Thursday’s Top Tip

“How much more harmful are the consequences of anger and grief then the circumstances that aroused them in us!”

— MARCUS AURELIUS (MEDITATIONS)

The simplest, most common sense piece of wisdom that the vast majority of people fuck up on a daily basis is this: Don’t make shit worse than it already is.

For example, imagine that a global pandemic ravages the world turning life as we know it on its head (oh wait). Now imagine how much harder it would be if you spent your entire time wishing it hadn’t happened (ah shit). Wishing for a different reality (yep, fucked that one up). 

Or imagine that you’ve lost your job. Now imagine how much harder it would be if you spent your time blaming your employer for what happened. Pissing all your savings down the drain in anger. Instead of knuckling under and coming up with a plan. Instead of first accepting the hand you’ve been dealt and then putting in the hard yards so you come out the other side stronger.

It sounds simple, not making shit worse than it already is. However not making shit worse is about having the discipline to face your current reality as it stands. Having the discipline to first accept it.

This is why so many people fuck up this simple common sense piece of wisdom. They don’t practise acceptance (which is hard). They don’t first come to terms with what’s happened. Instead of pausing to have a think – instead of then making a measured response – they react rashly, caving in to impulsivity instead.

In aviation we have a saying: ‘When shit hits the fan, first sit on your hands.’ That’s not to say you should do nothing, but that you should do nothing initially. First sit on your hands and have a think so you don’t do anything stupid (like shutting down the wrong engine when you have an engine failure). To make sure you’re clear about what is happening and what your options are (Like Sully who realised they wouldn’t be able to make the runway if he turned back to LaGuardia or headed toward Teterboro).

There’s something else we use in aviation to help us think clearly when faced with any non normal scenario. I believe it works just as well in everyday life. It’s called the CLEAR model. (If you’re interested I wrote all about it here.) It stands for the following:

C – Clarify what the problem is. (Global pandemic has left me unemployed.)
L – Look for information and ideas. (Search for a new job or do an online course to gain new skills.)
E – Evaluate your options. (Apply for jobs or learn a new skill or binge watch NETFLIX.)
A – Act on your decision. (Binge watch NETFLIX.)
R – Review how it is working. (Enjoying NETFLIX. Will continue to watch NETFLIX until I hate myself then reluctantly look for a new job.)

I believe this is a useful model that helps you first sit on your hands and then gain some much needed clarity before making a decision. Because that’s what you need to do. First accept what has happened and then become clear about your options.

Hopefully this model can help you do that today.

Previous Top Tip

3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that doesn’t completely hate itself…

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 thing I’ve been reading, watching or listening to this week that has helped me grow.

As a bonus 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.)


3 x Thoughts:

1) One needs to accept life as it stands today. Radically. In all of its fucked-up glory. And then act in whatever capacity one can to better his or her circumstances. But even that shouldn’t come at the expense of appreciating what one currently has. As a rule for life, I suggest you practice gratitude long before you start hoping in the morning.

2) Maybe we should imagine losing our loved ones in a car accident tomorrow? Maybe we should take the time to imagine losing everything we hold dear? Maybe imagining the worst is exactly what brings what’s right in front of us, sharply into focus? Maybe meditating on our mortality, our own inevitable demise is exactly what gives us freedom in the present? Maybe it’s doing this which reminds us how good we actually have it right now? Maybe we will find more joy in everyday life by embracing these difficult emotions rather than chasing after a bigger pay check or slimmer waistline? What do you think?

3) The next time you get angry at your racist grandfather – or any elderly person who appears to be stuck in his or her ways – consider the possibility that their contempt has less to do with what they believe than it does their inability to come to terms with their own mortality. This knowledge might just give you the strength to return love for hate.


2 x Quotes:

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.

Mark Twain

Even if you’re going to live three thousand more years, or ten times that, remember: you cannot lose another life than the one you’re living now, or live another one than the one you’re losing. The longest amounts to the same as the shortest. The present is the same for everyone; its loss is the same for everyone; and it should be clear that a brief instant is all that is lost. For you can’t lose either the past or the future; how could you lose what you don’t have?”

— Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)

1 x Thing:

1) This Psychology Today article: Why We Fear Death and How to Overcome It. As the title suggest this article explores some surprising reasons behind why it is some of us fear death (and why others don’t). It also outlines 4 ways (listed below) to overcome your own fear of mortality.

  1. Help to nurture and raise younger generations: “The term “generativity” refers to a concern for younger people and a desire to nurture and guide them. When older people have a greater sense of generativity, they tend to also look back on their life without regret or anguish. This, understandably, leads to having less fear of death.”
  2. Talk about it: It turns out that avoidance (surprise surprise) causes it to loom larger in our minds. Like all fears its best to bring them into the light. Don’t avoid the topic – talk about. Imagine it. Prepare for its inevitably.
  3. Have a (simulated) out of body or near death experience: Perhaps seeking out a near death experience isn’t the greatest advice but trying to have an out of body experience (via deep meditation for example) can yield similar results. The idea is that it gives us the sense that we live on even when separated from out bodies.
  4. Cultivate greater meaning in your life: Studies show that those who feel they are living a meaningful life are less afraid of death. I suggest you start by defining your values and then looking to see how you can better build your life around them.

1 x Joke:

Struggling for a good joke this week so thought I’d leave you with another far side comic. Hope you enjoy!


Thanks ladies and gentlemen. I’m here all week As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. Please let us know below.

One bonus question to ponder:

Is it death that you fear, or not having lived in the first place?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 15/02/21

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

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

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

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

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

Let’s begin!

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


4 x Thoughts:

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

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

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

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


3 x Quotes:

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

– BRENE BROWN

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

– ROGER SCRUTON

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

– BRENE BROWN

2 x Things:

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

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

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


1 x Joke:

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

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

“A turd?” I replied.

“But we’ve already done a number 2!”

(I’m sorry)


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

One bonus question to finish:

What activities make you feel recharged?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 04/01/21

The Hopeless Nature Of Hoping

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

– Vietnam War. Admiral James Stockdale 

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

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

It’s as simple as that. 

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

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

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

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

Stop hoping for something different. 

Either Act Or Accept.

These are far better choices than hoping.

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

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

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

Do you know what else achieves the same? 

Taking drugs. Drinking alcohol. Binge watching NETFLIX. 

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

What has hope really done for you?

It’s another form of avoidance, of distraction. 

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

Is hope going to get us out of this mess?

No.

Fuck hope. 

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

Fuck hope. 

Hope is an excuse not to do what you can.

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

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

Fuck hope. 

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

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

Act or Accept. 

Those are your choices.

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

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

Hopelessness is being overly pessimistic.

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

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

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

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

Will this message inspire you in some way?

Who knows.

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

Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.

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


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

***

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

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

The Shameless Nature Of Pride

As the dust settles on the US election my feeling is not jubilation. I’m not happy that 70 million people still find Trump an acceptable leader. I’m not happy that a man whose flagrant disregard for the safety of his fellow Americans has cost hundreds of thousands their lives. I’m not happy that in death, the Trump campaign still has the audacity to attack the freedoms that millions have died for. I knew it was coming, but it still hurts. It hurts enormously.

I broke down and cried when Biden won. A cocktail of difficult emotions coming to a head following weeks of anxiety, depression, anger, shame, hatred… I’ve felt them all this year but not as acutely as I had in the 2 weeks preceding. In the end it was too much. 

The question I have is where do we go from here? Biden is a gift during a year that’s been desperately short of them, but it doesn’t detract from my feeling that we are nowhere near where we need to be. We cannot continue on our path of wilful ignorance. We cannot continue to turn our attention away from one another or from the marginalised of society. We cannot continue to let our fear get in the way of doing what is right. We must bring greater integrity back into our lives. We must live for our values, not our pride

We must also start finding common ground and working together. For me that common ground has to be the freedoms for which democracy stands. However we have a massive problem if we can’t agree on what reality is anymore. Perhaps this is the larger consequence of our vote 4 years ago? Where we have become so desensitised to lying that we are willing to accept it as fact. Where we are willing to believe whatever we want because it’s easier or because it’s more interesting – because the “facts” exist to support any cockamamy conspiracy theory out there. 

We’re clearly addicted to the drama. It feels like we want life to one big conspiracy. In the process we have isolated ourselves from our own reality. In much the same way we refuse to accept the parts of ourselves we dislike, we have pushed the other side away. But in doing so we have only given them strength. We have only deepened the divide. Eventually we will reach a breaking point where we can no longer avoid the other side – those parts of ourselves. In that moment we have choice. We can let pride seal our hearts or let shame break down our egos. 

As I write this tears are rolling down my face. I look at my 2-year-old boy and my wife who is pregnant with our second. I think about what I want my children to understand as they grow up. I desperately want them to understand that decency and character matter. That the truth and honesty matter. That morals and integrity matter. That responsibility matters. But I also want them to understand just how much forgiveness matters. This is where I have been failing. 

The truth is I find it difficult to forgive those who still support Trump. And I get it. I understand why it’s the right thing to do. However it’s far easier to say the right thing than to do it. And let’s be honest, would you be able to forgive those who voted for Trump had he actually won? If you’re a Trump supporter do you forgive me? It’s much easier to forgive someone when you don’t have to sacrifice your pride. I recall that I wasn’t in a very forgiving mood four years ago. Maybe this is why so many of us refuse to accept the outcome? Not because we can’t accept reality but because we can’t forgive? It occurs to me that pride holds way more value in our society than honesty. It also occurs to me that I must swallow mine if I’m to forgive those I disagree. So let me do it. Let me say how truly sorry I am. Let me admit my shame publicly. 

4 years ago I didn’t vote. I’m not talking about the US election. I’m not American FYI. I’m talking about the Brexit referendum in the UK. I didn’t pay attention living here in Hong Kong. I naively assumed we would never leave the EU. I assumed I didn’t need to go through the trouble of voting. Then I watched in disbelief as we voted to leave. And then, as if to teach me the cruelest kind of lesson, I watched on as the rest of the world seemed to follow. A series of backwards political movements that followed me home, culminating in the loss of autonomy here in Hong Kong. A loss that has meant a genuine fear of what I can say publicly. A fear that now has me writing under a pseudonym. And now I watch on in horror as the very legitimacy of voting comes under attack in what might be one of most treacherous acts from a sitting president in the history of American democracy. All for the sake of fucking pride.

And it is pride that Trump has successfully used against me. He understood that pride can be used to stoke the fires of rage and hatred in my heart. In all our hearts. And he has. He’s made me angrier than any other politician, or indeed few other people, ever have. I believe this is the main reason I cried when I found out Biden won. There was a part of me that needed to be broken down. There still is. That needs to mourn the passing of a previous self. The part that thinks it’s somehow better than others. The part of me who is unwilling to forgive those for the same mistakes I’ve made in my own past. For being human. So for my arrogance, for my wilful ignorance, for ignoring the other side, for avoiding the difficult conversations and for my pride, I am deeply sorry. I will do better.

Let me finish by telling you about the shame I’ve felt since that period in my life 4 years ago. What I’ve learnt from it and why I’m owning it now. Shame is demonised in our society yet pride is glorified. I call bullshit. Pride is a means of avoiding shame. Often the very shame we need to feel in order to change – to become a better person. Shame isn’t the bugbear that everyone makes out. Of course you shouldn’t cling to it. You need to forgive yourself, but I believe you do need to feel it. You need to process it. Shame allowed me to really see the error of my ways. It allowed me to see why I must never take my freedom for granted ever again. Why I must protect it for my children. Shame has undeniably made me a better person. 

Of course I understand that pride has its place and that shame for the wrong reasons is very damaging, but if you asked me to swallow one and accept the other – if pride came in form of a red pill and shame in the form of a blue one (you’ll have to excuse my choice of colours) – I would swallow my pride. I would choose to feel shame. It’s by far the harder choice. It’s not hopeful or inspiring like pride is. It’s difficult. It’s brutal in fact, but it hurts because it’s meant to. That’s what makes you change. That’s what makes you a better person. Right now, if you care about freedom and democracy, at the very least, I believe you need to swallow the red pill as well. 

Thanks for reading everyone. I might have given you a bit too much to chew on there! I also appreciate many of you might have had your fill of politics recently… Still I’m curious to get your thoughts on the relationship between pride and shame. Do we use pride as a shield – as a way of avoiding shame? As a means to avoid reality even? What do you think? As always I welcome ALL opinions and thoughts. And please don’t worry – all is forgiven.

***

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

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my Mindset Mondays Post! The only weekly newsletter that claims election fraud to save face…

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:

Emotion is a writer’s best friend. 

You’ve all heard the saying that what you resist you give strength. Sage advice. What I would add though is what you resist you give strength – unless you seek to destroy it altogether. When people seek to destroy what they dislike we enter a very dangerous situation. I’ll use emotions as a perfect example. If you resist emotions you dislike you give them strength. What meditation and therapy seek to do, among other things, is accept them for what they are at any one time. This isn’t easy but it’s undeniably the right approach. The other way to deal with them is destroy them. Numb through the use of drugs or other addictions. This will end up hurting you much more. 

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. 

Perhaps the biggest mental block people have is acceptance. They can’t accept who they are right now. They can’t accept that they suffer from depression or anxiety. They cant accept they are flawed. People will argue it’s this that pushes them forward. That this is what drives them to become better. That it’s important we don’t accept ourselves as we are right now. I couldn’t disagree more. When you accept yourself for who you are right now you are still aware that you can become something more. That you can be better. You still understand the benefits of becoming. The difference is you don’t attribute a threat level survival response to your actions. You don’t feel you have to do anything (because you don’t have to do anything). You do it simply because you want to. Because you want to become better. Because you want to help others. You end up enjoying the process without any worry of failure because you’re coming from a place of acceptance. This is a far healthier place from which to act. 


3 x Quotes From Others:

“A healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice your friends, your dreams, or your dignity.” Dinkar Kalotra (Source: https://mindfulnessbits.wordpress.com/2020/11/09/its-your-job-to-make-me-happy/)

You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or who says it.” – Malcolm X (Source: https://www.forbes.com/quotes/6438/)

“We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs … and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.” –  Audre Lorde (Source: https://jamesclear.com/3-2-1/refer?rh_ref=36174ee4)


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This inspiring Ted Talk How we can face the future without fear, together with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. ‘It’s a fateful moment in history. We’ve seen divisive elections, divided societies and the growth of extremism — all fueled by anxiety and uncertainty. “Is there something we can do, each of us, to be able to face the future without fear?” asks Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. In this electrifying talk, the spiritual leader gives us three specific ways we can move from the politics of “me” to the politics of “all of us, together.’ I highly recommend taking the 10 mins or so to give this speech a watch. I guarantee it will move you. You can find my favourite quote from the speech below.

“When we move from the politics of me to the politics of all of us together, we rediscover those beautiful, counterintuitive truths: that a nation is strong when it cares for the weak, that it becomes rich when it cares for the poor, it becomes invulnerable when it cares about the vulnerable. That is what makes great nations.”

2 – This fascinating BBC article: Lockdown has affected your memory – here’s why. The article explains the science behind why living in isolation may be harming our memories and what you can do about it. Well worth the quick read.


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 Far Side 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! 

One bonus question for you all: What is worrying you and what can you do it about? What can’t you do about it?

(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 – 09/11/20

Is Science Not The Word Of God?

I‘m not going to sit here and tell you that science disproves God because it doesn’t. It’s just that it has nothing to point toward. Nothing to measure. Nothing to say equivocally one way or another about its existence. What it does tell us is that the earth definitely wasn’t made in 7 days. What it does disprove is the word of humans in the name of God.

So many people seem to forget that the bible was written by humans, not god. Word – the English language, any language for that matter – that’s humankind’s invention. So why not accept we got a lot of it wrong given it was written 2000 plus years ago by humankind in the name of God, but not by God itself?

The way I see it you can hardly sit at home while staring at your smart phone or flat screen television and tell me that science is wrong. The last I checked there wasn’t a blueprint in the bible about how the combustion engine works, how aeroplanes fly or how your iPhone or television are built. Science gave us these things. Humankind has been able to create these things because of what science has taught us. Of course science isn’t always right but it’s the first to admit when it’s not.

One of the big problems we have today – what I believe to be one of its major failures – is religion’s resistance to what science has to tell us. If it opened its mind to what science has to say and accepted that, as a consequence, it disproves a huge amount of scripture but not, crucially, the existence of a grand creator, I believe religions could go further in keeping people part of their respective faiths in the years to come. I also believe this would be mutually beneficial to both science and the world at large, convincing millions of the need to take what science has to say much more seriously.

Softening its stance toward science would also help shine a light for those who detest religion about why many of its moral principle’s are worth considering. Why a moral code is both important for living a meaningful life and for pursuing science within.

I might add that I believe it would help teach many about the dire need to question one’s own beliefs – to not take everything written in a book (and especially the Internet) as absolute. In my opinion religious fanaticism (or any form of extremism) is born from such rigidity. And I will say, in defence of religion, that the popular and pervasive Western notion that religion is the cause of all our problems (or wars) is one I strongly disagree with. As I see it extremism has nothing to do with a belief in God but a lack of questioning one’s beliefs (of questioning one’s own ego). People end up killing others not because they believe in God but because their egos can’t stand the thought of being wrong. Rigidity of belief is a bigger issue than any belief in and of itself.

Anyway why is it that so many religions view science as a threat? If religion is part of the same human desire to understand the world and our place within it, (which I believe it is), then why wouldn’t it take an active interest in what science has to say? Science is, after all, simply, “the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experimentation.” If you believe in God, are you not interested in understanding the world and the laws by which it created it? Is this not also a more accurate interpretation of what God actually has to say? I mean why not listen to the word of God in the form of far less disputable science, rather than the extremely disputable word of man? Logically speaking this makes far more sense does it not? 

And hey let’s!

Let’s look at what science currently has to say and what it currently fails to explain. As Amir D. Aczel points out in his fascinating essay – Why Science Does Not Disprove God“Science is an amazing, wonderful undertaking: it teaches us about life, the world and the universe. But it has not revealed to us why the universe came into existence nor what preceded its birth in the Big Bang. Biological evolution has not brought us the slightest understanding of how the first living organisms emerged from inanimate matter on this planet and how the advanced eukaryotic cells — the highly structured building blocks of advanced life forms — ever emerged from simpler organisms. Neither does it explain one of the greatest mysteries of science: how did consciousness arise in living things?” 

But get this! 

“Much more important than these conundrums is the persistent question of the fine-tuning of the parameters of the universe: Why is our universe so precisely tailor-made for the emergence of life?… How was all of this possible without some latent outside power to orchestrate the precise dance of elementary particles required for the creation of all the essentials of life? The great British mathematician Roger Penrose has calculated — based on only one of the hundreds of parameters of the physical universe — that the probability of the emergence of a life-giving cosmos was 1 divided by 10, raised to the power 10, and again raised to the power of 123. This is a number as close to zero as anyone has ever imagined. (The probability is much, much smaller than that of winning the Mega Millions jackpot for more days than the universe has been in existence.)” 

He goes onto state, “The incredible fine-tuning of the universe presents the most powerful argument for the existence of an immanent creative entity we may well call God. Lacking convincing scientific evidence to the contrary, such a power may be necessary to force all the parameters we need for our existence—cosmological, physical, chemical, biological and cognitive—to be what they are.” 

Now at this point I could counter with an argument about the possible existence of a multiverse – an infinite number of universes each with its own set of parameters making the existence one just like ours not only likely, but inevitable. And while that might solve Penrose’s particular math problem, it still fails to answer a number of other important questions including why it is that anything exists at all?

Anyway, without going down that particular rabbit hole, the major point I want to make is not a question of whether God exists or what it all means, but that such arguments are irresolvable. We will never know and, perhaps, can never even hope to. It’s for this reason I ask you open your mind to the possibility that you’re wrong, which ever side of the fence you happen to be. To show one another a great deal more respect as a result. Because whether you’re an atheist or a theist the fact is, we are ALL agnostics. 

I’ll close by saying one more thing.

We all live in a society where both science and religion will always play massive roles. For me a far more important question is how do we bring them closer together? How do we allow for a deep respect for both to exist independently? And while I would never tell someone they must believe in God (or not), I strongly believe we all need to give what science has to say a great deal more respect.

With that in mind, let’s take the premise that science is, in fact, the word of God (or the closest thing to it). If you do, then one must also conclude what God is telling us right now. That is, although I gave you the miraculous and highly, highly improbable conditions for the existence of life, I did so on a knife-edge and now, because of global warming, you are playing with the very fires of my creation.

Are you sure you want to keep ignoring what God is trying to tell you? 


(Thanks for reading once again everyone. I appreciate that the above is an extremely complicated and thorny subject but I am genuinely interested in your thoughts. I won’t judge you whatever it is you believe. I’m simply interested in the dialogue. Wishing you all the very best, AP2 🙏 )

SOURCES:

Mindset Mondays – 19/10/20

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

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

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

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts From Me:

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

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

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


2 x Quotes From Others:

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

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


1 x Thing That Has Helped Me Grow

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

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

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

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


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

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

One bonus question for you all:

How can you add flexibility to your routine?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mental Mondays – 12/10/20