MoK: Marching For Peace

Yesterday’s act of kindness was an important one. I’d like to think all of you participated in being kind to yourselves even though that often feels difficult and unnatural. It’s a shame we’ve constructed society in such a way that we find something that healthy to feel that unnatural. Similarly, it’s a shame we find making amends with others difficult to the point where, if it happens, it’s usually only half-intentional. Today is about becoming fully intentional.

As the old saying goes, except for a few cases in life, you’re better to be happy than be right. Being right implies that the other person must be wrong. This reinforces that subject-object division between you and the rest of the world with which you are otherwise naturally unified.

The separation between you is strictly made of thought–it’s made of your beliefs about what is right and wrong, and about your perceptions of what really happened. In addition, let’s face it, we all have those examples where, deep down, we actually know that we’re at minimum complicit in the confusion, if not entirely at fault.

In some cases we even feel guilty, even though we still come across as defensive about the issue. What hurts is that we are good people, and so when that happens we know our words and actions lacked respect or integrity. We feel that lack of responsibility as the pain that leads to our defensiveness.

Our job on todays assignment for The March of Kindness is for us to find one of these examples and to let it go. Even better if we can actually settle the disagreement formally, and the ultimate goal would be to apologise–even if it’s for something small. The point is, if it requires real effort and challenge then we’re overcoming something and we’re benefitting along with the person we’re apologising to or forgiving.

Find your example, examine your reactions and your behaviour and really come to a better understanding about how your personal, ego-based motivations overrode your natural integrity and personal nature. Reinforce your own goodness in this way. Maybe you say something, maybe you don’t. Maybe you write something, or send a card or email or even a text. Maybe you just stop being passive-aggressive towards them.

Even if your apology or forgiveness or act of letting go is silent, or even if it’s done with full knowledge that the other person really was in the “wrong,” make this an active and meaningful act of kindness. This isn’t just about you, it’s about the world. It’s about the other person and about creating more peace within one or both of you.

By accepting our responsibilities to create peace we also gain empowerment over our actions. By being able to forgive or apologise, we become more expansive and capable, and by letting go of our disagreements and grudges, we not only free ourselves, but we all make an important contribution to there being less discord and more harmony in the world. And after all, that is the entire point of The March of Kindness.

Thanks for your participation. Much love.

peace. s

MoK: Tolerance as Kindness

Thank you all very much for your patience while I’ve been ill. It turns out that your patience is quite fitting, because today our March of Kindness assignment will involve determining the subtle difference between patience and tolerance.

We feel patience with someone when we perceive that they generate some degree of value in our lives that we do not want to lose. Maybe that value is that they’re the clerk at the store and we need their help to purchase something that has value to us, or maybe it’s a co-worker whose advice you value and so you offer to look after their dog while they’re away, or maybe it’s a very sick spouse that has such tremendous value that their partner can serve them for many years, despite receiving no reciprocation. It all depends on how much one person perceives the other’s value.

Because we start from a position of goodwill, we tend to use the word patience for situations we deem as reasonable. We begin to use the word tolerance once we feel we’re extending past what is reasonable or, in other words, past the point where the other person’s value has run out in proportion to the request being made. But what about those people that start with no value in our emotional bank?

When meeting most strangers very few of us will presume the worst, and many of us will presume something so positive that we’ll offer our own positivity in advance. But there are some people that we immediately assume we’ll be out of alignment with. The reasons don’t matter much; maybe we have unpleasant history between us, or maybe they’re just in a group we’ve defined as undeserving of our patience, but when people have no deposits in our patience bank then they are immediately borrowing from our tolerance account. This form of kindness is more dangerous to us, like an unsecured loan; where we’re unsure–even suspicious–about ever being paid back.

When we use tolerance we’re no longer investing in value we will receive ourselves, tolerance is an investment in the Bank of Karma. That’s when–instead of believing in an individual manifestation of a person–we believe that the fundamental oneness of the universe is expansive, or “good.” We believe on some elemental level that if we put positivity in, some positivity will result for someone, somewhere. Today we want to use tolerance as a way of sending some of that good karma out.

Today’s act in our March of Kindness will be to actually seek out people or ideas that we traditionally have no tolerance for. Maybe all we do is comment on a politician we see in the media, or maybe we’re aggressive with street people, or a we’re a contrarian on social media, or maybe some stranger’s just asking you for directions and you don’t want to be disturbed; the idea is that the kindness you show today has no value to you personally–in fact, your expression of it may exact a small price.

As I stated previously, we don’t improve the world unless we convert some darkness into light, so today’s act is particularly important. All you have to do is find one example of where you would offer negativity–a comment, a judgment, a challenge, a rebuke–and instead offer tolerance.

There’s a lot of us, so if we each just take one bit of negativity and, instead of offering it to the world, we hold it back out of a sense of kindness and tolerance, then we will absolutely have made the world a better place. That’s where we all want to live, and the March of Kindness is about helping us get there. Thank you for participating in our collective journey.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

MoK: Patience as Kindness

Thank you for bearing with my late posts while I traverse a few challenging days on the family health front. Fortunately, today’s act in the March of Kindness is one that suits your willingness to wait perfectly. Patience is all too often invisible when it should be seen as the loving act of kindness that it truly is.

From letting little passive aggressive statements go by unchallenged, to taking care of something that was someone else’s duty, we all express a lot of quiet patience each day. The problem is that we often only note our behaviour when it feels beneath us, meaning you’ll notice the few times you’re impatient far more than the times you are patient.

Even knowing that everyday life requires all kinds of patience, it is nevertheless a kind and generous act, and so adding one more act of conscious patience can do nothing but good for all involved.

Today your March of Kindness assignment is simple: Keep your awareness up, and find just one opportunity today where you feel an impulse to offer a suggestion or you feel you’re going to react in an impatient way, and then divert that impulse into non-action. Let your action be stillness.

Interestingly, the time we choose to show extra patience might coincide perfectly with when a person really needed something to go well or they’d snap. We all know how good it feels when someone shows us patience when we know we didn’t act in a way that encouraged it. We might as well create more opportunities for those things to happen.

Make your own displays of patience more conscious, and find a way to add just one more act of patient kindness to today and you will have made the world better with your presence. Thank you for that. And thank you for your patience in receiving these last few posts. Enjoy your day.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Psychological Violence

1090-relax-and-succeed-non-violence-is-the-weapon-of-the-strongYesterday’s was a very worthwhile meditation. The more you exercise that awareness the better you’ll get. Even a very negative person will change so subtly that they’ll never actually remember when they started being positive naturally, rather than doing it by conscious choice. Unless you change it back, that’ll be who you are to anyone who meets you going forward.

At first it can be hard to find the language to convert negative, separating ideas into positive, connecting ones. Our language emerges from our experience, so in this case you’re forcing yourself at the start. But over time your language structures will reshape to match your behaviour and you will have a new positive “personality.”

The next step in your psycho-spiritual development is to also stay aware of the internal conversations you’re having with yourself. You not only separate yourself from the outside world by speaking words that divide, you also do this within your consciousness as you use words to draw lines between labels.

1090-relax-and-succeed-nonviolence-means-avoidingWhether you can justify your judgment or not is irrelevant; the point here is choose to embrace soulful, connective feelings vs egocentric, divisive emotions. We do this by converting our internal conversations the same way we started doing yesterday with external conversations.

Once we have switched our internal conversations, that will also have an impact on our external conversations, and internally we will grow increasingly quiet until eventually we find there is very little reason to think much at all. Examples for you to catch might include:

  1. You might catch yourself saying something about your boss; “I can’t stand how he sounds so superior when he asks for things.”
  2. Or maybe it’s a reaction you have regarding a difference between your parenting style and your spouse’s; “He shouldn’t let them get away with that or they’ll start doing it all the time,”
  3. Or maybe it’s the sort of passing comments someone at school makes; “She thinks she’s so important but really she’s just a bitch.”

1090-relax-and-succeed-empathy-has-no-scriptYou not liking something, you expressing a difference over something, or you wanting to limit someone’s freedom to express themselves; those are all examples of negative, divisive statements. Those could instead be:

  1. “I suppose my irritation about how he asks for things is similar to when people get frustrated with me for being indirect.” This makes the two of you similar instead of making one the aggressor over others.
  2. “I respect when he has to do it too; because watching a decision you genuinely disagree with in relation to something as important as your kids is quite difficult and I know he doesn’t always agree with my choices.” This unifies you as experience-havers and it respects humility and the idea that other ways may be just as beneficial as yours.
  3. “To have to enter a room and establish an instant position of superiority must require someone to start off feeling extra-insecure about not being important.” This depersonalizes the behaviour while also being compassionate.

1090-relax-and-succeed-my-religion-is-very-simpleToday’s meditation is simple: Catch yourself a minimum of ten times. When you catch yourself internally saying something negative about another person, make the switch to some other story that is still honest, but is more forgiving, supportive or compassionate.

It shouldn’t be hard to find opportunities for understanding at this point in history considering almost everyone has taken a very strong position in recent elections. It’s not like you have to know the people personally to do this exercise. The only important part is to really do it.

These ones are big. These generate a lot of your so-called problems. Do this meditation earnestly and daily and you can absolutely change your life. If you’re working with a partner, compare how many times you caught yourself and then discuss your best conversions to help you feel a sense of pride, accomplishment and ownership. That will only make them easier to do in future moments, and that’s important because our entire future is made of the little steps we take within the individual moments that will become both our future and our past.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Temari Passions

1081-relax-and-succeed-who-shaped-your-temari-2
Today is an important meditation. It took shape while I was recently listening to an interview with superstar DJ Steve Aoki, and it implied that the artist himself felt his massive success was largely just an attempt to please his Benihana-founding, National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dad. I love that! No wonder he’s known as the hardest working artist in EDM. And doesn’t that pose an interesting question about our own existence…?

Are you familiar with Temari? They originated in China, but today they’re primarily known as a Japanese toy that mothers make for their kids. You start by bundling up some old kimonos and then shaping them into a ball, although today people often buy rubber or plastic frames. Then you start weaving threads around them. The results can range from simple and straightforward to complex and colourful. They’re good metaphors for us.

(Keep in mind, I’m making all this up. I have no idea what Steve Aoki’s life is really like other than the fact that he dug Kraftwerk too. But for the purposes of this story he’s a metaphor for you, like the temari ball is a metaphor for our internal emptiness, so no offense to Steve. I loved his passion and he sounded genuinely interesting, awesome, happy and healthy.)

1081-relax-and-succeed-dear-musicSo let us say that Steve felt that he did not have his father’s love, although almost certainly he has/did all his life. This is an extremely common mistake for people to make. A lot of parents were taught that you’ll steal a child’s motivation if you congratulate them as though they’re done. So let us say that Steve’s perceived emptiness is like a hollow temari frame within him.

Steve sees the outline of father’s love but he is hurt and angry that his father hasn’t dedicated  more of himself to parenting him; to completing him. Left alone, Steve begins to have his own experiences, and like threads of different colours and lengths of time, those experiences begin to weave together within Steve, around the hollow frame.

As Steve develops the ball develops. As the weaves get denser some friends suggest he’s just suppressing the hollowness. Some question what he’s weaved. But others catch his attention by calling his weaves beautiful. This startles Steve. This cannot be. Steve is us, and no one thinks their lives are beautiful. They’re okay, but rarely do you find a person would call their life beautiful. (Okay, I do, but I told you this was a story.)

1081-relax-and-succeed-life-is-what-happened-to-youAs Steve weaves through his life he pays more attention. He notices that the frame has shaped what he created, but it also supported his creation and, more importantly, it hasn’t really limited it. In fact, the frame gave his chaotic ball of experiences some direction; some shape and some meaning. Some threads were bright and colourful and some dull or ugly, but all of them had combined to be the art of Steve’s life. It turned out that Steve’s reason for being was Steve’s own life!

Okay, so today’s meditation is a big one: what’s your frame? What are you trying to solve? Who do you want to say what? What do you want explained? What’s supposed to happen, or whatever else? What are you busying trying to accomplish while you’re actually actively weaving your own life? Who left you with your frame and what shape is it?

There is no way to divorce or move away from your frame. You just need to stop paying attention to the hollow and realise that it was never supposed to be full. You weren’t supposed to get rid of the sand, you were supposed to make a pearl. Find out what frame you have and who built it and then love that person. Because the passions in your life are in fact built around that misunderstood love.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Psychological Workout

1075-relax-and-succeed-the-moment-you-accept-whatSome of you found and chose some really good examples for yesterday’s meditation. When you’re with a driver who gets angry when they’re cut off, you can accomplish a lot just by calmly noting that you often wonder if those drivers are possibly having a very bizarre kind of day.

Learning you’re pregnant or that you have cancer or that someone has just died is clearly shocking. It’s such a reasonable explanation for a minor driving mistake that it will eventually worm its way in, even if they are unlikely to calm down immediately on that first occasion. The best part is, being cut off happens often enough that it’ll give the person plenty of practice calming down.

Isn’t it funny how now being cut off feels better now; less like an offence and more like a psychological exercise? When you learn to get calmer through your experiences in calming, that signals to you that it’s possible to see the world from a growth-conscious perspective. That means you live inside a mental gym every single day. Life is either you improving or you’re relaxing. Isn’t that great? You win either way.

1075-relax-and-succeed-if-we-cannot-be-happyYesterday you helped someone else interject a thought into their loop about some subject. Some of you humanised bosses, some helped a child see their parent more reasonably, some of you helped a sibling take a different perspective on one of your parents. Well if those things were good for them then we can expect that the same exercise will be good for you.

You don’t need to be taught how to get along with people you define as warm, funny, supportive or friendly, you need help with the ones that are negative, sarcastic, spiteful or difficult. So who’s your workout partner then? Because this is an inevitable step in your growth. If you conquer staying in a good state of mind with this person then you can do it with any person like them.

There are people that love the very same people that you find difficult. Likewise, some people fight a lot with your closest friends. The problem clearly isn’t the people then, it’s the perspective. We assume our perspective is the truth. It is, but only to us. And only for as long as we believe it. Santa Claus was real until someone told you otherwise. The people you dislike are Santa Claus. It’s time to take their costume off and see who’s underneath.

1075-relax-and-succeed-kindness-is-in-our-powerPick your vexatious person. It might be helpful for you to choose someone with a bad habit or behaviour you find irritating. Do not pick the person you’re in the midst of a divorce or something intense with. Start with the lighter weights and work your way up.

I know your ego-reality causes you to believe that it’s the truth that they’re irritating, and I know you can find people whose reality is near enough to yours that they will confirm your illusion as real, but again; that vexatious person has best friends. The reason you find them irritating is that you think irritated thoughts when you listen to them, while that other person hears great value in what they say.

Your job today is: choose that person and then pick that quality that sets you off. Why do their friends like them? Meditate on that. Not only while you’re with them, while you’re not as well. Talk to your meditation partner about each other’s choices. Rather than do like yesterday and interject a new idea into someone else’s thought-stream, create a compassionate thought and apply it to your own thought-stream.

1075-relax-and-succeed-when-we-learn-to-deal-directlyDon’t expect yourself to accept this immediately. Even if you build a great intervening thought to add to your reality mix, you’ll still often follow it immediately with a “Yeah but…” after which you’ll switch back to your common reaction. But that’s fine. This is a practice because it’s a process. You need to do this repeatedly to be good at it. But again, do it here and you can apply that ability with anyone who behaves in the same way.

Define the person and the quality they have that irritates you. Every time you see them for the next two weeks your job is to kick into your meditation the moment they trigger it with the behaviour. You can even steel yourself for it before you get there.

Within two weeks you want to be left feeling significantly less bothered. In the meantime your job is to lift the weight of that thought until it’s effortless. Because it is that ability that defines the capacity of our spiritual and psychological strength.

Have a wonderful day everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Nurturing Empathy

1074-relax-and-succeed-nurture-more-kindnessI’ve been pleasantly surprised by the depth of your meditations. People aren’t letting themselves off easily. That’s excellent. Frankly, the more realistically you view yourself the better others will start to look. We all generally hold others to higher standards than we can maintain ourselves.

When you did the meditations last week you discovered that you had forgiven people, but that it was unlikely an official pronouncement with a definite end date. Instead it was a process where your developing understanding allowed you to slowly let a thought go as it made less and less sense. What happened is that your narrative about their transgression lost its momentum.

That momentum comes from your dedication to think it. When we say something means a lot to us, what we really mean is that it’s a thought we volunteer to think a lot. Sometimes those thoughts are worthwhile. They can be part of grieving or recovery. But far too often they are someone just spinning on negativity that has no purpose in their life.

1074-relax-and-succeed-we-are-oneFortunately, it is difficult to maintain a narrative that makes no sense to you. Once understanding has increased, connection is increased. With the two people being able to see each other within each other, the differences become less important and the similarities become comforting. This is literally what the world needs more of.

How this works in practice is that, as other people talk to you they add their perspectives to yours. You expand, capable of seeing more and farther. In doing so, more people can be included in that family of people you’re prepared to care about. Those additions to your perspective come in two ways; you meditating your way into a discovery or someone delivering you an observation.

You’re in control of your own thinking so you can do the meditating on your own, but how can you help the discovery process? You can’t do that to yourself; that would be meditating toward an internal insight. You can only assist in the discovery process of someone else. To that end, today you will become more aware of a healthy person’s role in life.

1074-relax-and-succeed-darkness-cannot-drive-out-darknessSick and unhealthy people think about themselves a lot. Healthy, balanced people think of themselves very little, although their generosity is a version of them being selfish about giving. They know it feels good to invest more in others than yourself, and so they selfishly do so.

Today you’re looking to avoid creating your own ego-self by pointing your consciousness out, rather than in. Rather than load your attention up with self-reflective egotistical thoughts about you, instead you want to focus outward, on the experiences of others. Watch people’s faces as they listen to others talk. See their emotional reactions as their personal experience. Note how it might differ from yours. Watch for your opportunities.

Today’s meditation is simple: Watch the outside world for an opportunity to provide context. In short, you want to find at least one opportunity today to expand the awareness of someone else. Keep in mind, this cannot be done correctively as that assumes they already have the knowledge and aren’t using it. You have to invite them to include the knowledge by making it harmless.

1074-relax-and-succeed-teach-peaceYou cannot ask someone to assume the identity of jerk. You cannot defy their current beliefs. Your only job is to expand the context from which they might choose to view an event. That’s it. Just plant a seed. Just find a way to present that idea in supportive way. If you succeed at this, before you know it the other person can integrate the added information into their understanding, thereby making it theirs and boom; we have empathy.

Get out of your own head. Today, get at least one compassionate connecting idea into the head of at least one other person and do it without sounding preachy, instructive or superior. Just wonder out loud and leave the rest to the inherent goodness of their spirit. Do that and you’ll have done more for yourself than you ever could have imagined. Enjoy your day everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Rocking the Boat

1025-relax-and-succeed-its-okay-if-people-dont-like-youOur ability to remember things only starts a little before most people start going to school, so our idea of how the larger world works will often come from that experience and not our home one. If we’re Korean and our family and friends are Korean then being Korean is fine, but if the kids in the school have never seen a Korean face or heard a Korean name, they can think the new kid is strange and someone to be avoided. This can cause insecurities that can last a lifetime even though there’s nothing wrong with the kid.

Eventually in school everyone does make at least a few friends. Interestingly, the kids with the fewest friends are generally outcasts who are already functioning in some way that causes society to pass some judgment on them. Nerds are cool now, but it wasn’t that long ago that being good in school and knowing about things like Dungeons and Dragons or comic books meant you’d be ostracised or even beat up.

The strange upside to being ostracised is that it’s actually much more accurate to adult life. So you can go through school as the most popular person but that still won’t save you from all of the judgments others will make about you. Some of those judgments will be true, others will be entirely false, but you’ll lose just as many friends over the lies as the truth–likely even more.

1025-relax-and-succeed-do-what-you-feel-is-rightMeanwhile, the teased kid eventually gives up and just starts being themselves as they get used to the teasing. This, it turns out, is one of the most important lessons a person can learn. That kid becomes impervious to the opinions of others. Without any airs that kid can meet their friends as themselves and that is a profoundly underrated thing.

One of the best advantages to being yourself is that it helps your real friends find you in a crowd. Often people will connect with the wrong people because they think someone’s this or that way when really they’ve just been performing to maintain their status with others. And the egos do this even though the actual person will eventually have to show up and disappoint everyone who thought they were someone else.

Genuinely enjoying the act of making someone happy is one thing, but it’s not a healthy or enlightened thing to make people happy if you’re spending that time performing actions or saying words that feel unnatural to you. Eventually you’ll get hangry or be short on sleep or you’ll have had a stressful time and you’ll show your true self and then just watch a bunch of people desert you for nothing more than a few low days.

Frankly, if you look back at your life you can probably easily find people you’ve never spoken to again and yet all they would have done is offend you with an opinion or approach that wasn’t one you’d use. Look at how remarkably conditional our affections are; we see it so often it becomes normal, so we get to the point where we actually expect people to perform for us. They’re not supposed to be themselves, they’re supposed to be who we expect them to be.

So how’s the outcast in school end up better off? It hurts them more at the time because they found out before anyone how incredibly silly people can be with their opinions, but in getting used to it they’re getting used to the adult world where people’s expectations just increase more and more and more over time. Eventually you can get to the point where an entire 20 year friendship can end over just one series of misunderstood text messages, as though those messages somehow unlock some secret identity they’ve been hiding for two decades.

Half the time people show me one of those and say, can you believe they said that? and I won’t even be able to find the offence they’re talking about without all of the history they’re loading the text with. Even the word ok gets seen as some sign of hostility. If people are going to be that finicky then the problem isn’t you, it’s their ridiculous standards. People aren’t here for you and you aren’t here for them. We’re all in this together and we either act like that or we pretend we can somehow survive without people that disagree with us.

By fifty most people have realised that their giant collection of school friends was really just a bunch of other insecure kids who were taught all kinds of unrealistic expectations. Those same expectations will cause people to desert or blame others and before they know it everyone’s left with just their true friends; the people who will accept them warts and all. And the outcast had that already in school. It was the rest of us living in a fantasy, not the kid playing D&D.

Don’t perform for others and don’t ask others to perform for you. The problems aren’t out in the world they are within you. You have resistance to other people’s ways of being just like they have resistance to your way of being. How can it make sense for two people who believe in democracy to hate each other because one’s a Democrat and one’s a Republican when they can’t even have the democracy they value so much without each other? It’s crazy, and yet people do it every day.

There’s a lot of people sitting on the gunnels of your boat and almost nothing will knock them out. A lot of people never intended to stay so they have gotten on and off and various ports of call. Others really needed some serious storms to get knocked out, but a precious few clung to your boat extra hard during the storms and those are the people who are willing to tough out the hard parts of life with you. That’s your tribe and those are the most valuable people you’ll know. So don’t see yourself as losing friends as you age, see it as chiselling away acquaintances to reveal the solid foundation of your very best friendships.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Psychological Storms

If we want a healthier society each individual must develop an understanding that responsibility is empowerment. Rather than blaming other people or our parents or the past or one of life’s many supposed “disorders,” we must recognise that reality is an internal subjective experience not an external objective one. Things aren’t happening to you, you are happening to them.

This isn’t to say there isn’t real pain in the world; of course there is. But people would be fine with pain if they didn’t have all of the suffering. Accepting pain requires that we experience the relevant pain from a place of understanding of how the universe works. And by understanding how the universe works we thereby avoid unnecessary suffering as a choice.

Physical pain can be seen as “real” (although even that deserves its own discussion), and even some psychological pain is natural. That happens when we experience what ends up being known as post-traumatic stress; meaning you have brain wiring that isn’t helpful to a new situation you’re left in. This would include things like the death of a parent, the loss of a limb or key ability, or even a sudden or drastic shift in your living circumstances due to disaster, war or even divorce or immigration to a foreign culture. That’s a lot of brain parts now having to deal with a lot of new things all at the same time. That taxes our brain and that’s what gets called painful stress.

1014-relax-and-succeed-when-there-is-no-enemy-withinLater you can be in the new circumstances, but now that your brain has caught up you’re less stressed and less in pain–which is when the suffering can start. This is when you know how things work but you don’t like it. Meaning; you don’t approve of the universe. But the universe is the universe and you are you, so your approval is tiny against that force. You cannot direct it, you can only flow with it or push against it. Resistant thoughts generate suffering.

Your psychological resistance comes in various forms. You take some aspect of the universe and you create stress and pressure by leaning your psychology up against reality. These actions are known by names like: complaints; worry; anger; jealousy; envy; resentment; and yes, even disorders and depression. These are all forms of resistance and that is why they’re painful.

Sometimes we resist nature, like when we have complaints about the weather or time or other people’s behaviour. Just because there was a forecast or a plan or a definition of right and wrong doesn’t mean that’s how the world will go, it’s just a loose agreement on a theoretical future. Any resistance to it not happening the way we expected will generate suffering for the person doing the resisting.

1014-relax-and-succeed-if-you-imagine-a-worst-case-scenarioIn a jealous couple one party is resisting the freedom their partner invariably has, while the other is resisting their own freedom. One person thinks about their lack of control of the universe, leading the other to then think of their resulting lack of control of themselves. Someone who complains a lot will have a lot of expectations. They’ll have an invisible personal script for the world and they’ll be upset any time others–or even nature–won’t read or act off of that scripted idea. So then it doesn’t rain, it rains on your wedding.

People who envy use their thoughts to wish they had things they don’t, or to wish others who have them, didn’t. People trapped in grief refuse to accept their new circumstances and so they wander around endlessly within a world of suffering narratives built from their hopes or wishes. S.A.D. people want summer instead of winter so they convert that into thoughts about hating winter and then they blame the weather outside their head for the self-imposed weather inside their head.

People who want the world and themselves to be very different than they are will think so long and so hard about so many things they want to be different that the’ll end up in a horrible pit of depression. Meanwhile their capable self will still be there waiting to live rather than think.

1014-relax-and-succeed-do-not-use-your-imaginationWe all cling to our excuses to live small. The world can feel like a vast ocean we’re sure to drown in if we let go of whatever tiny ego-preserver we’re clinging to as we bob up and down. But we must remember, we’re not foreign to the universe. We are a part of it. So rather than being like a land-based human struggling on the surface of a deep dark sea, remember your origins; your home and your nature began in the water. Rather than resisting it and clinging to its egotistical surface, you can remember that your soul never loses the ability to swim gracefully in its depths.

From the air the water can look really scary and mysterious and foreboding. It can appear it’s too much to handle. There’s horizons when you’re on the surface and they can seem like they’re a long ways away. But if you stop all of the surface thoughts and instead just let the world go quiet as you dunk your head into reality, you’ll see the horizons disappear and they convert instead into a never-ending, always-changing ocean of three-dimensional opportunity that’s in front of you no matter which direction you go.

Rather than being trapped on one plane of reality (yours), swim in all of reality and you will suddenly be free. On the surface storms may still rage, but beneath all of that you will feel them more as gentle undulations, because from a deeper perspective all of that windy, rainy, and even thunderous thinking doesn’t really have all that much to do with you.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Stolen Happiness

Scott’s tied up in a burlap bag, bound and gagged. I know this because I did it to him. I’m Stella, Scott’s evil twin. All of his stupid positiveness drives me nuts. I’m taking over. Let’s face it; life is crap and we all know it. There’s no getting out of this alive, it’s just a matter of how long and how badly you suffer until then.

I had some crook bilk me out of $400 last year. $400! Scott figures I should forgive that guy by forgetting about him. Screw that. I think about that jerk every day all day. I imagine how I’d get my revenge, I think about who could have stopped him so I can be mad at them too, and I imagine my life if it never happened and the comparison is agony, so no one can tell me that thief didn’t ruin my life. Just look at all of that!

The whole thing just stresses me out. Scott says I should change my focus so that I’m not giving myself stress-chemicals. Well maybe that’s what they’re for! Yeah, I know I’m not being chased by a sabre-toothed tiger, but maybe this exam for work is today’s version of a tiger. Don’t tell me I’m not stressed. I can list every single reason why.

1010-relax-and-succeed-lifes-not-fairIt’s not like I can look forward to a brighter future either. If anything it’ll probably get worse. Someone in my family must have broken a lot mirrors or walked under a lot of ladders because I’ve been plagued by bad luck all my life. Or maybe I just have more people stabbing me in the back. It’s not like you can trust people.

Scott believes you’re better to bet on the goodness in people, that it’ll lead to a better life than the opposite. Yeah sure. I’ll just assume this guy walking down the street isn’t a rapist. What’s he doing on this street? Why’s he walking? I know he’s a neighbour but he’s a creepy one. Look at him. He’s smiling. See? Creep. He just comes home from work and watches TV. There’s probably bodies in the basement or in jars somewhere.

Nope. You can’t risk dying just for some stab at a good life. Then it’s over. Then what? Then you have zero opportunity to actually get that good life you’ve been waiting all this time for. You don’t want to die bungee jumping or learning to fly or by asking someone to dance. Better to wait for the good luck others get. Once you have that you can start your life. For now it’s just too risky out there. You might lose some face.

1010-relax-and-succeed-12-symptoms-of-a-spiritual-awakeningScott claims our feelings of being hurt are some kind of interpretation we do with personal thinking. Interpretation? I don’t care if I was being treated badly, I still got dumped; I don’t care that I wasn’t home when it happened, someone robbed me; and I don’t care if I found out I’m cancer-free, I can’t believe they worried me so much with all of that unnecessary testing. People should show me more respect!

You can see why the world’s so crappy. The reasons are laying all over the place but you don’t see anyone doing anything about it. No one cares. The idiots. If they had half a brain they’d have some compassion. Well screw them. They’re in this sinking, stinking boat too. I can’t wait for it to sink. I just want to go to sleep. I find thinking about all this just so exhausting.

Here’s hoping your day isn’t as bad as mine’ll probably be.

STELLA

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.