Tuesday’s Top Tip

Why should you make your bed in the morning? Why should you shave? Why should you wear your best clothes? Why should you exercise? Why should you find 5 minutes to meditate?

Because all little these things are saying something. They are saying whether or not you think today is more or less important than others.

I always advocate wearing your best clothes (practically speaking of course). I always advocate going through your morning routine – especially if you don’t feel like it.

By doing so you are telling yourself to show up for today.

You are telling yourself that today is what matters the most.

That this moment is the most precious one.

This is always true.

Why wouldn’t you show up for what is always the most important day of your life? 

Previous Top Tip

Mindset Mondays – 19/10/20

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my new and improved Mindset Mondays post – the only weekly newsletter that turns out all the lights before handing you a lit match…

For those who don’t know, each week I try my best to give your Mondays a much needed boost by sharing 3 thoughts from me (that you should probably ignore), 2 quotes from others (that you probably shouldn’t), and 1 thing I’ve been reading or listening to that has helped me grow.

As always I finish with a joke that’s either so good or so bad, you won’t be able to help it but laugh.

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts From Me:

Attachments/Wanting = Unhappiness. Letting go/Generosity = Happiness. 

Some mornings, when life inevitably gets in the way, routine is the first thing that goes out the window. We shouldn’t let this get us down. Instead we should see it as a wonderful opportunity to practise mindfulness – to be at peace with the fact that things didn’t go according to our perfect little plans (because it really doesn’t matter). It’s also a great opportunity to practise flexibility – to work out how you can make it up later on, or fit it around a different schedule. Maybe you only meditate for 5 mins today, or maybe you can only afford to get in 5 pushups? If you can look back and say you still managed something, I’m guessing you did much better today than you think. Routine is important but it’s not the be-all and end-all, being flexible is equally important. In fact, you need to allow for flexibility within your routine. Otherwise you’re liable to throw in the towel completely.

Ignorance is bliss… but only for you, for everyone else it’s miserable. That’s not to say ignorance is unforgivable. We’re all ignorant to a large degree. The important thing is not to be deliberately ignorant about matters that affect us all. Listen to the facts. Don’t simply choose to believe something so you don’t have to feel shame. Shame is a useful emotion designed to make you change for the better. It works wonders. Don’t avoid it. Accept it. Process it. Then move on with the greater meaning and purpose that you have derived from it. 


2 x Quotes From Others:

“Open your mouth only if what you are going to say is more beautiful than silence.” – Buddha

“The desire for a more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.” – Mark Manson


1 x Thing That Has Helped Me Grow

This insightful Happiness Lab podcast episode with Dr. Laurie Santos: Happiness Lessons of The Ancients: The Buddha From the show description: ‘The Buddha was born to a royal family… and it shocked him when he found out that no amount of money or power could keep suffering and loss at bay forever. The quest to accept that life brings us pain was key to the development of Buddhism as a major religion. Dr Laurie Santos is joined by Liz Angowski and Robert Wright (author of ‘Why Buddhism is True‘) to explore The Buddha’s teachings about unhappiness and how mindfulness meditation can help us come to terms with the negative feelings we all experience from time to time.’ My personal show notes below.

  • It’s not that beautiful things don’t make us happy but that they change. We change with them. To all happiness there is unhappiness and suffering. There is impermanence. There is a flip side. Things age. People die. 
  • Buddishm teaches us that we don’t see the world clearly by nature.  If we could see the world more clearly we would become happier and we would become better people.  
  • What is central to all suffering? That fact that we always want something more. This gratification never lasts. From a Darwinian survival perspective this makes total sense. Being restless and unhappy drives us to find food or have sex. Then we’re satisfied for a while before we are left wanting more. 
  • Unfortunately we are wired to think once we have sex with that person or eat that great meal or attain that big house then we will live happily ever after. Of course we don’t. It doesn’t matter how much you accumulate you will always go back to that unhappy restless base line. This is an example of our delusion. We are designed to keep convincing ourselves of this. That we will be happy after we have just this little bit more money or recognition, etc. 
  • The mind isn’t designed to bring us happiness. That’s not high on natural selection’s agenda. Understanding that is the beginning of seeking a more enduring kind of happiness. Buddhism offers us this path.

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

Struggling for a story this week folks so thought I’d leave you with this comic instead – Hope you enjoy!


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

Till next time, I sincerely hope you have a very happy Monday!

One bonus question for you all:

How can you add flexibility to your routine?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mental Mondays – 12/10/20

5 Simple Tricks For Overcoming To-Do List Anxiety

“Procastination isn’t caused by laziness. We don’t postpone tasks to avoid work. We do it to avoid negative emotions that a task stirs up – like anxiety, frustration, confusion, and boredom.”

SOURCE: Adam Grant’s Worklife podcast – ‘The Real Reason You Procrastinate.’

Do you know that feeling, after you’ve written out your to-do list, despite how it’s suppose to make you feel, when all you want to-do is crawl under a rock and die? 

You know, when a slow and painful death seems preferable to confronting the mountain of tedious work you feel you have to-do?

And so you slowly put down your to-do list, walk over to the couch, gently sit down, carefully pick up the remote control and turn on NETFLIX. Which you then proceed to binge watch for several hours…

A bit like a psychopath who completely disconnects from all his or her responsibilities and emotions? 

I’m sure you do.

Anyway this got me thinking.

Why exactly does writing out our responsibilities on paper cause some us to run away from them faster than a teenage boy climaxes?

After all we know this kind of behaviour doesn’t help us, yet we can’t help ourselves. Sometimes all we want is to tell life to go fuck itself and so we do, even if that means fucking ourselves in the process.

The real question, of course, is how can we stop our to-do lists from making us feel like shit and actually help us get shit done instead?

Well fear not my fine readers for I’ve complied 5 simple tricks – as partially backed by science – to help you not only write a to-do list that doesn’t make you want to tell life to go fuck itself, but carry it out as well!

You’re very welcome!


1 – DO THE THING YOU FEAR THE MOST FIRST

“The task you’re avoiding isn’t always the one you hate. Sometimes it’s the one you fear. The one that’s most worth pursuing.”

SOURCE: ADAM GRANT’S WORKLIFE PODCAST – ‘THE REAL REASON YOU PROCRASTINATE.’

The science shows that making a plan to complete a task provides the same mental relief as completing the task itself.

Which is exactly the point. Writing a to-do list is suppose to make you feel better so you can actually get started with something.

It’s suppose to get you in the mood… (Yeah baby!)

The problem for me, and I suspect countless others, was never a matter of productivity, but what it was I actually chose to accomplish during the day. I now realise I used my to-do list as a way to constantly defer the shit I was most afraid of.

I’m not talking about homework assignments here of course. I mean things like confronting my depression by asking for professional help or having certain difficult conversations with certain family members about shit I really don’t want to talk about…

Yeah, you know, the shit you really need to be doing first!

It was pointed out to me, in Adam Grant‘s excellent worklife podcast episode – ‘the real reason you procrastinate,’ that it wasn’t the tasks I was avoiding but the emotions I’d attached to said tasks.

The problem with ignoring these tasks is you inadvertently give those emotions (the thing that you’re actually afraid of confronting) greater hold over you. Thus the longer you leave said tasks undone the harder they become to-do.

Unfortunately there’s only one solution.

However scary they are, the tasks that you fear the most are exactly the ones you should be pursuing first. Not tidy the apartment!

Why?

Well it’s a classic Catch 22. By doing the very tasks you’re afraid of, you’re helping to confront and resolve those emotions that caused you to avoid those tasks in the first place.

If you don’t want to live with those emotions any longer, then you have to stop avoiding them. You have to rip the bandaid off. If you don’t it’s only gonna hurt more later on. Believe me!

Of course I realise this might not be what you want to hear so I thought I’d offer a few more tips that can help you do what’s necessary by putting things into perspective.

2 – ASK YOURSELF, “WHAT WOULD I DO IF THIS WERE MY LAST DAY ON EARTH?

It’s important to be very clear about what your most important tasks are on any given day. Often we’re not. A great way to do this – something I do every morning as part of my journalling routine – is to ask yourself the following question: “What would I do if this were my last day on earth?”

I’m guessing your to-do list would look markedly different.

Things like telling your family how much you love them. Apologising for any major wrong doings or forgiving those that wronged you would also probably appear. Remaining as present as you possibly can be. Paying attention to every waking moment for the truly precious moment that it is! Sitting with and observing any difficult emotions. Allowing those emotions to come out (instead of watching NETFLIX). Taking a walk outside to feel the elements – wind, rain, hail or shine! Simply being…

You get the point.

Of course you shouldn’t take this question too seriously otherwise you’ll probably bin your to-do list altogether and tell your boss to-go fuck himself. Perhaps not in the best interest of your future self…

Still this is a great question because it helps align your to-do list with the values you hold closest. It helps to prioritise the things that you really should. It also puts thing into perspective.

The truth is you don’t have to-do anything. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and self-loathing by thinking so. You don’t have to-do anything if you don’t want to.

You get to do those things.

Which brings me to my next trick for reframing your to-do list. That is,

3 – WRITE A GET TO-DO LIST INSTEAD

Put that at the top in big bold capital letters: GET to-do.

Not only does this set yourself up to be more grateful for what you feel you might have to-do, it also helps to take the pressure off.

You get to do it, you don’t have to do it.

Keep reminding yourself of this important fact.

I’d add another small tip.

Write out 3 things you’re grateful for today before you write out your get to-do list. I could show you some science that shows just how beneficial having a gratitude practise is, but I don’t want to bore you.

You know all this.

The point to label is YOU GET TO-DO THESE THIHGS. One day you’ll be dead and you won’t get to.

It helps to keep that in mind.

4 -KEEP IT MODEST AND BE SPECIFIC

How much do you really need to-do today?

So many of us put everything down we’d like to complete and then burn out after realising we’ll never be able to achieve all those things.

You’ve got make it manageable.

Don’t say I’ll write one blog post or go for a 10km run or finish reading that book. Say I’ll write one paragraph, jog for five minutes and read one chapter.

Simply taking a step in the right direction is enough.

So what if you didn’t quite get everything you wanted to-do done?

The most important thing is that you enjoyed it. You’re never going to enjoy it if you’re always racing towards the finish line.

And if you really don’t manage to complete much, if anything, of what you intended, then please refer to point number 5.

5 – SHOW YOURSELF SOME COMPASSION

‘You can change some of those emotions by showing yourself compassion. We procrastinate less when we remind ourselves that it’s part of the human condition. We’re not the only one suffering from it.’

SOURCE: ADAM GRANT’S WORKLIFE PODCAST – ‘THE REAL REASON YOU PROCRASTINATE.’

A tough one to finish I know. The truth is I’m awful at being kind to myself.

This is why, every morning as part of my meditation routine before I do anything else, I practise a loving kindness meditation for everybody including myself.

After all it can’t be called universal compassion if it doesn’t include yourself.

It’s important to remember we’re all fallible humans at the end of the day. Things like confronting our demons aren’t easy. It takes time to find the courage.

Go easy on yourself if you don’t do that scary task.

Who honestly get’s everything they mean to-do in a day? Really? I certainly don’t.

That said, I tell my wife I love her every night before bed without fail. I make sure I spend a couple of quality hours with my son – laughing and playing with him every afternoon before dinner. I meditate every single morning and take every opportunity to practise mindfulness whenever I can. I always go for a walk outside as a way to remind myself that I’m alive and how fucking amazing that is!

Quite frankly the rest can fucked. Occasionally it does!

The older I get the more willing I am to say, so the fuck what? Tomorrow’s another day right? If you fall off the horse today, simply get back on it tomorrow. Falling down is inevitable. Getting back up is what matters.

That’s life.

(As always I welcome ALL opinions on this blog. If you have any other tips about crafting the ultimate to-do list I’d be very keen to hear from you in the comments section below! Thank you all so much for reading!)


SOURCES:

WorkLife with Adam Grant episode on ‘The Real Reason You Procrastinate.’

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/tech-support/201310/why-your-do-list-drives-you-crazy

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/zeigarnik-effect

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Motivational Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the most depressing day of the week. (Or at least start it off in a slightly better fashion.)

Following a 4:3:2:1 approach, it contains 4 exceptional thoughts from me (ha), 3 admittedly better quotes from others, and 2 things I’ve been reading and/or listening to this week that have helped me grow

As always I’ve finished with 1 something silly to hopefully make you all smile. 

Love to all X

(To my lovely readers: 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. Thank you all so much for reading.)


4 x Thoughts From Me:

What if the only thing that is wrong with you is that you think there is something wrong with you?

Sit down every night and pat yourself on the back for the things you did well and then examine the ways in which you could have done better. Bring both your sense of accomplishment and willingness to improve into your next day. You will go far by making this a daily habit.

We talk about the possibility of being alone in this universe as if the world we live in isn’t enough. I think we all need a better understanding of what enough actually is.

Intelligent self interest is about understanding we are all part of the same world. That to hurt another is to hurt yourself. I would go so far as to say how you treat others is how you treat yourself. Kindness to others extends inwards as well as out. The same is as true for anger or hatred. You give fuel to those feelings within by acting on them. Be sure to choose forgiveness over resentment, kindness over hate and love over fear.


3 x Quotes From Others:

“There are two core fears: losing what you have and not getting what you want. There is one solution: falling in love with where you are.”Jeff Foster

“Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” – Rumi


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This fantastic Ted talk by Ethan Hawke on why being creative is so vital (my favourite quotes from the transcript are beneath):

MY FAVOURITE QUOTES:

“I believe that we are here on this star in space to try to help one another. Right? And first we have to survive, and then we have to thrive. And to thrive, to express ourselves, alright, well, here’s the rub: we have to know ourselves. What do you love? And if you get close to what you love, who you are is revealed to you, and it expands.”

“It’s a thing that worries me sometimes whenever you talk about creativity, because it can have this kind of feel that it’s just nice, you know, or it’s warm or it’s something pleasant. It’s not. It’s vital.”

“What makes kids so beautifully creative, is that they don’t have any habits, and they don’t care if they’re any good or not, right? They’re not building a sandcastle going, “I think I’m going to be a really good sandcastle builder.” They just throw themselves at whatever project you put in front of them — dancing, doing a painting, building something: any opportunity they have, they try to use it to impress upon you their individuality. It’s so beautiful. “

“If you want to help your community, if you want to help your family, if you want to help your friends, you have to express yourself. And to express yourself, you have to know yourself. It’s actually super easy. You just have to follow your love. There is no path. There’s no path till you walk it, and you have to be willing to play the fool.

2 – This BBC article – How being realistic can be key to your wellbeing. A study comparing optimists, pessimists and realists found that, “overestimating outcomes and underestimating them are both associated with lower wellbeing than getting expectations about right. Realists do best.” This is worth the quick read.


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

Having spent the last 4 days confined to a hotel room it was a relief to arrive back in Hong Kong this morning. 

Unfortunately, because of the recent spike in cases here, it’s now mandatory that all crew, as well as passengers, be tested for COVID on arrival. 

As I waited in line a lady dressed in a bio hazard suit assembled my COVID testing kit. She explained to me that I needed to deposit my specimen in a small plastic cup over in one of booths set up behind her. 

She’d omitted the word saliva…

I couldn’t help myself.

“That’s an awful lot of pressure,” I replied jokingly. “Do you have any magazines or anything that might help the process along?”

“Oh yes,” she replied clearly not registering, “you can watch a video that demonstrates how to do it on one of the big screen over there.”

“Hmmm, I’m not sure that will help,” I said as she handed me my testing kit.

She was clearly perplexed.

Probably a good thing she couldn’t see me smirking behind my face mask.

I walked to the booth in shame.


Till next week…

Have a Happy F***ing Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all to ponder:

What does success mean to you?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POSTS:

Motivational Mondays – 27/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 20/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 13/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 06/07/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 29/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 22/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 15/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20

The Simplest, Most Effective Way To Overcome Writer’s Block

Are you struggling for words? 

Stuck in a loop? 

Don’t know how to proceed? 

Do you feel like everything you’re writing is a pile of s***? That you’re making everything ten times worse than what you’d originally put down on paper?

Well fear not my friends, for I have the answer and boy oh boy is it a doozy!

I hope you’re ready because this will surely blow your mind.

Here it is…

The simplest, most effective way to overcome writer’s block is to…

KEEP WRITING

Yep, it’s that simple. 

Keep going. 

Keep plugging away and never give up. 

You have what it takes but you have to keep going.

You have to have the faith you’ll figure it out. That the words will come. Sometimes it takes revisiting and editing a damn post so many times you’ll wanna throw your laptop (and yourself) off the top of the highest skyscraper you can climb. 

Don’t do that.

Keep going. The struggle will pay off in the end I promise. Trust. 

I’ll add a couple more bonus tip for you.

You don’t have to write anything you don’t want to. Make sure you enjoy it.

Make sure you’re doing it because you love and believe in what you have to say

Forget the number of likes. That’s your ego’s need for attention. Listen to your heart. Your mind is meant to be its servant not the master. 

And if it really is too much. If you have been writing incessantly but only seem to be digging yourself an even messier hole to write yourself out of. 

Get outside and go for a walk. Or spend half an hour punching a bag. Whatever it is get out and do some exercise then come back to what you where stuck on. 

This always works wonders for me. In fact some of my greatest creative inspirations and solutions come from walking in my local park everyday. 

It really is be the best antidote. But once  you’ve had a healthy amount of time away don’t forget to come back and tackle that beast of a post you were stuck on. 

You will defeat it, if you simply keep writing…

(Sorry I ran out of words to say at this point so went outside to listen to the birds chirping in my local park. If you have any suggestions please do leave them in the comments section below.)

Happy F***ing Mondays – 15/06/20

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Happy Fucking Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the shittiest day of the week. (Or at least start it off in a slightly less shit fashion.)

First up I want to wish my beautiful mother and number one fan since birth, a very happy (no expletives) birthday!! (I hope you and my 3 other readers enjoy todays post. Also sorry mum, I know you raised me better than to swear but what can I say? My other readers love it!)

This week it contains 3 thoughts from me, 5 quotes from others and 3 things I’ve been reading, watching and/or listening to this week. 

I’ve finished with one something silly to hopefully make you all smile. 

Love to all X


3 x Thoughts I’ve Been Thinking:

The change the world needs from you is for you to change. Not for you to change the world. 

What if instead of asking our children, “What do you want to do when you’re older?”, we asked, “How do you want to help the world when you’re older?”.

Forget todo lists. Make a get todo list instead. 


5 x Quotes I’ve been Pondering:

“Throughout life, from childhood, from school, until we die, we are taught to compare ourselves with another. Yet when I compare myself with another I am destroying myself. In an ordinary school, where there are a lot of boys, when one boy is compared with another who is very clever, who is the head of the class, what is actually taking place? You are destroying the boy. That’s what we are doing throughout life. Now, can we live without comparison to anybody? This means there is no high, no low. There is not the one who is superior and the other who is inferior. You are actually what you are and to understand what you are, this process of comparison must come to an end. If I’m always comparing myself with some saint or some teacher, some businessman, writer, poet, and all the rest, what has happened to me, what have I done? I only compare in order to gain, in order to achieve, in order to become. But when I don’t compare, I am beginning to understand what I am. Beginning to understand what I am is far more fascinating, far more interesting. It goes beyond all this stupid comparison. To understand yourself is the beginning of wisdom.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti (Source Credit: TheEnlightenedMind622)

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.” – E. E. Cummings (Source Credit: https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/09/25/e-e-cummings-advice/)

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”Carl Jung. (Source Credit: https://www.elitedaily.com/life/what-you-hate-about-yourself/1024464)

War would end if the dead could return.” – Stanley Baldwin

“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I found. I found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk, that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” – (Gandalf from Lord of the Ring written by J. R. R. Tolkien).


3 x Things I’ve Been Listening/Reading/Watching this week:

1 – This brilliant podcast episode: How to Kick Bad Habits (and Start Good Ones) from The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos.

My notes from the pod:

  • Willpower doesn’t really work. When you exert willpower you are thinking about the thing you don’t want to do and in doing so you give that thing energy. It’s self defeating. 
  • Routine is the secret to changing our bad behaviours. 
  • To make your routine willpower free you need to form the habit. 
  • The first critical part of habit formation = rewards
  • The second critical component = the routine (A set of specific steps that leads to a reward.)
  • The third critical component = the cue or the trigger (this can be time of day. Your mood. Your location. The people you’re with.)
  • The third component, the cue, is where we can control or at least help control whether we make a good or a bad habit. 
  • Nearly half of our waking day is on autopilot. Constantly governed by cues and context. This gives us a powerful opportunity to change. If we can use our consciousness minds to exert control over the context we find ourselves in, we can shift our bad behaviours to the ones we want. 

2 – This timely Tim Ferris Podcast with Coach George Raveling on This Unique Moment in Time, How to Practice Self-Leadership, Navigating Difficult Conversations, and More in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic death. Hearing about his need to have a “Stop Strategy”, as a successful, 82-year-old black man in modern American (just in case he’s pulled over by the police), brought home just how easy I’ve had it as a white man and how far we still have to go to right the wrongs of racial prejudice and inequality. Highly recommend listening.

My favourite quotes from the episode:

  • We are two sided. We are the problem and we are the solution. – DON’T FORGET THAT
  • The most important conversations we can have openly are the ones we only have with ourselves. Let your inner voice out so we can understand. 
  • The two most important words in the English language are we and us. 
  • There is nothing more fundamental than a life. 
  • What is it that would make one human completely disregards and disrespect another human life? That would disrespect the most precious gift of all. 
  • Looking through the eyes of others will give us a far more balanced view of the world. 
  • “If a man or women hasn’t found something they are willing to die for perhaps they’re not fit to live” – Martin Luther king
  • If we don’t understand our past in the present there will be no future 
  • If you can’t lead yourself how can you lead anyone else?
  • We have a responsibility to lead ourselves during these times of turmoil. 
  • The system has been built to build average people. 
  • What is it that I don’t know, that I need to know?
  • I will fully commit to being a positive change maker /agent for as many lives as possible. Take this pledge and live it. 
  • Everything starts with changing the self 
  • Don’t give a statement. Give a message. Tell a story. 

3 – Started following this comic called The Far Side by Gary Larson. His cartoon ran daily in newspapers from 1980 to 1995. The Far Side went from garnering controversy to becoming one of the most beloved cartoons of its time. Until now, it has never been offered online. Suffice to say his work is brilliantly funny. You can have regular postings of his work delivered to your respective Facebook and/or Instagram feeds by following The Far Side page (either search or click on links)!


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

So a friend of mine asked for a refreshing gin and tonic with lime the other day.

I said, “With line!?”

I continued, “Would you like that straight or with a twist?”

(If you didn’t get that then please re-read carefully! Also sorry, I couldn’t think of anything better).


Till next time,

Happy Fucking Mondays Everybody!

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

One Bonus question for you all:

How do you like your lines?