‘The secret to happiness is having low expectations.’

Mon 24 – Sunday 30 July 2023

The quotation above comes from Warren Buffett who is an interesting person and, overall, not one of the bad guys. You can read more about him here. He has huge wealth but is also a philanthropist with sensible political leanings. Although he is part of the whole financial ecosystem that is taking us to the brink of destruction; note how July was the hottest ever month in recorded human history (read about it here) and things will get worse.

I think we all have expectations in life and they might be a big part of the problems we are all dealing with. Our expectations of wealth, success, happiness, and romance amongst other things. And when those don’t work out then we are unhappy and poor mental health is an outcome.

Perhaps Buffett is right, that if we live with low expectations then we can’t be disappointed and can only be delighted when things exceed what we hoped for.

Indeed, one thing great about last week was the weekend. Basically I planned nothing apart from meeting Patrick for our usual Saturday morning coffee. There was something lovely about lying on the sofa and lazing around on Saturday and Sunday afternoon watching some of my favourite TV like My 600lb Life, Dr Pimple Popper, and Antiques Road Trip. 🙂

Resting men

Work Life Balance

I’m not chasing power and prestige any more

In last week’s blog (read it here) I faced the fact that I am currently a drop-out in our status driven society. I bought into the idea of having career plans when I was younger. And I was very enthusiastic about building a career and aimed to climb the corporate ladder. I think that’s gone now.

But I’m pretty sure I will be forced to work again at some point not least because I have no money. But I ain’t ever going to chase a job just for the prestige and career step-up it can give me. Interestingly, my partner Dave has been questioning what I am going to do for work. Suspect an element of him, like with many others, thinks that I am just wasting my time and abilities by not working.

We are all just part of Rishi’s CV

I also always saw whatever job I was doing as me trying to change the world. I still have expectations that the world can change and perhaps that is something I should pack in as well. In the week of wildfires killing people, our media focused on Nigel Farage having his bank account changed from snob-value Coutts to common NatWest.

That about sums up where the world is and the UK in particular. We are all living in the segment of Rishi’s CV that will propel him to a big job in America after he loses the next election. Mark my words, when he loses then he will resign his seat and go off with this family to live in the States. I hope for a hung parliament to try to force some change. But currently it’s more likely to be a Labour majority so the establishment and our see-saw political system can sleep safe.


Expectations are destroying the planet

There’s a general expectation that each generation will get wealthier and live longer. But that is built on the assumption that what has happened in the past can continue into the future. That climate change won’t force us to change how we create ‘wealth’, that we can produce and consume as we have always done, that diseases won’t become resistant to antibiotics, nor that another more lethal pandemic will come.

So if we give up on the expectations of economic growth then we can save the planet. If we just froze our exploitation of the Earth instead focusing on reuse and redistribution then humanity would cease to be at threat. Although much of the damage is done and will take decades to reverse even if we slammed the brakes on now which, of course, we won’t do.

Extinction Rebellion fighting climate change

Health and Efficiency

Swim again but must not become obsessed with more

Enjoyed my first swim since before the pandemic the week before and so I went back for more on Tues morning. Did 26 or 28 lengths compared to the previous 20 or 22 (I always lose track of the number of lengths LOL). But I don’t want to create expectations that I will do more each time I go. Rather I want to just enjoy it.

Did keep to primarily doing a nice, slow back stroke. A few lengths of slow front crawl but one went seriously awry when water got into my goggles. There is definitely a fine balance to be had between goggles firmly attached but not so that they are painful.

swimming pool lanes

Jog-run: Good but ongoing hip problem

Did also manage to get in a 5K alongside swim and gym. Went OK coming in at a respectable time of just under 33 mins. Again I need to not create expectations on myself that the time will come down consecutively.

Big issue was that my hip hurt again after the jog-run finished. That really upsets me as it’s a problem I’ve never had before. Hopefully if I just do the 5K once per week then that will gradually disappear. If I can get a 5K done every week then that’s still over 50 each year. And I just used to do a single 10K each week so it would still put me in a good place.

Gym: My new buddy

Pleased to get 3 sessions done – usual days and times. I’m doing what suits me on the day in terms of weight levels and body parts I want to focus on. Also lots of stretching in-between reps. I can definitely feel that my body is stronger within the confines that I’m an old man.

I’ve been joined in the gym by a new regular though we seem to be able to work around each other within the relatively small space. I’m not looking for a gym buddy but it’s always good to observe and learn from what others do. Interestingly, he works on specific body parts at each session whereas I prefer a more general workout.

79 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £6.25 per session.

Weight: Went up but I can get back on track

I think when I left paid work and took a job break, I had some expectations of doing more exercise and losing weight. The latter has gone far better than expected and you can see some of my suggestions on how I achieved this in my previous blog here – feel free to use.

However, last week I put on a pound and a half – you can see the details here. I wasn’t even sure whether to admit this. Perhaps just see it as a blip and carry on recording when I am losing. But I shouldn’t have the expectation that I’m going to lose weight week on week. I know I had a couple of blowouts last week – I still have my love of food.

Key thing is that my new normal is definitely around 13 stone and I know that by controlling things for a bit then I can carry on losing weight.

Weight scales

Dentist: Good teeth but is it all about money?

Had my 6 month check-up and my teeth are doing OK apparently. Though I did need a small filling ostensibly to protect a potential cavity. Obviously this pushed the cost up from just under £25 to £70 on NHS rates. Just have to trust that it wasn’t done for financial gain. And told I need to see the hygienist which will cost around £100.

nice teeth smile

Books and Reading

‘Jimi Hendrix live in Lviv’ by Andrey Kurkov

Originally written in 2012 but only released in English in 2023, this Ukrainian book has been longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2023. And it is very good although probably best described as modern surrealism.

Basically it’s two stories of different characters running consecutively though they do cross with each other occasionally. In one story, a group of hippies think they have the hand of Jimi Hendrix buried in Lviv. They join forces with the KGB officer who monitored their activities to tackle why a new sea seems to be arising in land-locked Lviv.

In the other story, a man drives people about to dislodge their kidney stones. He meets and falls in love with a bureau de change worker who is allergic to money. Meanwhile, his neighbour becomes obsessed with his best friend.

Weird and quite long but eminently readable with characters I cared about. Wasn’t totally sure what expectations to have but it was great fun and I would definitely recommend. Sad to think how Ukraine is currently being raped by Russia but I do hope to visit there one day.

“Once we’re thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost, but it’s only here that the new and the good begins”

Leo Tolstoy

Family and Friends

Washing mum’s curtains

I don’t really have expectations when I’m with mum. Rather it’s nice if we can get along and she’s not feeling too unwell. Generally I think she’s happy when I spend time with her. However, sometimes it’s nice to have a purpose.

Mum is very house proud so last week I helped by getting up the step-ladder and taking down all the curtains to wash them then rehung the net curtains. These are definitely one of my favourite things to wash because all you have to do is put them up straight from the machine and they dry almost immediately.

Personal Development

My acceptable expectation to get some Duolingo done each day

I really want to get better at speaking other languages. And one of the main things I have done with my career break is to focus on doing Duolingo on a daily basis. It is reasonable to have the expectation that my language skills will improve if I work on them everyday.

Art and Culture

Becoming Elizabeth and Radio 1 Ibiza Weekend

I think I did have expectations when I stopped working that I would fill my time with things I never felt I had time for like getting to museums and art galleries. A great highlighter of how having unfulfilled expectations can be a negative.

No great visits last week but two things worth noting. First, me and Dave are still watching ‘Becoming Elizabeth’ week by week and really enjoying it. It is fascinating how TV can define moments in our lives like what happened for me with ‘It’s a Sin’ and ‘Squid Game’.

It was also Radio 1 Ibiza Weekend. I loved just listening to the music and partying from the Balearic island. Basically it reminds me of my clubbing / addiction period. A time of both great destructiveness but also enormous personal experience. I wouldn’t go back but there were aspects of it that I like to reconnect with from time to time; simply the music makes me feel happy.

tunes in darkness

The Week Ahead

  • Aim is 3 gym sessions with a swim on Tues and a jog-run on Thurs. But must not put expectations on myself that this will be my regular routine. The swim is £8 a go and jog-run is dependent on weather. Plus all activity is based on avoiding injuries.
  • Can I get my weight loss back on track?
  • Will carry on with my two reading books: ‘Young Mungo’ by Douglas Stuart and ‘Ithaca’ by the brilliant Claire North
  • Me and Dave are off on Saturday to a football match that is a fundraiser for Ukraine

And Finally…

Behind the scene
The genius of Cold War Steve

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