X

Archive for Thoughts

Giving: Keep It To Yourself

When I started doing charity work and giving money several years ago, I was told about the below Bible verse.

1 "Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give a gift to someone in need, don't shout about it as the hypocrites do -- blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you."

Matthew 6:1-4

I would not consciously but unconsciously want to tell people or accidentally 'let it slip'. I think deep down because I wanted people to think "he's a good guy". Many people do tell others about the good things they do, I think if you are doing it to educate or inspire it is fine. If for other means, the ego is usually involved.

When I told people I would get a little rush of excitement which was my ego being stroked. I felt good for that instant. However something started to happen. After telling people I would feel nothing. I would no longer feel good about the act of charity. I would even feel bad in some cases. I knew I had let my ego triumph, and my 'soul' was ashamed.

In the above quote from a non-religious aspect I think what it means, to me at least is if you tell others about your charitable acts you have gotten your reward. That short burst of approval. However if you keep it to yourself, the positive emotion you felt when giving will stay with you. Your reward will be constant and continuous. You will be at peace with yourself. Knowing that you are a good person. This assurance will come from within (From the Holy father if you like).

Since I've been doing this 'keeping it to myself' I feel really good about my acts. The initial joy of being selfless stays with me, and is slowly becoming a part of me. If you are someone who shares your good deeds far too often try keeping it to yourself. I reckon you'll love the feeling.

To your success,

Stu

Fear Part 1: May I Wee Next To You?

December the 7th 2014 was the day I wrote down my fears, and challenged myself to face them. It's now January 10th 2015, and I feel I've conquered the first most basic fear: Going for a wee in the urinal.

"Only when we are no longer afraid, do we begin to live." - Dorothy Thompson 

In that first article on my fears and why I was learning to face them I never explained why I had each fear. For this fear I will explain now. I reckon about 50% of guys get self-conscious or 'fearful' when going for a piss. How do I know this? Well quite often when I'm doing my business guys will go in the cubicle instead of standing at the urinal to have a wee. And I've had many conversations with friends who have similar toliet fears.

Why do guys have this fear? I believe it has something to do with the hype around penis size. Women will always talk about it, pornstars have MASSIVE peices and movies carry the meme further by sitting 4 women around a coffee table giggling about one of their new lovers penis sizes; be it big or small.

We as men adopt this notion that we should be scared of showing our penis size. Especially to our friends as it could be a cause for ridicule, as if manhood is pinned on the size of your dick.

So I knew deep down this was stupid. I had to get rid of this concern. Sometimes I would be ok, other times I would stand there for way too long, then you get even more worried because you're thinking they now know you have stage fright.

After my initial writing of that first article on fear, I started to force myself to stand at the urinal and never use the cubicle unless I needed to drop a deuce of course - I'm not an animal!

I failed once. Pussied out. However I learned from this, and used the pain to make sure I didn't do it again.

Do I still get worried or fearful when I pee? Yes, sometimes. The distinction now though, is that I will use the urinal regardless of my fear (although I am slowly removing it completly). I understand that some fears will never be removed, conquering them will be a matter of learning to act in spite of fear.

Here is what I learned and some tips for your fear-fighting challenges:

  • Be mindful - Fear exists in the future. When you become mindful fear drowns (in your wee). Tip: notice what you hear, see and dare I say smell. This will bring your mind back to this moment. This moment has no time or room for fear.
  • Tell yourself you can't back down - I told myself that I had to stand there for as long as it takes. As soon as you do this your mind will slowly stop being fearful because it knows that you are not going to back down. You are also telling your brain that their is nothing to be worried about, that you are in control and that it can take a rest.
  • Laugh at your fear - I don't think I did this. However it's something I have recently learned. When you get scared laugh at your mind chatter, agree with it. Embellish it even. This will soon stop that mindless chatter, and tell your brain to chill.

I consider this fear challenged. My next is talking to homeless people which I have already started, and finding scary but highly rewarding. You'll have to stay tuned to find out more very soon.

"I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear." - Rosa Parks

 

To your fear big or small may it be slayed,

Stu

Homeless but not less

I've recently been thinking about the homeless. Well I guess I kind of always have. But recently it's been more prevalent. Maybe because I can't believe we live in a society that calls itself civilised, when good human beings go to sleep every night hungry on the streets. Or maybe it's because one of my close friends showed me the error of my ways through his great charitable example to the homeless.

I saw a homeless girl who must have been in her early twenties, head slouched, trying to survive. It broke my heart to see another human being like this. Especially a young girl who is even more at risk on the streets. After this I started noticing 99% (guesstimation) of people just walking past every homeless person without acknowledging them. I thought to myself "if I was in their situation, I'd want people to acknowledge me as a human. Instead of something that is perched on the pavement". It also upset me to see no one noticing the homeless person. We are all busy I get that. But there is someone who is hurting, who needs us. I'm just as bad, or at least was. Now I try to say 'hi', or 'have a good day' when I walk past them.

Yesterday after the gym I was walking to get on the London Underground. Up these busy steps was this homeless dude (early thirties) with his dog. I was mindful of everyone just walking past this guy as if he didn't exist. I could see that the man had his head down similar to the young girl from before. It was cold, he looked hopeless. And I, just walked past him. Why? I think I was sad, guilty and so on. I wanted to walk back to him, offer some money and say hi. But I got paralysed by thoughts rushing through my head "what would people think of me", "would they judge me?". Stupid, irrational mind vomit. I told my mind to go fuck itself, stopped immediately in my tracks and went back to him. I dropped some small amount of cash in his pot, that he was holding in his outstretched hand. As I turned to walk away I said something like "Have a good evening mate". He returned the gesture, but what lit me up was this guy who only moments before looked like life was pointless, now had happiness, self-worth and hope in his eyes. Or at least that's how I read it.

My plea (or challenge) to you is next time you walk past a homeless person just say hi, nod or smile at them. You may just make their day, shit, you may even make yours.

To your success,

Stu

Here's a beautiful poem similar to the topic. Enjoy!

[youtube]http://youtu.be/YFpy1J5ku4k[/youtube]

Why Lance Armstrong Didn’t Cheat

Well, he did. At least in terms of the International Cycling Union (UCI). However. In terms of nature, Lance was well in his right. He was simply following his own nature.

What am I on about?! We hold 'cheaters' up as figurative criminals. Let's look at the nature of sporting competition for a second. We encourage athletes to be 'champions', to 'dominate', as long as you don't take 'banned' substances. Now let's look at competition. Competition in its' truest form comes from the survival instinct. That innate nature that is built into us, that when we feel threaten or food/water is shortened we will do what is necessary to survive; to compete for life.

War is competition. However, we don't seem to care what tactics get used to 'win'. Because a lot is at stake. Way beyond that of a cycling race.

I think we are partially to blame. We soak these athletes in adulation and tell them they are superhuman. The survival instinct and ego will in some athletes, stimulate them to win at any cost. It's just nature.

That being said I'm all for fair play in sport. That being said, we must understand that true competitiveness can't be tamed by some rules. Some people are true warriors and will win at all costs. Should we hate them? No. Penalise them yes. But hate them, no. As they are following nature.

If anything it's us who are wrong. Trying to control something that just is.

Solution to all this? We could have a transhuman olympics and sporting events, where 'anything' goes. Testing the true limits of human potential. Would you be up for this?

Bit of a ramble, but it's something I had on my mind.

Love,

Stu

Bad Times, Good Friends & The Angry Coach

A seemingly small time in my life now was once quite traumatic for me. Although it doesn't bother me anymore, I woke up compelled to share my story. In the hopes that it helps someone.

When I was 20 I went to a week long basketball camp in Paris, France with a few friends. At the time I had goals of going pro. I can see clearly now that was unlikely (hindsight is a beaut). At the time though I was working hard towards it. The camp was ultimately above my skill level, at that time. I also have struggled with anxiety in the past which made it hard for me to play with confidence. If you see me play with confidence vs non-confidence, I won't even look like the same person.

After 4 days of 8 hour periods of exercise and workouts including copious amounts of sit ups, press ups and running up and down stadium stairs. Twin this with poor food. Being in France I was hoping for some quality grub, could not have been more wrong. We all eventually sat down with a couple coaches, one by one.

I sat down with two coaches. One was pretty silent. The other had a real bad taste in his mouth for me. The type of distain you could only have if someone burned your house down, killed your pet dog or pooed through your letter box (actually that last one is funny). I digress. He proceeded to rip me a new one, basically suggesting I had no hope, and from memory I'm pretty sure he laughed at me. And with that, my paradigm broke.

I walked back to the bench with a face like I'd just seen a ghost. My world seemingly crumbling in on itself.

When I was back in the dorm room my friend Eliot could see I was shaken badly, and he knew I was really low. He didn't try speaking to me about it, I'm assuming because he knew it would be a sensitive subject. He told me about this great song he loved, and proceeded to pass me his iPod. The lyrics were as follows:

My life is all I have
My rhymes, my pen, my pad
And I done made it through the struggle, don't judge me
What you say now, won't budge me
Cuz where I come from, so often
People you grew up with, layin in a coffin
But I done made it through the pain in spite
It's my time now, my world, my life
My life...

For some strange reason that song gave me back some clarity and hope. That moment was one of true friendship. Good friends run in when everyone else is running out. I will always treasure that moment and his friendship.

Eliot, Andy and I Eliot (Left), I (Center), Andy (Right)

I was still a little down for the rest of my stay in Paris. However, what I didn't realise in that moment is that when one door closes, another one opens. When I arrived back in England, within that month I did marketing work experience. I loved it. I decided I wanted to go on to do a masters degree in marketing. For the first time in my life I had a taste for academia. I put my head down for my final year of undergraduate study to make sure I got the grade needed to get into business school. Needless to say I did it and went on to get a good grade in my masters degree. I have had a good career so far, and looking back I am so grateful for that coach shattering one world, as he allowed a new one to be born.

I may never know why he was so harsh (such a cunt) but from my experience no one is a bad person. They are just hurt human beings. It was beyond tough love he gave me. And maybe God knew that he had to be really harsh to break my current life path, to put me on the one I'm meant to be on. I don't hate the coach, I feel for him. No one should go through life with that much anger towards anyone. I wish him well, and hope that he is happier. All that being said, he may just of had a really bad day and unfortunately for me I was his vent (I hope that's the case for his sake, after all it's worked out splendid for me).

Here's the takeaways from my experience that I hope can serve you well:

  • When people take a disliking to you it's not always about you, more often than not they are projecting their own fears, concerns and insecurities onto you.
  • When someone tells you no, especially a person in power it doesn't always mean they're right. I wasn't meant to be a pro basketball player I know that now. But you may get told no and are meant to be. So listen to your gut and if it says you are then continue on your path working harder than ever.
  • It's about the journey. I was so caught up with my end goal that I forgot to enjoy the ride. If I had this philosophy I would have not taken it to heart so much, and maybe even laughed back at him.
  • When one door closes, another opens. Keep your eyes peeled, the universe works in mysterious ways.
  • We are only on this planet for the briefest of moments in an infinite amount of time. In a million years none of this will matter, so love hard, live a lot and laugh often. Don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out alive.

I hope that has helped you. I'm so grateful for the experience and for you giving your time to read it.

To your success,

Stu

P.S. The song is My life by Styles P and Pharoahe Monche

P.P.S. I still play basketball to this day and love it. Although I don't want to be a pro, I'm still trying to get better. Life's about progress.

There Are Many Paths Up A Mountain

As 2015 rapidly approaches, I've been reflecting more on my own spirituality. I have dubbed 2015 the year of spirituality for me. The year I go deep into my own intuition and the religious texts, to seek out the truth.

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

It was the above quote from Pierre that started me thinking further about my own existence. This notion that we are pure energy, that for this time now we are in the form of a human being. It's a bit of a mind fuck. But an intellectual pursuit worth investigating.

Religion has been on my mind for many years. I have a few devout Christian friends. I myself have dabbled in the faith, however after about 9 years of in and out practise of the religion, I deemed it not for me. One of the kickers for me was this:

A Christian knows on faith that Jesus is the truth, they feel his prescence. That's cool. But a Muslim, Sikh and Hindu also know on faith they are right, that their God is the true path. You can't argue with faith because it is personal, and can't be disproved. I respect humans of faith. But people of religion should know this, they just feel their God and know without doubt that they are right. But so does the devout religious person of a different religion.

To me, that always suggested that all religions were praying to the same God. That presence they felt was the same, however by nature we as humans are story tellers. Over thousands of years we warp stories and add small sections. Various tribes don't like that aspect of said religion so they create their own. Thousands of years later there are many strong religions. All with a lot of falsehoods packed into them. However, all have several themes that run through them, maybe the only remaining words of God:

  • Love each other
  • Peace
  • We are all one

A nice analogy that hit me in the shower is this:

There are many routes up a mountain, some ruff, some smooth, some direct and some windy, but do not forget this, they all lead to the summit.

All religions have that core truth of love, the very essence of God in them. God is that summit, and we are all finding our own ways to the peak. There is no right way, and certainly no wrong way. What the view will look like at the top will most likely surprise most religious people.

When God spoke to Moses through the burning bush i think he unequivocally told the truth about who he is:

I AM

I don't know how we have gotten it so wrong!

Peace, love and success,

Stu

Jaws, I’m Coming For You

"Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free." Jim Morrison

“Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.”    Will Smith

Fear is an illusion. However for most of my life this illusion has forced itself into my reality. So far I have lived a good life, for which I am so very grateful. With hindsight I know I squandered so many opportunities, moments and experiences not because of a lack of talent or will, simply because of fear. We all have fear. You can never really get away from it. You don't want to completely remove it because it has its uses for survival. That being said the world mostly is a good place, we don't need to be so fearful any more. We don't need to let our minds fill up with nasty possibilities that will never come true. Our minds struggle separating between reality and imagination. When it comes to fear this isn't a good thing.

I saw Geoff Thompson on the London Real podcast the other day. He was talking about how he realised fear ran his life. He decided to face his fears one by one. He came up with the 'fear pyramid' concept. Then wrote down all his fears and placed them into a pyramid. He inserted his smallest fears at the bottom, and his greatest near the top.

Below is my fearamid (haha). I will start at the bottom and work my way to the top. I might end up crossing one off that is ahead, this is fine. The goal is too be at ease with these situations. To be able to do them in spite of fear. The goal of this exercise is courage not removal. Absence of fear would just be the icing on the cake.

Geoff Thompson Fear Pyramid My Version

Here is my list of fears (at this time) starting from the smallest to the 'shit my pants' kind of fear:

  • Taking a piss in the urinal (sometimes not an issue) Complete - fear slayed! 
  • Horror films - over active imagination!
  • Caring too much about what people think
  • Being attacked in the dark
  • Spiders
  • Talking to homeless people
  • Rollercoasters
  • Being self employed
  • Calling people on their bad behaviour (confrontation)
  • Being able to approach any women in a romantic sense (sober)
  • Technically climbing a mountain
  • Swimming in the sea (sharks - hence the article title)

When I conquer each fear like a heroic knight (bit of imagery for you) I will write articles about each fear. Why I had the fear and how I overcame it. I will link to these articles using the above list.

What are you afraid of? Tired of running? Then stop, and face those little critters - remember, the only place they exist is in your head.

To your success you fearless animal,

Stu

Why We Need A World Anthem And Flag

Ah man do we need a world anthem. Call it the Earth song - if Michael Jackson's people will allow that.

After the horrible Ottawa shootings in Canada the Canadian national anthem was sung in America at a Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game as a tribute. Me assuming that the Americans are oh so patriotic, I thought this would have gone done like a lead balloon. On the contrary, dear Watson. The American fans all sang along to 'O Canada'. Making it a very touching scene indeed (I nearly cried - be-au-tiful). Then a few weeks later America's 'Star-spangled banner' national anthem was being sung in Toronto for the visiting American team. The singers microphone died. Instead of booing, the Canadians continued singing the the anthem to its completion. Whether they did that as a thanks for having their back weeks before or they generally felt compelled to lend a hand, it was a touching show of humanity (both videos can be found at the bottom of this post).

I had the idea of a world anthem before but after seeing these two countries supporting one another, I finally got the kick up the arse I needed to write this.

We all have a national anthem. I'm British so I have 'God save the Queen'. Don't get me wrong I have my issues with it, see below. But overall, I'm proud to be British and my heart sings when I hear my national anthem. I'm assuming you get the same feeling when ever you hear yours.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/jWuARCZaS7U[/youtube]
Although I live in the UK I watch a lot of American sports here. Both ice hockey (Go FLAMES) and basketball (Go LIONS). Before each game the national anthem is played. At the Olympics the national anthem for each country is played. Basically, it is played before competition or battle. We also fly our nations flag in war, on schools and from our roofs. We are all so patriotic.

Let me ask you this. If aliens invaded us tomorrow, would you care if someone was from a different country to you? Or would you look at humans a bit more collectively? The aliens are now the enemy not (insert your least favorite nation here).

My take on national flags and anthems is this. They are good, they encourage culture and unity. They also, however, encourage separation and tiers of elitism.

What if. That beautiful phrase. What if, we had a flag for planet Earth, and an anthem that symbolised the human race.

Now imagine for a second that before each sporting event the world flag was raised, and the world anthem was played. Also, picture two enemy forces preparing to fight each other raise the world flag next to their national flag.

It's harder to fight your brother then it is your enemy.

I believe (call me crazy) that something as simple as a world flag and anthem over many decades would tear down barriers, lessen the importance of national pride and unite nations. People will be placing the importance on humanity first, then indivialism second. Always reminding people that competition is good, but not at the cost of peace.

Let me know what you think? Call me a dick? Call me a genius? But let's make this happen, oorah.

Your fellow brother,

Stu

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4FlJi84XDQ[/youtube]

American hockey fans singing the Canadian national anthem

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHSaHRd4Q48[/youtube]

Toronto fans singing the American national anthem

Personal Standards vs Will Power

Let me start by saying - we only have a finite amount of will power. From the moment we wake, we start using it up. Yet when we come to giving something up or learning something our entire strategy is based on this limited resource.

Let me explain. Let's say you are trying to be healthier (to you that might mean more energy, weight loss or longevity of life). When you begin your challenge of getting healthier, you start by selecting a diet. After some research you decide you want to adopt a Paleo based diet. And you start. This is what most people do. They change the outside (I.e. diet) and their only tool is will power. Not once do we consider any further internal changes.

Let's play this hypothetical scenario out.

It's day one and you are excited about your goal of eating better. Not a problem. Day 2 the novelty is still there, and you are trying new recipes. Day 3 and 4 friends and colleagues start showing an interest, this boosts your ego. Day 5 and 6 people stop caring about your diet, and the novelty of a low carb diet is starting to feel boring. Day 7 from the word go you are bored of eating a vegetable breakfast, the salad at lunch is tiresome. Your boss just called you a 'dick', and it's raining. On your route home you crave a KFC. It takes all your will power to keep driving past the establishment. Day 8, you skip breakfast as you can't face it. It's Sally's birthday at work and she's brought in donuts. You try to stop the urge, and you nearly do (congrats). But you're feed up, bored and can't even remember your reason for going on this ‘stupid’ diet. Thinking f*ck it you reach for that sugary treat and ram it into your beautiful face.

I can confidently right that, because I’ve behaved similarly. It's annoying. Because now I/you feel down that we quit. We also know we will start again, this may go on for years. It's a vicious cycle.

In my book 'Challenge yourself, I dare you' I cover many tips and strategies for seeing something through. From those tips I have achieved many tough challenges. The below advice is a bonus to you, as it's not in the book.

The goal isn’t to rely on will power. Will power should be there to get you through your really challenging days.

To find it easier and more enjoyable you need to look within.

I will use the above hypothetical scenario and link it to my life. About 9 years ago I drank a lot of refined sugared drinks. I would consume about 2-3 glasses a day. After a scare from my dentist (better, more entertaining story in the book) I decided to stop drinking this filth for 30 days. I relied heavily on will power. I achieved my goal but each day was an awful mental battle, making my days less enjoyable. However what this did do for me was start to change the way I looked at nutrition and health. Over the following 5 years I started putting better liquids and foods into my body. I was also training for basketball, a lot. In hindsight I realise now that the outside world was changing because I was changing my inside reality. I started seeing myself as an athlete. In my head whenever I went to grab some junk food I would tell myself "athletes don't eat that" or "I don't drink that, I'm an athlete". Here's the key. I increased my personal standards.

I started seeing myself as an athlete, and athletes or at least good ones, respect their bodies. I could have also picked the belief that my body was a temple. And you don't bring dirt into a temple.

What is it you are struggling with? What personal standards do you need? Can you label those standards I.e. temple, athlete, sage?

Give it a go, and give your will power a rest - he's been tortured enough.

If it makes sense to you, try it, and let me know below.

To your success,
Stu

Evolution Before Revolution

Last night I was at the Million Mask March in London (2014). If you aren't aware of it. It's put together by the hacktivist group ‘Anonymous’. It's a peaceful protest from Trafalgar square to the Houses of Parliament. The march happens all over the world, and happens on every November 5th. The marches are in place to send a signal to the government that spying on the public is breaching human rights and that the political, economic system isn't working. November the 5th is fitting because it's the day Guy Fawkes tried blowing up the Houses of Parliament back in 1605.

For the last few months I'd been eagerly looking forward to this event.  An opportunity for me to express my distain for certain GCHQ practices.

Million mask march London 2014

There were some great people at the March. People truly wanting peaceful change. Many had powerful ideas, which deserve to be heard.

However...

Many (guesstimate about 20%) were immature. Booing the police, generally acting foolish, drinking and smoking weed. I just got a negative vibe from the whole meeting.

As we proceeded towards Parliament, my distain grew stronger as the crowd started hurling abuse at the Police. Let's face it. If you're going to say fuck the police, you do it one way and one way only - by blaring NWA's song 'fuck the po'lice'. The police aren't the issue. They are doing their job.

Later as we get to Parliament the crowd get become stagnant, certain members become rowdy.

A few people acting idiotic started throwing fireworks and smoke grenades towards the police. Then a few others proceeded to rip down some of the barriers. The police put on riot gear and pulled out their sticks (no euphemism intended). Some people in the crowd started booing them and calling them bullies.

Are you fucking kidding me?! Police men and women are human beings. Human beings get scared. If you had a few thousand people staring at you in V for Vendetta masks, throwing fireworks towards you and then tearing down the only thing between them and you. Don't for a second act like you wouldn't do the same. Plus it’s there job to keep the public safe, throw hooligans. As there were plenty of general public about.

It was at this point I left, wanting no part in the circus. As the Polish proverb goes "not my circus, not my monkeys".

As I left there was one beautiful soul reminding the crowd that the police are just doing their job, and that we are all loving human beings. Preach brother.

If we want to create change, violence isn't the way. Example is. No not the rapper, we need to lead by example. Acting like clowns gives the media the ammo they need to make the movement look crazy. Imagine if the crowd had walked in peace, was kind to everyone including the police. What a great example. That would have inspired the unaware masses to join in. I think people forget that Martin Luther King was so successful because of his loving message, even loving those that hated him. What a philosophy.

One Solution: Revolution

In the crowd people were holding signs saying "there's only one solution: revolution". Up to this point that had been an inspiring idea for me. When I saw the crowd acting so immaturely, it scared me to think these are the people that may lead the revolution.

Comedian and revolutionary Russell Brand was trying his best to calm down the angrier protesters, reminding them it was a peaceful protest - good job Russ. I digress...

What we truly need is evolution of the mind, or even devolution back to the days when we were more spiritual and at one with life. At the point we all work towards that including the politicians, I have no doubt the issues will resolve themselves.

It was a shame to see the minority ruin and cajole others into bad behaviour. On the brightside the majority there were still there for peace, coming from a place of love. So that's my two for what it's worth.

To your success,
Stu

[youtube]http://youtu.be/VZCNpRd58Lw[/youtube]

1 2 3 4

Contact Me

Using the contact form to send me an email

Keep in touch or say hi

Please note: I only answer emails once a week, please be patient, I will respond in time.