The Middle East, Climate Change, pollution, water shortages, wars for profit… etc. And your recommendation is that we should all go have more fun? Can you read? Have you
ever read a newspaper? People like you are dangerous.
How can I not love you after that? It’s so obvious that you care about your fellow man and that you believe in compassionate, respectful ideas. You and I are actually far more alike that you realize. And I can appreciate that my prioritization of joy and happiness and satisfaction might look irresponsible from the outside. But I can assure you that I do care about the things you noted, and I am attempting to have some kind of positive affect—I’m just going about it in a different way.
I’ve worked with a lot of people now and the pattern is unmistakable. If they were merely earnest in their studies with me then they universally became happier and calmer, and that lead to them also having more energy and less fear, and that in turn has lead to them leading much more generous and compassionate lives.
I routinely hear about people spontaneously improving their diets, and a respect for the planet and its beings is an important aspect of that. People start being more interested in their own compelling forms of physical activity, be that team sports, something meditative, or even different types of dancing. They feel less awkwardness and more connection which in turn leads to even more quality interactions on a daily basis. So I know happy can seem like a light and unimportant objective, but when given deeper thought I do believe the opposite is the case. Happiness is a resource to be cultivated.
I can relate to who you’re asking me to be because I was that guy. I was the guy who felt a responsibility to bring up Palestine and Israel at a party. And I did it because I genuinely cared just as I suspect you do. And I honestly felt just like you—that if the people weren’t interested, or if they responded cavalierly, that they were automatically poor citizens.
I hope you’ve done better than me, but I never affected a single thing in the Middle East. But there I was living in my own city with my own circle of people and I almost ignored them for half my life. I care just like you. But I also accept that this is the shape of the world right now. And like you I want to push in the right direction. But I don’t want to push with obligation, desperation, sadness or a sense of defeat. I want to embrace the challenge with love and light and energy and support.
My students have a lot more energy available to them once they relax and stop stressing about important things over which they have zero control. So in my world, caring when you’re helpless is more crippling than it is helpful. Better to feel enthusiastic about ones potential and then apply that energy toward making actual changes to the world you do have some impact on. Maybe that is something big on a grand scale like a politician or the head of an NGO—but more often it’s by people like us. And more often than not the difference is made within our own small sphere of influence. But just as the bucket is filled with drops, so the world is filled with collections of small spheres of influence. So as Gandhi suggested, let us all be the change we want to see in the world. Because I agree with you completely. If we remove the culture of ego, I’m confident that we will see a much better world emerge.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.