The pleasure in doing the wrong thing

Here are some of my favourite wrongful activities:

  • Taking a bubble bath in the middle of the day, and even better, a weekday
  • Taking myself out to dinner while I’m working on a piece of writing, so that I can work alone but amongst people (and get fed)
  • Going to a foreign city, making little to no effort to see the tourist attractions and sitting outside a cafe people watching instead

The way I was raised, my basic personality, the attitudes of people around me — each tell me that all of the above are at least a tiny bit wrong. Eyebrow raising indulgences. Signs of brat-like behaviour.

I mention these guilty pleasures today for a couple of reasons:

  • I’ve just been in Madrid for a couple of days and it reminded me how much I love lounging in foreign cities (especially beautiful ones). I wasn’t a total sloth – I did take the photos above, I did stroll to Plaza Mayor, I did walk down to the Museo Prado (though I didn’t queue to go in.) But mostly I did things I could do anywhere – I wrote, I read, I ate, I got a pedicure (the friend who mentioned the state of my toenails can now relax) and in doing all these things I chose not to work my way through a list of must-do attractions. I can’t tell you how how much I enjoy this particular brand of laziness
  • The 2nd reason why I mention “not doing what I should” is because it’s that time of year again when a lot of people push themselves to “be good” … to lose weight, quit smoking, stop shopping, find a mate, change jobs, give up alcohol … [insert yours here]. In fact, I just read somewhere that the new name for the month we’re in is Janupause … we put our bad habits on pause for a few weeks until we revert back to standard operating procedures. And so, I thought I would share 2 cool things I read this week that suggest we should adopt a different approach to improving/fixing ourselves.

Forget normal self-help, this lady is brilliant.  My biggest complaint against self-help is just how annoying (and tedious and un-funny) the tone of it usually is… not so with Danielle LaPorte — check our her blog post on how she kicked the time management habit

In a similar vein, a former colleague of mine (and active blogger) recommended this HBR article on 5 things to stop doing in the year ahead– the lingo is a tad corporate and work-y, but the ideas are very wise. And for all of you who know me personally, yes I know I am SO guilty of all of 5 things — you don’t need to remind me.

Happy Reading … till next week



Filed under Not in London, Self-help, States of mind, Time management, Work

5 responses to “The pleasure in doing the wrong thing

  1. You’re not going to stop your wrongful habits though, are you? They’re excellent ones (and they kind of fit in with the stuff in the time management article too) and I imagine they have a huge (and very good) impact on writing.

    • nathaliehourihan

      One upside to singledom is never having to defend your private wrongfulness to others! Except yourself …

      I’d rather keep these indulgences and learn to tame my inner judge so that I know when to listen to it and when not. That’s the trickiest part for me. Also I can be quite excessive (!) so it also comes down to how often am I “allowed” to do these wrongful things????

  2. I’m a big proponent of putting the guidebook down and letting the city lead you in how it wants to be experienced. Yay for Madrid and people-watching! No resolutions for me – I set my intentions on the winter solstice – a much more natural moment, for me.
    Oh, and I LOVE DLP!

    • nathaliehourihan

      Hi! What’s DLP? Daily Little Pleasures??

      • Danielle LaPorte. Ha! Isn’t she fab?
        Glad you responded, actually. I saw you’re in HR? I’d like to reach out as I’m researching a book I’m writing on hiring & interviewing. I’ll poke around here and see if there’s an email address. If not, and you’re interested in chatting – I’m at
        Happy New Year!

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