In one of his Edinburgh shows, my sometime colleague/friend/slightly scary presence in the room Brendon Burns claimed that he’d read the Bible and the Koran, and the message of both could be distilled down to the sentence above. (I feel stupid censoring the word cunt from the title my own blog, particularly as I’ve now written it in the text, but people do get upset about language and, although they’re wrong, I don’t have the energy to take up the argument with them all over again.) As we approach the end of the third week of TYSIC, it might be worth thinking about some of the small ways we can aim towards this goal, which is, indeed, the main idea underlying our self-improvement programme and all attempts at self-improvement.
Inspired by last week’s TYSIC champ Amy who used ‘not being lazy’ as a launchpad to take on a personal challenge as specific as daring herself to eat cheese, I’ve been trying to think laterally this week about ways I can make myself a brighter, more optimistic person: things I can do which will bring about a general rise in positivity, rather than just walking around muttering ‘everything’s going to be fine, everything’s going to be fine’ (although I have been doing that as well).
Taking my lead this time from Laura, I decided it would be nice to try and give someone a compliment every day. Provided that it doesn’t backfire (as can happen with a compliment like ‘your breasts are extraordinarily large and round’, or ‘I wish I could smell you all day, your perfume is so perfect’, or ‘your weight issues are finally starting to turn around’), saying something nice to somebody is one of the most surefire ways of feeling better yourself. In the same way that giving a good present is, just like adults always used to insist when we were kids, better than receiving one. Unless you receive something truly awesome like a big gold clock or a prize pig.
Of course, compliments would be rather hollow if you only gave them as part of a systematic campaign of compliment-giving. But in truth, there are loads of situations every day where you think something nice about a person and just don’t vocalise it, because it’s quite awkward being a human as it is, and it very often seems too much of a gamble to risk even more awkwardness by saying ‘that coat’s very nice’. So I’m not going to start throwing around compliments I don’t mean. But I’m going to be less backward in advertising nice thoughts. I’m pretty sure this will be a sneaky route to feeling sunnier in general.
I began this yesterday at my gig, but really badly. It was a corporate awards thing (the Institute of Customer Service Awards, in fact. Waitrose were among the winners). The photographer had had a terrible day, her laptop had been stolen and she wasn’t going to get home until 2am. She’d had a baby four months ago and mentioned how tired she was. She was very pretty in an unassuming way and I was tempted to say something to the effect that she didn’t look as tired as she claimed to be. Shyness stopped me from doing so. So I ended up complimenting of the organisers on how well the event had gone, and telling Chris Addison over Twitter how much of an influence he’d been on my career. They both seemed pleased. But imagine how much more pleased the exhausted, discouraged photographer would have been.
So that’s me: a compliment a day in addition to my other TYSICers. You might like to try this, or if not this, some other small resolution once a day. One thing about some of the TYSICs nominated is that they are enormous, difficult tasks, and some challengers have been too daunted by the scale of their own ambition to get started properly. Perhaps setting yourself a small one-a-day target is a way in to something bigger.
Also, thanks to everyone for their reviews of crisps, Glee, Sophie Dahl, and so on (see yesterday’s blog). We’ve had nearly 100. Keep them coming and I will collate the results shortly.
Also also (my personal phrase for one also on top of another). This is a more minor undertaking than the reviews, but I was thinking it would be nice to collect people’s eavesdroppings. As you might gather from my stand-up shows, forthcoming novel and general ramblings, I’m a little bit obsessed by the way that all our lives have an effect on each other, even on people we don’t even know. One of the constant reminders of this is when you hear a tiny little bit of someone else’s conversation: a few seconds’ glimpse into a world you will never meet properly, but can still imagine.
So today, for example, I was crossing the road with the wife and baby, and we heard a blonde lady on the phone say ‘I’m so excited about your blood tests, man!’ What was the story? A friend with a disease who’d just been given the all clear? A relative who had just started working for the NHS? Impossible to know, and that’s what it makes it fun. If you overhear anyone say anything funny/suggestive/peculiar, share it with this blog and we will try to work out what was going on. I won’t use any of them on stage. Unless they’re too good to resist.
Right. So post something you’ve overheard; give someone a compliment or do something similar every day; review yesterday’s subjects; or failing all that, keep living your life as before. See you tomorrow.