Tag Archives: connect

It’s good to talk*

 This weekend, I spent 4 wonderful days with one of my best friends, Lady B. We weren’t drinking much (me detoxing, she preggers) so it was fairly healthy, but it involved lovely food, tea and cheese, delicious Austrian wine, and talking. And talking and talking and talking. And then a bit more chat.

And, afterwards, I truly felt that my soul was healed, my spirit purged of moans and negativity. I talked about how blue the sky was. I wasn’t fazed at all by getting lost, pretty much constantly, in Vienna one-way systems. I felt lighter, happier, better.

It made me think that, although we talk a lot in London – banter at work, going out with friends, chatting to a partner when we get home – we often don’t put aside enough time to really talk. To chew the cud. It doesn’t matter if it’s about nothing – in fact, nothing is probably good, as it can lead to something, to thoughts lost to current worries or stresses, to worries you didn’t know you had, to dreams, ambitions, fantasies and daydreams. It can inspire and motivate you. Talking about all manner of bollocks, in a relaxed and chilled way, over tea or wine is one of life’s greatest pleasures, a stress reliever, and the cheapest form of therapy there is.

The ideal timing is 1 hour’s uninterrupted conversation a week, and you may all think you do this already, nae bother. But do you really? Chatting when the telly is on doesn’t count as you’re always distracted. A short phone call on the way to and from the tube isn’t enough. And catching up with friends over after-work drinks normally involves a great deal of catching up, or dealing with current dilemnas, or gossiping. It often feels rushed, scratching the surface, and doesn’t allow for relaxed, blissful, unimpeaded chat.

So here’s some ideas:

  • If you live with someone, tonight turn the telly off, put some music on, eat your dinner at the table, and really talk. No need for a reason or a topic, just start talking and see where it takes you.
  • If you live alone, call or skype someone and set a stop watch for 1 hour (if they need to go, just call someone else). Grab a comfy seat, a cup of herbal tea or wine, and connect.
  • Plan a long walk or a coffee at the weekend with an old friend – allow yourselves some time to catch up but then allow your inner drivel to flow.
  • On a long car journey, switch the radio off, stop eye spy or mallet’s mallet (am I the only one?!) and initiate a discussion about something random – history lessons at school, allergies, your thoughts on being an only / youngest / oldest child. Again, see where it ends up.
  • Book in a weekday working lunch with a good colleague or friend, leave the office and blackberry behind, find out something you never knew about them – their family, holiday plans, love life. Channel your inner hairdresser and find out the most interesting thing about them that you can.

Two things that I’ve realised from this weekend is that although conversations after a bottle or two of wine are often hilarious and deep, I think the best conversations, the most revealing ones, are those you have in your PJs over breakfast and a cup of tea. So I’d go easy on the vino. And secondly, for the best stress-relief and therapy, you should avoid bitching, back-stabbing and criticising. It is of course entirely natural that you need to discuss your Facebook friend’s unmistakeable evidence of botox, but make sure you go back to smiley, happy thoughts soon thereafter.

* this is not a sponsored post

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Random acts of London kindness

One of the hardest HPL rules is to GIVE. As well as having little free time or money to devote to charitable purposes, daily stresses mean I sometimes don’t feel particularly warmly towards my fellow man (especially when squashed under his sweaty armpit on the Northern Line).

However, the effects on us of being kind are HUGE – scientists say you feel satisfied, exhilorated, a sense of euphoria. You feel a connection with others (another of the HPL rules) and a sense of wellbeing, calm and relaxation. 

Selfish though it may be, being kind to others makes you feel better, simples. So today I’ve mostly been inspired (again) by We Are What We Do and tried to remind myself to do the below, even when I’m grumpy or stressed:  

  • Smile at people on the tube.  But not manically. And don’t get annoyed with others’ irritating tube behaviour (coughing, sneezing, standing on toes, not moving down, holding paper in awkward way, picking nose, jamming rucksack in face, snogging, listening to terrible R&B very loudly, etc etc)
  • Have more empathy with others. They are probably having a rough day too.  Try to listen.  
  • Compliment 2 people every day. Best not combine with smiling at strangers on the tube, this is likely to make them feel uncomfortable.
  • Bake or make something for a friend (easy ones = make a birthday card from photos, give them a cutting of your house plant, bake a cake).
  • Call rather than email (even better, meet for a coffee).
  • Always smile and say hello or similar to people behind counters selling me things. 
  • And finally: give someone the empty tube seat/help that person with the heavy case/let that car push in/tell the barman they were there first/buy the first round.

UPDATE: Thank you to the lovely Irish girl on the tube who tapped me on the shoulder to point out that the tag was still hanging off my lovely new dress.  With 50% off written on it!  Some SERIOUSLY good karma coming your way!