Fear-Setting: A powerful exercise for making major life decisions.

Beware Fear Disguised As Optimism.

“There’s no difference between a pessimist who says, ‘Oh, it’s hopeless, so don’t bother doing anything,’ and an optimist who says, ‘Don’t bother doing anything, it’s going to turn out fine any way.’ Either way, nothing happens.”

— Yvon Chouinard

Most of us don’t call fear out for what it is. We often dress it up as something else. Many of us will even rationalise our fear as optimism.

We entertain thoughts that our situation will magically improve over time. This is common for someone working a job they dislike. 

But the truth is – if you feel the same way you did several months or years ago – things probably won’t get better by themselves. Unless you do something about it, the chances are you’ll remain just as unhappy as you are now.

This is what’s happened to me. 

Right now I’m standing at the edge of the precipice about to take a leap of faith. All of my gremlins have come crawling out of the woodwork. 

They’re whispering in my ear. Telling me this is a massive mistake, that it will end in disaster, that I have no idea what I’m doing… 

Of course fear wants us to play it safe. It wants us to choose certainty over happiness. That’s because the ego isn’t interested happiness. It’s only interested in survival.  

But that’s why it’s important to understand just how dangerous that leap of faith really is.

But to do that, you first have to embrace your demons. You have to give them the time and space to air out their concerns. So that you can really examine them. So you can hold them up in the light and see that fear for what it is:

  • False. 
  • Evidence. 
  • Appearing. 
  • Real. 

This helps us understand where our fears are really coming from. It helps us see what we can do to mitigate those concerns. Which fears are worth listening to and which really aren’t.

This in turn can give us the strength we need to take that leap of faith.

Fear-Setting: A powerful exercise for making major life decisions.

“You have comfort. You don’t have luxury. And don’t tell me that money plays a part. The luxury I advocate has nothing to do with money. It cannot be bought. It is the reward of those who have no fear of discomfort.”

— Jean Cocteau.

With this in mind I have an exercise you might consider. It’s an exercise I ran through the other night in an attempt to gain more clarity on my impending decision to divert from Hong Kong and my career in aviation.

It’s called fear-setting – an exercise that Tim Ferris called, “the most valuable one he does every month.” If you’re interested his article breaks it down in greater detail.

In a nut shell, here’s what you do:

  1. First, you write down the major life change you’re considering. 
  2. Second, define the worst case scenario in pain staking detail. Ask yourself if it really would be the end of your life? How permanent would it be? How likely is the worst case scenario?
  3. Third, ask yourself what steps could you take to repair the damage/deal with worst. Would you be able to get another job? What if you were fired from your job today? What would you do? How would you cope?
  4. Forth, ask yourself what the outcomes/benefits of a more probable scenario are. What are the definite positive outcomes (including for your self-esteem, mental and physical health etc)? What would the impact of these more likely outcomes be? 
  5. Fifth, ask what the cost will be if you do nothing? What is the cost of inaction? What will it cost you financially, emotionally & physically if you postpone this difficult choice?
  6. Finally, ask yourself what you’re so afraid of? What are currently putting off out of fear?

Perhaps It’s Better the Devil You Don’t Know?

“It’s not that we fear the unknown. You cannot fear something that you do not know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known. That’s what you fear.”

– SJ Anthony de Mello

After running through this exercise the other night I came to a number of important insights.

I realised the nightmare scenario I’d been envisioning was one in a million. And the benefits – the positive outcomes – were much more likely. Even if the worst did come to pass, I realised that much of what I felt I was giving up was reversible.

But I also considered what the longer term costs of inaction might be. This presented me with another picture. One that was every bit as scary as the one that had been causing me to hesitate.

So I asked myself, ‘what I am really afraid of here?’ 

After giving it some thought it occurred to me that I what fear most – isn’t what the future might hold – but losing what I know.

I fear losing the gremlins that have kept safe for so long.

People often say it’s better the devil you know. But what if the devil you don’t know isn’t a devil after all?

After all, you don’t know.

What if it’s not an angel sent to save you? If only you had the courage to reach out to it – if only you had the strength to take that leap of faith and leave the shoreline behind.

The truth is, change is the only inevitability in this life. To cling to what we know only provides us with a false sense of security.

I would argue, to embrace change – to embrace the unknown – is to embrace life itself. 

***

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

You can also find him on Medium at: https://anxiouspilot2.medium.com

Or on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot

3-2-1 Flying Fridays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to 3-2-1 Flying Fridays! The only weekly post that believes embracing uncertainty is the only sure way to live…

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 something special (maybe). 

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

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) A relationship without conflict is doomed. We must challenge each other if we want to grow together. We need a person who will contend with us, not someone who will only worship us. We need someone who is courageous enough to tell us the truth, even if it hurts.

2) If you want to conquer fear you have to define it in pain-staking detail first. You have to hold it up in the light and examine it to see it for what it really is:

  • False.
  • Evidence.
  • Appearing. 
  • Real.

3) Change is the only certainty in life. To cling to what you know only provides you with a false sense of security. To embrace change – to embrace the unknown – is to embrace life itself. 


2 x Quotes:

Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: “Is this the condition that I feared?””

— Seneca

What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. 

Tim Ferris.

1 x Thing:

This Tim Ferris article: Fear-Setting: The Most Valuable Exercise I Do Every Month. I highly suggest giving the article a read – especially if you’re currently challenged with making a major life decision. The article goes into greater detail but, in a nut shell, this is what you do:

  1. Write down the major life change you’re considering. 
  2. Define the worst case scenario in pain staking detail. 
  3. Ask yourself what steps could you take to repair the damage/deal with worst. 
  4. Ask yourself what the outcomes/benefits of a more probable scenario are
  5. Ask yourself what the cost will be if you do nothing? What is the cost of inaction? 
  6. Finally, ask yourself what you’re so afraid of? 

1 x Joke:

Did you hear about the rock that faced his greatest fear?

He is now a little boulder.


PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER:

3-2-1 Flying Fridays – 11/03/22

***

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

You can also find him on Medium at: https://anxiouspilot2.medium.com

Or on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot

3-2-1 Flying Fridays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to the Flying Fridays newsletter! The only weekly newsletter that tells you to stop playing so it can win…

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 something special (maybe). 

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

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) Before you play a game, there’s an important question you should ask yourself. That’s why you’re playing the game that you are, because the reason you’re playing – your why – has got to be bigger than winning. Success alone isn’t enough. Winning isn’t enough. Why do you want more followers on Twitter, or Instagram, or WordPress? Why do you want to become a published author? Why do you want to get that promotion?  What is the reason for playing the game that you are? 

2) No child plays to win. A child plays because it wants to play. That’s because playing is an expression of joy. Playing is an expression of freedom. Playing, in its purest form, is an expression of love. The reason for playing at anything is for the love of that thing. 

3) If you want more than what you already have, you’re poor. If you believe you have more than enough, you’re rich. This is true regardless of how much stuff you actually have.


2 x Quotes:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

“[A] low state of consciousness occurs when “we believe we are separate from everything else, alone and vulnerable.” If the world is all about you and your political preferences, injustices, fears, wants, and attention-seeking, then you’re putting yourself in a low state of consciousness. You’re taking every little thing too damn seriously and not zooming out to see the big picture: you are just like them, there is no enemy, people change, you’re not here for long, and your opinion isn’t right or wrong (it just is).”

Consciousness expert Vishen Lakhiani

1 x Thing:

This Psychology Today article: Seeing Is Believing: The Power of Visualization by resilience coach A.J. Adams. Using a number of example A.J. Adams demonstrates just how powerful the practise of visualisation can be for achieving your goals/improving performance. Her advice below:

Begin by establishing a highly specific goal. Imagine the future; you have already achieved your goal. Hold a mental “picture” of it as if it were occurring to you right at that moment. Imagine the scene in as much detail as possible. Engage as many of the five senses as you can in your visualization. Who are you with? Which emotions are you feeling right now? What are you wearing? Is there a smell in the air? What do you hear? What is your environment? Sit with a straight spine when you do this. Practice at night or in the morning (just before/after sleep). Eliminate any doubts, if they come to you. Repeat this practice often. Combine with meditation or an affirmation (e.g. “I am courageous; I am strong.”)

A.J. Adams.

1 x Joke:

My wife mentioned that there was a lunar eclipse this evening.

I asked, “Do you know how the moon cuts his hair?

“Eclipse it, of course!”


PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER:

3-2-1 Flying Fridays – 5/11/21


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3-2-1 Flying Fridays!

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to the Flying Fridays newsletter! The only weekly newsletter that laughs when you fall over before helping you back up…

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 something special (maybe). 

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

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) Treat your emotions like you would a child. They’re equally irrational. It’s non judgemental compassion that gets them on side. Getting angry at a child who is throwing a tantrum doesn’t work. So it is with you.

2) The belief that something is wrong with us is central to the issue of feeling bad about feeling bad because that belief brings up more negative emotions (go figure), which we then see as confirmation that something is wrong with us.

3) Attempts to control negative thoughts and emotions makes them worse. Better to concentrate on forming desirable habits instead. Mood follows action.


2 x Quotes:

“For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts and that the world is not so ill with you and me as it might have been is half owing to those who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs.”

― George Eliot, MiddleMarch

“Most people die at 25… we just don’t bury them until they are 70.”

Benjamin Franklin

1 x Thing:

This excerpt from The Practice of Groundedness by Brad Stulberg on perception of vulnerability:

Researchers at the University of Mannheim, in Germany, conducted a series of seven experiments in which they had adult participants share information about themselves with one another at varying levels of vulnerability. They repeatedly found that the individual doing the sharing felt that their vulnerability would be perceived as weak, as a negative. But the person on the other end of the conversation, the listener, felt the exact opposite: the more vulnerable the sharer was, the more courageous they perceived him or her to be. The listener viewed vulnerability as an unambiguously positive trait. “Confessing romantic feelings, asking for help, or taking responsibility for a mistake constitute just a few examples of situations that require showing one’s vulnerability,” write the researchers from the University of Mannheim. “Out of fear, many individuals decide against it.” But this, the researchers conclude, is a mistake. “Even when examples of showing vulnerability might sometimes feel more like weakness from the inside, our findings indicate that, to others, these acts might look more like courage from the outside. Given the positive consequences [increased trust and connection, improved learning from others, and forgiveness after making a mistake] of showing vulnerability for relationship quality, health, or job performance, it might, indeed, be beneficial to try to overcome one’s fears and to choose to see the beauty in the mess of vulnerable situations.” The University of Mannheim researchers aptly coined their finding “the beautiful mess effect.”

– Brad Stulberg

1 x Joke:

What did the left eyebrow say to the right eyebrow?

“Between you and me, something smells.”


PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER:

3-2-1 Flying Fridays – 29/10/21


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3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays!

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.

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) Growth for growth’s sake isn’t enough. Why do you want more money? Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want more followers on Twitter? You need to define your values first and foremost.

2) The truth hurts initially but makes you stronger in the long run. A lie feels good to begin with but ultimately hurts much more.

3) Prioritising the things you value the most means learning to let go of everything else. That means understanding that everything you don’t pay attention to will get messy. It means embracing chaos in certain areas of your life. A happy, loving, laughter-filled day with my children means a chaotic household – I can tell you that right now! The point here is about perfection. Perfection and balance don’t work together. Attempts at having a perfect life will ruin your chances at having a balanced one.

 


2 x Quotes:

““The things you run from are inside you.” 

– Seneca

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”

– Mark Twain

1 x Question:

This BBC work-life article: How workers are re-defining professional ambition. As someone who has been reevaluating his own career ambitions, I found this article to be particularly interesting. Quote, “We’re not necessarily becoming less professionally ambitious, experts say, but our collective understanding of ambition – as a concept in the context of work – is evolving into something less standardised, more subtle, increasingly personal and often quite complex for employers wedded to tradition to understand.”


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 30/08/21


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Why You Shouldn’t Hope for the Best

“Misfortune weighs most heavily on those who expect nothing but good fortune.”

– SENECA

Have you ever noticed how we’re taught that our wants and desires have everything to do with our suffering, yet we’re also taught to “live in hope”? Have you ever stopped to consider how these messages might muddy the waters?

You see it all over the blogosphere, of course. “Don’t give up,” “Hang in there,” “Never lose hope”… 

But what, exactly, are we supposed to never lose hope for? A perfect body? A million dollars? For becoming a celebrity so we may be adored forever? For politicians to do as they promised – to do what’s right for our children?!

Hah! 

So many talk as if hope is the panacea to life’s problems. As if hope will set us free. I wonder how many people have stopped to ask themselves whether hoping is the problem? That maybe it’s because they’re hoping that they’re suffering? I wonder how many people miss their own lives because they’re constantly hoping for something different? 

I’m guessing it’s a lot.

What if you shouldn’t be hoping for something different? What if, when your survival isn’t at stake – when, at this moment, there is nothing wrong – what if hoping is the last thing you should be doing? 

What if accepting life as it stands is more important than hoping?

We cannot hope the pandemic will disappear tomorrow after all, or that evil will vanquish without a fight. Of course, we must believe in our ability to prevail, but to hope for things out of our control? 

Well, hello, psychological torture my old friend!

Maybe we can work towards improving our lives without feeling it needs to be? Maybe we can work in recognition that we already have everything we need? Maybe our work can be dedicated to helping others for that reason? For those who really do need to “live in hope” because their survival depends on it?

What Hope Is For

This is where I believe we need to be clear: Hope isn’t for external reality, it’s for your ability to deal with it. It’s for survivalIt’s designed to lift you from the brink of destruction. When your back is against the wall and you ingest birds in both of your engines, hope gives you the fortitude to land that fucker in the Hudson.

Talking of which, when Sully Sullenberger ingested a flock of geese in both engines, the most remarkable thing about that day wasn’t that he successfully managed to ditch an aeroplane on the Hudson. (Although that was pretty damn remarkable.) 

No, the most remarkable thing was his ability to rapidly come to terms with his predicament. The most remarkable thing was his ability to take stock of his situation and find the clarity needed to do his job under the most extreme circumstances. 

In a TV interview where he describes the events of that day, he said he remembers the first three conscious thoughts he had vividly. The first was, “This can’t be happening.” Followed by, “This doesn’t happen to me.” Then, he said, this was followed by a dawning realisation that this flight, unlike any other flight during his 40 + career in aviation, wouldn’t end on a runway with the aircraft undamaged. He said, “I was ok with that, as long as I could solve the problem.”

Talk about radical acceptance! I don’t know about you, but it takes me more time to accept life when the alarm goes off in the morning.

A Counterintuitive Approach

Here’s the funny thing about acceptance – it provides a counterintuitive approach to hope. If you have the fortitude to do so, it prevents you from hoping for something different. To be saved by some knight in shining armour. 

It means you’re left hoping for one thing and one thing alone: yourself. Your ability to deal with life as it stands. Even if that’s means you’ve just ingested birds in both of your engines!

Of course, that’s scary. Having to come to terms with the brutal facts of your reality. To understand that you and you alone are responsible for it. 

That’s why most people don’t. They’re too scared to own that level of responsibility. So they distract themselves through addiction and false hope, convincing themselves that their life circumstances are not their fault and, therefore, not their responsibility. 

Of course, that’s wrong. We are always responsible for things that aren’t our fault. In fact, that’s life. Life isn’t your fault, but here you are anyway. What do you want to do about it? Hope for something else?

Preparing for the Worst

Bruce Lee once said, “Do not pray for an easy life; pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

Of course, building the strength to deal with adversity when it happens is something you can control. Whether you have an easy life or not isn’t. What hand the universe deals you is beyond your control. What he’s really saying is you should hope for your best, not the best. 

How do you that?

By actively preparing yourself for the worst. By challenging yourself. By putting yourself in the dragon’s den and proving that you can. By defining yourself by your pain. There’s a reason why the proverbial kitchen sink is thrown at pilots every 3 months in the simulator. We are thrown in at the deep end and told to sink or swim. Deal with it or have your license invalidated.

In that same TV interview Sully said, that although they had never practiced a water landing in the simulator before, “Because I had learned my craft so well and because I knew my plane and my profession so intimately, I could set clear priorities. And so I chose to do only the highest priority items, and then I had the discipline to ignore everything I did not have time to do.”

What a legend.

I’ll finish with one more thought.

Acting in hope for your survival and those you love is easy. It’s necessary, so it’s easy. When you have no other choice but to act against all odds, of course, you act. It might not be easy to do, but the decision is. 

The real measure of a person is how they respond to events outside of their control. When they cannot act, despite their hopes. The real measure of a person is in their ability to accept. To accept the reality of their past – to accept and embrace the demons in their closet. To accept, ultimately, their own mortality. And that of those who they love most dearly. That is true courage. That is true strength.

And it isn’t hope that will bring you peace – although it may save you. It’s acceptance that does that. That’s why, I suggest you start with radical acceptance for what is long before you start hoping. Then, and only then, if you still have the audacity to hope, you better be prepared to take action.

***

You can find more of AP2’s writing at the following: 

https://pointlessoverthinking.com

https://anxiouspilot2.medium.com

Also on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot


3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that believes balance can only be found in outer space…

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) If you ignore what you have to do, you’ll feel bad about doing the things you enjoy. If you don’t do the things you enjoy, you will find it hard to muster the energy needed to do what you have to. Prioritise both. Don’t neglect either. Lift is needed to counteract weight.

(click to tweet)

2) Balance isn’t something you find, it is something you maintain, like a tight rope walker. 3 things with that in mind: 

  1. Don’t carry too much weight.
  2. Go at a steady pace.
  3. Don’t stop moving.

(click to tweet)

3) Getting things off your chest means getting thoughts out of your head. That means communicating your feelings. If you want peace of mind – whether you’re right or wrong – you gotta speak up. You gotta speak your truth. That’s how you get things off your chest. This allows you to breathe easier. 

(click to tweet)


2 x Quotes:

Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.”

– John Gardner

“The main thing is the YOU beneath the clothes and skin—the ability to do, the will to conquer, the determination to understand and know this great, wonderful, curious world. Don’t shrink from new experiences and custom. Take the cold bath bravely. Enter into the spirit of your big bedroom. Enjoy what is and not pine for what is not. Read some good, heavy, serious books just for discipline: Take yourself in hand and master yourself. Make yourself do unpleasant things, so as to gain the upper hand of your soul.

W. E. B. Du Bois (Source: James Clear Newsletter)

1 x Thing:

This Seth Godin blog post on the difference between making a point and a making a difference:

“There are countless ways to make a point. You can clearly demonstrate that you are angry, smart, concerned, stronger, faster or more prepared than the person you’re engaging with. But making a point isn’t the same thing as making a difference. To make a difference, we need the practical empathy to realize that the other person doesn’t know what you know, doesn’t believe what you believe and might not want what you want. We have to move from where we are and momentarily understand where they are. When we make a point, we reject all of this. When we make a point, we establish our power in one way or another, but we probably don’t change very much. Change comes about when the story the other person tells themselves begins to change. If all you do is make a point, you’ve handed them a story about yourself. When you make a change, you’ve helped them embrace a new story about themselves. And even though it’s more fun (and feels safe, in some way) to make a point, if we really care, we’ll do the hard work to make a difference instead.”


1 x Joke:

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


Thanks ladies and gentlemen. As always I welcome ALL thoughts on this blog. Let us know in the comments below.


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 09/08/21

3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that encourages you to embrace the dark side of the force…

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) Acceptance is about acknowledging your demons, it’s not about letting them dictate the terms.

(click to tweet)

2) The only thing to fear isn’t fear itself. Fearing fear is the definition of an anxiety disorder. The only thing to fear is death, because that’s what fear is designed to do – keep you alive! It’s not designed to save you from embarrassment or failure. It’s fearing our own emotions, that’s the worst thing to fear in this life. It’s fearing discomfort that will kill your quality of life.

(click to tweet)

3) Questioning what we believe feels like we are questing the very meaning of our lives, which is difficult. However, the more you do it, the more you realise you don’t know, the more comfortable you become not knowing. It gets easier over time. That, eventually, makes you more comfortable being wrong. This in turn makes you more willing to learn.

(click to tweet)


2 x Quotes:

“If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; but if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.”

Don Marquis

“Freedom without discipline is foolish, discipline without freedom is insanity.”

– Ilona Mialik

1 x Thing:

This No Stupid Questions podcast episode: Should We Just Ignore Our Weaknesses? – with Stephen Dubner (co-author of the Freakonomics book series) and research psychologist Angela Duckworth (author of Grit). In this episode they debate whether one would play to their strengths or work on their weaknesses. Of course it’s complicated, however they did come to a conclusion I liked. You should play to your strengths, but work on your weakness within them. Well worth the listen.


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 on this blog. Let us know in the comments below.


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 26/07/21

Angels and Demons

“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.”

― Carl Jung

I spent most of my adult life trying to avoid suffering. It made everything worse. I spent my days waiting, hoping for my knight in shining armour. The funny thing is she existed, I just didn’t have the courage to ask her for help. I was too afraid to challenge my beliefs.

I also didn’t understand the paradoxical nature of change. The fact that you have to first accept who you are, that you have to first accept your life circumstances.

Which is hard, of course. I mean, how could I accept what my demons were telling me? How could I accept that what I really believed, was that I wasn’t capable – that I wasn’t worthy?

I tried in desperation to whip myself into something I wasn’t. I tried to kill that part of myself and in the process became consumed by it. Depression took a firm grip and I found myself drowning. In my attempts to fight, I only sunk deeper.

Eventually I gave up altogether.

Yet, it was only when I finally let go that I started to see something. What’s already there is there, so why fight it? To fight your demons, to resit them – is not only futile, it makes things worse.

Attempts to kill your demons makes them scream louder. It’s hating those parts of yourself that gives them strength. It’s only by embracing your demons, by having the courage to hold them in your heart, that you will start to see change.

And it won’t be that those demons go away. They won’t. What changes is your relationship to them. Suddenly they become part of you. You see both the light and the dark side. You come to understand them. You start to see where they’ve really come from.

That is insight.

And because your demons feel heard, they start to soften. They don’t feel the need to scream for oxygen anymore. It’s no different to a child who is shown love after a long period of neglect. Of course that’s all that the inner-child deep down in all of us wants – to be heard, to be held, to be loved.

I believe life’s biggest lesson is acceptance. For who we are, for life in all it’s fucked up glory, for, ultimately, our own mortality and that of those we love.

That’s why I suggest making it part of your morning prayer or meditation ritual. Find ways, design habits, whatever you have to do to cultivate an extreme sense of gratitude for who you are and what you have in this moment. It’s not easy, of course. I get it. It is something you have to practise everyday.

That’s not to say one shouldn’t act. No, that’s resignation. Resignation is choosing not to act when you can make a change. Resignation is choosing to believe the false narratives in your head instead of looking deeply. Resignation is believing that you can’t be helped, when you can. I know all about resignation.

Acceptance is something very different.

Acceptance is about acknowledging your demons, it’s not about letting them dictate the terms. Acceptance is about having discipline to face your current reality as it stands, to own up to it.

You need to let your demons know you hear them, then go ahead and do what you know is right. That includes asking for help if you need it. That includes processing your grief. There is no shame in this. In fact, that’s exactly what courage is.

Now here’s the paradox.

What follows a fear to accept is a fear to act. What follows the courage to accept is the courage to act. If you do that, you’ll find your demons switch shoulders. You’ll find you’re driven by them, not burdened by them. You’ll find your demons are everything to you – they’re what give your life it’s ultimate meaning. Once that happens, you’re not just going through the motions. You’re not just doing a job. It’s far deeper than that.

From radical acceptance comes meaningful action.

That’s why we need to infuse our existence with as much meaning as we can. In the way we interact with others. The way we play with our children. The way we hold our partners. Even in seemingly small or mundane tasks. If you look deeply, you can access peace in every moment by giving it meaning.

I can’t stress that point enough. 

We need meaning in our lives, because that’s what gives us hope. It’s what helps us to guard against nihilism. The more meaning you find in life, the more meaningful you believe your life is – the more peace and joy and love you will find in it. The most powerful way to do that is give meaning to your suffering.

If you do, you’ll realise your demons were trying to lead you from darkness all along. You’ll look down and realise, your shadows are made from light. You’ll realise your demons are your angels as well.


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

3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that doesn’t know what day it is…

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)  It often takes more courage to land back on earth than it does to get airborne. 

2) Till the day we die we remain a work in progress. To think otherwise is dangerous and yet, we must also learn to accept ourselves as we are today. We must learn to accept we will never be perfect because there is no such thing. Striving to become a better person while accepting and being proud of who you already are is one of life’s great paradoxes. This is also the definition of someone with a secure self-esteem.

3)  A 4 step guide to conflict resolution:

  1. Start with a positive: Mention something you agree with. Something you admire or respect in the other person. Mention a positive to begin with. This encourages them to listen.
  2. Be the first to apologise: Mention something you regret saying or doing. Something you did that wasn’t particularly skilful. Mention something about yourself you’re aware needs work. Be the first to apologise for something (anything). This serves to disarm the other person.
  3. Express your feelings/reasoning. Say what it is you disagree with, what it is the other person said or did that upset you. Help them understand why it is you feel this way.
  4. Ask for their support and understanding. Mention that it’s possible your perceptions are wrong and that you want some clarification. Ask them to help you become a better person. Ask them to help you understand them better. Ask them what you can do to make amends.

2 x Quotes:

Blame is always a limiting, contracting, fault-finding energy. It’s always rooted in the need to be right.” 

– JIM DETHMER

Ask yourself what’s not wrong?” 

– THICH NHAT HANH


1 x Thing:

This brilliant post by Kevin Kelly, 99 Additional Bits of Unsolicited Advice.” Last year he wrote a similar post that went viral called “68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice” that I absolutely loved. When I saw this I immediately made myself a coffee and sat down to read it. Well worth your time. I’ve listed a few of my favourites below:

“That thing that made you weird as a kid could make you great as an adult — if you don’t lose it.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. At your funeral people will not recall what you did; they will only remember how you made them feel.

“Your passion in life should fit you exactly; but your purpose in life should exceed you. Work for something much larger than yourself.

“You are given the gift of life in order to discover what your gift *in* life is. You will complete your mission when you figure out what your mission is. This is not a paradox. This is the way.

“Take one simple thing — almost anything — but take it extremely seriously, as if it was the only thing in the world, or maybe the entire world is in it — and by taking it seriously you’ll light up the sky.


1 x Joke:

Have another far side comic for you this week in celebration of Mother’s Day yesterday. They’re always so proud aren’t they? (Love you mum x)


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 ponder: What have you achieved in life that makes you feel proud? Remember that as you go about your week.


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 03/05/21

Tuesday’s Top Tip

The most successful people in this world understand the importance of cultivating a growth mindset.

They understand failure does not mean they are one, only that they have something to learn. 

They understand that success is not found in achievement, but from falling in love with the process of self-improvement. 

They understand that intelligence and capability are not fixed qualities but things which – with practice, training, and above all, method – can always be improved upon.

I think we all understand this on some level yet many of us can’t help but think we are less than. That we simply aren’t as intelligent, or as capable, or as courageous as other people.

The question is how can we do guard against having this kind of fixed mindset? How can we cultivate a growth mindset instead?

Of course we need a point of comparison. We need standards to measure ourselves against otherwise there would nothing to point toward and nowhere to go.

But why make other people that point of comparison?

It’s important to remember we are all individuals with a very unique set of life circumstances. The conditions of our lives are rarely comparable to others of a different age, race, gender, background…

They are rarely comparable, even, in our moment to moment difficulties. When dealing with the very specific traumas of our past.

Simply getting out of bed for some of us is an act of immense courage given the circumstances. Perhaps demonstrating far greater strength than someone who appears to have his or her life together. 

So what to do? Who should you compare yourself to then? What should be your point of comparison in a world that only broadcasts the best of the best (or the worst of the worst)? 

Simple. 

Yourself.

As a rule for life I’d say, “Compare yourself only with the person you were yesterday.” 

Here’s the trick.

At the end of each day take the time to reflect. Think deeply about the ways in which you have failed to live up to your values and how you can do better. Then find a small way to better yourself and go do it (the following day). Finally when you reflect on that day, reward yourself for having done (or at least attempted) what you set out to do.

That’s enough.

That’s worthy of a pat on the back and an ice cold beer!

But don’t you dare forget to reward yourself either! Rewarding yourself for the things you did well at the end of the day is equally important.

Do this everyday, and then watch as compound interest takes care of the rest.

I promise if you do, it will.

Previous Top Tip

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post to prepare for the best and hope for the worst…

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

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

Let’s begin!

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


4 x Thoughts:

1) Contacting a friend a day keeps the demons at bay.

2) I have two cycles for you. The first I like to call the Positive Cycle Of Hope. It looks like this: Hope inspires action that creates positive results that generates more hope (repeat). The second I like to call the Negative Cycle Of Hopelessness. It looks like this: Hope coupled with an inability (or unwillingness) to take action creates (99% of the time) negative results that generates feelings of despair and hopelessness (circle back to point 2 and repeat). The point I want to make? Hope must be tied to action otherwise it’s dangerous.

3) Hope is a double edged sword that cuts just as deeply the other way. Although it rewards you when expectations are met it punishes you when they’re not. Of course it’s that suffering that drives you to take action and put things right. However this is a terrible situation to be in if you can’t. (That’s worth repeating). The point I want to make? Be very careful what you hope for in life.

4) What hand the universe deals you – whether or not you have an easy life – is not something you can control. However building the strength to deal with adversity when it happens is something you can. For that reason it’s important to prepare for the worst in life. It’s equally important to believe in your capacity to deal with the worst when it happens. However I disagree with idea that one should “hope for the best.” If you hope for the best it’ll crush you when that doesn’t happen (or worse, when it gets taken away). Prepare for the worst – yes. But don’t “live in hope.” If you don’t have to hope for anything better, I suggest you live in acceptance for what is. Practise gratitude for what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t. It’s worth reiterating that hope, although it may save you, will never be what gives you peace.


3 x Quotes:

“Do not pray for an easy life; pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

– Bruce Lee

“Limiting one’s desires actually helps to cure one of fear. ‘Cease to hope … and you will cease to fear.’ … Widely different [as fear and hope] are, the two of them march in unison like a prisoner and the escort he is handcuffed to. Fear keeps pace with hope … both belong to a mind in suspense, to a mind in a state of anxiety through looking into the future. Both are mainly due to projecting our thoughts far ahead of us instead of adapting ourselves to the present.”

― Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Source: Letters from a Stoic)

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

― Maya Angelou (Source: https://drericperry.wordpress.com/2021/01/05/choose-your-attitude-dont-let-it-choose-you/)

2 x Things:

1) This happiness lad podcast: Dump Your Inner Drill Sergeant with Dr Laurie Santos. In this episode, ‘Dr Laurie Santos examines why being a nasty drill sergeant to ourselves is less effective than being a kind coach; and hears from researcher and author Kristin Neff about why developing self-compassion is vital to helping us achieve our new year goals.’ Notes below:

  • Criticising bad behaviour in the past isn’t bad. It fact it’s healthy. But telling yourself you’re a bad person for making a mistake – this is where problems start. You activate the flight fight or freeze response. Except you see yourself as the threat. This serves to protect you by shutting you down. This inhibits your ability to make productive change. 
  • We need to critique ourselves but forgive ourselves. We need to look at what went wrong logically. Think about when a child makes a mistake. How you treat them and try to help and get them to learn. We need to do that for ourselves.
  • Self compassion is linked to higher grit, better relationships, more exercise, better sex… It’s so much better than beating yourself up. It’s not the weak thing to do. It’s the strong thing to do. 
  • There are good ways and bad ways to build self esteem. Telling kids to compare themselves to others. To think they are above average. – This will cause them to always compare themselves. Self esteem then becomes contingent on success. If they fail it deserts them. 
  • Self compassion isn’t dependant on success or failure. We need it when we fail. It’s not denying mistakes but accepting them. Acknowledging that you’re human.
  • Self compassion is about accepting ourselves. Paradoxically we are then more able to make positive change as a result. 
  • Mindfulness is the foundation of self compassion. You allow yourself to feel what you are without judgement. 
  • The more you can give yourself love and compassion the more you can give others the same. Being Self compassionate is not selfish! The more compassion that flows inward the more it flows outward.
  • 3 components of self compassion. 1. Mindfulness. Becoming aware. Validating our pain. 2. Remembering we aren’t alone. Everyone makes mistake. 3. Actively give yourself kindness. 

2) This BBC article: Why You’re More Creative In Coffee Shops. I’ve always felt like I do my best work when I take the time to leave the house and go to a cafe. This research shows why.

“It’s analogous to going to the gym for a workout,” says Sunkee Lee, assistant professor of organisational theory and strategy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business in Pennsylvania. “One of the biggest things about coffee shops is the social-facilitation effect: you go there, you see other people working and it puts you in a mood where you just naturally start working as well. Just observing them can motivate you to work harder.”


1 x Joke:

My son has started making a den behind the curtains in his room at night time.

The other night he asked me to join him inside.

While looking up at the stars he asked, “Daddy, where is the moon?”

I replied, “I think it’s hiding behind the clouds sweetheart. But I’m sure if we listen very carefully we can hear it.”

(Silence)

“Do you hear it?” I said. “Listen, Listen, shhhhhhhh…”

(Silence)

At this point I blew a huge raspberry.

My son laughed hysterically, “haha the moon fart fart!”

I smiled while replying, “Yes it did. The question is, which moon?”

And with that we quickly exited the den…


Thanks ladies and gentlemen. I’m here all week! I sincerely hope you all have a great week ahead. As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. Please let us know below.

One bonus question to finish:

What is worrying you most today? What can you do about it? What can’t you do about it?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 18/01/21

Tuesday’s Top Tip

For thousands of years we’ve been told we are fallen creatures – outcasts from the garden of Eden. That we are selfish, weak, deeply flawed individuals unworthy of our creator. Taught that our wants and desires are the root cause of all evil. That these are our greatest downfall against which we must make it life’s mission to fight.

What we’ve been taught is to hate ourselves. 

Now I know many people will argue with me about this. And I certainly don’t mean to lay all the blame at religion’s door. I agree that would be far too simplistic an argument.

But the overriding point I want to make is that it terms of being unkind to ourselves, in terms of seeing ourselves as bad for having certain wants and desires – wherever that comes from – it runs deep in our collective psyches. 

And that’s a big fucking problem. 

For starters hating on our own wants and desires is exactly what gives them strength. Did no one ever teach you that you must embrace your demons?

Yeah me neither.

But a bigger problem is that in hating ourselves, despite being (largely) decent people, we fail to stand up to tyranny and oppression when it’s required. Our self loathing shrinks us as individuals. I would argue that it is this, more than anything else, that allows evil to thrive. (It goes hand in hand with people’s inability to say no when they should.)

So what to do about it?

For starters I suggest you stand up tall with your head held high. That you talk to yourself every morning. You give yourself an almighty pep talk. You become clear about who you are and what it is you stand for. Then I suggest you treat yourself with the same level of care and attention you would your own children. I suggest you make the same level of sacrifice for yourself.

Why?

Because you are far more capable than you know. Because you are far stronger than you give yourself credit. Because you are worth it.

But also because you are inextricably connected to everyone else on this planet and treating yourself badly hurts the very people you love. Because hatred thrives if you don’t.

You’ve all heard of the golden rule right? To treat others as you would like to be treated. While I agree it’s particularly pertinent for those who think they are superior to others, for those of you who suffer from crippling self doubt – who think the opposite – I suggest you flip it on it’s head and consider this second golden rule instead.

That is to treat yourself as you would someone you love. To look after yourself like you would your best friend or your spouse or your mother or your child. To value your life just as highly as those around you. To understand that your life is just as important.

Because it is.

Previous Top Tip

Tuesday’s Top Tip

There are many people who believe that life is meaningless and argue, for that reason, what’s the point? Why bother?

I have two responses.

The first is why not?

If life is meaningless then you have no reason not to put yourself out there. No excuse not to be courageous. If it doesn’t matter then why wouldn’t you take risks? Why wouldn’t you want to see if you can achieve your dreams?

To simply say there is no point so why bother is a cop out. It’s a poor excuse and you know it.

Here’s the second more important thing I would say.

Life is meaningless because meaning implies understanding. Whatever life means. Whatever the why may or may not be. What it is… is beyond our comprehension. It is therefore beyond meaning. Ergo, it is meaningless.

However!

It’s preciously because life is meaningless that we must give it meaning. That’s how you guard against nihilism. That’s how you stop from falling down the rabbit hole.

Life is chaotic which is why we must strive to give it order, no matter how trying the circumstances.

To live is to suffer, it’s an unavoidable aspect of Being. Which is why we must suffer with purpose. It’s why we must seek to alleviate the suffering in others, however small, it whatever way we can.

That’s how we find balance. That’s how we stop from falling into the abyss.

The truth is your life holds as much meaning as you give it. The answer to this dilemma – whether it’s true or not – is to give your life as much meaning as you possible can. To fill every corner of your precious existence with it.

If you do, you will no longer be concerned with what the meaning of life is. You will understand that the question doesn’t matter. You will understand that your life does and that this is enough.

Previous Top Tip

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

Motivational Mondays – 07/09/20

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

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

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

Love to all X


3 x Thoughts From Me:

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

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

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


2 x Quotes From Others:

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

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


1 x Thing That Helped Me Grow

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

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

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


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

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


Till next time…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

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

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

Are negative emotions the problem or our intolerance of them?

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POSTS:

Motivational Mondays – 31/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 24/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 17/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 10/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

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

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


AUGUST REFLECTIONS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


WHAT I’VE BEEN WRITING: 

The Only Thing The World Needs From You

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

5 Counter-Intuitive Ways To Find Your True Calling

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

Why Freedom Demands Responsibility

Some thoughts about freedom and responsibility. From the article:

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

5 Simple Tricks For Overcoming To-Do List Anxiety

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

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

The Question To Ask Yourself Before Every Decision

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

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

I Am The Fly

A short but sweet poem to finish the month.

Motivational Mondays

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

Motivational Mondays – 24/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 17/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 10/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

ALSO…

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


CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

Love to all,

AP2 X

The Loving Nature Of Fear

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

It can’t. 

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

Is it because of love or fear? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a definition of courage for you:

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

Let me ask you a question.

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

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

The Question To Ask Yourself Before Every Decision

It was late the other night that my wife told me about her sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the amount of things she sets herself to do – of always feeling pushed to do things – of feeling “the need” to do things – that she sometimes feels driven by an underlying sense of ‘not good enough.’ 

I paused to take in what she was saying, before climbing into bed next to her. 

She’s certainly not alone, I thought. I knew those feelings well. I suspect those feelings are probably shared by the vast majority of young professionals driven by certain expectations of society, of their parents, of their conditioning to be the best version of themselves.

As I responded, in one of my rare moments of clarity, I remembered a question that I wrote down from a podcast I heard a few weeks ago. It’s something I’ve asked myself repeatedly since, as a way to guide my actions , especially when I’ve felt a strong resistance to them – like my perceived need to keep up with my own work. 

The question was this:

“Am I making this decision because of love or fear?”

 – Dr Vivek Murthy

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

Am I doing this because of love or fear?

As I climbed into bed I asked my wife what her motives are for doing (she’s a yoga teacher FYI) what she’s been doing? Is it because she believes strongly in the cause, to help others, or does she feel pushed to perform, to be better because of some perceived need to prove something to others or, indeed, herself? Is it from, on some level, a feeling of inadequacy, of not being good enough as she is right now?

I went on to explain something that dawned on me about why my own motivation towards work had stalled so many times in the past. 

I never felt good enough. I was scared what others thought. I was scared that I would underperform and not be seen as good enough in the eyes of my coworkers. I was so scared of ‘being found out’ for who I thought I was. Of confirming a long help belief – a false one – that I wasn’t good enough. The same has been true of my writing.

Thinking back it’s no wonder my motivation died. It’s no wonder when I sat down to do the work I needed that it was such an enormous struggle. It felt like walking through quick sand as I ploughed ahead while fighting the stress, anxiety and sometimes, full blown depression, that had consumed my heart. 

If only someone had shouted, “you are good enough you fool – you know this – you’re just doing it for the wrong reasons!!”

Alas, I know that wouldn’t have helped. True insight and understanding has to come from within and that takes time. It has taken years to grow in my heart. It still is.


LOVE AS MOTIVATION FOR WORK & LIFE


The last six months – since the world of aviation has been brought to its knees because of the coronavirus pandemic – have given me, like countless others, plenty of time to reflect.

With regards to work I have come to realise that framing my motivations, to be clear that they are coming from a genuine place of love, is what I need to do. Whipping myself into shape doesn’t work in the longer term. It’s too hard.

As I explained to my wife, when I sit down to prepare for work, for a flight or simulator check, whatever it may be, the question I have started asking is, am I preparing from a place of fear or love? And, if I am feeling fearful, what is it that I’m really afraid of? Why am I doing what I am? If it’s because I feel the need to prove something, then I know I’m coming from the wrong place.

Of course preparing so you don’t fuck up in such a way that the flight ends in catastrophe is one way to think about things. Ultimately that’s our goal – Safety absolutely, rightly, comes first. However there’s a big difference between preparing or working from a place of all consuming fear, versus love. Even if you still feel fearful, if you’re coming from a place of genuine love, that will give you strength to carry on. To stare down the eyes of the beast. 

I relayed some of those loving motives, as they applied to me in my work, to my wife.

To honour and protect my fellow crew members whom I owe it to perform at my best as I know they are. To do my best for every single passenger we transport – to make sure they arrive at their destinations –  that they make it home safely to their loved ones. To remember I am providing for my own family through this job – that gives us everything we need to live a happy, healthy and secure life. To remember I love myself – self preservation because I want to be alive – so I can be around for my family and friends. So my wife has a husband to love her. So my son has a father to lead him.

There’s something else at this moment in time too. 

Although there isn’t a huge amount of flying to go around at the moment – I realised the small amount there is, is an opportunity to be part of something, to help in a way most others around the world can’t. To help bring the few people who need to travel for very urgent reasons. To help bring critical supplies, medical or otherwise, to areas of the world who desperately need it. To help the world keep turning to some degree at a time when it has all but ground to a halt!  It’s a gift to be able to do something more than simply stay at home during this pandemic. I know millions of others would give a lot for the opportunity to do the same. It’s something to be extremely grateful for.

While these might seem like obvious motivations, I can tell you they are easily lost, or have been for me at least, in a profession so heavily driven by perfectionism – to prove your competency, and that you know everything there is to know. The pressure to prove yourself isn’t part of the the job I relish. 

Yet, when I allowed myself to think in these terms, I found myself itching to get back into the righthand seat for the first time in a long time. To be a larger part of this fight against the coronavirus pandemic – even if that means I only get to fly a single sector. I want to help in any way I can. Through my wiring and my profession. 

I now realise just how important it is to remind myself of my real motives when I feel anxious, especially when plagued by self-doubt, to help refocus the mind and bring me back to the present.

Am I doing this because of love or fear?

As I relayed these thoughts to my wife that night, it was interesting to hear that for the charity classes she had been organising, from which she earned not a penny, she had felt none of this resistance. She believed in the cause strongly, for a number of reasons including bringing people together from their homes at this difficult time globally. So they too could do something more than just sit at home – to contribute to charities in need, while showing love to themselves. A beautiful act of self-compassion extending outwards.

It’s obvious isn’t it? She had been acting from a place of love and the motivation for doing so was effortless.


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