COMING BACK TO WHERE YOU ARE

Modern Day Pharisees: Spiritual Materialism, Narcissism and Hypocrisy

About 2000 years ago, the religious leaders of a little known Roman province noticed a strange and disturbing development. A certain precocious young man was going about the country trash-talking them. He claimed they were hypocrites who didn’t practice what they preached. He said they just painted their faces white to pretend they were fasting.…

Redefining Strength: Mindfulness vs. the Insecure Man-Child

It was like the internet had just vomited all over my screen. I’d just had a popular Youtuber recommended to me. Apparently he had spoken well in the past on topics such as well-being and inspiration. Sure, he came on a little strong at times, I was told, but generally he gave a motivating and…

A Crisis of Purpose: The Modern Flight From Reality

There’s a certain thought experiment that has been disturbing me for a while now. When I first heard it, years ago, I thought it was interesting but mostly theoretical and irrelevant. Now I think it throws a floodlight onto what might well become a defining crisis of the twenty-first century. In 1974, philosopher Robert Nozick…

Absurdity and Revolt: Mindfulness and the Meaning of Life

Apparently there’s no torture more terrible to the gods’ imagination than pointless, endless, meaningless labour. For trying to cheat death, the mythical Greek figure Sisyphus was condemned by the gods to a cruel and unusual punishment: he had to push a boulder up a mountain, yet the moment the boulder reached the top it would…

Restoring Faith in Humanity: The Case For Optimism

There’s a certain creepy conversation that I keep falling into. It happens whenever the topic of human nature comes up, and it usually goes like this: Other Person: “I think it’s just human nature to be selfish, violent and cruel.” Me: “Why?” Other Person (stunned that I even asked): “What planet are you living on?…

Imagining Shangri-La: In Defence of Utopian Thinking

Imagine: You have been given a chance to recreate society completely from scratch. Yes, you personally have to devise a set of principles by which we will all live. But there’s a catch: You don’t get to know who you will be in this society. You don’t know if you will be rich or poor,…

What Dreams May Come: Dealing With the Rise of Eco-Anxiety

You and your family board a plane. As the plane takes off, something strange starts to happen. The passengers get out of their seats and start removing or damaging ever-increasing portions of the plane itself: engine, wings, fuel pumps, navigation, electrical, windows, steering, etc. Understandably, you start to panic. You rush over to the passengers…

The Necessity of Reason: Combating the Lies Your Mind Tells You

Have you ever considered that one of your biggest problems might be your own brain? Not because there’s anything wrong with you, per se, but because there’s something off about the way we’re hardwired as a species. The problem is that the human brain didn’t evolve over millions of years to be happy, it evolved…

A Path Without a Goal: There’s More to Life Than Getting What You Want

I’m sure you’ve been there before. You really wanted to achieve that goal. You wanted to pass your course, get that degree, buy that car, score that job, travel the world. Whatever it was, you knew that as soon as you achieved it you would have “made it.” You would finally be happy. Then you…

Get High on Nirvana: A Guided Tour of Meditation Techniques

Bring your attention to your breath? Focus on body sensations? Be in the present moment? What on earth could possibly be more boring? I remember thinking this when I first heard about meditation techniques as a child. I was into fantasy novels and video games; my head didn’t want to be in the present moment,…

Our Better Angels: The Link Between Mindfulness and Compassion

Mindfulness changes the way you see people. As meditation practice steadily erodes your fears, anxieties and insecurities you naturally find yourself becoming less self-focused and more other-focused. You realise just how much your view of the world and of other people have been obscured by your self and your endless obsessions. This move from worrying…

Reframe Your Thinking: The Stoic Path to Contentment

I once knew a guy. Let’s call him Bill. Bill had problems. Many problems, in fact. There were people at work who didn’t share all his opinions. When he spoke, they felt threatened by his vastly superior intelligence. And the things they thought! Well, don’t get Bill started on what they were thinking about him behind his back. Because,…

You Are Not Powerless: Focus on What You Can Control

It’s 1942, and the shadow of the Third Reich lies heavy on Europe. When the Nazis finally come for Viktor Frankl and his family, it seems all is lost. His father perishes in the Thereseinstadt concentration camp. Two years later Frankl and the rest of his family are driven to Auschwitz, where he loses his…

Be the Change: Mindfulness and Social Justice

What do you think of a monk going off to meditate in a cave for years at a time? How about decades? Such a person might well be the world champion of meditation. Maybe they are a bona fide Enlightened One. Or maybe they’re a certifiable headcase from the lack of human social interaction. But…

You Are Not All-Powerful: Let Go of What You Can’t Control

Are you the guy with the long white beard in Michaelangelo’s painting? If not, I have some shocking news for you. Brace yourself. Sorry, but you are not all-powerful and you can’t control everything. Yes, yes, I can hear you thinking: “Wow, are you running out of ideas already? What’s your next stunning insight, that…