A new collection of life lessons explores how being playful every day can make us happier
I didn’t know I was miserable until my doctor told me so. I thought I was simply an adult.
And so begins Laura Jane Williams’ new self-help manual, Ice Cream for Breakfast: How rediscovering your inner child can make you calmer, happier, and solve your bullsh*t adult problems. Williams, a published author, popular journalist, and viral blogger introduces the perception of success. Whilst seeming to be living the clichéd dream, she was taking medication for anxiety and being treated or depression, noting she wouldn’t wish her suffering on her very worst enemy.
I have something of a love-hate relationship with self-help books. Too many mediocre offerings written by authors posing as experts with large holes in their theories, and conflicting advice between chapters, can leave me despairing of the genre. But like my addiction to sugar, which I know is rotting my teeth and probably my gut, I cannot leave it alone.
Admittedly, I chose this book based on the sickly-sweet cover design. Its cutesy cover bordered with intensely coloured cupcake sprinkles, contrasted with some cheeky adult language, felt representative of my personality and questionable dietary decisions.
Inside the covers, Williams re-introduces us to 40 life lessons we’ve always known but somehow forgotten. Lessons she re-learned when she took the job of a nanny to three children when she needed to take a grown-up gap year from life. Her tone is in keeping with the current trend of accessible, big sister-style self-help: casual, affable, and occasionally sweary.
A selection of lessons to keep us calmer, happier, and help solve our bullsh*t adult problems:
1. Make the ordinary an occasion
Williams explains we need to make time for daily playfulness. The only special moments in life are those which we declare so. ‘Ghetto lunch’ or ‘cowboy breakfast’ when you wing a meal from whatever is left in the fridge. ‘Fortune Favours the Bold’ day when you have to do something gutsy but it might pay off. This week, I declared Gin Friday in the office to reward the team on a successful event we delivered. Gin Friday is now a thing, and everyone is happier for it.
2. Slow the f*ck down
Kids don’t have a time schedule and don’t give a crap about where they’re supposed to be if they’re enjoying doing something else. By saying yes to the things we think we have no time for, and truly giving it your time and enjoy it in the moment, we can be more focussed at the times we need to be.
She suggests making time for meditation, the long way home, telling her she is very smart – and so on. I tried using a mindfulness meditation on my train journey to work in a morning rather than making a start on emails – my stress tolerance has improved noticeably.
3. Forgive, or something like that
Children aren’t waiting for people to make mistakes so that they can hold a grudge. They’re also not thinking about something that happened days, weeks or months ago. Williams explains that forgiving might not always be about excusing others, but about allowing yourself some peace, making us happier and more productive. A lesson many of us can learn from.
What Williams successfully puts across is that failure is positive, and we’re not screwing our lives up like we think we are. In fact, the thing we think we’re screwing up might one day lead us to our greatest success – just like her, when she published this book about it.
This article was written in June 2017. My target media style was women’s lifestyle.