Tag Archives: self-esteem

Who Was Mrs. Grundy?

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Have you ever heard a person described as a “Mrs. Grundy” (a humorless arbiter of strict conventionality) and wondered about its origins? I did.

Turning to Wikipedia, I discovered that Mrs. Grundy was a fictional English character whose unwavering adherence to rigid respectability came to represent other people’s judgement of everyday behavior. She’s first mentioned (though she never appears onstage) in Thomas Morton’s 1798 play Speed the Plough, in which one character, Dame Ashfield, continually worries about what her neighbour Mrs. Grundy will say of each development.

By the 19th century, this figure of speech was commonplace, and the tendency to be overly fearful of what others might think was sometimes referred to as Grundyism.

[Excerpted from Wikipedia]:

The Play

In the first scene of the play, Dame Ashfield’s mention of Mrs. Grundy provokes a scathing response from her husband.

Ashfield. Well, Dame, welcome whoam. What news does thee bring vrom market?
Dame. What news, husband? What I always told you; that Farmer Grundy’s wheat brought five shillings a quarter more than ours did.
Ash. All the better vor he.
Dame. Ah! the sun seems to shine on purpose for him.
Ash. Come, come, missus, as thee hast not the grace to thank God for prosperous times, dan’t thee grumble when they be unkindly a bit.
Dame. And I assure you, Dame Grundy’s butter was quite the crack of the market.
Ash. Be quiet, woolye? Aleways ding, dinging Dame Grundy into my ears — what will Mrs Grundy zay? What will Mrs Grundy think — Canst thee be quiet, let ur alone, and behave thyzel pratty?

A real Mrs. Grundy?

During the reign of William IV (1830–1837) a Mrs. Sarah Hannah Grundy was employed as Deputy Housekeeper at Hampton Court Palace one of Henry VIII of England‘s most famous residences, a position that would have required her to keep a sharp eye out for various infractions.

Ernest Law, chief historian of Hampton Court, noted that a “Mrs Grundy” did really exist.

“That lady was, as a fact, embodied in the housekeeper of that name at Hampton Court Palace in the late ‘forties and early ‘fifties of [the 19th] century. Her fame is perpetuated in a dark space — one of the mystery chambers of the palace — the door of which is rarely opened, and which is still known as ‘Mrs Grundy’s Gallery.’

Here she impounded any picture or sculpture which she considered unfit for exhibition in the State rooms; and here she kept them under lock and key in defiance of the authority and protests of the Queen’s surveyor of pictures. The story goes that on one occasion the First Commissioner of Works, on a visit of inspection, sent for Mrs Grundy. In answer to the First Commissioner’s request, she declined to open the door for him. It was not until the early 1900s that a leaden statue of Venus, which had been sent from Windsor, and was stored in Mrs Grundy’s Gallery, was brought forth to adorn Henry VIII’s pond garden. “What would Mrs Grundy say?” 

However, a book published in 1836 shows that the expression was already in common use before the arrival of the Hampton Court housekeeper. In The Backwoods of Canada Being Letters From The Wife Of An Emigrant Officer, Illustrative Of The Domestic Economy Of British America, by Catharine Parr Traill, the author writes: “Now, we bush-settlers are more independent: we do what we like; we dress as we find most suitable and most convenient; we are totally without the fear of any Mr. or Mrs. Grundy; and having shaken off the trammels of Grundyism, we laugh at the absurdity of those who voluntarily forge afresh and hug their chains.”

The Victorians

The Victorian era ushered in a new morality comprised of decency, serious-mindedness, propriety and community discipline, as well as hypocrisy and self-deception. In the 1841 novel Phineas Quiddy, author John Poole wrote, “Many people take the entire world to be one huge Mrs. Grundy, and, upon every act and circumstance of their lives, please, or torment themselves, according to the nature of it, by thinking of what that huge Mrs. Grundy, the World, will say about it”.  In 1869, John Stuart Mill referred to Mrs. Grundy in The Subjection of Women, noting that “Whoever has a wife and children has given hostages to Mrs. Grundy”.

Will future lexicographers describe behavior that is embarrassing, belligerent, ignorant and vulgar with the expression, “Trumpism”?

 

Good News Monday: A Scout Troop Brings Joy to Homeless Girls

This is one of the most inspiring stories I’ve read.

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Girl Scout Troop 6000 in New York City was created by an employee of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York who’d had to move to a shelter after her rental home was sold.

Knowing just how rough this situation can be for kids, she volunteered to lead a special chapter for homeless girls. These Scouts go camping, learn about different careers, and build self-esteem while earning their badges. And of course they sell cookies… lots and lots of cookies!

Pretty sweet.

 

 

 

 

10 Habits That Lower Your HQ (Happiness Quotient)

You feel it in your gut when things are going well. And it’s equally gut wrenching when they aren’t. We’re often told that happiness is a choice, which can seem banal at best and downright condescending at worst. Who are these Pollyannas prattling on about looking on the bright side? Makes you want to swat them upside the head!

But although there will be times in our lives when stress, loss or illness make it understandably difficult to stay positive, some daily habits can either cause us to be miserable or reinforce our sense of gratitude, accomplishment, laughter and love.

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1. CLINGING TO TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS

While it’s easy to ignore many people we truly can’t stand – an obnoxious co-worker, for instance – it’s often harder to walk away from a friend, romantic partner or family member.

Relationships should be a two-way street based on mutual respect and the recognition that compromise is necessary when you each have different needs or desires. If you sense that some of your relationships are unbalanced, and you feel that you consistently give more than you get or that most encounters leave you feeling drained, it’s probably time to re-evaluate.

A frank conversation may put things back on track, or you may find that a time out leads to a lasting sense of relief when they’re not around to push your buttons.

2. TAKING EVERYTHING PERSONALLY

The bitter truth: Not everything is about you. If someone is rude it could be because they’re having a crappy day. The waiter didn’t screw up your order to punish you. When an opportunity falls through it’s not because you “always” have bad luck. Habitually casting ourselves as a victim inevitably makes us unhappy.

3. SECOND GUESSING

It’s a fact of life that not everyone will agree with your every decision. Take an honest look at your actions. When you do your best and act honorably you can feel secure in your choices, even if you don’t do or say what somebody else wants to hear.

4. BELIEVING IN “MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY”

You may the hero of your own story, but inflexibility won’t do you any favors. While it’s great to be confident, feeling overly entitled is sure to bite you in the ass at some point.

5. SAYING YES WHEN YOU MEAN NO

Don’t let anyone “guilt” you into doing stuff you don’t want to do. You’ll resent every minute! Guilt is a major happiness time-suck.

6. PUTTING YOURSELF DOWN

While endlessly bragging about (or exaggerating) your achievements is rude and boring, it’s equally important not to beat up on yourself. Be your own best cheerleader, celebrate your successes, and forgive yourself for the legitimate mistakes you make.

7. REINFORCING THE NEGATIVE

Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes we’re irritated with our partners. Sometimes our kids drive us nuts. But although we may feel vindicated after an occasional bitch session, constant complaining is likely to leave us feeling angry and dissatisfied.

Instead of focusing on the negative, especially petty annoyances, seek out friends and partners who reinforce what’s going right, encourage your goals and are truly happy – not jealous – when life goes well for you.

And when you DO need to work through a troubling problem, try to envision a positive outcome rather than dwelling on what can go wrong.

8. ENDLESSLY WAITING

“I’ll move when I find the right job.” “I’ll travel when I have more money.” “I’ll dump him after (fill in the life event).” Putting things off until the “perfect” moment is b.s. Because, guess what, no such moment exists.

Start small. Read about that exotic destination or acquire a new skill. Put aside some money a little at a time. Whatever you can do to move forward today puts you one step closer than you were yesterday. Anything’s better than standing still, and…

9. GIVING IN TO FEAR

We may obsess over past failures, hold on to worries, or be terrified of change. But taking risks is part of life and rarely occurs without discomfort.

Don’t waste energy feeding your fears. Challenges help us learn, grow, and discover how strong and resilient we are.

10. COMPARING

Chances are, someone else is (smarter), (prettier), (richer), (more accomplished) than you are. After all, look at their perfect Instagrams.

Wait a second; those images are all highly curated! The truth is, comparisons only add value to your life when they inspire you. Envying a friend’s happy marriage? Start dating. Wish you had that guy’s career? Learn more about it.

IN CONCLUSION

One foolproof way to boost your HQ? Take time to appreciate the small stuff: your good hair day; that beautiful sunset; a hot bath; the fact that you still have (almost) all your own teeth.

And it never hurts to eat dessert first.

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