Writing Prompts, Freediving, Sparketypes & Other Recent Obsessions

PLUS: Eight Courses to Level Up Your Life, Designing a 'Jedi Warrior Program', Kosmic Consciousness and more mind-expanding ideas!

👋 Hey Curious Human

😋 Oh hi there // Please feel free to feast on this month’s buffet of brainfood below in one sitting, or you can open in a browser to savour each nourishing mind-morsel one by one.

📝 One Word Writing Prompts // Inspired by David Whyte's book ‘Consolations’ (I cannot recommend this book enough) I started a WhatsApp writing thread with a couple of friends sharing our reflections on words that resonated. I decided to open up the first six words as mini writing prompts. In case you would like to contribute your own definitions the first six are: Persistence, Compassion, Trust, Commitment, Shadow and Play.

📲 Curious Humans Podcast App // I’ve been enjoying (bordering on obsessed) with Glide recently—it’s a tool that lets you build beautiful mobile apps just from a spreadsheet. Here’s the Curious Humans podcast app I built (in less than an hour). I then built my friend a custom meditation app in the back of a taxi. It’s genuinely so much fun to play with!

🐠 Freediving Adventures // As mad as it sounds, there is something ineffably blissful about taking in a deep breath and sinking down to the bottom of the ocean (managing 37.5 meters on my deepest dive last weekend). It feels like like high stakes meditation practice whilst getting a giant hug from the ocean (here’s a short poem I wrote about the experience).

😳 TEDx Talk // I’ve taken the plunge and committed to giving a talk at TEDx Ubud in October exploring my journey and insights from navigating grief. If you happen to be in Bali please do come along (use “friendsoftedx” to get a discounted ticket)

🙏 Meditation Teacher Training // An interesting thread emerged on Twitter around the tangible benefits of meditation practice’. I especially liked this response from the CEO whisperer Jerry Colonna: ‘I suffer less from the vagaries of my emotional life. Most days, I'm able to find my ground even while feeling groundless.’

❓ Question I’ve been Pondering // How much am I being held back and missing out on unexpected joy and opportunities due to my (ego’s) incessant need to “steer the plot” of my life rather than paying attention to life’s currents and embracing their slipstream? How might I trust life more and what would that look like?

Okay that’s all for now folks. Stay curious out there!


🙋‍♂️psst. should you wish to inflict this inbox-imploding braindump on an unsuspecting friend... then forward this link (or tweet) inviting them to join.

🎙️ Weekend Listening: Latest Podcast Episodes

#007: Insights from a Year in Silence, Designing the 'Jedi Warrior Program' & Advice from the Dalai Lama with Joel Levey

"The Dalai Lama's advice to us was basically if you have the opportunity to work with people with tremendous amounts of power who lack the wisdom and the compassion to use that power wisely. If there's anything you can do to move them toward the capacity to use that..." – Joel Levey

Joel Levey was one of the first pioneers of mindfulness training back in the 70s, along with his partner Michelle, they worked with Google and NASA and co-designed a secret 'Jedi Warrior' program for the US elite special forces... in this conversation we touch on:

🙏🧙‍♂️ His thoughts on how to be curious in the face of suffering, why he chose to embark on a year of silence with his partner Michelle and advice that received from the His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

🎧Listen to the conversation with Joel

#008: The Big Wave Surfer Planting Seeds for Future Generations

"The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings."– Fergal Smith

Fergal Smith is a big-wave surfer and pioneering farmer, two words that don't often go in the same sentence. 

👨‍🌾🏄‍♂️ Ferg juggles his time between growing veg and paddling into 30ft slabs of Atlantic ocean swells! I spent a couple of days helping out at Moy Hill, getting my hands in the soil and helping the team fill their 90x veg boxes to be sent out that week. What I hope comes across in the conversation is Ferg's eloquent sincerity, the courage that it took and his vision to inspire a new generation of 'growers' and planting seeds for future generations (they’ve already planted 18,000 trees!)

🎧Listen to the episode with Ferg

🤯 Four Mind-Expanding Ideas for the Insatiably Curious.

1 // Elderhood in a Time of Trouble

When I first listened to this 7-part interview series it stopped me in my tracks. You can sense the depth of presence that Stephen brings to the conversation and the clarity that he brings to some of the most pressing questions of our current

“Wisdom is the place where knowledge is fired, forged, and annealed to become something of great beauty, useful to the world.

Human Culture is made when that beauty swells into life and dies to nourish a time we won’t live to see. 

Knowledge gathers wood and flint and gut. Wisdom conjures a cranky, playable fiddle from the gatherings.

People who have been bathed in the grief and love for life play some small magnificence on those fiddles together, and sing their unknown songs, and make human culture.” 

2 // How Life Happens

David is a champion of radical thought experiments and practical philosophy and this recent post of his on rainbows and sprinklers is one of my favourite examples.

Does this sound familiar at all?

“It’s not that we all think we’re the center of the universe. But our lives do tend to feel something like The Biggest, Most Pressing Thing Ever to Happen, when it’s really only a short thread running through a vast, endless fabric of happenings that is life on Earth.”

Right… me too 🤦‍♂️

He gently reminds us to try inhabiting a slightly less ego-centric approach:

“As far as I understand it, life always works this way, whether we recognize it or not. Life is nothing but moments, and every moment is nothing but another culmination of the universe’s incalculable ripples… yet the way we think about life seldom reflects that reality. We plan and worry and forecast and dread, all with an absurd sense of certainty, like we’re setting up snooker shots and we can see all the balls.

3 // Discover Your “Sparketype”

Whilst I have to admit that I’m a sucker for a good personality test, whether through craft or co-incidence, I felt like this one from Good Life Project podcast host Jonathan Fields helped me to shed light on a part of my identity that I hadn’t previously acknowledged… it’s powerful stuff!

His Sparketype test asks a series of question that seeks to uncover an archetype or “imprint” for work that makes us come alive.

I got the ‘Maven(Your Maven's fascination and yearning to learn might be expressed more generally, as a perpetual curiosity about everything and everyone) with ‘Scientist’ as my shadow archetype (driven by, and find a deep sense of satisfaction in the pursuit of an answer to a burning question, or the solution to a significant problem).

If you do take this test I’d be curious to hear if you find it helpful or insightful!

4 // Kosmic Consciousness

One of the audible books I’ve had perpetually plugged into my ear lobes has been this series of conversations between the philosopher Ken Wilber and Tammy from Sounds True audio.

Ken is the grandfather of something called ‘integral theory’ – an ambitious attempt to create a “Theory of Everything” drawing on insights from ancient contemplative practices to more recent theories of developmental psychology. It’s kinda dense at times but deeply fascinating (and spurs my own interest in presenting a more accessible integral theory through the ‘How to Human’ project). Here’s a taste to whet your apetite from Mr. Wilbur:

"What do you do—what can you do—when someone you love dies? How do you face the stark reality of your own inevitable losses, aging, and death? This is when practice matters most. If you can illuminate your shadow issues, if you can balance your body with proper exercise and nourishment, if you can see multiple perspectives, if your nervous system can release tension, if you can open into contact with more life and truth—all of these factors will determine your immediate experience, how present and loving you can be with whatever is arising, and whether—and how wisely—you can use it to grow.” 

👨‍🎓 Level Up Your Life: Eight Online Courses You Probably Haven’t Heard of (But Might Appreciate!)

Online courses are the future of learning. There I said it. Your iphone is (among other things) a DIY university in your pocket. The future is increasingly uncertain and life-long learning is no longer optional. The only question is which courses will you take and how much time will you set aside for learning?

🤓 Course #1 // Learn to Become a #NoCode Genius from Ben Tossell’s Makerpad – The tutorials on this are worth the membership price alone (secret signup link here!) and the Slack community is also great place to get feedback on new side-hustle ideas.

💪 Course #2 // The Stoic Quest by Jon Brooks – integrating and gamifying Stoic principles into your life. Regardless of whether or not you take the course, This podcast episode will probably convince you to embrace Stoicism as a life-operating system in one way or another.

👨‍🎓 Course #3 // Design Your Own Practical Life-Management System by Arthur Worsley – Arthur is a good friend and one of the most impressively prolific learners I know. I can only aspire to his levels of output and am tempted to take his new course Tracktion myself (use code ‘curioushuman’ to save $499 on this)

🤔 Course #4 // Cultivating Sovereignty & Integrating your Shadow by the Future Thinkers Duo – Mike and Euvie are the hosts of my new favourite podcast. I love the way they’ve framed the curriculum for these two courses: “Gain deeper self-knowledge and develop the clarity of perception, sensemaking, and agency to live your life on your own terms.” (use this link and code jonnymiller to save 10%)

👨‍🏭 Course #5 // Become a Strategy Consultant with Paul Millerd – I’m grateful to Paul for pushing me to launch the Curious Humans podcast earlier this year, and now his has launched an impressive course sharing his insights from years working at McKinsey and BCG (gift pricing options available).

💫 Course #6 // Metaphysics & Mystery by Charles Eisenstein – Warning: this is probably not for everyone. But if you’re one of those weird types (ahem 🙋‍♂️) who wrestles with the nature of reality and consciousness and meaning in the early hours of the morning… then this might just be for you (gift pricing also available).

⚖️ Course #7 // Decision Making by Taylor Pearson – Taylor is one of my favourite longform writers on the interweb (explore his essays here) and this course dives into his research on transforming uncertainty into opportunity in our increasingly complex world (is there a more important skill to master?)

🦁 Course #8 // Make Your Myth by Erick Godsey – I discovered Erick via this episode of the Astral Hustle podcast and found his fascination with Jungian and evolutionary psychology contageous. His course (which I’ve enrolled in) is about cultivating a relationship to that part of yourself that the Greeks called your ‘Daemon’.

👩‍🚀 Et Cetera

📚Books for all ages

👋 Say hey from the future

🧠 Is consciousness fractal? (IMHO: yes)

👨‍🎨 Randomly generated design prompts

🔪 Cutting edge stuff (gyms made of knives)

❤️ Truly exquisite spoken word poetry (wow)

👨‍🎓 Five types of mentors you need in your life

🤝 A meta-analysis of the neuroscience of trust

🙏 How much would it cost to wake up the world?

💬 Insights into the realm of last words final words

😏 Why the erotic is an antidote to death (must listen)

🤯 This is what happens when two bubble rings collide

💰 Reasons to consider investing in a coach (twitter thread)

🤔 It's impossible to be curious and defensive at the same time.

😃 New favourite human to follow on Twitter @visakanv (here’s why)

🏫 Apply to join the Monastic Academy (I’m considering this for 2020)

🌠 Transcending rationality and embracing the mystery (podcast episode)

📝 Parting Poem

Joy says,
‘I am here, always.
Waiting for you to be
Soft enough
To seep into your heart.
Sorrow says,
I am here, always.
Waiting for you to be
Soft enough
To seep into your heart.
Heart says,
When my guard is down,
I cannot tell the difference,
Between joy or sorrow. 

🙏 Thanks for reading as always! If you’re feeling exceptionally generous and willing to invest in my future ramblings, you can become a paying subscriber of Curious Humans here.