Thursday, 10 November 2011

How to Be Free - Banish anxiety; be carefree

I’ve mentioned Tom Hodgkinson on here before.  He’s the editor of The Idler, and has written books “How to Be Idle”, “How to be Free” and “The Idle Parent”.  I love the principles expressed in “How to beFree” (though not all the ideas in the book), and while I don’t agree with the term Idle I think The Idle Parent is a must-read and describes well how I was brought up and how I wish to bring up my own children.

I’m writing a series of blog posts exploring these two books, and the ideas contained in them further, in the hope that this will help me to explore further the principles behind my own way of living and parenting.

How to Be Free

Chapter 1 - Banish Anxiety; Be carefree – RIDE A BIKE

This chapter is all about living in a world full of scare stories and constant bad news.  This causes constant overwhelming anxiety which leads us towards the comfort of bad TV and spending on credit – the advertising we are surrounded by shows us that “things” will make everything better.  At the same time, in order to “be safe” democracy, privacy and freedom are taking hit after hit as our personal and civil liberties are eroded away – more stop and search, more CCTV, more information held about us. 

Instead Tom Hodgkinson suggests that we should surround ourselves with good quality – good books, good friends, good beer – take pleasure in life and avoid things and situations which make us anxious.  If being surrounded by drones on the London Underground makes you anxious then walk or cycle instead.  Do lots of different things, spend time outside.  Be carefree.  This isn’t the same as not caring, it’s about being happy.

How does this concept match up with the Ink Spots and Grass Stains life?

I like the idea of getting rid of things that make us anxious, but I think that it’s easier said than done.  If you are worrying about the health of a loved one, you can hardly just get rid of them, can you?  Having recently suffered from Post-Natal Depression (still taking the tablets) I am aware that some anxiety is chemical – and not to do with bad news around us.  I do think though, that having a support network around you can ease the effects considerably.

As for good quality – I love good quality wine and beer, good quality food and books, and good friends.  Sometimes you go for a small bar of really good quality fairly traded organic dark chocolate with orange zest instead of that slab of Dairy Milk for the same price – and it really is better.  Yes, I agree.  A small amount of good quality rather than heaps of rubbish is definitely the way forward.  Writing that immediately made me think of Christmas.  The number of people who opt for the buy it cheap, pile it high principle when buying Christmas presents for their children.  I would hope that I can always manage to get a few really well thought out presents that will actually be appreciated.

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