I am reading a book called Happy by Derren Brown at the moment. I’ve actually been reading it for the past two years as I only read about two paragraphs a night before conking out … I do not find babies and small children are especially conducive to reading grown-up books.
Anyway, in Happy Derren Brown investigates the reasons why we can all feel a little overwhelmed by life. He does it in a gentle and intelligent way – looking at the theory of Stoicism as a method for improving the way in which we can all live our lives. I don’t want to try and squeeze his book into one or two paragraphs, because there’s no way I will get it right. But what I will say is that if you are a person who is interested in helping themselves, by understanding themselves and others better, it is a good one.
Indeed, Brown’s calm approach to educating the reader to a more settled and less-irritated life has certainly helped me engage with my mindset and think more carefully about the way in which I react to things. If you have ever tried CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) there are similar ideas here. And indeed, if you haven’t tried CBT, Happy is a good way to learn some of CBT’s building blocks.
Do we remain the same person our entire lives?
One idea that Brown looks at in one of the latter chapters has especially got me thinking. It is a question about whether or not we remain the same person that we are born as. Do we remain the same person our entire lives? Or, do we change? Well, essentially our DNA is the same. But what about how external influences; people, events, culture, how these things affect us? I guess we could think about Gwyneth Paltrow’s 90’s movie, Sliding Doors, or even Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. In Sliding Doors, we see Gwynnie’s character play out two alternate stories that were triggered by the seemingly mundane event of catching or missing her tube train. In Groundhog Day, Bill’s obnoxious, selfish character is forced to relive the same day over and over until he learns that he has been obnoxious and selfish.
I have started to think about how I may have evolved to become different people. A couple of ways definitely spring to mind.
For myself, I have started to think about how I may have evolved to become different people. A couple of ways definitely spring to mind. Becoming a mum – even though you want to be your same self – you fundamentally adapt to become a new, much less selfish, more efficient, version of yourself. You learn how to put others first, your wardrobe potentially changes… For me it went from dresses and skinny jeans, to baggy jeans and trainers!
Another instance where I can see that I have become a new version of myself, was in meeting Noel. In becoming part of a pair, you find new ways of doing things, new interests (one of mine was learning how to play darts!), eat new food, etc. I suppose the fundamental change here would be that you learn to think in terms of a two, not just a one, and your life is no-longer you at the centre.
How exciting that we can live our lives and evolve as we go, depending on the people and things around us.
I used to be very against the idea that my self could change. But actually, changing your self and evolving the person that you are is amazing. How exciting that we can live our lives and evolve as we go, depending on the people and things around us. Quite often I equate my daily identity by the clothes that I choose to wear. When I’m in mummy mode, I need to feel relaxed, hard-wearing and cool (ie. not too hot for when bodies are climbing on me!). I will probably also try and have a slightly messy, art-studio look about me – so that the mums at Toddler Group can see I’m not just a mum.
When I’m in work-mode, or going to a client meeting, I like to feel smart. I might wear a dress, some smart shoes or boots, then I know I’m in business mode and I’m a professional creative. I like to visualise the different people that I am.
I guess what I am saying is, I think its great that we can become different people throughout our lives as we learn and grow. And we can especially apply the same logic to our thought patterns and mindsets. In adapting our mindsets, evolving our inner selves, we can create new versions of our outer selves. For me, setting my mindset onto a path that creates a more fulfilled and happier life, instead of one constantly pestered by self-doubt and anxiety? Yes please, Derren Brown! I’ll just grab my walking boots …