Letters From A Dead Father.
Like many people I have a couple of shoeboxes with old letters, photos (yep, real photos) and Christmas/birthday cards in them. I don’t often go through them, but recently I was moving house and opened up the boxes to see what was in them.
It was only to label them for moving (some of the shoeboxes are full of USB cables and old chargers etc) … yet on top of one box was an old Christmas card from my father. I didn’t realise it was from him until I opened it, and I don’t know how it was on top, but it read;
Change is inevitable and it lets us know we’re alive. This Christmas I wish for you the gift of peace. Peace within and peace without – peace with yourself and peace with others. I wish you time to waste = just feeling peaceful. I wish you someone to talk to .. to put your heart at peace. Above all I wish you the freedom to feel and the gift of feeling at peace with the way you feel. You are an extraordinary young man and extraordinary people face extraordinary challenges… they also manage to face those challenges. I know you will face the challenges ahead in ’99 in the same honest, caring, intelligent way you have always done – and I know you’ll come out on top – I just pray that you will know when you get there.
It’s not often you can reach so far into the past and catch a snapshot of who you must have been, but through the context of my life since and our relationship, reading it, I had a little eye-roll to myself. My father aside, I have been fortunate to have had people wishing me peace since I was a kid, and I still get those wishes today. I guess the way that I am is different to most, and people feel I need more peace in my life. It’s like reading my school reports from prep and year 12, both of which say, “Josh is a bit too social in class”. My stormy nature is something that lots of people pick up on.
I’m not prone to extended periods of appearing to “[feel] at peace with the way [I] feel”. Regardless, I am in an unusual way, extraordinarily comfortable with who I am. It is interesting to me that if nothing else, I have been consistent, nearly 20 years later I am still being wished the same things as I was as a young teen.
It was strange to read these words from someone who is no longer here. My father took his own life last year, but he left mine many years before that. Apart from failed attempts to reach out, we didn’t have much contact. His legacy was one of heartbreak, violence, and substance and physical abuse. One of the hardest things to reconcile for people, is the juxtaposition between good moments and the bad. Someone who is always an asshole, is fairly easy to write off. Someone who has shown moments of great caring and love can be harder to give up on completely. It is harder, because of the knowledge that, somewhere in there, lives a capacity for goodness.
Long ago I decided to work on coming to terms with the fact that there are things in your control, and things that aren’t. Worry about how you conduct yourself and focus on being a virtuous person, a character-led person. Earn your self-love, earn your self-respect and let everyone else earn theirs too. Really, in light of this 20-year-old letter, I decided to make sure I continue to face challenges in the same honest, caring, intelligent way [I] have always done.
A moment of goodness doesn’t mean that someone is a good person, any more than a moment of weakness necessarily makes them a bad person; a person is the sum of their experiences and actions.
As a result, I’m able to enjoy the good times that I have had with people who turned out to not be so great in the long run. The fact that, in the end they were not the people I had hoped they would be, does not take away from the pleasant and wonderful moments that we have had together. It also doesn’t mean that I must maintain relationships with them, simply because once or twice they showed me a kindness. Everything has a season. I don’t expect warm days in winter, and I don’t believe that everyone is destined to be in your life for any predetermined amount of time either. There have been kind words, nice letters and pleasant gestures from people that are no longer in my life, and I know I have done the same for others.
In the end, the very last letter that my father wrote to me, was written indirectly, and to all three of his kids.
It was him actively writing us out of his will.
Twenty years later, from this message of availability, love and understanding (even though it was unaccompanied by actions that match the words), the last message was one of isolation, rejection and distance.
Everything has a season. The lessons are no less valid, and in a way, he had given me advice to prepare me for what was to come regardless.
Extraordinary people face extraordinary challenges… they also manage to face those challenges. I know you will face the challenges ahead in ’99 in the same honest, caring, intelligent way you have always done – and I know you’ll come out on top – I just pray that you will know when you get there.
I think maybe the lesson is to take the good times, the good advice and the good people when they have their season in your life. Don’t try to hang on to them when their season is done. Decide how you will face challenges and commit to being a person that you can be proud of. I will continue my work, continue to strive towards being the person that I want to be and encourage people to Just Be Nice. Twenty years on, I still hope that one day I will know when I get there.
Linchpin by Seth Godin; A Review.
With a title like Linchpin: Are you indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future. You could be forgiven for thinking that this is just another ‘business guru’ ‘ra-ra cheerleader’, ‘you can do it’ style of book that is heavy on the back pats and light on the practical application of doing good work…. But it’s not.
Work hard, make mistakes, be accountable, be generous and develop skills that make you indispensable. Great messages to take away from a very practical account of a way forward, that acknowledges the various road blocks that prevent people from fulfilling their potential.
From the industrialised nature of the school system, to modern journalism, to a discussion of the kinds of jobs that are prevalent in society today and their worth, Godin presents a part anthropological, part historical, part how-to manual for navigating these environments.
Godin doesn’t present an easy, pain free version of a successful career path, rather a generous, fulfilling one. One that requires self-awareness and a dedication to doing all the right things, even when you don’t think anyone is watching.
In talking about the myriad ways that people can become indispensable to clients, customers and employers, he illuminates a range of possibilities for people who are ready to take responsibility for their own personal and career evolution.
Much of what Godin promotes in Linchpin is in the creating of what he calls ‘Art’.
“Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that causes change in another.”
“Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient.”
Art is the effort that a human puts in to make things better for someone else, without thought of immediate reward, or pats on the back, or recognition. The Art that Seth Godin speaks about is an act of gift-giving that at once changes someone else’s life in some way, while helping you to become indispensable.
I have to say, rather than most of the ‘gurus’ that write business books that either lack humanity, and treat people like pawns, or lack a realistic picture of the work it takes to make it in any field, or the books that just flat out say nothing of importance at all, Linchpin was a fantastic read.
Godin’s advice works, and I can prove it!
I have, over the years, heard bits and pieces of Seth Godin’s stuff on various interviews, podcasts, read a few articles and blogs etc, but he never really engaged me. Then, I listened to an old podcast of his – The Seth Godin Start-up School. It was really great, a series of short pieces taken from a workshop he did around 2011 or something. It was very generous, had a handful of very practical and insightful tips, and so, out of appreciation for his efforts, I went and purchased a few of his books.
Seth was generous, he was an expert and he gave me a gift that I wanted to repay. All that happened BEFORE I actually read Linchpin, so now I know what was going on! Regardless, I am not disappointed.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who believes that they need to change what they are doing to feel fulfilled or become more successful, to anyone who lacks the conviction to do the scariest thing (Ship your product/art/etc), and to anyone who is interested in a perspective of what the future of work and successful workers might look like!
Thanks Seth, for practicing what you preach and doing an excellent job along the way, I hope that everyone finds the courage to be better, be more generous and create more art in their day to day lives as a result of this book.
Mrs Rosie and The Priest - Giovanni Boccaccio- Little Black Penguin Classics Review
A collection of short stories from Boccaccio’s The Decameron translated by Peter Hainsworth.
Book number one in the 80 volume Little Black Penguin Classics set that I purchased at the beginning of the year, I have set myself the challenge of reading 100 books in 2018, including the 80 of this set, so it will be interesting to see if I can keep up the pace of writing reviews (on average) twice a week.
The first book in this set is by an author I have heard nothing about, ever, but a quick google tells me that he is a Florentine writer from the 1300’s. Apart from the setting of the short stories, I would not have picked the time that he was born, given the lively interpretation of what is a racy and ribald account of virility, infidelity, trickery, manipulation and lust.
There are four short stories in total, all of which relate to some instance of sexual misconduct or relationship management. As they are short stories, to give the plot away would also give much of the charm away, so I would simply say that as a start to a collection of 80, it was an engaging, funny and ironic way to kick it off. The more time you spend reading classics and tales from hundreds or thousands of years ago, the more you realise that we are not so advanced as we may think. Technology can only mask human nature to a certain extent, but these stories certainly do not seem dated or out of place in modern society, even if the settings are certainly straight out of the 14th Century.
I have no expectations of what to expect from the set of Little Black Penguin Classics, but nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised at the nature of volume one. A good mix of humour and sex, two things that never fail to entertain.
Onto the next one!
Well this was an absolute delight to read. A collection of insights and anecdotes gathered from, yep, Wednesday afternoon conversations with Bob Hawke. Not quite a full biography, longer than an essay, more interesting than a simple interview piece.
Derek matches Bobs irreverence with a writing style that is both engaging and considered without being stodgy and boring. Political insights are coupled with little gems and reflections on a man that is a national treasure for his common touch as much as his relentless pursuit of monumental reforms for Australia.
Far from simply one man’s take on the situation, Derek takes the time to talk to those close to Bob, past and present, to round out a colourful piece that touches on Bob the man, the friend, the lover, husband, and of course, the Prime Minister.
I personally saw Bob Hawke speak some 8 or 9 years ago at a function; sandwiched between Wayne Swan and the MC he was a standout. Not simply for the way in which he speaks the common tongue with eloquence and understanding, but in the fact that he stood for something that means so much to me. It was refreshing to see a statesman enunciate a sharp vision for a country in which equality of opportunity was a driving motivation, rather than a sub-heading on a list of things that are too hard to actually achieve.
The wonderful thing about a good biography is not simply what has been included, but what has been omitted. How does the narrative go when a person who missed the Hawke era* reads it? I never had the chance to develop personal feelings about Bob Hawke the PM, but the context provided by Rielly in this account of the then-and-now of Australia’s most popular Prime Minister goes a long way to bringing a young fella like myself up to speed.
As a result of reading this, my desire to meet and speak with Bob Hawke has increased some 30-fold, his conviction and ability to connect to Australians (his approval rating of 75% is the highest of all time in Aus.) is admirable and a true inspiration.
I tip my cap to Derek Rielly (the handsome rooster) for this accessible, insightful and respectful story of a story. Commentary surrounding the mention of the C-Bomb to former conservative Prime Minister John Howard and the toiletry habits of our former heads of state make this a tale about others that endears readers to the author as much as the subjects he is speaking to. I literally polished this off in two days, I was so glued to the telling of the story. The humility and incredulity of the circumstances surrounding how this got written are a welcome change in the world of virtue-signalling and humble-bragging. Full disclosure however, I do have a special affinity for clever people who swear.
The list of things to read has increased, while I attempt to find a way to speak to a number of the figures in the book (Singo, Beazley, Blanche), as well as the author. I recommend highly that anyone vaguely interested in the man that delivered Medicare and vastly improved education outcomes to Australians checks this out.
Shoutout to Avoca Hill Bookstore, South Yarra, where I saw and immediately purchased this as my first read for 2018. An excellent choice.
*(He served as PM from 1983-1991 and I was born in 1986)
Have you noticed lately, how mad everyone is? Angry, hurt, frustrated and vocal. Anger that ranges from casually inconvenienced to visceral rage, from all strata of society, throughout much of the Western world. I cannot speak to the East, because I don’t hear so much from the second and third world, it certainly seems though, that the privilege of first world habitation brings with it a desire or inclination to be whipped into a frenzy.
‘Road Rage’. Literally anger at THE ROAD. “HOW DARE YOU NOT DO THE 20km/hr OVER THE SPEED LIMIT THAT I WOULD LIKE TO DO RIGHT NOW…. GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!! ARGHHHHH”
‘Race Rage’. Exaggerating differences and the impact of these differences, causing various pockets of us and them. The Us invariably being denied opportunity due to the ever-present spectre of Them.
How so many people can reconcile in their heads that the problems caused in an entire country can be attributed to the smallest percentage, lowest socio-economic groups is beyond me, but it is certainly easy to whip people into a rage about it.
This anger has somehow lead to a shift in leadership across the world. In the Philippines death squads have killed thousands of people without trial, while allowing the President unprecedented approval ratings from an enraged population. In the United States, a President who lives in a GOLD TOWER somehow was elected on a platform that he understands the needs and lives of every day (angry) Americans. They are rallying around Confederate and Nazi flags and literally CARRYING BURNING TORCHES! In Great Britain voters approved a Brexit scheme that had no real details, and are now staring down the barrel of economic uncertainty off the back of voters that believed a small minority of immigrants were the reason they were denied personal opportunities and falling behind economically. In Australia, people are mad. I don’t actually even know what for. Mad at renewable energy, mad at incarcerated minors, mad at boats filled with desperate asylum seekers, as though a boat with 20 people on it will cause the economic destruction of our entire way of life. Mad at same sex marriage, mad at politicians with dual citizenship, mad at renewable energy and coal. It seems like people are angry wherever they possibly can be.
Politicians speak about where we are, and why that’s terrible. About the ‘mess they have been left with’, deflecting anger to people and parties that have long since lost their power. Encouraging people to rage at the past, as though that somehow improves the present, or absolves them of the responsibility of how things are now not how they were.
Newspaper headlines have rage inducing headlines splashed across them every day.
SOMEONE DID SOMETHING.
A PERSON SAID SOMETHING.
PEOPLE WHO LOOK DIFFERENT TO YOU DID SOMETHING THAT YOU WOULDN’T DO.
BE SCARED OF THIS THING.
BE MAD AT THIS OTHER THING.
It’s not that we are simply being incited to rage, we have our rage and our anxieties pointed down all the time. Pointed at people we don’t know, pointed at things we don’t understand, pointed at people who are down the chain from us. The upper class rage at the middle class, the middle class rage at the lower middle class, the lower middle class rage at the lower class, everyone rages at the unemployed, uneducated, freshy emigrated, incarcerated and disadvantaged.
Surely these unknown elements are the source of all our problems…. Or maybe they aren’t.
When I was a teenager, we were warned about Asians. Vietnamese Gangs. Cambodian Gangs. Truth be told, as a teen I was chased by some of these gangs, brandishing knives, samurai swords, trolley poles (the handles from shopping carts)… Alongside the Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrant kids there were as many Caucasian kids in the gangs too. In fact, in the case of almost every gang ever, you can just refer to them as ‘Disenfranchised teenagers, who lack support, vision and encouragement, building their self-esteem and self-worth through a community of similarly difficult teens’.
Nowadays I couldn’t pin all the problems we face in society on Vietnamese… Their cuisine is too delicious, I can get it on Uber eats and Menulog for Gods sake! Most of us know a Vietnamese person and can vouch that ‘they’re ok’. The same goes for the Greeks and Italians that we all know and love. It’s hard to be mad at Italian immigrants when I look forward to the next opportunity to be fed to the point of bursting by my mates Nonna. There was a time though when they too bore the brunt of a country’s anger and spite.
How many of us know Sudanese kids? APEX is the gang du jour. The newest and most significant threat to our safety and way of life. Just like the Vietnamese, the Italians and the Chinese were at some point in time. How many of us know Muslims? They make up less than 2% of the population, but somehow they are ruining the very fabric of our society? Those newest to our country? Not the entrenched, the powerful and wealthy, the people who make decisions that decide whether we have access to welfare, healthcare and infrastructure?
Why do we allow these views and opinions to proliferate our social fabric?
Perhaps it is because people are blinded by anger, and enlightened by truth. Blind people are easier to lead, more inclined to give up their autonomy of direction.
One seeks the truth, making them harder to lead. If you are seeking, then by definition you must have some control over where you go looking. Being angry requires nothing more than just your own internal dissatisfaction. I don’t need facts to know I am angry about something, I just know that I feel mad about it.
Anger allows you to shift responsibility to the person or situation that ‘made you mad’. Never mind your choice to allow yourself to be enraged by things that make little logical sense, or that have no real impact on your life or even basis in fact. You can be mad. Didn’t get the job you wanted? Be mad at the person who got it.
Didn’t leave enough time to get where you were going? Be mad at traffic.
Can’t afford a house, or earn enough in your job? Get mad at refugees, who are obviously the reason housing prices have inflated astronomically in the past 30 years, even though the ones you are mad at they have only been arriving in the last 15 years.
Being mad at each other advances nothing, solves nothing and puts blinkers on society to the real things that oppress us. Looking down at the very small and the few things we do not understand prevents us from seeing the great problems that lie above us. Seek the truth, and look for reasons to help and solve problems rather than reasons to be mad.
With your eyes open, you will be harder to lead astray. I am no conspiracy theorist, but look to the actions of those in charge, look beyond the words and fear mongering. Look beyond the headlines and labels given to things we do not understand. The more you know, the harder you are to trick, just like the more you appreciate, the harder it is to be enraged.
Make an effort to understand. Make an effort to appreciate. Make an effort to Just Be Nice. It’s not easy, but it’s the only way to create extraordinary positive change.
Congratulations and Encouragement.
Congratulations and encouragement. Two positive nouns no doubt, but are they being used appropriately in this current age of ‘start-ups’, 'intent' and declarations of purpose?
Congratulations; words expressing one's praise for an achievement or good wishes on a special occasion.
Encouragement; the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope.
Too often we are congratulating people for starting something rather than encouraging them. Too often we save our congratulations for people who are the most visible, the loudest or standing at the front of the line rather than those who have had their noses to the grindstone getting things done.
What could be wrong with congratulating people for starting things you might ask? Good question, let’s look at what congratulating someone implies.
Firstly, it implies an achievement, and frankly, simply starting something is not really an achievement. I could, in the next couple of days start 10 new businesses, 12 books, 15 marathons and 28 training sessions in the gym. I can guarantee you that none of those would be worth congratulating me for, especially if I have only started them.
It would be worth encouraging me, however, letting me know that pulling out the notepad and pen is a fantastic way to start writing a book. That getting into the gym is a great way to start getting into better shape and that you have to start a marathon in order to possibly finish it. The congratulations however need to be saved for the end, or at the very least, for some progress that can be reviewed.
Congratulations imply a special occasion. By congratulating ‘start-ups’, ‘starting-up’ and ‘grand declarations of intention’, we are implying that they are special occasions. Again, the truth is that the start of something only becomes a special occasion upon its completion. Mentioning that I am starting a marathon is not a special occasion, the start of a marathon becomes special by virtue of the work that follows. At the end of the marathon, having finished and achieved a complete outcome, the start, middle and end all become significant. By starting and pulling out 300m into the race, there is nothing to congratulate, there has been no special occasion.
Championing starting takes away from those who work hardest. It dims the light of the finishers. We fund Start-ups rather than Keep-goings, we congratulate massive statements of intention, rather than consistent execution of simpler outcomes. We invest in what we can say is going to happen, rather than invest in things that are happening. We look to what people would like to achieve, rather than look to how people will achieve it.
Focusing on starting up, and considering it something worth congratulating has given rise to a culture of the ‘elevator pitch’, the ‘tell me what you want to do in a minute or less’, the ‘explain what you’re doing in 50 words’.
When you focus on the start, you no longer need to explain all the things that are about to happen in order to achieve a goal, rather you simply focus on the outcome you haven’t achieved yet. Time and time again we are being forced to simplify the process at the beginning, so that people can better understand what is hopefully about to happen.
Elevator pitches are better utilised for the end. It is very simple to get a shorter pitch to understand what has already happened, because outcomes are easier to explain than processes.
Congratulate – “I lost 20kgs.”
Don’t congratulate “I would like to lose 20kgs”, Encourage them.
Encouragement acknowledges an impending process, or period of work, effort and output. Congratulations implies that the work has already been done. Congratulating Usain Bolt at the starting line of the 100m would be silly. Understanding all the elements that will go into Usain Bolt telling you that he will be the fastest runner in the history of mankind will also take a lot of time and effort, across many years. Congratulating him for finishing in the fastest time anyone has ever seen, that makes sense, fits into a small elevator pitch and can be communicated simply as “I am the fastest man that ever lived.”
If you are going to encourage people we intrinsically know that simply saying “I’ll lose weight” is not enough. Saying “I’ll be an Olympic Sprinter” is not enough. It needs to be backed up with effort, and that effort needs to be targeted, measured and repeated over and over again. This effort is what we need to encourage.
Encouraging sits and listens to longer presentations. Congratulations wants bite sized chunks of simple information that is outcome focused rather than process focused. In my line of work its seeing organisations simply say things like “We want to end poverty”, “We want to end homelessness”, “We want to cure all the diseases known to mankind”. We cannot congratulate these statements, we can only encourage them. If we are to encourage them, we must know what the processes are that these organisations are going through to achieve these lofty goals.
When you break down encouragement into a process based discussion, you open up the door to understanding how someone is going to go about achieving or finishing their outcomes. Lose 20kgs is not necessarily a simple process, it involves many factors and will require multiple revisions and tweaks along the way. ‘Ending Poverty’ is even more complicated!
Encouragement is necessary, Congratulations should be reserved for accomplishment. To encourage well, we need to take the time to understand the processes that people need to achieve their goals. To congratulate well, we need to take the time to hold people accountable to outcomes. Over time, we can change from a culture that applauds starting, to one that applauds consistency and outcomes. Look for the people that are doing, not just saying, and give them a shout-out. Congratulate them on their achievements to date, encourage them to continue to achieve, and as always, Just Be Nice.
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.
Today an article of mine was published in The Mighty.
It was written for the team at RUOK Day, who are doing fantastic work in the space of helping peers look after each other.
It means a lot to me to have people share the stories of wonderful men like Greg. They are the unsung heroes of the success and happiness of many people, and they need to be celebrated.
Thanks for taking the time to support publications that spread the good word.
You can check out the article HERE
Josh Reid Jones - Founder of The Just Be Nice Project and Odin Sports