4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my Mindset Mondays Post! The only weekly newsletter that forces you to take your medicine with a spoon full of sugar…

Following a 4-3-2-1 approach, it contains 4 thoughts from me (that you should probably ignore), 3 quotes from others (that you should definitely 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 terrible joke that’s so bad, you won’t be able to help but laugh…

Let’s begin!


4 x Thoughts From Me:

If you were completely at peace with who you are and where you’re at in life, you wouldn’t be thinking so much about yourself. In fact, beyond your basic needs, you wouldn’t be thinking about yourself at all. 

Ignorance is bliss… but only for you, for everyone else it’s miserable. That’s not to say ignorance is unforgivable. We’re all ignorant to a large degree. The important thing is not to be deliberately ignorant about matters that affect us all. Listen to the facts. Don’t simply choose to believe something so you don’t have to feel shame. Shame is a useful emotion designed to make you change. It works wonders. Don’t ignore it. Accept it. Process it. Then move on with the greater meaning and purpose that you have derived from it. 

People forget that our emotions are both our biggest weakness and our biggest superpower. What you need to do is understand them. And I’m not talking on an intellectual level. That’s easy. I’m talking about insight my friend. Insight is what you need. Insight will set you free. 

If you’re not talking to yourself as you would your own friends and family then perhaps you’re not showing yourself the love and compassion that you should? And if you are, perhaps you’re not being as honest with yourself as you should? (Side note: What a f***ing dichotomy of thought that is.)


3 x Quotes From Others:

“You don’t build self esteem by patting people on the back and telling them they’re wonderful. Confidence is a much more complex phenomenon that comes from experiencing one’s strengths in action.” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter

“There is freedom waiting for you, On the breezes of the sky, And you ask “What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, What if you fly?” – Erin Hanson (Source: https://cristianmihai.net/these-5-quotes-changed-my-mindset-forever/)

“We are each responsible for our own life. If you are holding anyone else accountable for your happiness, you are wasting your time. You must be fearless enough to give yourself the love you didn’t receive. Begin noticing how each day brings a new opportunity for your growth. Pay attention. Every choice gives you a chance to pave your own road. Keep moving. Full speed ahead.” – Oprah Winfrey (Source: https://vrundachauk.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/taking-responsibility/)


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This Brain Pickings article – 13 Life-Learnings from 13 Years of Brain Pickings – from one of my favourite bloggers Maria Popova. If you’ve not read her blog I can highly recommend you spend some time exploring. She’s a truly gifted writer. This article is well worth digesting with a cup of tea and bickies! I’ve quoted number 13 from her article below.

“In any bond of depth and significance, forgive, forgive, forgive. And then forgive again. The richest relationships are lifeboats, but they are also submarines that descend to the darkest and most disquieting places, to the unfathomed trenches of the soul where our deepest shames and foibles and vulnerabilities live, where we are less than we would like to be. Forgiveness is the alchemy by which the shame transforms into the honor and privilege of being invited into another’s darkness and having them witness your own with the undimmed light of love, of sympathy, of nonjudgmental understanding. Forgiveness is the engine of buoyancy that keeps the submarine rising again and again toward the light, so that it may become a lifeboat once more.”

– Maria Popova

2 – This YouTube video – Why Coronavirus Will Win Trump The Election – narrated by Stephen Fry. Just is case you haven’t made your mind up about who to vote for yet and just in case there was any doubt about who you really must vote for, well, give this a watch!


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

My dad sent me a picture of my mum stood next to a ginormous pumpkin that they happened upon in a local farmers market last week.

This thing was massive! It was wider than my mum is tall! Honestly I’ve never seen a pumpkin so big before in my life.

Anyway I thought for a second before replying, “Hey, if you carve Donald Trump’s face into that thing you’ll have a life sized replica!”

(Wait for it…)

“You could call it Trumpkin!”

(Just imagine the horror – 4 more years of this! Probably best we just throw it it out in November hey?)


Thanks ladies and gentlemen. I’m here all week! 

Till next time…

Have a Happy Halloween Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all:

How can you give yourself a break today?

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 19/10/20

Mindset Mondays – 19/10/20

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my new and improved Mindset Mondays post – the only weekly newsletter that turns out all the lights before handing you a lit match…

For those who don’t know, each week I try my best to give your Mondays a much needed boost by sharing 3 thoughts from me (that you should probably ignore), 2 quotes from others (that you probably shouldn’t), and 1 thing I’ve been reading or listening to that has helped me grow.

As always I finish with a joke that’s either so good or so bad, you won’t be able to help it but laugh.

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts From Me:

Attachments/Wanting = Unhappiness. Letting go/Generosity = Happiness. 

Some mornings, when life inevitably gets in the way, routine is the first thing that goes out the window. We shouldn’t let this get us down. Instead we should see it as a wonderful opportunity to practise mindfulness – to be at peace with the fact that things didn’t go according to our perfect little plans (because it really doesn’t matter). It’s also a great opportunity to practise flexibility – to work out how you can make it up later on, or fit it around a different schedule. Maybe you only meditate for 5 mins today, or maybe you can only afford to get in 5 pushups? If you can look back and say you still managed something, I’m guessing you did much better today than you think. Routine is important but it’s not the be-all and end-all, being flexible is equally important. In fact, you need to allow for flexibility within your routine. Otherwise you’re liable to throw in the towel completely.

Ignorance is bliss… but only for you, for everyone else it’s miserable. That’s not to say ignorance is unforgivable. We’re all ignorant to a large degree. The important thing is not to be deliberately ignorant about matters that affect us all. Listen to the facts. Don’t simply choose to believe something so you don’t have to feel shame. Shame is a useful emotion designed to make you change for the better. It works wonders. Don’t avoid it. Accept it. Process it. Then move on with the greater meaning and purpose that you have derived from it. 


2 x Quotes From Others:

“Open your mouth only if what you are going to say is more beautiful than silence.” – Buddha

“The desire for a more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.” – Mark Manson


1 x Thing That Has Helped Me Grow

This insightful Happiness Lab podcast episode with Dr. Laurie Santos: Happiness Lessons of The Ancients: The Buddha From the show description: ‘The Buddha was born to a royal family… and it shocked him when he found out that no amount of money or power could keep suffering and loss at bay forever. The quest to accept that life brings us pain was key to the development of Buddhism as a major religion. Dr Laurie Santos is joined by Liz Angowski and Robert Wright (author of ‘Why Buddhism is True‘) to explore The Buddha’s teachings about unhappiness and how mindfulness meditation can help us come to terms with the negative feelings we all experience from time to time.’ My personal show notes below.

  • It’s not that beautiful things don’t make us happy but that they change. We change with them. To all happiness there is unhappiness and suffering. There is impermanence. There is a flip side. Things age. People die. 
  • Buddishm teaches us that we don’t see the world clearly by nature.  If we could see the world more clearly we would become happier and we would become better people.  
  • What is central to all suffering? That fact that we always want something more. This gratification never lasts. From a Darwinian survival perspective this makes total sense. Being restless and unhappy drives us to find food or have sex. Then we’re satisfied for a while before we are left wanting more. 
  • Unfortunately we are wired to think once we have sex with that person or eat that great meal or attain that big house then we will live happily ever after. Of course we don’t. It doesn’t matter how much you accumulate you will always go back to that unhappy restless base line. This is an example of our delusion. We are designed to keep convincing ourselves of this. That we will be happy after we have just this little bit more money or recognition, etc. 
  • The mind isn’t designed to bring us happiness. That’s not high on natural selection’s agenda. Understanding that is the beginning of seeking a more enduring kind of happiness. Buddhism offers us this path.

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

Struggling for a story this week folks so thought I’d leave you with this comic instead – Hope you enjoy!


Thanks ladies and gentlemen… I’m here all week! 

Till next time, I sincerely hope you have a very happy Monday!

One bonus question for you all:

How can you add flexibility to your routine?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mental Mondays – 12/10/20

Ripples In The Pond

I dropped a pebble in a pond the other day and watched as the ripples reverberated outwards. 

Then I started thinking. 

When the water is calm the ripples travel unobstructed. It’s clear as day.

Yet when the waters are rough it’s very difficult, if not impossible, for us to see them. 

Yet they do.

They must.

The same way the water in your bathtub must rise if you place an object in it.

This made me realise – even the smallest acts of kindness and compassion have ripples that travel further than any of us know. We shouldn’t underestimate the impact that small acts of love can have. And just because we can’t see the impact, it doesn’t mean there hasn’t been one.

There has to be.

If you drop a small pebble in turbulent waters you will still make a splash. It will make a difference. Small acts of kindness will move more water than meets the eye.

We‘d do well to remember that all water in a pond must move to accommodate the smallest pebble.

We’d do well to remember that if all of us place enough pebbles in the water, we might just move the ocean.

Tuesday’s Top Tip

One of the problems we have is the way many proponents of certain activities sell them to you.

Because they’re trying to sell you something they prey on your insecurities. They talk on and on about the benefits they have for you. How meditation, exercise and a balanced diet helps you. How you need this app. How you need to eat this food. How you need to go to this gym. How you are incomplete without this, that or what-the-fuck ever…

Often they’ll over emphasise the benefits these activities have for you without mentioning the larger reasons beyond the immediate. It’s easier to sell you something that way. It just doesn’t help with motivation in the longer term. So you keep coming back for the next best thing to fix your life.

By the by, did no-one tell you that you don’t need a meditation app to meditate?

If you want to make something like mediation a habit it’s far better to consider how taking the time to cultivate mindfulness is of benefit to your family and friends, as well as yourself. As in, don’t just concentrate on what something is doing for you, consider what your actions are doing for everybody else as well. 

Previous Top Tip

Mental Mondays – 12/10/20

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my new and improved Mental Mondays newsletter – the only weekly newsletter to make a pass at your spouse before apologising profusely.

For those who don’t know, each week I try my best to give your Mondays a much needed kick up the proverbial by sharing 3 x thoughts from me (that you should probably ignore), 2 x quotes from others (that you probably shouldn’t), and 1 x thing I’ve been reading or listening to that has helped me grow (in a non-sexual manner).

As always I finish with a joke that’s either so good or so bad, you won’t be able to help it but laugh.

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts From Me:

Success is what we alone define – it’s extremely personal and completely different to what society tells us. Which is why you must take the time to define it for yourself – otherwise you’ll end up chasing someone else’s version of it.

The mind is hardwired to keep you alive. It’s far more interested in your survival than achieving any sort of lasting happiness. That’s why it keeps tricking you into thinking that more money, a better job, or a bigger house is what you need. It’s trying to safeguard your future self – to give you the best possible chance. If you found lasting happiness once you attained everything you actually needed then you would have stopped striving a long time ago. It’s so important to understand this. To understand why – after having great sex, getting a big promotion or buying a fancy new car – your happiness is so short lived. This is by design. You need to stop looking to your mind for lasting happiness because you won’t find it there. You need to let it go. You need to look beyond it and see what is right in front of you.

One reason you shouldn’t have children: that moment when you realise that one day you will have you let them go. One reason you should have children: that moment when you realise that one day you will have you let them go.  (Let that sink in for a second)


2 x Quotes From Others:

Lack of confidence kills more dreams than lack of ability. Talent matters—especially at elite levels—but people talk themselves out of giving their best effort long before talent becomes the limiting factor. You’re capable of more than you know. Don’t be your own bottleneck.” – James Clear (Source: James Clear Newsletter)

“You don’t build self esteem by patting people on the back and telling them they’re wonderful. Confidence is a much more complex phenomenon that comes from experiencing one’s strengths in action.” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter (Source: vrundachauk.wordpress.com/oh-i-didnt-knew-this-quotes)


1 x Thing That Has Helped Me Grow

This brilliant Intelligence Squared podcast episode with Thomas Friedman and Robert Peston on the Final Days of the Presidential Race. For those who don’t know the name, Thomas Friedman has won the Pulitzer Prize three times and has been called ‘the most influential columnist in America.’ In this conversation with ITV’s political editor Robert Peston, one of Britain’s leading journalists, Friedman talks about what is possibly the most consequential Presidential elections of our times. Honestly, if this doesn’t persuade you to vote for Biden then nothing will. It’s well worth a listen. I’ll leave you with this quote:

What we have now is a president without shame, backed by a party without spine, supported by a network without integrity – and that trifecta is extremely dangerous.” 


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

Sorry to bother you with another moon joke for the third week running but I felt I had to share this one.

As we were relaying the story to my parents about our son’s strange phobia of the moon my father paused before commenting,

“Maybe he’s a Luna-tic!?”

Genius.


My dad is here all week ladies and gentlemen.! 

Till next time…

Have a very happy Monday!

One bonus question for you all:

What does success mean to you?

(As my regular readers might have noticed I’ve changed the title this week. I’ve don’t this for a couple of reasons. The first is because I never really liked the trite title Motivational Mondays. The second is part of an effort to give my blog a little more direction with a particular focus on building emotional resilience. Mental being short for mental health. Of course mental on its own sounds better – plus I’m a little bit f***ed up so that fits too… In an effort to streamline this post and to give you more bang for you buck (and to save me some time), I’ve moved it to 3:2:1 format. Please let me know what you think of these radical changes in comments section below. Love to all, AP2 x)


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Motivational Mondays – 04/10/20

Motivational Mondays – 04/10/20

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

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

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


4 x Thoughts From Me:

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

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

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

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


3 x Quotes From Others:

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

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

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


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

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

NOTES & QUOTES:

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

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


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

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

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

I asked him, “Of the moon?”

He replied, “Yes.”

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

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

She rolled her eyes.

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

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

Get it!?

Because it’s the Moon


I’m here all week ladies and gentlemen.! 

Till next time…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all:

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

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Motivational Mondays – 28/09/20

NOTES FROM MY JOURNAL – September 2020 – On Dealing With Anger, Thanking My Readers and The Direction Of My Blog.

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to another one of my life-altering monthly newsletters – where I take the time to digest how my month went and look at what areas I feel the need to ‘course correct.’ At the bottom you’ll find a list of everything I’ve written about this month. As always I hope you can draw some inspiration from my words.

Let’s get into it.


On Dealing With Anger:

The big thing that’s been bothering me this month – something that has come up a number times this year – is my relationship toward anger.

Historically it’s not an emotion I’ve had much of an issue with. I’ve never believed myself to be an angry person – certainly not one who reacts to it when he is.

Anxiety has always been the big black wolf for me.

Yet, as I continue to shake off the hangover bought on by years of depression, it seems that anger is the emotion I’m having the most difficulty with.

The question is why? 

Now I’m not a psychologist, of course, but what I think might be happening is this.

Those who suffer from low self esteem often have difficulty asserting their wants, needs, and boundaries to others. Part of the reason is this requires the confidence to speak up about what it is you want. Sometimes that means having to let others know about your anger. Sometimes that means engaging in conflict.

The problem for those who don’t stand up for what they want and/or need, for fear of upsetting someone or challenging the part of your ego that likes to think ‘they’re a nice guy,’ is that their anger gets left unresolved. Over time, of course, this can build…

What I suspect might be happening, as a result of repressing my anger for so many years, is that it has finally started to surface. And when it has I’ve found it difficult to deal with simply because I’m not used to it.

As a result I’ve had several periods this year where I felt, to put it bluntly, pissed off at the world for seemingly no reason. This has resulted in my flying off the handle a couple of times.

One such example of this was when I wrote this rather angry blog post (while expressing my anger in response to another doom and gloom article about the environment) at the start of the month.

Of course I had a very good reason to be angry but the way in which I expressed it wasn’t, perhaps, the most skilful. After all swearing off the world and everyone in it is not terribly useful when it comes to inspiring action – which was the main gist of the article.

Still it was an interesting perspective – an unfiltered look at what my anger does for my writing when in full-on hulk mode!

It also got me thinking.

At the end of the day I believe honesty is the best medicine and that’s what you got – an honest look at my emotions in that moment, if not a well reasoned and balanced argument. The truth is that’s exactly what I want this blog to be about. I don’t want it to be another sugar-coated site about how amazing I am. I’m not. I’m flawed, just like everybody else. I want you all to see that.

There’s more.

Although I might regret the way in which I expressed my anger that day, the result of bearing my soul in the moment – of allowing myself to really feel and use that anger – has been very interesting indeed.

Let me run you through a few personal changed that I’ve made since then.

For one I just published a children’s book with a message about mindful consumption at its core. In an effort to put my money where my mouth is I’ve decided to donate everything I earn from it (because I don’t need it) to a charity that works with companies to redistribute surplus food to people in need. I also decided to volunteer for the same charity this month during my time off.

In terms of politics, because I believe nothing else will matter if we don’t sort it out, I’ve decided the environment has to be my number one factor when considering who I vote for. This makes things much simpler and quite frankly I need to simplify my thinking in areas like politics.

Anger, it seems, can certainly be used to exact positive change!

If that wasn’t all, what displaying my anger did, first and foremost, was generate some very honest and humbling responses from all of you lovely readers. This has, unequivocally, helped me tremendously!

Thanking My Readers:

With that in mind allow me take this moment to thank those who did.

Not withstanding those who saw through the vulgar language I used and agreed with the message or those who reminded me that my language was a bit strong, I’d like to make special mention of two in particular.

First up, Wayne – a good WordPress friend of mine, (if he doesn’t mind me saying) – called me out on it and rightly so! It also inspired him to write this brilliant blog post – Human Nature: The Caveman in all of us – which I can highly recommend reading.

Second, a young lady lady by the name of Janelle who took the time to respond to my angry post in a profoundly mature manner. I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing her comments here – what she said was this,

Please don’t ever feel like you can’t express your anger, sadness, frustration. Because then it’ll only build up in you. But you also can’t be so hard on yourself, you can’t blame yourself for everything, just like how at one point I blamed society for how I grew up, how I’m growing up. But at the same time, I have to agree, adults have left a world for us to fix, but you can also see it in a different light. And because we’ve been left this, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, you can look at this and say that this is our generation’s version of a hard time. Maybe before it might have been poverty, or general society not accepting other people. But it’s something that will allow us to grow! I know this is such a happy spin on everything, and I know history shows such brutal truth, but I also know that the world we live in wouldn’t be the same without it. But yes. Be angry. Be mad. But do it for a reason. Don’t blindly be angry for nothing. Be mad so that you can change something for your children. And I know I’m still considered a ‘child’. But I know that we also look up to the adults in the world. The ones that have succeeded. The ones that inspire. The ones that change. The ones that show that you can do anything if you just try. What you wrote might show the flip side that no one might agree with, but it needs to be said. It can’t be ignored. And nothing is silly. Nothing is ‘bad’. Nothing should be considered ‘bad’. It just is. This is getting long, but continue to do what you’re doing, you’ve made it this far and I know you can continue to do more! Just one step at a time.

What Janelle did was cut through my anger with a level of compassion rarely demonstrated by most adults. For her to take such a positive outlook – to understand the massive potential for meaning and purpose that can be harnessed during such trying times… This is exactly the king of resolve I hope to instil in my children as they grow.

Her message immediately made me regret the way in which I wrote the piece – not withstanding the language I used or because I expressed it – but because I did so blindly – lashing out unfairly at myself and the world. She made me pause. She made me think. She made me a better person.

To Janelle and all of my regular readers who have done the same – thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The Direction Of My Blog:

So moving on and thinking forward. What’s my vision for this blog, my career, my family and the world?

I’ve been experimenting a lot over the last six months without worrying too much about the direction of my blog. Now however I do want to make it more niche – to concentrate on something you lovely readers can depend on when you stop by.

So I ask myself what can I give – what stories and lessons can impart? What do you want to hear? More importantly, what do I want to write about?

As I head towards my command I realise it’s my story – about a child who always doubted his abilities, his strength, his intelligence, who then got bullied for years during his adolescence, who also struggled with drugs and intense feelings of anxiety, all of which led to years of depression – to then go on to become a first officer for one of the world’s best airlines – to overcome those issues with anxiety and depression…

This continued quest for building greater confidence and emotional resilience as I chase command in the years ahead is what I really want to focus on. To one day tell the story of how a fearful boy turned his life around to become an airline captain, a published author, an environmentalist and activist for positive change, a loving father of two and committed husband to one.

I do hope you’ll all stick around to hear it dear readers because, I guarantee you, it’s gonna be one heck of the ride.

Thank you so much for reading. As always I love to chat – feel free to drop me a line in the comments section below. I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. This is a very much a free state! Wishing you all much courage, resilience, love, compassion and resolve in the months ahead. God knows we’re gonna need it and each other – now more than ever. X (P.S .- see below for list of posts I wrote in September).


Posts I Wrote This September:

The Boy Who Cried No Wolf – a bit of political satire

6 Lessons From 362 Days Of Meditation – lessons learned from (almost) a year of meditation

The Absolute Minimum We Must Give Our Children – the angry post in question

Why You Should Do It For Me – a little motivational piece

Also:

Motivational Mondays

Tuesday’s Top Tip

Thursday’s Quote D’jour


Motivational Mondays – 28/09/20

Hello fine readers and welcome back to my Motivational Mondays Post! The only weekly newsletter that forces you to take the stairs before handing you a beer.

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

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


4 x Thoughts From Me:

The greater your understanding of how small you are, the bigger the person you become. 

If you want peace in this life then you have to learn to let the ego go. That’s not to say you should see it as the enemy. Your ego is a part of you. It’s a tool to be used, just like your hands. What I’m getting at is the ability to stand back from your ego and see when it‘s useful to engage with it or not. Often it’s best left alone. In my eyes it’s an essential skill to be developed throughout ones lifetime. You may never master it but with practise you can become exceptionally good. If you don’t, of course, you may lose it altogether. The danger then is that the tool ends up using you.

People will always believe a confident lier over those who whimper the truth.

Why write when everything has already been written about? Two reasons. The first one is because it’s not true. No one has written about your story. No one has written about your own unique perspectives. The second reason is because no one has written exactly as you would. Often writing is about reinforcing timeless advice and passing it on in a way that speaks to the people of our time for our time.


3 x Quotes From Others:

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way.” – William Blake (Source: brain pickings.org – How an Artist is Like a Tree: Paul Klee on Creativity)

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” – Isaac Asimov (Source: artofblogging.net – Writing Quotes to Inspire You to Punch the Damn Keys)

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”Albert Einstein (Source: waysofthinking.co.uk – Why We Need To Use The Power Of Imagination Now More Than Ever)


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This inspiring TED talk by Xiye Bastida‘In a deeply moving letter to her grandmother, Xiye Bastida reflects on what led her to become a leading voice for global climate activism — from mobilizing school climate strikes to speaking at the United Nations Climate Summit alongside Greta Thunberg — and traces her resolve, resilience and profound love of the earth to the values passed down to her. “Thank you for inviting me to love the world since the moment I was born,” she says.

FAVOURITE QUOTE:

“If our struggles make the world a better place, then they will make us better people.” – Xiye Bastida

2 – This brilliant Mark Manson article, The Cognitive Biases That Make Us All Terrible People. As Mark explains, ‘For those who don’t know, cognitive biases are basically inherent “flaws” in our psychology—they’re the predictable ways we misjudge situations, filter information incorrectly, or jump to irrational conclusions about people or events. We all have them. We all succumb to them. And it’s only in understanding them that we can develop the self-awareness to guard ourselves against them.‘ Well worth the read!


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

For all you parents out there – and seen as the Moon Festival is upon us this week – I thought you might enjoy this timely rendition of the classic children’s book Goodnight Moon


Thanks ladies and gentlemen. That’s all from me this week! 

Till next time…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all:

How can you make mindfulness a habit?

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Motivational Mondays – 21/09/20

6 Lessons From 362 Days Of Meditation

Can you believe it?

3 days short of a year!

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

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

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

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

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

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


1. It Doesn’t Matter If You Forget

“Don’t cry over spilt milk.”

– Old Proverb 

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

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

That was my honest to god reaction! 

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

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

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

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

2. Having A Regular Practise Is Key

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

– Shamash Alidina (Mindfulness for dummies)

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

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

3. You Need To Treat It Like A Sacred Act

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

– sj Anthony De Mello (AWAReness)

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

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

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

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

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

4. Practising Informally Throughout The Day Is Most Effective

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

– TARA BRACH (Radical acceptacne)

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

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

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

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

– Shamash Alidina (MINDFULNESS FOR DUMMIES)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Thoughts

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

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


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

Motivational Mondays – 21/09/20

Hello fine readers and welcome back to my weekly Motivational Mondays Post!

The only newsletter to force feed you your recommended 5 a day before offering you a cupcake…

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

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

Much Love,

AP2 X


4 x Thoughts From Me:

The cost of convenience is your resilience.

The trick is not to think win or lose. The trick is not to think success or failure. The trick it is not to trick good or bad. The trick is to think about being better because every single one of us always can be. 

Anger as an emotion is intimately linked to our “fight, flight or freeze response.” It’s about survival. This is why reacting to it is inappropriate in most situations. When it comes to anger, thinking high emotions = low intelligence is a good rule of thumb. I wonder though, when it comes to the survival of our planet if it’s not entirely justified – if we’re not angry enough? After all, the power of action one can harness from such an emotion is enormous. It can drive us in a way that few other emotions can. Instead of ignoring our anger about climate change, maybe we need to consider how to use it instead? People forget that anger, if responded to mindfully, can be used constructively. Anger can be used to make positive changes. The caveat, of course, is that we need to allow ourselves to feel it. We need to accept it as a valid emotion.

Competition is meant to be about pushing each other to improve. It’s about personal and collective growth. When we glorify it and make it about ‘winning at all costs’ we turn many people away. This defeats the purpose. Not only are those who still compete weaker because they have less competition, those who don’t compete lose the ability to better themselves altogether. Don’t compete to win, compete to grow.


3 x Quotes From Others:

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching” ― Gerard Way

“Most people think they lack motivation when they really lack clarity.”James Clear

“Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.” ― Ruth Bader Ginsburg


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This Tim Ferris Podcast episode My Healing Journey After Childhood Abuse with Debbie Millman. This might be the most important Tim Ferris episode I’ve ever listened to. To come out and publicly share what happened to him takes an enormous amount of courage – more courage than I suspect most of us will ever know. I would implore anyone to give this episode a listen, but especially those who have previously experienced sexual abuse. The list of resources available – as he and Debbie talk about extensively – extend well beyond conventional therapy. Please look under the list of resources via the link above for more information on a number of potential tools and reading for help to deal with trauma.

2 QUOTES FROM THE POD:

Your path to the healing is very much your own in the same way that you have your own path to love or to family or to success.”

Debbie Millman

“There is only one question that matters and this is, what are you unwilling to feel?”

Tara Brach

2 – This brilliant Happiness Lab Podcast with Dr. Laurie SantosHappiness Lessons of The Ancients: Aristotle. In this episode Dr. Laurie Santos talks to Yale professor Tamar Gendler about “Aristotle’s wellbeing insights and how he recommended taking daily “baby steps” towards becoming the sort of happy, moderate person we aspire to be. A kind of ancient “fake it, ’til you make it” ethos.” Notes and quotes below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • Aristotle and other Greek philosophers were given free reign to pursue the question, what makes humans flourish, as their profession. As a result they were able to come to a greater understanding about it than many others have at different times during our history. 
  • Aristotle can be looked at as the father of modern positive psychology. – He was brought to Athens at the age of 17 to study. He liked school so much he stayed for another 20 years! 
  • He was one of the greatest polymath thinkers of any generation. He was the inverter of physics as a field. Biology as a field. He was a great theorist of poetry and theatre. 
  • 2 distinct notions of happiness. 1 hedonistic happiness. The indulgence of short lived happiness or pleasures. Eating or sex. This is an important of what it means to be human. To take pleasure in the physical world around you. 
  • 2 Aristotle was interested in a richer and more robust and lasting notion of what happiness is. 
  • He philosophised that in the same way a knife is designed to cut our primary function as humans was to express virtue and reason.  This is a lasting rather than short lived happiness. 
  • We are getting the same insights Aristotle did 2000 years ago from behavioural science and modern psychology about what it is that gives us lasting fufillment and happiness. 
  • Being clear that indulging in great food, having sex and watching NETFLIX isn’t what will make you happy long term is important. If anything an overindulgence in these kind of activities leaves people feeling empty. 
  • Theoretical wisdom vs practical wisdom. Theoretical wisdom comes from reading about something like the science of psychology to understand what makes us happy or not. This isn’t enough. 
  • Aristotle said we need something called practical wisdom – this is the skill that comes from practising the activity in which you want to make progress. 
  • The way we find this deeper level of thriving in Aristotle’s opinion comes from a strategy of practicing being the kind of person who is virtuous and takes pleasure in being virtuous. 
  • Self education project. You make yourself into the person you want to be. The soul you want to inhibit. You practise being the kind of person you want to become and then the act of practicing becomes pleasurable to you. 
  • The same way you want to learn the violin or raise good children you have to put the work the same applies to bumping up your happiness. You engage with it and build it up like a skill set from the ground up. 
  • We become just by doing just actions. We become temperate by acting so. Brave by doing brave actions. This is how we come to having practical wisdom. We practice the skills we want to inhibit until they become natural to us. 
  • Aristotle was interested in developing a moderate character in the right ways.  What does he mean? Taking braving as an example. One extreme is being a coward. Another is being reckless. In between is braver. The perfect moderate virtue. Humour. You can be a Baffoon or somber or someone with a good sense of humour. 
  • If you want to be a brave person, act the way a brave person acts and you will start to manifest bravery and you will be reinforced in your experience about how pleasurable and possible it is for you to act bravely. 
  • Virtuous life – life is not just a moral life but brings happiness and thriving – how to live well morally, happily and part of harmonious society.
  • The data suggests that if you want to live a happy life you want to live a moral life. For Aristotle pleasure is derived from seeing others around them doing well.
  • Friendship is incredibly important – the young need it to prevent them for error – the old need it for protection and companionship, to look after them – those in their prime need it to do fine actions.
  • 3 different kinds. 1 shallow utility based – we both gain something from one another – a service or product. 2 we enjoy each others company. 3 based on mutual deep appreciation of one another’s morals. The latter provides self reinforcing cycle. Aristotle calls this kind of friend “a second self.
  • Surrounding yourself with those who are committed to same things – the same values. Put yourself in a setting where others are trying to achieve the same kind of spiritual transcendence.
  • Acting as if you already have the virtues you wish to embody is incredibly powerful and liberating. Having a second self available makes you much more likely to stick to those values – to hold you accountable.

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

Struggling for a story this week folks so thought I’d leave you with this rejected New Yorker cartoon that made me chuckle.


Till next week…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all:

What is one thing you can do for the environment today that will help it tomorrow?

(As always thank you ALL so much for reading. If you have any suggestions, thoughts or ideas about today’s weekly post I’d love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom.)