Happy Silly Mondays – 18/05/20

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Happy Silly Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the most depressing day of the week.

Following the rule of 3, it contains 3 thoughts from me, 3 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 very silly to hopefully make you smile. 

Hope you enjoy.


3 x Thoughts From Me:

You can never be perfect. You can always be better.

Today is the most important day of your life. This moment is the most precious moment of your life, because it is the only moment you ever have. Come back to it then live life accordingly. 

Never do I feel more like a man when I’m giving someone a hug. 

3 x Quotes From Others:

“It’s not the problem that causes our suffering; it’s our thinking about the problem.” – Byron Katie

“The most important thing a creative per­son can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not. Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more bullshit you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.” – Hugh MacLeod

“People ask me, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?’ and my answer must at once be, ‘It is of no use.’ There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron… If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.” – George Mallory

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

1 – Alain de Botton’s brilliant TED talk about why we suffer from career anxiety more than we ever have before. In it he outlines the need to define ourselves what it means to be successful:

Quotes from the transcript:

Here’s an insight that I’ve had about success: You can’t be successful at everything. We hear a lot of talk about work-life balance. Nonsense. You can’t have it all. You can’t. So any vision of success has to admit what it’s losing out on, where the element of loss is. And I think any wise life will accept, as I say, that there is going to be an element where we’re not succeeding.

One of the interesting things about success is that we think we know what it means. A lot of the time our ideas about what it would mean to live successfully are not our own. They’re sucked in from other people. And we also suck in messages from everything from the television to advertising to marketing, etcetera. These are hugely powerful forces that define what we want and how we view ourselves.

What I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but that we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we’re truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along.

2 – This Stanford study that found walking improves creativity.

I found it interesting given I regularly go for a walk through our neighbourhood park and, in the process, note down any creative ideas I have. I didn’t realise this method of generating creativity had been backed by science!

3 – If I were to recommend just one podcast to listen to this week, it would this Tim Ferris episode with Elizabeth Gilbert on Saying No, Trusting Your Intuition, Integrity Checks, Grief, Awe, and Much More. I took a huge amount from it!

SOME TAKEAWAYS:

The truth has legs – it’s the only thing that will left standing at the end of the day. 

Grief is not something you master, it’s something you survive. It has something beautiful and it has great lessons for you but you have to surrender to it.

They say great art has to have two features. It has to be both surprising and inevitable. 

Why being honest with those you love is the most difficult – because those are the ones you want to hurt the least.

Universal human compassion that doesn’t include the self isn’t universal. 

You’re never going to meet anybody who causes you more trouble or pain than you.

When you see someone acting out I’ve got a great name for you to call them: ‘Me on a different day.

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

While trying to teach my son a few more three syllable words this week I asked,

“Can you say, butterfly? But… Ter… Fly?”

Silence…

“Can you try for dada please? But… Ter… Fly…”

Still silence…

“Ok let’s break it down. Can you finish the word But… Ter…?”

“Fly,” he replied.

“Good. Can you finish the word, But…?

‘Ter-fly”, he replied again.

Great. Now can you say the whole word for me? Can you say But-Ter-Fly?

He pauses before responding with a beaming smile,

“BUT… FLY!!!”

Even if you don’t achieve the result you were hoping for, if you give it your best you’ll always be a champ in my book!


Happy Silly Mondays Everyone!

Thanks for reading.

Till next time – don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle!

Happy Silly Mondays – 11/05/20

Hello Fine Readers and welcome to my Happy Silly Mondays Newsletter!

In an attempt to rewrite the narrative that Mondays are the most depressing day, I’ve decided to compile a weekly newsletter for a happier, sillier start to the week!

Following the rule of 3, it contains 3 thoughts from me, 3 positive 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 very silly that will hopefully make you smile.

Hope you enjoy.

3 x Thoughtful Quotes From Me:

Trees – they take what we don’t need and give us what we do. We should show them the same love and respect in return.

Make your journey about the journey itself. Not about getting somewhere.  

Learning to look at everything through the eyes of your children is perhaps the greatest gift of parenthood. Everything is new and beautiful and amazing, because of course it is! We adults just forgot.

3 x Positive Quotes From Others:

  1. The physician and writer, Oliver Sacks, on the value of gardens:

“As a writer, I find gardens essential to the creative process; as a physician, I take my patients to gardens whenever possible. All of us have had the experience of wandering through a lush garden or a timeless desert, walking by a river or an ocean, or climbing a mountain and finding ourselves simultaneously calmed and reinvigorated, engaged in mind, refreshed in body and spirit. The importance of these physiological states on individual and community health is fundamental and wide-ranging. In forty years of medical practice, I have found only two types of non-pharmaceutical “therapy” to be vitally important for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens.”

  1. An excerpt from the poem “Youth” by Samuel Ullman, a Jewish poet:

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

  1. Bill Watterson, the cartoonist and creator of Calvin and Hobbes, on the difference between ambition and happiness:

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

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

  1. An insightful Ted Talk by Manoush Zomorodi on How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas:

One Quotes From The Transcript:

“The next time you go to check your phone, remember that if you don’t decide how you’re going to use the technology, the platforms will decide for you. And ask yourself: What am I really looking for? Because if it’s to check email, that’s fine — do it and be done. But if it’s to distract yourself from doing the hard work that comes with deeper thinking, take a break, stare out the window and know that by doing nothing you are actually being your most productive and creative self. It might feel weird and uncomfortable at first, but boredom truly can lead to brilliance.”

  1. Article: Via Negativa: Adding to Your Life By Subtracting: On how less can really mean more. 

Some Key Take Aways:

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

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

  1. Freakonimcs podcast on Reasons to be cheerful: Why we all have a built-in Negativity bias and why the Covid-19 crisis might be an opportune time to reverse this tendency. 

One Great Rule Of Thumb I Took Away: It takes 4 good things to make up for 1 bad thing. (Something to think about when you’re mindlessly scrolling social media or news articles online)

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

I was relaying something to my wife the other day that I had been writing, and she said, “you’re turning into such a sage.” 

I contemplated this before replying, “I’ve never thought of myself as a herb before?… how silly.”

I told her that she must be a rosemary and that our son, he must be a basil because that’s the silliest herb.


Happy Mondays everyone and thanks for reading! Hope this helped and be sure to exercise your silly muscle this week!  

1 Bonus question for you’ll to ponder:

What kind of herb are you and why?

5 Mindfulness Hacks For Beginners

“Mindfulness isn’t about goals or ticking a box – mindfulness is a way of life – something to cultivate over time.”

Below I’ve written out 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.

1. WHEN YOU NOTICE YOUR MIND WANDERING – SMILE. 

“A tiny bud of a smile on your lips nourishes awareness and calms you miraculously … your smile will bring happiness to you and to those around you.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

“The power of a smile to open and relax us is confirmed by modern science. The muscles used to make a smile actually send a biochemical message to our nervous system that it is safe to relax the flight, fight or freeze response.”

Tara Brach 

Smile to yourself as you gently redirect your attention and return to the task at hand – whatever that may be. Smile as a way of congratulating yourself. You’ve just experienced a moment of mindfulness and that’s a great thing. This is not a moment to beat yourself up for having drifted off or getting caught up in your thoughts. That’s like beating yourself up for having flatulence. It’s a perfectly normal thing for the mind to do (and the body in the case of farting). Its important you remain kind to yourself. (PS – I hope that made you smile 😃!)

2. USE S.T.O.P. AS A WAY TO PRACTICE PAUSING INFORMALLY THROUGHOUT THE DAY. 

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

Tara Brach

STOP is an easy to remember acronym you can use at any time to help bring you back to the present moment. Its stands for:

S.top to pause for a moment – discontinuing what you are doing. Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes if it helps.

T.ake a breath. – Next take a few deep breaths. Let go as you exhale. Let go of any worries or thoughts, of any tightness in the body.

O.bserve – Now pay attention to what you are feeling as you fully inhabit the moment. What do you feel? Do you feel anxious – some resistance to stopping whatever it is you told yourself you have to do? Do you accept this moment exactly as it is?

P.roceed with whatever it is you were doing mindfully, taking that awareness with you

(There are plenty of other mantras or acronyms you could use. The important thing is to find one that you like and works for you – to help bring you back to the present moment. As another example, I also like to use the mantra, ’Smile, Breathe… Focus, Believe…’ whenever I catch myself getting caught up with my emotions or a negative train of thought.)

3. TALKING TO YOURSELF IN THE THIRD PERSON AS A WAY TO UNIDENTIFY WITH THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS. 

David is feeling stressed. David is thinking lots. David is looking at his phone. Talking in this manner is a great way to help unidentify with your thoughts, feelings and emotions. To really become the observer. To see your thoughts and feelings for what they are -just thoughts and feelings – without falling into the trap of thinking you are your thoughts or feelings. 

I am depressed is very different to saying I am feeling depressed or having feelings of depression. Replacing ‘I’ with your name takes this a step further. eg. David is having feelings of depression. Its a subtle but powerful shift in terminology that fundamentally changes how you relate to your feelings and thoughts. 

Mark Reinecke, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine says, “When we put something in first person there’s a heavier [emotional] load that makes it more difficult to reason about a problem clearly. If you put the problem into the third person, it allows you to keep perspective on it and have a calmer response.”

https://www.today.com/series/one-small-thing/talking-yourself-third-person-can-calm-emotions-t114420

4. Practise the engagement of flow

Give 100% attention to whatever you are doing, whenever you remember.

How do you do that?

To give you an example: Try for a few seconds, closing your eyes and imagine you have been blind your whole life – that you’ve never seen a single object in its flesh – don’t know what colour is, etc. Once you’ve spent a minute of two imaging this, open your eyes again and really look as if you’re seeing everything for the very first time.

Did you have any thoughts or was everything you looked at, if only for a second or two, completely and utterly amazing? Thats what I imagine, at least, how an enlightened person sees the world. Bringing that level of attention and awareness to absolutely everything, as if for the very first. 

5. Use R.A.I.N. to deal with difficult emotions.

The acronym RAIN is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness and compassion during difficult moments using the following four steps:

R.ecognise what is happening and label it.

A.ccept the emotion or feeling to be there as it is.

I.nvestigate it – become curious and really observe it. Ask yourself why/what triggered it? Be compassionate as you do so.

N.urture with self compassion – Remember you are not your thoughts, you are not your feelings. They are simply things you are experiencing. They will pass! Remember too that every person in the world suffers. That is part of the living experience. You are not alone. 

https://www.tarabrach.com/rain/

“The business of a wise man is to be happy in whatever condition life happens to offer”