The Talisman of Consciousness

1319 Relax and Succeed - We must give ourselves a sign

It can be a good thing to build a random number generator into our day. Then we can use it as a trigger to signal us to check-in with where our internal narrative is at random times.

These are easily built by just choosing something random, like the number 15, or the colours yellow and blue appearing together. It just has to be something that we do not control, yet something our awareness remains very consciousness of, so that it can signal us when we do see our talisman.

How it works is simple: when we see the number 15 within bus route 2150, or the number 15 in a phone number for a plumbing company, or a 15 within a licence plate or billboard, that’s the random signal for us to check-in with where our thinking is at, at that exact moment.

Likewise, if we see a car with a Ukrainian flag on its bumper its blue and yellow colours can signal us to check in with our thinking. A blue and yellow blouse on a woman? Check in. A blue house with a yellow fence, check in.

This practice has a double benefit. First, it takes our mind off our personal thoughts and makes us more aware of our moment to moment surroundings. And secondly, it subconsciously starts to trigger us to check-in with where our idle mind has wandered to in the event that we are lost in thought.

And speaking of that wandering thought, it’s also useful to look at life to see if we’re developing habits as to where our emotional ‘low ground’ really is. If our thoughts are allowed to wander, do we tend to head towards excited, creative or curious thoughts? Or fearful, insecure or sad thoughts? These are our indicators of when and when not to take action to change our psychology.

Let’s each develop our own unique triggers. We can put a post-it note in our work-space to remind us of our talisman if that’s what we need. And yes, we’re all allowed to forget what our triggers are and we can restart with new ones. Because the point isn’t to avoid failure, it’s to practice being aware. This way, even failed practice is practice that moves us forward.

Let’s all find our own signs and let’s use them to expand our moment to moment awareness of the world around us. In doing so, may our days be deeper and more profound.

peace, s

From Insomniac To Astralnaut

1316 Relax and Succeed - A busy ego before bed sets us up to sleep with the enemy

Today, many people have turned their concept of ‘sleep’ into some sort of terrible terrain that they are afraid to traverse each night. If we choose to think of sleep that way then it only makes sense that it will feel that way when we get there. We’ve pre-demonized it.

Half the joy of dinner at a great cook’s house is built by our anticipation of how good the meal will be. Half of the joy of a horror film is that something might jump out of a closet. Anticipation and fear are both projections of the future that are known to consistently exceed reality’s ability to deliver. Thoughts do a lot.

Without our thoughts about it, Disneyland is just another paved lot filled with fake storefronts, common rides and cute characters. Take our thoughts about sleep away and a bed is not dangerous territory, it’s just a rectangular piece of soft furniture for laying down on. There is no reason to fear it. It’s our thinking about the act of falling asleep that we’re afraid of. But now the bed and bedtimes trigger those courses of thought.

It is time to reinvent bedrooms into meditation salons. We don’t go there to sleep, we go there to commune with spirit –to break the bonds of our earthly selves. Dreaming is a very spiritual thing.

Part of the problem is that so many people today use sleep aids. Those impact memory, so people don’t remember their dreams. Even if they are having fun at night too many of us can’t recall what happened.

Even more than just regular old exciting dreams, lucid dreaming can be an extremely enjoyable and rewarding experience. But again, to do it most of us will likely need to have a drug-free mind. If we can work our way through that however, we do get a reward…

Rather than turning the idea of sleep into something scary, let’s make it into something exciting and desirable. Let’s make it into a meditative opportunity. Instead of seeing our beds as hostile territory, we can see it more like a shaman’s platform, or some kind of test area in a science lab.

Bed is the surface that we lay on when we want to explore inner space –where we transport into our lucid dreams –as Astralnauts.

It might seem over-the-top and unattainable, but all it really requires is for us to take the task seriously. I learned it in about 2-3 months as a kid. But I tried every single night. No practice, no skill.

1316 Relax and Succeed - Make sleeping a meditation

The easiest way is just to repetitively tell ourselves we will wake up in our sleep every night, and then stop to remember our dreams in the morning. Repeat then wait.

I did it by accident, by trying to ‘be awake’ for the moment that I fell asleep. However we do it, it’s important that we understand what we’re doing. We’re simply layering our waking consciousness over top of our sleeping mind much like our ego controls our biological mind while we’re technically ‘awake.’

When I succeeded and woke up in a dream, I’m not sure that was because I caught the moment of falling asleep or not. But after a few weeks of trying I suddenly found myself in a weird state of mind. I was in a dream, but part of me was awake. It was like achieving superhero status. In the dream I could do anything.

Many people have learned to do this. It’s better than labelling ourselves as insomniacs and just surrendering into that victim state. There’s no reason to do that when we can just as easily turn the Torture Chamber of Insomnia into the Horizontal Temple of Dreams. But again, it takes practice before the payoff.

We can all start by just remembering the unguided dreams we do have. If we don’t remember them now, no problem. If we start taking a few minutes each morning to try to, I have yet to meet the person who couldn’t over time.

Even within the first week of trying most people notice they are grabbing more snippets, and eventually the snippets get longer and within a few months people can often remember them quite easily, and in fair detail.

Over time we just get better at it like any other thing our brains do. And, if we remember them we can also think about how fascinating many of them are. They are also good clues as to how our mind is processing the world at any given time.

If we can come to see dreams as a kind of temporary freedom, then bed time isn’t scary. Instead, it becomes more like an opportunity, or a trip to the holodeck, or some fantastic theatre where we even feel what’s on the ‘screen.’ They can be great learning experiences.

Bottom line, sleep will never come easy if we see our beds as hostile territory. But that conception is made entirely of our own thoughts, so to change those we must first accept responsibility for them. From there we can use our minds to turn our time in bed into the very activity of falling sleep, all so we may have the lucid experiences that can not only make bed time quite fun, but they also make for a wonderful and useful form of meditation.

Enjoy your practice.

peace, s

Secular Sundays: Souls in Nature

1312 Relax and Succeed - Nature is generous to the soul

Time together in nature. It’s good for us if we’re able to achieve it. Our souls know the sky. And it’s a very nice temple to walk in.

Whether it’s what we eat, or how and when and with whom we eat it, or if it’s walks outside or time with a book, we must ensure that we are not expecting our minds to compensate for a life that is drastically out of a balance in terms of expenditures of energy versus opportunities for rejuvenation.

I too am expending a lot of life energy in balancing many serious responsibilities so I can relate to the need to find opportunities to actively cultivate peace. As hard as it can be at times, we all must make room to rest or else everything will become even more stressful.

Rest is not a selfish luxury of ego; that’s called sloth. That’s what we do when we deny the world our love and capability. Contrary to that, rest is what a healthy mind needs to sustain its hold on equanimity and enthusiasm for life.

To that end, for those readers who are located in Edmonton, I am looking at doing Sunday walks that would be around various trails in the city, with the walks built around the idea of shared experience with our natural world. These might be 90 minutes in length, with maybe 20-30 minutes spent lingering here or there before or after for some discussion. It will be very informal.

Depending on whether there’s just a few of us or more, maybe a short talk might start the process, but it would be more to walk and Be together, and maybe I can answer some questions along the way.

I suspect they would start some time in June. If you’re in Edmonton and would like to be part of these proposed Sunday spiritual walks, send me an email to the address below and on the first Sunday that I start the walks I will let you know where we can meet to begin.

scottis@relaxandsucceed.com

Whether there are many or I pick the wrong week and end up walking alone, even if only for a short time, I am very much looking forward to getting back into Edmonton’s forest system to reconnect with all that is around us. Maybe I’ll see you there. Happy trails.

peace, s

Holiday Blog: Other Perspectives #39

It’s a holiday here in Canada so here’s a reminder for today:

522 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Change the voice in your head

Ideally we are quiet-minded and there are no voices in our head. But okay, if we can’t quiet ourselves enough to point ourselves toward that silence, we can at least direct ourselves toward thinking charitable, compassionate and loving thoughts about ourselves.

That’s not ego. That’s the real us. We are decent people, we do care and we do want to love and to be loved. And of course like everyone else we have some struggles and peccadilloes, but that doesn’t change our worthiness in the slightest.

We are as integral to the universe as anyone else. So keep in mind (no pun intended) that every single voice inside our head is just us talking to ourselves. It’s absurd that we would pay attention to that voice as though it has some profound meaning.

Silence. Silence has profound meaning. Talk is all ego by nature. Maybe it lines up with reality, maybe not. Self-talk presents us with a divided world where comparison leads to suffering. Ego divides and describes. Our spirit doesn’t.

We should all do our best to try to use our minds as an awareness and absorption input device and not as an opinions and language output device. And we always always always always need to remember that any voice in our head is meaningless and it holds zero power to make us do anything unless we inexplicably choose to act on hollow thoughts.

If we’re going to think anything, think positive thoughts. But as much as we can, we should just try to be really, really quiet. After all, ff we’re quiet enough, wisdom is all that’s left. Take care.

peace. s

00 Relax and Succeed - Other Perspectives Footer

 

Emotional Control in the Face of Frustration

 

1301 Relax and Succeed - Emotional Control in the Face of Frustration 2

Here’s a reasonable question that hit me last month: why did I get up extra early to get my work completed so I could drive in -34C (-29F) to pick up my father on a day where he did not need a ride?

Finding out that I was actually a day early can be the kind of thing that can lead us to revisit the extra early wake-up and the cold drive and feel angry about losing sleep, not to mention for freezing for no good reason. Very cold weather makes angry thoughts easy to produce.

Doing those disappointment and frustration-based calculations makes sense to almost everyone. But wisdom suggests we stop and ask ourselves if our initial reaction is truly helpful in the situation we’re in. So that’s our assignment this week: to mitigate our common negative reactions with deeper understanding

Take each day and the most frustrating part about it, and then track back to why it that thing bothered us more than other things. We will find that we held some expectation that was not being met.

The question is, what was our unreasonable expectation? Collect enough awareness regarding our expectations and we become able to recognize them in operation and then work around them.

If we’re not blaming others we can use the energy we would have expended on blame to instead fuel more productive action.

Understand that the issue can still bother us, we can even have a burst of blame before we settle. But by understanding that our feelings are logical and sensible means they are less painful to own and we’re less likely to blame –or hold on to blame placed on– the other people involved in our frustration. It simply makes no sense to do that to them because we know we’re reacting out of the logic of who we are and what we are facing.

If we’re not blaming others we can use the energy we would have expended on blame to instead fuel more productive action.

Logically it shouldn’t surprise us that people who hate being afraid will be particularly bad when things are scary, or that shy people will be uncomfortable in crowds. That’s not something going wrong, that’s something making sense.

Likewise, if we have an expectation that we will never behave as though it is the wrong day of the week, or that winter in Edmonton won’t be cold at times, then we would be defying common experiences many have already had. But if we accept that those are mistakes people commonly make, then when it happens to us, we can be half-ready.

1301 Relax and Succeed - The more we do anything

In my case, upon arrival I was fairly quickly informed that I had the wrong day. This is where a flash of frustrated anger sparked my conscious attention. I could feel the pang of that frustration in my gut and I did a check-in. What was I thinking about? Two phrases: So I froze for nothing, and; I’m an idiot who really could have used that sleep.

Okay, so now I can add to my problem by continuing to think about comparing my morning to a warmer one where I remembered what day it was, or I can accept I made this weird decision and ask why.

Once we get good at it, it doesn’t take long to track why, which is why a week’s worth of examples will be helpful. The more we do anything the better we get at doing it.

In my case, I had a big day on that Thursday with some big meetings and a rare visit with a friend, so I spent most of Tuesday organizing life so I could make that Thursday work. So since that Tuesday, I’d primarily thought about and dealt with, Thursday.

Knowing how the brain works, I knew I had essentially ‘primed’ the idea of Thursday in my mind so it would be the most prominent day in my imagination. I even dreamed about Thursday on Tuesday night, which is partly why I woke up under the presumption that it was Thursday.

Do you see how those events took me out of now? I was so focused on future thoughts about how Thursday might play out that I wasn’t actually listening to the radio or noticing the many clues that it was Wednesday that day. Having an expectation and rushing my thoughts into Thursday meant I was blind and deaf on Wednesday.

Seeing the logical sense in what I did, I accepted that that is what a brain will do, and the entire issue was left to die in the past and I lost any sense of frustration. I just had some toast with Dad and headed back to start writing this.

See? In the end, it was even a gift, because I needed an example exercise for this blog. Funny how the world works out.

Go from now and until next Monday try to find your way out of frustration by truly understanding and accepting how easily you got there. You’ll know if you’ve truly understood the innocence of your sources because then the acceptance part is easy. We can hardly blame ourselves for making sense.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy your day!

peace. s

Re-Awakening

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This is Scented Chamomile from my own garden. It is a truly problematic weed for farmers, but it also demonstrates how much beauty we can find in our our back yards if we’re looking for it.

As children we are filled with wonder. Every new thing is so completely new that it fills our minds with experiences that are so profound that they leave us with no space or time for the generation of an ego. At that stage we are so thoroughly focused on taking the universe in that we simply have no thoughts about our selves.

Most of us drift away from that sense of wonder slowly, once we learn to talk and name things. Once we know the name of a kind of bird, we effectively stop seeing it. We never look to see what’s unique about that individual versus another individual, they all just become merely ‘sparrows,’ or ‘robins’ or ‘crows.’ The problem is that we also do that to people, and the other treasures in our lives.

Let us intentionally regain our sense of wonder for the universe this weekend. Let us go to a botanical garden with a magnifying glass. Look at the gemstones in our local museum. We can go to a science center and look though a microscope, or go for a walk in the wood and really look at the woods themselves. We need time to go slow. To sit still.

In the ravine near my house, if a sitter is patient, seeing a fox is not impossible but extremely exciting. As in much of life, patience pays dividends.

Here’s a man who’d seen his hobby become too ordinary. It took some creativity and boldness on his part, combined with the support of a friend and an open and friendly public, and not only did he remind himself about how great his hobby is, but he also re-introduced wonder to a lot of lucky strangers.

If you’re in Edmonton, where I am, you can arrange to look through some wonderful telescopes through RASC, which is linked to the Telus World of Science. Every city will have similar organizations. Consider attending. It will stretch more than just our knowledge. Experiences like these help place ourselves in the universe in a curiously spiritual way. These experiences manage to be both grand and humbling.

Our problems live in our heads. We often to do more to solve them by getting out of our heads. Let’s make the world less personal and more universal. It can help to put our challenges in a larger perspective.

Enjoy your weekend.

peace. s

 

 

A New Measure for Health

1298 Relax and Succeed - How often are we investing

We all share the same budget of time at the beginning of every week. On our personal spreadsheet of life we invest that limited time in various amounts on various priorities. But the important question is, how often are we investing our budget of time on the things that help us enjoy life and grow? And how often are we simply on emotional autopilot having repetitive experiences?

For the human ego, these priorities are generally dictated by attempts to resolve a fundamental insecurity that grew naturally from some key event early in our lives. So it’s not really our list; chance makes those things our ego’s desire. The real you needs very little to be rewarded.

Excluding sleep, the ego’s list will include primarily boundary-inducing negative practices like rumination, speculation, boredom, second-guessing, angry wonder, blame, self-recrimination, being zoned-out, gossiping, working, eating, daydreaming, and in some happenstance cases it’ll result in fun, laughter and sexuality with very occasional bouts of peace.

That list above was created by a spiritually blind ego –one that is living out of unconscious habit rather than conscious choice. What is the purpose in weighing our days by the deficits we perceive in life? Why weigh ourselves by what didn’t get done and the list of things we don’t like about ourselves or others?

What is the purpose in weighing our days by the deficits we perceive in life?

As much as we can, we should practice dropping that unhealthy behaviour as soon as we notice it. And dropping something is much easier when we pick something else up, so rather than scan life for what disappoints us we should invest our consciousness in more constructive and inspiring moments –moments that allow our natural love of life to shine through.

Moments of love include us looking at flowers or listening to birds or by stopping to pet the neighbour’s cat for a moment of connection to the universe around us. We also exchange a healthy energy with the universe just by stopping to have a short conversation that makes a child or other adult feel valued. We can feel moments of grace when we are helpful to a stranger –or we can even feel good about our success in refraining from attacking ourselves.

We’ll still take that ego spreadsheet out and we’ll start filling it out out of habit. Many things about our lives signal us to got lost in that direction, so it’s up to us to remember that every soul’s lifetime only includes so many pages. So let’s start a new accounting system right away.

As soon as we sense that we’ve accidentally fallen into filling out a list of columns for our ego we should shift to filling out one based on our successes and good feelings.

Both our ego books and the experience of clarity will always exist. But like the old native story about feeding our light wolf over our dark wolf, we are best to invest our energies in filling up the columns that will ultimately add up to a truly worthwhile lifetime.

What’s good about right now?

peace. s

Waking Up Our Kids

1292 Relax and Succeed - Over-thinking steals livesIt’s common for people to wish they’d learned to control their thinking when they were younger. What’s effortless to learn for largely egoless kids is a bit harder when we’re older, that’s fair. More importantly, for a kid, a lot of suffering can be avoided or abbreviated if we know how to manage our emotions earlier in life.

Phones and computers and automation give many of us a false sense of control. But when we are faced with situations that are overwhelming, increasingly people are finding they are incapable of managing that very normal aspect of life. Lessons on managing our feelings needs to start young –younger than we might think.

Every parent should at least consider waking their kid up in a way that helps them truly understand how the world and our minds merge to create our reality. Rather than just telling them to get up and being perfunctory about getting them physically ready, if possible, we should consider taking a moment to get them psychologically ready too.

Kids generally assume that whatever their parents are doing is what’s happening in every house. Normal is whatever our parents do routinely. So if they wake up and they witness us taking a moment to set an intention for a good day, and if we casually expect that they should do likewise, those things quickly instill that healthy ritual as a normal part of waking up.

A parent can present the idea like it’s a big moment –like when a kid doesn’t have to wear diapers anymore– or, if the kid’s older, it can be said much like you might tell them that they have to remember to grab their skates for hockey practice.

It’s either exciting or pedestrian, depending on how much child-like wonder your kid is still functioning with. I’ll use a young kid in the example. In my admittedly highly idealized example, it starts as easily as:

“Tomorrow when we get up we’ll get you started on setting your intentions,”

“What’s that?” the kid may say in some form or other.

“Well, without an intention people’s feelings are kind of like flags or balloons. They just float in the direction the wind is blowing. And you know how people have good moods and bad ones?” The kid nods. “Well, other people’s moods and our own thoughts are the ‘wind’ everyone has in their day.”

“The wind?”

“Yeah, it’s like a wind of thinking. Sometimes it blows us along and makes things better, like when people cheer for us or when we’re thinking lucky thoughts. But sometimes it blows hard right at us, like when a lot of people are picking on us, or if we’re mad, or sad. Some days there’s no wind, but most days there’s at least a breeze. So it’s important to start the day with an intention to not get blown off course.”

“What happens when we’re blown off course?”

“Well, we’re just individuals. We’re very strong and we have lots of control, but sometimes we’re hungry, or over-tired, or sometimes we’re just surrounded by too much sadness or anger. But we don’t want to stay angry or sad –or even get angry or sad if we can avoid it, right?”

“I don’t want to be sad.”

“I don’t want you to be sad either, but we have sad feelings because sad is a part of life. Without sad we lose a lot of love songs, and love songs are beautiful. As we get older we start to understand what to do with sadness –because we can use it to find more happiness if we do it right. But some sadness is just built into life. The way to avoid being too sad for too long is to set an intention to have a good day. That way you avoid the avoidable sadness.”

“You mean we can not feel sad? How?”

1292 Relax and Succeed - Stop thinking and end your problems

“Sometimes you ‘can not feel sad.’ Other times it’s the right feeling for what’s happening, like when we were sad at when we had to take Pepper to the vet to go to sleep.”

“I miss Pepper.”

Cuddles the child. “I do too honey. Thinking about Pepper can be a nice kind of sad though, right? That’s the kind of sad it’s okay to feel. Missing Pepper is because we loved her.”

“There’s good sad and bad sad?”

“Yeah. Good sad is the sad we want to feel. But sometimes you don’t want to feel sad, or we’re tired of feeling the kind of sad we liked and now we want to feel better. When we feel that feeling we have to shift our attention to different things.”

“… what kind of things?”

“Well, if we don’t want to be sad then we can’t think our own sad thoughts because they’re sad. And we don’t want to think other people’s negative thoughts –stuff like insults– either, because that hurts too. Auntie Sara sometimes makes herself sad because she thinks she should look different. But we love Sara exactly the way she is, don’t we.”

“I love Sara… Why does Sara want to be different?”

“Well, wanting is made of thinking. So Sara is thinking about looking different than she does and she likes the person in her thoughts better.”

“So she doesn’t like her real self?!”

“Sometimes. Yeah.”

This genuinely dismays the child. “Why? Then why doesn’t she stop thinking that?”

“I guess she forgot to. Maybe because she didn’t have the habit of setting her intention for the day.”

“How do I do that?”

“It’s when we decide how we’re going to use our focus for a day. All day long we all each decide what we think about. Nobody else thinks for us. So if you’re thinking about Pepper and it’s making you sad but you like that kind of sad, you can keep focusing on your thoughts on Pepper. But if you’re too sad and you want to stop, instead of thinking about Pepper you have to think about something or someone that makes you happy, like the time we went horseback riding, or when you went on the airplane.”

“I can think about that?”

“You can think about anything you choose.”

“That will make me happier?”

“Yup –if you choose thoughts that make you happy.”

“Can it be a rabbit?”

Every parent knows this kind of stifled laugh when kids introduce an idea from nowhere. “Yeah, sure it can be a rabbit. It can be anything that makes you happy.”

1292 Relax and Succeed - If we don't like something

“How?”

“You and your ‘how’s.’ Okay. Well, when think about nicer or happier things our brain stops making chemicals that make us feel sad, and it starts making ones that feel better. Sad feelings, happy ones, when we’re mad, or laughing –all of our feelings come from inside us, from our thinking.”

“Inside of us?” The kid goes cross-eyed trying to get a look past their forehead to their brain.

“We kind of ask for our feelings. But when we’re young we only know how to do that when it’s easy, like when we get to do something fun. But when we’re old enough, it’s time to start learning the important part. That’s where we learn to to stop being too sad even when a sad wind is blowing.”

“How do I stop being sad when I don’t want to anymore?”

“Just the way I said –you just change to think about something nicer –that you feel better about.”

“That’s all?”

“Yup. It’s pretty easy. But the voices in our heads can get tricky. They try to tell us we don’t want to be happier when really we know we do, but our thoughts get confused by the chemicals.”

“The sad chemicals?”

“Any of them can confuse us. Wait until you’re older and fall in love. The first time doing that is really confusing. But like everything, we get better at things the more we do them. That’s why it’s important to start practicing when we’re young.”

“I don’t want to be sad like Sara. Sara’s beautiful.”

“Awww honey. Yeah, she is. I don’t want her to think that either. Or for you to think like that about yourself. But doing that is easier if we set an intention. So when we wake up, before we completely get up we have to remember to stop for a few moments. That’s when we do our little meditation.”

“A medit… a m… a what?”

“A meditation. That’s when we take some time to remind ourselves that our thoughts create how we feel each day. And then we remind ourselves that we want to feel good that day. That way, if we forget during the day –and everyone does sometimes– then the intention from the morning reminds us of what to do. If we don’t like our feelings we have to change our thinking. Do you think you’re ready to start trying that?”

If it’s a matter of ready, most kids will jump at the chance to prove more capability and freedom.

“Okay. I’m going to do mine out loud so you have an example, but you can make up your own. What’s important is that it reminds you of your power. No one can change our thoughts but us. Okay, are you ready?”

By now the kid is fascinated to hear what magic spell comes next. And it’s about as close to a real one as we need. Eyes closed, the intention begins.

“Today if I lose my way and I get lost in my thoughts, I will use this intention to remind me that I want to make the most of my day, and so I do not want to dwell on sad, or angry, or guilty, or mean thoughts about myself, my life or any other person or thing.

“Instead of choosing to feel badly I will choose to feel better as soon as my intention reminds me to focus on something better. I thank my intention for helping me keep my thinking in control and thank you for making this little monkey here,” snuggles the child, “so that I always have such a beautiful little monkey to think about to help me when I’m sad.”

“You think about me when you’re sad?”

“I do. When I think of you it makes me happy.”

“When I think of me that makes me happy too.”

“That’s a whole other conversation about identity and ego my little Confucius. Let’s save that talk for a few years.”

“Okay. Can we get a rabbit?”

peace. s

Shifting Identities

1287 Relax and Succeed - Politeness is to human natureIf you don’t think you have different identities just try this: the next time you’re talking to someone you don’t like, imagine that someone you respect more than almost anyone is listening to the exchange.

If you do that earnestly you’ll find that you’ll choose more charitable and productive words and even friendlier body language with whoever you’re dealing with, even someone you don’t like.

But why would you be nicer? Or nice to someone you don’t like? Are you a brown-noser? A climber? A show off? Not really.

You would feel the urge to be nicer because, while you might possibly have been unusually nice to someone you don’t like anyway, what this thought experiment demonstrates is that we all subconsciously desire, more than anything, to belong.

This means that if someone we respected was watching us, we would naturally want to demonstrate our virtue to increase our value to them, and by extension their group. That doesn’t mean the virtue itself is entirely false. It simply means it was real virtue triggered by events.

Since a group of cooperating people will always out-compete a group of selfish people, we were built to be pack animals. This means that any action that ingratiates us to, or protects our status within, a group will be naturally appealing to a healthy human, even if only on a subconscious level. Sometimes it makes us feel good to help others and we do it for the joy we get, but it is also beneficial to be seen to be helping others, sincerely or otherwise. It builds community. Our impulse is natural.

But why would you be nicer? Or nice to someone you don’t like? Are you a brown-noser? A climber? A show off? Not really.

We have to keep in mind, chimps and bonobos are farther out on the evolutionary bush than we are, by millions of years. They are newer to evolution than we are. We are animals who are civilized, but still animals. We naturally feel safer in groups than alone, and that inclination in us explains everything from disenfranchised kids joining gangs, to why former team-sport athletes often struggle with depression after retirement. People need a tribe of some sort.

Having a place in a group is where we belong, and any feeling outside of that drives us toward belonging like thirst leads us to water. That’s why the world feels so harsh right now.

1287 Relax and Succeed - We shouldn’t build sharp tall fencesEveryone’s so judgmental that no one feels acceptable and that’s lead to insecurity that in turn leads to loneliness etc. etc. We shouldn’t use harsh judgments to build sharp, tall fences around ourselves when we are also stumbling through reality. We need each other, including each other’s forgiveness for our own inabilities.

There are two major ways to connect ourselves to others: the love we share that is comforting, and/or our value in terms of what we can contribute to their lives. Put another way, someone who protects us from dragons can get away with being grumpy; and being lovable is simply dragon-slaying love with a nicer role. But what binds us is a shared responsibility to each other. Denying that is painful, fulfilling it feels good, even if that involves fighting ‘dragons.’

Every role done well has value, and every tribe can carry a struggling member for a time. This is the value of community, and our ability to appreciate that value explains why we naturally become more aware of the value of kindness while we are in the presence of others.

Enjoy your days.

peace. s

Soul Singers

1286 Relax and Succeed - Soul Singers

Moods feel like they randomly happen but the truth is we create them. The question is, are we going to do that intentionally? Or only unconsciously, out of habit?

Unconsciously we’ll all just follow whatever patterns were established early in life, often by simple childhood experiences or big or traumatic life experiences then or in adulthood. It is these subconscious thoughts that lead to chemistry that we experience as a mood.

By remaining conscious we can lead ourselves to a much more rewarding life through better choices. As an experiment to prove the principle to yourself, take some time where you feel crappy, but not super awful. Let’s start small and work up.

First, think of some songs that make you feel powerful and strong and confident and then make a playlist or just remind yourself of how those songs go.

As soon as we notice we’re in a grumpy mood that’s where we direct ourselves to find one of the songs on our phone or in our memory –the ones that help us feel strong and capable– and we commit to hum or sing that song for five minutes to ourselves in our head or out loud. Five actual minutes if we’re doing this for real.

1286 Relax and Succeed - If we alter our choices

It won’t take that long though, because if you do the exercise earnestly, you’ll feel your chemistry shift quite quickly and you’ll feel that as an easing of the frustrated feelings that are tensing your stomach or shoulders or back or chest or….

A song that is stored in your mind as being powerful will run interference with thoughts that leave you feeling negative and incapable. It’ll shift your mood because you experience your brain via the chemistry created by choice and action and your life is engaging with that powerful song.

If we alter our choices regarding how we fill our now, our minds will generate the chemistry associated with our new thought or action. That is how the conscious song’s chemistry can happily conquer the sad regions of our habitual and detrimental subconscious thoughts.

Use that knowledge to enjoy your days.

peace. s