Thursday, 1 August 2019

100 Word Philosophy - condense your thoughts into a nugget of wisdom

I have a ‘100-word philosophy’ statement that I read every day. It’s a collection of short phrases that remind me what is important and keeps me focussed when I get caught up in day-to-day trivialities. I suppose it’s a kind of personal mission statement, but that sounds a bit too slick and corporate. Even philosophy sounds a bit grand. It’s really just a list of reminders and self-instructions that I’ve refined over the years that together sum up my core values.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Changing minds - a brain like a meat computer running buggy software

How can we have opinions that are contrary to facts, and why is it so hard to change our minds once opinions have taken hold?

Basically, humans can’t think straight. We jump to initial conclusions based on gut instinct and incomplete information. Often we don’t really know why we hold an opinion other than it ‘feels right’.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Sitting in silence - We haven’t evolved to deal with noise

I spend a lot of time sitting in silence looking at my kitchen wall. I love it. Not the wall, the silence. It’s relaxing and clarifying, and it gives me the opportunity to contemplate the big stuff.

After years living in Glasgow with noisy neighbours, Orange Marches, shouty football fans and constant traffic, and playing in bands, working with power tools, clubbing, pubbing and perpetually listening to loud music, I’d had enough commotion. I’ve since learned to treasure silence. At home in Hoswick, apart from conversation with visitors, playing an instrument or ‘actively’ listening to music, my life is quiet.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Auntie Sheena, Jedi Master

Back: Sheena Leask, Peggy Campbell (auntie Sheena's friend 'from sooth'),
Sunniva Henry (my mam)
Front: me, Karen Peterson (my sister)
My first cinema visit was the zenith of an arduous expedition made in 1983 by a small and intrepid gang of adventurers from Shetland. The group comprised great Auntie Sheena (Leask), my mother, sister and I, at that time a 7-year-old boy who had never left the islands.

Auntie Sheena was very much the expedition leader, a formidable woman with experience of the ‘outside world’, and possessing the strict wisdom of a Jedi Master.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Punctuate the day with an info full-stop

I used to struggle to switch off at nights. When I should have been closing down my brain I was indulging it with new information. Our brains are always hungry for info and stimulus, and mine doesn’t seem to want to taper off into slumber. One idea for a google search would lead to another, one news story would lead to another, one page of a book would lead to another - the information available to us is limitless. And as for the tyranny of the endless scroll of social media….

Many folk find reading a book, watching the TV or listening to the radio in bed to be relaxing and helps them wind down. I often find the opposite. It gives me more to think about.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Netiquette, and don’t feel that you need to have an opinion on everything

Debate and opinion seems to me to have become particularly polarised recently, notably on social media, and with endless controversial subjects to fall out over (Trump, Brexit, Up Helly-Aa… anyone?)

Conspiracy theories, fake news, alternative facts, online abuse and a lack of basic etiquette all lead to a hostile climate where civilised balanced debate is being squeezed to the periphery. People adopt a position and shout across the middle ground at their opponents.

Friday, 1 February 2019

The solution to punctuality - a pre-appointment meander yarn allowance

I’ve made a vow to be a punctual person. Over the festive period, with loads of social appointments to fulfil, I became aware that my family and friends make allowances for my apparently inevitable lateness. I was a little taken aback, but not surprised, as I don’t want those dear to me to think spending time with them isn’t a priority.

I realised that being rushing around, being late, or just making it in time, is quite a stress factor for me, and a source of annoyance to others. When there’s something negative or unproductive in my life, I go on the hunt for the underlying negative or unproductive reasons. After discounting procrastination and laziness I realised the reasons for my tardiness were positive, and therefore a blindspot - yarning and over-optimism.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

New Year finance check-up - a resolution £worth keeping

After overconsumption and festive excesses, I get back to normality with a checkup of my finances. Granted, it’s not the most exciting job in the world, but I’ve been doing a January review for years and I find it to be oddly therapeutic.

I used to avoid looking at my bank balance during January as I knew the news wouldn’t be good. I’d just hope to make its through to Up Helly-Aa without my debit card being refused. But now I bite the bullet and take positive steps in the New Year.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Habits are more effective than goals

Hands up who’s decided they wanted to make a positive change in their life but didn’t manage it? Exercise more, eat more healthily, save money or cut back on booze?

One thing the above examples have in common is that they’re not specific goals - they’re just aspirations. We need measurable targets and timeframes for them to become goals. ‘Lose weight' is vague but ‘lose half a stone in 2 months' is achievable.

But even if we do achieve success it can be fleeting. Once the goal has been met there’s a tendency to slip back into our old ways.

That’s where habits come in. We need to make changes to what we do on a daily basis for the benefits to be sustainable.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Overthinking - I’d worry less if I had more sympathetic imaginary friends

Overthinking is a common affliction characterised by going over and over a scenario in our heads in an unproductive way.

It is often mistaken as problem-solving but as we replay imagined scenarios and their outcomes, more hypothetical “what if?” problems arise which require solutions, thus compounding and enforcing the pattern. This can lead to Analysis Paralysis, an extreme form of indecision whereby actions are never taken due to endless options being considered.