She’s famous for being the Prejudiced one in Pride & Prejudice, but—her misjudgement of Darcy and Wickham aside—there’s a lot of sturdy common sense in Lizzy Bennet’s approach to life which we can all make use of. Here are ten principles which she follows.
I: Don’t Need Everyone’s Approval
Not everyone you encounter in this world will like you, for reasons which may or may not have anything to do with you. Don’t let your peace of mind depend on the approval of others. During her stay at Netherfield, Lizzy gets the distinct impression that Mr Darcy dislikes her. “The supposition did not pain her. She liked him too little to care for his approbation.”
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an icky compliment is worse than no compliment at all. Exhibit A: Mr Collins, from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. As he tells Mr Bennet, “…you may imagine that I am happy on every occasion to offer those little delicate compliments which are always acceptable to ladies.”
In this case, suggesting to Lady Catherine de Bourgh that her insipid daughter (who has no conversation, no skills, no hobbies, and whose only recorded ability is playing the card game Casino) would be the “brightest ornament” of the royal court if she’d ever gone to London, and would be doing any duke a favour by accepting his hand and the highest available rank outside the actual royal family.
I am in search of visual peace. I did not realize this until I had spent an embarrassingly long time reading books about decluttering, orderliness, and interior design, and getting frustrated by how they weren’t helping me.
I don’t know about you, but I am not aiming for a specific number of personal possessions, and I have no particular desire to sort all my belongings into one of three to five piles, boxes, or bin bags. But I struggled to articulate what it was that I was looking for, until I eventually, by increasingly targeted blunderings, rediscovered the phrase “visual peace”.
The problem with most books I’ve read about improving the home environment is that they assume that once you’ve got rid of everything you don’t much like, you’re happy to keep looking at everything else. All the time. Forever.