A highly sensitive person

I think I’m a highly sensitive person.

For a while, I believed I possessed a set of traits that often feel rather inhibiting, especially in social situations – ones I have to actively try and undermine to maintain a cheery facade around other humans.

Mostly I just wrote this off as introversion.

However, in my daily Internet wanderings, I stumbled upon an HSP quiz devised by a psychotherapist, which I scored rather highly on.

Things like the following:

  • Being overwhelmed by strong sensory input
  • Wanting to withdraw from stimulation and place myself in a quote, dark room
  • Leading a rich, complex, inner life
  • Feeling frazzled and needing to be alone
  • Feeling overwhelmed when I have much to do in a short time
  • Trying hard to avoid mistakes and forgetting things
  • Feeling sensitive to the needs and emotions of others
  • Awareness of subtleties in my environment
  • Being shaken up by life changes or alterations in routine

Apparently, around 15-20% of the population exhibit the HSP trait – too many to be a disorder, but enough to make it a recognizable presentation.

I’m not exactly sure what this means and if any actionable strategies can help.

But hey ho. Know thyself and all that.

This moment is perfect

We often ruminate in negativity, obsessing over worst-case scenarios with a defeatist attitude.

At such times I use a forcible mantra to jumpstart inner positivity and gratitude:

“This moment is perfect.”

As Shakespeare said, “There is nothing either good or bad, only thinking makes it so.”

After all, how we view anything is a subjective choice.

So whatever larger worries we have, we can dial into the present moment and choose to perceive it as perfect.


Mandalas must be the ultimate expression of process over results.

Monks spend weeks creating a perfect piece of sand-based art simply to wash it all away at the end, a hat tip to the nature of impermanence.

Rather than clinging to specific outcomes, how can we bring the same non-striving mindset to our own endeavours?

Work tapas

I’ve recently been applying for jobs and there’s something that simply doesn’t resonate about full-time roles.

The thought of shackling myself to someone else’s vision for 40 hours per week just doesn’t do it for me.

So for now, I’ve decided to continue with freelance work, supplemented by my own side projects.

My friend put forth a nice metaphor for this, saying it’s akin to occupational tapas.

I.e. trying bits of the this and bobs of that, rather than indulging in one oversized meal.

Mindfulness problems

The present moment is all we have. I get that.

I’m quite happy resting in awareness – experiencing sounds, sights, feelings.

I can even turn my attention back in on itself and realise that the “I” at the centre of my experience is just a story, an illusion.

A couple of times I’ve quit my job and focused exclusively on this.

What I struggle with is getting back to the dirty business of living.

Trying to be nondual in a dualistic world.

Talking to people, working with clients, exposure to advertising…it’s all about expectations.

And more specifically, emphasising what we lack and how our lives would improve if only we had it.

We’re currently unhappy with how things are and want them to be better; a results-based measurement.

It’s hard to maintain a curious, playful, and present attitude when dealing with society’s bullshit.

Instead, I get sucked back into thinking if only I could fill this big gaping void of psychological desire, I’d be happy.

It’s fine if you live in a Buddhist monastery, surrounded by like minds with food on your plate.

But in the real world, mindfulness is much harder.

Business ideas

Read some good website advice the other day about picking a business idea.

This specifically pertains to creating niche websites:

  1. Be passionate about the topic
  2. Pick a tribal topic
  3. Ensure there’s enough to write about the topic

Out of them all, I think number 2 is crucial.

Basically, choose something that people are likely to shout about in their Tinder profile:

E.g. I’m a vegan, I’m a doctor, I’m a reader, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m American.

Better still – if you’re actually part of this target group, you can speak with authority and authenticity.

Failing that, it could be the group of someone you know or simply a topic you want to learn more about.

Bonus points if it has a positive connotation or strong group identity, where people earn image points for being associated with it.

E.g. sustainability, healthy living, prestigious career

Extra bonus points if people preface their affiliation with ‘I am’

E.g ‘I’m a father’ is better than ‘I love knitting’

Why? Because ‘I am’ is an identity-based statement.

Once you’ve found the niche, you can segment further within it to pick a specific angle or group.

That’s because as a new website, you’ve no chance of beating the incumbents – like to write about personal finance? Good luck against NerdWallet.

The smaller the niche, the easier you can become the most definitive source on the word wide web and stand out.

It’s a bit like a restaurant doing one thing really well rather than cooking every type of food badly.

To drill down, focus on a specific area of the niche and/or a type of person within that subset.

E.g vegan athletes, parents of twins etc.

Start small and you can always expand into other areas later, especially by picking a broad domain name.

Then educate and entertain while solving your audience’s pain points.



Watched the film Tenet.

I’d say it was confusing but boy, this was on another level.

What a steaming pile of crap.

The dialogue was snappy to the point of being unintelligible, while each cut was such an extreme narrative leap, I could barely keep up.

It felt like they were trying to cram too much story into the film.

I’m a sci-fi nerd and have seen my fair share of temporal distortion films, but the premise was barely understandable.

I’ve since discovered I wasn’t the only one…

Robert Pattinson says there were ‘months at a time’ while filming ‘Tenet’ where he was not even ‘vaguely understanding’ the film

It’s rare I have to stop watching something, but this just felt like a complete waste of time.

Do yourself a favour – don’t bother.

Look down

I dislike running.

But I still do it, because it makes me feel good afterwards.

During the run though? Hell no.

I constantly fantasise about when I can drag my sorry body home.

Because the mental pain of running is like an ice pick to the face.

However, I noticed a curious phenomenon recently.

When I angle my vision slightly down, this normally despicable activity becomes marginally more bearable…

To the point of getting closer to what cool kids would call the flow state.

Because all I’m focusing on is the next stretch of tarmac instead of seeing a long, dread-inducing, road ahead of me.

I feel this is a good metaphor for life, and essentially summarises almost every self-help book ever written…

To stop wasting time worrying about a future that hasn’t happened.

So in sum, just look down and take the next step.

Pour Me

Just read the autobiography of A.A. Gill.

Had never heard of him before, but I like the cut of his jib.

In a world full of half measures and hollow promises, his words cut like a razor.

He pulls no punches in a raw, unfiltered take on the life of an alcoholic, full of blood and spittle.

It’s an honest reflection on what it means to be human, with all of our shifting opinions, inner contradictions and self-deceit.

Losing ourselves

I was out on the motorbike today and felt that in much of our ceaseless doing, there’s the ultimate desire to lose ourselves.

The Buddhists would probably call this ‘no mind’.

Most people probably don’t think about their choice of activities, but everything from Netflix to playing tennis is essentially an attempt to forget your insignificant existence for a short time.

In that forgetfulness exists a small sliver of peace…

A short respite from an annoyingly whiny voice in our heads that constantly questions, doubts and compares.

Where exactly you discover this little nugget of respite varies from person to person, but it seems essential to health and well-being.

So whether it’s interacting with fellow humans or gardening in nature – if there’s an activity that gets you out or your own noggin and into the world, even briefly, seize it like a lion.