Being a hippie in 2015

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First of all, it’s worth pointing out that it’s always possible to buy something. We are the ultimate consumer society – now, we are even consuming socially, online.

I love modern culture as much as I loathe some aspects of it.

Soon, babies will be born with smartphones automatically attached to their pudgy pink hands, ready to document their first smile, first word, first day at school. Then it will be shared on social media with the gawping world.

We’re not given any easy alternative to this way of living, because that doesn’t serve society’s model of consumer capitalism, but some of us care enough to battle it out and try to find another way.

Dirty hippies

You can reject the prevailing way of living, but I’ve found this tends to get you labelled as a “hippie” – “The sixties are over!”.

This has never happened to me but I’ve seen it happen to people I know, and observed it in the news media, film and television.

I believe society subtly uses words to dismiss ideas or ways of life before it’s even been possible to engage with them.

Counter-culture hippieness doesn’t fit with the ethic of consumerism, which is now even more pervasive than ever, so it is dismissed as irrational and unproductive.

What is a hippie?

Before we make the case for an alternative culture, we should define what is meant by the word “hippie”.

Society suggests that being a hippie is a rejection of mainstream culture by favouring alternative or bohemian lifestyles, mainly revolving around “freeloading” or believing in “free love”, being a “leftie”.

Urban Dictionary defines it as:

A Hippie is a person who was raised under the ideological system that came out of the tumultuous 1960’s in North America and western Europe. They are either of the flower-child/baby boomer generation or that generations’ subsequent offspring. They possess a core belief set revolving around the values of peace and love as being essential in an increasingly globalized society, and they are oftentimes associated with non-violent anti-governmental groups.

I personally believe being a hippie is equated with conscious, ethical living – in all spheres of life. We choose how we relate to ourselves, to others, society and the environment.

But there are many problems associated with this way of living – most of them to do with the difficulty of going against the grain.

Being a hippie is logical

So, money doesn’t make us happy?

It’s a fact so blindingly obvious as to be laughable, but we forget it all the time because we’re wrapped up in the business of living.

It’s also painful to admit the truth, to submit to the agony of self-reflection, once we’ve been chasing money for a long time.

Money is mesmerising, just like lust and power. This is a fact. It makes us forget ourselves. You could argue that money even confers elements of both lust and power.

It is also a fact that we should love everyone rather than hate or fear them. Love begets more love, obviously, and is good for us.

Not taking more than we give to the world seems like simple logic. And promoting love rather than war? That too.

So is it being a hippie to love everyone, and believe that we all are “one”, in the metaphysical sense?

I think it’s probably just idiotic to believe otherwise.

You quite obviously can expand the mind, and we are connected with nature. Does believing in the concept of a self that survives the years, that can and should be developed and protected, make me a hippie?

To be honest, I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t be a hippie.

Is this just normal?

If you decide to reject money as an end goal and instead embrace being loving, then decisions about life can be made on the basis of their practicality, ethicalness, aesthetic appeal and with consideration for self-development.

I suppose this is called growing up. Now I’ve managed to get and keep a job, I’m less concerned with basic survival, and am now moving on to think about how to live and flourish.

I believe channeling my inner hippie is a big part of that.

Some people are dismissive when I speak of my attempts to eat ethically, desire to help save the environment, and support of small businesses – especially those of individual artists.

But I still talk about my goals because I believe that we should all try to live without the masks and reach out to each other. Buying more and more stuff is not the way.

Does that make me a hippie? If so, then fine. I am a hippie.

Problems with being a hippie

Choosing how to live is a difficult business, and sometimes it seems easier just to submit to the way society wants us to live – stay slumped on the sofa, gorging on prepackaged TV and food. When we’re not doing that, scamper up the career ladder like trained monkeys, and fall in love with the first person to give us the time of day. Get married, pop out some kids, retire and die.

Seems easy enough. Seems harmless enough.

However, an absence of an idea is still a decision, it is not nothing. If we aren’t choosing a positive idea then we are still promoting negative ideas. We must submit to self-reflection and choose what we really believe.

Is not wanting to submit to preconceived labels, or wanting to fashion your own mode of existence in the limited time we have, kind of hippie-ish? Similarly, if I believe endless consumption can’t satisfy me, and use alternative cultural practices to support a functional life, like yoga, meditation and enjoy burning (endless) sticks of incense? Perhaps.

But I think labels stop us thinking, and critiquing, enabling us to dismiss things as uninteresting or unworthy of appraisal because it has already been ‘named’. Let’s not do it if we can help it.

If you want to learn more about being a hippie you could check out my other post about how people are quick to judge “New Age” practices. Or, find out about how your attitude towards experiencing pain can make you a better person

crop-catherineCatherine Julianne is a writer and digital communications professional obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes drawing, meditating and being in nature. 

Image: Unsplash

Dating tips: tried and tested

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Why can being single be so excruciating at times? If being single has any benefits, one is being able to pass on advice to other singletons on a few ways to avoid disaster. Read on!

  1. Do turn up – the quintessential ingredient of every date – that there are two people on it, not one. A friend of a friend was recently stood up on a Tinder date (yes, it happened to my “friend”, not me…) and I wonder – how hard is it to message someone to say that you’re not going to make it, instead of romantically scarring them for life (or at least a good few weeks where I – I mean they – get a bit teary over a £5 bottle of rosé)?
  2. Don’t turn up late – being late is also linked to number 1, although is, I suppose, marginally better, as you do in fact make an appearance – and with a little heartfelt grovelling, you can take it from there. This one did happen to me, and I was once hovering around Covent Garden like a friendless creep, wondering how long I could feasibly wait until carefully-affected graciousness turned in to outright desperation.
  3. Do ensure your  bankcard is working – having to foot the whole bill for the date in number 2 was not the highlight of the evening for me. (Neither was counting out three pound coins for him to top up his Oyster card at the end of the night to get home, either.)
  4. Don’t drink so much that you throw up on a date – at one time, I was inexperienced enough not to know how to bow out of a date gracefully, and decided it would be much better to drink my way out of it instead. Ending up in an almost catatonic state, I then proceeded to enthusiastically agree to the suggestion that we go back to his house and continue drinking with his housemates. After a quick trip to the off licence, I found myself greeting his housemates like dear old friends, pouring myself a bucket-sized vodka, and then at some point stumbling into another room – where I promptly threw up. In a timely fashion, one of the housemates appeared in the room behind me (was it his room?) and gave me a lifeline, asking “Did the cat do that?” Unfortunately, I was too inebriated to seize this opportunity for redemption, and simply slurred unashamedly, “Nope.”
  5. And lastly, do stay awake – fortunately, this has never happened to me (although perhaps I am not that fortunate, when you take the above into account) but a girl once told me of a guy, who, after their date, dozed off on their bus journey home together. She still endeavoured to invite him back to hers once he had woken up – an offer which he accepted – however, once home, he simply climbed into bed and peacefully went to sleep again.

So, there you have it! All my years of dating experience wrapped up in 5 succinct points. If you follow these rules, there should be nothing to stop the glorious ringing of those future wedding bells. [Catherine: I still want us to be spinster sisters living together until we die.]

If you feel dating-ready now, why not peruse these tips on how to be a great flirt? Alternatively, stay holed up in your room like a hermit and find out how to become a novelist

Jess

By Jessica Marie

Jessica is an aspiring novelist living in London. She’s excited by new experiences, ideas and music. 

Image: Unsplash

Forget ‘The Game’: 8 flirting tips

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It’s been brought to my attention recently that many men, even at the age of 25 or older (my age!) still aren’t very confident about how they approach flirting. It’s also usually the nicest ones who seem to be very nervous and unsure about what they need to do, or should do.

I think this is for several reasons:

  • Not realising that people aren’t really judging you
  • Not realising that people only care about how you make them feel
  • Not feeling very comfortable with who you are
  • Thinking that other people know something you don’t
  • Believing it’s all about looks, or “sex appeal”
  • Believing we are defined by the opinions of others
  • Trying too hard.

I think these insecurities affect us because of lots of reasons that are too complex to go into right now. The point is, once we recognise these false beliefs, we can choose to put them aside – and start having fun!

So, with that in mind, I’ve come up with eight practical tips for how to have fun when you’re flirting, which will help your personality shine:

  1. Work on yourself by developing your skills and interests so you build self-esteem and are an interesting person to talk to.
  2. Make people feel good. Remind yourself that people just want to have fun and feel relaxed, so focus on how you can make them feel like this when they are around you.
  3. Have a bit of banter with people – but don’t cross the line and drive them away!
  4. Forget the gender differences. Remember, there is no distinction between men and women: we are the same underneath it all.
  5. Focus on having fun, not “succeeding”. When you do this, your natural positivity and energy will draw people to you.
  6. Know when to quit. Some people just won’t be interested, and that’s ok. Maybe they’re having a bad day or they already like someone else, so don’t assume it’s because you’re rubbish.
  7. Enjoy the experience of spending time with people. Don’t worry about where an interaction might lead or whether someone could make a good girlfriend (or boyfriend?!). You’ll be much more fun this way.
  8. Be excited about what you might find out. Part of the fun of interacting with others is discovering things you didn’t know before.

Remember, if you’re having fun, other people will be having fun, too. It’s as simple as that.

If you enjoyed these tips, maybe now you want to read about why pain is essential for personal growth, or read some webcomics that I’ve drawn

crop-catherineCatherine Julianne is a writer and digital communications professional obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes drawing, meditating and being in nature. 

Image: Unsplash

The Benefit of Pain

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Our minds are collections of ideas. Sometimes these ideas do not all fit together – they contradict one another and cannot all be true. When they lie together at once in the focus of consciousness, on the surface of thought, then we perceive their conflict clearly – we feel pain, and we feel sadness. The patterns in our minds are at war with each other, and we fear what will happen, and the possibility of losing parts of ourselves – parts of the idea web in which we emulate reality. The internal model we construct of the world around us needs to change, and it can seem scary and something to fear – but it isn’t.

The benefits of pain are overlooked. They go unseen because most people aren’t very introspective, and seldom probe deeply into their own lives. Most people behave as if their lives are something handed to them, almost immutable. They do not consider themselves actors, but observers – and so that’s what they are. The actors are the ones who accept that they can – and so do – use the power we have as beings: the power to shape and change reality. They are the ones engaging their instinctual urges to contribute to the creation of something greater than ourselves in the hierarchy and complexity of life. As cells are to us, we are to society, and societies will be to something else; we represent one shifting stage in the evolution of life: interactions growing more connected and more filled with delicate complexity. Those who do not accept life as given and absolute – they learn to question, to understand and to imagine. They learn to examine themselves and their own thoughts. They become more alive, and learn greater control over themselves and over their minds – the collection of thoughts – the intertwined web of ideas.


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Rain, Steam and Speed – Turner

The web of ideas needs maintenance. It is our life’s work to, thought by thought, puzzle out a picture of what is around us. We start off with a canvas full of conflicting colours and lines, that, stroke by stroke, grows slowly in clarity and depth until we feel the sharp sensation of our own existence, and experience the reality of the so-called ‘human condition’. It is difficult, but it is undeniably forward. To play well, you must understand the rules; to make choices about the world, you need to understand the world. The world is everything around us, and it includes ourselves. There lies the battle – the seemingly paradoxical feat – of making an image that includes itself. Overtime, more and more of us accept the burden, and once we make some headway with our own journeys we realise another awaits us, this one by nature not alone – the wagon train moving ever forward; the vanguard of humanity. To join, we must each find our way there – discover the parts that need playing, and the parts we want to play. This requires acceptance and clear vision of ourselves – Including acceptance, and clear vision of our pains.

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Hand with Reflecting Sphere – Escher

Pain helps us find our way. Pain, beyond scraped knees and broken bones, is the experience of conflict in our inner network – it is indication of a contradiction – and the chance for its examination, understanding, and potential resolution. Pain is a signal in our brain that something can and should be given attention: a knot must be undone; a bundle must be untangled; a problem must be solved. If we accept that it really is a signal, then it really can be used as such. We can calmly question and probe at the cause of the pain; we can carefully consider the ideas we hold close – and which closer – and we can weigh them against one another. We may come to question some ideas, and with the clarity induced by the sharp pain of holding those conflicting thoughts together for a time– we choose what we really want. The challenge is presented, and we have the opportunity to show courage and accept change.

Our feelings are guides to our minds. They cry out – they want to help us to understand the world better. Pain is just one aspect, one we struggle to integrate. When we harness its potential, we are able to live without fear – because every problem is a problem we work to solve. The map updates, the picture becomes clearer, the web becomes more complete, and our actions reflect this: we know better what is true, what is right, and what the way forward is for us all. Our separate webs become joined. Accept reality, join humanity, and know that there is infinitely more to experience.

If you’ve been inspired to enlarge your mental map, find out why an open relationship might be just the thing you were looking for, or delve into the wonderful world of personality typing systems

cropped-jamieBy Jamie Culkin

Jamie is currently working toward a master’s degree in experimental physics in Leiden, the Netherlands, and is contemplating both a creative and academic life. The things that drive him are: the world around us, real human connection and discussion, creation, and parkour.

Images: Unsplash | Wikimedia Commons

7 myths about creativity

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There are a lot of mistaken ideas that people can sometimes hold on to, which hinder their creativity. I wanted to highlight 7 of them to help people realise how ridiculous these ideas are, form better ideas, and get producing!

  1. I don’t have what it takes. If you’re worrying that you don’t have what it takes to be an artist, ask yourself if you’re doing it for external recognition, or because you feel irresistibly compelled to produce your art from. If the answer is the former, maybe it’s not for you. If your answer is the second, stop worrying and get on with it.
  2. Creative people are tortured. This is a lie. In fact, mental or emotional issues like depression or bipolar disorder would most likely hinder productivity and erode the self-discipline it takes to become a successful artist. Look after your mental health, and think happy thoughts!
  3. Art is only defined by traditional forms such as writing, drawing or sculpting. Creativity is merely producing something new out of existing parts, and anyone with a bit of inspiration and intuition can do that. Creativity can be: cooking a fantastic new recipe, rearranging your bedroom or putting together the perfect outfit. Or, it can be writing a novel.
  4. I can only write depressing poetry. This is actually untrue – you probably have only written depressing poetry in the past. I think this is because writing is simply stirred by a deep well of feeling, and sometimes when you’re young, you only feel strongly if you feel bad. With time and personal development, you’ll connect with the deeper essence of life, and joy will move you, too.
  5. Women can’t be artists. This is a really sad one but unfortunately sexism persists in many areas of life. If you’re a woman, make sure you don’t give in to any limiting stereotypes, and try to see any obstacles in front of you as exciting challenges that you will rise to. If you’re a man, make sure you encourage all your artistic female friends to have more confidence in themselves.
  6. There’s no point in trying because I can never produce anything original. This is a difficult one because everyone in history has probably felt like this, except in medieval times when no one had really done anything yet, or we weren’t so well-acquainted with antiquity. It is obviously true that lots of things have been done. However, the world is constantly evolving with a startling complexity and no one will ever be able to understand its totality. Pick your corner of life to explore and run with it.
  7. I need to be perfect before I can produce something or people will laugh at me. This is a form of self-sabotage that is particularly paralysing: see how it is an endless loop? You can produce something a bit less than perfect, or a is a bit shit. Or just something.

Hopefully if you’ve been struggling with self-doubt about your creativity these points will have helped you to start to move past it. If you think you might still need some more inspiration, check out these tips for stimulating your creative process, or read some lovely poetry

Ccrop-catherineatherine Julianne is a writer and digital communications professional obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes drawing, meditating and being in nature. 

Image: Unsplash

15 tips to help you start writing that novel

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Read on for 15 writing tips from one aspiring novelist to another.

  1. Character – create characters who change, who try and fail, who dream and get hurt, who are human. Use Carl Jung’s ‘personality types’ or ‘Enneagram’ to identify motivations. They must have different driving forces behind each of them. Characters are the building blocks of your novel and if they elicit a ‘meh’ reaction, then your reader won’t be sticking around.
  2. Plot – the unfolding of events in the story should continuously cause your characters to react, to change what the characters are doing and have been trying to do, to cause them to go to a different place or find a new route to where they are still planning to go, to change what is needed from them and what they ask of others.
  3. Imagery – paint a beautiful picture, do this delicately. Great books that have everything and no imagery can be colourless, tell your reader how the sky is inked across the horizon.
  4. Setting – know in your mind where every scene takes place, because this will allow details to float into your consciousness and then on to the page.
  5. Surprise – the excitement comes from not knowing where the story will go. Toy with the idea of surprising events to throw in and imagine how it will change the shape of your story.
  6. Outwit – throw in a red herring, make your character believe something that isn’t true – fool the reader at least once in the story, they’ll love it.
  7. Pace – make sure things move on at a good speed. If two characters are alone talking in a room for a considerable length of time, it’s a good sign your work is stalling. Make sure you look for moments that could be expanded, too, like action moments or emotive moments rather than skirting over them.
  8. Voice – your character must have opinions about the world and things, likes and dislikes. If they ascribe to no belief system you are showing the reader a world only through a glass screen, not through another person’s eyes – almost the whole point of novel-reading.
  9. Philosophy – touch on the deeper questions in life, don’t keep it superficial. A novel needs depth and thoughts about life and meaning, or why write?
  10. Enlighten – make the reader think about the world in a way they didn’t before, paint a picture differently, explore a characters thoughts and emotions, pull the reader into a situation they have never or might never experience.
  11. Emotion – build situations that cause conflict and desire. Build emotions carefully, but not necessarily slowly. Allow the unfolding events to continuously build the emotion in each scene. The more emotionally involved a reader is, the quicker they will turn (or swipe) the page.
  12. Humour – every story can a afford a little humour, be it an unfortunate event, comical observation, or incisive, self-deprecating comment.
  13. Truth – communicate things that are true, whether they are behaviours people display, thoughts people have, invisible social customs they enact, the reader wants to go ‘Oh yeah, that’s so true’.
  14. Read – read other books and poetry, explore how other writers write. Consciously look at their work and unconsciously absorb it, and you’ll be a better writer for it.
  15. Finish it – the key to novel writing. It doesn’t matter how bad you think it, just finish it. Once you have it written in full, you can only make it better from there.

JessJessica Marie is an aspiring novelist living in London. She’s inspired by new experiences, ideas and music. 

Now you’ve finished this blog post, get writing! If you think you still need some more inspiration, check out Jess’s other tips on how to be a good fiction writer, or how to be creatively productive.  

Image: Unsplash

Morality versus logic

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I’ve been thinking about how human beings confuse morality with logic. People make what they consider to be logical arguments about the supposed pragmatism of a worldview or life choice but actually they are assessing whether they think it is good or bad.

Deciding moral worth

I find the concept of good and bad (i.e. moral worth) so intriguing because it actually doesn’t exist. The reason I don’t think it exists is because there is no system for measuring goodness or badness, whereas for example in the sciences we can assess whether something has empirically happened, or use mathematics to prove propositions. Even in philosophy, or specifically metaphysics, we can use logic to determine the likely truth or falsehood of a premise.

I think it is logical, for example, that some people would be motivated by their own interests, so pragmatically they might consider other people’s feelings dispensable because they don’t further the goal of personal gain. To find out whether a person’s action has utility for his or herself, we need to look inside their mind and heart to find out what they value or prioritise.

And this is where morality comes in. I think people confuse logic and morality because they are threatened by worldviews that conflict with the comforting stability of their own. Any chance that they might need to expand their mental map is instinctively met with resistance, using a defense that I visualise as a mental blindspot that truth falls into, sadly without you ever knowing it was so close.

And they dismiss interesting and potentially useful ideas as “wrong”.

A sprinkling of logic

I think we can make morality better by consciously infusing a bit of logic.

So, in order to evaluate the worth of propositions that are shrouded in emotion, such as “Are open relationships a good (or workable) idea?” we have to use both our minds and hearts. We have to evaluate what we mean by “good” (is the risk of hurting one another too great, for example) and, “workable” – perhaps we mean, does it foster the personal growth and development of both individuals?

Evaluating this kind of worth is a difficult task, but the criteria I would use in these particular cases, in order to assess an idea’s validity or worth, is: the quality of connection.

I would ask questions such as, does it increase connection between the individual and the world, or decrease it? Is the connection between the two people increased or diminished? There are many more questions like these one could ask, and there is no simple way to answer them.

Logically, more connection (and therefore growth) is better, because it spreads goodness and happiness. But how to measure? What system can we use?

I think we have to evaluate whether an action is speaking from the heart or not.

Looking outwards

It’s not easy for anyone to say whether someone else (or even themselves) is speaking from their heart.

I use the idea of open relationships as an example because it is such a divisive issue, threatening one of the very foundation stones of society – the ideal of the romantic relationship. Romantic love is a (very fun) chimera, which is virtually guaranteed to distract society’s members from looking anywhere outside themselves, or beyond their own domestic bliss.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for romance as much as the next person, but all I’m saying is it’s a very good distraction from the deeper issues of life. So I think to debate these kinds of questions, these questions of social worth or validity, we need to familiarise ourselves with a surprisingly unsung concept: the idea of selfhood.

Does the self really exist? 

We can conceptualise our physical selves, as the body and the brain and all. Some of us can also see the mind, which is us being aware and perceiving ourselves, others and the environment, as well as metaphysical concepts like ones I’m referencing here. We also have an emotional self, which I think lots of people struggle to understand, and it is characterised by the emotional soup that rolls and heaves with every experience that touches us. The physical is the easiest to perceive because it is really *there* and we can see it.

Altogether, these tripartite notions of self knit together to form “selfhood”, or, if you prefer, personhood. And we need to pay attention to the health of all three segments of the self to build ourselves up as people, and fulfil our potential.

So, to answer a question like “Is an open relationship a good or workable idea?” I would consider whether it would further the goal of developing and nurturing the personhood of both parties. And, in some instances, I think indeed it can. If both people are happy to be co-adventurers of life, without the weight of commitment and ephemeral promises of “forever”, then maybe an open relationship could be a good idea.

Of course it wouldn’t be without its pain, and confusion and upset, but no real relationship would be like that anyway. I feel like you’d be faced with an incredible opportunity to learn so much about yourself and others. Intellect cannot comprehend the worth of this pursuit; only the heart can.

But it’s so hard to get past the conditioning that monogamous romantic love is the highest ideal, that I doubt many people would be open to this idea (haha, ironically). It’s an interesting one to think about.

Thanks for reading. Maybe now you’d like to read about why getting married is such a stupid idea (haha) or how to develop your selfhood

Ccrop-catherineatherine Julianne is a writer and digital communications professional obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes drawing, meditating and being in nature.