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Best highlights from “The comfort book”
Last week, I didn’t write a newsletter due to some personal reasons and this week I started getting back into doing things. I had put them off for over couple of weeks.
This week I’m packed with work but I really wanted to talk about two topics - “Protect your peace” and “Why our future doesn’t look like what it used to”.
Two very deep topics and research is still underway. I needed more time.
That’s why this week I’m sharing my notes and top 20 highlights from the book that helped me rebuild myself and told me to keep the hope alive.
You can click here to buy the book (This newsletter is reader-supported. If you buy through my links and I may get a commission)
1/ "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you', wrote Angelou.” Silence is pain. But it is a pain with an exit route. When we can't speak, we can write.
When we can't write, we can read. When we can't read, we can listen. Words are seeds. Language is a way back to life. And it is sometimes the most vital comfort we have. (Page 35)
2/ Other people matter. But there is no point becoming someone else in order to find friends. In order to find the people who like you, it is first necessary to be you. (Page 41)
3/ Purple saxifrage - The hardiest plant in the world is the purple saxifrage. It has delicate-looking flowers, with purple petals that seem as though they might blow away in the wind, yet it thrives in the Arctic. The flowers survive by clustering together, low to the ground, offering each other shelter against the hardest conditions on earth. (Page 42)
Remember you are a purple saxifrage.
4/ You need instead to accept the unknowability of the future (Page 49)
5/ Hope, in its simplest form, is the acceptance of possibility. (Page 50)
6/ The sky isn't more beautiful if you have perfect skin. Music doesn’t sound more interesting if you have a six-pack. Dogs aren't better company if you're famous. Pizza tastes good regardless of your job title. The best of life exists beyond the things we are encouraged to crave. (Page 51)
7/ A little plan
Be curious. Go outside. Get to bed on time. Hydrate. Breathe from the diaphragm. Eat happy. Get a routine baggy enough to live in. Be kind. Accept that not everyone will like you. Appreciate those who do. Don't be defined. Allow fuck-ups. Want what you already have. Learn to say no to things that get in the way of life. And to say yes to the things that help you live. (Page 52)
8/ We are often encouraged to see life as one continual uphill limb. We talk about ladders without even thinking. Career ladders. Property ladders. Of being on the top rung of the ladder. Or the bottom rung of the ladder. We talk of climbing the ladder. We talk of rising up. We talk of uphill struggles. In doing so we visualise life as a kind of vertical race, like we are human skyscrapers reaching for the clouds.
And we risk only ever looking above to the future or below to the past and never around at the infinite horizontal landscape of the present. The trouble with ladders is they give you no room to move around. Just room to fall. (Page 53)
9/ No, my niceness is not weakness. (Page 59)
10/ No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having the space you need to live. (Page 60)
11/ A paradox
A therapist once told me that the most common complaint he heard from his patients was the feeling that they didn't belong. The feeling of being an imposter, or of being outside things, of not fitting in. Of failing to connect easily with people. I found this as reassuring as it was paradoxical. That one of the most common feelings among people was the feeling of not fitting in among people. The comfort, then, is the weird truth that in one sense we have most in common with others when we feel awkward and alone. Isolation is as universal as it gets. (Page 68)
13/ The same, I would say, is true of death. Even more than sex, death is a teeth-grindingly uncomfortable subject for many human beings, certainly those of us living in modern Western cultures. And yet death forms the basis for so many of our deepest concerns.
And it is a part of life. It helps define life. It raises the value of our time here, and the value of the people we spend it with. The silence at the end of the song is as important as the song itself.
Or, as Nietzsche put it: “The end of a melody is not its fulject.
Death is an uncomfortable subject. (Page 115)
14/ The hardest dream of all to achieve is the dream of not being tormented by our unlived dreams. (Page 119)
15/ Tips for how to make a bad day better.
16/ Check your emotional armour is actually protecting you, and not so heavy you can't move. (Page 125)
17/ It is easier to learn to be soaked and happy than to learn how to stop the rain. (Page 128)
18/ You must never wait in pain,' said the specialist, or words to that effect. It was a message I would think of years later when I was suicidal. 'You must see to it straight away. It doesn't go away by pretending it isn't there.' (Page 138)
19/ Don't worry about being cool. Never worry what the cool people think. Life is warmth. You'll be cool when you're dead. Head for the warm people. Head for life. (Page 144)
20/ Tara Brach calls 'radical acceptance', where we can appreciate our so-called flaws or imperfections as a natural part of existence. And then we can exist with openness and honesty, rather than shrink ourselves by trying to shut ourselves away like the contents of a cluttered cupboard.
We can, in short, live. (Page 167)
Damn, I’m only half way there. Alright let’s do 10 more.
21/ The universe is change', wrote Marcus Aurelius. 'Our life is what our thoughts make it.'
Even a man in charge of an empire could look at the stars and feel happily small in the grand universal order of things.
The sky doesn't start above us. There is no starting point for sky. We live in the sky. (Page 181)
22/ Epictetus was a very modern philosopher in some ways.
His worldview is probably best summed up by his statement It's not what happens to you, but how you react that matters.' It is a philosophy that has been credited with helping people in tough circumstances, from prisoners of war to people experiencing depression.
The psychologist Albert Ellis, one of the originators of cognitive behavioural therapy, cites this Epictetus quote as influencing his entire therapeutic approach: 'Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them.' (Page 183)
23/ In the dark cocoon, a caterpillar falls apart. It disintegrates in its own enzymes. It becomes liquid. Mush. Caterpillar soup. And then, slowly, it is reborn a butterfly. Cocoons aren't a cosy quiet resting place. Cocoons must feel a pretty horrendous place for a caterpillar. Yet, the caterpillar's fate has proven a great metaphor for our own misfortunes and struggles. The greatest changes stem from the darkest experiences. We fall apart to become new. We go through the dark to fly in the sun. (Page 185)
24/ The cure for loneliness
Loneliness isn't an absence of company. Loneliness is felt when we are lost. But we can be lost right in the middla of a crowd. There is nothing lonelier than being with people who aren't on your wavelength. The cure for loneliness isn't more people. The cure for loneliness is understanding who we are. (Page 196)
25/ Get comfortable with being uncomfortable’. (Page 208)
26/ Other people can be wrong, and we can be wrong, and that is another thing we have in common.
The capacity for fucking up. And for forgiving. (Page 211)
27/ Forgiving other people is great practice for forgiving yourself when the time comes. (Page 212)
28/ The moments of deepest pain in my life were also the moments I learned the most about myself. (Page 217)
29/ In troublesonme moments, the beauty of life can come into sharper focus.
And the things we learn in the bad days serve us in the good times. Just as the promise of good times helps us through the bad. Everything connects. All life is within us. Fear to calm, hope to hopelessness, despair to comfort. A grain of sand can tell us about a universe. And a single moment can teach us about every other moment.
We are never only one thing.
Just as our ancestors saw the world as a composite of earth, fire, water and air – so we can see in any moment, in any individual, a connection to all the other elements of that existence. We always have the possibility to be more. To be bigger than any current crisis or worry. To discover something new about the landscape of our mind, not by adding to it but by realising it was there all along. The way a page in a book is there even if we haven't read it yet.
We always have more inside us than we realise. More strength, more warmth, more compassion, more resilience.
The world can surprise us, sure, but we can surprise ourselves too.
30/ Nothing is stronger than a small hope that doesn’t give up.
10 Interesting things for you 🙌
1. A new soft technology (Blog)
2. Big Skills (Blog)
3. Reading books when everyone else was on their phones has been one of the biggest dividends givers of my life.
4. Something from my Twitter👇
5. Made me smile:
6. Picture of the week:-
7. Question of the week:- What's a subject/topic you tried to understand or want to learn but just couldn't yet?
I’m working on something, would really appreciate your answer.
8. Meme of the week:- Heather Morgan is the world’s most richest worst rapper 😂
9. Current read: Started reading Keep going again. Need of the hour :)
10. Quote of the week:
“The little things? The little moments? They aren't little.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn
(Tweet this quote)
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” -Jamie Anderson
(Tweet this quote)
"When an ox enters a palace, it does not become a king. Instead the palace turns into a barn." - Turkish proverb
(Tweet this quote)
Check out some previous newsletters:
Diderot Effect (Read)
Life’s lines of Closeness (Read)
Cathedral Thinkers (Read)
Join in if you want me to trigger your curiosity every week👇
Personal Announcement 🚨
I took some time off Twitter last week and slowly getting back.
What would you like me to talk and write about (On both Twitter & this newsletter)?Hit me with topics, specific questions, interesting problems, etc. Anything that you want to learn.
Everyone who replies will get a surprise from me. Let’s go.
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