Really enjoyed this opinion piece from historian Mary Beard at BBC News on how, when it comes to speaking down to the poor with coded (and blatant) language, it was ever thus:
More recent obsessions have focused on those immoral wastrels who supposedly choose to have another baby in order to increase their state benefits by a couple of thousand a year.
I guess that there may be a few people who do try this - if so, they probably need a few lessons in home economics and maths rather than in morals.
But what a preposterous view of the whole reproductive process you must have, with all its uncertainties, pain, disruption, responsibilities and expense, to imagine that people are going down this route in large numbers. It's not a line I hear coming from many women.
[...] The 19th Century notoriously had its "deserving" and "undeserving poor". Our own equivalent of the "deserving poor" is "hard-working families".
Politicians of all parties are forever parroting this pious phrase on television or radio. It's almost as if they've been told to never say the simple word "families" without its knee-jerk accompanying adjective.
Maybe I'm peculiarly counter-suggestible. But whenever I hear them at it, I feel a great well of support coming over me for the feckless and lazy, or - for heaven's sake - for the singletons who don't have families. Are you any less worthy of our political time and care just because you haven't got kids?
The Atlantic has an interview with David Allen of Getting Things Done fame, with a few observations that ring true for anyone stuck in the daily grind:
If you’ve had half a day of a lot of decisions to make, you don’t have much willpower left the rest of the day. So then we walk around with what I call the GSA of life—the Gnawing Sense of Anxiety that something out there might be more important than what you’re currently doing. You don’t remember what it is, but it might be more important than whatever you’re doing, so you’re not present anywhere. You’re at work worrying about home, and you’re at home worrying about work, and you’re neither place psychologically when you’re there physically. That’s hugely undermining of your productivity, and certainly adds hugely to the stress factor.
What’s different these days? Nothing is different really, except how frequently this occurs. You and I have gotten more change-producing and priority-shifting inputs in the past 72 hours than your parents got in a month, some of them in a year. I was reading that in 1912, someone was complaining about the telephone, exactly the same things you hear people say about e-mail: “Oh my God, it’s going to ruin our quality of life”; “conversations are going to become surface-only and not meaningful”; “all the interruptions and distractions!” It reads like right now. [...] The difference is that rather than a small minority of people experiencing this stress, it’s a much larger group of people, at every level.
And, rather fittingly given the above, here's a nice piece by Peter Bregman in Lifehacker on the productivity benefits of meditation - although, in all honesty, I've not done it myself. But I'd like to.
Sometimes, not following through on something you want to do is a problem, like not writing that proposal you've been procrastinating on or not having that difficult conversation you've been avoiding.
But other times, the problem is that you do follow through on something you don't want to do. Like speaking instead of listening or playing politics instead of rising above them.
Meditation teaches us to resist the urge of that counterproductive follow through.
And while I've often noted that it's easier and more reliable to create an environment that supports your goals than it is to depend on willpower, sometimes, we do need to rely on plain, old-fashioned, self-control.
[...] Meditating daily will strengthen your willpower muscle. Your urges won't disappear, but you will be better equipped to manage them. And you will have experience that proves to you that the urge is only a suggestion. You are in control.