You Are Limitless

A pilot has three choices

This probably won’t surprise you, but I don’t really know how aeroplanes work. Still, was I going to let that stop me from using them to make a point? Of course not. So here goes.

When it comes to deciding how high to fly a plane, there are really only three choices a pilot has: she can make it go higher than it currently is, she can make it go lower than it currently is, or she can keep it the same as it currently is.

You think that you work the same way. I’m afraid not.

Your default is to get worse

There is a happy ending coming, but first we have to go darker.

The unfortaunte truth is that unlike the plane, you only have two options: you can up or you can go down. And if you’re not actively going up, you are going down. Your default is to get worse over time.

You are more like a muscle than a plane.

If you give your leg muscles hell at the gym, they will grow – it’s their job to respond to whatever stress they’re given. Give them more to do than they comfortably can, and they adapt by becoming stronger, ready for the next challenge.

But what happens the moment you stop giving them something to do? Do they stay big and strong? No. They start immediately to shrink. It’s not their fault – you stopped stressing them, and so they simply did their job and adapted.

Your brain works in a very similar way. When you give yourself slightly more to do than your comfort zone permits, you adapt. You become better, smarter, stronger as a result. But the moment you stop challenging your your brain, it stops adapting. You get weaker.

This is the why complacency is so dangerous – we feel as though sure, we could actively try to improve ourselves, but we don’t need to, and if we just stay relaxed about it all, we might not get any better but at least we won’t get any worse

No. There are only two options. Actively improve, or automatically deteriorate.

You are limitless

Now for the good news.

Just as there was a difference between you and the plane, there is a key difference between you and your leg muscles.

If you gave your leg muscles hell at the gym long enough, you would eventually reach a point of diminishing returns. You would have to keep giving them more hell to make them grow any further, and at some point more growth would become physically impossible. This is because your muscles have a genetic limit – a ceiling, if you will – determining how much they can grow. It would take you years to hit this limit, but hit it you would.

You, on the other hand, have no such limit to how much you can grow as a human being. Any and every second of effort you expend doing something slightly above your current level of ability makes you grow. And this never stops.

In fact, you could start right now in this moment doing something simple to try to improve yourself, and even if you lived to a-hundred-and-ten, you would still be growing. You can never reach a point where there is nowhere left to grow. It’s literally impossible.

Isn’t that something?

So how do we improve? What do you have to do?

To be honest, the what is arbitrary. It really doesn’t matter what you do, so long as it takes you in the direction of growth. So long as what you do challenges you – even in the most minute way – you will grow. And you will then be ready for the next thing. And the next thing. And the next thing.

Why Not You?

I went to a climate protest in Sheffield today.

I watched mere teenagers stand on the steps of the City Hall and give rousing speeches to a huge crowd. They were passionate, and they were articulate. They were heroes.

And they gave me chills. I’ll tell you why.

It wasn’t because the speeches were impressive – though they were – and it wasn’t because they stood up for something they believe in.

No, it was because they didn’t wait until somebody gave them permission. They were ready and willing to lead – willing to go first in the hope of co-creating a brighter future. An alternative.

An alternative to what, you might ask…?

The architects of doom

Well, contrast their vision and courage, if you please, with the complacent resignation of the people who – on paper at least – rule this country.

Nine years on, and the nasty, cynical Tory government we get to call our own have no compelling vision for the future.

The party who believe they were born to rule – yet can somehow neither attain nor keep their power without resorting to dirty tactics, bare-faced lies, or to having most of the British press in their pocket – have spent the past nine years subtly lowering the expectations of its citizens.

Have you noticed how we’re no longer surprised by the contempt with which our government holds us in? That this feels like… business as usual?

In one sense, you have to hand it to them – they might be unfit to rule a country, but they sure are black-belts at selling the mess they’ve made as inevitable, as reasonable, as the status quo.

Well, the young people I saw today aren’t falling for that shit. Not only do they have a vision, they are following it with conviction, courage, and integrity.

Don’t be discouraged

The message, I suppose, is don’t be discouraged. Because they love that.

They love when you feel like there’s no point doing anything because it’d just be a drop in the ocean.

They love when you get intimidated by their billionaire friends, and their blue suits, and their positively evil track records…

You know what? Fuck ’em.

You can make a difference. Not alone. But nobody said you had to do it all yourself. Nobody said you couldn’t co-ordinate. Nobody said you couldn’t organise.

What would you change about the world, if it were possible?

Whatever it is, I guarantee you there are other people – possibly millions of them – who share your vision. Now, if you all keep quiet about it, nothing will happen. Somebody has to make the first move.

Why not you?

Larry David and the Fake Fruit of Silicon Valley

“I grew up in Brooklyn. Of all the wonders and pleasures that can be found in nature, none of them can be found in Brooklyn…

“There were no flowers, just artificial ones. Every apartment had artificial flowers. People took great pride in their artificial flowers. And fruit – let’s not leave out the fruit. Anything fake – we love good fake things. The greatest compliment you could give somebody was to mistakenly pick up a piece of their artificial fruit, and take a bit out of it.”

Larry David – “Earth to America”

The virtual world

How long have you spent looking at your phone already today?

That’s not an accident, you know? That’s not just one of those things that naturally evolved, the way giraffes grew longer necks. It was deliberate. It was imposed upon you. And it was orchestrated by a very small group of people, none of whom give a flying fuck about you.

During the last couple of decades – and especially the last one – the internet changed dramatically. In short, it went from being an ‘information highway’ – and a cultural asset helping humanity soar ever higher – to a capitalist’s wet dream.

Basically, a small handful of US corporations started to figure out something with huge ramifications. They realised that this internet had incredible potential when it came to gaining control over the masses. And that nobody had quite managed it yet.

Deliberately designing devices and applications to prey on and trigger our basest instincts, they got us all hooked on a virtual world. More than that, they got us to believe in our very core that this virtual world was just as real – perhaps even more so – than the world perceived by our senses.

This is not a conspiracy theory – it’s fact. What happened is not up for debate.

What is up for debate, however, is where we go from here. How we get back to the real world.

Evil is a choice

I don’t think we let the rich and powerful off lightly enough. Not considering what they’ve done – wilfully and persistenty destroy the culture to line their pockets until they die in a few decades time…

I’ve noticed, listening to a mixture of other people and my own thoughts, that when we hear about a Zuckerberg, a Bezos, a Trump – somebody in a position of vast power and resources – doing things that benefit themselves at the expense of humanity…

The most common response is akin to: “Well, yeah, but how can you expect anything else from them?”

Sorry, what… how can we… not expect them to act in the interests of humanity? Nope. Doesn’t wash with me. When we talk like that, we’re enabling their bullshit. We’re actually treating them as victims. And they are anything but.

We don’t let a rapist off the hook by saying “Well, what did you expect? He likes raping!” So how is this any different? Why do we let the people who wish to destroy the best parts of humanity for their own selfish purposes get away with it? Because they’re rich? Because they’re CEO of a company? Because they have a lot of lawyers?

When Zuckerberg takes daily action against the interests of the human race, he has a choice not to at every step. Let’s not pretend he doesn’t. Because that just lets him off the hook.

It’s not evil to be a billionaire. But it is evil to do evil. And evil is always a choice.

Be the change

I can’t just leave it there, with me slagging off the rich and powerful. For one, I don’t believe that most of the rich and powerful are doing evil – it is a small minority.

But also because other than refusing to use their products and services, or vote for them, it can feel as though there is little we can do in the face of such evil. But there is. There is so much.

Start by being the change you want to see in the world.

Because really, how dare you rally against what you see as the immorality of the people on top if you yourself don’t live with integrity? If – when faced with the choice of whether to good or evil – you don’t choose good, what right do you have to challenge anybody else?

Just as at any point along the way, Zuckerberg et al could have said “Let’s do something awesome for humanity instead of just pretending to…” you get to decide how you’re going to live. Which direction your compass is going to face.

Don’t pretend you’re backed into a corner, or forced to do things you disagree with. The road will be uncomfortable, and likely full of conflict – you will scare people and they will try to pull you back into the bucket like the good crabs they are.

But you will have your feet planted firmly in the real world. And that, my friend, is priceless.

You don’t have to accept the fake fruit Silicon Valley wants to feed you. You always have a choice. Start exercising it.

PS: Larry David – Earth to America

Premeditatio Malorum (The Pre-Meditation of Evils)

At war with yourself

When you find yourself stuck and unable to move forward – but desperately wanting to – realise that this is war.

It is a war between your higher, rational self, and your lower, irrational self. Between the rider and the horse.

In war, the victor is not normally she who acts rashly, or who denies reality. She is usually the one who takes a step back, takes a deep breath, and accepts the situation as holistically as she can.

That is to say – tempting as it is – it’s probably not going to help you to simply deny that you’re afraid and try to barrel through with action.

I have a better solution, and one that has stood the test of time.

Premeditatio Malorum

There is only one reason why you are stopping yourself from moving forward, and that is because you’re afraid of what might happen if you do.

Not what will happen – what might happen. And every second that you stall, you give into your fear of what might happen.

You need to look what you’re afraid of squarely in the face. And doing it all in your head is not always that helpful – our minds have a tendency to circle and ruminate rather than “think.”

So get out a piece of paper, and on it, write down in bullet points every single thing that could happen, if you did what you intend to do.

Don’t judge the list – it doesn’t matter how likely something is or isn’t. All that matters is spilling out onto the page – getting it out of the subjective medium of your mind and onto the objective medium of words on a page.

When you start running out of ideas, stop. Look at your list.

Go through it, bullet-point by bullet-point, asking yourself “If this did happen, what would I do?”

I don’t do this exercise often enough. But every time I do, I realise that swimming around my head were dozens – sometimes hundreds – of nagging little fears, and for every single one, the only answer I can honestly give is “I’d handle it.”

Because it’s true. I would. And so would you. You can handle anything. Hopefully you won’t have to handle the worst things you can imagine. But if you had to, you would.

Best of luck.

CAVEAT: Don’t just skip the exercise and say “I’d handle anything, me, I’m tough as nails…” You need to identify the things you’re afraid of happening first, and then realise one-by-one that you’d handle even the worst of them. Only that which is brought into the consciousness can be dealt with, not that which is allowed to remain unconscious.

For F***’s Sake, Read a Book

“What has been will be again,

what has been done will be done again;

there is nothing new under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 1:9

When your car breaks down on the way home from losing your job, a couple of days after you forked out money you didn’t really have for a service…

When the person you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with suddenly tells you they fucked your best friend…

And when you see corrupt politicians rewarded for telling lies, for cheating, for decimating lives and communities…

It’s tempting to see these as entirely unique problems. Things that have never happened before and never happened to anybody else.

Except that they have. Hundreds, thousands, millions of times. To people of every colour, on every continent, and in every era of human history.

And this is why I read. To help me realise that whatever I’m going through, I’m not alone – people before me have not only solved the exact problems I’m facing, but they had the generosity of spirit to write it all down!

There is nothing new under the sun, and this includes problems. So read for fun. Read to relax. But most of all, read to connect yourself to the human race.

PS: If this post has inspired you to read something, I recommend you start with something which has stood the test of time.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius has been championed by the wisest amongst us for hundreds of years now. Here is an Amazon link to the best translation of it.

Disclaimer: Just so you know, I don’t receive any money if you happen to buy the book through that link – I have no idea how you set that up and I don’t really care.

I just want you to read the book!

It Was Bigger Than a Head…

It’s dinner-time.

You’re shoving a delicious piece of chicken into your mouth when your younger brother starts talking about the enormous dog shit him and his friends saw on the way home.

“It was bigger than a head…” he reports.

Before he can go any further, your mum snaps at him: “Jake! Not while we’re eating.” She shakes her head. Where did I go wrong with that kid?

Jake shuts up.

Now, I’ll be honest – I’m on your mum’s side.

I don’t want to hear about a dog shit bigger than a head whilst I’m trying to enjoy the dinner she slaved over. Call me old-fashioned.

But there is something else we do this about. All the time. Where we try to stamp out all mention of it and deny its existence in the hope that we can make it go away…


We don’t like talking about death. We don’t like thinking about death. We treat death like the proverbial dog shit bigger than a head at the dinnertable.

And paradoxically, all we are doing is we robbing ourselves of life.

One day – and there’s no knowing when – will be your last. It could be today. I hope it’s not. I hope you have many, many more days. But one thing I do know – you don’t have an infinite amount left.

So use them. Use them on stuff that matters.

Just like night gives meaning to day, and darkness gives meaning to light, let your death give meaning to your life. Let it focus you like a laser. Let it cut away the noise, the waste, the inertia…

When you were born, Mother Nature gave you a time-limit. And it was the most generous thing she ever did. She could have given you forever, but she knew better than that. Make her proud.

Be Willing to Be Hated

If someone out there hates what you are doing…

If someone out there wishes you’d stop doing it…

If someone out there wishes you were dead…

Don’t stop. Whatever you’re doing, it’s working.

The evil people-pleaser

If I’m about anything, it’s trying to live with intention. I want to live a good life, and I want to share what I find along the way in the hope that it might help you live a good life too.

Well, one of the greatest obstacles I have found to living a good life is trying to please everybody all of the time.

For one, it’s impossible. You can’t, you won’t, so don’t try. But you already knew that, didn’t you? I’m preaching to the choir. What you might not have thought about, however, is this angle:

People-pleasers are actually evil. And they do not get the stick they deserve.

They often get a lot of sympathy instead. Unlike the way we treat other addicts, we justify the bad things people-pleasers do by saying they were operating with ‘good intentions.’

So what? The junkie was just trying to make himself feel better. Why don’t we give him a medal…?

The dirty truth people-pleasers don’t want you to know is the real motive behind their trying to please everyone.

They are not saints who wish to please everyone because they’re made of more saintly stuff than the rest. They are simply cowards who try to please everyone so that they don’t have to face their fear of being disliked.

And the icing on the cake is that they don’t even really end up pleasing anyone.

I should know. I’m one of them.

I’m a recovering people-pleaser

Just like how a racist will claim they can’t be a racist because they have a black friend, I feel I am allowed to be pretty nasty about people-pleasers because I am one.

And I can confirm what I said a second ago to be true – I am not a saint who wants to please everyone. I’m just terrified of displeasing them. But why?

Because – and this is my lizard brain talking – if I don’t try to please them, they might reject me. And – again, lizard brain – if they reject me, that would be awful… for some reason. So I’d better live carefully. I’d better avoid doing anything that might upset or offend. Anyone. Just in case.

Fortunately for us all, there is more to Oliver Manning than just his lizard brain. I have two more newer brains on top. And using the third one – the uniquely human neo-cortex – I can attempt to see this in a more rational light.

You know the whole fight-or-flight thing, right? Well, that’s what it boils down to, more or less, neuro-chemically.

When confronted with the thought that someone might dislike me, my survival feels threatened. This causes a surge of adrenaline. I then misread the adrenaline – the emotions it creates cause me to conclude that I must have done something wrong, or else why would this person be anything less than enamoured by everything about me?

Compulsive people-pleasing is nothing more than the fear of being rejected. Repeat this pattern enough times, and you’ll find yourself avoiding taking any actions that could possibly upset or offend anyone – real or imagined.

You’ll find yourself miserable.

There is a better way

At various times throughout my life I’ve noticed this sickness and tried to deal with it using the apathetic posture of the teenager: “I’m just going to be me and if everyone doesn’t like it, forget them!” Reject everyone before they get a chance to reject me.

But it’s a dead-end, believe me.

We live in a world where, whilst we might not need every single person on our side to survive – let alone thrive – we do need the co-operation of at least some people. And so rejecting everyone is a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

So what’s the alternative?

Well, we can’t please everyone. And when we try, we end up pleasing nobody. And we can’t reject everyone – we need some people.

But we can please some people.

So who?

The smallest number possible.

The smallest number possible

When I was single, I cared a horrible amount about what women I didn’t know and would never know and wasn’t even particularly attracted to thought about me. Worse, I didn’t want to make any rash decisions that might put any of them off – if I had a haircut that was too slick, I’d put off the girls who preferred guys with messier hair, for example.

This was not a fun way to live. Nor was it a particular fruitful approach to meeting women. Bad all round.

But then I fell head over heels for Emma, and as we got to know each other more and more, I noticed that I’d stopped giving a shit at all about what any other woman in the world thought of me. I’d gone from trying to avoid – in anticipation – the rejection of millions of women I’d likely never meet, to trying to make one real woman happy.

It felt a lot better.

The point of this is not that you should find a Danish girl to marry. It’s that there’s a magic that happens when you narrow your focus, when you focus on as few people as possible.

When you try to please everybody – when you avoid rejection from anybody – you really have your work cut out for you. You’ve got to try and stay on ‘the right side’ of 7 billion people. What do you think your chances are?

Willing to be hated

The final piece to this is that whilst choosing the smallest possible number of people to focus your energies on is a great step, it’s just one half of the equation. It’s like putting your foot on the accellerator pedal whilst the handbrake is still on.

If you want the car to move, you need to release the handbrake. To do that, answer me this:

Who are you willing to be hated by?

There is no dark without light. No day without night. And no love without hate.

If you want to do anything good, anything real, anything that means anything, you are going to be opposed, perhaps violentally. The better, more real, and more meaningful that thing is, the more hate you will get. And you will drastically slow yourself down if you are always trying to avoid that hate.

Invite it instead. If you’re living right, that should upset some people. It should offend some people. Some people should be pissed off by your very existence. This is not something to be feared.

Earlier I mentioned that my big people-pleasing mistake was that I misread the signal – if someone seemed to disapprove of me, I would take it as a sign that I’d done something wrong. The confusion was that I had never defined who I was for, and who I was – by definition – against.

If I had done that, I would have known when somebody opposed me whether they were opposing me from my side or not. I could have thought “Ah, you hate what I just said. But I didn’t say it for your benefit, so that’s fine.”

Once you have defined who you are for, then you can happily ignore the judgment of every other human being in the world. Because it means nothing.

Who are you for?

Dance With Uncertainty

Of one thing I’m certain: until the day I die, I don’t ever want to be sure what’s going to happen next.

I’m a shitty writer

I spend at least a couple of hours every day writing.

And it may not surprise you to learn that I never know what I’m about to write about until I’m actually writing. Sometimes I think I know. And sometimes I’m dead certain. But once my fingers start moving, I am always proved wrong. Every single time.

For a long time, this actually bothered me. Really bothered me

Not because I didn’t like the results of my dive-in-and-figure-it-out-as-you-go approach, but more because I felt like I should be able to do it the other way. To think of a topic, to brainstorm on it, to structure a piece of writing, and then to execute. That’s what they told to do at school.

They told me this kind of left-brained approach was what smart people did. They sold it as more streamlined, effective, organised, efficient… but even back then I remember thinking it was a crock of shit. I got the distinct impression that all that anal preparation everybody treated as sacred was not actually out any desire to do great work, but instead out of a fear of writing. A fear of coming out with anything real, anything they hadn’t approved of in advance. A fear of… art.

Still, slag it of as I might… I tried it. Many, many, many times. And every time I failed at it – producing either incredibly shitty, forced writing, or giving up and just watching telly – I felt worse about myself as both a writer and a human being.

Until at some point I realised that those couple of hours I spent diving and writing every day – with zero clue what was about to come out – were the best parts of my day. And there had to be a reason for it.

There was. I was dancing with uncertainty.

In the face of uncertainty

These days, not only do I not try to plan what I’m going to write about, I don’t even listen to the voice in my head when it makes suggestions. I make myself wait until my laptop is in front of me, and I type. And I watch. And I shape. And that’s that.

But there’s a bigger reason behind this approach:

When I sit down not having the foggiest idea what I’m about to write – but mashing my fingers on the keyboard in the face of that uncertainty – I know I’m about to discover something. I know I’m about to be surprised. I know that in a couple of hours I’ll be a slightly different person because of what came out of me.

And isn’t surprise – which is only possible through uncertainty – what makes life interesting? When something happens just the way you expected it would, it’s nice, sure, but it’s kind of boring, no?

I don’t want to know what I’m about to do next. And not just on the page, but in life.

Life = story

I’m as guilty as anyone of this social crime.

I’ll be talking to my mum or my friend or whoever, and I’ll start telling a “story.” Halfway through telling I’ll realise a lot of the details I’ve given were not really relevant, and now that I think of it, it’s not really a story… more just some things that happened that interested me because they were about me. And sometimes I’ll finish it and sometimes I won’t.

But what is it that makes something a story, rather than just a thing that happened, a series of events?

It’s actually quite simple. One word: tension.

Or more specifically, the tension between what you thought was going to happen and what then actually did happen.

So, imagine that you’re somebody who wears glasses. You wake up in the morning in plenty of time for work, reach for your glasses, put them on, go to the toilet, flush it, go downstairs, drink a glass of water…

This is not a story. Why? No expectations have been violated yet.

On the other hand, imagine that you wake up an hour later than you meant to, reach for your glasses, accidentally knock them off the bed-side table, and then tread on them as you look for them. Now what are you going to do? You’re already going to be late for work as it is, but you can’t do a day’s work without your glasses. Then you remember that last summer you bought some prescription sunglasses and even though it’s the middle of winter you decide that’s the best choice you have. You scour the house for them, the clock ticking. Finally, you find them in the most random place imaginable, and you set off. You make it to work in the nick of the time. Your boss calls you into her office. She sounds angry. You think she’s going to ask you why the hell you’re wearing sunglasses. You get ready to apologise and explain yourself, but instead she pulls out a pair from her drawer and says that from now on Fridays will be shades-day. She applauds you for having the cajones to express yourself so freely. She asks you if you’re doing anything for dinner tonight. You say “no” and that you’d love to see her – you’ve liked her for a long time. You smile as you leave her office, until you remember that you promised on your life that tonight you’d help your nephew with his school project that has to be handed in tomorrow…WILL YOU CHOOSE?

Well, now you’ve got yourself a story. Because rather than everything going the way the you expected it to, your expectations kept being violated, causing you to keep adapting to the new situation. You kept being forced to grow.

Whilst the first version – where everything went as planned – might have ended up as an easier, more carefree morning, you’ve got to admit that the second version where nothing went as expected was a lot more interesting. It was a better story.

And real life is no different.

In real life, if everything happened just the way we expected it, just the way it was ‘supposed to’, 100% of the time, we’d all be incredibly bored. We wouldn’t learn. We wouldn’t grow. It’d be horrible.

We need uncertainty.

Dance with uncertainty

Why then do we crave certainty? Because we have our signals crossed.

We seek certainty in all we do. We put certainty on a pedestal. We direct all our energies into making the world conform to our expectations. We want to completely rule out unpleasant surprises.

But it never works. It just makes us miserable.

The truth is that – to use one half of a well-worn cliche – the only certainty in life is death. Everything else is up for debate. Everything else. There is nothing else certain. But guess what? That’s fine!

If everything is uncertain – and it is – then doesn’t it make for more sense to learn to dance with uncertainty than to hope and wish for a certainty that will never come?

Because when you resist uncertainty, the result is not more certainty. It’s more pain. But when you choose to allow uncertainty – to dance with it – you paradoxically feel more certain than ever. Not perhaps of specific things going a specific way, but a more holistic certainty that whatever happens – good or bad – you’ll be absolutely fine.

Don’t obsess over certatiny. Dance with uncertainty.

You Are Enough

You are enough.

Right now, at this very second, you are enough. I’ll go one further – you are actually far more enough than you’ll ever need to be.

Enough what, though? And enough for what?

Capable enough of handling whatever life happens to give you.

The worst week of my life

Since you asked, it was the circumcision that hurt the most.

But that was just one of the three painful things that happened to me one week in September 2009, a fortnight into my first semester of university.

So first, as I said, a surgeon cut off my foreskin. It had been in the calendar for a couple of months, but that didn’t make it any more pleasant, or the physical recovery any more pain-free.

Then a few days later, as I lay in bed dopey from the codeine and feeling altogether sorry for myself, my Grandma died. I couldn’t travel with my family down to Ipswich – I’d have only been able to mope about in pain there rather than in Sheffield – so they left me on my own. But what choice did they have?

And whilst all this was going on, my girlfriend told me – bravely, I should add – that she wasn’t feeling good about our relationship since I had moved away, and that it might be best for us to not be together. Perhaps any other week, I’d have handled that conversation with a calm, cool detachment. Instead it just about destroyed me.

Not a great week.

I went to counseling

Life went on, as it tends to, but the events of that week left me feeling like I was losing my mind.

The closest metaphor I can give is this: I felt as though just a few weeks earlier I had been happily hanging out on dry land, but now I lost at sea, treading water just to stay alive.

I found out that Leeds College of Music offered a counselling service. I didn’t expect miracles – I didn’t expect anything, to be honest – but I was desperate enough to give it a try.

And it’s funny what, with the passing of years, you do and don’t remember. I can remember the specific melody almost every line of dialogue in Friends is spoken with, yet I remember just one of the conversations I had with my counseler. But it was a biggie.

My mortal fear of the word “no”

How I got onto it, I’ll never remember, but I started telling the counseler one week about how when I was a child I was really scared to ask my parents if I could have my tape on in the car.

I would be sitting in the back, often sandwiched between my older brother and sister, wanting desperately to ask if I could have my tape on, but deathly afraid of hearing “no.”

Basically, I was afraid of was that if I took the plunge, and asked – which I had built up into this big thing in my head – and for whatever reason somebody said “no,” that that ‘no’ would destroy me it would be more than I could handle.

My solution, generally – my “best bad choice” – was to not ask. I opted instead to live in a kind of “Schroedinger’s Tape” situation, where I was both allowed and not allowed to have my tape on, where I both heard “yes” and “no”, and never had to risk actually asking.

Now, for context, this was not because my parents were mean and would never let me have my tape on. In fact, I was very often allowed to have my tape on. So I brushed it off as just one of those silly kid things. But the counseler got me to keep on talking about it, and as I elaborated more and more, I started to see that this might not have been something I only did with the tape in the car, nor something I had grown out of.

It might in fact have been the very way I had related to everything and everyone in my life for as long as I’d been living.


You’ve always been enough

Though it felt like a fierce shove, what the counseler had gently guided me towards realising was that I’d been telling myself quite a destructive story for perhaps my whole life.

If they say ‘no’, I won’t be able to handle it. I will crumble before them and be destroyed. I am not ‘enough’ to handle it.”

It sure would have been nice not to have go through a circumcision, the death of my Grandma, or a painfully disintegrating relationship to end up counseling in order to realise the story I’d been telling myself wasn’t necessarily true.

But c’est la vie.

The more I’ve thought about this in the years since, the more untrue I have found it to be – the more certain I have become that there has not been a single moment in my life yet that I genuinely couldn’t handle. Where I wasn’t ‘enough’.

There have been plenty where I didn’t feel able. Where I didn’t feel I had enough inner resources for whatever the moment seemed to require of me. But after ten years of searching, I still haven’t found one where it was actually true.

I urge you to look for yourself

Yes, I urge you.

Because whilst I don’t think many people had such a specific fear – of not being allowed their tape on in the car as a child – I can’t believe for a second that I’m the only person here who often feels like they can’t handle life.

And if you do look into your own life history, I think you’ll find the same thing I found.

You’ll find moments where you felt like you didn’t have enough strength or fortitude or willpower, you’ll find moments where you were convinced you were about to crumble under the pressure, you’ll find moments where you lashed out at someone, moments where you lashed out at yourself, and most of all, you’ll find moments that you feared not being to handle well in advance, only to end up handling it after all…

But try as you might, I don’t think you’ll find a single, solitary moment where you truthfully were didn’t handle it, one way or another. You might have fallen short of your high and exacting standards, but there has never been, a moment which required of you more than you already had inside, and there never will be.

“What does this moment require of me?”

Questions beat statements.

No matter how vociferously certain well-meaning authors champion them, I hate affirmations. The fact is that for me, repeating “positive” phrases to myself gives me the willies. I can say “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better ” til the cows come home, but every time I do, my mind is going to reply “No you’re fucking not.”

When I feel a certain way, saying something that contradicts that feeling just causes cognitive dissonance. I feel a fool. What I like to do instead is ask myself questions.

If you feel overwhelmed, and as though life doesn’t have your back, and as though everything is just too bloody much…

Ask yourself: “What does this moment actually require of me? And do I have it?”

I cannot oversell the pain I have felt from feeling like I wasn’t enough. But the saddest thing is not the pain – pain goes away. The saddest thing is that 100% of the time, it was a complete lie. It was totally unnecessary.

Perhaps today is the day that you realise you’re enough. That you’re more than enough.

How To Be Generous When You Have Nothing

Do you ever wake up hours before your alarm is due to go off? I do.

Once I’m awake, I can pretty much assume I won’t be going back to sleep. Just like how a child will run into its parents’ bedroom at 5am and make noise until they give it the attention they crave – my mind being the child.

But it’s not a cute child. It’s a mean, egoic voice, telling me all kinds of mean things about myself. The harder I try to sleep, the nastier it gets.

So I get up. Water. Pills. Coffee. And then I pick up my purple A4 journal. Since I should be asleep, I’ve technically gained a few hours – I might as well use them productively, to try and figure out why I feel so rotten inside.

I aim for 3 pages of A4 – an idea I stole from Julia Cameron – and by the time I’ve done that, I always feel ‘better’, even if I never really got to the bottom of what was bothering me.

This morning it took about half a page for me to work out exactly what was bothering me. And I didn’t like what I found.

I realised just how much of a stingy bastard I’d become.

How generous are you?

That’s not an easy question. But believe it or not, there is a correct answer.

We’re different people at different times, sure. But whilst there are certainly moments in life where you find yourself being more or less generous – you might be lavish with your cash yet stingy with your time, for example – you have an overall average level of comfort when it comes to being generous, and this tends to remains pretty constant over time.

Think of this as a line extending from ‘Not Generous At All’ on the left, to ‘Extremely Generous’ on the right. Somewhere along that line is you.

If you’re all the way over to the left, you do not feel you have very much to give anyone. You fear that if you were to give away the little you do have, you’d end up with even less than you started with. Not being an idiot, your natural tendency is therefore to be stingy – to hoard what little you do have, in the name of protecting it.

Right at the other end of the line, you feel totally secure, completely comfortable, and incredibly abundant. Since you know that you have more than enough of whatever you need, you are naturally quite happy to spread it around and let other people have a slice.

Where would you place yourself on this line?

Why are some people more generous than others?

Is it simply because some of inequality? That some people have more to be generous with, and therefore they are? It’s tempting to believe this.

You want to believe that it’s easier to be generous with your money if you’re rich, easier to be generous with your friendship when you have more friends, and easier to be generous with your time when you have a lot on your hands.

You want to believe that if you suddenly became £1,000,000 richer than you are right now, that you would also become more generous, because now you could better ‘afford’ to be.

But you’d be completely and utterly wrong.

Your position on that line has nothing to do with what you actually have – or don’t have – and instead everything to do with conscious choice.

What do you choose to do with what you have? Do you hold on to it for dear life, or do you happily give it away?

What you have or do not have makes absolutely no difference to your ability to be generous. But it sure as fuck doesn’t feel that way, does it?

Expand your definition

If you’d like to be more generous, then let’s face facts – feeling you don’t have enough is going to hold you back, no matter how much or how little you have.

You cannot be generous with what you do not have. But the good thing is that you don’t need to.

The problem is that you are looking at generosity through a keyhole, instead of opening the door and seeing the whole room.

All oranges are fruits, but not all fruits are oranges. Generosity goes way beyond the material. More than anything, it is a posture. An attitude. A way of being the world. To be generous is to have a generous spirit.

So what do you do if you feel you don’t have enough to be generous with?

Find the things you do have

I’ll give you an example.

Right now, I don’t have as much money as this time last year. I quit my job in the summer because I wanted to move on. We’re getting by. But currently, money is not something I can be lavish with.

Does that mean I can’t be generous? Fuck no.

I have a lot of time spare time.

I have the ability to string sentences together, so I can write pieces like this that might help people.

I have my musical abilities, so I can play gigs and busk and entertain people. And I can show other people how to play instruments.

But even if you took away all those things, I’ve still plenty to work with.

I have my ears – I could find somebody who simply needed someone listen to them.

I have my mouth – I could go for a walk and try to smile and say hello to everyone I passed.

I have my gratitude – I could send somebody a text to tell them I appreciate something about them.

For everything you feel you don’t have – and therefore cannot afford to be generous with – believe me, you have more than enough of something else that you could be putting to work.

When you feel as though something is missing in your life, you’re damn right it is. You are not giving enough of yourself.

In every moment lies the opportunity to be generous.

But… why bother?

I’m a fairly selfish person. I don’t particularly relish doing things that won’t benefit me in some way.

But I don’t preach generosity – and try to live it in my own life – because I heard someone else say it. Or because I’d like for it to be true. Or because I’m some saint who wants to teach the world to sing.

I do it because the more generous I am, the better MY LIFE gets. How?

Life doesn’t feel like a struggle. I go to bed feeling beautifully empty. Things that I would normally feel responsible for and stress out over work themselves out. People text or email me with opportunities. PEOPLE BECOME MORE GENEROUS WITH ME!

Please don’t take my word for any of this. Test it out.

Right now, your ego is trying to convince you that you don’t have enough to give yet. You do. You have plenty. You just need to look for it. And then give it away. You’re not going to run out.

It’s impossible to run out of anything that matters.

What are you going to be more generous with?

On gig day

Gig day is unlike any other day.

You could be doing thoracic surgery at lunchtime and rocket science in the afternoon, but if there’s a gig that night, that’s basically all you’ll be thinking of.

When I was a teenager, rocking out in teen funk-rock combo Viper Jungle, it was all about which questionable shirt I was going to wear, or if I was going to wear one at all.

When I did function work, playing jazz guitar in restaurants, it was all about “what price did we agree on?” and “do you get one free beer or is it two at this place?”

And these days, when I’m playing at The Washington with Joe and Arthur, it’s all about “what can I do that will make someone’s evening?”

I wonder what it will be all about ten years from now…

Try anyway

What’s stopping you is not that you don’t know what to do.

Oh, sure, you might not have ironed out every single little detail yet, but you don’t need to. You know more than enough to do something. And to do something is all you need.

No, what’s stopping you is that you aren’t completely sure that, should you try, you’ll succeed.

And so you stall. You wait for a better moment. You make a new plan. You call it patience, you call it strategy. It’s neither. It’s cowardice.

Weeks, months, years go by. You’re no closer to where you want to be. And it’s all because you were too scared to take a risk.

Do you know what the worst part of all this? You act as though one day you will magically have certainty that this or that is the right course of action. But you’ll never be completely sure.

If what you’re waiting for is complete certainty, and you refuse to do a single thing until you get it, you’re going to be waiting for the rest of your life.

So what do you do, if there’s no guarantee that something will work out?

Try anyway. You have literally nothing to lose.

The truth is that living with the fact that you let fear win is many times more painful than the ‘failure’ you are afraid of.

Once you’ve tried acting in the face of uncertainty you’ll realise that, whether or not it works out every time, you do not need certainty to take action.

And then you can really live.

Follow the butterflies

Is there a shortcut to living a good life? If there is, it’s this:

Follow the butterflies.


It’s really very simple:

The more fear you feel when contemplating a positive course of action, the more important that course of action is to your soul, and the greater the reward for completing it.

Of course, most of us, most of the time, do exactly the opposite. We have a thought. We feel fear. We interpret that fear as a sign to retreat to safety. Except… we were never in any danger. Over time this becomes habitual, and we become more and more fearful.

If you want to be happy, do the opposite.

Realise that your fears are guiding you in the direction which will fulfil you the most. Every time you act despite being afraid, you prove to yourself that you weren’t in danger after all. You grow. It becomes easier and easier to do. You become less and less fearful.

So when the thought of doing something gives you butterflies in your stomach, err on the side of doing it, not wimping out.

Bad dudes

There are a lot of bad dudes in the world. And right now, some of them getting awful popular.

Now, the existence of bad dudes is no cause for concern – so long as there have been humans, there have been a certain percentage of rotten ones. No, the problem is that the good dudes fell asleep at the wheel.

Sometime during the last few decades we got complacent, we thought that “progress” was inevitable, we thought that we no longer needed to fight for good. We thought that our morals and our ethics and our innate goodness would carry us through. Forever.

It didn’t. And so the bad dudes took over.

But just like a school bully, evil can only survive when good people do nothing. So now is not the time to feel helpless, to be conservative (pardon the pun), to start playing it safe. That’s just playing into their hands.

No. Decide today that you are going to live your life the way you believe in your heart to be right.

You are not going to cower. You are not going to believe their divisive bullshit. You are not going to turn against migrants, or foreigners, or gays…

You are going to stand strong. You are going to fight. Whatever that might mean.

Empathy: the secret superpower

If you want to change something about someone, try accepting them first.

See them exactly as they are, stripped of all the stories your ego is dying to tell you about them.

Make them feel seen, and make them feel understood. Do you know how rarely anybody is granted these two privileges?

And when you have done this, don’t be surprised if you find yourself having forgotten what it was you wanted to change about them in the first place.

Empathy is a super-power a hundred times more useful than anything you’ll find in a comic-book.

A love of fate

The more dependent you are on external events going a particular way for your well-being, the more miserable you will become until the day death finally relieves you.

But at least you won’t feel alone – the majority of human beings who have ever lived followed this exact path. There is safety – if not happiness – in numbers.

Fortunately, the reverse is also true.

If you adopt the mindset that everything that happens was meant to happen, and meant to happen in exactly the way it did happen, you’ll find soon that your well-being cannot be touched by anything outside of you.

Nietzsche called this “Amor Fati.” I have a coin in my wallet that I bought from The Daily Stoic with this on one side, and on the other, the phrase “Not merely to bear what is necessary… but love it.”

The miserable majority might not understand you when you live this way, but your life will be so meaningful that you won’t care.

You and your phone

Your phone has got you by the balls.

Let’s call it what it is: an addiction.

It is an addiction because it has become the default thing you do when there is nothing stimulating happening around you (and even sometimes when there is.) Its absence makes you feel itchy and as though something is lacking.

It is an addiction because it has hijacked your rationality. You pull out your phone not for any good reason, but to “check” what’s going on, to be stimulated, amused, outraged, and… to feed the habit.

It is an addiction because it doesn’t actually quench the thirst you think it will. It provides empty calories. It gives you sex without love. Which keeps you hooked.

But you’re not addicted, right? Not you. You could stop any time. You have it under control. Okay, I believe you.

But humour me: go without it for one day. Switch it off and put it in a drawer.

If you couldn’t imagine possibly doing this, or you just thought of five perfect reasons why it sounds like a nice idea but you genuinely need your phone on you 24/7 for x, y, and z…

…I think you’ve proved my point.

This is not a personal attack. I am struggling through this as much as you are. I’ve been forcing myself not to pick up my phone unless there is a clear, concrete thing I’m aiming to do with it. It’s been eye-opening. And really, really nice.

You are nothing more than a great ape

You cannot control the world. Forces beyond your comprehension are at play.

This is not a matter of opinion, but of fact. How you respond to it will greatly shape your life.

Will you accept your relative tininess in the universe and throw yourself whole-heartedly into the small number of things you can influence and control?

Or will you deny this reality, and imagine that the technological advances of the last 100 years mean you now have God-like omnipotence?

It’s a paradox, I know. The more you accept your tininess, the bigger your power. The more you imagine yourself to be God-like, the more foolish and naive you really are.

You are nothing more than a great ape. Enjoy it – it’s all you need to be.

It’s not you, it’s them

When somebody gets angry with you, every cell in your body is designed to take it personally.

But what if you didn’t?

What if you realised that the real cause of their anger predates their bumping into you by years, perhaps even decades? You’re just a convenient target – it’s almost arbitrary that it happens to be you.

It wouldn’t make it fine all of a sudden, but it might make it less likely for you to get sucked in, and to feel the need to defend yourself, or to lash back.

Best of all, it will give you choices – you never have less choices than when emotionally triggered. Do you laugh at them? Do you pity them? Do you ignore them? Do you carefully exact revenge upon them?

It’s entirely up to you – but not taking it personally is the first step.

Born again every day

The person you were is dead. The person you are is alive.

Shed your yesterday’s skin. Because that’s all it was – a skin. The real stuff is far deeper. And that’s going nowhere.

So get to know who you are today. Let your new skin surprise you.

Don’t get attached to whoever you are today – before long, this version of you must die too, to make way for who you’ll be tomorrow.

Let the skin you wake up in each day mark you indelibly, let it spill something beautiful and unique onto you, the sum of which you carry forth throughout your life.

In this way you are both timely and timeless. The days and weeks and months and years do not shape you, but reveal you.

You are you, always.

Use today to make tomorrow easier

About 1% of the time, I properly clean the kitchen after I’ve made dinner. Every time, it feels good. It doesn’t take very long, and I like waking up and making my coffee in the morning in a clean kitchen.

I could talk about what an idiot I am for not doing it the other 99% of the time, but… c’est la vie.

The point is that this applies to everything. It’s almost as though leaving things in a state – literally or metaphorically – creates this ugly residue that makes it harder to be at peace. Open loops, you could call them.

Is there something you could do quickly and easily today that would make your tomorrow easier? Why not do it?

There are two sides to peer pressure

If you want to improve yourself and live a better life than you do now, you could try to do it all yourself. Eat right, exercise, follow your passions… whatever the doctors are recommending these days.

And you might succeed. But it’ll be a daily uphill struggle.

If you want an easier (but no less-effective) way to grow, take advantage of peer pressure.

“What? Peer pressure? Isn’t that the gravity-like force I heard about in school responsible for my thinking that every other teenager was out to try and force me into smoking, drinking, doing drugs, and having illicit sex?”

Oh good, you’ve heard of it. Well, yes, that’s peer pressure. But it turns out your teachers were only giving you half the story.

Peer pressure is the mechanism by which we tend to do what the people around us are doing. Without realising it. If they’re doing bad things, so will we. If they’re doing good things, so will we.

So if you want to get fitter, make friends with some people in good shape.

If you want to a better banjo player, make friends with some good banjo players.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

How to get out of a rut

Do you ever feel like you’re in a rut? I know I do. When you’re in it, getting out it feels impossibly difficult, but this is just a symptom of the rut. It’s actually very simple, and very easy.

The cause of your rut is simply that you have become overly familiar with your routine. It’s not the routine’s fault. And it’s not your fault. But as the saying goes “familiarity breeds contempt.”

To get out of a rut, all you need is something unfamiliar.

Do something you don’t normally do.

You might turn all the lights off in your living room and put on some Arab folk music.

You might try to come up with a story featuring yourself as the villain, instead of the hero.

You might go visit a shop near your house that you’ve seen but never been in before.

It doesn’t matter what you do. All that matters is that it’s something you wouldn’t NORMALLY do.

Routine is good, but every now and then it needs to be broken.

Hunt for details

I’m always looking for ways to get out of my head and into the world. One good way I’ve found is to actively hunt for details.

You can do this with any number of things, but I like to do it with music.

I put on a track, and as I listen through, I try to see how many things I can notice. I sometimes write them down. Not always, though. It’s not important.

I start the track. I might notice that there’s a little tape hiss before the song starts. Perhaps there’s a count-in. When it gets going, maybe there’s a guitar on the left side and an organ on the right. Maybe when the vocals come in, they have a delay effect on them. Maybe another voice joins for the chorus. Maybe a fragment of the melody reminds me of a song by somebody totally different, reminding me that all music is made from the same 12 notes. Maybe the a middle section feels like it was shoved in at the eleventh hour and I feel I could have done a better job…

Something cool happens when you do this. It’s as though one time of actively hunting for details causes you to permanently notice more details without even trying.

Try it.

Are you a tortoise or a hare?

Remember the fable about the tortoise and the hare?

From that fable came the mantra of the mediocre everywhere: “Slow and steady wins the race.”

Except… does it?

Only if you take the fable literally. And people do. They think it means that the best way to do anything is to do it slowly over a long period of time, taking no breaks or rests, working with the same intensity every hour, day, week, month…

And… that’s a load of shit. Human beings have rhythms and cycles.

Personally, I am a hare. I like to work quickly and intensely and then stop and do something else. If something can be done in 7 hours, I will do a WAY better job doing it all in one go than in 1 hour per day over a week. I feel angry and frustrated when I am forced to slow down. I want to be on or off.

Looking back throughout my life, this is the fashion in which I have done everything good. But because I’m an idiot, I’ve often ignored that this was true. I’ve tried to be sensible, and remember my fables. Following a slow and steady course has always spelt stress, boredom, giving up, and little to no results.

Now, you might not be like me. You might be a tortoise. You have an aim, and you’re going to slowly and steadily work towards it. If that gets you results, then hats off.

The point is simply to know how you work best. Slow and steady can win the race, but so can fast and intermittently.


When you say “yes” to something, you’re also saying “no” to everything else.

The word “decision” comes from the Latin root, “deciso”, which means “to cut away from.”

Making decisions is scary, because you are always taking a risk – no matter how small. Instead of um-ing and ah-ing and staying in the realm of infinite possibility, you are boldly creating the future.

What I often misunderstand here is that saying “yes” to something doesn’t mean I’m saying “no” to everything else FOREVER. I can decide how long my “no” lasts for.

For example, I often want to read a book, but I also want to listen to music, and I also know the house needs hoovering, and about seven other things…

Whatever I choose to do, I’m choosing not to do the other things. But they’ll still be there later. And that’s okay.

You can’t do everything all at once. Nor do you need to. Pick one thing to say “yes” to for a while and enjoy saying “no” to everything else. This is much better than vaguely trying to do everything and not really doing anything.

Let them be who they are

I believe it was Satre who said “Hell is other people.”

Taken literally, I disagree.

Other people are only as difficult as our refusal to try to understand them.

We hear the things they say, see the things they do, and immediately judge them as good, bad, evil, saintly, greedy, over-the-top… Once that impression is formed, it can be near-impossible to change it. Mostly, we don’t bother changing it.

But if our mistake is closing ourselves off, and clinging tightly to our first impression of people, then the remedy must surely be to do the opposite: open ourselves up and suspend judgement as long as possible.

Every single person you come across is like an undiscovered country. Your lower self wants to pigeon-hole them straight away. Resist this impulse, and simply wonder about them. What makes them tick? What makes them ticked off? How do they change when they’re around different people? What might that mean?

The longer you can delay giving into your temptation to form a fixed, permanent view of the people in your life, the easier you will find it to get along with them.

Or, put simply, let them be who they are.

Why you should turn your phone off for a day

You are a part of the most affluent global moment in the entire history of the world. Think about that for a second.

Consider how all the discoveries and inventions stacked on top of one another throughout the centuries led to this moment – to the aeroplane, the phone in your pocket, the fact that none of your kids will probably die in childbirth…

And yet, are we any happier than the people before us, who didn’t enjoy these things we mostly take for granted?

Nope. Not a jot. But it’s nothing to feel guilty about.

We are human beings, and it is in our nature to adapt. We adapt to adverse circumstances, but we also adapt to bountiful ones. This doesn’t make us bad, or spoilt. It’s simply how we are. It is a fact of life.

Just as more and better “stuff” has not made the human race happier, more and better “stuff” will not make you happier, personally. What will is appreciating just how good things are.

But you can’t just tell yourself “things are great now,” and expect to feel any different. We learn through experience. And especially through contrast.

The solution I like is fasting.

Fasting gets a bad rep, because it brings to mind scrawny Asians in the lotus position starving themselves in the hope of achieving enlightenment. I’m not proposing this.

But what I’m talkinga about is a much broader view of fasting, and seeing it simply as a conscious, temporary deprivation of something you have become accustomed to. Anything.

Go a day without switching on your phone. Nothing bad will happen. Your followers will still be there the next day.

Skip dinner now and then. You won’t starve. Trust me.

Wrap up in layers tonight instead of putting the heating on. Just for one night.

Basically, what you’re looking for is anything in your daily life that you take for granted – something you see as a fact of life – and then you’re trying to go without it just for a little bit.

You see, when these things become facts of life, you quickly become numb to them. Worse than that, you feel like you couldn’t live without them. Since this is never actually true, you are literally living a lie. You are, in a way enslaved, by these things.

Of course, one solution to this would be to rid yourself of all these things – cut them out of your life completely. But I don’t want you to do that. And it wouldn’t work anyway.

Fast instead – cut them out just temporarily. It’s almost like a little “reset” button, enabling you to actually enjoy things again, instead of just going through the motions with them. Imagine how different an apple would taste after 24 hours with no food, as opposed to after stuffing yourself with a giant Sunday roast.

The thing I like most about doing these little mini-fasts – which I wish I did more often – is the way it shows to me how little I really NEED in life. And the less needs you have, the easier it is to satisfy them.

Forget happiness

Do you know how to guarantee that you’ll never be happy?

Chase happiness.

The more you pursue happiness for its own sake, as opposed to allowing it to arrive of its own accord, the faster it will run away from you. The more unhappy you will become.

When you are unhappy, it is not because you haven’t chased happiness hard enough, and it is not a sign that you need to double down on your pursuit.

It is because some part of you feels that your life is without meaning.

Decide right now what “a good life” means to you. Not to society, not to your accountant, not even to your friends and family. You. What’s a good life?

If you do things that mean something to you personally – which could be ANYTHING – you will find happiness everywhere you look. But if you look for it directly, it will make itself invisible.

Phone a friend

It’s S.A.D season. But I have a remedy.

Yes, I believe in the power of the mind, and yes, I believe that our attitude has a huge effect on how we feel.

But so do a lot of other things.

And if the reason you feel bummed out this time of year is because your brain is in trouble chemically, and your neurotransmitters don’t want to play ball, then thinking “Oh, cheer up, it’s just a bit dark out…” probably isn’t going to help

So what will? (Other than overdosing on Vitamin D supplements…)

Call someone. Someone you really like.

Have a chin-wag. Bullshit for half an hour. Put the world to rights.

They’ll be glad you called, and so will you.