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

6 Lessons From 362 Days Of Meditation

Can you believe it?

3 days short of a year!

I’d meditated every day for the past 362 days until yesterday when, quite simply, I forgot… I only realised I’d missed a day when my headspace app told me this morning that my current run streak was back to 1! 

F**********ck! (I say that mindfully of course)

I was so excited about reaching the 365 milestone too! I had big plans to write the world’s most incredible blog post about it. Explaining with much enthusiasm how I’ve become a fully enlightened Buddhist Monk. Basically a pot bellied version of Yoda who meditates with several beer cans floating around his head.

I was going to say how my mind was so strong, if you could see it, it would have a rippling 6 pack! Instead, I’ll have to settle for the 6 pack of beer that’s crashed to floor in order to overcome this gut-retching failure…

Alas, the amazing feat of having meditated consistently for 365 days straight will have to wait for, well, another 365 days…

Till then perhaps you’d like to hear what 362 days taught me instead…


1. It Doesn’t Matter If You Forget

“Don’t cry over spilt milk.”

– Old Proverb 

Do you want to know how I actually reacted this morning? To nearly reach this goal – to have come so far only to fall at the final hurdle? 

The moment I realised, I wasn’t in slightest bit bothered. I thought I would feel gutted but the truth is I smiled. Actually I laughed! A year ago it would have bothered me to fall short like that. I would have taken the failure to mean I was one. It would have hurt. I’m sure of it. This morning though, I simply laughed and got on with my day. 

That was my honest to god reaction! 

The truth is, I saw something beautifully poetic about failing to reach this milestone. I saw something even more beautiful about the fact that the reason I failed was because I forgot. Why? Because it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. 365 is just a number. 362 is another. The truth is I’m just as proud. 365 days was just something to shoot for. Which I will again!

Getting up this morning and meditating as if nothing had happened is exactly how I should’ve reacted regardless of having forgotten to mediate the day before. Regardless as to whether I had made 365 days or only 3.

If you fall off the horse get back on it. There’s no point moaning on the floor, or crying over the fact you landed in a pile of shit. Life is about getting back up. Life is about cleaning the shit you will inevitably find yourself covered in at some point (both figuratively and literally). The one missed workout or meditation doesn’t matter. If one day becomes a week, one week then becomes a month, well then, maybe it does. But it’s never one failure that defines us, it’s when you let that one failure become several.

The point is all that really matters when you fall down is that you get back up!

2. Having A Regular Practise Is Key

“Commitment to action creates a pathway in the brain to greater mindfulness, awareness & aliveness.”

– Shamash Alidina (Mindfulness for dummies)

Like anything, if you’re series about becoming a long term practitioner, you need to make it a habit. No one forgets to brush their teeth in the morning. In my eyes, meditation shouldn’t be any different. Your mental health is the most important thing in the world – you need to give it the time and attention it deserves. Whether you show up and do just 1 minute or an hour, what matters is that you show up. 

I would add the point of a formal meditation practise has nothing to do with finding calm during the practise. What it does is increase the amount of time you remember to practise mindfulness informally throughout the day. As any buddhist monk will tell you there is no difference between mindfulness and meditation given that meditation is the practise of mindfulness. Mindfulness is meant to be a way of life. That’s why making it a habit is so important. The longer term goal (as no Buddhist monk would ever tell you) is to make mindfulness habitual.

3. You Need To Treat It Like A Sacred Act

“The beauty of an action comes not from its having become a habit but from its sensitivity, consciousness, clarity of perception, and accuracy of response.”

– sj Anthony De Mello (AWAReness)

There were many days this past year I simply showed and went through the motions. I set my meditation timer and then spent 20 minutes mindlessly wandering about trivial bullshit, no more zen than when I had started. I quickly realised that a regular meditation practise is great, but not if you’re simply going about it to tick a box. You’re not helping yourself.

You need to take it seriously – no distractions (put your phone in a draw or put it in aeroplane mode if using an app) – Go somewhere quiet and sit up straight! That last one is important. I tired all positions – lying meditations are good for body scans – relaxing and helping you to fall asleep but not for focus. For this reason I recommend that your morning practise be done sitting up straight to help you adopt an attitude of unconditional confidence.

One other tip I’d add –set an intention before your practise. The nature of intention influences the quality of the practise. Ask yourself what your intention is before every meditation. Some examples might include the intention to be present. To be at peace with what ever it is you’re feeling. To accept whatever arises – to embrace and really allow yourself to feel what it is you end up feeling. To remain open minded and curious about what certain emotions look and feel like. To be compassionate. To be grateful.

Setting the intention of examining recurring thoughts with compassion, curiosity and acceptance. You can then bring that intention with you as you go about your day. Use it as an anchor to bring you back to present and to remind yourself of the qualities you want to engender.

For me being present with feelings of anxiety – something I’ve struggled with for a long time – has proved extremely useful. To set the intention to be at peace with anxiety, to welcome those feelings into my heart and to remain curious and question, whenever they arise, what might have triggered them.

4. Practising Informally Throughout The Day Is Most Effective

“The sacred pause helps us reconnect with the present moment. Especially when we are caught up in striving and obsessing and leaning into the future, pausing enables us to reenter the mystery and vitality only found here and now.”

– TARA BRACH (Radical acceptacne)

Although I think it’s important to have a regular practise, this shouldn’t be the only time you take for yourself during the day. Meditation doesn’t always have to be scheduled. Sometimes you just need to spend a moment by yourself. Remember meditation is not meant to be about ticking a box like completing a workout or a task! It is a tool to help you as and when you really need it. ‘Meditation is gym for the mind’ and trust me, it needs to get its fat ass in the gym as often as possible!

Taking a time out, particularly when feeling burnout or overwhelmed, is important! If you start to feel stress or other negative emotions/feelings building in your body don’t resist or react to them. Respond to them. It’s a message! The same way something hot causes you to move away – don’t think too much about it – simply accept and respond in a way you know will help with passage of that state. Go for a walk, get some exercise, take a break, play, laugh, talk to someone close, meditate or simply breathe… If you want some more ideas to help cultivate greater mindfulness throughout the day check out this post – 5 Mindfulness Hacks For Beginners.

5. Meditation Is A Practice Of Compassion, Curiosity And Acceptance

“Mindfulness means paying attention on purpose in the present moment, with qualities of compassion, curiosity and acceptance”

– Shamash Alidina (MINDFULNESS FOR DUMMIES)

Many people mistakenly think that mindfulness is simply about presence of mind, however that’s only one part of the puzzle. It’s equally important to bring qualities such as compassion and curiosity to the practise of being present. To ask deeper questions – especially of any recurring thoughts you have. By doing this I believe you can uncover insight and from insight genuine change can take place.

It’s important to remember that a desire for change – although this might be why we take up the practise in the first place – is paradoxically a buffer to it. As Carl Rogers once said, “the curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” If acting from desire alone you won’t achieve the results your’e hoping for. You must start with complete acceptance of your condition as it is right now. That means not having a desire for it to change.

Ultimately the aim is to accept the thoughts and feelings you are having and acknowledge them instead of trying to resist or fight those feelings. Mindfulness is an art in acceptance, which if you think deeply enough about it, is what life is – one giant lesson in acceptance. Acceptance of change and of flow – this is reality. Accepting reality for what it is right now because it can’t be any other way. This is at the heart of what I believe it means to be mindful.

6. A Basic Understanding Of The Mind Helps To Let Go

A basic understanding of the mind helps – to understand our mind is a tool we can use – it isn’t who we are – we are not are thoughts – the mind is simply a vessel that continuously delivers us thoughts based on everything that its been fed. That doesn’t mean your thoughts are accurate – it means the exact opposite.

The vast majority of stuff we are fed and told, the concepts and constructs and expectations of society are largely bullshit – they are just ideas. Your mind is always going to project that stuff to some degree or another and that’s perfectly ok – you should understand and accept that!

But! BUT BUT!!! You should not accept any thoughts as accurate – you should treat them and the beliefs you have with a HUGE amount of scepticism – remain open to the possibility that what you think and believe – that what most people think and believe – is largely bullshit! Because, and I’ve got news for you, it is.

That doesn’t mean you should create an inner dialogue and have a fight with yourself about what you are thinking or currently believe – that only serves to strengthen the thought you are having anyway – what I’m getting at is because of this understanding and insight you should very quickly let go of the VAST majority of your thoughts. Let them pass. Your mind is simply generating ideas continuously – by letting them pass and not fixating on anyone of them – they lose their power of being able to define you! This also allows you to see those thoughts more clearly – for what they are. It’s from looking at them this way that we can gain greater insight that helps to shatter the illusions our clever minds love to make up.

Closing Thoughts

Mindfulness is very much process orientated rather than goal-oriented. It is a way of life, a long term process. It’s point is the journey itself – not the destination. The destination is decided for us anyway – death – which makes the point of being truly present, truly alive for the moment all the more poignant. Thats the whole point!

Ultimately mindfulness is about realising you’re more than just your body, mind and heart. Meditation is something that happens to you. It is an act of non-doing or being. For it to properly work you have to trust in the process. Let go and relax with acceptance of what is right now. Have patience. Have faith. You are not trying to get anywhere with it. Quite the opposite. You are simply allowing things to be with a curious mind and an open heart.


As always thank you so much reading – I hope you found some value in my random ramblings about mindfulness. As you know I welcome ALL thoughts and comments on this blog. I’m always keen to get your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below. Do you have any other insights from your practise of mindfulness – any idea or hacks you’d like to share? If so please don’t hesitate to leave a remark below. Wishing you all the very best, AP2 🙏

The Loving Nature Of Fear

Fear is part of what all of us should be feeling at the moment. It’s a good thing too! If fear didn’t play its part we’d have become extinct a long time ago. Self preservation is paramount to keeping all of us safe. However if this is the only reason, if all you’re thinking about is the I, it’ll wear you thin quickly. Fear on this level isn’t designed to keep you running for months or years at a time. It certainly won’t be what sustains you during this pandemic.

It can’t. 

To find motivation for long term action, for maintaining integrity, for anything, you have to consider love. Why are you doing it? For the elderly and the sick, the most vulnerable in society, your loved ones and your friends, your grandparents and your parents, your brother and your sisters, your children and your grandchildren…  Why are you doing it? 

Is it because of love or fear? 

I want to stress that listening to and acknowledging your fear is important. It’s telling us something. ie there’s a snake over there – I better walk the other way. Or, there’s a deadly and highly infectious disease outside, maybe I should stay indoors or wear a mask…

However our fears are often based on clinging and attachment – a fear of losing something – whether that’s something you have, control of a situation, other people’s behaviour, how society and governments should function, etc. 

Fear is telling us something about reality we wish were different. It’s telling us to act and to make it so! What’s often lost on people is what exactly needs to change. I can tell you, far more often than not, it isn’t reality that needs to change. Reality is perfectly fine as it is, because it can’t be any other way. It’s your expectations of reality. 

If you’re feeling angry that’s coming from you. It’s your emotion to deal with and take responsibility for. The same applies to anxiety and depression. Emotions I know well. They are my responsibility to deal with. Whether that means I need to take time to meditate or seek therapy – I need to work out the why. I need to understand before I can change – before I can accept what I cannot change. 

Ultimately fear is asking for us to change something or accept something. With regards to situations we have little or no control over, acceptance is key. You will never find peace in the moment, if you don’t accept it as it is. If it happens to be a situation like the coronavirus pandemic, as much as we might wish it to be different, if we cannot act, if we cannot change it, we must learn to accept it. That means to accept your fear of the situation. This isn’t easy of course. But I do believe, by acknowledging your fear, understanding it as a shared feeling that millions of others are also experiencing, you are actually coming from a place of love and compassion. It is this, that will lead to acceptance.

Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance, said it beautifully: “When we understand our pain as an intrinsic gateway to compassion, we begin to awaken from the imprisoning story of a suffering self. In the moments when we tenderly hold our anger, for instance, we cut through our identity as an angry self. The anger no longer feels like a personal flaw or an oppressive burden. We begin to see its universal nature—it’s not our anger, it is not our pain. Everyone lives with anger, with fear, with grief.”

She goes on, “Understanding that the pain in our life is an expression of universal suffering opens us to the fullness of Radical Acceptance. Rather than being a problem, our depression, fear and anger are “entrusted to us,” and can be dedicated to our awakening. When we carry our pain with the kindness of acceptance instead of the bitterness of resistance, our hearts become an edgeless sea of compassion.

Even in the grip of fear, pain or depression, we can act from love. In fact it’s possible fear can stir in us far greater compassion and love, than we otherwise knew we had.

Here’s a definition of courage for you:

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

Let me ask you a question.

If you see a child, let’s say it’s your child, step out onto the road into oncoming traffic and you take the courageous decision to run out to save his or her life. Was that decision to save your child’s life based on love or fear? Have a long think about it. Most will answer without thinking. Love. But was it? Consider the crucial part fear had to play in this scenario. Fear of losing something you love. Fear of your child getting badly hurt or worse. I believe it was fear that sprung you into action. Don’t forget that fear can come from a place of love too. Fear when really acknowledged and listened to, it can be a powerful gateway to compassion. When you understand the love behind your fear, you will know how you should act. 

Back to the present – our only true reality – and the situation of the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re feeling fearful for yourself or your loved ones, if acting out of fear, fear that seems too much to bear, sit with it and be kind. Don’t resist it – you’ll only give it strength. Instead, remind yourself of the love behind that fear. Remember the loving reasons behind what you’re doing. Remember what we all are. It’s such a beautiful thing. It really is. To be part of something bigger than ourselves. Ultimately it’s the love that will sustain you. It’s the love that will sustain us all.

The Rebellion Is On You

What happens when you beat a child with a stick?

You harden their heart.

You close their mind.

You fix the very beliefs you wish so strongly to change. 

Is this not obvious? 

Is the need to be right all the matters?

Is it really necessary to hit a child when they’re already on the floor?

Wake up! 

By hitting you’re children you’re hitting yourself.

Can you not see!

You are creating the very rebel you are hoping so desperately to avoid. 

You are creating the conditions for the rebellion you dread will come back to haunt you. 

Wake up! 

It doesn’t have to be this way. 

The child was happy left alone.

They were never a threat until you threatened them first.

Their rebellion is on you.