I’m Back

When Micheal Jordan returned from the NBA after an extended hiatus his publicity manager was unsure how they should announce the news. So, he wrote a number of press releases for Micheal to choose from. 

But Jordan didn’t like any of them. He said, “I’ll do it myself.” before picking up a pen and writing down the following message,

“I’m back.”

That was it. The entire press release consisted of just those two words. Yet, everyone who was anyone knew exactly who and what. 

Of course, when you’re a legend like MJ you don’t need to say very much. In many respects, the less you say the better. You should let your actions do the talking.

Unfortunately most of us aren’t legends. Our actions usually don’t do the talking. That’s why we write! 

As much as I like to think of myself as the Micheal Jordan of the blogging world, I feel my press realise needs to be a wee bit longer. Mainly because my actions haven’t been talking at all.

Honestly, the last couple of months have been difficult for me. It’s felt like I’ve been stuck in the past. Desperately wishing to catch up with my family – my present – who had been waiting for me in Singapore while I saw out the remaining months of my contract in Hong Kong. 

Aside from failing to process some very difficult emotions, I’ve had a million and one things to do. I’m sure you can appreciate what a massive undertaking moving to a new country is.

For all of the above my motivation to write has gone begging. Instead, my muse has spent the last several weeks eating his emotions. I hesitate to point out he’s on a bit of weight..

This morning is the first time in a long time that I’ve sat down to really write and reflect. I quickly released how much I missed it. I released just how much I needed it. Even if my muse did struggle to get up from the couch!

I forget that writing helps me process my emotions. When I lose the motivation it may well be because I’m avoiding them. At any rate, I haven’t been. 

All things not said and not done, all I have are excuses. It comes back to actions versus words. There’s nothing wrong with having words, but they must align with action. That’s what makes them true.

As a writer, well, that means creating some words. 

I feel particularly guilty because I know how hard the rest of the team here at the new and vastly improved Wise and Shine have been working in my absence. 

Let me take this opportunity to say how extremely grateful I am to all of you for your efforts. Your actions do speak louder than words. They haven’t gone unnoticed. 

The good news is, I’m starting to feel like the seas are calming. Like I’ve finally caught up with my present self. 

I actually moved to Singapore last week. I managed to negotiate leaving a week early so I could arrive in time for my eldest son’s 4 year birthday. He’d been asking where daddy is for several weeks.

So, when I walked through the front door with suitcases in hand, his eyes lit up. He shouted “Daddy!’ before running across the living room and giving me a huge hug. As I struggle to hold back the tears, I said nothing. 

Not even the words, “I’m back.”

***

You can find more of AP2’s writing here at: https://wiseandshinezine.com

You can also find him on Medium at: https://anxiouspilot2.medium.com

You can also email him directly at: anxiouspilot2@gmail.com

A Creative Leave of Absence

So my muse decided to take a holiday recently. He packed his bags and went to Hawaii or somewhere. And I know he’s been sitting in the sun drinking Pina Coladas the whole time.

That smug bastard.

Now, I should say I told him to take a break. The problem is, I’ve found it hard to get back into the flow of things. It turns out my muse enjoyed his holiday a little too much!

1I figured the break would do me good. I thought I would be raring to go by the time “I was ready” to write again. But that’s not been the case.

This is odd given my firm belief that you should take a break if you find the muse begging. In my experience you only end up creating more work for yourself if you try to force it.

If you feel overly stressed or burnt-out, I suggest you walk away and grab a beer. Catch up with some friends. Play with your children. Whatever it is, sometimes the muse just needs a little time to connect the dots. 

I swear it works wonders.

That said, I’ve realised that there is such a thing as too much time off. So much so that muse forgets the dots altogether. You still need to show up most days.

If you want to increase your creativity, you need some perseverance. Of course, you have to be around to catch the muse when that smug bastard actually bothers to show up. 

Consistency and creativity go hand in hand. 

The trick, I think, is to make sure you show up almost every day. But make sure, when you sit down to write, you do so without any expectations. Don’t pressure yourself to create something you must publish. Just aim to have some fun. Horse around a little.

Speak your mind. 

Then review it in the light of the next day. It doesn’t matter whether you wrote complete garbage. Ruthlessly murder all of your darlings if you have to. 

What matters is that you showed up. This is how you learn. This is how you improve. The more you do this, the more willing your muse will ultimately be.

With that said – and this is perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned during my recent creative leave of absence – what matters most of all is that you show up for life first and foremost. Your muse isn’t going to play ball if you have bigger fish to fry.

To quote Steven King, “Life is not a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” 

The real reason I took an extended leave of absence is because my wife got a job offer in Singapore. Provided the visa gets approved, I will be tendering my resignation and leaving behind a job and a life here in Hong Kong I’ve spent the last decade building.

Of course we needed some time to prepare ourselves for this potential move. I also needed some time to process my emotions which, as you can imagine, have been a little over the place.  

Between this, my full-time job and parenting two frenetic boys, I decided to put blogging on the back burner for a while.

Honestly, I’m glad I did. It’s been a bit of a struggle to get back into it, but here I am. I feel ten times lighter for it.

The good news is my muse – that smug bastard – is starting to come round. And guess what?

He’s rocking a sweet tan. 

He’s telling me, it’s time to get down to business.

***

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

You can also find him on Medium at: https://anxiouspilot2.medium.com

Or on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot

3-2-1 Flying Fridays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to 3-2-1 Flying Fridays! The only weekly post that believes you have to write your thoughts down in order to see them.

Following a 3-2-1 approach, it contains 3 thoughts from me (that you should ignore), 2 quotes from others (that you should read), and 1 something special (maybe). 

As a bonus I’ve finished with one joke that’s so bad, it’s good!

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) The more notes you take the more connections you build. The more connections you build the more your writing improves.

2) A simple way to outline blog post.

  • Start with the problem.
  • Tell your readers what the solution is.
  • Tell them how to implement this solution (break it down).
  • Finish by highlighting the main takeaway(s). 

3) A guide to challenging negative beliefs:

  1. Write down your negative belief.
  2. Ask yourself what factual evidence exists to support this belief.
  3. Ask yourself what contrary evidence exists to refute it.
  4. Ask yourself what a friend would say.
  5. State a new belief based on new evidence/what your friend would say.
  6. Ask yourself what your life would look like if you continue to invest in this belief.
  7. Every time you notice your old belief surfacing challenge it with your new belief.
  8. State your new belief every morning as part of your routine – keep repeating it your mind until it takes over.

2 x Quotes:

“Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up. But the writing is a way of not allowing those things to destroy you.”

— John Edgar Wideman

“The worst readers are those who behave like plundering troops: they take away a few things they can use, dirty and confound the remainder, and revile the whole… The philosopher believes that the value of his philosophy lies in the whole, in the building: posterity discovers it in the bricks with which he built and which are then often used again for better building: in the fact, that is to say, that that building can be destroyed and nonetheless possess value as material.

— Nietzsche

1 x Thing:

This beast of a post by Micheal SimmonsThe Brutal Truth About Reading: If You Don’t Take Notes Right, You’ll Forget Nearly Everything. The post outlines how to take high quality notes – but also the benefits of sharing those notes publicly. Here’s an excerpt:

“We ask ourselves, “Who am I to share what I know?” Actually, who are you not to share? You have an embarrassment of riches. You know more than 99.9% of people in human history. You having impostor’s syndrome does not serve the world. Everyone is a teacher. Knowledge is abundant. The more you give it, the more you have it. When you teach others, you teach a student and create a future teacher. You become a link in the chain of wisdom that gets passed from human to human and generation to generation.”


1 x Joke:

We were having fondue for dinner the other night when my son flung melted cheese across the table.

I said, “Watch out, there’s been an explosion… Da brie is everywhere!!”


PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER:

3-2-1 Flying Fridays – 04/03/22

***

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

You can also find him on Medium at: https://anxiouspilot2.medium.com

Or on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot

3-2-1 Flying Fridays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to the Flying Fridays newsletter! The only weekly newsletter that starts the year a week later than everyone else.

Following a 3-2-1 approach, it contains 3 thoughts from me (that you should ignore), 2 quotes from others (that you should read), and 1 something special (maybe). 

As a bonus I’ve finished with one joke that’s so bad, it’s good!

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) If you don’t want to get stuck in the past, you must embrace the future.

2) When setting resolutions remember the language you use matters. You don’t have to write in a gratitude journal, you get to. You don’t have to be part of saving the planet for our children, you get to be. You don’t have to eat your vegetables or go for a run at 5am (you definitely don’t have to do that), you get to live a healthy lifestyle.

3) Two rules for writers: 1. Do more living than reading. 2. Do more reading than writing. Feed your brain with experiences and books before you write.


2 x Quotes:

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

– Vivian Greene

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

– Rumi

1 x Thing:

This BBC article by David Robson: Are New Year’s resolutions powerful or pointless? The article explores the psychological reasons behind setting resolutions at the start of a new year with something known as “the fresh start effect.”

Katy Milkman, a psychology professor noted,“Any time you have a moment that feels like a division of time, your mind does a special thing where it creates a sense that you have a fresh start. This helps you to create psychological distance from past failures allowing you to feel that any mistake was the “old you” and that you’ll now do better.”

A useful takeaway mentioned that those who set approach goals – which involves adopting a new habit like meditation – versus those who set avoidance goals – which, as the name suggests, involves quitting something like sweets, alcohol or social media – were about 25% more likely to meet them.

The good thing is, if you want to give something up, you can turn into an appraoch goal. For example, if you want to give up social media, make the goal to take up reading ebooks whenever you feel like a bit of downtime on your smartphone.


1 x Joke:

I thought you might enjoy this.

“Lexophile” describes those that have a love for sentences such as, “You can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish,”  and, “To write with a broken pencil is pointless.”

An annual competition is held by the ‘New York Times’ to see who can create the best original lexophile.  

This year’s submissions:  

  • I changed my iPod’s name to Titanic.  It’s syncing now.  
  • England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.  
  • Haunted French pancakes give me the crepes.
  • This girl today said she recognized me from the Vegetarians Club, but I’d swear I’ve never met herbivore. 
  • I know a guy who’s addicted to drinking brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.  
  • A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.  
  • When the smog lifts in Los Angeles U.C.L.A.  
  • I got some batteries that were given out free of charge.  
  • A dentist and a manicurist married.  They fought tooth and nail.  
  • A will is a dead giveaway.  
  • With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.  
  • Police were summoned to a daycare center where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.  
  • Did you hear about the fellow whose entire left side was cut off?  He’s all right now.  
  • A bicycle can’t stand alone; it’s just two tired.  
  • The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine last week is now fully recovered.  
  • He had a photographic memory but it was never fully developed.  
  • When she saw her first strands of gray hair she thought she’d dye.  
  • Acupuncture is a jab well done.  That’s the point of it.  
  • I didn’t like my beard at first.  Then it grew on me.  
  • Did you hear about the crossed-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?  
  • When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.  
  • When chemists die, they barium.  
  • I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me.
  • I’m reading a book about anti-gravity.  I just can’t put it down.
  • Those who get too big for their pants will be totally exposed in the end.


PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER:

3-2-1 Flying Fridays – 03/12/21


Enter your email below and get the Flying Fridays Newsletter delivered to your inbox (almost) every week!

Why I Write

The seeds of doubt were planted at a young age. I can’t tell you exactly when, but I know it started in childhood. I was lead to believe I wasn’t capable, that I would struggle in this life.

In particular, concerns surrounded my abilities in English. At first, my parents worried that I had a hearing problem. They believed this stunted my development. Later they had me tested for dyslexia.

I’m not, of course. It just happened to be one of my weaknesses. And I just happened to be different. I’ve always been a daydreamer, a wanderer by nature.

Languages, the English language – spelling, grammar – has never come naturally to me. But that has never been the problem. The problem was I didn’t believe, and because I didn’t believe, I didn’t try. I internalised that belief and thought, “What’s the point?”

“I’m no good, so why bother?”

Unfortunately, that belief took root at a much deeper level than my English proficiency.

Problems really started in adolescence – at the age of 13 – when I was first offered drugs. I didn’t say yes because I was curious. I didn’t say yes because I thought it was cool. I didn’t say yes as a form of rebellion. I said yes because I was afraid.

I took drugs because I was too scared to say no.

So began some of the most challenging years of my life. At first, it was fun, but I soon felt trapped. At one point, I was smoking pot every single day. I suffered from intense bouts of anxiety that I hid from everyone. Depression soon followed. 

I sank deep into my shell.

I knew I needed help, but I didn’t know how to ask for it. I was too afraid to speak up. So I drowned silently. It came to a head when a friend of mine was caught in possession of my drugs.

I was made to make a choice that day. When the deputy headmaster sat us down in his office, he asked me if I had also been using. He said I can’t help you if you’re not honest.

I was so scared at that moment. I wanted to tell the truth, but I was afraid of the repercussions. The thought of breaking my parent’s hearts broke my own. Yet, I also feared what would happen if I didn’t tell the truth.

While fighting back the tears, I admitted the truth.

It proved to be one of the most pivotal moments of my life. I was suspended, but the deputy headmaster held true to his word. No permanent record was kept. He honoured my honesty by protecting my future. How different my life would look now had I lied.

Honesty hurts to begin with, but in the long run it will set you free.

During those years, I sat my GCSEs. I didn’t care about my grades. I didn’t care about what future I had. I simply wanted to escape the hell I found myself in. As a result, I didn’t put much effort in. 

My results came as a surprise.

I landed 4 A’s, 6 B’s and an E (in German). I was far more competent than I gave myself credit. English language and English literature were the biggest surprises. Had it not been for one teacher, in particular, my grades would have been very different.

She taught the class with the top peers in our age group. Except she did something a little different. She took several students who were really struggling from the lowest level and placed us in hers. She had me sit in the front row.

She was petrifying, which helped. I was made to apply myself. I remember she believed I had a voice. She pushed me to do a lot of public speaking – which also scared the bejesus out of me!

My coursework marks steadily improved over the two years she taught me. Still, my coursework barely averaged a C. This made the final results even more surprising. Following our final examinations, I ended up with B’s in English language and English literature. I must have aced those exams to achieve those grades.

They’re my proudest grades from secondary school.

What she proved was more important, even if it didn’t fully register until years later. She showed that if I chose to apply myself, I was more than capable. She planted the seeds of self-belief that would bear fruit many years later.

To my English teacher, wherever you are, thank you.

I didn’t pursue English for A levels. It wasn’t for me. I also lacked clarity. As a result, I took a random collection of subjects. Art (the one subject I truly loved), Biology, History, and Geography.

I dropped Art halfway through my A levels despite getting an A. I dropped it for the wrong reasons – because no one else took it seriously. It would be an entire decade before I started drawing again. 

Somewhere along the way, I forgot.

Doing something simply because you love it is enough. More than enough.

History was the subject I went on to take at University. I took it because my parents were adamant that I should go to University and get a degree. I took it out of preference, not because I truly loved it. The truth is I only enjoyed aspects of it.

I later realised that what I really enjoyed was applying lessons from what history has to teach us about living life. What I was really interested in was philosophy.

During University, I fell in love with a French lady. In the second year, she asked me to edit much of her coursework. She studied media and communications. I didn’t just edit her work; I rewrote large chunks of it.

I loved it. 

I found I had a knack for drawing conclusions. I loved finishing with the right words. I realised there was an art to it. Between her coursework and my own, these skills developed.

Then she broke my heart. I finished my degree and forgot about this.

After University, I was clear about one thing. One thing I had always been clear about. A deep longing in my heart to travel the world.

So I applied for a cadetship offered by the airline I now work for. For the airline my father used to work for. He was keen, provided I was serious about it. So he took me flying. I didn’t look back.

And so followed the last 12 years of my life. 

There was a big break where I didn’t write. Several years passed while learning to fly and traveling the world before I decided to pick up a pen again.

One of my hobbies is traveling through cuisine. Anthony Bourdain has long been a personal hero of mine. Inspired by him, I put together a blog documenting my travels. 

I enjoyed it for a while, but that passion started to wane as depression and anxiety took a firmer grip.

This came to a head during another pivotal moment of my life. I froze up while trying to land during my Junior First Officer training. The training captain had to take control and go around as a result.

That scarred me deeply.

Added to the list of depression and anxiety, I had PTSD to contend with too. I remember flying approaches for years afterwards where my heart would beat so hard, it felt like it was going to break through my chest.

So many times, I wanted to quit. I wanted to throw in the towel. Those demons screamed at me. “GET OUT! YOU CAN’T! YOU’RE A FRAUD! YOU’RE NOT CAPABLE!”

I kept going.

Part of me refused to give in. I was so sick of those voices. Overcoming and passing my Junior First Officer upgrade was something I felt I had to do. So, I worked harder than I ever have in my entire life.

My demons started to drive me.

9 months on from that day, I was upgraded to First Officer. It meant everything to me at the time. I thought that was it. I thought that would be enough to finally put those voices to bed.

I was wrong.

It wasn’t until the birth of my first child 3 years ago that I finally sought professional help. At a low moment, I broke down. Once again, my demons were screaming at me. Telling me I couldn’t parent. That my boy deserved better. The guilt overwhelmed me, and I cried and cried.

Afterward, I felt a deep peace I’d not known in years. I knew exactly what I had to do. I picked up the phone and called for help.

This time I was ready. 

The following 4 months of therapy were difficult, emotional, and liberating all at the same time, but I didn’t hold back. In doing so, I finally gained the clarity I needed. In seeing my demons in the light, they lost their power.

The fog of depression finally started to lift.

Shortly afterwards, the pandemic hit, and I was left grounded. I used the time to do something I’d not done since I dropped Art during my A levels.

I started drawing.

And because I was feeling particularly creative – BECAUSE THAT’S WHO I AM – I started writing again. I put together a children’s book. I went to a publisher who loved it. Last summer, I became a published author. 

How do you like them apples?

At the same time, I started blogging. This time I had a different motivation. I spoke from my core. It felt like a spark had ignited something inside. I felt possessed. My intuition kept telling me to keep going. It’s leading somewhere. I don’t where yet, but it is.

It has.

My writing has given me clarity about what I want to do next. I will be starting an online degree in psychology next year with a long-term view of changing careers. I also have an idea for a number of books I plan to write.

Once again, I hear my demons screaming. Telling me not to do it. That I can’t. That I’m making a big mistake.

There’s a difference this time. 

My relationship has changed. I know those voices will be with me till the day I die. It that doesn’t phase me anymore. Honestly, I smile. I realise I don’t want those voices to go away. You see, they’re a guide. A powerful one telling me which direction to go in. What obstacles I must take on.  

Those voices also remind me of all the pain and suffering I’ve gone through. They keep it close to my heart. That’s want I want. To use that to help others who are suffering as I have. To give meaning to my pain by helping others with theirs. 

And so, as I sit at another crossroads in my life – as I build towards my second career – I keep writing. This time I won’t ever stop. Even though it continues to scare me – every single time I hit that publish button. 

I see it now.

I now know why it has to be this way. I was meant to write my way out. It’s poetry in motion.

You see the seeds of doubt that were planted at such a young age. The demons that have plagued me my whole life. They all stemmed from a lack of faith in my ability to overcome one of my biggest weaknesses.

That’s why I write.

For the boy inside who was lead to doubt himself. Who was told he couldn’t. Who was told he would struggle.

I write for every child who suffered under the weight of their fears, for everyone whose fears have been used against them in the cruelest possible way.

I write because I can. I write because I know that you can too.

I write to call myself a writer and be called a writer, because that means more to me than words could ever convey. 

The question I have is, why do you? 

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.”

Adam Grant

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 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 that scares you 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.”

ADAM GRANT

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 today were my last 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 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 show 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.’

ADAM GRANT

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 boys – laughing and playing with them 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!


SOURCES:

https://doist.com/blog/todo-list-tips/

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

How To Unlock Your Creative Genius

I was watching an interview with John Cleese recently and he said something that got me thinking. When asked about his creative process he said, “You cannot bully the subconscious. It simply doesn’t work.” He went on to say that his best work always happened spontaneously. 

He still had a process, it’s just that the muse didn’t always play ball. Often the work that resulted wasn’t very good. They’d have days where none of the material was used. 

He noted, it is usually when they weren’t trying to make something happen – when they were simply messing around – that everything would start to click. Suddenly the muse would come out to play and what resulted was comedic gold. 

I often hear bloggers write about the need to have a process. A specific time where you commit to writing each day. A place where you sit down and “punch the damn keys” as one blogger regularly puts it. 

Of course, if you don’t form the habit it’s much harder to catch that bastard muse when it strikes. Having a process is about creating the conditions that make it more likely to come out and play. Not to mention that you’re committing yourself to improve through regular practice. 

That said, I wonder if there might be a little too much emphasis on habit formation nowadays? Something I rarely hear bloggers make mention of is this idea of spontaneity. This idea of being ready for when the muse strikes outside of your normal routine.

I don’t know about you but often when I commit to writing, the muse is nowhere to be found.

I say, “Ok buddy, time to sit down and write. Gotta crack out that weekly post!”

My muse: “Sure thing buddy, just hold on a minute would you…” 

At this point he goes into the kitchen and cracks open a six pack of beer before sitting down on the sofa and proceeding to binge watch NETFLIX… 

Oh wait that’s me!

Anyway, on the rare evenings I do employ willpower and commit myself to writing, my muse remains silent. 

When that happens I end up writing in circles.  I’m like, “Hey muse, you wanna help me out here?” Of course he doesn’t. Instead my internal critic starts editing the post well before it’s finished as I become increasingly aware that what I’m writing is complete dog shite. So I go back and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite… 

And then what happens?

Not only do I become stressed, I end up butchering the post in question. I actually create more work for myself trying to fix the mess I made, simply because I didn’t walk away.

The lesson? 

You cannot bully the subconscious.

At this stage I’ve found the best thing you can do to aid the creative process is not engage in it. Take a break. Go for a leisurely walk. Mess around with your children. Be silly. Have a beer. Maybe, even, binge watch some NETFLIX. (Hell yeah!) 

Do this and I’ve found the brain works in the background connecting the dots in ways that it couldn’t when you were trying to force it. So much so that when you do come back to write, it’s not only easier, but much better to boot.

There’s something else I figured out too. I’ve noticed it’s when I’m not thinking about anything in particular – when I’m busy doing something else – that my muse gives me my best ideas. In fact, he usually visits at 2am when I’m struggling to sleep. 

He says, “Hey numb nuts I’ve got an awesome idea, wanna hear it?”

“Not now muse! I’m trying to sleep!”

Then my muse says, “Fuck you, I’m gonna tell you anyway (my muse is a bit of a dick). Here it is…”

At which point he explains in painful detail this amazing idea for a blog post. 

So I say, “Ok muse – that’s a good one, I’ll admit. But I really must sleep. Can you remind about it in the morning and let me go back to sleep?”

Of course he doesn’t. He says, “You’ll forget in the morning numb nuts. It’s now or never! Here let me explain that idea to you again in painful detail…” 

Eventually I’ll get up in anger and write down as many thoughts about the idea as I can, as quickly as I can. Often I won’t think. I’ll just write. Sometimes I’ll write a first draft in less than 20mins. 

It will just “flow” out of me. 

When I revisit it in the morning I often go, “holy shit, that’s far better than anything I’ve written in a while.”

Interestingly enough, if I do wait on that idea, if I try to revisit it later on, the writing doesn’t gel nearly as well. My muse (that smug bastard) is usually right.

Sometimes you gotta play when the subconscious wants to, not the other way round. 

I’ve noticed the same thing happens to me when I go for a walk around my local park. An idea will pop into my head that’s too good to ignore. 

At this point my muse is jumping up and down like a dog in heat as a post will suddenly form in my head. When this happens I take out my phone and start writing. 

Once again it kinda flows out of me. I feel this usually results in my most interesting, if not my best, work. 

It’s for all the above that I take a somewhat freer approach to my writing nowadays. I still try to write at the same time everyday, but I don’t force it anymore. I take a daily-ish approach. I’ve become much better at recognising when to walk away – when It’s clear that a little NETFLIX will actually do me some good. 

I’ve also come to recognise the importance of writing when my muse is busting a gut. Unless it has to wait, practically speaking, I will try to sit down and write as soon as that idea has popped into my head. 

While you cannot bully the subconscious, it can, on occasion, bully you. My experience is, when it comes to the creative process, you should let it. 


(I’m curious, how do you engage in the creative process? Do you have a particular time and place where you sit down to write? Or do you take a more freestyle approach? What works bet for you and what other tips do you have? As always I’m very keen to hear your thoughts. Warm regards, AP2.)

***

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

3-2-1 Mindset Mondays

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to Mindset Mondays! The only weekly post that enjoys eating its own words.

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

As a bonus I’ve finished with 1 joke that’s so bad, it’s good.

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts:

1) Emotions are like tunnels. You have to go through them in order to get to the light on the other side. Resist and you’ll end up stuck in the dark.

2) As a rule: The dumber the question feels, the more it needs to be asked. The only real fool is the one who deliberately remains in the dark. 

3) A wining formula for life: Radical Acceptance followed by Meaningful Action.


2 x Quotes:

“In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

— Oscar Wilde

“When the starting point is self-love and self-appreciation, we already give ourselves what we need so we don’t need to try to take it from people.”

Betul Erbasi (SOURCE: https://pointlessoverthinking.com/2021/05/30/self-appreciation/)

1 x Thing:

This BBC article: Why some narcissists actually hate themselves. The article argues that narcissists – far from loving who they are – actually suffer from issues related to self-hatred. It suggests that this understanding can help us see through their actions and foster compassion for them instead. Well worth the quick read!


1 x Joke:

Another far side comic for you all this week, I hope you enjoy!


Thanks ladies and gentlemen, I’m here all week! As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. Please let us know in the comments section below.

One bonus question: How can you make your actions more meaningful today?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Mindset Mondays – 31/05/21

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

DISCLAIMER: This post was written ironically. It was pointed out to me this wasn’t obvious. To be clear the political opinions expressed are not my own! Pinch of salt required while reading.

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.