Deborah Hill Cone
Deborah Hill Cone is a Herald columnist

Deborah Hill Cone: 16 things I've learned in past year

"I should not have written that column about Charlotte Dawson", writes Deborah Hill Cone. Photo / Getty Images
"I should not have written that column about Charlotte Dawson", writes Deborah Hill Cone. Photo / Getty Images

It is coming up to my birthday - 47 if you must know - which is usually the time of year I might think about what I have learned in the past 12 months as well as make an appointment for more botox.

But this year I don't know I have learned anything much except how wrong I am about practically everything. Still, the trendy position these days is that we should embrace failure (DHC columns, passim).

As Orwell said, the essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection. To that end here are another 16 things I have got egregiously wrong in the past 12 months.

1 I don't mind wrap-free lunches after all. I'm getting quite good at them. Can I also reiterate I should not have written that column about Charlotte Dawson, when I did. It was also very wrong, on another occasion, for me to say anything about anyone else having Daddy Issues.

2 Expensive pongy candles are a fiddle. I spent $275 on two candles from Jo Malone and rather than smelling like incense and velvet rose my house still smells like wet dog. A $5 Glade vanilla candle from the supermarket seemed to work quite well though.

3 If someone wants to end your relationship it is wrong to turn up with a laminated diagram you have drawn to try to convince them not to. Even a colour-coded Venn diagram with arrows. Waste of time, apart from anything.

4 YOLO is an acronym for You Only Live Once. OBEY is not an acronym, but a clothing brand. LOL stands for Laugh Out Loud, not Lots of Love.

5 Relaxing is overrated. Did anyone ever tell Shakespeare to chill? The idea that we all have to be laid-back is drivel. In fact, we may be a country where everyone has a "shallow affect" - an impairment in the ability to react emotionally, even in times of intense feeling.

6 Sex is wasted on the young and beautiful. This is a secret no one tells you. Sex actually gets better when you get older, especially for women. When you are young it is all about swaggery bunny-rabbit machismo and whoring and conquering and the self. But when you get older it is so much more ... loving. And I'm not talking about feathery stroker tantric sex in flannelette pyjamas.

7 Practically everything I got angry about this year - parking rules, bigots, uptight parenting - is really just about my fear of death.

8 The old carrot and stick method of motivating people is pretty much goneburger. These days it is all about "shaping" instead. That means you reward behaviours that even approximate the desired end result. The old Skinner-esque approach of "do this and you get that" has been replaced by "move towards the behaviour we want and we will reward you". Reward your kids for even making the first most modest gesture towards the behaviour you want to encourage.

9 I was wrong about Facebook being a supportive community. It is all about masterly control over our own self-disclosure. It is so damaging to obsessively compare yourself to other people.

10 I was wrong to try so hard. This is the Archer's Paradox. The idea that to hit your target you have to aim at something slightly askew from it.

11 Kids TV is not brain-rotting rubbish. At least not Adventure Time or Regular Show. Give me some sugar, bro.

12 I was wrong to yell. Ever. You don't have to get angry when you have a hard conversation.

13 I should stop listening to what other people say, especially when they are really trying to transmit their personal mantra. "What do you mean your beans aren't single origin?"

14 You need to find a strange space between caring and not. You can't do anything if you care what people think but you can't improve it unless you do.

15 I was wrong to think one always has to feel good. There is comfort in discomfort. Nietzsche said "sick is good". I woke up this morning with pins and needles, toothache and period pain - surely menopause can't be far off? - in a puddle of dribble but strangely, I felt good. We cannot bear a pointless torment but we can endure great pain if we believe that it is purposeful.

16 You can be happier by trusting your efforts will matter, even if the results aren't visible now. But maybe in another 12 months.

- NZ Herald

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