Day 17 – 11 Things I learned in 2015

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Day 17 – 11 Things I learned in 2015


I’m sure these things are obvious to some people, but to me, they’re new lessons. I thought I’d share with anyone who wants to read them in a BuzzFeed style of a list. There’s still a few days left of the year, so I might learn something new, however, for now, this is my daily blog:

You don’t always get what you want but you get what you need.

This was said to me by a good friend at a time when I needed to be reminded that everything is a lesson and everything is there to teach you something. I was very happy to have this change of perspective and it has really helped me try to focus on how everything happening to me (good or bad) is there for my personal development and will ultimately make me a better person.

Love isn’t always enough

Love is a chemical reaction, ultimately. It’s the thing you mind does when it feels something for someone. And because you make this feeling (or allow this feeling) you need to be aware that it can… erm… “rose colour” situations and distort your perspective. When you lose your perspective on your own life you make bad choices. You fear change. You don’t have to waste a minute of your life on anyone who you think isn’t worth it.

There’s more things that scare us than harm us.

This is a stoic phrase which I adore. It goes onto say “we suffer more in imagination than reality” which I am thinking of getting tattoo’d somewhere on me. It’s b-e-a-utiful. It’s succinct. But above all, it’s correct. We (I include myself in this because I still do it far too often) spend far too long in our heads, in the safety  of our own thoughts, blocked from our feelings with distractions like phones or the internet and not actually enjoying right now. Because when we aren’t distracted our minds race with made up situations and problems, just to try and control future events when they might occur. It’s silly and a waste of our (my) imagination. I’d rather spend my time and brain power thinking up jokes, writing, reading, anything but in the dark place in my head that knows exactly what to say to make me feel bad. That place knows what to say because it is me, and it knows where I’m insecure or actually worried.

If you live in the past you live with regret, if you live in the future you live with anxiety the only place to find true happiness is right now.

I used this quote in my show “Buddhism And Cats”. When I wrote the joke which is centred around it I didn’t fully appreciate it. By saying it over and over again night after night in Edinburgh I started to think about what those words meant and how they apply to me. Much like the stoic quote above, I wasn’t enjoying life, I was just kinda happy with things and content, which isn’t enough. Settling shouldn’t ever be your aim. Live now and not in the two stories your head tells you that are your past and future and you’ll be so much happier. Because very little harms you from one moment to the next. And often the thing that does harm you is all in your head.

Never assume anything.

I could write a whole book on this one, but I’ll keep it short / snappy / BuzzFeed styled. When I was a child my dad used to say “never assume anything because it makes an ass out of u and me. Now this little phrase never really stuck with me. It still doesn’t (I guess it has too many childhood connotations with it). But assuming things leads to you going into your own head and filling in the blanks for someone else or something else (I’ve covered above why going into your head is not the best idea) when you could just ask. Asking (and solid communication) mean so much to me. I will ask anything to anyone when I want to know the answer. I’d rather get hurt / upset / rejected in reality than in my head. After all, my head knows what to say that can bring me to my knees. Someone else, they don’t have that power. Never assume. You never know what the other person is thinking, going through or capable of, so it’s better to ask.

Like attracts like

In life like attracts like. If you think back to high school you’d see people who all share a world view sitting together (or dressed like each other) because it makes them more comfortable but also, it makes sense to connect with people who are likeminded to you. It’s also easier to take criticism and feedback from someone you respect and it’s easier to respect someone who you have something in common with than someone who shares none of your core values. As a result, being yourself is key. But also improving those parts of you which you want to use to find people who will make your life better is important. I am happy and excited to get up in the morning. In the last few months I’ve met and connected with new friends who are the same. I’ve started to find extensions to my tribe and it feels really good. 

It’s not what you do it’s why you do it

In life, why you do something is so much more important than what. It’s why I don’t understand why it comes last in the 5 W’s (I guess it just rolls off the tongue better). If I bake someone a cake, the reason behind it is so much more important than the act itself. If I have a negative or destructive agenda that cake no longer seems like a nice gift or gesture. Questioning why we’re doing something (or more importantly why we’re investing any of our limited time into something) is a key skill in being self aware (another thing I really value).

The argument is rarely about the argument, it’s usually about something deeper.

It’s hard in the glare of anger to see the root cause of the feeling. If someone asks me to do something and I don’t do it, they might be upset I didn’t put the socks in the washing basket… or they could feel like I didn’t respect them. It’s harder to say that. Especially if you don’t know that’s what it is. Anger hides a lot of emotions but makes you feel like you are progressing. Working out why something made you feel a certain way gives you time and space to reflect on your relationship with that thing, but also how you react to it.

You problem isn’t the problem, it’s your reaction to the problem.

Another Buddhist quote (or I found out about it through Buddhism). This links heavily to the point above it, but I’ll explain it in my detail. The problem is usually your reaction to the thing because (again) your head hurts you way more than anyone else (probably) ever will. As a result, if something comes your way that makes you feel a negative feeling you should embrace it (which is hard sometimes) and learn more about yourself from it. Also if something positive comes your way, learn from that, it’ll help you learn how and what makes you happy.

Everything is learned

When you’re born, you have nothing. No intelligence, no hate, no love, nothing. You learn everything. As a result everything can be unlearned. From my therapy this year I’ve learned how to control and in some cases eliminate my negative thought patterns. You can teach old dogs new tricks, they just need to be willing. So if you have a problem that keeps entering your life and you react a certain way to it… question it. Ask if that is useful to you and (if you want to live without it in the future) work on changing it so the rest of your life is happier.

Perception is everything

This point kinda ties this all together. My perception is unique to me and built up over my lifetime and experiences. It’s important to keep a hold of your perspective because it’s all you have. Trying to see another persons is great, but can only come over time and by talking to them. If one thing goes wrong (see above) it can easy to totally lose your head and make more bad choices. I often finding writing lists of facts in situations helps me keep my feet on the ground.


What did you learn this year? (This is starting to sound a bit CBBC’s but I’d actually love to hear from anyone who has learned anything else this year OR has learned these things and wants to weigh in). X




Simon Caine is a comedian, author, podcaster, writer and social media manager. He's the host of the Ask The Industry Podcast (iTunes link) , writer of jokes for Twitter and teller of gags on the London comedy scene. He's also the person writing this and it is taking all his willpower not to make a "Simon Says" joke.
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