The Pursuit Of Unhappiness

Apparently, most of us have a default level of happiness. No matter what our station is in life, we are all slightly dissatisfied. Slightly. Life is just never quite good enough, even when it really is.

This default happiness level readjusts depending on your circumstances. Even if something significant happens to you, like winning the lottery, you soon get over it and return to that base level of slight dissatisfaction.

Luckily this works in reverse too!

If you have a divorce, for example, or end up in an accident that leaves you paralysed — studies have shown that although your life on paper becomes worse, you readjust. Shit feels awful for a while, but then get used to this new normal. You accept it — sort of — and move back to your default level of happiness.

“I can’t use my legs anymore, but I can still binge-watch NETFLIX every evening like I used to!” Or, “I don’t have a smoking hot wife anymore but, you know, there are other less attractive fish in the sea. Ones that won’t steal my stuff. I’ll settle for one of those!”

That’s the spirit!

The reason for this is simple: survival.

It’s not the best strategy to be content with life. Otherwise, we’d stop chasing after that next promotion or that bigger house. We’d stop securing a safer existence for ourselves and our family — even if we already live on a luxury yacht!

It’s for this reason that our egos keep tricking us. It tells us, if you get that next promotion, or have sex with that smoking hot chick, or save enough money for that fast car, then you’ll be happy. Then you’ll achieve the kind of bliss that everyone else on Instagram clearly has.

And so you go after those things like your life depends on it.

But what happens when you actually get those things? When your hopes are realised? Of course, you’re happy for a time. That’s for the memory bank to remind you that more is better. But then what? That’s right, you get used to it! You get accustomed to your new sports car. You get over the fact that you had mind-blowing sex with that hot chick. You get used to the fact that your new house has 8 bedrooms, 2 tennis courts, and an infinity pool.

Once you do, you’ll find yourself back in that familiar default setting of life is okay-ish. Not bad, but it could be better. “I mean, It’s not like I have the fastest sports car in the market, right? And if I’m honest, she was only an 8 out of 10. Plus, I’d quite like a bigger fucking boat!”

The obvious problem, for those canny enough to recognise this ego trick, is that it’s never enough. 

Happiness — the lasting kind at least — can’t be found through the pursuit of happiness. It’s like looking for gold at the end of the rainbow. You’ll never find it. There is no mountain high enough, no river wide enough, no luxury yacht big enough.

The other, less obvious problem, for those canny enough to see the bigger trap here, is your default setting has been adjusted to this more manageable level of existence. And this, I’m afraid to say, makes you weaker. It makes you softer because your default level of happiness is set against this higher standard of living. As a result, minor things start to bother you a lot more. You say, “Unless that waiter brings me the finest quality champagne, I’m gonna lose my shit!” Suddenly it becomes much harder to maintain that baseline of moderate happiness (or unhappiness as the case may be).

In gaining the world, you start to hate it.

As a pilot, I have the added perk of traveling in business class at a fraction of the price that most people pay, provided spare seats are going on a given flight. Is it a great thing? I enjoy business class, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think about it much anymore. That’s because I’m used to it. Instead, I find myself thinking about how great first class looks. I think, “If only my company would let me fly in first. Of course, business class isn’t bad, but, you know, it could be better.”

There I am, back to that default setting. (Spoilt brat, I know…)

But here’s the real kicker. When business is full and the only seats going are in economy class, well, then woe is fucking me! (Please don’t fuck me woe, not again!) What is normal and ok-ish for the vast majority of people has become a kind of hell because of my privilege. My privilege has made me weaker. It’s like that saying, once you go… (You know what? I’m not going to finish that sentence.)

This is the paradox that comes from making life easier for ourselves. We actually make it harder. Similarly, by chasing happiness, we end up finding less of it.

Now I’m going to ask you a question. I use this example only because it makes sense to me personally. Here it is: Why did you have kids? Why do you want to have kids?

To make you happy?

Ha!

Sorry, that one slipped out. But seriously, if your reason is/was to make you happy, you need to sit down and have a rethink.

Kids make everything more complicated. Everything.

There’s a lot of research that suggests couples end up unhappier after having kids. I can vouch for that. Having kids was a rude awakening. It was a shock to my admittedly delicate system. And it didn’t make me happier having them. At least not initially. (There’s a fat dose of honesty for you.)

Changing nappies 8 times a day, being pissed on, rocking them for a goddam hour at 4 am, only for them to wake up the moment you place them in their cots…! Finding any which way to settle the little bastards. (I love them, really.)

If you haven’t felt an overwhelming urge to throw your baby out of the window at some point as a new parent, well, you’re not honest. That’s why, if you want to have kids, you have to really really want them. You also have to be very clear about why you have children.

Because if your why is in the pursuit of happiness, they will make you miserable — they will drive you insane. Then you might actually throw your children out the window. Of course, that would be bad. Very very bad. (I have to keep telling myself that.)

So why would you have kids then?

Well, the same reason you might decide to climb Everest or chose any challenging endeavor. For a sense of fulfillment, to help the world raise a more virtuous and responsible generation, to help you grow as an individual…

You have children because it gives your life more meaning. You do it for love, as cliche as that sounds. You don’t do it for your happiness. Don’t do anything for your happiness. Fuck your happiness. I mean it. 

Ok, no, I don’t. What I mean is fuck looking for your happiness. The only thing that’s guaranteed in this life is pain. Happiness is never guaranteed. Never. You should write that on a billboard and hang it on your living room wall.

My first child forced me to reconcile with some dark inner demons. The moment I was candid with myself and realised that his wellbeing depended on me sorting my own shit, well, everything changed. Seriously. Everything. I sought therapy for his benefit. I did it for his happiness, and in the process, ended up finding my own.

Right there is the trick. What’s your why? That’s always a great question to ask yourself. If your why is happiness, you can expect unhappiness. If your why is to serve something bigger than yourself, well, then you’re actually on to something. Because the genuine pursuit of happiness is found in the pursuit of meaning through pain.

If you pursue meaning through pain, you’ll find the small stuff stops pissing you off. You’ll also find the everyday stuff that everyone takes for granted becomes a kind of paradise.

Suddenly you’ll look down after a long day in which your kids pressed every button — a day in which your nerves were utterly shredded. Despite that, you kept them alive. Not only that, you helped them grow. You also realise that you didn’t completely lose your shit this time. You notice that you also grew as a person. You realise that all that pain you suffered through gave you something no amount of money ever can. And as you look down at your kids, who are fast asleep, in a seemingly mundane moment, you suddenly feel something akin to happiness, but it’s not. It’s something more significant than that.

What you’ve found is peace.

***

You can find more of AP2’s writing here athttps://pointlessoverthinking.com

The Only Thing The World Needs From You

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Howard Thurman (Source: The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman: A Visionary for Our Time)

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking, ‘what do you mean the ONLY THING the world needs from me?! The world demands EVERYTHING from me!!!’

‘It expects me to be a teetotaling, super-ripped, enlightened, buddhist monk who lives in a mansion with 5 cars yet gives everything to the poor, can speak 6 languages, hold 3 full-time jobs with an additional 8 hobbies on the side while also caring for the elderly with the abundance of spare time one must have available.’

Breathe…

‘On top of which I must also find a cure for cancer, prevent global warming, travel the entire world, read 8 books a day, find the time to study for a 4th profession, have the perfect life partner, raise straight A children who never fart in public, cook the recommended 12 meals a day, eat only the finest imported wagyu beef, be a vegan, own the latest model of smartphone while also find a suitable replacement for plastics.’

‘Should I go on?!!!’

You could but I think we get the point.

Yes, unfortunately, this is but a modicum of what our fucked up society expects. That said, this is exactly why we need to be very clear.

What the world needs from you and what society expects are two very different things.

One you need to trust in. The other you need tell fuck off!

Society’s ridiculous expectations have flooded our brains with too much information. We’re constantly being pulled in a million different directions that’s left us paralysed in one. We can’t see through the sea of bullshit to understand what we’re supposed to do. We’re lost wondering which way we should paddle with no land in sight.

The problem isn’t what society thinks, of course. The major problem we have is making society’s expectations our own. In doing so we play a game we can’t possibly win. As a result of not being able to meet these impossible expectations – because none of us can – many of us simply give up.

What we need to do is set ourselves free. We need to cut through the noise and focus on our major purpose in life. We need to follow our calling. Then say ‘fuck it’ to the rest. I truly believe this will benefit the world far more than trying to meet society’s expectations. That’s provided you can shift through all the bullshit and follow what your calling in life actually is. As in, not society’s. Not your parent’s. Not Barrack Obama’s. Certainly not Donald Trump’s. Yours! Your own unique calling.

This is the only thing the world needs from you.

I think that you know this of course, the question is how?! And also what the fuck?

I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers but I’ll give you a few more thoughts you should probably ignore.

Fuck what society has to say about who it thinks you should be.

You and only you get to decide what success looks like. Don’t let society do that for you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your life has to look good on paper, so some top level exec can commend you on your perfect CV to only then give the job to the slightly less qualified white man because you’re black, or a woman, or a black woman…

Ahhh shiiiiiiit!

To be clear I’m not saying give up. To not be a better person. To not go after what you want despite any disadvantages you may or may not have. 

No! 

What I’m saying is to be clear about what success actually means to you, to be clear about what you actually want. Don’t go chasing someone else’s goals. If you want to wander the seven seas as a pirate – if that’s what makes you feel alive – then who the fuck am I, or anyone else for that matter, to judge you? At least if you fail as a pirate (highly probable) you’ll have loved life.

Seriously!

We spend far too much time thinking about how our life choices will be viewed by others. We need to wake up and follow what we know in our hearts will make us happy.

A stressful life chasing other people’s version of success is what has turned us all into robots. We’re simply going through the motions so we can reach our end goal. We say to ourselves, it’ll all be worth it after I have secured financial independence for the last 10 good years of my life. After I have broken my body, sold my soul and lost all sense of aliveness in the mean time.

Is your retirement really worth that much? To slave away so that one day you might get to live in the knowledge that money is no longer a problem for you, for the last 10 years of your life?

Let me tell you something that society doesn’t want you to work out. Money is but one problem.

When Jay-Z rapped about 99 problems I suspect they were all related to having money. Bitches weren’t one of them admittedly, because of the money, but even so. The point is be careful what you chase after in life. 

The world really doesn’t need you to be rich and famous. It doesn’t need you to solve all its problems. Society has made this an obsession of yours but it’s bullshit.

The only thing the world needs from you is to come alive. That comes from chasing the dreams that you alone have defined. It comes from following your heart.

I’ve got a new rap song. It goes, I’ve got 99 problems but the dream ain’t one. (How white am I?) If you can sing that you’re winning my friend because you’ll always have 99 problems. Don’t make not following your dreams one of them.


Thanks for reading everyone! I’m acutely aware that talking about chasing your dreams can come across as somewhat rich (pun intended) as a privileged middle class white man, especially when survival is the only thing that millions can ever consider, but I also wonder if, for the same reason, I don’t have a responsibility to chase my dreams? After all, my worst case scenario is far better than most. What do you think? Is the idea of following your dreams overrated? Is it not better to follow our heart if we have the choice? Thoughts and comments very welcome below.

***

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

Why Crying Like a Little Girl Might Be 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 forget 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?”

As one example of allowing ourselves to feel and process negative emotions, do we need to cry in order to access positive emotions like peace and joy?

I decided to do a little research.

The Benefits of Crying

My first findings confirmed what I suspected. It turns out that crying from time to time, contrary to popular chauvinistic belief, is a pretty f*cking 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.

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 makes sense. Years of depression were a direct result of repressing my emotions. 

After facing those demons during months of therapy, I finally allowed myself to break down (or ‘break open’ as my therapist referred to it).

It was such an enormous relief to finally let go of what I’d been fighting for so many years. Afterward 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, 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 because I simply allowed myself to cry. Still, I believe I’d never have been able to process that pain without doing so.

Recently I’ve been allowing myself to cry more often. I can tell you that it’s not easy for a man who has been conditioned to keep his 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 realized 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 makes 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 my friends and family as I read 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 to allow myself to cry. As it turns out – newsflash everyone – men can cry after all! 

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

Unbelievable news, I know, but entirely true! I can confirm this, you see, because last I checked, it was still there. Just to be extra sure, I’ll double-check… 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! Evolution wouldn’t have up with crying pointlessly. Think about it.

Why are we the only species on the planet to deny our nature? I believe this is what turns all of us into a bunch of lunatics.

Anyway, I’ve gotten sidetracked. Let me come back to some research.  

A Hard Truth About Male Resilience

When I dug a little deeper for this post, an extremely bizarre statistic stuck out 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 higher rates of depression by a factor of nearly two. There are several reasons for this, including gender inequality, but studies suggest biological factors to be the primary determinant.

At any rate, without getting sidetracked into another important debate, that wasn’t the bit I found weird. What I found particularly bizarre was that men are three to four times more likely to take their own lives 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 6 to 8 times more likely to kill himself than a woman who develops depression does.

Of course, you have to take that with a large pinch of salt, but even so.

Wow! 

Talk about being a man, hey? Or, “manning the f*ck up,” as some of my friends might say. Talk about the tough, 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?

That Time I Cried

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 woman, by the way, in case you thought it must be a man. She 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 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 let him 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. 

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

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. On occasion, when he’d cry for long periods, I would get very angry with him (not historically an emotion I’ve had a lot of trouble with). I would get so mad 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. 

Whenever I gave up by leaving him in another room, what quickly followed was intense feelings of remorse. “How could I treat him like that? How could I abandon him in his cot when he’s crying? Why am I taking an infant crying so personally? What the f*ck is wrong with me?”

Clearly, I had some serious stuff 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.

(FYI  – All 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 saw my son playing on the living room floor after I got home from work. At 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 really myself cry. When I finished, I remember seeing with such clarity. There was no doubt about what it was I needed to do. I reached for the phone and spoke to someone. I finally asked for the professional help I knew I’d needed for years.

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.

Some Closing Thoughts

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 feelings. 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 to “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 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. 


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

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

5 Counter-Intuitive Ways To Find Your True Calling

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

– ALBERT EINSTEIN 

Following on from my post, The Only Thing The World Needs From You, I realised the advice I gave, although brilliant (ha), could be summarised by saying one should chase their dreams while simultaneously telling society to go fuck itself…

I stand by my words of course, but I realised it probably doesn’t help those who have absolutely no idea what they actually what to do.

For that reason, I decided to put this more practical post together in order to help any lost souls find their true calling in life (whatever the fuck that means).

Anyway, buckle up boys and girls, because I’m about to blow your minds wide open…

Let’s begin.

1. Don’t Do What You Don’t Love 

So many talk about chasing their dreams or following their heart or some other trite bullshit, as if everyone’s already figured out what that is. Yet for so many of us we have no idea what we really want. Often not knowing makes us feel like we’ve got something badly wrong. The truth is it’s completely understandable given the sheer amount of noise out there.

The question remains though, how are we suppose to understand what we want? How can we listen through the noise long enough to make sense of our place in all of it? If you really have no idea what you want then I suggest starting with the opposite.

If you don’t know what you want to do, become clear about what you don’t want to and stop doing it.

Use the process of elimination to take you closer.

The same way if you want to get fit and healthy, but hate running, don’t spend an hour on the fucking treadmill everyday – do something else instead! Dance or box or climb some rocks if that floats your boat. Do what ever it is you think you might like.

Ultimately you don’t have to like those things either, but I guarantee if you keep searching, if you keep cutting out the shit you don’t want to, you’ll eventually find the thing that you do.

There are always ways to make things you don’t want to do, like exercise, into things you actually do like dancing or boxing or surfing. Your job is no different. 

Don’t settle for the treadmill. Don’t settle for the dead end job you hate. Find the shit that gets you excited by saying no to the shit that doesn’t.

2. Stop Thinking About The Future

Sit down and meditate for hours if need be. Seek out professional help if you have to.

Whatever it is you need to do to stop the monkey mind from regurgitating the sheer amount of bullshit that society has fed it and find clarity.

I belief if you can do that, then what you need to do in the moment will become obvious. You won’t need to think about what you want in life. You’ll just know.

For me, at this moment in time, my calling is to write something that might be considered vaguely inspirational by some of you lovely readers. In about half an hour my calling will probably be to go make the world’s best sandwich. One day it was flying aeroplanes and travelling the world. The next day it was overcoming depression and anxiety. After that it has been trying to help others as I have, by channeling a mind that doesn’t know how to shut-the-fuck-up with a love of writing. On another day it was falling in love. After that it was starting a family.

I could go on. 

These are all things that have called to me. That made me feel alive. But those were only ever things I knew were right for me in the moment. If you can remain present I believe your calling will become clear.

3. Don’t Think You Only Have One Calling In Life 

Don’t think there has to be just one calling. In the moment there is only ever one calling but not throughout life.

Don’t think you need to peg your life to one career path.

It’s society that told you you had to have one long distinguished career. Who told you to had to get married to ‘the one.’ But there is no such thing as ‘the one’ or ‘the perfect job.’ There are millions of different types of people – as there are jobs – with some more compatible than others depending on the individual and where they are in life.

The relationships that work best are the ones where both understand the need to work at it. Not the ones who think because they’ve married “the one” everything will work out “happily ever after.” 

Society definitely fucked up our thinking up there.

Of course it certainly makes things simpler if you can have just one person and one career. And maybe for you that’s the case. Great – I’m not saying it can’t be – I just think it’s helpful to think in terms of not having to have one career path or life partner.

After all the pandemic could leave you unemployed and then, after being forced to spend too much time with your partner who realises doesn’t love you anymore, divorced…

Shit happens. When it does you have to embrace that shit with the fullness of your heart, or some other trite bullshit line. You get the point.

4. Imagine The Worst Case Scenario Then Do It Anyway. 

This brings me to my next bit of advice I stole from someone much smarter than me.

Imagine the worst case scenario of whatever you’re considering. Accept it as though it’s already happened and then go ahead and do it anyway.

Are you fucking crazy?! Probably but hear me out.

By worst case scenario I mean in a realistic sense – not if I go surfing a shark might attack me as a tsunami strikes while I get simultaneously hit by lightening from a freak storm that forms over head. No. I mean more like you could drown…

I joke of course.

What I mean is that maybe the water will be freezing cold and I end up shallowing sea water while everyone laughs at me because I can’t stand up on the board – ie you have a shitty time.

Did anyone die? Will anyone die if you leave that shitty job you hate?

The point of doing this is to understand that what we’re afraid of isn’t really that scary. Further that what we’re most afraid of isn’t very likely.

The chances are you might have loads of fun if you go surfing.

A great exercise to do if you’re considering a major life change is something called Fear Setting. Here’s what you do, 

1. Write out the major life change you’re considering. For example you might write, What if I… quit (or lost) my dead end office job? 

2. Next define the worst case scenario in detail. Ask yourself if it would be the end of your life (probably not)? Ask yourself how permanent it would be? It’s not like you won’t able to find another shitty job you hate right?

3. Next ask yourself what the benefits of a more probable scenario are? What are the definite positive outcomes (including for your self-esteem, mental and physical health etc) 

4. Next ask yourself what the cost will be if you do nothing? What will it cost you financially, emotionally & physically if you postpone that difficult choice? This is such a great question because if you zoom out ten years and you know you’ll still be miserable then you’ll see that the cost of inaction is often far greater.

5. Finally ask yourself what you’re so afraid of? It’s the fear of the unknown that prevents us from doing what we need to so to quote the big man Tim Ferris, “we end up choosing unhappiness over uncertainty.”

5. Trust Your Intuition 

I honestly don’t know what my calling will be tomorrow and I don’t want to know either. Life’s more beautiful when you allow yourself the freedom to change paths. When you’re not worrying about what career path to take tomorrow or what you said yesterday. When you’re fully invested in making the world’s best fucking sandwich. 

I find it’s a much more exciting to live this way. Give me excitement over security any day of the week. We all die at the end of it guys and gals. You gotta do the things that make you feel alive. Got to! 

The truth is I might well lose my job as a pilot because of this pandemic. Honestly I won’t chase it as a career if it comes to an end. I’m simply going to let it go. Not because there aren’t any other pilot jobs out there (there aren’t), but because I’ve found other passions. Other things I want to pursue. Other ladders I want to climb. I’ve had a great run but I’ve known for some time that a big change is due for me. 

I’m not going to do anything rash but when the time comes I’m trusting my gut.  I’m following my heart – whatever it is you want to call it – I know you know exactly what I’m talking about. That instinctual part that goes beyond the rational mind. The one that tells you to say ‘fuck it’ and go after what you want regardless of what anyone else thinks. Regardless of what your own rational mind has to say even. Because you know that it’s right in your heart.

Because you know it’s what will make you come alive. 

I’m done chasing someone else’s idea of success. It’s too hard. I like my own version better. I’ve found that the older I get, the more able and willing I am to simply say fuck that, to anything and everything I don’t want to do. I don’t shirk my responsibilities of course – I learnt the hard way that taking full responsibility for my life is something I definitely want – but I understand more clearly than I ever have about what it is I want. It’s been, and continues to be, an in-the-moment process.

For that reason I want to finish by saying please don’t be disheartened if you don’t know what you what to do with your life. Stay present and keep mixing it up. Don’t settle and remember that the worst case scenario is rarely as bad in reality – more often than not it works out for the best. Above all else trust your intuition. It exists for a reason.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m being called to make the world’s best sandwich…

Love to all X


As always ladies and gentleman I welcome ALL comments and opinions on this blog. I’m curious as to what you think about my advice and whether you have any additional gems you’d like to add? Thanks for reading!

How To Develop More Intelligent Self-Interest

“One should never do something to others that one would regard as an injury to one’s own self. In brief, this is dharma. Anything else is succumbing to desire.”

— MAHĀBHĀRATA 13.114.8 (CRITICAL EDITION)

It’s ironic that the fictional character Joey from friends, who everyone laughed at for being a bit slow, was also the character to come out with one of the most profound statements of the entire show when he argued with Phoebe that,

“There is no such thing as a truly self-less good deed.”

I agree with him.

Whether you’d care to admit it almost every action we make is motivated on some level by selfish intent. Even a charitable act is motivated on some level by your desire to feel good.

That’s not to say there is anything wrong with this – in fact, quite the opposite – it’s just something to be aware of. After all, if we weren’t motivated on some level by a desire to feel good, or to avoid feeling bad, then why would we do anything? We need something to motivate us. For that reason there has to be an element of self-interest behind our actions.

Anyway, why do I bring this up?

I heard the expression intelligent self-interest mentioned on a podcast a while back. This got me thinking about what this means and how we can make our self-interests more intelligent.

When I dug a little deeper I came to understand, although they are described/defined somewhat differently by various articles on the subject we can, broadly speaking, look at self-interest on three different levels.

Those are unintelligent (or stupid as I like to think of it), intelligent and enlightened self-interest.

This post is going to define each and look at how we can cultivate the latter two.


What is unintelligent self-interest?

Unintelligent self-interest is the personal interest of an individual that, if pursued, hurts others and/or themselves.

Some obvious examples of unintelligent-interest include binge watching NETFLIX, drug abuse, smoking, mindlessly scrolling on social media, etc. 

You know, all the things you shouldn’t be doing that every blogger and his dog bang on about everyday. (All the things I’ve done before, and in some cases still do…)

These are unintelligent forms of self interest because they satisfy a desire at the expense of our longer term health and happiness. 

We also tend to think because I’m only doing these things to myself that’s ok. I’m not hurting anyone else. 

But that’s wrong. 

What hurts you ultimately hurts others. By not working to resolve past trauma or avoiding negative emotions instead of doing what you ought to, you can trust me when I tell you this, not only does this hurt yourself it also hurts those around you. 

How then can we make our self-interests more intelligent and what does it mean?


What is intelligent self interest?

Intelligent self-interest is still about acting in ways that suit you, however, it also considers the ways in which it helps others.

It is about thinking of the other person while acting for yourself, i.e. you’re not acting without regard for others.

Some obvious examples of intelligent self-interest include meditation, exercise, a healthy diet, plentiful sleep, etc.

You know, all the things you should do that every blogger and his dog bang on about everyday. 

These are intelligent forms of self interest because you’re acting in a way that not only benefits your own longer term health and happiness, it also benefits others.

After all, a happier and healthier you is a happier and healthier world. Further, you cannot look after others without first looking after yourself.

One of the problems that proponents of such activities have is the way in which they frame their motivations. They talk on and on about the benefits they have for you. How meditation, exercise and a balanced diet helps you

Often they over emphasise the benefits these activities have for you without considering the larger reasons beyond the immediate. 

If you want to make mediation a habit, as an example, it’s far better to consider how taking the time to cultivate mindfulness is of benefit to your family and friends, as well as yourself. 

One way to do this is by asking yourself the following question:

Am I doing this because of love or fear?

I believe one of the major reasons our motivations stall is because we don’t feel we’re good enough (fear) and so give up far too easily. This is a problem many of us have when focusing solely on ourselves. If you take the focus away from yourself and instead remind yourself of the other people in your life for whom you’re doing these things (love), you’re far more likely to stick with it.

At least I know I am.

Instead of beating ourselves up for not being good enough and metaphorically whipping ourselves to do something about it, why not focus on feeling good about doing the things that ultimately help others too?

It’s a win win.

This brings us to the final level on the self-interest scale that I made up. The question I have is how can we act in enlightened self-interest that helps others? How can we see that helping others does in fact help ourselves? Let’s first explore what it means.


What is enlightened self-interest?

Enlightened self-interest is acting for others without expecting anything in return.

Some obvious examples of enlightened self-interest include donating to charity, volunteer work, saving someones life, etc.

You know, all the things every blogger and his dog probably should be going on about everyday but don’t.

These are acts done from the goodness of ones hearts. They aren’t done in expectation of gaining anything personally. 

I would make a point that this is very different to acting out of a sense of responsibility or obligation – because you think it’s the right thing to do. 

It’s far deeper than that. 

Enlightened self-interest understands that although no obvious attributable gain for oneself has been made, a bit like the beautiful philosophical idea of karma, what comes around goes around.

People who act in enlightened self-interest understand we are all part of the same world. That by hurting another you’re ultimately hurting yourself.

This is why it’s heavily related to the Golden rule: To treat others as you would like others to treat you.

Or, to put it as a question, one can ask themselves,

How would I want others to help me if I were in their position?

This isn’t rocket science of course.

If you look deeply enough, you’ll find 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 yourself by acting on them. 

Enlightened self-interests come about as a by-product of truly wanting to help this world, as you would like it to be for you. By thinking in terms of how your actions will affect others we can, bit by bit, develop enlightened self-interest naturally. It’s simply a matter of acting in the interests of your heart. 

(As always I welcome ALL comments and ideas on this blog. If you have anything to add or any other suggestions about how develop more intelligent self-interest I’d love to hear from you in the comments sections below)


SOURCES:

https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/evolution/unselfish-act.htm

https://hbr.org/1989/05/how-selfish-are-people-really

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enlightened_self-interest

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karma

Motivational Mondays – 13/07/20

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, 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 2 regular readers: you’ll notice I’ve been playing around with the title. Do you like Motivational Mondays? If not, do you have any other ideas about a good title for this weekly post? If so please do leave them in the comments at the bottom. I’d be grateful for your suggestions.)


4 x Thoughts From Me:

One question to check if you have grown as a person: “Do I still believe the same things I did a year ago?” If the answer is yes then you haven’t grown. Growth comes from challenging your own beliefs so you may come to a greater understanding. You can always come to a greater understanding. 

We would all do well to think of seeing a therapist in the same way we do a doctor. We rarely think twice about visiting the doctor when we have physical pain we don’t understand. Why do we hesitate asking for professional help when we can’t understand the reasons behind our emotional pain?

The beauty of a moment comes from its impermanence. The moment you cling to it, it’s destroyed. 

Crying does not mean you’re not capable of dealing with your emotion. It means you are dealing with your emotions. 


3 x Quotes From Others:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King

“It’s time to stop denying the dark side of our nature. We’re all sick twisted fucks to some extent. The denial of that fact only encourages more destruction. It’s only by accepting it that we can bring it into the light.” – Mark Manson 

“Whatever you’re doing, a sense of superiority will make you worse at it. Humility, on the other hand, will make you better. The moment you think you’ve got it all figured out, your progress stops. Instead, continue to advance and improve by reminding yourself how much more there will always be to discover. Confidence is positive and empowering, but arrogance is deadly. Be confident, but not at the expense of your respect for others. Don’t burn up all your energy proving how great you are. Invest your time and energy being thoughtful and helpful. See the victories not as proof of your supremacy, but as opportunities to offer more value to life. See the defeats not as personal affronts, but as chances to learn and grow stronger. Take care not to waste your time in delusions of grandeur. Embrace the power of confident humility, and live well.” – Writer Ralph Marston on Confident Humility


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This Tim Ferris podcast with Hugh Jackman on Best Decisions, Daily Routines, The 85% Rule, Favorite Exercises, Mind Training, and Much More. I particularly loved their discussion about trusting your intuition. My personal notes and quotes below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • Don’t settle. Find the thing that gives you the energy to go further. 
  • Your religion should be in your actions.
  • You cannot over invest in education – if you’re ever in doubt of what to do go and learn more. 
  • Everyone needs to be appreciated and to be seen for who they are and what they give. 
  • Always keep your word even if it doesn’t suit you!
  • It’s the most important thing to work out in your life – how to trust your intuition. When you have that gut feeling. Go with it. Even if it doesn’t make sense. 
  • I had much more fear of being on the wrong path than I did of any failure on the right one. 
  • You shower every day without complaining. Meditation and exercise need to be looked at the same way. 
  • The 85% Rule: Aim to workout or perform at 85%. Going at 100% doesn’t work. You actually perform better because you relax that little bit.
  • The art of living is being sensitive to the little things, to the detail.
  • The best of the best remain coached till the end of their careers. Why wouldn’t we employ that for (the art of) living.  

2 – This article from CEO Magazine titled: The everyday device in your home killing hundreds around the globe. Can you guess what that device is? This article will wake you up to the reality of how dangerous your mobile phone really is, especially for your mental health. We all need to be spending far less time on our phones and be far more cautious about putting them in the hands of our children. If you don’t have the time to read it, then have a read of these quotes:

The number of pedestrians killed on US roads has risen by a staggering 51% since 2009. In 2017, pedestrian fatalities in Australia jumped by 20% in a year, with police blaming the stupidity of smartphones.

The fact is, we are, as a species, becoming addicted to both the dopamine hits of satisfaction that our smartphones give us hundreds of times a day, while being simultaneously assaulted by the dangerous levels of cortisol they send coursing through our bodies.

Anyone over the age of 10 is already unable to imagine a world without smartphones, and as they grow into adolescence, they are likely to be gifted one of these dangerous yet vital devices by their own parents… This is “like giving them cocaine or heroin”, according to David Gillespie, the author of Teen Brain – Why Screens Are Making Your Teenager Depressed, Anxious And Prone to Lifelong Addictive Illnesses – And How to Stop it Now.

“Between 2007 and now, the rates of teenage pregnancy, and alcohol and cigarette use by teens all dropped – they’re all about half of what they were, it’s a huge achievement and I don’t know why we’re not talking more about it,” he says. “The rates of anxiety and depression for teenagers should also be halving but, instead, the rates of those things in teens have actually doubled over the same period. 

These devices were designed from day one, by Steve Jobs and company, to be “beautiful, easy to use and hard to give up”. And, knowing how addictive they would become, Jobs famously declared that he wouldn’t let his own children near them...


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

My son has been a little confused about the difference between pooing and farting recently.

So much so that every time he farts, he looks at us and says, “poo poo.”

The first time he did this, we got everything ready and changed his perfectly clean nappy. 

The second time we were fooled again so tried explaining to him what the difference between a fart and poo is. 

He thought this was hilarious.

The third time he said, “poo poo,” we had the foresight to check his nappy first.

Still nothing.

My wife looked at me and said, “He’s the boy who cried poo.”

Brilliant. 


Till next week…

Have a Happy Fucking Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all:

What do you cry about that isn’t true?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POSTS:

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

Happy Silly Mondays – 25/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 18/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 11/05/20

How Parents Can Promote The Evolution Of Feminism Mindfully

Following on from my previous post – Why Crying Like A Little Girl Is The Manliest Thing You Can Do – I want to talk a little more about how that relates to feminism.

I feel we need to be very careful about what we tell ALL children, including our young girls. To make sure the false narratives that have so visibly divided the sexes throughout history, doesn’t continue to be the narrative that writes our children’s future.  

It’s a well worn discussion that bears repeating, and for that reason I’ll keep my thoughts and this post short. That said I do want to raise a point that’s maybe been missed in our attempts to rewrite the story for our future girls. 

With regards to the feminist movement in particular, we need to be especially careful about how we manage its evolution. 

When I think about the way in which mainstream media has started to reflect this changing narrative, I wonder if we are unwittingly going down a dangerous path. 

Not because we are telling young girls to stand up for themselves more. 

Not because we are telling women they’re every bit as capable as men. 

Not because we are telling them to be their own heroines – not to expect that they will be saved by some bullshit knight in shining armour.

No!

These are undeniably good things to teach our young girls in order to find greater equality going forward. 

What I’m taking about is something more subtle.

The well worn narrative of what it means to be a man – macho and independent – to not need anybody’s help. Specifically that asking for help is a sign of weakness (Something I talked about at length in my previous post).

This is exactly the kind of narrative responsible for the statistic that men are 3 to 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women, despite being nearly half as likely to develop depression. For the undeniable fact that us ‘macho men’ are actually less emotionally resilient than women.

I think it’s this narrative that has put distance between many of today’s male leaders and their own hearts. It’s acting in the pretence of what society believes to be strong that is, in no small way, dividing nations and destroying our earth.

There’s nothing wrong with challenging the narrative women are less capable than men which, of course, is complete BS, but to teach our girls the same things we’ve been teaching our boys is not a smart move. 

The way we teach girls to have greater emotional intelligence. To pick them up and hold them when they cry. To let them understand the importance of knowing their emotions intimately. 

This is a great thing. 

We need to teach and show our boys more of this. Not women less. 

To teach them not to cry and be like a man, or grow a pair, so to speak, would be a disaster. 

A world in which neither sex is able to properly process or access their own emotions – where girls are told ‘not to cry’ – is a world we cannot allow. 

We must stop denying our children their true nature.

(As always I welcome ALL opinions and thoughts. I’m always keen for a dialogue and to be told where and in what ways I’m wrong so I may grow. Thank for taking the time to read.)


SOURCES:

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190313-why-more-men-kill-themselves-than-women

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4035568/

Motivational Mondays – 06/07/20

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 brilliant thoughts from me, 3 admittedly better quotes from others, and 2 things I’ve been reading and/or listening to this week that have made me grow

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

Love to all X

(To my 2 regular readers: you’ll notice I’m playing around with the title to see what works best to attract more readers. If you have any ideas about a good title for this weekly post please do leave them in the comments at the bottom. I’d be grateful for your suggestions.)


4 x Brilliant Thoughts From Me:

Why it’s helpful to think you’re not a good person: A good person implies something black or white. You either are or you aren’t. This fixes your mindset. You believe you’re a good person and go at lengths to avoid being proven otherwise. You also become defensive about that belief. You feel threatened whenever this comes into question and so avoid the very conversations you need to hear so you may become a better person. We should drop the notion of what we think it means to be a good person. The way I look there is no such thing. You’re either trying to be a better person or you’re not. Don’t try to be a “good person.” Just try to be better one.

We are nothing if not all those who came before us. We will be nothing if we don’t act for those who come after. A better tomorrow has to be the spirit by which we all live.

Just remember when you think you hold the moral high ground, that even Hitler thought he was doing the right thing. 

A deliberately easy life makes us unhappy because it makes us bad at dealing with life’s inevitable difficulties, however small. Conversely a deliberately difficult life makes us happy because it builds emotional resilience. It also teaches us appreciate and enjoy the everyday most take for granted. 


3 x Admittedly Better Quotes From Others:

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” – C.S. Lewis 

“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.” ― C.G. Jung

“The fact that we are connected through space and time shows that life is a unitary phenomenon, no matter how we express that fact.” – the great evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis


2 x Things I’ve Been Listening to &/Or Reading This Week:

1 – This brilliant Happiness Lab podcast episode: How to Be a Better Ally with Dr. Laurie Santos. In this final episode of season 2, Dr Laurie Santos examines why we are often so reluctant to act against the bigotry and injustice we claim to be against, and ‘how we can match our moral beliefs with concrete action.’ (Featuring James Barr and Dan Hudson, co-hosts of the podcast ‘A Gay and a Non-Gay.’)

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • Why do well intentioned people who believe in the good often do nothing? How can we deal with these parts of psychology so we can overcome our insecurities over acting? 
  • Any comment however awkward is better than silence. 
  • Beliefs do nothing by themselves. 
  • You’re meant to feel awkward – if you’re standing up for marginalised groups of people and you’re afraid of getting for saying the wrong things. Maybe feeling awkward- putting yourselves in those awkward positions and having those awkward conversations means you’re doing the right thing. 
  • We need to accept we are not good people yet. We need to aim for being slightly better (slightly less horrible) human beings. 
  • It’s actually a higher standard. By never assuming you are good you are always looking for how you can be better. By admitting you’re not a good person you can understand where your blind spots are and work on fixing them.
  • When you’re in a fixed mindset and you make a mistake research shows we actually shut down and withdraw from the mistake. It’s a state of non learning. This is because we don’t believe we can change or get better. We are who we are so why bother trying to learn and change. 
  • To become better allies we need to switch to having a growth mindset
  • Simple three letter word for developing growth mindset:  YET 
  • I’m not a good person yet but I can be if I put in some work. 
  • Reminding ourselves of our capacity for growth can have a profound effect on our willingness to engage in difficult social situations. To own up to our mistakes and our motivation to become better people. It helps us break through the discomforts that come with trying to be an ally. 
  • It’s morally wrong to leave the burden to speak out with only the marginalised groups. Science shows that it’s more effective when some one whose not from the marginalised group points out bigotry. 
  • We have far more influence than we realise. A study found that a white person speaking out against racism was looked at more positively than a black persons using the exact same words. The recipient also showed more willingness to apologise and make amends if it was a white person who had spoken out against them. 
  • We need to use our white privilege to end white privilege.
  • If I’ve learnt one thing from BLM movement its that silence means death.
  • Not everyone has to or can be on the front line but everyone needs to get off the sidelines. 
  • If Nelson Mandela -A political prisoner of one of the most racist regimes of the second half of the 20th century – can become its leader, than anything and everything is possible. 

2 – This New York Times Article titled, ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ Is Really a Thing about how children’s behaviour may suffer from lack of access to outdoor space, a problem heightened by the pandemic. The following quotes are taken from the article:

“Ironically, the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, as tragic as it is, has dramatically increased public awareness of the deep human need for nature connection, and is adding a greater sense of urgency to the movement to connect children, families and communities to nature,” – Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.”

Ming Kuo, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Illinois who studies urban greening, said parents, like Shore, have described how their children are “completely different” when they have access to green space. Dr. Kuo’s research has shown that access to green space decreases aggression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms, and boosts the immune system. But she also was quick to point out an unequal access to green spaces across socioeconomic and racial lines.


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

I went to see a Physio this week about a recurring back problem I’ve been having.

He asked me to take my top off and stand directly opposite him so he could examine any imbalances.

Comparing my triceps he commented, “You’re seriously right handed.”

We were in ear shot of a couple of good looking ladies working out in their gym.

I tried to think of something witty to say.

“Let’s not jump to any conclusions about why that is,” I replied.

While smirking I continued, “I hold my boy with that arm.”

The physio laughed.

The girls did not…


Till next week,

Have a Happy Fucking Monday Everybody!

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

One Bonus question for you all:

What do you like to hold in your arm?


PREVIOUS HAPPY MONDAY POSTS:

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

Happy Silly Mondays – 25/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 18/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 11/05/20

How My Worst Landing As A Pilot Came To Define Me As A Person (Plus Some Advice On Dealing With Anxiety, Depression and PTSD)

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to land a commercial jet?

As you’ve travelled somewhere excitedly looking out of the passenger window and thought what the view is like from the front as you come into land?

Well I can tell you, on a good day, it’s truly exhilarating.

To safely bring one of those big birds back to earth. Gliding onto the tarmac with some 300 passengers behind you. It’s one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. 

On a bad day, however, it can be more of a poo-your-pants kinda feeling. Or, to put it another way, it can be shit scary!

The following is a story about a particularly bad day ‘at the office’ for me. A story of my most traumatic experience as a young pilot. One that took me some time to recover from.

That said, it is one I now look back on as a defining moment in my career. One that led me to seek the help I needed and shape me into the man I am today. I’m not only a better pilot because of it, I’m a better person.

Before I continue I want to first say, I don’t mean to scare anyone with the following account – especially those who might already have a fear of flying (maybe stop reading now if you do) – but only to talk openly and honestly about what was a fairly traumatic experience for me in the interest of raising awareness around PTSD.

I also want to talk about how I coped afterwards in the interest of helping others who might have suffered similarly and might be looking for some guidance. 

I hope you find this helpful.

Anyway, allow me to start with the story. Deep breathes everyone, here we go…

(I’m going to try to avoid using too much aviation jargon but will leave links attached for certain phrases in case any of you are unsure of the meaning)


The Story Of My Most Traumatic Experience As A Pilot

As we flew back to Hong Kong over the South China Sea I reflected on how the day had gone. I was pleased. We had flown to Kuala Lumpur without incident during which I managed a challenging approach followed by a decent landing. It was still early days during my Junior First Officer training and my landings had been less than consistent, so this was something of a relief for me. Still, I couldn’t help but doubt myself when thinking about our approach into Hong Kong. I tired to shake it off as we set up for the arrival.

I should say the idea of safely landing a passenger plane based on my skill alone was somewhat daunting for me at the time, especially given it was only my sixth sector ever as the pilot flying a jet (an Airbus A330 for any interested parties) with passengers aboard. I’d also spent the 3 years previous watching on as a Second Officer – without doing any hand flying except occasionally in the simulator – wondering if I was capable. Looking back I realise that I didn’t really believe it. What I’d done by constantly asking the question was reinforce the idea that I wasn’t. As so often comes up in the story about my past the big issue for me had nothing to do with capability, but self-belief.

The weather into Hong Kong was benign except for the wind that was coming from the south (which can mean the possibility of mechanical turbulence from the winds passing over the hills and buildings to the south of the runway, especially near the threshold of 25R – our arrival runway that day).

After briefing the arrival we started our descent. ATC told us to take up the hold while they dealt with the many arrivals typical that time of the day. I began to feel the butterflies build.

As we slowly descended in the hold, the Captain mentioned noticing how I was frequently wiping my hands on my trousers. He told me how Captains tend to notice these kinds of nervous ticks. I didn’t know what to say. I thought about how such a comment was suppose to help?! I knew I was nervous. I wasn’t trying to hide it. Anyway, was it not normal given I was still learning how to fly the damn thing?! I kept quiet and tried to focus on the task at hand.

When we finally joined final approach, my nerves worsened. I tired my best to ignore them but the butterflies were in overdrive. I began to wipe my increasingly sweaty hands with greater frequency – now acutely aware every time I did so! I told myself to breathe. We took the gear down followed by our final flaps. I then asked for the landing check list. Shortly afterwards we were cleared to land. 

It was crunch time. 

As I took the autopilot out, I felt the mechanical turbulence rock the plane. I tried my best to keep my scan going but had a habit of looking down at my PFD (Primary Flight Display) instead of outside. (As part of our scan we should be alternating between both, slowly increasing the amount of time looking outside as we get closer to the runway. Eventually you should be completely ‘heads up’ – only looking outside while the other pilot (the pilot monitoring) continues to monitor the instruments. I had a habit of fixating on the screen (PFD) a little too much instead of looking outside (Not uncommon for trainee pilots)).

When we passed over the threshold a positive wind change caused the aircraft to ballon slightly. At this stage I was looking up but had left it too late to get an adequate picture of what was going on. Instead of counteracting the ballooning effect by pushing the nose down, I did the opposite. In my nervous haste, with the runway growing bigger, I pitched the nose up, flaring way too early.

Then I froze. 

Everything within my field of vision seemed to fade away and all I could feel was an overwhelming sinking feeling. Like my whole being was collapsing in on itself at the pit of my stomach. 

I didn’t know what to do.

We floated and floated, for what felt like an eternity, well beyond our desired touchdown zone, as we hovered above the runway. 

The next thing I remember hearing was the captain announcing, “I have control.” He placed his hands on the thrust levers driving them fully forward to select maximum (TOGA) thrust. It took a while for the jet engines to spool up before we got the proverbial ‘kick up the ass’ and climbed away. When we eventually did the captain then announced, “Go-around, flaps.” 

The rest is a blur. 

I remember cleaning up the aircraft – retracting the flaps and gear as per our standard operating procedures during a go-around (an aborted approach to landing) – but little else except for how I felt. 

What it felt like was the whole world had fallen apart. That my worst fears had been confirmed – that I wasn’t capable and didn’t belong in an aeroplane, let alone one with 300 passengers – and that my lack of ability was responsible for nearly having an accident. (To give you an idea of the dramatisation going on inside my head – the Training Captain was always in control of the situation.)

To reassure you lovely readers, while It is rare for a go-around to happen because of a botched landing, it does happen. It’s nothing to be alarmed about. It would be more alarming had we tired to continue with the landing. To explain, for those who don’t know, a go-around (an aborted approach) is a standard and very safe option available to us at any time during the approach should we elect discontinuing to be the safest course of action. In this case, as we had floated so far down the runway, flying away instead of landing and trying to stop on the limited amount of runway length left available was the safest option. (That didn’t stop it from shattering my ego of course.) I would also stress that this was during my training. Like any skill it takes a while to get the hang of it. Flying is no different. It’s also not uncommon for Training Captains to take control or help via a dual input (the Captain acts on the controls from his seat on the lefthand side of the cockpit at the same time as the pilot flying in the righthand seat does) when teaching inexperienced pilots to fly on a new aircraft type.

As we flew back around for a second approach, the captain asked if I was ok. I shook it off as best I could given the circumstances and declared confidently that I was. I can tell you now, I was not!

The second approach to landing happened quickly as ATC gave us priority to join final approach. I don’t remember much else except for the landing that was long as once again I flared too early. This time the Captain helped to bring the plane down safely by adding a dual input before we plonked onto the runway. A graceful landing, it was not!

As we taxied off the runway and to our parking bay I felt like the smallest person in the world.

The debrief afterwards was hard to take. The Captain tried his best to reassure me and get me to see the bigger picture – what a valuable learning experience this was, etc. – but all I wanted to do was go into hiding. To runaway, crawl under a rock and never come back out.

When I made my way from work on the train home, I remember reliving it over and over again in my head. I kept wondering what the hell had happened? How had it come to this? I couldn’t make sense of it. My initial base training (where trainees fly circuits at a remote airfield without passengers boarded before flying commercially) had gone so well. I had felt so confident but now it felt like I’d fallen into the abyss. I knew it was going to take everything to climb back up. It was everything I didn’t believe I had. .


Dealing With The Aftermath And How I Eventually Overcame My Inner Demons

That evening I’d made plans to have dinner with my parents. When I arrived at their apartment I explained to them what had happened. I didn’t realise at the time just how important it was to simply talk. How getting those words out in the open immediately lessened the power they’d had over me, trapped inside my head. Had I gone home that evening my natural inclination would have been to lock myself away. I know this would have definitely made things worse.

One big problem I’ve always had is talking openly about my problems. Instead my defence has long been to withdraw inward – something I picked up from years of being bullied as an adolescent.

Instead my parents were there to pick me up when I needed it most. They helped me to see how it was something from which I would learn and grow. Something for which I would one day look back on be truly grateful. It was difficult to see at the time but they were, of course, right.

It’s for this reason I strongly believe having people in your life that you can talk to openly and honestly is something we all need.

Still this was only the beginning of a long road to recovery for me. To give you a little more background, my problems extended well beyond the event itself. I had deeper issues to do with low self esteem yet to work through – inner demons that undoubtedly contributed to what happened that day. Although I did eventually seek the help I needed, it took a long time to find the courage to do so. I dreaded going to work. I worried incessantly during my spare time. When I was at work I became especially nervous about performing landings. I remember feeling my heart beat so hard I thought it was going to come out of my chest! I regularly thought about throwing in the towel and giving up. Yet I didn’t. I kept going, against all the will in my being, something inside me wasn’t prepared to let this event define me like that. That this time I wouldn’t let it end in failure.

(Again I want to reassure you lovely readers that I did seek help for PTSD following what happened – however the help I’m referring to above relates to the larger issues I had with both anxiety and depression that long preceded this event. In both cases when I did seek professional help, it was never their opinion that I needed any form medication or that I was a danger to myself or others or that I should stop flying. Had they thought so, they had the power to ground me. Before you jump on my back for continuing to fly despite suffered from mental illness, I want you to know I never believed my issues were so bad I couldn’t perform my duties. I’m confiding in you all now partly because I believe there is still a very unhealthy stigma surrounding mental illness – especially in aviation – where such topics are still strictly taboo despite the crucial need to talk about them!)

Ultimately it was getting back in the seat and facing my demons head on that allowed me to overcome them.

I managed to overcome my fears by proving to myself I was more than capable. Little by little, flight by flight, landing by landing, the anxiety that gripped my heart began to loosen. I went on to complete my Junior First Officer training and then First Officer upgrade the first time of asking and to a very good standard, with no other hiccups along the way. Following that I flew for years around the region with so much exposure that landing the plane became second nature.

Still, there was a feeling that wouldn’t go away. A feeling that continued to plague me. A feeling that I knew if I didn’t face, it would continue to plague me for the rest of my life. I put it off, out of fear, for as long as I could. Eventually I couldn’t take it any longer. I reached out and finally got the help I knew in my heart I’d needed all along.

When I did everything changed for me. I can honestly say I don’t suffer from depression or PTSD anymore. I’m still working through some issues regarding anxiety but even that has lost its hold over me.

It’s for this reason I will always be a voice for encouraging others, especially for anyone who is reading and has suffered from any sort of trauma or mental illness, to ask for the help they need.

I can tell you from experience that that later you leave it the harder it is to solve.

That said, it’s never too late to get the help you need. Never. And solve it you can.

I really hope I can inspire others who may have difficulty getting the help they need, to find the courage to do so. To come out and talk about their problems openly and to know that there is no shame in this whatsoever. Whether talking to a professional, friends and family or simply leaving a comment here – we all need to be having far more of these awkward discussions. We are all human and part of being human is to know we can’t do it alone. Together we are stronger and together we can help one another change. However difficult the road might be for you, please know that change is always possible. It starts with talking.


Fly The Aircraft To The Ground” – Some Closing Thoughts

The day after the landing that wasn’t, I remember getting a call from work. Another senior Captain called to ask how I was and discuss a recurring problem he’d noticed when teaching Junior First Officers to fly. He said he’d noticed how many of them stopped flying after the flare. If you can nail the flare exactly this isn’t such a big issue, but if you flare early, or wind conditions cause you to land long, he’d noticed a tendency to let go even if the aircraft hadn’t landed yet. He said “you have to fly the aircraft to the ground.” 

I never forgot that advice. Not only because it was a very practical tip that summed up exactly what I hadn’t done. But it resonated with me on a deeper level.

You have to fly the aircraft to the ground.

Don’t think because you’re on final approach you can relax. Don’t think because you’re almost home you can let your guard down. You have to keep flying. You have to keep going. Keep taking responsibility for your life and your problems. Life isn’t just one big problem to solve and then you’re set. It’s a series of never ending problems for which you have to take responsibility right till the end. You have strive to stay in control. You have to believe you can deal with it. Should you get it wrong, then you need to let go of you ego and go around.

You can always go around if you don’t get it right.

There is no shame in this. Don’t be afraid to go around and try again. But try again you must. It’s up to all of us to manage our own journeys in life and to make sure we come home safely. I, for one, have ever faith that you can.


For Additional Information regarding PTSD please follow the links below:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/about-ptsd/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967

Other Sources:

https://www.psycom.net/aerophobia-fear-of-flying/

https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Pilot_Flying_(PF)and_Pilot_Monitoring(PM)

https://www.airbus.com/aircraft/passenger-aircraft/a330-family.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_simulator

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_officer_(aviation)

https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Turbulence

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runway

https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Holding_Pattern

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_approach_(aeronautics)

https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Primary_Flight_Display_(PFD)

https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Pilot_Flying_(PF)and_Pilot_Monitoring(PM)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takeoff/Go-around_switch

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go-around

https://captainong.com/what-is-base-training-base-check-line-training-and-line-ch/

Happy F***ing Mondays – 29/06/20

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Happy F***ing 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.)

This week it contains 4 thoughts from me, 4 quotes from others and 3 things I’ve been reading, watching and/or listening to this week. 

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

Love to all X


4 x Thoughts I’ve Been Thinking:

If you want to be an expert at something it’s best never to consider yourself one. That way you’ll always be open to learning and growing. 

Why we need to give ourselves real problems: If you don’t have any real problems your mind will create them. Those problems – the ones created by the mind – are the hardest to solve. Give yourself real problems that are larger than you – such as helping others and the world at large – and your mind won’t be so concerned with creating problems for itself. 

Acting from a place of simply wanting to be better vs a place of feeling inadequate. There’s a big difference! In both cases you want to be better but if you’re trying to make up for something you feel you’re not, it’s much harder to actually do so.

A Better You = A Better World. 


4 x Quotes I’ve been Pondering:

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain.” Dolly Parton

“Reading is the nourishment that lets you do interesting work.” – Novelist Jennifer Egan

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin 

“Enlightenment is an accident – but meditation makes us accident-prone.” – American Zen Teacher Baker Roshi


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

1 – This Mark Hyman Podcast episode about How To Live In Flow-Motion. In this mini episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy Mark Hyman talks with Reverend Michael Beckwith and Dr. Andrea Pennington, about how we can connect to our highest selves. (I loved Rev. Michael Beckwith’s description of what he sees as the 4 stages of spiritual growth: ‘The first is the victim stage where everything happens to us. We are constantly looking to blame others for our lives – we cannot grow in this stage. The second stage is when we apply learned laws of the mind to the real world (we are accepting and taking responsibility for our reality by asking empowering questions). The third stage is the flow state (‘being in the zone’) – where our higher purpose acts through us. The forth stage is the being stage where we are act as one (with the wider world).’) The video version of this episode is posted below:

2 – This No Stupid Questions Podcast: Is Incompetence a Form of Dishonesty? In this episode Stephen J. Dubner and Angela Duckworth debate two questions: Question #1: Is it immoral to slack off at work when others are depending on you to do a good job? and Question #2: How valuable is it to have a personal mission statement? I found the debate on the latter particularly interesting. My notes and quotes from the show are below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • Often people have too much emotion around failing so avoid trying in the first place (instead of simply acknowledging mistakes without emotion and then seeking to understand/correct them). 
  • What do competence and honesty have in common? There is a standard and there is integrity. It matters if you reach it or fall short. 
  • There is a psychological phenomena where if you feel you have credit, morally speaking, in one area people feel they can slack off in another. (You ordered a Diet Coke so you can order super sized fries). This accounts to both incompetence and dishonesty. You’re telling yourself it’s good enough when it’s not. 
  • The problem is satisfising is not a great way to look at morality. You have a standard which is good enough as opposed to continually reflecting on how you can be better
  • Better is a better goal than perfect 
  • Perfect puts us off because we tell ourselves we can never attain that and so give up on simply being better in the first place. 

On having Top level goals (a personal mission statement): 

  • What is it? It’s a mission statement. It’s the why behind everything you do. What is the why behind everything you do? 
  • It’s important to be clear about your core principles and values. 
  • ‘Improve human kind’ is too abstract – A good mission statement should be a specific statement about the mission. 
  • There’s a trade off between abstraction and specificity. Too specific and there is no flexibility.
  • It can be very useful way to point your moral compass in the right direction.
  • A good top level goal helps better direct and prioritise low level goals (such as your todo list – which are more specific) 
  • “Use psychological science to help children thrive” – Angela’s Top Level Goal
  • “Everyday try to suck a little less” – Stephen’s Top Level Goal
  • In psychology we distinguish between Approach Motivation vs Avoidance Motivation. One you want to get better. The other is you want to fail less. 
  • Trying to eliminate mistakes is more motivational than trying to be better because the latter leads you to compare yourself with others. 
  • Top level goals are not necessarily needed for everyone especially if you have your priorities in order. However if you’re stuck or unsure of what direction to take in life it can help. 
  • Trying to say what you’re all about (10 words or less) can be a very valuable exercise. Particularly useful for leaders. 
  • If a top line goal or mission statement is well written in can help. But too vague and it’s lost. 

3 – This Intelligence Squared podcast episode: The Reckoning: Kwame Kwei-Armah and Idris Elba on the Arts and Black Lives Matter. Two leading voices from the arts, Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of the Young Vic, and Idris Elba, star of The Wire and Luther, discuss what should happen and is likely to happen in the world of culture as we move forward in the wake of the brutal killing fo George Flyod. My notes and quotes from the show are below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • When you take away art you take away people’s voice. This becomes a pressure cooker for disaster. 
  • People need their voices. They need healthy ways to express their thoughts and feelings. It’s going to be an explosive time when people are allowed to express themselves again. 
  • When my 15 year old son asks if I can join the march despite the threat of covid I ask why. When he replies that a white knee on his neck and structural inequality are a bigger threat than covid what can I say? 
  • History often forgets what has comes before
  • It’s up to the older generation to be both inside and outside the house. To be encouraging the noise outside the house but also listen on the inside and make the changes needed to fix this. 
  • We must lead by example. Don’t wait for others to put their hands up. If you know the answer then speak. 
  • Knowing the answer is getting on with it.
  • Its easy to fixate on how bad the past was – to talk about our history. To look and marvel at how far we’ve come. But this can be self defeating for our future. 
  • We should always be thinking about where we are going 
  • Diversity of thought is so important. To have people who think completely different to you around you. To get you to think differently. 
  • How do we change the ratio of ethnicity in the work place? By diversity of thought. 
  • Art and artists. Everything is born of our imagination.  Everything. Look forward with your eyes open. 
  • If you want to make it in this world as a black mane you have to be twice as good as a white man. 
  • This intention is feeding a generation.
  • Telling our children to be twice as good has become a huge advantage because we have become multifaceted. We are no longer simply hustling on one front but multiple fronts. 
  • Our progress is coming home to roost. 
  • While our burden has become our strength and made us better it has come at a cost. We don’t want our children to keep growing up worrying about having to be twice as good and fight racial inequality. 
  • Change is coming but it isn’t going to happen over night. The mistake we’ve made is thinking the storm has passed. The storm is still here.
  • The future is alive and well in our children. Look – it’s already here! They are out and fighting. They already see themselves as a joint generation. We didn’t and they do. This is progress. Stay positive and believe in the change. Get on board. It’s happening. Get on board. If you don’t you’ll end up drowning. 

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

We were talking to my parents over video call the other day when my mother apologised for arriving a little late. She explained she had been busy baking buns. Something she’d been doing a lot of recently. #covidlife

I said, “It sounds like you’re on a bit of a roll.”

I got the usual sarcastic moan. 

I continued, “It’s ok, I can see how it must be a lot of bun!”

The laughter was deafening…


Till next weeks terrible joke,

Happy Fucking Mondays Everybody!

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

One Bonus question for you all:

What ‘bun’ things have you been doing lately?


PREVIOUS HAPPY MONDAY POSTS:

Happy F***ing Mondays – 22/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 15/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 25/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 18/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 11/05/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 22/06/20

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Happy F***ing 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.)

This week it contains 3 thoughts from me, 4 quotes from others and 3 things I’ve been reading, watching and/or listening to this week. 

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

Love to all X


3 x Thoughts I’ve Been Thinking:

Don’t allow the world to make you “normal.” You’re better than that. Trying to be “normal” like everyone else requires far too much effort anyway. Your natural self is far more interesting. Let that person free instead. 

There’s always light at the end of a tunnel. Remember that when it’s at its darkest.

A good time is worth far more than any material possession. 


4 x Quotes I’ve been Pondering:

“Teach me neither to cry for the moon nor over spilt milk” – King George V had these words hanging in his library in Buckingham palace 

“There are thousands of people out there with the same degree you have; when you get a job, there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul. People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a résumé than to craft a spirit. But a résumé is cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the chest X ray and it doesn’t look so good, or when the doctor writes “prognosis, poor.” … You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.” – Author Anna Quindlen from her book A Short Guide to a Happy Life

“Why would I think about missing a shot that I haven’t taken yet? – NBA superstar Michael Jordan on self-doubt

“Flatter me and I may not believe you. Criticise me and I may not like you. Ignore me and I may not forgive you. Encourage me and I will never forget you.” – William Ward


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

1 – This enlightening TED Talks daily podcast episode with Ibram X. Kendi (author of How to Be an AntiRacist) on the difference between being not racist and antiracist. If I could get anyone to listen to one thing this week it would be this podcast discussion with author and historian Ibram X. Kendi. “In this vital conversation, he defines the transformative concept of antiracism to help us more clearly recognize, take responsibility for and reject prejudices in our public policies, workplaces and personal beliefs. Learn how you can actively use this awareness to uproot injustice and inequality in the world — and replace it with love.”

My notes from the pod:

  • The heartbeat of racism has always been denial. The sound beat has always been “I’m not a racist” 
  • We are either being racist or antiracist 
  • The heart beat of antiracism is admission. 
  • The only way to overcome racism is to be admit how we are/have been and ask how we can not be/be less so. 
  • To be anti racist is to recognise there can only be two reasons for racial inequality: Either there is something wrong with the people or there is something wrong with power and policy. 
  • If you believe that groups are equal then the only reason for inequality must be power and policy. If you spend your time correcting the imbalances of power and policy this is what it means to be anti racist. 
  • To have intelligent self interest is to understand that an equal world suits all of us!!! We would all be much better off. 
  • You either believe black lives matter or you don’t. The opposite to protesting is not protesting.
  • We need to recognise our own mistakes. We are addicted to racism. This is why we are in denial. Most people are in denial of their own addictions. Admitting your addiction is the first step but then you must then act. Admission allows us to make the changes without resisting them.
  • We spend too much time thinking about ourselves and far too little about how our own actions and words make others feel. 
  • George Floyd’s death demonstrated powerfully how black People are often made to feel.
  • We should use our feelings to put into place the policy changes required to make permanent and lasting change. You cannot stop acting after simply doing one good deed. We need to make changes of a lifetime. 
  • There’s nothing wrong with the people – The policies aren’t serving the people properly. 
  • Progress always happens through demonstrations and resistance. 
  • In order to bring about change we have to believe in change. 

2 – This brilliant Happiness Lab podcast episode: Demonic Possesions with Dr. Laurie Santos. In it Dr Laurie Santos examines why paying for experiences, such as going on a vacation or to a concert, is better for your happiness than buying material possessions.


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

The other day my wife and I were getting ready to go out for our weekly date night while leaving our son for the evening with our helper.

As he saw we were about to leave he started to cry.

We both melted.

“It’s ok sweetheart”, we said. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”

This carried on for a little while before we decided to finally leave.

Just before we did, he spoke.

“No apple juice”, he cried as he held up his sippy cup.

We left.

Our egos smashed to pieces.


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:

A lack of what beverage makes you cry?


PREVIOUS HAPPY MONDAY POSTS:

Happy F***ing Mondays – 15/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 25/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 18/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 11/05/20

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?

An Apology To My Heart

I’m sorry I’ve been fighting you for so long. 

I’m sorry I repressed you. 

I was taught stupid things. Stupid ways. 

I could hear you screaming and yet I pretended not to. 

I’m so sorry.

I hope you can forgive me.

I love you. I’m here for you now. 

Let me feel what you have to say. 

Let me hear you. 

Let me embrace your screams with the tenderness you seek. 

I want you to teach me what words cannot. 

What you were trying to tell me all along.

My mind was lost. 

Somewhere along the way it was misled by the noises outside.

Fear drove it into isolation.  

It thought ignoring you was best. It didn’t understand.

It couldn’t stop thinking. 

It didn’t understand that thinking was the problem. 

Please forgive us. And please be patient. We are still learning to unlearn.

Still learning to let go.

To give back the power we so foolishly stole from you. 

The habits of a lifetime might take another to break them down. But I see clearly now that this I what I must do. 

I understand now that it is you I should have trusted all along. 

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20

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.)

To my regular readers who almost certainly don’t care that I missed last week – I’m sorry – I was busy flying, believe it or not! I did manage to post my monthly roundup though – Notes From My Journal – which can be found here.

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

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

Hope you enjoy!


5 x Thoughts I’ve Been Thinking:

When thinking in terms of being right, you’ve lost. When thinking in terms of trying to learn and be better, you’ve won. This is true regardless of the outcome. 

Forcing your views on others doesn’t make you right. 

The biggest mistake people make is spending their whole life trying to build up their ego instead of letting it go. If you can learn to do that you’ll be truly unstoppable. 

True peace comes from changing your relationship to your own mind. It has little, if nothing, to do with external reality. 

One reason why parenting is good for you: You become comfortable covered in piss and shit.


5 x Quotes I’ve been Pondering:

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” – The scientist, astronomer, and author, Carl Sagan.

“Each second we live in a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that never was before and will never be again. And what do we teach our children in school? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all of the world there is no other child exactly like you. In the millions of years that have passed there has never been another child like you… You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is like you, a marvel? You must cherish one another. You must work—we must all work—to make this world worthy of its children.” – The cellist, composer, and conductor, Pablo Casals.

“When everything seems to be going against you remember, that an aeroplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford

“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” – Abraham Lincoln 

“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 


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

1 – This brilliant article : 5 Ways to Build Resilience and Conquer Adversity by Mark Manson. I’ve been a big fan of his writing ever since I read his first book: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. Both are worth your time.

5 quotes from the article:

Psychological resilience doesn’t come from positive feelings. It comes from leveraging your negative feelings. Resilience is the ability to create positive adaptations to negative events.

The easiest way to overcome that anxiety is not to get rid of risk, it’s simply to make the risks worth something. Find some cause, some mission, some deeper purpose to your actions.

Those who are prepared for pain are the most resilient in the face of pain. Those who expect challenges are the most ready to face challenges. Therefore, an optimal mindset towards life is a dual-sided approach: an outward pessimist — “Life is fucking hard and the world is shit” — but internal optimist — “yet I can handle it, and I’ll be better for it.”

When I think about the most resilient people I’ve ever known, what strikes me about them is that they don’t just invite struggle into their lives, they adopt an identity around their struggles. They allow themselves to be defined by their struggles.

If you are currently suffering, the most valuable thing you can do is reach out and connect with someone, talk about your problems, and share your pain. It’s the most necessary ingredient to coping with any sort of psychological trauma.

2. This insightful Mark Hyman podcast on The Science Of Creating Happiness with Laurie Santos.

Some of my notes from the show:

‘We have become human doers instead of human beings. We forgot it’s in being – savouring the present moment – that we find true peace and happiness.’

‘Studies have shown that writing down 3 to 5 things a day you’re grateful for has been linked to significant improvements in happiness within just two weeks.’

‘Being of service to others – giving more to others – doing charity makes you happier over time because you are connecting often with people less fortunate. This helps you appreciate that what you have is enough.’

‘Never in our history have we had an object so compelling as the smart phone. It’s taking an attentional cost that’s taking us away from presence that we need for our wellbeing.’

‘Rates of depression and anxiety spiked around 2007 (and have stayed there) – this correlates with the invention of the first iPhone.’ 

‘Post-Traumatic-Growth’ – great way of rephrasing how you responded to difficult periods/trauma in your life.

3. This excellent Tim Ferris podcast with Jim Dethmer on How to Shift from Victim Consciousness, Reduce Drama, Practice Candor, Be Fully Alive, and More.

Some of my notes/quotes from the pod:

“You don’t find peace through understanding, you find peace through acceptance.” 

“If we could think our ways out of our suffering we would have done it already.”

“When dealing with suffering often acceptance beats thinking. Be present and allow your emotions to manifest.” 

Blame is always a limiting contracting fault finding energy. It’s always rooted in the need to be right.”

‘The addiction to being right is so strong in us – our ego doesn’t believe it can survive if it’s not. So we find it incredibly difficult to move past our fixed beliefs regardless if they are right or wrong.’

‘You want a life of full aliveness – it is heavily rooted in integrity. In feeling whole.’

‘So many of us destroy our aliveness through pretending.’


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

For some reason my son has been having a little trouble pronouncing the ‘tr’ at the start of the word ‘truck’, replacing it with what can only be described as a ‘f’ sound instead.

This is particularly strange given he’s never had any trouble with words like ‘tractor.’

Equally he’s taken to dropping the p from the end of the word ‘dump.’

We tried hard not to give attention when we first heard him proudly announce “dum-Fuck” as he held up a toy dump-truck in his hand.

This went well until his grandparents asked him what he was holding when on a Zoom call with our entire family in attendance…

‘Dum-Fuck’ is now his favourite toy and word.


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:

What’s your favourite toy and word?