2nd July 2017

So this month has been an eventful month. It began with the minor task of moving house, a quick birthday celebration in the middle and has finished with a dose of pain and discomfort! 

Today’s newsletter is all about my suffering and finding a new perspective!

Reading time: 4 mins

A new perspective on suffering

A few weeks ago I tweaked a muscle in my back by letting my ego to do my thinking for me. I was lifting the mother of all logs up onto a log splitter and ouch! I felt a twinge in my back, but it wasn’t too bad so I carried on! I rested it for a while and after a few days it had calmed down, so I went back to my normal routine. 

At the moment that looks a bit like, working on the farm, splitting logs, training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Since my new obsession with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) started I’ve wanted to spend more time stretching. The sport requires a combination of strength, speed and suppleness. And after years of playing football, cricket and rugby I have a lot of stiffness.

This last week or two I’d noticed my body aching and feeling a lot stiffer than normal. So I vowed to get to training earlier to do a bit more warming up. Regrettably, I didn’t manage it and five minutes into training I felt the same twinge. What did I do next? Yep, you guessed it, I carried on training!

Sleeping that night was uncomfortable but I managed it eventually. When I woke up the next day I felt the same tightness as before but I went to work at Moss Valley Market Garden regardless. At first, I thought I’d be alright but then things got worse, much worse. But what did I do? I carried on, like an idiot! Well, needless to say, come lunchtime I was done in. I went home and in immense discomfort and took my angry back to bed.

The rest of Wednesday was horrible, I couldn’t get comfortable for more than a few breaths before having to move again. Every muscle in my back was contracting with anger, which made moving was incredibly uncomfortable.

I managed to get some sleep but it was far from a restful night’s sleep. Then I spent all day Thursday in various positions that failed to offer any relief.

Thankfully today, it has loosened up enough for me to walk around without too much pain and I can breathe again! So what is the moral of the story?

The obvious moral of the story is to take care of yourself. But we all know that! Instead, I’d like to share my coping strategy for getting through periods of stress and suffering.

  1. Can I put my suffering into perspective:
    1. How long is this likely to last?
    2. Is the situation recoverable?
    3. Do I know other people in a worse position than me?
    4. Do I know someone who would swap their permanent condition for my temporary condition?
  2. What can I do to lessen my suffering?
    1. Is there something or someone that could help me now?
    2. What can I do to make sure things don’t get worse
  3. What do I have that is still worth being really grateful for?
  4. What good could come out of my suffering?
  5. What am I going to do to make sure this never happens again?

Gratitude and Perspective

These concepts are so important for reducing suffering and improving mental well-being. And it is so simple. All we need to do is look around us and see what we have and immediately we feel better.

During the 2012 London Olympics, I’d just had an operation on my finger and my right hand was out of action. I was annoyed because I’d quit my job and wanted to be in Canada. Instead, I was living with my mum and dad, asking for my dinner to be cut up into small pieces. 
Then the Paralympics began, all of a sudden it was impossible for me to complain about anything! How could I? I was watching people with only one arm and half a leg racing in a swimming pool! All I had to put up with was having my hand in a cast for 6 weeks! Isn’t perspective a great thing?

  Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

It is far too easy in life to enter into the victim mentality. When we are the victim (think poor old me), we end up feeling powerless and unable to change our circumstances. We can feel that the world is out to get us and there’s nothing we can do about it.

As the great Byron Katie would say:

“It’s not the problem that causes our suffering; it’s our thinking about the problem.”
— Byron Katie


This month I completed my guide to fasting, which I hope you enjoyed. If not, you can access it by clicking on the picture below. I hope to get stuck into a few shorter blogs this month, so watch out for those.

New feature - Best of the Month

For the rest of the year, I'll be bringing you a new feature - The Best of the Month recommendations. A list of resources that have inspired me to learn more about this world and body that we live in.

Best book

Since making my own testosterone booster from pine pollen I decided to see what else nature has to offer. So I bought Natural Remedies for Low Testosterone: How to Enhance Male Sexual Health and Energy by Stephen Harrod Buhner. It’s a great book, very interesting reading, especially the bit about how the Catholic Church changed beer so that it was all made with hops. Hops are a powerful phytoestrogen that does the exact opposite to boosting testosterone, hence the term brewers droop!

Best podcast 

This interview with Dr Robert Sapolsky blew my mind. There is a parasite, common to about 50% of the world’s population, that influences our behaviour in many weird ways. In the interview Robert Sapolsky also shines some light naughty kids and criminals. It turns out it might not be their fault after all. Click below to download from iTunes: or click here for the YouTube interview:

Best article

So homo sapiens are now 300,000 year old, that's about 100,000 years older than previously thought! This changes everything and proves Graham Hancock right when he says “things keep getting older.”

Best of YouTube

I’m really starting to enjoy going to university again with personality psychologist Dr Jordan Peterson. This month I’ve been learning about the hidden meaning behind Pinocchio - 

Although you might want to start with his first lecture:

That's it for this month's newsletter. Feel free to pass this onto friends and loved ones. The healthier we all are, the better the world will be, for everyone.

All the best

James @