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Your fault

F**k traffic jams.

They always seem to show up when I’m running late.

How unfair…

But you know what?

It’s my fault…

Traffic jams happen.

I know they happen. I should factor them in when deciding what time to leave.

The same is true of everything that angers us.

It’s our fault. 

Anger is usually a reaction to our own fear. Fear that we’ll get in trouble because we weren’t prepared for this. 

A supplier delivers late at work: our reaction might be to get angry, likely this is because we’re now in trouble due to not preparing for this possibility. Things get delayed. That’s part of life.

The good news is that taking full responsibility for our lives makes these negative emotions go away.

We simply do not need to be angry in 2020. It’s not a productive emotion. 

In recognising that it’s our fault and taken full responsibility we’re free. No longer can an erratic driver or a difficult colleague send us in to a rage.

Anger served a purpose in our hunter gatherer days, but today? It’s irrational.

Take responsibility and enjoy the ride.

Father Christmas Theory

Father Christmas is real.

Or at least he was.

For me, anyway.

And frankly, that’s enough.

Humans are not capable seeing the world for what it truly is; it’s far too complex!

Instead our brains build a simplified version in our minds: our own perception of reality.

To each of us our perception of reality is our reality.

If we perceive the world as out to get us, then in our reality the world will indeed be out to get us.

Likewise, if we perceive Father Christmas to be real, then in our reality he is very much real.

Still with me?

So… It follows: if we can change our perception of reality, we can change our reality. If we work on finding the good in the world around us then the world around us becomes good.

Simple really!

How does one change their perception of reality?

We learn from people.

Homo sapiens are exceptional social learners.

Therefore, it’s by learning from others that we can change our perception of reality.

Talking more with our optimistic friends, reading books about ideas and possibilities, listening to the people who we want to emulate.

Avoid: the news (really), social media, the colleagues who are always complaining.

Find the people who believe. Just maybe Father Christmas is real after all.

Life’s a dream

There’s nothing quite like the relief we get when waking from a nightmare to find it was all just a dream. 

Well, that’s a little like life.

You see our lives today are plagued by stress; I launched a startup this year and often find myself ruminating on its many imperfections. From difficult customers to dodgy generators the issues can hang over me like a cloud.

The relief comes upon realising it doesn’t particularly matter; our next customers might have an problem with the door but I’m probably die because of it… So is it really worth stressing about? 

When all is said and done, I have my health, my relationships and the privileged life that we, in the Western world, are fortunate to enjoy. 

Whether a business succeed or fails really isn’t important.

Ironically I find this realisation helps the business as it allows me to operate stress free with a clear mind, and make better decisions. 

The hard bit? Waking up!

Meditation’s biggest secret

It actually works.

Crazy ey?

It seems a strange activity. Unnatural. This put me off meditation for years- it just doesn’t seem like something we’re designed to do.

Yet that’s the point. 

To explain what I mean let’s turn to the biggest cliche in psychology- we are not built for 21st century life. We’re built for the simple life of a hunter gatherer yet here we are.

The result? We’re dramatically over stimulated. We’re drowning in a constant stream of activity. 

Meditation then, is simply a tool to bring us back to our default. To de-stimulate.

It’s always interesting to hear “meditation is not for me, I can’t concentrate on it..” It’s the equivalent of “exercise is not for me, I’m too unfit!”

One can always start. However small. 

There’s Always More

How on earth can we keep up with all the work?

There’s a simple solution.

Don’t.

The working world today is hectic. We’re inundated with emails, slack messages, requests from our boss, not to mention the stream of notifications from social media.

It’s a full time job just replying!

There’s the problem- that’s all we do. We’re so engrossed in our ever growing workload that we fail to stop and see the bigger picture. 

What are we actually trying to achieve?

Last year I ran Growth (marketing) for a tech startup. 

The goal? To grow the customer base.

My time? I put together an elaborate strategy involving numerous initiatives. Myself, along with a four person team then spent the year running experiments, building campaigns, dealing with stakeholders.

The results? Nothing. I may as well have spent the year sleeping under my desk. 

All that work was in fact detrimental. I was so focused on my marketing strategy that I was blinded to the fact that it was a complete waste of time.

Granted, many in that position would have fared better.

However, I suspect I’m not alone. We’re so focused on getting work done that we lose sight of whether we should be doing it in the first place.

Restarting

One we stop it’s tricky to restart.

Hobbies or habit.s can slip for a week or so and they become just a weight at the back of our minds 

“I really should pick that up again.”

I found this with blogging in fact! A couple of days off slipped in to weeks. Fortunately I stumble upon a solution: Restart.

Just get started. 

The best time is now. 

Exercise, healthy eating, a long lost friendship- whatever it is. It’s never too late to restart.

Stop

The antidote to busyness.

When I’m overrun I find my natural reaction is to throw more work at it.

The solution is usually the opposite of this.

Stop.

When I stop, I’ll often find I’ve been running in the wrong direction entirely. Sometimes for weeks or months. Or years…

You’re never too busy to stop.

Idleness

Via Bertrand Russell’s amusing “In Praise of Idleness

“Every one knows the story of the traveler in Naples who saw twelve beggars lying in the sun (it was before the days of Mussolini), and offered a lira to the laziest of them. Eleven of them jumped up to claim it, so he gave it to the twelfth.”

Excellent.

A lesson in that perhaps?