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Olivia Joules’ Rules for Living

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Having mentioned Helen Fielding’s Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination in a previous post, I suddenly remembered just how much I enjoy Helen Fielding’s writing – her humour, her humanity, her wittiness, and her practical advice on life – and how much I value the fifteen rules for (happy and sane) living that she attributes to the heroine of her latest novel, Olivia Joules. (Who is, for your information, a confident, dazzling, emancipated woman, albeit one that’s occasionally prone to near-fatal accidents.) My favourites (and the ones I use most) are items 2, 9, 12, and 14. Here they all are in a neat little list.

Rules for living, by Olivia Joules

1. Never panic. Stop, breathe, think.
2. No one is thinking about you. They’re thinking about themselves, just like you.
3. Never change haircut or colour before an important event.
4. Nothing is either as bad or as good as it seems.
5. Do as you would be done by, e.g. thou shalt not kill.
6. It is better to buy one expensive thing that you really like than several cheap ones that you only quite like.
7. Hardly anything matters: if you get upset, ask yourself, ‘Does it really matter?’
8. The key to success lies in how you pick yourself up from failure.
9. Be honest and kind.
10. Only buy clothes that make you feel like doing a little dance.
11. Trust your instincts, not your overactive imagination.
12. When overwhelmed by disaster, check if it’s really a disaster by doing the following: a) think, ‘Oh, fuck it,’ b) look on the bright side and, if that doesn’t work, look on the funny side. If neither of the above works then maybe it is a disaster so turn to items 1 and 5.
13. Don’t expect the world to be safe or life to be fair.
14. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
15. Don’t regret anything. Remember there wasn’t anything else that could have happened, given who you are and the state of the world at that moment. The only thing you can change is the present, so learn from the past.

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