Merry Christmas! What follows are a couple of musings I’ve had recently about how we should approach spending time with friends and family. During this period of holidays, we have lots of opportunities to socialise, hopefully this can help you do it well.

I was having a conversation the other day about someone’s friend being very particular about how she lived. Examples included not going to certain dinners, leaving places at exact times and not being very accommodating when having guests over. This particular and unaccommodating way of living was getting worse and worse as this woman progressed through her middle ages. The way this lady was being talked about was negatively. When you are unable or unhappy to adapt to suit or include other people, it can rub people up the wrong the way. This conversation got me thinking about whether I am in danger of becoming like this, and whether it is actually a bad thing.

First things first, is it a bad thing to be particular about how you approach your day to day life? There are certainly benefits to this. For example, a person who insists on going to bed at 10:30pm every night will surely feel rejuvenated after their night’s sleep and will no doubt stand a better chance of feeling healthy than someone getting less sleep than them. Someone who is very clean and is painstakingly militant about keeping their house tidy, even when guests are around, will certainly have a clean house. Having a clean house and a non-messy environment can certainly contribute towards clarity of mind and be conducive with good hygiene. For sure, being particular about how you approach certain things in your life can be viewed as beneficial if they contribute towards leading a more happy, healthy life.

What of the negatives? Are there really negatives other than the bad perception people may begin to have of you? Yes, I believe so. Before we move onto the other negatives of people of being particular and unaccommodating to others, let us first re-envisage the dangers of people’s bad perceptions. If people begin to get this perception of you being unwilling to adapt to others then this will may damage the relationship and make it less likely you will see them in the future. For example, if you are out at dinner and force the issue of leaving early even though people are still clearly having a good time, then people may brand you as someone unwilling to have fun, i. e.  a killjoy. In the future, unfortunately so, you may be unlikely to get another invite to dinner. Another example I heard this festive week was my friend’s family deciding not to go up to Scotland to visit family at Christmas. Each year they went up there, their family said “we are doing this, this and this, you can come if you want”. This unaccommodating approach to socialising left my friend’s family with a bitter taste in their mouth. Ultimately, they decided they would enjoy themselves and feel more comfortable at home.

Looking at the other negatives, getting stuck in your ways not only gives people the perception of you being unaccommodating and particular, you truly are being unaccommodating and particular. I don’t think these trait have much value in themselves, being unable to adapt to change is not something anyone should aspire to, it doesn’t keep you on your toes and can often lead to bad moods and negative feelings. Moreover, if you decline to do something just because you want to keep with your routine you can end up on missing out. A few weeks ago I declined going to the pub with work colleagues in favour of getting home, exercising and sleeping. I don’t always endorse going out drinking and often very little happens. However, this particular time I missed some good times and very funny stories.

Moving on to how this affects me twenty something self, I think there is a danger of me and others my age becoming too particular. Having spent the last couple of years recovering from a bad bout of anxiety by living and eating healthily, I may now have a tendency to want to stick to these methods. That isn’t to say I shouldn’t try to remain fit and healthy, but now that I am feeling better I shouldn’t feel the need to leave somewhere early to make sure I get a good night’s sleep. Nor that I am not entitled to miss playing sport occasionally to stay out at the pub with my friends. Papermag interviewed the Pulitzer Prize winning author Jennifer Egan who summarised what advice she would give her twenty something self, she stated:

I think that the number one thing that I didn’t understand when I was younger was that everything would change constantly. I think there was this misconception that the moment is forever and therefore when things weren’t going well, I was just in a state of active despair and I feel like I suffered more than I needed to during years when, in fact, I was unfettered and should have been having the time of my life! What was the big deal?

Not understanding ‘everything would change constantly’ is a good piece of advice going forward with anyone’s life, particularly those people in their late teens and twenties. When I look back at my life during the last few years, I am genuinely surprised at how often my situation has changed. Being able to adapt to these constant changes, being accommodating to others and not getting set in certain ways are invaluable approaches going forward with my life. That isn’t too say I shouldn’t look after myself and not feel entitled to say no to certain things. You shouldn’t do something you are rightfully not comfortable with in order to be adaptable and easy-going in the company of others. Fortunately, often when these times come they are clear enough to see.

However, this is not just applicable to my own life, it should be considered by others. During this festive period, there are many opportunities to be accommodating and easy-going with other people, this allows you to socialise, laugh and be happy. So, should you be hosting your family, stay up late with them, make plans around them and don’t worry too much about the mess. If you are feeling a bit tired and can’t be bothered to see your friends, have a coffee and get out. Unfortunately, we only have a finite amount of time to be with friends and family, we should use it wisely.