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Insights and Quips from The Art of Not Falling Apart

If Christina Patterson fell apart, no one would blame her. She has dealt with one devastating illness after another, the untimely deaths of people she loved, the loss of her faith and of the job that meant so much to her. She yearned for a spouse and children but got to age fifty without either.

Patterson did not fall apart. Instead, she interviewed other people who faced crushing life experiences yet managed to survive, and sometimes even thrive. She wrote about their experiences and her own in The Art of Not Falling Apart. I have reviewed the book for Psych Central and that review will be published in the coming months. In the meantime, I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes and quips from the book.

On living single

“I think I used to think that being single was a kind of affliction, a shameful state that had been handed to me by fate. It has taken me a very, very long time to realize that I’m probably single because I really like being on my own.”

“On the one hand, I would love to meet someone, but where on earth would I put their stuff?”

“I have moaned and moaned and moaned and moaned to friends about being single. I could have written War and Peace in that time. I could have built up a business empire. I could have sailed round the world or walked on the moon. What have I achieved by all that moaning? Apart, I mean, from boring my friends? Nada. Niente. Zilch. /  “If I’d stopped moaning I might even have noticed that I was actually having quite a nice time, and that some of the friends I was moaning to had not had their own problems wiped away, just because they had a man in their bed.”

“I was thirty-five when I decided that if I was going to be single, I was going to try to do it magnificently.”

“I would rather talk about current affairs than other people’s families. It’s one of the reasons I like parties. At a party, you are more likely to talk to someone you’ve just met about what’s going on in the world than whether their little Amelia or Jack got into the school of their choice.”

“I have always been to parties on my own. [In one of them] I marched up to a woman who looked friendly…We had a lively conversation and she has since invited me to some of her parties. I think this kind of thing happens much more often when you go to parties on your own.”

“Even on my own, I’m hardly ever lonely and I honestly can’t remember feeling bored.”

Quoting someone she interviewed: “‘Getting married was very romantic,’ she said, ‘but being married…I didn’t like it much.’”

On not having kids

“It’s been a long time since I’ve cried about not having children. The worst time is when it is still uncertain. When it’s no longer a possibility, you adjust to the new landscape of your life.”

“I once heard a film star say that he hadn’t been able to look at pictures of starving children since he had children of his own.  It does make you wonder what he thinks the rest of us are doing. Giggling at the way their ribs stick out?”

“If you don’t have children, some people will think you are selfish. They think that the urge to replicate your genes, and to boast about your offspring’s achievements, is a noble thing, in a way that trying to be a good friend or daughter, or do a job well, is not.”

About how families are given special consideration in the workplace: “Jessica has had her own family pressures. She has a brother with MS and a father with dementia, but this doesn’t seem to be the kind of family that counts.”

On the joys of life

About her fiftieth birthday party that she threw for herself: “One by one they came, these people who have made me laugh, or rushed to buy me a drink or cook me a meal, or visit me in hospital, or offer me a sofa bed, or search their heads and hearts to find words to console when life has been tough…every time I saw a new face arriving, I felt a flutter of joy. These people make me proud. These people are my gang.”

“Give me sunshine, give me good coffee, give me delicious food, give me delicious wine. Give me all of these things and I, too, will think that life is sweet.”

“I think you should celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and leaving jobs. I think you should celebrate new books and new babies and new romances and new starts. I think you should celebrate the end of the working day and the start of the weekend. I think you should celebrate – and the scientific evidence backs this up – because thinking about good things makes you feel better.”

“How can you not want to drink in the beauty of the world, and its art, and its landscapes, and its wine? I’ll drink to thoughtful, kind, generous friends.”

“At home I don’t always eat all that much, but when I’m with other people I just want to grab it all – the food, the company, the conversation – and gulp it down.”

“One of the best moments of my working day is when I take my first sip of my first coffee. Every day I love that first sip. And I love the sight of the flowers – the tulips, or daffodils, or roses – that I nearly always have on my desk. / Every day, even on a bad day, there are small pleasures scattered throughout the day, small pleasures that you could, if you wanted, make yourself notice and count up.”

“I still drink, because although the studies say that it isn’t good for your health, I think it’s very good for your mood.”

Other themes

“It makes me angry when people sneer at other people’s jobs. Most people in the world have to take what they can get.”

“Almost every night of my life, I have gone to bed asking myself what I’ve achieved and concluding that it isn’t enough. I’m beginning to learn that it’s sometimes OK just to say, I had a nice day.”

“Positive thinking does not get rid of illness. We all get ill and we all die. But I’ve learnt that the best way to keep healthy is to be happy, and active, and curious, and to be grateful for the incredible machine we all live in…”

Final note

If you like these quotes, I think you will like The Art of Not Falling Apart. One quick word of caution, though. Christina Patterson gets so much right in her book, but not what the research says about the implications of getting married for happiness, health, or longevity. No, research has not shown definitively that getting married makes people happier or healthier or live longer.  And the story of the children of single parents is not just about risk; it is also about resilience and in some ways doing even better than the children of married parents. For more about what the research really does show, click here, or take a look at Singled Out or Marriage vs. Single Life: How Science and the Media Got It So Wrong.

Photo by Strelka Institute photo

Insights and Quips from The Art of Not Falling Apart

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single," https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyZysfafOAs. Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at www.BellaDePaulo.com.


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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2018). Insights and Quips from The Art of Not Falling Apart. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 25, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/single-at-heart/2018/06/insights-and-quips-from-the-art-of-not-falling-apart/

 

Last updated: 13 Jun 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Jun 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.