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: