Last week, in my weekly ezine Adam Up, I offered up a different kind of article, before this blog gets back into it’s usual self as I get back into the swing after my holiday, I thought I’d share that article in case you missed it…..
This is my 40th Birthday edition of Adam Up and so Keith has put together a bunch of offers that revolve around us pricing loads of stuff 40p, or £4.00 or £40.00 and so on… Importantly, my science of self-hypnosis programme is released today too, and it is currently at a price that it will never be sold at again as a way of celebrating.
Onto today’s article. It is sort of titled “my way of making my life as happy as I can for myself and those closest to me” but that is not very catchy. It is that sort of theme though.
I was going to write a 40 things you did not know about Adam Eason, but I could only think of 2 things that I was prepared to share publicly. Then I thought, how about 40 tips to be good at (hypnotherapy? Running? Being ginger?) but that would not have been useful for, or inclusive of everyone who reads this blog each week.
It would feel a bit conceited to refer to this as some of my 40 years of collected wisdom, which presupposes that my wisdom is somehow worth knowing. I don’t believe it is useful for anyone other than myself. Though the value for others is something I’ll explain…
This is an advanced version of an article I wrote 3 years ago and have edited and added to it for today, but some of what I wrote originally made me cringe. I think therefore, wisdom is in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, this article is simply about some stuff that I have learnt about how I find happiness. Something that has not always come naturally to me.
I say ‘how I often find happiness’ because I am not always happy. I still have days when I suffer with echoes of past depression and other days when I feel unable to cope as well as I’d like. The ways I deal with that, and the things I do to help myself are part of what this article is about.
As M Scott Peck wrote in his opening line of The Road Less Travelled “life is difficult” – We all find it difficult from time to time, some people find it a lot more ifficult and I have encountered a fair few of those people in my therapy rooms and in areas of my personal life. Among my closest friends are two recovering alcoholics and a sufferer of chronic depression and I have close family who have suffered with mental health issues during their life. I am no exception.
Recently, when faced with Weetabix for breakfast instead of what his Daddy was having, my son felt the full force of life being difficult, he reached the deepest depths of despair, held his head in his hands. I originally had a photo of him here in that moment, but when our website got updated, a bunch of photos went missing, that is one of them.
What kind of a Father takes photos of his son when he is having a tantrum about his breakfast choice, eh? It makes me laugh every time I look at this, but heck, it was pretty real to him. We all have times when we feel like this. I wanted to write about some of the things I have learned during the last 40 years that have helped me to climb out of those times and actually feel that, upon reflection, this 40 years has been thoroughly enjoyable, worthwhile and fulfilling.
So yes, as of August the 7th, I am 40 years old. Just over 40 years ago, my Mum was desperately awaiting my arrival as I was a week overdue, I’d like to think that she was fresh out of a hot bath, bouncing on a trampette, scoffing a hot curry and shouting “come on Adam, get outta here“, but in reality, she wasn’t… That expression was saved for my teenage years when I was still in bed at midday.
My 40th Birthday was always something I had envisioned as being a big party, organised to my every desired detail, but this year has been a whirlwind with so much going on that I simply have not had the time and (albeit sadly) the inclination to have the fanfares blown for my Birthday. I think Katie is organising something for the weekend. At least, she keeps telling me to look away when I walk into the room and shuts her PC dramatically at times…
With today’s article then, as I said, I thought I’d be a tad self- indulgent and share with you some things that I have learnt during the last 40 years on this planet. Things that have become my philosophy on how I live my life… This is subjective, personal and helps me live my life as I do, it is not meant to be advice or a guide – I think everyone has their own philosophy and I think we should all have an understanding of what makes us as effective as we can be.
1. Those familiar with me and my work know that an idol of mine is the former England under 21 football team coach, former Nottingham Forest and England left back, Stuart Pearce. The only man with thighs as big as my own who knew how to score a free kick. He was ‘hard but fair’ on the football field. He played with total conviction, he was ferocious, yet he never cheated, he never dived, rolled around, or looked for free kicks that should not have been. He was headbutted on purpose by Basil Boley playing for England during an international game against France, yet he carried on when he could have got the player sent off or at least booked. He had a crucial World Cup penalty saved but then stepped up 4 years later to score one in a highly tense moment to help us go through to the next round of the world cup… He was a man of steel. I got to meet him once and had my photo taken with him:
I think it is good to be hard and fair. Hard does not have to mean physically, I am not referring to ‘Gripper Jenkins’ from school who was a hard nut of a different kind, a bully. I mean honourable, tenacious, ferocious and at times tough… Yet still being fair; honest, true to yourself and others, congruent and giving people a fair chance.
2. The most difficult, sometimes painful, gruelling and testing experiences and challenges that life has thrown up have almost always ultimately been the most rewarding, meaningful and enlightening. Mine and Katie’s journey to parenthood, the multi marathons I have run, the studies I have completed, the work practices we have engaged in, the travelling without money in foreign lands, moving to new areas to live…. Have all been utterly amazing in hindsight.
Setting up my business was not and never has been easy. But 15 years on, it is solid. When I ran my first diploma course, 6 people were in class. Today, over 100 students train with this school each year and whilst we are unlikely to have world dominance while based cozily at the foot of the English coast, the continuous hard work and challenge has been greatly rewarded with friendships, adventures, seeing exceptional people go on to have great careers and getting to experience hilarity from time to time.
Those close to me know that the road to becoming a Dad was not without a lot of upset, sadness, trauma and challenge. There were times when we felt like turning back. Yet today, my son is without a doubt the single biggest source of joy in my life. Every day I get up and can’t wait to see him. We laugh so much together. Fatherhood today makes the journey appear very different.
3. Being different is a blessing.
Having ginger hair; being 6 foot tall at the age of 13; supporting a football team from the Midlands when you were raised in the south and all your friends supported local teams; having more behavioural quirks than Ken Dodd; loving Tolkien novels and spending time with kids playing Dungeon and Dragons and going to cub scouts when all my other ‘cool’ football team friends took the mickey; studying hypnotherapy in my early 20s while my peers kept complaining that I was not around enjoying the parties as much as them; being a 14 stone marathon runner while all my running club peers are so utterly lean …. This stuff really has been the spice of my life.
Plus, I won Super Cub one year. Which is surely still one of my biggest achievements to date:
It is not always easy being different, some see being different as a weakness, but learning to celebrate the things that make me different, has led to me being happier overall.
4. Laughing is something I do all I can to experience more of as I have got older. The stuff that arises from the depths of the tummy … Whether it is childish pranks with my son, laughing at life with my wife, ripping on close friends in the pub, jokes with my students in class, reading viz comic that comes in the post or the Poke on my iPad, watching my favourite comedy TV shows (Red Dwarf, Blackadder, Family Guy, South Park, the Office, Alan Partridge and so much more) watching stand-up shows at pubs, clubs or theatres… It is not only healthy for me, it is a sensation I find to be delightful. It is an antidote to much of the tough stuff that comes my way from time to time.
So I make a conscious effort to find ways to laugh more.
5. Reading is one of my most rewarding pastimes, and I always believed that if I wanted to be a good hypnotherapist, I needed to read around the subject…
For example, I see lots of professionals raving about Dave Elman’s ‘Hypnotherapy’ … I found reading and understanding the Hartlands book was better for me and my career, being able to get inspiration from Hammond’s book of suggestions and metaphors was better… Reading Kreskin and knowing the work of Coué, Braid, Bernheim, Barber, Hull, Spanos, Heap, Wolberg, Friedman, Kroger and Kirsch is better, infinitely so! Reading Arnold Lazarus’s work on multimodal therapy, and Ellis and Beck’s work on CBT was better for me… Reading diverse and related materials was better for me and my career.
Reading novels for pure joy too, things you can lose yourself in like Iain Banks epic sci-fi novels, Patrick Rothfuss fantasy novels are symbolic of the stuff I like to get lost in… Man, that is living, that is perfecting self-hypnosis, that is letting your imagination induce natural highs.
Had I not read and continued to read as hungrily as I do today, I would not be able to run my school as I do, I would not be able to defend my stance in online forum discussions, I would not be able to have written my latest book on the science of self-hypnosis, which is something I am completely and utterly proud of.
6. As Roy from the IT crowd(channel 4 comedy show) would say… “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” Sometimes seemingly catastrophic problems have been sorted out with the tiniest of ease. Turning the computer off and on again usually remedies my biggest online issues. Turning myself on and off again with a run followed a good nights sleep is often all I need to find solutions and resolutions to many issues I find myself faced with.
7. There is 99.9999999% chance of me surviving to live another day if I do not get one single thing completed on my to-do list for that day, let alone getting every single thing on my list completed. And that is exaggerating the chances of me not surviving… In fact, it is 100% isn’t it? Not got anything on my to-do list done today? So what?
I recall going on holiday and not being able to access my emails and panicking for much of the holiday about how my business would be in tatters when I returned. Upon my arrival home, I realized that nothing had changed, in fact a number of people had barely realise that I had even gone away. There was nothing to worry about in the slightest.
8. Those risks I took that failed well outnumber the successes… If I look at it, I have a massively high fail percentage compared to the successes… But heck, had I not done those things, the way I’d feel about myself would be unbearable. What’s more, it helps with my self-esteem and helps me to believe in myself. Really, relying on just myself to be a believer in Adam Eason as the only person I can rely on is a good foundation. It is lovely to have others believe, but relying and believing in myself in the face of a LOT of failure has been incredibly useful. The things I have learnt from the failure are very valid and valuable and helped me and my life to progress in the way I have wanted it to.
9. I am not really naturally talented at anything… Except maybe laughing at my brother and my close friend Jim, they both crack me up so much… The things I am good at, I practiced a lot. I read in the paper that sports stars need approximately 10,000 hours of practice and training to become world champions or close to that level… So I shall keep practicing and letting people think I am a natural at some things if they want…
10. Not letting people get to me is tough. I often joke to Katie that my work and life would be much easier if it were not for the people. I also truly love solitary time in my life (I run, garden and work alone for hours of each day). People often pose some of the biggest challenges to me and the homeostasis I want in my life.
If I let go of stuff without it festering, sometimes that means I rant and vent to dispose and diffuse, rather than skulking and simmering. Other times, I’ll examine my thoughts, distance myself from my feelings and consider the long-term impact of stuff… Then I am a happier, healthier version of me when things are in perspective.
Sadly, there are people on this planet who for whatever reason, known or unknown, do not always have the best interests of others at the forefront of their mind. I can’t change them all. I can’t expect them to live up to the standards I expect of people, and that may not even be the right way to go about things. I cannot convince them that my way is best, and to think so is typically self-righteous and dogmatic of me.
If you pick out all those kinds of people and highlight them too much, you can lose faith in human beings.
Instead I remember the people I encounter through running, through charities, through my school, friendships forged, people who have touched my life in positive ways and it helps remind me that there is good reason for having faith in human beings.
11. The tone I write stuff in is always changed to the tone of the reader… Anything I write with good intentions can end up upsetting others and it is not always my own fault.
12. As Roy Castle used to sing – dedication is what you need.
My running idol and hero is a man called Steve Prefontaine, he once said about racing:
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
He also said this, which I have on my wall in my office:
“A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts.”
I am not a natural runner, I am tall and chunky. I run for a number of reasons, I quite like the pain of running a marathon – it is the main area I get to truly test my self-hypnosis skills, overcome demons faced during adversity of races, but also because I like the time with myself and my own thoughts. Importantly, when I dedicate myself to it, I am rewarded.
It is not easy, but the dedication I have shown my running since my first marathon in the year 2001 has helped me become dedicated in other areas of my life too, in other areas where it is also not easy and does not come naturally. Here I am during the fastest marathon I ever ran:
13. Not everyone is going to like me. Lots of people do not like me. That is one hell of a bitter pill to swallow. The better known you become, the further your wings spread, the more people you’ll encounter that just can’t stand you and just don’t get you… So I stopped attempting to try and please everyone, stopped getting upset if someone does not like me or my work or wrote unkind reviews or comments about me or how I am… It is part of the human condition. The more famous music bands become, the more people there are to not like them.
“Champion yourself, be happy and feel safe in your own skin, be prepared to take some knocks and take them on the chin” was some valuable advice I was given when I got upset with reading some offensive comments about me written online many years ago… In the end though, I have learned to love living that way and those that do like me and do get me are friends or people who derive gain from my work.
We cannot convert the world to being fans. It is reality. Those who you meet and learn to love and like, focus on them, invest your time and energy on them instead of trying to convert the world.
14. I like what I like.
I do like drinking. Ringwood Best Bitter beer is mighty fine and I get a barrel of it every Christmas. Chateuxneuf du Pap and a good Rioja Reserva, not forgetting a full blown hearty Barolo – the champions of the wine kingdom in my book… Though when you round them off later on with your 14 year old single malt, or your best Brandy, your penchant for the afore mentioned wines does lessen for a couple of days as you recover and revive your willingness to drink them again.
A well made dirty martini is another boozy joy. 3 parts cold vodka out of the freezer (so it gloops and is thick as it pours) and 1 part good vermouth (ideally Noilley Pråt), shaken with ice, then poured into a martini glass that has had a couple of drops of angostura bitters rolled around inside, with two green olives and a tea spoon of the olive salty water from the jar. It is my favourite.
I like eating too. A fine steak, cooked rare with Ringwood brewery mustard and a glass of good red wine; that makes me happy. A marvellous ham sandwich, with fresh granary bread, real butter, thick ham, mustard, lettuce and black olives, man that is good. My wife’s banana muffins when fresh out of the oven and still warm with a glass of cold milk – I could eat them until I threw up.
I like certain brands of clothes (A&F, Superdry, Boss when I can afford it), certain types of running gear (Addidas and Garmin in particular). I like certain TV shows, films, theatre etc, etc.
My point here is that I like what I like – we all like certain stuff. If it is not of mass or popular appeal, it does not matter to me. I choose to derive joy from knowing what I do like and experiencing more of them. Champion that stuff as well as seeking new experience. I do not deny myself of the things I feel a natural liking to, stuff that excites me, or that makes me smile, I do more of.
15. The basic stuff I already knew before I got involved in therapy helps to keep me happy.
a) Fresh air – Though a day in amongst the beauty and quiet of my garden is without a doubt some of the best medicine… For most things in fact… And yes, nature knows best, connect with it often and enjoy the air while surrounded by it. Being by the sea and owning a beach hut is without a doubt a total privilege I respect greatly. My son loves the seaside and we go there often. We all sleep so well after a day breathing in fresh air.
b) Social interaction – we are social creatures. I doubt this at times. Yet I feel revived and fulfilled after spending time with people. Enjoying the company of friends, family, students, alumni of my school – these are times when I feel incredibly well.
c) Healthiness – we all have interpretations of what this means. For me, having some form of exercise in my day and getting my vegetables eaten feels good.
16. Reflecting objectively without moping does me good.
Like writing this. I had a bunch of other stuff to write, but it got me feeling conceited and got too indulgent. Instead, the reflection and knowing I had good stuff to draw upon has given me a good sense of security.
I reflect upon the stuff which is not good too, but I covered that elsewhere here. Good reflecting helps me to realise when things are going well and helps me to make the most of the time I have playing with my son, enjoying conversations with friends, running on the sea front, researching for my latest book, having dinner with my darling wife….
There you have it, some thoughts on my own philosophy and approach as turn 40… This is how I do my best to make my life work for me and those closest to me. It is no recipe for success, I do not think such a thing exists. I do think that as we learn more, we can take more control of our life, so I think everyone would benefit from knowing the philosophy that they have for leading a life which feels good as often as possible.
I send you my very best wishes and I’ll be back soon and we’ll have our articles and good processes to learn from.