Motivational Mondays – 04/10/20

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

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

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


4 x Thoughts From Me:

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

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

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

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


3 x Quotes From Others:

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

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

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


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

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

NOTES & QUOTES:

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

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


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

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

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

I asked him, “Of the moon?”

He replied, “Yes.”

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

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

She rolled her eyes.

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

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

Get it!?

Because it’s the Moon


I’m here all week ladies and gentlemen.! 

Till next time…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all:

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

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Motivational Mondays – 28/09/20

6 Lessons From 362 Days Of Meditation

Can you believe it?

3 days short of a year!

I’d meditated every day for the past 362 days until yesterday when, quite simply, I forgot… I only realised I’d missed a day when my headspace app told me this morning that my current run streak was back to 1! 

F**********ck! (I say that mindfully of course)

I was so excited about reaching the 365 milestone too! I had big plans to write the world’s most incredible blog post about it. Explaining with much enthusiasm how I’ve become a fully enlightened Buddhist Monk. Basically a pot bellied version of Yoda who meditates with several beer cans floating around his head.

I was going to say how my mind was so strong, if you could see it, it would have a rippling 6 pack! Instead, I’ll have to settle for the 6 pack of beer that’s crashed to floor in order to overcome this gut-retching failure…

Alas, the amazing feat of having meditated consistently for 365 days straight will have to wait for, well, another 365 days…

Till then perhaps you’d like to hear what 362 days taught me instead…


1. It Doesn’t Matter If You Forget

“Don’t cry over spilt milk.”

– Old Proverb 

Do you want to know how I actually reacted this morning? To nearly reach this goal – to have come so far only to fall at the final hurdle? 

The moment I realised, I wasn’t in slightest bit bothered. I thought I would feel gutted but the truth is I smiled. Actually I laughed! A year ago it would have bothered me to fall short like that. I would have taken the failure to mean I was one. It would have hurt. I’m sure of it. This morning though, I simply laughed and got on with my day. 

That was my honest to god reaction! 

The truth is, I saw something beautifully poetic about failing to reach this milestone. I saw something even more beautiful about the fact that the reason I failed was because I forgot. Why? Because it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. 365 is just a number. 362 is another. The truth is I’m just as proud. 365 days was just something to shoot for. Which I will again!

Getting up this morning and meditating as if nothing had happened is exactly how I should’ve reacted regardless of having forgotten to mediate the day before. Regardless as to whether I had made 365 days or only 3.

If you fall off the horse get back on it. There’s no point moaning on the floor, or crying over the fact you landed in a pile of shit. Life is about getting back up. Life is about cleaning the shit you will inevitably find yourself covered in at some point (both figuratively and literally). The one missed workout or meditation doesn’t matter. If one day becomes a week, one week then becomes a month, well then, maybe it does. But it’s never one failure that defines us, it’s when you let that one failure become several.

The point is all that really matters when you fall down is that you get back up!

2. Having A Regular Practise Is Key

“Commitment to action creates a pathway in the brain to greater mindfulness, awareness & aliveness.”

– Shamash Alidina (Mindfulness for dummies)

Like anything, if you’re series about becoming a long term practitioner, you need to make it a habit. No one forgets to brush their teeth in the morning. In my eyes, meditation shouldn’t be any different. Your mental health is the most important thing in the world – you need to give it the time and attention it deserves. Whether you show up and do just 1 minute or an hour, what matters is that you show up. 

I would add the point of a formal meditation practise has nothing to do with finding calm during the practise. What it does is increase the amount of time you remember to practise mindfulness informally throughout the day. As any buddhist monk will tell you there is no difference between mindfulness and meditation given that meditation is the practise of mindfulness. Mindfulness is meant to be a way of life. That’s why making it a habit is so important. The longer term goal (as no Buddhist monk would ever tell you) is to make mindfulness habitual.

3. You Need To Treat It Like A Sacred Act

“The beauty of an action comes not from its having become a habit but from its sensitivity, consciousness, clarity of perception, and accuracy of response.”

– sj Anthony De Mello (AWAReness)

There were many days this past year I simply showed and went through the motions. I set my meditation timer and then spent 20 minutes mindlessly wandering about trivial bullshit, no more zen than when I had started. I quickly realised that a regular meditation practise is great, but not if you’re simply going about it to tick a box. You’re not helping yourself.

You need to take it seriously – no distractions (put your phone in a draw or put it in aeroplane mode if using an app) – Go somewhere quiet and sit up straight! That last one is important. I tired all positions – lying meditations are good for body scans – relaxing and helping you to fall asleep but not for focus. For this reason I recommend that your morning practise be done sitting up straight to help you adopt an attitude of unconditional confidence.

One other tip I’d add –set an intention before your practise. The nature of intention influences the quality of the practise. Ask yourself what your intention is before every meditation. Some examples might include the intention to be present. To be at peace with what ever it is you’re feeling. To accept whatever arises – to embrace and really allow yourself to feel what it is you end up feeling. To remain open minded and curious about what certain emotions look and feel like. To be compassionate. To be grateful.

Setting the intention of examining recurring thoughts with compassion, curiosity and acceptance. You can then bring that intention with you as you go about your day. Use it as an anchor to bring you back to present and to remind yourself of the qualities you want to engender.

For me being present with feelings of anxiety – something I’ve struggled with for a long time – has proved extremely useful. To set the intention to be at peace with anxiety, to welcome those feelings into my heart and to remain curious and question, whenever they arise, what might have triggered them.

4. Practising Informally Throughout The Day Is Most Effective

“The sacred pause helps us reconnect with the present moment. Especially when we are caught up in striving and obsessing and leaning into the future, pausing enables us to reenter the mystery and vitality only found here and now.”

– TARA BRACH (Radical acceptacne)

Although I think it’s important to have a regular practise, this shouldn’t be the only time you take for yourself during the day. Meditation doesn’t always have to be scheduled. Sometimes you just need to spend a moment by yourself. Remember meditation is not meant to be about ticking a box like completing a workout or a task! It is a tool to help you as and when you really need it. ‘Meditation is gym for the mind’ and trust me, it needs to get its fat ass in the gym as often as possible!

Taking a time out, particularly when feeling burnout or overwhelmed, is important! If you start to feel stress or other negative emotions/feelings building in your body don’t resist or react to them. Respond to them. It’s a message! The same way something hot causes you to move away – don’t think too much about it – simply accept and respond in a way you know will help with passage of that state. Go for a walk, get some exercise, take a break, play, laugh, talk to someone close, meditate or simply breathe… If you want some more ideas to help cultivate greater mindfulness throughout the day check out this post – 5 Mindfulness Hacks For Beginners.

5. Meditation Is A Practice Of Compassion, Curiosity And Acceptance

“Mindfulness means paying attention on purpose in the present moment, with qualities of compassion, curiosity and acceptance”

– Shamash Alidina (MINDFULNESS FOR DUMMIES)

Many people mistakenly think that mindfulness is simply about presence of mind, however that’s only one part of the puzzle. It’s equally important to bring qualities such as compassion and curiosity to the practise of being present. To ask deeper questions – especially of any recurring thoughts you have. By doing this I believe you can uncover insight and from insight genuine change can take place.

It’s important to remember that a desire for change – although this might be why we take up the practise in the first place – is paradoxically a buffer to it. As Carl Rogers once said, “the curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” If acting from desire alone you won’t achieve the results your’e hoping for. You must start with complete acceptance of your condition as it is right now. That means not having a desire for it to change.

Ultimately the aim is to accept the thoughts and feelings you are having and acknowledge them instead of trying to resist or fight those feelings. Mindfulness is an art in acceptance, which if you think deeply enough about it, is what life is – one giant lesson in acceptance. Acceptance of change and of flow – this is reality. Accepting reality for what it is right now because it can’t be any other way. This is at the heart of what I believe it means to be mindful.

6. A Basic Understanding Of The Mind Helps To Let Go

A basic understanding of the mind helps – to understand our mind is a tool we can use – it isn’t who we are – we are not are thoughts – the mind is simply a vessel that continuously delivers us thoughts based on everything that its been fed. That doesn’t mean your thoughts are accurate – it means the exact opposite.

The vast majority of stuff we are fed and told, the concepts and constructs and expectations of society are largely bullshit – they are just ideas. Your mind is always going to project that stuff to some degree or another and that’s perfectly ok – you should understand and accept that!

But! BUT BUT!!! You should not accept any thoughts as accurate – you should treat them and the beliefs you have with a HUGE amount of scepticism – remain open to the possibility that what you think and believe – that what most people think and believe – is largely bullshit! Because, and I’ve got news for you, it is.

That doesn’t mean you should create an inner dialogue and have a fight with yourself about what you are thinking or currently believe – that only serves to strengthen the thought you are having anyway – what I’m getting at is because of this understanding and insight you should very quickly let go of the VAST majority of your thoughts. Let them pass. Your mind is simply generating ideas continuously – by letting them pass and not fixating on anyone of them – they lose their power of being able to define you! This also allows you to see those thoughts more clearly – for what they are. It’s from looking at them this way that we can gain greater insight that helps to shatter the illusions our clever minds love to make up.

Closing Thoughts

Mindfulness is very much process orientated rather than goal-oriented. It is a way of life, a long term process. It’s point is the journey itself – not the destination. The destination is decided for us anyway – death – which makes the point of being truly present, truly alive for the moment all the more poignant. Thats the whole point!

Ultimately mindfulness is about realising you’re more than just your body, mind and heart. Meditation is something that happens to you. It is an act of non-doing or being. For it to properly work you have to trust in the process. Let go and relax with acceptance of what is right now. Have patience. Have faith. You are not trying to get anywhere with it. Quite the opposite. You are simply allowing things to be with a curious mind and an open heart.


As always thank you so much reading – I hope you found some value in my random ramblings about mindfulness. As you know I welcome ALL thoughts and comments on this blog. I’m always keen to get your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below. Do you have any other insights from your practise of mindfulness – any idea or hacks you’d like to share? If so please don’t hesitate to leave a remark below. Wishing you all the very best, AP2 🙏

Why You Should Do It For Me

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

It’s not enough.

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

Fear wins instead.

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

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

Use that to motivate you.

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

I’ll make a deal with you.

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

Let’s help each other by helping ourselves.

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

The Ultimate Form Of Taking Responsibility

I read a quote the other day that said, “Enthusiasm is worth 25 IQ points.”

It got me thinking about my attitude towards work in the past. 

It’s easy to see how limiting the story in my head has been when I’ve shown up to work and told myself things like, I’m not going to enjoy this. 

How I dragged my heels when wishing, I didn’t have to fly with that particular captain. 

How I made everything so much harder than it needed to be because the narrative I repeated was so heavily rooted in what was happening to me

How I had to fly through the night again. 

How I had to fly with the difficult captain. 

How I got the crappy rest…

What happens when you complain about having to do something?

You suffer twice.

Once in imagination and then again when you have do it.

What’s the tendency of someone who complains about something beforehand?

They point the finger and blame others. 

This makes things worse because it puts yourself in a position of not wanting to learn. It closes your mind. It puts you in a fixed mindset.

One golden rule for life that forces you to take responsibility:

GIVE UP BLAMING AND GIVE UP COMPLAINING!

(FYI constructive criticism isn’t the same as complaining. One offers a solution the other is simply a judgment.)

Easier said than done of course…

So what if we looked at this from the angle of adopting an attitude rather than giving one up?

What if, instead of trying to give up blaming and complaining, we said to ourselves, this week I’m going to show up with as much enthusiasm as I can muster?

Instead of trying to catch yourself out for being negative, instead of beating yourself up for acting like a child, you simply set the intention to go about whatever it is you have to do (whether that’s work, doing taxes or washing the dishes) with an attitude of ‘fuck yes.’

After all, if it’s something you have to do, why wouldn’t you make the most of it? Why wouldn’t you try to see how much you can squeeze from that bastard lemon!

Let me go back to the quote I mentioned at the beginning.

Enthusiasm is worth 25 IQ points. 

Of course the idea of gaining 25 IQ points, which is a lot, isn’t meant to taken literally, but it gets the point across succinctly.

If you show up with enthusiasm. If you turn a reluctant yes into a fuck yes the benefits can’t be understated.

Just this week I had a simulator that signed on at 11pm and finished at 3am followed by a flight that signed on at 6am just two days later. Not exactly the roster I would have chosen for myself but you know what – I didn’t let myself complain about it – I just got on with it.

In fact I told myself I was gonna be the keenest motherfucker on the flight deck.

I reminded myself of my loving motives for doing what I do – that I was there to help others and to be part of something bigger than me.

I reminded myself that enthusiasm is worth 25 IQ points.

How do you think I performed?

I can tell you I’ve done much worse.

I’m sure you can relate.

Think about a time when you’ve arrived somewhere you really wanted to be – in which you really wanted to learn something.

How did it go?

I’m guessing pretty fucking well.

Conversely remember those times when you wanted to be somewhere else – when you simply wanted to be at home although you couldn’t.

Did that attitude help?

I’m guessing not.

We don’t alway get to do what we want to or, indeed, choose what life has in store for us. But if we make out that these things are what we wanted. That the struggle we find ourself in is what was meant for us, so we can learn and grow into the resilient mother fucker we were meant to be. Well, I suspect that such an attitude might just be the ultimate form of taking responsibility for your life.


SOURCES:

The quote is from Kevin Kelly‘s viral post ‘68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice‘ that he wrote on his 68th birthday. Can highly recommend reading!

Notes from my journal – March 2020

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Monthly review! Every day I ask myself the question – What did I learn? – and write some thoughts in response. The following is a collection of my favourites.

I should say most of these thoughts and/or ideas are heavily influenced by what I’ve been reading and the people I’ve been talking to. In some cases they are simply quotes by others. I hope you enjoy.


Setting your intention matters a great deal. An intention to be mindful in all that you do. ‘Unitasking’ is key. Concentrate on the one thing you are doing and give it your undivided attention! You will derive much more pleasure in life when acting like this.

Mindfulness is only one part of the puzzle. Compassion is the other. Being compassionate has to start with yourself. Forgiving yourself for feeling tired and disconnected – Recovery from depression and anxiety takes time. You’re doing really well. Look what you managed to achieve today.  Be proud of yourself. 

Scrolling is the new smoking. You need to significantly reduce it. Otherwise it leads to cognitive fatigue. Idea – should aim to have a phone free day every week and keep my phone in another room to the one I’m in while at home (That way I’ll be going to it for a very deliberate reason – not just to mindlessly scroll)!

A good nights sleep starts the minute you wake up. Starting your day is just as important as how you finish it. Don’t look at you phone until out of the bathroom – ie Don’t make it the first thing you look at in the morning! Use it only to log your weight and write in your journal before meditation. Otherwise leave it in the bedroom till you’ve finished exercising and had something to eat.  

It matters that you care. It really matters. Pay attention. Small acts with great love everyday. 

The essence of bravery is refusing to give up on anyone or anything

Forgiveness in this world is really lacking. For me forgiving myself and also other people in this world I believe to be doing very bad things is something to pay more attention to. Every act I make has a positive ripple effect. No matter how small, if done with love and compassion, it will effect the world in a positive way. Keep going. Keep smiling. Remain hopeful. Love yourself and by extension the whole world and everything in it. 

Forgiveness is a natural process. It does not matter if you are able to forgive someone or yourself yet, what matters is the intention to forgive that other person or yourself. That way the door is open for the process – however long – to take place. 

Everything I need and want, I already have. The most important thing for me is to learn how to enjoy it. 

The path of awakening is simply a process of wakeful, profound relaxing. We see what is here right now and we let go into life exactly as it is” – Tara Brach 

Reaching out to friends and family and checking in on them is so important. Especially now during this difficult time. It’s important to let them know we are here and also that we are safe. Family and friends are everything. We are nothing without each other. 

I was wrong about the coronavirus. It’s not been an overreaction – people are dying and medical staff are stretched thin. We must all do our part to help protect the most vulnerable in society. COVID 19 is an opportunity to spend time at home with our family and practise mindfulness. It’s an opportunity to send love out to all our friends and family. To really connect from isolation. We live in an extraordinary time in which we are incredibly lucky to be able to do so. To know so much. To prepare and mobilise behind a common cause so quickly as a result. There is still so much to be grateful for. 

Life is one big lesson in acceptance. Now is the perfect time to practise that. There is so much out of our control but what we can control has the ability to empower us. 

If you see through yourself you will see through everyone. Then you will love them. – Anthony De Mello 

What we react to is self generated and has nothing to do with the outside world. A negative feeling comes from YOU – nothing else. It’s all part of our conditioning – illusions created by our minds – from attachments that we have been conditioned to believe are important despite reality. By remaining truly aware and questioning the tricks of our conditioned mind with both compassion and curiosity, we can began to see the illusions for what they truly are and break down the false identities we all cling to. This will bring you back to life. To the here and now which is, of course, the only reality. 

My emotions are a direct result of my thinking mind – nothing else. To stop negative emotions it’s me who has to change. Not the world. Not anyone else.

Think in terms of others. Helping your self is not selfish. It’s the opposite of selfish. Helping yourself helps others. Fixing your back means you’re no longer distracted by it – which means you can focus your attention on more important matters. Looking after your finances helps build security for your family. 

Good parenting starts with being compassionate towards yourself!

Show up to your children’s emotions with compassion. It’s ok to feel sadness or anger. Ask them what it is that they need?

Life is a long beautiful melody. You have to let it play out. Don’t cling. There will be long low sad bits and high happy ecstatic peaks. Don’t cling to them. Don’t think those parts of the melody define you. If you replay one part of it over and over it’s no longer a melody. It’s ruined. Let it play out. 

Taking to yourself in the third person is an awesome mindfulness hack.eg David is feeling stressed. David is thinking lots. David is looking at his phone. It helps to unidentify with your thoughts, feelings and emotions. You become the observer of your thoughts without falling into the trap of thinking you are your thoughts. It’s another reminder to wake up!

Everything is a process. All I have to do is observe. Observe with curiosity and compassion. Look at yourself with curiosity and compassion. Remain present and your natural wisdom will guide you. Have faith.

Everything is always now. It can’t be any other way. The past and the future come from the mind only. They are illusions that distract awareness of the present moment. Everything you need is available to you in the present. Stay there. 

Showing up on the bad days matters more so than on the good days. Remember your’e saying something to yourself every time you show up about who you are and who you want to become. The same is true when you don’t.

Am I making this decision because of love or fear? – Dr Vivek Murthy  – Such an insightful way of asking yourself why or why not you should do something.