BEST ARTICLES

Here are some of my favourite things I have written.

Minimalism

Smartphones and social media are making us dumber. Here are 10 ways to fight back - The solution is not to take a gentle approach. When I see people talking about taking an '24 hour social media detox' or blocking it for the first hour of the day, I am dumbfounded. That shit makes us stupid. It wastes our time. It permanently erodes our ability to focus and do meaningful work. It's addictive. The average person picks up their phone 85 times a day, including right before falling asleep and during the night. 91% of people never leave their homes without their phone. We shouldn't be talking about how much time we take away from social media. We should be talking about how much time we do spend on it. And if we're serious, we should be tracking that metric and doing something about it, if it is a problem.

How to fail at minimalism -  Minimalism will not make you happy any more than buying stuff will make you happy. Only you can make yourself happy. I am glad I have already learned that at a relatively young age. Minimalism has done amazing things for me and changed my life, yet that is not guaranteed. Decluttering alone is meaningless without actually assessing what matters to you. Ignore those who treat minimalism like a cult or religion

The psychology of sentimental items and how to let go of them - Getting rid of sentimental items is not 'throwing away your life.' It does not belie a contempt for your past self. It is not a rejection of people you care(d) for. Truly, it is okay. This need not be a painful process. Some people find it useful to actually thank an item for its service before they get rid of it. Gratitude is a key part of the process. 

A quick way to get started with minimalism - Don't let this be yet another article that you read, think yeah, that's a good idea, then forget about. It's easy to get sucked into reading about minimalism without ever taking the action. The value of this technique is that it can be begun anywhere, anytime. All you need to get started is paper, a pen, and an open mind.

Stoicism/ Philosophy

Think of Stoicism as a habit, not a task - Stoicism is not a task we can pop on a to-do list then tick off later. Rather, I view it as a habit. A part of everyday life. Something to turn to during big tragedies and small annoyances. The philosophy itself is based on exercises which incorporate the key principles. I turned to it during one of the worst weeks of my life, when I lost a number of people at once. I turn to it when I’m about to send an angry email, or my ego flares up, or I start snapping at someone. It’s one of the main things which helped me to dig my way out of depression after years of useless hospitalizations, medication, and therapy. It has helped me to drastically reduce the number of panic attacks I have. I didn’t derive that benefit by reading about Seneca’s childhood or writing essays on the thematic concerns in Meditations. I have learned about Stoicism by applying it, by integrating lessons as daily habits.

11 lessons on being and becoming a better person from the letters of Seneca - Even if you hate books, find philosophy obnoxious, reject anything written by dead white men and work 162 hours a week, please read Seneca. 

7 Stoic principles which are relevant today - The Stoics never developed their philosophies for the sake of other people.Every one of their letters, maxims, plays, and diary entries was prompted by events in their own lives. When they were weak, they wrote themselves guidelines for being strong. When they were overcome by grief, they developed ways to reconcile it. Each time they faced an obstacle, they dug within themselves for answers. This is precisely why it is still so relevant today- the lessons are universal. 

Art/creativity

What the last words of Joseph Turner can teach us about the importance of making art - The final utterance of the era-defining 19th-century artist Joseph Mallord William Turner, as he lay dying of cholera was three, simple, beautiful words: the sun is god.

Art = a means of survival - It's not easy to pin down exactly what art is. The dictionary defines it as the display application and expression of skill. Plato called it the imitation of how things really are. Many notable artists have described it as the creation of truth or expression of thought. Seneca saw it as an attempt at immortality when he wrote that life is short, yet art is long. 

The 4 techniques I use to think creatively and never run out of ideas - Thinking creatively is not an ability some people have and others don’t. Like any skill, some of us have advantages but we can all learn how to do it. And we can all get better at it, through specific techniques and practice.

The 5-minute journal technique I use to banish anxiety -  Keeping a daily journal is one of the most powerful things you can possibly do. I have used one since I was 6 and would lose my mind without the sense of calm it injects into my days.  But it can be intimidating to read the journals of successful people (like Samuel Pepys, Hemmingway, and Benjamin Franklin) and about complex methods for keeping a record of your life.  Like all habits, the simpler you make it, the better. I prefer to have a barrage of quick and easy journaling techniques for specific situations. 

Forget about a personal brand, be a person first - The only thing is, I am not a brand. I'm a personA person who swears at their alarm, bites their nails, once blew their nose on a sock and has a phobia of slugs. That last one is not a joke. I recently cried because I squeezed out some hand lotion in the shape of a slug.  If you have read this site for any length of time, you also know that I have no particular niche. I jump from minimalism to books, to creativity, to philosophy, to whatever else. Even I find it annoying. I would love to find my perfect topic, then settle down and crank out posts on it. Somehow, I can't. It's because I happen to be a person who produces stuff, hates most of it and tries to make people feel something when they read it.

Life

Here's whats next for me. - Today I dropped out of university. I am now (in the literal sense) homeless, unemployed and unqualified. It feels good. Amazing, actually. I feel better than I have for a long time. For the first time in my life, I am doing exactly what I want to do, rather than following a prescribed path. Oscar Wilde wrote that we are never more true to ourselves than when we are inconsistent. If that is the case, then I have never been truer to who I am than now.

On failure, depression and beating the odds -  Around that time, I fell into depression and failed at the simplest things of all. Getting out of bed, having conversations, writing, looking after myself, eating and sleeping all became challenges I could not overcome. I remember feeling genuine pride at having got out of bed and made it downstairs to get a glass of water by 6pm one day. I failed at these basic life skills with enough consistency to land me in hospital for a year. Wow, I thought as I signed the admission papers, this has got to be the ultimate failure. Well done me. In hospitals, that capacity to not do basic things is taken away. Don't want to get out of bed? Someone will pick you up and drag you out. Don't want to shower? Expect to be picked up and placed under the water. Don't want to eat? Good luck fighting off six trained adults who will force you. And so on and so on.

Why I'm grateful I was a loser at school -  Being an unpopular child was one of the luckiest things which happened to meI am not normally of the belief that pain is beneficial and I'm rarely grateful for events which suck. Start spouting 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' crap around me and I will slap you. This one instance when I do, however, agree with that sentiment. I agree because hindsight is everything and I can see now how much good it did me to spend a decade getting kicked around. 

Real talk: here are the 3 ways it is possible to have a career and a life you love - There is no real evidence that we each have a unique calling which, once found, will lead to endless happiness and fulfillment. Some people discover a passion very early in life and stick to it, turning it into a viable career. Picasso famously drew like Raphael by the time he was 12 (something which his old sketches backup.) Mozart began performing before royalty when he was 5.  Blaise Pascal wrote a theorem at 16 which is still used.  

Books / Reading

The secrets to reading more - how I read 200+ books a year-  There was a point in my life where I read 25 books per week. And no, I do not speed read or read summaries.  But I'm aware that this is something unusual; most people read little or even not at all. So, this post is an explanation of how I manage to read so much. Like anything, it is a skill which can be improved through specific techniques and careful practice. 

The art of remembering everything you read - I remember a surprising amount of what I read, even though I get through about 4 books a week. When I use a quote or reference in a piece of writing, I usually have typed it from memory then double-checked the accuracy. Whilst I could not list all the books I have read, name any that I have and I can recall a substantial amount.

The one skill schools should teach (but don't) -  What is something every student should learn which isn’t taught in school?  How to read. Sure, schools teach us how to look at the letters C A T and know that they refer to a particular type of furry animal.  The difference between adjectives and adverbs. When Shakespeare was born and who Dickens was married to. How to 'analyze' by guessing the author's intent and drawing lofty conclusions from it. How to write an essay with an introduction, middle, and conclusion, each paragraph including point, example, and explanation.

How to fall in love with reading -  The real secret to reading more is not speed reading. It is not setting goals and putting it on your to-do list. It's not 'tricking' yourself. It is not some new app, joining a book club or Facebook group. It is not a magic bullet or life hack. To read more, you have to fall in love with reading. Simple, yet overlooked. The same goes for any good habit. To exercise regularly, you need to find a type you enjoy. To eat healthily, you need to find a diet which works for you. To meditate regularly, you need to find the technique which brings the most benefits. Reading is no exception. I noticed from the responses to my previous posts about my prolific reading habit, that many people just do not find it to be fun or beneficial.