The seeds of doubt were planted at a young age. I can’t tell you exactly when, but I know it started in childhood. I was lead to believe I wasn’t capable, that I would struggle in this life. In particular, concerns surrounded my abilities in English. At first, my parents worried that I had a … Read more Why I Write
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman (Source: The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman: A Visionary for Our Time) I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ‘what do you mean the ONLY … Read more The Only Thing The World Needs From You
The other night, while I was trying to sleep, I started thinking about the post I wrote last week where I stated that hatred is driven – at its core – by a fear of death. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing something fundamental. Naturally this started to make me feel a little anxious. … Read more Why Everything Scares You To Death
That’s the most liberating, wonderful thing in the world, when you openly admit you’re an ass. It’s wonderful. When people tell me, “You’re wrong.” I say, “What can you expect of an ass?” S.J. Anthony de mello – SOURCE: AWARENESS “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent … Read more The Secret Ingredient Missing From Every Conversation
“The principle of freedom must be our first commitment, for without this no one is immune against the virus of aggrandizement – the impulse to grab power, wealth, position, or reputation at the expense of others.” – Herbert Douglass – SourCE:The Cost Of Freedom True freedom is a commitment to experiencing the very real limitations … Read more Why Freedom Demands Responsibility
Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my new and not-at-all improved (except for name) newsletter! It’s the only newsletter that tells you if you want to take control of your life you have to let go…
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 joke that’s so bad, it’s good!
“The primary reason we give life meaning is because it gives us hope. When we fail to see the meaning in something we lose hope. This causes us to give up.”
“The reason we lose meaning is because we’re clinging to something. Ironically it’s often an outdated belief that we’re unable (or refuse) to let go of. A belief that clashes with our current reality. This prevents us from instilling or finding new meaning in what currently is.”
“When you are grounded there is no need to look up or down. You are where you are, and you hold true strength and power from that position. The success you experience becomes more enduring and robust. It is only once you are grounded that you can truly soar.”
– Brad Stulberg
“The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed. Proficiency and results come only to those who have learned the paradoxical art of doing and not doing, or combining relaxation with activity.”
The story of Buddha is well known. Born into a palace and given every indulgence he could possibly wish for, while, at the same time, shielded from the outside world. And yet, it wasn’t enough. He knew something was off. (Sound familiar?)
So, he decided to go against his father’s wishes and venture out of the palace. It was then that he saw, for the first time in his life, suffering and death. This unsettled him greatly and sent him on the path to enlightenment. To get there he had to give it all up.
He came to see that all attachments – including to and of the self – were the reason people suffered.
This is us, in the developed world. Metaphorically speaking we have all been born into the palace. We have everything. We have more options than we’ve had before. The possibilities are endless. (This is part of the problem too. There are too many options. We’re stuck in the supermarket spending our lives deciding which brand of ketchup to buy.)
We live in the most prosperous, safest period in human history. We’re all literate, well educated. Violence and wars are at an all time low. Racism, sexism and discrimination are at their lowest points in history too. Far fewer people live below the poverty line. We’ve cured countless diseases. The list goes on.
And yet, and yet, where do we go from here? Because the meaning we give our lives is based on a better tomorrow is it not? Hope is based on a better future. If not for ourselves then for our children – for our family, our community, our political party, our country, our fucking football team.
This is what it feels like.
It feels like we’re sitting on the apex of humanity. It feels like we’re at the top of the mountain looking down. At the very highest cruising level knowing all that’s left is our gradual or perhaps rapid descent to our inevitable demise.
The threat of nuclear war is the highest it’s been in decades. Extremism is on the rise across the political spectrum. The world is boiling. The environment is in free-fall. Donald Trump is running for president again…
Here we are, sat inside our palace walls. It feels like a swarm of flesh eating zombies are clambering at the walls ready to rush in and devour everything we know and love. But it’s not the walls that are cracking – we are.
Mark Manson calls this the paradox of progress. He says, “We are the safest and most prosperous humans in the history of the world, yet we are feeling more hopeless than ever before. The better things get, the more we seem to despair… And perhaps it can be summed up in one startling fact: the wealthier and safer the place you live, the more likely you are to commit suicide.”
The Worm at the Core
But here’s the thing. (I suggest you tighten your seatbelts. This is the part of the flight where I take a rapid nose off a cliff!)
We know we will lose it all. We know that we will die. All these things – the environment, the threat of nuclear war, the pandemic (the list goes on and on and on) are simply reminding us of this painful truth.
They’re bringing the existential worm at the core to the surface.
Las week I said that stalling is a result of losing meaning. That’s another way of saying we’ve lost hope. The problems is we become attached, not only to things, but beliefs.
Why do we get attached to them, exactly? They’re just thoughts right? I mean, all beliefs are just ideas, fundamentally. So why? Why are we so unwilling to hear the other side? Why are we all so utterly convinced that out point of view is the correct one?
We’ve all been there right? We’ve all had that massive argument over nothing. We wake up the next morning with egg on our face wondering why it was we cared so much. Why we felt so strongly about something we know, in the light of the next day, doesn’t matter in the slightest.
This is why. It’s because we know what the end result is. We know that death is inevitable. And because we know the end result we feel that our lives must mean something.
We want to know, if we can’t live on that, at the very least, our religion can, or our political party, or our country, or even our football team. We need some part of us to live on.
When those things lose out we can’t stand it. When the things we believe in are attacked or challenged, it feels like our very lives are at stake.
American philosopher William James dubbed this the “the worm at the core” of the human condition.
Now, I like to call him Mr wormy head because this makes him feel less threatening. (And also, I have two young boys so this is how I talk at the moment.)
Mr wormy head is always there – residing deep beneath the surface. It’s at the very core of our psychology – at the deepest root. The way we keep him at bay is by instilling our lives with meaning.
This is the primary reason we give life meaning – even if most of us aren’t aware – to protect us from the knowledge that we will one day die. Not only that, to protect us from the knowledge that nothing we do ultimately matters.
The problem is, he likes to comes to surface any time we suffer a major loss. Whenever our self esteem takes a hit. He senses when his prey is vulnerable. He tries to eat whatever remaining lift we have left for breakfast.
He’s a very naughty Mr wormy head. When he comes to surface he likes to remind us that nothing we say or do matters. That everyone we love will die and everything we know will be swallowed up by the sun. He tells us we are nothing but an insignificant cosmic speck in the infinite expanse of time and space.
Like I said, very naughty.
The natural conclusion when Mr wormy head starts to eat us from the inside out is that nothing matters at all. That because life is ultimately meaningless there’s no point whatsoever. So why not sleep with my best friends wife? Why not shoot up a school full of children? Why not hang myself from a noose and end it all?
At it’s deepest darkest level this is what it means to stall in life – why we become completely untethered from reality. It’s not only a lack of belief in oneself but everything. It’s a lack of meaning, control and belief all rolled into one nihilistic ball.
Not only does this cause us to stall, it causes us to give up completely.
But to finish this admittedly depressing post with something to cling to, giving up isn’t the same as letting go. When you give up on life, the reality is, you’re still not letting go.
(To be continued…)
This is part two of a series of posts on the subject of stalling in life.
Last week I said the reason we stall in life is because we lose meaning. Of course meaning, lift, purpose (whatever you want to call it) is the reason we do anything. The meaning we give our life is the reason we get out of bed in the morning. Otherwise, why bother?
In its deepest sense this means depression. Depression is a loss of lift. Most people think of depression as a kind of sadness but that’s not correct. While sadness is often associated with depression they are not the same thing.
Sadness is a feeling. Depression is a more like a lack of feeling. It feels like a heavy fog blankets everything. All you want to do is let that fog envelope you. It’s a form of retreat from life. A deep withdrawal. A shrivelling of the self.
It’s a loss of hope, either in yourself or the world at large. As it happens that’s the primary reason we give life meaning. Meaning gives us hope. When we fail to see the meaning in something we lose hope. This causes us to give up.
Clearly then, something is up. It certainly ain’t the sky!
If we take the premise that the underlying reason we stall stems from a loss of meaning, and if we also take the premise that the main reason we lose meaning stems from an inability to let go (meaning we’re unable to accept something), that begs a number of questions.
Why have we lost meaning on such a colossal scale, especially in the modern developed world? What it is we’re unable to let go of? What can we do to save ourselves before it’s too late?
Undeniably these are complex and difficult questions to answer, but since I’m writing a book, I best have a crack. Let’s start with the obvious before taking a rapid nose dive off a cliff!
On the surface it seems the reason we stall is a matter wanting something we can’t have. It’s like being grounded as a pilot. The desire to fly leaves us wishing for a different reality.
Of course, we want to be out and about, exploring the world, playing with our mates. We want to be getting rich, ripped, promoted and recognised for being the hero (or heroine) we all imagine we could and should be.
We all want to have the perfect glistening bodies, deeply meaningful careers, and raise perfect children who would never fart in public. We want a bigger house, a faster car, a fatter paycheque.
We want adulation from millions of ardent fans. We want to conquer the world and leave a legacy so our name may live on for all eternity.
That’s we want, if we’re brutally honest.
The question is why? Why do feel we must have everything, do everything and please everyone? Why is what we have never enough?
Performance coach and author Brad Stulberg calls this condition heroic individualism. “An ongoing game of one-upmanship against both yourself and others, paired with the limiting belief that measurable achievement is the only arbiter of success.”
As he explains, “men describe it as a cumbersome need to be bulletproof, invincible.” Whereas “women report feeling like they must be everything always, continually falling short of impossible expectations.”
The big issue with heroic individualism is the underlying belief.
We aren’t driven by a deep internal value system – or moral compass – but a deep seated fear that who we are and what we have isn’t enough. A fear that we are way off course, miles away from the destination we should be, and heading in wrong direction still.
So we feel we must keep striving, pushing, whipping ourselves in a desperate attempt to make up for our lack of being, to get our lives back on course – to climb to the highest possible cruising level for our lives to hold any meaning.
It’s the equivalent of pulling full back struck and applying maximum thrust 24/7. You’ll certainly see some short term results. But eventually, rather quickly, you’ll burn out and stall. It’s not sustainable over the long haul.
This is worth stressing: Whether you feel need to do everything or struggle to do anything, in either case you are driven by a sense of hopelessness.
Ultimately, if we don’t learn to accept ourselves for who and where we are, we will always feel out of control. This is important because a sense of control is central to maintaining hope. If we don’t feel we have any control, eventually, we lose hope.
When this happens we get a visit from the existential worm at the core. (I’ll talk more about Mr wormy head next week)
Unfortunately a lack of belief isn’t the only issue when it comes to stalling. In fact, there are a number of psychological flaws that fuck us up in the modern age.
One of those flaws is something behavioural scientists like to call hedonic adaptation or set point happiness. Something I like to refer to as the pursuit of unhappiness.
Harvard psychologist Tal Ben-Shahr, who coined the term “arrival fallacy”, describes it as living under the false illusion that once we make it (whatever that means) we will find the kind of lasting inner peace and contentment we desperately crave. Then, only then, we will live happily ever after.
But even when we do arrive, even when our wildest dreams are realised, that happiness is short lived. Despite sacrificing everything to achieve our dreams, it’s a mere “blip” on the radar of life. We immediately start thinking about the next best thing. How that next promotion, fatter paycheque, or faster car will give us everything we need.
This is because we all have a set-point of happiness. Some of us have a higher set point (bastards) while others have a lower set point (poor bastards), but the vast majority of us (regardless of sex, gender, age, class etc) lie somewhere in the middle.
And somewhere in the middle looks like this: “Life is okayish, I guess. Not bad, but not great either. Certainly room for improvement!”
Of course, this set point is continually reset based on our life circumstances. So, if we win the lottery for example, what happens? We’re happy for a while, because, well, we just won the fucking lottery! But, eventually, much quicker than we would like, we get used to it.
We get used to our new lavish lifestyle – we get used to the big mansion, the 5 sports cars, the jet-setting. The existential worm at the core catches up with us. (There he is again.) We start to feel that something is off. That money really isn’t everything. (Shocker!) That we didn’t want the world after all.
The good news is that hedonic adaptation works in reverse.
The problem is (here’s where I open my bay doors and drop a bombshell on you) we don’t see this.
The same way we think gaining that next promotion or winning the lottery will solve all our problems, we think that losing what we already have will be an unmitigated disaster that will end in the collapse of humanity itself (I may be exaggerating).
This is because we suffer from something known in psychology as loss aversion (which goes hand in hand with something else known as a negativity bias). Loss aversion states that, on average, the pain of losing something is three to four times greater than the happiness of having it.
Lettings go hurts – a lot!
This brings us to the next critical life lesson: We are terrible at predicting what will make us happy.
Mother Nature – that cruel mistress – wired us this way. She’s got us convinced that we need to keep climbing to the flight level above us, even though, in reality, it won’t make us any happier. On top of which she convinced us that letting go and descending to a lower altitude would be a massive mistake, even if the turbulence at our current one is unbearable.
The reason for this is simple: survival.
To think back a few thousand years – for the vast majority of our evolution – we really didn’t have much stuff. The stuff we did have was invariably necessary for our survival. So we clung to those things while going after whatever scraps we get our scrawny little mits on. We kept hunting and gathering because we needed to! We needed to save up for the inevitable rainy day. Of which there were many.
The grass is always greener for a good reason. Once upon a time, the grass was always greener.
To come back to issue of meaning. When our survival is at stake that’s meaning enough. But past a certain point, the issue isn’t about our survival but the survival of our things. We cling to our things – our jobs, our relationships, our privileged lifestyle, our beliefs – because those things define who we are. They’re what give our lives meaning.
Hello lovely readers and welcome back to the first edition of my new and improved weekly newsletter! The only weekly newsletter that disappears for a month only to return on a different day of the week with a completely different name… (Let me know what you think in the comments.)
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 extra special (maybe).
3 x Thoughts:
1) When you stop giving a fuck about the end result, you start having a lot more fun.
2) Your plant won’t grow if you only feed water to the leaves. You have to feed the roots in order to grow. That means taking care of your fundamentals first (think health, relationships, security, etc.), before you start chasing your goals.
3) The more you believe in yourself, the more willing you are to accept your current reality. Preparing for the worst helps you build the confidence needed to deal with it. When the worst happens and the fruits of your labour are rewarded, this becomes the difference between failure or, if you’re lucky, feeling relieved, and gaining an unstoppable sense of self-belief. Preparing for the worst in life – both mentally and physically – helps you accept life on its terms. It prevents from placing hope externally, for circumstances out of your control to go your way, and instead places it internally, for your ability to deal with anything and everything that comes your way.
2 x Quotes:
“Groundedness does not eliminate passion, productivity, or all forms of striving and ambition. Instead, it is about ditching an omnipresent and frantic anxiety to begin living in alignment with your innermost values, pursuing your interests, and expressing your authentic self in the here and now. When you are grounded there is no need to look up or down. You are where you are, and you hold true strength and power from that position. Your success, and the way in which you pursue it, becomes more enduring and robust. You gain the confidence to opt out of the consumer-driven rat-race that leaves you feeling like you are never enough.”
“Misfortune weighs most heavily on those who expect nothing but good fortune.”
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?!
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 survival. It’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:
Most of us experience stalling at some stage in our lives. In our attempts to be all we can. In our attempts to climb as high as we can, as fast as we can.
The problem is, like an aeroplane, we can only climb so fast. If we pitch the nose up too high, or carry too much weight, we run the risk of stalling. And if we do, then we’re only left with one choice.
Just like an aeroplane, the only way to recover – the only way – is to point the nose back towards the ground. You have to sacrifice height in order to regain lift.
For many of us this is the last thing we want.
When we’ve had our eyes on that optimum crushing level – that perfect enviable position we wish we were at in life – we find it hard to let go. We become so fixated on that place we lose all sense of what’s actually going on, what actually needs to be done in the here and now.
Of course if you keep pitching up in desperation – if you refuse to accept your situation – well, then, the results can be catastrophic.
Towards the end of 2019 I found myself in such a stall. I was mentally and physically exhausted. The relentlessly busy rosters and regular night flying had taken its toll. I also needed help navigating depression.
I’d known for some time I needed help, I just didn’t want to admit it. So in desperation I kept trying to pitch the nose up. Of course it only made things worse. I only found myself in a deeper stall.
Eventually I conceded. I acknowledged the stall and pointed the nose down. I asked for the professional help I’d ignored getting for years.
It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Shortly afterwards the pandemic gripped the world and I suddenly found myself with an abundance of time at home. All of which gave me the perfect opportunity to keep the nose down. To utilise my support systems. As a result I spent the first half of 2020 at home, resting, writing, reading and being with the people I love.
It was exactly what I needed to regain lift.
By June, when I finally went back to work I felt ready, like the heavy fog that had shrouded my mind had lifted and I could fly once more. It’s just that, this time, the whole world had stalled. Little did I know just how long that stall would last. A year on I still don’t.
What followed were a series of professional setbacks. The biggest of which came when my company consigned our sister airline to the history books. A fifth of our workforce went jobless overnight. Those of us lucky enough to still cling to our jobs in aviation, were forced onto a new contract in very friendly sign-or-be-sacked kinda manner.
Fast forward to the present day and my coworkers are still fearing for their livelihoods. Many of them have family who live abroad they haven’t seen for well over a year. I’m one of the lucky ones with my family here in Hong Kong. On top this the lack of flying means many of us are rusty. The added stress isn’t helped by quarantine or the ever changing medical/testing requirements. I haven’t even mentioned the fear of contracting the virus itself.
This week I actually got to fly. To give you an idea of the times, the Captain and I flew an empty passenger jet to Hanoi and back. We carried nothing but a bit of cargo in the belly. On arrival into Hong Kong we were made to test for COVID, then wait 3 hours for the results before they let us go home. We were the lucky ones. Many of our other colleagues flying to higher risk destinations and/or with passengers on board are made to quarantine for 3 weeks in a hotel room before being allowed home.
All the above has made the job more demanding that it has ever been.
Yet, despite this, flying to Hanoi and back was some of the most fun I’ve had in an aeroplane for a number of years. I believe that’s because this pandemic has given me something from being forced to point the nose down for the past year and a half. What I believe it really takes to recover from any stall in life: perspective.
I became a pilot to fly aeroplanes and travel the world, but that’s not why I get in an aeroplane anymore. I’ve come to realise those motives alone aren’t enough anymore. They don’t generate enough lift.
Now I fly, above all else, to help the world. To make sure the few passengers who need to travel get home to their families safely. To help transport critical cargo where it needs to go. To keep my company afloat. I fly not just for me and my family, but for the man or women sitting next to me and their families. I fly for all those who lost their jobs. I fly as part of a rich and proud aviation heritage during what is arguably its most difficult hour.
It’s like that story about three bricklayers who were asked: “What are you doing?” The first says, “I am laying bricks.” The second says, “I am building a church.” And the third says, “I am building the house of God.” The first bricklayer has a job. The second has a career. The third has a calling.
I’ve transitioned from the second bricklayer to the third. I fly with a far greater passion derived from a deeper meaning that’s been given to this profession – to all things – during this time. Ultimately that’s what I believe pointing the nose down allows you to see. It reminds you what it’s all about. Why you even get up in the morning.
And call me crazy, but for the first time in a while I feel a glimmer of hope. Now that I’m fully vaccinated, with a slight uptick in the amount of flying rostered this month, with genuine talks of opening up travel bubbles…
Of course I’m aware you have to be very careful with hope. Often the light at the end of the tunnel is simply another train coming at you. And if it is, so be it. I’m ready.
Still, I do believe this time we might actually be at the bottom of this stall. That we might finally have the energy – the perspective – to start the slow ascent towards bluer skies. Back towards a new, more sustainable, cruising level. I, for one, can’t wait for the day I look back down the cabin and see the plane full of happy travellers once more.
I, for one, am more than ready to do my part, to help make that happen.
(Thanks for reading everyone. I’m curious to know what stories you have of stalling in life? How did you deal with it? What helped you recover? Let us know below. Wishing you well.)
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.
(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 toprepare 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.”
1) This happiness lad podcast:Dump Your Inner Drill Sergeantwith 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.
“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.”
“Do you hear it?” I said. “Listen, Listen, shhhhhhhh…”
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?
“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.”
– Vietnam War. Admiral James Stockdale
Do you want to know the one reason you’re not happy right now?
It’s because you’re hoping for something different.
It’s as simple as that.
By wishing for something different your perception of what reality should be crashes against what is. This friction is the source of all your suffering.
You cannot alter reality. Only your perception of it, your acceptance of it.
Reality is perfectly happy being the fucked up place it is because it can’t be anything else.
It was just as fucked before you were born as it will be the day after you die.
Stop hoping for something different.
Either Act Or Accept.
These are far better choices than hoping.
Do you want to know why you’re in the mess that you are?
It’s because you were sold a dummy by a society that has glorified hope.With the movies and TV shows you watch. The super hero who swoops in to save the day at the final hour. You cling to that, waiting for your knight in shining armour to save you.
It’s true to say hope can serve as temporary relief from your current pain, but that’s about all one can say.
How have those things worked out for you in the past?
What has hope really done for you?
It’s another form of avoidance, of distraction.
What happened to your hope when coronavirus fucked up all your plans last year? What happened to your hope when governments repeatedly failed you?
Is hope going to get us out of this mess?
You’re the super hero of your own reality. You control yourself, your thoughts and the way you look at the world.
Hope is an excuse not to do what you can.
Hope is an excuse to say these problems are beyond you, to say they are beyond all of us.
Hope is saying all will be ok when I die and go to heaven.
Hope is what led you to hopelessness when the world didn’t live up to your expectations.
And let me tell you, living in hopelessness is an equally terrible place because that isn’t based in reality either.
Act or Accept.
Those are your choices.
I’ll say one more thing before I wrap up.
Giving up hope isn’t about being overly pessimistic – it’s about coming back to reality and seeing it for what it is.
Hopelessness is being overly pessimistic.
If you have clothes on your back, food on the table and a roof over your head. If you can breathe…!
I’d say there is more right with you than not.
The best things in life haven’t changed because you lost your job or your wife left you.
Taking a shit or having a wank is just as wonderful with zero dollars in the bank as it is with billions (sorry, I meant feeling the cool breeze on your skin or listening to the birds chirping in the morning – yeah those things too).
Will this message inspire you in some way?
All I can do is my best to reinforce the narratives that help me and see if it helps others.
Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.
Either way, I’m not holding onto any hope.
(Thanks for reading ladies and gentlemen. I hope (ha) you enjoyed it. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Sometimes I take an extreme position on a topic simply to challenge myself (and you) to think differently, even if I don’t agree with the argument. Do I really think that hope is such a terrible emotion? No, of course not. Hope is a very important emotion designed to inspire action. But here is what I did take from this post – hope must be tied to action otherwise it’s dangerous. Hoping for things out of your control (as I learnt the hard way this past year) is truly awful for your mental health. Hope only for yourself, for the things that you can control. And then take action to make it so. For everything else you can’t control – I suggest you practise acceptance instead. With that said I’m curious what your thoughts are on the topic of hope? As always I welcome ALL comments and opinions. Wishing you well, AP2 🙏)
“Learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively based on finely honed personal values is perhaps the greatest and most important struggle in life.”
– Mark Manson.
“In a crisis, the inevitable suffering that life entails can rapidly make a mockery of the idea that happiness is the proper pursuit of the individual.”
– Jordan B. Peterson
“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”
– Sigmund Freud
I’ve always felt that a period of reflection does more for the soul than sitting down to outline any goals for the year. When we take the time to reflect on our values. When we look deeply at how we have failed to live up-to them. I believe it’s through a deeper reflection that we can derive the most insight. It’s from those lessons that the goals we really want to chase after become clear. Those goals becoming, in turn, an expression of those values. An expression of the things that make you feel whole. That make you feel integral.
Something a fellow blogging buddy of mine said in response to my earlier post, The Things That I Will Miss got me thinking. He said – to paraphrase slightly – “It’s not so much the things that I will miss but the things that I have learnt.” And so I thought, as part of my personal end of year review, I’d ask the question to you dear readers:
What are the things that you’ve learnt from this most tumultuous 2020?
To get the ball rolling (and for a bit of fun) I’ve put together the following list. A kind of rough draft taken from a quick look back at what I’ve written this year. It’s far from polished but then again – it’s the holidays! Anyway here you are – 24 Invaluable Lessons From 2020. I hope you enjoy.
Hope without action is dangerous.
If you can’t act you must accept.
Acceptance is something you must practise.
Honesty is the ultimate form of kindness.
Honesty has to be the gold standard by which we measure our leaders.
Protecting our freedoms means protecting the truth.
The truth is hard. Avoiding it is harder.
The truth is more important than your emotions.
Freedom and responsibility are synonymous
Think as one. Always assume a position of collective responsibility.
You are either being racist or anti-racist. There is no such thing as “not racist.”
No black. No white. Only grey.
We must embrace our demons.
It’s ok to cry (especially as a man).
Looking after yourself = looking after others.
Happiness does not exist without gratitude.
A question for clarifying motivation: Am I doing this because of love or fear?
The other side of shame is a better person.
Better is better than perfect.
Routine has everything to do with developing a growth mindset.
Enthusiasm increases intelligence.
Success is what you alone define.
Spirituality = Awareness
Prepare for the worst. Believe in yourself. Expect nothing.
Thanks for Reading Ladies and Gentlemen. I am of course curious, what have you have learnt this year? What would be on your list? As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions. Let me finish by saying it’s been an absolute pleasure connecting with all of you this year. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. To each and every one of you – for lifting me up. For making me think. For challenging me. For making me laugh. For everything. You have been a life line for me. I wish you all an infinitely brighter 2021. AP2 X
You cancelled weddings. You cancelled birthdays, festivals, celebrations of all kinds. You cancelled good times.
And I said, ok.
You took away my holidays. You prevented me from seeing my friends. You prevented me from seeing my family.
And I said, ok.
You forced me to quarantine in hotels rooms. You cost me days of my life. You sucked the joy from a job I love.
And I said, ok.
You cost me significantly. You made me take unpaid leave. You forced me to sign a contract that will permanently hinder my long term prospects. That will hurt the quality of life I can provide for my family.
And I said, ok.
You grounded aeroplanes. You brought my industry to its knees. You fired my friends. You destroyed livelihoods.
And I I said, ok.
You allowed fear to consume. You allowed evil to thrive. An evil that has placed a stranglehold on my home here in Hong Kong.
And I said, ok.
You killed millions. You hurt so many more.
And I still said, ok.
You blackened both my eyes. You broke my nose, and my arm. Then you shot me in the leg and continued to kick me while I bled out.
And still, I said, ok.
Now you permanently close down my local pub!
Shit. Just. Got. Personal.
So I stand back up. I dust myself off and I say,
“Now it’s my turn mother fucker!”
As a pilot (who likes to think of himself as Santa), I sincerely look forward to helping transport vaccines around the world in the new year.
Because let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, that mother fucker is going down.
And 2021 is going to show what the human spirit can muster with its back against the wall.
There is light. There is hope. But we must endure a little longer. We must keep fighting. We must dig that little bit deeper.
But I’ve no doubt that together we will get through this.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and an infinitely brighter 2021!
If you value the rights that millions have died for, vote.
If you value the planet that we live on, vote.
If you believe in living a life of greater purpose and meaning, vote.
If you believe in securing a better future for your children, vote.
If you believe in looking after one another, vote.
If you care for those who have lost their lives this year, vote.
If you believe in honesty, compassion, kindness, responsibility, love… vote.
Look your children in the eyes and ask yourself, what’s in their best interest – really dig deep. Ask yourself what is best for them, for your fellow Americans, for your fellow humans.
Really ask yourself the question.
Because if you really love them you cannot, in good conscious, vote for the person that will hurt them. Don’t let pride form your narrative. Forgive yourself for any and all past mistakes. Make amends by putting yourself on the right side of history. It is never too late to do what’s right.
Before I get started there are a couple of things you should know.
The first is I’m a pilot. (What? Didn’t you know!?)
My choice of profession means I’m responsible for pumping copious amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. (Seriously a fucking lot!) It should also be said I love to do this in my spare time. Travelling is a passion and if it weren’t for COVID that’s exactly what I’d be doing right now.
The second is that I eat meat, drink my tea with cows milk (because anything else ruins it) and fucking love cheese. Seriously, put some of that shit on a giant man-sized mouse trap and my last words would be, “this… mature cheddar… is… to die for… aaaaahhhhhhhh…”
This all begs the following question,
Why Should You Listen To Me Regarding The Environment?
Well, I’m not entirely sure you should, but I can, at least, think of a couple reasons why you might consider hearing me out.
For one, I’m not here to give some fluffy account about how great I am or all the incredible things I’ve done/are doing to save this planet.
“Hey everybody, look at me – I’ll show you exactly how you should live your life! All you have to do is be tee-totalling vegan buddhist monk just like me, yaaaay! 🤗”
No. That would be too easy.
I want to inspire change but you can’t do that without being honest. Without being clear where it is you are. For me that means admitting I still have an almighty mountain to climb if I am to become the change in this world that I wish to see. After all it’s not just changes in others I wish to inspire, but myself.
However I will admit my selfish intentions here – I want all of us to change for my children’s sake.
With that said, I don’t subscribe to the belief that you need to be a vegan or some kind of die-hard environmentalist to save the planet either. At least not yet. At any rate, I believe telling others that they must does more harm than good.
By the by, I don’t believe people are saying no to wearing masks per say – I don’t believe they are necessarily denying the science either – I believe they’re simply saying fuck you for demanding it of them.
Our children are already striking – many becoming full-time climate activists – understanding that if things don’t change, and quickly, then becoming a doctor or a pilot (god forbid) will be luxuries they simply can’t afford to pursue. Instead we will have a generation of full-time environmentalists because we’ve left them little other choice.
This is precisely why we must ensure our choices are based on fact and not our feelings or fucked up entitled beliefs.If you didn’t know already, science gives zero fucks about what you feel you’re entitled to believe.
With all that said I won’t demanding you change your ways but instead ask compassionately that you please grow the fuck up and wear a mask (and make it a reusable one too). You do that and maybe, just maybe, I’ll consider putting oat milk in my cup of English breakfast tea (In other news the Queen just revoked my British passport).
I joke, of course.
Seriously though let me come back to the title of this post. The one you clicked on with a huge amount of scepticism.
Allow me to reframe it slightly and ask you this:
What’s One Thing You Can Do Today That Will Help Save The Planet?
And what if… (I’m dreaming big here.) What if all we had to do was ask and act on that one simple question?
What if we simply made the decision to be ever so slightly kinder to the environment today than they were yesterday?
And If we all did this, could it work? Could this be all that it takes?
Or am I away in the clouds again?
What do you think?
(Thanks for reading everyone. I appreciate the above might feel rich coming from a pilot but I genuinely believe in broader movements over absolute ideas of living in the woods with Bambi as my playmate. I also appreciate that the single biggest thing I could do to help the environment as a pilot is quit my job. Truthfully this is something I’m working on but now is not the right time (although it might well be out of my control soon enough).
Honestly the idea of making very small changes everyday has worked well for me – which is why I brought up this topic. For example I’m entirely plant based at home. This is a balance that works for me. It’s important to stress this didn’t happen overnight. This has been years in the making. It’s been a process. Of course I wouldn’t advocate you do the same, I’m merely pointing out a balance I’ve found in my life that works for me. It has been a long process of course, and I still have a long way to go but there is no question I’m moving in the right direction. And who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be a tee-totalling vegan Buddhist monk but that definitely isn’t the goal! Anyway it’s getting late so I’ll stop here.
As always I’m keen to get your thoughts and opinions on the matter. I welcome ALL of them. Also if you know of any easy to implement changes at home that one could incorporate to help the environment, I’m all ears?! I’ve also left a few articles for any interested parties! Thanks again and love to all, AP2 X)
Hello lovely readers and welcome back to another one of my life-altering monthly newsletters – where I take the time to digest how my month went and look at what areas I feel the need to ‘course correct.’ At the bottom you’ll find a list of everything I’ve written about this month. As always I hope you can draw some inspiration from my words.
Let’s get into it.
On Dealing With Anger:
The big thing that’s been bothering me this month – something that has come up a number times this year – is my relationship toward anger.
Historically it’s not an emotion I’ve had much of an issue with. I’ve never believed myself to be an angry person – certainly not one who reacts to it when he is.
Anxiety has always been the big black wolf for me.
Yet, as I continue to shake off the hangover bought on by years of depression, it seems that anger is the emotion I’m having the most difficulty with.
The question is why?
Now I’m not a psychologist, of course, but what I think might be happening is this.
The problem for those who don’t stand up for what they want and/or need, for fear of upsetting someone or challenging the part of your ego that likes to think ‘they’re a nice guy,’ is that their anger gets left unresolved. Over time, of course, this can build…
What I suspect might be happening, as a result of repressing my anger for so many years, is that it has finally started to surface. And when it has I’ve found it difficult to deal with simply because I’m not used to it.
As a result I’ve had several periods this year where I felt, to put it bluntly, pissed off at the world for seemingly no reason. This has resulted in my flying off the handle a couple of times.
One such example of this was when I wrote this rather angry blog post (while expressing my anger in response to another doom and gloom article about the environment) at the start of the month.
Of course I had a very good reason to be angry but the way in which I expressed it wasn’t, perhaps, the most skilful. After all swearing off the world and everyone in it is not terribly useful when it comes to inspiring action – which was the main gist of the article.
Still it was an interesting perspective – an unfiltered look at what my anger does for my writing when in full-on hulk mode!
It also got me thinking.
At the end of the day I believe honesty is the best medicine and that’s what you got – an honest look at my emotions in that moment, if not a well reasoned and balanced argument. The truth is that’s exactly what I want this blog to be about. I don’t want it to be another sugar-coated site about how amazing I am. I’m not. I’m flawed, just like everybody else. I want you all to see that.
Although I might regret the way in which I expressed my anger that day, the result of bearing my soul in the moment – of allowing myself to really feel and use that anger – has been very interesting indeed.
Let me run you through a few personal changed that I’ve made since then.
For one I just published a children’s book with a message about mindful consumption at its core. In an effort to put my money where my mouth is I’ve decided to donate everything I earn from it (because I don’t need it) to a charity that works with companies to redistribute surplus food to people in need. I also decided to volunteer for the same charity this month during my time off.
In terms of politics, because I believe nothing else will matter if we don’t sort it out, I’ve decided the environment has to be my number one factor when considering who I vote for. This makes things much simpler and quite frankly I need to simplify my thinking in areas like politics.
Anger, it seems, can certainly be used to exact positive change!
If that wasn’t all, what displaying my anger did, first and foremost, was generate some very honest and humbling responses from all of you lovely readers. This has, unequivocally, helped me tremendously!
Thanking My Readers:
With that in mind allow me take this moment to thank those who did.
Not withstanding those who saw through the vulgar language I used and agreed with the message or those who reminded me that my language was a bit strong, I’d like to make special mention of two in particular.
First up, Wayne – a good WordPress friend of mine, (if he doesn’t mind me saying) – called me out on it and rightly so! It also inspired him to write this brilliant blog post – Human Nature: The Caveman in all of us – which I can highly recommend reading.
Second, a young lady lady by the name of Janelle who took the time to respond to my angry post in a profoundly mature manner. I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing her comments here – what she said was this,
Please don’t ever feel like you can’t express your anger, sadness, frustration. Because then it’ll only build up in you. But you also can’t be so hard on yourself, you can’t blame yourself for everything, just like how at one point I blamed society for how I grew up, how I’m growing up. But at the same time, I have to agree, adults have left a world for us to fix, but you can also see it in a different light. And because we’ve been left this, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, you can look at this and say that this is our generation’s version of a hard time. Maybe before it might have been poverty, or general society not accepting other people. But it’s something that will allow us to grow! I know this is such a happy spin on everything, and I know history shows such brutal truth, but I also know that the world we live in wouldn’t be the same without it. But yes. Be angry. Be mad. But do it for a reason. Don’t blindly be angry for nothing. Be mad so that you can change something for your children. And I know I’m still considered a ‘child’. But I know that we also look up to the adults in the world. The ones that have succeeded. The ones that inspire. The ones that change. The ones that show that you can do anything if you just try. What you wrote might show the flip side that no one might agree with, but it needs to be said. It can’t be ignored. And nothing is silly. Nothing is ‘bad’. Nothing should be considered ‘bad’. It just is. This is getting long, but continue to do what you’re doing, you’ve made it this far and I know you can continue to do more! Just one step at a time.
What Janelle did was cut through my anger with a level of compassion rarely demonstrated by most adults. For her to take such a positive outlook – to understand the massive potential for meaning and purpose that can be harnessed during such trying times… This is exactly the king of resolve I hope to instil in my children as they grow.
Her message immediately made me regret the way in which I wrote the piece – not withstanding the language I used or because I expressed it – but because I did so blindly – lashing out unfairly at myself and the world. She made me pause. She made me think. She made me a better person.
To Janelle and all of my regular readers who have done the same – thank you from the bottom of my heart.
The Direction Of My Blog:
So moving on and thinking forward. What’s my vision for this blog, my career, my family and the world?
I’ve been experimenting a lot over the last six months without worrying too much about the direction of my blog. Now however I do want to make it more niche – to concentrate on something you lovely readers can depend on when you stop by.
So I ask myself what can I give – what stories and lessons can impart? What do you want to hear? More importantly, what do I want to write about?
As I head towards my command I realise it’s my story – about a child who always doubted his abilities, his strength, his intelligence, who then got bullied for years during his adolescence, who also struggled with drugs and intense feelings of anxiety, all of which led to years of depression – to then go on to become a first officer for one of the world’s best airlines – to overcome those issues with anxiety and depression…
This continued quest for building greater confidence and emotional resilience as I chase command in the years ahead is what I really want to focus on. To one day tell the story of how a fearful boy turned his life around to become an airline captain, a published author, an environmentalist and activist for positive change, a loving father of two and committed husband to one.
I do hope you’ll all stick around to hear it dear readers because, I guarantee you, it’s gonna be one heck of the ride.
Thank you so much for reading. As always I love to chat – feel free to drop me a line in the comments section below. I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. This is a very much a free state! Wishing you all much courage, resilience, love, compassion and resolve in the months ahead. God knows we’re gonna need it and each other – now more than ever. X (P.S .- see below for list of posts I wrote in September).
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.
“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
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.
This follows on from the above post. It gives a few of my thoughts about why we need to be careful with what we tell ALL our children and how we, as parents, can manage the evolution of feminism more mindfully. As I stated,
“There’s nothing wrong with challenging the narrative women are less capable than men which, of course, is complete BS, but to teach our girls the same things we’ve been teaching our boys is not a smart move.”
The following is a personal story about a particularly bad day ‘at the office’ for me. A story of my most traumatic experience as a young pilot. One that took me some time to recover from. That said, it is one I now look back on as a defining moment in my career. One that led me to seek the help I needed and shape me into the man I am today. I’m not only a better pilot because of it, I’m a better person. If anyone has suffered from depression, anxiety or PTSD, it also tells the story of how I overcame some of these personal struggles.
A rather one sided piece designed to challenge our perception of hope as an emotion. I believe that if hope doesn’t inspire action it can actually do more harm than good. Of course you have to take this one with a pinch of salt, but much of what I have to say is about challenging ideas and beliefs – not changing them. Even if I don’t completely agree with the argument, I still want to write ideas in such a way they start a dialogue/debate. I hope (ha) you enjoy.
The CLEAR model is an easy-to-use, structured approach designed for problem solving on the flight deck of an aeroplane. Thought I’d share it with you lovely readers and apply it to problem solving – specifically dealing with depression and anxiety – in everyday life. Had a lot of fun writing this one.
I’m not sure whether I want my blog to be overtly political or not, but with everything going on I decided to vent some frustrations. I mean for most of my words to come from the heart but this one is very much from the gut. I remember feeling angry as I wrote this and decided to go with it. I actually wrote it back in early June following the death of George Floyd but was hesitant to post it then. In the end I decided it’s that very awkwardness we all need to be confronting more regularly. At any rate, I think it brings up a very good point about the need to look for honesty in our leaders.
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!
So I decided to purchase this e-course called Blogging Bootcamp from the genius behind The Art Of Blogging. To say this was money well spent is a massive understatement. If you want to further your blog, be a better writer and grow as an all round human being, Cristian’s blogging bootcamp has it all and then some. I highly recommend anyone remotely interested in being a better blogging to sign up. I promise you won’t regret it.
WHAT I’VE LEARNT:
Do you want to know why I’m so excited about the time we’re living in? Why I’m so optimistic? It’s because change is happening. Change that is necessary to ensure we don’t go back to what normal was because normal has stopped working. I believe we are about to embark on the great global revolution of our time.
COVID has been one almighty wakeup call but this is just the beginning. Look at how united and politically involved the younger generations are! The change that is coming is inevitable. It’s no longer a debate. We ALL need to change our ways and the way we think about each other. We need to stop thinking as individuals and start thinking as a collective.
As sure as shit one person can eat a bat in a wet market and bring the world to its knees, you best believe that every single thing you do matters. Every single moment, every single action you take has a ripple effect that extents far beyond your immediate self. We are more interconnected than ever before. This isn’t a bad thing provided we can see how hurting another ultimately hurts ourselves. Provided we can see how important and precious each moment on this earth is.
I believe we are nothing if not the people before us and we will be for nothing if we don’t fight for those who come after us. There’s still an almighty storm to weather but together I strongly believe we can get through it. If you don’t want to sink you need to be on the ship.
Thank you for reading guys and gals. As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. I’m very interested in having my beliefs and thoughts challenged so I can grow as a person. If you want to stroke my ego I won’t object either of course… Love to all. X
Hello fine readers and welcome to my Motivational Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the most depressing day of the week. (Or at least start it off in a slightly better fashion.)
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 hopefully make you all smile.
Love to all X
(To my readers: you’ll notice I’ve been playing around with the title. If you have any other ideas about a better title for this weekly post I’d love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom. Equally any thoughts, feelings or suggestions about anything at else is also very welcome! Thanks for reading.)
4 x Thoughts From Me:
Happiness comes from finding the right sized circle of problems for you to solve. If it’s too small the insignificant things annoy you because you don’t have anything better to worry about – more to the point, you haven’t given yourself big enough problems to worry about. Similarly if it’s too big you’ll end up worrying about the things you can’t control – like current global events. Pick problems that you can solve and that speak to your heart. Learn to accept what you cannot.
The great thing about momentum is it builds naturally. Like a boulder rolling down the hill. The difficult part, of course, is getting it to move.
Make it your mission to be an agent of calm in the midst of chaos. When the storm settles, which it will, you will be well placed to pick up the pieces and put the world back together.
“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee
“Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not, their beds became their cooling boards, and their blankets became their winding sheets. And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all for just five minutes of this… So you watch yourself about complaining, Sister. What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” – Maya Angelou:Source: Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much your own unguarded thoughts.”- Gautam Buddha
Trump listened to what everybody else considered to be just noise. What he heard – the moral outrage. He gave that recognition. Then he went to the boarder and talked about Mexicans being rapists. He used that anger and weaponised it for his own agenda. He created his own tribe.
What makes you angry tells you something about your character.
One of angers important functions is for the recognition of injustice. It identifies ethical wrong doings.
What would it say about our society if people weren’t protesting?
You’re suppose to get angry. It’s appropriate that people are affronted by these acts of injustice.
Tribal rage. It’s an age old instinct for it to turn into violence. This where we need to be very careful with our anger. (Why many sports fans become violent).
What we’re very concerned about is how politicians are exploiting this to motivate minorities in order to tactically win elections.
By banding together as part of groups and giving ourselves a narrative it gives us back a sense of control we feel we’ve lost. These are groups very much based on the idea that everybody else is wrong.
Tribalism versus ligiitmate anger or moral outrage.
Why are we also seeing more moral anger? In many ways we understand what is happening – by demonstrating our moral outrage. This is a sign for optimism.
One of the reasons Tribalism is being exploited by the political elites is that we lack motivating ethical ideologies.
The two overriding moral questions we are concerned about are climate change about the scale of inequality
Whatever you sit on the political spectrum a situation where you have 90% of the wealth allocated to just 1% of the population is clearly not very functional.
We have moral outrage about inequality and global sustainability. Add to that a recession – these are the 3 issues we need to solve as a top priority.
The majority of lower income individuals in the most vulnerable positions are getting hardest hit. When they see companies like Boeing given 50billion at the drop of a hat. When they were told for years there is no money to sure up student debts or increase minimum wage yet suddenly they can magic up trillions in the afternoon for big business. Why wouldn’t they be morally outraged. That’s where we are.
There is a lot of consensus about income inequality but very little consensus about what to do about it.
3 ways to do this? 1) A National Wealth Fund 2) A green new deal 3) Use dual interest rates
We all look at the climate crisis as this huge problem that requires a huge sacrifice. I view it completely the other way around. I say, ‘thank god we have this great opportunity for lots of investment spending because our economic situation is crying out for lots of investment spending.’
These changes will fundamentally change our economic system so that is more transparent and fairer. More importantly it will make people feel valued again and this will help counteract the huge rise in global anger.
“Everything that makes up this world that we call life was made by people no smarter than you. Once you learn this you’ll never be the same again.” – Steve Jobs.
The future doesn’t happen to us. It happens because of us.
Now is really the time to ask what you want your life to be about. This question is more important than ever because the present has stopped working.
We need more people who unapologeticcally seek break throughs
How can you do it? By backcasting.
Forecasting works best when you want to maintain a current path. When it comes to breakthroughs forecasting doesn’t work. Forecasting simply brings our current problems into the future with us.
Backcasting assumes that previous models of forcasting won’t work. Which is the whole point because you want to change the future. You don’t want to play by the rules anymore.
To do this first look for inflections. – An inflection is a time of significant change. (Technology/adoption/regulatory and belief – four major kinds of)
Inflection points provide leverage for entrepreneurs to wage war against the status quo.
You need to work from the future backwards. Consider different and surprising futures then work backwards to the present. This is how you find surprising breakthroughs in the market.
Imagine as a many as you can then look for and gather insights – An insight is an unrecognised truth that can lead to a breakthrough from the present.
It forms a connection between inflections and the breakthrough product
Think about futures that you are uniquely capable of building. Then ask about how you can build a team to make your insight a reality.
This is the moment to show who you are and what you want your life to stand for. The present has stopped working. We must create a better future. Bet on your ability to find a place to change the world.
1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:
My wife made these delectable carrot cup cakes the other day.
The first batch were regular sized but with the little bit of batter she had left she made a few smaller ones too.
When I got round to eating the smaller ones, I told her they were even more delicious than the big ones.
She asked why.
I told her because you can get a much higher icing to cupcake ratio with the smaller ones.
She laughed before commenting, “You’ve added more icing than cupcake!”
“Exactly,” I mumbled with one already stuffed into my happy face.
Till next week…
Have a Happy Fucking Monday Everybody!
P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!