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.


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

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

Your Cast of Characters

If you were enlightened you would understand that you and all other things are all made from the same love, and so any distinctions are done with narrative story-lines, not by having actual individual entities. So there is no right or wrong story, there is only the story you choose to tell yourself.

189 Relax and Succeed - Don't put the keyAs you tell these stories, you should be focused on the chemistry your generating within yourself. If it’s unpleasant, then stop telling that story whether it’s about you or anyone else. But if you think a character in your story dictates how happy you can be, then you have misunderstood the source of true happiness.

If there is a story in two lifetimes featuring a husband and a wife, it is not a great story if they’re still both together at the end of the book. It’s great if they chose to both stay because the relationship was so rewarding. You don’t stay in a marriage because you’re married. You stay because you are dedicated to helping create joy for your partner and it’s their nature to reciprocate. In short, you want to want your own life. You want to appreciate how fortunate you are.

If someone is making your life miserable with a lot of anger, or fears, or judgments, then it is not a bad thing to write them out of your story. Again, you don’t win at life by keeping characters in your book from beginning to end. That may or may not happen. What counts is, what actually happened on each individual moment/page? Was it rewarding and/or enjoyable? If it is, it doesn’t matter if there wasn’t one consistent character other than you.

You being with this or that person will not be what makes you happy. No one else decides what you think so no one else can make you happy. That is a moment by moment choice, and each individual must make it for themselves. So stop saying your sad because you’re not with this or that person. It’s not the cast that counts, it’s the play. You can put an amazing cast in a terrible play and no one will find it appealing. But put a rotating cast in a great play, and everyone will give it a standing ovation.189 Relax and Succeed - If you're still looking

Make the sort of choices that lead to happiness, not to longevity. If you’re waiting for someone else to become someone else before you can be happy, then plan on waiting a lifetime. Because you could die with that wish unfulfilled. Meanwhile you would have missed out on spending time with truly amazing people doing truly amazing things.

Pick your cast well. Avoid vexatious or negative people and seek those who are open and loving and patient. Then you will have chosen happiness by choosing to surround yourself with its sources. Congratulations.

peace. s