Happy Silly Mondays – 25/05/20

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Happy Silly Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the most depressing day of the week.

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

As a bonus I’ve finished with one something very silly to hopefully make you smile. 

Hope you enjoy.


3 x Thoughts I’ve Been Thinking:

The moment you fix your beliefs you imprison your mind.

In not addressing our own suffering we cause it in others. 

Focus has far more to do with eliminating distraction than it does with effort. 

3 x Quotes I’ve been Pondering:

Ask yourself what’s not wrong?Thich Nhat Hanh

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was duty. I worked — and behold, duty was joy.Indian poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore 

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

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

1 – This brilliant Against the Rules podcast episode, ‘Don’t Be Good – Be Great’ by Michael Lewis who tells the story of Billy Fitzgerald, a baseball coach who changed his life.

3 Quotes from the pod:

Why privilege corrupts: “You’re always doing what money can buy, instead of what duty demands.” – Michael Lewis

‘What is to give light must endure burning’ – Viktor Frankl

Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be. – Billy Fitzgerald

2. This Freakonomics Radio podcast episode, ’68 Ways to Be Better at Life’ – with Kevin Kelly explaining the reasoning behind his advice as given in his blog that he posted on his 68th birthday titled, ’68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice.’ I read the article last week and loved so many of his quotes. I jumped on the episode when I saw his name pop up and was pleased to find they discussed a number of my favourite ones (which I’ve listed below). Both the article and podcast are well worth your time.

Some of my favourite bits of unsolicited advice:

Gratitude will unlock all other virtues and is something you can get better at.”

Being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points.”

Friends are better than money. Almost anything money can do, friends can do better. In so many ways a friend with a boat is better than owning a boat.”

Optimize your generosity. No one on their deathbed has ever regretted giving too much away.”

To make mistakes is human. To own your mistakes is divine. Nothing elevates a person higher than quickly admitting and taking personal responsibility for the mistakes you make and then fixing them fairly. If you mess up, fess up. It’s astounding how powerful this ownership is.”

Separate the processes of creation from improving. You can’t write and edit, or sculpt and polish, or make and analyze at the same time. If you do, the editor stops the creator. While you invent, don’t select. While you sketch, don’t inspect. While you write the first draft, don’t reflect. At the start, the creator mind must be unleashed from judgement.”

3. This insightful WorkLife with Adam Grant episode on ‘The Real Reason You Procrastinate.’ In it Adam explores the reasons behind procrastination and some strategies you can use for avoiding it. I believe understanding why you’re doing something is often the best way to change it. This is a great example of that.

3 Quotes From The Pod:

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

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

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

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

When thinking of a new tagline to describe myself for the blog what I wanted to write was,

‘from a silly father, loving husband, perennial thinker and anxious pilot…’

What I actually wrote was,

‘from a silly father, loving husband, perineal thinker and anxious pilot…’

I thought to myself, ‘that doesn’t look right.’ Better double check the meaning.

From the dictionary:

perineum | ˌpɛrɪˈniːəm | noun (plural perinea) Anatomy the area between the anus and the scrotum or vulva. DERIVATIVES perineal | ˌpɛrɪˈniːəl | adjective

Well, that definitely got me thinking!!!


Till next time,

From the writer who doesn’t know how to spell…

Happy Silly Mondays Everybody!

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

One Bonus question for you all:

What kind of thinker are you?


Additional Sources:

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

Poet and Philosopher David Whyte’s Gorgeous Letter to Children About Reading, Amazement, and the Exhilaration of Discovering the Undiscovered by Maria Popova

The Tim Ferris Show podcast episode #434: Jim Dethmer — How to Shift from Victim Consciousness, Reduce Drama, Practice Candor, Be Fully Alive, and More

WorkLife with Adam Grant podcast highlights from episode: The Real Reason You Procrastinate

NOTES FROM MY JOURNAL – APRIL 2020 – On COVID-19, Fear setting, practising Compassion, Gratitude, cultivating Mindfulness and more…

Hello fine readers and welcome to my monthly newsletter – a series of my thoughts and feelings from my journal.

Included is a round up of what I’ve been reading and writing, plus a collection of my favourite bits and pieces from around the web, and finally a collection of thoughts and ideas from yours truly. I hope you enjoy!


WHAT I’VE BEEN WRITING:

12 Personal Commandments for a Happier Life

As inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s wonderful Happiness Project, I decided to put together a list of my own 12 commandments for living a happier, healthier and more purposeful life.

5 Mindfulness Hacks to Help Bring You Back to the Present Moment

5 Mindfulness Hacks that I like to use informally throughout the day to help bring me back to and fully engage with the present moment.

How to Gain Enlightenment While Taking a Dump. – Favourite Books for Moments of Profound Pooing

A fun post about creating the habit of reading books while on the loo!

Am I doing this because of Fear or Love? – a question for motivation and guidance

A post based on the question; “Am I doing this because of love of fear?” that I heard from the following Tim Ferris podcast: Dr. Vivek Murthy — Former Surgeon General on Combatting COVID-19, Loneliness, and More  

Now is the time – What will you do with yours?

A piece to inspire action from isolation as inspired by the following Kitty O’Meara poem:

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

The Nature of my Child

A short post inspired by my son/this quote:

“Every child has a god in him. Our attempts to mould the child will turn the god into a devil – A. S. Neill


WHAT I’VE BEEN READING

BOOKS:

2 books have dominated my reading and re-reading for the past two months – both of which I can highly highly recommend reading, especially during this time of great uncertainty.

The first is RADICAL ACCEPTANCE by Tara Brach

From Amazon: “Writing with great warmth and clarity, Tara Brach brings her teachings alive through personal stories and case histories, fresh interpretations of Buddhist tales, and guided meditations. Step by step, she leads us to trust our innate goodness, showing how we can develop the balance of clear-sightedness and compassion that is the essence of Radical Acceptance.” 

The second is AWARENESS by SJ Anthony de Mello

Although written some time ago now – this book is the best I’ve read that translated to me what spirituality means and why cultivating greater awareness is something we all need.

Another book I can highly highly recommend is the beautifully illustrated ‘THE BOY, THE MOLE, THE FOX AND THE HORSE’  by Charlie Mackesy. 

It’s not only deeply moving and thought provoking, it’s a beautiful piece of art in its own right. I could pick any quote and it would be worth sharing, but I’ll leave you with just one that hit home for me on a personal level.

“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy… 

“Help”, said the horse.


OTHER BITS AND PIECES FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Fear setting – who Tim Ferris described as the most valuable exercise he does every month – is an exercise in defining some of your fears about a difficult decision you are considering making, versus the longer term costs of doing nothing. I used it this month to consider what might happen if I lost my job and found it a very reassuring exercise.

This inspirational video of a speech by Orator Jonathan Roberts addressing graduating seniors at Harvard’s Senior Class Day ceremony on May 24, 2017 at Tercentenary Theatre.

THOUGHTS & IDEAS FROM MY JOURNAL:

ON COVID-19, DEALING WITH FEAR, PRACTISING COMPASSION AND BEING GRATEFUL:

Gratitude, with rare exception, gives you a more accurate interpretation of reality.

Do not try to change people, that’s the wrong approach. Instead try only to help people.

The inability to forgive each other and people’s unwillingness to admit they’re wrong go hand in hand.

The Chinese character for crisis translates as danger + opportunity. I think this is brilliant. Danger meaning a need to be careful and vigilant – a need to act. But as with any crisis there is also opportunity for growth and to learn – to profit from setback.

Make your mission about helping others, not validating the ego. Make your mission about inspiring hope, not criticising others for acting out of fear. After all, are we not all irrational when acting from fear? Have compassion for those who are scared and forgive those who acted rashly and misled the public based on limited, information. We are all fools in this together. Don’t attack. Be kind.

ON DEVELOPING THE MIND AND MINDFULLNESS:

As a rule: Clarity first. Action second.

The great thing about momentum: eventually is becomes easy.

It matters less what you choose to do, but that you give that thing your undivided attention.

Everybody’s mind is filled with bullshit. Wisdom comes from shifting through that bullshit and picking out what you know to be true in your heart. 

The egos need for validation will never be satisfied! When you feed it, its appetite over time only grows. You have to let it go!

Your insecurities prevent you from showing your true self.

The desire for others to say something positive about me is a reflection of my own insecurities. 

Your resistance to other people only serves to strengthen their position in your mind.

The mind is a tool – something to be used. If you fail to remain aware, the mind will take over and use you.

Learning to continuously question your beliefs, to unlearn everything you’ve been taught, to treat what you know with a very large amount of skepticism, is one of the most important skills one can cultivate.

ON PURSING YOUR DREAMS/DOING THE THINGS YOU LOVE:

Doing the things you love gives you the energy to the do the things you need but don’t. 

Better to be happy in failure than unhappy in success.

Ask yourself whether you are making this decision because of fear or love. A perceived need for more money is often driven by a fear of losing out, a fear of not having, or losing the things you already have. Of course thats not always the case. If you’re doing it for your family, for a better education for your children, a better neighbourhood for them to grow up, for certain their security, then those decisions clearly stem from a place of love. However that’s often not the case. What I want to stress is to the need be clear of the reasons for choosing to pursue a certain career or path. If the decision is about finding purpose – follow your heart.

ON PARENTING

I think in our efforts to make something of our children, we often do a disservice to that which is already there. I don’t need to make him into anything. I simply need to encourage what is already there, for him to flourish and realise his full potential. 

There is no need to force parenting, just be present and you’ll understand what you should do.

ON HONESTY, EXPECTATIONS & FORGIVENESS

Being honest with someone is important, but unless you do it compassionately you’re probably wasting your time. People aren’t willing to receive rocks if you hurl them – they’re either going to duck and hide, or throw them back. 

The truth hurts because we are breaking down that persons reality – pointing something out they didn’t want to hear. That’s why it’s important to be kind, but to be kind while being courageous enough to tell them the truth.

People often expect an apology before they’re willing to forgive. Forgiveness should come first without any expectations. Ones apology will often be returned with far more sincerity if you do. 

Now is the time – What will you do with yours?

Now is the time.

Now is the time to pause and slow down. To revaluate your priorities. To consider what is working and what hasn’t been. 

Now is time to practise gratitude for everything you have, such a roof over your head, access to food and clean running water, for living in a remarkable age technologically speaking, that helps keep us entertained, informed and, crucially, connected to all those we love despite our physical isolation. If nothing else to be grateful for life itself, despite all its hardships and heartache.

Now is the time to practise compassion for each other and ourselves. To be kind. To send that energy inwards and from there, outwards to the wider universe of which we are all part. 

Now is the time to heal. To use our shared pain as a gateway to shared compassion. 

Now is the time to contemplate time. Time is an illusion isn’t it? A trap that makes us think we have to keep on-top of things. To always do things. To strive for some perfect version of ourselves. A compete fantasy. Look at our reality now. Completely turned on its head. No time but to sit. Nothing to do but look inward, if we dare.

I strongly encourage you to do so. Sit with those emotions. Let them surface. The fear, the anxiety, the depression. Accept them as they are. Allow them into your heart. If you do you might learn something that will fundamentally change you. Something that no amount of striving, or trying to get, will ever be able to take away from you. Genuine peace. Peace with yourself and with the world as it is, at this moment.

Now is the time to practise acceptance. Learning to accept – to be at peace with yourself, gives you the clarity of mind to know how you should act – from the heart. Acceptance isn’t resignation. Acceptance is life’s biggest lesson.

Now is the time to practise awareness. To observe quietly. Meditation isn’t an act of doing nothing. It’s an act of curiosity. It’s a profoundly beautiful act of self compassion. Of being aware. Awakened. It is perhaps the most underrated act one can undertake. The act of being. Of dropping our attachment to our thinking minds. Of letting go. 

Now is the time to create. It’s often from constraint that creativity springs. Some of histories greatest minds understood and achieved true freedom in isolation. Others created some of their best work. Nelson Mandela and William Shakespeare readily spring to mind.

Now is the time to play. Now is the time to laugh. Now is the time to grieve. Now is the time to feel. To drop your guard. Now is the time to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to be courageous. 

Now is the time to look those who you love in the eye and tell them so. Death is never far away. Death is life. Death is a continuation. Part of the journey. That journey continues. It continues in your children and your grandchildren. In all the people you have touched. In all things. Death is beautiful. Death is necessary. It gives way.

Now is the time to meet your shadows in the darkness and understand they were made from light.

Now, is the time. The time to be. If you do, you might just realise that what you‘ve been looking for, has been with you the entire time. 

Now, is always the time.

The only question to ask is,

What will you do with yours?

My 2019 Review – FINANCES, INSURANCE AND CHARITY💰

FINANCES

I think there’s a great deal of work left to do in this department. We are in a decent position financially, but I have been less than proactive with that money. Doing the research and making some smart investments will be a priority for 2020. 

That said I’ve had similar goals in the past that have amounted to little in the way of new investments. I think the problem is my financial goals have been too vague. What am I working towards? What is the kind of financial freedom I’m looking for and what does that look like? Perhaps a more important question to ask myself is, what does investment mean to me? Why am I doing it? It can’t just be to make money. I’m investing in the future. In a better world for my son to grow up in. So what are the kinds of things I need to invest in to help make that happen? 

I absolutely want to invest in renewable technologies and projects. I believe the biggest problem of my son’s lifetime, if not ours right now, is how are we going to save this planet. I also believe rates of depression are on the rise, in no small part, because of difficulties learning to adapt to an ever increasing rate of change. Helping those who are helping others through problems such as depression and anxiety is close to my heart and absolutely something I want to support as well. How can I do this? Who and/or what are the companies doing this right now?

While these are good goal setting questions for 2020, one other important point I want to make is this. Be grateful. 🙏 You already have everything you need to be happy and content right now! There is nothing wrong with seeking to improve your financial position but you should do so while acknowledging what you already have. It is enough. A roof over my family’s head. Clean water. Money to put food on the table many, many times over. A healthy son. A healthy wife. A healthy me. It is enough. 

INSURANCE

Insurance wise we are well set up, but I have two major things I want to look at as a priority in 2020. The first being writing a will (for Liam’s sake), which we still haven’t put together!! The other being looking into loss of licence/income insurance through my union, should I find myself unable to work due injury or illness. The first I’ve no excuses for putting off. The second I put off for a long time because a) it’s a very expensive insurance plan and b) with just me to support I wasn’t too worried about losing my job/income. My wife would be able to support us if needed and pre child it never seemed sensible to spend that amount of money especially considering we are well covered with over insurance policies/plans. Recently however I’ve had something of a scare and also know of a few fellow pilots who have found themselves unable to work and needed to use such an insurance plan. With a little more to lose nowadays I think it’s time to give myself this extra safety net. 

CHARITY

Charity. Do any of us really do enough? I certainly don’t which, quite frankly, isn’t good enough. I live a privileged life well above the global average. While my wealth might not make me anywhere near the top 1% in my own country, for the rest of the world I am the 1%. So where to start? 

It makes sense to start giving to causes that mean something to me. So what are those causes? Two spring to mind readily. The first being mental health and the second being the environment. I think it’s important to choose the right charities, ones that will use my money effectively in their efforts to help people and the world at large. But how do I know who I should give my money to? Do your research seems an obvious answer so that’s exactly what I’ll do as my first priority.