Personal Reality

Ha! Last week’s blog was about being over-tired and I accidentally posted an early draft instead of the finished blog. It’s fixed now, but that’s how life goes sometimes. The lesson is that it’s possible to still be okay even with a total screw-up. I’m wise enough to know that mistakes are inevitable so…. found one!

Okay. To my knowledge, the piece below is the one I mean to post today. I guess time will tell….

If you don’t think reality is personal or flexible consider this: It was my Dad’s 93rd on Sunday. I had had a productive but scattered week and ended it by shifting many Saturday tasks to Friday to give me time to prep a big birthday dinner. Those events got stored in my brain in a variety of ways, including linking to my sense of accomplishment (I was energized by my productivity), and my sense of time and scheduling.

Everything inter-wires in our minds. Anything related connects to anything related through our neural network. It’s why it’s often easier to remember things you hand write in your unique script vs. things you typed, where your hand doesn’t move down the line with the words. Wiring in those motions is another cross-wired memory with our physical sense of the world.

What my productivity meant was that I woke up with the knowledge that much of my Saturday work was done, so my brain turned Saturday morning into Sunday. See how powerful we all are? I bent reality without even meaning to. I worked for two-thirds of the day before I realized that, to a lot of the rest of the world, it was Saturday.

Of course, to someone on the other side of the Date Line it could be a day later, or to remote islanders untouched by civilization it was no day of the week at all. It was simply daytime, and a season for the foods they eat, because that’s what shapes their reality, not a calendar that their mind adopted from some ancient Romans. As it stands, it’s curious that we use that.

Look at the months for example. Augustus Caesar was mad that Julius Caesar had more days, so Augustus stole two from February so he got 31 days too. Is jealousy any basis for a calendar?

Our life is what we feel and experience. And within my personal reality –which is the only one that is ‘real’ to us– I enjoyed the same feeling you would get if someone told you they were adding an 8th day to your week. I felt as though I had been given a day because, to me, I had been. That’s how reality works. People can say we’re ‘wrong’ but that idea is irrelevant to us until we believe we’re wrong. And even then, if they’re wrong too, they could have convinced us of  the wrong thing again!

Once, when my ex wife and I couldn’t remember the word shuttlecock her mind came up with the invented term, birdmonton baddy. We worked on accepting that until our pre-internet brains stumbled into remembering that it was actually badminton birdy. It’s still funny today and I’m glad it happened. It was even useful here. See? Wrong thing converted by time into a right thing.

This is an aspect of comprehending reality that many struggle with. They’ll say to me, “But it’s not Sunday, it’s Saturday. You were wrong!” But by whose measure? I live in my reality, not yours or some abstraction. And when we say it’s ‘wrong’ are we saying the person on the other side of the Date Line, or the remote islander who has it being forever today is wrong? Why is a bizarre ancient Roman system better than that tribe’s?

At least the tribe’s is called today and that is, after all, the only day we are able to do anything at all. We can’t act yesterday nor tomorrow, so today is the only real day we’re alive. Meanwhile, our day names are rather arbitrary, created by the whims of the various people that formed them. Look at the months for example. Augustus Caesar was mad that Julius Caesar had more days, so Augustus stole two from February so he got 31 days too. Is jealousy any basis for a calendar?

Whichever of the umpteen calendars we choose to use, their only purpose is to coordinate activity between realities. It’s like the number two again. There’s no where where anyone can go show a child a number two (well, okay, maybe a number two, but you know what I mean.) Arabic numbers are representations of facts, they are not things in and of themselves. I can’t bring two twos to your house. Months are likewise, as is time.

Of course, we’re doing this all the time. We live like many things that aren’t real are real. So let’s take the rest of our day and consider some common language we use. Ask ourselves if those are actually things, or just ideas. Because we can’t get wet from the word water, so it’s important to draw the distinction between the two. (Just don’t step in a number two while walking your dog. That smell will not be an abstraction.)

People want to get healthy. They want to heal. They want to stop thinking. But all you really need to do is look at reality closely. Because the more you inspect it, the less substantial it will be. And if you can reach past your own mind, you begin to enter the realm of flexibility that Jill Bolte Taylor accidentally fell through while having a stroke. While that’s a weird way to have it, just visiting there for a few moments left her permanently changed. Which proves that we don’t really have to fix reality. We just have to understand it.

Enjoy your day.

peace. s

Restarting With Intention

1214 Relax and Succeed - I myself am made entirely of flawsI hope your summer’s were rewarding in many ways. As we come back together to grow and share, I’ve decided to experiment with a new mix of elements for the blog. There still will be my traditional essays, but I’ll also be adding some new approaches and revisiting some old ones in the hopes that they can help facilitate some very practical benefits in all of our lives.

Today we’ll start off by talking about starting off. The whole point of taking control of your life involves being intentional about how you live. So don’t start each day in some hazy, unfocused, directionless way. Many people will begin by speculating about their day based on opinions they’ve formed on previous days. Then, whether they day wanted to surprise them or not, they’ll unconsciously steer their day like every other, blind to any opportunities for change.

The other way to wake up is to know that your mood is in your own control. You can have a calm Captain in both light and heavy seas. So don’t wake up and let chance decide the direction of the day. Remind yourself that your conscious choices will shape your day. You need to remember to be present for those choices.

Relax and Succeed - Try less to be with someoneThe first choice you can make is to actually provide yourself the sort of stimuli that makes it easy for you to feel good. For many, the handiest and surest way to accomplish this is the same way movies do it–with music. So you can find your own song, or you can use the one I’ve posted below. For my part, I chose something with a beat and a sound that I thought could work for readers around the globe, of any age, and leave them feeling just a little pumped up.

The point of this exercise is to demonstrate that to be spiritually responsible and psychologically healthy, we have to have those as conscious objectives and we must always be scanning the world around us for opportunities to move toward the sorts of influences and challenges that create joy and/or help us grow. To do that we need to feel vital and energetic.

I actually had a different song slated for this spot, but on Sunday I heard a singer I’d never heard before and I felt her song was a perfect fit to match my description of what I was looking for. I didn’t want to overdo it, but I wanted a beat and sound that could charge you up in a very mature and sophisticated way.

Her name is Erin Costelo, she’s from Nova Scotia, and this song is rather ironically called Low. It’s pretty groovy. Use it or whatever song helps you feel balanced, capable and enthusiastic about your own life. Learn to start your day like this every day. Make that a habit and you’ll have really helped yourself become more conscious all day long. Have a great week everyone.

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.

The Friday Dose #138: Dan Gilbert

A lot of people think that it was the swing smashing a hole in my head and a near-death experience that lead to the understanding that I share with students. While that may be true, and while my memory from age five isn’t vivid, I personally believe the reason has far more to do with what that accident made me aware of; namely thinking.

When I first meet a student I do a little talk not unlike this one, wherein I explain the fundamentals of how a brain works. I’ll usually use things from people’s lives rather than experiments (because Dan’s a psychologist and I’m just someone who for 45 years has watched what people said and did super-closely). But essentially the point is the same: reality is flexible, happiness is negotiable.

My “course” is 12 hours long. If you can’t see me, but you’re interested in that what the first hour conveys, I’d suggest giving this talk a listen and it’ll give you a taste of how you’re like everyone else. The rest of the course would then be about how these general truths impact your specific life. What’s most important to take away from this is that, if you aren’t enjoying life, you can learn to.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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.