The Bottom 100

As you probably know, Forbes issues a list every year of the richest 100 people on the planet.

Now someone has produced a list of the poorest 100 on the planet.

Interesting idea.

The address:

Bottom 100

Each person is photographed against a simple blue backdrop.

If you click on a picture, you can read the story of the person.

Suddenly, poverty and misery are no longer abstract.

They have a face, a personality, a history.

Sobering stuff.

You can even type in your revenue and find out where you are in relation to the rest of the planet in percentage terms.

Think you need more money?

Look at your percentage and think again.

Think you’re between a rock and a hard place?

Read some of these stories.

If you’ve been reading these posts for any length of time, you’ll know I’m a great believer in the necessity of being thankful.

Of consciously being thankful.

I defy you to visit this site and not feel thankful for what you have.

I hear a lot of people complaining about their daily lot and filled with incredible negativity.

Jealous over trivia.

It’s time to stop pretending that you’re a victim and get a life.

Reading these stories might just help you do that.

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard

Conversations with Butterflies

Breakfast with a butterfly, Zakynthos.
Breakfast with a butterfly, Zakynthos. Photo: B. Morgan

I’ve had some wonderful conversations with butterflies.

There was the time we took the tele-cabin from Grimentz to Bendolla and went for a walk in the mountains on a hot summer’s day.

A butterfly alighted on my hand and stayed for at least five minutes, exploring and obviously finding something of interest to consume.

Bendolla, 2008
Bendolla, 2008. Photo: B. Morgan

There was the time on the Greek island of Zakynthos when we went for an early swim and walked along the sandy beach.

As we reached the end, a beautiful swallowtail butterfly danced around us and then alighted on my collar, where it seemed perfectly happy to stay.

We ate breakfast on the terrace of a taverna just above the beach and during the whole time, the butterfly didn’t budge.

Eventually, about an hour later and well after we’d finished eating, it took off again as if refreshed after a snooze.

* * * * *

This week, I was at the lake for a swim and when I came out, an orange comma alighted on my purple backpack and seemed to fall in love with it.

I sat down beside it so I could study it more closely.

I was even able to encourage it on to my finger a couple of times as I wanted to get at something in the backpack.

It’s pretty amusing when they wander over your hand and arm producing a gently tickling sensation as they explore the new territory and even seem to find food on it.

And while I sat there another small blue butterfly arrived and stopped on the sand at my feet.

But what struck me as I played with this very beautiful creature for over half an hour is that really there is nothing more valuable in life than this.

Being in the moment.

Contemplating and conversing with a thing of beauty and wonderment.

A small angel.

What more could one want?

And it’s completely free.

Money has nothing to do with it.

A moment of complete pleasure where the ego has no place.

A moment to be thankful for.

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard

About Cake

Brigitte, Cake and Kimono (not sure why).

“You can’t have your cake and eat it.”

I heard this a lot growing up.

For Brigitte, who is Swiss, and probably for other non-native speakers of the language of Shakespeare, this is actually a very confusing statement.

“I can’t understand it at all,” Brigitte has said on many occasions.

Which is understandable.

Because we English often use the verb “have” to mean “eat,” as in “have breakfast” or “have a sandwich.”

So for her, it’s like saying, ” You can’t eat your cake and eat it.”

Which doesn’t make much sense.

If we choose another verb, such as “keep” then the idea behind this little gem of popular wisdom becomes clearer.

Now we have, “You can’t keep your cake and eat it.”

But it’s still nonsense.

After all, what are memories but things we have consumed that we keep?

* * * * *

On a visit to England last year, I had lunch with a friend and his mother, who is now well into her eighties.

“You can’t have everything,” she said.

And then she said it again.

And throughout the conversation, it came back again and again, like a kind of limiting mantra.

Eventually, I couldn’t let it pass.

“You can’t have everything,” she said.

“I don’t see why not,” I replied.

And later, when she said it again, I said, “I don’t see why not.”

It became quite funny.

We all chuckled.

* * * * *

These are the kind of limiting beliefs which make up our education and sometimes our lives.

But we can de-mask them.

Of course, if we say, “You can’t have everything,” or “You can’t have your cake and eat it,” enough, then it becomes a kind of truth for us and it’s very unlikely that we will have everything.

It’s important to keep the door open.

It might be difficult to “have everything,” which of course means different things to different people anyway, but it’s not impossible.

There is no objective reason why we shouldn’t have everything.

So what happens if we start to challenge all those unhelpful comments which surround and inhabit us.

“It’s normal that you do less as you get older,” a favourite of my mother’s.

Is it?

“You’ll never be a star.”

Why not?

“I’ll never be rich.”

Why not?

And so on.

I think we can push back the barriers at any age and our world will be brighter for it.

And if our world is brighter, then it will be brighter also for those around us.

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard

Suits

A rare picture of me in a suit from 2009. Can’t remember the occasion….

Have you ever felt under-dressed next to someone in a suit, particularly if it’s a good one?

Well, there are a couple of ways of dealing with this.

You can quote Eleanor Roosevelt to yourself:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Good point, but not always easy to apply.

The other way is a little more subtle but I find it helpful.

After all, how many people choose to wear a suit?

Not many.

So at the end of the day, it’s just another UNIFORM that people have to wear.

It’s really no different from wearing a uniform for serving in a café, or dungarees for a garagist.

It may be made of cashmere, and hand-tailored at the fanciest shop in London, but ultimately it’s just a uniform.

So if you are wearing what you want, you’re actually much more fortunate than the guy wearing the suit.

You have the enormous power of freedom of choice.

He doesn’t. He has to keep up appearances.

So the next time you’re queuing up for coffee or standing in line at the bank and you feel someone looking down at you because he’s wearing a suit and you’re not, tell yourself that he’s just wearing a uniform.

Trust me, it turns the tables completely.

You may even find yourself feeling sorry for him.

May your life never become an endurance test!

My preferred ‘uniform,’ Mallorca 2008. Photo:B. Morgan

Love

Richard

Left in a Right Hand World

Exhibit A: my most expensive pair of pants which I bought last year for €20 in Riga, which is interesting because the average net wage in Latvia is €703 a month. As you can see the opening is for right-handed men. Of course!

If you are not a man and left-handed, then this post may have only limited interest for you.

But by all means, read on….

* * * * *

It sometimes takes a very long time for the penny to drop.

Do you know the sci-fi film ‘Gattaca?’

Well, you may remember the scene at the end where it transpires that the doctor Lamar has known all along that Vincent is not what he pretends to be.

And the reason:

“For future reference, right-handed men don’t hold it with their left. Just one of those things.”

It’s true.

Conversely, left-handed men don’t hold it with their right.

And I didn’t.

Until a couple of weeks ago.

* * * * *

If you are right-handed then you have no idea of the contortions we Southpaws make to fit into your regimented world.

Statistically, we are about 10% of the population.

It’s a bit like being a Mac in a world of PCs (just kidding!)

When my mother was a child, the teachers tried to force her to write with her right hand. She couldn’t.

Only when my grand-mother went down to the school and told them to stop messing with her daughter was the situation resolved.

But then we’ve always had a bad name.

The word ‘sinister’ comes from the Latin ‘sinistra’ meaning left.

An accident in French is called a “sinistre.”

I dare say many of us were burn as witches and warlocks in league with the devil during the middle ages.

And there are situations where a left-hander could be a bit of a liability.

Going back to the Romans, the success of the legion phalanx was dependent upon each man’s sword arm protecting the left of the soldier next to him. Imagine the chaos if you had left-handed soldiers in there as well.

* * * * *

Some adaptations are obvious, of course.

Like when you sit down at a computer and the mouse is on the right.

Or pick up a pair of scissors and the handle cuts into your fingers because it isn’t made for you.

Or a measuring beaker where you can’t see the measuring guide.

Or a guitar, piano, drumset and all those other things that simply aren’t made for US.

As a leftie, you get really good at lateralization, that’s for sure.

But the weirdest thing is that you get so used to adapting that if you buy something made specifically for a left-hander, you often can’t get it to work.

When I bought a fountain pen recently, I tried both right- and left-handed pens, but in the end I was happier and wrote better with the pen for righties.

Sometimes you can’t get a pair of left-handed scissors to cut because you’ve got so used to putting the pressure of the blades in the other direction with right-handed ones.

And controlling a computer mouse on the left takes an enormous amount of concentration to get anything done, the hand is so untrained for that sort of movement.

So we get very good at pretending to be right-handed.

So much so that we sometimes miss the obvious.

Which brings me back to the pants.

For some reason, the penny never dropped that pants are made for right-handed people too.

For me, they were just pants.

It took me 60 years to wake up to the fact that even pants make our lives more complicated.

Obviously, since the opening is on the right, it’s much easier to grab it with your right hand.

As a left-hander, you have to reach over the opening, back inside to the left, grab it and then push it out to the right.

It’s a movement like the mark of Zorro, but less swash-buckling.

Then as you pee, the pants are continually trying to close on you to the left and underside which has a tendency to compress the urethra and inhibit the flow.

So a couple of weeks ago, I started holding it with my right hand.

And what do you know?

Oh, joy! Oh, bliss!

It really is much simpler.

I suppose you can’t really have left-handed pants because the trouser zip is made for right-handers as well.

I did discover a site on the web where they sell pants for left-handers with a horizontal opening, but how successful these are, I don’t know.

But it does underline the degree to which we’ve unconsciously adapted to the right hand world.

Some adaptations I’ve taken on spontaneously.

Our hands are a bit like our eyes in that one tends to take care of precision work while the other is for general use.

I try to swap things around.

Bilateral movement is good for you. And it gets your brain to develop new pathways.

For example, turning a key in the lock is something that I would normally do with my left hand, but I’ve also trained myself to do it with my right, because locks too can end up in positions where only a rightie can open them.

Same with pouring a bottle of wine.

And there are events that push you to make an extra effort too.

I broke a bone in my left hand once and I was so appalled at how difficult it was for me to wipe my ass with my right hand after going to the toilet that I swore I’d never go through that again. So I practised until I reached a reasonable degree of dexterity with the right too.

These days the politically correct talk about discrimination against minorities all the time.

But I wonder how many people stop to consider the great minority of left-handed people and the extent to which we are discriminated against in our totalitarian right-handed society?

What about starting a day for lefties?

We’ve got a day for virtually everything else.

Yeah….

Love

Richard

About Competition

Success is not always what it seems. Photo:© R.Morgan

I have long believed that the only true competition in this world is with yourself.

We live in a society where people are much too concerned with what others are doing and thinking, or might think.

Comparison with others is meaningless and only brings distress, and yet in our society we do it all the time.

“The next door neighbours have a swimming pool so we must get one,” even though we’re afraid of water and never go swimming.

“My girlfriends all have tattoos so I must get one,” even though it’s not really my thing.

“Bill has just got a promotion. Isn’t it time that I got one?”

Never mind that Bill sold his soul in the process.

The next time you look at someone else and feel envious, ask yourself how much you really know about the person.

He may be driving the expensive car you have always wanted, but is it paid for or just bought on credit?

He may have an incredibly beautiful wife, but perhaps in private they haven’t got two words to say to each other.

The thing is, everybody is different.

We all had individual experiences growing up, we all have our own agenda.

Don’t assume someone is successful because he or she is “successful” in the eyes of society.

We do not know what has been given up along the way or what is truly going on inside that person.

That is why comparisons are meaningless, and competition with others a waste of time.

It’s like comparing an apple with an orange.

On the other hand, competition with yourself will help you to develop and make each day a new beginning.

You can compare where you are now with where you were last week, last month, last year…

“I can do fifty press ups now but last year, I could only do twenty.”

“I can play a guitar reasonably well whereas a year ago, I couldn’t play at all.”

“I couldn’t do this at work, but now I can.”

You can look at concrete elements in your life and see progress.

The most important thing in this competing with yourself, though, and the main reason for the existence of this website,
is NOT TO MAKE LIFE AN ENDURANCE TEST.

Give yourself days off.

Allow yourself to have fun.

Frustrated that you can’t master that programme. Leave it and come back to it another day.

Can’t do what you wanted to do. Start again tomorrow.

The joy is in the doing, not in boasting about it the next day.

And don’t be put off if people say, as they have to me over the years:

“I don’t understand why you aren’t further ahead in your career.”

(Replace “career” with whatever applies to you!)

This is a meaningless judgement.

They do not know who you are or what you have gone through in life.

Their definition of success is almost certainly different from yours.

Sometimes the people who think they know you the best (parents, siblings, even close friends) don’t have a clue who you really are.

So do your own thing.

Run your own energy.

Leave the bleating to the others.

And see what happens.

Love

Richard

Start Before You’re Ready

I saw this wonderful video by Marie Forleo on YouTube:

Can’t Seem To Get Started? This One Idea Could Change Your Life

Never a truer piece of advice.

And well worth spending the seven minutes to watch.

I’ve already talked about Marie TV in a previous post:

Performance Tips (No, Not That Kind…)

As I mentioned before, the channel is really targeted at entrepreneurs and business activities, but many of the pieces of advice are relevant to any sphere of activity.

Marie is quite a character, has a big following with her YouTube channel and is fun to watch.

A little personal story here.

Almost exactly a year ago, I brought out my second full album of original music, MY TITANIC.

Now bringing out the first album, THE LESS YOU DO, in 2010, had been somewhat of an uncomfortable experience. I’d gone into the studio with eight musicians and an arranger and it had all got rather complicated.

So for the second album, I wanted to go a different direction and I was thinking about trying to record some tracks on my own, but I didn’t feel ready.

I was wondering what to do when I discovered a remarkable and now unfortunately defunct site called CrowdAudio which allowed artists to run mixing competitions.

As it happened, I’d recorded a ballad with just a piano-voice arrangement a fews days previously, so I decided to put it in and see what happened.

147 mixes and much listening later, I’d discovered the engineer with whom I went on to record the whole album. 3ee happens to live in Romania.

Now I wasn’t at all sure about recording the album on my own at home. But I liked the initial mix and I thought I could maybe try to record a few more songs before getting stuck and hiring session musicians in to a studio. Although I worried that the song arrangements would be too thin and the instrumental playing too weak, I persuaded myself to give it a shot.

So I started recording the album and sending the results off to Romania.

I decided to get each song mixed and mastered before moving on to the next.

Gradually, the number of completed songs built up.

And finally, I reached a tipping point where I said to myself, “What the hell, let’s do the whole thing like this.”

And the interesting thing was that the experience of recording at home generated new songs as I went along, songs that perhaps I would not have written otherwise.

In the end, many of the songs that I had initially wanted to record didn’t get on the album because I was enjoying the process of writing songs from scratch and recording them, all within the space of a few days. Some of them really sped through the “factory.”

Did I feel ready to record the whole album by myself before starting?

Absolutely not.

Is the result perfect?

No.

Could the arrangements be better?

Probably.

But it doesn’t stop me from being proud of the album and grateful for the experience.

And as Marie points out in her video, there’s really only one crime.

Everybody has to begin somewhere. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has to change things around.

The only real crime is not starting at all.

Love

Richard

The Start of a Backlash?

I thought this was an interesting article on BBC News recently:

Some cafes are banning wi-fi to encourage conversation

I’m relieved to see that the fact that everybody’s noses seem to be stuck to their screens all day long at last seems to bother some people.

It’s no substitute for real human interaction as another article from BBC Newsbeat suggests:

US Psychologists Claim Social Media Increases Loneliness

Personally, I’d like to see more places that are wi-fi, laptop and mobile phone free.

It really is time that people reclaimed their lives and started returning to the real world.

The mobile phone is a tool over which many people have no control whatsoever.

If you do not master a tool, then you become its slave.

Other tools that people are often enslaved to are money and TV.

Same thing applies.

Ask yourself honestly:

Do I have control over my mobile phone/money/TV or does it have control over me?

And if your answer is that you don’t have control over these things:

TV and mobile phone:
Discover the off button and practise using it.
Start real conversations with real people in front of you.
Do not reply to the phone when you are already in a conversation with a real person.
Try looking at the world around you. It’s full of beauty.

Money:
Try being thankful for the money that you already have.
Try sitting down and working out how much money you really need.
Try evaluating the real cost of obtaining the money you earn.
Try giving some away and see how it feels.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

Have a great week.

Love

Richard

The Tree Of Life 2

© Richard Morgan

Some time ago I wrote a post about the amazing properties of coconut oil:

http://endurancefreeliving.com/the-tree-of-life/

Helen Sanders of Health Ambition recently contacted me to tell me about an article on their site which details even more applications of this magnificent resource:

150 Uses For Coconut Oil

Some of the additional ideas are intriguing.

Take freezing into ice cubes for dropping into your favorite drinks, for example, or as a remedy for swimmer’s ear, which resonated with me because I do a lot of swimming in the lakes here in Switzerland.

Anyway, if you love this natural solution as much as we do or have yet to discover its potential, do check out the article:

150 Uses For Coconut Oil

Hope you find it useful.

Have a great weekend.

Love

Richard

mesunglasses

Paraphernalia

Wikipedia définition: “Paraphernalia most commonly refers to a group of apparatus, equipment, or furnishing used for a particular activity.”

When I was a kid, I had a bike.

Whenever I wanted, I leapt on my bike and went for a ride.

It was that simple.

Now it seems you can’t go for a ride unless you’ve got the right shoes and togs, preferably smeared with advertising so you look like you’re on a pro team.

And don’t forget the gel-padded gloves, the water bottle, the pump, the tinted protective glasses and the indispensable crash helmet.

Bicycle clips on your ordinary trousers are passé.

You need a special low friction, ultra high-speed, no wind-resistant pair of tights.

Whatever happened to simple?

Whatever happened to inexpensive?

Let’s take another example: fitness.

All the advertising suggests that you need an expensive gym membership to stay fit or at least have a few costly machines at home.

Not so.

Even if you have no exercise ideas of your own, the internet abounds in excellent exercise suggestions that require nothing more than willpower and a functional body to perform without any equipment whatsoever (see list at end of post).

So why are we constantly cluttering up our lives with all this unnecessary equipment and expense?

Perhaps we’re trying to convince ourselves that if we don’t have the equipment we can’t do the activity.

Perhaps we’re afraid that if there is no one to look at us, then we won’t exercise.

Ultimately, though, it’s between you and you.

The rest is just distraction.

All that equipment, all that clutter – it’s a hindrance rather than a help.

Keep it simple.

Do what you can.

Go slowly – you’ll quickly become disgusted if you overdo it.

Here are a few YouTube exercise channels that I particularly like:

Bowflex Workouts
Although this company makes fitness equipment, the workouts without any equipment at all are very interesting. The link I’ve given will take you to a series of standing abdo exercises that I’ve tried out myself, but the are plenty more videos like that. It’s a little macho with the man giving the orders and the girls doing all the work, but my goodness those girls are beautiful!

Tapp Brothers
These guys are into parkour but their exercise suggestions without equipment are really interesting and useful for anybody.

Flipping 50
Targeted at people over fifty, the lady presenter may be a little less flamboyant but her suggestions are good.

K’s Perfect Fitness
The girl has the obligatory stunning looks of a standard get fit channel, but she actually has some good exercise tips without equipment as well as with. The poor sound is a minor irritation (microphone on camera so no presence).

Very important – don’t get depressed if you don’t look like the presenters in these videos!

Hope that helps.

Have a great week.

Love

Richard

mesunglasses