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

#YEG Secular Sunday Walks Begin

1330 Relax and Succeed - YEG Secular Sunday Walks Begin

Many people with no definable religion can still appreciate the value of communion with like-minded people. Sharing through silence or through words allows us to be together in a spiritual space that leaves us all feeling stronger and clearer for having experienced it. We can come alone, or we can plan to have friends join us too.

Even if you’re not here in Edmonton where I am, people can still find like-minded people to do this with. I recall a woman in Australia who met regularly with two friends. They would meet in a park where they would begin by reading a blog of mine, and then they would walk and discuss how they saw the principles in that blog come alive in their own lives. They all found it very helpful.

If you are in Edmonton, some of you may be former students, some may be people thinking of working with me that have questions, and still others might simply be people who want to spend more time with other people who are actively engaged in the act of increasing their awareness and controlling their over-thinking. And some might just like the idea of a pleasant walk outdoors (we’ll figure out a backup plan for rain).

It is a busy time of year, so maybe I’ll be alone. Maybe there will be lots of you. But the walk will be rewarding regardless. It will be a joy to be in nature, and nice to talk to or share silence with those present.

For those who would like to join others in a shared intention for the walk, I will give a brief talk before the walk starts. That way we can establish a shared focus for those who haven’t chosen one of their own. Other than that the walk will be about relaxing and opening up and sharing, so if you would like a regular dose of healthy peace and enlightening conversation, consider joining us.

Walks will commence on July 14th at 10am and will happen each successive Sunday until further notice. For our departure location please email me at the address below. This won’t put you on any mailing list, it will just be for the email sent to confirm the starting place for that week’s walk.

#YEG Secular Sunday Walks Begin

10:00am-Noonish
July 14th 2019

6750 – 88th Street
Argyll Community Hall

(Just south of the Japanese Garden)

Nearest Bus Stops: #2224 or #2531

I look forward to it.

peace. s

Alternate Lives

1305 Relax and Succeed - What if we could be someone else

What if we could be someone else? Whose problems would we rather have?

I recently took a rare break to have coffee with a friend whose bright and happy soul I have always enjoyed spending time with. At one point she talked enviously about how exciting my life had been with various thrilling careers and living in different exotic places in unexpected ways –and she’s right. I have enjoyed a wonderful and very unconventional life.

But like all lives, an exciting one has its associated prices. But those prices are often invisible to others, which is why comparison is a risky ego activity in any case.

Sometimes with lives the prices tip toward boredom, other times danger. In fact, choosing between the appeal of each was largely the point at the heart of the book and film, The Bridges of Madison County. What’s better; boring but reliable? Or exciting but risky?

Individuality is where we set our balance between the two, but even then –most of us would move that line on a daily basis, based on what was going on and how we felt. So it’s not like there’s a ‘right’ place for that line.

1305 Relax and Succeed - What defines our path

As someone who’s had an exciting life, if I was going to trade lives I’d likely pick a life like hers. After all, her route did make her the happy soul whose company I enjoy. That’s all that counts; the results. And I’ve done the other thing.

Dress shoes or sports shoes, the style of our walk through life is irrelevant. Our appreciation for our journey through life will depend more on our attitude more than our lifestyle.

We have to be someone. Both our history and our consciousness will combine to subconsciously decide who we end up as. That person simply cannot be wrong. But we can think we are wrong to be us. The trick is, even that questioning of our Selves is a part of us being fully ourselves.

It is important to accept our psycho-spiritual struggles as a part of our path. Those challenges do not mean that we are lost, they only mean that everyone’s individual path is formed by engaging in the struggles that each of us individually feels are truly worth it. Our strange enthusiasm for some challenges versus others is essentially what defines the values that frame our path.

Let us forget all of our comparative, judgmental thinking. No one needs to change as much as we need to accept who we are and then surrender into the idea of truly letting that person go.

Enjoy your day by making it as conscious as possible. Namaste.

peace, s

Optimistic Nihilism

1272 Relax and Succeed - What is reality to youA lot of my students come to me with an issue or a problem. In most cases, their attraction to solving that issue will cause them to see most of the lessons through that lens. But every now and then I get a more philosophical student, who comes with a problem but quickly finds themselves, like me, fascinating by these very ideas themselves.

I recently worked with a gentleman who was having challenges activating his own life due to an honest sense of nihilism. The simple fact was, he had legitimately noticed a fact about reality but he didn’t see how it was possible to do much with that discovery and so it had trapped him rather than freed him. I recently ran into the video below and thought it was quite a good technical explanation of most of the process he did before he came to me, and it also includes a lot of what we focused on after we were working together.

It’s not all here of course, or I’d have just shown him this video, and even having done it personally, that doesn’t mean all of his problems are solved of course. It simply means that he no longer things they’re a problem to be fixed, but rather that they form the landscape he’s negotiating as he lives his life. In the end, it’s going to rain. The only question is; will that keep you from living your life, or are you prepared to get wet sometimes in your pursuit of meaningful experiences?

Are you prepared to be responsible for your own life? If you are, you are freed to have

peace. s

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

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:

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