Book Review: Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl – Part 2

MSFM

Continuing on from part one of this review, I will look at the second part of the book, where Frankl covers his theory of logotherapy and how he had used his experiences in Nazi death camps to help him in reinforcing it. Logotherapy is a form of psychoanalysis where there is “less retrospective and less introspective” methods used, meaning that the thoughts or past experience of the patient or subject are not as thoroughly examined. Instead, the future of the patient, in the sense of what they must achieve or what meanings to fulfill.

Logotherapy, taking the Greek word Logos, which signifies “meaning”, so patients are made to confront and examine the meaning of their life. Once given a meaning, they are able to turn their focus away from any feedback-loops from hell, which would otherwise have a chance to develop into neuroses. Breaking down the self-centered ego instead of feeding it. Giving motivation to the will of meaning, instead of following Freudian psychoanalysis or Adlerian psychology which would be the will to pleasure or the will to power, respectively. Each with their own problems, chasing happiness or pleasure often doesn’t end well as you will consistently be striving for it as one can never truly attain happiness. While striving for power also looks to attain superiority in some form over others, usually seen as an inferiority complex, of wanting to compensate for something that the person doesn’t have. Each of the three Viennese schools of Psychotherapy hold conflicting ideas, however, I think that each has some merit in some form and I suggest that you have a look into each and come up with your own assessment.

Back to Logotherapy and Frankl’s will to meaning. Frankl dictates that only the individual can fulfill the unique and specific meaning that he gives his own life. Meaning that the person must take it upon themselves to give their life meaning, one that they will not only live for but also die for. He goes on to reference a couple of public-opinion polls and studies done, all with very similar results. One done in France showed that 89% of the people acknowledged that man needs “something” to live for, and 61% said that they had something or someone in their lives that they were ready to die for. The polls showing that the thirst for meaning in one’s life is exceptional, considering that out of almost 8000 students from 48 colleges, 78% said their first goal in life was “finding a purpose and meaning to my life”. I would also fall into that category; however, I do not look back at my suffering and become paralyzed by it, I use all my experiences as a base to stand on, I look to the future of what I could achieve as a way to bring meaning to my life. It may be in the form of relationships, hobbies, career, side projects or hustles, And I have built a matrix of meaning so as to not make it that I am defined by only one meaning.

Finding a meaning can become a frustrating task, and as Frankl calls it “existential frustration”, which can result in the person forever searching and not coming to a solid meaning. Frankl states that existential in this circumstance may refer to the following:

  • Existence itself, “specifically the human mode of being”
  • The meaning of existence
  • Striving to find a concrete meaning in personal existence

I have had these thoughts, and I often came to the common thought that life is meaningless and that ultimately, I also have no meaning. However, my views have begun to slowly change. That yes life may not have a meaning, however, it is up to me to give it meaning. I touched on this briefly, that the memories that we leave behind are a big part of the meaning that we can give ourselves, on a piece dedicated to a friend’s father. Where memories that you share with others can give your life meaning. I have seen firsthand how someone can see the frustration with not having a meaning. You can often get yourself into a vicious cycle of negative thinking that can be difficult to recover from.

Frankl covers that this search for meaning may, instead of bringing the desired effect of inner equilibrium, it instead brings inner tension. This tension though is only a byproduct and referring back to Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” The tension Frankl speaks of is “the tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish.” This is part of human nature, to be able to look both backward at what you have done, but also towards the future to dream of the things you want to do. So, one should not be afraid or scared of challenging themselves with a potential meaning, even if it may not be one that they ultimately go for. This allows one to suffer for a task or reason that they chose. An interesting comment that Frankl makes on therapists, as follows:

“So if therapists wish to foster their patients’ mental health, they should not be afraid to create a sound amount of tension through a reorientation toward the meaning of one’s life.”

Obviously not overloading their patient with a challenge that is far out of their mental level of sorts, but slowly having them set goals or achievements that they will be able to find meaning in.

If one doesn’t find meaning or lacks the awareness of a meaning that may be right in front of them, often they will complain about feeling empty. They find themselves in what Frankl describes as “The Existential Vacuum”. This Vacuum is in part due to one either wanting to do what other people do, or doing what others tell him to do. There is a responsibility placed on one’s shoulders whether they want it or not, one must choose what they want to suffer for. So, for instance, the elderly person who has just retired who’s meaning was their career. Now they have all this spare time and just sit at home depressed, not knowing what to do. They go to a therapist and asked to be cured. However, if they find a meaning that they can involve themselves in, like for instance a new hobby, or maybe at a community facility like helping out at a Men’s Shed program, or at their local sports center. Frankl says that with logotherapy almost anyone can find a meaning to their life, and ultimately find a meaning to their suffering.

Frankl goes on to describe what someone can do when they ask themselves, what is the meaning of their life? Knowing that no one will share their own meaning with another and that it may even change from year to year, like in chess how there is no best move, there is only such a thing as a good move, and it is solely dependent on the situation. Life is much the same, there is no best meaning, as it is totally dependent on the time and place of the moment in the person’s life. However, as each situation in one’s life signifies a trial to overcome, it is solely up to them to solve it. Ultimate responsibility.

“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to now.”

Living with this in mind allows one to grasp each situation and decision, whilst being confronted with their own finite time on this earth. Having experienced suffering, I took on the idea that instead of complaining, why me, why did I get this shit hand. I took it upon myself to not let it win and beat me. Because I noticed that I could turn what would seem like a tragedy, into a triumph. I could overcome my battle, and use it as a way to show people that if you have the mindset of the suffering is meaningful in the sense that life has given you a test to grow in, then I would too overcome my situation. Frankl uses an example of an elderly GP that came to him for his severe depression. He had lost his wife and could not overcome the grief. Frankl asked the doctor a question, “What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you?” This way of thinking is crucial when going through suffering. As it gives the suffering meaning, and in the doctor’s case he found meaning in his suffering, and instead of having in a woe is me attitude, it shifted to an attitude of I would rather suffer through it than my wife.

In life, we are all able to change our attitude, and you can say that it is easier for some compared to others, or that I have not been through what you have been through so I wouldn’t understand. And you are right, I couldn’t understand what you specifically are going through. However, like every human that has ever lived and will ever live, I have suffered. I know I am not special and have been able to shift my attitude to help me in dealing with it. So, find your reason or meaning for your suffering, as it doesn’t matter about the hand you are dealt, it’s how you play your hand that matters. And this little snippet I found quite interesting, Frankl talks about how an old man need not envy a younger man as the old man has lived his life.

“Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, though these are things which cannot inspire envy.”

Living a life and being proud of each moment, so instead of becoming paralyzed by what has one has suffered and instead look at it as suffering one has endured and come out the other side with battle scars to be proud of. I at first wasn’t a fan of the scars I was left with, but as they tell a big part of my story I have grown to love them (plus, I’ve been told chicks dig scars).

Part two of Man’s search for meaning is littered with anecdotes provided by Frankl, each explaining one of his patient’s cases. From child abuse, to grieving, to sleep deprivation, he explains the principles behind logotherapy and how in each case the patient’s attitude can be changed and reoriented to a new meaning or used in a way that is quite paradoxical. In the case of sleep deprivation, Frankl advised the patient to try to not fall asleep, in doing so, the patient’s anxiety of not being able to sleep was reversed and now he wished for no sleep. Ultimately getting the desired result of sleep.

I have been able to touch and deliver only a few of the gold nuggets of information I came across in this book, and I can only recommend that you read it yourself. For a $10 book it is packed with so many ideas that will challenge your own ideas and like me, it may even change your life. I will finish this post with one quote from Frankl.

“In the concentration camps,.. we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions.”

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See you on the mats.

Book Review: Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl – Part 1

MSFM

Man’s Search for Meaning

Having been recommended by a couple of friends to give it a read, and having seen it referenced in a few books and by notable figures I follow. There are two main parts of the book, the first part covering Frankl’s experiences in the concentration camps, and the second Frankl briefly states his theory of logotherapy and how one can apply it to one’s own life. The title of the book says everything about what I have been trying to do and what I am currently doing. And in reading it I have thought hard about the things in my life that bring it meaning and how I can develop and bring life more meaning. The book is an eye-opener and I suggest everyone to read it, as I will only cover so much of the book and will not be able to bring the full impact that it delivers. In the foreword of the book, it states that “this book is less about his travails, what he suffered and lost, than it is about the sources of his strength to survive.” Already one page down an I knew that I would have to share all that I learn to those of you that read my blog. I hope I can do this great book justice.

Frankl starts the main parts of the book with a preface, where he touches on why he wrote the book and how he initially wanted to publish it anonymously as to bring him no fame. However, thankfully he was persuaded by friends to at least release it with his name on the title page.  He also covers why he thinks that his book is not a best seller due to the thought-provoking content but rather of the times, in so much as that a book like this is read by millions searching for meaning in their lives and in their suffering. He recounts the story as to why he stayed in Austria, even though he had an immigration visa to continue his studies on logotherapy in America. Where he could not make his mind up between leaving and developing his theory or staying and looking after his parents. Through a piece of marble with a Hebrew letter engraved on it, which he asked his father what it stood for. The reply was “Honor thy father and thy mother that thy day may be long upon the land” which he states was the moment he made his decision.

Part one, as said above, covers Frankl’s experiences in the Nazi concentration camps. I wish I could include some of the whole pages in here as there is so much to relay to you. Frankl states that this book is not about the great horrors or the mighty who stood up to it but it is more about the millions of common prisoners, their sacrifices, and their psychology. Frankl states that there are three phases of an inmate’s mental reactions to camp life: the period following his admission, the period when he is well entrenched in camp routine, and the period following his liberation. He covers each of these throughout part one giving examples of each from his point of view and from what he observes.

He goes on to describe the train’s arrival to Auschwitz, and how upon the carriage doors being flung open a group of prisoners ran inside the station. He notes that they looked well fed and in high spirits, and his optimism that camp life might not be so bad and that he may be able to hold a position like that of the prisoners standing before him. Frankl states the condition in psychiatry known as “delusion of reprieve”, where at the last minute one hopes that the terrible situation turns around for them (often seen in death row inmates immediately before their execution). Noting that almost everyone, including him, all under the impression that things were going to be alright. I too have felt something akin to this, where after a few tests, I would be cleared of not having to go in for surgery. I believe this comes from the optimism that everyone has in dire straits, and one trying to protect themselves. I always said throughout my battle that I would hope for the best but expect the worst, this was a way to combat the feeling of ‘it can’t be happening to me.’

After recounting the horrors on the first day at Auschwitz, Frankl continues, “Thus the illusions some of us still had were destroyed… , and then quiet unexpectedly, most of us were overcome by a grim sense of humor.” To my friends, during my ordeal, I would frequently joke about my situation and my mortality. Once, the realization of the situation and the fact that it is very real and there is no way out, this humor comes out. I thought of it as a defense mechanism of sorts, as to reduce the seriousness of the situation, and why not make a joke about something so serious, there is a small chance that your life may end, why put yourself through more stress and focus on all that is bad.

There are many more aspects that Frankl talks about in the first phase, the longing for home and loved ones, the disgust in what was around him in the camps, the empathy towards other prisoners when they would be punished. However, once the prisoner had moved into the second phase, they would no longer look away when these beatings would happen, they had lost their emotion and watch unmoved. Emotions of disgust, pity or horror would no longer be felt, they had become desensitized to all that was around them. Frankl recounts many stories of things he saw but did not flinch at, a 12-year old’s toes being snapped off as they had become frostbitten, seeing typhus patients die before his eyes and others pinch the dead’s clothing and shoes. He does note that he only remembers the lack of emotion due to his surprise from a professional standpoint. I can only say that the only time I have had a similar feeling of desensitization is from my many blood tests and my hospital stays. I used to hate needles and would feel faint whenever I got them, I now have no problem with them, I no longer feel faint and feel nothing. Yet another way of protecting oneself from the situation.

Even through all this, Frankl still states that there was art, songs being sung, jokes being told, all in the effort to forget and even those that were fatigued, would miss food to witness the group and laugh with them. Frankl notes that humor is one defense that the brain uses to fight suffering. He uses an analogy to help explain how if you have no humor and let suffering take over your thoughts you will be absorbed by it completely.

“a man’s suffering is similar to the behavior of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill it completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus, suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the “size” of the human suffering is absolutely relative.”

Frankl continues that those that let the suffering take hold, they would often never be able to come back from it and slowly wither away and die. After some time, prisoners would be able to pick who would go next with relative accuracy, this was just another aspect of the second phase of camp psychology.

Frankl recounts his first morning when one of his old colleagues, who had arrived at Auschwitz a few weeks before him, came into his block to comfort and calm the men. He urged the men to take it upon themselves to have a little discipline, shave daily if possible, to look younger, and for them to look fit for work. Stand tall and walk upright, even if they had blisters that caused them to limp. Otherwise, there was the high chance of them being noticed that they are not able to work and they would be sent to the gas chambers. I believe that discipline is often overlooked as a means to live a good life. As I wake up most days at 5am I often get asked why do I do it. The answer being quite simple, If I get up and out of bed at 5 I am able to fit more into my day. Starting with gym or jiu-jitsu, then I have won the first part of my day and allows me to focus on the next task, work or whatever may follow. The next question usually is but then how are you able to do anything else if you have such a strict timetable. This is often a great misconception, being disciplined doesn’t mean you can’t do anything else. This is the counterintuitive part, I have more time because I am disciplined, I can do more as I don’t deviate or get sidetracked. It also gets me into the mindset of completing tasks and I feel good when I win that challenge. I think that this would be the most important part of discipline in the death camps, having the attitude that you have won that part of your day, or you won that day.

A constant throughout the book is that everything can be taken from a man, except his attitude, and that life is not complete without suffering. Therefore, man is constantly confronted with choices, choices of his attitude, thoughts, words, and actions. Most of the prisoners had the attitude that life had already passed them, and there were no more opportunities in life though they would be wrong to think that, as Frankl writes:

“Yet, in reality, there was an opportunity and a challenge. One could make a victory of those experiences, turning life into an inner triumph, or one could ignore the challenge and simply vegetate, as did a majority of prisoners.”

Going through suffering is part of life, and you can either let life slip by and as Frankl says, vegetate, or you can front up to the challenge given to you and overcome it. Everyone has their own challenges and suffering, and there is no point complaining about who has it worse off, as it is only up to the individual to overcome it.

Frankl tells of a rise in deaths at the camps around Christmas and New Years’ time, not due to execution or illness, but due to many holding out for the war to finish at that time. Many had hoped that they would be rescued at that time, and when it never happened they lost all meaning to stay alive and resist death. Referencing Nietzsche, Frankl says:

“He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how

So, whenever he had the chance to give a man a why for his suffering he often carried on living, the could range from loved ones to careers after the camp. So, everyone has a ‘unique opportunity’ to bear their suffering and give life meaning.

Now coming to the third phase of the psychology of a prisoner, after his liberation. Frankl describes the morning of the day they gained freedom, walking from the camp to a nearby town they could not fully grasp their new reality, they could only get small sparks of joy, for example when they saw the meadows full of flowers, or when a rooster crowed. Once returning to the camp in the evening, Frankl notes the conversation between some of the inmates.

One said secretly to the other, “Tell me, were you please today?”

the other replied, “Truthfully, on!”

They had lost the ability to feel pleased, He states that the feelings of displeasure were due to the prisoners having been “depersonalized”. They had dreamt of the day, yet now that it was here, they could not fully grasp it. He goes on to say that the body, unlike the mind, had fewer complexes. From eating and drinking non-stop, to talking for hours it was now unrestrained.

Frankl tells the story of him and a friend walking towards the nearby town and come upon a field of crops, he starts to head around the crops, however, his friend decided to drag him through it. After Frankl protesting at this action and not wanting to destroy the crop, his friend became annoyed and aggressive, shouting, “You don’t say! And hasn’t enough been taken from us? My wife and child have been gassed – not to mention everything else – and you would forbid me to tread on a few stalks of oats!” This ruthlessness coming from being free after being under the influence of such brutality, they thought they could justify their actions and behavior by their own terrible experiences. He states that prisoners with this attitude could slowly be brought back to the everyday truth that “no one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them.” Many prisoners carried with them such bitterness and their morals often disillusioned from their camp life.

When the man who had been told that life still had meaning for him inside the camp, now out, he found out that the why that he had no longer existed outside of camp. These men had a hard time coming to terms with overcoming their suffering, not in the hope that they would gain the happiness to combat the suffering but they were not prepared for unhappiness. Frankl says that he had a hard time helping those men out, as he had a hard time coming to terms with his own losses and suffering. But he found a new meaning, the meaning of helping those prisoners out. Talking about how difficult overcoming the suffering will be, Frankl says:

“but this must not be a discouragement to him; on the contrary, it should provide an added stimulus.”

This is something a think a lot of people forget, that in their suffering instead of seeing an immovable object, they should see a challenge to overcome. How they do that is up to the person, and once the challenge is overcome, one can look back and see how much they have endured and know that they can overcome more.

I will cover part two in a separate review, as I have gained so much from this book and I wish to share all of it with you reading this. I recommend that you pick up a copy of this book to read it for yourself as I have left out a lot and I will never be able to do it justice.

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See you on the mats.

BJJ parallels in Blacksmithing?

Over the weekend I started the second module of a blacksmithing course, and throughout the day I noted some striking parallels between blacksmithing and BJJ. Blacksmithing is the art of moving and shaping metal into forms that you want it to take. The metal has a mind of its own and often wants to do its own thing. Much like in BJJ how you want to move and control your opponent into positions and then submissions.

When I looked around at the other students there I felt like they had already started their work and were moving ahead of me rapidly, but I remembered from the first module that blacksmithing is not a race. Go at your own pace and not worry about what others are doing. Keep working and you will have a finished product. Like you must keep training and eventually you will move up to the next belt. BJJ is not a sprint.

When working on metal, you must wait for the metal to get to a substantial heat before hitting it, then once it cools and is not at an optimal working-heat, back into the forge it goes. Like in blacksmithing, you must be patient in BJJ. Do not strike the metal when it is at a low heat, do not force the opponent into submissions. Wait for the right heat and then you can work on it, be patient for the opportunity for the submission or pass. You may establish side control but then you must, so to speak, put them back in the forge and wait for the right moment to strike.

Learning new techniques in BJJ is always awesome, however, when going over the things that you already know and you start to pick up little subtleties, that can be more rewarding. For instance, when doing low armlock from the guard, cupping the person’s neck before coming around and framing the neck to pass off to your leg, something small I only picked up recently. The same goes for blacksmithing, learning new things is awesome, but when you notice something that you didn’t before, that’s something I really enjoy.

If you want to get better at something you have to keep practicing. This is something that applies to everything, I just want to point it out. The more you do something the better you get at it, I have noticed that my jiu-jitsu has gotten better, and my ability to understand concepts. From having no experience to understanding the basics. The same goes for blacksmithing, having made simple shapes at the start and now having a better understanding of the basic concepts I have made more complex shapes. It all comes with experience, just another lesson to learn that if you want to be good at something the best thing to do is to start doing it, and then not stop doing it.

What do you want to become great at?

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See you on the mats.

A quick and feel-good way of keeping a journal.

It has now been over four months since I started writing a journal, a promise I made to myself at the start of the year was that I would try to keep some form of log or diary. I have stuck to my word and have forgotten to write about my day only a handful of times. For the most part, I would just summarise my day, what I did and a few interesting things that happened. I would often have to recall everything from the start of the day and would often miss certain parts of my day. I would fill the whole page and would often take longer than I wanted. I wanted to try and find a less time-consuming way, that I could still benefit from, of journaling.

About two weeks ago I remembered an article I read by Tim Ferris, and he detailed his morning routine where he would write the first half of his 5-minute journal. 5 MINUTES?!? So, I checked out the website that Ferris mentioned (https://www.intelligentchange.com/products/the-five-minute-journal, for those that want to know). I looked over the example of the page spread they included, see below for reference. I thought well I may as well give it a shot. So, for the past two weeks, I have been writing in the layout they use in my journal. Three questions in the morning and two at night.

The three questions in the morning that I answer:

  • Three things I am grateful for
  • What would make today great?
  • Daily affirmations.

The questions are easy enough to quickly answer them, but they also make you think. When you think about the things that you are grateful for and you set some clear targets to make the day great. You can relax and remind yourself to be grateful, whilst also setting up clear goals that you have the option to complete. Knowing that once you complete or achieve them you can say that you have had a successful day. The Daily affirmations are not something I would usually have done, I often don’t think highly of myself and tend to shy away from telling myself I am great. However, since implementing the affirmations I have noticed a new form of confidence and self-belief that I didn’t find in myself.

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I will note that on the occasion that I didn’t complete the morning questions I found myself to be a bit off, in the sense that I wasn’t as relaxed and I didn’t have a clear intention for the day. I was aggressive when driving to work and I was easily distracted throughout the day.

After the dinner is done and the dishes washed, I usually finish the journal before I get ready for bed. This is just the routine I use and I don’t think it really serves any purpose other than its just my routine, just thought I would include it. The two questions that I answer are:

  • List 3 amazing things that happened during the day, and
  • How could you have made today better?

The three things can relate to the 3 answers you gave in what would make the day great, but usually, I put in either things that I learnt or did during the day. Answering on how you could have made the day better is a great way of reflecting, this isn’t the time where you beat yourself up, it the time when you note the things you could improve on. It might be you want to better at listening instead of cutting people off, or it could be that you want to rest less in-between sets at the gym. These questions help you end the day on a positive note and help give you a goal for the next day, one piece of your puzzle to work on.

I haven’t missed a night question and I have not noticed any real change when sleeping, I have always been a good sleeper, so I cannot comment on the effects of sleep. But I do always go to sleep with a little less bouncing around the brain.

I am yet to buy the journals that Intelligent Change sells, I did this as a little experiment to see how it works and how it might help me improve my attitude. I will say that the journal they offer comes with daily quotes and weekly challenges that you might be interested in. I will say that you can find inspirational quotes everywhere, from Instagram pages to dedicated apps on your phone. I currently use a Google Chrome add-on called Momentum which gives you a daily quote everytime you open a new tab, it also displays a beautiful photo from somewhere in the world. You can find them here.  And if you really want weekly challenges you can find them on the internet too.

The new tab when using the momentum add-on looks like this.

Momentum

See if the 5-minute journal works for you, change it up a bit, add or remove questions. Make it your own.

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See you on the mats.

Currently reading: Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl

MSFM

Man’s Search for Meaning

I finally decided to pick up Man’s Search for meaning. Having been recommended to read it from a friend a few months ago I bought it straight away and since then it has been sitting on my bookshelf. From the blurb on the back:

“Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for the spiritual survival. Based on his own experience and the stories of his patients, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward. At the heart of his theory, known as logotherapy, is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful. Man’s search for meaning has become one of the most influential books in America; it continues to inspire us all to find significance in the very act of living.”

I look forward to being able to bring you guys a book review once I have finished it. I have so far gained a lot from the little I have read. I am looking for books to read, and am open to suggestions, so please comment some titles of ones you think I should do.

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See you on the mats.

Book Review: The Barefoot Investor, Scott Pape

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The only finance book you need to read? Maybe. Its good place to start.

Scott Pape has labeled The Barefoot Investor as the only finance book you will ever need. I have to agree with the statement to a degree, it helps you get out of debt, save, invest and look ahead to the future. However, you should use it as a base upon where you build your knowledge from. However, it only works if you do the work.

The book is a step-by-step guide, where Scott runs you through all the little things you should do to clear your debt, save and invest your money in and why. He has done a brilliant job of simplifying finance so a single mum can clear her debt and start saving for an initial down payment on a home. The book is littered with feel-good stories of people like you and me showing you that the principles Pape employs himself work, and you don’t have to be a financial wizard to become financially stable.

The book, however, revolves around couples who go out on date nights, and that between the two of you, you have to be making at least 1000 and month. Of course, this is great for those that can achieve that. However, if you are a struggling uni student who is single it’s a bit harder. Yes, that is only a very small minority of people, but none the less I believe that everyone should at least read the first 6 steps of the book as they will set you up quite well. For everyone else who can make the collective $1000/month, this book is a must.

Pape also lets you know you don’t have to be a tight-arse to do all these things, he doesn’t even want you to budget. He gets you setting up an autonomous banking system each account with different names like ‘splurge’ and ‘daily expenses’ also the names that you write on your bank cards to make sure that you don’t mistake the cards.

I will say that the book will help you get out of debt, save money, and invest your savings, however, you must implement the strategies put forth by Pape, as he won’t be setting up your bank accounts. Well, he might if you ask him nice enough. Furthermore, you should read other books that will broaden your understanding of finances. I enjoyed ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’ which follows a similar outline of Pape’s book, but more Laws that you should abide by regarding money.

Overall ‘The Barefoot Investor’ is a great finance book that is easy to follow and understand, Scott Pape lays it all out in layman terms in a step-by-step format. However, the process will only work if you put it in place! I will post an update on how my finances are going once I have implemented the content for a longer period of time.

The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need

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See you on the mats.

Book Review: Start with Why, Simon Sinek

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Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

I started reading to try and find how I could put my why for a business project I am currently working on into words. Not only did I find a why for the project, but I found the why to many more aspects of my life. This book is a global bestseller for good reason, Simon Sinek references many great leaders, ones that inspire and all ones that started with why. You can often see people or companies that want to push a product or service and you can see right through them, all they are after is either more money, more followers or something from you. When you have an honest and clear why, people tend to see that, good leaders are able to communicate their why, and people follow. Having a why is more than explaining to people how or what you are trying to achieve. What you offer is easily understood, the metrics are measurable. How you produce/market/design/etc it can be shown. But WHY can inspire more than someone to buy the service or good, it can inspire them to action. All aspiring leaders should read this book, anyone that wants to inspire should read this book. If you start with why you can change more than a decision, you can change an attitude.

Sinek starts with his why for writing the book, explaining that he wants to point out a ‘naturally occurring pattern,’ that anyone can learn it, and ‘with a little discipline,’ anyone can inspire others around them. Following this are three stories, stories that everyone knows. The Wright brothers successfully flying for the first time in human history. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak with the birth of the Apple computer. Dr. Martin Luther King leading the civil rights movement with thousands massing to hear the famous “I have a dream” speech. All leaders who lead, all starting with why. It is not like others didn’t want to fly, or bring the computer to the masses, or bring about change. Others had more funding, more support, more knowledge, yet they didn’t succeed in achieving their goals. Sinek points out that, the ability to motivate others is not difficult, motivation can be in the form of incentives or punishment, these are external forces. When one can inspire, not motivate, that is when the force is internal and the person may act on their own accord. You see this when a consumer will pay a premium for an Apple product over a competitor, whose product may, in fact, be similar or better and with a lower price tag. That is because Apple’s why is clearly understood by the buyer. Sinek goes on to say that over 80 percent of Americans do not have their dream job, and I am sure Australia would have a similar percentage. He hopes that the book can inspire more people to follow their dreams and give readers the cause of action. Sinek is a person that truly believes his vision, often guest speaking and spreading his cause, you can watch his now famous millennials in the workplace speech here.

As a kid growing up, you or some other kid would offer the other something in return for being friends. For example, Kid 1: “hey wanna be my friend? I’ll give you a cookie.” Kid 2: “sure I’ll be your friend. (eats the cookie)” Next day, however, Kid 2 is expecting a cookie. This is manipulation when Kid 1 wanted that loyal friend and only used a cookie as a form of swaying kid 2. Kid 2 now expected that he would get something in return for friendship. When kid 1 can’t offer anything in return for friendship kid 2 doesn’t want to play. Of course, this is something everybody learns, you can’t buy friends, well you can, they just won’t be there for you when you need true friends. Sinek describes customers/workers in a similar fashion, if you want people to be loyal you can’t win them over with manipulations. You have to inspire them. Had Kid 1 offered friendship for friendship, Kid 2 might have wanted to stay friends. You might keep employees for a little while with bonuses and promotions, but as soon as a better proposition comes up they will leave in an instant. However, if your company has a good work environment, and is fair and just in their treatment of all employees then they are more likely to stay. The same thing with customers, if you can provide a better experience or you can provide a statement instead of providing the best and/or cheapest product then they are more likely to stay. Sinek goes back to the example of Apple throughout the book, people will pay a higher premium for an Apple product over a, let’s say Samsung, due to the statement that the Apple product provides. The Samsung might even have better measurables, better camera, bigger and brighter screen, there might even be a sale on, but it cannot provide the Apple branding. People know the why of Apple and want to make the statement, “I’m different, I want to challenge the status quo.”

I personally don’t subscribe to Apple, however, I can see the allure of the products, they do have a lot of pulling power in the industry. In the Phone and computer industries their why is evident, and their products(or What) hold true to their vision(or Why). Sinek brings in one of Apple’s advertisements that ran a few years ago:

“Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.

The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.

And we happen to make great computers.

Wanna buy one?”

You can feel their why clearly, If you look at a Samsung ad, it would first state the product’s features and how they were able to fit all those features in. The viewer, unless they know all about comparable features of other products, they can’t really get behind the product. It’s just another phone. Well, that’s what I think when I see a new ad (including apple).

Human beings are creatures that have the need to belong to something, a group. I can say that I am a martial artist, or I can say that I am an avid book reader, or I can say that I am a Marvel fan. We can belong to many groups, and that is how we often interact with others, we find a similarity and then we have a friend, or we may even trust a person more because they share some of the same morals and values. For instance, my girlfriend as soon as she figures out that someone else is from the country, or near where she grew up, she strikes up a friendship and will instantly like them. This is why companies can have such loyal fans because customers/fans want to belong to that group. Recently we have witnessed the explosion of Marvel fans, with good reason, Marvel has been producing these epic movies that have been breaking the mold of sorts. Superhero movies where multiple big names are teaming up against a big bad that alone each could not beat. Marvel does such a great job of appealing to the fans and taking them on massive rollercoaster rides of emotions that DC cannot compete. So, when a company can express it’s why authentically, the people will feel that they want to belong to it.

Sinek references the anatomy of the brain, the reason as to why us as humans are drawn to things. Whenever you get that gut feeling that something is right, or that you feel someone is more trustworthy, that is your old brain (or limbic brain). This is where your why comes from, for example, when someone asks you why you love something or someone, you can express things like: because it is fun, or because they are smart and pretty, or because it’s interesting. These are all what’s, there are lots of fun things that you could do, there are lots of pretty and smart people out there, there are lots of other interesting things. You struggle to actually express the why, you can describe it with what’s, but it comes from the old part of the brain which doesn’t have the capacity for language. The new part, or neocortex, is where all rational and analytical thoughts come from, or what’s. The neocortex is the part of the brain that we use for language, hence why it is easier for us to describe the what’s. When you or a company describe it’s what though, we have a harder time connecting with it. We go back to our gut feeling, the feeling we get from our limbic brain, why something is the right decision. So, my take from with bit from Sinek, Follow your gut (or limbic).

I have felt it and asked myself and I’m sure most of you have to, “Why the fuck am I doing this?” And it can get you good sometimes, you just don’t know why you are doing something, might be at work or it might be at school or university. You have to remind yourself of the why, so why would it be different for others that might be helping you or under you in the workplace? The answer: It’s not. Sometimes you have to give people the reason. Sinek uses the example of the first person to sustain flight and create the new technology of the time, the airplane. Samuel Pierpont Langley was at the front of the pack with a lot of backing from investors, government and businessmen alike. He was a professor of mathematics at the United States Naval Academy, had a team of the some of best minds of the time, and money was not object. The newspapers followed them everywhere, he knew what he was doing, building the first plane, he also knew what he would get from it, fame and money. Yet he did not have a clear sense of why he was doing it. Not far away was a less than dream team, that had no funding, no press coverage, none of the people in the team had a college education, but they had a why. They knew that it would change the world, they did it for a higher cause than themselves. We all know now that the Wright brothers, not Langley built the first plane, even though the odds were stacked against them. This situation happens more than you would think, that the underdog without any backing comes up with a breakthrough, when a why is involved, then the how and what can follow. Why provides inspiration, and inspiration provides drive and purpose, how is the implementation, and a product is what is created.

Simon Sinek produced has produced a well thought out book, one that inspires the reader to start with why and set out after their goals. I enjoyed the message that he shares, start with why and stick to it, do not split from the path and follow the what and how. I will say that a few passages of the book can be repetitive, however, I see that he is proving a point and wants to make sure that the information is passed across effectively. I only uncovered the surface of what this book has to offer in this post, I suggest that everyone read it, even if you don’t wish to inspire or be inspired. All of the pieces of information in this book can be applied all through life. Ask yourself your why, for me, one of my why’s is to spread the knowledge that I gain from experiences in my life, from books I read and little thoughts I get whilst training. My how is through this blog, and my what is the content I produce. Tell me your why, and how you want to implement it.

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See you on the mats.

Currently Reading: Start with Why, Simon Sinek

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I have started the journey of bringing an idea to life, and why not read a book that I can directly apply what I learn. I have found that when reading a book, it sticks with you more when you can apply the teachings from it. A book review will be up once I finish the book, and I look forward to sharing with you the things that I have gained from it. Start with Why is a book that aims to teach readers, that to become better leaders, one must start with why you are doing something, Simon Sinek uses examples like Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King and the Wright brothers, all pioneers that have changed the world and inspired others. I know I have been a bit slack on the reviews recently, and I will do my utmost to post more content.

You might know Simon Sinek from his speech on Millennials in the workplace.

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See you on the mats!

What makes BJJ different?

Having now been training for almost two months I feel as though I am no longer the new guy, many new faces have commenced their BJJ journey in the time from here to now. I try my best to welcome them as I was welcomed and be a friendly face to spot out. It is amazing seeing the range of people and body types come into training, from some old boys and a lot more women than I would have thought. Short to tall, stick thin to the odd beer belly. It is very different from other martial arts. Where there are mostly men, mostly somewhat athletic builds, the odd person that breaks the mold. So, I have been thinking, what makes Jiu-jitsu so different? Why are people attracted to the martial art?

  1. The simple complexity.

Jiu-jitsu is actually quite complex (as I am finding out); however, the complex is made simple in its teaching. The complexity of body weight, positional control, timing, leverage, physics, and biology. All can be taught, through drilling and rolling. Through drilling you are taught via your instructor, rolling you are taught from your experiences. Both are needed for overall development. However, drilling is where you learn the complexities, the little nuances. Where you should have your body weight, over your heals, through your opponent, on your hands. When you should use certain techniques, pass, continue to control or submit. Rolling is where you learn if you should let something go to either reset or move on to another submission or a better position. The joy in learning comes from the challenge of the complexities, even though the concepts are simple. Worst case scenario (if it ends up on the ground), get into a dominant position, control and submit. Best case, walk away.

  1. It just works.

Having come from other martial arts that are focused on striking, Jiu-jitsu is very different. In a fight where anything can happen, you can know the fanciest kick and you could still get clipped by someone with little to no experience. Whereas with Jiu-jitsu, in the worst case, an attacker on top of you throwing punches, you do have a chance. Trap and roll, get into mount, control and finish the fight. From the get-go, you can see that it works, you can feel that it works. When you are drilling and slowly getting the concepts, you can understand that if you are untrained and get into a difficult position you are pretty much fucked. I have a strong belief that knowing how to defend yourself is a skill everyone must learn, and everyone should dabble in all aspects of a fight, however, if I only had one skill in a fight, it would be Jiu-jits. I was showing one of my friends the effectiveness of it recently, he was a bit hesitant, but I convinced him to at least let me show him that he should learn a little bit of jiu-jitsu. I told him that in Jiu-jitsu you are still able to finish a fight even off your back, to demonstrate this I used him as the attacker, and in less than 30 seconds I put him in a triangle, to which he was very impressed with the effectiveness of BJJ. It was at that moment when I thought about if he had actually been an attacker and had I not known any Jiu-jitsu, he would have easily done a lot of damage.

  1. The underlying culture of the art.

Jiu-jitsu as a martial art has one of the best cultures, one that is welcoming, positive, ego-free, so fun you want to do and learn more. Obviously, this will change from place to place. However, you can see the laid-back attitude, the happy go lucky smiles, and family orientated values that originate with the Gracie family which have spread on to their students. I have not met any of the Gracie’s yet, but you can see it in videos and media, which is so appealing to many people, especially those that are timid and shy. It is amazing seeing people grow, even though I have only been training for a small amount of time, I have witnessed many transformations. At our academy, two brothers started a few months ago, and just this week they both received their first stipe. When they started they were very shy, but when they got their stripes, you couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces. They have also come out of their shells, even if only a little bit, it is still some form of growth. The culture allows for people to grow, it isn’t one of put-downs and shaming, it’s one of congratulations and constructive tips.

  1. The many lessons and skills that can be gained from it.

The usual skills that can be gained from other martial arts like discipline, controlling one’s emotions, improved self-esteem, work ethic, etc.  are all apart of Jiu-jitsu. However, I believe that Jiu-jitsu has more to offer, skills and life lessons that are applicable all throughout one’s life. Being humble and removing your ego is one of the life lessons that many should learn, training BJJ you are constantly put into compromised positions, since that you must be the feed for your partner when drilling. You have to remove your ego and let them practice a triangle or a Rear naked choke, obviously, if you let your ego get in the way, you won’t have a partner. One of the biggest ones that I have learned recently, is to let go and trade up. Can’t complete the Kimura, take the back. Can’t get the triangle, double ankle sweep. This can be applied in life, can’t get the promotion, leave and find a different company. Girlfriend leaves you, use the time to hang out with friends and family. You can always see the positive in each situation, it’s all about perspective.

  1. Your body size, strength, flexibility does not matter.

Seeing the range of people and body types are proof that you don’t have to be of a certain type of person or athletic ability. Even when I have watched competitions there are many different styles and body types. Jiu-jitsu accommodates for all. Seeing as BJJ was designed for the weaker and smaller person, its able to be performed by anyone. I would recommend it as the first martial art to learn to anyone wanting to learn self-defense, it is practical and having some knowledge is better than no knowledge.

These points I have made are only the surface of the martial art, I hope to gain more understanding of Jiu-jitsu and learn more about what it has to offer not just to me but to others. It is a challenging sport, but the hardest thing, like in many cases, is to start. Jiu-jitsu has really opened up a lot of things for me, and to be honest, the only trouble that I have with it is that I didn’t start it sooner. So, if you think you would like to learn it, then learn it, look up an academy, call up, come down. Walking through the doors is the hardest thing, but get in the car and do it.

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See you on the mats.

Becoming responsible for my thoughts and actions, and the tools I use daily.

Taking on responsibility, this is something that I have been getting better at. I have taken on the things that I can control, I have started doing the things that I want to do. I have stopped blaming things on people, when it is really on me, my actions and emotions that would otherwise rule my life. Being positive even around negative people is incredibly difficult, yet I try to be as positive as I can. People will always try to bring you into their state, one of misery and suffering, instead of trying to come up to your level. Either they see it as you aren’t being realistic, they don’t want to change out of their ways, even if they know it will be of some benefit or they see it as too tough. I thought that this way of thinking was mostly limited to the older generations, but I see this at every age. By not listening to outside influences that promote thoughts and behaviors that I don’t want a part of, has made it easier. I now don’t watch the news/tv or listen to the radio or read the newspaper, as it gives me information that I see as wasting my brain’s storage. Don’t get me wrong I still think that knowing the gist of a little news is good, but by limiting the amount of information received you can turn your attention towards things that you want to do. Like projects, hobbies and seeking information that you want to know. So, instead I listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos on topics that interest me, and I read books that I know I will be able to take something from. Of course, there is the rabbit hole of YouTube, and I have gotten better at combating it by becoming more disciplined in my time management.

Through controlling what I have around me, the information I receive and take in, I have started to emulate a feedback loop of sorts. By reconfirming things that I listen to, read and watch, I then start doing. By doing the thing, I then get back positive results, further affirming my thoughts and therefore actions. What I do is something that anyone can do. Anyone can listen to the podcasts I listen to, anyone can read the books I read, anyone can watch the videos I watch. However, not everyone will think like me, not everyone will get the results like me. I’m not saying that everyone should think my thoughts and do what I do, I’m stating that they will not get the results they desire because they do not put in the work, they do not turn thoughts into actions. This is the critical component, this is the catalyst for what everyone wants in their lives.

Fear is usually the obstacle that catches many (covered in my book review: Feel the fear). Sometimes I think it is more, sometimes I look back on the person I used to be. One that blamed procrastination on genetics, I used to leave my homework until the night before it was due. One that would say I couldn’t do something because I wasn’t good at it. I never thought I could write, and my results proved it to me. Until I stopped blaming my circumstances on things other than myself, I would never be able to do the things I wanted to do. So, along with confronting my fears, I had to take full responsibility for my thoughts, actions, emotions, the information I was taking in from the people I wanted to.

I know I have previously written about positivity being bullshit, which is true, however, if you are continently taking in the right amount and applying yourself to maximize your output, then positivity is good. However, like everything it must be regulated, staying up and watching video after video with no action on your end will not do you any good. The feedback loop I talked about before can do an amazing job here, you get a thought, you act on that thought, you get results, the results affirm your thought. I use this process for writing, on projects, in jiu-jitsu, pretty much in most aspects of my life. Of course, I don’t let others dictate if my results are good or bad, because of the values I have set up, most of my results are good. If one person reads and likes my blog post then that’s a win for me. Now you say, well you will always win then, but if it creates a good feedback loop in my head, then why not? If I take it step by step and keep moving forward then I will slowly be able to change more and more people. This is my one of the bigger goals that I have for this blog, I want to change the way people feel about themselves, and I hope to inspire those around me, to inspire those around them. I see it that as inspiring in itself, people changing their attitudes and putting thoughts into actions inspires me. So, whenever someone tells me that I have given them a kick up the arse, it reminds me that what I write has power and drives me further.

So, what is it that you can take from this post? Well for starters, face your fears. I use an exercise, which I forget where I found it. It is the task of asking yourself why you won’t do something, or why you find something difficult. (It can really be used for anything.) However, it is not about asking yourself why just once, it’s about asking why until you get to the root cause of whatever seems to be bothering you. For instance: Problem might be, starting a project that I have been wanting to start for a while.

Why have I not started this project?

Because I am scared/unsure about how to start it.

Why are you scared?

Because it is something new that I have never faced before, and I don’t know anyone that would be able to help me.

Why do you need to get help from someone? Have you looked for some guidance?

            I know of people but I am scared to ask them.

This leads me to not only the root of the cause but allows me to determine what I should do. It almost makes it so obvious that it removes the fear that I had in the first place. Of course, the exercise will not work if you do not answer the question of why with some clarity and thought. You do not what to give broad and open-ended answers, like “because I don’t feel like it.” Usually, there is more than just not feeling like it, as that too can be asked why you don’t feel like it.

Another exercise I do, especially with goals, is I set ones that are attainable. For instance, read for 20 minutes a day, instead of setting it so that I aim to read for an hour. Usually, you will read for more than 20 minutes. Then the next week aim to read for a little longer per day. There is no rush to try and get up to your end goal of 2 hours a day, step by step. This can be used for everything, study, writing, spending time with loved ones, meditating. It is all about making the mindset switch of hitting goals, if you set out these unrealistic goals right away, not reaching them will deter you from ever setting them again. So, conditioning yourself into reaching goals, and even overachieving will help in changing your inner workings where achieving goals becomes a 70% hit rate. Instead of never hitting them.

Journaling is probably one of the best exercises I do, it is the one I first started with, it was part of my new year’s resolution. Benjamin Franklin said, “either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.” So, keeping this in mind I try and do things throughout my day worth writing about, obviously not in the history books just yet, but things that I am proud to write about. Once again I never scrutinize myself if I have not completed a task, however, I use the magic of positive reinforcement when I complete tasks and goals.

Another is fear setting, in which I go into more detail in a post that can be found here. Fear setting is much like goal setting, however, you set out your fears, enabling you to deconstruct any obstacles and negative thoughts that might be inhibiting you. For instance, I was not feeling like I would give my all if I continued at university this year, I was fearful of what would happen if I differed this year. Fearful of what Friends and family would think of me, fearful of not knowing what I would do for the year and many other fears that I won’t get in to. However, I can say that fear setting brought me out of stasis, giving me a better understanding of how insignificant my fears really were and gave me a clear direction that was aligned with the goals I had set for myself.

Now I don’t expect anyone one to use any of these tools, they are just the ones that I have found to work, they may work for you and I hope that you give them a try. If you need anything cleared up with any of the tools I have provided please email me or shoot me a message. Also, don’t read this and tell yourself that you don’t have time, because a lot of them can be used and completed in less than 30 minutes, and if you don’t have time then you are poor at managing it. Hopefully, you can take something from this post and maybe give one of the tools I have set out a try. Ultimately it is up to you to take on the responsibility of your life and be accountable for how it plays out and what path you take.

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See you on the mats.