Five Things That Are Making You Unhappy

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Nothing sends us fruity like trying to settle into a daily routine after returning from a vacation. After escaping from reality for a while you might come back and notice that the things you once blindly accepted start to seem a little bizarre and the values that motivated you have change. Or maybe some of you will come back and cry, simply because your suntan is fading, solariums are banned and you’re still shallow A.F. Having just returned from a short vacation I’m feeling uncharacteristically zen and wondering why so many people are so habitually unhappy? Why am I paying $400 for a juice cleanse? Why do I care who J.Lo is dating? Why do I have to wear shoes? Holidays can’t last forever but they are a good reminder of the things we do almost instinctively to suck out the enjoyment of the other 49 weeks of the year. Here’s my quick pick of serial happiness threats: please be alert, not alarmed.

1. Caring more about fashion than friendship.
Throw out your insecurities: I’ve never once judged my friend for a repeat outfit or rocking a bit of 2008 wardrobe vintage. If I ever fall in with people who are vain enough banish me for not being in new season Alice McCall then push me in front of a bus call me Regina George. Not wanting to go out with the girls because you’re embarrassed about your out of date wardrobe means you either need to rethink your priorities or your friends.

2. Letting people that don’t care about you control your happiness.
Six words: He’s just not that into you. He may be nice as pie when you see him but if that is only ever on his schedule, if either of you are drunk or you’re both naked then chances are you’re not the Bey to his Jay-Z. It’s disappointing if your affections aren’t returned, even more confusing when they try to keep you on standby. But instead of trying to play the player move on. These hoes ain’t loyal? Why the eff would we be when you can’t even write back to a text message in a timely fashion.

3. Complicating the uncomplicated.
If you don’t like where you live, move. If you don’t like where you work, find a new job. If you don’t like who you’re dating then break up. Don’t all stand up and heckle me screaming “It’s not that easy!”, because often it is. In a modern, affluent society we are lucky enough to actually have choice and control over these things. You can always make more money but you can’t make more time. Live life simply by prioritising your happiness and quality of life over BS problems like housemates that steal your food or corporations that suck joy out of you for 50+ hours per week. You’re not a turtle: move out and quit your job. You could probably use a holiday.

4. Comparing yourself to others.
Comparison is the thief of joy. I was happy as Larry playing Uno with my imaginary friend until Jo Bloggs next door throws in a wild card with his new Tamagotchi. Suddenly all of my unembittered joy turned into sadness and longing because an imaginary Tamagotchi with imaginary digital poos just wouldn’t cut it. As we get older we get better and better breeding inadequacy and self-doubt. Treasuring items is not a crime but when obsessing about what you don’t have steals enjoyment away from what you do have and that’s where the problem lies. Rest assured, kids across the world with no clue of what they are missing are still screaming with delight and hitting each other with sticks like the good old days.

5. Wanting more stuff than you need.
The desire to accumulate possessions is strong but for most of us sitting on a big pile of shiny junk doesn’t make you feel like queen magpie. Vast piles of pointless, obsolete and out of season but “too good to throw away items” start to clog your living space like cholesterol in arteries. Accumulating lots of unnecessary stuff is not just bad for the environment but it will also mess up your Feng Shui and take away the peace and sanctity of you home. Like a questionable boyfriend, if in doubt, chuck it out. Re-gift it, recycle it or sell it and move on. You don’t need that useless crap in your life.

Running around shoeless in the sunshine maybe is one of the simplest joys there is, along with sharing good food and good company. The key is simplicity and enjoying what you have instead of pining for what you don’t have. You don’t need to take a holiday to escape from negativity, squash it at first sight like ants in your kitchen. Don’t covet thy neighbour’s wife, no use crying over spilt milk and mo’ money, mo’ problems, am I right?

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The Two Types of Crazy

You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret, all the best people are.

Crazy is a sliding scale on which everyone sits and there is one simple test that can give a deep and comprehensive view into someone’s level of mental stability. Namely, that the more adamant you are that you’re not crazy, the more likely you are to be clinically bonkers: fully-fledged, couch-jumping, crazy-scientologist, Tom-Cruise level cray cray. But crazy is not necessarily a bad thing. Like humans, it comes in all shapes and sizes; some good and some evil. Some comes wrapped up in a Taylor-Swift-like disguise.

The way I see it there are two very distinct types of people in this world: people that know they are crazy and people who do not know they are crazy. Now, that might sound like a broad generalisation but I am yet to meet anyone in this life who does not border on being at least slightly deranged. And how do I know you’re mad? Because you’re here and everyone here is mad. Whether you are hosting the tea party or just dropping by for a quick scone and a waft of Earl Grey, it’s undeniable. We have all fallen down a rabbit hole at some stage and found ourselves knee deep in an obsessive pursuit of love, order or perfection. In order to find acceptance without judgement, we often surround ourselves with equally dysfunctional creatures forming our own hysterical tea-party themed support group. Safety in numbers dear Marchie, sanity is relative so as long as we are as crazy as the company we keep then no one needs to lose sleep over the difference between a raven and a writing desk.

So, we are all varying levels of crazy. Whether you are a level 5 or 500 crazy, the defining aspect of your malady is your level of awareness. I am more than happy to stand up and toast my insanity like the Mad Hatter in Wonderland, much preferring to be a mercury addled madman than a dozy dormouse or an insufferably ignorant Alice. If you remember, Alice – the tightly laced damsel – was tumbling in and out of reality, changing shapes and being wildly inappropriate at social events, all the while chasing some enigmatic white rabbit who had the sense to run for his life in the opposite direction. Even more fearful was the Queen of Hearts, who (much like your psycho ex) was bulldozing her way through the kingdom, decapitating anyone in sight. Of course no one is game enough to tell her she’s overreacting for fear of getting caught in the crossfire.

So as I explain, it’s not the knowingly mad ones you have to watch out for. Indeed, you should be wary of any one who is cracker enough to think they are sane. I give you fair warning that the more adamant someone is about not being insane the more likely they are to go full Jekyll on your arse.  Much like an infant with a semi-automatic, they don’t know they are brandishing a powerful weapon so they are prone to start spraying crazy bullets over innocent by-standers.

It’s the big difference between Facebook stalking with your friends at brunch and hiding in the back seat of someone’s car, smelling their gym socks to work out if they’ve been training or off cavorting with some strumpet.

Crazy should never be taken lightly. Someone who is visibly crazy is a manageable risk, you can rely on them to be consistently loco and thus manage the element of surprise. If you’re dating Britney Spears, you know she’s going to be kookier than the Adam’s Family. But when you meet someone who seems very, very sane, almost normal… well, you can rest assured Mr. or Mrs. Hyde won’t last forever. One minute you’re brunching with the girl of your dreams then you’re bound and gagged in the boot of a car because that extra tang in your voddie soda was Rohypnol and not lime juice.

Beware that if things seem good to be true then they probably are. What was a bit of harmless fun with a nice and normal person sees you moving house and telling everyone you’re gay just to douse the crazy fire and stop the relentlessly stalking. You might end up with a girl whose love is like a candle: if you leave her, she will burn your house down. Or a guy who just cares about you so much that he goes full God Father on any life form with a Y chromosome and threatens to have them sleeping with the fishes.

These clueless crazies are left wondering “why me?”….. “I don’t understand why she felt the need to get a police involved. All I was trying to do was show her how much she means to me by disembowelling her stuffed animals.” Well perhaps, Sweet Cheeks, you are the constant and it’s your psychotic controlling nature; your wildly inappropriate social behaviour; disturbing levels of clinginess; or perhaps your complete lack of awareness or any or all of the above! “Why me”, you ask? Well, it’s because you’re a flipping psychopath.

Life is a tea party and whether we like it or not we are all a little bit mad. The only hoice you have is whether you accept it or not.  If you’re reading this and wondering how many metres in 100 yards or whether a letter via carrier pigeon is in breach of a restraining order then perhaps you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. Perhaps trying to understanding your own mental enigma is the first step toward being a much more favourable party guest.

So, happy revellers, if you are cray cray and you know it clap your hands. Tea and Crumpets all round.

Love and Other Fast Moving Goods

In this life of fast cars, fast food and fast money things that take time tend to take a backseat. We are so used to instant gratification that it is an almost-alien concept to nurture and grow something for more than a few minutes. If our seeds don’t propagate, reach maturity and bloom in the space of two minutes we ditch gardening all together and do what any self-respecting Gen-Y should do: move on. I don’t like to fuel Gen Y biases but I feel as though were born at the tail end of a revolution and our concept of success, hard work and even love are shaped by the rapidly changing world we grew up in. I’ve spoken before about my propensity to cash in phones (iLove You, iLove You Not… iDunno) the same way I cash in relationships: yearly. This is because like you, I have been raised to feel the like obsolesce is inevitable and that anything I have is temporary until the next big thing comes along.

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty disheartened by the transient nature of friendships, jobs and love. This eternal optimist has had her flame for life dampened by the idea that, in fact, nothing does last forever. I wistfully recall the glorious lyrics from Pooh’s Grand Adventure, where the two odd buddies cheerfully quarreled about how long their friendship would last. The highly cynical Christopher Robin sceptically advised “Forever and ever is a very long time, Pooh.” To which the charmingly overweight, binge eating, dependent-wreck Pooh replied: “forever isn’t long at all, when I’m with you.” For a long time I thought I was Pooh (I’ve also thought I was shit at times too) but recently I’ve been taught by the school of Chris Rob. Turns out poor Pooh was just a stepping stone on the path to the next best thing. He knew that in the big wide world there was going to be more for him than an engorged stuffed animal with stupendous charm. He was already plotting his next move long before old Pooh Bear realised he was the last man standing in a three-legged race to forever.

For the last twelve months I’ve been wildly optimistic about love, friendships, careers and life. But as the optimism fades, like a general anaesthetic, I am left wounded and bemused as I hurtle back to reality. Life was so much simpler when forever and ever didn’t seem like such a long time. But these days, a month feels like a lifetime. Life is full of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) and more and more I’m starting to feel like one of them. FMCGs, as the name suggests are products that are sold quickly and at a relatively low-cost. They are items like chocolate bars that generally have a short shelf life, either because customer demand is high or because product deterioration is rapid. It’s a low-margin business that demands trade in high volumes in order to reap a significant profit. Well, that sounds like modern life right there: always scrambling to upgrade to a newest version before we have truly extracted worth from the first.

We keep churning through life’s offerings so quickly that we perpetuate this FMCG cycle and become a part of it by default. I’ve been busy investing in myself, pouring my heart and soul into my friends and relationships and searching relentlessly for a fulfilling career for an end goal of securing a life of slowly-maturing, stable investments that yield hefty returns. But how wrong was I? I’ve been treating people like property (The Dating Game) and they’ve been treating me like ice-cream (We Can Dish It Out, But We Can’t Take It).  I’ve been paying my way through life with fat stacks of cash but accepting dividends paid out in Monopoly money. I’ve been trying to in vain to build an empire, because lord knows Rome wasn’t built in a day, but when I look around all I can see is young upstarts bragging about how fast they got Park Lane with four houses (hotel coming soon), whilst getting ready to sell up big and move onto the next thing before the game is even finished. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

We’re all aware of this easy come, easy go attitude because we are its greatest advocates. Routinely we ask ourselves: why should we bother trying to repair something when it will cost just as much to replace it? Sure that might be the case when it comes to laptops or vacuum cleaners but not relationships and careers. These things should be regularly serviced and patched-up. They are not a tub of yogurt that’s gone a bit sour, more often than not they are a car that just needs a bit of oil. We are constantly abandoning opportunities that just need a little bit of TLC in order to keep reaping returns. But alas: try and fix a four-year friendship? Nah. I’ve got 3000 friends on Facebook, I don’t need that bitch. Ride out a rough patch a work? Damn, have you seen how many jobs there are on Seek? Then there’s the old “Hey, its been ages! We should catch-up ” (aka “do you still think I’m cute?!”) messages that start popping up in your inbox when someone is preparing to exit a relationship and looking for a soft place to land.

A new boyfriend every week, a new best friend every month and a new job every year. Keep. ‘Em. Coming. Companies wonder why young talent won’t stay when they’ve been contracted, probationed and treated like visitors in an organisation that wants them to feel at home. Friendships these days seem to go out of style faster than most reality TV contestants and don’t even get me started on long-term relationships (apparently a terrifying prospect for FMCG fans). Love and romance now inevitably die like cut flowers because everyone wants a bouquet of roses but no-one wants to take care of the plant. Quite honestly, I’m sick to death of being someone’s impulse purchase that gets picked up and dropped like a packet of Mentos. Don’t buy into FMCG life choices and don’t ever let someone treat you like one. In life, although they might be part of your appeal, you should never be chosen solely for your affordable price, convenient location or cuter-than-most aesthetics.

Breaking the Bro Code

Article 150. No sex with your bro’s ex. It is never, EVER permissible for a bro to sleep with his bro’s ex. Violating this code is worse than killing a bro.

Amendment: A bro is entitled to have sex with his bro’s ex if she initiates it, is really hot, or his bro is out of town or in a different room.

The Bro Code: an age old set of rules and expectations between one friend and another that stipulates “bros before hoes” or “sisters before misters”. The basic premise is that you don’t screw your friends over for the opportunity to get your kit off with someone of the opposite sex. Also included in what I thought was a universal set of rules is the notion that you generally do not try and consort with one of your best mate’s exes, especially behind their back. In a tough dating landscape where the upper quartile of candidates is not always readily accessible there will be times when you want to cross over dating pools with significant friends, but these should always be navigated with honesty and communication: “so babe, you know that smoking hot babe of a guy that you chewed up and spat out for no good reason at all, apart from some flimsy reasoning like “he had a funny walk” or, “I dunno really, just wasn’t feeling it?”… Can we talk about that?”

Obviously you don’t want to be some sad homeless person cashing in people’s discarded exes for a 5c refund at the collection depot, but sometimes one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This means that it’s always going to need assessment on a case by case basis. I have witnessed desperate girls throw away year-long friendships for a guy that they know full well was an absolute jerk. Yet still they ruin a friendship by trying to date this guy against their behind their best friend’s back or against their wishes. When karma comes around and he ditches you in a few months you’ll be left in friendless, boy-less limbo. Didn’t you get the memo, sister? Unauthorised bro breaches will get you banished.

So in the world of mates-before-dates what is acceptable and what is not? I am not going to try to write a set of rules about waiting periods or measures of loyalty or subsequent strategies for tackling a hoe vs bro situation but I’m more than happy to give you a few instances of what is not cool and you can work out the rest for yourselves. Recently, whilst I’ve been minding my own business and going about my life in the usual haphazard manner, I have encountered some rather disconcerting advances from bros who are painfully oblivious and – frankly – totally unconcerned with the code.

I have found myself being engaged on just about every platform you can imagine by guys who have been romantically associated with my friends or are chums with guys I’ve dated. I am not exaggerating when I say face-to-face, Instagram, Facebook and even LinkedIn (believe it or not) have all been hunting grounds for these avid recyclers. So far, pretty much the only medium I haven’t been contacted on is Twitter… but please feel free to tweet your date invites to @_JulesReed with the hash tags #brofail and #shitbloke2015.

If you can sense a little bit of harboured resentment then you are not wrong. The fact that a guy would try to chat me up without his mate’s knowledge is incredibly insulting because it implies that he thinks I’m the kind of girl that might want to be a party to that. Dude, I am far from a hoe and I have no intention of creeping around in the shadows with you, which would only cheapen us both. You obviously have incredibly low Bro Code standards and if you don’t take me seriously enough to inform the relevant parties then kindly jog on, mate. I am not an easy target and I certainly am not a group project for you and all your friends to contribute to. I have zero interest in your poor morals and terrible judgement and I have half a mind to issue a public warning to your friends and all their exes: watch out, snakes on the loose.

I know it can be really hard meeting people – especially if your friend is some kind of lady killer or serial dater. When you keep company with people who have excellent taste but unrealistically high standards, there are likely to be a lot of high-quality factory seconds that never make it to market. What a waste. If your friends go through candidates with potential talent like a man-flu victim goes through tissues then you need to weigh up the situation and decide if the risk is really worth the reward.

You’re entering dangerous territory so you need to be sure that they are a high quality pre-loved garment and not a shiny piece of trash. I am sure there are a lot of potentially amazing relationships that haven’t happened because everyone was trying too hard so uphold the bro rules that they never risked asking for permission. Categorically, the appropriateness of pursuing something like this is going to be very different if there is a two Tinder date history compared to a two-year relationship (proceed at your own risk).

In all parts of life you have to remember that if you never ask the hard questions then answer is always no. Even if you do ask and the answer is no then at least you won’t die wondering, but with a sensitive topic like this you really need to pick your battles. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be dogging your mate for an easy target; if all you’re looking for is a bit of fun then don’t shit where you eat. Go get a dating app, go to a night club or try some good old-fashioned Facebook stalking rather than trawling your bro’s dating archives for inspiration.

To summarise, it should be overwhelmingly obvious that if you are not willing to have a conversation with your mate about your intentions but you are willing to bang their ex then you are being a selfish, disrespectful tosser to everyone involved. For instance, if the situation was reversed and you would feel inclined to smack your mate for trying to mess around with your ex then you are in serious violation of the Bro Code. So please, save us all the hassle and just punch yourself in the face.

Cheers bro.

[Thanks for reading, remember to subscribe to email notifications via the link in the menu tool bar so you never miss a post, Jules x]