002D. Newsletter Highlights: March 2023

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Key Quote

“Fear of failure prevents us from taking the right risk to change our lives.” – Andrew Gilley

Episode Summary

• In this month’s monologue episode, Andrew Gilley discussed depression and the difficulty of balancing self-care with numbing one’s emotions.
• In the conversation episode, Andrew dives deep with Wesley Jackson into how creating and maintaining a daily routine is vital in order to develop oneself, make healthier choices, and improve relationships with loved ones.
• Wesley then interviewed Mike Dee, who talked about leveraging existing routines for growth, as well as shifting social media usage for knowledge rather than entertainment; and learning from failures.
• Mike further emphasized the importance of simplifying morning routines to avoid overcomplication; prioritize activities that matter most; and accept failures as opportunities to begin new chapters.
• Andrew then covers this month’s blog articles, beginning with how animals model the importance of taking breaks and living in the present moment to avoid carrying around baggage.
• Successful people incorporate periods of focus into their daily routines, regardless of the quirkiness of their methods.
• Every day should include an activity that centers and grounds us and our habits are key to personal development.

Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Andrew Gilley: Welcome to Surviving Humanity: A Self-Help Podcast, where we shift your perspective to help you overcome the obstacles in your life. I’m one of your co-hosts, Andrew Gilley, and today I’ll be reading to you highlights from this month’s newsletter, focusing on best routines for a daily life and habits. You can sign up to get these newsletters straight to your inbox from the homepage of our website at survivinghumanity.net.

Let’s get started.

So, first I want to look back at the last three episodes we did for this month under the theme of daily routines for a healthy life. This month I did a monologue talking about the ways my daily routines worked against me when I was going through school. As someone who’s been clinically depressed for a long time, I find it difficult to manage my internal struggle to want to numb my emotional pain without also numbing myself to everything else.

This conflict has taken its toll on me over the years; I was reaching for things to numb me. However, I realize that escape also causes me to miss out on joy and hurt the people around me. My story started in college, when I had to set my own daily routines for the first time. Without much structure, I was enjoying my freedom in unhealthy ways.

I wasn’t really taking care of myself. I was often forgetting to eat or sleep or keep track of what I had to do. Despite all of this, I never really thought about setting healthy patterns or prioritizing self-care. I was young. Eventually, I found a routine by falling in with other people’s, which was helpful, but only a quick fix.

My deeper issues remained untreated. Due to never learning how to take care of myself, I struggled with the set of skills needed to exist out in the world as an adult. It’s important to consciously set and maintain routines, that’s the way we develop ourselves and develop our strategies for living.

As I got better at that, I realized that I couldn’t sustain the way I was living. I couldn’t keep drinking so much or just trying to numb the pain all the time. As I made the transition from undergraduate to graduate school, I was struggling more and more. My attachment to perfection had always been unhealthy.

The pressure of higher academic expectations only worsen my avoidance tendencies. I found myself adopting bad coping mechanisms to disengage from the world and escape my emotions. Control strategies like binge drinking, excessive video game playing, and doomscrolling social media gave me fake temporary relief, while damaging my relationships with my loved ones.

My wife was a constant support, but I was hurting her and I was hurting everyone, and I needed to change inwardly what was going on inside to change what was happening around me. My old habits were hurting the people I cared about, and it was time for a change.

It took a lot of conscious effort to fix that. Overcoming bad habits means overcoming a lot of inertia. Each misstep has its way of piling up.

It helps to have habits that reinforce mindfulness and healthy structure – daily meditation and other routines keep us mindful of our actions, and I found this very helpful, though it’s not always easy, I found that refining my routine and structuring it lets me make healthier and better choices for myself and for the people around me.

Both good and bad routines really quickly can become ingrained and these have consequences for everybody. So, it’s important for me to really look at these carefully and maintain healthy, positive habits that let me be the best person I can be.

Because I know that there’s always that temptation there to try to escape the world, to try to avoid the world out of a desire to feel better, and that’s never going to work in the long term.

Our next episode is Wes’ and my conversation on daily routines. We focus on the difficulties that come with it. Social media, again, is a big problem that distracts us away from cultivating good habits which is unfortunate because people who really need this – like people with ADHD or other people who have difficulties with daily routines – need them the most in order to offset that.

If you’re depressed, you need a routine to help you get out of bed. If you get distracted, it’s important to write it down. Things like this unfortunately only make daily habits harder, so it’s so important to be conscious of the ways we’re being pulled in every which way, and try to make little substitutions in our day.

Because trying to overhaul everything at once isn’t going to work out for us. Both of us are concerned in the long run with the ways in which habits are being developed in children right now with technology and social media.

We try to avoid social media, but both of us have struggled doom scrolling and such, and we note a few tips that you can test out to see what works for you. Both of us talk about the ways in which we have some focus time, have some relaxation time. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for anything in personal development, but it’s important to look at different things and pick out what works for you.

So, maybe my day might help inspire you, maybe Wes’ might. Maybe you work a totally different job than us and aren’t on the computer all the time, so you can’t really apply any of that, and that’s okay too. It’s just a matter of taking a look at what you can do to make your daily routine work a little bit better for you and to give you a place to build good habits off a solid foundation.

Our last episode this month was Wes’ interview with Mike Dee. Mike graduated from university and wasn’t really where he wanted to be in life. He was working a job at Tesco and one day decided to buy a plane ticket to Bangkok, taking a risk because he was young and not tied down. When he started working in finance, he began working at different things that allowed him to leave his corporate job.

He was spending his time working on the YouTube channel and second business, allowing his daily routine to propel him forward there and get him out of an environment he didn’t wanna be in. A lot of us end up stuck in a kind of corporate environment, but Mike decided that he was ready to do something different, to take a risk, and Mike realized that money isn’t everything.

Success is having health, wealth, love, and happiness in check. And Mike talks a lot about sustainable productivity rather than grinding 14 hour days. He talks about focused work instead of long work, breaks and vacations, and talks about reframing how society looks at success.

Mike recommends key habits like deep focus work in the morning and he also advocates for self-education too. Subbing out YouTube binges for maybe a documentary or something like that. He tells us to use the 1% rule to consume educational content every day to foster our own growth.

I think his point about self-education is very helpful. It’s really easy to get distracted online. In fact, the whole point of the internet is to make you distracted in some way. So, it’s easy to binge watch TV or something – it’s junk food for our brains. But daily routines are all about little substitutions. I like that advice, to switch on a documentary during dinner instead of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, or whatever you like, because it’s a small substitution that leads to a big payoff.

It doesn’t require very much from us, it’s not like sitting down for 20 minutes to meditate. It’s a habit chain that helps us keep up the improvement because our brain is a big input output machine. What we put in our brain, we’re gonna get out in some way or another. So, if we put better things in our brain, better information, more education, we’ll get more out of that too.

Mike also talks about the importance of picking your morning routine carefully, and I definitely related to this experience. It’s very easy to get caught up and try to do a little bit of everything. Mike describes 15 minutes of yoga, 15 minutes of studying Dutch, 15 minutes of meditation, and so on.

Building a long, overly complicated morning routine isn’t necessarily the best way to get yourself to where you wanna be. Simplicity helps us execute our habits. The easier it is to do a habit, the more likely it is that you’re going to do it. You wanna make things really easy on yourself. Having a overly complex morning routine with lots of different steps may not be the best decision when you’re starting out or maybe ever.

So, prioritizing what’s important for you is key. You’ll enjoy it more for one, but you’ll also make sure that you’re investing time into the habits that you really want to cultivate. Mike points out that, 20 focused minutes of him learning Vietnamese is going to pay larger dividends for him than a 20-minute habit that might help somebody else.

I, for example, really need that 20 minutes of meditation every day for mindfulness, so that’s not something I’m ever going to cut. But, if I was taking a programming class, even if I found it enjoyable, I might leave that to the side because it’s not as focused. So, it’s good to prioritize in order to make sure you’re getting the most out of your time.

Time is limited, and we all wanna spend it with the people we love and doing the things we love the most we can, and that’s what our daily routines can help us to do – to set up structures that allow us to live our daily lives in a way that’s congruent with our inner selves.

The last point I wanted to highlight from Mike is about learning from failure. I really liked his quote from Chris Do, “Don’t waste a good failure.”

It feels bad to fail, there’s no way around that. But, fear of failure prevents us from taking the right risk to change our lives. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut – that’s Mike’s story, getting himself out of his rut and out of the country spontaneously and dramatically. That doesn’t have to be what we all do – it shouldn’t be what we all do – but, anything worth doing is going to be a little bit scary.

It’s scary to try to improve yourself, because it’s not an easy thing to do. When you’re looking at yourself and trying to improve it, it’s not always going to go smoothly. And fear of failure can stop us from ever trying to get any better. I’m very familiar with this feeling, it’s happened a lot to me.

It’s scary – you’re putting your ego on the line because you’re admitting there’s something you don’t like about yourself that you want to fix, and that’s hard. It’s a difficult thing. But, it’s important to push past that fear. And it doesn’t have to be a huge thing, but just letting yourself fail. Maybe miss a day of meditation, maybe, you can’t do what you initially wanted with your new job.

There’s going to be so many things in your life that are sticking points that create friction and fear of failure can make those friction points even harder and can make it harder for us to do what we want to do. But, we have to be brave and we have to fail, and not in really dramatic ways, but even the small ones are a lesson.

If you didn’t meditate that day, what happened? How do you fix that? If you dropped the language you were learning, why wasn’t it important? Can you make it more important? Should you be doing something else? It’s this exploration of our own improvement that really lets us get a lot out of it.

If we keep looking toward these different habits and goals, and we understand that we’re going to fail a little as we seek to build our best daily routines, then, while it’s not going to be fun to fail, we can approach it from a more positive mindset. We can allow ourselves to experience failure not as the end of a chapter, but rather as the continuation, as a beginning of something new, and we always have the chance to begin again. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t meditated for years, if you want that habit, start small.

I’ll close out by reading a couple highlights from our blog this month. Nature’s Guide to the Best Daily Routines for a Healthy Life talked about ways we can model animals and nature animals who live in the moment not human animals who don’t a lot of the time.

Animals as O’Connell points out, take breaks naturally. Animals that migrate, reset themselves and locate themselves in the present moment. Hibernation fulfills a similar function in bears. Animals don’t carry around as much baggage as we do. Humans walk around thinking of our regrets and our fears, our pasts and our future.

Thinking of the hibernating bear or migrating geese can help us here. Every day is a chance to practice mindfulness and reset our minds to a state of calm so that we can continue forward in a more positive and comfortable way. This speaks well to what Mike was saying too about failure. Every day we can reset, we can take breaks, we can center ourselves and we can keep going. That’s a good habit in itself and helps us cultivate good habits.

From the second article, Learning From Success: Studying the Daily Routines of Great People, quote, “Every single successful person’s daily routine contains in one form or another, a period where they can focus. They take their energy and focus it on whatever their craft is – acting, painting, writing, designing – any skill that requires concentration. It’s not about working hard – though, it is hard work – it’s about working deeply. This is about directing your energy towards what you are doing.”

The exact way you do this is again, personal. Mason Curry noted that Ernest Hemingway wrote with a typewriter on top of a bookshelf, much like today’s standing desk, Benjamin Franklin liked to sit nude in chilly air.

Whatever works for you, go for it. The point isn’t the quirk, the point is that it settles you into a zone where your energy is directed. By eliminating distraction and putting yourself in a separate space, physical and mental, you can direct your focus to the thing that you’re passionate about.

And finally, Your Healthy Life Checklist: Daily Routines You Need to Incorporate. We don’t have to become gurus who meditate for hours on end. Many people find starting meditation hard. Meditate for five minutes or three minutes, or better yet, just take a minute out of your day to focus on your breathing.

If not breathing exercises, get out in nature and center yourself there. Everyone has different, specific needs. No matter if you’re a monk or a beginner, just taking a second out to breathe is important. Just starting small and building is such a key to all of our personal development. But, it is the most key to habits, because habits are how we do that, are how we learn, and are how we shape our lives.

Our most basic unit that we start here with is what we’re doing every day. So, if we can think about our days in this way, think about the ways our habits can drive us toward greatness and toward the people we want to be.

Thank you very much for listening, tune in next Tuesday see to hear a story from Wes for the first episode in our series on building character and how that relates to habits. If you wanna support us, please join our exclusive monthly club on Patreon, share the podcast with others, and don’t forget to follow, rate, and review us on your favorite podcast platform.

And before you go, do you feel like you could benefit from a boost to your morale? Then why not give our 7-Day Self-Confidence Challenge a go? For only $7, you’ll get exclusive access to content that will help you determine your core values and strengths, reframe negative thought patterns, and break old habits to build new ones, all while setting realistic personal development goals.

Links to our Patreon and the challenge can be found in the show notes and we’ll see you next week.

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