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.

NOTES FROM MY JOURNAL – APRIL 2020 – On COVID-19, Fear setting, practising Compassion, Gratitude, cultivating Mindfulness and more…

Hello fine readers and welcome to my monthly newsletter – a series of my thoughts and feelings from my journal.

Included is a round up of what I’ve been reading and writing, plus a collection of my favourite bits and pieces from around the web, and finally a collection of thoughts and ideas from yours truly. I hope you enjoy!


WHAT I’VE BEEN WRITING:

12 Personal Commandments for a Happier Life

As inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s wonderful Happiness Project, I decided to put together a list of my own 12 commandments for living a happier, healthier and more purposeful life.

5 Mindfulness Hacks to Help Bring You Back to the Present Moment

5 Mindfulness Hacks that I like to use informally throughout the day to help bring me back to and fully engage with the present moment.

How to Gain Enlightenment While Taking a Dump. – Favourite Books for Moments of Profound Pooing

A fun post about creating the habit of reading books while on the loo!

Am I doing this because of Fear or Love? – a question for motivation and guidance

A post based on the question; “Am I doing this because of love of fear?” that I heard from the following Tim Ferris podcast: Dr. Vivek Murthy — Former Surgeon General on Combatting COVID-19, Loneliness, and More  

Now is the time – What will you do with yours?

A piece to inspire action from isolation as inspired by the following Kitty O’Meara poem:

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

The Nature of my Child

A short post inspired by my son/this quote:

“Every child has a god in him. Our attempts to mould the child will turn the god into a devil – A. S. Neill


WHAT I’VE BEEN READING

BOOKS:

2 books have dominated my reading and re-reading for the past two months – both of which I can highly highly recommend reading, especially during this time of great uncertainty.

The first is RADICAL ACCEPTANCE by Tara Brach

From Amazon: “Writing with great warmth and clarity, Tara Brach brings her teachings alive through personal stories and case histories, fresh interpretations of Buddhist tales, and guided meditations. Step by step, she leads us to trust our innate goodness, showing how we can develop the balance of clear-sightedness and compassion that is the essence of Radical Acceptance.” 

The second is AWARENESS by SJ Anthony de Mello

Although written some time ago now – this book is the best I’ve read that translated to me what spirituality means and why cultivating greater awareness is something we all need.

Another book I can highly highly recommend is the beautifully illustrated ‘THE BOY, THE MOLE, THE FOX AND THE HORSE’  by Charlie Mackesy. 

It’s not only deeply moving and thought provoking, it’s a beautiful piece of art in its own right. I could pick any quote and it would be worth sharing, but I’ll leave you with just one that hit home for me on a personal level.

“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy… 

“Help”, said the horse.


OTHER BITS AND PIECES FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Fear setting – who Tim Ferris described as the most valuable exercise he does every month – is an exercise in defining some of your fears about a difficult decision you are considering making, versus the longer term costs of doing nothing. I used it this month to consider what might happen if I lost my job and found it a very reassuring exercise.

This inspirational video of a speech by Orator Jonathan Roberts addressing graduating seniors at Harvard’s Senior Class Day ceremony on May 24, 2017 at Tercentenary Theatre.

THOUGHTS & IDEAS FROM MY JOURNAL:

ON COVID-19, DEALING WITH FEAR, PRACTISING COMPASSION AND BEING GRATEFUL:

Gratitude, with rare exception, gives you a more accurate interpretation of reality.

Do not try to change people, that’s the wrong approach. Instead try only to help people.

The inability to forgive each other and people’s unwillingness to admit they’re wrong go hand in hand.

The Chinese character for crisis translates as danger + opportunity. I think this is brilliant. Danger meaning a need to be careful and vigilant – a need to act. But as with any crisis there is also opportunity for growth and to learn – to profit from setback.

Make your mission about helping others, not validating the ego. Make your mission about inspiring hope, not criticising others for acting out of fear. After all, are we not all irrational when acting from fear? Have compassion for those who are scared and forgive those who acted rashly and misled the public based on limited, information. We are all fools in this together. Don’t attack. Be kind.

ON DEVELOPING THE MIND AND MINDFULLNESS:

As a rule: Clarity first. Action second.

The great thing about momentum: eventually is becomes easy.

It matters less what you choose to do, but that you give that thing your undivided attention.

Everybody’s mind is filled with bullshit. Wisdom comes from shifting through that bullshit and picking out what you know to be true in your heart. 

The egos need for validation will never be satisfied! When you feed it, its appetite over time only grows. You have to let it go!

Your insecurities prevent you from showing your true self.

The desire for others to say something positive about me is a reflection of my own insecurities. 

Your resistance to other people only serves to strengthen their position in your mind.

The mind is a tool – something to be used. If you fail to remain aware, the mind will take over and use you.

Learning to continuously question your beliefs, to unlearn everything you’ve been taught, to treat what you know with a very large amount of skepticism, is one of the most important skills one can cultivate.

ON PURSING YOUR DREAMS/DOING THE THINGS YOU LOVE:

Doing the things you love gives you the energy to the do the things you need but don’t. 

Better to be happy in failure than unhappy in success.

Ask yourself whether you are making this decision because of fear or love. A perceived need for more money is often driven by a fear of losing out, a fear of not having, or losing the things you already have. Of course thats not always the case. If you’re doing it for your family, for a better education for your children, a better neighbourhood for them to grow up, for certain their security, then those decisions clearly stem from a place of love. However that’s often not the case. What I want to stress is to the need be clear of the reasons for choosing to pursue a certain career or path. If the decision is about finding purpose – follow your heart.

ON PARENTING

I think in our efforts to make something of our children, we often do a disservice to that which is already there. I don’t need to make him into anything. I simply need to encourage what is already there, for him to flourish and realise his full potential. 

There is no need to force parenting, just be present and you’ll understand what you should do.

ON HONESTY, EXPECTATIONS & FORGIVENESS

Being honest with someone is important, but unless you do it compassionately you’re probably wasting your time. People aren’t willing to receive rocks if you hurl them – they’re either going to duck and hide, or throw them back. 

The truth hurts because we are breaking down that persons reality – pointing something out they didn’t want to hear. That’s why it’s important to be kind, but to be kind while being courageous enough to tell them the truth.

People often expect an apology before they’re willing to forgive. Forgiveness should come first without any expectations. Ones apology will often be returned with far more sincerity if you do. 

The Nature of my Child

“Every child has a god in him. Our attempts to mould the child will turn the god into a devil – A. S. Neill

I’ve been thinking today about the nature of my child. What I see is a boundless love and tenderness. Such a pure gentleness.

This is his nature.

I mean to imprint that in my mind.

A gorgeous boy full of smiles and laughter. But also not afraid to cry and express himself. He might not have full control of how he responds to his emotions yet, but there is no doubt about how in touch he is with them. He’s not one bit consumed by them either. He lets them go as soon as they’ve passed.

There is a lot we adults can learn from that.

I think in our efforts to make something of our children, we often do a disservice to that which is already there. I don’t need to make him into anything. I simply need to encourage what already is, for him to flourish and realise his full potential…