Loved

One of the greatest strengths you have, whether you realise it or not, is that you will always be loved.

Maybe not by everyone, but enough people.

No matter what you try to do next;

No matter what adventure you embark on;

You will be lamented and welcomed and loved at every stop.

What a way to travel!

Done

Just a quick reminder that if you can do anything you set your mind to.

What will you set it to next?

Never too old

People say awful things about themselves all the time.

Things like, I’m too old.

You are:

Never too old to be silly.

Never too old to have fun.

Never too old to dance the night away.

Never too old to dream.

Never too old learn.

Never too old to explore.

Never too old to grow.

Never too old to start again.

Long Drives

There’s quite a reliable way to make a long road trip seem much shorter.

Until I was about 11, the longest drive I’d been on was about 4 hours.

When we were children, that seemed like the longest trip in the world — an eternity of tarmac and boiled candy and I Spy.

But every year, that trip got slightly shorter.

It wasn’t that we drove faster or knew a better route, although all those benefits of experience played their part.

It was because we had travelled the road before, so there were fewer new things to notice about it.

That’s why the trip home always seems shorter.

If you want to make a long, hard journey fast and easy, do it a thousand times.

Don’t squirm

There are many fantastic tales of people who tried to fight the Fates.

Those who saw failure in their future and conspired to avert it, instead of continuing on their path to face it.

No matter how they wriggle and squirm, Misfortune always catches up, wielding her scroll and spoon to stir things up until we learn a lesson.

There is no need to fret when destiny takes you for a spin.

You’ve failed before and were fine — better even.

You can do it again.

And next time will be more fun.

Skills

One of the greatest things about life is skills.

Trying them. Being awful. Learning them.

Still being awful.

Battling away until we’re a little better and a little better than that until we master it.

One of the greatest gifts we have is the ability to learn anything we want, along with the hundreds of people waiting to help us master it.

Finding a skill you enjoy and mastering it is one of the most gratifying things we can spend our time doing.

A blip

Progress may feel achingly slow sometimes.

The days may seem to drag by and the work load barely shift.

But looking back, when all is said and done, it won’t seem like long enough at all.

Effectiveness

There are a lot more things we can do that lead to failure than to success.

We can form habits and systems to help us efficiently achieve anything, and most of us are better at it than we realize.

Subconsciously or not, our success is measured not by the efficiency at which we can execute our plans but by the effectiveness of the things we choose to become efficient at.

It’s just as much work to become efficient at something useless as it is something useful.

Relax

Sometimes there isn’t much more you can do than relax.

And that’s not always as easy as we’d like.

Relaxing takes practice too.

What to Want

If you’re at a loss as to what to do or what to want, think about this.:

Maybe we only struggle to figure out what we want because we already have it

We already have everything we need.

We are already surrounded by love.

What more could one want?

Once you have everything, the only logical next question is, how can I share it with everyone else?

And now we’re cooking.

Stability

There’s nothing more dangerous than a stable market.

The calm before the storm.

Stability, by its very nature, causes instability.

People get confident.

They let their hair down. Overextend. Dream.

They forget to steer the ship and it all goes off balance.

Stability is just an illusion, the way a pendulum seems to float at the top of its arc for just a moment, before hurting back the other way.

There’s no point aiming for stability.

Just enjoy it when it comes. And enjoy it when it goes.

Up Next

Life is full of cliffhangers.

Cliffhangers and roundabouts and whirligigs and roller coasters.

We can never be sure what’s up next.

But we can be sure that it’s good for us.

And that there’ll be lots of people waiting to meet us when we get there.

Preposterous

Not many things are impossible.

Far fewer than we might think.

Back when the world was flat, to say otherwise was hearsay.

In the Age of Steam, the idea of bacteria was ridiculous.

And when we thought we’d figured out the mechanics of the Universe, when it was preposterous to suggest that something could move faster than light, we discovered that light itself could be in two places at once.

Things only seem impossible, until they’re not.

And that’s often much sooner than we think.

Jump

We used to stand on edge of the bridge, fingers wrapped over the railings and muddy toes clinging to the boardwalk.

The water below opaque with swirling clouds of silt and sand, moving steadily out to sea.

The morning wind would rise to blow out the tide, sending goosebumps rippling across our bodies.

“Jump!” Someone would scream, hurling themselves into the icy water below.

We would all follow, arms and shrieks slicing the air.

I remember the first time, gazing into the gently brooding creek, the high tide waters lapping over the tips of the samphire that carpeted the marsh.

I remember the terror.

Was I expected to jump in too?

Only if I wanted.

Which of course I didn’t.

But who wants to be left behind?

Who wants to miss out on the fun?

Who wants to take that long walk back through the mud alone, wrapped only in a soggy towel and regret?

Not I.

Jump in!

Less

Often it’s when we do a little less, a lot better, that we get far greater results than when we were hammering away with app our energy.

No body likes a try hard.

Even the Universe.

Apples

Apples are fantastic little fruit.

Their tasty, nutrient-rich flesh is meant for us to eat.

Us or some long-fingered ape or bumbling quadruped.

The half-dozen little seeds encased within don’t need the sugar-rich flesh to grow.

To grow, they must be eaten. Crushed. Drawn into the belly of the beast.

Some will not survive.

Those that do will fall somewhere new, somewhere far, somewhere different.

The apples that don’t fall far from the tree rarely grow strong under the great, thick-boughed shelters of their parents.

Apples may not fall far from the tree, but if they’re lucky, life will carry them a lot further than that.

Outta the Way

Once we decide what we want, the rest is easy.

You’d be surprised what you can say no to once you decide what you really want.

Prioritize ruthlessly.

Practice relentlessly.

We march fearlessly forward.

Confidence

Being confident is a lot easier than people realize.

When we say somebody is confident, we are saying that we wish we were confident enough to do whatever it is that person did:

Public speaking.

Publishing our work.

Asking for a raise.

A confidence trickster doesn’t trick people through their confidence, they trick people with a goal, and then helping them along it until they become so confident in it that they make an error.

We only tell ourselves that we’re not confident enough to do things because we haven’t done them, or we’ve only done them once or twice.

Once we set a goal, we know which path to take next.

And once we take that first step towards the goal, we grow a little more confident, because it takes confidence to take that step.

And the next one, and then the next one.

Being confident is as easy as setting a goal, and taking a step towards it.

The more steps we take, the more confident we become.

Doubt

Most successful creatives won’t tell you about this.

They won’t tell you about the angst and the doubt and the fear.

But if we are not struggling, if there isn’t doubt and fear, are we challenging ourselves at all?

Part of having a practice is deep down, hating that practice a little.

Sometimes.

Chipping

All diamond miners know the secret.

When the rock gets the hardest, we’re close to the diamonds.

It’s when chipping away at the cold stone face gets toughest, when we most want to relent, we must keep on chipping away.

The treasure you seek is closer than you think.

Mountains

There’s something very reassuring about mountains.

Vast slabs of stone rising up out of the ground like a hug from Mother Earth.

Deceptively close.

Deceivingly touchable.

Draped in quivering green.

Crowned in ice.

Reliably impressive.

Automate

We can’t get more time but we can buy it back.

If there’s something you do regularly that takes time, see if there is a way to automate it.

Some things, like bill payments or toilet paper deliveries, are super easy to automate.

Other, more personal things, take some research and time to figure out, but there are lots of free tools available like Zapier that can connect the apps we use daily and automate many simple tasks.

What are some things you could automate to get some time back?

Good Story

I should have double-checked the reviews.

We arrived at our “cozy and vintage” AirBnB on a balmy Toronto evening, and discovered it was a shit-hole.

On the front porch, a terracotta cigarette-fountain was oozing damp, mangled butts across the top step.

Generations of dirt marbled the ancient pine floors. A yellow, naked bulb cast shadows up the stairs.

The key code I’d wrangled from the host worked, but as soon as I opened the door I knew there was a problem.

This wasn’t a top floor suite with a kitchenette and a lake view. This was a ground floor twin-bed closet with a view of the raccoons fucking in the alley.

And someone else was living in it.

After an hour or so on the phone, we were found somewhere better, as is often the case.

And besides reminding myself how lucky I was to be there in that mess in the first place, I tried to keep calm by thinking how it would make a good story later — as most trauma does, given time.

In the worst times, there’s always a great story — a great lesson — to be told.

We just have to survive it first.

Change of Scene

Wherever the world takes us next.

It’s usually because we need that change of scene.

And it’s always good for us in the end.

Get Used to It

There is a lot of bad advice about being happy.

Here is some good advice:

Get used to not getting everything you want.

There will always be another dream, a bigger vision, a new toy, or a fresh style to pursue.

Something that rich people complain about is still feeling a sense of missing something; of needing more.

That is just how human brains are wired.

Just the same as we will always get hungry, and thirsty, and tired.

We haven’t got the time to be great at everything. We can’t solve all the problems in the world or have all the things or even try everything.

Just anything.

So we must be content with immersing ourselves in the handful of pursuits that make us most happy — and get used to not having the rest.

White Belt Mentality

All the best martial artists have the same mentality.

One of the greatest fighters of all time, Georges St-Pierre, called it a “white belt mentality.”

The white or colourless belt is the lowest novice ranking in almost every martial art.

Having a white-belt mentality means being humble, knowing there is always more to learn, ways to improve, and people to listen to — even when we already have lots of experience.

As George St-Pierre said,I keep the white-belt mentality that I can learn from anyone, anywhere, anytime.”

Breadcrumbs

Once we’ve decided we’re going on a quest, the clues will find their way to us.

The brain is wired to learn patterns that make it feel good.

Every time we complete our practice we get a little boost of dopamine.

If we push through the early stages of forming a habit, eventually our brain will start to look for ways to get that dopamine hit daily.

It will nudge you to do it by itself, so much so that guilt can even form around failure to do so.

Our brain is looking for a quest.

Set it on one, and the breadcrumbs will comes to you.

Protein First

Want to lose weoght?

Don’t eat less.

Eat more! And lift more.

Eat more protein in particular.

And eat your protein first.

Your body is wired to find proteins, so get it in quick..

You’ll feel much more satiated after.

It’s an easy diet change that’s guaranteed to make you leaner.

Have a Fun Time

A coffee server said something weird to me this morning.

As I walked away with 16oz of coffee steaming in my hand, she said, “Have a fun time.”

Maybe she meant to say it that way because it gave a funny feeling, like I was starting a trip or going on an adventure.

Every day we enter a boundless theme park.

Roller coasters with and downs.

Whirligigs and haunted houses.

Sun and rain.

Unpredictable challenges at every turn.

Endless opportunity to explore and learn and grow and build.

Every step a gamble in the playground of Life.

Have a fun time!

Quiet

The US Army is allowed to torture in only three ways.

The first way is through sound.

They play loud music constantly to deprive captives of sleep and space to thin.

It’s often heavy metal, but even Lady Gaga will work after 20 hours of audio bombardment.

Pretty much everything works, except classical music. And even that gets old after a few days.

Everyone deserves a bit of quiet now and then. 

One of the most impactful things we can do for our health and wellbeing is to find some quiet time.

It doesn’t have to be meditating.

It could just mean going for a walk, a bath, or a nap.

Finding a few minutes for ourselves can help us discover so many new things about ourselves that it’s never a minute wasted.

And even if it is wasted, so what

Re-Assess

No matter what anyone tells you, there’s no perfect way to get what you want.

Sticking to a methodology or a way of practice is — if anything — a weakness.

To master anything, to reach any vision, we must accept the struggle.

But we must also be mindful enough to know if we are struggling more than necessary because we have taken the wrong approach.

Or if we are struggling because we have let our priorities slip.

It’s easy to let older habits fade to the backburner when exciting new work comes our way.

When the sun comes out to play after a long winter, it’s even easier to make excuses not to practice; not to find the time for our practice.

Instead, we should re-assess our approach to ensure we have time for our old habits. The ones that got us here.

That means switching up the schedule and consciously blocking the time to ensure we make time for the little but important things that move us towards our long-term goals.

No plan is perfect. And a perfect plan never stays perfect long.

Brain Train

The brain is a muscle

The most significant muscle we own.

It powers all our other muscles as well as our behaviour.

We need to train it like we train our other muscles.

We need to practice using it in different ways like we practice anything.

The problem is that we train it by accident most of the time because the brain is a mush that moves itself if we leave it alone.

We need to train our brain to respond to circumstances the way we want.

We need to practice being happy.

We can’t just expect it to happen.

We need to practice gratitude.

We need to practice composure.

We need to practice empathy.

Use it or lose it.

So get on the brain train and keep training your brain.

No two ways

Every morning we are presented with the same challenge.

Wherever we are in our lives, and no matter what happened the day before, we open our eyes to this challenge. 

Will you grow or die today?

We either step forward and fight for our survival and the chance to create our art. 

Or we accept defeat and begin to decay. 

There are no two ways about it. 

Until tomorrow.

Guts

Some decisions we must leave to our guts.

Data can help.

Experience can help.

But some things we just know deep down, in the pits of our stomachs. In our second (or maybe first) brain.

When it grinds in our guts, there isn’t much we can do but follow it.

Journey

I’ve learnt several important things so far in my self improvement journey.

One of them is that you don’t need to do so much cardio.

Achieving a goal is never a sprint, although there will certainly be sprints involved.

But when we accept the call to realize a vision, we must also accept the long journey to get there.

We can’t skip to the end. If there was a pill to get the perfect body, we still wouldn’t have it for long.

The journey is necessary.

The journey is the point.

Take the first step.

Stimuli

They used to think the body only evolved slowly, by chance.

Some freak occasional mutation would give one animal an advantage over its peers. Over generations, they’d become dominant traits.

But we evolve much faster than that.

Our bodies will adapt to any stimuli incredibly quickly.

So quickly that we often have to keep upping the dose of the stimuli to keep seeing benefits.

We’ll never be ready to start doing something well, but you better believe that after a few weeks, your body will have adapted and you’ll be several times better than you were.

These changes might not always become imprinted in the genetic code, but they might be. And there’s more to life than just DNA.

We can adapt to ANY stimulus, given time.

The problem isn’t whether you can do it, it’s choosing one for you.

Moustache

If you have ever wondered about whether you will look good in a moustache — you will.

Almost every man can grow a decent soup strainer, even those who are follicly challenged elsewhere.

Thats not an accident.

It’s design.

Women love some face fuzz.

They have selectively bred men to grow abundant bristles.

We all got one.

Grow it out and see.

Hiring

Ranking people is a weird feeling.

I’m sure we all do it to an extent, even subconsciously, but doing it systematically is challenging.

On paper, there are so many people that can probably do the job. How can you judge someone’s work ability without seeing it?

Why not take the first one that passes the technical test, the first who can back up their paperwork?

There are other elements like character, salary expectations, career level etc. but it’s tough not to feel that everyone deserves a chance.

It’s hard to know what’s available until you’ve met a few of them — everything is relative, after all.

But when it comes to the final decision, the margins are so fine that they’re barely noticeable, and probably inseparable from our biases.

Together

A desert island is a very lonely place to live.

Sure, there are palm trees.

Of course, the beaches are blissfully deserted.

Coconuts aplenty.

But what is life without another to experience it with?

Just a memory. Maybe a photo or two.

Experiences are made when we can turn to our travelling companion and say: “I’m glad you’re here to share this with me.”

Or often just, “This is pretty nice, eh?”

Always one

There will almost guaranteed be a typo you miss.

Someone won’t get the memo.

The link will break.

It won’t go to plan.

Is that a reason to hold back?

Hell no!

Nap Time

Napping is a bit trickier than just falling asleep.

It’s a wonderful way to refresh the brain and body if done the right way, but it takes some practice.

Once I’m in bed, I tend to want to stay there for a bit.

Some famous people hold an object in their hand, so that once they fully nod off, it falls and wakes them.

But often I feel like more than a micro nap, and curl up for half an hour, only to wake up more tired and grumpy.

You would think that something as natural as sleeping wouldn’t take practice, but it does.

Just like anything else, we have to practice it to be able to integrate it into our lives.

And I think it’s about time I did.

Grind Softly

More work doesn’t mean better outcomes.

Overwork is a great way to burn out though.

Working out more doesn’t mean faster gains.

But it is a good way to injure yourself.

Forcing our way through the jungle is a lot more work than slipping through it.

Work smart. Work often. Work consistently. Those are all great ways to get what we want.

But grind softly, and the flour will be fluffier.

And it won’t taste like blood and sweat either.

Answers

We don’t need more questions.

We want answers.

We don’t need more luck.

We want chancers.

We don’t need temptation.

We want discipline.

We don’t need to paddle.

We want to dive in.

We don’t need an audience.

We want dancers.

Step by step

That’s how it comes together.

A blog.

A party.

A relationship.

A home.

A vision.

Step by step.

Don’t trip up by taking two at a time.

One is more than enough.

Step by step.

We march on.

Big Tips

We don’t tip in the UK because we have solid employment laws.

I never liked tipping, but I’ve changed my mind, now I have a little more money to spend, it sure is nice to give it back

In the States, when someone’s livelihood depends on that tip, it sure is a lot easier.

I found out recently that some people like to have a minimum amount they spend on tipping each year.

Imagine that!

These crazy people are looking for ways to give their money to other people — just for doing their job!

Why wouldn’t you, if you had it too?

And it’s that’s the sort of attitude that gets you that extra little bit to spend.

If you want a bit more cash, The Universe just needs to know that you know how to spend your money right. Sharing it about. Helping people that don’t have it, or could do with a little more.

There’s always more money — that’s how the economy works.

It goes around.

I your rent is paid, do us all a favour and spread the rest far and wide.

It’s a pleasure to share our privilege.

Priorities

Before we were busy little bees, there was only one priority.

Literally.

Priorities as a word didn’t exist.

We could only have one priority at a time.

Maybe technology changed that. Perhaps we changed that in our haste to Get Important Things Done.

But multi-taskers are only fooling themselves.

There can only be one priority at a time, and when we try to juggle too many, the rest will tumble to the floor.

When priorities clash, there is only the priority and then everything else.

Which one we choose can change everything.

Dancing

Whoever said dancing is poetry in motion obviously didn’t like dancing very much.

I can’t think of a more boring way to describe it, but let’s give it a shot.

Dancing is the story of four feet and a single heartbeat.

Dancing is passion.

Dancing is timeless.

Dancing is humanity at its finest, moving through chaos together.

Dancing is connection.

Dancing is failure in tandem, legs akimbo and toes bruised.

Dancing is vulnerability.

Dancing is one step away from crossing the brink and never coming back.

Dancing is falling forever.

Dancing is fear and fun all wrapped into one.

Dancing is love in motion.

Why Me?

Why was I born into the richest country in the world?

Why have I lived in peace my whole life?

Why was I educated for free?

Why did my parents love and care for me?

Why am I surrounded by people that love me?

Why am I smothered by opportunity?

Why do I have so much choice that it’s paralyzing?

Why am I the lucky one?

Why are you?

Because we knew you would make someone else lucky too.

Quickie

Good work happens quickly.

Good work happens slowly.

Good work happens one little piece at a time.

We don’t need to meditate for an hour a day to find our focus.

We don’t always need to grind for weeks and years to fulfill our practice.

We don’t need to write a book a day.

We don’t need a billion dollars to make the world a better place.

A minute, a word, or a single dollar is enough to change it all.

It’s not the size of the deposit that counts, it’s how often we make it.

Participate

Who wants to be a teachers pet?

It wasn’t cool in school to sit at the front.

It wasn’t cool to participate.

So I didn’t.

But there’s nothing wrong with participation.

Participation means living life fully.

Roll up your sleeves and get mud under your fingers.

Participation is cool.

Who wants to participate?

I do.

I

Dog balls

There’s something magical about a dog’s ability to chas a ball.

They just don’t stop.

They just go after it.

Gleeful jaws.

Frantically wagging tails.

To a dog, every challenge is just another tennis ball to find; to treasure ; to drool on

Because when you’re committed, every moving object is a tennis ball in disguise.

Howwewwewwwoooooowl!!

Conflict

Can war be creative?

We think of conflict with as negative but that’s rarely the truth.

Conflict can be positive.

Conflict can be creative.

Conflict can help to create the space for diversity and opportunity, if we approach it the right way.

Conflict is inevitable. It means that we are in motion, and movement always creates friction.

The least productive and most harmful type of team environment has conflict at all, because it is artificial harmony.

The conflict still exists, but suppressed.

Conflicting opinions and ideas are an opportunity to learn, build trust, and make things better.

While war is always unnecessary and horrific, conflict is often an opportunity, if we choose to respond to it with openness and be open to working together to resolve it.

What a grim world it would be without conflict.

Just enough.

Often it’s just enough to say nothing.

And that can be much more powerful that saying an awful lot of rubbish.

Doggedly

There’s a lot we can learn from our four-legged friends.

If only they could tell us what that was.

Walking the dog through Victoria Park one sodden afternoon, I watched a pair of canine chums stretching their legs.

Well, one of them was. The other one was t too interested in moving his legs at all.

A Siberian Husky and an English Bulldog.

Two very different types of stubborn on display.

One will never stop running.

The other wouldn’t budge his bottom for a battalion.

The same attitude can look wildly different for different people, with wildly different outcomes.

Yet at their core, they are the same.

Both doggedly determined.

Not to mention adorable too.

Omniscient

There’s a big difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Back when knowledge was trapped in reams of paper and hoarded behind horn-rimmed spectacles, the only person with all the knowledge was a bloke called God.

We used to think that omniscience and omnipresence translated to wisdom.

We were wrong.

Knowledge used to be something to treasure, and wise was the person who realized the power it held.

Today we walk around with all of human knowledge in our pockets; The answer always a mere finger breadth away.

Yet, we seem as unwise as ever.

We dismiss knowledge as fast as we can find the next opinion.

It’s hard to believe that there were this many flat-earthers before the internet. Maybe they just kept themselves quiet.

Now that knowledge is cheaper than a steak frites, what’s the price of wisdom?

Belate

Do not delay what you can do today until tomorrow. 

The chances are you won’t do it then either.

If it isn’t a priority today, that is unlikely to change tomorrow.

Unless it’s due tomorrow, of course.

Better to spend the time figuring out why it’s not a priority, and whether we need that to change to reach our goals than to stress ourselves further by pushing back deadlines and shoehorning in work. 

It is usually more useful to belabour our priorities than belate our work.

Treat

Depriving ourselves of reward is dangerous.

The reward at the end of the long hard day; the treat, the break, the nap, the cuddle, the drink, the shoes, the bling — it’s all part of the journey.

If it keeps driving us forward, the treat is just as important as the hard work.

If you’ve earned it, you gotta treat yo’self.

Otherwise earning it becomes harder next time.

Signals

The human body works a bit like a satellite dish.

Or a cell phone tower.

It has dozens of different receptors, all tuned into our environment, listening for cues about what to do next.

The signals they pick up trigger all sorts of reactions in the body, as it adapts to handle that environment better.

We’re lucky enough to have a great degree of control over the signals that our bodies receive.

What signals are you sending yours?

Precious

Death isn’t sad.

Losing someone we love is sad.

Leaving things unsaid is sad.

Spending time unwisely is sad.

But death itself is necessary.

Would the time we have be as precious if we had much more of it to burn?

Abundance

In the future, everyone will be unemployed.

Everything will be free.

We shall want for nothing, except strife.

For what are possessions we have not earned but the trappings of another’s victory?

The only gift we can give to someone who has it all is a challenge. And for that, they will always be grateful.

Because without a struggle, nothing has value.

New Growth

The first stage of growth is acknowledging that what we think about a problem is probably completely untrue.

And then admitting the solutions we have are probably totally misguided.

The next step is asking for help from someone who has what we want.

But their advice always falls on deaf ears if we are not ready to reassess our beliefs about the problem.

Those misconceptions and fixed beliefs are weeds that block our garden from growth.

We must always clear the old growth to make room for the new.

Gainz

Success isn’t always measured.

It should be.

It’s all too easy to get lost in the urgency and importance of the present or the vivid visions of the future.

The danger there is that is forget how far we’ve come. Or worse, dismiss it.

This can be very harmful for us and deadly to our goals.

When progress seems slow and the path looks long, don’t neglect to look back on your journey and congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come.

As Dan Sullivan points out: The gap is easy to see but we have to take time to measure the gain.

Raindrops

Rain is different in the desert.

For starters, there’s a lot less of it. 

One can go weeks without so much as a splatter of rain.

The plants shrivel and wilt, retreating into the earth. 

The parched dirt rises to float around our ankles and waists, a perpetual haze that clings to the skin, the clothes, the hair.

Everything is dust.

Then, the sky darkens.

The grumbling, pot-bellied clouds creep over the horizon and lurk, teasing the arid earth below until it aches for a sip.

When the clouds finally split, the whole desert trembles with the thud of that first raindrop.

Every torrent starts with a single drop of rain.

And that single drop carves a river that carries us all forward.

Eternal Practice

One would think that after years of doing something it would get easier.

And some days it does feel like that. Probably more than we might care to acknowledge.

But all daily practices — music, health, fitness, focus, creativity — must get harder over time.

We continually challenge ourselves to improve. That’s the point of the practice: it never gets easier.

We just get better at pushing through anyway.

Limbs

It was a wonder to me, when I was younger, how people could act so crazy when their team scored.

But it looked like fun, so I decided to give it a go.

It took me a while to get into it, but after a few years it became a natural response.

There’s nothing like it.

Limbs flying everywhere.

Fountains of beer foaming down around your ears.

The roar of the crowd heating the very air.

Swept off your feet in a heaving mass of humanity exploding in ecstasy.

A moment of unadulterated, childish joy.

Limbs!

D-Light

There’s nothing like a bit of sunshine.

After the long winter grey.

Summer’s dawn is not meant for couch bathing.

It’s an outdoorsy kind of a day.

Threes

Repeated often enough, even the wildly unpredictable starts to follow a pattern.

We are so used to witnessing those patterns of change that we hardly even notice them.

Better still, they become cliches, or jokes, or stories.

Identifying those predictable patterns in the ever-changing, perpetually unpredictable void we inhabit gives us a big advantage.

It can also provide some solace and comfort when things take a turn for the worst.

That’s life, we might say; c’est la vie.

One of my favourite is the rule of threes.

Whether it’s a city bus or a fuck up, you can bet they’ll come in threes.

So if you’ve only stubbed your toe twice today, you’ve got one more coming.

And if you’re waiting for a bus — wait for the second one — it won’t be long and will have spare seats.

Experience

Life doesn’t get easier. 

It gets harder. 

The work gets harder.

The volume of paperwork increases. 

The bills get bigger. 

The responsibility grows. 

Over that time, our muscles get weaker and our brains get fluffier and our habits get stiffer.

But after a few decades, there aren’t many problems we haven’t tackled before. 

Knowing your enemy — and knowing ourselves — is key to defeating them.

Surviving through all those experiences can make some pretty big problems look surmountable.

The more challenges we face, the more challenges we can face.

Knowing that you can find a solution: That’s experience.

Dimes

The government wants you stupid.

The farmers want you fat.

The factories want you to sit on your ass,

Eating a bunch of crap.

The shops want all your money.

The bankers want it too.

The media wants your attention;

Eyes stuck to the screen like glue.

The Ad Men want your data.

The Boss — he wants your time.

And they all want you to pay for the pleasure,

Down to your very last dime.

Level Up

Life is a lot like a computer game.

Not an easy one; You only get one life to use and no respawns.

Not a hard one either; There are hints and people to help us everywhere we look.

Most people don’t want to play a game where you just press one button over and over again. That would be boring.

We want a challenge. We want to level up and get cool new items.

For some reason, many people don’t seem to be able to translate that desire for a challenge into the real world.

When learning a skill gets hard, most people throw in the towel.

They don’t want to level up.

They see the big ‘Boss’ challenge at the end of the level and think, “No thanks, I’m good on this level.”

It’s never long before that gets boring.

Accept the big challenge. Get beaten down a few times. Get frustrated. Learn to overcome the obstacles. Upskill. Level up.

Otherwise, it just gets boring.

Mirror

Many people do not know that narcissism is a special type of word.

It comes from the story of Narcissus, which was written two thousand years ago.

It’s about a young man who loves himself so greatly that he ends up pissing off the Gods.

They curse him to fall in love with his reflection, and he withers to death, staring at himself in a puddle. Then turns into a small daffodil.

That story—and Snow White—have given mirrors a bad rep.

Mirrors can do lots of things besides keeping our hat hair in check.

If people spent as much time staring at themselves in the mirror as they do on social media, the world would probably be a better place.

Mirrors can help us improve our exercise form.

They can help us improve our form in life in many other ways.

How many chances do we get to look ourselves in the eye and ask, “How are you doing?”

The answer might surprise you.

Ins and Outs

For every win there is a loss.

And every loss becomes a win.

For every smile there is a frown.

And every scowl can spark a grin.

For every ill deed brings a blessing.

And every kind act spawns a sin.

We can’t just hope for ins and outs.

Without the outs and ins.

Rediscovered

Does everything have to be empirically proven to exist?

We’ve forgotten so much ancient knowledge in the last hundred years by insisting on scientific evidence.

We refute anecdotal evidence as hoo-haa and wiffle-waffle until we subject it to rigorous empirical enquiry.

If the woo-woo stands up to the numbers, we rebrand it as groundbreaking innovation.

This is wisdom like, drinking water and eating vegetables prevents us from getting sick.

Or understanding that burning stuff is bad for the environment.

Or the knowledge that practicing meditation helps us to be more present and focused.

Even science admits that the most certain we can ever be about anything is, “very highly probable.” And we’ll almost certainly be wrong about it in three hundred years.

When it comes to living a long and healthy, satisfying life, the best advice must surely come from a hundred thousand years of experience:

The anecdotal evidence.

The old wives’ tales and the cliches.

The stories that stick around.

Wisdom loves a story and doesn’t care much for facts.

Just do it (now)

There’s not much sense waiting to do much.

The clocks always ticking.

Washing the dishes.

Putting a wrapper in the trash.

Writing down an idea.

Calling a friend.

Telling someone you love them.

Just do it already.

Then you can stop thinking about it.

Well Deserved

If you’re wondering whether you did something special or important to be so lucky, to be blessed with so many fantastic people who love you, to have the opportunity to live however you want in a garden paradise full of flowers and trees and cute animals, you did. 

Want to know what it was?

You showed up for the challenge.

Glad you made it!

The Rainy-Day Book

Before the internet, we had to go looking for entertainment.

It didn’t just fall into our lap with a buzz.

We used to have these little cards with numbers and symbols on them in red and black, and there was no end to the games you could play with them.

We used to have scrapbooks and knitting needles, craft paper and colouring pencils, sticky clay and multicoloured crayons.

We used to have board games and battleships and gaudy clothes for dressing up in.

We used to have a Rainy-Day Book.

The Rainy-Day Book was filled with fun games and craft activities any child could do, with adult supervision if it involved scissors.

On days it rained — and we never had to wait long for those in England — there was still something to be excited about because it was a chance to explore the Rainy Day Book and find some new fun.

The Rainy Day Book was for the days the weather didn’t turn out as we’d hoped.

And there was a “Bumper Book of the Outdoors” for the days when it did.

Hot Dogs

They say the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. 

If you’ve ever surprised your partner with a pizza, you’ll know that this is true for all sexes.

Food is vital. Food is love. And free food?

Free food is a money-maker.

That’s why Ikea sells meatballs at a loss, and Costco has been selling a $1.50 hotdog (with a free drink) for 35 years.

Those meaty treats are so important that companies are willing to lose money on every sale.

When inflation irradicated the margin on their saucy schlongs, the Costco executive team suggested increasing the price to $1.75.

Jim Sinegal, CEO at the time, had a terrifying response: “If you raise the price of the effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out.”

And they did.

$2 might not be much to pay for a hot dog.

But going the extra effort to do something special and sell it at $1.50 is what sets a business apart — and keeps people coming back.

All it takes

Getting a little bit better every day can look like a lot of different things.

And they don’t all involve sweating or struggling.

Sometimes it can be enough to simply acknowledge how far we’ve come, how many things we’ve got to be grateful for, and how awesome all the things we’ve got to look forward to will be.

And that’s all it takes.

Plateau

A day spent doing nothing much at all isn’t a day wasted.

All the ups and downs and hustle and bustle make the uneventful lulls all the more pleasant.

As we climb life’s the peaks and valleys we often reach broad plateaus. These are a great chance to stop and enjoy the view.

Not necessarily to look back or forward on our journey.

But simply to appreciate the lack of a gradient to negotiate.

Stupid Baby

You’ll hear people say the funniest things about themselves if you listen closely.

Some of the things people say aren’t even funny — they’re troubling.

Especially because how we speak about ourselves is closely linked to how we feel about ourselves.

Our self-talk — the conversations between the voices in our head — and our real talk — the way we talk about ourselves to other people — all impact the way we act.

When someone’s being vulnerable while telling a story, we often get a glimpse of how they talk about themselves, which can be a shock.

We may hear things like, “I’m such a fat idiot,” or “I’m such a stupid baby,” or “I’m a terrible person” as hyperbole, but the terrible truth is that usually, that person has been saying those things to themselves for years. Long enough for them to start believing it.

Once my running coach whispered in my ear, “Cheer yourself on like it’s someone you love,” and the realization that I hadn’t been broke my heart.

Be kind to yourself.

You deserve to be loved by everyone you spend time with, including yourself.

Better Than

There are many opportunities to get one over the voices in our heads.

We must seize these opportunities because what we say about ourselves eventually becomes true.

If seeing is believing, then speaking is becoming.

The brain voices don’t have the best manners, especially when no one is watching, so I like to relay a positive message whenever possible.

Whenever we say greet another human, we ask, “How are you doing?” or “You alright?” or something similar.

The easy answer is “fine” or “alright” or “good.”

But recently, I started replying, “I’m great,” or “fantastic,” or “excellent,” even if I wasn’t feeling particularly awesome.

And wouldn’t you know it, it wasn’t long before I actually was fantastic.

Or rather, it wasn’t long before I realized that I already was fantastic, and always had been.

A lot better than just ‘fine,’ anyway.

Sphincter

Getting called an asshole is never nice, but there’s a flip side to everything.

Assholes are essential.

They’re one of 50 or so sphincters in our body that mostly prevent us from making a mess everywhere and embarrassing ourselves in public but also help us see and control blood flow to the capillaries.

A sphincter looks pretty much the same everywhere in the body, and everyone has them.

Just like there’s a king in every thief and a thief in every king, there are five dozen sphincters in all of us.

Voluminous

The idea of a molecule still boggles my noggin. 

There are billions of these tiny things flying around, filling up whatever space they find.

Gas molecules whizzing and fizzing and crashing into each other.

Liquid molecules sloshing and sliding over each other in a race to fill the corners.

Solid molecules shaking and flaking off to leave their dull musty scent in the room.

This expansive nature rolls all the way up the food chain:

  • The time we have available to complete a task will determine how long it takes to complete the task (Parkinson’s Law).
  • The space we have available for luggage in the car will always be filled with luggage.
  • The time we have booked for a meeting will always be filled, even if it’s talking about something unrelated to the agenda. 
  • The distance from the nearest toilet is exactly how full our bladder is; the closer we get to a toilet, the more we have to use one. 

These are just some of the Universal Laws we have uncovered to date.

Many more will follow. 

Return

It always takes a little while to adjust to being back home after a spell away. 

There’s comfort and relief, but also a slight echo, the feeling that something has changed despite everything seeming the same.

Our adventures so recently swept into the past, already a fading memory. 

Was it all a dream? 

My Way

The only real success in life is being able to live the life we want.

If we have the freedom to choose what a rich life means to us, we have already succeeded.

Congratulations!

Marbles

I heard an interesting story about trust the other evening while driving home.

A teacher in the story used a jar of marbles to reward the class. She added a marble to the jar when the children made good decisions and removed a marble when they made bad ones.

When the jar got full, they got a reward.

The storyteller, Brené Brown, used this jar as an analogy for trust.

When people show up for us, when they decide to care about something we care about, we put a marble of trust into their jar.

When people don’t show up by failing to protect something we care about — a secret, a value, a person — we remove a little marble from their jar. 

Sometimes we empty the jar on the floor.

Or add a whole bag of marbles.

We also have a marble jar for ourselves. 

We fill up our marble jar when we show up for ourselves by keeping our promises and having conviction in our values by practicing them relentlessly.

When the jar gets full, you get huge rewards.

Theif

With practice it is possible to put an idea so succinctly that it can teach and heal our wounds in one.

These words by the wonderful, caring, charismatic Jason Reynolds are such words:

If someone steals your shirt, we must assume that they needed it; that they lacked a shirt.

When people try to take knowledge, to restrict information and take the opportunity of empowerment from us and our children by banning books and restring knowledge, it is because they lack that opportunity; they lack the empowerment that such knowledge brings.

And for that, we can only feel sorry for them.

Packing

There are certain rules that we can’t avoid, especially when travelling .

The rules for a long road trip look something like this:

  • Whatever available space we have will be filled
  • We will forget something important
  • We will forget something unimportant
  • We will bring at least four items we never use
  • Most of the food will go uneaten
  • The car will never be perfectly packed
  • Delays are to be expected
  • We leave early or late but not on time
  • Speeding only works if we never stop

This list is inexhaustible and will be updated soon.

Kind & Useful

We don’t often get to see the real family life of our leaders, least of all the POTUS.

I’m sure like any other loving father, Obama has argued with his teenage daughters, his wife, his mother in law. Possibly even the dog.

But like any loving father, he’s comforted them when they cry, listened when they worried, and passed on the wisdom of his years in the hope they will escape the pain of learning those lessons through experience.

We are lucky he has gifted them some of that wisdom to us through his speeches.

Mr. Obama’s advice to his daughters for a successful life?

“Be kind, be useful.”

That’s all it takes. There isn’t much more to a good life than that.

Oh — “and be fearless.”

Because that’s what it takes to be kind and useful.

Tolerance

The word ‘tolerance’ has been spinning around my head the last few weeks, ringing in my ears.

We preach that tolerance is a virtue, but it’s often far from it. 

Tolerance is a weakness, a mask by which we claim virtue.

We cannot tolerate something or someone without, on some level, thinking that they don’t belong there in the first place.

We cannot tolerate the pain and suffering of humanity or the destruction of our home without, on some level, agreeing that it must be necessary. 

We do not tolerate immigrants. We welcome them.

We do not tolerate xenophobia. We fight it. 

We do not tolerate warmongering or wanton destruction. 

We must take action against it because “Tolerance is the virtue of a person without convictions.”

We do not tolerate change. We should expect it. 

We must strive for the change we want to see in the world; Change that meets our values.

When we have conviction, when we have strong values, we cannot tolerate people or actions that go against them.

Without conviction, we can tolerate anything.

But is that anything to be proud of?

Cobra Cash

People act when you flash the cash but often not in the way we expect.

One of the first recorded examples of this on a big scale was in 1800s Dehli when the British Government placed a bounty on the local cobra population to try and keep them at bay. 

That worked until some enterprising locals began breeding cobras to cash in on their corpses.

The cobra cultivators made copious currency until the Government discovered the con and cancelled the cheese.

The cobra farmers discharged their captives into the city, increasing the population.

There are lots of examples of this in history. 

We are surrounded by people and companies offering us incentives to behave in different ways. 

Which are the ones that we’re choosing?

And which are the ones we haven’t noticed? 

Step and See

We don’t have to know to progress.

One of the most paralysing cycles we can put our brains through is forcing it to choose before it’s had time to see.

A vision helps to show us the way, but even when we have a vision, we frequently reach a fork in the road and cannot see where it leads.

There is no option but to choose a path and take a few steps forward along it.

Maybe it’s a dead end. Maybe it’s a shortcut.

We simply won’t know until we walk a few paces around the corner.

The same applies when we lack a vision; perhaps more so.

When the forest looms tall, blocking our view and casting deep shadows of uncertainty across our path, we can only clear them by moving forward along it.

Take a step forward today and see.

The view might not be as we expect.

We may even find ourselves trudging back down to take a different path.

But at least we’ll have seen for ourselves.

Lady Pink

It was a normal busy Saturday morning at the gym, until she walked in.

Dressed to the nines in baby pink.

Pink velore tracksuit.

Pink running shoes.

Pink washout hair.

Dark pink nails.

Amber pink wraparound shades.

And a white handbag, the word “PINK” set in glimmering fuschia sequins across the front.

She trotted up to the treadmill in front of me and hopped on. It was clear she was no rookie.

They say it’s bad manners to talk about a woman’s age, but I’m no gentleman.

Lady Pink wasn’t a day under 75; probably several hundred over.

After 20 minutes or so, she stopped the machine, slung her handbag over her shoulder, and trotted off to another area of the gym.

I hope I have that much swag when I’m 80.

Lady Pink of LA.

Keep on rocking.

Done by Work

Often a small to-do list is enough to do good work.

We turn up, do the work we meant to do, and then clock off.

But challenging work is an untameable beast that rarely lets spare time slip by without a chase.

On those days when it rears its ugly head, blistered with unexpected fires and draped in dropped deadlines, we don’t do work; Work does us.

And it’s never very gentle about it.

Mudslide

It’s not about how much weight we can lift.

It’s not about how many times we can lift it.

It’s not even about how far we can carry that weight, although all these things are important measurements to track.

It’s about how much control we have when we’re doing it.

Often, it’s much harder to slow down and control our actions than it is to let fly.

Everyone can go fast in a mudslide.

But what happens at the bottom?

Cheapskate

As an old lady once told me, “Pay cheap, pay twice.”

A cheap deal often isn’t worth the price. 

Here are some things not worth cheaping out on:

Vegetables.

Meat.

Homes.

Safety.

Insurance.

Health.

Learning.

Values.

Time.

Trust

When we lit to ourselves, the first person who gets hurt is us.

Trust isn’t just something we have in other people. Trust in others always starts within us.

When we keep promises to ourself, we build that trust.

When we break our word — even we’re the only person who heard the promise — we lose trust in ourselves.

We don’t just lose trust in our abilities and our judgement.

We lose faith in ourselves.

A daily practice helps us keep a promise to ourselves every day.

Sticking to a workout plan builds our confidence for the same reason.

And a new diet only wants that badge when it becomes a lifestyle, not a detox.

We all deserve to trust in ourselves.

If you’ve lost it, one little promise a day is enough to earn it back.

Seaside Strum

As I strolled along the boardwalk of Morro Bay, CA, a gentle melody drifted past me, wrapped around the squawks of seagulls and the tang of sea salt.

It was definitely a guitar, but it sang with a strangely empty, gentle twang that I couldn’t place.

On the corner of a weather-beaten candy store bursting with sticks of rock, I found the guitarist.

Slung over his shoulder was an ancient Gibson semi-acoustic, the frayed tails of the strings curling around its neck.

The guitarist’s tobacco-stained fingers danced across the frets, tapping out a melody. His other sleeve hung loose down his side, empty.

I stood and watched for a while as the one-armed guitarist hammered out a riff that would bring a tear to John Lennon’s eyes.

The song ended.

“That’s a damn good sound you’re making,” I said, dropping a handful of dollars into his hat, as one must always do when we have enjoyed a busker’s performance.

A smile cracked the man’s leather face in two, and he nodded to the empty sleeve.

“Always making up for it,” he said, and began to play his next tune.

Arrival

There’s no need to rush.

There’s no need to hurry.

We’re already where we need to be.

We’ll get there when we get there.