Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Why words like 'good' and 'bad' are unhelpful

Everywhere we turn, we hear people adding moral tones to everyday activities. In lunchrooms individuals are 'being good' by depriving their bodies of substantial nourishment as various financially-driven-diets vilify certain food. People in gyms are 'being good' by pounding away on a machine in a stuffy monotonous hell. Why are we dividing everything up into these two very small boxes?



What does good even mean? What about bad?

Is it making us feel happy to use these words all day long? This ping-pong between pride and shame.

People everywhere are completely overusing, and misusing the words 'good' and 'bad'. Believe it or not, most things we do every day do not actually require a moral judgement. If you turn down a mince pie, that does not suddenly make you a good person- whatever that is!

What I've learned on my journey is that overusing the words good and bad is unhelpful.

If we totally scrap the words good and bad, and instead use the words helpful and unhelpful, then we'd be much more content, not to mention productive! If you think you're bad, then you end up feeling bad. And that's not helpful for anyone! Remember your thoughts create how you feel. If you keep telling yourself you're bad, then it's no wonder really that you're not feeling very happy...

It's not a bad idea to read negative news stories. But it is definitely unhelpful! It's not bad to stay in your pjammas all day, but again it's pretty unhelpful to your state of mind. You're not a good person if you decide to fight the negative dis-ease in your mind, but it's undeniably helpful. Eating nutritionally dense food every few hours does not affect your moral integrity, but it's pretty helpful to your energy levels and state of mind.

Think of a small child acting up while you're trying to get them into a pram so you can run for the bus. The child isn't a bad child just because he/she is behaving unhelpfully. Telling that child he/she is a bad child would be pretty damaging, as I'm sure you'd agree. So why do we think it's ok to call ourselves good and bad people based on arbitrary parameters that we create during the day? It's not helpful that the child is throwing a wobbly, but it doesn't tell us anything about the kindness in that child's heart!

Telling a quiet child how 'good they are' may seem like a 'nice' thing to say, but is it really? It's teaching the child that quietness makes them a good child. And the inverse- that being noisy makes them a bad child. When really, peace and quiet is helpful if you're trying to do a crossword!

And on the topic of good or bad people- how does one even define a good or bad person? By how many low fat products they eat in a day (yuck!) or by the love in their heart? Labelling people is unhelpful at the best of times, but labelling them with moral words like good and bad doesn't help anybody. When you think you're in a 'bad' situation you can end up feeling very down.


So let's change how we're looking at life!

It's not a bad day, it's just raining.
It's not a bad week, you're just struggling to cope with all your duties.
It's not a bad song, it just doesn't appeal to you.
It's not bad traffic, there's just lots of people trying to drive the same route.
It's not good or bad food, you've just heard it labelled as such.
It's not a bad idea, but there might be a simpler way to do something.
It's not bad to read beauty magazines, but it is unhelpful to your body image.



If someone tells you they have 'bad news', you end up approaching that news with a negative outlook. But if you can remember that news is just news, and that there's a solution for everything, then you'll really be able to cope with anything life throws at you!

I don't like being labelled as good or bad by whether or not I do something that society has deemed a good or bad action. It's unhelpful. It does not help me reach my goals in life. It gets in the way of my dreams. It's an unnecessary. I don't go to the gym, but that doesn't make me a bad person. I like the odd cupcake, but that also doesn't make me a bad person. When I eat a cupcake or walk past a gym, my moral integrity remains untouched. I am still a person with lots of love to give. I'm still a person who values kindness and compassion. And if that doesn't contribute to what the ineffable 'good person' is then I don't know what does.

So save good or bad for situations when there really is no alternative word. If you can come up with a sentence then let me know, because I couldn't think of even one!


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