“If our struggles make the world a better place, they will make us better people.” – Xiye Bastida
Hello fine readers and welcome back to my weekly Motivational Mondays Post!
The only newsletter to force feed you your recommended 5 a day before offering you a cupcake…
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:
The cost of convenience is your resilience.
The trick is not to think win or lose. The trick is not to think success or failure. The trick it is not to trick good or bad. The trick is to think about being better because every single one of us always can be.
Anger as an emotion is intimately linked to our “fight, flight or freeze response.” It’s about survival. This is why reacting to it is inappropriate in most situations. When it comes to anger, thinking high emotions = low intelligence is a good rule of thumb. I wonder though, when it comes to the survival of our planet if it’s not entirely justified – if we’re not angry enough? After all, the power of action one can harness from such an emotion is enormous. It can drive us in a way that few other emotions can. Instead of ignoring our anger about climate change, maybe we need to consider how to use it instead? People forget that anger, if responded to mindfully, can be used constructively. Anger can be used to make positive changes. The caveat, of course, is that we need to allow ourselves to feel it. We need to accept it as a valid emotion.
Competition is meant to be about pushing each other to improve. It’s about personal and collective growth. When we glorify it and make it about ‘winning at all costs’ we turn many people away. This defeats the purpose. Not only are those who still compete weaker because they have less competition, those who don’t compete lose the ability to better themselves altogether. Don’t compete to win, compete to grow.
3 x Quotes From Others:
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching” ― Gerard Way
“Most people think they lack motivation when they really lack clarity.” ― James Clear
“Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.” ― Ruth Bader Ginsburg
2 x Things That Helped Me Grow
1 – This Tim Ferris Podcast episode – My Healing Journey After Childhood Abuse with Debbie Millman. This might be the most important Tim Ferris episode I’ve ever listened to. To come out and publicly share what happened to him takes an enormous amount of courage – more courage than I suspect most of us will ever know. I would implore anyone to give this episode a listen, but especially those who have previously experienced sexual abuse. The list of resources available – as he and Debbie talk about extensively – extend well beyond conventional therapy. Please look under the list of resources via the link above for more information on a number of potential tools and reading for help to deal with trauma.
2 QUOTES FROM THE POD:
“Your path to the healing is very much your own in the same way that you have your own path to love or to family or to success.”– Debbie Millman
“There is only one question that matters and this is, what are you unwilling to feel?”– Tara Brach
2 – This brilliant Happiness Lab Podcast with Dr. Laurie Santos: Happiness Lessons of The Ancients: Aristotle. In this episode Dr. Laurie Santos talks to Yale professor Tamar Gendler about “Aristotle’s wellbeing insights and how he recommended taking daily “baby steps” towards becoming the sort of happy, moderate person we aspire to be. A kind of ancient “fake it, ’til you make it” ethos.” Notes and quotes below.
MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:
- Aristotle and other Greek philosophers were given free reign to pursue the question, what makes humans flourish, as their profession. As a result they were able to come to a greater understanding about it than many others have at different times during our history.
- Aristotle can be looked at as the father of modern positive psychology. – He was brought to Athens at the age of 17 to study. He liked school so much he stayed for another 20 years!
- He was one of the greatest polymath thinkers of any generation. He was the inverter of physics as a field. Biology as a field. He was a great theorist of poetry and theatre.
- 2 distinct notions of happiness. 1 hedonistic happiness. The indulgence of short lived happiness or pleasures. Eating or sex. This is an important of what it means to be human. To take pleasure in the physical world around you.
- 2 Aristotle was interested in a richer and more robust and lasting notion of what happiness is.
- He philosophised that in the same way a knife is designed to cut our primary function as humans was to express virtue and reason. This is a lasting rather than short lived happiness.
- We are getting the same insights Aristotle did 2000 years ago from behavioural science and modern psychology about what it is that gives us lasting fufillment and happiness.
- Being clear that indulging in great food, having sex and watching NETFLIX isn’t what will make you happy long term is important. If anything an overindulgence in these kind of activities leaves people feeling empty.
- Theoretical wisdom vs practical wisdom. Theoretical wisdom comes from reading about something like the science of psychology to understand what makes us happy or not. This isn’t enough.
- Aristotle said we need something called practical wisdom – this is the skill that comes from practising the activity in which you want to make progress.
- The way we find this deeper level of thriving in Aristotle’s opinion comes from a strategy of practicing being the kind of person who is virtuous and takes pleasure in being virtuous.
- Self education project. You make yourself into the person you want to be. The soul you want to inhibit. You practise being the kind of person you want to become and then the act of practicing becomes pleasurable to you.
- The same way you want to learn the violin or raise good children you have to put the work the same applies to bumping up your happiness. You engage with it and build it up like a skill set from the ground up.
- We become just by doing just actions. We become temperate by acting so. Brave by doing brave actions. This is how we come to having practical wisdom. We practice the skills we want to inhibit until they become natural to us.
- Aristotle was interested in developing a moderate character in the right ways. What does he mean? Taking braving as an example. One extreme is being a coward. Another is being reckless. In between is braver. The perfect moderate virtue. Humour. You can be a Baffoon or somber or someone with a good sense of humour.
- If you want to be a brave person, act the way a brave person acts and you will start to manifest bravery and you will be reinforced in your experience about how pleasurable and possible it is for you to act bravely.
- Virtuous life – life is not just a moral life but brings happiness and thriving – how to live well morally, happily and part of harmonious society.
- The data suggests that if you want to live a happy life you want to live a moral life. For Aristotle pleasure is derived from seeing others around them doing well.
- Friendship is incredibly important – the young need it to prevent them for error – the old need it for protection and companionship, to look after them – those in their prime need it to do fine actions.
- 3 different kinds. 1 shallow utility based – we both gain something from one another – a service or product. 2 we enjoy each others company. 3 based on mutual deep appreciation of one another’s morals. The latter provides self reinforcing cycle. Aristotle calls this kind of friend “a second self.“
- Surrounding yourself with those who are committed to same things – the same values. Put yourself in a setting where others are trying to achieve the same kind of spiritual transcendence.
- Acting as if you already have the virtues you wish to embody is incredibly powerful and liberating. Having a second self available makes you much more likely to stick to those values – to hold you accountable.
1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:
Struggling for a story this week folks so thought I’d leave you with this rejected New Yorker cartoon that made me chuckle.
Till next week…
Have a Happy Monday Everybody!
P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!
One bonus question for you all:
What is one thing you can do for the environment today that will help it tomorrow?
(As always 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.)
I feel like this piece needs a bit of an explanation. I was quite angry when I wrote it. I went to bed angry after reading an article about environmental decline being in “free fall.” Stupid I know. At any rate, when I woke up I was still angry. And so I got up, walked over to my laptop and started writing. The following is what resulted.
I should say this piece contains some swearing plus some fairly strong views. This is definately one of my articles that requires a pinch of salt.
You should also be warned I point the finger at everyone in this piece, myself included. That said it isn’t directed at anyone person but society in general. This post isn’t about offering any advice but about the energy with which I wrote it.
It’s very much about the need to wake the fuck up.
I’m not trying to be insensitive here – only to express the anger I felt. At the end of the day they are only words – we decide whether to give them power over us. That said there is definitely some hard truths here if you have the stomach to swallow it.
At any rate should you simply want to see what harnessing anger does for your writing, well put this in you pipe and smoke it.
Enjoy it or not.
I really couldn’t give a flying fuck.
If you care about your children then you must fight for the planet.
A fancy title. A big house. A shiny car. It will be of little comfort when the world burns.
The survival of this planet means the survival of your children. Period.
No ifs, ands, or buts.
You want your children to have more than you? Why exactly?
Have you not had enough during your privileged lifetime? Have you not had enough things? Enough fancy fucking food? Have you not travelled to enough exotic destinations? How did your MacDonald’s taste on the other side of the world by the way? How did that chain resort compare to one you stayed at in that other country you never saw? How does your latest model of iPhone compare to the one you bought only 2 fucking years ago?
Has it really not been enough? Do your children really need more than what you’ve had?
Or do they need a different fucking education about what enough actually is?
Fuck me too.
These questions are directed at me, as much as you. The truth is I’m the biggest hypocrite of all.
I’m very much part of the generation who has said the right things but not acted on them.
Why am I so pissed off?
Because I’m angry at myself. I’m angry at society for trying to make me into the kind of person I detest. But mainly I’m angry that I didn’t stand up and say fuck you. I’m angry that I didn’t tell society to go fuck itself. I’m angry because I sold my soul for the world. All because I wanted the latest iPhone, the shiny car, the big house…
There comes a point in everyone’s life, I think, where you question everything. Every single thing you’ve been taught. How you were told to live. The things you were told you should be. When you examine it all, it’s like waking up with the worst fucking hangover imaginable.
It hurts so fucking much.
My whole life. It’s bullshit. It’s not had any real purpose. It’s just been about looking good on paper. And then you look around and see that everyone is too self involved to give a shit anyway. They’re also worried about how their life looks on paper. Their lives are bullshit too.
Look at me mum and dad! Are you proud? I’m not. I was sold a dummy. I bought it and now I don’t know how to give it up. I hate it but I can’t. And so I hate myself. I’m an addict of the worst kind. No different to a junkie with a needle sticking out of his arm. Actually there is a difference. The way I’ve lived will hurt more people. They’re just killing themselves. One less person on the planet. One less problem for the world to deal with.
Did I just say that?
I guess I did.
The true-blue junkies aren’t the ones who need to die of course. As far as mother earth is concerned it’s me who needs to die. Or, at least, the current version of who I am.
I realise now the only thing my children actually need is a world to inherit. What the fuck are we living for if not for them? If not for the survival of our planet?
I imagine my children looking at me in the eyes when they grow up and asking, “Was it worth it dad?” The thought breaks my heart into a million pieces. Because the truth is, right now, I can‘t say it was. I can’t look them in the eyes I say I’ve done all that I can.
I’m not even close.
The changes that I will have to make. The changes over which they will have no choice to because of the way I have lived. It scares the living shit out of me.
Up till now I have failed them. I must do better. I must stop being so selfish. I must be the change I want to see. The change this world so desperately needs. I must give my children a fighting chance to clean up the big fucking mess I have left them. At the very least, I must give them that. The chance to be better than I have. The chance to live a life of purpose and meaning. One that will give them far more than any shiny car, fancy gadget or big house can.
This is the absolute minimum we must give our children. – A fighting chance.
Right now that’s all we can give them too.
But we can give it to them. And we must.
There is no other option.
Thanks for reading again guys and girls. As always I welcome ALL opinions and thoughts on this blog. Especially the ones that challenge my thinking! With that said I’m curious about what you think? Was I too hard on myself? On you? Was I not hard enough? I mean to follow this up with many posts going forward about how to make a difference on an individual level – about how we can, in fact, give our children a fighting chance. I’ll try to be less angry in those! Till then I wish you all well, AP2 X
Following on from my 4 part 2019 review, below are my pledges and goals for the coming year. I intend to do a monthly review of these goals as a way of holding myself on accountable as the year progresses. I hope you enjoy!
MY 2020 PLEDGES
By the end of 2020 my wife and I will have begun trying for a second child (or be pregnant with the second (and last!) on the way).
With regards to work I will be “command ready” having worked to further my operation and confidence to its highest ever level. I will have attended a performance based course to help in this regard. I will have taken an extended period of 3 months off work from May till July.
Health wise, I will be far more consistent with regards to my exercise and healthy living habits, sticking to my morning and evening routines that incorporates yoga and/or some other form of physical exercise. I will have completed one alcohol free week every month plus one alcohol free month during the year. My eating habits will much improved following a ‘slow carb diet’ 5 days a week. I’ll also have found a new activity based hobby that I enjoy outside of the home. As a result I’ll be as fit as ever having achieved my desired body fat percentage of 14%. My back injury will have completely healed.
My mental health will be vastly improved due to a more consistent practice of meditation, reading and writing that I’ll have better incorporated into both my morning and evening routines. I will have attended at least one silent retreat and a transcendental course to further my practise. I will have opened up to my parents about my previous difficulties and become much closer to them as a result. I will talk to my wife every single night when at home before bed.
In my spare time I will continue to write everyday. My first goal will be to write and publish a children’s book for wiggles. I will also start a new blog that explores the question of how to live a healthier and happier life at home and at work, as well as being a better father, husband and all round human being. I will have taken the time to volunteer and start annual donations to two new charities.
At home I will be far more environmentally conscious having done a large amount of research into how I can live more sustainably. This will act as a model for Wiggles as he grows up.
Financially we’ll be in very good shape having organised a better tracking/savings system as we look to the future. We will have made a significant investment into my brother’s hedge fund and also a third property. I will have also invested in renewable technologies and/or an environmental project aimed at helping save the planet. Insurance wise we will have reviewed and updated all our policies and plans as necessary and have set up a will.
MY 2020 GOALS
- Meditate 365 days/year
- Attend a silent retreat
- Complete a course in transcendental meditation
- 5 x Exercise days/week
- 4 x Alcohol free days/week
- 1 x Alcohol free week/month
- 1 x Alcohol free month/year
- 5 x low carb/high protein days/week (during intermittent fasting window 12 till 8)
- 4 x long fast/year (24hr-76hr)
- 14% body-fat goal
- Stretch/Yoga daily
- Perform LASIK
- Heal back injury
- Find new activity based hobby to commit weekly
- Oxfam Trail Walker 2020?
- Be ‘Command Ready’ by 2021
- Complete Performance course through work
- Logbook journal after every flight – write 1 thing I did well and 1 thing I could do better
- Take an extended period off work (3 months following LASIK? – May – July)
- Publish first children’s book
- Start new blog (with a particular focus on health this year)
- Post 1 new article/week
- Write daily (As a minimum in my 5MJ)
- Read 2 books/month
- Read daily
- Set Liam goals to help his achieve throughout the year
- Date night x 1/week
- Talk to my wife every night when at home
- Open up to Mum and Dad
- Environmental research/piece on blog about how to live more sustainably/responsibly at home for the family to centre around
- Set goals and make changes based on this research
- Skiing Japan Trip (February)
- April/May getaway with Holly
- Silent retreat (May in Bhutan?)
- UK Trip (June)
- Croatia and Serbia – Villa plus Ogi and Mia wedding (September/October)
- UK (Christmas)
- File/pay UK Taxes
- File/pay HK Taxes
- Research new mortgage for London apartment
- Invest in my brother’s fund
- Invest in third property
- Sort better tracking/savings system with longer term goals in mind
- Write a will
- Set up loss of income insurance through Union
- Set up annual donation to 2 x new charities
- Volunteer locally