A few months ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Julie Ann on the Mere Mortals podcast, based in the US!
Talking about how to pay more attention and give people better help.
How to incorporate the Just Be Nice principles into your life or organisation.
How to approach conversations around helping people.
The original link to the page is HERE
To subscribe to the Mere Mortals Podcast on iTunes check it out HERE
Have a listen, share, subscribe or like it on iTunes and feel free to pop some comments below!
"He Was Bitten By The Black Dog."
This past week my father passed away. I received a phone call from an old family friend to inform me that he had not only passed away, but had taken his own life. It took a couple of very sad phone calls, with some heartbroken people to be told "He was bitten by the black dog."
I have to say that it was unexpected. I had not heard from him in about 18 months, and in the last decade, we had only seen each other and spoken a handful of times. It is no secret that there were some traumatic and disappointing experiences that my family suffered as a result of my father’s actions. In many ways, the negative aspects of my own childhood had a significant impact on my development into the person I am today. He himself had suffered at the hands of his father, and his father at the hands of his grandfather. Ultimately, those experiences also shaped the man that he was to come to be.
I was once told that to move past the negative experiences, and ensure you don’t repeat the sins of your father, you need to forgive them. Some of us are able to forgive to some extent (although forget is still beyond me at this stage). Some people are not. It is a heavy weight to carry if you cannot forgive though.
A couple of things had to happen almost immediately after the phone calls. First was my own refection. I’m the eldest of three, and so I had the most time with him when he was still a functioning father. It would be a lie to say that we had no positive experiences together. My life started with two wonderful, engaged parents, and I was lucky in that regard. As a boy, like many boys, I looked up to the big, strong, clever man that my father was in the early years.
Sometimes I wonder if the good times make the tough times worse, or if it is better to have had some good times rather than none. Given my temperament, and the way I look at the world, I tend to side with the ‘some good times are better than none’ argument. We are all the sum of our experiences, both good and bad. While I was lucky to see what a good man looks like in practice, I also experienced the heartbreak of that same good man becoming an agent of disappointment and eventually leaving us all behind.
The second thing that had to happen was to go and tell the family. My Mum, my brother and my sister. The death of an estranged relative is a difficult one to process immediately. It is certainly far too fresh for any of us to really understand how we will feel about it in the long term. We are lucky that even though our family is small, we are very close and open to candid discussions, so with a few tears and some reflection and shock, we all set about beginning the process of dealing with it in our own ways, together. It is a blessing to have an understanding and caring family and friends, and already I owe a debt of gratitude to the kind words and support we have received.
Over the last decade, I had talked about not even knowing whether I would find out if he ever passed away, I was never sure if anyone would get in touch with me to let me know. I had never expected that the black dog would get him like that, but I guess the nature of mental health troubles is that they often manifest in unexpected ways. Honestly, I had said that I wouldn’t be fussed when he passed away, but then, having received the call, maybe I am fussed. I certainly never expected the call to go the way that it did. Maybe I care that my father got a to a place where he believed this to be his best option. I feel deeply for anyone that feels so alone that they can walk through a door and never return.
I have been open in discussing some of the trials and tribulations of my life to date. I don’t have any answers now, and I am at the beginning of a process of dealing with what has happened. I know that ultimately, I will be ok. If I do hit a roadblock, I think that it is worth speaking about it on behalf of those who maybe don’t have the words to express their feelings themselves.
Once again, it’s time to practice what we preach. It is ok to not be ok, its ok to not know how to feel. It is ok to not be sure how to deal with the curve balls that life throws at you, and certainly reconciling the complex emotions surrounding this particular circumstance will take some time no doubt. It’s ok to be ok as well, there is a feeling that some of the responsibility of the expectation to be really upset is offset by the fact that many years ago this man decided not to be a part of my life. In that regard, I am not entirely sure how I am supposed to feel, or indeed how I do feel.
It has made work a bit difficult this week, I’m a thinker, so when my mind is occupied, it can be harder to just focus. I have written this to deal with that, maybe to get it off my chest and begin the process of moving forward. Our family is fortunate to have a wonderful network of beautiful humans around us to help, unfortunately that isn’t the case for everyone, so should you need to speak to someone about any issues you, or a loved one might be facing, the numbers are below.
At the end of the day, now is a good time to go give someone a hug, a smile, tell your loved ones that you love them and as always Just Be Nice.
Lots of love – Josh Reid Jones.
Should you or anyone you know need someone to speak to call:
Lifeline for 24/7 crisis support on: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereavement: 1300 659 467
Kids Help Line – Conselling for people 5-25 years old: 1800 55 1800
Griefline – Counselling service for people suffering grief: 1300 845 745
Are you happy? It is a question that I get asked from time to time, and this week I was asked twice! So I thought I might take a moment to discuss the reasons that I don’t really have a great yes/no answer to that question.
I have never really been too focused on being ‘happy’, perhaps as a defence mechanism to events in my life, I took out the need for super-high highs, in order to take out the opportunity for super-low lows. Paying more attention to how I lived my life and who I am, rather than focusing on what is going on at any particular individual point in time. I would say that by and large I live a life that I am happy with, a life that keeps me content, based on me having the opportunities to act in a way that matters to me.
When it comes to happiness, there are few kinds of situations that might be the focus of what many people call ‘being happy’. There is feeling joy in the Current Moment, there is feeling inspired for Future Possibility and there is a pride that one feels reflecting on Past Achievement. There is also a kind of contentment that comes from Consistent Character throughout the entire process.
A lot of people consider happiness to be the feeling of joy in the current moment, while I think I derive more satisfaction from the constant attempt to live a life of consistent character.
Neuroscientist Richard Davidson believes that happiness relies on four elements.
In asking ‘are you happy’ I believe a lot of people associate a positive state as the primary example of happiness. Unfortunately, that comes at the expense of three other pillars of happiness. I have developed an ability to bounce back from negative states through years of having to develop that resilience. My negative states rarely get too deep, and even more rarely hang around for longer than a day or two. I am constantly working on ways to improve my ability to focus, routine, effort and a drive to improve the world help keep that on track (even though I lose my way from time to time). My entire life, The Just Be Nice Project, my other businesses, my personal development, is all about improving my capacity (and the capacity of others) to be generous, and help people in a meaningful way.
I might not reach the absolute peaks of positivity regularly, but I am absolutely working on the four pillars of happiness every, single, day.
The idea that we deserve a life that is full of outrageous joy every single day has always seemed crazy to me. Tough times are just as important as the good ones. Without the juxtaposition of light and dark we wouldn’t know the difference between the two.
I have always been amazed at how beautiful things are in the half light. As the sun sets, we get the ‘golden hour’. The beauty of life lies in contrast, in the difference between shadow and light, blemishes become highlights, boring landscapes reveal their depth in these moments. I believe life and my own feelings of happiness and contentment to function the same way.
It is not to say that I never experience joy, or even significant joy, but no one lives at the top of the mountain. Once you get there, you are ecstatic with your achievement, you have a unique view and a special moment just for you…. But those heights do not support life full-time.
..no one lives at the top of the mountain.
You descend again, to once more make plans for another big adventure. I find joy in the planning, in the journey, in the achievement and in doing it with a character that I strive to be proud of, every single day.
Take pleasure in the journey, the achievement and the moment. Build yourself into a person that you can be proud of in every situation. Learn to focus, to not only be positive, but to bounce back from being negative and always look to improve your understanding of others so you can improve your capacity to be generous and of course, Just Be Nice.
Josh Reid Jones - Founder of The Just Be Nice Project and Odin Sports