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 🙏)

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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 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. 

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

24 Invaluable Lessons From 2020

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

– Mark Manson. 

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

– Jordan B. Peterson

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

– Sigmund Freud

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

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

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

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


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

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

Sh*t. Just. Got. Personal.

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

And I said, ok. 

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

And I said, ok. 

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

And I said, ok. 

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

And I said, ok. 

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

And I I said, ok. 

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

And I said, ok. 

You killed millions. You hurt so many more. 

And I still said, ok. 

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

And still, I said, ok. 

But now. 

Now!

Now you permanently close down my local pub! 

Shit. Just. Got. Personal. 

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

“Now it’s my turn mother fucker!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love,

AP2 x

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

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

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

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

Let’s begin!


4 x Thoughts From Me:

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

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

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

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


3 x Quotes From Others:

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

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

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


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

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

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


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

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

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

Needless to say this was a bad idea.

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

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

(silence)

I continued,

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


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

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

Till the new year,

Have a very merry Christmas and an infinitely brighter 2021!

Love to all,

AP2 X


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 07/12/20

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

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

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

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

Let’s begin!


4 x Thoughts From Me:

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

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

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

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


3 x Quotes From Others:

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

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

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


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leon Berg

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

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


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

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

One bonus question for you all:

How can you become a better listener?

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 30/11/20

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my Mindset Mondays Post! The only weekly newsletter that provides you with 90% protection from COVID19…

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

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

Let’s begin!


4 x Thoughts From Me:

The problem with regret is that it takes you away from the present moment. Yet that’s exactly where all the opportunities lie to put things right.

We are not the labels we place on ourselves. For example no one is successful. It’s simply something you enjoy for a moment before it‘s gone. Learning to simply be is one of life’s most important skills for this reason. It allows us to see what we truly are.

In a world where people are so afraid of what others think of them, honesty will take you far.

I believe we all instinctively know what is right and when we have failed to live up to our own values. We just need to be brave enough to feel our ‘own’ shame when we’ve fallen short. We need to process it and then move on a better person. But there has to be a willingness from the individual to feel that shame. When that shame is placed on us by society it twists us. So we resist it – we repress it. Individuals ultimately act in accordance with how others do, not in accordance with what they are told. We are a society that loves to say the right thing without doing it. We need be one that does the right thing, with no need to say it.


3 x Quotes From Others:

Free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” C.S. Lewis

“No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself.” – Seneca

“I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.” – Booker T. Washington


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This interesting video: How Trump Has Divided America by cognitive neuroscientist Bobby Azarian who explains why using something called Terror Management Theory. He goes onto explain how we can begin to bring people together using a scientific and spiritual world view called The Cosmic Perspective. It’s well worth a watch!

2 – This fun No Stupid Questions podcast episode: How You Should Ask For Forgiveness with Steven Dubner and Angela Duckworth. Notes below.

  • How to increase gratitude? Write a gratitude letter for someone. It’s deeper than a thank you note. You are thanking someone important in your life for helping you or for being an important role model.
  • Another thing to create greater happiness is to write in a gratitude journal. Both have benefits but the longer term habit of a gratitude journal will have more enduring benefits.
  • How to apologise to someone? If you want it to be accepted you have be sincere. You have to acknowledge your wrong doing. (ie. not saying – I’m sorry you feel that way or I’m sorry you got offended). There needs to be a commitment to improve. From economic perspective it has to be costly for the apologiser. You make a commitment of some kind. If I do this again I will. Or I will do this to make up.
  • The value of an apology is not just to cleanse you conscious or to make the other person feel better. The idea is more to repair and then grow the relationship. From an economic perspective then an apology is a great thing because it creates a future benefit.
  • Why people fail to apologise? 3 main reasons. You have a low concern about the victim of the relationship. You don’t care. You have a perceived threat to your own self image. That you are going to look bad. You have a perception that the apology won’t be effective. You think it’s too late.
  • If you can think of 3 things to be grateful for every day perhaps it is also worth thinking about one thing you can take responsibility for? Have a forgiveness or apology section and add that to your gratitude journal – something to say you’re sorry for and what you are going to do to make amends.

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

Struggling for a good (terrible) joke this week folks so thought I’d leave you with another comic that made me chuckle. Hope you enjoy.


Thanks ladies and gentlemen. Till next time… Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

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

A couple of bonus questions for you all: What is something you can apologise for today? What is something you can forgive?

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays – 16/11/20

Why You Should Do It For Me

For many people, finding the motivation to do something for themselves can be difficult. When the focus is centred entirely on the self, many lose their will.

It’s not enough.

I believe this is especially true for those who struggle with low self-esteem. The little voice inside your head that says you can’t win, wins. And so you don’t.

Fear wins instead.

If this happens to be the case then why not consider doing what you have to for something else?

If you find loving yourself difficult then consider the love you have for others instead.

Use that to motivate you.

Meditate not for your mental health, but for your family. Exercise not for your wellbeing, but for everyone else who will benefit as a result. Eat a wholesome diet not for you, but for the planet and all those who inhabit it.

I’ll make a deal with you.

If you still can’t muster the strength to do what you need for yourself then do it for me.

Let’s help each other by helping ourselves.

Do it for me and I promise to do it for you.

Motivational Mondays – 07/09/20

Hello fine readers and welcome back to my Motivational Mondays Post – The only weekly newsletter to give you a lollipop after forcing you to visit the dentist.

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

As always I’ve finished with 1 something silly to lighten your Monday blues… 

Love to all X


3 x Thoughts From Me:

Courage is acting from a place of love, doing what you know to be right, not in the absence of fear, but because of it.

Understand that while you might love the smell of your own shit, it’s exactly that – shit! The same applies to your thoughts. This is why you must analyse, challenge and deconstruct your beliefs continuously. Just how what you feed yourself determines how much your shit stinks, what you feed your brain determines how good your thinking is. Trust me, your shit can always smell nicer.  (How’s that for an inspirational quote?!!)

There is such a thing as post traumatic growth. Many who have gone through some kind of trauma don’t regret it happened because they believe it has made them stronger. That’s certainly my experience. However this isn’t true in all cases. Often it’s a choice. You can either make up your mind to take responsibility for something that’s not your fault or not. If you play the victim you become the victim. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger if that’s your attitude, otherwise it will make you weaker.


2 x Quotes From Others:

Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.” – Francis Bacon.

“Vision is the bottleneck of talent. Most talent is wasted because people do not clearly know what they want. It’s not a lack of effort, but a lack of direction. There are many capable people in the world, but relatively few that focus on what matters.” – James Clear


1 x Thing That Helped Me Grow

This interesting Intelligence Squared podcast episode with historian Rutger Bregman talking to author and journalist Helen Lewis on Human Kindness in a Frightened World

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • Humankind. A Hopeful History 
  • Religion isn’t about what is true. It’s about something else
  • Nocebo effect. Doctor start talking about possible negative side effects and then you feel them. 
  • What we assume of others people – what we believe of them – is what we get out of them. 
  • If you assume most people are selfish. You will end up with a society that brings out the worst. In its systems and institutions. Racism works this way. I believe we can turn it around. By believing in the best of human nature we can reflect that in our society and politics as well. I want to create a placebo effect for our society not a nocebo effect. 
  • Homo puppy Humans have evolved to be friendly. New fascinating study to come out of biology. Self domestication. We did it to ourselves. What happened? Survival of the friendliest. Turns out the friendliest of us did the best. Had the most kids etc. Had an interesting effect on our biology. We have became more puppy like in appearance. Hence I came up with the term, Homo puppy. 
  • Social psychology- many studies are now being debunked. Idea that normal kind humans put into evil situations will very quickly become savages. Turns out experiments were set up to prove the theory. 50 years later we are learning many of these famous studies simply aren’t accurate. 
  • Interesting how no one asks about a theory for human kindness? People are more interested in explaining the holocaust. People always want a simple explanation. There isn’t one. It was part of a long historical evolution that convinced millions that what they were doing was good. 
  • People were basically brainwashed. That was what was believed. Most people do not do horrible things because they enjoy it. They actually have to overcome strong instincts that go the other way. They simply believe they are right. They are the hero’s in their own stories. It’s very rare that bad guys actually think they are bad. The point is that ideologies take over. Becomes a twisted divine mission.
  • Often friendliness gets in the way of progress. We don’t stand up to racists and bullies etc when we should. 
  • Strange paradoxical situation where left wing parties aren’t having a good time at the moment but left wing radical ideas are. Why? Theory. When you have a radical idea, to move it into mainstream political action eventually you have to compromise. Often on the left you have something called the “narcissism of little details.” The problem with the left is its unwillingness to compromise. It’s not useful if you want to build a broader movement for more people to get behind.
  • On the left it feels likes a competition – who is the most pure – the most correct. Whereas on the right its simply I’d like to be in charge please.
  • What I hope to come out of this crisis is the question – do I want to live somewhere like Germany or NZ or somewhere with a very aggressive capitalist system like America with patchy welfare? It’s hard to look around at the moment and not see what good governance does for you.
  • The answer to cynicism is realism.
  • If you write about the story but don’t include the metta analysis then I think you have failed as a writer.
  • Summary of my book is most people are nice but power corrupts. A lot of powerful psychology backing up this claim – research by Dr. Dacher Keltner who wrote the power paradox shows that people prefer to have nice leaders – but often these nice people become corrupted by power. Powerful people become disconnected. The parts of the brain responsible for empathy stops lighting up.
  • How is it possible we have this survival of the shameless situation? Where people who definitely wouldn’t have survived during the age of hunter gathers can become our leaders. What has gone wrong with our modern political systems? The super viruses of a shame culture. Where being shamed is so prevalent it becomes a super power to be completely shameless.
  • We’re the only animals in the world to blush – to involuntarily give away our feelings. Why? Probably a mechanism designed to establish trust. Maybe political reporters should ask our leaders the question – when was the last time you blushed?
  • Pessimism or optimism? I don’t like either of them – I believe they are both forms of laziness. Biggest danger with optimism is complacency. ‘It will be ok so I don’t need to worry about changing anything myself.’ Biggest danger with pessimism is apathy. ‘The world is doomed so it doesn’t matter either way. Might as well drive my SUV etc.’ Realism is to say we can save the planet but it’s going to mean making radical changes from all of us.


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

I’m struggling for a good story this week so thought I’d leave you with this old Gary Larson Far Side Comic Strip. This is one of my faves…


Till next time…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus questions for you all of you to think about:

Are negative emotions the problem or our intolerance of them?

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POSTS:

Motivational Mondays – 31/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 24/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 17/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 10/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

NOTES FROM MY JOURNAL – AUGUST 2020 – The Question To Ask Before Every Decision, The Only Thing The World Needs From You, How To Overcome To-Do List Anxiety and More…

Hello lovely readers and welcome to my monthly newsletter! Included is a round up of what I’ve written about this past August. To begin with are some thoughts on what has been a difficult month for me personally. I hope that you can draw some inspiration from my words. Love to all X


AUGUST REFLECTIONS:

To be honest with you I’ve been struggling recently.

My spirit has taken a hit after returning to a long-haul roster for first time since January. Having to spend my layovers confined to some very tired looking hotel rooms – including a week at an airport hotel – has been difficult for me.

The joy of getting lost in some of the world’s most exciting cities has always been one of my favourite pastimes. To get out of the hotel room always provided my mind with the outlet it needed to remain sane despite the loss of sleep.

Getting lost in the back streets of Roma, watching the sun set over the Mediterranean Sea from a beach in Tel Aviv, hiring a bike and riding across the golden gate bridge on a beautiful summers day in San Fransisco…

Need I remind myself of how extraordinarily privileged I am to have enjoyed all of these things as part of my job.

Yet, as I sit from my hotel room admiring the city scape over Sydney’s darling harbour, I can’t help but pine for the outdoors. It would be a perfect day to climb the harbour bridge or head down to bondi beach. The world is a forbidden fruit at the moment that makes me want it even more.

I feel I’ve done extremely well to make the most of this year but the truth is it’s beginning to catch up with me. I feel so sad as I sit and write these words. As wonderful an outlet as blogging has been, the human spirit struggles in isolation.

There’s something else that’s been bothering me since returning to work. Something that’s become much more apparent since returning from a long period of regular sleep. That is just how important it has been for my mental health. The body simply isn’t designed to miss a nights sleep, let alone 3 or 4 times a month as is so often the case.

When you start to do the maths it becomes a little scary.

3 to 4 nights of missed sleep per month is roughly equal to 1 year’s worth of sleep lost during the course of 10! A milestone I will reach very soon. At the age of 33, staring down the barrel of doing this for another 30, makes me want to pull the trigger now.

The warning signs are present – both physically and mentally. My body has started to tell me things my heart doesn’t want to hear. Winning the battle against depression and anxiety in my work is one thing, saving my longer term health is another. There is nothing more important than your health.

I already know I can only do this job for a handful more years. Still, I desperately don’t want the last of those years to be like this. I want to leave on my terms – knowing that it was because I chose to leave, not because my health forced me to. I want to leave simply because I know in my heart that it’s the right time to do so, with no regrets. Unfortunately this may well be out of my control. Whether it’s the coronavirus or my health that forces my hand, I have to be prepared to move on. To accept that some things are simply out of my control.

With all that said, today, I still have a job and it’s never been more important to remain grateful for that fact. To remember how my job helps the world keep ticking at a time when it’s all but ground to a halt. To remember that beyond all of this I still love to fly aeroplanes.


WHAT I’VE BEEN WRITING: 

The Only Thing The World Needs From You

An opinion piece about following your dreams while simultaneously telling society to go fuck itself. I think you’ll enjoy this one!

5 Counter-Intuitive Ways To Find Your True Calling

Some follow up advice to the previous post about how one might actually find their true calling in life (whatever the fuck that means).

Why Freedom Demands Responsibility

Some thoughts about freedom and responsibility. From the article:

Freedom demands we choose our responsibilities. The same way that having a life demands we protect it. If you want freedom of choice then you have to choose to take responsibility for your life. If you don’t someone else will choose your responsibilities for you. The danger is they will use that for their own profit and power by forming a narrative you refused to take responsibility for forming yourself. In doing so they will shut your mind from your heart. The moment that happens you’ve lost your freedom.”

5 Simple Tricks For Overcoming To-Do List Anxiety

I had a lot of fun writing this one – dishing out some timeless advice about how to write a to-do list that doesn’t make you want to jump off a building. As I wrote:

“Why exactly does writing out our responsibilities on paper cause some us to run away from them faster than a teenage boy climaxes? After all we know this kind of behaviour doesn’t help us, yet we can’t help ourselves. Sometimes all we want is to tell life to go fuck itself and so we do, even if that means fucking ourselves in the process.

The Question To Ask Yourself Before Every Decision

A more heartfelt piece that explores that question, “Am I doing this because of love or fear?” As I wrote:

“I felt it was such an insightful way of asking yourself why or why not you should do something – whatever that may be – as you go about your day. The more I contemplated it over the following weeks, the more I realised how powerful it was as a guiding force in keeping the values I hold close to my heart, clear in my mind. After all, I believe all our feelings and actions are driven, on a basis level, by one of these two underlying emotions. This question is a great way of bringing to light, exactly which one of these two emotions is driving your actions at any particular moment.”

I Am The Fly

A short but sweet poem to finish the month.

Motivational Mondays

My weekly newsletter designed to rewrite the narrative that Mondays are the most depressing day of the week and to get you in the mood for the week ahead. Following a 4:3:2:1 approach, it contains 4 exceptional thoughts from me (ha), 3 admittedly better quotes from others, and 2 things I’ve been reading and/or listening to in the week that have helped me grow. It finishes with 1 something silly to designed to make you lovely readers smile. The link above was this weeks post. Below are from the rest of the month. Enjoy!

Motivational Mondays – 24/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 17/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 10/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

ALSO…

A couple of milestones this month including my very first blogging award and reaching 200 fine followers!


CLOSING THOUGHTS

That’s everything from me for the wonderful month of August guys and gals. I’d like to finish by thanking all you lovely readers for taking the time to read my pokey little blog. Although it’s not been the best month of the year for me mentally – you have all helped tremendously. You really have given me strength to carry on.

For anyone else who is struggling may I add that it’s perfectly ok if you are. It’s very important to allow yourself to feel sad when you do. We must mourn the past if we are to live freely in the present. To do that you have to show up for your emotions. Ultimately that’s what I believe courage is, showing up for your emotions however they are, however difficult they may be.

If you want to drop me a line in the comments section please do. I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. Please don’t be afraid to speak up. I’m a stupid man but I have a big heart. All I want is to help all of you as you have helped me. Together we are better.

Love to all,

AP2 X

The Ultimate Form Of Taking Responsibility

I read a quote the other day that said, “Enthusiasm is worth 25 IQ points.”

It got me thinking about my attitude towards work in the past. 

It’s easy to see how limiting the story in my head has been when I’ve shown up to work and told myself things like, I’m not going to enjoy this. 

How I dragged my heels when wishing, I didn’t have to fly with that particular captain. 

How I made everything so much harder than it needed to be because the narrative I repeated was so heavily rooted in what was happening to me

How I had to fly through the night again. 

How I had to fly with the difficult captain. 

How I got the crappy rest…

What happens when you complain about having to do something?

You suffer twice.

Once in imagination and then again when you have do it.

What’s the tendency of someone who complains about something beforehand?

They point the finger and blame others. 

This makes things worse because it puts yourself in a position of not wanting to learn. It closes your mind. It puts you in a fixed mindset.

One golden rule for life that forces you to take responsibility:

GIVE UP BLAMING AND GIVE UP COMPLAINING!

(FYI constructive criticism isn’t the same as complaining. One offers a solution the other is simply a judgment.)

Easier said than done of course…

So what if we looked at this from the angle of adopting an attitude rather than giving one up?

What if, instead of trying to give up blaming and complaining, we said to ourselves, this week I’m going to show up with as much enthusiasm as I can muster?

Instead of trying to catch yourself out for being negative, instead of beating yourself up for acting like a child, you simply set the intention to go about whatever it is you have to do (whether that’s work, doing taxes or washing the dishes) with an attitude of ‘fuck yes.’

After all, if it’s something you have to do, why wouldn’t you make the most of it? Why wouldn’t you try to see how much you can squeeze from that bastard lemon!

Let me go back to the quote I mentioned at the beginning.

Enthusiasm is worth 25 IQ points. 

Of course the idea of gaining 25 IQ points, which is a lot, isn’t meant to taken literally, but it gets the point across succinctly.

If you show up with enthusiasm. If you turn a reluctant yes into a fuck yes the benefits can’t be understated.

Just this week I had a simulator that signed on at 11pm and finished at 3am followed by a flight that signed on at 6am just two days later. Not exactly the roster I would have chosen for myself but you know what – I didn’t let myself complain about it – I just got on with it.

In fact I told myself I was gonna be the keenest motherfucker on the flight deck.

I reminded myself of my loving motives for doing what I do – that I was there to help others and to be part of something bigger than me.

I reminded myself that enthusiasm is worth 25 IQ points.

How do you think I performed?

I can tell you I’ve done much worse.

I’m sure you can relate.

Think about a time when you’ve arrived somewhere you really wanted to be – in which you really wanted to learn something.

How did it go?

I’m guessing pretty fucking well.

Conversely remember those times when you wanted to be somewhere else – when you simply wanted to be at home although you couldn’t.

Did that attitude help?

I’m guessing not.

We don’t alway get to do what we want to or, indeed, choose what life has in store for us. But if we make out that these things are what we wanted. That the struggle we find ourself in is what was meant for us, so we can learn and grow into the resilient mother fucker we were meant to be. Well, I suspect that such an attitude might just be the ultimate form of taking responsibility for your life.


SOURCES:

The quote is from Kevin Kelly‘s viral post ‘68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice‘ that he wrote on his 68th birthday. Can highly recommend reading!

NOTES FROM MY JOURNAL – MAY 2020 – On Dealing With Depression, A Tribute To A Boy I Never Knew, How To Cultivate A Growth Mindset and More…

Hello fine readers and welcome to my monthly newsletter! 

Included is a round up of what I’ve been writing and reading, plus a collection of thoughts from yours truly.

I hope you enjoy!


WHAT I’VE BEEN WRITING:

How A Fixed Mindset Led To Years Of Depression And How A Growth Mindset Set Me Free.

A personal post that looks back at some of my difficulties dealing with depression and anxiety – specifically about how they could be attributed to having had a fixed mindset. I go on to explain how a growth mindset helped to change my life. I wrote this following my reading of Carol S. Dweck‘s brilliant book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Through her research Dweck demonstrates just how limiting a fixed mindset can be in stalling motivation and progress, especially following failure or when facing challenges. Conversely she demonstrates that those with a growth mindset see failure not as a confirmation of being unable or unintelligent, but as something from which they can learn and improve. (Highly highly recommended reading).

In Honour Of A Boy I Never Knew

Another personal post I wrote shortly after hearing some extremely tragic news about a young boy who committed suicide close to where we live. As I wrote:

‘Living with a depression that drives people to take their own lives is something very few of us will ever be able to fully comprehend. What I can say with some degree of certainty, however, is judgement won’t help those in the battle to save their own lives. They need our love, compassion and understanding. They need our help.’

At the bottom of the post I left links to a number of mental health support lines and websites.

9 Golden Rules For Cultivating A Growth Mindset

Following on from the above post: How A Fixed Mindset Led To Years Of Depression And How A Growth Mindset Set Me Free, I decided to put together this list of 9 Golden Rules for Cultivating a Growth Mindset, that I compiled from my notes of Carol S. Dweck‘s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Why A Basic Understanding Of The Mind Helps To Let Go

A short post on some thoughts about why a basic understanding of how the mind works can help to let go of difficult thoughts (or any thought for that matter).

Happy Silly Mondays

A new weekly newsletter I’ve started putting together in an attempt to rewrite the narrative that Mondays are the most depressing day of the week. It contains 3 thoughts from me, 3 quotes from others and 3 things I’ve been reading, watching and/or listening to during the week. It finishes with something silly to hopefully make you lovely readers smile. 

Happy Silly Mondays – 25/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 18/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 11/05/20


WHAT I’VE BEEN READING:

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury

Great book that dishes out indispensable parenting advice on dealing with difficult toddler behaviours while fostering a respectful relationship at the same time. It argues that respectful, calm and confident parenting that acknowledges and accepts children’s emotions and experiences, empowers them to come to terms with own development.

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace is Every Step is a beautifully written book on the power of living mindfully, being fully engaged with the present moment. Whether sitting at traffic lights, eating, sitting, or washing the dishes, Nhat Hanh demonstrates that peace and happiness is available to us at any time. He provides exercises to increase our awareness of our own body and mind through conscious breathing, which can bring immediate joy and peace. It’s the second time I’ve read this book. I’m currently in the process of turning my notes into the subject of a future favourite toilet book post. Stay tuned!


RANDOM THOUGHTS FROM MY JOURNAL:

Every moment is an opportunity to put yourself back on track. Every moment! This is an amazing thing to think about when you start to notice yourself drifting from the present. Simply take a breath and then smile as you exhale. Coming back to the present is coming back to life.

Strength of character is simply the ability to remain true to yourself when things are going against you.

The most important resource that you’re giving away and that gets stolen from you every day = attention. 

Success isn’t achieving something. Success is enjoying achieving something. Win or lose. Success is about enjoyment. Not money. Not titles. Not prestige. Not being right. Not fame. It’s enjoyment. It’s loving what you’re doing. If you truly do, the other stuff won’t matter. 

Seeing your reality as it really is, is a skill you have to practise. 

Having a routine = A commitment to improvement everyday.

Praise is the enemy of progress if handed out thoughtlessly. Praise should be earned through hard work. Not because someone is naturally good at something. That will prevent them for working towards greatness.

Often our feelings – especially those based on insecurity – want nothing more than to simply be acknowledged.

In not addressing our own suffering we cause it in others

You can never be perfect but you can always be better

If you live in the present moment you realise the problem you have in your head is either something you can do about or it’s something you can’t. In either case continuing to worry about it achieves nothing. Act or let go. 

Don’t make the mistake in thinking what others want from you is what you want to give. 

You might never change someone’s mind on the spot, but by having the conversation you can, at least, plant the seed. It often takes a long time for a seed to sprout let alone blossom. Keep having the conversation

I would argue that the single biggest problem in the world has nothing to do with politics or religion, the environment or disease. I would ascertain that the single biggest problem we have, a problem we need to solve if we are to overcome all the other ones, is one of the mind. Specifically the dangerous condition we have to fix our beliefs. 

The best thing you can do to honour life is pay attention to it 

If you keep increasing demands on yourself you’re going to stall. You need to find the optimum amount of lift in your life without adding too much weight.