The 3-2-1 Friday Flyer

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my weekly newsletter! The only newsletter that reminds which direction earth is whenever you’re up looking at the stars…

Following a 3-2-1 approach, it contains 3 thoughts from me (that you should ignore), 2 quotes from others (that you should read), and 1 something special (maybe). 

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) Your values aren’t what you say they are. Your values are what you do. They’re what you embody. If you binge watch Netflix every night, that is something you value. Living and acting in accordance with our values is what gives our lives meaning and raises self-esteem. Saying what we believe is right but acting otherwise does the opposite. 

2) There’s a big difference between treating people the same and forcing equal outcomes.

3) Sometimes doing what is right feels good as well, and that makes things easy. It’s also true that what is bad sometimes makes us feels bad too. More often than not, however, what feels good and what is right don’t align. Conversely what is wrong but feels good does. At least initially. The trick here is acknowledging and being kind to how we feel now, while reminding ourselves how things will feel/be in the future. Another trick is reminding yourself what will happen if you fail to act in accordance with your values. You want an idea to run away from as much as you want a goal to run towards.

 


2 x Quotes:

“Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.” 

― Baruch Spinoza, Ethics

“It’s a curious truth that when you gently pay attention to negative emotions, they tend to dissipate – but positive ones expand.”

Oliver Burkeman Source: If you want to have a good time, ask a Buddhist

1 x Thing:

This week I have a question: What are your most important values and why? How do you live up to them?


PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER:

The Friday Flyer – 15/10/21


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Why I Write

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 hearing problem. They believed this stunted my development. Later they had me tested for dyslexia.

I’m not, of course. It just happened to be one of my weaknesses. And I just happened to be different. I’ve always been a daydreamer, a wanderer by nature.

Languages, the English language – spelling, grammar – has never come naturally to me. But that has never been the problem. The problem was I didn’t believe, and because I didn’t believe, I didn’t try. I internalised that belief and thought, “What’s the point?”

“I’m no good, so why bother?”

Unfortunately, that belief took root at a much deeper level than my English proficiency.

Problems really started in adolescence – at the age of 13 – when I was first offered drugs. I didn’t say yes because I was curious. I didn’t say yes because I thought it was cool. I didn’t say yes as a form of rebellion. I said yes because I was afraid.

I took drugs because I was too scared to say no.

So began some of the most challenging years of my life. At first, it was fun, but I soon felt trapped. At one point, I was smoking pot every single day. I suffered from intense bouts of anxiety that I hid from everyone. Depression soon followed. 

I sank deep into my shell.

I knew I needed help, but I didn’t know how to ask for it. I was too afraid to speak up. So I drowned silently. It came to a head when a friend of mine was caught in possession of my drugs.

I was made to make a choice that day. When the deputy headmaster sat us down in his office, he asked me if I had also been using. He said I can’t help you if you’re not honest.

I was so scared at that moment. I wanted to tell the truth, but I was afraid of the repercussions. The thought of breaking my parent’s hearts broke my own. Yet, I also feared what would happen if I didn’t tell the truth.

While fighting back the tears, I admitted the truth.

It proved to be one of the most pivotal moments of my life. I was suspended, but the deputy headmaster held true to his word. No permanent record was kept. He honoured my honesty by protecting my future. How different my life would look now had I lied.

Honesty hurts to begin with, but in the long run it will set you free.

During those years, I sat my GCSEs. I didn’t care about my grades. I didn’t care about what future I had. I simply wanted to escape the hell I found myself in. As a result, I didn’t put much effort in. 

My results came as a surprise.

I landed 4 A’s, 6 B’s and an E (in German). I was far more competent than I gave myself credit. English language and English literature were the biggest surprises. Had it not been for one teacher, in particular, my grades would have been very different.

She taught the class with the top peers in our age group. Except she did something a little different. She took several students who were really struggling from the lowest level and placed us in hers. She had me sit in the front row.

She was petrifying, which helped. I was made to apply myself. I remember she believed I had a voice. She pushed me to do a lot of public speaking – which also scared the bejesus out of me!

My coursework marks steadily improved over the two years she taught me. Still, my coursework barely averaged a C. This made the final results even more surprising. Following our final examinations, I ended up with B’s in English language and English literature. I must have aced those exams to achieve those grades.

They’re my proudest grades from secondary school.

What she proved was more important, even if it didn’t fully register until years later. She showed that if I chose to apply myself, I was more than capable. She planted the seeds of self-belief that would bear fruit many years later.

To my English teacher, wherever you are, thank you.

I didn’t pursue English for A levels. It wasn’t for me. I also lacked clarity. As a result, I took a random collection of subjects. Art (the one subject I truly loved), Biology, History, and Geography.

I dropped Art halfway through my A levels despite getting an A. I dropped it for the wrong reasons – because no one else took it seriously. It would be an entire decade before I started drawing again. 

Somewhere along the way, I forgot.

Doing something simply because you love it is enough. More than enough.

History was the subject I went on to take at University. I took it because my parents were adamant that I should go to University and get a degree. I took it out of preference, not because I truly loved it. The truth is I only enjoyed aspects of it.

I later realised that what I really enjoyed was applying lessons from what history has to teach us about living life. What I was really interested in was philosophy.

During University, I fell in love with a French lady. In the second year, she asked me to edit much of her coursework. She studied media and communications. I didn’t just edit her work; I rewrote large chunks of it.

I loved it. 

I found I had a knack for drawing conclusions. I loved finishing with the right words. I realised there was an art to it. Between her coursework and my own, these skills developed.

Then she broke my heart. I finished my degree and forgot about this.

After University, I was clear about one thing. One thing I had always been clear about. A deep longing in my heart to travel the world.

So I applied for a cadetship offered by the airline I now work for. For the airline my father used to work for. He was keen, provided I was serious about it. So he took me flying. I didn’t look back.

And so followed the last 12 years of my life. 

There was a big break where I didn’t write. Several years passed while learning to fly and traveling the world before I decided to pick up a pen again.

One of my hobbies is traveling through cuisine. Anthony Bourdain has long been a personal hero of mine. Inspired by him, I put together a blog documenting my travels. 

I enjoyed it for a while, but that passion started to wane as depression and anxiety took a firmer grip.

This came to a head during another pivotal moment of my life. I froze up while trying to land during my Junior First Officer training. The training captain had to take control and go around as a result.

That scarred me deeply.

Added to the list of depression and anxiety, I had PTSD to contend with too. I remember flying approaches for years afterwards where my heart would beat so hard, it felt like it was going to break through my chest.

So many times, I wanted to quit. I wanted to throw in the towel. Those demons screamed at me. “GET OUT! YOU CAN’T! YOU’RE A FRAUD! YOU’RE NOT CAPABLE!”

I kept going.

Part of me refused to give in. I was so sick of those voices. Overcoming and passing my Junior First Officer upgrade was something I felt I had to do. So, I worked harder than I ever have in my entire life.

My demons started to drive me.

9 months on from that day, I was upgraded to First Officer. It meant everything to me at the time. I thought that was it. I thought that would be enough to finally put those voices to bed.

I was wrong.

It wasn’t until the birth of my first child 3 years ago that I finally sought professional help. At a low moment, I broke down. Once again, my demons were screaming at me. Telling me I couldn’t parent. That my boy deserved better. The guilt overwhelmed me, and I cried and cried.

Afterward, I felt a deep peace I’d not known in years. I knew exactly what I had to do. I picked up the phone and called for help.

This time I was ready. 

The following 4 months of therapy were difficult, emotional, and liberating all at the same time, but I didn’t hold back. In doing so, I finally gained the clarity I needed. In seeing my demons in the light, they lost their power.

The fog of depression finally started to lift.

Shortly afterwards, the pandemic hit, and I was left grounded. I used the time to do something I’d not done since I dropped Art during my A levels.

I started drawing.

And because I was feeling particularly creative – BECAUSE THAT’S WHO I AM – I started writing again. I put together a children’s book. I went to a publisher who loved it. Last summer, I became a published author. 

How do you like them apples?

At the same time, I started blogging. This time I had a different motivation. I spoke from my core. It felt like a spark had ignited something inside. I felt possessed. My intuition kept telling me to keep going. It’s leading somewhere. I don’t where yet, but it is.

It has.

My writing has given me clarity about what I want to do next. I will be starting an online degree in psychology next year with a long-term view of changing careers. I also have an idea for a number of books I plan to write.

Once again, I hear my demons screaming. Telling me not to do it. That I can’t. That I’m making a big mistake.

There’s a difference this time. 

My relationship has changed. I know those voices will be with me till the day I die. It that doesn’t phase me anymore. Honestly, I smile. I realise I don’t want those voices to go away. You see, they’re a guide. A powerful one telling me which direction to go in. What obstacles I must take on.  

Those voices also remind me of all the pain and suffering I’ve gone through. They keep it close to my heart. That’s want I want. To use that to help others who are suffering as I have. To give meaning to my pain by helping others with theirs. 

And so, as I sit at another crossroads in my life – as I build towards my second career – I keep writing. This time I won’t ever stop. Even though it continues to scare me – every single time I hit that publish button. 

I see it now.

I now know why it has to be this way. I was meant to write my way out. It’s poetry in motion.

You see the seeds of doubt that were planted at such a young age. The demons that have plagued me my whole life. They all stemmed from a lack of faith in my ability to overcome one of my biggest weaknesses.

That’s why I write.

For the boy inside who was lead to doubt himself. Who was told he couldn’t. Who was told he would struggle.

I write for every child who suffered under the weight of their fears, for everyone whose fears have been used against them in the cruelest possible way.

I write because I can. I write because I know that you can too.

I write to call myself a writer and be called a writer, because that means more to me than words could ever convey. 

The question I have is, why do you? 

3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

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

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

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

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

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

(click to tweet)

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

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

(click to tweet)

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

(click to tweet)


2 x Quotes:

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

– John Gardner

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

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

1 x Thing:

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

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


1 x Joke:

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


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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 09/08/21

3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

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

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

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

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

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

(click to tweet)

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

(click to tweet)

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

(click to tweet)


2 x Quotes:

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

Don Marquis

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

– Ilona Mialik

1 x Thing:

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


1 x Joke:

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


Thanks ladies and gentlemen, I’m here all week! As always I welcome ALL thoughts on this blog. Let us know in the comments below.


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 26/07/21

The Art of Thinking Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The other night I got into a pointless argument with someone after they decided to leave a comment on one of my older posts telling me that I should have my head examined. (A fair point in retrospect.)

She said that Trump is a true American unlike Biden who is a horrible person. Naturally, she went on to say the election had been rigged.

Now, I should have ignored it. I should have said, “I’m sorry you feel that way”, and left it at that. However, the ego couldn’t resist the bait.

Partly because it wants to understand the other side. Mainly because it wanted to stand up for the freedoms she, herself, enjoys.

And so, this was me: 

I love that comic.

Anyway, while I think it’s important to engage with people you disagree, you can’t teach a pig to sing. And you really shouldn’t bother. It’s the equivalent of beating your head against a brick wall. 

“Are you listening ego?”

“Yeah but, it just feels so fucking good to be right.”

“But all you’re doing is validating your own opinions while strengthening the oppositions. All you’re doing is deepening the divide. Can’t you see?!”

“Yeah but listen, I really was right!”

“I hear you ego, but your need to be right is part of the problem.”

“But…”

“No ego. Sit down.”

“But…”

“I said, SIT DOWN! That’s a bad ego!”

(Whimpers)

“There’s a good ego.” (Starts stroking it again.)

Of course the result of that pointless argument was as you’d expect. Despite my best attempts to engage her with some deep thinking she resorted to juvenile insults. So I stopped trying, realising that I might as well have been having a conversation with a rock.

A particularly mean rock!

Still, there was a lesson there for me. One that got me thinking about an analogy I read recently between the two different types of thinkers in this world. The rock place thinkers and the hard place thinkers.¹ I believe this idea might just help you separate the birds from the bees, or the pigs from, well, the non-pigs.

Let’s see what you think.

ROCK PLACE THINKING

“What luck for rulers that men do not think.”

– Adolf Hitler

Rock place thinking simplifies life.

It gives you a nice, simple, black and white world-view. There is no grey when it comes to rock place thinking. Things are either good or bad. It puts us into one box and others in another. It says a tree is a tree, that love is “all you need” and drugs are bad.

Most “isms” fall into rock place thinking. They are immovable (hence rock) beliefs such as Nationalism, Fascism, Communism, Fundamentalism, etc. 

Now you might think that rock place thinking is a bad thing, but not necessarily. All of us use rock place thinking to a certain degree. The reasons is, rock place thinking allows us to shore up self-esteem. It gives us a secure footing on which to stand. It helps us make sense of a nonsensical world.

If I didn’t call a tree a tree, I’d have to call it a tall, green, branchy, leafy thingy. Which would be closer to the truth, however, I think you can work out why our brains take certain shortcuts

Rock place thinking is also useful in certain situations and professions. As it happens rock place thinking is very useful for a pilot. If X happens, I will do Y. It helps provide us with a set of contingencies for dealing with specific normal and non normal scenarios.

So, rock place thinking certainly has a place. 

However, problems arise when people take their rock place thinking to be absolute. This, especially as it relates to one’s political, religious or cultural world views, often results in a tribal us versus them mentality.

Unfortunately for some, their entire life’s meaning is based on their rock place world views. And for them, those beliefs really are immovable. That’s because the alternative – considering the possibility that what they believe might not be true –  would be to feel the entire world give way beneath their feet.

That really is a hard place to be. 

HARD PLACE THINKING

“If you see through yourself you will see through everyone. Then you will love them.”

– Anthony De Mello

Hard place thinking is hard for a reason.

It takes the view that there is no black and white, only grey. It takes the view that what is good or bad is largely subjective. It looks at a tree and understands that “tree” is merely a label. It understands that drugs have a place and that love can blind you.

The good news is that hard place thinking is malleable. Hard place thinkers are willing to admit when they were wrong. The bad news is, hard place thinking hurts… A lot!

That’s because hard place thinking challenges our deeply held rock place beliefs.

You see, the beliefs that we hold dear are what give our lives meaning. That meaning is derived from upholding faith in those beliefs. By upholding the values we believe in, we gain psychological security. This is what builds self-esteem. If I start to question those beliefs, I start to question the very meaning of my life.

That is extremely anxiety provoking.

What we’re really doing by challenging our beliefs is challenging our ego. The problem is, the ego is a stubborn motherfucker that desperately wants to survive. It wants to survive because it believes that’s the best way to protect you.

However the ego also understands that it will have to die one day. So, in order to cope with this mortal terror, it clings to the beliefs that validate its existence.

It thinks along the lines of, “Even though I will die one day, that doesn’t mean my name has to!” Or, “If my name can’t live on in any meaningful way, then at least the country, religion, political party or football team can!”

It’s this coping mechanism that has led to the paradoxical situation we’ve seen repeat itself throughout history – where the very beliefs that people use to buffer ones mortal terror, become the very things they are willing to both die and kill for.²

Of course the only to way to see through one’s beliefs is to do some serious hard place thinking.

For example, a hard place thinker who has been brought up to believe in one particular God might eventually come to the conclusion, that because there are over 4000 different religions on this planet, that perhaps his or her religion isn’t the only true one. He or she might even conclude that all religions are wrong in detail, but that they all point to something important. 

This doesn’t mean one has to abandon his or her beliefs entirely (although it can lead there), just that they have allowed themselves to consider the possibility that they, themselves, might not posses the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This helps them to transcend their own beliefs which, in turn, fosters greater compassion and tolerance for those with different beliefs as well.

The problem with hard place thinking, as already stated, is more to do with self-esteem.

Hard place thinkers tend to be less sure of themselves. They tend to second guess themselves to the point that it paralyses them. So, often they don’t stand up for what is demonstratively right.

The other struggle comes from feeling they aren’t part of anything important. Many hard place thinkers have a hard time coming to terms with the idea that life, ultimately, holds no meaning at all. That it really doesn’t matter how they spend their life. 

In some cases they lose their footing altogether, and so they hit rock bottom.

THE SPACE IN BETWEEN

So, on the one hand we have the seductive, black and white rock place world views that make us feel good about ourselves and our place in the world. The problem being those rock place views are always crashing against reality. In the extreme, this can lead to a desire to smash other people over the head with those views in a desperate attempt to rid the world of “evil”.

On the other hand, we have the painful process of engaging in some hard place thinking that makes us feel like our entire existence is meaningless. Even though this leads to a softening of our own beliefs that, in turn, fosters a more compassionate world view.

So, how are we suppose to think between a rock and a hard place? How can we shore up our self-esteem while maintaining a world view that promotes greater tolerance for others and acceptance for impermanence?

Here’s what I think.

I say you pick up a chisel and start chipping away at those rocks. While this is extremely unsettling at first, I believe it gets easier over time. A bit like building muscles in the gym. At first we break down the fibres in our muscles. This hurts. In the short term it makes us weaker. But then the body fuses those fibres back together even stronger.

Regular hard place thinking is the equivalent of building some badass guns for your mind. Eventually, your mind becomes more resilient as you break the ego down and build it back up again – repeatedly. You build it back up upon a deeper truth. A deeper truth that not only understands more, but also comes to understand there is no absolute truth.

That truth – that there is no absolute truth – becomes a kind of rock place belief that makes you bullet proof. It allows your ego to take hit after hit. You become comfortable in the knowledge that you don’t know anything (and you really don’t). This allows you to sit in space between your thoughts. Suddenly you’re flying outside the clouds looking in, not trapped inside incapable of looking out.

I also have a theory that if you can spend enough time in this space, you might just find something that know no amount of thinking will ever take you: Paradise.  At the very least, I believe this realisation should prevent you from having a pointless argument with a complete stranger online.


Footnotes:

  1. The idea for the two different types of thinkers came from the book: The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life by Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg & Tom Pyszczynski.
  2. For more on this topic I suggest you look up something called Terror Management Theory. I can also highly recommend reading The Denial Of Death by Ernest Becker.

***

You can find more of AP’s hard place thinking here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com. You can also find him sharing more of his non sensical world views on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot

3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that posts every other week…

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

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

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) Life is meaningless by design. It’s a blank canvas that you’re suppose paint meaning onto. Keep doing that and you might just create a masterpiece. 

(click to tweet)

2) An idea for reviewing goals: Everyday, review your weekly goals. Every week, review your monthly goals. Every month, review your 1 year goals. Every year, review your 5 year goals. Repeat.

(click to tweet)

3) Don’t worry about success or fame or “making it.” The moment you do, you fail to see what success really is. I find it works the same way as happiness. The more you try to chase it, the less likely you are to find it. Live by your principles first and foremost. Concentrate on being a better person and serving a greater cause. Do that and you might just find some of this stuff people call “success.” 

(click to tweet)


2 x Quotes:

When people prattle on about needing to find their “purpose,” what they really mean is that it’s no longer clear what feels important. The question of purpose is really just a question of values.”

– Mark Manson (@IAmMarkManson)

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche


1 x Thing:

This Tim Ferris podcast with Dr. Andrew Huberman – A Neurobiologist on Optimizing Sleep, Enhancing Performance, Reducing Anxiety, Increasing Testosterone, and Using the Body to Control the Mind.

If you have the time this podcast is well worth a listen. I found Huberman’s knowledge about using your vision to reduce stress to be particular insightful. There’s a good reason why looking out at a vista feels calming.

If you look straight ahead into the distance while trying to expand your vision (try to notice what’s going on in your periphery), it “releases a mechanism in the brain stem involved in vigilance and arousal… You can actually turn off the stress response by changing the way that you are viewing our environment.”

For more about this practise have a read of this article: Broaden Your Vision at Music, Mind & Movement.


1 x Joke:

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


Thanks ladies and gentlemen, I’m here all week! As always I welcome ALL thoughts on this blog. Let us know in the comments below.


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 12/07/21

Angels and Demons

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

― Carl Jung

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

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

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

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

Eventually I gave up altogether.

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

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

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

That is insight.

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

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

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

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

Acceptance is something very different.

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

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

Now here’s the paradox.

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

From radical acceptance comes meaningful action.

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

I can’t stress that point enough. 

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

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


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

The Pursuit Of Unhappiness

Apparently, most of us have a default level of happiness. No matter what our station is in life, we are all slightly dissatisfied. Slightly. Life is just never quite good enough, even when it really is.

This default happiness level readjusts depending on your circumstances. Even if something significant happens to you, like winning the lottery, you soon get over it and return to that base level of slight dissatisfaction.

Luckily this works in reverse too!

If you have a divorce, for example, or end up in an accident that leaves you paralysed — studies have shown that although your life on paper becomes worse, you readjust. Shit feels awful for a while, but then get used to this new normal. You accept it — sort of — and move back to your default level of happiness.

“I can’t use my legs anymore, but I can still binge-watch NETFLIX every evening like I used to!” Or, “I don’t have a smoking hot wife anymore but, you know, there are other less attractive fish in the sea. Ones that won’t steal my stuff. I’ll settle for one of those!”

That’s the spirit!

The reason for this is simple: survival.

It’s not the best strategy to be content with life. Otherwise, we’d stop chasing after that next promotion or that bigger house. We’d stop securing a safer existence for ourselves and our family — even if we already live on a luxury yacht!

It’s for this reason that our egos keep tricking us. It tells us, if you get that next promotion, or have sex with that smoking hot chick, or save enough money for that fast car, then you’ll be happy. Then you’ll achieve the kind of bliss that everyone else on Instagram clearly has.

And so you go after those things like your life depends on it.

But what happens when you actually get those things? When your hopes are realised? Of course, you’re happy for a time. That’s for the memory bank to remind you that more is better. But then what? That’s right, you get used to it! You get accustomed to your new sports car. You get over the fact that you had mind-blowing sex with that hot chick. You get used to the fact that your new house has 8 bedrooms, 2 tennis courts, and an infinity pool.

Once you do, you’ll find yourself back in that familiar default setting of life is okay-ish. Not bad, but it could be better. “I mean, It’s not like I have the fastest sports car in the market, right? And if I’m honest, she was only an 8 out of 10. Plus, I’d quite like a bigger fucking boat!”

The obvious problem, for those canny enough to recognise this ego trick, is that it’s never enough. 

Happiness — the lasting kind at least — can’t be found through the pursuit of happiness. It’s like looking for gold at the end of the rainbow. You’ll never find it. There is no mountain high enough, no river wide enough, no luxury yacht big enough.

The other, less obvious problem, for those canny enough to see the bigger trap here, is your default setting has been adjusted to this more manageable level of existence. And this, I’m afraid to say, makes you weaker. It makes you softer because your default level of happiness is set against this higher standard of living. As a result, minor things start to bother you a lot more. You say, “Unless that waiter brings me the finest quality champagne, I’m gonna lose my shit!” Suddenly it becomes much harder to maintain that baseline of moderate happiness (or unhappiness as the case may be).

In gaining the world, you start to hate it.

As a pilot, I have the added perk of traveling in business class at a fraction of the price that most people pay, provided spare seats are going on a given flight. Is it a great thing? I enjoy business class, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think about it much anymore. That’s because I’m used to it. Instead, I find myself thinking about how great first class looks. I think, “If only my company would let me fly in first. Of course, business class isn’t bad, but, you know, it could be better.”

There I am, back to that default setting. (Spoilt brat, I know…)

But here’s the real kicker. When business is full and the only seats going are in economy class, well, then woe is fucking me! (Please don’t fuck me woe, not again!) What is normal and ok-ish for the vast majority of people has become a kind of hell because of my privilege. My privilege has made me weaker. It’s like that saying, once you go… (You know what? I’m not going to finish that sentence.)

This is the paradox that comes from making life easier for ourselves. We actually make it harder. Similarly, by chasing happiness, we end up finding less of it.

Now I’m going to ask you a question. I use this example only because it makes sense to me personally. Here it is: Why did you have kids? Why do you want to have kids?

To make you happy?

Ha!

Sorry, that one slipped out. But seriously, if your reason is/was to make you happy, you need to sit down and have a rethink.

Kids make everything more complicated. Everything.

There’s a lot of research that suggests couples end up unhappier after having kids. I can vouch for that. Having kids was a rude awakening. It was a shock to my admittedly delicate system. And it didn’t make me happier having them. At least not initially. (There’s a fat dose of honesty for you.)

Changing nappies 8 times a day, being pissed on, rocking them for a goddam hour at 4 am, only for them to wake up the moment you place them in their cots…! Finding any which way to settle the little bastards. (I love them, really.)

If you haven’t felt an overwhelming urge to throw your baby out of the window at some point as a new parent, well, you’re not honest. That’s why, if you want to have kids, you have to really really want them. You also have to be very clear about why you have children.

Because if your why is in the pursuit of happiness, they will make you miserable — they will drive you insane. Then you might actually throw your children out the window. Of course, that would be bad. Very very bad. (I have to keep telling myself that.)

So why would you have kids then?

Well, the same reason you might decide to climb Everest or chose any challenging endeavor. For a sense of fulfillment, to help the world raise a more virtuous and responsible generation, to help you grow as an individual…

You have children because it gives your life more meaning. You do it for love, as cliche as that sounds. You don’t do it for your happiness. Don’t do anything for your happiness. Fuck your happiness. I mean it. 

Ok, no, I don’t. What I mean is fuck looking for your happiness. The only thing that’s guaranteed in this life is pain. Happiness is never guaranteed. Never. You should write that on a billboard and hang it on your living room wall.

My first child forced me to reconcile with some dark inner demons. The moment I was candid with myself and realised that his wellbeing depended on me sorting my own shit, well, everything changed. Seriously. Everything. I sought therapy for his benefit. I did it for his happiness, and in the process, ended up finding my own.

Right there is the trick. What’s your why? That’s always a great question to ask yourself. If your why is happiness, you can expect unhappiness. If your why is to serve something bigger than yourself, well, then you’re actually on to something. Because the genuine pursuit of happiness is found in the pursuit of meaning through pain.

If you pursue meaning through pain, you’ll find the small stuff stops pissing you off. You’ll also find the everyday stuff that everyone takes for granted becomes a kind of paradise.

Suddenly you’ll look down after a long day in which your kids pressed every button — a day in which your nerves were utterly shredded. Despite that, you kept them alive. Not only that, you helped them grow. You also realise that you didn’t completely lose your shit this time. You notice that you also grew as a person. You realise that all that pain you suffered through gave you something no amount of money ever can. And as you look down at your kids, who are fast asleep, in a seemingly mundane moment, you suddenly feel something akin to happiness, but it’s not. It’s something more significant than that.

What you’ve found is peace.

***

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

3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that enjoys eating its own words.

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

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

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) Emotions are like tunnels. You have to go through them in order to get to the light on the other side. Resist and you’ll end up stuck in the dark.

2) As a rule: The dumber the question feels, the more it needs to be asked. The only real fool is the one who deliberately remains in the dark. 

3) A wining formula for life: Radical Acceptance followed by Meaningful Action.


2 x Quotes:

“In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

— Oscar Wilde

“When the starting point is self-love and self-appreciation, we already give ourselves what we need so we don’t need to try to take it from people.”

Betul Erbasi (SOURCE: https://pointlessoverthinking.com/2021/05/30/self-appreciation/)

1 x Thing:

This BBC article: Why some narcissists actually hate themselves. The article argues that narcissists – far from loving who they are – actually suffer from issues related to self-hatred. It suggests that this understanding can help us see through their actions and foster compassion for them instead. Well worth the quick read!


1 x Joke:

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


Thanks ladies and gentlemen, I’m here all week! As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. Please let us know in the comments section below.

One bonus question: How can you make your actions more meaningful today?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 31/05/21

3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that believes you have to earn self-acceptance…

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

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

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) Something better than hoping your children have a happy life, is hoping they have the strength to deal with a difficult one. 

2) Don’t give yourself the satisfaction of complaining. It’s like scratching a mosquito bite. It feels good initially, but only makes things worse. Think in terms of taking action, or practising acceptance instead.

3) You aren’t meant to deny your emotions, you’re meant to negotiate with them. You say, “I understand you don’t want to go for a run, I understand you feel tired, but think about how great you’ll feel afterwards – think about the sense of accomplishment you’ll get once you’re done!” If you ask me, the biggest secret when it comes to self-improvement is self-acceptance. This allows you to work with your emotions, instead of against them. This is also what it means to love yourself. You don’t try to become something more because you feel inadequate, you try to become something more because you love who you are and want to look after that person to the best of your ability.


2 x Quotes:

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

John Wooden (Source: https://mindfulnessbits.wordpress.com)

“If you want to soar in life, you must learn to F.L.Y ( First Love Yourself )”

Mark Sterling (Source: https://philosophyvia.photos)

1 x Thing:

This brilliant Ted Talk: How Great Leaders Inspire Action from the author of Start with Why, Simon Sinek. In this episode Simon explains the difference between leaders and those who lead using a simple but powerful model – starting with a golden circle and the question: “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Wright brothers. My favourite quote, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” I believe his model could just as easily be applied to the world of blogging. Well worth the watch!


1 x Joke:

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


Thanks ladies and gentlemen. I’m here all week! As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. Please let us know in the comments section below.

One bonus question: What is your WHY? 


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 24/05/21

6 Counter-Intuitive Tips For Finding Your Life’s Purpose

Let’s be clear about something right off the bat.

Our purpose changes day to day, moment to moment. Right now my purpose is to write this blog post. Later it will be to make the world’s best sandwich. After that, well, who knows?

Seriously!

For the vast majority of our existence on this rock we didn’t have the luxury to ask such questions. We we’re lucky if we found some nuts to eat. That was our life’s purpose – to survive!

The fact that we do have the luxury goes to show how lucky we really are. Even during a global pandemic the opportunities available to pursue from the comfort of our sofas is mind boggling.

The problem we have, if you want to call it that, is we have too much choice. For that reason we’re sacred to death of making the wrong one. We’re petrified of the idea that we might not making the very best of this one life we have. 

So here’s my first idea. 

1. Drop Your Expectations 

Drop your expectation that that’s even possible. Drop your expectation that there’s a perfect choice to make. There isn’t and there never will be. If it helps I can tell you right now that you’re definitely not making the very best of the one life you have.

Why? 

Because it’s impossible. 

The problem with the belief that there must be one “true calling” is it stops us in our tracks. Many of us start thinking there must be something seriously wrong because we’re not “living the dream.” It’s a form of chasing perfection.

It’s not dissimilar to believing in “the one.” And what happens once you think you’ve found that perfect life partner? The moment they demonstrate they’re fallible human beings, just like you, your unrealistic expectations are going to be shattered. And then you’re gonna have a big blow out, or worse!

Instead of having an honest and open conversation where you both understand that any healthy relationship, just like any life purpose worth pursuing, requires constant struggle. 

2. Ask Yourself What You’re Willing To Suffer For

Now here’s the thing. 

The chances are there’s a better choice you could be making. In fact that’s a certainty. Equally you have the potential to make things a lot worse (Really?).

Unfortunately you’re not going to find out by binge watching NETFLIX. Which is also a choice. One that you will eventually hate yourself for.

We need a purpose. We need a cause to serve. That’s what gives our life meaning. And it’s that meaning that gives us the longer term peace and happiness we crave.

But we need to be clear about something.

It’s in the service of something bigger than ourselves that the happiness and peace we crave really starts to stick. You have to give yourself up to that cause.

That’s the big secret. Taking the focus off the self. If you ask me we shouldn’t even have a self-help section in the book store, we should direct everyone to a how-to-help-others section instead.

If you want to find motivation with a capital M then I suggest you pick a cause that is close to your own heart. Either way, stop thinking in terms of what’s best for you. Stop thinking what’s your life’s purpose.

A better question to ask is what can I do that will help people the most? What can I do with my time that’s important? What’s something I can do that adds value to other people’s lives that doesn’t want to make me gouge my eyes out? What is something I’m willing to suffer for?

3. Don’t Do What You Don’t Want To

If you’re still stumped then I suggest you use the process of elimination to get you there.

What are you doing that you hate with a passion? Stop doing that. Take away the shitty job and replace it with a slightly less shitty job.

Go down the road of trial and error. 

The same way if you want to get fit and healthy, but hate running, don’t spend an hour on the goddamn treadmill everyday – do something else! Dance, or box, or climb some rocks if that floats your boat. Do what ever it is you think you might like. 

Ultimately you don’t have to like those things either, but I guarantee if you keep searching, if you keep cutting out the shit you don’t want to, you’ll eventually find the thing that you’re willing to stick at. That you’re willing to suffer for. 

It’s important to remember there are always ways to make things you don’t want to do, like exercise, into things you actually do like dancing or boxing or surfing. Your job is no different. 

Don’t settle for the treadmill. Don’t settle for the dead end job you hate. Find the shit that gets you excited by saying no to the shit that doesn’t.

4. Imagine The Worst Case Scenario Then Do It Anyway. 

If it’s the fear of the unknown that’s stopping you from acting, then I suggest you imagine the worst case scenario, accept it as though it’s already happened and then go ahead and do it anyway. 

“Are you fucking crazy?!” Yes, but hear me out.

By worst case scenario I mean in a realistic sense – not if I go surfing a shark might attack me as a tsunami strikes while I get simultaneously hit by lightening from a freak storm that forms over head.

No. I mean more like you could drown…

I joke, of course. 

What I mean to say is that maybe the water will be freezing cold and you could end up shallowing sea water while everyone laughs at you, i.e. you have a shitty time. 

Did anyone die? Will anyone die if you leave that shitty job you hate? 

The point of doing this is to understand that what we’re afraid of isn’t really that scary. Further, what we’re most afraid of isn’t very likely. 

The chances are you might have loads of fun if you go surfing.

With that in mind, here’s an exercise you can try called Fear Setting.

This is what you do: 

  1. First, write out the major life change you’re considering. For example you might write, What if I… quit (or lost) my dead end office job? 
  2. Second, define the worst case scenario in detail. Ask yourself if it would be the end of your life (probably not)? Ask yourself how permanent it would be? It’s not like you won’t able to find another shitty job you hate right? 
  3. Third, ask yourself what the benefits of a more probable scenario are? What are the definite positive outcomes (including for your self-esteem, mental and physical health etc) 
  4. Forth, ask yourself what the cost will be if you do nothing? What will it cost you financially, emotionally & physically if you postpone that difficult choice? This is such a great question because if you zoom out ten years and you know you’ll still be miserable then you’ll see that the cost of inaction is often far greater. 
  5. Finally, ask yourself what you’re so afraid of?

5. Understand That Any Dream Is Always Served As Part Of A Shit Sandwich

Overtime, if you’re prepared to put yourself out there, I do believe you can narrow down your purpose to one that feels like it was meant for you, but even then you need to keep your expectations in check.

You need to realise that “the dream” is always served as part of a shit sandwich. That’s always the deal.

In fact life is a series of shit sandwiches served one after the other. It’s our willingness (or unwillingness) to eat those shit sandwiches that makes us who we are.

To take my profession as an example.

Constantly flying through the night puts our bodies through the wringer. The environment is also highly stressful (especially during a global pandemic). Every six month we have the proverbial kitchen sink thrown at us in the simulator. Fail that and our licence is invalidated. We also have random spot checks, recency requirements, annual line checks, medicals… the list goes on. 

Of course I get to hand fly a commercial jet worth millions of dollars. I get to travel the world – both on the job and during my spare time. And I do have lots of time off to pursue other interests (especially now).

Of course it’s important to be grateful for these things however, being a pilot is still very much served as part of a shit sandwich. Make no mistake about it. This “dream” is one almighty struggle to maintain.

It is a dream who have to really really really want.

6. Focus On Today First

Let me finish with this final thought. 

Something that’s more important than finding your life’s purpose is making sure you have one today. Even if that’s to hold your children as if for the last time, or telling your wife how much you love her. Or farting and laughing about it. 

Ask yourself what you can do today to make the world a better place? Ask yourself what you’d do if this were your last on earth?

Because often that’s all we need to do. 

Stop zooming the lens way out all the time and zoom it right in instead. To the point where your purpose is to simply express gratitude for the fact that you’re breathing. Because that really is our ultimate purpose in life, loving our life as it stands, right now, in this moment.

Lest we miss it altogether. 


Thanks for reading Ladies and Gentleman. I hope you find some of this terrible life advice of use. Let us know if you have any thoughts. As always I welcome ALL opinions on this blog. Love to all X

Regaining Lift

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.)

***

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

3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that believes you should become a minimalist by giving it all your stuff…

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

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

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) It’s funny how giving away everything for nothing in return gives you everything you want.

2) Mental and physical health are intrinsically linked. Looking after both for the sake of each other should be your first priority every day. (Try meditation, exercise, journalling…)

3) The more shit you have, the more shit you have to worry about. Don’t aim to have lots in life. Aim to have the few things you desire the most. Then learn to get as much joy and love out of those things as you possibly can. Cut out the rest. Less really is more.


2 x Quotes:

“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life. Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust. Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living.”

  • Samuel Ullman, a Jewish poet
  • “…having an enviable career is one thing, and being a happy person is another. Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential – as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth. You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them. To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.”

  • Bill Watterson, the cartoonist and creator of Calvin and Hobbes

  • 1 x Thing:

    This brilliant art of manliness article: Via Negativa: Adding to Your Life By Subtracting. The article argues that the path to becoming a better person is often found by subtracting the negative from our lives. Well worth the quick read. A couple of quotes listed below:

    “Don’t ask yourself “What am I going to do to be a better man?” or “What kind of man do I want to be?” Invert those questions and ask “What am I NOT going to do to be a better man?” and “What kind of man do I NOT want to be?”

    Eliminating obvious downsides like bad habits and debt will provide a good life; eliminating good things so you can focus on the very best will lead to a truly flourishing life.


    1 x Joke:

    Have another far side comic for this week folks. Hope you enjoy!


    Thanks ladies and gentlemen. I’m here all week! As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. Please let us know in the comments section below.

    One bonus question to finish: What can you subtract from your life to make it better?


    PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

    Mindset Mondays – 15/03/21

    3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

    Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that doesn’t completely hate itself…

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

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

    Let’s begin!

    (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.)


    3 x Thoughts:

    1) One needs to accept life as it stands today. Radically. In all of its fucked-up glory. And then act in whatever capacity one can to better his or her circumstances. But even that shouldn’t come at the expense of appreciating what one currently has. As a rule for life, I suggest you practice gratitude long before you start hoping in the morning.

    2) Maybe we should imagine losing our loved ones in a car accident tomorrow? Maybe we should take the time to imagine losing everything we hold dear? Maybe imagining the worst is exactly what brings what’s right in front of us, sharply into focus? Maybe meditating on our mortality, our own inevitable demise is exactly what gives us freedom in the present? Maybe it’s doing this which reminds us how good we actually have it right now? Maybe we will find more joy in everyday life by embracing these difficult emotions rather than chasing after a bigger pay check or slimmer waistline? What do you think?

    3) The next time you get angry at your racist grandfather – or any elderly person who appears to be stuck in his or her ways – consider the possibility that their contempt has less to do with what they believe than it does their inability to come to terms with their own mortality. This knowledge might just give you the strength to return love for hate.


    2 x Quotes:

    “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.

    Mark Twain

    Even if you’re going to live three thousand more years, or ten times that, remember: you cannot lose another life than the one you’re living now, or live another one than the one you’re losing. The longest amounts to the same as the shortest. The present is the same for everyone; its loss is the same for everyone; and it should be clear that a brief instant is all that is lost. For you can’t lose either the past or the future; how could you lose what you don’t have?”

    — Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)

    1 x Thing:

    1) This Psychology Today article: Why We Fear Death and How to Overcome It. As the title suggest this article explores some surprising reasons behind why it is some of us fear death (and why others don’t). It also outlines 4 ways (listed below) to overcome your own fear of mortality.

    1. Help to nurture and raise younger generations: “The term “generativity” refers to a concern for younger people and a desire to nurture and guide them. When older people have a greater sense of generativity, they tend to also look back on their life without regret or anguish. This, understandably, leads to having less fear of death.”
    2. Talk about it: It turns out that avoidance (surprise surprise) causes it to loom larger in our minds. Like all fears its best to bring them into the light. Don’t avoid the topic – talk about. Imagine it. Prepare for its inevitably.
    3. Have a (simulated) out of body or near death experience: Perhaps seeking out a near death experience isn’t the greatest advice but trying to have an out of body experience (via deep meditation for example) can yield similar results. The idea is that it gives us the sense that we live on even when separated from out bodies.
    4. Cultivate greater meaning in your life: Studies show that those who feel they are living a meaningful life are less afraid of death. I suggest you start by defining your values and then looking to see how you can better build your life around them.

    1 x Joke:

    Struggling for a good joke this week so thought I’d leave you with another far side comic. Hope you enjoy!


    Thanks ladies and gentlemen. I’m here all week As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. Please let us know below.

    One bonus question to ponder:

    Is it death that you fear, or not having lived in the first place?


    PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

    Mindset Mondays – 15/02/21

    4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

    Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that believes the meaning of life is irrelevant…

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

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

    Let’s begin!

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


    4 x Thoughts:

    1) Knowledge is power but imagination is freedom.

    2) When doing something that makes you anxious it’s important to tell yourself that you can. Not because this will ease the nerves, but because when you do manage to pull off the task that you’ve been dreading, instead of feeling relief you will gain confidence. 

    3)  I’m guessing we all struggle with the notion of what life means. I think the ego is always looking for more – hoping that it can somehow live on for eternity. Meaning or belief is a way of guarding against our irrefutable mortality. However I don’t believe that’s necessarily a bad thing. The truth is we are all part of something much bigger. We are all interconnected. I like to say we are nothing if not those who came before us, and we will be for nothing if we don’t serve those who will come after. Meaning is something we must instil – it’s necessary. It’s what eases our own suffering and that of others. It’s what gives us peace. I believe we are meant to serve a greater good. God or no God. Not because it will matter in thousands of years to come but because it matters now, today. Look at what is right in front of you. That’s where the meaning you need to find lies. That’s what matters most. 

    4) You’ll never stop having problems. That’s a something people often don’t realise. They think if they can achieve this or acquire that, then they’ll be rid of their problems and finally be happy. As if happiness is some eternal thing to be realised. It doesn’t work like that. Happiness isn’t permanent. Problems are. Paradoxically expectations of an endlessly happy life will only lead to unhappiness. It’s perfectly ok to be unhappy and normal that you’ll go through low periods during your lifetime. Equally it’s perfectly ok to have problems! Not that you’ll have much of a choice about that. What you might have some choice about is what problems you wish to have. What you’ll always have a choice about is how you interpret and respond to your problems. Go about solving those problems and you might just find some happiness in the process. Keep solving problems and that happiness might actually last.


    3 x Quotes:

    “The meaning of life is whatever you’re doing that prevents you from killing yourself”

    – ALBERT CAMUS

    “Meaning is the Way, the path of life more abundant, the place you live when you are guided by Love and speaking the Truth and when nothing you want or could possibly want takes any precedence over precisely that.”

    – JORDAN B. PETERSON (From his book: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)

    “If you change the MEANING of your life, it’s going to change the FEELINGS…Then, your life is really going to CHANGE.”

    RASHEDUR RYAN RAHMAN


    2 x Things:

    1) This article on psychology today: What is the Meaning of Life? by Neel Burton M.D. Neel argues that the meaning of life is that which we choose to give it. Moreover he argues that we should choose to give it meaning – whether or not you believe in God or an afterlife. How to choose? Drawing from the lessons of Victor Frankl he outlines 3 ways in which we meaning can be found:

    1. Experiencing reality by interacting authentically with the environment and with others.
    2. Giving something back to the world through creativity and self-expression, and,
    3. Changing our attitude when faced with a situation or circumstance that we cannot change.

    2) This New York Times article: The American Abyss by Timothy Snyder. It’s one of the best things I have read about the events of January 6th, and what it means/might mean for American democracy. Favourite quotes below.

    “Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves.”

    “We cannot be a democratic republic if we tell lies about race, big or small. Democracy is not about minimizing the vote nor ignoring it, neither a matter of gaming nor of breaking a system, but of accepting the equality of others, heeding their voices and counting their votes.”


    1 x Joke:

    Sorry folks I’m out of jokes this week so I’ll leave you with this far side comic instead. Hope you enjoy.


    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 can you do today that would give your life greater meaning tomorrow?


    PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

    Mindset Mondays – 11/01/21

    The Meaning Of Your Life

    A life is infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things. When you zoom the lens out, when you consider the enormity of existence. A life is but a speck in the vastness of time and space. A life is nothing. It matters not a jot.

    But when you zoom the lens in, past all of the galaxies and all of the solar systems, past all of the stars and the planets and the moons, and circle in on a single point in time and space. To the moment shortly after you were born, when I had you to myself. When the rest of universe melted away. When, for a moment, nothing else mattered. 

    Honestly if you could take everything else away. Every other moment in existence. Everything that has ever been. All the riches. All the mountains and all the oceans. All of nature. All of the stars and all of the planets in the unknowable universe. If you could take it all and give me just that moment, I would live in it for eternity.

    Of course I will never be able to adequately convey what that moment felt like, as hard as your father might try. All I can say is that those few minutes when I first held you were among the most precious of my small and insignificant existence. What you managed to do was fill them with more love, more meaning, and more joy than I could ever reasonably express with words. It moved me immeasurably – permanently towards something more. Something greater. For that, to you, I will be eternally grateful.

    You will, I hope, experience many such moments during your lifetime. Moments that move you beyond words. Beyond rhyme or reason. I pray your life will be filled with them. I believe it’s these moments that bring you alive in a way few others can. It’s these moments that remind you why, despite all the suffering life entails, it’s still worth it. 

    A problem that many of us experience is we forget. We forget, not the moments themselves, but the feeling. We forget what that true sense of aliveness really feels like. I believe this is partly because such moments are painfully rare during a life that’s painfully short. But mainly I believe it’s because people stop looking for them. They stop believing that there is any point to life. They start believing that their suffering is in vain. So they choose to live their lives in pursuit of immediate gratification. Nihilism consumes and they choose pleasure over purpose.

    Here’s something I desperately want you to understand as you grow up. Something that took your old man a while to figure out.

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

    However.

    It’s preciously because life is meaningless that we must give it meaning. That’s how you guard against nihilism. That’s how you stop from falling down the rabbit hole. Life is chaotic which is why we must strive to give it order, no matter how trying the circumstances. To live is to suffer, it’s an unavoidable aspect of Being. Which is why we must suffer with purpose. It’s why we must seek to alleviate the suffering in others, however small, it whatever way we can. That’s how we find balance.

    The truth is our lives hold as much meaning as we give them. Which is why you must give yours as much meaning as you possibly can. In your relationships. Your work. Your family. You must fill every corner of your precious existence with it.

    If you do, you won’t be concerned with what the meaning of life is. You will understand that the question doesn’t matter. You will understand that your life does and that this is enough. 

    If you ask me the question of what it all means misses the point. The point is life itself. Why look beyond it? When you consider the extraordinary odds against which you found yourself here. It’s the equivalent of winning the lottery many billions of times over. A life, your life is invaluable son. You cannot put a price it.

    Life may ultimately be meaningless but that doesn’t mean your life has to be. It doesn’t mean your life doesn’t matter. Because right now, today – so long as you’re alive – it matters immensely. Don’t let other people tell you otherwise. Don’t let them tell you that this life isn’t enough. That it’s not worth getting up for. Fighting for. Striving for. It’s your one and only life. It is nothing but everything to you. Everything.

    I realise that your life, it’s everything to me too.

    Happy Birthday Son  

    With love, for ever and always, from your Dad.

    (Written on your actual birthday – January 6th 2021)


    (Thanks for reading everyone. I started writing this in a highly emotional state after I left the hospital on the day that my son was born. I’m curious what your thoughts are on the meaning of life? Is it a futile existence? What’s the point? Do you agree that it’s us who give it meaning? As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions. I sincerely hope the rest of you have felt as much love as I have in the past few weeks or so. Wishing you well, AP2 🙏)

    ***

    You can see find more of AP2’s nonsensical world views and poor self-help advice here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com

    Tuesday’s Top Tip

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

    I have two responses.

    The first is why not?

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

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

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

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

    However!

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Previous Top Tip

    Why Crying Like a Little Girl Might Be the Manliest Thing You Can Do

    Why is it always said he cried like a little girl? We never say, she cried like a little boy, do we? For that matter, we never say she cried like a little girl either. 

    Of course, I forget that’s because it’s acceptable for girls to cry! Silly me. It’s just boys who don’t cry!

    Except that’s not true, is it?

    Last I checked, little boys cry too. In fact, I know it’s not true because my two-year-old boy cries every single day. And let me tell you something, he’s the happiest person I know. 

    The. Happiest. Person. I. Know. 

    It’s odd, don’t you think? How happy and peaceful children can be, yet we adults have such a hard time accessing those same emotions? It got me thinking as to why that might be. 

    I wondered, “It couldn’t be related… could it?”

    As one example of allowing ourselves to feel and process negative emotions, do we need to cry in order to access positive emotions like peace and joy?

    I decided to do a little research.

    The Benefits of Crying

    My first findings confirmed what I suspected. It turns out that crying from time to time, contrary to popular chauvinistic belief, is a pretty f*cking good thing for you to do.

    This article from Medical News Today on the benefits of crying noted,

    Research has found that in addition to being self-soothing, shedding emotional tears releases oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals make people feel good and may also ease both physical and emotional pain. In this way, crying can help reduce pain and promote a sense of well-being.”

    In addition, the article also noted that crying reduces stress, boosts your mood, aids sleep, fights bacteria, and even improves your vision.

    Jebus! 

    I figured it must help, but I had no idea it helped this much. I wonder then, does this account for why we adults (and men in particular) have a much harder time accessing feelings of peace and happiness? 

    Do we not allow ourselves to cry enough?

    Thinking about my own life, it makes sense. Years of depression were a direct result of repressing my emotions. 

    After facing those demons during months of therapy, I finally allowed myself to break down (or ‘break open’ as my therapist referred to it).

    It was such an enormous relief to finally let go of what I’d been fighting for so many years. Afterward I’d felt an inner peace I’d not felt for years. I remember sleeping like a baby that night. Now I understand the science behind why that was.

    More importantly, the harmful narrative I’d clung onto for years finally began to shift. My life has been immeasurably better ever since. 

    Of course, this wasn’t because I simply allowed myself to cry. Still, I believe I’d never have been able to process that pain without doing so.

    Recently I’ve been allowing myself to cry more often. I can tell you that it’s not easy for a man who has been conditioned to keep his emotions under lock and key. Yet, in doing so, my life is now filled with far more beauty and meaning.

    I cried the other day when holding my son simply because I realized how precious it was while he hugged me during a quiet moment. I let myself cry in front of him. I wanted him to know that this is both a normal and healthy thing to do.

    I wonder if any of you thinks this makes me less of a man? Did crying when my son was born make me less of a man? When I first held him in my arms?

    Did crying on my wedding day make me less of a man? When I stood in front of my friends and family as I read my vows to my wife? These were some of the happiest, most meaningful days and moments of my life.

    If the answer is yes, then I formally request to be a female. Because allowing yourself to cry, allowing yourself to feel your emotions, is what makes life beautiful. It’s what allows your difficult emotions to pass. It’s what allows you to find greater peace.

    Luckily I don’t have to go through a sex change to allow myself to cry. As it turns out – newsflash everyone – men can cry after all! 

    Not only can men cry, but I also found out that it doesn’t result in your life falling apart or your penis falling off.

    Unbelievable news, I know, but entirely true! I can confirm this, you see, because last I checked, it was still there. Just to be extra sure, I’ll double-check… Yep, still there!

    Phew!

    Do you want to know why men cry? Because it’s not a female thing to cry. Shock, horror… It’s actually a human thing to cry. It’s in our nature to cry.

    I mean, of course! Evolution wouldn’t have up with crying pointlessly. Think about it.

    Why are we the only species on the planet to deny our nature? I believe this is what turns all of us into a bunch of lunatics.

    Anyway, I’ve gotten sidetracked. Let me come back to some research.  

    A Hard Truth About Male Resilience

    When I dug a little deeper for this post, an extremely bizarre statistic stuck out like a sore thumb. I assumed that men, being more prone to bottle up their emotions and “do it alone”, would almost certainly have higher rates of depression.

    WRONG. 

    Women have higher rates of depression by a factor of nearly two. There are several reasons for this, including gender inequality, but studies suggest biological factors to be the primary determinant.

    At any rate, without getting sidetracked into another important debate, that wasn’t the bit I found weird. What I found particularly bizarre was that men are three to four times more likely to take their own lives than women.

    Why would men be three to four times as likely to die from suicide if they are half as likely to become depressed in the first place?

    Assuming my very rough maths is correct and assuming that those who commit suicide have first developed depression, then a man with depression is 6 to 8 times more likely to kill himself than a woman who develops depression does.

    Of course, you have to take that with a large pinch of salt, but even so.

    Wow! 

    Talk about being a man, hey? Or, “manning the f*ck up,” as some of my friends might say. Talk about the tough, emotionally resilient men we have built as a society. Clearly, we’ve done a great job at giving men the tools they need to process their own emotions, right? 

    Or maybe not.

    Maybe, instead, we ought to rethink our narrative. Maybe, just maybe, telling our boys not to cry isn’t such a smart move.  Maybe, just maybe, telling our young boys to “man up,” or “grow a pair,” or “stop being such a pussy,” actually hurts both sexes, especially men. Maybe, just maybe, we need to redefine what it means to be a man in the first instance. 

    What do you think?

    That Time I Cried

    I’ll tell you why I decided to bring this subject up. I overheard someone we had hired to babysit our son tell him not to cry. It was a woman, by the way, in case you thought it must be a man. She didn’t mean any harm, but I had to say something. 

    I asked her if she’d have said the same thing to a girl or whether she would have picked her up and comforted her? 

    (FYI Research shows that mothers talk more on average with their girl children, including sharing and identifying emotions, as opposed to their boy children.

    I let her know how damaging I believe telling children not to cry is. I told her that I hope my son always allows himself to cry if he feels the need and that I will never let him be shamed for doing so in my household. 

    Never.

    After going away and giving it some more thought, I realised something else. A deeper problem that many of us might have with other people crying. 

    I suspect many of our distraction techniques aren’t about helping the child so much as a strategy by adults to avoid issues they have about how crying makes them feel. 

    Whenever my child cried early on in the weeks shortly after he was born, it brought up intense feelings for me. I felt like a failure every time I was unable to settle him. On occasion, when he’d cry for long periods, I would get very angry with him (not historically an emotion I’ve had a lot of trouble with). I would get so mad that I had to leave the room. Now I was never going to hurt him, but that anger was new to me. 

    It felt very intense. 

    Whenever I gave up by leaving him in another room, what quickly followed was intense feelings of remorse. “How could I treat him like that? How could I abandon him in his cot when he’s crying? Why am I taking an infant crying so personally? What the f*ck is wrong with me?”

    Clearly, I had some serious stuff to work through. Yet, in a typically male way, I didn’t seek any help, didn’t talk about it, nor did I let myself cry. 

    I just beat myself up.

    (FYI  – All of these can be explained as reasons why men have a harder time dealing with depression and why they are more likely to commit suicide – see this article for more details)

    It wasn’t until one day when I saw my son playing on the living room floor after I got home from work. At that moment, I felt nothing but an overwhelming repulsion to get away from him. I didn’t want to be with him. I didn’t want to father my son. My gorgeous boy. 

    This time the remorse that came flooding up was too much. I went to the bedroom, closed the door and started to cry. 

    I cried like a little girl. 

    No. 

    I cried like a man. I let really myself cry. When I finished, I remember seeing with such clarity. There was no doubt about what it was I needed to do. I reached for the phone and spoke to someone. I finally asked for the professional help I knew I’d needed for years.

    Crying was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. It gave me the clarity to see what I needed. It gave me the courage to ask for help.

    I can’t emphasise that last statement enough. 

    Crying gave me courage.

    Some Closing Thoughts

    To all men who feel conflicted about their need to cry, it’s important to understand that crying doesn’t mean you’re not capable of dealing with your emotion. It means you are dealing with your feelings. Please understand it’s perfectly ok to do so. 

    Equally, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. There is no shame in this. There is nothing unmanly about asking for help or showing emotions. We all need help from time to time. That’s part of the human experience.

    Don’t think you need to “man the fuck up” or to “stop crying like a little girl.” If it helps, consider the phrase, ‘man the fuck up and cry.’ 

    In doing so, you might just shatter the bullshit stereotype of what it means to be a man. In doing so, you might just have a greater understanding of what it is to be human. In doing so, you might give this world something it needs more than another macho man incapable of accessing his own emotions. 


    ADDITIONAL SOURCES/FURTHER READING:

    BBC Article: Why more men than women die by suicide

    Medical News Today Article: Eight benefits of crying: Why it’s good to shed a few tears

    Happiness is here blog post: 10 things for parents to say instead of ‘stop crying.’

    Janet Lansbury’s blog post: No Bad Kids – Toddler Discipline Without Shame (9 Guidelines)

    This study examined gender differences in emotion word use during mother–child and father–child conversations.

    This study explores why depression is more prevalent in women

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