The best advice I ever heard

Mark Rice-Oxley
·4-min read
<span>Photograph: Joshua Claro/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Joshua Claro/Alamy

Good advice is a bit like a bowl of sprouts at a dinner party. You don’t always fancy taking some for yourself, but you’re happy to pass it on to others.

That said, I’m always a sucker for a morsel of pithy wisdom. “Only worry about what’s going on on your mat,” a yoga teacher once cooed at me. I took it metaphorically, and have tried to avoid comparing myself to others ever since. “Try to give 20% less of a fuck about everything,” an exasperated boss once advised. I do, as I’m sure regular readers of this newsletter will attest.

And then my own favourite, courtesy of the great Billy Connolly: “Before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes first. After that, who cares? They are a mile away, and you still have their shoes.”

All this is by way of asking you, dear Upsiders, what is the best advice you ever received? In this year of years, we could all use a bit of a steer. Get in touch. It could be pandemic-related or it could be something more far-sighted. But a bit of advice: keep it short and sweet. The best submission wins some sprouts.

And so to this week’s eclectic mix of Upside articles, which included:

• Can loneliness be cured with a pill? Five-minute read

• Can an hour of slow breathing change your life? Five-minute read

• The social enterprises giving refugees a new start. Three-minute read

• The companies still hiring in the UK. Two-minute read

• A pangolin called Ghost, and the saving of a species. Three-minute read

Lucky numbers

Plastic numbers, 1-6.
You can count on the Upside. Photograph: Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

The Bank of England says the UK economy will “only” contract by 9.5% this year, something of a reprieve compared to earlier forecast of a double-digit decline. Energy prices are also set to fall.

The pope meanwhile has appointed six women to oversee Vatican finances, the most senior roles ever given to women in the Catholic church. And on other matters Catholic, a group of Dominican nuns has collaborated with the bank Morgan Stanley to set up a $130m (£99m) climate solutions fund.

What we liked

You probably haven’t read many pieces about kelp. Start with this, courtesy of Reasons to be Cheerful. And in other environmental news, we noted with interest Euractiv’s article about a big new carbon capture project in Norway.

Elsewhere curiosities abounded this week: the American road, paved with … plastic. The two-storey Dutch house, printed by a 3D printer. And this Upworthy piece about the Norwegian TV game show where the most polite person wins.

What we heard

On the theme of great contradictions, Emilia wrote in from New Jersey.

One of my favorite contradictory ideas is the premise of age: “it is sung by children” or “from the mouths of infants.” Meaning, that somehow the youth are speaking the wisdom that has escaped the older ones among us. I feel this idea is particularly significant now, when so many nurturing movements are being led by the young. Listen to what the children fear and dream – perhaps they know something after all.

There were plenty more emails about population. Melissa Pejrano wrote from Piacenza in Italy:

For a soft decline in population, advance the rights of women. Eliminate forced marriage, have an age of marriage of 18, provide for the education of girls, make sure the workplace is accessible, safe, and comfortable for women, and that they get equal pay for equal work, make available reproductive health services, including birth control, support women who choose not to marry and/or choose not to have children, set up retirement systems so that their children aren’t people’s retirement systems. Women who are self-respecting, socially and financially independent, and able to choose how many children they have, tend to have smaller families than those who aren’t in this fortunate position.

Ben Whitter wrote in on the subject of joint CEOs.

I saw your article on co-CEOs. I think the article could benefit from exploring a bigger example of success. Judo Bank in Australia is now a billion-dollar unicorn brand. All achieved within a period of 18 months. They have two co-CEOs who lead and act with one aligned voice and vision. It works and I strongly disagree with your contributor who says it can’t work.

Where was the Upside?

In New Guinea, home to the greatest plant diversity of any island on earth.

Also, with the revival of camping in the UK (this article also has the best pun of the year in its standfirst).

That’s all for now. The Upside is off to try and find somewhere to go on holiday. Do send us your soundest advice, your pearls of wisdom. We’ll be back at month-end to round them up.