try and control your partner and back down. If you need to, take action to safeguard yourself. But do not turn an offer of help into a “do what I say or else”.

Quite simply: don’t try and control your partner’s life just because you have more knowledge or skills in a highly specific area; but also do not let them make you act against your knowledge or best interests. Communicate, be kind, be humble.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… be rational, not rationalize.

In our home we often say humans are not rational creatures, we are rationalizing creatures. That is to say, we spend more time thinking about why we do what we do, explaining and justifying our actions, as well as those of others, than we do thinking through what we are about to do and planning ahead. There is a lot of research into why this is, but it boils down to:

  • most behaviour is driven by instincts and thus most processes begin before we start thinking
  • we are often stressed, which lets instincts run wild
  • we don’t actually think of our future selves as “us”
  • we want to feel good about things we have already done
  • we want to feel good about the people “in our tribe”

This is why your average person will see chocolate cake, feel hungry, eat it distractedly, feel briefly bad about it, then excuse it and seek validation from others for the excuses, even though it is not in their long-term interests to eat the cake. Quite simply, instincts and now won out over reason and the future. It is also why depressive cycles can be so strong, why we enjoy disassociative drugs, or why people with personality disorders often feel the best about themselves.

But there are ways to improve our ability to be rational, that is, to think about our actions in general, our future, and what we do… before we do it.

1. List your instincts and their intensity.

We all have three base instincts that give rise to other instinctive behaviours. Think of which apply to you, as you might find one or two do not, and think about how easy you find it to resist them.

1: Survive.

  • eat
  • hydrate
  • sleep
  • hide from danger

2: Reproduce.

  • partner
  • have sex
  • create safety
  • locate resources

3: Find worth.

  • relax
  • work at something you enjoy
  • feel pride
  • feel belonging

So, for example, I would say my drive to eat is very strong, whereas I can resist the need to drink or sleep for a while. I would also say my drive for sex is strong, but still far weaker than my drive to partner, and that my drive to partner comes before my drive to avoid danger or feel group belonging. This means I am very centered around what I eat and around Jon, and not easily swayed by groups or fear.

2. Consider the biological reasons for your instincts.

There is a biological reason for every instinct. Those you feel intensely are probably there for two reasons:

  1. They are hardwired in almost every human.
  2. They were reinforced during your childhood.

For instance, a childhood lacking much parental security, group solidarity and physical resources has made me very prone to disordered eating and eager to attach to one person very intensely. Both are at their core instinctive, but they were reinforced later on.

Likewise, your instincts will have a purpose.

3. List your life goals and how instinct may interfere with them.

But not all instinct is good nowadays. We have an instinctive urge to get fat, because at times of scarcity, we never got too fat, just about fat enough to keep us through a famine. But today there are no famines and the instinct doesn’t work. Likewise for every instinct. Fear becomes paranoia, sexual need becomes single motherhood or multiple child benefit claims, desire for pride becomes arrogance, desire to belong becomes dependence. They can all become dysfunctional when let run wild.

4. Whenever you feel an urge, ask if it is instinct.

Now you know what they are, when you feel a pull towards something, ask yourself what instinct it could be based on. The urge to buy the latest smartphone may be a need to belong, or a need for a partner, or a need for sex. The urge to eat the chocolate cake may be a need for food, or for drink, or for safety. The urge to slap someone may be a need for belonging, or a sense of fear, or a spike of pride. Every self-destructive knee-jerk is your instincts screaming in confusion at the modern world.

5. Whenever you identify an instinctive drive, think long term.

You won’t catch every instinct, but you need to think long term as soon as you spot one. Think about your bank, or future purchases, or the group you belong to before buying the smartphone. Think about your weight, your health, or bad habit cycles before eating the cake. Think about social and legal repercussions, loss of friendship or the risk of physical harm before slapping someone. Ask yourself where your actions will take you, and whether you really want to be there.

In summary:

1: Know yourself.

2: Know your body.

3: Know your priorities.

4: Identify your problems.

5: Plan ahead.

Because it may be easier to rationalize, but it does nothing to help you better yourself.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Cut Back Media, Cut Back Stress – 9 Steps To A Better Life.

Since I did the #NoNothingNovember challenge with leechblock, I’ve noticed just how much, or, better said, how little, standard media exposure adds to my life.  The usual ways we entertain, distract and inform ourselves may seem such an integral, normal part of life that it is easy to miss just how negative their influence can be. The majority of the media is sensationalist and biased. News providers, scriptwriters and social media engineers alike all know that anger, shock and fear drive our consumption. But the things which they present us with are actually in no way reflective of our lives. They’re just fodder to keep us hooked on their service.

As I’ve already admitted, media consumption is a fairly normal, integral part of modern life. Few people can completely get rid of it, and you can’t avoid it forever. But, you can be in control of what you consume and cut right back on standard media, enhancing your life without missing out on the information it provides. Here’s how.

1: Trash the TV.

Passive viewing is the most harmful way to consume media of any kind. Switch it on, play it in the background, let it seep into the brain as we are at our most vulnerable. Standard TV, in the modern era, has no advantages over anything else. If you need a bit of background noise, you can play a DVD, a recorded show, or, better yet, some simple music. If you want to be informed, then there are ways to become informed on demand.

An easy way to get rid of your TV is… get rid of your TV. You might want to leave the monitor up for other things, but just disconnect the cable, cancel the service if you can, and let standard TV leave your life for good.

Of course, you won’t be able to avoid TV all the time. I don’t beat myself up if the TV is on when I’m at a friend’s house or in a waiting room. I might even watch it if nothing is happening. But being like the average Brit and spending a day a week in front of a TV is no good for me. Even when a TV is around, the healthy bet is not to be the person who turns it on.

2: Limit social media time and reach.

It may be almost impossible to quit all social media, especially if you have a large and distant family, or if you use the internet for work. But you can exercise control over what social media does to you. For example, you may spend a lot of time arguing with people online. And if you enjoy it and find it fun: go you! But if after a day of shouting at an SJW you feel sick and tired and stressed, then perhaps now is the time to exercise control over your social media.

Do not engage with people who anger you. Many sites give you the option to hide their posts, and posts like theirs, from viewing. You can even block them. Ask yourself what they add to your life, and if the reply is “stress every time I log onto facebook”, then nix them.

3: Interact less with social media.

In a similar vein, if you want to see less drama and sensationalism: click, ‘like’ and share less drama and sensationalism. Social media works via feedback, and if you’re always clicking on bad news, commenting on things that wind you up, ‘liking’ social drama, and sharing things that enrage you, then that is all you will see. On the other hand, if you interact with things you enjoy and independently investigate things you are curious about, then your social media feeds will be enjoyable for you.

4: Select your news sources carefully.

Following from the last points: cutting out standard TV and altering what you see on social media does not mean you have to be uninformed. It is absolutely necessary to know about happenings in the world at large, developments in your field of interest, and events and trends that may influence the people around you.

Instead, rather than passively waiting for news to come to you via TV or social media, seek out news. Give yourself a time each day to browse some news sites, or even news feeds. Pick sites that do not particularly pander to you or to those unlike you. Instead, find sites that offer short, to-the-point, fairly unbiased reports of events. Give yourself a set number of news stories to read -more on this later-, pick them well, get up to date, and then close the website.

5: Subscribe to specialist magazines, newsletters, papers and emails.

If you want to be even further informed on matters that are most relevant to you: find highly specialist news sources and subscribe to them. If you’re into guns, look into newsletters about guns. If you’re into dogs, look into a subscription to a dog-based magazine. Read what you enjoy and stay abreast of news that makes a difference to your life.

6: Buy, and read, more books.

As in 5. Audiobooks if you have little time or suffer dyslexia.

7: Use leechblock, or a similar add-on.

During my #NoNothingNovember challenge in 2014, I cut back on time-wasting websites. This was a big step for me, as most of my work depends on the internet and it was very easy to get sucked into “just one more listicle, or picture, or article”. The worst bit? I didn’t even like the sites I was browsing. I was just looking, blank mind, at pictures of food and memes, getting wound up at the inanities of sites I disagreed with, and correcting incorrect articles in my head.

Being as it was far too easy to accidentally click on a website that would swallow my time just by checking emails, blogging, or doing a bit of research for work, I installed leechblock. This is a firefox add on that basically kicks you off websites you have added to a blacklist. Some were banned til the end of days, because they were worthless. Some were put on a time limit, to encourage faster selection of better-quality articles and prevent me from getting sidelined. Some were only allowed within certain times. All in all, it really helped to reshape my habits, and I have grown for using it. There are similar add-ons for other browsers, and even phone apps that limit access to time-wasting sites and apps after certain time periods. I personally eschew standard smart phones because I don’t need or want them. But if your smartphone is your life, consider deleting any apps that suck up your time and “culling” the amount of data you get automatically fed. Know the difference between “convenient news updates” and “live drama and clickbait straight into your pocket”.

8: Make more use of self-service entertainment.

By self-service entertainment I mean places where you can watch TV series, news, documentaries and films in your own time, on demand. So YouTube, anime feeds, and Netflix would be the big ones for me. There are two major advantages to this.

Firstly, you get to watch a few things for fun, as and when you like them. This beats standard TV at its own game, by miles. Some services even offer live TV shows or shows on a slight delay, so you don’t have to miss out on things you look forward to.

Secondly, almost all these services record your viewing habits for the purpose of recommending you new videos. If you spot that there is a heavy and unhealthy bias in your recommended viewings, then you know you need to adjust your habits until you get better and healthier recommendations.

9: Socialize with people who add value to your life.

Finally, replace as much media as possible with real people. If you’re on social media, aim to spend more time chatting to people in messages than trawling through pages and interacting with posts. If you want to watch a show, try and make it a communal activity. When you find out some interesting news, discuss it with a friend who is also interested and exchange the knowledge you have.

You acquire more, better, more relevant information from having good people in your life than you will ever gather from watching the news every morning. For instance, if there is an outbreak of alabama rot nationwide, the news may not focus on cases relevant to you. If it is in your area, you will find out about it from others who also own dogs, without having to watch three hours of news relevant to other parts of the nation first. Good social connections get you news to the point.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What are your media habits like? How do you try and make the media you consume more productive and positive?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

You don’t “deserve” to escape cubicle hell.

The other day I was watching a few videos about why people left their previous jobs. And it struck me as odd how many people will quit a job because:

-they’re not allowed to compete with their company in their spare time

-they don’t have enough time for their creative, yet underpaid online work, ie blogging or videos

-the work environment had standards and targets they were expected to meet

Of course, some of those are the very reasons I chose to work for myself. Don’t get me wrong: I completely understand the desire to escape cubicle hell, to either never set foot in it or to leave it. But the way so many people of my generation approach this dilemma is entitled, pure and simple.

We’re not talking about people pushing through with work and aspiring to make better of themselves one day, or people quitting their dead-end jobs and pouring out sweat as they get a business started. We’re talking about people moving back in with their parents, going on welfare and begging for blogger handouts because they would rather be parasites than drudges.

And all I can think is: this is not pursuing your dreams. This is believing you have a god-given right to avoid cubicle hell. This is believing you are somehow better than generation upon generation of people who fried chips, scrubbed toilets, swept floors and typed copies, who toiled in mindless jobs to keep food on the table.

It’s all well and good to aspire to leave that environment, or to avoid it. By all means, if you can: do. But you don’t “deserve” to avoid cubicle hell any more than any other person out there. You aren’t special. And if you can’t cut the mustard, then back to the cubicle it is.

Sorry…

…but not really.

In a related note, apparently at some point I was added to the RationalWiki list of secular doormats, probably by the very same special snowflakes who believe they deserve charity to live and blog on. 😛 I take it as an award.

blog

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… nurture desire.

It’s a common refrain in the manosphere and red pill circles that desire cannot be negotiated. Which is true. When you simply do not want someone or something, there is very little that can be done about it. However there is a big difference between something we simply do not want and, unless we change radically, never will, and something we do want, but not the way it is presented to us.

This philosophy starts with sex and sexuality, but also extends into self-improvement, diet, employment and, realistically, everything you will ever do.

For me right now the problem is alcohol. When TTC, pregnant and breastfeeding, I will not drink. But everyone around me still does and did so during last weekend’s BBQ. And I had to remember that what I wanted was not best for me right now.

As a simple, relatable example, we may want pizza, not omelette for dinner. We don’t dislike omelette. We just want to eat a pile of junk. However for some reason it isn’t in our best interests to have pizza. Maybe we’re saving money. Maybe we’re on a diet. Maybe it just doesn’t fit into our day. Our desire for pizza cannot be negotiated: we want it and that’s final. And if we were presented with food that we definitely do not enjoy, perhaps brussels sprouts, our desire not to eat that cannot be negotiated. We will if we must, but even if we make ourselves we do not want to. However the emelette exists in a middle ground: we do desire it, but the circumstances right now mean we do not currently desire it. And that is where nurturing comes in.

1: Identify your desires and non desires.

In this case our main desire is pizza, our non desire is brussels sprouts and our secondary desire is omelette. We really want pizza, would be OK with omelette, and be unhappy with brussels sprouts.

2: Identify the reasons for your desires.

The reason we desire pizza and omelette is because they suit our palettes. They are savoury dishes with salt and fat and protein. They fill us up and the taste tells our bodies they are good. Likewise, we do not desire brussels sprouts because they are not savoury, salty, fatty, proteiny foods. They are bitter and plant-ish and lacking in calories.

3: Identify the pros and cons of your desires.

The pros of our desire for pizza are that it stimulates our taste buds and provides calories. The con is that it is expensive, unhealthy and/or inconvenient.

The pros of our desire for omelette are that it stimulates our taste buds, provides calories, is healthier, cheaper and more convenient. The con is that, lacking carbs and cheese, it does not make us as hungry as pizza.

The pros of our lack of desire for brussels sprouts are that we do not eat a food we find unpleasant which provides few calories. The con is that we are avoiding a perfectly healthy food.

So, as we can see, the one that wins out is omelette, meeting our needs and desires in the middle. However it is not enough to deny ourselves pizza. We need to work on our desire for omelette. And, though we cannot eliminate desire for pizza or create desire for brussels sprouts, we can reinforce our desire for omelette.

4: Feed your desire for the best options.

Work on making that omelette an important part of your day. Season it well, cook it well, make it an enjoyable experience. When your mind drifts to pizza, remind yourself why you do not want to eat pizza: it is unhealthy, expensive and inconvenient. Think of the tastes and textures of the omelette. Feel the hunger. Build a craving for it.

5: Promote the best options with in-betweens.

And, of course, sometimes you will feel strongly pressed to go for something more like pizza. Sometimes the craving will be very strong. At times like this, you find a compromise which does not take away from the benefits of the omelette but allows you to enjoy the experience of pizza. Maybe you will fold cheese and cured meats into your omelette. Maybe you will make a pizza at home with cheap and healthy ingredients. Whatever you do, try and go for the best option for you.

In other words, desire cannot be negotiated. But to assume that means “I want pizza so I will have pizza” is ridiculous. We have more than one desire in the choices we make. And by nurturing the productive desires, we can make the most of our options. So pizza-omelette, here I come! 😛

What are some choices and decisions you find hard to make? Would love to hear about any time you overcame a craving, inertia or another conflict of desire!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Being All You Can Be. Part II: Self-Sufficiency.

As mentioned in Part I, being all you can be is not just about doing a great job, but also about reaching your fingers into as many pies as you can comfortably handle.

The next element to being all you can be is working out what to focus on. After all, you can’t do it all or have it all, but you shouldn’t really devote yourself to one thing forever either. The woman in the last example is a police officer for her paid work, a housewife at home and a writer in her spare time. What is stopping her from wearing more hats? And why did she choose those three?

She wears three hats because that is what her time allows. Once you’ve worked all day, sorted the house and written for a couple of hours, there isn’t much more you can do. And she chose those three because they represent the pillars of valuable work: finance, self-sufficiency and enjoyment. She gets paid, she avoids paying someone else to do her work and she does something she loves.

And we all have potential to embrace those three pillars and build them into the life we want to live. When that time arrives, we’ll be all we can be.

In Part III I will begin to discuss each pillar in more detail, so we can be all we can be.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.