Conscientiousness: The Ruthless Pursuit of Order.

Of all the interplay between character traits, I find the relationship between conscientiousness and openness the most interesting.

The lines are blurred, of course, especially when you break these traits down into their respective aspects, but it appears there is an inverse correlation.

This makes sense when you consider that lateral thinking requires taking an idea from one domain and applying it to another. It involves exposure to lots of different things.

The jack-of-all-trade types.

When you ruthlessly chase a goal, you have to compartmentalise the world. You’re less concerned with out-of-the-box thinking. Dedication to the task at hand means excluding everything else.

This is what it takes to be a very successful master of one.

The Benefits of Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness can be broken down into the following two aspects: Industriousness and Orderliness. 

Those who score high in Industriousness are driven, focused and determined. They finish what they start. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the buzzword known as Grit? 

Well, it’s the same thing.

Those high is Orderliness want everything to be in its place, every detail taken care of. They hate mess (and messy people). They believe in following the rules and dislike having their routine disrupted. 

So, to summarise, conscientious people may be described as careful, reliable, well organised, self-disciplined, and persevering.

Well sign me up batman! 

No wonder our results-obsessed society makes a song and dance about this character trait. It’s easy to see why you would want to be more conscientious. 

What’s less easy to see are the costs associated with higher conscientiousness.

And let’s be clear, conscientious is the highest predictor of success after IQ. 

To quote this paper from the American Psychological Association, “It is one of the most reliable predictors of work outcomes, including job performance, leadership, income, and occupational attainment. 

It also predicts marital stability and, conversely, a tendency not to experience divorce. Finally, conscientiousness is an independent predictor of major depression above and beyond other personality traits, such as neuroticism

It seems that if one is interested in either living or promoting the possibility of a long, healthy, successful, and happy life, one should be interested in conscientiousness.”

Wowza! Like I said…

But this begs the question, since the benefits are so obvious, what are the costs of being highly conscientious? What are the benefits of being unconscientious?

The Ruthless Pursuit of Order

Now, here’s where shit gets really interesting.

It turns out that orderliness is one of the strongest predictors of conservatism. Of course, conservatism is part of the process by which we establish borders and barriers between things. 

It’s resistance to change. Why? Because change often brings a certain amount of chaos along with it. And too much chaos can be a dangerous thing.

I find this infinitely fascinating because guess what the highest predictor of liberal beliefs in character traits are? That’s right, openness.

Open people like to think laterally. They want information and ideas to flow freely because it opens up new possibilities. They want to flatten borders and tear down walls. Open people hate being boxed in.

What is the definition of creativity if not to think outside the box?

But those who aren’t creative couldn’t care less. They crave order to a much higher degree. They want to remain dutifully within the damn box.

Of course, there are pros and cons at either end of the liberal/conservative divide here. Boxes are both good and bad. They provide protection but also restrict the free flow of information and ideas. 

Now, one of the biggest killers historically has been pathogens. You’re probably wondering what that has to do with anything?

Well, high orderliness is linked to heightened disgust sensitivity. One prominent example of this, sitting at the extreme end of the spectrum, is obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Another theory (called the parasite stress hypothesis) found a very high correlation between the prevalence of pathogens in authoritarian regimes

The reason for this, in part, is because diseases historically weren’t well understood, if at all. Its control often depended on the adherence to ritualised behavioural practises. 

But of course, people didn’t know which ritualised behavioural practices reduced the risk of infection. So, to be sure, best to conform across the board.

It was foreigners, non-conformers, dissenters, and other “dirty liberals” who often posed the most significant health threat. 

Herein lies the biggest danger of being too conscientious. I think the word tolerance fits the bill very nicely – or rather, intolerance

Most authoritarian regimes are driven by their need for order at the expense of everything else. It takes over. 

To use an extreme example, Hitler was one conscientious motherfucker. The man went from failed artist (perhaps, unsurprisingly, now that I think about it) to commandeering the most powerful military in the world in the matter of two decades. 

He was incredibly focused and determined in the pursuit of his goals. Do we think that was a good thing? No. Why? Because his values were fucked, and so, as a result, was the rest of Europe. 

Here is where the idea of pathogens will raise hairs on the back of your neck. Hitler often used the metaphor that the Aryan race was a body threatened by pathogens. 

Of course, the Nazi party enacted many twisted policies in the name of “racial hygiene.” And how do you deal with pathogens? You sterilise them, of course. You destroy them. 

You set fire to them.

This brings up a point I want to make about “success.” The ability to implement an idea isn’t nearly as important as the idea itself. If you’re driven by terrible values, we may all suffer the consequences. 

How to Become More Conscientious

On the flip side – to come back to the benefits of conscientiousness – a good idea isn’t worth a damn if you’re unable or unwilling to implement it. 

This is where open types can struggle. They come up with a myriad of excellent ideas that they often fail to put into practice. 

Part of the problem is their nature. They shrug their shoulders at mess. They are the laid-back, happy-go-lucky, Big Lebowski types. 

Unconscientious people are much more interested in seeing where the wind takes them.

This makes them more adaptable, of course. It means they are more accepting of change, but it can come at a significant longer-term cost if they never commit to anything. 

I think it’s crucial for those sitting on the lower side of the spectrum to recognise this. 

Contrary to many a liberal’s belief, success isn’t all down to dumb luck or natural talent (unless you believe that free will is an illusion). Hard work most definitely does pay off. Talent is wasted without it. 

The question is, then, how do we become more conscientious? 

To take a leaf out of the conservative’s book, I think the idea of setting clearly defined boundaries is a good one. Learn to set and follow a schedule. (Punctuality is heavily linked to conscientiousness.) 

When you commit to working, learn to block out the outside world. Focus has much more to do with eliminating distractions than it does to do with applying effort. 

Literally put up a wall by locking yourself in a room. Don’t allowing yourself to check your phone till you’ve finished writing that goddamn blog post about conscientiousness, you open-headed dope!

You know all this, of course. So you also know it’s much easier said than done. A significant part of the problem is not knowing what we want our lives to be about. What we want to make of ourselves. 

So, you want to create a vision for yourself – to have a clearly defined philosophy that helps you to stay on track. 

Warren Buffet recommends the following 3-step process: 

  1. Write down a list of 25 career and/or life goals. 
  2. Circle the five highest. Just five.
  3. Take a hard look at the other 20 and avoid them at all costs. 

It’s also worth asking to what extent these five goals serve a common purpose? The more they’re part of the same value hierarchy, the more focused your passion, the better. 

Ironically, it’s when we define the parameters this way our creativity starts to flourish.

To finish with an analogy, music follows a specific set of rules. They are a limited number of notes one can play. But within those rules, the possible number of melodies are almost infinite. 

Open people need not look at a box as limiting. Defining your own limitations might just be the very thing that sets you free.


This is part of a series of posts on the Big Five Personality Traits. Please find previous post below:

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

You can also find him on Medium at: https://anxiouspilot2.medium.com

Or on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot or @PointlessOverT

You can also email him directly at: anxiouspilot2@gmail.com

Neuroticism: The Cost of Consciousness

Neuroticism is the trait associated with negative emotions. Of course, it’s probably the one trait you don’t want to score high on because it sucks to feel bad.

Naturally, I score moderately high in neuroticism…

It’s worth pointing out that all of us are more sensitive to negative emotions. Human beings are neurotic creatures. 

This is often illustrated by the fact people will hurt more by a loss of a given magnitude than feel rewarded by a gain of the same amount.

What this means is that someone who’s described as a neurotic will be particularly risk-averse

What’s the long-term cost of never taking risks? Of always being afraid of negative consequences? Well, you retreat from life itself. You spend your days never venturing out of the bat cave.

Of course, those high in neuroticism are far more likely to suffer from mental illnesses such as depression. I can painfully attest to this.

The Cost of Consciousness

Neuroticism can be broken down into the following two aspects: Volatility and Withdrawal. 

I think it’s helpful to liken them to the fight or flight or freeze response system, where volatility represents fight (think anger, irritability, unstable etc.), and withdrawal represents flight or freeze (think anxiety, fear, depression etc.).

I score moderately high in withdrawal but lower in volatility. This has something to do with past trauma. As a result, I tend to shrink into my shell. 

Interestingly enough, high withdrawal is associated with self-consciousness. I say that’s interesting because self-consciousness is often touted as a cardinal human trait. 

We see it as a good thing!

Remember what I said about our weaknesses being attached to our strengths? Self-consciousness is perhaps the best example of that. 

Becoming self-aware was one of the most significant milestones in our evolution. It has allowed us to do extraordinary things. 

Yet it’s also meant living in the shadow of our own mortality. Knowing that death is coming to each and every one of us. That has proved a high cost to bear. Arguably it’s this uncomfortable truth that drives most of our actions.

Another high cost to consciousness is shame. Having to come to terms with our very real limitations. Knowing that we will always fall short of what we could be. 

Shame is very different from guilt. One could argue that guilt is good, whereas shame isn’t. 

To highlight the difference, someone who feels guilty might say, “I messed that up,” whereas someone who who feels shame might say, “I messed that up.” 

Shame places the focus on the self as opposed to the behaviour. More to the point, the mistake is seen as a reflection that the self is fundamentally flawed. 

So, “Instead of a desire to confess, apologies and repair, shame causes a desire to vanish, escape or strike back.” 

The Surprising Benefits of High Neuroticism

Now, you might be wondering what the upshot is for those higher in neuroticism. After all, the trait wouldn’t exist if it didn’t come with benefits. 

To answer this question, it helps to ask why we all tend to feel negative emotions more intensely in the first place. Why do we all have an inbuilt negativity bias, for example?

The answer is survival.

Anxiety is a horrible emotion, but better that than being badly hurt in an accident or being outcast by the Alpha of your tribe. It’s best to tread carefully rather than be dead as the dodo.

The truth is feeling bad has done more to ensure the survival of our species than feeling good ever has, yet fear is dragged through the mud. 

Do you see a problem here?

We demonise fear. We make it out to mean that something must be wrong with us. We say there is nothing to fear but fear itself. But do you really want to live without fear? Do you want the pilots in front of your aeroplane to be fearless? 

Nothing would scare me more.

There are only two kinds of people who don’t feel fear: psychopaths and the dead. If you’re wondering what the costs at either end of the neuroticism scale are, this is an excellent way to think about it. Too high, and it kills your quality of life. Too low, and it kills you.

Something we could all do well to work on is changing our relationship to fear. Fear is our friend – our ally. 

Really!

He’s just not a terribly intelligent one. He was made during a very different time in a very different environment. So you have to remain kind but objective.

But you can reframe your relationship to fear. You can befriend it. Often it is a powerful indicator – telling us exactly what we should do. 

Something you can do is zoom the lens out and imagine how much worse your life will become if you continue to let fear dictate all your decisions. 

Now that really is frightening! 

If you can paint a very vivid picture then that fear becomes greater than your stage fright or that awkward conversation you’re putting off. 

What you’ve done is put that fear behind you. It’s no longer a headwind. It’s a fucking tailwind. 

Now here’s something interesting. 

Neurotic types who work hard on becoming more conscientious have a surprising health advantage. The self-discipline of being conscientious counteracts unhealthy neurotic behaviour. 

A survey of 1,054 adults found that those who were both neurotic and conscientious had lower levels of inflammation. Of course, inflammation is heavily linked to depression

Dr. Nicholes A. Turman, the study’s first author, speculated that this is because conscientious or “healthy” neurotics may be hyper-vigilant about their lifestyle.

I come bearing more good news for the overly neurotic. 

Higher levels of neuroticism are often linked with higher levels of creativity “because the brain which is linked to creativity also has the tendency to overthink and worry.”

Remember what I said? 

The gifts that God gave you often come with the devil attached. What matters is how you relate to the devil. 

How to Lower Neuroticism

So, you soothe a baby by picking it up and holding it. Babies may die without human touch, even if given enough food, water, and shelter. Those who receive minimal human contact growing up are significantly compromised in their future development.

This is because human touch is palliative. When we feel down it’s imperatvie that we talk to someone. If your friend or family member is grieving, you should hug them – IT HELPS!

You can tell if a child is well adjusted by how willingly they play. If your household is well structured, your child will be comfortable knowing that all their needs are taken care of. 

The reason a child may not be comfortable is because of some perceived threat. Anxiety disrupts a child’s willingness to play. 

An American psychologist named Jerome Kagan studied temperament in toddlers and found that the more reactive children took longer to warm up to new individuals. He found those same toddlers were equally high in neuroticism years later.

The good news is, he also found that voluntarily active exploration normalised anxious children’s behaviour.​ To the greatest extent possible, a parent should encourage this in a child. You want to set boundaries but you want to let them explore and push the edges of those boundaries. That’s a healthy thing.

An adult is no different.

With that in mind, I’ll finish this post with a three-step plan for those who suffer from anxiety. 

First: Make a plan. 

Not having a plan is another primary source of anxiety – of course, it is! We need a why otherwise, why get out of bed? 

Having and implementing a plan reduces the anxiety that something terrible might happen. But we need a plan that has a reasonable probability of success. So you should make it simple.

Baby steps are essential. 

It’s worth asking yourself what task you are willing to do? Even if it’s something as small as tidying your room or putting on a load of laundry. Just start with that.

Taking action is no small thing for someone in the throes of depression. In fact, I would argue, it is everything. 

When you move toward a goal, the positive emotion system in your brain releases dopamine – the feel-good hormone. This encourages you to do more of the same. The same emotion causes you to binge-watch NETFLIX or obsessively check your social media feed. You want to use this feedback mechanism to chase positive rewards instead of negative ones.

Something as seemingly minor as tidying your room is an excellent mental health exercise. It can have cascading effects leading to improvements in other areas of your life.

Second: Build a routine. 

A critical aspect of implementing a plan is having a routine. Concentrating less on the outcome so much as showing up and doing something – anything – pushes you toward positive change. 

I suggest you start with sleep. Go to bed and wake up at the same time. Try to meditate, exercise, and eat at the same time too. Make it so small you can’t fail to begin with. 5 minutes of meditation – 5 pushups, etc.

You want to place some scaffolding into your day – some predictability – from which to build and explore. 

Third: Confront the dragon.

You want to voluntarily seek out the dragon and take it on. You want to push yourself into uncomfortable situations willingly.

This part should come last. Build towards it slowly – simply sharpen your sword, to begin with. Don’t tell yourself to take on the whole dragon in one go. 

You must negotiate with your anxiety – find the task that scares you but that you are willing to do – and encourage yourself to do it. Then really praise yourself for having done it.

Only by exposing yourself to a threat or obstacle will you break down the belief that you can’t overcome it. By facing the thing and approaching it – however minor the step – you start to indicate to your anxiety system that you’re more competent than the thing is dangerous.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a wrap. Next up: Conscientiousness.

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

You can also find him on Medium at: https://anxiouspilot2.medium.com

Or on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot or @PointlessOverT

You can also email him directly at: anxiouspilot2@gmail.com

3-2-1 Flying Fridays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to 3-2-1 Flying Fridays! The only weekly post that believes we must fight for peace.

Following a 3-2-1 approach, it contains 3 thoughts from me (that you should ignore), 2 quotes from others (that you should read), and 1 something special (maybe). 

As a bonus I’ve finished with one joke that’s so bad, it’s good!

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) There is value in anger if used constructively. There is no value in resentment. It means the enemy is inside your head. If we are to stand and win the fight for peace, we must first win it within ourselves.

2) Concentrate on loving and protecting those who need it, not hating those who don’t.

3) We all need to ask ourselves, what would we do? How would we respond if we woke up to bombing and heavy artillery tomorrow morning? What if we found ourselves in a war we didn’t ask for? What if we were made to choose between accepting the rule of tyranny and oppression or killing those trying to enforce that upon us? Then we need to ask ourselves how we can help.


2 x Quotes:

“War is organised murder and nothing else.” 

— Harry Patch (One of the last surviving combat soldiers from the First World War)

“No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in the present instant. Take peace. The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within reach, is joy. Take joy.”

— Fra Giovanni

1 x Thing:

This article by Yuval Noah HarariWhy Vladimir Putin has already lost this war. Here’s an excerpt:

“Nations are ultimately built on stories. Each passing day adds more stories that Ukrainians will tell not only in the dark days ahead, but in the decades and generations to come. The president who refused to flee the capital, telling the US that he needs ammunition, not a ride; the soldiers from Snake Island who told a Russian warship to “go fuck yourself”; the civilians who tried to stop Russian tanks by sitting in their path. This is the stuff nations are built from. In the long run, these stories count for more than tanks.”



PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER:

3-2-1 Flying Fridays – 11/02/22

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

You can also find him on Medium at: https://anxiouspilot2.medium.com

Or on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot

3-2-1 Flying Fridays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to 3-2-1 Flying Fridays! The only weekly post that likes to lift you up before bringing you back down to earth.

Following a 3-2-1 approach, it contains 3 thoughts from me (that you should ignore), 2 quotes from others (that you should read), and 1 something special (maybe). 

As a bonus I’ve finished with one joke that’s so bad, it’s good!

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) A simple three letter word for developing a growth mindset: YET  (Click to tweet

2) If you never assume you’re a good person, you will continue to look for how you can be a better one. (Click to tweet)

3) The beauty of a moment comes from its impermanence. The moment you cling to it, it’s destroyed. In order to truly live in the moment, therefore, you have to let go... of everything! (Click to tweet)


2 x Quotes:

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less”

— Rick Warren

“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.”

Ralph Marston

1 x Thing:

This BBC article by David Robson: How thinking about ‘future you’ can build a happier life. It points out, ‘a number of studies have shown that those who struggle to imagine their future selves as a continuation of the person that they are today, tend to be less responsible. Those who have a vivd sense of their future self, on the other hand, tend to be more responsible.’

One suggestion for helping to increase this connection to your future self is “to write a letter to yourself 20 years from now, describing what is most important for you now and your plans for the coming decades.” It goes on to suggest “that you could amplify the effects by writing a reply from the future, since that will force you to adopt a long-term perspective.”


1 x Joke:

We took our children on a trip aboard the iconic Star Ferry here in Hong Kong the other day.

Just before we departed my eldest shouted, “ALL ABOARD!!”

I laughed before commenting, “Well said. Just like a train conductor!”

My wife asked, “What do boat drivers usually say when it’s time to leave?”

I shouted, “ALL ABOAT!!”


PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER:

3-2-1 Flying Fridays – 28/01/22


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

You can also find him on Medium at: https://anxiouspilot2.medium.com

Or on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot

Stuck in the Clouds: An Aviator’s Guide to Pointless Overthinking

I have a love-hate relationship with thinking. Sometimes, I get in these kinds of flow states where I follow my train of thought – connecting the dots along the way – to an exciting, unexpected destination. When I follow my thoughts in this way, I find it euphoric. I often derive my best writing doing so.  

This is all well and good when my thought train takes me on a such journey; however, it’s not so great when my train of thought – as it likes to do – takes me down some dark tunnels. I’ve come to realise that the problem isn’t negative thinking per se, but an inability to get off the train and determine the clouds from the sky. 

Thoughts are a lot like clouds. When viewed from the outside, we can see them clearly and the air is calm. When you’re stuck inside, however, the air becomes turbulent. Seeing things clearly becomes much more difficult as a result. 

That’s why it’s essential to know how to get off the train – especially when our thoughts aren’t serving us. It’s in the space outside our thoughts that we can view them objectively. It’s in this space that we can then choose which thoughts to engage with and which/when we shouldn’t. 

The question is, how do we get off the train to distinguish the clouds from the sky in the first place?

What Is Pointless Overthinking?

Before we work out how, it’s important to define what and why. 

There’s a fine line between thoughtful, thorough consideration surrounding a problem or idea versus worrying about certain should haves or could haves or events over which we have no control. 

The first type of thinking – let’s call it deep-thinking – is about figuring something out or coming to a deeper understanding. That’s to say, it serves a purpose. Either helping us grow as individuals or take more meaningful action. Engaging in this kind of deep-thinking is necessary when we have a difficult life decision to make. 

The danger comes from engaging with an idea or problem to such an extent that it actually prevents us from taking any kind of action or deepening our understanding on a topic. Not only does this type of thinking – let’s call it pointless overthinking – fail to achieve anything, it’s actually counter-productive.

It usually involves dwelling on how bad we feel or worrying about events we have no control over.

Why Do We Pointlessly Overthink?

Many perfectionists and overachievers are prone to this kind of overthinking. According to Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist in New York, this is because “the fear of failing and the need to be perfect take over, which leads to replaying or criticizing decisions and mistakes.”

For others, overthinking is rooted in mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Which comes first – mental illness or overthinking – is a bit like asking if it’s the chicken or the egg. At any rate, those who overthink are more prone to neuroses and vice versa.

It can also lead to a host of other problems affecting everything from your work and relationships to your sleep and health. One Harvard study found that excessive brain activity depletes an essential protein, which may shorten the human lifespan

Clearly then, learning to tame the overthinking mind is important. So how do we curb overthinking?

How To Curb Pointless Overthinking

  1. Understand what triggers overthinking

Ideally, you want to spot the storm on your radar so you can go around it or, at least, prepare yourself in advance. This is why it’s useful to have a clear understanding of what your triggers are

One tip is to write down specific moments that caused you to overthink or worry during the day. One of my major triggers is fatigue. It often sends me into a spiral where I tell myself that I shouldn’t feel tired all the time. So I end up feeling bad about feeling bad, which makes me feel, well, bad. This, of course, sends me down the emotional rabbit hole.

The good news is I’m now much quicker to spot it now. This has allowed my to better implement a number of different coping strategies.

  1. Observe your thoughts without judgment.

“Pure attention without judgement is not only the highest form of human intelligence, but also the expression of love.” – JIDDU KRISHNAMURT

It’s best to go around the storm clouds if you can help it. However, we need a plan for the times we inevitably find ourselves enveloped. 

Just like flying an aircraft – the best course of action isn’t to try and control the plane when we encounter turbulence but to sit on our hands and ride it out. Similarly, when it comes to the mind, the best solution is often not to look for one. 

What I’m getting at here is the practice of observing your thoughts without judgement. The more we do this, the better we become at letting them go. 

Eckhart Tolle is his famous book “The Power of Now,” suggests asking yourself the following question, “What will my next thought be?” This works by creating a gap in the mind that allows you to dis-identify with your thoughts. 

If you keep asking, “What next?” you will soon start to see the thought clouds begin to dissipate. 

  1. Redirect your attention to the present.

This is the equivalent of exiting the clouds by coming back to earth. Meditation is a handy tool here.

One acronym I like to use in the real world (when I don’t have the time to sit and meditate) is STOP. It stands for: 

  • Stop for a moment
  • Take a deep breath 
  • Observe without judgement
  • Proceed 
  1. Move your body/Engage in flow. 

“No problem is so formidable that you can’t walk away from it.” – Charles M. Schulz.

One of the best ways to get out of your head is to get into your body. Practicing yoga or going for a walk outside can be a big help.

A great deal of research demonstrates exercise can improve depression and other mental illnesses such as related to chronic overthinking. It can also help shift your nervous system out of the fight or flight mode. This can be particularly beneficial for those suffering from any trauma-related rumination

Other activities where you can focus your attention – that generates a flow-like state – are also good. 

For example, recently I bought a lego fire engine for my 3-year old that I thought we could build together. It turned out to be too advanced for him, so I made it myself. I was surprised by how much enjoyment I got from it. It took me a little over two hours to build, but I hardly noticed the time go by. I was completely immersed.

  1. Challenge your thoughts objectively.

Our attempts to analyse our thoughts are often futile precisely because we are stuck inside them. That’s why it’s vital to first exit the clouds before attempting to understand them. Of course, many meditations work by bringing your attention to the present before attempting to understand any thought or emotion that may arise.

One meditation I like to use – useful on those particularly stormy days – is called RAIN. It stands for:

  • Recognise the emotion or thought pattern
  • Accept it (practice compassion towards it)
  • Investigate it (question it objectively)
  • Not identify with it (zoom the lens out)

Another way to examine your thoughts is by journaling. 

Every morning as part of my routine, I ask and answer the following questions: What is worrying me most today? What can I do about it? What can’t I do about it? 

This helps me determine whether I’m engaging in thoughtful, deep-thinking or pointless overthinking. It also helps me concentrate on what I can control and formulate a plan to commit to meaningful action.

  1. Talk to someone/Get professional help.

Talking to someone – whether a close friend or health care professional – can go a long way. We all need a support network. Often the courageous act of articulating our thoughts helps to see them clearly. I liken it to placing your thought clouds out in the open. 

In clinical psychology, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is one of the most effective methods to improve anxiety, mood, and self-confidence.

Brad Stulberg, in his book, “The Practise of Groundedness,” notes the most powerful teachings of ACT – which happen to fit into the acronym – are to “Accept what is happening without fusing your identity to it. Zoom out to a larger perspective or awareness from which you can observe your situation without feeling like you are trapped in it. Choose how you want to move forward in a way that aligns with your innermost values. Take action, even if doing so feels scary or uncomfortable.”

Ultimately that last part – taking action – is what matters most. We are not defined by our thoughts but our actions. But, of course, our thoughts are what lead to action or inaction as the case may be.

If you find yourself paralysed by your own thoughts, then the first action you should take is to reach out for help.


I hope you enjoyed my guide to pointless overthinking. I’m curious to know if overthinking is something you have trouble with? What techniques, if any, do you use to help? I look forward to hearing your deep thoughts on the matter.

***

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

You can also find him on Medium at: https://anxiouspilot2.medium.com

Or on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot

3-2-1 Flying Fridays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to the Flying Fridays newsletter! The only weekly newsletter that believes wearing a seatbelt is a matter of freedom.

Following a 3-2-1 approach, it contains 3 thoughts from me (that you should ignore), 2 quotes from others (that you should read), and 1 something special (maybe). 

As a bonus I’ve finished with one joke that’s so bad, it’s good!

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) The ability to entertain (and thus love) yourself is a skill developed through boredom.

2) If only have time for one thing today, meditate. If you have time for two, meditate and then exercise. If you have time for three, add quality time with those you love. Look after yourself first and foremost, then your innermost circle. Expand outward from there.

3) A gratitude journalling hack: Instead of writing down what is clear and obvious, think of the things you’re not grateful for. Think of the things, relationships, circumstances, etc. that you find trying. Then think of a good reason to be grateful for them. For example, I might say I’m grateful for what this pandemic has taught me about resilience. I’m grateful for the clarity it has given me about what I want for both myself and my family. We suffer when we feel our pain holds no meaning. The moment you derive a clear meaning from your pain, you cease to suffer.


2 x Quotes:

Tell me, and I forget, teach me, and I may remember, involve me, and I learn.

– Benjamin Franklin

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

– Fyodor Dostoevsky


1 x Thing:

This fascinating Guardian article by Sirin Kale: Chakras, crystals and conspiracy theories: how the wellness industry turned its back on Covid science. An interesting read about the influencers within wellness circles who have increasingly promoted vaccine scepticism, conspiracy theories, and the myth that ill people have themselves to blame. Well worth a read.


1 x Joke:

My son and I were placing stickers on his toy box the other day, when he picked out one with a picture of a dog gnawing on a bone.

I looked at him and said, “Son, I have a bone to stick with you.”


PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER:

3-2-1 Flying Fridays – 19/11/21


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3-2-1 Flying Fridays!

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to the Flying Fridays newsletter! The only weekly newsletter that laughs when you fall over before helping you back up…

Following a 3-2-1 approach, it contains 3 thoughts from me (that you should ignore), 2 quotes from others (that you should read), and 1 something special (maybe). 

As a bonus I’ve finished with one joke that’s so bad, it’s good!

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) Treat your emotions like you would a child. They’re equally irrational. It’s non judgemental compassion that gets them on side. Getting angry at a child who is throwing a tantrum doesn’t work. So it is with you.

2) The belief that something is wrong with us is central to the issue of feeling bad about feeling bad because that belief brings up more negative emotions (go figure), which we then see as confirmation that something is wrong with us.

3) Attempts to control negative thoughts and emotions makes them worse. Better to concentrate on forming desirable habits instead. Mood follows action.


2 x Quotes:

“For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts and that the world is not so ill with you and me as it might have been is half owing to those who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs.”

― George Eliot, MiddleMarch

“Most people die at 25… we just don’t bury them until they are 70.”

Benjamin Franklin

1 x Thing:

This excerpt from The Practice of Groundedness by Brad Stulberg on perception of vulnerability:

Researchers at the University of Mannheim, in Germany, conducted a series of seven experiments in which they had adult participants share information about themselves with one another at varying levels of vulnerability. They repeatedly found that the individual doing the sharing felt that their vulnerability would be perceived as weak, as a negative. But the person on the other end of the conversation, the listener, felt the exact opposite: the more vulnerable the sharer was, the more courageous they perceived him or her to be. The listener viewed vulnerability as an unambiguously positive trait. “Confessing romantic feelings, asking for help, or taking responsibility for a mistake constitute just a few examples of situations that require showing one’s vulnerability,” write the researchers from the University of Mannheim. “Out of fear, many individuals decide against it.” But this, the researchers conclude, is a mistake. “Even when examples of showing vulnerability might sometimes feel more like weakness from the inside, our findings indicate that, to others, these acts might look more like courage from the outside. Given the positive consequences [increased trust and connection, improved learning from others, and forgiveness after making a mistake] of showing vulnerability for relationship quality, health, or job performance, it might, indeed, be beneficial to try to overcome one’s fears and to choose to see the beauty in the mess of vulnerable situations.” The University of Mannheim researchers aptly coined their finding “the beautiful mess effect.”

– Brad Stulberg

1 x Joke:

What did the left eyebrow say to the right eyebrow?

“Between you and me, something smells.”


PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER:

3-2-1 Flying Fridays – 29/10/21


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4 Ways To Practise Safe Sex Blogging

I’m afraid that the time has come.

Now that I’ve been blogging for over a year – now I’ve officially entered my blogging adolescence – it’s imperative we have “that chat.”

You see, one’s blogging adolescence is a perilous time. It’s a time when you think you know everything there is, when you think you’re God’s greatest gift on this here blogosphere. When you feel you can do and say as you please. When you make promises that, well, you probably can’t keep.

The problem is you, like I, may say something foolish. Something that actually hurts someone. Something that someone may take as gospel even when they really shouldn’t. This might become a big problem if that person decides to file a lawsuit against you for blogging sexual misconduct.

There are other dangers too!

Now that people are beginning to recognise you – now that you have thousands of followers (maybe) – it’s possible someone may want to steal your content. The last thing any of us want to contract is an STD. (Otherwise known as a Stealing Thieving Douchbag.)

This is why I decided to draw up this post. I want to protect you, dear blogger, by helping place a metaphorical condom over your blog. To prevent you from contracting an STD… or worse!

Here are 4 ways to do that. 

1. Make Sure You Wear Protection 

A Disclaimer really is the equivalent of putting a condom over your blog. 

“What does a Disclaimer do?” (I didn’t hear you ask.)

Well, a Disclaimer protects you against any legal action should someone be stupid enough to take your advice without consulting an actual professional. For example, a disclaimer for this blog post might say, “I’m not a lawyer. If I’m wrong, it’s your fault for not doing your own research. It’s your fault for believing me.”

To quote Abraham Lincoln, “Don’t trust everything you read on the internet.”

I like to think I know what I’m talking about. I want to believe I do my homework, but the truth is, sometimes (perhaps more than I care to admit), I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I write about mental health, psychology and philosophy, but my day job is flying aeroplanes, boys and girls. That’s what I have a licence for! Not for giving unsolicited life advice (as much as I enjoy it).

Anyway, the point is, a Disclaimer provides you with legal protection in case someone tries to sue you for stupid choices they made when they were drunk.

Another reason to wear a Disclaimer is let others know about any money you might be making from the use of affiliate links, products or services. To put it another way, it lets your readers know if you’re a pimp!

Now, there are a couple of other forms of contraception you should be aware of. 

Those are your Terms & Conditions and your Privacy Policy. Together with your disclaimer, YOU NEED ALL THREE PAGES ON YOUR BLOG TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND COMPLY WITH THE LAWS.

I know, I know, I had no idea either. I only found out after doing research for this post. I figured I was set with my disclaimer. But that’s not enough. Just like a condom, it’s only 98% effective. You might think it’s enough, but to be extra sure, you need the other two as well. 

Let me break those down.

Your Terms & Conditions is basically an agreement that says you have to abide by my rules if you come into my house. This includes, but is not limited to, “rules and guidelines on payment and subscriptions, community behaviour, copyright protection, and circumstances where you’re allowed to terminate user’s accounts.”

On the other hand, your Privacy Policy tells your visitors how you collect and use their personal information. This, unlike your Disclaimer or Terms & Conditions, is actually required by law. Without boring you with too much legal jargon, I’ll leave you with this link where you learn a bit more about all of the above. 

Now you might think that putting all the above is a massive ball ache, but you’d be surprised at just how easy it is to place these types of contraception over your little blog. All you have to do is head over to this website I found called freeprivacypolicy.com.

Here, you can fill out a quick questionnaire about your site or business, and they will generate your privacy policy, terms & conditions, and/or disclaimer for you. All you have to do is copy and paste the resulting text onto your blog. If you need to update that policy at a later date, you can simply log back in and edit as necessary. 

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

2. Have a Repellent Handy

The last thing any of us want to catch is an STD. STDs are nasty pieces of work. The problem is that some people lack any sort of creative nous, so they search the internet looking for content to steal instead of coming up with their own. 

So, what can you do about it?

Something I use on my blog that a fellow blogger told me about is the DMCA. (Not to be confused with the YMCA young men!) By registering your website with them, you can copy and paste this scary-looking badge (see below), which serves as a deterrent to any STD. It’s a bit like displaying a beware of dog sign on your front lawn. 

The other thing they will do, if you happen to find out you’ve contracted an STD, is they will take down that stolen content for you for free. All you have to do – after you have registered your site with them – is report it!

A good deal, I think you’ll agree!

3. Invent Your Own Moves

Listen, we all “steal” ideas from one another. To quote Pablo Piccaso, “Good artists copy, great artist steal.” Learning to steal like an artist without actually stealing is a skill. 

To use an example, Apple didn’t invent the tablet, but they did invent the iPad. 

The big difference is repurposing specific ideas and connecting the dots in our own unique way. What we don’t do (what you should never do) is simply copy and paste. That is to say – we create our own original content that is influenced by others. 

Anyway, without stating the obvious, here are a couple of excellent reasons for creating original content:

  1. You’ll know that your work hasn’t been stolen and that you’re not infringing any copyright or plagiarism laws. 
  2. You immediately own the rights to that content. No matter how unlovable that piece of work is, that baby is yours. That baby is something you can be proud of!

4. Make Sure You Get Consent

The other thing one should do is give credit where credit is due. For example, I can say that the idea for this blog post came from fellow blogger Shelly. Who, incidentally, runs a much better blog than mine over at growingwithspawn.com. (Check it out!)

This is true. A blog post of hers a while back sparked the idea for this one. I simply decided to expand upon it with additional research while using my own twisted sense of humour. (Hello original content.)

Of course, if you plan to use and/or quote large chunks of people’s work directly, then it’s best to ask first. Most people don’t bite. In fact, when it comes to blogging, they physically can’t, which is excellent news! 

It also happens that bloggers quite enjoy the backlinks. You’ll find if you make an effort to give credit, you might just receive the same in return. Give to receive, dear reader. Give to receive.

Just a heads up. 

Climax

This stuff isn’t hard, of course. First and foremost, practice safe sex blogging by wearing some protection. Other than that, basically, just do the right thing. Be respectful towards bloggers of the opposite sex… or the same sex. 

Wait?! What am I trying to say again? 

That’s right – just be respectful! 

If you really love their work and want to use it, ASK PERMISSION. If you’re in doubt about whether your work infringes someone else rights, then GIVE CREDIT. 

It can’t hurt, right? (Well, maybe the first time.)

Anyway, that’s it from me for today. Hopefully, you learned something about safe sex… and also blogging.

Time for a cigarette!

How To Save Democracy

“The function all expressions of contempt have in common is the defence against unwanted feelings.” 

– ALICE MILLER

I read something the other day that got the alarm bells ringing. It was a book called, The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller

In a nut shell Miller argues that our childhood experience – specifically how we learnt to hide our own feelings, needs, and memories in order to meet our parents’ expectations and win their “love” – fucks us up (I’m paraphrasing), leading to problems such as depression or grandiosity later on in life. She goes onto explain how left unresolved, our neuroses get passed onto our own children unconsciously. 

She believes it’s possible that the trauma many of us have experienced may well have been passed down over generations. As in it’s not your parents’ fault you’re fucked up, but your great-great-great-grandad’s (that bastard!). 

Anyway, without getting sidetracked into the nuts and bolts of the book, the other unforeseen consequence of not properly respecting our children’s feelings, she argues, is that they will seek refuge from their painful past in ideologies such as Nationalism, Racism and Facism. 

She notes, “The basic similarity of the various nationalistic movements flourishing today reveals that their motives have nothing to do with the real interests of the people who are fighting and hating, but instead have very much to do with those people’s childhood histories… Individuals who do not want to know their own truth collude in denial with society as a whole, looking for a common “enemy” on whom to act out their repressed rage.” 

Now bearing in mind she wrote this book over 40 years ago she also said this, “The future of democracy and democratic freedom depends on our capacity to take this very step and to recognize that it is simply impossible to struggle successfully against hatred outside ourselves, while ignoring its messages within. We must know and use the tools that are necessary to resolve it: We must feel and understand its source and its legitimacy. There is no point in appealing to our goodwill, our kindness, and a common spirit of love, as long as the path to clarifying our feelings is blocked by the unconscious fear of our parents.”

So what can we take from all of this? 

Well my thinking is that first, we should respect our children like adults, stop trivialising their emotions and show them the unconditional love that they need. And second, in order to break the chain of neuroses that our great-great-great-grandparents passed down to us, maybe we should take ourselves to therapy and process our own unresolved childhood issues. 

Anyway I’m curious to know what you think. Is the only thing we need to do to secure the future of our democracy resolve our daddy issues?

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

***

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

Thursday’s Top Tip

“Sleep is the best meditation.”

– Dalai Lama

Treat the time you wakeup as the central-axis point of your being.  

The point that keeps everything in balance.

The point that sets everything you want to happen in motion.

The point from which all order springs.

Don’t lie in. Don’t hit snooze. Don’t think about it. 

Just. Get. Up.

No matter how bad your nights sleep, make sure you wake up at the same time.

Every. Single. Day.

This will be hard at first (if you’re not doing this already), but the longer term benefits are massive – especially for those who have trouble sleeping. 

Why?

Because our bodies are biological clocks that love routine. When we wake up at the same time we reinforce our circadian rhythm.

Not only does this prompt us to go to bed at the same time, it allows our bodily functions and cycles to operate at optimum efficiency – keeping us as strong as a mother fucking Ox y’all!

(Add to this regularly scheduled meal times and you’ll really start to notice shit changing for you. In fact, you’ll notice your shit happening at the exact same time every single day, like clockwork.)

Seriously!

Waking up on the dot affects everything. Energy, metabolism, mood… 

Conversely, when our lifestyle has been out of sync with our circadian rhythm for a long time, we start to put ourselves at greater risk to all sorts of diseases and mental health issues. (Check out this article for more info.)

And you can take all of this from a pilot who has been disrupting his circadian rhythm for ten years now with one exception: this past year.

Because of COVID I’ve seen a lot less flying through the night and a lot more regular sleep.

How do you feel, you ask?

Strong as a mother fucking Ox y’all! (And also scared for my job, but let’s blow past that…)

Now allow me to let you in on a couple of tips within this tip!

It takes 40 days or so to form a new habit. So stick with it. It will pay off. 

Do I have to get up at 5am, you ask? 

No, not at all

The other important thing to understand is that you have a unique chronotype. (Have a look at this article for more info or take this quiz to help you find out which.)

I happen to be a wolf (side note: awesome).

I hate early mornings. I like to take things slow when I do get up – which is later than most I’ll admit.

I meditate, do a little journalling and reading with a leisurely coffee, and then I do some exercise and/or stretching before I crack on with the day.

I’m at my most alert in the evenings. So when everyone else sits down to binge watch Netflix, that’s when I get to work. 

Unfortunately for us wolves, society is biased towards bears and lions (early birds). I used to believe I was lazy for the longest time.

It wasn’t until I understood my chronotpye that I really started listening to my body instead of forcing it. This in turn allowed me to formulate a routine that has me firing on all four cylinders.

It’s important to stress that while the early bird may catch the worm, the night owl gets to hunt mice mother fuckers!

So don’t feel bad about setting your schedule to match your chronotype.

We’re all different!

Whether that means you get up at 4am or 11am, the most important thing is that you wake up at the same time.

Every. Single. Day. 

You’ll thank me for it eventually.

I promise. 

Previous Top Tip

Table(t) Manners

Growing up my dad always made a point about having good table manners. He made sure we never chewed food with our mouths open. That we always sat up straight. That we we set the table properly and cleared away and washed the dishes afterwards. 

One of the rules was if you didn’t cook, you clean! 

Now that I have kids of my own, I really see the value in what he strived to teach us. Good table manners says something important about who you are. More to the point, you are saying something important by having them. 

It shows respect to those around you. It expresses gratitude for both the food you are consuming and the people you are sharing it with. It demonstrates mindfulness, discipline, love, care… 

The list goes on. 

It’s not uncommon for us to sit down and eat a meal made with ingredients from all four corners of the globe. First grown and tendered to by farmers in remote regions. Then picked, processed and eventually shipped, or flown, thousands of miles to your local super market. 

Have ever stopped to think about the multitude of people involved in creating your dinner? 

When you look deeply there is a great deal to be grateful for. I’m not religious but I love the tradition of expressing gratitude before a meal for that reason. It’s a tradition I mean to instil in my own children. 

Anyway I bring this up because, when I look around at the table manners of today, there’s something that breaks my heart. And I’m guessing that you can all guess what I’m about to talk about. If you can’t, then maybe you should get off your phone (hint hint) and have a good look around. 

What do you see? Are we paying attention? Are we mindful of our surroundings? Are we expressing gratitude? And I mean really expressing it and really meaning it?

Let me get to the point. 

What do you think it says when you take out your phone to check something at the dinner table? How do you feel when someone else does it? Do you feel anything? Are you even bothered? Or is it just me?

Because to me it feels like this modern exception to the centuries old tradition of having good table etiquette. It feels like everyone has quietly decided that having phones at the table is an acceptable social norm in modern society. 

“I won’t say anything if you don’t.” [wink wink]

I wonder if this is because we’ve only been living with smartphones for the last 15 years? Because the parents of today weren’t raised in a world with smartphones? 

Or because parents don’t want to acknowledge they might have an addiction themselves? Because they haven’t worked out how to have a healthy relationship with them? 

I wonder how many parents are even aware of the damage they’re doing by letting their children look at screens every time they sit down for a meal? 

I see it with some of my friends and I find it alarming. And let me tell you, it’s very awkward when I have to explain to my two year old son, while eating over at our friend’s house, why he can’t look at a screen while sitting at the table but their kids can (true story).

I genuinely fear the screens we are bringing to the table are doing untold harm to our relationships. 

There are many times I’ve sat at dinner while having a great conversation when someone has decided to “check something” on their phone. Sometimes that something is related to the conversation but even so. Rarely have I found that person checks just one thing. No they get sucked in. The temptation to check several other social media and/or news apps is simply too great. 

And so they click click click, getting one dopamine hit after the next, until they finally “return” to the table where, not only has the conversation stalled, their head is scattered across the stratosphere. Completely frazzled from all the dopamine and cortisol surging around their system while ruminating about events over which they have no control. Or emails they checked but can’t reply to. (You know, because that really would be rude.)

Let’s be honest here. We have an addiction problem. I would be very surprised if it isn’t all of us who have, at some point, found ourselves unconsciously scrolling on our mobile phones. Perhaps it’s not outlandish to claim that maybe we pick up phones, more often than not, for no other reason than we simply want that hit? Because we crave it so much?

You might think these small moments here and there aren’t a big deal but I believe they add up. All the interactions we miss as a result – when we fail to look up and see the people at our table or elsewhere. These conversations that get interrupted all the time…

The mobile phone has become something to hide behind. A shield from having to face one’s actual reality. I believe this is, in no small part, why we have seen such a rise in rates of depression and anxiety among our adolescents.

As I draw this post to a close it occurs to me that I’m not really upset about the fact that our collective addictions are ruining our interactions at the dinner table (although I am), but that they are ruining our interactions everywhere. Our interactions even, simply, with the present moment.

It’s for this reason I feel the dining table should be the place where we all lay down a marker. Where we make it our last bastion in the household free from smartphones. A place where we make a stand for our children’s sake, so their lives aren’t completely ruled by the devices in their pockets. The place from which we make a fight back against the infringement of technology in everyday life. Where we stake a claim to be seen – at the very least – by our loved ones during this very precious period of the day.

Ladies and gentleman I believe it’s high time we brought our manners back to the table. That must mean leaving our phones off them.

Is that really asking for too much? 


Thanks for reading everyone. I’m aware that technology has been a blessing over the last year or so. Allowing us to connect with our loved ones from isolation. However that doesn’t detract from my feeling that our face to face interactions have been significantly harmed over the past decade by the smartphones we carry around. As a parent it’s our children I worry about the most. I am, of course, keen to get your thoughts and opinions on the matter. Let us know below. Warm regards, AP2 🙏

***

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

12 Personal Commandments For A Happier Life

A long time ago (5 years?) I put together this list – 12 personal commandments for living a happier, healthier and more purposeful life. I found it in one of my old note books and thought I’d share with you all.

It was inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. As she said in her book, “these aren’t meant to be specific resolutions but overarching principles by which to live.”

Anyway, I recall it being a fun and creative way to help outline any core values you may have.

I should say the quotes aren’t mine, but ones that stuck in my mind from various readings over the years. Anyway, without further ado, here they are:

  1. “Live in day-tight compartments” – Live in the moment. There’s no point in living with regret about yesterday or worry for tomorrow. 
  1. “Don’t cry over spilt milk”You can’t change what’s happened. Only pick up the pieces and move forward. Forgive and forget. 
  1. “Pay Rapt Attention” – Meditate daily and show a keen interest in your daily activities and conversations. Stay in the moment and participate fully. 
  1. “Act and think the way you wish to feel – be fearless” – Smile and be happy. Stand up tall and be confident. We live in the mind whether we know it or not. The wisest among us use our actions to influence our emotions and not the other way around. 
  1. “Count your blessings – Not your troubles” – First – aim to get what you want and then Second – Enjoy it! Be grateful everyday. You’re exceptionally lucky. 
  1. “Be Yourself” – Imitation is suicide. Be your best self and embrace your uniqueness. 
  1. “Have malice toward none and charity for all” – Don’t waste a second thinking about those that have wronged you. It serves no purpose. We must harbour no bitterness. Instead find time to give and serve those in greater need. 
  1. “Order is Heaven’s First Law” – Clearing clutter will help create peace of mind. Set specific measurable goals, visualise them complete, then act on them. 
  1. “Lose yourself in action – Just do it” – Secret to being miserable is to have the time to wonder whether you are happy or not. Keep yourself busy. Work daily, Exercise daily and Play daily. The time is now so go!
  1. “Do what’s right, not what’s easy” – The easiest is rarely the best option. Strive toward a higher purpose and think before every word and action. 
  1. “Remember life comes from you not at you” – Give up blaming and complaining. Only YOU are responsible for YOU. Be honest with yourself and understand that belief is a choice so choose to believe!
  1. “Look to the stars” – Have faith you can turn around any situation. To profit from your losses is far more important than capitalising on your gains. Take the time to reflect everyday. 

Thanks for taking the time to read everyone. Looking back I feel it could definitely use an update! With that in mind, what commandments do you live by (if any)? What would you add (or take away) from the list? Let us know in the comments below. I’d be grateful for the inspiration.

Wishing you all well, AP2 – X

Tuesday’s Top Tip

The most successful people in this world understand the importance of cultivating a growth mindset.

They understand failure does not mean they are one, only that they have something to learn. 

They understand that success is not found in achievement, but from falling in love with the process of self-improvement. 

They understand that intelligence and capability are not fixed qualities but things which – with practice, training, and above all, method – can always be improved upon.

I think we all understand this on some level yet many of us can’t help but think we are less than. That we simply aren’t as intelligent, or as capable, or as courageous as other people.

The question is how can we do guard against having this kind of fixed mindset? How can we cultivate a growth mindset instead?

Of course we need a point of comparison. We need standards to measure ourselves against otherwise there would nothing to point toward and nowhere to go.

But why make other people that point of comparison?

It’s important to remember we are all individuals with a very unique set of life circumstances. The conditions of our lives are rarely comparable to others of a different age, race, gender, background…

They are rarely comparable, even, in our moment to moment difficulties. When dealing with the very specific traumas of our past.

Simply getting out of bed for some of us is an act of immense courage given the circumstances. Perhaps demonstrating far greater strength than someone who appears to have his or her life together. 

So what to do? Who should you compare yourself to then? What should be your point of comparison in a world that only broadcasts the best of the best (or the worst of the worst)? 

Simple. 

Yourself.

As a rule for life I’d say, “Compare yourself only with the person you were yesterday.” 

Here’s the trick.

At the end of each day take the time to reflect. Think deeply about the ways in which you have failed to live up to your values and how you can do better. Then find a small way to better yourself and go do it (the following day). Finally when you reflect on that day, reward yourself for having done (or at least attempted) what you set out to do.

That’s enough.

That’s worthy of a pat on the back and an ice cold beer!

But don’t you dare forget to reward yourself either! Rewarding yourself for the things you did well at the end of the day is equally important.

Do this everyday, and then watch as compound interest takes care of the rest.

I promise if you do, it will.

Previous Top Tip

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post to prepare for the best and hope for the worst…

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

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

Let’s begin!

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


4 x Thoughts:

1) Contacting a friend a day keeps the demons at bay.

2) I have two cycles for you. The first I like to call the Positive Cycle Of Hope. It looks like this: Hope inspires action that creates positive results that generates more hope (repeat). The second I like to call the Negative Cycle Of Hopelessness. It looks like this: Hope coupled with an inability (or unwillingness) to take action creates (99% of the time) negative results that generates feelings of despair and hopelessness (circle back to point 2 and repeat). The point I want to make? Hope must be tied to action otherwise it’s dangerous.

3) Hope is a double edged sword that cuts just as deeply the other way. Although it rewards you when expectations are met it punishes you when they’re not. Of course it’s that suffering that drives you to take action and put things right. However this is a terrible situation to be in if you can’t. (That’s worth repeating). The point I want to make? Be very careful what you hope for in life.

4) What hand the universe deals you – whether or not you have an easy life – is not something you can control. However building the strength to deal with adversity when it happens is something you can. For that reason it’s important to prepare for the worst in life. It’s equally important to believe in your capacity to deal with the worst when it happens. However I disagree with idea that one should “hope for the best.” If you hope for the best it’ll crush you when that doesn’t happen (or worse, when it gets taken away). Prepare for the worst – yes. But don’t “live in hope.” If you don’t have to hope for anything better, I suggest you live in acceptance for what is. Practise gratitude for what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t. It’s worth reiterating that hope, although it may save you, will never be what gives you peace.


3 x Quotes:

“Do not pray for an easy life; pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

– Bruce Lee

“Limiting one’s desires actually helps to cure one of fear. ‘Cease to hope … and you will cease to fear.’ … Widely different [as fear and hope] are, the two of them march in unison like a prisoner and the escort he is handcuffed to. Fear keeps pace with hope … both belong to a mind in suspense, to a mind in a state of anxiety through looking into the future. Both are mainly due to projecting our thoughts far ahead of us instead of adapting ourselves to the present.”

― Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Source: Letters from a Stoic)

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

― Maya Angelou (Source: https://drericperry.wordpress.com/2021/01/05/choose-your-attitude-dont-let-it-choose-you/)

2 x Things:

1) This happiness lad podcast: Dump Your Inner Drill Sergeant with Dr Laurie Santos. In this episode, ‘Dr Laurie Santos examines why being a nasty drill sergeant to ourselves is less effective than being a kind coach; and hears from researcher and author Kristin Neff about why developing self-compassion is vital to helping us achieve our new year goals.’ Notes below:

  • Criticising bad behaviour in the past isn’t bad. It fact it’s healthy. But telling yourself you’re a bad person for making a mistake – this is where problems start. You activate the flight fight or freeze response. Except you see yourself as the threat. This serves to protect you by shutting you down. This inhibits your ability to make productive change. 
  • We need to critique ourselves but forgive ourselves. We need to look at what went wrong logically. Think about when a child makes a mistake. How you treat them and try to help and get them to learn. We need to do that for ourselves.
  • Self compassion is linked to higher grit, better relationships, more exercise, better sex… It’s so much better than beating yourself up. It’s not the weak thing to do. It’s the strong thing to do. 
  • There are good ways and bad ways to build self esteem. Telling kids to compare themselves to others. To think they are above average. – This will cause them to always compare themselves. Self esteem then becomes contingent on success. If they fail it deserts them. 
  • Self compassion isn’t dependant on success or failure. We need it when we fail. It’s not denying mistakes but accepting them. Acknowledging that you’re human.
  • Self compassion is about accepting ourselves. Paradoxically we are then more able to make positive change as a result. 
  • Mindfulness is the foundation of self compassion. You allow yourself to feel what you are without judgement. 
  • The more you can give yourself love and compassion the more you can give others the same. Being Self compassionate is not selfish! The more compassion that flows inward the more it flows outward.
  • 3 components of self compassion. 1. Mindfulness. Becoming aware. Validating our pain. 2. Remembering we aren’t alone. Everyone makes mistake. 3. Actively give yourself kindness. 

2) This BBC article: Why You’re More Creative In Coffee Shops. I’ve always felt like I do my best work when I take the time to leave the house and go to a cafe. This research shows why.

“It’s analogous to going to the gym for a workout,” says Sunkee Lee, assistant professor of organisational theory and strategy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business in Pennsylvania. “One of the biggest things about coffee shops is the social-facilitation effect: you go there, you see other people working and it puts you in a mood where you just naturally start working as well. Just observing them can motivate you to work harder.”


1 x Joke:

My son has started making a den behind the curtains in his room at night time.

The other night he asked me to join him inside.

While looking up at the stars he asked, “Daddy, where is the moon?”

I replied, “I think it’s hiding behind the clouds sweetheart. But I’m sure if we listen very carefully we can hear it.”

(Silence)

“Do you hear it?” I said. “Listen, Listen, shhhhhhhh…”

(Silence)

At this point I blew a huge raspberry.

My son laughed hysterically, “haha the moon fart fart!”

I smiled while replying, “Yes it did. The question is, which moon?”

And with that we quickly exited the den…


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

One bonus question to finish:

What is worrying you most today? What can you do about it? What can’t you do about it?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 18/01/21

Tuesday’s Top Tip

For thousands of years we’ve been told we are fallen creatures – outcasts from the garden of Eden. That we are selfish, weak, deeply flawed individuals unworthy of our creator. Taught that our wants and desires are the root cause of all evil. That these are our greatest downfall against which we must make it life’s mission to fight.

What we’ve been taught is to hate ourselves. 

Now I know many people will argue with me about this. And I certainly don’t mean to lay all the blame at religion’s door. I agree that would be far too simplistic an argument.

But the overriding point I want to make is that it terms of being unkind to ourselves, in terms of seeing ourselves as bad for having certain wants and desires – wherever that comes from – it runs deep in our collective psyches. 

And that’s a big fucking problem. 

For starters hating on our own wants and desires is exactly what gives them strength. Did no one ever teach you that you must embrace your demons?

Yeah me neither.

But a bigger problem is that in hating ourselves, despite being (largely) decent people, we fail to stand up to tyranny and oppression when it’s required. Our self loathing shrinks us as individuals. I would argue that it is this, more than anything else, that allows evil to thrive. (It goes hand in hand with people’s inability to say no when they should.)

So what to do about it?

For starters I suggest you stand up tall with your head held high. That you talk to yourself every morning. You give yourself an almighty pep talk. You become clear about who you are and what it is you stand for. Then I suggest you treat yourself with the same level of care and attention you would your own children. I suggest you make the same level of sacrifice for yourself.

Why?

Because you are far more capable than you know. Because you are far stronger than you give yourself credit. Because you are worth it.

But also because you are inextricably connected to everyone else on this planet and treating yourself badly hurts the very people you love. Because hatred thrives if you don’t.

You’ve all heard of the golden rule right? To treat others as you would like to be treated. While I agree it’s particularly pertinent for those who think they are superior to others, for those of you who suffer from crippling self doubt – who think the opposite – I suggest you flip it on it’s head and consider this second golden rule instead.

That is to treat yourself as you would someone you love. To look after yourself like you would your best friend or your spouse or your mother or your child. To value your life just as highly as those around you. To understand that your life is just as important.

Because it is.

Previous Top Tip

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

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

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

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

Let’s begin!

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


4 x Thoughts:

1) Knowledge is power but imagination is freedom.

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

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

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


3 x Quotes:

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

– ALBERT CAMUS

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

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

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

RASHEDUR RYAN RAHMAN


2 x Things:

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

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

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

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

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


1 x Joke:

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


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

One bonus question to finish:

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 11/01/21

The Meaning Of Your Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday Son  

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

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


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

***

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

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

“Trying is the first step to failure.”

– HOMER SIMPSON

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

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

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

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

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

The question then becomes, what’s left?

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

What’s left?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

***

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

24 Invaluable Lessons From 2020

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

– Mark Manson. 

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

– Jordan B. Peterson

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

– Sigmund Freud

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

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

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

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


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

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

Sh*t. Just. Got. Personal.

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

And I said, ok. 

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

And I said, ok. 

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

And I said, ok. 

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

And I said, ok. 

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

And I I said, ok. 

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

And I said, ok. 

You killed millions. You hurt so many more. 

And I still said, ok. 

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

And still, I said, ok. 

But now. 

Now!

Now you permanently close down my local pub! 

Shit. Just. Got. Personal. 

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

“Now it’s my turn mother fucker!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love,

AP2 x