Shelley Good or Bad


Restaurant reviewing takes preparation. Recently I joined a pal who’s a reviewer for a major newspaper for dinner at a new, wildly expensive, sushi restaurant. My pre-dining investigation revealed it offered foie gras sushi. This was entirely new to me, but she’d had it before and emailed by return that it ‘never a good thing.’ As it happens it was delicious, if odd – as was the case with many of the offerings that night. This brings me to my topic, our fondness for labelling things ‘good’ and ‘bad’. We do it in the here and now and even more when considering the future. In fact, as an astrologer, one of the questions I’m most frequently asked is “will things be good?”

Just as with that bizarre – but ultimately delicious – foie gras sushi, employing the words good and bad, or any such labels, can limit our thinking and, ultimately, create unwitting restrictions. Look back on your life and you’ll recall events, probably several, that seemed very bad news indeed. A romantic breakup, perhaps, the loss of a job or an enforced move. However disastrous at the time, that began a cycle that led you away from those circumstances to a new setting and, ultimately, to something or somebody far better. It changed you and your life. You may even be experiencing something ‘bad’ now. Continue to define it in those terms and you’ll worry and feel grim. You may even feel powerless.

When discussing it with others, you’ll express your feelings in those terms, which will, in turn, elicit sympathy – confirming how ‘bad’ things are. Yet at times we actively choose circumstances that are just as challenging, anything from taking on new professional duties, moving into a wreck of a residence that we plan to turn into a palace to tackling a new fitness regime. This means taking chances and, potentially, struggling with the unfamiliar, doubts and physical discomfort. Yet because you’re viewing the experience in a positive context, it’s exciting and, therefore, ‘good’. Consider whether you’ve labelled any element of your life as “bad news” recently. Is it actually bad or, rather, asking something new or challenging of you? These aren’t just words. Science has shown that while our bodies react positively to stimuli that we regard as exciting or challenging, we react negatively to those that are ‘bad’ with fear, which triggers a completely difference physiological reaction – the fight or flight reaction, which increases adrenalin and reduces creative thinking. We can’t always choose what life brings our way. We can, however, consciously choose how we react. Try it today. First, simply note what you describe to yourself as ‘bad’ and question whether it really is that – or merely challenging. Then think about what, and who, you regard as ‘good’. Then put yourself on a ‘good and bad’ diet – for each word signifies an extreme of the same, restrictive perspective. Next, begin to get creative with your thinking.

This isn’t just about words. It’s about taking control over a portion of your mind that’s been unconscious, and perhaps a bit lazy, and training it to be your ally. In the process, you’ll begin to use your mind to be a co-creator, and introduce a greater sense of excitement into the present and promise for the future. I would like 2013 to be a Year of Discovery. So my ideal gift is about broadening my horizons. It would be curated by an expert – but somebody who knows me. It would consist of a weekly delivery of two items. The first would be an item of food or wine that’s new to me, and the second a piece of art that, equally, would take me into a new aesthetic realm – but only for a week, until.