The Friday Dose #130: The Time Machine

You’re wiser now than you were then. Stop talking yourself into hell for how far you have to go and instead live in heavenly gratitude for how far you’ve come. Think back five years. Just think how different your life would have been had you known what you know now. Own that. That is wisdom and you got it the only way it comes–by living your way through it. You are bigger today than you were yesterday. Congratulations.

You’ve got one minute: what do you say from the wisdom of your experiences?

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.

Bad Days

1000-relax-and-succeed-you-do-not-become-goodI have been tired and short-tempered with those I love. I have been hungry and snapped at a co-worker. I have taken a close friend for granted and barely noticed it. I’ve forgotten something really important to someone I care about a lot. I’ve made big mistakes at work that were avoidable if only I’d noticed this or that. I’ve taken my fears out on the people around me. In so many cases I could have done so much better.

That’s a small part of my confession but as you know, if we’re honest we could all write that. The older we get the more entangled our lives become, the more responsibilities we have the more likely we are to screw some up, and if you have kids then you have the added joy of seeing some of your weakest moments being recreated in person and in living colour by your very own children. It’s enough to make us all wince.

The wincing is nice in that it’s a demonstration that you really are the good person you want to be. You only feel badly because your nature is to do better but, while a brief recognition of a missed opportunity is valuable, you don’t want to dwell there lest you lose the moment. We cannot act in the past or in the future so we must stay present.

1000-relax-and-succeed-be-the-kind-of-personPresence means we must immediately accept what’s happened and then proceed from there. If you just spilled grape juice on your friend’s new white carpet, worrying, getting mad or profusely apologising will be much less useful than taking those same present moments and using them to soak up and clean grape juice. This isn’t denying that there was an alternate future without grape juice, it’s just saying that spending time living in that alternate reality only prevents you from succeeding in this one.

Tolerance is also critical to human success. It is the cushion between the impact of a mistake and ourselves. Without that cushion we become billiard balls, where one hits another sending it to carom off yet another and on and on until the energy behind the original impact has played out. That is all nature without awareness. Once we add awareness we can impact how nature unfolds. Yes, the angles of the billiard balls will always make logical sense, but if there’s some cushioning, that will serve to drastically reduce how far the mistake can rebound. That cushioning exists within your consciousness.

When we say that things are going “wrong” what we mean is they are not meeting our expectations. Expectations are a regular generation of a forward-living ego, so we all do it–the question is do you remember that people do that while they’re doing it? Do you see their frustrated reactions as new billiard balls striking you, or do you add some cushioning with your consciousness by keeping in mind that we all get caught up in these moments and that they too might be rebounding from an impact of their own?

1000-relax-and-succeed-life-is-not-about-waitingYou can yell back at an unreasonable person’s yelling but that will just keep them in their elevated “the world’s not going right” state of mind and that will prolong the experience. Or, you could be peaceful, recognising that we all get in this state and that the only thing that will fix it will be internal peace. You can’t argue someone into peace with logic. You can only let them surrender back into peace by giving them room. You’d like some room when you’re in that state. So if you’d like that room in the future, try getting it by modelling it to those around you right now, as they’re struggling.

It’s good for us to have ideals for behaviour to strive toward but we should never mistake our ideals for expectations. I prefer it when people are polite because it makes it all easier and enjoyable for both parties, but if they can’t be then I’ll do my utmost to model it back even when it’s not coming towards me because when I’m the other person and in a poor mental state, what’ll bring me back fastest is someone modelling better, more productive behaviour.

It’s obviously a skill to learn to stay peaceful in the face of bluster but it’s a lot easier when we remember that we too can get that way in the right circumstances. That small bit of empathy during a difficult time can be what reconnects us to the upset person and that connection alone can be the defining force in their conversion to their higher self.

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.

Nursing

997-relax-and-succeed-love-and-compassion-are-not-necessitiesDifferent minds have different strengths. If you look at your best friend in a way you rarely if ever do, you will see that they possess a key quality that you wish you had. If your best friend isn’t your spouse this will also apply to the person you’re in a relationship with. This means many homebodies like partiers, many shy people like talkers, many tidy people like messy people, even people that like spending money will tend to be attracted to people that like to earn it. This makes our friends our teachers. They’re the people we keep around because we want their influence to be reflected in our own lives. Imitation really is a very sincere form of flattery.

The best friend of mine that took the big fall I referred to earlier this week was trained as a nurse. She loved her job and she was considered a nurse’s nurse; the kind of nurse you’d want if you were a nurse yourself. She’s the type of person that knows when to get serious about ensuring things are done the proper way when it comes to the science of medicine yet she’s known for being extremely human. She’s brilliant at being warm and patient.

I recently asked her about what it meant to be a nurse when she first started versus now and her answer was very telling. When she first graduated it was about processes and measurements and the use of equipment and finding things and learning the hierarchy of the institution itself, but once those things became second nature she did what she always does: she was empathetic.

997-relax-and-succeed-health-is-not-just-about-what-youre-eatingAs she spent more time in the hospital another form for her compassion emerged. She began to realise that the outcomes of patients often related to their level of fear. Some patients had a lot of busy dark thoughts about disease and injury and dangers and they would literally torture themselves in one bed while the next patient would have a much more serious situation and yet be positive about their health prognosis. One group saw illness the other saw health. Quelling those fears soon became a key component of what my friend considered “nursing.”

The fact is, the ability to simply be with someone during a difficult time is a rare skill anywhere in life, including professions one would presume would be attractive to those sorts of people. Precisely because we care we get caught up in our thinking when others are suffering. Like trying to smooth the ripples off a pond we only create more ripples. It’s not the right words that are required it is presence. We merely need to be quietly openly present.

All this means is that you don’t come in with preconceptions. You don’t come in with a solution nor do you actively search for one. You simply know that the other person is wise and they will know what they need. From there you only need to observe them openly to be able to glean your answers over time. You won’t figure out these kinds of answers you’ll just suddenly know them because of a deeper understanding you’ll have reached.

997-relax-and-succeed-freedom-from-the-desire-for-an-answerHow valuable is this skill to those around you? An experienced and successful nurse came to see it as more important than even the science. She saw it as sensible that, like old-fashioned often-absent disciplinary fathers, the doctors–male or female–did the hard and important calculations of science while the nurses–be they female or male–were the constant and consistent mothers who offered their love and compassion. If the nurse’s care became cold and clinical one of the arms of medicine was not present. The patient could not be embraced.

Doctors and nurses see a lot of suffering and it’s easy to see it would be easy to forget how serious some of these smaller moments are to the people experiencing them the first time but that distorted vision also impacts the rest of us in our daily lives.

Is a heartbroken teen really being talked to like the most devastating event of their life is taking place, or are they being talked to in some future tense, where the parent understandably knows they’ll be fine? Because one of those is the parent’s reality and the other is the kid’s and a parent can’t offer presence by asking a kid to join their world, they have to relax into their kid’s. They can’t drag the kid forward into when they’ll feel better, they have to return to their own suffering and recall how much pain was involved. They have to join the child in the pain. That is love. That is compassion. That is presence.

997-relax-and-succeed-compassion-learn-it-teach-it-share-itStay conscious. Stop always looking at the world from your perspective and start asking yourself what the same event must look like from another’s perspective. That is the seat of empathy and that is the magnet that makes presence possible. Do all you can to nurture that awareness in yourself and your relationships will deepen accordingly.

In the end everyone’s in pain and we all benefit from being in the open presence of others because with presence there are no givers and receivers there are only participants. So if you want your life to improve then participate in more compassionate actions instead of just having so many compassionate thoughts. It really is that easy.

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.

Judging Your Life 2

You’re judging theirs and yours, they’re judging yours and theirs—everyone’s comparing lives and feeling good or bad based on who’s nearby and what we believe about them. It’s a crazy, busy, confusing way to live. Today’s blog is about forgetting all of those opinions and external ideas so that you can remember who you really are. Enjoy:

Relax and Succeed

My dog and I used to visit people in Seniors Homes. That experience taught me that there were two ways to age. One way, your mind stays open and life gets progressively more interesting, and even the prospect of death carries with it some fascination and curiosity. The other way is to get progressively angrier that the world does not conform to your expectations.

At the home, the latter group often included strict, religiously devout people who were often angry that they had lead a “good life” and yet they found themselves in a room dying alongside someone who was irresponsible and had spent their life partying and having fun. They had subconsciously thought there would be an Earthly reward for not having fun, as though the bitter time spent re-hashing other people’s “sins” was somehow making them more holy.

30 Relax and Succeed - The unhappiest people in this worldAging is a natural wisdom-generator if you look at…

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Brothers and Sisters

I’m fortunate enough to often find myself involved in a lot of fascinating conversations. I’m a bit Eastern European when I meet people—my conversation cuts to deeper issues almost immediately. It might surprise you how quickly and easily the average person can slip into a deeply philosophical state, and all with a virtual stranger.

259 Relax and Succeed - I see youIn my case I suspect this is facilitated in large part by my sheer openness. I’m pretty okay with being vulnerable and I’m not big into comparison or judgment, so I’m very accepting of pretty much anything and anyone and I think people can sense that. This openness recently paid interesting dividends when I had the opportunity to meet a man who was almost the exact opposite of me and yet at the very same time he was almost exactly the same.

He was married with children and he had emigrated from his home town half a world away, to my home town, Edmonton. I’m single with no kids, have been and lived all over the place and yet I live blocks from where I was born. He works in a highly technical field and I’m fundamentally an artist. And yet despite all of those differences, deep down he and I both knew we were the same.

Think of yourself as a costume. The real You puts on an identity—a set of customs and clothes, a memory of a history, beliefs and values and other memorized knowledge. You zip this costume on and you say that character’s lines and you live that person’s life (unless you have Amnesia). And yet the whole time you’re really just a spirit in a suit—a finger on the Hand of God performing a play on God’s own stage. And God is energy and it simply Is and we are all vital aspects of that Great Isness.

So we are One. And yet our egos perceive the world as though there are bunch of separate sheets of paper that have been stamped with a logo. The ego notices that the symbols are different, but what this gentleman and I noticed was that it was always the same God/Universe that did the stamping. Stamp it Canadian or stamp it Russian or stamp it Vietnamese, God did all the stamping. Stamp it rich or stamp it poor, God did all the stamping. And stamp it Christian 259 Relax and Succeed - It is not a questionor stamp it Muslim or stamp it Buddhist or stamp it any other—God did the stamping. These differences are costumes. They are just ideas we think. If we were raised as babies to believe in something else, we would have done that just as innocently.

What this man and I shared was a clear understanding that everyone is an aspect of the same infinite entity. Call it God or call it The Universe or call it Higgs-Boson—it really doesn’t matter what you label it. Everyone is made of that substance or action or however you want to describe it, and the “it” is a verb. As D.T. Suzuki said, it is better to think of the Soul as a principle. It’s something that is applied. It’s a motion. A verb in action. It is something that happens. And so for one aspect of this happening to hate another aspect of the very same happening just seems silly. It’s like your thumb hating your index finger. That’s how hate looks to those who can see past the costumes.

This all came out in about a 20 minute conversation. The other thing that came out is that both this man and I share the view that we can sense a tidal shift in the zeitgeist of our culture. Yes there are still wails of Consumerism and the big machine continues to grind along oblivious, but he and I both sense that people are tired. That they don’t want more they want peace. Yes, some are angry and fed-up. But most are exhausted from the arguing and opinions and battles and resentments and guilty feelings. People want to be hugged. They want to smile and laugh and then rest afterwards.

259 Relax and Succeed - I offer you peaceSo maybe it’s time you gave some real thought to peeling off your costume, getting vulnerable with another person and really connecting. Because it’s a wonderful feeling. It really feels as though everyone you meet is your brother or your sister. Everyone is family. You love and you are loved. And the closeness feels good.

So even though this man and I were both wearing our respective costumes we were able to signal to each other that we recognized our connection when we shared a smile. The connection was confirmed by sharing the secret handshake—which is a hug. And just to be sure, we gave each other the secret phrase: I care about you and what happens in your life.

Remember that just as this man and I experienced our connection, you too can do this any day, with anyone. Be open. Be vulnerable. And yet be confident in who and what you are—mistakes and all. Be comfortable with your Youness. And in being so, don’t be afraid to have deep conversations and connections with anyone. After all, they are all your brothers and sisters. 😉

peace. s

Advice on Advice

People give a lot of well-meaning advice. Their aim is to help us successfully navigate our way through a challenging situation. Parents who felt they were always held back by the fact that they didn’t finish school will strongly advise their kids to not only finish, but to go on to post-secondary as well. Friends who got ripped off at a store will strongly recommend that you not shop there. Your boy/girlfriend will recommend you taking the job, or class, or vacation that they feel is best. And your friends will advise you on whether you should continue to date who you’re dating.

257 Relax and Succeed - Being successful means somethingBut of course all of this advice is from someone else’s perspective. It quietly incorporates their personal skill set. It takes into account their fears, their knowledge, and their abilities. So an extrovert will give an introvert an extrovert’s solution. A strong logical thinker will present a solution that cannot be comprehended by someone who operates purely on instinct. Again, they might mean well, but it’s not actually very useful.

If we want to be useful to someone we can listen carefully and ask them some questions or explain how we see things, but we cannot pretend that we could possibly know what the “right” decision is because there is no such thing. Right and wrong are temporary opinions. You might think leaving this job for that job is a great idea until you find out the secret, ugly dark sides of your new boss. Of maybe you thought at one time that your spouse ending your relationship was the worst thing that ever happened to you, but now you’ve met someone who you’ve come to love even more and now you’re grateful for that very same breakup.

As Shakespeare said, “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” So if no one can give good or bad advice, why give any at all? To listen and inform is one thing. To discuss the philosophical perspectives from which to make a decision can be worthwhile. But to parachute advice into someone else’s life is disrespectful to the reality of separate identities. Everyone sees the world and everyone in it in a unique way. Everyone has developed subtly different human skill sets, and each version will offer opportunities and challenges that others do not. This must be respected.

257 Relax and Succeed - Success is liking yourselfCare about people. Love them. Send positive vibes and good thoughts their way. But don’t tell them what to do unless they ask you—and even then, be careful. Because when we’re young we spend a lot of time pursuing other people’s ideas of what would be good and right for us and yet most of those are misguided suggestions. It is when we finally feel comfortable “failing” that we can boldly make the choices that are ours and ours alone. When we’re not afraid to be “wrong” is when we become free to be ourselves.

You don’t have to solve anyone else’s issues. Guys—the ladies don’t need you trying to “fix” everything. Ladies—we don’t have the same priorities you do. Sometimes you have to just Be with someone while they go through something alone. Create a supportive environment for their choices. Let them give themselves their own advice. Because while that may lead them astray as well, at least they will have exercised their right to choose. And at least their own advice takes into account who they are, what they know, and what their resources and values are.

Don’t be an accountant if you love mingling with lots of people. Don’t go into sales if you like things in neat, tidy boxes. Don’t choose any work that doesn’t suit you. Because being successful isn’t about money or power or fame or prestige. Being successful is about enjoying your life and being fulfilled. Because the man who wants for nothing is the richest man of all.

And yes. That was just some advice about not giving advice. 😉

peace. s

Inspiring Freedom

Once people learn to quell their own fearful thoughts they suddenly become aware of everyone else’s. You suddenly realize that people are constantly arguing for their limitations. They love music, they sing in the shower every morning, and yet when you go to karaoke they don’t want to sing. Sorry. Bullshit. They do want to sing, it’s just they didn’t realize that if they had stopped thinking that fearful narrative into existence, they might have picked a song and sang it instead.

253 Relax and Succeed - Life begins at the endPeople: it’s the new millennium. Seriously, it’s time to drop all of this unnaturalness. I’m not saying put anyone in serious physically danger. But if it’s just a matter that someone doesn’t like what you do or say, well that is their issue not yours. The dissatisfaction with your choices exists in their consciousness and only they have control over that, just as only you have control over your thoughts.

When I suggest that people should be free, fearful people often respond by saying, if you take the rules away what’s to stop people from taking all kinds of advantage? Okay, first off you have to recognize the presumed negativity of that statement. The assumption is that you need to stop them because they will surely try to take advantage. And yet there are far more studies that show the opposite. That in most cases, most people are quite just and fair, (with accommodation made for cultural differences). Why would we anticipate the behaviour of 3% of the population in the other 97%? That’s a lot of wasted life on worrying over pretty low odds. How about we just do like the Buddha said and accept that there will be suffering and then we can move on to the not-suffering.

The sorts of people that my family or neighbours used to call crazy or eccentric or weird seemed very strange to me when I was younger. But when I realized that thoughts were personal ideas, I re-examined these same people and I realized they were the only ones I could 253 Relax and Succeed - Doubt kills more dreamsfind that were just being who they were. They just didn’t care what other people thought of their clothes, or job, or actions. They were comfortable being themselves, and that seemed pretty healthy to me. They certainly seemed less bothered than the tense, judgmental egos that were defining them.

This week’s video blog is a lot of fun. This kind of freedom is infectious,as you’ll see. He lets more than a few people out of jail for a few minutes. Just try not to move your face or your body as you watch this. It’s really hard. He’s really evocative. And it’s because he’s unrestrained. There’s no holding back. He’s pouring everything he knows into it. And look at the people around him. They revel in it. They’ll brag later at the bar that they were the ones sitting right near him. Because he’ll be the one that makes the news. And that’s because he’s so insanely rare. He’s free. So why aren’t you doing stuff like this? I’m not kidding. You won’t even tell people they have food on their face or that their fly’s undone—how are you gonna be free?!

Seriously. Watch this guy. Be inspired. I promise you, what he’s doing is way easier than what you’re trying to do. Life is too short to wear some mental corset. You’re a good person. Relax. You won’t rape and pillage. You’re far more likely to be even more generous than when you lived in a state of ego. So don’t worry. Be free.

Seriously. This guy is awesome. He just gets better and better:

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And along the same vein, here’s another one. This actually reminds me a lot of me dancing at my dear friends Christina and Aaron’s wedding. And yes, I really was dancing a lot like that. I’m sure she still has many incredulous relatives that can act as witnesses. So seriously, relax. Forget what other people think. Be free. If I can do this at a wedding you can at least do it in your living room alone. Come on. You can do it. Turn up some music. Dance.

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dance. s

 

The Pleasures of Generosity

Here’s the weird thing: everyone’s mesmerized. Brainwashed. They think words are experiences. So they move into a neighbourhood called The Hamptons because it sounds so classy, and yet if we actually look at what it is, it’s repetitive, uniform, and it lacks creativity. Because there’s some pillars at the gate it’s special? Cars are made by robots. The error rates from the best to the worst aren’t very far apart anymore. But people will pay triple the amount to get a vehicle that they feel makes a statement—not about who they feel they are (which is insecure. All egos feel insecure), but about what identity they would like to project. In essence, who they wish they were.

248 Relax and Succeed - Being humble means recognizingClothing, haircuts, even which movies you see. These will all be things outside yourself that you will use to try to create an admirable identity. You’re a film buff. You’re an athlete. You’re young for your age. You’re wealthy. These thought-based statuses don’t exist in the world, they only in our imagination. That’s why one person can love something and another can hate it. They’re experiencing separate conscious realities, just like we all do.

My point is, we should stop believing all of this advertising about how we need to brand ourselves, and we should actually start looking at the world. Because people have never had more, and yet they’ve never been more stressed or depressed. People survived war better than wealth. This is ridiculous. And there’s evidence all over the place that it’s the generous people that are having the best time. They’re the ones smiling in life and then they have the huge funerals because they changed so many lives.

A friend of mine did her company Christmas charity event at her workplace. It was filled with a lot of professionals and their support staff. When it came time to collect for the charity, guess who gave more? The story upsets a lot of people; why are people making $24,000 a year giving more than someone making $250,000 a year?! But don’t get mad. The executives don’t understand how difficult $24,000 a year is. They’ve either forgotten or they never knew. So the lower paid people gave more because they had a greater sense of empathy. They knew how painful it was to be poor.248 Relax and Succeed - Harris Rosen

What is sad about that story is that the executives and professionals missed out on what makes giving so wonderful. There is no way to turn into words the beautiful glow and sense of connection we feel when we’ve been able to rescue someone with some object or gesture or commitment. Without question, the happiest most contented, durable people I know are also the most generous. Every time they do something generous they are reminded that they themselves have much more than enough.

Here’s a link to a story about a wonderful human being named Harris Rosen. Harris has had a great life and he’s done that by changing the lives of untold numbers of people. Below that I’ll link to a radio show about a Vancouver woman named Carol Newell, who managed to keep an amazing and remarkable secret from her fiance. Her story will stun you.

What these people prove is that you’re truly better off spending less time thinking about what you want and more time realizing how much you already have to give.

Stories like these two always leave you feeling better than you did before. Enjoy:

Website: The Incredible Story of Harris Rosen

You’ll probably have to adjust the slide bar. For whatever reason it starts on the second segment. The portion on Carol is in the first segment. What a remarkable secret she kept:

Radio Story: The Unbelievable Secret of Carol Newell

peace. s

The Clarity of Connection

Why do you love your dog? Your dog can just look at you and you’ll feel warm inside and you’ll smile. For a dog owner, just the photo below will stir your heart. There are very few conditions with dogs. We don’t expect them to know as much as humans so as long as we have compliance on don’t pee in the house, and no stealing food , we’re usually pretty good. A dog is allowed to be a dog simply because our standards for him are lower than he can likely achieve. Humans on the other hand are not given so much latitude. With humans it’s generally perfection or nothing.

247 Relax and Succeed - Happiness is coming homeOf course it’s not the dog that makes you feel warm and happy, it’s the openness that you share. That unconditional willingness to be close is what allows you and the dog to connect. You don’t think the dog is judging you and the dog can’t comprehend your judgments so there is no thought-barrier between you. There are no expectations. But you can do that with any being—any person. You just have to be open. It doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be ready to connect with you, but it isn’t about finding the right people anyway. It’s about your openness to possibility. And if you’re in that open and aware state, then when you do find compatible people… it feels as though you’ve always known them.

Get all of the energy you’re currently investing in your inhibited, fearful, self-flagellating thoughts, and point that energy toward openness instead. You don’t need to figure anything out to be acceptable. The problem isn’t your life, it’s yours and other people’s thought-based judgments. That’s why your relationship with the dog can be so healthy—no judgment. So create a quiet space within your consciousness and—as much as possible—live only within each moment. Do not assemble them into a timeline or narrative. Simply let each moment be, allow yourself to react clearly but naturally, and then let the resulting conclusions unfold. You don’t have to figure so much out. You don’t have to prove your worth. You are worthy of love right now, just the way you are. Even your dog knows that.

To live this way it must be a conscious choice. You can achieve the sensation of authentic connection many times every day if that’s actually your objective. I watched my Dad constantly helping friends, neighbours and strangers, and he was always happy, so I copied what I saw. If I see someone struggling I’ll stop to help them. And it’s that act that has all the value. Because if I’m thinking about them then I’m not thinking about me, then that means I’m not creating an ego that can suffer and instead I am open to love. That simple choice—to primarily put someone else’s needs over my own—has lead to a wonderfully enjoyable, ambitious, thorough life that has only been punctuated maybe two or three times by anything particularly ugly.

247 Relax and Succeed - Our job is to love othersOpenness and acceptance dissipates a lot of negativity in life. You can be having a very bad day and your dog can instantly make it better just by non-judgmentally seeing your arrival home as an obvious good thing—another chance to connect. The dog doesn’t need you to have had a good day, or a profitable one. To the dog you are always worthy of love. So do likewise with people. Seek meaningful connection. Don’t work for people, serve them. Don’t collect pay in return for doing things, spend your day being with others. Don’t surrender large parts of your day as being impossibly non-spiritual. Everything you do is spiritual in nature. The only question is, are you choosing to stay aware of that on a regular basis?

Forget your narrative about your lousy day. Shift your thinking to the welcoming happy face of your dog. Fill your consciousness with her. And you absolutely will feel better. If you go back to the angry, sad, bitter–whatever–narrative, just go back to the dog. That connection will always be there from the dog’s side. It’s you that has to drop your narrative and stop recalling “your day” (egos are so self-centred).

Learn from you dog. Be open and ready with the people around you. Don’t expect things you want, anticipate general rewards instead. Because if you’re looking for them you’ll find them. And in that state of mind, even a simple lick on the cheek can wipe a lot of day off the slate.

Have a wonderful day. 😉

peace. s

The Woman Next Door

You look at other people and even though you only see tiny snippets of their existence, you end up writing a ridiculous story about them. You see your neighbour leave the house to go jogging with her beautiful hair and her nice tight body and because these are things you want, and because you have foolishly assumed that fulfilling those wants will generate happiness, you assume that her life is better than yours.

236 Relax and Succeed - Some pepole are so poorYou notice that she does not have the hassles of parenthood to deal with, and that has helped her attract and keep that rich and successful husband. And of course your very average husband married you, so you assume that is yet another sign of how your life is lacking. Meanwhile the woman in the other house sees you running out to your car in your bathrobe and she longs for your confidence because she cannot imagine such a thing. Even a dash to the car requires thought and work on her appearance. Her husband married her precisely because she looked so good and he expects her to stay that way. And because he was attracted by such shallow things, she has trouble keeping him faithful whereas you feel your relationship is lacking because your husband is so content with how things are.

So she’s not jogging because she has more dedication or ability than you—she jogs because she’s scared. And she wouldn’t even be able to do that without stealing a bit of her nephew’s Ritalin medication. She didn’t develop herself much as you had to, so if her husband left her she would have no real marketable skills and she would really be in serious trouble. So she isn’t with her husband because they’re so tight, she’s with him because she has to be. She would love to be with a guy who wants kids, but he doesn’t and she can’t anyway—which is heart-breaking to her. So when you assume she’s looking at your pathetic life where you’re wrestling with two kids hanging off you because you’re the center of their universe, she’s actually envious. She would trade her hair and her nice ass just to have some kids run to her with needs that she could feel fulfilled taking care of. She wants to be valuable, not beautiful.

236 Relax and Succeed - The grass is greenerSo there she is in her house noticing all of the things you have that she doesn’t, and you’re in your house noticing all of the things that she has that you don’t. It’s crazy. You can’t look at any life and know anything. First off, everyone’s posing to look successful because we put such a huge value on that instead of on the experience of life itself. And yet most of our good stories at parties come from failures, disasters and problems and very few come from easy victories.

The way to like your own life is by paying attention to the aspects of it you value. Do you get how easy that is? There is absolutely no way that you can spend your life watering thorns and then expect to walk on a bed of flowers. If all you do is water the thorns by dumping the energy of your consciousness on what you don’t like, then thorns make perfect sense. If you stand in your window and list perceived deficits in yourself and your life, then you are watering thorns and you should fully anticipate that life will be painful to walk through.

If on the other hand you choose to water the flowers in your life—if you focus on the love of your husband and kids even though it is inconsistent, if you focus on the valuable friendships you share even though those people can’t always be there for you, if you focus on what on the strengths your family built rather than the weaknesses, then your life will always be filled with the fragrance and beauty of many flowers. It simply does not matter where you start, how far you climb, or how much you have. The only thing that matters is what you place your attention on. So a rich person may have 100 valuable cars, but if they only focus on what’s wrong with them, they will be disappointed. And if the poor person has only one old and worn-out car, but they are grateful that it gets them to work despite its condition, then that person is actually the one leading the good life.

All day long you place your attention here or there. All day long your decide this is important and not that. And you use the outside world to dictate to you what those things are. A 236 Relax and Succeed - Gratitude turns what we haveslim figure, money, a nice house or cars, or maybe a handsome mate. But the outside world is simply an idealized, edited, air-brushed presentation of reality. What’s really real are the feelings you experience as your day. And if those feelings are grateful, then you are successful. And if you have all of the money and power in the world but you are not grateful, then you will die having wasted this wonderful opportunity called existence.

You don’t need rich, you need content. You don’t need pretty, you need meaningful. And you don’t need handsome, you need love. So stop trying to improve your life by pulling all the weeds when all you really had to do was water the flowers instead.

Now go start actually paying attention to whatever it is you’re paying attention to. Because the ability to choose what gets your attention is the only ability you will ever really need to succeed.

peace. s