Category: Posts from Elsewhere

Freedom vs Security

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

Today: some thoughts about life decisions.

But First: Let’s Talk About Fourier Transforms,

[WARNING: THIS SECTION CONTAINS MATHS! (It’s optional, so skip it, if you like.)]

A few months ago, I was making a decision, and every time I thought about it, a mathematical analogy sprung to mind.

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How to Choose the Right Path When There are SO MANY POSSIBILITIES

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

To my great surprise, I’ve written two books.

The first was non-fiction, and I spent the entire process worrying about making factual errors. I checked and rechecked (and rechecked) everything obsessively. At the very least, I wanted to be able to honestly say that I’d done my best to make sure any information I was sharing was reasonably accurate.

As a means of handling this anxiety, occasionally I mixed in a chapter of flash fiction. This was such a relief! These random chapters about wizards and aliens and talking flowers didn’t have the same obligation to be correct – in fiction, I could make up anything I liked.

Idly, I dreamed of someday writing an entire novel… a whole project free from this pressure, a project where there were no rules.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Of course, it turned out that having no rules was also horrible… just differently horrible.

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Wasted Time Isn’t Wasted

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

We can’t control whether to spend our time, only what we spend it on.

This thought has echoed around and around in my mind ever since I read the story of Opus 40 – a sculpture park created by one man over 37 years(!).

Part of me recoils in horrified terror at the thought of spending 37 years on a single project. Sometimes, 37 minutes can feel like a lot!

But I still find this story inspirational.

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Being an Adult Child (in a Good Way)

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

I never really grew out of childishness.

It’s just so fun. Children get to be curious, silly, and playful. And there’s something delightfully mindful about the capacity they have to get absorbed in an activity for hours on end.

Naturally, we can’t remain entirely childlike forever, but I’ve been thinking lately about which parts of childishness we might benefit from, even now we’re Definitely Responsible Adults. (Which I am.) (Honest.)

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Have Fun, For Fun’s Sake!

[This relatively sensible post was originally written for puttylike.com]

I often feel pressure, like questions are burnt into my brain by endless repetition:

Am I contributing to the world right now?

Am I making enough money?

Am I deepening myself, learning new skills and growing as a person?

You might think that achieving any of these goals would be sufficient, but sometimes even when I manage one of them feels like it’s not enough. While I’m learning something valuable, I still feel pressure that I’m not contributing, or earning, or… or… or…

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Do You Plan, Ruminate, Worry, Poke, Prod, and Fumble? How to Stop Overanalysing Your Life

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

I’ve been planning to write this post for approximately seven years.

Every possible paragraph has been carefully researched. Each of my thoughts has been studied intensely by a number of focus groups so that they are perfectly formed.

(In fact, the focus groups were themselves chosen by focus groups, although it took me several months of careful focus-grouping to realise that that was the correct strategy.)

As such, I am confident that this post is the very best it could possibly be, except-

Wait.

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Do You Feel the Need to Be Impressive?

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

Hi, my name’s Neil Hughes and, because I’m human, I want you to be impressed by me.

This is a normal urge. We are social animals, so it’s natural to be concerned about our status within the tribe.

Our brains: Am I important? What do people think when they meet me?

As ever, there’s both a healthy mindset and an unhealthy mindset about our own impressiveness. Here’s an example of each:

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Why You’re So Confused About What You Want

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

There’s lots of advice out there on how to achieve your dreams.

But what if I don’t know what my dream even is?! How on earth do I move on when I have difficulty realising what I even want?

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Is it Too Late for Me?

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

At some point, everyone worries if it’s too late. Time comes for us all. Our lives drip away at a constant rate of one second per second. This is – to put it mildly – slightly worrying.

Worse, we can’t escape the realization that every choice we make forces us to leave all other paths untaken. Decisions made in childhood can prevent us from entering whole professions decades later.

Then there’s the media, “helpfully” presenting constant images of youth, subtly reinforcing the idea that if we haven’t achieved enough by the time we’re twenty thirty forty whatever age, we have failed.

And so our brains put a ticking clock on every dream, and we wonder… “Is this it for me now? Am I stuck? Is it too late?!”

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Loving Your Inner Critic?

I was asked to write a gentle article about self-love and our inner critics for selfharm UK.

You can click here to read it over on their website.

Inner critic: Save yourself the trouble, it’s rubbish.

I think it’s fine. Probably some people will agree with me, some with my inner critic.

That’s fine too.


No inner voices were harmed in the production of this post.

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