Season 4, Episode 2: Ryan Stramrood is one of South Africa’s top extreme adventurers and ice swimmers. He quietly travels to the planet’s most inhospitable waterscapes where he seeks out extreme cold water swimming experiences. He swam the first official “Ice Mile” in -1°C water in Antarctica, completed a swim in the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland and is the only person to have swum west to east across the shark infested waters of False Bay; all of which is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of his swimming achievements.

Ryan is also a TED speaker and author of the book ‘Push Past Impossible’, so Claire and I wanted to chat to him about setting goals that allow him to push past the impossible, conditioning the body for the extreme cold and how to avoid becoming an excuse magnet.

What I’ve Been Reading

In ‘Flow’, everyday experience becomes a moment-by-moment opportunity for joy and self-fulfilment. Flow is the brainchild of a fascinating psychologist,

Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a renowned social scientist who has devoted his life’s work to the study of what makes people truly happy, satisfied and fulfilled.

While much of the study of psychology investigates disorders of the human mind, Dr. Csikszentmihalyi takes a different route. He focuses on the noble side of human nature, our capacity for living a life of integrity, courage, and perseverance. In his book Flow: Living at the Peak of Your Abilities he reveals what he considers beautiful in life, ways of being and behaving that make people happy, satisfied and delighted to be alive. His insights into the “flow experience” show ways to lessen stress, fear and anxiety while increasing feelings of challenge, joy and excitement. The revolutionary findings of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Experience Sampling Method offer unprecedented information about the specific ways we can turn life into a continuous high-quality experience. One of the most quoted books in the others that I’ve read, it was definitely worth the wait.

What I’ve Been Watching

I am not sure why I hadn’t watched it until now but The Queen, starring Helen Mirren, is a 2006 British biographical drama film that depicts the events following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. Initially, the Royal Family regard Diana’s death as a private affair and thus not to be treated as an official royal death, in contrast with the views of Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and Diana’s ex-husband, Prince Charles, who favour the general public’s desire for an official expression of grief. Matters are further complicated by the media, royal protocol regarding Diana’s official status, and wider issues about republicanism.

Whilst initially you might think it paints the Queen in a bad light, it is a fascinating demonstration of how old values don’t make the grade in the current society. When you look through it more, you see she was also determined to protect her family through what must have been an incredibly difficult period, whilst also following tradition. A really lovely film worth watching or revisiting.

Quote of the Week

“The task is to learn how to enjoy everyday life without diminishing other people’s chances to enjoy theirs.”

  • Mihaly Csikszentmihaly

Finance Theme of the Week

According to Bank of America, interest rates in the UK are set to hit 4% by this time next year if Liz Truss’s government cut taxes and increases their spend of defence. Their research, released this month, shows an expectation of the Bank of England raising interest rates in its meeting next week before doing the same again each month up to the end of the year. Bank of America noted in their research, “by lowering peak inflation we see the government’s energy price cap allowing the BoE to avoid increasing the pace of hikes.”

In a month that saw the Office for National Statistics report inflation hitting close to 10% in the 12 months from August 2021-2022, The Bank of America estimated annual government spending to rise by £40bn and then £50bn in 2026 and 2027. The news falls on the back of Liz Truss having promised around £30bn in tax cuts annually as part of her campaign to become Prime Minister. Truss’ approach sits in contrast to that proposed by her main competitor Rishi Sunak, who said he would work to get inflation under control before looking to cut any taxes. Truss’ pledges include cancelling a planned rise in corporation tax, abolishing the social care levy as well as the green levy on energy bills – pledges that many considered fiscal irresponsibility.

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