Tip-Top Advice in a Forgotten Huffington Post Article

Joseph Campbell popularised the phrase “follow your bliss” and we see its ‘thousand faces’ in the many sayings we hear today – “follow your passion” “do what you love” “find your purpose”.

Now thats all fine and dandy but, for most, following this advice proves difficult when it comes to it. Now of course a nuts-and-bolts detailed instruction manual to following your bliss may never appear – and perhaps shouldn’t – but now and then it’s reinvigorating to hear some practical ways of applying this wisdom.

And with that, I leave you in the capable hands of Neil Gibb at the Huffington Post:

1. Get with a group of people you have an affinity with – the flipside of which is: stop working with assholes

2. Make sure you up to something

3. Work on becoming really good at something

And he leaves us with my personal favourite line of the article:

The novelist William Gibson said: “Before you diagnose yourself with depression first make sure you are not surrounded by assholes.”

Take a look around at your life: are you working really hard at journalling etc. to try and discover your passion yet flanked on all sides by an uninspiring environment and miserable friends?

A flower can’t flourish in a shopping mall, and neither can a man follow his bliss when lazing about at his parents house with the same depressed high school friends. My thoughts anyway.



Seriousness and Frivolity

“The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

We adults are so awfully serious.

Where did we learn it? We certainly weren’t serious when we were toddlers or mischievous teenagers. Where did it come from? Why?

What follows is my exploration into seriousness and its causes and effects.

What does it mean to take thing seriously?

According to www.Dictionary.com:

1. of, showing, or characterized by deep thought.

2. of grave or somber disposition, character, or manner: a serious occasion; a serious man.

Doesn’t really help does it. Well, I’m sure you know what it means already.

When did we first start taking things seriously?

I don’t know. And a rather rapid Google search returns nothing so I guess no one else does either.

My guess is that we took some things seriously because of the threat of extinction, i.e. “Don’t do that, you might hurt yourself!” or “Stop messing around or I’ll leave you here and I won’t come back.”

I remember once when I was playing in my mother’s bedroom and I accidentally jumped on her knee. I looked up at her with a gleeful grin, expecting her to smile and laugh along with me, and instead met the black gaze and angry bark of a terrifying, wounded giant.

From then on I wouldn’t be surprised if I learnt to take life seriously when I’m around her.

What do we take seriously?

We take our jobs, our relationships, our futures, our pasts, our possessions and ourselves seriously. Not all at the same time of course, and sometimes we forget about our shiny new shoes and jump in a puddle.

Does it serve us?

There seems to be a multitude of quotes by great people instructing us not to take life too seriously. It would be easy to say “well Dostoyevsky said it so come on people, lighten up!”, but I think more analysis is needed. We need to take our seriousness very seriously.

Seriousness serves us by allowing us to explore a subject, feeling, object or a way of life in depthWith depth comes meaning. And so seriousness can help us develop meaning in our lives.

Seriousness doesn’t serve us when we over-indulge in it, or take the wrong things seriously.

When we over-indulge in seriousness, we forget what it means to be light and free and dancing in the chaos of life. We can become heavy and slow and dulled and boring.

When we take the wrong things seriously, we can miss out on life altogether. We can concentrate on the highs of career achievement while ignoring our inner child’s pleas for fun and adventure.

“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the Gods made for fun.” – Alan Watts

There’s one thing that seems to speak for itself: those that choose not to take things so seriously all the time seem to just enjoy life more!

Action Steps

  • Speak gibberish all day.
  • Go and get shit-faced instead of reading that next self-development book
  • Twirl, twist, jump and gyrate your body around like a 4 year old in a soft-play area
  • Take the sacred things seriously and take yourself lightly
Further reading:
Refine The Mind: 9 Thinkers on Not Taking Existence too Seriously

Emotional Pain and the Modern Male Crisis

My story

I started this blog because of something the poet and author of Iron John, Robert Bly, once said:

The best way to learn something is to teach it.

I have spent most of my adult life with a feeling of emptiness and inner discontent. I have and still go through periods of intense depression, anxiety and despair. That’s not to say I have not had my happy moments, but I think if I were to be honest with myself, even in the happiness I’ve felt, there’s always been something missing. Something…off.

I have now come to a period of my life which REQUIRES radical change. For a while the pain and suffering in my life has been steadily increasing, and it’s now reaching breaking point. I believe I have hit the bottom of the barrel, and I’m either going to sack it off and hang myself OR learn how to integrate this thing.

I am someone who doesn’t have patience for inauthenticity. If something is not my calling, I won’t pretend that it is just to please other people or society. And I think this emotional pain is an indicator that I’m not living true to my highest self, that I’m not following my calling. Some people may just learn to live with the pain, bury it under distractions, and trudge on, day after day, until some tragedy wakes them up to the preciousness of life and forces them to change. As I said, I don’t have the patience for that.

What has all of this to do with the modern male crisis? And what IS the modern male crisis?

The modern male crisis is the pain of being a man in today’s society.

The pain and grief among men today is greater than ever before. Perhaps you’ve felt it. Perhaps you are moved to tears by a Disney movie. When you first started drinking you’d become wildly emotional over small things. When you broke up with your ex you cried for days.

Well, that’s me anyway.

Robert Bly believes that the industrial revolution is probably the root cause of all this pain. Because of the industrial revolution, fathers were separated from their sons. It used to be that the sons would work alongside the fathers at their place of work. And Bly believes that the sons gained something intangible, yet vital, from this interaction with their fathers. They learned how to be men.

If we do not know how to navigate life with strength, humour, love and purpose, i.e. to be a man, life’s challenges can overwhelm us

And here’s where we come full circle. Sometimes, I’m so very near to becoming totally overwhelmed by the dilemma of life, that I can almost touch the next world. This frightens me, as I feel that I still have plenty to give to this world, and I don’t want to depart prematurely.

I have had depression, anxiety, insomnia, despair, grief, derealisation, suicidal thoughts and all manner of physical and emotional pain. Undergoing all of these experiences has given me gifts that I want to share with the world. I have accumulated resources that help me live as a man, with an open heart, fully and authentically. I hope to aid you in living your life as fully and as authentically as possible.

Action step

If you are struggling from any kind of emotional pain, there are always actions you can take that can help you alleviate and understand the pain.

It’s difficult, but it’s one of the most effective ways I know of alleviating suffering. Expressing emotions is still seen as a weakness or a flaw by some. It actually takes tremendous strength and courage, and we should learn to celebrate the act of sharing emotions.

Here are some links to videos that have helped me during tough times. They were all chosen especially for their soulfulness and richness – you will only find deep things in these; things that have been crafted from a life well-lived, or from a place of courageous honesty: