An 8 step guide to build your mind

Step 1: Stop focusing on all the bad news. If your mind feels overwhelmed, change your focus. Look for the possibility and the opportunity, not everything that's broken. 

Step 2: Stop listening to dickheads. If people keep telling you you'll never amount to what you hope to, it will mess with your mind. Cancel them from your friends. 

Step 3: Read more books: Stop guessing your way through. Learn from people who have already been there, and can tell you the way out. 

Step 4: Stop eating crap food. If you're out of shape and overweight, your mind is too tired to operate well. Start eating good food. 

Step 5: Go to sleep: If you're tired, your mind feels tired. Everything feels more clear after a good sleep.  

Step 6: Be clear: Stop floating through each day. Give your mind a target to aim towards, and do your best to hit it. 

Step 7: Exercise: If you're always tired, it clouds your mind. Go for a run, do some stretches and lift heavy things. It will make you feel good. 

Step 8: Don't hide behind drugs or alcohol: If you're stressed or overwhelmed, don't apply a band-aid. Fix it. 

Fear, faith and certainty

Have you noticed that fear thrives on certainty?

Certainty views the world in black and white and removes the need for us to look at all the grey in between. When we view the world from this perspective there's nothing else to learn. There's no great reason to listen to the other side of the story. Perhaps it's fear disguised as a certainty that makes so many Muslims, Christians, Democrats and Republicans so arrogant. They've become so blind to anything they don't believe that many of them can no longer speak to each other, let alone hear what each other is trying to say. 

Faith is more helpful than certainty. 

Faith says that based on what you've learnt, you believe the things you do. But the foundation of faith is humility. Faith has to acknowledge that you can't possibly know all there is to know. Faith allows you to be confident in what you believe without being closed off to new evidence. Faith doesn't need to be right at all times, because it has a built-in element of flexibility that allows for truth to make a shift. 

Certainty says "I'm right". 

Faith says "This is what I believe to be right". 

Though there's often a fine line between the two, faith is more honest than certainty. 

Annual Retreat

Post match reviews are a great way to improve sporting performance. 

They offer each player a chance to remove themselves emotionally from the heat of competition and review their performance from another perspective. With this fresh perspective and insight, it's easier for them to adjust their game and improve their performance in the future. 

Annual retreats are the post match reviews of life.  

It's the space where each of us takes a step back from what is going on all around us on a daily basis without all the distractions, emotions and decisions bombarding us. It's the space where we allow ourselves the time to assess where we have room to improve, adjust and change the way we operate on a daily basis. The annual retreat is the video review of our day to day life,  

Ideally, it's a home away from home where we take a journal, a good book and are surrounded by nature with either our partner, or alone with the intention of developing clarity and perspective on where we need to adjust. It's a quiet week, where thinking, reflecting and note taking are a priority. It's the place where the emotions we ignore because our busy schedules rise to the surface. It's a space where we address that which we usually can't see. . 

Though it may take a little planning when it comes to when we're going to do it and how we'lll have time to make it work, it's well worth the time and effort in scheduling it so that we can see what may become blindingly obvious we need to improve. So schedule it in, take a step back and be amazed at how much in your life you realise may no longer be as vitally imprortant as you thought it was. 

How could an annual retreat help you?. 

Butterflies are born in darkness

Transformation always seems to take place in darkness. 

In order for a caterpillar to become a butterfly, it first must spend a period of time in darkness, hanging upside down in a cocoon. It's there that it sheds what it once was, before emerging with wings and colour and as a far more beautiful final product.

If it didn't enter the darkness, it couldn't emerge as it does. 

Don't assume the darkness is the end result.

It's often the location where we shed everything we don't want to be, in order to become what we could be. 

Seed of happiness

A seed can’t grow alone.

It needs the support of sun, soil, nutrients and water. If the seed isn’t growing, it may mean that the environment it’s trying to grow in isn’t supporting its growth. If it’s planted in the right environment with supporting elements the tree will grow. 

The same is true of our happiness.

The seed of happiness is currently waiting patiently within each of us, but many of us are unaware how to assist it’s growth. Maybe there’s been too little sun or too much rain and it’s limited happiness’ ability to shine through. But it’s still in there and can be brought back out.

Maybe you need to learn to meditate in a way to help cultivate your joy. 

Maybe you need a coach or spiritual guide to help direct you through your trial.

Maybe you need to address what you’re constantly focusing on.

Just because you can’t currently see happiness, doesn’t mean you’re broken.

You just need to address the environment in which the seed has been planted.

Far and wide and just below the surface

Depth is more important than breadth. 

But that's difficult to appreciate when we've been taught we can have what we want today.

A pill to cure the pain. The news headlines to get our understanding of the world. The answer to question in the form of a tweet. We get upset when what we want is not provided immediately. But in our pursuit of immediate pleasure, information and answers there's a beauty that we lose. There's a patience that's forgotten. An appreciation for what can be built over time. 

Maybe that''s why we all stand in awe at the foot of giant tree's like The Redwoods. Because we're admiring their commitment to task of growing and withstanding difficulty and reaching greater heights and sending roots deeper. It took a lot of time and patience for those tree's to look like that. We know they've done something that deep within us we feel called to do. 

We're admiring what we all know to be true. 

That real, positive and beautiful growth takes time. Not just in nature, but in us. 

There's a lesson that's found in the commitment. There's a transformation that takes place in the study. There's a joy in the process that many of us are missing because we prefer breadth over depth. Rather than being lured by the tweet, headline and pill, become attracted to learning, thinking and meditating on what actually produces the growth you'd like to see. 

Then set about pursuing those things.  

It's a offers a more beautiful final product. 


it's not a matter of if but  when we'll be called into wilderness.

 It can come at any time.

The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the breakdown of a relationship, a cancer diagnosis, a pain that won't leave.

The wilderness is the location where your standard approach to finding your way through life is no longer helpful. The compass that once guided you so well has been smashed and doesn't work. It's the place where your questions don't seem to have any answers. Where the faith you once held so firmly feels shaky. Its that barren place. That desolate place, the dark place that's filled with fear and trembling, 

But contrary to common belief, the wilderness is there to build you, not to break you.  It's there to equip you, strengthen you and offer you gifts. It's the place where you're forced to look for answers to the real questions that life asks you:

Why am I here? 

Who put me here? 

How can I use my time well? 

How can I handle my time here effectively? 

When you're in the wilderness, and  overwhelmed by the experience, don't run away. Don't pretend you're not there by hiding behind drink or drugs or gambling or information or entertainment or sex or work or money. 

Stop and listen to what you're being taught.

Then bring the lessons back to us.  

Because it turns out that it's in the wilderness that true wisdom is found. 

Information vs Transformation

Information without transformation is useless.

We could have all the answers on how to be a good partner and be a terrible partner at the same time. Unless you're practicing what you're learning, its ability to transform your life is low. 

That's easy to forget in world where access to information has become so available. With podcasts, audio-books, websites and articles constantly available to us, we never need to have a moment to sit and absorb what we've just learnt.  We can fool ourselves into thinking that just because we're taking on more, means we're benefiting more. 

Flooding a thirsty plant with water is not a better option than watering that plant on a regular basis and letting it build it's health over time. It needs time to absorb what you're offering it. 

Our goal should not be to consume more information, for the sake of consuming it, but to let the information we do take on, transform the way we live. So, before you keep flooding, ask:

Is this just information?

Or it is actually changing my life?

Good Timber

A poem by Douglas Malloch

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

    Lay back and fight

    The fastest way to sink in quicksand is to panic. 

    Ironically, the movements you feel most compelled to make when you find yourself sinking, are the very moves that sink you the quickest. The best course of action is to breathe deeply, remain calm and work with the process to help you find a level of buoyancy. 

    There's a similar course of action to defeat unhelpful thoughts. 

    Many of us, when we recognise that we feel stuck in the troubling thoughts that spin around in our minds, respond in a panic to try and force the thought to stop, to go away and to leave us alone. We try and argue with it, pretend it isn't there, run away from it and wonder why it continues to grow. 

    But the best way to beat these thoughts is to be okay with them being there. When we refuse to attach emotion to the thought we don't like, we starve that thought of the oxygen it thrives on. When you go long enough without feeding it what it requires to grow, it will die. 

    It's counterintuitive. 

    But it works. 

    Some things are best fought by relaxing. 

    Is it a threat?

    Or is it just a thought?

    If there's a tiger in the room you're in, you're in danger. 

    If you think there's a tiger in the room when there isn't, there's no danger. 

    But sometimes our brain often reacts the same way to the imagination as it does to the reality. We sweat, panic and our heart rate increases all because of a thought. It's fight or flight in action. But you don't need to live like that.  

    Before you allow yourself to freak out, ask:

    Is this a threat, or just a thought?

    There's a very big difference. 

    Don't let the research fool you

    Fitness isn't reached by reading about the best training programs. 

    Chefs aren't formed by flicking through the latest cook books. 

    Photographers aren't created by scrolling through Instagram. 

    Quality performers in any field are formed in the constant process of taking the required steps to improve their craft each day. They put what they're learning into action. 

    Sure, research is helpful. 

    Maybe even essential. 

    But don't fool yourself into thinking that research is the same as action. 

    You need to put what you know into practice. 

    That's where breakthrough takes place. 

    Taming the dragon of addiction

    Quitting anything is hard. 

    I notice this every Monday when I go without my morning coffee. This single act of abstaining from one coffee for one day out of my entire week has the capacity to throw me into a spiritual wilderness and force me to start questioning what life is all about. Every Monday until about lunch time my brain screams at me to feed it with a massive caffeine hit before he loses his shit. My mental coffee dragon gets all bitter and starts threatening me that he'll switch off and not let me do any work. He can be quite aggressive! But then, by about lunch time when he realises I'm not going to give into his (quite reasonable) threats he starts to settle down and look to options like tea and water to satisfy his desires. 

    Now, despite the mental dragon I face on Monday each week, I understand that some of us have far stronger addictions on a more regular basis that they're trying to overcome. Things like food or smoking or drugs or alcohol or porn or social media or whatever else we turn to in those moments of fear or boredom that we all feel from time to time. If you are in the space of trying to overcome a habit or addiction, you'll know exactly what I mean when I talk about how aggressive the voice of the deprived mental dragon can get. 

    It's that voice I want to speak about for a moment. 

    You see, that dragon doesn't realise you have the capacity to live a better life without that thing he's been telling you that you need. But the thing is, this dragon has a terrible reputation when it comes to knowing what is best for your life. In his crazed attempt to get what he wants, he completely ignores what's best for you and how great life could be if you refuse to give in to his threats.

    The other things he doesn't tell you, is that over time, if you acknowledge that you hear his voice, but ignore his terrible advice, he'll stop speaking so loudly. In fact, his voice will grow so weak out that he'll barely be a part of your life at all. 

    “What happens when you don’t follow the compulsion? What is on the other side of my need to eat and purge? The only way to find out is to not do it, and that is a novel act of faith.”
    — Russell Brand

    So regardless of what dragon is in your life right now, please understand he can be overcome. You don't need to submit to his screams and go back to that crutch of habit in your life. 

    If you let him yell for long enough, he'll tire himself out. 

    Stop giving into his threats. 

    He's bluffing. 

    Emotion is the oxygen of thought

    The thought is not the problem. 

    It's the emotions we attach to the thought that causes the problem. But because our thoughts can trigger our emotions, it's important for us to cut off the emotional attachment we often apply to our thoughts, before they make us emotional.

    But that can be easier said than done.

    So, if your thoughts have developed more of a presence in your life than you're comfortable having, it might be time to learn how to do address it. Here's a great video put together by Headspace to explain exactly how you can do it. 

    The problem with complaints

    Complaining does nothing but make you more frustrated about what's already upsetting you. 

    The good news is that we have a more empowering option. 

    We can take steps towards changing what's upsetting you. 

    If you don't like your job, you can change it. If you don't like your fitness level, you can change it. If you don't like your short temper, you can change it. If you don't like always feeling anxious, you can change it. If you don't like your mindset, you can change it. 

    You're never a victim in your situation. 

    So rather than using your precious energy to complain about how dissatisfied you are in your current situation, use it to make a change. 

    The problem with Dr. Google.

    Don't diagnose yourself based solely on what Dr. Google tells you. 

    (I know you always do it, but you should stop).  

    It's the equivalent of visiting 6,000,267 doctors and hoping to find one easy answer to walk away with. It doesn't happen. Instead you walk away overwhelmed and frozen by all the information that may (or may not) help you. That's not useful. When you have too much information, you freeze. 

    Freezing won't help you. 

    Despite Dr. Google doing his best to help us, it turns out he has a lot of uneducated opinions that he really shouldn't be sharing. He's too quick to speak on subject he really knows nothing about. He's as helpful as my old doctor who kept telling me I just needed more antibiotics and a third surgery to help my blocked nose when really, I just had to stop drinking milk.

    But that's a story for another day. 

    Before you start asking Dr. Google how to help you, make sure he's not answering you in the form of a twelve year old girls blog on the topic you're 'researching'.. Instead, ask him to point you in the direction of an actual, respected professional who can help you with you specific issue you're facing. Then, after taking some time to carefully assess the professional he refers you to, start considering which advice is relevant to you. 

    The best way to make the wrong decision is to listen to everyone. 

    So, if you're going go to Dr. Google for answers. 

    Please know he's not as clever as you think. 

    Google with caution.