Why I Don’t Hate Valentine’s Day

What is Valentine’s Day? Waste of Time? Sign of Corporate Greed? Pagan Festival rebranded by the Romans?

Valentines is one of those days people either seem to love or hate. People either buy into the overly romantic nature of the holiday, or dismiss it as nothing more than an excuse to claw money away from society. In truth, many holidays follow a similar suite.

Christmas, is often advertised well in advance, making sure nobody misses the memo that we have to spend money to enjoy the season, that we have to buy our loved ones the best gifts to show them we love them the most. Even Easter, which will soon be upon us, joins its festive brethren in advertising and cost; you must buy Chocolate Eggs, you must cook a big dinner.

Valentine’s gets a big brunt of this though, with statements like “I don’t need one day a year to show someone I love them”, “I don’t need a gift or present just to show love”, and “it’s just another meaningless day”. The thing is… I get that. The thing is… I agree.

But why so cynical?

When I was younger, when I was at the height of my ‘down with the system’ beliefs, I couldn’t have agreed more. Then I realised something, I realised that these things are what you make of them, and only what you make of them.

In the true vein of Capitalism, Corporations are going to do everything they can to push things onto us; they’re going to offer sales, deals for couples, breaks away. That’s what they’ll do, like with every other day and every other reason they can find to make you spend money. It’s up to you, though, if you buy into it… and hell, maybe you’ll get a cheap deal for something?

My biggest argument is when people say “I show someone I love them all year round, why should we have a day to it?” and my argument is simple… “Why not?”. If you show someone just how much you love them as often as is possible, every moment of every day, that’s absolutely great. In our busy, hectic lives it’s sometimes easy to forget things though, it’s sometimes easy to take people for granted. Why not utilise one day a year that really does say “I love you. Nobody is saying you only show love on Valentine’s Day; that’s a terrible argument. See the day as a reminder, just a little memo, that maybe you should tell/show someone just how much you love them.

More to the point, use the day to just say “I love you” to more than just your partner. Love is such a strong emotion, yet it’s one we don’t show as often as we should. Tell your partner you love them, tell your parents, your siblings, your friends and your colleagues.

I suppose a summary to this, and to my thoughts on all the holidays, is to use them as reasons and excuses to show someone your love. Don’t want to buy cards and gifts? Don’t! Why not make something or do something instead? Don’t want to go out for an expensive and busy meal? Don’t! Cook something nice or have a cheeky takeaway together. Kirsty will often say one of the best things I can do is tidy up, do chores that she’d normally do, and just show I’ve thought about her in some way. That stuff is free!

Things can be pushed onto us all we like, and it’s true that everyone will try to make a quick buck, but see the occasion for your own reasons. I love Christmas, because it’s a reason to see all my family, it’s a reason to show them how much I love to spend time with them; but I try to do that as often as possible too. I treat Valentine’s the same. Kirsty and I show each other our love Every. Single. Day. but this time of year we also just make an extra effort to make a bit of time for each other, or maybe cook something a bit different, or to bake/make/craft something. The day doesn’t have to be a waste of time, it just depends on how you treat it.

How will you be spending Valentines Day? Do you hate it? Or do you celebrate it?

 

Last Week: A Friday Feeling

So, I’ve been a bit lax on the blog this week, my motivation has pretty much dried up, and I fully blame the caffeine (or lack, thereof).

Work has also been super busy, with my manager away I’ve had to step onto the plate, and it’s left me tired, drained, and a little bit moody.

That’s not the attitude though is it?!

The purpose of Friday Feelings was to discuss something positive; it was to be a reflection of the week gone by and find the good in it. I think one of the best things you can do to promote gratitude and positivity in your life is to reflect and give thanks for the things/people/events in your life. It’s the purpose behind the Happiness Jar.

So, after a crummy week of too much stress and too little play, I want to tell you all about last weekend, because as I alluded to on Tuesdays blog,it was damn good.

Friday Night

Friday Night was Date Night for Kirsty and Me. We may live together, we may spend almost all of our free time together, but we still insist on having a Date Night. Much like a reflection, a showing of gratitude, it is a way for us to make a moment of time be just for us. Sure, we eat together almost every night, sure we go to bed at mostly the same time and sleep next to each other, but to take a moment where we get a little dressed up, and sit with phones off and eat good food… that’s pretty perfect to me. This Date Night had been a long time coming, but we’d been saving it till Kirsty passed her qualification at work… another thing to be proud of this week!

Saturday Night

Escape. Live. Birmingham.

I don’t need to say more, but I will. EscapeLive, for those of you who don’t know, is a team based game where you’re trapped in a room with clues to solve; don’t solve the clues, don’t escape, simple as that. Think Crystal Maze without Richard O’Brien. So, Kirsty and I, armed with two friends Andy and Jess, took on Time Machine. This was the second time we’d ever done an EscapeLive and it was just as fun as the first time. There’s always that slight worry that it was a novelty, something that when you’d done once, you’d done them all; but it’s not the case. The first room we’d done, Dr Wilsons Office, was a brilliant introduction to the concept of the Escape. Time Machine kind of spun that on its head and kept it fresh. I strongly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

So there you have it, the week might have been a bit crummy, but last weekend was strong. This weekend is looking great too, with my first ‘night out‘ in ages (I’m getting old) and an early Valentines Day meal tomorrow… What’s not to look forward to?

See you on the other side!

Fizz Free February: A Fight with Caffeine Addiction

Do you drink a lot of fizzy drinks? Consume a lot of Caffeine?

I do; I’m addicted. Here’s what’s happening as I cut down.

I had a brilliant weekend this weekend just gone. Kirsty and I went out for a Miller and Carter on Friday, to celebrate an achievement with her work, then Saturday we went out with two friends for Food and to “Escape the Room” at EscapeLive in Birmingham (Second time we’ve been; Highly recommended!), then Sunday we just relaxed together; she played games and I read. However, Monday morning I realised I felt… down. I was tired, for a start. My Fitbit said I’d been awake/restless 22 times during the night and now, during the day, I was struggling to keep my eyes open.  Then, couple that with the kind of lethargy that hits when you realise the fun weekend you were looking forward to is over, and now you have a full day at work where you don’t feel fulfilled on a good day… It all adds up.

It was so bad, in fact, that I didn’t write. Normally Monday would be a #MondayBlog, but this week I just didn’t write one. Sure, I should have had one planned in advance anyway, scheduled to go, but in any event if I don’t I would always write one on the day; not so this time. Oh well, maybe Tuesday would be a better day?

Only Tuesday came, Today came, and I’m still tired. I’m unbelievably tired considering how long I’ve slept. I remember, vividly, how often I was awake last night, and I’ve spent all day rubbing my itchy, tired eyes, counting down until I can be in bed again. I’ve spent the day in a melancholy bubble, surrounded by a deep desire to, not only not be at work, but to not really be doing anything. I feel so apathetic. I feel my drive gone. I feel the need to just cuddle up into a ball and waste my day under a duvet, watching rubbish on TV and adding zero value to my life. That’s how Today feels. However, Today I also discovered the reason for it.

Caffeine Addiction.

Or more to the point; Caffeine Withdrawal.

Here on the Clouds, I’ve been doing Fizz Free February. I’m not sure it’s actually a thing, it’s something I’ve just invented for myself. Whilst I’m sure most of you know the negatives of drinking fizzy drinks, and you probably get preached to as often as I did, what they don’t often tell you is what you face when you stop.

You see, Fizzy drinks were my main source of Caffeine. My addiction to Pepsi Max saw it replacing all other drinks in my day. Morning drink? Pepsi Max. Drink with Dinner? Pepsi Max. Quick sip of something before heading to bed? Pepsi Max. About the only drink I didn’t replace was Beer, which is unhealthy in its own way. I never claimed what I was doing was right, but I’d never admit my problem was getting a little out of hand. So, as part of a healthier eating routine I’m doing, I thought I’d cut out my addiction; Lent’s around the corner anyway, I’m just a little early.

Let’s just say it’s left me feeling rough; far rougher than I thought.

Pepsi_Max.jpg
The cause of my Caffeine Addiction

It’s amazing how something I’d slowly been filling my body with has taken an invisible toll on me. Whilst I was consuming Pepsi Max, I never really noticed just how much caffeine I was putting into my body, and now that I’ve stopped my body is in a withdrawal I never expected. In fact, I didn’t even immediately blame my symptoms on withdrawal, I thought it was just me being me. I struggle with anxiety, I struggle with apathy, and maybe it was just another of my cycles… It wasn’t until I started looking up caffeine withdrawal, after a moment of thinking “Damn, I wish I could drink some Pepsi Max on this awful, tired day”, that I realised the thing I thought could cure me, was the thing that made me worse in the first place, and there we have addiction.

I found a site called the Caffeine Informer that listed the symptoms of withdrawal.

  1. Headaches
  2. Sleepiness
  3. Irritability
  4. Lethargy
  5. Constipation
  6. Depression
  7. Muscle Pain, Stiffness, Cramping
  8. Lack of Concentration
  9. Flu-like Symptoms
  10. Insomnia
  11. Nausea and Vomitting
  12. Anxiety
  13. Brain Fog
  14. Dizziness
  15. Heart Rhythm Abnormalities

Do these sound familiar to you? because they sure did to me. Headaches? Check. Brain Fog? Check. Irritability? Just ask Kirsty. In fact, the site went on to explain some of these in further detail.

  1. Sleepiness: This just isn’t your normal tiredness, this is sitting up straight but still can’t keep your eyes open tiredness.
  1. Lethargy: Forget about productivity at this stage because you’ll be unmotivated to do anything from the feeling of the lack of energy.
  1. Lack of Concentration: Forget school, studying, brain surgery, or jet engine repair during this stage of withdrawal.

Reading this page I had a lightbulb moment, shining a golden glow into the shadows of the unknown. This was me, here on the page, and these were the things I was thinking/feeling.

caffeine-chemical-structure
The Offending Chemical via Caffeine Informer

So what am I going to do going forward?

I’m going to keep #FizzFreeFebruary going; despite the symptoms. I hate the idea that something could take this much toll on me and draw me back with invisible strings; it was my choice to drink Pepsi Max and it’ll be my choice to cut down on it. Caffeine Informer goes on to say, “Even after the withdrawal period is over, many still never feel quite as good as they do when they’re drinking caffeine all of the time”, and whilst this has put a pretty big fear into me, I’m going to try not to let it be that way.

The thing is, I know the cause now and that makes me feel more confident. Knowledge is Power, after all, and it’s given me a power to keep going. Sure, I’m still at the start of my journey, I’ve seen that some symptoms get worse before they get better, but I know why they’re happening now and that gives me strength to disassociate with the negativity. I may not sleep well tonight, due to the withdrawal, but I’ll sleep better due to the knowledge.

In 5 Years Time: A Thursday Thought

Where will you be in 5 Years time? Can you visualise it? These are the questions being asked today.

I’m doing something a bit different this Thursday, by answering the questions posed by Shelley’s Blog in her post January in Review!

Q1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What small steps can you take between now and December 31st to achieve it?

In 5 years I see myself as a writer/photographer. I’m out of the daily 9 – 5 grind, I’m out of the sterile, stressful, impersonal office, and I’m in a studio of my own. Level Up Photography is bringing in frequent customers, Dark Background is publishing my work and the works of others, and in the down time I’m writing my novels or working on the Clouds.

The small steps to get there are the usual: Do more! Write more! Greg and I over at Level Up have been meeting this week, we’re getting the paperwork sorted, the website sorted and we have a client meeting in a few weeks. Things are running smooth there. As for my writing, I just need to write more, as I always need to, but thankfully I’ll finally be getting my study set up this month so that should create a dramatic increase in productivity.

Q2. What does a day in the life of your dreams look like? Write your perfect day from the minute you wake up to when you go to bed. Where are you, who are you with, what would you do?

I wake up next to Kirsty. We snuggle for a bit before getting up.

We go downstairs and feed Toby (our Cat) and, if Kirsty has it her way, the dog (She’s Pug-Obsessed).

We cook breakfast and call down the kids (I’m assuming this is the 5 years’ time, scenario)

I leave for the studio, and drop the kids to school along the way.

I work on my latest novel, or read the latest manuscript, or edit the latest clients photographs.

When all my appointments are done I drive back home.

I spend some time with Kirsty before we have to pick the kids back up.

Then in the evening we all eat together, we watch TV, read, or play boardgames.

The kids go to bed, Kirsty and I snuggle on the couch, Toby tries to squeeze in between us as always.

We go to bed together, I read for a bit, then we fall asleep to begin the day anew.

Q3. If money was not an issue what career would you have or what lifestyle would you adopt?

Studio! Studio! Studio!

Writing, Photography, Publishing.  They’re my main aims; they’re how I want to make my livelihood.

That said, “if money was not an issue” I’ve always said I’d love to run my own small games company. It’s a daydream of mine that, when I win the lottery, I’ll hire a bunch of students and create video games… Put my writing into that form as well as books and blogs!

*****

So, there we have it. That’s where I will be in 5 years… Give or take. As always, thanks to Shelley for those reflective questions, was great fun to fill out! Why not give it a go? Feel free to ping back here so I can see yours too!

3 Steps to Help Combat your Anxieties!

Problems are causes of anxiety, of unhappiness, of stress and we need to combat them effectively as soon as we can; most importantly we need to make sure we combat the source and not the symptom.

For me here on the Clouds, the running theme of January, and 2017 in general, has been about self-improvement. There are a few ways we can improve, we can find areas where we have room to grow, areas that aren’t necessarily problematic, or we can find the areas where our bigger issues lie. I’ve written before about expanding my horizons, about taking risks, and about stepping out of my comfort-zone, and whilst these are areas I want to improve, they’re ‘nice to have’; they’re not active problems in my lifestyle. If I don’t read more books, and if I don’t get out more, I’m not necessarily going to negatively impact my life so much as I’m just not going to excel. It’s a negative to an extent, but it isn’t a source of stress. Instead, today I want to talk about finding the root cause of your problems, the aspects of life that have a negative impact, that bring you down, that stack up over the course of a day, a week, a month, and gradually tug you down with them.

Step 1: Seeing the Smoke

To start, we need to make sure we notice the ‘Smoke’, the symptoms and the warning signs, that can lead us to the ‘Fire’, the cause. To do this, I make a mental note of all the things that bother me throughout my daily life. The same result could be achieved with a diary, or with a journal. Whilst I’d normally recommend keeping a Happiness Journal (or Jar!), that can serve as a reminder for all the good in your life, for the purpose of self-improvement it is useful to make note of areas, and times, that you feel anxiety or stress coming on.

Example 1: I feel stressed and anxious when I sit in traffic, well aware I’m about to be late. I do this almost every morning. The amount I feel fluctuates, depending on my mood, depending on how late I will be, and depending on what I have on that day.

Example 2: I feel stressed and anxious when Kirsty and I argue. The amount I feel fluctuates depending on the size of the argument, but it can leave me feeling shaken for the rest of the day or even impact a whole week.

In both my examples, I can see the ‘smoke’; I can see the building of anxiety. Whether it’s the stress of sitting in unmoving traffic, or the upset of a disappointed love one, these are two situations that really impact my life. Maybe, on a good day, I shake off the fact I’m late; I get into work, I laugh and joke, and I get on with my day. It’s fine really, I don’t notice it, I don’t think about it again… but it’s safe to say it does build up, it’s safe to say it does have an impact, albeit a small one. By combating the small impacts, we lessen the bigger ones by default.  

Step 2: Dousing the Flames.

The ‘Flames’ here are the causes for my anxiety; in example 1 it was because I was late. This daily stressor, which impacted me almost every day, was causing a knock on effect to the overall anxiety in my life. So, how do we combat this? How do we douse the flames? Well clearly it’s simple! I just stop being late. There, done. Bish, bash, and boom. Now watch as my anxiety and stress fade away…

Ok, my sarcasm aside, maybe Example 1, being late, is an easier fix than most. Where do we stand on Example 2 then? Example 2 was that I argue with Kirsty, my girlfriend, so the solution by this logic is just to stop arguing. As much as I’d like it to be that easy, it’s not. Suddenly we realise the flaw in this plan, we realise how ineffective it is to say “just fix things”.

I left Step 2 in to make a point; it’s not easy to just keep firefighting. I could take steps to ensure I’m no longer tardy, or to minimise the arguments Kirsty and I might have, and it might be effective in the moment, but this really requires Step 3, the magic step.

Step 3: The Source of the Fire

Like a fire department, we want to combat the flames before they spread and do irreparable damage. Also much like a fire department, we can try to work out where a fire started and avoid it. I firmly believe that many people stop before Step 3, that they go through life ‘firefighting’, which in this case I’m using to mean sorting problems when they arise rather than working to avoid them all together.

This is where things get really interesting, and this is where it would benefit from having a list of all of your stressors as, and when, they come about. The thing is, when you spell out all the things that are bothering you in life, no matter how long the list might look, many of these factors may stem from a common source; a gas leak or a lit candle (I’m determined to keep this analogy).

Whilst I only gave you two examples from my longer list, I can tell you now that many of my daily stressors stem from the same place. In Example 1, and numerous others, it’s a lack of organisation. This means I don’t get my stuff ready the night before, this means I don’t have a routine to stick to every morning, this means I don’t make enough time to get to work in the morning. It also means I don’t have my finances in order, and I haven’t paid that bill I’ve been putting off, it means I haven’t written a blog in advance, and I have to panic and stress to get one ready for my self-set deadline. By realising that much of my anxiety stems from the same key factor, disorganisation, I can start to work on that as a whole and hopefully avoid the stressors in future, rather than just trying to fight them when they arrive. There’s also the potential there that I’m stopping a problem I haven’t even noticed I’m having, something that’s stressing me out but I simply haven’t realised yet.

I believe it’s far more important that we combat these sources, because it’s here we can make the biggest improvements to our lives; it’s here we can minimise future stress and save ourselves from bouts of anxiety. That said, everyone is different, different tactics work for different people, and my method is certainly not a (fire)blanket intended to coat absolutely everyone’s lives. I just hope it helps in some way!

How do you combat your anxieties? Do you have some helpful tactics to share? Or maybe even just a story to tell? Let me know in the comments below!

How We Misinterpret Value.

What is Value?

If you said “How much money something is worth” then you’re only half right.

Value is worth; plain and simple. In our ever more materialistic society we often equate value to money. We can tell someone how something wasn’t worth the money, or was a good bargain! Regardless of the price tag hanging off something, it doesn’t necessarily portray a value.

How do we value ourselves?

Take employment. Have you ever felt undervalued at work? I know I have, and I know it crops up on our “Temperature Checks” (a questionnaire we get sent out to see how everyone’s feeling). Now is this feeling simply about pay? It could be, depending on your job, but more often than not I’d assume it isn’t and I’d assume that a pay increase would only momentarily affect your sense of value. I’d actually assume it’s because management make decisions with, what appears to be, little foresight to your well-being, or it could be the sick days they wont let you take because there’s a deadline coming up. It could be the sheer amount of work they expect you to get through with no respite, or it could simply be that it’s not the job for you and it doesn’t let you show off your skills.

Value, it then seems, is actually akin to effort and time. How much time and effort someone puts into us is how valued we feel, and how much time and effort we put into something is how valuable it is to us.

How should we show we value others?

We can also apply this to other people around us. If you really value the people around you then you go to effort for them, you put the time in to see them. I always tend to spoil people, I like to spend my money on someone who isn’t me, but recently I’ve realised this can fall a little empty sometimes. I bought Kirsty a mountain of gifts for Christmas, but not many of them held too much value. I realise more that the time we spend together, the two of us just together, the effort of tidying up or cooking dinner, without having to be asked, represents value so much more than a new pendant or teddy bear will ever do. Does that mean the gifts were unwanted? No of course not. It does, however, mean they weren’t as valuable as I originally gave them credit for; I’d been convinced a higher price tag was equal to a higher worth.

How should we show ourselves the same value?

Likewise we can attribute this to ourselves. Take a moment to think about how you usually show your value yourself. Many people will treat themselves, which is great! But many people treat themselves by spending money. Maybe you buy that book you’ve thought was a little too expensive, maybe you buy a desert that isn’t in your diet plan. Again we often try to spoil and treat ourselves with these things that have a monetary cost. There’s actually nothing wrong with that occasionally! But, if it’s all we do, it can lead to that empty feeling I mentioned above. I know whenever I feel down I do a bit of retail therapy, I buy countless games I never play, and, for a few fleeting moments, I feel better… it doesn’t ever last. If instead Value = Effort/Time we should be spoiling ourselves by taking time out of our day to relax, by practicing yoga or mediation, or by going for a walk or a run. Of course money can help, perhaps we go on holiday, or we buy a film we sit down to relax with, but in these instances money is an enabler, not a showing of worth.

We can also show ourselves we value our dreams. Mine is to become an author, a photographer, and to have a blog. I take time out of my day and put effort into making those dreams become reality. I show myself that I am worth my own effort and time. In the constant pressure of the daily grind, our minds so full of obligations and chores, we can lose sight of this and, sometimes subconsciously, we feel less valued; we feel unfulfilled.

An old adage is:

Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it.
Publilius Syrus Roman Writer (~100 BC) via Quotations Page

But what if we started thinking things are worth how much time and effort we’ll put in. What if we showed our love for each other by doing things we wouldn’t normally, by being mindful, by looking after ourselves and them. Even old Publilius above didn’t state it had to be paid for with money; maybe he meant time. It’s just something to think about!

How do you show others you value them? Do you show yourself that same amount of value? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Small Steps Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Variety is the spice of life, they say. Yet, I find myself so secure in my comfort zone… Did I say secure? or did I mean stagnant?

The thing about comfort zones is they’re comfortable and, therefore, I’m never all that eager to leave mine. It’s something I’ve been focusing on a lot, recently and it’ll probably be a recurrent theme of my blog posts in the coming year. I mean, I’ve written before, not even long ago, about stepping out of comfort zones by taking risks. I want to talk about something a bit more fun; some ‘risks’ that aren’t even risks. I want to talk about how I’m planning to bring some more variety into my life for 2017.

2017’s Resolution was simply (see: broadly) to improve myself. One of the ways I want to do this, is by getting more variety in my life.

Films

Kirsty and I do love a good film; snuggled up all cozy in the couch, lights off, candles on, just us and the TV (and Toby, if he shows his furry, whiskered face). What we don’t tend to do, however, is branch out with what we watch. We watch a lot of films that are fairly “safe”, ones we know we’ll like or have seen before. What we’re starting to do this year, is compile a list of films from the last couples of years into a spreadsheet, and randomly pick an entry whenever we sit down to watch a film. What this does, is not only force us to watch films we might not have usually ‘been in the mood’ for that night, but also takes away the hours prior where we scroll down Netflix trying to work out what it actually is we’re in the mood for. This should help us see more films that didn’t necessarily jump out at us to begin with, that weren’t necessarily in genres we had favourite’d across our various streaming services.

If you find yourself stuck in a rut, watching the same old reruns on the TV, or scrolling down Netflix to no productive end, why not watch a film you wouldn’t normally go for? Take a look at a “Best of 2016” list and watch a film you completely missed.

academy_award_trophy
The Oscar for “Most Variety in Film Choices” goes to…

Cinema

In a similar vein, Kirsty and I have also signed up for Cineworld cards, meaning we pay our monthly subscription of £18, and can see as many films as we like. This takes away the question of whether a film is worth the money or not, and opens us to seeing more films than we usually would. Hopefully it’s not just a novelty, because right now we’ve had at least one film booked a week, sometimes two. It also gives us a large discount on seeing live performances that are streamed to the various Cinemas, meaning we can start to see plays or musicals at a cheaper cost. It’s also a great excuse to get out the house at least once a week.

Whilst I wouldn’t advise everyone goes out and immediately subscribes to a Cinema, maybe check what’s on in your local and pick a film/production you wouldn’t normally have gone out to watch!

Books

2016 saw me reading a lot more; something I’m very proud of. As a self-proclaimed writer I was always a bit ashamed of how little I actually read. Now, armed with my brand new Kindle Paperwhite from Christmas (Thanks, Kirsty!) I plan to top my achievements once more. It’s not quite the 52 books other people are aiming for, but I’ll be reading more than I ever used to. That said, the books I chose always come as recommendations from friends, and they’re almost always Fantasy/Sci Fi. We like what we like, once again. To combat this, I’m setting up a Monthly Book Group with my friends. Once a month we’ll have a book assigned that we all have a month to read. This takes the decision of what to read out of my hands and means that at least 12 of the books I read this year might be ones I never thought of choosing to begin with.

Why not join or start a book club, either in person or online? Or, if you don’t fancy that, why not take part in one of the challenges online that actively encourage you to think about your book choice before making it? 

quote-if-you-don-t-have-time-to-read-you-don-t-have-the-time-or-the-tools-to-write-simple-stephen-king-146-55-74

Games

This is something I don’t actually struggle with so much. Years ago I played all the AAA titles, I lapped up all the hype, these days I’m far more skeptical; I’ve realised just how much value you can find in the smaller indie titles. Some of my favourite games of recent years have been these kinds of titles; Life is Strange, Stardew Valley, Bastion, to name a few. For this goal, I just continue doing what I’m doing; pick up these indie titles that appeal to me and supporting the smaller developers. I don’t really need targets with this section, I’m covered!

In the physical world, I’m also hoping to play more variety of Board Games. To do this, I’ve simply bought extra games I found interesting, or that were met with good reviews, and I’m arranging nights to play them with friends. I want to write a more indepth piece later on about board games, as I think they of all things can appeal across generations and families, but I think people are stuck in the ways of Monopoly, Scrabble, Etc.

Now, I understand that not all my readers are ‘gamers’; I’m not about to tell you to tell you to invest in the latest Xbox. If I was to set you a goal to increase variety here, it could easily just be ‘try playing a game with friends/family’. However, I’m going to go a step further. Why not avoid the traps of Monopolgy, Risk, or Scrabble, and play a board game that you haven’t heard of? I highly recommend Catan, Codenames, or Dixit to start.

Saying Yes More.

Last but not least, I’m planning to say Yes more. Too many times I get invited to something and my instant, gut reaction is to say “No“. Sometimes it’s well founded, but often it’s that I can’t be bothered, doubt I’ll enjoy something, or imagine I’d prefer that evening to do nothing but relax. Don’t get me wrong, relaxation is great, and I certainly wont be doing this to the crazy length of saying “Yes” to simply everything. I will, however, just be generally more open to suggestions. I might go on a night out I wouldn’t usually, or go see a band I don’t really know. I’m also going to put myself into a position to say “Yes” to myself; I’m going to book more things for Kirsty and I to do, I’m going to book events we wouldn’t usually have ever done.

Next time you’re invited to something, either by a family or friend, and your initial reaction is to just say ‘No’… Stop. Consider why you’re actually saying “No”. I find I say “No” because I think I’d prefer staying in, doing nothing, and wasting my evening and not because I think I wont actually enjoy the event.

Yes Man poster art.
There are some extremes I won’t go to…

These are small, tiny steps to getting out of a comfort zone. They’re not exactly moving abroad, they’re not exactly jumping out of a plane, but they’re hopefully small productive steps in the right direction; they hopefully promote an openness to new experiences, whilst making sure not to miss out on things going by. Hopefully with all this in place, I should have some variety! Hopefully with these suggestions you’ll have some variety too!

And I mean it, I hope you found this helpful in some way! If you have any extra tips, any goals I could set myself, why not share them in the comments below? I’d love to hear more ways I could tackle this!