Redefining Resilience + Living Fiercely Into Our Questions

PLUS: Choosing Depth, Screw Being Nice, Proof-of-X + Curious Gorillas

Hello Curious Humans 👋

Today, I emerged from a two-month-long 🕳️

Not a depressive hole, quite to the contrary—it was a psychic freedive into a writing project that I found deeply nourishing—and I’m thrilled to share that the fruits of this labour are out in the wild in the form of this Emotional Resilience Report.

I feel fortunate to have had an experienced diving partner, Jan Chipchase who acted as both a mentor and co-author of the project. It was quite a journey for both of us and feels like the end of the beginning of a larger body of work.

Personally, I learnt about the superpower of working with a proof-reader who ruthlessly cull words not doing any heavy lifting as well as a more nuanced understanding of the human nervous system and how to self-regulate it.

But above all, I learnt why I was drawn to this project in the first place. I didn’t quite connect the dots at first, but exploring resilience has been a continuation of the story that I shared last year on the TEDx stage last year which spoke to the gifts that come from navigating hardship and loss.

The revelation for me has been one of redefining resilience. Many of us conflate resilience with robustness, yet they are profoundly different. Robustness, whilst necessary at times, involves sucking it up, putting your head down and in my experience is a precursor to ‘foolish grit’ and ultimately burnout.

When we experience inevitable heartbreak, stress or suffering, the task is not to fortify ourselves and tense against it—but rather to soften, bring awareness to our physical sensations and enquire with a sense of courageous curiosity. On the other side of this beautiful process is greater wholeness and self-awareness. This is the path of true resilience, but to get there requires unlearning decades of cultural conditioning.

📝 READ // Dive into the report! If you’re short on time, we’ve also created a visual PDF summary of the findings. We designed this to provoke more questions than answers so it’s published as a Google Doc and open for public comments.

👐 CONTRIBUTE // We’ve also begun to crowdsource this Notion Wiki for compiling practical suggestions, resources and tools for emotional regulation.

Read it here

🤔 Three Reflection Questions

Inspired by my all-time favourite comic strip ‘A Day in the Park’, my friend Malcolm Ocean wrote: “first you need to know how to comfortably hold a question without immediately asking it. Questions are a kind of creature that is easily startled.”

As bizarre as it seems, we must re-learn how to sit with and nurture our relationship to the questions that matter—stewing in ambiguity, without grasping—but instead fiercely living our way into the answers. Here are three lines of inquiry that I’m leaning into in my own life:

👪 1 // Who are my internal characters?

I’ve mentioned Erick Godsey’s journaling course and the idea of using the concept of ‘Internal Family Systems’ previously and it continues to fascinate me.

For starters, it’s quite a relief to understand that we contain multitudes. When we feel conflicted about a decision, it’s quite literally because there are different parts of our psyche in conflict about the best way to keep us safe + loved.

My own fellowship of inner-guardians ranges from Ged (Wizard of Earthsea) and Aragorn (LOTR) to Hiccup (How to Train Your Dragon) and Alfred (Batman’s British caretaker). I’m sure they will change but it’s a fun and creative process giving life to my internal characters.

🤷‍♂️ 2 // Am I being ‘nice’ vs. ‘kind’?

It came to me as quite a painful and profound realisation that I’ve spent the vast majority of my life in the mode of being ‘nice’ rather than being ‘kind’. Being British and growing up in an overly polite (sometimes pretentious) culture it seeped into my conditioning.

What’s the difference you ask? In short, nice aims to act in a way that never rocks the boat, even if that means repressing what feels true in order to say what you think will cause the least harm or fit in.

It is a form of sacrificing your own authenticity to protect others. Kindness is direct. It's real. It might be painful or uncomfortable at the time, but it comes from a loving place and it allows others to really feel like they can trust you.

🏔️ 3 // Where might I choose greater depth?

A gift of covid-19 for me has been the opportunity to view my life through the lens of depth—even if that means sacrificing optionality in the short-term.

Recently this has looked like investing in the community and relationships here in Puerto Escondido, committing to depth in work (see the report above) and in love. My partner and I are experimenting with a Celtic-inspired alternative to engagement—called ‘handfasting’.

This essentially means we’ve committed to each other and our partnership for a full 365 days (kinda like marriage with a built-in deadline) with the intention of crafting a container to go deeper in life + love.

🍑 Bonus: Explore the Psychology of Pleasure

My dear friend Haneen recently quit her corporate job and has put herself out there in a big way launching a brilliant online course designed to explore erotic self-care and rewire your relationship with receiving… and lots more! (If you’re intrigued write "Curiosity is Sexy" in her application form for 10% off before 30 Aug)

🔗 Et Cetera

💡 Proof-of-X

🌎 Window swaps

🏠 Reimagining home

🖌️ Gorgeous kintsugi repair kit

🦈 The eagle that caught a shark

🦑 World’s first transparent squid

🦍 Curiosity isn’t only for humans

💡 Ideas that might change your life

🔑 Duplicating keys with their sounds

🎵 What silence teaches us about sound

📖 The World’s First Craigstarter Project

⛰️ Three decades married with a mountain

🚀 The magic of doing $10,000 per hour work

🎧 Disconnection is rare + valuable these days

📚 Hell Yeah—Derek Sivers wrote a new book!

🎴 Kickstarter card deck for communal grieving

🔥 A brave friend’s house just burnt to the ground

👨‍🎨 On the relationship between originality + self-doubt

📝 Parting Poem

You are not the author
Of this life.

But a willing scribe,
Taking grateful dictation.

You must learn to pay attention 
as each word emerges.

Like a stepping stone,
Into the great mystery.

Look up and 
Gaze in rapture
As the story
Unfolds before you