Struggling to Sleep

1386 Relax and Succeed - It is our thinking that creates our resistance to sleep

When I first begin working with people to help them realize how flexible reality can be by merely changing our perspective, people routinely suggest that changing their consciousness is a difficult thing. But how can that be true when both children and adults do it every night, (without even noticing), when we fall asleep?

Insomnia is wanting to sleep. Wants are desires, and as the Buddha noted, desires are at the route of all suffering. Wanting is pretty consistently unpleasant to whichever degree we want. Yet the act of falling asleep is ultimately so easy that none of us can even remember doing it, or how we did it.

Sleep is not an achievement created by succeeding in fulfilling our wants; it’s more like falling into a hole created by the silence of our psyche –by the ‘ceasing of wanting.’

Thoughts create our reality. If we say to ourselves, “I want to fall asleep,” we are creating a reality in which we are separate from sleep. Our sheer desire is what moves us out of a state of sleep and into a state of wanting.

If we were what we want to be, then the want would not exist. Therefore, if the want exists, then we have used our thoughts to create distance between us and what we want: the state of sleep.

Our desires are literally the barrier to us becoming sleep. This makes ‘wanting to sleep’ into a bizarre irony. Babies do not want to sleep. Children do not want to go to bed, as every parent knows. And yet babies and children alike all, without exception, eventually fall asleep. Can we see why it is called ‘falling?’

Babies surrender the unpleasantness of being awake and uncomfortable for the gentle peace of sleep. Youngsters eventually lose their footing on their desires to stay up and have more experiences and, as their mind loses the momentum created by those desires, they naturally and inevitably slip down into a state of sleep. And indeed, adults can learn to surrender the state of their adult thoughts and do likewise. We cannot be in two states at once.

To find sleep or any other state, we must disengage with the idea that it is something difficult to achieve. We must surrender our idea that we and it are separated when we go there every night.

We will achieve sleep with less difficulty and in less time if we make it familiar, if we return it to what it is –an entirely natural state demanded by our physical selves. All else is resistance.

Rather than chase sleep, embrace it. Rather than want it, we are better to lose our mental grip on everything that is not it, and in doing so we will flow toward it like water coursing toward ever-lower ground.

Sleep is a state our minds enjoy, so rather than see it in the distance like some much-need oasis; as some aching desire, we should instead approach it more as we would a holiday; with joy and appreciation.

If we want to practice the act of using our consciousness wisely, insomnia is like a gift. It will present us with the unpleasantness of our inaction as a motivation. So let us not waste that opportunity. We can use it each evening to search for the state of sleep.

We can surrender idea after idea of what our nighttime thoughts should be. And we should do so until such time as we simply run out of the desire to find sleep. For once we have exhausted all of our wants, sleep will flow toward us by nature. That is ultimately what happens anyway. We may as well make it conscious and enact it sooner, because that control of our consciousness is a skill that will also pay off when we’re awake.

peace. s

World Kindness Day

1379 Relax and Succeed - Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness

As promised, I am working on some pieces about my experience, the fear, and dealing with intense pain. Due to the depth required for those subjects I will need more time to fully assemble those ideas. You are better served if I can find ways to make my experience useful to you in the most material ways possible.

In the meantime, I am grateful that it happens to be World Kindness Day. That fact allows me to take the time to write and finalize those pieces, as well as celebrate this day by discussing how we can extend our sentiments beyond this single day, so they may imbue our lives throughout our year.

We can often see our kindnesses or our gratitude as things we give to others, but this is only because we tend to see our reality as being ‘out there,’ in some external sense. With a deeper understanding, we realize that all of our ‘experiences’ happen within our consciousness, which means genuine expressions of gratitude or kindness are even more our experiences than they are those of the people we may be helping or showing kindness toward.

Today, and going forward, I would strongly encourage everyone to join me in the daily meditation of seeing life not as something happening to us, but rather an experience we are co-creating with the universe, moment by moment. Like the cells of a single organism, our state does impact the state of those around us, just as those parts of reality also affect us, so control is not our answer.

Just as we will sometimes not be at our best, so too will other cells in the organism that is our larger society. There is no hope of us fully grasping or controlling that reality, but we can learn to accept it in ways that are profound, and that permit us to understand what people mean when they say things like, “Before I was enlightened I suffered. After I was enlightened I suffered.”

Acceptance adds a form of grace to the latter portion of that statement. By living in that way, we build no residual resentments, attachments or expectations, although we may experience them fleetingly. Likewise, we all regularly experience enlightened moments. What everyone seeks is a somewhat efficient route from their suffering, and to their moments of grace.

While we are never free of what the Buddhist’s call the cycle of samsara, we can learn to move within it with greater awareness and psycho-spiritual skill.

How this takes shape in real time can be demonstrated with my recent pain, and the fears around potentially losing my sight. As with anyone, the pain was agonizing, and the fears were based in very real potential outcomes. We can come to see that external reality as ‘our environment,’ much like the banks of a river are not the river, but they do form –and are formed by– the flow of our lives.

What gives us grace is our ability to remember that, like the river, periods of tumultuous rapids and frightening waterfalls are only parts of our overall flow through the moments of our life. All rivers change as they move through the geography of our reality, so all states are temporary. This is why I often refer to a wise Buddhist monk who once told me that the secret to living is that “everything changes.”

As we experience intense pain, we can become aware that our state is temporary. This turns our agony into a waiting-game of positive anticipation. We don’t know when or how we might feel better, but we know that the river of our lives continues to flow even though our pain can leave us inactive.

The above describes why suicidal thoughts can be natural, and yet ultimately foolhardy, because they operate on the presumption that nothing is changing if we are still. But whether rapids on a river last for 10 miles or one, our surrounding geography will eventually change our flow whether we act or not. In this way our own patience is a form of meditation or prayer.

If we can see this clearly, it allows us to simply let our suffering ‘be.’ That wisdom is reflected in Paul McCartney’s advice to John Lennon’s son in the song, Hey Jude,” wherein he reminds the boy that despite our periods of personal darkness, it is worthwhile to maintain our conscious anticipation and movement toward better experiences to come.

1379 Relax and Succeed - The level of our success is limited only by our imagination

Again, while our suffering in life is often unavoidable, what allows us to flow forward is our deep knowing that all of our states of mind are always temporary. This also means that, when we see others in states of suffering, we should not see our acts of kindness as merely gestures –in fact these actions are what shape the banks of other’s rivers.

In many cases, our own ‘rapids’ will dissolve thanks to the efforts of others, both seen and unseen. That being the case, in closing, I would like to thank the many people who very recently and greatly contributed to the gradual easing of my own suffering.

Without these people I would surely have struggled far more, and while my gratitude is my own to feel, I do hope they each saw their own kind acts as their own meditations on gratitude, empathy and compassion. In this way, my own pain can act as an opportunity for grace for those around me.

In terms of specifics, I would like to take this opportunity to single out those who have, and continue to, allow this struggle through the rapids of my life to move from near intolerable, to places where I can now feel deeply grateful to no longer be in the worst parts of the experience.

To this end I offer deep and special thanks to Doctors Baker and Sia, as well as the entire remarkable staff at the Alberta Retina Consultants. In addition to them, I would also like to thank the support and surgical staff at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, as well as the family and friends that supported me throughout this process.

These people include Don, Anita, Henry, James, Nick, Mike, Kirsten, Christina, Brian, Jarrid, Christian, Sausan, Sue, and for the compassion shown by Tracy, Beth, Rob, Dwayne and Charlotte (and any others my addled state may have forgotten).

As I also live in a nation with nationalized health care, I would also like to thank my fellow Canadians for your contributions toward making such a system work in my time of need.

In closing, today, as you move about your own World Kindness Day, remember that you are not only lifting weight from the specific people you help but, in total, you are also adding to a much larger force that, along with others, is easing suffering throughout the universe itself.

peace. s

Intending Our Future

1376 Relax and Succeed - Consciously or not

It helps to motivate us if we have a sense of urgency. And we all like to think of our futures as brighter than today, right? Well then, we had better get as conscious as we can, as fast as we can.

We shouldn’t see the act of becoming more conscious as something daunting or difficult. Whether people do it alone or with someone like me, I’ve never seen anyone with a true guide who took longer than 10 hours before they started to see reality in a truly new way.

That said, we should not expect perfection. Mastering our view of reality takes a lifetime and more. After all, there can’t be a path without a not-path.

If we have trouble appreciating the value of such a change, we need only look back at how we responded or behaved in the past. Our previous actions and reactions were a reflection of our thinking at that time, and we can often find times where more clarity would have helped.

Equally so, our futures will be dictated by the thoughts we choose to think today. That fact immediately adds importance to the thoughts we’re having now.

How does a future happen? It flows forward. And which direction does it flow? It flows in the direction it intends to. And how is that direction determined? For a river it is through gravity, but for human beings it is our through our thinking. That is the principle all of our psychologies share.

If we are thinking negatively today, we greatly increase the odds of a negative day tomorrow. But if we choose to think the thoughts of someone who is strong, who is taking steps in some direction, then that is who we will become. The rest is just steps.

Along our way we must be on guard to avoid our thoughts from being diverted by fear or anger or desire. As compelling as each thing can be, rarely should they retain our focus.

By remaining centered on the present moment for our Self, and by not expecting perfection, we ensure that we are in as much control as the shores of reality will allow.

peace. s

Thanksgiving Day Spirituality

1097-relax-and-succeed-itis-our-spirit-that-sees

Today is the Thanksgiving Long Weekend in Canada, so today I’m featuring a re-blog that may prove valuable as normally independent people find themselves spending concentrated time together.

May you too have a productive day at finding reasons to be grateful for the graces of the universe. Enjoy:

 

Day to Day Spirituality

Let Your Soul Breathe

1373 Relax and Succeed - Let Your Soul Breathe

Today we will do. Every day we all do. We have many identities, and there are things that each of them do. We are more Humans Doing rather than Humans Being. Ego’s do. But under it all, our souls still be.

When speaking with a Rabbi while travelling, I noted that, in general, names have meanings. Some are intentional names that have significant religious, or conceptual, or referential meanings, (I have a friend whose name means “Light of God.”), and some people even have accidental ones, like Miller, Butcher, or Farmer.

When I asked about the Yiddish name for God, Yahweh, he took a long time to consider what I had asked before explaining that the name was almost like –what I will now call– a yin and yang symbol. The two parts flowed together like the crest and the trough of a wave; inseparable. Indivisible. The two parts of this ‘wave’ were Is and Be.

We may ask what Is our ego doing? But under the ego’s ups and downs, and inseparable from it, our souls presence is consistently being. We might think that a wise person is one who can shift more energy into being, but being is very still. It’s beautiful, but not much happens. And souls like a full life.

On the other hand, when we feel badly is generally when we’re overloading the doing. If one makes us rise and get top heavy, where we start to teeter, it is the other that draws our center of gravity downward to stillness, where the power of being is always there, flowing through the present moment.

As we move about our days today, let us segment them phase by phase. The drive or ride to the freeway is one. Journey down the freeway is two. Exit is three. Arrive at work and enter is four. Greet our co-workers is five. Turning on our computers and getting set for our day is six, etcetera, etcetera.

All of those things are things our work identities are doing. But today we will add a small but meaningful meditation to the times in which we switch tasks or conversations. These are our oases of being.

The way we achieve this being is to break for a moment between tasks, and to do the following exercise from a previous post:

828 Relax and Succeed - Periodically during your day

It is likely our egos will find this frustrating. Egos are emotional. Our souls have feelings. But our frustration is a good sign. That’s our ego banging on the door, wanting control of us back.

Switching identities takes a few moments for the breathing exercise. Our identity will sometimes do things for hours. That is how greedy our egos can be as they bang away with their frustration. The ego wants.

Our souls are generous. They do not want, they give. These little breaks to be can add a great deal of power to our day. So we must move past our ego’s frustrated resistance, like an itch during a meditation session. We must dispel its power with our presence. We must learn to use the breathing to stop the course of our minds.

Let us begin today. As we switch between tasks, let us breathe and bring presence into the next task. Let us feel it lower our spiritual center of gravity. Let it slow the course of our minds.

And when the frustration goes, and our days become more peaceful, we will know that our doing and being are flowing in balance, giving us wide and awesome opportunities to do, while always maintaining enough life for us to simply be.

peace. s

Unhealthy Habits

1370 Relax and Succeed - We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong

All day long a billion details offer themselves up for our focus. And yet many of us walk around largely oblivious to our surroundings. Very few people will even notice the eye colour of the people they’re speaking to. Many people need photos to know the eye colour of their friends.

But if billions of these potential stimuli are offered to us, what makes us choose which ones to bring into focus?

Wiring. Our brain is flexible and it builds itself to efficiently do the things we often do. If someone hand-writes every day, the writing gets better and better unless some illness or injury is involved. The same goes for adding numbers. We might feel slow on week one, but by week four our brain has built a bunch of shortcuts.

When those shortcuts are super-efficient and are often used), they are often referred to as habits, and they will even often initiate themselves at specific times of day. These can be external reality things, like the way a photographer will often look at the world in ways that are different from non-photographers, or how someone might keep an ear out for the baby.

Or, we can also have internal, thought-based habits — like someone who worries, or a kid in church who sits there the entire time with their mind filled with thoughts about how much they wish they weren’t in church. We feel the urges to do those things, or think those things, due to the force of habit, just like water flows along low ground.

The popular shortcuts that we find destructive –or even meaningfully counterproductive– are not seen as habits, they are viewed as either obsessions or addictions. But to our brain those are largely the same things. They are things we feel compelled to repeat.

Why we want to repeat them is simply because nature naturally seeks efficiency, so the courses of thought most often used are the ‘low ground’ for our energy. If we’re tired and don’t have a strong flow of reality coming in, our brains will do what’s easiest –our habits– the things we practice and that our brains wire us to do very well.

If we’re struggling with alcohol, or games on our phones, porn, or anything else, plugging that brain superhighway is not how our brains work. We don’t shut down pathways in the brain, we redirect them.

1370 Relax and Succeed - Life does not get better by chance

It was by repeating actions that we built our brains in the troublesome way they may be. But it’s simply by repeating different actions that we can divert our thinking and steal all the traffic from our troublesome road. We can divert the energy to take another path through life that we find more productive.

But this requires us to stay conscious of what we’re really doing with our brains.

If we look at what drugs and alcohol, video games of whatever sort, as well as gambling, food, or sex, all have in common, it is that they either require our attention or they numb us. By doing either, the brain creates a way not to do the painful thinking it might otherwise do. This is a healthy awareness but an unhealthy response.

The healthy part is that, in a low energy state, our desire is to reduce the number of stimuli. These include the considerations and deliberations that can obsess our internal ego-talk. But if we’re doing it by distracting or numbing ourselves then we’ve just replaced a negative with another negative masquerading as a positive. We can do better.

The pressure –or urge– we feel to participate in an addiction will be like that kid in church. But just because we feel that urge to think a course of thoughts does not mean we need to actually think them, or turn them into action. If we think anything at all we are better to meditate on reality.

We can recognize that –in the technical brain sense– our urges makes sense. But we also know brains can re-write themselves. These two facts mean that we can take an addiction impulse, and then use it as a signal to divert our attention to a replacement activity that is something truly valuable to us. (It’s always much easier when we trade a leaning-post for a passion.)

If we’re lazy with our brains they will create more work in our lives. But if we do our best to stay as conscious of ourselves as possible, we can recognize those tugs and urges for what they really are: thought-thin prompts to start a justification narrative.

They are only thoughts. All we have to do is watch ourselves, because if we succumb to a habitual justification we often end up in self-hating loops of thought. But if we divert to something better (a book, a call to a friend, a class), we will soon find that we will feel quite positively about having converted an addiction into a healthy and rewarding habit.

peace. s

Someone To Watch Over You

1356 Relax and Succeed - Someone to watch over you

Whenever I meditate on the things I do with my mind I always have to then find some (to me) funny way to illustrate for you, what it is that my brain is functionally doing. The reasons as to why this thought experiment will work are very interesting, but too complex to explain in this blog. Fortunately, it’s more important to be able to do it than understand it consciously, so that’s fine.

As weird as it might feel, once you read more and understand why, consider very seriously spending the day by imagining that you’re on a reality TV show for 24 hours non stop. Weirdly, that will fairly closely approximate what I’m doing with my mind.

Let’s imagine it’s a show like Ellen or something Oprah would do. Something hosted by some famous, positive woman with one name –you choose. And imagine they have a new segment called Best Friends where people’s best friends go on the show and describe what they love about us.

Maybe we’ve heard all of this before because they’ve been kind enough to tell us those things before this show. But it’s a different thing for us to know that after our friend described us to the world, that the show is now headed over to set up cameras all over our house to capture us being the person our friends described.

Suddenly, just knowing what people are watching us for makes us more aware of everything we do. It’ll feel like insecurity at first, but that’s an ego experience. Really we’re just being self-conscious in a healthy way. That feeling is presence.

Examples of how our inherent goodness will come to the fore will be all over our lives. For instance, say that as we go through doors that we don’t really notice that we always check behind us for people with packages or crutches, or for the elderly or anyone else that can benefit from the door being held for them.

1356 Relax and Succeed - Nurture Presence

It’s a nice thing to do, but the problem will be that if we do it all the time it can become subconscious and rote. Then suddenly we miss out on what’s in it for us: the connection. But if we imagine cameras following every move, we suddenly become present, which helps us slow down to deal with everything through a very conscious and rewarding connection in that individual moment.

If we’re earnest, as the day goes on we’re likely to find many more subtle forms of relationships where we have become almost automatic and entirely unaware. Many people ask how the relative in the hospital is without asking how the nurse also is.

Nice people get on the same elevators with the same people every day and never even greet each other. That’s strangely insecure behaviour for a pack animal. We’re stealing nice moments from ourselves. But to fix that we have to get conscious.

As an indication of how unfamiliar most people are with being conscious; when I trick people into doing it, it always feels weird at first. Egos hold doors to look good to others. Souls hold doors because they love unconditionally. At first it feels strange and foreign to make connections with almost everyone. Later it feels like an oasis.

So that’s our spiritual practice for today. Let’s all take a moment to think about what our best friend would really say. Maybe even ask them. And then think about all of those cameras in every room of the house, and the mic recording everything you say for the entire day. And then remember that you’re on this show because your best friend described the very best –and very real– parts of you.

Done well, this one-day thought experiment (which you are expected to waver in and out of as you practice), can really help us get a better sense of what being conscious of ourselves in the present moment really is. We can hold a door open out of habit, or we can hold it because we recognize the human being we’re caring about by doing it. One’s good for one of us. The other is good for all of us.

Oh, and when you’re done, go to bed knowing that the cameras you imagined are the real you, but if we hadn’t turned them on, you would have behaved based on the patterns in your ego. That’s why our problems repeat so often, so don’t live unconsciously when living consciously is such a reward for you and for the rest of us.

peace. s

Seeing Ourselves Without Judgment

1351 Relax and Succeed - Can you look without the voice in your head

Most Earthly communications toward either God or The Universe are generally requests. Desires to have a desire filled, the desire to have a question answered, or the desire to know something, or for something to begin or end. And the reason we can do that and not feel better is because, as the Buddhists note, desire is at the heart of suffering.

Whether we imagine a forgiving God or in a scientific but infinite universe, each of those at its heart features an awesome force that extends everywhere and includes everything. Most importantly to us as people; the lack of judgment is the same. It –God or the Universe– simply is. But it does not judge. (Egos do all of the judging for the universe.)

People who tilt toward the less religious and less scientific doorways into wisdom are often into secular spirituality, and that often leads them to be familiar with Esther Hicks.

As Esther describes it, her wisdom comes to her through a council of non-physical entities she refers to as Abraham. If we’re more on the scientific side and think that idea is crazy, we should remind ourselves that a Nobel Prize was won by a famous mathematician who got those award-winning formulas ‘from aliens.’

Whether the source is real, the result of a disorder, or or even a charlatan, we should care more about whether it’s good information than what the source is. In fact, many of the problems in society today stem from our desire to always trust some sources and never others. In reality we would be better to ignore making blanket choices based on what group we’re in and we should look at each piece of information on its own merits.

Whatever her ‘source’ is, Esther generally shares the same wisdom this blog does. But that’s not why I mention her.

She talks of ‘the council’ when referring to ‘Abraham.’ She describes them as a group of timeless, energy-based entities that not only completely lack judgment, they offer only love. Even if we don’t believe Esther or those notions, let us imagine such a council overlooking our own lives anyway.

1351 Relax and Succeed - I shall tell you a secret

Remember: ‘the council’ does not judge, it represents God and the Universe. They understand everything so well that everything makes sense to them. Rather that our lives looking like failures and successes or problems and solutions, they simply see rippling, beautiful water, off which our light sparkles and glows. And it makes them love us all the more.

Imagine them. They’re looking at you right now. They aren’t bothered by how much you weigh, or what you think, or what you do. They don’t care if you got drunk last night, or went back to an ex you ‘shouldn’t have.’ Even the things we can self-hate ourselves the most for –they love us for those parts too. To them it’s just water dancing. They love you. Unconditionally.

Now imagine you from their perspective. Imagine you at this moment, knowing what you’re internal ‘issues’ and external ‘problems’ are. But you have no judgment. You just see yourself like an ant in an ant-farm. You can’t see the thoughts, you just see the actions. You’re just watching without expectation or judgment. Can you see how earnestly engaging with this perspective changes how we view ourselves?

When we do this well, we can see that our dramas are in our heads and not in our lives. From ‘The Council’s’ perspective, they don’t see us as procrastinating or letting anyone down or failing, because we/they have no expectations. We are then just either working, surfing the web, masturbating, or looking in the fridge again. They understand that those actions are what the people we are being in that moment truly want for ourselves.

They know we want that because we are always free. No one controls our minds or bodies except us, we just sometimes use our freedom really blindly. This is why there can be value in checking in with our personal ‘Council’ every now and again so we can look down on our little lives and see them for what they really are.

Doing this well is really quite comforting, although you may find yourself often feeling silly about your dramas when you see them like an observer. But humility only comes through freedom, so even that is a good sign.

Each time we’re faced with a choice about what to do, we can imagine our own council watching us. Is what we’re doing what makes sense for our life, or is it merely an unconscious habit? Our council won’t judge us, but it will see our actions for what they are, whether we’re moving our life’s pursuits forward or backward.

We are simultaneously insignificant and infinite. Either way, either our problems are either too tiny to matter to God or the Universe; or those two things are so infinite that either can easily absorb our mistakes. Either way we can relax. And then we can succeed. Because the way this page got its name was that I noticed that everyone got those two backwards. They always think the success leads to the relaxation, when in reality it’s the relaxation that leads to the success.

Now go love your day.

peace. s

Discovering Mindfulness

1336 Relax and Succeed - Discovering Mindfulness

Not learning; discovering. Mindfulness is not something we come to know, it’s something we come to do. Allow me to illustrate.

Imagine two days. If anyone asks us, we say that the first day was wonderful. If they ask why, we explain that we spent the first day typing letters to people who had won awards for doing wonderful life-changing things for strangers.

If they ask about day two, we all say it was horrible. One of our worst days at work, ever. If they ask why, we’ll explain that we had to transcribe sessions of brutal torture, and write letters to inform innocent people of the untimely and violent deaths of their innocent loved ones.

Let us review the facts. We are at the same desk, using the same computer and software, working for the same bosses, being paid the same amount, writing in a room the same temperature, with the same soundscape.

If all else is equal, then the only difference between a wonderful day at work and a horrible one is what is inside our heads while we’re there. Considering how ephemeral thought is, that is a wide pendulum swing –from wonderful to horrible– all using the same bits of reality, with the only difference being our thoughts. That’s worth meditating on.

1336 Relax and Succeed - When we're healthy we're all achieving

As important as they clearly are, for a beginner, trying to entirely stop our thinking is often a frustrating route that ends up taking much longer than taking steps.

First we must understand our thinking in new ways. From that level of awareness we can begin to see how it can become easier to be less affected by it. Rather than stopping our thinking, we learn to make it less relevant. After all, we do need it sometimes. We can’t have a path without a not-path.

Clearly what’s in our heads matters. I won’t pretend that shifting our understanding is ‘easy,’ but it’s also not hard. I’ve said it before –it’s like learning to multiply numbers. It seems really obscure until you suddenly ‘get it.’ Then we wonder what’s actually different between when we couldn’t and when we can?

I had an insight myself today, where I realized that what I actually do with students is just describe things from the perspective they’re seeking. Because it’s very natural for me, I can analogize it. That means I can remove their ego from their deliberations regarding the sense of what I’m saying. It depersonalizes the principles involved. Then I take them back to their life with the principle established, which they often quickly realize also applies to their situation.

This isn’t a traditional top-down intellectual offering, learning this is more getting onto the same level to share the flame from a common candle that illuminates a shared path. I’m no different from you, I’m just more experienced doing this because I had the good fortune to have an accident. But when we’re healthy, we’re all achieving that health in essentially the same way. And that makes that a way worth knowing.

peace, s

Know Thyself

1335 Relax and Succeed - Where do our choices come from

I’ve noted before that one of the advantages of working with younger people is that they’ll often play video games, and there will be patterns to which games they are attracted to. This can tell me (or a parent) a massive amount about how that kid sees the world and their place in it.

Do they like cooperative games, or ones where it’s every person for themselves? Do they like to destroy enemies, or co-opt them? What kind of avatar do they use? After all, that is the face they chose to show the world. That is how they want the world to see them. That might be a facetious use of a character or wishful thinking, we have to listen more to know. But the things we’re interested in say a great deal about who we are.

This applies to fashion, hairstyles, what movies or series we watch, what books we’ll read, and what sort of jobs we’ll take, as well as what people or organizations we’ll invest energy in. Despite the fact that these are completely guided by how we see the world, it is amazing how few people even begin to look for patterns in the things they consume.

Why do we like some characters in stories and not others? Why do we like some kinds of stories and not others? What do our tastes tell us about our view of the world?

And what about those closest to us? Parents, siblings, spouses, children, business partners, coaches etc. What do they like and what can that tell us about them and how can that knowledge improve our relationships?

Some people (like me) prefer to spend time with people smarter than us, and different from us, who can challenge us with ways of thinking we haven’t encountered before. Others are more intimidated by new information or change and prefer to associate with only those that already agree with their current world view.

Do we like books about weak individuals? Are our favourite movies all about little people defeating big people? Do we dislike ambiguous endings and abstract art, or do we prefer it? Do we like games where we build things, or destroy things?

1335 Relax and Succeed - The things we're interested in

Do we like board or card games that require tricking others, or by negotiating in good faith? Do we avoid playfully spiteful board games or card games (Aggravation and Spite and Malice have those names for a reason), or do we prefer games with multiple ways to win?

Maybe we like shocking hairstyles or fashion that helps us gauge how open new people are. Or maybe we’re a teacher, and we prefer the quiet studious kids to those that are more kinetic and that might become ballet dancers or athletes. Knowing that can help us make decisions about our joy and our growth.

Since knowing ourselves can add value to our lives, let’s take the rest of the week and let’s look at our own lives. Let’s study our bookshelves, music collections, wardrobe and even our relationships etc. And then let us ask ourselves what these things say about how we see the world and our place in it.

While no way to be or set of interests is right or wrong, these things do influence which decisions we’ll make, and therefore which challenges we’ll face in life. They’ll also inform where we’ll feel comfortable, or where we’ll experience more stress. These represent our ‘crosses to bear.’

The aim here isn’t to improve ourselves or others, it’s merely to know ourselves and others better because that creates more empathy and better relations.  And that knowledge can help us enormously when it comes to making decisions about our future.

For those that engage in this seriously, if you’ve never thought of yourself in these terms before, prepare for some surprising self-discoveries along the way. We’ll all likely find patterns that we didn’t even know we subconsciously had chosen.

All this being the case, let’s all take the rest of the week and get to know ourselves. After all, we’re worth it.

peace. s