Texting and Relationships

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #8

1036-relax-and-succeed-a-mom-text-messageI think texting was invented by marriage counsellors as a job-creation program. More and more struggling couples come to me because they’re looking at breaking up because of a bunch of text messages. Twenty year relationships being undone in 140 character bursts. It’s crazy.

As I’ve noted before, I often used to ask my college students if they knew what I meant when I said, last night I shot a robber in my pajamas? They would always say they did, but they can’t; because that sentence has four meanings. I never state who’s wearing the pajamas or if someone was murdered or photographed. And yet all the students are sure they understood. This is how weak and frail words are at capturing the fine details of the human condition. So hinging a relationship on some text messages is the flimsiest sort of reasoning there is.

Let’s begin with the fact that people will often take things out of context. If a woman gets a text at 7pm from her sister and all it says is, I got a run she might skip right past the idea that her sister might be playing a card game and she might immediately think that her sister is referring to her baseball league, when in fact she is trying to discreetly ask her sister to rush to her room to get her some new stockings for the date she’s on.

1036-relax-and-succeed-texting-is-a-brilliant-way-to-miscommunicateThere are examples of ambiguous meanings, assumptions about tone, context, meaning, there’s bad auto corrections, tech issues and then there’s stuff like this… why not just cave paint to each other? It’s probably got less room for misunderstandings, because whenever couples show me these texts I just cannot see all of the drama they do. They load the tiniest and most innocent of phrases up with massive amounts of meaning. It’s crazy.

Texts are for some basic data. Grocery lists, times, notifications that you’re waiting downstairs, etc. You should not be discussing your relationship on text. If you’re that anxious that you need answers immediately then you need to get more mature about your anxiousness before you’re ready to be in a healthy relationship. Seriously.

The fact that a couple can be in love in the morning when they go to work and ready to break up by the time they get home when they haven’t even spoken once should be a clear sign people have lost touch with what’s reasonable and healthy. Use texts for what they’re for and save your relationship issues for in-person discussions when you’re both in a positive frame of mind. Otherwise you’re just asking for trouble.

1036-relax-and-succeed-between-what-is-said-and-not-meantTruly, I don’t like seeing people for reasons this frivolous. If you’re actually making relationship decisions based on text exchanges then you’re not mature enough for a healthy relationship. Real couples that make it through real challenges do so by staying connected, and that means their communication lines are open.

Actually commit to no longer texting about emotional issues. Save them for times, dates, lists, and decisions about times and locations, but not about important issues. If it’s important enough then it’s important enough to hear your partner’s voice or to wait until you can. Anything else disrespectful to both of you. You simply cannot expect good results from trying to deal with the most important thing in your life in 140 character increments.

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.

Pronoia

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year

1007-relax-and-succeed-pronoiaHere’s what I don’t get: why is there an it’s too good to be true, but not an, it’s too bad to be true? When the crime rate’s gone down steadily for over 3o years, when tons of people volunteered to go into helping professions, when such a tiny percentage of the population ever gets in trouble; why are we so quick to assume the worst? And yet look how the people in this video assume good things are automatically suspicious:

People want the world to be better and yet they’ll actively engage in this kind of paranoia. There is no reason you couldn’t look a stranger in the eye as you walked past them on a street because your odds of getting a scowl would be very low and your odds of a smile would be very good (almost 100% if you go first), and if you do miss that positive experience it’ll probably be because the other person is still looking down, assuming that you’ll be a bad experience.

There are marginal excuses for these unhealthy, disconnecting behaviours. If you’ve been traumatised then it can be possible to find yourself unrealistically but validly hyper-concerned, but for the average person that jaundiced view of humanity is completely unjustified. 98% of people we’ll meet in a day treat us nicely, and we ourselves spend time in that other 2% so we’d best not throw stones.

If you’re watching closely you see evidence of this goodness every day. Giving money to the homeless means someone is volunteering to be poorer with no gain to themselves except the good feelings that come from that sort of compassion. Friends write supportive messages, people make positive social media posts, within every bad news story there will be heroes. People are polite, they tell jokes, they go outside the bounds of their job to help you for no gain to themselves. It’s everywhere.

1007-relax-and-succeed-good-people-bring-out-the-goodPolice risk their lives to protect people. Firefighters run into burning buildings to save strangers. Doctors risk losing a patient to save them. People give blood. They run and walk and cycle countless miles for countless charities. They hold doors for you, they give you compliments, or maybe even just a smile. People are overwhelmingly good, even if they’re not always doing what you want them to.

How can you benefit by thinking the worst of others? You’re doing the thinking. That’s happening inside your head, and it’s your body that’s experiencing the negative reaction that comes from negative thinking. The person you’re thinking about probably doesn’t even care. They might be busy, happily smiling while you’re thinking your dark, suspicious thoughts.

May I suggest that your life would improve the moment you adopted a new paradigm? Pronoia is the opposite of paranoia. Rather than thinking that the world is conspiring against you, you think that it’s conspiring in your favour. Instead of mistrusting someone because you think they’re going to do something behind your back, trust them and stay open to the idea that they might reward you unexpectedly. Or you have some big project fall through, instead of feeling like a failure, you can instead happily assume it’s because you’ll need the time and resources for something even better!

1007-relax-and-succeed-you-must-not-lose-faithPeople who scowl a lot will tell you that pronoics are silly and unrealistic but those scowling people also live inside their beliefs–beliefs which suggest that optimistic, trusting, positive views are less likely than pessimistic, untrustworthy and negative ones. But they’re scowling; and for every one of them I could introduce you to some extremely successful person and they will talk about how they can’t believe how lucky they’ve been.

You can go through life watching for bad things and I assure you you will find them just as day turns to night. At the same time, if you go through life watching for good things then I assure you, you will not only see them during the daytime; they’ll glow like stars at night.

You’re a good person. The people walking toward you have every reason to assume that. And they’re just like you. So going forward let’s all try offering more help, accepting more help, and just in general let’s get off our phones and get back to each other. Because when it comes to improving society and connecting with people in the moment you’re in, there’s simply no app for that. So go practice some pronoia. And trust me, if you’re paying attention you’ll quickly notice that you are not alone.

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 Friday Dose #122: Shaming Mothers

Winner: 2016’s Friday Dose of the Year

It’s not like women don’t have enough issues to deal with already and now, in a remarkably ironic twist, the biggest media outlet in the world has made it very clear through both words and actions that it feels women should feel good about having thin young bodies but they should feel ashamed and embarrassed about their body as a mother.

978 FD Relax and Succeed - Facebook's rejected postYesterday I wrote a piece about stretch marks and how women shouldn’t feel badly about having them just because some other younger person judged them as unattractive. I explained that the lack of acceptance was a form of innocent ignorance being displayed by otherwise good people who simply don’t yet have the capacity to be able to appreciate those signs of pregnancy as being attractive.

Whenever I get an indication that a blog is particularly meaningful or worthwhile to readers I will spend some money to boost it to ensure people who don’t subscribe to Relax and Succeed can still benefit from the content. When I tried to do that with this post I was quickly told (likely by a “female” robot), that facebook’s position is that “Ads like this are not allowed since they make viewers feel bad about themselves.”

We’ve all seen plenty of sexual content on facebook. I have no shortage of photos and videos in my newsfeed that depict scantily clad extremely slim young women doing everything from holidaying on Spring Break to playing beach volleyball at the Olympics. If one of the largest media outlets in the world is saying yes to young and sexy and scantily clad while simultaneously arguing that women should feel bad about themselves for having stretch marks what does that communicate to young women and future mothers?

978 FD Relax and Succeed - Facebook's rejectionThis a clear demonstration of how egotistical and judgmental the world has become. I won’t choose to let many things upset me but, on a day where the biggest thing on the internet was a one hour video of a naked Donald Trump statue, this just flew in the face of the freedoms my own father joined the war effort in WWII to protect. That being the case I appealed facebook’s rejection and then received the response depicted–written by purportedly a woman no less!

One of the main reasons women write to me is because of body image issues. Just the day before there was a comment on the Relax and Succeed facebook page that noted, “Needed this here in the fun and sun, where shorts, tanks, bikinis and long legged younger women surround me, LOL. Where a reminder is needed that stretch marks, cellulite, and grey hair and wrinkles are beautiful as well.” Indeed.

Everyone who liked or loved the post was female, but facebook doesn’t think anyone should see it because it’s “…extremely undesirable.” Facebook suggested I find a product to advertise instead but since I don’t sell products that would be impossible. I’m a writer who doesn’t even have any ads running on my page and if I ever did I would do all I could to ensure that they didn’t ever make anyone feel ashamed of themselves and the way nature made them.

978 FD Relax and Succeed - Response to FacebookThis is of course precisely what feminists are fighting against and now we know clearly in writing how facebook feels on a policy basis. Facebook has an idea of what you’re supposed to look like and anything outside of their definition is unattractive and therefore should not be seen. They’ll take money for an ad for unhealthy food but they won’t permit people to pay to promote a non-commercial post featuring a genuine women’s issue. This is remarkable considering Mark Zuckerberg has a daughter and his wife is obviously a mother.

I tried to use the word “media” to trigger the algorithm to go get me a real person but, having likely failed in that, all I did was get pretty angry at a robot, which is silly. She definitely won’t have an issue with stretch marks. But this is where the energy behind outrage can be helpful if it’s focused in a healthy way.

I do feel strongly that if we want a more just society that permits everyone to feel good about themselves then we must each take definitive action to change the sexualized judgments that advertising has historically used to guilt women into buying beauty products. If I was on facebook advertising a cream to hide stretch marks I would have no problem, but if I want to promote women feeling good about their natural bodies that is not allowed.

Facebook will obviously try to hide it from you but if at all possible I would obviously like to see this blog post shared more than any other I have ever written. If you’re mature enough to feel like I do–that mother’s have every reason to feel proud of their post-pregnancy bodies– then please help spread this message on all forms of social media so that appropriate social pressure can be placed on facebook to revisit their sexist standards.

This is clearly not in the interests of women or men and I would appreciate anything you could do to help ensure that women are also exposed to positive natural body images and words. To all you mother’s with stretch marks–I know you are beautiful and I want you to be confident in that too. On behalf of a male-dominated world I apologise on its behalf for having ever made you feel badly about maturing into the most important job on Earth: motherhood.

 

Respectfully, 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.

Getting Out Of Line

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #2

955 Relax and Succeed - The quieter you becomeIf we’re lost in ego there’s only two directions we can go: forward and back. That’s the problem with ego–it’s a simplistic personal view and it is very limited in it’s vision of potential directions. Our egos can live in our past and egos can live in our futures, but living in the present moment is so completely and thoroughly involving that it simply does not leave us any consciousness left to use words to weave illusions like time. The quiet of our soul is always Now.Blog of the

The ego is an action a lost soul will take. Rather than being present and aware in the moment, a spirit will create an ego that can leave the body where it is and then take the mind on a word-based journey forward or backward in time. For example, we can be in a lineup for something. There’s maybe tea to taste, maybe some flowers to smell and maybe there’s some music to listen to. Children don’t yet know words so they can experience those things as a soul. They perceive but they do not divide and judge.

As an adult we can be standing with the child in a lineup, tea in hand, flowers nearby and music audible and yet we will ignore all of that and it will begin talking to ourselves about something we’ve judged as embarrassing from a week ago, or a month ago, or years ago. So that’s where the ego is–back on its past, dealing with something it’s already done.

955 Relax and Succeed - These mountains that you are carryingIt’s like watching a movie over and over because we don’t like the ending and we’re hoping if we keep watching it that one day it’ll have changed. But if it’s a terrible story then it’s important to remember that you’ll get the same chemistry now that you got then.

Meanwhile, there’s the kid that’s with us in line and they’re living in spirit. The song’s nice, the people around us are smiling, maybe someone’s holding a puppy in their arms that we haven’t even noticed. The kid is happy and in pursuing that happiness in that moment they move toward the puppy.

Meanwhile we’re the adult lost in our thoughts about a past event. The chemistry we’re asking for by reliving that thought is painful. That pain leads us to be sensitive and easily upset. And because we’re lost in our thoughts we haven’t noticed the puppy. So from our perspective, when the child takes off it’s for no apparent reason. We then take our anger from our past and use it to scold the child in the present using words our parents taught us years ago, and all while we truly don’t even know what’s going on in the present moment. This is why children often think their parents are unfair and it’s also how children learn to be adults that stay in line.

955 Relax and Succeed - Pause for a few secondsAs children our parents constantly and unknowingly invited us out of the present moment and instead encouraged us to stitch together our egos. We were told puppy’s don’t belong in banks and we were taught to pay attention to abstract ideas like obedience. Eventually we do this so much that we also don’t notice the puppies because we’re we too busy with our own painful thoughts; wondering if we’re out of line, regretting that we’ve ever been out of line and hoping we’re never be out of line again.

Our past is our past and has little to no bearing on the quality of our future. Moreover, hopes and fears about what might be can cripple that future by preventing us from attending to the present moment from which it will be built.

You think all the time and you’re reading this because you want something better. Better is easy. Better is quiet inside. Better is to simply Be. Because you never could go back and fix the past or guarantee your future. But if you’re present you might actually find a few more puppies in your life.

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.

Flights of Passion

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #9

929 Relax and Succeed - We aren't here to be perfectMany adult relationships won’t crash and burn with something like cheating or collapse under the weight of losing a child. Most will die a slow dull death and for that reason they are the ones that feel the most salvageable. Despite that possibility there is usually some external catalyst required for that to happen because otherwise the issue is difficult to overcome.

Imagine people are airplanes and the people inside are the potential experiences that everyone is born with. Flying is living. There is nowhere specific to go, so the closest thing you can do to “winning” is to land with all of your passengers / potentialities having already disembarked because they were fully realised. In short: you lived.

Okay, so everyone’s an airplane and when we’re flying high we have tons of perspective and we can appreciate tons of choice in terms of our direction. When we’re low-consciousness, we’re weaving through mountains of thought that half block-out the sky. It feels perilous and scary and we get angry and absent-minded in our efforts and yet the “mountains” are ultimately ephemeral; made only of our own thought and existing only within our own consciousness.

929 Relax and Succeed - Make your life worth lovingA relationship is when two planes choose to fly together. You happen to be on a similar course, you like how they fly and how their plane’s design works, and your passengers love waving to each other so you radio over and ask them if they’d like to join you on a permanent flight. Maybe you even make it official in front of all of the other pilots at some ceremony where you sign each other’s Flight Logs or something.

Obviously your planes fly differently so they’ll be impacted differently by weather, but in general the flying is good and you both enjoy the flow of your travels. This goes on for years until something happens. Maybe it’s an addiction, maybe you work too much, or you’re always angry or depressed, but somehow one or both of you goes into a downward spin. You’re no longer going anywhere, you’re only thinking about how much you hate the spinning.

The most their partner can do is radio instructions to them because the healthy partner does not actually have their hands on the unhealthy partner’s controls. Instead they naturally begin circling from as close as they can get without doing the same tight dangerous spin. They radio the tower for wisdom but it’s reconfirmed that there is nothing that can be done other than the pilot changing course. Any direction will do, but the plane needs to straighten itself out and only the pilot can do it.

929 Relax and Succeed - Don't let your struggle become your identityIn the best case scenarios the person realises that they are just spinning on thoughts about past regrets, or thoughts about future anxieties. They realise that there is no “correct direction.” They just need a direction. What was hurting wasn’t the danger in the future or the pain of mistakes made in the past, it was the spinning itself; it was the asking of the unanswerable question. At a certain point there are no more answers sought because in the end it is accepted that all that can be done is to fly and so the person does.

But in some cases the person spins too long. And while their partner has done a lazy circle for literally years in the hopes that their companion will pull out of it, eventually their passengers get restless. How much fuel do they have? There’s a lot of life to experience and they can’t live any of it flying in circles for literally years. Because one plane’s going down does that mean both should? The pilot feels that pressure and the passengers note that there’s been little to no sign that anything will change. Eventually the only question is: when will the pilot listen to the passengers, not if. And therein lies the problem.

Once that plane finally does depart (as incredibly reluctant as it will be to go), there will be an immediate sense of relief on the part of the passengers and crew. After all, they’ve just been doing a wider version of that same spin. They do not want to go down in the middle of a deep ocean having not seen much of anything in literally years. Ironically, their departure can sometimes be what triggers a genuine recovery in the partner. By focusing on that change the unhealthy pilot’s mind gets out of its loop and focuses as suddenly the partner gives chase.

929 Relax and Succeed - We travel not to escape lifeThe problem is that they’re usually a long way behind. It makes sense that they would radio their beloved other pilot and ask them to circle for a while until they catch up, but at the same time they can appreciate the difficulty in that. Now that they are finally in motion the notion of travelling backwards or circling more is particularly unappealing. Often even an intense love for their partner cannot overcome it. Too much recent time has been spent on down and backwards. Their souls are literally starved for forwards and upwards.

These are crushing circumstances. No one wants what comes to pass. These are the worst and most poetic days we will face in life. There are no winners in a scenario like that spin. People can pull out of those dives and they can draw a strong and passionate direction from the emptiness of their previous life so those experiences are never losses. They are however extremely painful. The most we can come to is an understanding that the passengers in all the other planes have the same will to live that ours do.

How long a partner should circle is the big debate. Some say marriage vows say you circle until your plane goes down. Some people say you leave right away. Others dedicate years, decades and lifetimes. There is no right answer. Others may judge but, they’re not in your plane, they don’t know your fuel situation and they don’t have your passengers. So all anyone can do is use all of their plane-flying skills and instincts and do what they genuinely feel is best. There just isn’t a better flight plan than that.

Enjoy your day.

big hug, s

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

Fully Being

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #7

Depression is when you feel a long way away from your greatest self. Feeling great is when you feel in strong alignment with experience and sensation. The rewarding feelings happen when you are so busy taking in the world and offering your nature within it that you simply have no leftover life energy to put into thinking an ego-identity into existence.

911 Relax and Succeed - Follow your blissWe are not musicians in this metaphor. There is no gap between player and playing. Rather than thinking you’re struggling with broken strings or no instrument at all; we are all like musical chords floating through space, the quality of our tuning always depending on what parts of the universe we’re exposed to at that time.

It’s important to remember that the musical scales are born out of cultures just like our thinking is. That’s why music from some parts of the world will sometimes appear off-key to you. It’s not, it’s just your frame of reference; as though you’re looking to divide an inch down into quarter-inches but you only have a ruler with millimetres and centimetres. Nothing’s wrong, you just can’t divide reality up to match someone else’s perception. This is why things like understanding tend to help cultures relate and why the more people know a culture the more they’ll be comfortable with it.

Despite all of this there are some humans who can travel far and wide and like Buddhas they are understood everywhere they go. It’s as though their language is universal. They can relate to any scale you play. They are open, and playful and they are both meeting and leading you simultaneously because for them there is no you and them, there is only being. What people see as impressive is really simply someone Fully Being.

911 Relax and Succeed - You look ridiculousTwo excellent examples of this were David Bowie and Prince. I’ve written about them both before because their fame and lengthy success was directly tied to a special kind of spiritual success. Their drive to do what they did was them carefully listening to and acting upon that inner voice that we all have. It does not mean they avoided failures or challenges or hassles. But it does mean they lived fully, adding a great deal to the book of humanity.

If they thought up an outfit they made it or had it made. If they thought of a dance move they performed it in front of huge audiences. If they thought of a new song they presumed it had value and they pursued and developed it with the zeal of a palaeontologist, removing everything unnecessary until they were left with only the truth of the universe.

If they felt out of tune they sought out collaborators like themselves–people open and free who would meet them in that strange place outside society’s current thoughts. And any human can see that they are fully and thoroughly engaged in what they’re doing. Despite having enormous fame, that fame was always a result of their passions rather than being generated by going off track due to things like ego.

911 Relax and Succeed - Let yourself beThe strange thing is that you know people who do this very close to your life. Maybe they parent with the zeal, enthusiasm and heart of Prince. Maybe they do their job as well as Bowie did his. Maybe they’re a fantastic friend that seems both more helpful and less needy than any others. Maybe you feel that way about math, or architecture, or cement, or carpentry, or cooking, or even learning something bizarre and minor. Maybe you travel with that light in you. And it never matters how many people harmonise at any given time–it’s only about how pure that connection is.

You have dance moves you save for when you’re alone. Your singing voice is loudest when you’re in the car by yourself. You have ideas you’re too scared to share. You have aspects of yourself you keep hidden. You have fears about judgment. And so rather than living with the zeal of your heroes, instead you are like a religious person who worships someone else’s journey rather than taking your own.

You deny the divine qualities in yourself. You’re life isn’t unsatisfying because of failures or a lack of ability, you’re life is unsatisfying because you aren’t living yourself out large. You’re living in corrals and fences of words and ideas and because you believe in them you are hemmed in, constrained, confined and committed to stay in line.

911 Relax and Succeed - If you limit your choicesIt’s important to remember those fences are made of thought. Bowie ignored them. Prince ignored them. And you can too. They walked right through them and toward their real life. Yes, they got famous and we all know them. But what we recognise in them is our own greatest self, and so if we’re to pay homage to these inspiring souls, then the best way to do it would be to immediately become bold about your own life.

Forget the need to align yourself with others or society. You can still do that after you’re fully realised. But society will always make room when it recognises greatness, whether that person is a famous musician or just a kid who says they want to be an astronaut. So start asking yourself about your actual dreams. And once you remember them, forget your ego’s concerns about judgment and you’ll stop creating a fearful, tired, unsatisfied you and that will leave you free to live your life in full.

You don’t have to be on stage and famous to lead an inspired and exciting life. Whether you’re writing a letter, collecting stamps or raising your kid, you simply need to trust yourself and act on what you truly know. Are you ready? Let’s go.

peace. s

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

Made to Order

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #5

Despite how parts of it are sold, society is a cooperation not a competition. Traffic, infrastructure, schools, corporate structures, the internet; these are all things that were designed to help us cooperate.

903 Relax and Succeed -Calvin and Hobbes
The Story Behind This Cartoon

Our societal cooperation works best when each of us intentionally aligns our deepest self with the larger goal. So for some big startup company to succeed it needs someone who wants to lock themselves away alone to do some deep, complex thinking. But it also needs bold, talkative, likeable salespeople who’re good at managing grey areas, and those salespeople all have to be different to appeal to different clients. Then the organisation will also need accounting and legal staff that then turns grey areas into black and white. Etc. etc.

It is called an organisation because it is the coordination of all of these very disparate and even conflicting skill sets. So the saleswoman intentionally generates grey area to achieve a sale only for accounting to have to slice all the grey into neat little boxes. One person’s work literally creates the other person’s work. Nothing’s wrong there, it’s just the nature of an organisation.

The challenge occurs when a catch-all idea tries to encapsulate all of these complex relationships. We see this most often in schools, where it used to be presumed that some students were strong in some subjects and not in others. Now if you’re a good student you’re not allowed to be a human with natural skill set. Now a good student gets good grades in everything.

903 Relax and Succeed - Action without visionStudents are no longer their experiences, now they are just the memories in their brain. In turn their brain is seen as a computer to be programmed, and the notion is that the same process applies to programming math skills as reading skills when that is simply not the case.

Some kids look out their bedroom window and see the stars move each night and they wonder about those movements and they get good at math because they are innately interested in becoming a cosmologist. Some can’t sit still in class and they become world-renowned ballerina, Karen Kain. Some aren’t good at math but they’re good at understanding complex physical relationships, as was the case with the physicist, Albert Einstein.

Those are not people who succeeded because they got good grades and fit into the boxes at school really neatly. These are people who had just the right conditions to become fully themselves, even when that self conflicted with some pattern that society found convenient. Yes, we want to see ourselves as a part of larger society, but we don’t want salespeople to start acting like accountants any more than we want accountants to act like salespeople.

903 Relax and Succeed - Notable college dropouts

Real drive, real success and real happiness do not come from good grades, good pay and people approving of you. You’ll get all the approval you need from yourself if you’re realising your inner motivations and then working hard to achieve them. Because that doesn’t even feel like work–it just feels like the steps you need to take to get you where you’re going.

Yes, we all need to do reasonably well in school because those basic skills do end up way more important than any kid realises up until they’re about 25 years old. But we shouldn’t panic if someone struggles in a subject or their grades are average. College is no guarantee of a good life, but knowing how to realise yourself through diligent work is. If something matters enough to someone they’ll work incredibly hard at it whether that’s in a college or outside of it.

Do not treat kids like pegs to fit into holes. They are all individuals and as much as a hassle it might be for a parent or teacher to have Karen Kain and Steve Jobs in the same class, it’s important to remember that the school is a construct not a natural occurrence. Meaning we should be less invested in things like grades and more focused on seeing if the kids themselves feel like they are expanding.

Too many of our pressures on kids have to do with conforming and getting into line. Yes, teach kids to be good, solid cooperative citizens. But not at the price of choking off their spirit, because if that’s intact it will drive their intellect to create not only great things, but also a great life.

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.

Insecure Relationships

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #3

900 Relax and Succeed - Being possessive about a personWhen I was a teenager I had the same girlfriend for five years. For four and half of those years–as amazing as it sounds–we quite literally didn’t have a single argument. I had this clarity that everyone else thought was weirdness and she had a humility that made her look like the sanest person on Earth to me. That was a long time ago and we’re still best friends today.

I said four and a half of five years because the last six months of that I went through a growth spurt that made my legs ache horribly every night, I got little sleep, and because I didn’t know about testosterone at the time I would seemingly get mad at nothing. I’d never had it happen before. I could track where my emotions came from, but here were some that were simply part of being human. I had to ride them like a cowboy in a rodeo and it taught me to feel sympathetic about the hormone cycles women experience every month.

This all lead to about a year of feeling very suspicious and angry. For the first time in my life I was jealous. I could meditate on my anger and disassemble it after the fact, but I had very little control when it came to my immediate reaction. I did not like it at all. Fortunately the best friend was smart enough to leave and I worked hard to better myself and eventually that cloak of frustrated energy naturally lifted and we reconnected. It was a big relief. Jealousy or insecurity in a relationship is one of the most damaging forces you can encounter.

900 Relax and Succeed - Marriage won't stop a cheaterThere is no way for the other person to win with a suspicious mind. The suspicious mind will have reasoning behind it how it feels. Maybe they saw one parent cheat on the other and they blame that for the ruin of the other parent, so they’re watching closely to ensure it doesn’t happen to them. They idea is that they will be able to self-validate the reasoning, but that doesn’t mean a lack of trust is helpful to any relationship.

If you don’t have trust that can be for good reasons or less productive ones. But even if you have good reasons, no trust is essentially no relationship. Unhealthy people are held together by obligations and even threats, whereas the healthy kind of human relationship is one that’s naturally attractive, magnetic and safe.

We’re not complicated creatures. We go where we thrive. If we don’t go where we thrive, we wilt. A relationship is not something you can protect, it is only something you can reinforce with love and positive feelings. They aren’t about keeping other people out, they’re near-constant invitations to be in.

900 Relax and Succeed - If you love a flowerLook at your life. Do people do things for you because they love you or because they feel they have to? Because if you’re laying down “rules” for another human being then you’re misunderstanding deep relationships. They have no rules. No one is supposed to be anything except happy. That’s how unconditional love works.

You can have all the commitment in the world and still fight all the time. Commitment is like a rope tying something down. Love is like the sun. It doesn’t hold anyone in place it just promotes growth in the direction of its warmth by making sure the other person is showered in enough light to ensure they have all they need to help them fully realise themselves. Relationships are not about what you need, they’re about what you give.

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 Positive Life

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #6

896 Relax and Succeed - Good things are comingWith no blogs on Thursdays, that means this is your final mediation as a part of the March Kindness Challenge. You’ve been kind through small actions like politeness and through big things like apologies. Now it’s time to try the hard stuff: being kind to yourself.

You have some habits. They have become so ingrained in you that you almost see those habits as who you are. You unconsciously engage with them every day in much the same ways. So today we’re going to take the major element from the negative side and we’re going to switch it out for something positive.

Today you stay conscious and you find that one thing. You know the one I mean. That thing you think often. That discussion you have in your head every day. Maybe it’s about your weight. Maybe it’s about your ex. Maybe it’s about your mother, father, sister, brother or boss. Maybe you worry. Maybe it’s some insult that was hurled at you in your youth and you’ve never shaken it. Maybe you have to forgive yourself.

896 Relax and Succeed - Amazing peopleThere is some chunk of thinking you regularly do that is about that particular subject. It’s a daily recording about how useless you feel; how ugly, how lost, how incapable, how tired, how sick or how meaningless. Maybe you were adopted and you wonder about your birth mother, or maybe someone hurt you badly and you have a speech you want to give them, or maybe you just look in the mirror and literally hate yourself. Find that thing. Know it.

Look at the time. Within two hours of reading this you want to have figured out what that narrative is. It really shouldn’t be hard. Now: it is critical to remember that your opinions about the truth behind your narrative are meaningless. You can weigh more than you feel is right for you and yet still surrender your thoughts about being overweight. You can have the weight without the thinking. Same with all of the other potential issues. It doesn’t matter if this narrative is true, it only matters if its negative. Negative goes.

Okay, so here we reach acceptance. Acceptance can be tricky for people because it’s a spiritual act not an intellectual one. If you intellectually know you’re overweight then you’ll feel as though you’re justified in your narratives–wrong! Narrative are always ego, no matter what they are about. The problem is not actually the weight, it’s the self-talk. That’s what’s keeping you down.

896 Relax and Succeed - Speak only when your wordsSo you take a couple hours to find this thing and then you commit to replacing that thought with a positive one. I’d prefer it was about you but if that feels difficult you can make it about the world in general. But you need an actual swap. Then you start to keep your consciousness on guard for that class of narratives. And no matter how justified they seem, you simply switch to your positive one.

If you used to say you’re fat, learn to switch that as a habit with something good and then just think about that. Say you think this for about an hour of every day at a low level of consciousness. Because it’s a hot area for you, you end up with a route through your thinking that always includes your weakness, so if anything does go “wrong” you can easily pin it on yourself (unless your fault is blaming others).

If you switch that out to something positive then you are recovering at least an hour a day and you’re turning it from negativity to positivity. What you were negative about and what you’re positive about are irrelevant–you’ll be switching negativity for positivity so there is no chance you lose.

896 Relax and Succeed - No matter who you wereDon’t give yourself trouble when you screw up and think the old thought. I don’t care if you catch yourself an hour or two into it; just stop it when you do notice it and switch it to the positive thought. What we want to get good at here is the switching even more than the positivity. That’s a skill unto itself. So when you notice it isn’t important it’s that you noticed it.

Over time you’ll develop a real vigilance for this thought. Your vigilance will become the habit instead. You’ll be aware and alert and ready to respond with a healthy mindset. People are amazing but they’re always telling themselves they’re not. It’s a ridiculous exercise that undermines our progress as people on this Earth. There is no value in criticism there is only value in choosing something better.

It’s time to choose something better for yourself. It’s time you once and for all began the process to end that thought. Otherwise people have these for their entire lives. There is no upside in that. It’s like beating yourself throughout your life. Stop. It’s okay. You’re still far more good and worthwhile and meaningful than you could ever imagine. So there’s no need to veil yourself in negative thoughts about yourself. It’s time to come out. It’s time to enjoy a rewarding life. Start today.

peace. s

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

Recognition of Involvement

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #10!

So this week we know two things: our Dominant Negative Emotion and our Dominant Positive Emotion. Your mind has lots of things wired into those two emotions and so those are the ones to which you have the most effective route. Your brain’s like that–the more you do of something the better it gets at it.

861 Relax and Succeed - Today I listen to my feelingsFor our example today we could use sadness or anger but since it’s so popular, let’s say you spend most of your day anxious. Maybe you got laid off and there’s no work so you started your own little business but every day you’re freaked out that in you’re in over your head, it’s more than you can handle and you feel lost and afraid about your future and you lack trust in yourself. Again, it can be any emotion; this is just an example.

And let’s say the enjoyable thing you can easily experience is compassion. You can be having a terrible day–be all caught up in your own egotistical suffering and then you can see an injured dog being rescued on social media and suddenly you’ve switched from anxiety about your future to a form of caring love for the animal and thoughts instead about its future. You’re so invested in the animal that you’re not even creating a you to do any suffering.

This example works particularly well because compassion is tied to someone else’s suffering. For your mind, it’s not a giant leap to stay in suffering mode and yet focus on someone else. That once-removed understanding of the pain is the same thing that makes watching suffering in a movie actually resonate. It’s not your pain, but you feel it as pain you personally understand.

861 Relax and Succeed - Feeling unsure and lostWell it’s time you got to understand your own pain like that. That way, if you can’t shift to a better-feeling emotion you can still feel okay being in a painful situation. That’s an important distinction. Pain is mandatory in life. Everyone feels it. But suffering is the egotistical thought layer we place over the world and we invent suffering and claim it’s pain. It isn’t. Psychological pain is very fortunately a choice.

You can’t blame people a few years ago for thinking this was crazy. Common belief in psychology was that it worked the other way around. Your mental health affected your thinking, not that your thinking affected your mental health. Now they’re old fashioned if they think that people are victims. We can’t out-victim people who went through the worst of WWII, so if they can still have fruitful lives so can anyone else. It’s a matter of understanding our choices. It’s a matter of valuing this awesome opportunity called life.

Remember, because you have a preference for an experience that feels good that does not mean that the undesirable emotions and experiences are incorrect or otherwise something to remove from your life. You want to learn to spend the least amount of time there possible, but there is still tremendous value in the contrast that negative experiences provide.

861 Relax and Succeed - You are innately mentally healthyThere cannot be a path of enlightenment if there isn’t a not-path. And it’s not a path to enlightenment, because that makes it sound like it’s a destination when it’s actually an action–a verb; a way of moving through the universe. It is to be awake. To see the creation of your emotions and the possibility of a shift. Just wondering about that change for one day will do you tremendous good.

These are not small steps you’re taking every day. It’s you learning to see the world in a different way. If we do this long enough you’ll not only have the benefit of each lesson, but you’ll also have the larger total benefit of having assumed as natural, an entirely new way of seeing the world. A way so comfortable it can eventually replace the flawed version of reality you’re struggling to manage today.

That’s your assignment: watch your two biggest emotions. See how they each rise within you. Wonder about those sources. You’re wiser than you think. If you’re sincerely doing the exercises you’re likely to have a very helpful insight about how you can be more peaceful with yourself. It’s those little a-ha moments that we’ll stitch together into a new understanding. It’ll be fun. See you tomorrow for the act of the switch.

peace. s

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