4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that believes the meaning of life is irrelevant…

Following a 4-3-2-1 approach, it contains 4 thoughts from me (that you should ignore), 3 quotes from others (that you should read), and 2 things I’ve been reading, watching or listening to this week that have helped me grow.

As always I’ve finished with 1 joke that’s so bad, it’s good.

Let’s begin!

(As a way to give credit and to say thank you, I’ve linked back to any posts that have inspired my thoughts. I’ve linked back to any quotes I’ve found as well.)


4 x Thoughts:

1) Knowledge is power but imagination is freedom.

2) When doing something that makes you anxious it’s important to tell yourself that you can. Not because this will ease the nerves, but because when you do manage to pull off the task that you’ve been dreading, instead of feeling relief you will gain confidence. 

3)  I’m guessing we all struggle with the notion of what life means. I think the ego is always looking for more – hoping that it can somehow live on for eternity. Meaning or belief is a way of guarding against our irrefutable mortality. However I don’t believe that’s necessarily a bad thing. The truth is we are all part of something much bigger. We are all interconnected. I like to say we are nothing if not those who came before us, and we will be for nothing if we don’t serve those who will come after. Meaning is something we must instil – it’s necessary. It’s what eases our own suffering and that of others. It’s what gives us peace. I believe we are meant to serve a greater good. God or no God. Not because it will matter in thousands of years to come but because it matters now, today. Look at what is right in front of you. That’s where the meaning you need to find lies. That’s what matters most. 

4) You’ll never stop having problems. That’s a something people often don’t realise. They think if they can achieve this or acquire that, then they’ll be rid of their problems and finally be happy. As if happiness is some eternal thing to be realised. It doesn’t work like that. Happiness isn’t permanent. Problems are. Paradoxically expectations of an endlessly happy life will only lead to unhappiness. It’s perfectly ok to be unhappy and normal that you’ll go through low periods during your lifetime. Equally it’s perfectly ok to have problems! Not that you’ll have much of a choice about that. What you might have some choice about is what problems you wish to have. What you’ll always have a choice about is how you interpret and respond to your problems. Go about solving those problems and you might just find some happiness in the process. Keep solving problems and that happiness might actually last.


3 x Quotes:

“The meaning of life is whatever you’re doing that prevents you from killing yourself”

– ALBERT CAMUS

“Meaning is the Way, the path of life more abundant, the place you live when you are guided by Love and speaking the Truth and when nothing you want or could possibly want takes any precedence over precisely that.”

– JORDAN B. PETERSON (From his book: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)

“If you change the MEANING of your life, it’s going to change the FEELINGS…Then, your life is really going to CHANGE.”

RASHEDUR RYAN RAHMAN


2 x Things:

1) This article on psychology today: What is the Meaning of Life? by Neel Burton M.D. Neel argues that the meaning of life is that which we choose to give it. Moreover he argues that we should choose to give it meaning – whether or not you believe in God or an afterlife. How to choose? Drawing from the lessons of Victor Frankl he outlines 3 ways in which we meaning can be found:

  1. Experiencing reality by interacting authentically with the environment and with others.
  2. Giving something back to the world through creativity and self-expression, and,
  3. Changing our attitude when faced with a situation or circumstance that we cannot change.

2) This New York Times article: The American Abyss by Timothy Snyder. It’s one of the best things I have read about the events of January 6th, and what it means/might mean for American democracy. Favourite quotes below.

“Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves.”

“We cannot be a democratic republic if we tell lies about race, big or small. Democracy is not about minimizing the vote nor ignoring it, neither a matter of gaming nor of breaking a system, but of accepting the equality of others, heeding their voices and counting their votes.”


1 x Joke:

Sorry folks I’m out of jokes this week so I’ll leave you with this far side comic instead. Hope you enjoy.


Thanks ladies and gentlemen. I’m here all week! I sincerely hope you all have a great week ahead. As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. Please let us know below.

One bonus question to finish:

What can you do today that would give your life greater meaning tomorrow?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 11/01/21

The Meaning Of Your Life

A life is infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things. When you zoom the lens out, when you consider the enormity of existence. A life is but a speck in the vastness of time and space. A life is nothing. It matters not a jot.

But when you zoom the lens in, past all of the galaxies and all of the solar systems, past all of the stars and the planets and the moons, and circle in on a single point in time and space. To the moment shortly after you were born, when I had you to myself. When the rest of universe melted away. When, for a moment, nothing else mattered. 

Honestly if you could take everything else away. Every other moment in existence. Everything that has ever been. All the riches. All the mountains and all the oceans. All of nature. All of the stars and all of the planets in the unknowable universe. If you could take it all and give me just that moment, I would live in it for eternity.

Of course I will never be able to adequately convey what that moment felt like, as hard as your father might try. All I can say is that those few minutes when I first held you were among the most precious of my small and insignificant existence. What you managed to do was fill them with more love, more meaning, and more joy than I could ever reasonably express with words. It moved me immeasurably – permanently towards something more. Something greater. For that, to you, I will be eternally grateful.

You will, I hope, experience many such moments during your lifetime. Moments that move you beyond words. Beyond rhyme or reason. I pray your life will be filled with them. I believe it’s these moments that bring you alive in a way few others can. It’s these moments that remind you why, despite all the suffering life entails, it’s still worth it. 

A problem that many of us experience is we forget. We forget, not the moments themselves, but the feeling. We forget what that true sense of aliveness really feels like. I believe this is partly because such moments are painfully rare during a life that’s painfully short. But mainly I believe it’s because people stop looking for them. They stop believing that there is any point to life. They start believing that their suffering is in vain. So they choose to live their lives in pursuit of immediate gratification. Nihilism consumes and they choose pleasure over purpose.

Here’s something I desperately want you to understand as you grow up. Something that took your old man a while to figure out.

Life is meaningless because meaning implies understanding. Whatever life means. Whatever the why may or may not be. What it is… is beyond our comprehension and always will be. It is therefore beyond meaning. Ergo, it is meaningless. 

However.

It’s preciously because life is meaningless that we must give it meaning. That’s how you guard against nihilism. That’s how you stop from falling down the rabbit hole. Life is chaotic which is why we must strive to give it order, no matter how trying the circumstances. To live is to suffer, it’s an unavoidable aspect of Being. Which is why we must suffer with purpose. It’s why we must seek to alleviate the suffering in others, however small, it whatever way we can. That’s how we find balance.

The truth is our lives hold as much meaning as we give them. Which is why you must give yours as much meaning as you possibly can. In your relationships. Your work. Your family. You must fill every corner of your precious existence with it.

If you do, you won’t be concerned with what the meaning of life is. You will understand that the question doesn’t matter. You will understand that your life does and that this is enough. 

If you ask me the question of what it all means misses the point. The point is life itself. Why look beyond it? When you consider the extraordinary odds against which you found yourself here. It’s the equivalent of winning the lottery many billions of times over. A life, your life is invaluable son. You cannot put a price it.

Life may ultimately be meaningless but that doesn’t mean your life has to be. It doesn’t mean your life doesn’t matter. Because right now, today – so long as you’re alive – it matters immensely. Don’t let other people tell you otherwise. Don’t let them tell you that this life isn’t enough. That it’s not worth getting up for. Fighting for. Striving for. It’s your one and only life. It is nothing but everything to you. Everything.

I realise that your life, it’s everything to me too.

Happy Birthday Son  

With love, for ever and always, from your Dad.

(Written on your actual birthday – January 6th 2021)


(Thanks for reading everyone. I started writing this in a highly emotional state after I left the hospital on the day that my son was born. I’m curious what your thoughts are on the meaning of life? Is it a futile existence? What’s the point? Do you agree that it’s us who give it meaning? As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions. I sincerely hope the rest of you have felt as much love as I have in the past few weeks or so. Wishing you well, AP2 🙏)

***

You can see find more of AP2’s nonsensical world views and poor self-help advice here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com

Tuesday’s Top Tip

There are many people who believe that life is meaningless and argue, for that reason, what’s the point? Why bother?

I have two responses.

The first is why not?

If life is meaningless then you have no reason not to put yourself out there. No excuse not to be courageous. If it doesn’t matter then why wouldn’t you take risks? Why wouldn’t you want to see if you can achieve your dreams?

To simply say there is no point so why bother is a cop out. It’s a poor excuse and you know it.

Here’s the second more important thing I would say.

Life is meaningless because meaning implies understanding. Whatever life means. Whatever the why may or may not be. What it is… is beyond our comprehension. It is therefore beyond meaning. Ergo, it is meaningless.

However!

It’s preciously because life is meaningless that we must give it meaning. That’s how you guard against nihilism. That’s how you stop from falling down the rabbit hole.

Life is chaotic which is why we must strive to give it order, no matter how trying the circumstances.

To live is to suffer, it’s an unavoidable aspect of Being. Which is why we must suffer with purpose. It’s why we must seek to alleviate the suffering in others, however small, it whatever way we can.

That’s how we find balance. That’s how we stop from falling into the abyss.

The truth is your life holds as much meaning as you give it. The answer to this dilemma – whether it’s true or not – is to give your life as much meaning as you possible can. To fill every corner of your precious existence with it.

If you do, you will no longer be concerned with what the meaning of life is. You will understand that the question doesn’t matter. You will understand that your life does and that this is enough.

Previous Top Tip

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that prefers totalitarianism to freedom…

Following a 4-3-2-1 approach, it contains 4 thoughts from me (that you should ignore), 3 quotes from others (that you should read), and 2 things I’ve been reading, watching or listening to this week that have helped me grow.

As always I’ve finished with 1 joke that’s so bad, it’s good.

Let’s begin!

(As a way to give credit and to say thank you, I’ve linked back to any posts that have inspired my thoughts. I’ve linked back to any quotes I’ve found as well.)


4 x Thoughts:

1) Moving an inch forward will prevent you from falling a mile backward.

2) If you miss the opportunity to appreciate the moment don’t stress. The next moment comes free of charge. All you have to do is notice.

3)  Slow down and take lots of mini breaks throughout your day. I mean lots. Every time you feel stressed or scattered.  Look up from your screens and take a break. Start with several slow deep breathes and then go chat with a co-worker or grab a cuppa. If you’re really struggling, move away from your office and go for a walk outside or hit the gym. Not only will this bring you a greater sense of well being, it will give you much greater mental clarity. This in turn will actually make you more productive, not less. It will also mean you actually enjoy being productive. If it helps, don’t think of rest as a reward to be had at the end of a busy day. Think of it as a tool you can use throughout the day to keep you focused, motivated and ready to rock the fucking world. 

4) People won’t accept rocks that are hurled at them – they’ll either duck and hide, or throw them back. If handed to gently, however, there is much a greater chance of being heard. There is a much greater chance you’ll hear what you need to as well.


3 x Quotes:

“All I know is my life is better when I assume everyone is doing their best. It frees me from judgement and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.”

– BRENE BROWN

“Through the pursuit of beauty we shape the world as a home, and in doing so we both amplify our joys and find consolation for our sorrows.”

– ROGER SCRUTON

“All I know is my life is better when I assume everyone is doing their best. It frees me from judgement and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.”

– BRENE BROWN

2 x Things:

1) This Intelligence square podcast: The Art Of Rest with Claudia Hammond and Helen Czerski. – “In this podcast Claudia Hammond explains that rest is not just a matter of doing nothing – it is a vital part of self-care. Her book, The Art of Rest, draws on ground-breaking research she uncovered through ‘The Rest Test’, the largest global survey into rest ever undertaken, which was completed by 18,000 people across 135 different countries. Much has been written on the value of sleep in recent years, but rest is different; it is how we unwind, calm our minds and recharge our bodies. And, as the survey revealed, how much rest you get is directly linked to your sense of well-being.”

2) This BBC article: The four keys that could unlock procrastination by David Robson. This article explores the reasons behind why we procrastinate using something called Temporal Motivation Theory. It goes onto outline four simple “reflection points” that we can use. To quote, “Ask yourself these questions on a regular basis, and you’ll find it far easier to resist tempting distractions, allowing you to focus on the things that really matter in your life.” For anyone who struggles with procrastination this article is worth your time. I’ve noted the four questions below:

  • How would someone successful complete the goal?
  • How would you feel if you don’t do the required task?
  • What is the next immediate step you need to do?
  • If you could do one thing to achieve the goal on time, what would it be?


1 x Joke:

So I officially became a father of two this week! (Thank you all very much.)

The question our family asked repeatedly was whether or not we were planning to have a third?

“A turd?” I replied.

“But we’ve already done a number 2!”

(I’m sorry)


Thanks ladies and gentlemen. I’m here all week! I sincerely hope all of you have felt as much love this week as I have! As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. Please let us know below.

One bonus question to finish:

What activities make you feel recharged?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 04/01/21

The Hopeless Nature Of Hoping

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.”

– Vietnam War. Admiral James Stockdale 

Do you want to know the one reason you’re not happy right now? 

It’s because you’re hoping for something different. 

It’s as simple as that. 

By wishing for something different your perception of what reality should be crashes against what is. This friction is the source of all your suffering. 

You cannot alter reality. Only your perception of it, your acceptance of it.

Reality is perfectly happy being the fucked up place it is because it can’t be anything else.

It was just as fucked before you were born as it will be the day after you die. 

Stop hoping for something different. 

Either Act Or Accept.

These are far better choices than hoping.

Do you want to know why you’re in the mess that you are?

It’s because you were sold a dummy by a society that has glorified hope. With the movies and TV shows you watch. The super hero who swoops in to save the day at the final hour. You cling to that, waiting for your knight in shining armour to save you.

It’s true to say hope can serve as temporary relief from your current pain, but that’s about all one can say. 

Do you know what else achieves the same? 

Taking drugs. Drinking alcohol. Binge watching NETFLIX. 

How have those things worked out for you in the past?

What has hope really done for you?

It’s another form of avoidance, of distraction. 

What happened to your hope when coronavirus fucked up all your plans last year? What happened to your hope when governments repeatedly failed you?

Is hope going to get us out of this mess?

No.

Fuck hope. 

You’re the super hero of your own reality. You control yourself, your thoughts and the way you look at the world. 

Fuck hope. 

Hope is an excuse not to do what you can.

Hope is an excuse to say these problems are beyond you, to say they are beyond all of us.

Hope is saying all will be ok when I die and go to heaven. 

Fuck hope. 

Hope is what led you to hopelessness when the world didn’t live up to your expectations. 

And let me tell you, living in hopelessness is an equally terrible place because that isn’t based in reality either. 

Act or Accept. 

Those are your choices.

I’ll say one more thing before I wrap up.

Giving up hope isn’t about being overly pessimistic – it’s about coming back to reality and seeing it for what it is. 

Hopelessness is being overly pessimistic.

If you have clothes on your back, food on the table and a roof over your head. If you can breathe…!

I’d say there is more right with you than not.

The best things in life haven’t changed because you lost your job or your wife left you.

Taking a shit or having a wank is just as wonderful with zero dollars in the bank as it is with billions (sorry, I meant feeling the cool breeze on your skin or listening to the birds chirping in the morning – yeah those things too).

Will this message inspire you in some way?

Who knows.

All I can do is my best to reinforce the narratives that help me and see if it helps others.

Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.

Either way, I’m not holding onto any hope.


(Thanks for reading ladies and gentlemen. I hope (ha) you enjoyed it. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Sometimes I take an extreme position on a topic simply to challenge myself (and you) to think differently, even if I don’t agree with the argument. Do I really think that hope is such a terrible emotion? No, of course not. Hope is a very important emotion designed to inspire action. But here is what I did take from this post – hope must be tied to action otherwise it’s dangerous. Hoping for things out of your control (as I learnt the hard way this past year) is truly awful for your mental health. Hope only for yourself, for the things that you can control. And then take action to make it so. For everything else you can’t control – I suggest you practise acceptance instead. With that said I’m curious what your thoughts are on the topic of hope? As always I welcome ALL comments and opinions. Wishing you well, AP2 🙏)

***

You can see find more of AP2’s nonsensical world views and poor self-help advice here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com

Tuesday’s Top Tip

Don’t try to get as much out of life as you possibly can.

This kind of thinking fucks you up. 

Like trying to be the best person you possibly can.

Don’t do that either.

Why?

Because both are impossible goals that you’ll never achieve. 

Also think about this.

When you get up and attack the day with as much gusto as you possible can. When you run around at a million miles an hour trying to do do do. 

Ask yourself, “How much of the day am I actually enjoying?”

I’m guessing not as much as the days in which you deliberately slow down and observe. The ones in which you look and appreciate – in which you laugh, play and let go a little (or a lot).

Here’s something else you haven’t thought of. 

In your pursuit to be endlessly productive – to make up for your feelings of being unworthy, you haven’t allowed yourself any time to rest

And no I’m talking about sleep (at least not exclusively). What I’m really talking about has to do with activities that make you feel recharged.

This can be many things – exercise or having a long bath. Meditating or going for a mindful walk in nature. Reading a book or having for a w***. It’s different for everyone! Even staring out the window for 5 minutes can do wonders. 

So what’s today’s top tip you ask?

Simple.

Slow down and take lots of mini breaks throughout your day. I mean lots. Every time you feel stressed or scattered.  Look up from your screens and take a break. Start with several slow deep breathes. Then go chat with a co-worker or grab a cuppa. And if you’re really struggling, move away from your office and go for a walk outside or hit the gym.

Really.

Not only will this bring you a greater sense of well being, it will give you much greater mental clarity. This in turn will actually make you more productive, not less. It will also mean you actually enjoy being productive. 

If it helps, don’t think of rest as a reward to be had at the end of a busy day. Think of it as a tool you can use throughout the day to keep you focused, motivated and ready to rock the fucking world. 

Previous Top Tip

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that forces you to make resolutions you can’t possibly meet.

Following a 4-3-2-1 approach, it contains 4 thoughts from me (that you should ignore), 3 quotes from others (that you should read), and 2 things I’ve been reading, watching or listening to this week that have helped me grow.

As always I’ve finished with 1 joke that’s so bad, it’s good.

Let’s begin!


4 x Thoughts:

1) You have to stop pouring water in your glass if you want to drink from it. 

2) Concentrate on improving your routine – the actions that you take everyday. This is far more important than achieving any goal.

3) As a rule: The more needs or wants a person has, the unhappier he or she is. 

4) A period of reflection does more for the soul than sitting down to outline goals for the year. When we take the time to reflect on our values. When we look deeply at how we have failed to live up-to them. It’s through this deeper reflection that we derive the most insight. Then it’s from those lessons that the goals we really want to chase after become clear. Those goals becoming, in turn, an expression of your true values. An expression of the things that make you feel whole. That make you feel integral.


3 x Quotes:

“Learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively based on finely honed personal values is perhaps the greatest and most important struggle in life.”

– MARK MANSON. 

“In a crisis, the inevitable suffering that life entails can rapidly make a mockery of the idea that happiness is the proper pursuit of the individual.”

– JORDAN B. PETERSON

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” 

– SIGMUND FREUD


2 x Things:

1) This Mark Manson article: 1,273 People Share Their Best Life Lessons from 2020. Mark collated a series of the most common lessons learnt from his readers after asking them the question, “What have been your biggest lessons from 2020?” It’s about a 20 minute read but well worth your time. I’ve listed my favourite 3 lessons below:

  1. You Only Really Know Who You Are When Everything Is Taken From You
  2. A Crisis Doesn’t Change People; It Amplifies Who They Already Are
  3. Most Things Are Both Good and Bad at the Same Time

2) This blog post: “100 Tips for a Better Life” by Conor Barnes. This list is awesome! I picked out ten of my favs (which was difficult!) – listed below:

  1. Discipline is superior to motivation. The former can be trained, the latter is fleeting. You won’t be able to accomplish great things if you’re only relying on motivation. 
  2. Cultivate a reputation for being dependable. Good reputations are valuable because they’re rare (easily destroyed and hard to rebuild). You don’t have to brew the most amazing coffee if your customers know the coffee will always be hot.
  3. Selfish people should listen to advice to be more selfless, selfless people should listen to advice to be more selfish. This applies to many things. Whenever you receive advice, consider its opposite as well. You might be filtering out the advice you need most. 
  4. Defining yourself by your suffering is an effective way to keep suffering forever (ex. incels, trauma). 
  5. Keep your identity small. “I’m not the kind of person who does things like that” is not an explanation, it’s a trap. It prevents nerds from working out and men from dancing. 
  6. To start defining your problems, say (out loud) “everything in my life is completely fine.” Notice what objections arise. 
  7. Sometimes unsolvable questions like “what is my purpose?” and “why should I exist?” lose their force upon lifestyle fixes. In other words, seeing friends regularly and getting enough sleep can go a long way to solving existentialism. 
  8. Human mood and well-being are heavily influenced by simple things: Exercise, good sleep, light, being in nature. It’s cheap to experiment with these.
  9. You have vanishingly little political influence and every thought you spend on politics will probably come to nothing. Consider building things instead, or at least going for a walk. 
  10. Bad things happen dramatically (a pandemic). Good things happen gradually (malaria deaths dropping annually) and don’t feel like ‘news’. Endeavour to keep track of the good things to avoid an inaccurate and dismal view of the world. 

1 x Joke:

I’m happy to report that this year we gave 2020 the send off that it deserved! That’s right ladies and gentleman, we were in bed by 9:30.

Before that, however, we managed to have a wee party with close relatives. Of course it wasn’t a New Year’s Eve party so much as a “Truck Off 2020 party.”

Why “Truck Off” you ask?

Well, as I explained to my family, all you have to do is ask my 2 year old son to say it! Because he struggles to pronounce the “tr” sound in truck, when he says “Truck Off 2020,” he means it!


Thanks ladies and gentlemen. I’m here all week! I sincerely hope you had a wonderful New Years Celebration! As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. Please let us know below.

One bonus question to finish:

What’s the biggest lesson that you can implement from 2020?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 21/12/20

The Only New Year’s Resolution You’ll Ever Need

“Trying is the first step to failure.”

– HOMER SIMPSON

I don’t care much for New Year’s Resolutions. The idea of sitting down to make a list of things I must or must not do. Frankly it makes me want to jam a pen in my eye. (Which would, incidentally, be less painful than watching as I inevitably fail to stick at any of them.)

My feeling is the exercise is more about indulging false hopes than it is about setting specific, measurable goals. Where we end up writing out these fairy-tale type lists. Where we say that this year we’re finally going to become the perfect version of ourselves – the person we were always meant to be.

Instead of coming to terms with who we actually are and the hand we’ve been dealt. Instead of appreciating what we have and accepting what currently is. Instead of taking stock and reflecting on the painful lessons of the previous year.

Instead, we make the same mistake by charging head first into the new year – setting our expectations sky high and then… BAM! 

2020 smacks us in the face with a baseball bat (or a cricket bat if you’re British).

The question then becomes, what’s left?

What’s left when your identity as a super high-achieving what-the-fuck ever comes crashing down to earth? (Side note: terrible pun for a pilot.) When all your goals, aspirations and plans go out the window faster than a teenage boy climaxes? (Side note: just terrible.) When your partner leaves you? When your career is left in tatters? When close relatives or friends pass away? When your own health deteriorates and you become wholly dependant on others?

What’s left?

That’s what’s happened hasn’t it? For so many of us this year. It’s forced us to ask some very difficult questions. To come to terms with difficult life circumstances out of our control. To think deeply about our relationships and our careers. About the values that define us.

In my eyes that’s what this time of year should be about. Not about how you’re going to have a rippling 6 pack or a fat bank account. But about reflection. Looking deeply at both how you have lived up the values you say you hold dear and in what ways you have failed. And then from there, looking to course correct. Using the valuable lessons of the past year to steer your ship. 

Goals are then meant to be an expression of those values. Of who are at your core. The version of yourself that makes you feel whole. That makes you feel integral. They should change throughout your lifetime as you evolve. They should move depending on your unique life circumstances. 

Goals are, at the end of the day, simply something to shoot at. The results of which matters far less than the process – than the the actions that you take everyday. That define you as a person. That are based on an increasingly clear set of values or overarching principles that have strengthened over time. That help to keep your head above the water when all else fails. When shit hits the fan and all you’re left with is a fat waistline and zero dollars in the bank (thanks again 2020).

But here’s the trick that nobody taught you. The moment you tell yourself in absolute terms you have to do something, you’re going to resent doing it. You’re going to hate it. A bit like telling yourself you can’t have sex until you get married – you’re going to be thinking about it your whole life until you do. Not only are going to hate doing or not doing that thing, you will become tied to it. Your self worth will become entirely dependent on whether or not you stick to that resolution or achieve that goal. And if you fail, well, you’ll probably feel like jamming a pen in your eye.

The truth is you don’t have to do anything. With the exception of breathing, sleeping and eating, you don’t have to do shit (ok you have to do that as well but you get the point). Nor should you think in those terms. It’s like Troy said in his previous post, the language you use matters. You don’t have to write in a gratitude journal. You get to. You don’t have to be part of saving the planet for our children. You get to be. You don’t have to eat your vegetables or go for a run at 5am (you definitely don’t have to do that). You get to live a healthy lifestyle.

So what’s the only new year’s resolution you’ll ever need to make. Simple. Don’t have one. That way the habits you want to form might actually stick. That way they won’t matter so much if they don’t. After all tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow, thankfully, is another year.


Thanks for reading everyone! I wrote this post for Pointless Overthinking yesterday. Thought I’d share with you on here as well. As always I’m curious to get your thoughts. Resolutions – yes or no? Are specific measurable goals the way to go instead? What about being clear about our values? As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. I hope you all had a wonderful New Years Day. 

***

You can see find more of AP2’s nonsensical world views and poor self-help advice here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com

24 Invaluable Lessons From 2020

“Learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively based on finely honed personal values is perhaps the greatest and most important struggle in life.”

– Mark Manson. 

“In a crisis, the inevitable suffering that life entails can rapidly make a mockery of the idea that happiness is the proper pursuit of the individual.”

– Jordan B. Peterson

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”

– Sigmund Freud

I’ve always felt that a period of reflection does more for the soul than sitting down to outline any goals for the year. When we take the time to reflect on our values. When we look deeply at how we have failed to live up-to them. I believe it’s through a deeper reflection that we can derive the most insight. It’s from those lessons that the goals we really want to chase after become clear. Those goals becoming, in turn, an expression of those values. An expression of the things that make you feel whole. That make you feel integral.

Something a fellow blogging buddy of mine said in response to my earlier post, The Things That I Will Miss got me thinking. He said – to paraphrase slightly – “It’s not so much the things that I will miss but the things that I have learnt.” And so I thought, as part of my personal end of year review, I’d ask the question to you dear readers:

What are the things that you’ve learnt from this most tumultuous 2020?

To get the ball rolling (and for a bit of fun) I’ve put together the following list. A kind of rough draft taken from a quick look back at what I’ve written this year. It’s far from polished but then again – it’s the holidays! Anyway here you are – 24 Invaluable Lessons From 2020. I hope you enjoy.


  1. Hope without action is dangerous.
  2. If you can’t act you must accept.
  3. Acceptance is something you must practise.
  4. Honesty is the ultimate form of kindness.
  5. Honesty has to be the gold standard by which we measure our leaders.
  6. Protecting our freedoms means protecting the truth.
  7. The truth is hard. Avoiding it is harder.
  8. The truth is more important than your emotions.
  9. Freedom and responsibility are synonymous
  10. Think as one. Always assume a position of collective responsibility.
  11. You are either being racist or anti-racist. There is no such thing as “not racist.”
  12. No black. No white. Only grey.
  13. We must embrace our demons.
  14. It’s ok to cry (especially as a man).
  15. Looking after yourself = looking after others.
  16. Happiness does not exist without gratitude.
  17. A question for clarifying motivation: Am I doing this because of love or fear?
  18. The other side of shame is a better person.
  19. Better is better than perfect.
  20. Routine has everything to do with developing a growth mindset.
  21. Enthusiasm increases intelligence.
  22. Success is what you alone define.
  23. Spirituality = Awareness
  24. Prepare for the worst. Believe in yourself. Expect nothing.

Thanks for Reading Ladies and Gentlemen. I am of course curious, what have you have learnt this year? What would be on your list? As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions. Let me finish by saying it’s been an absolute pleasure connecting with all of you this year. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. To each and every one of you – for lifting me up. For making me think. For challenging me. For making me laugh. For everything. You have been a life line for me. I wish you all an infinitely brighter 2021. AP2 X

Sh*t. Just. Got. Personal.

You cancelled weddings. You cancelled birthdays, festivals, celebrations of all kinds. You cancelled good times.

And I said, ok. 

You took away my holidays. You prevented me from seeing my friends. You prevented me from seeing my family. 

And I said, ok. 

You forced me to quarantine in hotels rooms. You cost me days of my life. You sucked the joy from a job I love.

And I said, ok. 

You cost me significantly. You made me take unpaid leave. You forced me to sign a contract that will permanently hinder my long term prospects. That will hurt the quality of life I can provide for my family. 

And I said, ok. 

You grounded aeroplanes. You brought my industry to its knees. You fired my friends. You destroyed livelihoods. 

And I I said, ok. 

You allowed fear to consume. You allowed evil to thrive. An evil that has placed a stranglehold on my home here in Hong Kong.

And I said, ok. 

You killed millions. You hurt so many more. 

And I still said, ok. 

You blackened both my eyes. You broke my nose, and my arm. Then you shot me in the leg and continued to kick me while I bled out. 

And still, I said, ok. 

But now. 

Now!

Now you permanently close down my local pub! 

Shit. Just. Got. Personal. 

So I stand back up. I dust myself off and I say,

“Now it’s my turn mother fucker!”

As a pilot (who likes to think of himself as Santa), I sincerely look forward to helping transport vaccines around the world in the new year.

Because let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, that mother fucker is going down.

And 2021 is going to show what the human spirit can muster with its back against the wall.  

There is light. There is hope. But we must endure a little longer. We must keep fighting. We must dig that little bit deeper.

But I’ve no doubt that together we will get through this. 

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and an infinitely brighter 2021!

With love,

AP2 x

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my Mindset Mondays Post! The only weekly newsletter to kiss your mommy after filling up your stocking…

Following a 4-3-2-1 approach, it contains 4 thoughts from me (that you should probably ignore), 3 quotes from others (that you should definitely read), and 2 things I’ve been reading, watching or listening to this week that have helped me grow.

As always, I’ve finished with 1 terrible joke that’s so bad you won’t be able to help but laugh…

Let’s begin!


4 x Thoughts From Me:

Trying to create motivation is massively overrated. Trying to gain clarity is massively underrated. 

We all follow the herd to some extent. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing provided that the herd subscribes to high standards. However when the herd is not above blaming others or shirking responsibility, when the heard is consumed by fear or led by evil, you need to think very carefully. Because if you want to become the change you wish to see, you have to surround yourself with the right people. You have to put yourself in the right environment. Most of us vastly underestimate the influence others have on ourselves.

The greatest joy in life comes not from receiving praise or accumulating wealth, but from giving to others. Which, of course, is a form of letting go. Ultimately it’s about letting go of the idea that you need praise or things to be happy which is BS. It’s making other people happy that makes us happy.

Honesty is often about admitting you’re wrong. It’s important to understand thought that this doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. Because being wrong is the most ordinary thing in the world. The most dangerous people in this world are the ones incapable of seeing this. The most miserable people often fall into the same boat.


3 x Quotes From Others:

“Life laughs at you when you are unhappy; Life smiles at you when you are happy; But, life salutes you when you make others happy.” — Charlie Chaplin (Source: https://purplerays.wordpress.com/2020/12/03/life-salutes-you-when-you-make-others-happy/)

“If a man can reduce his needs to zero, he is truly free: there is nothing that can be taken from him; nothing can hurt him.”— John Boyd

“Life will present you with unexpected opportunities, and you won’t always know in advance which are the important moments. Above all, it’s the quality of your relationships that will determine the quality of your life. Invest in your connections, even those that seem inconsequential.”— Esther Perel (Source: https://jamesclear.com/3-2-1/refer?rh_ref=36174ee4)


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1) This Best Inventions of 2020 from Time Magazine. For a bit of fun in the build up to Christmas thought I’d share this list of random inventions. As they note, “Nominations were made from editors and correspondents around the world through an online application process. They were then evaluated on key factors, including originality, creativity, effectiveness, ambition and impact. The result? 100 groundbreaking inventions—including a smarter beehive, a greener tube of toothpaste, and technology that could catalyze a COVID-19 vaccine—that are changing the way we live, work, play and think about what’s possible.”

2 – For bit more fun this piece from Tom Whitwell: 52 things I Learned in 2020.


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

So we had a wee Christmas celebration the other night in which I ate a bit too much food (and drank a bit too much ale).

Despite this I couldn’t resist having a wee bit of cheese just before bed.

Needless to say this was a bad idea.

So when I climbed into bed next to my 37 weeks pregnant wife while groaning I said,

“You have no idea how uncomfortably full I feel.”

(silence)

I continued,

“I think I need a cheese-arean section.”


Thanks ladies and gentlemen. I’m here all week!

FYI I’m going to be taking something of a blogging hiatus in preparation for Christmas and the arrival of my second child.

Till the new year,

Have a very merry Christmas and an infinitely brighter 2021!

Love to all,

AP2 X


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 07/12/20

Captain Hindsight

There’s a character from the popular sitcom South Park called Captain Hindsight. For those who’ve not seen it, Captain Hindsight is a super hero (of sorts) who shows up to the scene of a disaster while it’s taking place. He then “helps” the people in need by making a stirring speech about all the ways everyone should have acted to prevent the tragedy from happening in the first place. Afterwards he flies away while everyone cheers hysterically, despite the fact he didn’t actually help anyone.

The reason I love this skit is because of how accurately it portrays our society at large. The way we all love to have such strong opinions after the fact. The way we complain about how our government has failed us or how incompetent our colleagues were, before declaring how they should have done this, that or what-the-fuck ever. All without doing diddly-squat except have an opinion (says the man sitting behind a keyboard).

Of course talking about lessons we sorely need to learn isn’t a problem, but I do believe the way we seek to attribute blame is. The way we like to sit on our high horse of righteousness and declare how superior we are. How we go on the offensive instead of looking to assume any kind of collective responsibility for our current state of affairs. 

I believe this kind of blame culture blinds us. 

For one, those who are responsible become less inclined to own that responsibility, to put up their hand when they’ve made a mistake. They also play the blame game in an attempt to deflect any shame placed on them by others. It also blinds those who point the finger from understanding how they might have been complicit. Like blaming those who voted for such and such instead of acknowledging the role they had avoiding difficult conversations in the past, or how looking down on others has only strengthened respective positions and deepened the divide…

Anyway this got me thinking, maybe part of our problem is the way we think about hindsight. The idea that hindsight is always 20/20. That maybe it would be better for all us to consider the possibility our hindsight isn’t nearly as clear sighted as we think. To think that maybe hindsight is rarely 20/20.

With that in mind I want to tell you a little story. 

Earlier this year while flying an approach my crew and I found ourselves in a spot of bother after a number of events left us high on final approach. As a result of then having to ‘capture the approach path from above,’ we ended up busting our stabilised approach criteria. To put it simply, we were too fast. 

In our attempt to configure the aircraft and “get the job done,” however, we became distracted and missed the check height at which we should have gone around (abandoned the approach). Instead we continued to landing. 

Now I should stress that the speed came back and we landed safely. We got everything done, just later than we should have. But that’s not the point. The right recourse was to go around and we didn’t. It was a honest mistake but, there’s no two ways about it, we fucked up. (And cue Captain Hindsight to tell us exactly what we should have done).

About a week later, back in Hong Kong, the rest of the crew and I were called into work to undergo an ‘operational learning review.’ The sole goal of which was to learn from a safety perspective, to understand what had happened and why. All in keeping with what is known as a “Just Culture.”

For those who’ve not heard of the term, “in a Just Culture both employees and company accept accountability for their actions and learning from events, and the intention is that no one will face punitive action for any unpremeditated or inadvertent error or mistake.”

Anyway one of the more valuable lessons came from comparing what we thought had happened to what had actually happened as demonstrated by the flight data. How all of us had a somewhat, shall we say, favourable recollection of events. But also how all of us had quite different recollections from each other. This is what really hit home for me. Our extraordinary propensity to misinterpret past events. It made me realise that hindsight is most definitely not 20/20.

But there was something else I took from this experience. Something for which I’m extremely grateful. That was the manner in which our company took responsibility for our mistakes. The way our Chief Pilot took responsibility by trying to understand exactly what had happened and why. The way our flight operations department took responsibility by trying to understand what holes might exist in our procedures. The way our training department took responsibility by trying to understand whether the way we’ve been trained needed changing. But also the way our Captain emailed the fleet office immediately after the flight and fessed up. It started with him assuming a position of complete responsibility. All of which encouraged me to do same.

When I look back I realise how easy it would have been for all of us to play the blame game. How easily I could have pointed at the finger at the Captain. Or how easily the company could have made scapegoats out of us. Instead learning in the interest of safety came first. Blame didn’t even enter into the equation. This is exactly what a Just Culture was designed to engineer – a sense of collective responsibility. I believe it works. I believe this is why Aviation has such an outstanding safety record.

I also believe it’s exactly this kind of culture we’d do well to implement more of in the real world. As the year draws to a close I’m hoping we might look back on 2020 as the year where we finally realised the need to come together. As the year we understood that when we take a position of collective responsibility, when all of us put our hands up and look at the ways in which we have failed – even if we weren’t the ones flying the aircraft – that we all stand to benefit. That it is only when we do, that we can say with any kind of certainty that hindsight is, in fact, 2020.


Thank you so much for reading everyone. I’m curious what you think. Is our certainty in retrospect granted or is it, perhaps, foolish? What about engineering a culture of collective responsibility? How might we do that? As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions. Wishing you all well, AP2 x

***

You can see more of AP2’s writing here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com

Tuesday’s Top Tip

Don’t eat yellow snow.

No. Nope.

Chase your dreams?

Naaah. Too trite.

Hmmmmm…

Forcing it…

Maybe don’t?

Don’t force it. 

Here we go. 

Don’t force life. 

You shouldn’t have to! There should be, I believe, a certain flow to it. That comes from letting go a little (or a lot). It comes from letting the river carry you down stream.

That’s how you get the most enjoyment from life.

Sure there are occasions where you need to to give yourself a slap in the face, a freezing cold shower or a motivational speech in front of the mirror (What… You don’t do that?), but that should simply be to get things off the ground. 

Afterwards things should come about somewhat naturally. I believe this comes from not giving a f*** so much. I believe it comes from trusting your gut. Following your intuition. Whatever it is you want to call it. 

If you happen to find that everything is a massive struggle – that everything feels like one big drag, that’s probably a good sign that you’ve been forcing life. It’s a sign you’re burnt out (or depressed). 

Let’s take writing as an example. If you find yourself in a spiral trying to rewrite a certain bastard post several hundred times, you need to walk away and do something else. 

Meditate. Go for a walk. Go for a w… walk (yeah I already said that). Whatever it is. Laugh. Play. Enjoy. Then come back when you’re itching to do so.

We both know that the best stuff you and I write are rarely the blog posts we’ve slaved over but the ones that came about naturally. From the heart (and with a glass of red wine.) 

Live and let go. There is always tomorrow. Or maybe there isn’t! Either way it’s probably best to enjoy today as your first order of business. 

Is this good advice? No idea. Don’t really care. I’m winging it. I’m enjoying it. Along with this lovely glass of vino. That’s good enough for me. 

Till next weeks piece of useful advice…

Previous Top Tip

Why The Earth Isn’t Flat But Global Warming Is A Hoax.

“It’s not the existence of beliefs that is the problem, but what happens to us when we hold them rigidly, without examining them, when we presume the absolutely centrality of our views and become disdainful of others.”

– Sharon Salzberg 

“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”

law of propaganda attributed to Nazi Joseph Goebbels

As part of my selfless crusade to solve all the world‘s problems by doing nothing except have an opinion (how very middle white class of me), this week I thought I’d tackle the issue of why, exactly, so many of us are still prepared to trust such a prolific lier. Also why, exactly, honesty seems to hold the equivalent value of a broken condom in today’s society. As a bonus I thought I’d tell you all what, exactly, we need to do about it. You’re welcome! (Ok not exactly but ball park… ish)

Now you all remember the fable of the boy who cried wolf right? The boy who lies repeatedly, who consequently loses the trust of his fellow villagers? So much so that the day he actually tells the truth no-one believes him and so, as the story goes, the whole village gets fucked? 

Well I believe we need to add an important third part to the story. The exception to the rule. That is what happened years later after the villagers had forgotten all about this important lesson, when they decided to elect the very same boy their king. Then how years and years of lie after lie led to the villagers not believing anything except the boy and so, as a result, all the villages throughout the kingdom got fucked. (I must trademark this idea).

Now it would be unfair to lay all the blame at the feet of the boy who cried wolf, but the fable is more about the message for our children. And indeed Donald Trump’s Twitter feed is a small part of what I believe to be a much bigger problem. That is a society which has increasingly pandered to our Neolithic emotions for sake of clickbait. One in which the powerful algorithms that sit behind the other side of our screens (like the very one you’re reading now) – designed purely to keep us attached to said screens – feed us only the articles, opinions and beliefs we want to hear. Add all of this to a global pandemic and it appears we’ve found ourselves in the midst of the perfect shit storm. One in which people don’t know up from down anymore! 

All of these issues have put a supercharger on a fundamental problem to do with the human condition. That is our propensity to look for the things we want to believe while ignoring everything else. Put another way, our propensity to love the smell of our own bullshit but hate the smell of anyone else’s. What the modern world has done is make it eminently easier to confirm our bullshit smells great, without having to go through the pain of smelling anyone else’s. (I mean, it just smells so good right?)

Anyway if I want to believe that global warning, the pandemic and recent election results are all part of some radical left wing plot by a satanic underground pedophile ring (that happens to be the Democratic Party) working to overthrow our lord and saviour Donald Trump, then I can. I can live in that world. I can easily find the sordid dark corners of the internet that will confirm it. In fact the algorithms will quickly realise that this is what gets me off and feed me that information. So all my social media channels and the like can help me mentally masterbate over my strongly held beliefs 24/7, 365 days a year.

I used to think the majority were immune from being so blatanly radicalised online but I’ve seen more and more of it in recent years. Even among friends and family. Even in my profession – one heavily driven by math and science! 

Now there isn’t a single pilot in the world who believes the earth is flat. And should you find one I suggest you get off that plane toot sweet! (That is, unless, you also believe the earth is flat, in which case all I’ll say is, “Godspeed old chap.”) Why? Well, to state the obvious (like the earth is round), it’s because we have observed it first hand. Everything we’ve been taught as pilots is backed by everything we have observed as pilots. We know categorically that it simply isn’t true. Of course if we did believe it, well, our identity as pilots would coming crashing down to earth – hard! (Pun fully intended).

That said there are a number of pilots (more than I care to admit) who believe that global warming is a hoax. Greta Thunberg, for one, is not a popular lady in my line of work. I always end up asking these colleagues of mine the following question – it’s pretty convenient for a pilot to believe his or her choice of profession does nothing to harm the planet don’t you think?

Of course that’s what I want to believe too. The same way I want to believe that eating Bambi actually helps the rainforest grow (hmmm delicious and environmentally friendly). I don’t want to confront the ways in which my lifestyle choices have undeniably and aggressively contributed to the problem of global warming. I don’t want to face that shame. But I must. We all must. We cannot afford to pick and choose the science that fits the narrative we want to believe. I think it’s high time we all grow the fuck up and eat our vegetables (like what I did there?). Of course that’s very difficult to do if we stop believing vegetables are actually good for us.

So how do we safeguard against rampant disinformation, smear campaigns, powerful clickbait algorithms, media networks who place the same value on integrity as they do the toilet paper they wipe their asses with, and a certain orange twat with a twitter feed? Well we certainly shouldn’t hope for any of that to change soon. No. What I believe we need to do is become more aware as individuals. We need to understand that ALL OF US are extremely susceptible to believing whatever it is we want to. That we are always looking for the things that confirm our extremely narrow minded view of the world. That confirms our bullshit smells great.

A good way to guard against this is to start with the assumption that what you believe is, in fact, bullshit. To make sure you go through the pain of questioning your own beliefs regularly. To find the information that challenges you to think differently (and also fact check the shit out of anything you do read). Look for the evidence that supports the other side. Go deep. Learn HOW to think not WHAT to think. This is what a good education teaches you to do.

This is important because people who know how to think understand they know far less than they could ever possibly hope to know in single lifetime about anyone subject. They understand there is no black and white – only a sea of grey (or maybe brown). For this reason they don’t hang tightly onto their undeniably limited views of the world. They are also willing to keep said mind open to other possibilities and viewpoints that question or contradict their previously held beliefs. They remain open to the possibility that they are wrong (because they probably are). More importantly though they understand the need to place their faith in the experts of their respective fields. 

There’s something else that’s worth bearing in mind. We as a society (hate to break it to you) care more about our emotions than the truth. Ultimately this is the biggest issue of all. Until we start making the truth our top priority, until we start protecting it, until we start worshipping it like it’s our God… Until we start making honesty one of our most important values, we are fucked. It is time, ladies and gentlemen, to wake the fuck up and do so. To face reality for it is. Not only our own but that of the world. That is, that Global warming is not a hoax but the earth is, in fact, flat! You can trust me as a pilot of course – I’ve nearly flown of the edge several times…


Rant complete – thanks for reading everyone. As always, if it wasn’t abundantly clear, my writing requires a pinch of salt. Still I’d appreciate your complete honest opinions on the matter below. Also if you happen to think my shit stinks please say so. Even if it hurts I want to know so that I may feed myself a more wholesome plant based diet – so my shit can stink that little bit less. My feelings are NOT more important than the truth. Wishing you all the very best, AP2 🙏

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my Mindset Mondays Post! The only weekly newsletter that delivers your vaccine just in time for Christmas…

Following a 4-3-2-1 approach, it contains 4 thoughts from me (that you should probably ignore), 3 quotes from others (that you should definitely read), and 2 things I’ve been reading, watching or listening to this week that have helped me grow.

As always, I’ve finished with 1 terrible joke that’s so bad, you won’t be able to help but laugh…

Let’s begin!


4 x Thoughts From Me:

If you want to go up, you have to overcome gravity. 

Life is just like a box of chocolates. Except that some of those chocolates are actually pieces of poo. The problem is, because you don’t know which is which, if you want to enjoy the chocolates you’ve got to eat some poo as well. So yes, in that sense, life is just like a box of chocolates… and poo. 

Original thought is often going ‘what if…’ and then thinking the exact opposite of what everybody else is. 

The art of conversation is not about trying to convince the other person you’re right, it’s about trying to make the other person feel heard. When someone feels heard they soften their stance. This is how you begin to change minds and strengthen hearts. This is how you bring people closer together. To do that we need to forget about being right and instead, listen deeply. There is always something else going on beyond the words that are spoken. 


3 x Quotes From Others:

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen R. Covey

“The largest part of what we call ‘personality’ is determined by how we’ve opted to defend ourselves against anxiety and sadness.” — Alain de Botton

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ― Albert Einstein (Source: https://myrandomspecificthoughts.wordpress.com/2020/11/22/critical-thinking/)


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This engaging Tim Ferris podcast episode with Dan Harris on Becoming 10% Happier, Hugging Inner Dragons, Self-Help for Skeptics, Training the Mind, and Much More. For those who don’t know the name, Dan Harris is the author of 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works. The book that chronicles his journey as “a lifelong nonbeliever who always assumed meditation was either impossible or useless” into a lifetime practitioner. Notes form the pod below:

“Seeing clearly the cacophony of your own inner landscape is how you are no longer owned by it.”

— Dan Harris
  • ON MOTTOS OR MANTRAS: It’s easy to read a great book or inspiring podcast and feel envigorated – like you’re experiencing or waking up to a profound truth but the old habits of the mind are very quick to reassert themselves. We need to find ways to continuously wake up. And remember our aspirations. 
  • A little bit of worrying is good. A lot is bad. After you’ve run through the worst case scenario for the 17th time ask yourself one simple question – Is this useful?
  • MEDITATION ADVICE: 1 minute counts (Habit formation matters most). Daily ish (so you don’t completely fall off the wagon when you inevitably miss a day – be kind to yourself). 
  • Type A people. We go into something expecting to win or achieve. The problem is expectations are the most noxious thing you can bring to meditation. The goal is not to expect feeling a certain way. The goal should simply be to feel whatever comes up to the fullest extent possible. Visibility- the close to is what you want.
  • Analogies: The difference between being in the storm versus watching through the window from inside your home. In the movie versus watching it on screen. 
  • The goal is not to clear your mind but to focus it. Getting distracted does not mean you’re a failed meditator. In fact when you notice you’ve been distracted – even for a nanosecond that is meditation. Awareness of thought. 
  • Once you see the chaos of your mind that’s the first step not to be owned by it. 
  • Hug your dragons don’t slay them. The negative storylines served you once upon a time. Maybe in a very crucial way as defence against trauma. Instead of trying to slay them – which only makes them stronger – you should love them instead. Embrace your demons. This will allow them to clam down in your mind and give you the space to make smarter decision and allow for other more mature storylines that’s serve you better to start to flourish. 
  • Having good relationships is so important- making sure that we do. We need the tribe. It’s part of our evolution. Be deliberate about keeping your relationships up.

2 – This Ted Talk with Leon Berg: The Power of Listening – An Ancient Practice for Our Future. In this inspiring talk Leon Berg discusses the power listening and council to help develop heart thinking and deepen relationships.

“There’s a big difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is a natural function. Listening requires attention and focus.

“Council is the practise of listening and speaking from the heart – derived from the ancient tradition of storytelling. Research shows our brains are biochemically wired for stories. Storytelling is something we should practise. It helps us move from head thinking to heart thinking.

“Listening has survival value. Devote listening is what helps develop empathy.”

Leon Berg

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

So my wife is now 36 weeks pregnant! I believe this comic goes some way of explaining just how prepared I feel…


Thanks ladies and gentlemen. I’m here all week! Till next time… Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!

One bonus question for you all:

How can you become a better listener?

(Thank you all so much for reading. If you have any suggestions, thoughts or ideas about today’s weekly post I’d love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom.)


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 30/11/20

The Secret Ingredient Missing From Every Conversation

That’s the most liberating, wonderful thing in the world, when you openly admit you’re an ass. It’s wonderful. When people tell me, “You’re wrong.” I say, “What can you expect of an ass?”

S.J. Anthony de mello – SOURCE: AWARENESS

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Stephen R. Covey – SOURCE: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The vast majority of conversations consist of two people trying to have their egos validated by proving that one is right and the other is wrong. Often both will agree but even then, in most cases, what they agree is that others are wrong and they are right.

This is a special, saucy kind of conversation where two individuals stroke each others egos instead of their own. “Oh stop it.” “No you stop it.” “Reowww!”

It’s all based on the egos insatiable appetite to be right. To try to make sense of a world it can’t possibly make sense of. To place everything into neat little boxes. So we can get a tick with an A+ next to it.

Well done Timmy you passed the test! You’re 100 percent right! Any other option would have been wrong but you got it right! This is exactly how the world works!

The problem is so many of us have been raised to look at the world through this black and white lens where we’re taught that right equals good. Right equals success. Right equals smart and capable. Whereas wrong equals failure. Wrong equals incapable. Wrong equals dumb.

It’s this kind of thinking that has made being wrong so difficult for so many of us.

It either threatens our identity as being smart and capable or confirms it as being dumb and incapable. In both cases we find being wrong so incredibly painful we avoid putting ourselves out there at all costs.

The question is how do we protect ourselves against this form of thinking? How do we protect against having a fixed mindset?

Well one way is to consider that every single thought you’ve ever had, every thought that anyone has ever had, is in some way, shape or form, wrong. To consider that there is no black or white, only grey.

If you look deeply enough you’ll see this is true. That we are always wrong in someway, shape or form. This argument itself can be picked apart on so many levels.

The reason is there is no possible way you, or anyone else, can know everything there is to know about anything. The world is simply too complex.

The sooner we can see how deeply flawed the ways in which we think are, the sooner we can let go of our limiting beliefs and more forward to slightly less limiting beliefs.

Equally the sooner we can get to grips with the idea we know next to nothing – the more comfortable we can become in not knowing. This actually, paradoxically, promotes curiosity and learning. 

It does this by helping us to understand that there is always something to learn. Always some area in which we can grow and get better. Equally it keeps our egos from feeling threatened by the idea that it’s wrong. As a result we become less afraid to learn and ask questions. We become less afraid to put our hands up and ask stupid questions.

This way of thinking promotes a growth mindset.

So next time you have a conversation with someone I suggest dropping all notions of, or attempts at, being right. Instead I invite you consider simply trying to be a little less wrong than you already are. Not only will this put you in a willing mindset to learn, it will allow you take whatever someone else has to say with a huge pinch of salt.

Thanks again for reading everyone. I’m curious what tactics you might have for cultivating a growth mindset? How do you keep an open mind? As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions. I will always take it with a pinch of salt.

***

You can see more of AP2’s writing here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com

Tuesday’s Top Tip

Is life really so bad?

Is life really so fucked up?

Ok, yes, it is quite fucked up.

Still.

Is it not also rather pleasant?

Is it not also incredibly beautiful?

Is it not also extremely miraculous?

When you stop regurgitating the bullshit narratives fed to you by society over and over again in your mind.

When you consider that we live in one of the freest, safest and richest periods in human history.

When you simply put down your phone and look.

Do we not, in fact, have a great deal more to be grateful for given the odds of our very existence are so infinitesimally small?

You know the answer to this question of course.

The problem is you keep forgetting don’t you?

Which is why you’ve got to keep reminding yourself of how truly fortunate you really are.

It’s why you have to practise gratitude every opportunity you can.

It’s why you have to make being thankful a way of life.

Previous Top Tip

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my Mindset Mondays Post! The only weekly newsletter that expresses gratitude after forcing you to concede…

Following a 4-3-2-1 approach, it contains 4 thoughts from me (that you should probably ignore), 3 quotes from others (that you should definitely read), and 2 things I’ve been reading, watching or listening to this week that have helped me grow.

As always, I’ve finished with 1 terrible joke that’s so bad, you won’t be able to help but laugh…

Let’s begin!


4 x Thoughts From Me:

There is always a silver lining. You just have to look for it.

Expressing gratitude might just be one of the single best ways to interpret reality – for the fact that we are alive is an extraordinary miracle. That this is lost on us for the majority of our lives shows a sad and astonishing disconnect from the reality of what it means to be alive. Practising gratitude shouldn’t just be something you practise everyday but something you strive to practise every waking moment of your existence.

Isn’t it amazing that you can fail an unlimited number of times in life but still succeed? I find that reassuring. Sadly many of us allow repeated failure to grind us down. To tell us we are failures. It’s simply not true. The most successful people in life are the ones who have failed the most. It’s actually a measure of effort. It’s actually a measure of courage. 

If there’s one thing I could get you to learn – I’d want you to see that you don’t need to achieve anything anymore. You don’t need to keep pushing for some goal to complete. You have everything you need. You’ve achieved it already. Slow down and look. Observe. See and experience what you have. Enjoy it. That’s the part of what it means to be truly successful that most of us fail at. Many people believe they’re successful yet can’t understand why they’re unhappy. People will never realise what true success is until they learn how to enjoy what they’ve already achieved. 


3 x Quotes From Others:

“As we express our gratitude we must never forget the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”John F. Kennedy

“Dead people receive more flowers than the living ones because regret is stronger than gratitude.”Anne Frank (Source: https://myexpressionofthoughtsblog.wordpress.com/)

It is only from such a place of gratefulness that we can perform beautiful acts — from a place of absolute, ravishing appreciation for the sheer wonder of being alive at all, each of us an improbable and temporary triumph over the staggering odds of nonbeing and nothingness inking the ledger of spacetime. But because we are human, because we are batted about by the violent immediacies of everyday life, such gratitude eludes us as a continuous state of being. We access it only at moments, only when the trance of busyness lifts and the blackout curtain of daily demands parts to let the radiance in, those delicious moments when we find ourselves awash in nonspecific gladness, grateful not to this person, grateful not for this turn of events, but grateful at life — a diffuse gratitude that irradiates every aspect and atom of the world, however small, however unremarkable, however coated with the dull patina of habit. In those moments, everything sings, everything shimmers. In those moments, we are most alive.” — Maria Popova (Source: https://www.brainpickings.org/)


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This Mark Manson article – Shut Up and Be Grateful. In it Manson explains the why gratitude is linked to happiness and why all of us should be practising it. Well worth the quick read!

“For decades, research has tied gratefulness and appreciation to happiness. People who are happier tend to be more grateful and appreciative for what they have. But what they’ve also found is that it also works the other way around: consciously practicing gratitude makes one happier. It makes one appreciate what one has and helps one to remain in the present moment. Practicing gratitude increases accountability which directly leads to higher self-esteem and happiness.” 

– Mark Manson

2 – Since we’re on the subject, this TED Talk video with monk and interfaith scholar (and Jedi master) David Steindl-RastWant to be happy? Be grateful. Well worth watching – just in case I haven’t labelled the point enough…

It’s not happiness that makes you grateful. It’s gratefulness that makes you happy

Become aware that every moment is a gift. You haven’t done anything to earn it… it was given to you.

Opportunity is the gift within every gift. If you miss the opportunity of this moment another one is given to you. If we avail ourselves to this opportunity it is the key to happiness.” 

– David Steindl-Rast

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

We decided to start potty training this week.

Progress has been non existent.

So you can imagine my surprise when I heard my boy cry out from across room, “Daddy! Look at the shit!”

At first I didn’t know whether to tell him off for swearing or express how proud I was for doing a poo all on his own.

And then I thought, ‘there’s no way he’s managed to do it on his own so soon… is there?’

But sure enough, when I walked over to have look, there it was – my son stood proudly, pointing at a picture of a ship in one of this books.

Then I thought, Thank God I misheard him.


Thanks ladies and gentleman. I’m here all week!

I want to finish this weeks post by taking a moment to express my gratitude to all of you – for everything. For all your support. For helping to keep my head above water this year. For giving my life greater purpose and meaning. For making me a better person. Connecting with each and everyone of you is what has made blogging so incredibly meaningful. You are why I will continue to do so for a long time to come.  

Till next time… Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!

A couple of bonus questions for you all:

What are you grateful for this year? What has this year given you that others haven’t?

(Thank you all so much for reading. If you have any suggestions, thoughts or ideas about today’s weekly post I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.)


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 23/11/20

The Things That I Will Miss

“The great gift of such periods is that they invite us to question our certitudes, our givens, these seemingly sure foundations that have lulled us into complacency — for it is only by being jolted out of our complacencies, cultural or personal, that we ever reach beyond the horizon, toward new territories of truth, beauty, and flourishing.”

Maria Popova 

So much of what I’ve heard this year from family and friends has centred around what they miss. The things they took for granted before the pandemic. Wishing and hoping for some return to normality. 

While it’s nice to daydream I believe such thoughts take you away from the present moment. Where you live. Where it’s most important you find things you’re grateful for. 

For that reason I thought I’d turn the topic on it’s head and ask you all what you will miss from this time in your life right now, when this whole pandemic blows over and normality resumes (whatever and whenever that is)?

Allow me to start. 

I will miss the abundance of time I‘ve had with my family this year. I will miss seeing my precious boy grow during such a budding tender age. I will miss the times I’ve spent laughing, playing and being silly. I will miss being able to read him bedtime stories every night. 

I will miss the time spent with my wife. Time that has brought us closer together. I will miss the heartfelt chats every evening before bed. Singing and chatting to her belly, feeling as my second child would wriggle and kick with excitement. A precious gift to bring in the new year. 

I will miss connecting from isolation – long chats with family members and friends from all over the world. I miss the occasional virtual pub quiz.

I will miss the time available to pursue other ventures and pastimes. To read and write copious amounts. Time that has allowed my to both write and publish my first children’s book. Time that has allowed my to start and grow a blog – that has allowed me to connect with so many wonderful likeminded people from all around the world. People who have helped inspire me. Who have challenged me. Who have made me a better person. 

I will miss regular sleep – which for a pilot, I can tell you, is something I never take for granted! I will miss having a stable routine. For having the luxury to take my time and do everything I wish during my days off. 

I will miss the time to myself, the solitude. The time available to meditate at length and be still. To listen deeply. I will miss the way this has helped me gain insights I might never have made otherwise. 

I will miss creating art, playing video games, binge watching NETFLIX and otherwise being a complete slob.

Let me finish by saying how incredibly grateful I am for a year that has challenged me considerably. For a year that has made me wiser and stronger. For a year that has made more integral. For a year that has brought me closer to the values I hold dear.

For a year that has given me something few others have. A much deeper perspective. A much greater resilience. A much deeper love and compassion for both myself and the wider world. 

For a year that has put me in a better position to weather the storm ahead and come out on top. For a year that will make the rest of them that much brighter.


Happy (belated) Thanksgiving everyone! I was preoccupied the other day but wanted to take the time to practise some gratitude with you. Out of interest what are some of the things you will miss from this time in your life? If you want to humour me you can tell me some of things you won’t miss as well. Wishing you all the very best. With love, AP2 x

Why Crying Like A Little Girl Is The Manliest Thing You Can Do

Why is it always said, he cried like a little girl?

We never say, she cried like a little boy, do we? 

For that matter, we never say she cried like a little girl either.

Of course I’m forgetting that’s because it’s acceptable for girls to cry! Silly me. It’s just boys who don’t cry!

Except that’s not true, is it?

Last I checked, little boys cry too. 

In fact I know it’s not true, because my two year old boy cries every single day.

And let me tell you something, he’s the happiest person I know.

The. Happiest. Person. I. Know. 

It’s odd don’t you think?

How happy and peaceful children can be, yet we adults have such a hard time accessing those same emotions?

It got me thinking as to why that might be. I wondered, ‘it couldn’t be related… could it?’

Could crying, as one example of allowing ourselves to feel and process negative emotions, be exactly what we need to do in order to access positive emotions like peace and joy?

I decided to do a little research.

My first findings confirmed what I suspected – that crying from time to time, contrary to popular chauvinistic belief, is actually a pretty fucking good thing for you to do.

This article from Medical News Today on the benefits of crying noted,

Research has found that in addition to being self-soothing, shedding emotional tears releases oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals make people feel good and may also ease both physical and emotional pain. In this way, crying can help reduce pain and promote a sense of well-being.”

In addition the article also noted that crying reduces stress, boosts your mood, aids sleep, fights bacteria and even improves your vision (remind me to tell some of my older pilot co-workers of this fact).

Jebus!

I figured it must help, but I had no idea it helped this much.

I wonder then, does this account for why we adults (and men in particular) have a much harder time accessing feelings of peace and happiness?

Do we not allow ourselves to cry enough?

Thinking about my own life it certainly makes sense.

Years of depression was a result of not allowing myself to feel exactly what I needed. After uncovering some hard truths and facing those demons head on, following months of therapy, I finally allowed myself to break down (or ‘break open’ as my therapist referred to it, which I much prefer).

It was such an enormous relief to finally let go of what I’d been fighting for so many years. Afterwards I’d felt an inner peace I’d not felt for years. I remember sleeping like a baby that night.

Now I understand the science behind why that was.

More importantly though the harmful narrative I’d clung onto for years finally began to shift. My life has been immeasurably better ever since.

Of course this wasn’t purely because I allowed myself to cry, but I do believe I’d never have been able to properly process and let go of those difficult emotions without doing so.

Recently I’ve been allowing myself to cry more often. I can tell you that’s not easy for a man who has been conditioned by society to keep him emotions under lock and key. Yet in doing so, my life is now filled with far more beauty and meaning.

I cried the other day when holding my son simply because I became aware of how precious it was while he hugged me during a quiet moment. I let myself cry in front of him. I wanted him to know that this is both a normal and healthy thing to do.

I wonder if any of you thinks this make me less of a man?

Did crying when my son was born make me less of a man? When I first held him in my arms?

Did crying on my wedding day make me less of a man? When I stood in front of all my friends and family as I read out my vows to my wife?

These were some of the happiest, most meaningful days and moments of my life.

If the answer is yes then I formally request to be a female because allowing yourself to cry, allowing yourself to feel your emotions, is what makes life beautiful. It’s what allows your difficult emotions to pass. It’s what allows you to find greater peace.

Luckily I don’t have to go through a sex change operation to allow myself to cry.

As it turns out – newsflash everyone – men can cry after all!

Not only can men cry, I found out that it doesn’t result in your life falling apart or your penis falling off.

Unbelievable news I know but completely true! I can confirm this, you see, because last I checked it’s still there.

In fact, I’ll double check now for you… Yep, still there.

Phew!

Do you want to know why men cry?

Because it’s not a female thing to cry. Shock, horror… It’s actually a human thing to cry. It’s in our nature to cry.

I mean of course it is! Evolution wouldn’t have up with crying pointlessly. Think about it.

Why are we the only species on the planet to deny our nature?

This is exactly what makes us all a bunch of lunatics.

Anyway I’ve gotten away from the research that backs all these opinions up, so let me get back to it.

When I dug a little deeper for this post an extremely bizarre statistic stuck out for me like a sore thumb.

I assumed that men, being more prone to bottle up their emotions and ‘do it alone,’ would almost certainly have higher rates of depression.

WRONG.

Women have been found to have higher rates of depression by a factor of nearly two.

There are a number of reasons for this including gender inequality but studies suggest biological factors to be the major determinant.

At any rate, without getting sidetracked into another very important debate, that wasn’t the bit I found weird.

What I found particularly bizarre was the finding that men are three to four times more likely to take their own life than women.

Why would men be three to four times as likely to die from suicide if they are half as likely to become depressed in the first place?

Assuming my very rough maths is correct and assuming that those who commit suicide have first developed depression, then a man with depression is actually 6 to 8 times more likely to kill himself than a women who develops depression does.

Of course you have to take that with a huge amount of salt, but even so…

Wow!

Talk about being a man hey? Or ‘manning the fuck up’ as some my friends might say.

Talk about the strong emotionally resilient men we have built as a society.

Clearly we’ve done a great job at giving men the tools they need to process their own emotions right?

Or maybe not.

Maybe, instead, we ought to rethink our narrative.

Maybe, just maybe, telling our boys not to cry isn’t such a smart move.

Maybe, just maybe, telling our young boys to ‘man up,’ or ‘grow a pair,’ or ‘stop being such a pussy,’ actually hurts both sexes, especially men.

Maybe, just maybe, we need to redefine what it means to be a man in the first instance.

What do you think?

I’ll tell you why I decided to bring this subject up.

I overheard someone we had hired to babysit our son tell him not to cry. It was a women, by the way, it case you were thinking it must be a man. She clearly didn’t mean any harm but I had to say something.

I asked her if she’d have said the same thing to a girl, or whether she would, in fact, have picked her up and comforted her?

(FYI Research shows that mothers talk more on average with their girl children, including sharing and identifying emotions, as opposed to their boy children.)

I let her know how damaging I believe telling children not to cry is.

I told her that I hope my son always allows himself to cry if he feels the need and that I will never allow him to be shamed for doing so in my household.

Never.

After going away and giving it some more thought, I realised something else.

A deeper problem that many of us might have with other people crying. And how this problem can likely be attributed to telling our boys not to cry.

I suspect many of our distraction techniques aren’t about helping the child so much as a strategy by adults to avoid issues they themselves have about how crying makes them feel.

I believe it’s the adult who often has the problem, whether they are conscious of it or not.

I know whenever my child cried, early on in the weeks shortly after he was born, it brought up intense feelings for me. I felt like a failure every time I was unable to settle him. I would say, “why doesn’t he like my breastmilk as much as my wife’s?”

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself with that joke.

Seriously though, on occasions he’d cry for long periods, without successfully calming him down, I would get very angry with him (not historically an emotion I’ve had a lot of trouble with). I would get so angry that I had to leave the room. Now I was never going to hurt him, but that anger was new to me.

It felt very intense.

What quickly followed, whenever I gave up by leaving him in another room, was intense feelings of remorse.

How could I treat him like that?

How could I just abandon him in his cot when he’s crying?

Why am I taking an infant crying so personally?

What the fuck is wrong with me?

Clearly I had some serious shit to work through. Yet in a typically male way, I didn’t seek any help, didn’t talk about it, nor did I let myself cry.

I just beat myself up.

(FYIAll of these can be explained as reasons why men have a harder time dealing with depression and why they are more likely to commit suicide – see this article for more details)

It wasn’t until one day when I got home from work that I saw my son playing on the living room floor. In that moment I felt nothing but an overwhelming repulsion to get away from him. I didn’t want to be with him. I didn’t want to father my son. My gorgeous boy.

This time the remorse that came flooding up was too much. I went to the bedroom closed the door and started to cry.

I cried like a little girl.

No.

I cried like a man.

I let myself really cry. When I was finished I remember seeing with such clarity, there was no doubt about what it was I needed to do next. I reached for the phone and spoke to someone. I finally asked for the professional help I knew I’d needed for a long time.

Crying was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.

It gave me the clarity to see what I needed.

It gave me the courage to ask for help.

I can’t emphasise that last statement enough.

Crying gave me courage.


CLOSING WORDS

To all men who feel conflicted about their need to cry, it’s important to understand that crying doesn’t mean you’re not capable of dealing with your emotion. It means you are dealing with your emotions. Please understand it’s perfectly ok to do so.

Equally don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. There is no shame in this. There is nothing unmanly about asking for help or showing emotions. We all need help from time to time. That’s part of the human experience.

Don’t think you need to ‘man the fuck up,’ or stop ‘crying like a little girl.’

If it helps consider the phrase, ‘man the fuck up and cry.’

In doing so you might just shatter the bullshit stereotype of what it actually means to be a man.

In doing so you might just have a greater understanding of what it is to be human.

In doing so you might give this world something it needs more than another macho man incapable of accessing his own emotions.

(Thank you to all for taking the time to read. I’m very curious to know your thoughts and get a proper debate going. To challenge my views so I can grow. Please help me cry by leaving your comments below. I welcome ALL opinions.)


ADDITIONAL SOURCES/FURTHER READING

BBC Article: Why more men than women die by suicide

Medical News Today Article: Eight benefits of crying: Why it’s good to shed a few tears

Happiness is here blog post: 10 things for parents to say instead of ‘stop crying.’

Janet Lansbury’s blog post: No Bad Kids – Toddler Discipline Without Shame (9 Guidelines)

This study examined gender differences in emotion word use during mother–child and father–child conversations.

This study explores why depression is more prevalent in women

For those who might be dealing with depression and/or struggling with thoughts of suicide it goes without saying I hope you can find the strength to reach out and talk to someone. Coming back from the brink isn’t easy, but it’s never too late. Never. Below is a list of various hotlines and websites in which you can seek help.

HELPLINES, SUICIDE HOTLINES, AND CRISIS-LINES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Local Websites And Emergency Contact Numbers

https://www.befrienders.org

https://www.samaritans.org

https://www.who.int/mental_health/en/

https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/international/global-mental-health