Recently we began reading a couple of The School of Life books, written for a young human audience. Of course they apply to everyone, so I’m going to note the big ideas and lessons.
The first book will be: Happy, Healthy Minds (ISBN-13: 9781912891191).
You are invited to discuss these notes, it is a conversation, like an asynchronous book group dicussion.
Introduction: Keeping Your Mind Healthy
The introduction draws a picture of how our minds and bodies relate to each other, and how we need to exercise and care for our mind in the same manner as our body.
While that may seem difficult to plan for, there is an idea/method for helping:
Learning new ideas
Learning ideas is like the gym for your mind, a way to exercise it and keep it healthy.
This is the first chapter, but by far the longest. Ha. Haha.
I find this chapter to be dense, as it causes a lot of inner retrospection, so I’ll focus on one sub-heading’s worth of big ideas at once.
You didn’t get to choose your parents
Humans are interesting in how long we remain vulnerable as babies; other animals are up and running, with and without parents, fairly early in their life.
Because we are dependent on our caregivers for so long, we might not realize it at first:
Your parents are people too
Of course as we get older the ways in which our caregivers are people, and different from other caregivers, becomes apparent. And it can be annoying.
Ways parents are annoying
Parents can be fussy
Parents are always getting up in your biz, telling you what to do, how to live.
And it makes sense: for a long time you were an impractical baby, hardly understanding anything. And parents are not great at understanding when you aren’t a baby anymore. Maybe for your entire life…
Here’s a big idea:
Parents are fussy because they love you
Keep that in mind when you are dealing with your difficult parents.
Also, don’t worry too much about how fussy they are, because:
You are not going to go back to being a baby
You may feel like you are being treated like a baby, but you don’t have to feel like a baby. Even though your parents know a lot about you, they don’t know everything about you.
You know who you are, and it isn’t easy to change others’ opinions of you, so a good tactic is to work on feeling very sure about who you are, deep inside. Others will figure it out in time.
Parents are embarrassing
Babies don’t think about what other people are thinking. So if one is capable of being embarrassed by their parents it means two things (I love this quote):
you’ve got new powers, and you’ve got new possibilities for feeling unhappy.
A big reason your parents embarrass you is because you spend a lot of time around them, and know what they are like. And they are certainly not normal, but any standard.
But here is the big idea:
No one is normal
Our sense of “normal” comes from an aggregate story we receive from the world. Here is a line I also enjoyed:
It’s just that real life can be a lot weirder than we tend to admit.
A useful tool to counter the embarrassment one might feel regarding one’s parents: imagination. Since you don’t know how others’ parents act in their family, you can imagine them in different situations that you and your family experience. Then other families won’t seem so “normal” compared to yours.