097/2024 – “Baby, Let’s Get out of the City, We Need To Breathe Some Cleaner Air”

Lyrics: “Wanderlust” – Frank Turner, 2011

Hike | I’m grateful for friends who invite me along on outings, because on my own I’d more often than not stay in with a book. (Or to be honest probably to do more mindless scrolling through social media or watch mindless TV or both simultaneously). I forgot to put the freshly charged battery into my camera, so a phone photo is all you’ll get.

Track sign on a tree on the left and some rocky formations with trees and sky above
Local trail to sites of geological interest

About 2 hours up and down often through forest but still enough open fields and spaces to enjoy one of the first sunny spring days of 2024. We ended it with home-made cake in a new-ish cafe, which was nice.

My legs feel a tiny bit tired after these 7.5 km, which doesn’t bode well for the even longer hike I plan to do around the Seven Sisters in Sussex next week. Let’s see how that will go.

Ponderings | When the month started on Monday I thought: Why not (try to) post every day for a change? I lasted for 3 days. No idea what that says about me. Maybe I should spend some time pondering that. Like I do ponder a lot of things lately. Most of that is good as in it feels like progress or that I am making progress with my mental health, even without a therapist guiding me along. I’m not always sure I’m focusing on the ‘right’ aspects, but I’m doing the work in a way, so that counts for something, right?

Small progress this week:

#1 Stopping the impulse to send an (unnecessary) reply after a basically finished email conversation. Yes, it might have made me feel better for a moment, but it was the right moment to end that conversation. Period. But my impulse to crave external validation / reassurance whatever can make me a bit needy on occasion. I’m working on that.

#2 Ignoring the “save 15% on books” mail I got two days ago from one of the ‘used book’ retailers I buy books from. The impulse to call up my “to read” lists and check what’s available on this used book store is always strong and I often lack impulse control. Like earlier this week when I almost bought a book at the store, looked up if it would be cheaper online (I could have still bought it in the store with a reference to the cheaper online offer). But while I was on their website I saw a “Buy 4, pay for 3” offer.

Books I just received, in a half opened parcel: Code of Capital, The Wager, The Wake-up Call, Threads of Life
Buy 4, pay for 3 – I could not resist

But that’s really enough books for a while. (She says, before she’s travelling to the UK, where she usually can’t stop herself in a Waterstones)

#FOPO | I listened to another “Ten Percent Happier” podcast on the drives to and from work this week. The guest was Michael Gervais, who is a high performance psychologist and the topic was “How To Stop Worrying About What Other People Think Of You”. I thought it was super interesting and I took away quite a bit from it to – you guessed it – ponder on for a while. Gervais had termed it “Fear Of People’s Opinion” (FOPO) of course as a tongue-in-cheek play on the “FOMO (Fear of missing out) probably most of all have heard about in some context. Gervais had come up with that for a piece he wrote for the Harvard Business Review in 2019 and which seems to have been the most successful (clicks wise, I assume) article there ever.

Like I said, I thought a lot of what he talked about in that podcast was a bit eye-opening to me, or at least a good refresher and reminder of things I already knew about. There also were some new aspects I never thought much about before like how evolutionary biology affects our social interactions and all that. So I would definitely recommend that 1 hour long talk. I’m not sure I’d recommend the book Gervais wrote on it all or any other of his work, his own podcast or else. He is specialised in helping people to be “high performers” (artist, athletes, business people) and quite a bit of his philosophy is based on “unlocking your true potential” and become a “high performer” and all that. His book on this is called “The First Rule of Mastery: Stop Worrying What People Think of You”. To be honest, that framing kind of puts of me off his ideas. I don’t want to master any thing or achieve great things. I don’t want to be a high performer. I just want to be less anxious. Be less miserable. Live a bit more carefree. Low bar? Maybe, but that’s mine at the moment, so…

Unfortunately most of the websites I found on him and this “FOPO” philosophy also have a “become a high performer” vibe to them, so I won’t share them. You can search for yourself, if you want to know more.

Podcasts | One of the “reminder to write about” prompts from earlier this week was podcasts, I think? I’ve been listening to quite a few of these recently:

Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris as mentioned above.
It’s on mediation, self-care and lot of other interesting stuff. I don’t listen every week, but pick the guests, topics which interest me and there is a huge back catalogue of interesting episodes as well

A Muslim & a Jew Go There with comedian David Baddiel and politician Sayeeda Warsi.
This started at the end of February 2024 and is “providing context and discussion around current political and cultural events involving and affecting British Muslims and Jews”. I still need to catch up with the latest two episodes, but I really appreciate their discussions. I also mentioned how “ambiguity is hard” in the “prompts to write” this week. This podcast is so helpful to see both sides or more facets of the Israel – Gaza war and a lot of other issues for British Muslims and Jews. I’d like to get a similar balanced podcast in German on those topics, so if any of you know any, let me know…

I’ve subscribed to more podcast shows – many in German – of which I also just pick the episodes that interest me, and even with that limited selection I can’t catch up with everything. Especially as there are also too many books that beg me to be read. Maybe I just link to the episodes I’ve listened to every once in a while here?

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