The Absolute Minimum We Must Give Our Children

I feel like this piece needs a bit of an explanation. I was quite angry when I wrote it. I went to bed angry after reading an article about environmental decline being in “free fall.” Stupid I know. At any rate, when I woke up I was still angry. And so I got up, walked over to my laptop and started writing. The following is what resulted.

I should say this piece contains some swearing plus some fairly strong views. This is definately one of my articles that requires a pinch of salt.

You should also be warned I point the finger at everyone in this piece, myself included. That said it isn’t directed at anyone person but society in general. This post isn’t about offering any advice but about the energy with which I wrote it.

It’s very much about the need to wake the fuck up.

I’m not trying to be insensitive here – only to express the anger I felt. At the end of the day they are only words – we decide whether to give them power over us. That said there is definitely some hard truths here if you have the stomach to swallow it.

At any rate should you simply want to see what harnessing anger does for your writing, well put this in you pipe and smoke it.

Enjoy it or not.

I really couldn’t give a flying fuck.

Much love,

AP2 X


If you care about your children then you must fight for the planet. 

A fancy title. A big house. A shiny car. It will be of little comfort when the world burns. 

The survival of this planet means the survival of your children. Period

No ifs, ands, or buts. 

Period

You want your children to have more than you? Why exactly?

Have you not had enough during your privileged lifetime? Have you not had enough things? Enough fancy fucking food? Have you not travelled to enough exotic destinations? How did your MacDonald’s taste on the other side of the world by the way? How did that chain resort compare to one you stayed at in that other country you never saw? How does your latest model of iPhone compare to the one you bought only 2 fucking years ago? 

Has it really not been enough? Do your children really need more than what you’ve had?

Or do they need a different fucking education about what enough actually is?

Fuck you.

Yeah?! 

Yeah.

Fuck me too. 

These questions are directed at me, as much as you. The truth is I’m the biggest hypocrite of all.

I’m very much part of the generation who has said the right things but not acted on them.

Why am I so pissed off?

Because I’m angry at myself. I’m angry at society for trying to make me into the kind of person I detest. But mainly I’m angry that I didn’t stand up and say fuck you. I’m angry that I didn’t tell society to go fuck itself. I’m angry because I sold my soul for the world. All because I wanted the latest iPhone, the shiny car, the big house…

There comes a point in everyone’s life, I think, where you question everything. Every single thing you’ve been taught. How you were told to live. The things you were told you should be. When you examine it all, it’s like waking up with the worst fucking hangover imaginable.

It hurts so fucking much.

My whole life. It’s bullshit. It’s not had any real purpose. It’s just been about looking good on paper. And then you look around and see that everyone is too self involved to give a shit anyway. They’re also worried about how their life looks on paper. Their lives are bullshit too.

Look at me mum and dad! Are you proud? I’m not. I was sold a dummy. I bought it and now I don’t know how to give it up. I hate it but I can’t. And so I hate myself. I’m an addict of the worst kind. No different to a junkie with a needle sticking out of his arm. Actually there is a difference. The way I’ve lived will hurt more people. They’re just killing themselves. One less person on the planet. One less problem for the world to deal with.

Did I just say that?

I guess I did. 

The true-blue junkies aren’t the ones who need to die of course. As far as mother earth is concerned it’s me who needs to die. Or, at least, the current version of who I am.

I realise now the only thing my children actually need is a world to inherit. What the fuck are we living for if not for them? If not for the survival of our planet?

I imagine my children looking at me in the eyes when they grow up and asking, “Was it worth it dad?” The thought breaks my heart into a million pieces. Because the truth is, right now, I can‘t say it was. I can’t look them in the eyes I say I’ve done all that I can.

Can you?

I’m not even close.

The changes that I will have to make. The changes over which they will have no choice to because of the way I have lived. It scares the living shit out of me.

Up till now I have failed them. I must do better. I must stop being so selfish. I must be the change I want to see. The change this world so desperately needs. I must give my children a fighting chance to clean up the big fucking mess I have left them. At the very least, I must give them that. The chance to be better than I have. The chance to live a life of purpose and meaning. One that will give them far more than any shiny car, fancy gadget or big house can. 

This is the absolute minimum we must give our children. – A fighting chance.

Right now that’s all we can give them too.

But we can give it to them. And we must.

There is no other option.


Thanks for reading again guys and girls. As always I welcome ALL opinions and thoughts on this blog. Especially the ones that challenge my thinking! With that said I’m curious about what you think? Was I too hard on myself? On you? Was I not hard enough? I mean to follow this up with many posts going forward about how to make a difference on an individual level – about how we can, in fact, give our children a fighting chance. I’ll try to be less angry in those! Till then I wish you all well, AP2 X

Motivational Mondays – 10/08/20

Hello fine readers and welcome back to my Motivational Mondays Post! The only newsletter to give you a nice warm hug and a much needed kick up the backside at the same time.

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… 

Love to all X


4 x Thoughts From Me:

There isn’t an inverse correlation between success and failure. The more you fail in life, the more you succeed. If you’re not failing it simply means you’re not trying as hard as you should be. If you ask me, the only real failure in life is not trying. You need to put yourself in positions where you have to fail in order to succeed.

Creativity has nothing to do with being the best but everything to do with expressing your individuality. It’s about doing something in a way that only you can. This is what makes the creative process so beautiful. It’s also what makes imitation such a terrible waste of your talents. There will always be someone who can do it better than you but no-one, who can do it the same.

What the world needs from you and what society expects are two very different things. One you need to trust in. The other you need to tell fuck off!

Why we feel the need to map out our entire lives from the age of thirteen is beyond me. Life is meant to be a melody. Yet so many of us get stuck on one note. That’s not a beautiful song. That’s just noise. Or put another way, a really shitty way to live. You have to allow the melody to play out through both the high notes and the low. That’s what creates a beautiful life.


3 x Quotes From Others:

“Your passion is for you. Your purpose is for others. Your passion makes you happy. But when you use your passion to make a difference in someone else’s life, that’s a purpose.” – Jay Shetty

There are so many people who don’t know what they want. And I think that, in this world, that’s the only thing you have to know — exactly what you want.Agnes Martin

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


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This insightful Tim Ferris podcast episode with Brad Feld on The Art of Unplugging, Carving Your Own Path, and Riding the Entrepreneurial Rollercoaster. I was particularly interested in Brad’s advice on dealing with depression and how to find the right therapist. Quotes and notes below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • “Do your words match your actions?”
  • “Brad, they can’t kill you and they can’t eat you. Suit up.” — Len Fassler
  • “The first day of therapy with a new therapist is worse than the first day of school.” 
  • I was able to break down my shame around depression gradually by talking about it. The more I did the more comfortable I became with having had it. 
  • Having honest conversations with other people who told me that this was the first real conversation they’d ever been able to have about their struggles with depression made me feel like what I had to say had value. This created a positive feedback loop that obliterated my shame. Not lessen it, obliterate it completely! My narrative shifted. I just started to think ok it’s depression – not gonna hide from it. We’re human. We can either deal with it or not. 
  • To be willing to go deep on yourself. To keep recognising we are all flawed. The more we can do this without shame the better. Ask yourself, How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want? What it is not being said? What is being said that you’re not listening to? 
  • It’s true for most people. We are in complete denial about the ways in which we create our own unhappiness. 
  • HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT THERAPIST – GET A REFERRAL FOR A REFERRAL. I recommend finding someone – a friend or colleague who has done therapy and get their recommendation (or if you have a GP you’re comfortable with – most of them will have a network of therapists for referral). Go to their therapist for a referral. Get them to spend an hour with you so they can refer to someone that in their professional opinion believe is appropriate for you.

2 – This interesting BBC article – The mindset you need to succeed at every goal by David Robson. The article explores what it means to have a strategic mindset and how you can use that to achieve your goals more easily. Well worth reading! As quoted,

“The construct – called the “strategic mindset” – describes the tendency to question and refine your current approach in the face of setbacks and challenges. While others diligently follow the same convoluted path, people with the strategic mindset are constantly looking for a more efficient route forwards. “It helps them figure out how to direct their efforts more effectively,” says Patricia Chen at the National University of Singapore. And Chen’s new research shows that it may just spell the difference between success or failure.” 


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

This week I get to spend it enjoying the confines of a hotel room in San Francisco! Such are the joys of layover travel during the COVID era.

Anyway, to make me feel slightly less homesick I thought I’d share this short story of when I was learning the ropes as a brand new father nearly two years now. May it serve as a waring for all new parents everywhere…

So I was happily going about the task of wiping my son’s bottom by gently lifting his legs up by his ankles and pushing them into his body (so his knees were pressed into his chest), before he happily let rip!

It seems the pressure applied plus the liquid consistency of his stool created the perfect conditions for something called projectile shitting.

That’s right!

Shit flew all across our windowsill – upon which we had positioned him and his changing table – travelling at least 4 feet from his anus before completely covering our favourite framed wedding picture.

I’m guessing there’s a cruel metaphor somewhere about what his plans were for our marriage. Best to ignore that.


Till next week…

Have a Happy F***ing Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all:

What’s your best (or worst) projectile story?


(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 POSTS:

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 27/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 20/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 13/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 06/07/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 29/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 22/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 15/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20

Motivational Mondays – 13/07/20

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Motivational Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the most depressing day of the week. (Or at least start it off in a slightly better fashion.)

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

As always I’ve finished with 1 something silly to hopefully make you all smile. 

Love to all X

(To my 2 regular readers: you’ll notice I’ve been playing around with the title. Do you like Motivational Mondays? If not, do you have any other ideas about a good title for this weekly post? If so please do leave them in the comments at the bottom. I’d be grateful for your suggestions.)


4 x Thoughts From Me:

One question to check if you have grown as a person: “Do I still believe the same things I did a year ago?” If the answer is yes then you haven’t grown. Growth comes from challenging your own beliefs so you may come to a greater understanding. You can always come to a greater understanding. 

We would all do well to think of seeing a therapist in the same way we do a doctor. We rarely think twice about visiting the doctor when we have physical pain we don’t understand. Why do we hesitate asking for professional help when we can’t understand the reasons behind our emotional pain?

The beauty of a moment comes from its impermanence. The moment you cling to it, it’s destroyed. 

Crying does not mean you’re not capable of dealing with your emotion. It means you are dealing with your emotions. 


3 x Quotes From Others:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King

“It’s time to stop denying the dark side of our nature. We’re all sick twisted fucks to some extent. The denial of that fact only encourages more destruction. It’s only by accepting it that we can bring it into the light.” – Mark Manson 

“Whatever you’re doing, a sense of superiority will make you worse at it. Humility, on the other hand, will make you better. The moment you think you’ve got it all figured out, your progress stops. Instead, continue to advance and improve by reminding yourself how much more there will always be to discover. Confidence is positive and empowering, but arrogance is deadly. Be confident, but not at the expense of your respect for others. Don’t burn up all your energy proving how great you are. Invest your time and energy being thoughtful and helpful. See the victories not as proof of your supremacy, but as opportunities to offer more value to life. See the defeats not as personal affronts, but as chances to learn and grow stronger. Take care not to waste your time in delusions of grandeur. Embrace the power of confident humility, and live well.” – Writer Ralph Marston on Confident Humility


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This Tim Ferris podcast with Hugh Jackman on Best Decisions, Daily Routines, The 85% Rule, Favorite Exercises, Mind Training, and Much More. I particularly loved their discussion about trusting your intuition. My personal notes and quotes below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • Don’t settle. Find the thing that gives you the energy to go further. 
  • Your religion should be in your actions.
  • You cannot over invest in education – if you’re ever in doubt of what to do go and learn more. 
  • Everyone needs to be appreciated and to be seen for who they are and what they give. 
  • Always keep your word even if it doesn’t suit you!
  • It’s the most important thing to work out in your life – how to trust your intuition. When you have that gut feeling. Go with it. Even if it doesn’t make sense. 
  • I had much more fear of being on the wrong path than I did of any failure on the right one. 
  • You shower every day without complaining. Meditation and exercise need to be looked at the same way. 
  • The 85% Rule: Aim to workout or perform at 85%. Going at 100% doesn’t work. You actually perform better because you relax that little bit.
  • The art of living is being sensitive to the little things, to the detail.
  • The best of the best remain coached till the end of their careers. Why wouldn’t we employ that for (the art of) living.  

2 – This article from CEO Magazine titled: The everyday device in your home killing hundreds around the globe. Can you guess what that device is? This article will wake you up to the reality of how dangerous your mobile phone really is, especially for your mental health. We all need to be spending far less time on our phones and be far more cautious about putting them in the hands of our children. If you don’t have the time to read it, then have a read of these quotes:

The number of pedestrians killed on US roads has risen by a staggering 51% since 2009. In 2017, pedestrian fatalities in Australia jumped by 20% in a year, with police blaming the stupidity of smartphones.

The fact is, we are, as a species, becoming addicted to both the dopamine hits of satisfaction that our smartphones give us hundreds of times a day, while being simultaneously assaulted by the dangerous levels of cortisol they send coursing through our bodies.

Anyone over the age of 10 is already unable to imagine a world without smartphones, and as they grow into adolescence, they are likely to be gifted one of these dangerous yet vital devices by their own parents… This is “like giving them cocaine or heroin”, according to David Gillespie, the author of Teen Brain – Why Screens Are Making Your Teenager Depressed, Anxious And Prone to Lifelong Addictive Illnesses – And How to Stop it Now.

“Between 2007 and now, the rates of teenage pregnancy, and alcohol and cigarette use by teens all dropped – they’re all about half of what they were, it’s a huge achievement and I don’t know why we’re not talking more about it,” he says. “The rates of anxiety and depression for teenagers should also be halving but, instead, the rates of those things in teens have actually doubled over the same period. 

These devices were designed from day one, by Steve Jobs and company, to be “beautiful, easy to use and hard to give up”. And, knowing how addictive they would become, Jobs famously declared that he wouldn’t let his own children near them...


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

My son has been a little confused about the difference between pooing and farting recently.

So much so that every time he farts, he looks at us and says, “poo poo.”

The first time he did this, we got everything ready and changed his perfectly clean nappy. 

The second time we were fooled again so tried explaining to him what the difference between a fart and poo is. 

He thought this was hilarious.

The third time he said, “poo poo,” we had the foresight to check his nappy first.

Still nothing.

My wife looked at me and said, “He’s the boy who cried poo.”

Brilliant. 


Till next week…

Have a Happy Fucking Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all:

What do you cry about that isn’t true?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POSTS:

Motivational Mondays – 06/07/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 29/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 22/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 15/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 25/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 18/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 11/05/20

How Parents Can Promote The Evolution Of Feminism Mindfully

Following on from my previous post – Why Crying Like A Little Girl Is The Manliest Thing You Can Do – I want to talk a little more about how that relates to feminism.

I feel we need to be very careful about what we tell ALL children, including our young girls. To make sure the false narratives that have so visibly divided the sexes throughout history, doesn’t continue to be the narrative that writes our children’s future.  

It’s a well worn discussion that bears repeating, and for that reason I’ll keep my thoughts and this post short. That said I do want to raise a point that’s maybe been missed in our attempts to rewrite the story for our future girls. 

With regards to the feminist movement in particular, we need to be especially careful about how we manage its evolution. 

When I think about the way in which mainstream media has started to reflect this changing narrative, I wonder if we are unwittingly going down a dangerous path. 

Not because we are telling young girls to stand up for themselves more. 

Not because we are telling women they’re every bit as capable as men. 

Not because we are telling them to be their own heroines – not to expect that they will be saved by some bullshit knight in shining armour.

No!

These are undeniably good things to teach our young girls in order to find greater equality going forward. 

What I’m taking about is something more subtle.

The well worn narrative of what it means to be a man – macho and independent – to not need anybody’s help. Specifically that asking for help is a sign of weakness (Something I talked about at length in my previous post).

This is exactly the kind of narrative responsible for the statistic that men are 3 to 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women, despite being nearly half as likely to develop depression. For the undeniable fact that us ‘macho men’ are actually less emotionally resilient than women.

I think it’s this narrative that has put distance between many of today’s male leaders and their own hearts. It’s acting in the pretence of what society believes to be strong that is, in no small way, dividing nations and destroying our earth.

There’s nothing wrong with challenging the narrative women are less capable than men which, of course, is complete BS, but to teach our girls the same things we’ve been teaching our boys is not a smart move. 

The way we teach girls to have greater emotional intelligence. To pick them up and hold them when they cry. To let them understand the importance of knowing their emotions intimately. 

This is a great thing. 

We need to teach and show our boys more of this. Not women less. 

To teach them not to cry and be like a man, or grow a pair, so to speak, would be a disaster. 

A world in which neither sex is able to properly process or access their own emotions – where girls are told ‘not to cry’ – is a world we cannot allow. 

We must stop denying our children their true nature.

(As always I welcome ALL opinions and thoughts. I’m always keen for a dialogue and to be told where and in what ways I’m wrong so I may grow. Thank for taking the time to read.)


SOURCES:

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190313-why-more-men-kill-themselves-than-women

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4035568/

NOTES FROM MY JOURNAL – JUNE 2020 – On The Value Of Honesty, How To Move Like A Winner, The Ultimate Form Of Taking Responsibility and More…

Hello lovely readers and welcome to my monthly newsletter! 

Included is a round up of what I’ve been writing and reading, plus a collection of thoughts from my journal. 

I hope you enjoy!


WHAT I’VE BEEN WRITING:

A Story For My Children About The Value Of Honesty, Love And Forgiveness

A letter I wrote to my son, 2 years ago now, before he was born. It shares a difficult life story demonstrating why I believe honesty to be such an important value. I posted it as a reminder after finding out my gorgeous wife is pregnant with our second. Although it’s addressed to the first this letter is for both of them. I also hope the rest of you lovely readers might gain something from what was one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn…

The Ultimate Form Of Taking Responsibility

Inspired by the following quote: “Enthusiasm is worth 25 IQ points” from Kevin Kelly‘s viral post ‘68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice.’ As I wrote, “We don’t alway get to do what we want to or, indeed, choose what life has in store for us. But if we make out that these things are what we wanted. That the struggle we find ourself in is what was meant for us, so we can learn and grow into the resilient mother fucker we were meant to be. Well, I suspect that such an attitude might just be the ultimate form of taking responsibility for your life.”

Move Like A Turtle, Move Like A Winner

Been experimenting a little on the blog this month. This is one example of a short post I had a bit of fun with.

An Apology To My Heart

Another short/experimental post inspired by my struggle with depression in the past.

People As Mirrors

A post inspired by my reading of Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh. In it I explore the idea of viewing people as mirrors and how that can help us reflect the best in each other.

What Does It Take To Find Inner Peace?

Another short ramble from yours truly.

Happy F***ing Mondays

A new weekly newsletter I’ve started putting together in an attempt to rewrite the narrative that Mondays are the most depressing day of the week. It contains 3 thoughts from me, 3 quotes from others and 3 things I’ve been reading, watching and/or listening to during the week. It finishes with something silly to hopefully make you lovely readers smile. 

Happy F***ing Mondays – 29/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 22/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 15/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20


WHAT I’VE BEEN READING:

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

Peace is Every Step is a beautifully written book on the power of living mindfully, being fully engaged with the present moment. Whether sitting at traffic lights, eating, sitting, or washing the dishes, Nhat Hanh demonstrates that peace and happiness is available to us at any time. He provides exercises to increase our awareness of our own body and mind through conscious breathing, which can bring immediate joy and peace. It’s the second time I’ve read this book. I’m currently in the process of turning my notes into the subject of a future favourite toilet book post. Stay tuned!

This BBC article: A letter to our newborn American daughter.

Written by a foreign correspondent living in New York for his newborn daughter in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. It resonated with me for a number of reasons, in particular when thinking about the future our children will inherit from us. As he summarised, “It’s not your job to fix the world’s problems for us, it’s our urgent responsibility to fix them for you.” I hope we can all heed this message.


RANDOM THOUGHTS FROM MY JOURNAL:

Why parenting is good for you: You become comfortable covered in piss and shit. 

Every human mind should come with a warning label: Easily Infected With Bullshit 

When thinking in terms of being right you’ve lost. When thinking in terms of trying to be better you’re a winner. This is true regardless of the outcome. 

Forcing your views on others doesn’t make them right. 

Let’s not say we don’t believe in god because of science and then only choose to acknowledge the science that suits us. The truth is what matters, not your beliefs.

People reflect the world that surrounds them. They often act like mirrors. If the world stops paying attention to them they lose interest in it. If it treats them harshly they act out in anger. Pay attention to all those you encounter. They deserve it. Treat all with love and compassion. They need it. We all do.

Forget to-do lists. Make a get to-do list instead. 

The change the world needs from you is for you to change. Not for you to change the world. 

What if instead of asking our children, ‘What do you want to do when you’re older?’, we asked, ‘How do you want to help the world when you’re older?’.

The arguments you have in your head are pointless if you only have them with yourself. Speak up or let go.

There is a lesson for us in acceptance every time it rains. 

Sometimes you can stand in the rain, and be bathed in sunlight all the same. 

Laughing at someone else shows your own insecurity. Conversely laughing at yourself demonstrates confidence. 

Isn’t it funny how the most judgemental people are also the ones least capable of laughing at themselves?

One of the best ways to honour life is to love your own. 

A good time is worth far more than any material possession. 

What happened in the past no longer matters because it’s already done. What matters is that we make amends for our past in the present moment for the future world. 

Don’t allow the world to make you “normal.” You’re better than that. Trying to be “normal” like everyone else requires far too much effort anyway. Your natural self is far more interesting. Let him/her free instead.

If you want to be an expert at something it’s best never to consider yourself one. That way you’ll always be open to learning and growing. 

Why we need to give ourselves real problems – if you don’t have any real problems your mind will create them. Those problems – the ones created by the mind. They’re the hardest to solve. Give yourself real problems – to help others and the world at large – and your mind won’t be concerned with creating problems for itself. 

A good person implies something black or white. You either are or you aren’t. This fixes your mindset. You belief you’re a good person and go at lengths to avoid being proven otherwise. You also become defensive about that belief. You feel threatened whenever this comes into question and so avoid any sort of discussion or activity that might call that into question. You avoid the very conversations you need to hear so you may become a better person.

There’s always light at the end of a tunnel. Remember that when it’s at its darkest. 

Happy F***ing Mondays – 22/06/20

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Happy F***ing Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the shittiest day of the week. (Or at least start it off in a slightly less shit fashion.)

This week it contains 3 thoughts from me, 4 quotes from others and 3 things I’ve been reading, watching and/or listening to this week. 

As always I’ve finished with one something silly to hopefully make you all smile. 

Love to all X


3 x Thoughts I’ve Been Thinking:

Don’t allow the world to make you “normal.” You’re better than that. Trying to be “normal” like everyone else requires far too much effort anyway. Your natural self is far more interesting. Let that person free instead. 

There’s always light at the end of a tunnel. Remember that when it’s at its darkest.

A good time is worth far more than any material possession. 


4 x Quotes I’ve been Pondering:

“Teach me neither to cry for the moon nor over spilt milk” – King George V had these words hanging in his library in Buckingham palace 

“There are thousands of people out there with the same degree you have; when you get a job, there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul. People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a résumé than to craft a spirit. But a résumé is cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the chest X ray and it doesn’t look so good, or when the doctor writes “prognosis, poor.” … You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.” – Author Anna Quindlen from her book A Short Guide to a Happy Life

“Why would I think about missing a shot that I haven’t taken yet? – NBA superstar Michael Jordan on self-doubt

“Flatter me and I may not believe you. Criticise me and I may not like you. Ignore me and I may not forgive you. Encourage me and I will never forget you.” – William Ward


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

1 – This enlightening TED Talks daily podcast episode with Ibram X. Kendi (author of How to Be an AntiRacist) on the difference between being not racist and antiracist. If I could get anyone to listen to one thing this week it would be this podcast discussion with author and historian Ibram X. Kendi. “In this vital conversation, he defines the transformative concept of antiracism to help us more clearly recognize, take responsibility for and reject prejudices in our public policies, workplaces and personal beliefs. Learn how you can actively use this awareness to uproot injustice and inequality in the world — and replace it with love.”

My notes from the pod:

  • The heartbeat of racism has always been denial. The sound beat has always been “I’m not a racist” 
  • We are either being racist or antiracist 
  • The heart beat of antiracism is admission. 
  • The only way to overcome racism is to be admit how we are/have been and ask how we can not be/be less so. 
  • To be anti racist is to recognise there can only be two reasons for racial inequality: Either there is something wrong with the people or there is something wrong with power and policy. 
  • If you believe that groups are equal then the only reason for inequality must be power and policy. If you spend your time correcting the imbalances of power and policy this is what it means to be anti racist. 
  • To have intelligent self interest is to understand that an equal world suits all of us!!! We would all be much better off. 
  • You either believe black lives matter or you don’t. The opposite to protesting is not protesting.
  • We need to recognise our own mistakes. We are addicted to racism. This is why we are in denial. Most people are in denial of their own addictions. Admitting your addiction is the first step but then you must then act. Admission allows us to make the changes without resisting them.
  • We spend too much time thinking about ourselves and far too little about how our own actions and words make others feel. 
  • George Floyd’s death demonstrated powerfully how black People are often made to feel.
  • We should use our feelings to put into place the policy changes required to make permanent and lasting change. You cannot stop acting after simply doing one good deed. We need to make changes of a lifetime. 
  • There’s nothing wrong with the people – The policies aren’t serving the people properly. 
  • Progress always happens through demonstrations and resistance. 
  • In order to bring about change we have to believe in change. 

2 – This brilliant Happiness Lab podcast episode: Demonic Possesions with Dr. Laurie Santos. In it Dr Laurie Santos examines why paying for experiences, such as going on a vacation or to a concert, is better for your happiness than buying material possessions.


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

The other day my wife and I were getting ready to go out for our weekly date night while leaving our son for the evening with our helper.

As he saw we were about to leave he started to cry.

We both melted.

“It’s ok sweetheart”, we said. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”

This carried on for a little while before we decided to finally leave.

Just before we did, he spoke.

“No apple juice”, he cried as he held up his sippy cup.

We left.

Our egos smashed to pieces.


Till next time,

Happy Fucking Mondays Everybody!

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

One Bonus question for you all:

A lack of what beverage makes you cry?


PREVIOUS HAPPY MONDAY POSTS:

Happy F***ing Mondays – 15/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 25/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 18/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 11/05/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 15/06/20

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Happy Fucking Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the shittiest day of the week. (Or at least start it off in a slightly less shit fashion.)

First up I want to wish my beautiful mother and number one fan since birth, a very happy (no expletives) birthday!! (I hope you and my 3 other readers enjoy todays post. Also sorry mum, I know you raised me better than to swear but what can I say? My other readers love it!)

This week it contains 3 thoughts from me, 5 quotes from others and 3 things I’ve been reading, watching and/or listening to this week. 

I’ve finished with one something silly to hopefully make you all smile. 

Love to all X


3 x Thoughts I’ve Been Thinking:

The change the world needs from you is for you to change. Not for you to change the world. 

What if instead of asking our children, “What do you want to do when you’re older?”, we asked, “How do you want to help the world when you’re older?”.

Forget todo lists. Make a get todo list instead. 


5 x Quotes I’ve been Pondering:

“Throughout life, from childhood, from school, until we die, we are taught to compare ourselves with another. Yet when I compare myself with another I am destroying myself. In an ordinary school, where there are a lot of boys, when one boy is compared with another who is very clever, who is the head of the class, what is actually taking place? You are destroying the boy. That’s what we are doing throughout life. Now, can we live without comparison to anybody? This means there is no high, no low. There is not the one who is superior and the other who is inferior. You are actually what you are and to understand what you are, this process of comparison must come to an end. If I’m always comparing myself with some saint or some teacher, some businessman, writer, poet, and all the rest, what has happened to me, what have I done? I only compare in order to gain, in order to achieve, in order to become. But when I don’t compare, I am beginning to understand what I am. Beginning to understand what I am is far more fascinating, far more interesting. It goes beyond all this stupid comparison. To understand yourself is the beginning of wisdom.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti (Source Credit: TheEnlightenedMind622)

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.” – E. E. Cummings (Source Credit: https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/09/25/e-e-cummings-advice/)

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”Carl Jung. (Source Credit: https://www.elitedaily.com/life/what-you-hate-about-yourself/1024464)

War would end if the dead could return.” – Stanley Baldwin

“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I found. I found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk, that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” – (Gandalf from Lord of the Ring written by J. R. R. Tolkien).


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

1 – This brilliant podcast episode: How to Kick Bad Habits (and Start Good Ones) from The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos.

My notes from the pod:

  • Willpower doesn’t really work. When you exert willpower you are thinking about the thing you don’t want to do and in doing so you give that thing energy. It’s self defeating. 
  • Routine is the secret to changing our bad behaviours. 
  • To make your routine willpower free you need to form the habit. 
  • The first critical part of habit formation = rewards
  • The second critical component = the routine (A set of specific steps that leads to a reward.)
  • The third critical component = the cue or the trigger (this can be time of day. Your mood. Your location. The people you’re with.)
  • The third component, the cue, is where we can control or at least help control whether we make a good or a bad habit. 
  • Nearly half of our waking day is on autopilot. Constantly governed by cues and context. This gives us a powerful opportunity to change. If we can use our consciousness minds to exert control over the context we find ourselves in, we can shift our bad behaviours to the ones we want. 

2 – This timely Tim Ferris Podcast with Coach George Raveling on This Unique Moment in Time, How to Practice Self-Leadership, Navigating Difficult Conversations, and More in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic death. Hearing about his need to have a “Stop Strategy”, as a successful, 82-year-old black man in modern American (just in case he’s pulled over by the police), brought home just how easy I’ve had it as a white man and how far we still have to go to right the wrongs of racial prejudice and inequality. Highly recommend listening.

My favourite quotes from the episode:

  • We are two sided. We are the problem and we are the solution. – DON’T FORGET THAT
  • The most important conversations we can have openly are the ones we only have with ourselves. Let your inner voice out so we can understand. 
  • The two most important words in the English language are we and us. 
  • There is nothing more fundamental than a life. 
  • What is it that would make one human completely disregards and disrespect another human life? That would disrespect the most precious gift of all. 
  • Looking through the eyes of others will give us a far more balanced view of the world. 
  • “If a man or women hasn’t found something they are willing to die for perhaps they’re not fit to live” – Martin Luther king
  • If we don’t understand our past in the present there will be no future 
  • If you can’t lead yourself how can you lead anyone else?
  • We have a responsibility to lead ourselves during these times of turmoil. 
  • The system has been built to build average people. 
  • What is it that I don’t know, that I need to know?
  • I will fully commit to being a positive change maker /agent for as many lives as possible. Take this pledge and live it. 
  • Everything starts with changing the self 
  • Don’t give a statement. Give a message. Tell a story. 

3 – Started following this comic called The Far Side by Gary Larson. His cartoon ran daily in newspapers from 1980 to 1995. The Far Side went from garnering controversy to becoming one of the most beloved cartoons of its time. Until now, it has never been offered online. Suffice to say his work is brilliantly funny. You can have regular postings of his work delivered to your respective Facebook and/or Instagram feeds by following The Far Side page (either search or click on links)!


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

So a friend of mine asked for a refreshing gin and tonic with lime the other day.

I said, “With line!?”

I continued, “Would you like that straight or with a twist?”

(If you didn’t get that then please re-read carefully! Also sorry, I couldn’t think of anything better).


Till next time,

Happy Fucking Mondays Everybody!

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

One Bonus question for you all:

How do you like your lines?

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Happy Fucking Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the shittiest day of the week. (Or at least start it off in a slightly less shit fashion.)

To my regular readers who almost certainly don’t care that I missed last week – I’m sorry – I was busy flying, believe it or not! I did manage to post my monthly roundup though – Notes From My Journal – which can be found here.

This week, to make up for missing last, it contains 5 thoughts from me, 5 quotes from others and 3 things I’ve been reading, watching and/or listening to this week. 

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

Hope you enjoy!


5 x Thoughts I’ve Been Thinking:

When thinking in terms of being right, you’ve lost. When thinking in terms of trying to learn and be better, you’ve won. This is true regardless of the outcome. 

Forcing your views on others doesn’t make you right. 

The biggest mistake people make is spending their whole life trying to build up their ego instead of letting it go. If you can learn to do that you’ll be truly unstoppable. 

True peace comes from changing your relationship to your own mind. It has little, if nothing, to do with external reality. 

One reason why parenting is good for you: You become comfortable covered in piss and shit.


5 x Quotes I’ve been Pondering:

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” – The scientist, astronomer, and author, Carl Sagan.

“Each second we live in a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that never was before and will never be again. And what do we teach our children in school? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all of the world there is no other child exactly like you. In the millions of years that have passed there has never been another child like you… You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is like you, a marvel? You must cherish one another. You must work—we must all work—to make this world worthy of its children.” – The cellist, composer, and conductor, Pablo Casals.

“When everything seems to be going against you remember, that an aeroplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford

“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” – Abraham Lincoln 

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.” – Vietnam War. Admiral James Stockdale 


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

1 – This brilliant article : 5 Ways to Build Resilience and Conquer Adversity by Mark Manson. I’ve been a big fan of his writing ever since I read his first book: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. Both are worth your time.

5 quotes from the article:

Psychological resilience doesn’t come from positive feelings. It comes from leveraging your negative feelings. Resilience is the ability to create positive adaptations to negative events.

The easiest way to overcome that anxiety is not to get rid of risk, it’s simply to make the risks worth something. Find some cause, some mission, some deeper purpose to your actions.

Those who are prepared for pain are the most resilient in the face of pain. Those who expect challenges are the most ready to face challenges. Therefore, an optimal mindset towards life is a dual-sided approach: an outward pessimist — “Life is fucking hard and the world is shit” — but internal optimist — “yet I can handle it, and I’ll be better for it.”

When I think about the most resilient people I’ve ever known, what strikes me about them is that they don’t just invite struggle into their lives, they adopt an identity around their struggles. They allow themselves to be defined by their struggles.

If you are currently suffering, the most valuable thing you can do is reach out and connect with someone, talk about your problems, and share your pain. It’s the most necessary ingredient to coping with any sort of psychological trauma.

2. This insightful Mark Hyman podcast on The Science Of Creating Happiness with Laurie Santos.

Some of my notes from the show:

‘We have become human doers instead of human beings. We forgot it’s in being – savouring the present moment – that we find true peace and happiness.’

‘Studies have shown that writing down 3 to 5 things a day you’re grateful for has been linked to significant improvements in happiness within just two weeks.’

‘Being of service to others – giving more to others – doing charity makes you happier over time because you are connecting often with people less fortunate. This helps you appreciate that what you have is enough.’

‘Never in our history have we had an object so compelling as the smart phone. It’s taking an attentional cost that’s taking us away from presence that we need for our wellbeing.’

‘Rates of depression and anxiety spiked around 2007 (and have stayed there) – this correlates with the invention of the first iPhone.’ 

‘Post-Traumatic-Growth’ – great way of rephrasing how you responded to difficult periods/trauma in your life.

3. This excellent Tim Ferris podcast with Jim Dethmer on How to Shift from Victim Consciousness, Reduce Drama, Practice Candor, Be Fully Alive, and More.

Some of my notes/quotes from the pod:

“You don’t find peace through understanding, you find peace through acceptance.” 

“If we could think our ways out of our suffering we would have done it already.”

“When dealing with suffering often acceptance beats thinking. Be present and allow your emotions to manifest.” 

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

‘The addiction to being right is so strong in us – our ego doesn’t believe it can survive if it’s not. So we find it incredibly difficult to move past our fixed beliefs regardless if they are right or wrong.’

‘You want a life of full aliveness – it is heavily rooted in integrity. In feeling whole.’

‘So many of us destroy our aliveness through pretending.’


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

For some reason my son has been having a little trouble pronouncing the ‘tr’ at the start of the word ‘truck’, replacing it with what can only be described as a ‘f’ sound instead.

This is particularly strange given he’s never had any trouble with words like ‘tractor.’

Equally he’s taken to dropping the p from the end of the word ‘dump.’

We tried hard not to give attention when we first heard him proudly announce “dum-Fuck” as he held up a toy dump-truck in his hand.

This went well until his grandparents asked him what he was holding when on a Zoom call with our entire family in attendance…

‘Dum-Fuck’ is now his favourite toy and word.


Till next time,

Happy Fucking Mondays Everybody!

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

One Bonus question for you all:

What’s your favourite toy and word?

NOTES FROM MY JOURNAL – MAY 2020 – On Dealing With Depression, A Tribute To A Boy I Never Knew, How To Cultivate A Growth Mindset and More…

Hello fine readers and welcome to my monthly newsletter! 

Included is a round up of what I’ve been writing and reading, plus a collection of thoughts from yours truly.

I hope you enjoy!


WHAT I’VE BEEN WRITING:

How A Fixed Mindset Led To Years Of Depression And How A Growth Mindset Set Me Free.

A personal post that looks back at some of my difficulties dealing with depression and anxiety – specifically about how they could be attributed to having had a fixed mindset. I go on to explain how a growth mindset helped to change my life. I wrote this following my reading of Carol S. Dweck‘s brilliant book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Through her research Dweck demonstrates just how limiting a fixed mindset can be in stalling motivation and progress, especially following failure or when facing challenges. Conversely she demonstrates that those with a growth mindset see failure not as a confirmation of being unable or unintelligent, but as something from which they can learn and improve. (Highly highly recommended reading).

In Honour Of A Boy I Never Knew

Another personal post I wrote shortly after hearing some extremely tragic news about a young boy who committed suicide close to where we live. As I wrote:

‘Living with a depression that drives people to take their own lives is something very few of us will ever be able to fully comprehend. What I can say with some degree of certainty, however, is judgement won’t help those in the battle to save their own lives. They need our love, compassion and understanding. They need our help.’

At the bottom of the post I left links to a number of mental health support lines and websites.

9 Golden Rules For Cultivating A Growth Mindset

Following on from the above post: How A Fixed Mindset Led To Years Of Depression And How A Growth Mindset Set Me Free, I decided to put together this list of 9 Golden Rules for Cultivating a Growth Mindset, that I compiled from my notes of Carol S. Dweck‘s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Why A Basic Understanding Of The Mind Helps To Let Go

A short post on some thoughts about why a basic understanding of how the mind works can help to let go of difficult thoughts (or any thought for that matter).

Happy Silly Mondays

A new weekly newsletter I’ve started putting together in an attempt to rewrite the narrative that Mondays are the most depressing day of the week. It contains 3 thoughts from me, 3 quotes from others and 3 things I’ve been reading, watching and/or listening to during the week. It finishes with something silly to hopefully make you lovely readers smile. 

Happy Silly Mondays – 25/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 18/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 11/05/20


WHAT I’VE BEEN READING:

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury

Great book that dishes out indispensable parenting advice on dealing with difficult toddler behaviours while fostering a respectful relationship at the same time. It argues that respectful, calm and confident parenting that acknowledges and accepts children’s emotions and experiences, empowers them to come to terms with own development.

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

Peace is Every Step is a beautifully written book on the power of living mindfully, being fully engaged with the present moment. Whether sitting at traffic lights, eating, sitting, or washing the dishes, Nhat Hanh demonstrates that peace and happiness is available to us at any time. He provides exercises to increase our awareness of our own body and mind through conscious breathing, which can bring immediate joy and peace. It’s the second time I’ve read this book. I’m currently in the process of turning my notes into the subject of a future favourite toilet book post. Stay tuned!


RANDOM THOUGHTS FROM MY JOURNAL:

Every moment is an opportunity to put yourself back on track. Every moment! This is an amazing thing to think about when you start to notice yourself drifting from the present. Simply take a breath and then smile as you exhale. Coming back to the present is coming back to life.

Strength of character is simply the ability to remain true to yourself when things are going against you.

The most important resource that you’re giving away and that gets stolen from you every day = attention. 

Success isn’t achieving something. Success is enjoying achieving something. Win or lose. Success is about enjoyment. Not money. Not titles. Not prestige. Not being right. Not fame. It’s enjoyment. It’s loving what you’re doing. If you truly do, the other stuff won’t matter. 

Seeing your reality as it really is, is a skill you have to practise. 

Having a routine = A commitment to improvement everyday.

Praise is the enemy of progress if handed out thoughtlessly. Praise should be earned through hard work. Not because someone is naturally good at something. That will prevent them for working towards greatness.

Often our feelings – especially those based on insecurity – want nothing more than to simply be acknowledged.

In not addressing our own suffering we cause it in others

You can never be perfect but you can always be better

If you live in the present moment you realise the problem you have in your head is either something you can do about or it’s something you can’t. In either case continuing to worry about it achieves nothing. Act or let go. 

Don’t make the mistake in thinking what others want from you is what you want to give. 

You might never change someone’s mind on the spot, but by having the conversation you can, at least, plant the seed. It often takes a long time for a seed to sprout let alone blossom. Keep having the conversation

I would argue that the single biggest problem in the world has nothing to do with politics or religion, the environment or disease. I would ascertain that the single biggest problem we have, a problem we need to solve if we are to overcome all the other ones, is one of the mind. Specifically the dangerous condition we have to fix our beliefs. 

The best thing you can do to honour life is pay attention to it 

If you keep increasing demands on yourself you’re going to stall. You need to find the optimum amount of lift in your life without adding too much weight. 

How A Fixed Mindset Led To Years Of Depression And How A Growth Mindset Set Me Free.

“A few modern philosophers assert that individual intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased. We must protect & react against this brutal pessimism… With practice, training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgement and literally to become more intelligent than we were before.”ALFRED BINET (early 1900s)

I’d lived with a fixed mindset for years.

It was a mindset driven by a deep seated belief of not being good enough. Not being smart enough.

Simply not being enough.

I told myself all sorts of lies based off this. Lies that sounded so strongly I became crippled with depression and anxiety.

My mind tortured my heart until it shut off completely.

I’m happy to say I’m in a much better place now.

I’m more productive than I’ve ever been. I’m calmer, more confident. My thinking is clearer. I trust in my heart again.

I’m beginning to wake up to who I truly am.

One of the reasons, I believe, is an understanding that nothing is fixed. Nothing is permanent.

Through true insight gained from asking for help, I’ve been able to gradually change the harmful narrative I’d spent over a decade strengthening.

I didn’t realise it then, not in these terms at least, but one of the major reasons I managed to overcome depression was because I started to cultivate a growth mindset.


For those who’ve never heard the termonolgy before, Maria Popova from her blog post: Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives explains it well:

A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.

A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. Out of these two mindsets, which we manifest from a very early age, springs a great deal of our behaviour, our relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately our capacity for happiness.[1]

Much of our understanding on the idea stems from the work of Stanford psychologist Carol S. Dweck as outlined in her brilliant book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Through her research Dweck demonstrates just how limiting a fixed mindset can be in stalling motivation and progress, especially following failure or when facing challenges. Conversely she demonstrates that those with a growth mindset see failure not as a confirmation of being unable or unintelligent, but as something from which they can learn and improve.

At the crux of her argument is the idea that those with a growth mindset understand just how valuable effort is over any sort of innate talent.

They understand effort = intelligence, and so fall in love with the process of improvement. On the other hand those with a fixed mindset are so worried about what failure might say about them, they come to dread doing what they have to in order to succeed. In extreme cases they avoid doing all together so as to avoid the pain of failure.

“This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”

When I began to think back over my own life in these terms, I began to see how damaging a fixed mindset had been throughout my life.

Failure to me was confirmation I was one.

I hated doing certain work from a young age. Languages, in particular, were difficult for me. I was led to believe, by many teachers nonetheless, I wasn’t good at English and/or Languages.

The result?

I didn’t bother putting any effort into those subjects. I remember thinking what’s the point. I’m not any good so might as well concentrate on what I am.

The trouble is it worked in reversed too!

I was regularly told how good I was at math – that it was something I should pursue because it will open many doors. This was drilled home to me.

The result?

I completely lost interest in a subject I once loved. I still managed to scrape an A during my GCSE’s, but much to my father’s disappointment, I decided not to pursue it as an A level. I didn’t want people to find out, that if I put in the effort and failed, I might not be that good after all.

My parents, who I know believed were doing the right thing, didn’t realise how harmful praising my natural abilities were. It turns out that praising a child’s natural ability, or telling them how clever they are, is extremely damaging because it fixes a child’s mindset.

As Dweck notes,

“The ability praise pushed students right into the fixed mindset, and they showed all the signs of it, too: When we gave them a choice, they rejected a challenging new task that they could learn from. They didn’t want to do anything that could expose their flaws and call into question their talent… In contrast, when students were praised for effort, 90 percent of them wanted the challenging new task that they could learn from.”

I’ll tell you a story of another teacher who never made mention of my abilities in English. She had me moved into her English class for the top peers in our age group (even though I belonged in the bottom). She made sure I sat at the front and paid keen attention (she was somewhat terrifying which helped). Despite not putting much effort into my coursework during those years, because of her, because of what I learnt through the effort I was forced to put in, I achieved B’s in both English Language and Literature.

You might think so what?

Well given my coursework material, which counted for a large percentage of the final grade, averaged between a C and a D, I must have aced the final examinations. I would also point out, before I joined her class, I was far, far behind the rest of the pack. On top of which I was going through some very difficult times in my life (I’ll get to that shortly). To this day they’re my proudest grades from secondary school.

Forgetting the grade, however, what she proved was far more important, even if it didn’t fully register till years later. She proved that if I chose to apply myself I was more than capable. She helped plant the seed for developing a growth mindset that would bear fruit many years later.


Image Source: https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/29/carol-dweck-mindset/

Prolonged bullying can instil a fixed mindset. Especially if others stand by and do nothing… Victims say that when they’re tortured and demeaned and none comes to their defence, they start to believe they deserve it. They start to judge themselves and to think they’re inferior.

I would love to say from this point everything got better. That I understood and moved forward with a newfound belief and started to grow.

But it didn’t.

I didn’t.

It got worse. Much worse.

My problems stemmed from many variables, but bullying played the biggest role. Those years of secondary school were brutal for me. I was bullied every day at school for years.

This was compounded by the fact my parents couldn’t see what was happening. I was at boarding school halfway across the world. They didn’t know.

They couldn’t.

The trauma of being bullied repeatedly hardwired my response to withdraw from everyone and everything. I shut down as a way to repress the overwhelming emotions I didn’t know how to process. It was depression in the making.

Ultimately this was a major problem because it prevented me for doing what I needed the most.

Ask for help.

What followed makes perfect sense to me now.

When my first love of two years broke up with me during University, I fell apart. I had no confidence I was capable of being on my own. No belief I was lovable, or that I’d be capable of finding it again.

Similarly, when I messed up a landing so badly during my early Junior First Officer training as a pilot (that the Captain had to take over and go around), it felt like my whole world had fallen apart. I put on a brave face but when I got home I broke down. The feelings of inadequacy came flooding up. It was too much for me.

(For those who don’t know in aviation, a go-around is an aborted landing of an aircraft that is on final approach.)

Carrying on afterwards, whenever I faced failure of some kind, was extremely, extremely difficult. Difficulties would often trigger a bout of depression that could last for weeks if not months at a time.

What my fixed mindset always wanted was to give up. To retreat into my shell. To shut down rather than fail and confirm what years of bullying had led me to believe.

It took everything I had to see the light at the end of the tunnel. To understand these were just lessons on the road of life which all of us go through.

Still, something in my heart kept my head above water.

The small voices of a growth mindset, planted there by various people including my parents, my high-school English teacher and my wife, to name a few, who all understood I really was capable, were enough in the end to pull me through. To all of them I am, and always will be, extremely grateful.

Yet it was all much harder than it needed to be. The major problem wasn’t my fixed mindset, but that the depression and paralysing anxiety it caused, prevented me from reaching out for help. I knew I needed it but for years I simply couldn’t find the strength.

It wasn’t until after my son was born, when I came home from work one day consumed by a regular bout of depression. As I sat with him and looked into his eyes, I realised I didn’t want to be around him.

I didn’t want to father him.

The familiar feeling of wanting to runaway and hide, to withdraw into my shell, to shirk all my responsibilities – including that as a father – broke me. The remorse and guilt was too much to bear. I left the room and the tears fell.

I let the sadness consume me.

I cried and cried. I cried until nothing was left but a strange peace. Something inside me changed. Something that said this time I couldn’t let depression win. I won’t. I didn’t think about what to do next. I simply picked up the phone.

I reached out.

I asked for help.


“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives”

I rate it as both the most courageous and important decision I’ve ever made. Since then the changes have far exceeded what I thought possible.

Am I out of the woods yet?

No, not a chance.

But I can honestly say after I sought help, after over a decade of suffering from what was eventually diagnosed as long-term depression, I’ve not had an episode since.

I still struggle with anxiety and other emotions that surface, especially in the face of adversity. However the difference is they don’t consume me like they used to.

I’m acutely aware of where those emotions and the false narrative are coming from. This has helped me to gradually let them go.

I also realised through the flooding of my subconscious with positive thinking and reading (the same way bullying can flood your subconscious with negative thinking), you can change the narrative in your head. You can literally grow out of a fixed mindset. You can literally grow out of depression!

Of course I don’t want to underplay how difficult this all was or, indeed, still is. To this day being bullied remains one of the most difficult topics for me to talk about personally, let alone publicly, but I now understand the need to do so.

In not facing your demons, you only give them strength. You only strengthen your fixed mindset. By not asking for help you only make it harder to do later on.

Ultimately if there was just one message I could convey to those struggling with depression – to those who suffer from an all consuming self-doubt – it would be to ask for help.

To somehow find the courage within you and reach out.

I know how hard it is.

Trust me!

But please remember, asking for help is simply asking someone else to help you grow. We all need help from one another – from the day we’re born till the day we die. The last thing it shows is that you’ve failed or that you’re incapable.

It shows the exact opposite.

It shows that despite everything you’re still willing to show up. It shows you’re not willing to let past demons fix in you any false belief. It shows that you understand that within you is another voice. Another mindset that knows you have so much more to give. A mindset we all have.

It is only you who can set it free.

It starts by asking for help.


SOURCES:

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives by Maria Popova


Dear readers, thank you so much for listening to what I have to say! In the interest of growth, I’d love to hear any comments, suggestions, questions or criticisms you may have in the comments sections below. Thanks again. Yours, AP2.