Why I Write

The seeds of doubt were planted at a young age. I can’t tell you exactly when, but I know it started in childhood. I was lead to believe I wasn’t capable, that I would struggle in this life.

In particular, concerns surrounded my abilities in English. At first, my parents worried that I had a hearing problem. They believed this stunted my development. Later they had me tested for dyslexia.

I’m not, of course. It just happened to be one of my weaknesses. And I just happened to be different. I’ve always been a daydreamer, a wanderer by nature.

Languages, the English language – spelling, grammar – has never come naturally to me. But that has never been the problem. The problem was I didn’t believe, and because I didn’t believe, I didn’t try. I internalised that belief and thought, “What’s the point?”

“I’m no good, so why bother?”

Unfortunately, that belief took root at a much deeper level than my English proficiency.

Problems really started in adolescence – at the age of 13 – when I was first offered drugs. I didn’t say yes because I was curious. I didn’t say yes because I thought it was cool. I didn’t say yes as a form of rebellion. I said yes because I was afraid.

I took drugs because I was too scared to say no.

So began some of the most challenging years of my life. At first, it was fun, but I soon felt trapped. At one point, I was smoking pot every single day. I suffered from intense bouts of anxiety that I hid from everyone. Depression soon followed. 

I sank deep into my shell.

I knew I needed help, but I didn’t know how to ask for it. I was too afraid to speak up. So I drowned silently. It came to a head when a friend of mine was caught in possession of my drugs.

I was made to make a choice that day. When the deputy headmaster sat us down in his office, he asked me if I had also been using. He said I can’t help you if you’re not honest.

I was so scared at that moment. I wanted to tell the truth, but I was afraid of the repercussions. The thought of breaking my parent’s hearts broke my own. Yet, I also feared what would happen if I didn’t tell the truth.

While fighting back the tears, I admitted the truth.

It proved to be one of the most pivotal moments of my life. I was suspended, but the deputy headmaster held true to his word. No permanent record was kept. He honoured my honesty by protecting my future. How different my life would look now had I lied.

Honesty hurts to begin with, but in the long run it will set you free.

During those years, I sat my GCSEs. I didn’t care about my grades. I didn’t care about what future I had. I simply wanted to escape the hell I found myself in. As a result, I didn’t put much effort in. 

My results came as a surprise.

I landed 4 A’s, 6 B’s and an E (in German). I was far more competent than I gave myself credit. English language and English literature were the biggest surprises. Had it not been for one teacher, in particular, my grades would have been very different.

She taught the class with the top peers in our age group. Except she did something a little different. She took several students who were really struggling from the lowest level and placed us in hers. She had me sit in the front row.

She was petrifying, which helped. I was made to apply myself. I remember she believed I had a voice. She pushed me to do a lot of public speaking – which also scared the bejesus out of me!

My coursework marks steadily improved over the two years she taught me. Still, my coursework barely averaged a C. This made the final results even more surprising. Following our final examinations, I ended up with B’s in English language and English literature. I must have aced those exams to achieve those grades.

They’re my proudest grades from secondary school.

What she proved was more important, even if it didn’t fully register until years later. She showed that if I chose to apply myself, I was more than capable. She planted the seeds of self-belief that would bear fruit many years later.

To my English teacher, wherever you are, thank you.

I didn’t pursue English for A levels. It wasn’t for me. I also lacked clarity. As a result, I took a random collection of subjects. Art (the one subject I truly loved), Biology, History, and Geography.

I dropped Art halfway through my A levels despite getting an A. I dropped it for the wrong reasons – because no one else took it seriously. It would be an entire decade before I started drawing again. 

Somewhere along the way, I forgot.

Doing something simply because you love it is enough. More than enough.

History was the subject I went on to take at University. I took it because my parents were adamant that I should go to University and get a degree. I took it out of preference, not because I truly loved it. The truth is I only enjoyed aspects of it.

I later realised that what I really enjoyed was applying lessons from what history has to teach us about living life. What I was really interested in was philosophy.

During University, I fell in love with a French lady. In the second year, she asked me to edit much of her coursework. She studied media and communications. I didn’t just edit her work; I rewrote large chunks of it.

I loved it. 

I found I had a knack for drawing conclusions. I loved finishing with the right words. I realised there was an art to it. Between her coursework and my own, these skills developed.

Then she broke my heart. I finished my degree and forgot about this.

After University, I was clear about one thing. One thing I had always been clear about. A deep longing in my heart to travel the world.

So I applied for a cadetship offered by the airline I now work for. For the airline my father used to work for. He was keen, provided I was serious about it. So he took me flying. I didn’t look back.

And so followed the last 12 years of my life. 

There was a big break where I didn’t write. Several years passed while learning to fly and traveling the world before I decided to pick up a pen again.

One of my hobbies is traveling through cuisine. Anthony Bourdain has long been a personal hero of mine. Inspired by him, I put together a blog documenting my travels. 

I enjoyed it for a while, but that passion started to wane as depression and anxiety took a firmer grip.

This came to a head during another pivotal moment of my life. I froze up while trying to land during my Junior First Officer training. The training captain had to take control and go around as a result.

That scarred me deeply.

Added to the list of depression and anxiety, I had PTSD to contend with too. I remember flying approaches for years afterwards where my heart would beat so hard, it felt like it was going to break through my chest.

So many times, I wanted to quit. I wanted to throw in the towel. Those demons screamed at me. “GET OUT! YOU CAN’T! YOU’RE A FRAUD! YOU’RE NOT CAPABLE!”

I kept going.

Part of me refused to give in. I was so sick of those voices. Overcoming and passing my Junior First Officer upgrade was something I felt I had to do. So, I worked harder than I ever have in my entire life.

My demons started to drive me.

9 months on from that day, I was upgraded to First Officer. It meant everything to me at the time. I thought that was it. I thought that would be enough to finally put those voices to bed.

I was wrong.

It wasn’t until the birth of my first child 3 years ago that I finally sought professional help. At a low moment, I broke down. Once again, my demons were screaming at me. Telling me I couldn’t parent. That my boy deserved better. The guilt overwhelmed me, and I cried and cried.

Afterward, I felt a deep peace I’d not known in years. I knew exactly what I had to do. I picked up the phone and called for help.

This time I was ready. 

The following 4 months of therapy were difficult, emotional, and liberating all at the same time, but I didn’t hold back. In doing so, I finally gained the clarity I needed. In seeing my demons in the light, they lost their power.

The fog of depression finally started to lift.

Shortly afterwards, the pandemic hit, and I was left grounded. I used the time to do something I’d not done since I dropped Art during my A levels.

I started drawing.

And because I was feeling particularly creative – BECAUSE THAT’S WHO I AM – I started writing again. I put together a children’s book. I went to a publisher who loved it. Last summer, I became a published author. 

How do you like them apples?

At the same time, I started blogging. This time I had a different motivation. I spoke from my core. It felt like a spark had ignited something inside. I felt possessed. My intuition kept telling me to keep going. It’s leading somewhere. I don’t where yet, but it is.

It has.

My writing has given me clarity about what I want to do next. I will be starting an online degree in psychology next year with a long-term view of changing careers. I also have an idea for a number of books I plan to write.

Once again, I hear my demons screaming. Telling me not to do it. That I can’t. That I’m making a big mistake.

There’s a difference this time. 

My relationship has changed. I know those voices will be with me till the day I die. It that doesn’t phase me anymore. Honestly, I smile. I realise I don’t want those voices to go away. You see, they’re a guide. A powerful one telling me which direction to go in. What obstacles I must take on.  

Those voices also remind me of all the pain and suffering I’ve gone through. They keep it close to my heart. That’s want I want. To use that to help others who are suffering as I have. To give meaning to my pain by helping others with theirs. 

And so, as I sit at another crossroads in my life – as I build towards my second career – I keep writing. This time I won’t ever stop. Even though it continues to scare me – every single time I hit that publish button. 

I see it now.

I now know why it has to be this way. I was meant to write my way out. It’s poetry in motion.

You see the seeds of doubt that were planted at such a young age. The demons that have plagued me my whole life. They all stemmed from a lack of faith in my ability to overcome one of my biggest weaknesses.

That’s why I write.

For the boy inside who was lead to doubt himself. Who was told he couldn’t. Who was told he would struggle.

I write for every child who suffered under the weight of their fears, for everyone whose fears have been used against them in the cruelest possible way.

I write because I can. I write because I know that you can too.

I write to call myself a writer and be called a writer, because that means more to me than words could ever convey. 

The question I have is, why do you? 

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my Mindset Mondays Post! The only weekly newsletter that forces you to accept the reality on your situation…

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:

What follows a generation who got things wrong is one that understands why they must not make the same mistakes. 

Don’t waste your life trying to punish those who wronged you. Don’t spend your life trying to prove yourself to those who doubted you. Instead spend your life proving yourself to those who always believed in you. Reward those who’ve always loved you. Those who were wrong about you don’t need to be told. They’ll know only too well when the time comes. 

3 simple rules to help you take full responsibility for your life. 1) Give up blaming (yourself or others). 2) Give up complaining (about life circumstances- esp that which is out of your control). 3) Give up excuses (apologise without condition. Make amends where you can and do better next time. Most importantly forgive yourself once you have.)

An exercise in critical thought: Write down your opinions on a subject exactly as you think them. However outlandish, just put it down on paper and argue your side. Then go about proving it wrong in every conceivable way. Do the research, find the facts and consider the opinions that contradict your argument. If that doesn’t change your mind to some degree then you, my friend, have your head stuck in the sand (or somewhere much worse).


3 x Quotes From Others:

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (ie the standards of thought) no longer exist.” – Hannah Arendt (Source: THE ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM.)

“Let’s point our curiosity at the people who anger us, even when ignoring them feels easier…let’s regrow our collective empathy and mend the tears in our social fabric.” – Jamil Zaki (Source: https://mindfulnessbits.wordpress.com/2020/10/26/inspirational-quotes-and-blogs-monthly-4/)

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”Anne Frank (Source: https://purplerays.wordpress.com/2020/10/26/how-wonderful-it-is/)


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This brilliant Happiness Lab Podcast with Dr. Laurie SantosA Happier Election. In this episode ‘Dr. Laurie Santos talks to Niala Boodhoo from the news podcast Axios Today about the simple steps we can take to increase our well-being during stressful and uncertain times.’ Notes and quotes below.

  • Elections are historically fear provoking. The lymphatic nervous system is only meant to be active for a short while. ie. when you see a snake. It’s not designed to keep going over days or weeks at a time because of a pandemic, or this past week because of the election. It wasn’t built for the 24/7 news cycle.
  • How do we look after ourselves? Simple answer is to shut off the lymphatic nervous system. One way to do that is through your breath. Actually taking a really big belly breath signals to the opposite system – the rest and digest system – to kick in.
  • The second thing is remembering what you have control over. What you do have a say in, is how you react. You have a say as to whether you are doom scrolling all the time.
  • Go do the things that bring you joy. There is evidence that you will be able to think much more clearly – that you can problem solve better/more creatively if you are in a joyful state. It’s almost a civic duty to put yourself in a good frame of mind. That means going back to basics. Getting some sleep. Going for some exercise. Eating well. Those basics become much more important during a tough time. 
  • It’s very easy to get into the blame cycle at the moment. To blame others for their actions. For not being more considerate. It’s well proven that blaming others does not feel good. 
  • What feels good? Human connection. Feeling like you’re doing something nice for other people. . You can act empathic towards others. You can try to understand them. This is something you can control. It probably won’t change your political views but it can increase your compassion. 
  • How can we use technology to increase empathy? Empathy is very difficult to communicate using social media and the internet. It’s very difficult to read facial expressions and get a deep connection with people. We are short when we talk using social media. It takes time and effort and intention to convey what our hearts are saying.
  • If you see a post or political opinion from a friend or family member that you disagree instead of ignoring it or scrolling past, you could call them up and have a proper conversation. Narrative dialogue – sharing personal stories is a far more effective way to change minds. Or at least understand them. 
  • Another tip is something called psychological distancing. Where you think about how you will feel in a few months time. The likely hood is you will be much calmer about it all. It’s a great trick for reducing stress. Putting yourself in your future selves shoes. 
  • The danger we have now is we’ve gotten to the point where we don’t like the other side to the point that we are willing to hurt on them.We need to bring empathy and personal connections back to online interactions otherwise we will continue on this dangerous path. 

2 – This Mark Manson article: 5 Common Beliefs that Can Subtly Screw You Over. The article explores the critical subject of questioning your own beliefs. Make Manson singles out five common categories of belief errors that most of us fall victim to some degree or another. It’s well worth taking the 10 mins or so to read. I’ve left a few quotes from the article below.

“The antidote to this ego is simply accepting the fact that you might not know what you’re doing. There’s an old saying that the difference between an expert and an amateur is that the expert is aware of what they don’t know.

“In order to find meaning and purpose in our lives, we almost always have to do the opposite. We have to focus on simplifying. We have to cut out what’s not necessary, to end the addictive cycle of more consumption and more experiences. To pick a handful of pursuits and people and commit to them passionately.

“The point of goals is not necessarily to accomplish them. Most of the value in them is that they give you direction. They give you something to work towards and ways to improve yourself. The exact quantity of that improvement is less important.

“It’s important to develop an interest and capacity for self-improvement. But it’s also important to develop an interest and capacity in non-improvement. Ironically, every once in a while, the most useful thing you can do is not useful. It’s to just sit and play a video game, drink a beer, laugh with a friend, talk to your kid, read a book, fart and laugh about it. Then sleep a little too late and do it again.


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

My son refused to get out of the bath tub before we put him to bed last night. Eventually we had to put our foot down. Unfortunately this resulted in an almighty tantrum. I’m talking screaming, kicking – the works!

After a prolonged battle my wife and I sat down with a glass of wine to calm our frazzled nerves.

I looked at her and said, “Unbelievable.”

She asked, “What?!”

I said, “That was just like trying to get Donald Trump out of the White House.”


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

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 beliefs are you holding onto that are no longer serving you?

(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

Tuesday’s Top Tip

Vote.

If you value democracy and freedom, vote. 

If you value the rights that millions have died for, vote. 

If you value the planet that we live on, vote. 

If you believe in living a life of greater purpose and meaning, vote. 

If you believe in securing a better future for your children, vote. 

If you believe in looking after one another, vote. 

If you care for those who have lost their lives this year, vote. 

If you believe in honesty, compassion, kindness, responsibility, love… vote. 

Look your children in the eyes and ask yourself, what’s in their best interest – really dig deep. Ask yourself what is best for them, for your fellow Americans, for your fellow humans. 

Really ask yourself the question. 

Because if you really love them you cannot, in good conscious, vote for the person that will hurt them. Don’t let pride form your narrative. Forgive yourself for any and all past mistakes. Make amends by putting yourself on the right side of history. It is never too late to do what’s right.

The choice has never been clearer. 

The choice has never been more important. 

You must get out there and vote.

Previous Top Tip

Why Freedom Demands Responsibility

“The principle of freedom must be our first commitment, for without this no one is immune against the virus of aggrandizement – the impulse to grab power, wealth, position, or reputation at the expense of others.” 

Herbert DouglassSourCE:The Cost Of Freedom

True freedom is a commitment to experiencing the very real limitations of our choices.

We will always have to live with some sort of, ‘what if I had…’ We will always have to mourn the limitless possibilities we didn’t pursue. If we had no choice about our life we’d simply get on with it, but because we do, we live in constant fear of making the wrong one.

That’s the price we pay for the freedom of choice. 

We have to live with the consequences of our actions. We have to live in the knowledge we could have done things differently. To know we could have done things better.

I wonder if many of us don’t actually want the level of responsibility that comes with having to choose our own fate? Perhaps this is why so many of us prefer to be told what to do? Perhaps this is why so many of us choose not to think for ourselves? 

It’s too uncomfortable.

We don’t want to take responsibility for our life. We didn’t have to as children so why should we now?

Many recent decisions we’ve made in the “free” parts of this world demonstrate an unwillingness to take on this fundamental aspect of freedom. We follow the herd because it’s easier. We follow the herd because that’s what our parents taught us to do.

I imagine that living in a society where your thoughts and actions are decided for you is in some ways easier. You don’t have to think about what to do. When your survival depends on the actions that the state has demanded, you just do. So you become another brain washed cog in the totalitarian machine. Just as your dictator ordered. There’s a nice little cog.

The sad truth about such a life is you still have responsibilities. They’re just not your own.

You cannot escape responsibility.

Many of us falsely belief that freedom comes with the freedom not to have any responsibilities. How we love to have our cake and eat it too! We say, ‘if only I choose the right leader then I’ll be able to achieve financial independence free from having to try at anything.’

Delusion is a word.

Delusion is what’s sold to you by populists who promise the world free of charge. They promise you the things that only you can deliver for yourself. 

There’s a huge price that comes with freedom, incalculable in fact – millions have died for it – but I believe the rewards justify it. Yes the possibility of failure is real, but so is the possibility of achieving greatness. We should remember that humans don’t flourish under the conditions of compulsion – we flourish under the conditions of free co-operation.

It’s hard to shift through the noise of course. It’s extremely hard in fact. To do the research required to figure out what your own opinions are on matters that affect us all. The rewards are not that you’ll have a leader you want or a country that reflects the values you hold either.

You probably won’t.

The reward is actually greater than that. The reward is that you get to know who you truly are. This is something your country and the world needs more than your vote. What we need is a diversity of unique voices speaking for themselves. What we don’t need is a tribe of mindless people echoing only the thoughts of one man.

Don’t be so quick to throw your freedom under the bus for someone else. 

It’s important to remember that no two voices are the same. Freedom respects that fact. We should be extremely wary of those who seek to limit the voices of others. We should take the time to listen to what our own heart has to say. We should put in the effort to form our own opinions. We should honour them with the choices we get to make.

I read a quote recently by Niklas Göke from his excellent article Responsibility Is Freedom that said,

“Freedom is not about shedding your responsibilities, it’s about choosing them.”

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


Thank you all for taking the time to read. As always I’m interested to get your thoughts. What do you think about the relationship between freedom and responsibility? Have we taken our freedoms for granted in the Western world? Is this why we find it under threat? Do you even believe it is under threat? Do you think that freedom has nothing to do with responsibility? As always I welcome ALL opinions and thoughts. This is very much a free state. 

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:

Motivational Mondays – 07/09/20

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

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

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

Love to all X


3 x Thoughts From Me:

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

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

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


2 x Quotes From Others:

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

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


1 x Thing That Helped Me Grow

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

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

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


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

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


Till next time…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

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

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

Are negative emotions the problem or our intolerance of them?

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POSTS:

Motivational Mondays – 31/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 24/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 17/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 10/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 22/06/20

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Happy F***ing Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the shittiest day of the week. (Or at least start it off in a slightly less shit fashion.)

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

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

Love to all X


3 x Thoughts I’ve Been Thinking:

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

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

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


4 x Quotes I’ve been Pondering:

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

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

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

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


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

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

My notes from the pod:

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

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


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

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

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

We both melted.

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

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

Just before we did, he spoke.

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

We left.

Our egos smashed to pieces.


Till next time,

Happy Fucking Mondays Everybody!

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

One Bonus question for you all:

A lack of what beverage makes you cry?


PREVIOUS HAPPY MONDAY POSTS:

Happy F***ing Mondays – 15/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 25/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 18/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 11/05/20

Why 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 our thoughts.

The mind is simply a vessel that continuously delivers thoughts based on everything that it’s 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, constructs and expectations of society are largely bullshit – they’re 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 such 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 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, you should 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!

FYI These are just some thoughts from my mind – feel free to let them go/treat it as largely bullshit (probably just echoing something I fed it anyway).

9 Golden Rules For Cultivating A Growth Mindset.

“There is no such thing as a natural-born pilot. Whatever my aptitude of talents, becoming a proficient pilot was hard work, really a lifetimes learning experience… The best pilots fly more than others; that’s why they’re the best.” CHUCK YEAGER

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

Here they are:


1 – Make A Concrete Plan.

To do this think about the goals you want to achieve most -ones that align you closest with your values – then write out a detailed plan by asking yourself where, when and how. The more detailed the plan the better. Finally review & modify as necessary everyday.

2 – Show Up Everyday.

It’s important you form the habit by showing up every single day. Remember you’re telling yourself something important when you show up on the bad days as well as the good. Even if all you can manage is 10 minutes, 5 pushups or 1 paragraph – whatever it is you’re working towards – make sure to show up!

Dweck advises the “next time you feel depressed, think about effort as a positive, constructive force, not a drag – try it out.”

3 – Don’t Let Any Failure Define You.

Remember you’re not your failures. Remember you only ever really fail when you decide to give up. Remember to keep the idea of a growth mindset in the forefront of your mind.

As Dweck points out, “When people believe their base qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don’t define them. When depressed it is only more of a reason to hang on and do what’s necessary to keep your life on track.

If you keep going, keep learning, keep growing – you will prevail.

Don’t. Give. Up.

4 – Study To Learn Not Simply Pass.

“Those with a growth mindset take charge of their learning and motivation. Instead of plunging into unthinking memorisations of course material, they said, “I looked for themes and underlying principles across the lectures… I went over mistakes until I was certain I understood them.” – CAROL S. DWECK

Loving the process is key. Find your passion by defining the values that mean most to you, then build your life around them. If you can do that, you will have a natural hunger to learn. Success will then come about naturally as a by-product of simply doing what you love. You’ll also realise that ‘success’, as defined by society, is something completely different.

5 – Seek feedback/Ask for help

“The person who asks is a fool for five minutes, but the person who does not ask remains a fool forever.” – Ancient proverb.

True self confidence is the courage to be open – to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source. Real self confidence is reflected in your mindset: your readiness to grow.” – CAROL S. DWECK.

Seek constructive criticism, not praise. You can always improve. You can always grow. Forget about feeling stupid or disengaged and think about learning and how to improve instead. Challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid to put up your hand.

6 – Praise effort not talent.

 “Admiring our children may temporarily lift our self-esteem by signaling to those around us what fantastic parents we are and what terrific kids we have — but it isn’t doing much for a child’s sense of self. In trying so hard to be different from our parents, we’re actually doing much the same thing — doling out empty praise the way an earlier generation doled out thoughtless criticism. If we do it to avoid thinking about our child and her world, and about what our child feels, then praise, just like criticism, is ultimately expressing our indifference.” STEPHEN GROSZ 

Make sure to praise effort for trying to achieve something difficult, even in failure. Never praise natural ability or talent, especially when they complete something easily.

One of the worst parenting compliments to give, is telling children how clever they are. Far better to apologise for something being too easy and then challenging them to do something more difficult. Following that, praising their effort even, or perhaps especially, if they fall short. Then encouraging them to think about how they could have done things differently. Finally encouraging them to keep going.

7 – Be honest but be constructive.

When criticising it’s important we give our honest assessment but equally important we offer advice on how to improve. Don’t simply judge, teach. Think of helping that person to grow by giving them the tools with which to improve.

Be sure to tell them how you really feel. It’s not always easy but honesty is ultimately the kinder thing to do.

8 –Find the time to reflect.

Look back at bad experiences and understand that it doesn’t define your intelligence or personality. Instead ask what can I learn from it? Do this every day if you can. Ask how could I have done better? What are the lessons I need to learn? How can I grow from here? Show up the next day with those lessons fresh in the mind.

Don’t settle for good enough when you can be great. Don’t settle for great when you’re capable of being extraordinary. Keep going and form the habits of champions.

9. Take Ownership Of Your Mistakes.

“Unfortunately people like things that work against growth. People like to use their strengths to achieve quick, dramatic results – they don’t take their weaknesses as seriously as they might”Morgan Mccall

Dweck says, ‘you can still be in the process of learning from your mistakes until you deny them.’ Blaming and complaining get you nowhere. If you stand up and take responsibility for your mistakes, you’ll gain the respect and admiration of others. You’ll also put yourself in the mindset of wanting to learn and grow. This is what it means to be a true leader.

Dweck notes, “Leaders are made, not born, and made more by themselves than by external needs.” That means taking full responsibility for your life and your mistakes.


SOURCES/ARTICLES:

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

Presence, Not Praise: How To Cultivate a Healthy Relationship with Achievement by Maria Popova

Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives by Maria Popova

The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves by Stephen Grosz