Stoicism – Loneliness

Stoicism and Loneliness

Patrik Edlad Mental Trainer & Author “The Self-Discipline Blueprint: A Simple Guide to Beat Procrastination, Achieve Your Goals, and Get the Life You Want” in an email to me wrote the following, and I quote.

Some 2300 years ago, a merchant by the name Zeno found himself shipwrecked and stranded in Athens.

With not much else to do, he walked into a book store and picked up a book that happened to be about Socrates.

Fascinated by what he was reading, Zeno set out to find and learn from the finest philosophers the city had to offer.

Over the next couple of years, he studied under a wide array of philosophy teachers before eventually founding his own school.

Just enjoy. I’ll get to the point in a moment or two.

The Birth of Stoicism

Zeno started teaching by standing on a porch in the central market in Athens and talking to anyone who happened to pass by. Soon, he had a following of men hanging around and discussing philosophy with him.

StoicThe Greek word for porch is stoa, and the men who met there to talk philosophy became known as Stoics; the men of the porch.

Over time, the ideas they were discussing became increasingly popular and over a thousand books came to be written about stoicism.

We’ve lost almost all of those books to antiquity, but we still have the works from three fascinating Stoics who are widely influential to this day: Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius.

The Main Characters

  • Seneca lived right around the year 0 CE, and he was a successful and wealthy statesman and playwright. He is known for the personal letters he wrote in his lifetime, such as Letters from a Stoic1 and On the Shortness of Life2.
  • Epictetus was born a couple of decades after Seneca, and he was a crippled slave who eventually became a free man and one of the leading philosophers in Rome. None of his texts remain but one of his students wrote down his ideas in two books called The Discourses3 and The Enchiridion4.
  • Marcus Aurelius lived shortly after Epictetus, and he studied, applied, and developed stoic ideas in his role as emperor of the Roman Empire. We know his wisdom primarily through his Meditations5; a private journal that was never intended for publication.

What is Stoicism?

These days, people use the word “stoic” to describe someone who doesn’t feel any emotion at all. But even though the word originates from Stoicism, that was not at all what the Stoic philosophers were trying to accomplish.

What they wanted to do was minimise negative feelings to make as much room as possible for positive ones. They wanted to replace frustration, discontent, and anger with calm, fulfilment, and happiness.

To do that, the Stoics developed a variety of mental techniques to deal with the challenges of life. And many of these techniques have inspired modern therapies like, for instance, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

So even though the philosophy itself is very old, modern research shows that the ideas are highly relevant to this day. Stoicism can help you feel better, perform better, and live a better life.

And it all begins with cultivating a peaceful mind so you can keep your calm no matter what life throws at you.

Loneliness

No matter what life throws at you? Right? What about loneliness? How does that work? Is this, as we have suggested in some of our posts so far, something that is internal to our minds? Something that we perceive? Not necessarily real?

How to Have a Peaceful Mind

If you’re like most people, you like to think of your mind as objective and rational. But as the ancient Stoics argued, and as modern psychology has confirmed, that’s not the case.

We’re all vulnerable to cognitive biases and logical fallacies; thinking errors in the way we perceive and reason about information from the world around us.

All of us filter each experience through our subjective lens that is tainted by our unique disposition, background, and emotions.

The Stoics taught that we can improve our perception of life — to polish our lens, so to speak.

By doing that, we can reduce irrational thinking, cut off negative emotions, and approach our lives with equanimity.

We can cease being lonely even when we are alone. We can have a peaceful mind and be happy within ourselves.

Sounds pretty good, don’t you think? Let’s have a look at the Stoic’s best techniques for creating a peaceful mind.

1. Focus on What Is in Your Control

We should always be asking ourselves: ‘Is this something that is, or is not, in my control?'”
— Epictetus

This is the most important practice in all of stoicism. If you take away only one thing from this article, let it be this:

Always identify, and care exclusively about, what is inside your control.

What you’ll find when you start doing this is that very few things are within your control. In fact, the Stoics would argue, the only things in your control are your own thoughts and actions.

Everything else — the past, most of the natural world, the thoughts and actions of other people, and even most things about ourselves — are ultimately outside your control.

This insight is crucial because, according to Epictetus, “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”

So, get into the habit of separating what is within and without of your control, and then act accordingly:

  • If it’s inside your control — take action! Spend the time, energy, and focus necessary to create the change you want.
  • If it’s outside control — let it go. Repeat the mantra “I don’t care” to yourself until you’ve developed a healthy indifference to the situation.

At all times, strive to focus only on what is in your power. That will make you calmer, happier, and more effective.

2. Choose Empowering Thoughts

If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgement about it. And it is in your power to wipe out this judgement now.”
— Marcus Aurelius

Imagine that you’re about to give a presentation to a big group of people. As you fiddle with your notes, you can feel your heart pound, your hands getting sweaty, and your mouth drying up.

In this situation, most people will try to calm down. But that’s actually not very helpful. A much better approach is to perceive the stress symptoms as excitement.

If you tell yourself to calm down, you’re nervous. But if you tell yourself you’re excited, you’re ready for action. It’s a small mental shift but it can make a huge difference.

Research shows that people who tell themselves “I am excited!” before giving a speech way outperform people who try to calm themselves down6.

What we can learn from that is something the Stoics figured out thousands of years ago: Your emotions aren’t determined by your situation, but by how you choose to perceive your situation.

And that’s a very powerful insight because it puts you in control of your state of mind. At any moment, you have the option to dispute and replace unhelpful thoughts with more empowering ones.

So, whenever you find a negative feeling stirring in your mind, find a positive way to re-frame the situation, and your emotional response will follow suit.

3. Welcome Everything That Happens

Let us meet with bravery whatever may befall us. Let us never feel a shudder at the thought of being wounded or of being made a prisoner, or of poverty or persecution.”
— Seneca

The Stoics taught that we shouldn’t wish for things to happen the way we want. Instead, we should wish for things to happen exactly the way they happen. This attitude is called “amor fati”, which means “love of fate”7.

To love fate is to make the best out of everything that happens no matter how difficult it is. It’s about courageously meeting life’s challenges head-on and continually getting stronger.

Marcus Aurelius wrote that: “a blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it”. In the same fashion, we should use obstacles, setbacks, and hardships as fuel to realise our full potential.

Life will inevitably throw you into difficult situations. That’s outside of your control. But, as we’ve covered, you can always control your reaction to these situations. And poorly chosen reactions will make life very difficult.

As Seneca puts it: “Fate leads the willing, and drags along the reluctant.” So, when life presents you with a challenge, don’t avoid it or complain about it. Instead, embrace it wholeheartedly, and use it as an opportunity to practice stoicism.

That will make you much stronger and life much smoother.

4. Put Your Life in Perspective

Remember: Matter. How tiny your share of it. Time. How brief and fleeting your allotment of it. Fate. How small a role you play in it.”
— Marcus Aurelius

In my work as a writer, I often find that my day-to-day problems get blown way out of proportion. As I sit down at my computer, isolated from the rest of the world, even the tiniest difficulty can appear overwhelming.

A slight drop in book sales, a broken Internet connection or a negative comment from a reader all seem like a big deal. But, of course, they’re not. In the grand scheme of things, these issues are tiny.

Luckily, there’s a quick cure for this irrational inflating of problems, and it’s as simple as quickly contemplating the scale of your life:

Reflect on where you are, then slowly move outward, visualising the street outside, and the city. Keep expanding further and further to your country, then the world, and finally the entire cosmos.

Carl Sagan’s famous talk about The Pale Blue Dot8 can serve as a great aid in this exercise.

Then, return to the difficulties in your life. From this new vantage point, you’ll most likely find that what was weighing you down wasn’t as heavy after all.

Zoom out to a cosmic perspective, and you’ll find peace and humility.

Loneliness Is … In The Beginning

How to Have a Peaceful Mind, In Summary

  1. Focus on what is in your control. If it’s inside your control, take action! If it’s outside control, let it go.
  2. Choose empowering responses. Find a positive way to re-frame the situation, and your emotional response will follow suit.
  3. Welcome everything that happens. Cultivate a “love of fate” by wishing for things to happen exactly the way they happen.
  4. Put your life in perspective. When your day-to-day problems appear overwhelming, zoom out and look at them from a cosmic perspective.

References

  1. Letters From a Stoic by Seneca
  2. On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
  3. The Discourses by Epictetus
  4. The Enchiridion by Epictetus
  5. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  6. Get Excited: Reappraising Pre-Performance Anxiety as Excitement
  7. Amor Fati
  8. Carl Sagan – Pale Blue Dot

More Books Loneliness

More Books on Loneliness

Previously I posted a list of 10 books I found listed on the Internet that related to loneliness and how to overcome it, amongst other things.

Today I turn it over to you.

Loneliness ReadingAre there any books you swear by that have helped you come to terms with you feelings about loneliness. They can be fiction or non-fiction, but must have had some effect on you. Doesn’t matter what kind of effect though. Made you feel better, worse, helped you think more positively, understand other people better, see things from a different perspective. Whatever.

One or two is enough, and you can leave some comments as well, if you want, that might help us understand where you are coming from.

Perhaps after a while we can ask some kind soul to compile these into a categorised list and put it in the files section of the group, so all our new members might have somewhere to start looking for something.

Hit us up with some books now.

Some Great Book Suggestions

We Need To Talk About Loneliness

Need  To Talk About Loneliness.

Loneliness is …

A book I read a few years ago started with the words, “We need to talk about Kevin.”

Loneliness Collage

Well, we need to talk about loneliness.

  • What is it?
  • How does it affect us as human beings?
  • Can you be lonely in a room full of people?
  • Can you fix/mitigate it?
  • Loneliness and social media
  • Loneliness and the smart phone
  • Loneliness is better than bad company

The list can go on and on. We will be extending it as we move forward with our discussion of this topic over the next few weeks and months.

There is a lot to be said.

A Listing Of 10 books (Self-help) on Loneliness:

These books were chosen as the top ten based on sales, bestseller rankings, and positive reader reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.

https://www.onlinepsychologydegree.info/top-10-self-help-books-about-loneliness/

Join our group.

Loneliness Is … https://www.facebook.com/groups/loneliness.is/

Colin Learns to Play

Colin RochfordColin Learns to Play

Now that we’ve finished with the boring and the worrying stuff – the stats and all that, it’s time to have a look at some stories. Let’s see what I can dredge up for you.

Not Lonely

In the beginning of these blogs, I kinda hinted that while I am often alone, I am rarely, if ever, lonely.

That is now. Wasn’t always this way. There were times, but we are not going to go down that rabbit burrow today. Not that we won’t – just not now.

Growing Older

I was chatting to a friend recently – you’ll hear from him later in this series of blogs – and we discussed that as we have grown older, we have found that it is actually easier to fill the emptiness that seems to be the precursor of this lonely feeling this emotion. It is also easier to remove ourselves from the toxic people and situations that tend to lead to negative thoughts and even depression. Something that we could not do at an earlier age.

Cliche alert! We lamented that if only we knew what we know now (at 70 and 80); when we were teenagers and shortly beyond, how different our lives would have been.

Mentors

We talked about mentors, (having one or more) and young people who have very little understanding of the real world and, sadly in very many cases, no genuine reason to follow-up on that kind of thinking. We talked about how in school, numbers and stuff like that were given more focus than self development. Self confidence, beliefs, values and ways to understand and control our reactions to events around us especially those NOT under our control, were given no time at all. Our teachers were not measured by this sort of philosophy and so it never happened, (Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy - REBT - for example.) What’s that? Another day.

Loss

We’ll dip into the lives of chaps (suitably disguised of course to protect the innocent and those no longer with us) and look at how they have coped with the loss of their wives. We’ll figure out why they are not accumulations of psychotic, continually depressed human beings.

Mindset

Perhaps you can take some of these thoughts and help yourselves to a realisation that “If it is to be – then it’s up to me”. (A quote from William H Johnsen – Also the title of a book by Robert H. Schuller, author, motivator and host of the popular television show Hour of Power. I’m not sure which came first – but if doesn’t really matter. The quote is valid anyway.)

Life Coach

I am a trained life coach, so if there is anything I can do to help you personally, contact me here loneliness@colinlearnstoplay.com and we’ll figure out a way to think it through.

Starting a Successful Blog when you have No Clue: Gundi Gabrielle – A Review

Starting a Successful Blog when you have No Clue: Gundi Gabrielle

Successful BlogThis book has been completely rewritten and it shows.

I have pages of notes and my new website (blog) is now close to being finished. The information contained in this book and the free video lessons make it an absolute winner.

It spans the gamut of newbie to seasoned user and is easy to follow.

I love it and you will too.

Double Jeopardy by Aime Austin – A Review

Double Jeopardy by Aime AustinDouble Jeopardy

There’s a new word in the lexicon.
Pantsfeelings.
Cool yeah? I won’t tell you any more. You’ll see when you read it. The book gives a new understanding to Double Jeopardy as well.
I enjoyed this story and the character of Casey Cort is so engaging. I love that she is a girly girl AND a blokey bloke. It is a refreshing vision.
A couple of issues from a previous book in the series were resolved and the ending is something I had not expected.
Great work. I’ll be chasing up more from this author.

On Writing by Stephen King – A Review

On Writing by Stephen King

On Writing

Recently I read an extremely cool little book by this famous author.

It covered a fair amount of biographical data that was very interesting, enlightening, educative, and insightful. Now that sentence probably violated many of the writing rules the other parts of the book covered.

But the book is well structured, easy to understand and entertaining, as you’d expect from ‘The Man’. But it is still a learning exercise. I found out about stuff I have not heard of before. Like: your tool box with 4 levels. Vocabulary in the top tray, along with Grammar.

Some examples: He advises against using the passive voice. Ever. Well hardly ever. Adverbs also fit into this, use them VERY rarely, category. And then there’s dialogue attribution. (If you don’t know about this; there’s a great reason to find and read this lovely little book). He notes that this later bit of construction when aligned with an adverb is called a Swiftie after author Tom Swift. And should once again NEVER be used in GOOD writing.

It is an amazing book. I loved it. Please find it and read it. Only takes an hour or so and your writing life will never be the same.

Cruise Like A Pro

Cruise Like A Pro – A Complete Guide To Carefree Cruising by Robin Gail

Cruise Like A Pro

A lovely little book. I have been on 5 cruises and still found some stuff I didn’t know.

This is a must purchase (softcover) to slip into your pocket or purse when you are actually on your cruise of a lifetime. It will save arguments and ensure you have the best time ever, avoiding most of the traps. So full of positive Tips’nTricks as well. All in a short readable and interesting book.

A bit like the old almanacs sailors used to carry to keep them aware of what was going on, you will use this many times on your cruise.

The 60 Min Startup

The 60 Minute Startup: A Proven System to Start Your Business in 1 Hour a Day and Get Your First Paying Customers in 30 Days (or Less) by Ramesh Dontha 

60 Min StartupHave you ever had a book jump off the desk, put on it's running shoes, grab you by the arm and drag you along into its world? This one does that and at a frenetic pace too.

I worked with the agile methodology when I was still in that corporate world, and there were some things I didn't understand until I read this book. It is amazing.

I also love the way he started each chapter with an actual case study a name and what this person did or didn't do that illustrates the point of the following chapter. I couldn't wait to turn the page to see what the story was going to be this time.

If this does not change the way you view your life and your work, then I'm not sure where that leaves you. This is an exciting book.

How to Stop Overthinking Charles P Carlton

How to Stop Overthinking - 8 Proven, Practical Techniques to End Anxiety, Stop Negative Thinking, Overcome Worrying and Live a Healthier, Happier Life – Charles P Carlton

Powerful CoverStop Overthinking

Wow. This book started with an extremely POWERFUL cover design. Loved it.

Much of what was covered, I thought I knew, but as I continued I realised that’s my problem. If you think you know stuff you never learn anything. When you talk you say things you know, but when you listen, that’s when the magic happens.

Magic

Thanks, Charles. You magician you.

I began to read this book with my ears wide open and the gems just kept on coming.

Mindfulness

The chapter on mindfulness made it worth the purchase of the whole book. It was masterful. The style of writing was informative firstly, but more importantly, it was contemplative, calming, meditative and relaxing. I loved the info but also the very feel of it. It was well done.

Powerful cover, great message, inspired writing style? I’d say it had it all.

Depression, Anxiety & Compassion

How To Overcome The Fear Of Change

Eat That Frog Brian Tracy

Eat That Frog – Brian Tracy

A short book in the procrastination genre. Not to be missed.

One thing I notice as I read the many self-help books available out there is the fact that they are all as special as the people reading them.

Resonate

Some resonate immediately and qualify for the “Changed My Life” comment. Some you need to read again and again.

And some hit a note that you are absolutely sure you have heard/read before, but never seemed to quite hook onto.

Hook

This book was the hook for me. So simple, straightforward and beautifully crafted. Hardly a wasted word. He does repeat “Eat That Frog” a few times, but that was necessary. Well, it was for me.

You just need to keep right on reading each new book until one smacks you in the forehead as this one did for me.

OMG. Yeah. Now I get it. Why did I put it off for so long?

CANI

Then keep right on reading – because why would you want to stop learning? Continuous and Never-ending Improvement.

Thanks, Eat That FrogBrian. I get it now.

 

 

 

 

Writing Everyday

Writing Everyday

WritingWriting, journaling or scribing as Hal Elrod calls it in The Miracle Morning, is the final task in the SAVERS morning routine.

Daily Thoughts

The idea is to put down on paper with an actual pen or pencil some thoughts, on a daily basis. Hal Elrod gives you a number of options in an attachment to his ebook, but the problem seems to be that many of his (shall I Call them disciples?) don’t seem to be able to figure it out. What to write, I mean. How to write for the 10 minutes the ritual calls for.

Not your Guru

I don’t profess to be any kind of guru, but I do not seem to have a problem with this task.

Now I reckon this might be because of a number of things that I have read and done, not because I am all that clever.

Write a Book

Firstly, a few years ago I started down a path to write a book. I had no idea what to write about; fiction or not, and not a single notion how to start.

Somewhere I read about a website where you write, electronically, 500 words of anything – often utter drivel - and publish it either in a folder on your computer, or if you were feeling brave on the website or Facebook group. I can’t remember now. I did a bit of both. But the idea was not to write anything of value, just to churn out 500 words (more or less) and leave it at that. Even the stuff published on the web was not to be read, just to prove that you had written it.

The Artist’s Way

Then, not that long ago, I found another really exciting book called “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. In this book, Julia extolled the virtue of what she called ‘Morning Pages’. The idea behind this again was to write in longhand ANYTHING. Yeah, there were some clues given, but the most exciting and most useful to me as a writer was the need to completely remove yourself as a person writing the material, from the actual result. It wasn’t easy. Took a lot of time to get it to happen consistently. Many mornings writing for a defined number of minutes. Many mornings missing out. But the whole process was just that. A process.

Writing as a Process

In earlier times when I was working, I was a process manager. What happened in any manufacturing process, was that if you put the correct bits and pieces in, carried out the same routines, each and every time, then a result would occur, that was very consistent. Nothing else to it. No emotion. No connection. Just input, action and output.

What am I saying here? Simple. Begin by sitting somewhere quiet and without any distractions, put pen to paper and write words. Don’t lift the pen or even think too much. It’s like meditation. You need to empty your mind of all thoughts and emotions and just let the moving finger write. You will end up with a result.

Raw

Don’t read it back. Don’t edit. Just put words down on paper and off you go. Next task for the day. Job’s done. This is the most important part.

Stuck

It has even been said that if you get stuck just write, “I am stuck. Do not know what to write.” and keep up that until something shakes out. As you are not reading it and there is no point to the writing, other than the actual act of writing, there is no loss, no foul.

No point to the Writing

You did it. Good on you. After some days, weeks, months of this, you might find you can give it some structure and actually write something like I am doing here. But it just flows. This is NEVER the point so don’t stress. Is there a time when structure should take over? NO. If it does. Cool. If not cool too. The whole point is to just write. Period.

Imaginative Story Writing

I did a bit of imaginative writing today – no gratitude, no journal, no diary – a story of sorts. I started with a sentence about dreams. My intent was to follow-up on a discussion I had been involved in the day before with a lady, from the paranormal arena. It didn’t down go down that path at all. It was a story about coffee and a new detective, and a new relationship and an exploding front door. Dunno why. But the same PROCESS was involved. Just the writing, nothing but the writing.

Reptile Brain

There is a direct link between the thinking conscious brain and the hand or keyboard. You need to break that and take the brain out of the equation. Write from the reptile part of your brain if you like. Straight from your hand to the page.

No connection to any actual thinking. After a while it is easy. Must be done every day, though, so as to keep up the momentum. Only 10 minutes. How hard is that really? Well, it is hard. But keep at it.

Writing today

I started writing this the same way. It is not literature but is over 800 words and most of it makes some kind of sense.

Writing Every Day – Journaling

The Teacher will Appear

The Miracle Morning

The Teacher will Appear

The Teacher Will Appear

When the Student is Ready the Teacher Will Appear – Tao Ti Ching.

Early Writing

For approx 50 years, maybe more, I have wanted to be a writer. When I was at teachers’ college in Dunedin N.Z. and we went on a family holiday to the resort town of Queenstown, for a lot of the time I stayed indoors much to the chagrin of my parents who had saved mightily for this holiday.

It was beautiful outside with the lake sliding off to the right below our holiday home and the magnificent range of mountains across the water, ‘The Remarkables’ changing colour and texture as the sun moved around.

But I was writing. A bit of a children’s story for a college assignment. Can’t remember what it was about, but I knew I was hooked on this writing thing.

Still Thinking

Many times since then I have thought about writing. Have a few chapters of a mystery novel set in Melbourne somewhere. I have the beginnings of a short story featuring a Sherlock Holmes of the like you have never heard. And, a few years ago, I had an article actually published as a chapter in a book edited by Kizzi Nkwocha. All through this time I have written stuff that has been published on websites I have owned, never to be seen again.

The Universe

As in everything, there is a plan to The Universe and a ‘way’ that cannot be subverted.

And our friend Tao Ti Ching above has it in one. My route started with a book called “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod. I read this wonderful book and joined his Facebook group.

Making Sense

Suddenly things that had started in High School, Teachers’ College, and then University made sense.

Suddenly all, the self-help gurus I had seen, like Tony Robbins for example, and all the teachers I had met online or through their fantastic books, like Julia Cameron with her ‘The Artists Way’; all their teachings began to fall into place.

Daily Writing

I began to write daily 500 words or more each time and this became consistent. I sometimes even read back the result.

Many Teachings

I had been following many different teachers writing about how to write books, I have about 10 ebooks and at least 4 real books telling me how to do this, but not until I had my eyes opened up by Hal, did things begin to gel. I then read a book by Gundi Gabrielle and found a Facebook group lead by Emee Vida Estacio and that’s when the magic happened.

Follow The Plan

I began. I followed the plan, the process, and I now have a book. I am working on the final edits and I have a cover designed. In a week I will be ready to finalise formatting and organise a launch team – the book tells you how to do all of this and the support from the FB group is outstanding.

Before long I will be ready to press the go button and upload the whole shebang onto the Kindle Publishing site, set the promos running and Bob’s your Uncle.

I am so excited.

Book Sales, not the Reason

And you know the whole point of this was to become the kind of person who could write and publish a book. The actual result of this (the book) is not really important. If it sells, great. If it tanks, great. I will have achieved my goal whatever that particular result is.

Grateful

I am very grateful that the teacher appeared when I was ready to get the message. Took 50 years, but it was still worth it. Trust The Universe. Trust the process.

It can work for you too.

Success Unlimited – Mithra Publishing

Your Success book for Mithra Publishing

Kindle Best Seller Publishing

How To Overcome The Fear Of Change

How to Overcome Fear Of Change

FOC not FOMO, but Fear Of Change. It is a thing, and it even has its own word. Metathesiophobia.

Fear Of Change

Breakfast

We all like routine. Hell, I have the same 3 pieces of grain bread toast every morning. Lashings of ‘unhealthy’ butter, 2 slices with honey and one with vegemite. (Yeah, well I live in Australia – so sue me.)

The need to feel in control – and this is very often what routine is all about - is built into our physical and mental predispositions.

When you are finished changing, you are finished”

Benjamin Franklin.

And it is true. We need to accept that change is a necessary part of life. To not do so can lead to panic or anxiety attacks; it can become a full-blown phobia when it is irrational, persistent and intense.

FEAR

Someone once said to me that FEAR is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. You have probably all heard it – it is almost a cliché now, but let’s look at it in a bit more depth.

False Evidence

This usually comes from stories we tell ourselves based on the flimsiest of grounds and in many cases not true, not logical and not even slightly constructive. We fabricate stuff and believe our own stories even when they are obviously not real.

Phones And The Younger Generation

Here’s an example. Those who are afraid that our children will fail to learn socialising skills because they are always on their phones and not talking to each-other. Yeah? You’ve heard that one? What do you think they are doing on their phones? Most of them are not playing games. They are messaging friends, often several at once, occasionally from many different towns, cities or even countries. Isn’t this communicating?

Different

Is it different from the way we used to do it? Yes, of course, but it is a good change? I think so. Wider communication networks, and an instant (not having to wait for weeks to send and receive actual mail) connection. They can even take pictures and share them with friends all over at the tap of a finger on a screen.

Social Media

Yes and what about social media? Is it good or bad? Guess it depends on what you mean by good and bad. We used to SHARE our opinions using letters to the editor columns in magazines and newspapers. Sometimes on talk-back radio. (that in itself was a change from earlier communications not available to us until radio was invented and came into general use). But we don’t talk about that now do we? We just say kids are doing it wrong.

NO. They are not. They are just using NEW technology to do things differently.

Like we did. All those years ago.

Appearing Real

Change is inevitable. Listen to the stories you tell yourself that Appear Real to you because you repeat them so often.

Sisyphus

It is a fact that the brain has great difficulty in differentiating what is real from what is imagined. Seems to be same. And if you tell yourself these false stories often enough you will believe them and then you will resist change, and you become like Sisyphus trying to push the rock up the hill. You will fail and be crushed in the process.

Book

I have a new eBook coming out at the end of September addressing this situation. It will be published on Amazon.

It is called: “How To Overcome The Fear Of Change”. And it will give you some in-depth reasons why we might be suffering from this affliction, and some practical ways to avoid this crippling state of affairs. It even includes a ‘Call To Action’ that everyone can use.

Fear of Change eBook

CHANGE – Cannot be Avoided

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results. A revolutionary system to get 1 per cent better every day

Atomic HabitsPeople think when you want to change your life, you need to think big. But world-renowned habits expert James Clear has discovered another way. He knows that real change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of small decisions – doing two push-ups a day, waking up five minutes early, or holding a single short phone call.

He calls them atomic habits.

In this ground-breaking book, Clear reveals exactly how these minuscule changes can grow into such life-altering outcomes. He uncovers a handful of simple life hacks (the forgotten art of Habit Stacking, the unexpected power of the Two Minute Rule, or the trick to entering the Goldilocks Zone), and delves into cutting-edge psychology and neuroscience to explain why they matter.

These small changes will have a revolutionary effect on your career, your relationships, and your life

My 5 take-aways

  1. Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the process that leads to those results. As a side note: There are no good habits or bad habits: only effective habits. Ask the question, "Does this behaviour help me become the type of person I wish to be?”
    1. If you want better results, then forget about setting goals, focus on your systems instead
      1. So James Clear says “Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves”.
      2. Create a system of ATOMIC HABITS. An atomic habit is a little habit that is part of a larger system.
    2. Outcomes are about what you get. Processes are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe.

I am focusing on creating a habit of writing. Focussing on who I wish to become. A writer. What about you?

  1. Every belief, including those about yourself, is learned and conditioned through experience
    1. What do you want to stand for? What are your principles and values? Who do you wish to become?

We need to take a deep dive into our psyche (might need a life coach?) to understand what this means for us. What/who do we believe we are? Start by completing the values questionnaire that you will find on this page. It is a great start to finding out what you believe about yourself. Some core values from Mr James Clear.

  1. The 4 laws of behaviour change are as follows:
    1. Cue (Make it obvious), Craving (Make it attractive), Response (Make it easy) Reward (Make it satisfying).

I won’t go into these in much detail. You’ll need to read the book, but suffice to say, you can use these 4 laws to guide you through the minefield of issues standing in the way of your success. Any success. Business, personal, emotional, financial – whatever.

Note that the inversion of each of these rules can be used to break ineffective habits.

  • Take the cue from something you WANT, really want, and make it, in your mind, really obvious that this is the way you need to go. Lose weight for example.
  • Then convert this into a craving. Make the whole deal attractive, ie kinda like WHY you want it. To be the best looking guy/girl on the beach. See it. Feel it. Smell it. Hear what people say. You know what I mean.
  • Respond to these feelings by taking action. For this to happen – it must be easy. No one will do anything for long if it is tedious. This is where small comes in. Start with having only half a glass of wine with dinner or half a serving of dessert. (If weight loss is your goal).
  • Finally, you need a reward. (Not another chocolate biscuit) Think of something you really like, say an extra hour in bed with a good book? Something that will make you feel good. Do it. Don't miss it. This is very important. That’s it.
  1. Use triggers to help you. If that happens- do this. Do things at a specific time each day. (I write 700 words each morning before breakfast. Doesn’t matter what I write it is the process that counts.) Then try stacking one habit upon another. After I do that – do this. Make the environment work for you. Put pill bottles next to your bed, for example, so you’ll get into the habit of taking your pills before you go to sleep.

Remember the 2-minute rule. When you start a new habit, it should take less than 2 minutes to do.

  1. Finally, Surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to have yourself. Have an accountability partner or mentor. This is a fundamental law of personal development.

There is much, much more. The book is full of lists, exercises, references and stories to which we can all relate. Look for the paper clip strategy for example, and see how it can work in your life. A strategy about habit tracking.

Management thinker Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying that “you can't manage what you can't measure.” Drucker means that you can't know whether or not you are successful unless success is defined and tracked.

Check out the Goldilocks rule. What the? Yep, it's a real thing. Look for it in ch.19.

Summary

Make one small change and repeat it over time. A new habit will be formed, almost un-consciously. This is awesome stuff.
Read ‘The Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olsen and David Mann.

5 Key Take-Aways 7 Favourite Self-Help / Personal-Development Books

ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN?

ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN?carrot-egg-coffee

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high flame. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She then pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

The granddaughter then asked, "What does it mean, Grandmother?"

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity -- boiling water -- but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her granddaughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour of your life. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you changed by your surroundings or do you bring life, flavour, to them?

ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN?

I have no idea where this came from, (so I can't give credit to the author which is a pity) but it was too good not to share.

Learning. What Did You Learn Today?

Depression, Anxiety & Compassion

Terror by Ty Patterson

Terror by Ty Patterson

Terror - Ty Patterson

As with all other books by this author, I approach this one with glee. I loved it. The storyline was tight and interesting. The characters were well developed and I was able to engage with them in a way that made reading the book a joy.

I was a little disappointed, no that's too strong a word - not quite sure; How can I say it? I expected that I would be more frightened, more scared of the consequences. Although I was completely immersed in the story the terror didn't grab me as much as I would have expected.

There was one instance where passive voice was used and I felt it needed to be more active. I had to read the line several times to understand what was being conveyed.

But that being said it was an amazing book and I stayed up late at night, later than I should have, reading it. Thank you very much.

Out of Luck – Kendall Talbot

Out of Luck by Kendall Talbot

Out Of Luck Kendall TalbotAbout halfway through this book I suddenly thought, “I really want this girl to succeed in her quest”, and then I re-read the title “Out Of Luck” and I was really upset. I was so invested in the characters that I truthfully didn't want to think that they might end up lacking in the luck department. (Most of them anyway. Not the bad guys of course).

Bugger. I can’t tell you any more about that. I’d have to kill you.

As usual, the language was really great. Full of figures of speech. Such as:-

Similes: ‘… built like a fridge’. ‘Waves tossed her around like she was in a washing machine,’

Alliteration: ‘… sad sack of shit’.

Metaphors: ‘The silence screamed in her ears’. ‘Her eyes were flames’.

Then there were the word and sound pictures: ’… fingering the tears from her cheeks’, and the piece de resistance - ‘When you shared sleeping quarters with seven other guys, and one of them could clear the bunks with his rumbling farts, it was not something you tended to forget’.

Right. I can still hear that. Bloody hell.

Of course, there were many more, but you don’t want to read a review full of stuff like that.

All you need to know is. Fantastic work. Great story. Loveable characters, hateful characters. Intricate plotlines that are not too hard for oldies like me to follow.

I often like to include with my reviews a point of improvement. Guess it’ll come to me?

Nah!

Nothing! OK. Forget it.

More, please.

The Broken Mother By Thomas Fincham

The Broken Mother By Thomas Fincham

The Broken Mother By Thomas FinchamWow, another great read from this author who gets better and better with every outing. Hard to talk about this without giving away too much, but the plots were interesting, engaging, exciting and not too complicated for an old fart like me. The language was fabulous. characters were great. The story really raced along.

I like to try and suggest something for improvement each time I do a review. Can't think of anything for Thomas this time.

Thank you very much. I really enjoyed this. As I said before, I want to be Lee Callaway.

The Falling Girl by Thomas Fincham

Published Author

Published Author

I Am A Published Author

Being a Published Author is supposed to be of great assistance in furthering your career as a writer. I reckon that means you have to tell people about this published bit? Right?

There is a book published in 2015. Success Unlimited The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Success, Kizzi Nkwocha (Ed), Sussex UK: Mithra Publishing.

Contributors

Sixteen contributors to this book (thought leaders) have all written articles (chapters) speaking to areas of success in which they have expertise.

Many of these people are world renowned and come from varied backgrounds and disciplines. There are entrepreneurs, teachers/trainers, bloggers, psychiatrists, life coaches, business men and women, professional speakers, writers, leaders, marketing and sales executives just to name a few.

Most are from Australia, and among this illustrious crowd, you will find me. Yep. I am a published author.

My contribution is called ‘Beliefs, Rules, Values and Language – Their Role In Your Success’. It can be found on pp.(200-218).

Not Mainstream

You cannot find much of the material in this book in the mainstream, (although the book is available in most great bookstores and online from the various outlets), but that that does not discount the value that can be gained from these insights. The writers are all speaking from real life experience and the information is absolutely top notch.

No Vested Interest

You cannot find this kind of stuff in books by the well-known self-help and personal development writers, because in ‘Success Unlimited the authors have no vested interest in the sales of the book, nor in the acceptance or otherwise of their ideas; their aim is to function as servants, operating out of a wish to share their experiences, successes and sometimes fears, so that others may be better versions of themselves after having read the various articles in this wonderful book.

Nothing Changes By Sitting On Your Hands

Your Success book for Mithra Publishing