For the first six weeks
The goal is just survival
For our family
For the first six weeks
For the first six weeks
The goal is just survival
For our family
I shouldn’t make plans
For what I’ll do when you sleep
It’s just fantasy
Still so far to go
But we’ve come a long way too
Celebrate the wins
Many steps I’ll walk
To get you to go to sleep
This I am certain
Krista Tippett’s conversation with Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant on the On Being podcast prompted lots of insights. Sandberg and Adam Grant (who is one of my most favourite leadership authors/thinks) have just released ‘Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy‘, so this conversation was largely focused on the death of Sheryl Sandberg’s husband, what she learned through that experience, and some of the research on resilience and overcoming adversity that is included in the book. It was such a good conversation for getting some insight into what the experience of traumatic loss is like, and tips for how to support people who are greiving. Some key takeaways for me were: saying nothing is worse than saying the wrong thing, offer specific assistance rather than open-ended offers that place the burden of requesting help back on the person who is greiving, and the subtle but important difference between asking ‘how are you?’ and ‘how are you feeling today?’.
The emotional story that Sheryl Sandberg shared about ringing her cousin on her 50th birthday also stuck with me (“…there’s only two options: we either grow older, or we don’t”). Birthdays aren’t something that I’ve really paid much attention to (mine or others), but this story has made me think about using birthdays as a reminder to really be aware of and express gratitude for the people in my life.
The themes covered in the conversation overlapped quite a bit with this article on how to speak to someone about an unspeakable loss which popped up in my Facebook newsfeed lately, and it also reminded me of this great piece on how not to say the wrong thing.
I’ve been working my way through another #100happydays on Instagram (although have had several lapses along the way), but I do find it such a valuable practice for being present and finding happiness in small and seemingly insignificant moments. Adam Grant made a comment in the podcast that “it’s actually not the intensity of your positive experiences; it’s the frequency that really matters for how much happiness you find in life.”, and I find that the more I practice, the more frequent those positive emotions are in my own life.
“Several long-married people I know have said this exact line: “I’ve had at least three marriages. They’ve just all been with the same person.””
I thought this Modern Love article on embracing change in relationships was great.
It’s been a long time between posts, but here are some of the things that have been rattling around in my head and heart lately….
I recently listened to Tim Ferriss’ podcast with Mr Money Mustache (MMM). There were some really great insights on the podcast – in particular the reflection about happiness coming from reducing ‘life suck’ (ie. reducing or removing something negative in your life) rather than adding something more positive. It’s such a great question to ask before making a purchase or committing to doing something – is this thing removing a negative, or just adding a positive that I don’t really need? For example, while a new computer may make my life better in some way (faster, more storage, and upgraded OS), my life really doesn’t suck at all with the completely functional computer that I already own. The other excellent insight was about ‘optimising your life for happiness’. Often I choose to do things or buy things that I think will make me happier (or that society (or clever marketing) tells me will make me happier), without really critically reflecting on whether they do or not. Further, I know that there are certain things that I know make me happier (like bushwalking and simply being in nature), that I don’t make enough of a priority in my life. This prompted me to start a Mindnode with branches for things I know make me happier (stuff I should be optimising my life for), things I think would make me happier (and should create experiments to test and reflect) and things that definitely don’t make me happy (that I should seek to optimise me life to reduce/remove).
After the podcast, I spent a bit of time exploring the MMM blog and this blog post, ‘Happiness is the Only Logical Pursuit’, really resonated with me – particularly the part about consumption often being driven by a desire for self-actualisation, which then undermines a more basic need for financial security which leads to feelings of unease/unhappiness.
In another recent podcast, Krista Tippett and Tim Ferriss spoke about anger really being just how pain or fear manifests in public. This insight prompted me to reflect on how I can best respond when people I love are expressing anger. If their anger is really pain/fear, then me pointing out the anger and why and how it’s hurting me is really like throwing fuel on the flame – it’s just likely to cause more pain or fear. So, in the moment, it is really helpful for me to try to look behind the facade of anger and try and see what else might be going on.
It’s been over 3 months between Head & Heart posts! The short story (excuse?) is that work and life got on top of me, and I was questioning/doubting the impact that some of the regular habits/practices (including these posts) were having on my life. There’s been a fair bit of change over the last 3 months – including resigning from my job to take a break, revaluate priorities, and recalibrate a little – and I’m certainly not going to even attempt to catch up on 3 months worth of thinking/learning/reading/listening in this post!
As well as determining that writing (and later re-reading) these posts is in fact a valuable practice for me, it turns out that there a few people who actually read these posts and find them useful or interesting, so it’s definitely something that I intend to get back to doing more regularly.
Related to the above comment about resigning and recalibrating, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading about burnout. Articles/resources that particularly resonated with me included:
Since I last posted, I’ve finished a few books (and started and abandoned quite a few more):
Some posts that I thought were worth bookmarking/sharing:
I’m super late to the party (in fact I think the party is well and truly over), but I finally watched Making a Murderer. It’s a bit of a joke in my family about how I can’t handle mistaken identity/wrongful conviction movies – I find them so distressing that I feel physically uncomfortable (watching The Fugitive practically causes a panic attack!) – so I wasn’t sure how I’d cope with this. I’ve read some of the criticism online about the potential bias of the filmmakers in selecting what to show in the documentary, but regardless, I do think it raises really important issues around the level of unquestioned trust and confidence society places in law enforcement agencies, and the significant disadvantage that poor and less educated people have when it comes to navigating the legal system. Alec Baldwin’s Here’s The Thing interview with defence lawyer Dean Strang is worth a listen for anyone who watched the series.
As for podcasts, Longform and Hidden Brain (a recent discovery) episodes have featured heavily on my playlist. I also enjoyed Carly Findlay’s interview on the Osher Gunsberg podcast. Carly is awesome and I’ve been lucky enough to work with her on a couple of She Leads events, and I think it was actually through Carly’s blog that I first discovered Osher’s podcast.
This post, ‘How getting rid of ‘stuff’ saved my motherhood’, has re-inspired me to cull our own stuff, maintain a more organised, simple home and be more conscious about what we keep and let in to our space. It’s probably a subject for a separate, longer post but since E came into our lives we’ve experienced new demands/constraints on our finances, time and space – which has forced us to be more intentional about how we use our resources in all of these areas. I’ve still got a long way to go, but so far I’ve used some of my current period of unemployment to cull and tidy a few of our main living spaces/storage areas and I feel lighter and less overwhelmed as a result. Now the challenge is to maintain relatively organised spaces and avoid letting clutter back in. Rather than get caught in this cycle of tidying up / mess / tidying up / mess etc I’m trying to take more of a design thinking approach and really study why and how our spaces get cluttered and messy and try to put in place solutions to resolve these (rather than just dealing with the symptoms).
Toys and trinkets that E collects feel like a big source of the clutter in our home, so Christmas (as well as birthdays) can often see a new influx of stuff into our home thanks to extremely generous family! The Minimalists recent podcast episode on giftgiving had some useful ideas for a more intentional approach to giftgiving.
Head & Heart are approximately fortnightly posts about what I’ve been reading, watching and thinking about – things I thought were interesting, and that you might find interesting too.
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