“Shy bairns get nowt.”

Creativity, Miscellaneous thoughts, Motivation, Uncategorized

I love this saying from the North East of England. I’d never heard it before today. It essentially means: “You don’t ask, you don’t get.”

That’s rock-solid advice. On reading it, I thought about my own life. Has there ever been a time when I’ve been nervous about making an ask, and my fears came true?

I couldn’t think of one occasion that happened. Just consider that. In 23 years, there hasn’t been one time in my life making the ask has had the negative consequences I’d imagined. It was all fear. Worse, I’d been pouring the fuel on that fire myself.

“What’s on the other side of fear? Nothing.”

To get anywhere in this world you have to be willing to put yourself out there, to make those asks, to say yes even if you’re scared. You have to push past the uncomfortable feeling that you’re inadequate, that you’re somehow unworthy of this opportunity. Don’t be happy sitting there meekly, dreaming about the type of life you’d like to be leading. 

Don’t be a shy bairn. Go out there and live it.


Other thoughts:

I had a bad day yesterday. I felt lazy, depressed, tired, unmotivated: in a word, I was down. But I didn’t let the feeling propagate. You can’t let moods like that settle in for the long haul. Don’t give them it a moment’s respite, or it’ll start to lay foundations. You have to uproot it while the cement is still wet. Maybe you can get a sense of my mindset from this gloomy drawing I did:

Sunday sketches. This is a cheery one.

A post shared by Joe Hart (@joehart.one) on

So, this morning I set the alarm, got up early, and ran to the seafront. Nothing like some interval training to shake up the negative vibes. Today’s been excellent. And it’s a reminder – mood follows action, not the other way around. Laying around on your phone is not the way to get motivated.

Screenshot 2018-01-31 at 15.38.27

In other news, I’m fast approaching 1000 views on the ink. What’s more, over half of them came this month. I can almost physically feel this thing picking up speed as the momentum builds. It’s incredibly exciting to feel every piece of writing, every drawing, contributing to this larger body of work. I’ve loved the process of creating. My writing and drawing is tightening up every day. I’m just so appreciative to everyone who’s taking the time to read along. I hope you’re getting as much from taking these posts in, as I am from creating them.

Here are my top 5 most read posts so far if you’ve missed any. By the way, isn’t it interesting that sometimes the posts you didn’t think would strike a chord seem to really take off?

  1. How (and why) tidying your room will improve your life.
  2. Nobody’s listening. Here’s three reasons why that’s a good thing.
  3. Getting back on the horse.
  4. A mass of habits.
  5. Always be closing.

 

 

Birds flying high

Creativity, Motivation, Philosophy

Thinking about your life in its entirety is overwhelming. It can be especially hard when you have a bad day – when you disappoint yourself, when you don’t live up to your expectations. To err is inherently human.

But telling yourself that doesn’t make it easier to stomach the feeling of upsetting someone you love, skipping a workout, or procrastinating on that long put-off project. It’s easy to enter a downward spiral from here, compounding poor decisions.

Don’t let the fuckups define you. I’ve found this saying immensely important over the last few years. It helps me deal with my frequent, inevitable shortcomings:

 

“To the wise man, each day is a new life.”

 

Every single day of your life, you have an opportunity to completely reinvent yourself. It doesn’t matter how you spent yesterday. That’s over, it’s done, it’s utterly unchangeable. But you can do the right thing today. A factory reset. Your victories don’t last forever. But neither do your failures.

This saying has become a mantra to me. I’ve realised how incredibly lucky we all are just to experience being at all.

I genuinely look forward to making a cup of coffee in the morning. Smelling the beans, boiling the kettle, listening to the sound of the water hitting the grounds, the smooth plunge of my cafetiere. And that’s before I’ve even taken a sip. Something that on the surface seems mundane has become one of my favourite rituals. And every day I get to experience it anew.

You’re not indelibly tied to your past failures. You can define who you are. So find the beauty in every day and make the right choices.

Nina’s got it right.


Notes:

I coupled this evening’s writing with a drawing. I’m not pleased with it – Nina’s someone I’ll definitely revisit.

Brain reps

Philosophy

Humans are unique. Between stimulus and response, there’s an opportunity to decide how we feel. For some, that idea sounds ridiculous. Someone slaps you in the face for no reason, you’re going to be angry, right? For others, this will ring true. There can be a vast expanse in which to gather your thoughts, and the prospect of just lashing out like any other animal would seems equally silly.

This was one of the key ideas of Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl. His seminal work, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. It details his survival in three different death camps during the Holocaust. That’s an incredible example of someone deciding how to react to the outside world. Life for him at that time was full of darkness, despair and misery. His entire family was killed. Every day, he faced his own impending death. Yet he kept going, somehow…

I am confident that not a single person reading this faces any problems remotely approaching those of Dr. Frankl. And yet, how many times today did you find yourself frustrated over something completely inconsequential – when you’d rather not be? Did you snap at your other half, or swear at someone for driving slightly too slowly for your liking? Wouldn’t it be better if you could take a moment to just consider your reaction, to show some of Frankl’s measured, calm reserve?

I am absolutely not an exception to this kind of behaviour. Only yesterday, I spent about 30 minutes playing with the spacing of the margins and layout of my dissertation, growing increasingly annoyed when I couldn’t get it ‘just right’. But, I was able to recognise myself getting lost in thought and move on, rather than walking around with a nagging sense of frustration, without being aware of why, all day (or all week for that matter).

You work on growing that gap between stimulus and response in exactly the same way you’d seek to grow stronger or more flexible physically. You come up with a plan you can stick to and you consistently put the work in. The body and the mind are incontrovertibly linked.

The exercise? Meditation.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Blaise Pascal

I have always found sitting still, even for 10 minutes, unbelievably hard. In today’s world, nobody is used to being alone with their thoughts. The internet has killed boredom. But it’s so vital to spend some time faced with the reality of being. Otherwise, you’re just permanently ‘lost in thought’ (as I’ve heard Sam Harris phrase it).

Guided meditation is a good place to start. I’m a big fan of Headspace. Here’s one I found on Youtube.

If you can’t watch it right now, mindfulness meditation looks something like this:

You sit down, preferably somewhere quiet. You don’t need to sit in a lotus position like a monk. Just on a chair, the floor or the end of your bed is fine. You close your eyes and pay close attention to the sensation of the breath. You’re not trying to ‘empty your mind’. Rather, when you’re inevitably distracted by something, you recognise the distraction, and return your focus to the breath. Do this for as long as you can – 10 minutes is about right to start, but one mindful breath is infinitely better than nothing.

10 minutes out of 24 hours is less than 1% of your day. Can you think of anything with more upside and so little downside? Doing this regularly is exactly the equivalent of tearing muscle fibres. They’ll knit together and heal, stronger than before. The benefits of meditation are vast. You’ll start widening that gap between things happening to you and how you respond. In making better decisions, you’ll find your freedom.

Think of Viktor Frankl in the camp next time you find yourself moaning or complaining. You have the option to choose. That’s not to be taken lightly.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning


Notes:

Man’s Search for Meaning really is an incredible book. I read it in one sitting – it was impossible to put down. I’d highly recommend it. Find it here.

Meditation is also something that’s vastly improved the quality of my life – this Reddit article really captures some of the specific benefits. I’ve experienced everything on the list, including some lucid dreaming. Definitely the thinking visually too.

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