5 Simple Tricks For Overcoming To-Do List Anxiety

“Procastination isn’t caused by laziness. We don’t postpone tasks to avoid work. We do it to avoid negative emotions that a task stirs up – like anxiety, frustration, confusion, and boredom.”

Adam Grant

Do you know that feeling, after you’ve written out your to-do list, despite how it’s suppose to make you feel, when all you want to-do is crawl under a rock and die? 

You know, when a slow and painful death seems preferable to confronting the mountain of tedious work you feel you have to-do?

And so you slowly put down your to-do list, walk over to the couch, gently sit down, carefully pick up the remote control and turn on NETFLIX. Which you then proceed to binge watch for several hours…

A bit like a psychopath who completely disconnects from all his or her responsibilities and emotions? 

I’m sure you do.

Anyway this got me thinking.

Why exactly does writing out our responsibilities on paper cause some us to run away from them faster than a teenage boy climaxes?

After all we know this kind of behaviour doesn’t help us, yet we can’t help ourselves. Sometimes all we want is to tell life to go fuck itself and so we do, even if that means fucking ourselves in the process.

The real question, of course, is how can we stop our to-do lists from making us feel like shit and help us get shit done instead?

Well fear not my fine readers for I’ve complied 5 simple tricks – as partially backed by science – to help you not only write a to-do list that doesn’t make you want to tell life to go fuck itself, but carry it out as well!

You’re very welcome!


1 – Do the thing that scares you the most first.

“The task you’re avoiding isn’t always the one you hate. Sometimes it’s the one you fear. The one that’s most worth pursuing.”

ADAM GRANT

The science shows that making a plan to complete a task provides the same mental relief as completing the task itself.

Which is exactly the point. Writing a to-do list is suppose to make you feel better so you can actually get started with something.

It’s suppose to get you in the mood… (Yeah baby!)

The problem for me, and I suspect countless others, was never a matter of productivity, but what it was I actually chose to accomplish during the day. I now realise I used my to-do list as a way to constantly defer the shit I was most afraid of.

I’m not talking about homework assignments here of course. I mean things like confronting my depression by asking for professional help or having certain difficult conversations with certain family members about shit I really don’t want to talk about…

Yeah, you know, the shit you really need to be doing first!

It was pointed out to me, in Adam Grant‘s excellent worklife podcast episode – ‘the real reason you procrastinate,’ that it wasn’t the tasks I was avoiding but the emotions I’d attached to said tasks.

The problem with ignoring these tasks is you inadvertently give those emotions (the thing that you’re actually afraid of confronting) greater hold over you. Thus the longer you leave said tasks undone the harder they become to-do.

Unfortunately there’s only one solution.

However scary they are, the tasks that you fear the most are exactly the ones you should be pursuing first. Not tidy the apartment!

Why?

Well it’s a classic Catch 22. By doing the very tasks you’re afraid of, you’re helping to confront and resolve those emotions that caused you to avoid those tasks in the first place.

If you don’t want to live with those emotions any longer, then you have to stop avoiding them. You have to rip the bandaid off. If you don’t it’s only gonna hurt more later on. Believe me!

Of course I realise this might not be what you want to hear so I thought I’d offer a few more tips that can help you do what’s necessary by putting things into perspective.

2 – Ask yourself, “What would I do if today were my last on earth?

It’s important to be very clear about what your most important tasks are on any given day. Often we’re not. A great way to do this – something I do every morning as part of my journalling routine – is to ask yourself the following question: “What would I do if this were my last day on earth?”

I’m guessing your to-do list would look markedly different.

Things like telling your family how much you love them. Apologising for any major wrong doings or forgiving those that wronged you would also probably appear. Remaining as present as you possibly can be. Paying attention to every waking moment for the truly precious moment that it is! Sitting with and observing any difficult emotions. Allowing those emotions to come out (instead of watching NETFLIX). Taking a walk outside to feel the elements – wind, rain, hail or shine! Simply being…

You get the point.

Of course you shouldn’t take this question too seriously otherwise you’ll probably bin your to-do list altogether and tell your boss to-go fuck himself. Perhaps not in the best interest of your future self…

Still, this is a great question because it helps align your to-do list with the values you hold closest. It helps to prioritise the things that you really should. It also puts thing into perspective.

The truth is you don’t have to-do anything. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and self-loathing by thinking so. You don’t have to-do anything if you don’t want to.

You get to do those things.

Which brings me to my next trick for reframing your to-do list. That is…

3 – Write a GET to-do list instead

Put that at the top in big bold capital letters: GET to-do.

Not only does this set yourself up to be more grateful for what you feel you might have to-do, it also helps to take the pressure off.

You get to do it, you don’t have to do it.

Keep reminding yourself of this important fact.

I’d add another small tip.

Write out 3 things you’re grateful for today before you write out your get to-do list. I could show you some science that shows just how beneficial having a gratitude practise is, but I don’t want to bore you.

You know all this.

The point to label is YOU GET TO-DO THESE THIHGS. One day you’ll be dead and you won’t get to.

It helps to keep that in mind.

4 – Keep it modest and specific.

How much do you really need to-do today?

So many of us put everything down we’d like to complete and then burn out after realising we’ll never be able to achieve all those things.

You’ve got make it manageable.

Don’t say I’ll write one blog post or go for a 10km run or finish reading that book. Say I’ll write one paragraph, jog for five minutes and read one chapter.

Simply taking a step in the right direction is enough.

So what if you didn’t quite get everything you wanted to-do done?

The most important thing is that you enjoyed it. You’re never going to enjoy it if you’re always racing towards the finish line.

And if you really don’t manage to complete much, if anything, of what you intended, then please refer to point number 5.

5 – Show yourself show compassion.

‘You can change some of those emotions by showing yourself compassion. We procrastinate less when we remind ourselves that it’s part of the human condition. We’re not the only one suffering from it.’

ADAM GRANT

A tough one to finish I know. The truth is I’m awful at being kind to myself.

This is why, every morning as part of my meditation routine before I do anything else, I practise a loving kindness meditation for everybody including myself.

After all it can’t be called universal compassion if it doesn’t include yourself.

It’s important to remember we’re all fallible humans at the end of the day. Things like confronting our demons aren’t easy. It takes time to find the courage.

Go easy on yourself if you don’t do that scary task.

Who honestly get’s everything they mean to-do in a day? Really? I certainly don’t.

That said, I tell my wife I love her every night before bed without fail. I make sure I spend a couple of quality hours with my boys – laughing and playing with them every afternoon before dinner. I meditate every single morning and take every opportunity to practise mindfulness whenever I can. I always go for a walk outside as a way to remind myself that I’m alive and how fucking amazing that is!

Quite frankly the rest can fucked. Occasionally it does!

The older I get the more willing I am to say, so the fuck what? Tomorrow’s another day right? If you fall off the horse today, simply get back on it tomorrow. Falling down is inevitable. Getting back up is what matters.

That’s life!


SOURCES:

https://doist.com/blog/todo-list-tips/

WorkLife with Adam Grant episode on ‘The Real Reason You Procrastinate.’

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/tech-support/201310/why-your-do-list-drives-you-crazy

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/zeigarnik-effect

The Art of Thinking Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The other night I got into a pointless argument with someone after they decided to leave a comment on one of my older posts telling me that I should have my head examined. (A fair point in retrospect.)

She said that Trump is a true American unlike Biden who is a horrible person. Naturally, she went on to say the election had been rigged.

Now, I should have ignored it. I should have said, “I’m sorry you feel that way”, and left it at that. However, the ego couldn’t resist the bait.

Partly because it wants to understand the other side. Mainly because it wanted to stand up for the freedoms she, herself, enjoys.

And so, this was me: 

I love that comic.

Anyway, while I think it’s important to engage with people you disagree, you can’t teach a pig to sing. And you really shouldn’t bother. It’s the equivalent of beating your head against a brick wall. 

“Are you listening ego?”

“Yeah but, it just feels so fucking good to be right.”

“But all you’re doing is validating your own opinions while strengthening the oppositions. All you’re doing is deepening the divide. Can’t you see?!”

“Yeah but listen, I really was right!”

“I hear you ego, but your need to be right is part of the problem.”

“But…”

“No ego. Sit down.”

“But…”

“I said, SIT DOWN! That’s a bad ego!”

(Whimpers)

“There’s a good ego.” (Starts stroking it again.)

Of course the result of that pointless argument was as you’d expect. Despite my best attempts to engage her with some deep thinking she resorted to juvenile insults. So I stopped trying, realising that I might as well have been having a conversation with a rock.

A particularly mean rock!

Still, there was a lesson there for me. One that got me thinking about an analogy I read recently between the two different types of thinkers in this world. The rock place thinkers and the hard place thinkers.¹ I believe this idea might just help you separate the birds from the bees, or the pigs from, well, the non-pigs.

Let’s see what you think.

ROCK PLACE THINKING

“What luck for rulers that men do not think.”

– Adolf Hitler

Rock place thinking simplifies life.

It gives you a nice, simple, black and white world-view. There is no grey when it comes to rock place thinking. Things are either good or bad. It puts us into one box and others in another. It says a tree is a tree, that love is “all you need” and drugs are bad.

Most “isms” fall into rock place thinking. They are immovable (hence rock) beliefs such as Nationalism, Fascism, Communism, Fundamentalism, etc. 

Now you might think that rock place thinking is a bad thing, but not necessarily. All of us use rock place thinking to a certain degree. The reasons is, rock place thinking allows us to shore up self-esteem. It gives us a secure footing on which to stand. It helps us make sense of a nonsensical world.

If I didn’t call a tree a tree, I’d have to call it a tall, green, branchy, leafy thingy. Which would be closer to the truth, however, I think you can work out why our brains take certain shortcuts

Rock place thinking is also useful in certain situations and professions. As it happens rock place thinking is very useful for a pilot. If X happens, I will do Y. It helps provide us with a set of contingencies for dealing with specific normal and non normal scenarios.

So, rock place thinking certainly has a place. 

However, problems arise when people take their rock place thinking to be absolute. This, especially as it relates to one’s political, religious or cultural world views, often results in a tribal us versus them mentality.

Unfortunately for some, their entire life’s meaning is based on their rock place world views. And for them, those beliefs really are immovable. That’s because the alternative – considering the possibility that what they believe might not be true –  would be to feel the entire world give way beneath their feet.

That really is a hard place to be. 

HARD PLACE THINKING

“If you see through yourself you will see through everyone. Then you will love them.”

– Anthony De Mello

Hard place thinking is hard for a reason.

It takes the view that there is no black and white, only grey. It takes the view that what is good or bad is largely subjective. It looks at a tree and understands that “tree” is merely a label. It understands that drugs have a place and that love can blind you.

The good news is that hard place thinking is malleable. Hard place thinkers are willing to admit when they were wrong. The bad news is, hard place thinking hurts… A lot!

That’s because hard place thinking challenges our deeply held rock place beliefs.

You see, the beliefs that we hold dear are what give our lives meaning. That meaning is derived from upholding faith in those beliefs. By upholding the values we believe in, we gain psychological security. This is what builds self-esteem. If I start to question those beliefs, I start to question the very meaning of my life.

That is extremely anxiety provoking.

What we’re really doing by challenging our beliefs is challenging our ego. The problem is, the ego is a stubborn motherfucker that desperately wants to survive. It wants to survive because it believes that’s the best way to protect you.

However the ego also understands that it will have to die one day. So, in order to cope with this mortal terror, it clings to the beliefs that validate its existence.

It thinks along the lines of, “Even though I will die one day, that doesn’t mean my name has to!” Or, “If my name can’t live on in any meaningful way, then at least the country, religion, political party or football team can!”

It’s this coping mechanism that has led to the paradoxical situation we’ve seen repeat itself throughout history – where the very beliefs that people use to buffer ones mortal terror, become the very things they are willing to both die and kill for.²

Of course the only to way to see through one’s beliefs is to do some serious hard place thinking.

For example, a hard place thinker who has been brought up to believe in one particular God might eventually come to the conclusion, that because there are over 4000 different religions on this planet, that perhaps his or her religion isn’t the only true one. He or she might even conclude that all religions are wrong in detail, but that they all point to something important. 

This doesn’t mean one has to abandon his or her beliefs entirely (although it can lead there), just that they have allowed themselves to consider the possibility that they, themselves, might not posses the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This helps them to transcend their own beliefs which, in turn, fosters greater compassion and tolerance for those with different beliefs as well.

The problem with hard place thinking, as already stated, is more to do with self-esteem.

Hard place thinkers tend to be less sure of themselves. They tend to second guess themselves to the point that it paralyses them. So, often they don’t stand up for what is demonstratively right.

The other struggle comes from feeling they aren’t part of anything important. Many hard place thinkers have a hard time coming to terms with the idea that life, ultimately, holds no meaning at all. That it really doesn’t matter how they spend their life. 

In some cases they lose their footing altogether, and so they hit rock bottom.

THE SPACE IN BETWEEN

So, on the one hand we have the seductive, black and white rock place world views that make us feel good about ourselves and our place in the world. The problem being those rock place views are always crashing against reality. In the extreme, this can lead to a desire to smash other people over the head with those views in a desperate attempt to rid the world of “evil”.

On the other hand, we have the painful process of engaging in some hard place thinking that makes us feel like our entire existence is meaningless. Even though this leads to a softening of our own beliefs that, in turn, fosters a more compassionate world view.

So, how are we suppose to think between a rock and a hard place? How can we shore up our self-esteem while maintaining a world view that promotes greater tolerance for others and acceptance for impermanence?

Here’s what I think.

I say you pick up a chisel and start chipping away at those rocks. While this is extremely unsettling at first, I believe it gets easier over time. A bit like building muscles in the gym. At first we break down the fibres in our muscles. This hurts. In the short term it makes us weaker. But then the body fuses those fibres back together even stronger.

Regular hard place thinking is the equivalent of building some badass guns for your mind. Eventually, your mind becomes more resilient as you break the ego down and build it back up again – repeatedly. You build it back up upon a deeper truth. A deeper truth that not only understands more, but also comes to understand there is no absolute truth.

That truth – that there is no absolute truth – becomes a kind of rock place belief that makes you bullet proof. It allows your ego to take hit after hit. You become comfortable in the knowledge that you don’t know anything (and you really don’t). This allows you to sit in space between your thoughts. Suddenly you’re flying outside the clouds looking in, not trapped inside incapable of looking out.

I also have a theory that if you can spend enough time in this space, you might just find something that know no amount of thinking will ever take you: Paradise.  At the very least, I believe this realisation should prevent you from having a pointless argument with a complete stranger online.


Footnotes:

  1. The idea for the two different types of thinkers came from the book: The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life by Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg & Tom Pyszczynski.
  2. For more on this topic I suggest you look up something called Terror Management Theory. I can also highly recommend reading The Denial Of Death by Ernest Becker.

***

You can find more of AP’s hard place thinking here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com. You can also find him sharing more of his non sensical world views on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot

3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that enjoys eating its own words.

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

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

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) Emotions are like tunnels. You have to go through them in order to get to the light on the other side. Resist and you’ll end up stuck in the dark.

2) As a rule: The dumber the question feels, the more it needs to be asked. The only real fool is the one who deliberately remains in the dark. 

3) A wining formula for life: Radical Acceptance followed by Meaningful Action.


2 x Quotes:

“In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

— Oscar Wilde

“When the starting point is self-love and self-appreciation, we already give ourselves what we need so we don’t need to try to take it from people.”

Betul Erbasi (SOURCE: https://pointlessoverthinking.com/2021/05/30/self-appreciation/)

1 x Thing:

This BBC article: Why some narcissists actually hate themselves. The article argues that narcissists – far from loving who they are – actually suffer from issues related to self-hatred. It suggests that this understanding can help us see through their actions and foster compassion for them instead. Well worth the quick read!


1 x Joke:

Another far side comic for you all this week, I hope you enjoy!


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

One bonus question: How can you make your actions more meaningful today?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 31/05/21

The People Mirror Effect

“Your perception of me, is a reflection of you. My reaction to you is an awareness of me.” Unknown.

What do you do when you look at yourself in the mirror?

Maybe you comb your hair or have a shave. Maybe you brush and floss your teeth. Maybe you correct your posture. Maybe you examine the look in your eyes and evaluate your mood. Perhaps you decide to put on a smile. Either way I’m guessing you pay attention. I’m guessing you take the moment to show yourself some love. 

When you smile in the mirror what do you see? Your radiant self of course, but is that all? 

Can you see your mum and dad? Your brothers and sisters? Your children and grandchildren? Maybe you can see your friends or strangers you’ve never met. Maybe you can see the eyes of millions, generations long since passed, staring back at you. 

Look deeply enough and you’ll see far more than meets the eye.

If we look deeply at others we can also see they reflect the world around them. If you smile at them, they often smile back. And if they don’t, we often drop our own. In this case we become their mirror. 

This is something to be aware of. 

When we are mindless we become the mirrors of others. When others shout and harden their defences, we often do the same in response. Like a mirror image. So often in arguments you hear two people shouting with neither party listening. They might as well be shouting into a mirror.

It’s worth bearing in mind that people don’t just act like mirrors to other people, they often reflect the way the world has treated them. If the world stopped paying attention to them, they may reflect a lack of interest. If it treated them harshly they might act out in kind. The behaviours of someone often mirror something well beyond the person they’re interacting with. 

This is something else to be aware of. 

This is one reason why we shouldn’t take what others have to say so personally. Why we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. It’s also worth remembering that other people’s behaviour doesn’t reflect in you unless you let it. Unless you act mindlessly.

On the flip side when we are mindful, we can influence what others reflect back at us and the wider world. When we are mindful we can disarm the anger thrown at us. When we are mindful we can stand firm and make sure all that is reflected is love and kindness. It is when others are feeling the most pain and at their most vulnerable, that we have the best opportunity to act as mirrors to the good that exists in all of us. 

I believe we should pay the same care and attention we do ourselves in the mirror, to all those we encounter. Show them the same level of love. Maybe don’t start flossing their teeth, of course, but show them kindness all the same. The kindness and love they need. That we all do. 

Ultimately showing love and kindness to others is one of the greatest acts of self love. This is because, if you look deeply enough, you’ll see that person is you. And you are them. As one. 

It’s nice when we see ourselves smiling isn’t it?


(Thanks for reading everyone. I’m curious, do you believe our inner world is reflected back at us? Do you believe the outer world reflects our inner turmoil? Are our perceptions of others merely a reflection of ourselves? Please let us know below.)

***

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


3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that tells you to chase your dreams before taking a nap…

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

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

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1)  Be careful what you say yes to in life. Often it’s the very things we acquire for security that ends up imprisoning us.

2) One thing that’s worse than not feeling listened to is feeling misunderstood. If you disagree with someone you should seek to understand them. Speak up and say what you believe is right – of course. But listen to what they have to say as well. Be curious. Seriously consider their point of view however outlandish it may seem. They might just help to break down your own limited beliefs. Which we all have! Even if that’s not true you might, with tact, be able to help them with their own demons.

3) Chasing your dreams isn’t about achieving your dreams. Chasing your dreams is about enjoying the journey. It’s about cultivating greater gratitude and joy for the here and now. It’s about loving what you do. That’s why you should chase you dreams. It’s in the chasing that you’ll discover what you were after. If you make everything about the end result – the title or the big house – you’ll miss the journey. Worse, you’ll end up resenting it. Society’s idea of success has little to do with ones actual dreams. When you see that you’ll realise why failure shouldn’t concern you. And you will fail. You will meet obstacles. You will have set backs. No matter what it is you chase after. At least by doing what you love the successes along the way are more rewarding and the failures more bearable.


2 x Quotes:

“If you see through yourself you will see through everyone. Then you will love them.”  

– Anthony De Mello

“He who dares not offend cannot be honest.”

– Thomas Paine

1 x Thing:

This fascinating BBC article on The surprising downsides of empathy. The main argument is that empathy distorts our decision making ability – preventing us from making rational decisions. It concludes by arguing for compassion but against empathy. Well worth the quick read!

“Researchers have found that misplaced empathy can be bad for you and others, leading to exhaustion and apathy, and preventing you from helping the very people you need to. Worse, people’s empathetic tendencies can even be harnessed to manipulate them into aggression and cruelty.”


1 x Joke:

I was tickling my infant son the other day while saying, “Goochie goochie goo.”

My wife commented, “It’s pronounced Coochie, not Goochie!”

I replied, “Not for our baby it’s not!”

“Why’s that?” she asked.

“Because he’s clearly a designer baby!”

“Get it? Goochie…”

My wife wasn’t impressed.

Still, at least my son seemed to enjoy it.


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

One bonus question to finish: What does your dream look like? What does it mean to you?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 22/03/21

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 take your medicine with a spoon full of sugar…

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

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

Let’s begin!


4 x Thoughts From Me:

If you were completely at peace with who you are and where you’re at in life, you wouldn’t be thinking so much about yourself. In fact, beyond your basic needs, you wouldn’t be thinking about yourself at all. 

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. It works wonders. Don’t ignore it. Accept it. Process it. Then move on with the greater meaning and purpose that you have derived from it. 

People forget that our emotions are both our biggest weakness and our biggest superpower. What you need to do is understand them. And I’m not talking on an intellectual level. That’s easy. I’m talking about insight my friend. Insight is what you need. Insight will set you free. 

If you’re not talking to yourself as you would your own friends and family then perhaps you’re not showing yourself the love and compassion that you should? And if you are, perhaps you’re not being as honest with yourself as you should? (Side note: What a f***ing dichotomy of thought that is.)


3 x Quotes From Others:

“You don’t build self esteem by patting people on the back and telling them they’re wonderful. Confidence is a much more complex phenomenon that comes from experiencing one’s strengths in action.” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter

“There is freedom waiting for you, On the breezes of the sky, And you ask “What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, What if you fly?” – Erin Hanson (Source: https://cristianmihai.net/these-5-quotes-changed-my-mindset-forever/)

“We are each responsible for our own life. If you are holding anyone else accountable for your happiness, you are wasting your time. You must be fearless enough to give yourself the love you didn’t receive. Begin noticing how each day brings a new opportunity for your growth. Pay attention. Every choice gives you a chance to pave your own road. Keep moving. Full speed ahead.” – Oprah Winfrey (Source: https://vrundachauk.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/taking-responsibility/)


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This Brain Pickings article – 13 Life-Learnings from 13 Years of Brain Pickings – from one of my favourite bloggers Maria Popova. If you’ve not read her blog I can highly recommend you spend some time exploring. She’s a truly gifted writer. This article is well worth digesting with a cup of tea and bickies! I’ve quoted number 13 from her article below.

“In any bond of depth and significance, forgive, forgive, forgive. And then forgive again. The richest relationships are lifeboats, but they are also submarines that descend to the darkest and most disquieting places, to the unfathomed trenches of the soul where our deepest shames and foibles and vulnerabilities live, where we are less than we would like to be. Forgiveness is the alchemy by which the shame transforms into the honor and privilege of being invited into another’s darkness and having them witness your own with the undimmed light of love, of sympathy, of nonjudgmental understanding. Forgiveness is the engine of buoyancy that keeps the submarine rising again and again toward the light, so that it may become a lifeboat once more.”

– Maria Popova

2 – This YouTube video – Why Coronavirus Will Win Trump The Election – narrated by Stephen Fry. Just is case you haven’t made your mind up about who to vote for yet and just in case there was any doubt about who you really must vote for, well, give this a watch!


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

My dad sent me a picture of my mum stood next to a ginormous pumpkin that they happened upon in a local farmers market last week.

This thing was massive! It was wider than my mum is tall! Honestly I’ve never seen a pumpkin so big before in my life.

Anyway I thought for a second before replying, “Hey, if you carve Donald Trump’s face into that thing you’ll have a life sized replica!”

(Wait for it…)

“You could call it Trumpkin!”

(Just imagine the horror – 4 more years of this! Probably best we just throw it it out in November hey?)


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

Till next time…

Have a Happy Halloween Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all:

How can you give yourself a break today?

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 19/10/20

Ripples In The Pond

I dropped a pebble in a pond the other day and watched as the ripples reverberated outwards. 

Then I started thinking. 

When the water is calm the ripples travel unobstructed. It’s clear as day.

Yet when the waters are rough it’s very difficult, if not impossible, for us to see them. 

Yet they do.

They must.

The same way the water in your bathtub must rise if you place an object in it.

This made me realise – even the smallest acts of kindness and compassion have ripples that travel further than any of us know. We shouldn’t underestimate the impact that small acts of love can have. And just because we can’t see the impact, it doesn’t mean there hasn’t been one.

There has to be.

If you drop a small pebble in turbulent waters you will still make a splash. It will make a difference. Small acts of kindness will move more water than meets the eye.

We‘d do well to remember that all water in a pond must move to accommodate the smallest pebble.

We’d do well to remember that if all of us place enough pebbles in the water, we might just move the ocean.

In Honour Of A Boy I Never Knew

I found out today what you did.

I never knew you and yet you were so close.

Just four floors above and yet you might as well have lived on the other side of the world.

We must have passed many times, side by side in the elevator and yet, I never noticed.

Did I smile?

Did I show you kindness?

Or did my preoccupations blind me from seeing you?

I’m sorry if you thought the world didn’t care. If the world didn’t pay attention.

I shed a tear for you today.

I never knew you, but I’ll never forget you. I’ll never forget how you must have suffered.

I want you to know your life was not in vain.

In your honour, I will be better.

In your honour, I will strive to keep my eyes and my heart open.

To really see the people I pass. To see the people I don’t know but are every bit a part of this shared world.

In your honour, I will be kinder.

In your honour, I will strive to be the best version of myself.

In your honour, I will love my life to fullest extent possible.

In your honour, the boy I never knew.

May you rest now in peace.


Those who have never experienced the darkest corners of their mind, will never be able to understand why someone would contemplate suicide. 

I myself can’t, but from experience I believe I can, at least, appreciate how it might lead there. 

To those who might label them as selfish – who are quick to judge – I would ask you to think for a second and consider this. 

If a man were burning alive and you handed him a loaded gun, would you judge him for shooting himself?

Living with a depression that drives people to take their own lives is something very few of us will ever be able to comprehend.

What I can say with some degree of certainty, however, is judgement won’t help those in the battle to save their own lives.  

They need our love, compassion and understanding. 

They need our help.

Be kind and if you think someone might be suffering, reach out. 

Something as seemingly simple as asking for help is anything but easy when you’re drowning. 

You never know just how powerful a lifeline you might be offering.

To those who are suffering, who don’t know how to ask, who can’t seem to find the strength, please know there are people waiting to embrace you when you do.

There are people who still love you and know you have what it takes to come back from the brink. 

If you can find the courage, I’ve left a list of links below where you can seek help.


HELPLINES, SUICIDE HOTLINES, AND CRISIS-LINES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Local Websites And Emergency Contact Numbers

https://www.befrienders.org

https://www.samaritans.org

https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/international/global-mental-health

(FYI I wrote this back in May after finding out that a young boy, just 16 years old, committed suicide by jumping from the balcony of his apartment in the high rise above where we live. I wanted to share it again in an effort to spread awareness and remind myself why mental health is such an important issue – especially this year. We need to make sure we are looking after ourselves and each other now more than ever. Wishing you all peace and love on this years World Mental Health Day. AP2 X)

Motivational Mondays – 04/10/20

Hello fine readers and welcome back to my Motivational Mondays Post! The only weekly newsletter that makes you take a freezing cold shower before wrapping you in a warm towel.

Following a 4:3:2:1 approach, it contains 4 exceptional thoughts from me (ha), 3 admittedly better quotes from others, and 2 things I’ve been reading and/or listening to this week that have helped me grow.

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


4 x Thoughts From Me:

When you cling to something you lose the ability to see clearly. It’s only by letting go that you give yourself the space that true love requires. 

When our leaders continue to lie and treat us like children – when they fail to protect us in ways we know they never should have… At times like these I take solace in the words that Obama said when he left office – that progress is never a straight line – but the over all trend is upward. The world is far safer and more equitable than it was 100 years ago. We will always have these wobbles in history as those in power try hard to resist changes that are both necessary and inevitable. Of course we can’t be complacent and we need to keep fighting for those changes. It’s important to stress, in the same way that high can’t exist without low, hate cannot exist without love. Now is the time for the voices of love, peace and compassion to rise to the table and tame the cauldron that is 2020.

The best way to look after the world is to look after yourself. 

How much of the time that you spend on your phone is intentional versus mindless? Let me be clear about intentional time. I’m not just talking about work. Connecting with family and friends or using social media to champion a cause you believe in. This is intentional time. Watching cat videos or playing candy crush – maybe not. If your intention is to unwind with a game that’s fine of course, but make sure you use your phone with intention. Have a point when you pick it up. Make sure it’s not simply about trying to get a dopamine hit because that, my friend, is an addiction. 


3 x Quotes From Others:

“The moral thing I should wish to say… is very simple. I should say: love is wise, hatred is foolish. In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other. We have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way and if we are to live together and not die together, we must learn the kind of charity and the kind of tolerance which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.” – Bertrand Russell (Source: brain pickings.org – The Love of Truth and the Truth of Love: Bertrand Russell on the Two Pillars of Human Flourishing)

“Rabbi Alfred Bettleheim once said: “Prejudice saves us a painful trouble, the trouble of thinking.” ― Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Source: tablet mag.com – Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Teenage Essay on the Holocaust)

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs (Source: cristianmihai.net – Don’t Try. Be)


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This brilliant Tim Ferris podcast episode with Jamie Foxx on Workout Routines, Success Habits, and Untold Hollywood Stories… For sheer entertainment value this might be one of the best Tim Ferris episodes I’ve listened to. Jamie Foxx’s impersonations are incredible. What. A. Talent. This is well worth taking the time to listen. I guarantee you’ll love it! You can find a few of quotes and notes I took from the pod below.

NOTES & QUOTES:

  • ‘You are the bow and your children are the arrows. You’re just trying your best to aim them in the right direction. And hopefully your aim isn’t too off.’
  • “The notes are right underneath your fingers baby. You just gotta take the time to play the right ones. That’s life.” – Ray Charles
  • “What’s on the other side of fear? Nothing.”
  • If you can stay motivated and not be jaded or feel entitled or be spoiled then you can do anything. 
  • “The hardest part to achieving something great is afterwards because now you have to top that.
  • One of the most amazing things about America is the evolution of freedom. We are on the right path. Be who you want to be. Love who you want to love. We are evolving. 
  • I asked my daughter what she thinks about gay rights. She replied we don’t. We don’t think about. We don’t give a shit. That’s you guys. – Thank god for the youth. 
  • You better start laughing because you’re gonna be dead in a minute. 
  • What do you do when you get writers block? I write about things that get me angry. 
  • The best kind of interaction is in person because it requires discretion to deal with all types. On the internet people interact without discretion and you can get dragged down by it. 
  • Your hustle muscle is the most important thing to exercise. When you want something and you go make it happen as opposed to leaving it up to chance. If you hustle you’re not spending your time worrying. Put the hard work in and it takes 70 percent of your worrying away. 

2 – This very interesting BBC article by David RobsonWhy Arrogance Is Dangerously Contagious. From the article: “Now, fascinating new research by Joey Cheng, an assistant professor of psychology at York University, shows that overconfidence can be contagious. “If you have been exposed to an overconfident person, then you become more likely to overestimate your own relative standing,” she says. It’s a tendency that could cause dangerously deluded thinking to spread through a team.” This is well worth the quick read!


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

So we took our son for a little staycation this weekend to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival!

As I was pointing it out the full moon to him, he quickly buried his head into my shoulder while saying, “I’m scared.”

I asked him, “Of the moon?”

He replied, “Yes.”

I looked over to my wife who said, “Why on Earth would he be scared of the moon?”

I was quick to reply, “Why on Moon wouldn’t he be?”

She rolled her eyes.

“Wait wait, I can come up with something better…”

I continued, “Maybe he’s afraid that it’s going to sit on him!”

Get it!?

Because it’s the Moon


I’m here all week ladies and gentlemen.! 

Till next time…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all:

How can you make sure that the time spent on your phone is intentional?

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Motivational Mondays – 28/09/20

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 🙏

Why You Should Do It For Me

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

It’s not enough.

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

Fear wins instead.

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

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

Use that to motivate you.

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

I’ll make a deal with you.

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

Let’s help each other by helping ourselves.

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

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.

Motivational Mondays – 31/08/20

Hello fine readers and welcome back to my Motivational Mondays Post – The only weekly newsletter to give your medicine with a spoon full of sugar!

Following a 4:3:2:1 approach, it contains 4 exceptional thoughts from me (ha), 3 admittedly better quotes from others, and 2 things I’ve been reading and/or listening to this week that have helped me grow!

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

Love to all X


4 x Thoughts From Me:

If you can improve your life knowing you already have enough, then future failures will hurt you less and future successes will bring you more joy. 

The early bird often catches the worm because he or she is an early bird. If you’re a night owl, forcing yourself to catch worms in the morning isn’t the best strategy. Far better to build your day according to a schedule that suits your chronotype. Why hunt for worms if it’s easier for you to catch mice?

For all wannabe bloggers: understand we all have to start from scratch and that it takes time and effort for things to take off. Most important are your reasons for blogging. Let it be about the love of writing. Let it be about helping others, however small the number. If your words reach just one person then you’ve already achieved something special. Forget the numbers and speak from your heart. Forget the numbers and concentrate on making connections instead. Forget the numbers and enjoy the journey.

An intolerance of right wing politics from the left only strengthens intolerance in the right and vice versa. Not having tolerance for those who you disagree only strengthens their position, as well as your own. It only deepens the divide. What we need is greater understanding. We cannot change what we don’t understand.


3 x Quotes From Others:

“To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.” – Octavia Butler

“After a point of time, when you get success and fame, money and everything, the purpose of life has to be redefined. For me, I think that purpose is to build bridges. Artists can do that very easily, more than politicians.” – A. R. Rahman

“Democracy is only as good as the education that surrounds it.”- Socrates


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This interesting No Stupid Questions podcast episode with Steven Dubner and Angela Duckworth: How Much of Your Life Do You Actually Control? In this episode Steven and Angela discuss the advantages of having an internal locus of control versus an external locus. They also discuss the reasons why we procrastinate and how to stop it. Note and quotes below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • Those who have an internal locus of control tend to think they effect outcomes more than they actually do. They believe life is controlled by them. Those with an external locus tend to think they have less control than they actually do. They believe life happens to them. 
  • People with an internal locus tend to be more successful. They have better mental health. People with external locus are more prone to depression- tend to be more lackadaisical at work. 
  • The most productive thing one can do in a difficult situation is to concentrate on controlling the controllables.
  • Good to have two columns in your mind. What you can control and what you can’t. Make the active choice to concentrate your finite attention and energy on what you can control. Give up wasting it on blaming external circumstances outside of your control. 
  • Children taught to have a growth mindset and to have grit perform better. It’s important to teach this mindset keeping in mind that other children – through no fault of their own – are disadvantaged. We can’t continue to create a culture of superiority where adults believe it’s only because they worked harder that they have been more successful. 
  • “Why put off what you can do tomorrow till the day after tomorrow?” – Mark Twain 
  • Why do we procrastinate? We procrastinate because of fear. Not because of laziness. 
  • We often think of a task as being far more difficult and taxing than it really is. As a result we expend more emotional energy procrastinating than we would if we simply got on with the task.
  • I love deadlines. I need deadlines. Without the deadline I’d be about 90% less productive than I am. 
  • Procrastinating is a form of impulsivity. It’s a failure to delay gratification – like the marshmallow test. The question is whether you are going to do what’s best for your future self or please your present self? 
  • A procrastinator correlates with lower achievement and lower self esteem 
  • Upside to procrastination?- more creative. Procrastinating can be used as a useful creative tool. To connect the dots. 
  • But deliberately delaying a task or a problem to think of a solution – is that procrastination? Procrastination is used as a negative term to describe an action we wish we had done earlier. 
  • Tip 1. Break big tasks into small tasks. The dread is often because you are anticipating the enormity of a task like writing a book. When focusing on small manageable chunks progress becomes easier. 
  • Tip 2. Just start. Self deception. I’m just going to take a look. I’m just going to do 5 mins. Simply start and you’ll often find you end up doing more than you expected.

2 – This excellent TED talk – Why Schools Should Teach Children For The Real World – by Ted Dintersmith.

“As automation eliminates structured jobs and careers, schools should focus on training students to be bold, creative and entrepreneurial. Instead, argues education advocate Ted Dintersmith, the core purpose of education has been lost in a wave of testing, data and increasingly irrelevant metrics. In this talk, he underscores the need to educate for innovative and creative strengths, and trust our schools and teachers to prepare our kids for life, instead of standardized tests.”


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

This one will be short and sweet, just like my gorgeous silly boy who decided to start naming his nose after things!

Yes you read that correctly.

As my wife explained, he’s started pointing at his nose and saying things like, “This is car!”

I laughed before replying, “That’s good to nose…”

I’m here all week ladies and gentlemen!


Till next time…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all:

What can you write about that nobody else can?

(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 POSTS:

Motivational Mondays – 24/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 17/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 10/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 27/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 20/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 13/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 06/07/20

How To Develop More Intelligent Self-Interest

“One should never do something to others that one would regard as an injury to one’s own self. In brief, this is dharma. Anything else is succumbing to desire.”

— MAHĀBHĀRATA 13.114.8 (CRITICAL EDITION)

It’s ironic that the fictional character Joey from friends, who everyone laughed at for being a bit slow, was also the character to come out with one of the most profound statements of the entire show when he argued with Phoebe that,

“There is no such thing as a truly self-less good deed.”

I agree with him.

Whether you’d care to admit it almost every action we make is motivated on some level by selfish intent. Even a charitable act is motivated on some level by your desire to feel good.

That’s not to say there is anything wrong with this – in fact, quite the opposite – it’s just something to be aware of. After all, if we weren’t motivated on some level by a desire to feel good, or to avoid feeling bad, then why would we do anything? We need something to motivate us. For that reason there has to be an element of self-interest behind our actions.

Anyway, why do I bring this up?

I heard the expression intelligent self-interest mentioned on a podcast a while back. This got me thinking about what this means and how we can make our self-interests more intelligent.

When I dug a little deeper I came to understand, although they are described/defined somewhat differently by various articles on the subject we can, broadly speaking, look at self-interest on three different levels.

Those are unintelligent (or stupid as I like to think of it), intelligent and enlightened self-interest.

This post is going to define each and look at how we can cultivate the latter two.


What is unintelligent self-interest?

Unintelligent self-interest is the personal interest of an individual that, if pursued, hurts others and/or themselves.

Some obvious examples of unintelligent-interest include binge watching NETFLIX, drug abuse, smoking, mindlessly scrolling on social media, etc. 

You know, all the things you shouldn’t be doing that every blogger and his dog bang on about everyday. (All the things I’ve done before, and in some cases still do…)

These are unintelligent forms of self interest because they satisfy a desire at the expense of our longer term health and happiness. 

We also tend to think because I’m only doing these things to myself that’s ok. I’m not hurting anyone else. 

But that’s wrong. 

What hurts you ultimately hurts others. By not working to resolve past trauma or avoiding negative emotions instead of doing what you ought to, you can trust me when I tell you this, not only does this hurt yourself it also hurts those around you. 

How then can we make our self-interests more intelligent and what does it mean?


What is intelligent self interest?

Intelligent self-interest is still about acting in ways that suit you, however, it also considers the ways in which it helps others.

It is about thinking of the other person while acting for yourself, i.e. you’re not acting without regard for others.

Some obvious examples of intelligent self-interest include meditation, exercise, a healthy diet, plentiful sleep, etc.

You know, all the things you should do that every blogger and his dog bang on about everyday. 

These are intelligent forms of self interest because you’re acting in a way that not only benefits your own longer term health and happiness, it also benefits others.

After all, a happier and healthier you is a happier and healthier world. Further, you cannot look after others without first looking after yourself.

One of the problems that proponents of such activities have is the way in which they frame their motivations. They talk on and on about the benefits they have for you. How meditation, exercise and a balanced diet helps you

Often they over emphasise the benefits these activities have for you without considering the larger reasons beyond the immediate. 

If you want to make mediation a habit, as an example, it’s far better to consider how taking the time to cultivate mindfulness is of benefit to your family and friends, as well as yourself. 

One way to do this is by asking yourself the following question:

Am I doing this because of love or fear?

I believe one of the major reasons our motivations stall is because we don’t feel we’re good enough (fear) and so give up far too easily. This is a problem many of us have when focusing solely on ourselves. If you take the focus away from yourself and instead remind yourself of the other people in your life for whom you’re doing these things (love), you’re far more likely to stick with it.

At least I know I am.

Instead of beating ourselves up for not being good enough and metaphorically whipping ourselves to do something about it, why not focus on feeling good about doing the things that ultimately help others too?

It’s a win win.

This brings us to the final level on the self-interest scale that I made up. The question I have is how can we act in enlightened self-interest that helps others? How can we see that helping others does in fact help ourselves? Let’s first explore what it means.


What is enlightened self-interest?

Enlightened self-interest is acting for others without expecting anything in return.

Some obvious examples of enlightened self-interest include donating to charity, volunteer work, saving someones life, etc.

You know, all the things every blogger and his dog probably should be going on about everyday but don’t.

These are acts done from the goodness of ones hearts. They aren’t done in expectation of gaining anything personally. 

I would make a point that this is very different to acting out of a sense of responsibility or obligation – because you think it’s the right thing to do. 

It’s far deeper than that. 

Enlightened self-interest understands that although no obvious attributable gain for oneself has been made, a bit like the beautiful philosophical idea of karma, what comes around goes around.

People who act in enlightened self-interest understand we are all part of the same world. That by hurting another you’re ultimately hurting yourself.

This is why it’s heavily related to the Golden rule: To treat others as you would like others to treat you.

Or, to put it as a question, one can ask themselves,

How would I want others to help me if I were in their position?

This isn’t rocket science of course.

If you look deeply enough, you’ll find how you treat others is how you treat yourself. Kindness to others extends inwards as well as out. The same is as true for anger or hatred. You give fuel to those feelings within yourself by acting on them. 

Enlightened self-interests come about as a by-product of truly wanting to help this world, as you would like it to be for you. By thinking in terms of how your actions will affect others we can, bit by bit, develop enlightened self-interest naturally. It’s simply a matter of acting in the interests of your heart. 

(As always I welcome ALL comments and ideas on this blog. If you have anything to add or any other suggestions about how develop more intelligent self-interest I’d love to hear from you in the comments sections below)


SOURCES:

https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/evolution/unselfish-act.htm

https://hbr.org/1989/05/how-selfish-are-people-really

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enlightened_self-interest

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karma

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

Hello fine readers and welcome to my monthly newsletter! 

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

I hope you enjoy!


WHAT I’VE BEEN WRITING:

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

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

In Honour Of A Boy I Never Knew

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

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

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

9 Golden Rules For Cultivating A Growth Mindset

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

Why A Basic Understanding Of The Mind Helps To Let Go

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

Happy Silly Mondays

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

Happy Silly Mondays – 25/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 18/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 11/05/20


WHAT I’VE BEEN READING:

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury

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

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

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


RANDOM THOUGHTS FROM MY JOURNAL:

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

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

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

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

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

Having a routine = A commitment to improvement everyday.

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

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

In not addressing our own suffering we cause it in others

You can never be perfect but you can always be better

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

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

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

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

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

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