The Top 5 Greatest Blogging Tips Of All Time Ever (+ 500 Followers)

Well, ladies and gentleman, here we are! Another massive milestone conquered. Another prestigious accolade to place in the blogging trophy cabinet. (As if it can fit any more, am I right?)

That’s 500 whole individual follower people! Or 499 strangers plus my mum! Hi mum! (She’s so proud of me.)

What can I say? 

Humbled as I am that so many of you have shown such an interest in my extremely insightful world views and brilliant self help advice, the truth is I’m not in the slightest bit surprised. 

Is there a better blog in the entire blogosphere? I don’t think so. To quote my mum, “This is perhaps the greatest blog there has ever been. It’s the envy of the blogging world.” She should know, of course, she’s only read mine. I mean, why would she need to read anyone else’s?

Anyway the last thing I want to do is make you dear readers feel inadequate. As understandable as that is. It’s important to remember that my greatness serves to lift all others up in its wake. We’re all better because of me. (Except for the radical left, of course – they’ve been lost to Satan.)

So, as part of my campaign to “Make Blogging Great Again” – and to say thank you for helping me reach such unimaginable heights in the blogosphere – I thought I’d relay you with my top 5 greatest lessons that I’ve learnt over the past year or so since I began this journey. 5 Lessons that have lifted me to blogging greatness. To help you do the same.

You’re welcome.

#1 Act Like The Numbers Don’t Matter

Everyone will tell you that the numbers don’t matter. That if your words reach just one person, if they touch just one heart, if they move but one soul, then it’s worth it. 

Touching as this message is let me assure you, dear readers, nobody actually believes that. Everyone is obsessively checking their WordPress analytics just like you. In fact, as soon as somebody has posted such a message, that’s exactly what they’re doing. Waiting for their dopamine hit as soon as that little red dot appears in the top right hand corner of their WordPress toolbar. 

“Yay somebody likes me.”

They want the numbers, just like they want the cash. Just like you and I want the cash. More is most definitely better. That’s just a fact of life. 

Now let me ask you something. Who are writing for anyway? Most people say it’s because they want to help other people. But that’s not true. People write for themselves. Just like you. For the ego boost. So you can feel good for 5 seconds before crippling self doubt takes over again. That’s why numbers are important. They’re a direct refelction of your self worth. And if you think I only have 500 followers, that’s a lie. The fake media are telling you that. They are telling me that. The truth is I have 500 million followers. 

But here’s the trick because the numbers do lie, because they’re telling you you’re worth less than you actually are – that you’re not as good as you truly are – it’s best to tell yourself that they don’t matter (even though they do). To write what you believe in. To not give a flying fuck what anyone else thinks. The fake media are going to tell you that your shit stinks anyway (when of course it smells like nothing but roses.)

You write for you. You write the things you believe in to the best of your ability. You write with a passion and a purpose – from the fire that exists in your belly. Speak your truth. Don’t let the fake media win. And if after 5 years you only have 5 followers, then I suggest you quit your day job and try harder. Never give up. (I think that was almost good advice!)

Anyway dear readers I guess what you really want to know is how you to get more readers (seen as the numbers matter)?

#2 Make Meaningful Connections

Unfortunately you have to talk to other people. Annoying I know. The whole reason I hide behind a keyboard is so that I don’t have to do that. Still, if you want people to love you and know how extraordinarily great you truly are (and you do), that means connecting with fellow bloggers who tend to think they are far better than they really are (which of course isn’t true for me).

Let me tell you about the first time I posted on this blog. The amount of effort I put into that post. The amount of editing that went into it. The thought and preparation. I think I spent nearly 10 minutes on it! Anyway, as soon as I hit publish I waited with bated breathe for the world to acknowledge my greatness. To tell me how extraordinary I truly am. 

Of course no-one read it. No-one liked it. No-one even knew it existed. It was instantly swallowed up. Forever lost in the darkest deepest depths of the blogging ocean. Let me be the first to say it. 

What. A. Fucking. Dope.

Of course you have to engage with other people! Not only on your own blog, but theirs too. Engaging with like minded people on social media isn’t a bad idea either. This is how others know you exist.

The good news is it turns out most people are actually quite nice (except for those who voted for Biden). Even if they don’t like your blog, if you’ve shown an interest in theirs they will usually reciprocate with a comment. They might even be surprised. They might even concede that your blog is the best blog since sliced bread. Or at least they might quite like it. I’ve actually found a few that I don’t mind myself! Not as good as mine but of course we all know that’s an unfair comparison.

Anyway engage with fellow bloggers (especially me).

#3 Take What Everyone Has To Say With A Pinch Of Salt (Including Yourself)

This is perhaps the most important piece of advice I will give you today. Take what everyone else has to say with a huge pinch of salt. Better yet, don’t trust what anyone else has to say about anything. The chances are they are all part of a radical left wing conspiracy. 

The absolute truth is there is only one person’s opinion that you can trust. That’s mine. Even when you write, don’t trust what you have to say. Instead come to my blog and believe what I have to say first.

If it helps you can consider this blog your place of worship. Think of me as your blogging God. I guarantee you there isn’t another blog out there that’s worth their salt anyway (like what I did there). Of course that last sentence requires no added salt (except for the word salt).

Salt.

One more thing. Add salt to your own writing as well. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Be willing to laugh at yourself and your mistakes (you will make them). Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Speak your mind. Speak your truth. Be courageous. Write dangerously. Don’t worry what other people might think. Enjoy yourself. Love the process. (Have I said this already? Whatever.)

I promise if you do, it will set you free.

#4 Learn About SEO (It’s Not What You Think)

Sex Engine Optimisation! That’s right ladies and gentleman. It’s an optimised search engine that helps you find your favourite kind of pornography. Oh no wait! That’s what I thought it meant I when I first heard of it. Then I found out it actually means Search Engine Optimisation. Of course this bored me so much I decided to look for porn on google instead. (Your true SEO)

Still if you want those all important numbers, SEO is quite a useful thing to know about. At least that’s what I’m told – every post I’ve read on the subject has made me so bored I decided to look for porn on google instead. Oh wait, I just said that joke.

Anyway let me tell you what the two easiest ways to increase your blogging viewership are. The first is to run a porn blog. (In which case you don’t need to worry about SEO, you’ll get millions of views anyway.)

The second is to run a blog about blogging. Seriously bloggers love reading about how to be better bloggers. It’s astonishing really. The stats you get for the kinds of blog posts that tell you everything you already know. Like clear-air-turbulence.com is the greatest blog known to mankind. As if my 500 million viewers didn’t know that already right?

Of course if you don’t happen to run either of those kinds of blogs then SEO really is your friend (I think). Anyway look it up because I’ve never been bothered to write about it myself. SEO that is, not porn. Unless you get bored, then feel free to look up that as well.

Moving on.

#5 Remember Your Blog Is Nothing Without Mine (And Vice Versa)

Ladies and gentleman I’m going to circle back to the first point I made. The numbers matter. And to be serious for a second. The numbers matter, not because you have 5 followers or 500 million, but because behind each number is a person. Crazy I know. A living being. You. Me.

The truth is my blog is nothing without all of yours. Without this community. All of whom are working hard to lift each other up. It really is an amazing thing to be a part of. And I am extremely grateful to each and every one of you. You’ve made the past year immeasurably brighter for me than it otherwise would have been. 

Now hear me out while I give you some genuine advice. 

One thing thats worth keeping in mind is that your blog isn’t just one blog. It’s part of hundreds of millions of interconnected blogs. Just like you’re one of several billion other people. The truth is you’re a tiny leave on an almighty fucking tree. And you always will be. As will I.

So stay humble. Listen to what other people have to say. Take the time to read other people’s words. It means so much to them. Of course it does. They’ve poured their hearts and souls into their blogs. They’ve made that time for you. To try and help you. To help all of us. That is something to be truly thankful for.

I promise if you do just that, you will gain so much from blogging. The truth is everyone is your teacher. Everyone knows something you don’t. So pay attention. Not only will this make you a better writer and a better blogger, it will make you a better person. And that is infinitely more important then how successful your blog may or may not become.


Thanks for reading everyone. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much I did writing. As always, ALL comments and opinions are most welcome. With love, AP2 X

Tuesday’s Top Tip

Is life really so bad?

Is life really so fucked up?

Ok, yes, it is quite fucked up.

Still.

Is it not also rather pleasant?

Is it not also incredibly beautiful?

Is it not also extremely miraculous?

When you stop regurgitating the bullshit narratives fed to you by society over and over again in your mind.

When you consider that we live in one of the freest, safest and richest periods in human history.

When you simply put down your phone and look.

Do we not, in fact, have a great deal more to be grateful for given the odds of our very existence are so infinitesimally small?

You know the answer to this question of course.

The problem is you keep forgetting don’t you?

Which is why you’ve got to keep reminding yourself of how truly fortunate you really are.

It’s why you have to practise gratitude every opportunity you can.

It’s why you have to make being thankful a way of life.

Previous Top Tip

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my Mindset Mondays Post! The only weekly newsletter that claims election fraud to save face…

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

As always, I’ve finished with 1 terrible joke that’s so bad, you won’t be able to help but laugh…

Let’s begin!


4 x Thoughts From Me:

Emotion is a writer’s best friend. 

You’ve all heard the saying that what you resist you give strength. Sage advice. What I would add though is what you resist you give strength – unless you seek to destroy it altogether. When people seek to destroy what they dislike we enter a very dangerous situation. I’ll use emotions as a perfect example. If you resist emotions you dislike you give them strength. What meditation and therapy seek to do, among other things, is accept them for what they are at any one time. This isn’t easy but it’s undeniably the right approach. The other way to deal with them is destroy them. Numb through the use of drugs or other addictions. This will end up hurting you much more. 

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. 

Perhaps the biggest mental block people have is acceptance. They can’t accept who they are right now. They can’t accept that they suffer from depression or anxiety. They cant accept they are flawed. People will argue it’s this that pushes them forward. That this is what drives them to become better. That it’s important we don’t accept ourselves as we are right now. I couldn’t disagree more. When you accept yourself for who you are right now you are still aware that you can become something more. That you can be better. You still understand the benefits of becoming. The difference is you don’t attribute a threat level survival response to your actions. You don’t feel you have to do anything (because you don’t have to do anything). You do it simply because you want to. Because you want to become better. Because you want to help others. You end up enjoying the process without any worry of failure because you’re coming from a place of acceptance. This is a far healthier place from which to act. 


3 x Quotes From Others:

“A healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice your friends, your dreams, or your dignity.” Dinkar Kalotra (Source: https://mindfulnessbits.wordpress.com/2020/11/09/its-your-job-to-make-me-happy/)

You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or who says it.” – Malcolm X (Source: https://www.forbes.com/quotes/6438/)

“We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs … and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.” –  Audre Lorde (Source: https://jamesclear.com/3-2-1/refer?rh_ref=36174ee4)


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This inspiring Ted Talk How we can face the future without fear, together with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. ‘It’s a fateful moment in history. We’ve seen divisive elections, divided societies and the growth of extremism — all fueled by anxiety and uncertainty. “Is there something we can do, each of us, to be able to face the future without fear?” asks Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. In this electrifying talk, the spiritual leader gives us three specific ways we can move from the politics of “me” to the politics of “all of us, together.’ I highly recommend taking the 10 mins or so to give this speech a watch. I guarantee it will move you. You can find my favourite quote from the speech below.

“When we move from the politics of me to the politics of all of us together, we rediscover those beautiful, counterintuitive truths: that a nation is strong when it cares for the weak, that it becomes rich when it cares for the poor, it becomes invulnerable when it cares about the vulnerable. That is what makes great nations.”

2 – This fascinating BBC article: Lockdown has affected your memory – here’s why. The article explains the science behind why living in isolation may be harming our memories and what you can do about it. Well worth the quick read.


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

Struggling for a good (terrible) joke this week folks so thought I’d leave you with another Far Side comic that made me chuckle. Hope you enjoy.


Thanks ladies and gentlemen. Till next time… Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all: What is worrying you and what can you do it about? What can’t you do about it?

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

4-3-2-1 Mindset Mondays – 09/11/20

First Solo

There’s a term in aviation that all pilots know well called the first solo. It’s when a new pilot completes a takeoff, short flight and safe landing, all by him or herself, for the very first time. It’s basically the aviation equivalent of losing your virginity. You kinda line the aeroplane up with the strip, take your best aim and hope the landing doesn’t hurt too much. It’s something you never ever forget (no matter how much you might want to). For a pilot it is a very special, sacred even, moment.

I’d no idea I would be doing my first solo the day that I did. My instructor hadn’t given the slightest indication that he thought I was ready. He simply briefed me to taxi back to the same spot once I was done, then told me “Godspeed old chap,” and closed the cockpit door behind him – leaving me completely befuddled as I taxied gingerly to the runway threshold. Then, without thinking about it, I set maximum thrust and took off, all by myself.

It was, without a doubt, one of single most exhilarating moments of my aviation career. One of those rare moments of pure ecstasy, like you’re on top of the world. I felt invincible. That was, at least, until I was flying back when I looked down at the runway and it dawned on me, ‘shit I’ve got to land this thing!’ My exact thought at this point was, ‘Fuck,’ repeated several times in quick succession.

Anyway ladies and gentlemen, I bring this up because, right now, I feel like this very post is my blogging first solo. And to be brutally honest with you all – I’m petrified. I have the same feeling I did when I stared down at that runway just over eleven years ago now. The same dawning realisation that I have to do this all by myself. That same sinking feeling – like I’ve missed a crucial part of my training. 

I should say this isn’t the first post I’ve done for PO. Troy and Bogdan had the foresight to test run one of my pieces a short while back – Why Crying Like A Little Girl Is The Manliest Thing You Can Do. (Which, incidentally, seems particularly pertinent given I feel like crying myself to sleep every night at the moment.) It’s just that this time they’ve given me the keys and closed the cockpit door behind them.

“Godspeed old chap,” they said.

Godspeed.

Yet I’ve only been playing with my own poky…  blog for half a year now. In that time I’ve amassed a meagre total of just over 300 followers. Now here I am, writing for a blog with nearly 16,000!

Is that right? 

Yep.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

And so I apologise dear readers if all this feels a bit awkward or if my delivery isn’t the smoothest. I’m sure that with time, I’ll be able to the hit the right spot. But you’ll have to bear with me – I am working with rather limited equipment, at least (ahem), linguistically speaking.

Anyway there’s no doubt that I want to be here. That I want to engage with as many wonderful, like-minded people who share in what is such a wonderful community here on WordPress. I believe this will undoubtedly help me grow as both a person and a writer. Which is why when I saw Troy’s ad to say they were looking for writers I was chomping at the bit. And before I circle back to my story, to bring this post home, let me take this moment to say how extremely grateful I am to him and the rest of the team here at PO for welcoming me on-board! 

However unlike the average person who feel pride and confidence when they achieve something, I feel nothing but relief that I didn’t fuck it up. A bit like when a captain tells me that was a nice landing (or not) after we’ve taxied off the runway, that’s the moment I realise it’s ok to exhale. 

So after my brief moment of joy the other day when I found out the news, my mind, just like it did all those years ago when staring down at the runway, expedited itself into the warm and cosy rabbit-hole of crippling self-doubt.

‘There’s no way I’m good enough to blog on PO. Everyone is going to realise that I don’t belong here. The writers here are all established – Linguistic PHD students, English professors and the like. They also seem to use this thing called discretion. I’m just a pilot with a shockingly poor grasp of the only language I know. I mean, what the fuck should I write about anyhow? What should I make my first post about? Should I make it about me and all my problems seen as no one cares or asked? Great idea!’

Then it occurred to me, I was pointlessly overthinking about what I should write for a blog called pointless overthinking. That at least made me chuckle. Then, just like I did following my mild panic attack all those years ago, I took several big breathes and thought to myself – maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel at home here after all. That maybe, just maybe, I can pull off this landing.

Thank you so much for reading everyone. I want to ask you what scary first time experiences you’ve had? How did it go? Was it unbearably awkward? Or was it, in fact, not nearly as bad as you thought it would be? Was it maybe even, rather pleasant? How did you deal with nerves? Also if you have any other feedback or remarks please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section below. Just be gentle – it’s my first time after all.

To my regular readers: This was my first ‘offcial’ post for pointless overthinking. I wanted to share it with you all here on my blog and to let you know I will be writing a weekly post for them going forward. For those who haven’t checked it out I highly recommend heading over there and taking a look (link at the bottom). It’s run by a team of wonderful writers, professionals, thinkers and the like that I am honoured to now be a part of.

***

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

Why Freedom Demands Responsibility

“The principle of freedom must be our first commitment, for without this no one is immune against the virus of aggrandizement – the impulse to grab power, wealth, position, or reputation at the expense of others.” 

Herbert DouglassSourCE:The Cost Of Freedom

True freedom is a commitment to experiencing the very real limitations of our choices.

We will always have to live with some sort of, ‘what if I had…’ We will always have to mourn the limitless possibilities we didn’t pursue. If we had no choice about our life we’d simply get on with it, but because we do, we live in constant fear of making the wrong one.

That’s the price we pay for the freedom of choice. 

We have to live with the consequences of our actions. We have to live in the knowledge we could have done things differently. To know we could have done things better.

I wonder if many of us don’t actually want the level of responsibility that comes with having to choose our own fate? Perhaps this is why so many of us prefer to be told what to do? Perhaps this is why so many of us choose not to think for ourselves? 

It’s too uncomfortable.

We don’t want to take responsibility for our life. We didn’t have to as children so why should we now?

Many recent decisions we’ve made in the “free” parts of this world demonstrate an unwillingness to take on this fundamental aspect of freedom. We follow the herd because it’s easier. We follow the herd because that’s what our parents taught us to do.

I imagine that living in a society where your thoughts and actions are decided for you is in some ways easier. You don’t have to think about what to do. When your survival depends on the actions that the state has demanded, you just do. So you become another brain washed cog in the totalitarian machine. Just as your dictator ordered. There’s a nice little cog.

The sad truth about such a life is you still have responsibilities. They’re just not your own.

You cannot escape responsibility.

Many of us falsely belief that freedom comes with the freedom not to have any responsibilities. How we love to have our cake and eat it too! We say, ‘if only I choose the right leader then I’ll be able to achieve financial independence free from having to try at anything.’

Delusion is a word.

Delusion is what’s sold to you by populists who promise the world free of charge. They promise you the things that only you can deliver for yourself. 

There’s a huge price that comes with freedom, incalculable in fact – millions have died for it – but I believe the rewards justify it. Yes the possibility of failure is real, but so is the possibility of achieving greatness. We should remember that humans don’t flourish under the conditions of compulsion – we flourish under the conditions of free co-operation.

It’s hard to shift through the noise of course. It’s extremely hard in fact. To do the research required to figure out what your own opinions are on matters that affect us all. The rewards are not that you’ll have a leader you want or a country that reflects the values you hold either.

You probably won’t.

The reward is actually greater than that. The reward is that you get to know who you truly are. This is something your country and the world needs more than your vote. What we need is a diversity of unique voices speaking for themselves. What we don’t need is a tribe of mindless people echoing only the thoughts of one man.

Don’t be so quick to throw your freedom under the bus for someone else. 

It’s important to remember that no two voices are the same. Freedom respects that fact. We should be extremely wary of those who seek to limit the voices of others. We should take the time to listen to what our own heart has to say. We should put in the effort to form our own opinions. We should honour them with the choices we get to make.

I read a quote recently by Niklas Göke from his excellent article Responsibility Is Freedom that said,

“Freedom is not about shedding your responsibilities, it’s about choosing them.”

I would go a step further and say that freedom demands we choose our responsibilities. The same way that having a life demands we protect it. If you want freedom of choice then you have to choose to take responsibility for your life. If you don’t someone else will choose your responsibilities for you. The danger is they will use that for their own profit and power by forming a narrative you refused to take responsibility for forming yourself. In doing so they will shut your mind from your heart. The moment that happens, you’ve lost your freedom.


Thank you all for taking the time to read. As always I’m interested to get your thoughts. What do you think about the relationship between freedom and responsibility? Have we taken our freedoms for granted in the Western world? Is this why we find it under threat? Do you even believe it is under threat? Do you think that freedom has nothing to do with responsibility? As always I welcome ALL opinions and thoughts. This is very much a free state. 

Ripples In The Pond

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

Then I started thinking. 

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

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

Yet they do.

They must.

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

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

There has to be.

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

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

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

Motivational Mondays – 28/09/20

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

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

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


4 x Thoughts From Me:

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

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

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

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


3 x Quotes From Others:

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

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

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


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

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

FAVOURITE QUOTE:

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

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


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

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


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

Till next time…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all:

How can you make mindfulness a habit?

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Motivational Mondays – 21/09/20

Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award #1

Well, well, well. Can you believe it!? Another blogging award. Truly unbelievable!

Actually, given the sheer brilliance that is my blog it is, of course, very believable. I do need to be careful though – these awards have a habit of going straight to ones head! I can only imagine what will happen if I get more too! Women will surely be queuing up for an autograph. I can already hear them screaming hysterically from behind their keyboards!

Now if you could all pipe down for a second I need to say thank to someone.

That’s right – Hamish!

If you don’t know the young gentleman of whom I speak, well, you should.

This next part I say sincerely.

Hamish is a talented young writer from New Zealand. Quite honestly his writing puts mine to shame. He’s an incredibly thoughtful and reflective soul whose words are well worth your time. I urge all of you to stop reading anything I have to say and check out his blog instead at https://hardlinesheavytimes.wordpress.com.

Hamish thank you for nominating me. I really appreciate the shout out!

Still here?

Ok here is the boring rules bit.

RULES FOR THE AWARD:

  • Thank the person who has nominated you and provide a link back to their blog.
  • Answer their questions.
  • Nominate up to 9 other bloggers and ask them 5 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees through their blog by visiting and commenting on their blog.
  • List the rules and display the “Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award” logo.

QUESTIONS FROM HAMISH:

1. What is the best thing you like about blogging?

I started blogging because I wanted to help others while also improve my limited skills as a writer. Having overcome a number of personal issues with depression and anxiety in recent years, I also believed I had something more to offer than simply telling people how great they are (which of course they are). I’ve no idea if much my words have had any effect, but I can say with certainty the words of other bloggers have helped me enormously. If I got into this because I enjoy writing, connecting with others is what will keep me in the game for much longer.

2. If there was a film about your life, what would its title be?

Suffering Twice.

3. How do you decide what to blog about?

Usually when I’m walking around my local park lots of ideas pop into my head. I write them down on my phone. Sometimes I stop in the middle of my walk when ideas come to me and just write – words just kinda flow out of me – often this writing is better than anything I try to force. At other times ideas come from reading other blog posts – in many cases a comment I leave generates an idea from which I blog. Some days I just start writing about my thoughts and feelings in my journals and see where it leads.

4. Who or what are some of your sources of inspiration?

Without a doubt my ridiculous two year old son. He has shown me more about what it means to be alive than any adult ever has. 

5 What is one aspiration you hope to achieve by the end of 2020?

I can say that I already achieved something I set out to do this year. That is to become a published author! I wrote a children’s book for my son late last year and plucked up the courage to approach a publisher with the idea earlier this year. She loved it and worked tirelessly to help make it happen. The book hits stores here in Hong Kong next week!

MY SPECTACULAR NOMINEES

Cheryl Batavia – An exceptionally kind lady. I absolutely adore her poetry – http://gulfcoastpoet.wordpress.com

Janelle – Extremely lovely young lady who likes to blog about her love of books – https://thebookandpen.wordpress.com

Nina Yomo – Another lovely lady from South Africa with a very thoughtful blog tackling a number of important issues – https://ninayomowrites.home.blog

Suke Francis – A good man from Kenya who has always encouraged me on my blogging journey. He happens to be a damn fine blogger himself – https://bthought1.wordpress.com

I could go on but honestly it’s getting late here so I’m going to stop. I sincerely hope no one is offended if I haven’t nominated them. As far as I’m concerned you’re all nominated – I simply don’t have the energy to nominate everybody who has taken the time to visit and comment on my blog. Soz. At any rate my exceptional blog will undoubtedly be nominated many more times in the future so I will endeavour to nominate more of you lovely readers then.

To all of you who decide to reply- please use the questions above. Or don’t. Make up your own. Have fun with it either way.

Sending all of you much love,

AP2 X

Motivational Mondays – 14/09/20

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

The only weekly newsletter to teach you about contraception before you have sex and then offer you a cigarette afterwards…

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 silly story to lighten your Monday blues… 

Much Love,

AP2 X


4 x Thoughts From Me:

Never forget that someone built the road you drive on. 

If you only ever wait until it’s stopped raining, you’ll always be starting from the back. Always start now. Don’t wait until you feel like it, do it especially if you don’t. Make a point of going for a run in the freezing rain. Champions of their minds override their negative feelings and thought patterns. They don’t live in absence of them. One of my core vulnerabilities is a belief that I’m not capable. It’s something I’ve learnt to understand and live with. As a result I’ve become very good at getting on with life despite a desire to crawl under the covers. It took a long time but I’ve gained a huge amount of confidence from it. What was once a weakness has become a strength. The real beauty has come from realising that only through action can you put your demons to bed. The time to start is always now!

Remember that even a harsh truth can be followed with words of encouragement. Kindness can always be used to soften the blow. If you’re confronting someone about something you feel they need to hear, it’s important to deliver your truth in such a manner that it will be received. If your delivery is too harsh, regardless as to whether you’re right or not, it becomes extremely difficult for the other person to receive. When it comes to being honest, kindness is king.

Something I didn’t believe a year ago: If you hurt someone else you hurt yourself. If you look deeply you’ll see how every action ripples out to the world and back at you. One man eats one bat in one wet market in one tiny corner of the globe and the whole world reels. The butterfly effect is very real. The more attention and care we can pay to each and every precious moment the better it is for all of us. 


3 x Quotes From Others:

“Optimism and pessimism can coexist. If you look hard enough you’ll see them next to each other in virtually every successful company and successful career. They seem like opposites, but they work together to keep everything in balance.” – Morgan Housel (Source: James Clear newsletter)

“Always, Always, Always Believe In Yourself, Because If You Don’t, Then Who Will, Sweetie? So Keep Your Head High, Keep Your Chin Up, And Most Importantly, Keep Smiling, Because Life’s A Beautiful Thing And There’s So Much To Smile About.” – Marilyn Monroe (Source: turtlequote.com)

“We are certainly capable of writing something poorly. No one has writing something poorly block.” – Seth Godin (Source: wanderingambivert.com)


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This Old Tim Ferris Podcast interview with Maria Popova on Writing, Workflow, and Workarounds. For those who aren’t familiar, Maria Popova is the author and creator of brainpickings.org. I’ve been a subscriber of her weekly email for a while now and absolutely love her work. You could spend hours upon hours getting lost in the treasure trove that is her blog. While this episode is a little old now her advice about blogging is timeless (I guess until people stop blogging of course). I found her advice about leaving comments on other blogs to be particularly insightful. This is very much an interview about blogging. Notes and quotes below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • Inhabiting your own identity is a perpetual project. 
  • What do you do? I do some reading and some writing with some thinking in between. I’m always thinking, how can I live a valuable life? My blog is a record of my thinking. 
  • “You should focus on just in time information, not just in case information”
  • I try to put out – “Timely and timeless material.”
  • “A true artist takes no notice whatever of the public” –  Oscar Wilde
  • A human struggle to be seen and understood for who you are – this is how all art comes to be. 
  • I don’t need to know how my work feels for other people. I care more about it reaching people in some way. How they react is less of a concern. But I do want it to reach them and talk to them in some way. 
  • People fail to understand that they should write and create the things they want to consume – not what they think someone else does.
  • Something I’ve been struggling with. The delicate balance between presence and productivity. 
  • Routine and rituals are a control mechanism that help to try and restore a bit of order to the messiness of life but that’s not all there is. 
  • I’m a huge proponent of sleep. To make the connections necessary for my creative process I need my brain to be alert. When I’m sleep deprived it doesn’t function nearly as well. A lack of sleep is total failure of priorities and self respect. 
  • Note taking – make an idea index. (Beautiful language or quote index) Write ideas/major themes then write page numbers where they occur. On the page highlight the particular passage you are thinking about. 
  • How much are we mistaking the doing for the being?
  • Philosophy used intelligently in an attempt to reclaim it – to understand it is the only way to figure out how to live.
  • The great Roman philosophers are just as relevant now as they were then. Their advice is timeless. 
  • The duo that causes all inspiration: desperation and frustration. 
  • It’s interesting that on that intellectual level we understand that delegating tasks is a sign of strength- to divy up based on your priorities but on physiological level it feels like death to give up control of the small things that are weighing you down/holding you back. 
  • Comments. The problem with snap judgments – writing a comment based on a fraction of the article or just the headline. This is something social media perpetuates. I can’t deal with it so I don’t.
  • “If you don’t have the patience to read something, don’t have the hubris to comment on it.” 
  • People have a hard time with criticism- why? I think people have less difficultly when someone has disagreed with or dislikes what they have to say. People have a harder time when they feel they’ve been misunderstood. 
  • The main kind of anguish is when you’re not being seen for who you are. When you’re being misunderstood. This culture of commenting without taking the care to understand the person you are talking to. To understand what they are about is a big problem. 
  • You have to be merciless about deleting comments where there’s clearly no patience or thinking shown. 
  • My blog is my home. If you’re gonna come and be an idiot you’re not welcome. I think of it as my living room. If you’re gonna show up drunk you’re not welcome. Period. 
  • I don’t want to promote a culture that is apathetical to why it is I do what I do. 
  • A culture of news is a culture without nuance. My blog/writing is about understanding the nuance. 
  • Guilt is the flipside of prestige. Both are terrible reasons for doing something. 

2 – This brilliant Mark Manson article, Why We All Need Philosophy. For those who doubt the importance philosophy plays in one’s life please take the time to give this a read. It’s a long read but well worth it! I’ll leave you with one quote from the article below.

“Philosophy teaches us the fundamental techniques for finding meaning and purpose in a world where there is no given meaning, no cosmic purpose. Philosophy gives us tools to determine what is likely to be important and true and what is likely frivolous and made-up. Philosophy shows us principles to help direct our actions, to determine our worth and values, to generate a magnetic field to direct our internal compass, so that we may never feel lost again.”


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

I’ll start this post by wishing my very silly boy a very happy birthday. He turned exactly 2 years old today!

As if to mark the occasion my son began expressing himself in a number of surprising ways this week.

First up he decided to start calling my wife, quote, “big fat mama.” Which would be hilarious if my wife wasn’t exactly 23 weeks pregnant…

Oh wait.

At any rate neither of us know where on earth he picked this unfortunate turn of phrase.

If only that were the worst of it!

During another more shocking episode last night at the dinner table he started shouting, “Ass! Ass!” – two times before laughing to himself.

My wife commented, “where on earth did he learn that from?”

I looked at my wife very seriously while replying, “I honestly don’t know, but I’m sure we can get to the bottom of it.”


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

Till next time…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all:

What does philosophy mean for you?

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


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Motivational Mondays – 07/09/20

NOTES FROM MY JOURNAL – AUGUST 2020 – The Question To Ask Before Every Decision, The Only Thing The World Needs From You, How To Overcome To-Do List Anxiety and More…

Hello lovely readers and welcome to my monthly newsletter! Included is a round up of what I’ve written about this past August. To begin with are some thoughts on what has been a difficult month for me personally. I hope that you can draw some inspiration from my words. Love to all X


AUGUST REFLECTIONS:

To be honest with you I’ve been struggling recently.

My spirit has taken a hit after returning to a long-haul roster for first time since January. Having to spend my layovers confined to some very tired looking hotel rooms – including a week at an airport hotel – has been difficult for me.

The joy of getting lost in some of the world’s most exciting cities has always been one of my favourite pastimes. To get out of the hotel room always provided my mind with the outlet it needed to remain sane despite the loss of sleep.

Getting lost in the back streets of Roma, watching the sun set over the Mediterranean Sea from a beach in Tel Aviv, hiring a bike and riding across the golden gate bridge on a beautiful summers day in San Fransisco…

Need I remind myself of how extraordinarily privileged I am to have enjoyed all of these things as part of my job.

Yet, as I sit from my hotel room admiring the city scape over Sydney’s darling harbour, I can’t help but pine for the outdoors. It would be a perfect day to climb the harbour bridge or head down to bondi beach. The world is a forbidden fruit at the moment that makes me want it even more.

I feel I’ve done extremely well to make the most of this year but the truth is it’s beginning to catch up with me. I feel so sad as I sit and write these words. As wonderful an outlet as blogging has been, the human spirit struggles in isolation.

There’s something else that’s been bothering me since returning to work. Something that’s become much more apparent since returning from a long period of regular sleep. That is just how important it has been for my mental health. The body simply isn’t designed to miss a nights sleep, let alone 3 or 4 times a month as is so often the case.

When you start to do the maths it becomes a little scary.

3 to 4 nights of missed sleep per month is roughly equal to 1 year’s worth of sleep lost during the course of 10! A milestone I will reach very soon. At the age of 33, staring down the barrel of doing this for another 30, makes me want to pull the trigger now.

The warning signs are present – both physically and mentally. My body has started to tell me things my heart doesn’t want to hear. Winning the battle against depression and anxiety in my work is one thing, saving my longer term health is another. There is nothing more important than your health.

I already know I can only do this job for a handful more years. Still, I desperately don’t want the last of those years to be like this. I want to leave on my terms – knowing that it was because I chose to leave, not because my health forced me to. I want to leave simply because I know in my heart that it’s the right time to do so, with no regrets. Unfortunately this may well be out of my control. Whether it’s the coronavirus or my health that forces my hand, I have to be prepared to move on. To accept that some things are simply out of my control.

With all that said, today, I still have a job and it’s never been more important to remain grateful for that fact. To remember how my job helps the world keep ticking at a time when it’s all but ground to a halt. To remember that beyond all of this I still love to fly aeroplanes.


WHAT I’VE BEEN WRITING: 

The Only Thing The World Needs From You

An opinion piece about following your dreams while simultaneously telling society to go fuck itself. I think you’ll enjoy this one!

5 Counter-Intuitive Ways To Find Your True Calling

Some follow up advice to the previous post about how one might actually find their true calling in life (whatever the fuck that means).

Why Freedom Demands Responsibility

Some thoughts about freedom and responsibility. From the article:

Freedom demands we choose our responsibilities. The same way that having a life demands we protect it. If you want freedom of choice then you have to choose to take responsibility for your life. If you don’t someone else will choose your responsibilities for you. The danger is they will use that for their own profit and power by forming a narrative you refused to take responsibility for forming yourself. In doing so they will shut your mind from your heart. The moment that happens you’ve lost your freedom.”

5 Simple Tricks For Overcoming To-Do List Anxiety

I had a lot of fun writing this one – dishing out some timeless advice about how to write a to-do list that doesn’t make you want to jump off a building. As I wrote:

“Why exactly does writing out our responsibilities on paper cause some us to run away from them faster than a teenage boy climaxes? After all we know this kind of behaviour doesn’t help us, yet we can’t help ourselves. Sometimes all we want is to tell life to go fuck itself and so we do, even if that means fucking ourselves in the process.

The Question To Ask Yourself Before Every Decision

A more heartfelt piece that explores that question, “Am I doing this because of love or fear?” As I wrote:

“I felt it was such an insightful way of asking yourself why or why not you should do something – whatever that may be – as you go about your day. The more I contemplated it over the following weeks, the more I realised how powerful it was as a guiding force in keeping the values I hold close to my heart, clear in my mind. After all, I believe all our feelings and actions are driven, on a basis level, by one of these two underlying emotions. This question is a great way of bringing to light, exactly which one of these two emotions is driving your actions at any particular moment.”

I Am The Fly

A short but sweet poem to finish the month.

Motivational Mondays

My weekly newsletter designed to rewrite the narrative that Mondays are the most depressing day of the week and to get you in the mood for the week ahead. 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 in the week that have helped me grow. It finishes with 1 something silly to designed to make you lovely readers smile. The link above was this weeks post. Below are from the rest of the month. Enjoy!

Motivational Mondays – 24/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 17/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 10/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

ALSO…

A couple of milestones this month including my very first blogging award and reaching 200 fine followers!


CLOSING THOUGHTS

That’s everything from me for the wonderful month of August guys and gals. I’d like to finish by thanking all you lovely readers for taking the time to read my pokey little blog. Although it’s not been the best month of the year for me mentally – you have all helped tremendously. You really have given me strength to carry on.

For anyone else who is struggling may I add that it’s perfectly ok if you are. It’s very important to allow yourself to feel sad when you do. We must mourn the past if we are to live freely in the present. To do that you have to show up for your emotions. Ultimately that’s what I believe courage is, showing up for your emotions however they are, however difficult they may be.

If you want to drop me a line in the comments section please do. I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. Please don’t be afraid to speak up. I’m a stupid man but I have a big heart. All I want is to help all of you as you have helped me. Together we are better.

Love to all,

AP2 X

Motivational Mondays – 31/08/20

Hello fine readers and welcome back to my Motivational Mondays Post – The only weekly newsletter to give your medicine with a spoon full of sugar!

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 silly story to lighten your Monday blues… 

Love to all X


4 x Thoughts From Me:

If you can improve your life knowing you already have enough, then future failures will hurt you less and future successes will bring you more joy. 

The early bird often catches the worm because he or she is an early bird. If you’re a night owl, forcing yourself to catch worms in the morning isn’t the best strategy. Far better to build your day according to a schedule that suits your chronotype. Why hunt for worms if it’s easier for you to catch mice?

For all wannabe bloggers: understand we all have to start from scratch and that it takes time and effort for things to take off. Most important are your reasons for blogging. Let it be about the love of writing. Let it be about helping others, however small the number. If your words reach just one person then you’ve already achieved something special. Forget the numbers and speak from your heart. Forget the numbers and concentrate on making connections instead. Forget the numbers and enjoy the journey.

An intolerance of right wing politics from the left only strengthens intolerance in the right and vice versa. Not having tolerance for those who you disagree only strengthens their position, as well as your own. It only deepens the divide. What we need is greater understanding. We cannot change what we don’t understand.


3 x Quotes From Others:

“To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.” – Octavia Butler

“After a point of time, when you get success and fame, money and everything, the purpose of life has to be redefined. For me, I think that purpose is to build bridges. Artists can do that very easily, more than politicians.” – A. R. Rahman

“Democracy is only as good as the education that surrounds it.”- Socrates


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This interesting No Stupid Questions podcast episode with Steven Dubner and Angela Duckworth: How Much of Your Life Do You Actually Control? In this episode Steven and Angela discuss the advantages of having an internal locus of control versus an external locus. They also discuss the reasons why we procrastinate and how to stop it. Note and quotes below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • Those who have an internal locus of control tend to think they effect outcomes more than they actually do. They believe life is controlled by them. Those with an external locus tend to think they have less control than they actually do. They believe life happens to them. 
  • People with an internal locus tend to be more successful. They have better mental health. People with external locus are more prone to depression- tend to be more lackadaisical at work. 
  • The most productive thing one can do in a difficult situation is to concentrate on controlling the controllables.
  • Good to have two columns in your mind. What you can control and what you can’t. Make the active choice to concentrate your finite attention and energy on what you can control. Give up wasting it on blaming external circumstances outside of your control. 
  • Children taught to have a growth mindset and to have grit perform better. It’s important to teach this mindset keeping in mind that other children – through no fault of their own – are disadvantaged. We can’t continue to create a culture of superiority where adults believe it’s only because they worked harder that they have been more successful. 
  • “Why put off what you can do tomorrow till the day after tomorrow?” – Mark Twain 
  • Why do we procrastinate? We procrastinate because of fear. Not because of laziness. 
  • We often think of a task as being far more difficult and taxing than it really is. As a result we expend more emotional energy procrastinating than we would if we simply got on with the task.
  • I love deadlines. I need deadlines. Without the deadline I’d be about 90% less productive than I am. 
  • Procrastinating is a form of impulsivity. It’s a failure to delay gratification – like the marshmallow test. The question is whether you are going to do what’s best for your future self or please your present self? 
  • A procrastinator correlates with lower achievement and lower self esteem 
  • Upside to procrastination?- more creative. Procrastinating can be used as a useful creative tool. To connect the dots. 
  • But deliberately delaying a task or a problem to think of a solution – is that procrastination? Procrastination is used as a negative term to describe an action we wish we had done earlier. 
  • Tip 1. Break big tasks into small tasks. The dread is often because you are anticipating the enormity of a task like writing a book. When focusing on small manageable chunks progress becomes easier. 
  • Tip 2. Just start. Self deception. I’m just going to take a look. I’m just going to do 5 mins. Simply start and you’ll often find you end up doing more than you expected.

2 – This excellent TED talk – Why Schools Should Teach Children For The Real World – by Ted Dintersmith.

“As automation eliminates structured jobs and careers, schools should focus on training students to be bold, creative and entrepreneurial. Instead, argues education advocate Ted Dintersmith, the core purpose of education has been lost in a wave of testing, data and increasingly irrelevant metrics. In this talk, he underscores the need to educate for innovative and creative strengths, and trust our schools and teachers to prepare our kids for life, instead of standardized tests.”


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

This one will be short and sweet, just like my gorgeous silly boy who decided to start naming his nose after things!

Yes you read that correctly.

As my wife explained, he’s started pointing at his nose and saying things like, “This is car!”

I laughed before replying, “That’s good to nose…”

I’m here all week ladies and gentlemen!


Till next time…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

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

One bonus question for you all:

What can you write about that nobody else can?

(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 – 24/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 17/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 10/08/20

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

200 Followers!

Can you believe it?

200 whole individual follower people!

That’s 199 people I don’t know and my mum! Hi mum 👋!

Extraordinary stuff.

Where do I begin?

Of course it’s been a long and arduous journey since I started blogging, with many ups and downs along the way, but to reach 200 followers is beyond my wildest expectations! (I’m guessing it’s beyond anybody’s wildest expectations!)

Couple this with winning what can only be described as the blogging equivalent of an Oscar last month, one could only conclude this is the finest blog in the entire blogosphere!

But don’t take my word for it, just ask my mum!

Now please bare with me while I try to be serious for a second…

I genuinely want to thank all of you who have taken the time to read my pokey little blog this year.

I started blogging because I wanted to help others in some way, shape or from, while also improve my limited skills as a writer. Having overcome a number of personal issues with depression and anxiety in recent years, I also believed I had something more to offer than simply telling people how great they are (which of course they are).

I’ve no idea if much my words have had any effect, but I can say with absolute certainty your words have helped me enormously. If I got into this because I enjoy writing, connecting with all of you lovely people is what will keep me in the game for much longer.

The sheer number of amazing individuals all trying to help one another become better people is truly inspiring. It really has been a great things to feed off of, especially this year.

To each and every one of you – for helping to teach me, to challenge my very limited ways of thinking, for engaging me with humour, love and compassion – thank you all so so much. You have all been a massive silver lining to the monstrous storm cloud that is 2020.

Love to all,

AP2.

5 Simple Tricks For Overcoming To-Do List Anxiety

“Procastination isn’t caused by laziness. We don’t postpone tasks to avoid work. We do it to avoid negative emotions that a task stirs up – like anxiety, frustration, confusion, and boredom.”

SOURCE: Adam Grant’s Worklife podcast – ‘The Real Reason You Procrastinate.’

Do you know that feeling, after you’ve written out your to-do list, despite how it’s suppose to make you feel, when all you want to-do is crawl under a rock and die? 

You know, when a slow and painful death seems preferable to confronting the mountain of tedious work you feel you have to-do?

And so you slowly put down your to-do list, walk over to the couch, gently sit down, carefully pick up the remote control and turn on NETFLIX. Which you then proceed to binge watch for several hours…

A bit like a psychopath who completely disconnects from all his or her responsibilities and emotions? 

I’m sure you do.

Anyway this got me thinking.

Why exactly does writing out our responsibilities on paper cause some us to run away from them faster than a teenage boy climaxes?

After all we know this kind of behaviour doesn’t help us, yet we can’t help ourselves. Sometimes all we want is to tell life to go fuck itself and so we do, even if that means fucking ourselves in the process.

The real question, of course, is how can we stop our to-do lists from making us feel like shit and actually help us get shit done instead?

Well fear not my fine readers for I’ve complied 5 simple tricks – as partially backed by science – to help you not only write a to-do list that doesn’t make you want to tell life to go fuck itself, but carry it out as well!

You’re very welcome!


1 – DO THE THING YOU FEAR THE MOST FIRST

“The task you’re avoiding isn’t always the one you hate. Sometimes it’s the one you fear. The one that’s most worth pursuing.”

SOURCE: ADAM GRANT’S WORKLIFE PODCAST – ‘THE REAL REASON YOU PROCRASTINATE.’

The science shows that making a plan to complete a task provides the same mental relief as completing the task itself.

Which is exactly the point. Writing a to-do list is suppose to make you feel better so you can actually get started with something.

It’s suppose to get you in the mood… (Yeah baby!)

The problem for me, and I suspect countless others, was never a matter of productivity, but what it was I actually chose to accomplish during the day. I now realise I used my to-do list as a way to constantly defer the shit I was most afraid of.

I’m not talking about homework assignments here of course. I mean things like confronting my depression by asking for professional help or having certain difficult conversations with certain family members about shit I really don’t want to talk about…

Yeah, you know, the shit you really need to be doing first!

It was pointed out to me, in Adam Grant‘s excellent worklife podcast episode – ‘the real reason you procrastinate,’ that it wasn’t the tasks I was avoiding but the emotions I’d attached to said tasks.

The problem with ignoring these tasks is you inadvertently give those emotions (the thing that you’re actually afraid of confronting) greater hold over you. Thus the longer you leave said tasks undone the harder they become to-do.

Unfortunately there’s only one solution.

However scary they are, the tasks that you fear the most are exactly the ones you should be pursuing first. Not tidy the apartment!

Why?

Well it’s a classic Catch 22. By doing the very tasks you’re afraid of, you’re helping to confront and resolve those emotions that caused you to avoid those tasks in the first place.

If you don’t want to live with those emotions any longer, then you have to stop avoiding them. You have to rip the bandaid off. If you don’t it’s only gonna hurt more later on. Believe me!

Of course I realise this might not be what you want to hear so I thought I’d offer a few more tips that can help you do what’s necessary by putting things into perspective.

2 – ASK YOURSELF, “WHAT WOULD I DO IF THIS WERE MY LAST DAY ON EARTH?

It’s important to be very clear about what your most important tasks are on any given day. Often we’re not. A great way to do this – something I do every morning as part of my journalling routine – is to ask yourself the following question: “What would I do if this were my last day on earth?”

I’m guessing your to-do list would look markedly different.

Things like telling your family how much you love them. Apologising for any major wrong doings or forgiving those that wronged you would also probably appear. Remaining as present as you possibly can be. Paying attention to every waking moment for the truly precious moment that it is! Sitting with and observing any difficult emotions. Allowing those emotions to come out (instead of watching NETFLIX). Taking a walk outside to feel the elements – wind, rain, hail or shine! Simply being…

You get the point.

Of course you shouldn’t take this question too seriously otherwise you’ll probably bin your to-do list altogether and tell your boss to-go fuck himself. Perhaps not in the best interest of your future self…

Still this is a great question because it helps align your to-do list with the values you hold closest. It helps to prioritise the things that you really should. It also puts thing into perspective.

The truth is you don’t have to-do anything. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and self-loathing by thinking so. You don’t have to-do anything if you don’t want to.

You get to do those things.

Which brings me to my next trick for reframing your to-do list. That is,

3 – WRITE A GET TO-DO LIST INSTEAD

Put that at the top in big bold capital letters: GET to-do.

Not only does this set yourself up to be more grateful for what you feel you might have to-do, it also helps to take the pressure off.

You get to do it, you don’t have to do it.

Keep reminding yourself of this important fact.

I’d add another small tip.

Write out 3 things you’re grateful for today before you write out your get to-do list. I could show you some science that shows just how beneficial having a gratitude practise is, but I don’t want to bore you.

You know all this.

The point to label is YOU GET TO-DO THESE THIHGS. One day you’ll be dead and you won’t get to.

It helps to keep that in mind.

4 -KEEP IT MODEST AND BE SPECIFIC

How much do you really need to-do today?

So many of us put everything down we’d like to complete and then burn out after realising we’ll never be able to achieve all those things.

You’ve got make it manageable.

Don’t say I’ll write one blog post or go for a 10km run or finish reading that book. Say I’ll write one paragraph, jog for five minutes and read one chapter.

Simply taking a step in the right direction is enough.

So what if you didn’t quite get everything you wanted to-do done?

The most important thing is that you enjoyed it. You’re never going to enjoy it if you’re always racing towards the finish line.

And if you really don’t manage to complete much, if anything, of what you intended, then please refer to point number 5.

5 – SHOW YOURSELF SOME COMPASSION

‘You can change some of those emotions by showing yourself compassion. We procrastinate less when we remind ourselves that it’s part of the human condition. We’re not the only one suffering from it.’

SOURCE: ADAM GRANT’S WORKLIFE PODCAST – ‘THE REAL REASON YOU PROCRASTINATE.’

A tough one to finish I know. The truth is I’m awful at being kind to myself.

This is why, every morning as part of my meditation routine before I do anything else, I practise a loving kindness meditation for everybody including myself.

After all it can’t be called universal compassion if it doesn’t include yourself.

It’s important to remember we’re all fallible humans at the end of the day. Things like confronting our demons aren’t easy. It takes time to find the courage.

Go easy on yourself if you don’t do that scary task.

Who honestly get’s everything they mean to-do in a day? Really? I certainly don’t.

That said, I tell my wife I love her every night before bed without fail. I make sure I spend a couple of quality hours with my son – laughing and playing with him every afternoon before dinner. I meditate every single morning and take every opportunity to practise mindfulness whenever I can. I always go for a walk outside as a way to remind myself that I’m alive and how fucking amazing that is!

Quite frankly the rest can fucked. Occasionally it does!

The older I get the more willing I am to say, so the fuck what? Tomorrow’s another day right? If you fall off the horse today, simply get back on it tomorrow. Falling down is inevitable. Getting back up is what matters.

That’s life.

(As always I welcome ALL opinions on this blog. If you have any other tips about crafting the ultimate to-do list I’d be very keen to hear from you in the comments section below! Thank you all so much for reading!)


SOURCES:

WorkLife with Adam Grant episode on ‘The Real Reason You Procrastinate.’

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/tech-support/201310/why-your-do-list-drives-you-crazy

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/zeigarnik-effect

Mystery Blogger Award #1

By… 

The creator of this award is Okoto Engima.

First up, a massive thank you to BThought1 for awarding my exceptional blog Clear-Air-Turbulence this most prestigious award!!! I joke of course, I’m not sure how prestigious this award actually is… 😂 Seriously though, it’s an absolute honour you thought of my poky blog given the sheer amount of truly exceptional blogs out there. It’s connecting with wonderful individuals such as yourself that has made blogging so meaningful for me. To all of my lovely readers I highly recommend checking out his excellent blog. He’s a very insightful writer.

So what are the Rules for this most prestigious blogging award?

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

3. Mention the creator of the award.

4. Answers the five questions you were asked.

5. Tell the readers three things about yourself.

6. Nominate your favourite bloggers.

Notify the bloggers( tell them you nominated them) by commenting on one of their posts.

7. Ask your nominees five questions with one weird or funny one.

8. Share a link to your best posts.

Onto the questions!

1. What keeps you motivated in these difficult times?
As a pilot I can tell you it isn’t flying! Aside from playing with my very silly family I’d have to say that blogging has become my favourite lockdown activity. It’s more productive than binge watching NETFLIX at least…

2. Are you a story-teller or a story-listener?
I’m a terrible listener – mainly because that requires patience. Telling a good story on the other hand is all about embellishing the truth, or omitting it entirely. This I’m very good at. 

3. Who inspires you the most?
Without a doubt my ridiculous two year old son. He has shown me more about what it means to be alive than any adult every has.

4. Why do you enjoy writing and blogging?
I think too much. Writing is an amazing way to focus the monkey mind on something positive. Left to its own devices my brain usually goes places it shouldn’t. A bit like walking around a dodgy neighbourhood past midnight. It’s actually quite dangerous.

5. What music do you like to listen to?
Before children I used to listen to many different types of awesome hipster music. Now all I’m allowed to listen to is the wheels on the bus go round and round. It’s ironic that my son thinks it needs to be played all day long as well.

3 things about myself

1. I’m half kiwi (the animal, not the fruit).

2. I became a pilot to travel the world not to fly aeroplanes.

3. I’m obsessed with psychology and philosophy .

My nominees are:

1. Pointless Overthinking

2. Word Of Wayne

3. Junkiegenius

4. Glitter In The Darkness

5. The Magpie Fancier

To all my lovely readers – all your blogs have inspired me in some way so please consider yourself nominated too! 

To my nominees please use the same questions above.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about me. It’s getting late here in Hong Kong so I’m gonna turn in. If you want to read some more of my fine work please click here. I would caution that my writing usually requires a pinch of salt.

Love to all X

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

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 (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 hopefully make you all smile. 

Love to all X

(To my lovely readers: 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. Thank you all so much for reading.)


4 x Thoughts From Me:

What if the only thing that is wrong with you is that you think there is something wrong with you?

Sit down every night and pat yourself on the back for the things you did well and then examine the ways in which you could have done better. Bring both your sense of accomplishment and willingness to improve into your next day. You will go far by making this a daily habit.

We talk about the possibility of being alone in this universe as if the world we live in isn’t enough. I think we all need a better understanding of what enough actually is.

Intelligent self interest is about understanding we are all part of the same world. That to hurt another is to hurt yourself. I would go so far as to say how you treat others is how you treat yourself. Kindness to others extends inwards as well as out. The same is as true for anger or hatred. You give fuel to those feelings within by acting on them. Be sure to choose forgiveness over resentment, kindness over hate and love over fear.


3 x Quotes From Others:

“There are two core fears: losing what you have and not getting what you want. There is one solution: falling in love with where you are.”Jeff Foster

“Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” – Rumi


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This fantastic Ted talk by Ethan Hawke on why being creative is so vital (my favourite quotes from the transcript are beneath):

MY FAVOURITE QUOTES:

“I believe that we are here on this star in space to try to help one another. Right? And first we have to survive, and then we have to thrive. And to thrive, to express ourselves, alright, well, here’s the rub: we have to know ourselves. What do you love? And if you get close to what you love, who you are is revealed to you, and it expands.”

“It’s a thing that worries me sometimes whenever you talk about creativity, because it can have this kind of feel that it’s just nice, you know, or it’s warm or it’s something pleasant. It’s not. It’s vital.”

“What makes kids so beautifully creative, is that they don’t have any habits, and they don’t care if they’re any good or not, right? They’re not building a sandcastle going, “I think I’m going to be a really good sandcastle builder.” They just throw themselves at whatever project you put in front of them — dancing, doing a painting, building something: any opportunity they have, they try to use it to impress upon you their individuality. It’s so beautiful. “

“If you want to help your community, if you want to help your family, if you want to help your friends, you have to express yourself. And to express yourself, you have to know yourself. It’s actually super easy. You just have to follow your love. There is no path. There’s no path till you walk it, and you have to be willing to play the fool.

2 – This BBC article – How being realistic can be key to your wellbeing. A study comparing optimists, pessimists and realists found that, “overestimating outcomes and underestimating them are both associated with lower wellbeing than getting expectations about right. Realists do best.” This is worth the quick read.


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

Having spent the last 4 days confined to a hotel room it was a relief to arrive back in Hong Kong this morning. 

Unfortunately, because of the recent spike in cases here, it’s now mandatory that all crew, as well as passengers, be tested for COVID on arrival. 

As I waited in line a lady dressed in a bio hazard suit assembled my COVID testing kit. She explained to me that I needed to deposit my specimen in a small plastic cup over in one of booths set up behind her. 

She’d omitted the word saliva…

I couldn’t help myself.

“That’s an awful lot of pressure,” I replied jokingly. “Do you have any magazines or anything that might help the process along?”

“Oh yes,” she replied clearly not registering, “you can watch a video that demonstrates how to do it on one of the big screen over there.”

“Hmmm, I’m not sure that will help,” I said as she handed me my testing kit.

She was clearly perplexed.

Probably a good thing she couldn’t see me smirking behind my face mask.

I walked to the booth in shame.


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 to ponder:

What does success mean to you?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POSTS:

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

The Simplest, Most Effective Way To Overcome Writer’s Block

Are you struggling for words? 

Stuck in a loop? 

Don’t know how to proceed? 

Do you feel like everything you’re writing is a pile of s***? That you’re making everything ten times worse than what you’d originally put down on paper?

Well fear not my friends, for I have the answer and boy oh boy is it a doozy!

I hope you’re ready because this will surely blow your mind.

Here it is…

The simplest, most effective way to overcome writer’s block is to…

KEEP WRITING

Yep, it’s that simple. 

Keep going. 

Keep plugging away and never give up. 

You have what it takes but you have to keep going.

You have to have the faith you’ll figure it out. That the words will come. Sometimes it takes revisiting and editing a damn post so many times you’ll wanna throw your laptop (and yourself) off the top of the highest skyscraper you can climb. 

Don’t do that.

Keep going. The struggle will pay off in the end I promise. Trust. 

I’ll add a couple more bonus tip for you.

You don’t have to write anything you don’t want to. Make sure you enjoy it.

Make sure you’re doing it because you love and believe in what you have to say

Forget the number of likes. That’s your ego’s need for attention. Listen to your heart. Your mind is meant to be its servant not the master. 

And if it really is too much. If you have been writing incessantly but only seem to be digging yourself an even messier hole to write yourself out of. 

Get outside and go for a walk. Or spend half an hour punching a bag. Whatever it is get out and do some exercise then come back to what you where stuck on. 

This always works wonders for me. In fact some of my greatest creative inspirations and solutions come from walking in my local park everyday. 

It really is be the best antidote. But once  you’ve had a healthy amount of time away don’t forget to come back and tackle that beast of a post you were stuck on. 

You will defeat it, if you simply keep writing…

(Sorry I ran out of words to say at this point so went outside to listen to the birds chirping in my local park. If you have any suggestions please do leave them in the comments section below.)

Happy F***ing Mondays – 29/06/20

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 4 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


4 x Thoughts I’ve Been Thinking:

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 – are the hardest to solve. Give yourself real problems that are larger than you – such as helping others and the world at large – and your mind won’t be so concerned with creating problems for itself. 

Acting from a place of simply wanting to be better vs a place of feeling inadequate. There’s a big difference! In both cases you want to be better but if you’re trying to make up for something you feel you’re not, it’s much harder to actually do so.

A Better You = A Better World. 


4 x Quotes I’ve been Pondering:

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain.” Dolly Parton

“Reading is the nourishment that lets you do interesting work.” – Novelist Jennifer Egan

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin 

“Enlightenment is an accident – but meditation makes us accident-prone.” – American Zen Teacher Baker Roshi


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

1 – This Mark Hyman Podcast episode about How To Live In Flow-Motion. In this mini episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy Mark Hyman talks with Reverend Michael Beckwith and Dr. Andrea Pennington, about how we can connect to our highest selves. (I loved Rev. Michael Beckwith’s description of what he sees as the 4 stages of spiritual growth: ‘The first is the victim stage where everything happens to us. We are constantly looking to blame others for our lives – we cannot grow in this stage. The second stage is when we apply learned laws of the mind to the real world (we are accepting and taking responsibility for our reality by asking empowering questions). The third stage is the flow state (‘being in the zone’) – where our higher purpose acts through us. The forth stage is the being stage where we are act as one (with the wider world).’) The video version of this episode is posted below:

2 – This No Stupid Questions Podcast: Is Incompetence a Form of Dishonesty? In this episode Stephen J. Dubner and Angela Duckworth debate two questions: Question #1: Is it immoral to slack off at work when others are depending on you to do a good job? and Question #2: How valuable is it to have a personal mission statement? I found the debate on the latter particularly interesting. My notes and quotes from the show are below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • Often people have too much emotion around failing so avoid trying in the first place (instead of simply acknowledging mistakes without emotion and then seeking to understand/correct them). 
  • What do competence and honesty have in common? There is a standard and there is integrity. It matters if you reach it or fall short. 
  • There is a psychological phenomena where if you feel you have credit, morally speaking, in one area people feel they can slack off in another. (You ordered a Diet Coke so you can order super sized fries). This accounts to both incompetence and dishonesty. You’re telling yourself it’s good enough when it’s not. 
  • The problem is satisfising is not a great way to look at morality. You have a standard which is good enough as opposed to continually reflecting on how you can be better
  • Better is a better goal than perfect 
  • Perfect puts us off because we tell ourselves we can never attain that and so give up on simply being better in the first place. 

On having Top level goals (a personal mission statement): 

  • What is it? It’s a mission statement. It’s the why behind everything you do. What is the why behind everything you do? 
  • It’s important to be clear about your core principles and values. 
  • ‘Improve human kind’ is too abstract – A good mission statement should be a specific statement about the mission. 
  • There’s a trade off between abstraction and specificity. Too specific and there is no flexibility.
  • It can be very useful way to point your moral compass in the right direction.
  • A good top level goal helps better direct and prioritise low level goals (such as your todo list – which are more specific) 
  • “Use psychological science to help children thrive” – Angela’s Top Level Goal
  • “Everyday try to suck a little less” – Stephen’s Top Level Goal
  • In psychology we distinguish between Approach Motivation vs Avoidance Motivation. One you want to get better. The other is you want to fail less. 
  • Trying to eliminate mistakes is more motivational than trying to be better because the latter leads you to compare yourself with others. 
  • Top level goals are not necessarily needed for everyone especially if you have your priorities in order. However if you’re stuck or unsure of what direction to take in life it can help. 
  • Trying to say what you’re all about (10 words or less) can be a very valuable exercise. Particularly useful for leaders. 
  • If a top line goal or mission statement is well written in can help. But too vague and it’s lost. 

3 – This Intelligence Squared podcast episode: The Reckoning: Kwame Kwei-Armah and Idris Elba on the Arts and Black Lives Matter. Two leading voices from the arts, Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of the Young Vic, and Idris Elba, star of The Wire and Luther, discuss what should happen and is likely to happen in the world of culture as we move forward in the wake of the brutal killing fo George Flyod. My notes and quotes from the show are below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • When you take away art you take away people’s voice. This becomes a pressure cooker for disaster. 
  • People need their voices. They need healthy ways to express their thoughts and feelings. It’s going to be an explosive time when people are allowed to express themselves again. 
  • When my 15 year old son asks if I can join the march despite the threat of covid I ask why. When he replies that a white knee on his neck and structural inequality are a bigger threat than covid what can I say? 
  • History often forgets what has comes before
  • It’s up to the older generation to be both inside and outside the house. To be encouraging the noise outside the house but also listen on the inside and make the changes needed to fix this. 
  • We must lead by example. Don’t wait for others to put their hands up. If you know the answer then speak. 
  • Knowing the answer is getting on with it.
  • Its easy to fixate on how bad the past was – to talk about our history. To look and marvel at how far we’ve come. But this can be self defeating for our future. 
  • We should always be thinking about where we are going 
  • Diversity of thought is so important. To have people who think completely different to you around you. To get you to think differently. 
  • How do we change the ratio of ethnicity in the work place? By diversity of thought. 
  • Art and artists. Everything is born of our imagination.  Everything. Look forward with your eyes open. 
  • If you want to make it in this world as a black mane you have to be twice as good as a white man. 
  • This intention is feeding a generation.
  • Telling our children to be twice as good has become a huge advantage because we have become multifaceted. We are no longer simply hustling on one front but multiple fronts. 
  • Our progress is coming home to roost. 
  • While our burden has become our strength and made us better it has come at a cost. We don’t want our children to keep growing up worrying about having to be twice as good and fight racial inequality. 
  • Change is coming but it isn’t going to happen over night. The mistake we’ve made is thinking the storm has passed. The storm is still here.
  • The future is alive and well in our children. Look – it’s already here! They are out and fighting. They already see themselves as a joint generation. We didn’t and they do. This is progress. Stay positive and believe in the change. Get on board. It’s happening. Get on board. If you don’t you’ll end up drowning. 

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

We were talking to my parents over video call the other day when my mother apologised for arriving a little late. She explained she had been busy baking buns. Something she’d been doing a lot of recently. #covidlife

I said, “It sounds like you’re on a bit of a roll.”

I got the usual sarcastic moan. 

I continued, “It’s ok, I can see how it must be a lot of bun!”

The laughter was deafening…


Till next weeks terrible joke,

Happy Fucking Mondays Everybody!

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

One Bonus question for you all:

What ‘bun’ things have you been doing lately?


PREVIOUS HAPPY MONDAY POSTS:

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

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 – 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 Power of Routine in Cementing Habits, Lifting Mood and Increasing Productivity.

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”

― W. H. Auden

I’ve worked hard on perfecting my day to day routines over the last half year – in the process cementing a number of positive habits that has had a profound effect on my general mood, motivation and productivity.

Not only have I been far more consistent in going through my morning routine, the implementation of an evening routine (as recommended by my therapist) has, among a number of other benefits, helped improve my relationship to sleep tremendously.

For those interested readers I have listed a breakdown of my current morning and evening routines in detail below. Hopefully it will serve as inspiration should you be looking to build upon your own morning and evening routines.

My Morning routine:

#1 Wake up – Drink a glass of water and make my bed first thing! (This sets the tone). 

#2 Go to the bathroom – brush my teeth and weigh myself. 

#3 Change into workout clothes – then meditate for 10 – 20 mins without fail!

#4 Exercise for 5mins (if nothing else) to 1 hour (usually 30-40mins of HIT or Weights/Strength trainingFor those interested in doing similar I can highly recommend checking out fitness blender online or via YouTube. They have hundreds of brilliant at-home workouts for all levels, that require nothing more than a yoga mat).

#5 Shower and get changed into my best clothes for the day! 

#6 Make Brunch – low carb/high protein – and take my vitamins (I usually skip breakfast as part of my fasting window in which I only eat during a block of 8 hours a day) with coffee or tea. 

#7 Go to Office –review my day plan/goals and write in my journal. (I keep my journalling very simple – tip hat to Tim Ferris for the inspiration – by asking myself a few questions. Those are: What am I grateful for? What is worrying you most today (and what can i do about it)? What would make today great (how would you spend it if it were your last)?)

#8 Write or work for 1 hour. (Sometimes in the chaos of playing with my boy or doing other things I’ll ear-mark a period in the afternoon- usually when my son has his nap – for work and/or writing ✍️). 

My Evening routine:

#1 Have dinner as a family at the table – mention one thing you’re grateful for today and one thing you could have done better (works well as a conversation starter).

#2 After dinner – run through Liam’s bed time routine and put him to bed. 

#3 Go to the office immediately after and write tomorrow’s plan/goals and also in my journal. (Again I ask myself a few simple questions. Those are: 3 amazing things that happened today? What did you do well? How could i have made today better? What did i learn?)

#4 Shower and change into pyjamas. 

#5 Make a cup of tea to enjoy on the couch – watch some TV/play games (Limit to 1 hour or 1 movie) and/or read. 

#6 Stretch – 30 mins of gentle Yoga (I usually do this while watching TV)

#7 Brush teeth/get ready for bed then TALK TO HOLLY EVERY NIGHT WITHOUT FAIL! (How have you been doing today? Are you OK? What are some things you have been thinking about or are bothering you?)

#8 Reading

#9 Evening meditation (visualisation) then sleep. 

Routine is massively underrated and something I now believe to be so so important.

Some key takeaways… 

Start small and do what you can. On a near perfect day I’ll tick every item off the list but I rarely do. Thats ok. I don’t imagine many would ever be able to run through their routines perfectly, so if you can’t do, for example, 20 mins Meditation then do 10. If you can’t do 10, do 5. If you can’t do 5 (really?) do 1. If all you have time for is 1 push up then just do that. Tick it off and improve the next day. The important thing is to show up. 

Change it to suit your needs on the day. I often have to change the order if I don’t have the time for something like getting in a proper session of exercise. In this case I’ll try reschedule it for the afternoon or count it as my weekly rest day. If it doesn’t get done don’t beat yourself up – simply get on the horse the next day. 

That said I have found that if I do just 3 or 4 out of 8/9 on each list, I’ll have a much better day than having done nothing. For that reason I have a few NON NEGOTIABLE ITEMS.

In the morning these are making the bed and meditating first thing. I also make sure to write in my journal (I’ll do it over breakfast if I’m really pushed for time as it only takes 5 minutes. This is about the same amount of time it takes to brush my teeth, so I feel there are no excuses).

In the evening my non negotiable items are making my plan for the following day and again writing in my journal. Also talking to my wife at the end of the day, if only for 5 minutes. I like to think of these non-negotiable items as my abbreviated MRs and ERs.

If all else about my day fails and turns to complete dog shite, I can at least to go to bed knowing that I’ve done these simple things. I showed up even on a bad day.

With the world in isolation because of the COVID-19 I might add that now is the perfect time to start implementing your own morning and evening routines. Ones that help to build healthier long-term habits to hopefully last far longer than this crisis does.