Shifting Identities

1287 Relax and Succeed - Politeness is to human natureIf you don’t think you have different identities just try this: the next time you’re talking to someone you don’t like, imagine that someone you respect more than almost anyone is listening to the exchange.

If you do that earnestly you’ll find that you’ll choose more charitable and productive words and even friendlier body language with whoever you’re dealing with, even someone you don’t like.

But why would you be nicer? Or nice to someone you don’t like? Are you a brown-noser? A climber? A show off? Not really.

You would feel the urge to be nicer because, while you might possibly have been unusually nice to someone you don’t like anyway, what this thought experiment demonstrates is that we all subconsciously desire, more than anything, to belong.

This means that if someone we respected was watching us, we would naturally want to demonstrate our virtue to increase our value to them, and by extension their group. That doesn’t mean the virtue itself is entirely false. It simply means it was real virtue triggered by events.

Since a group of cooperating people will always out-compete a group of selfish people, we were built to be pack animals. This means that any action that ingratiates us to, or protects our status within, a group will be naturally appealing to a healthy human, even if only on a subconscious level. Sometimes it makes us feel good to help others and we do it for the joy we get, but it is also beneficial to be seen to be helping others, sincerely or otherwise. It builds community. Our impulse is natural.

But why would you be nicer? Or nice to someone you don’t like? Are you a brown-noser? A climber? A show off? Not really.

We have to keep in mind, chimps and bonobos are farther out on the evolutionary bush than we are, by millions of years. They are newer to evolution than we are. We are animals who are civilized, but still animals. We naturally feel safer in groups than alone, and that inclination in us explains everything from disenfranchised kids joining gangs, to why former team-sport athletes often struggle with depression after retirement. People need a tribe of some sort.

Having a place in a group is where we belong, and any feeling outside of that drives us toward belonging like thirst leads us to water. That’s why the world feels so harsh right now.

1287 Relax and Succeed - We shouldn’t build sharp tall fencesEveryone’s so judgmental that no one feels acceptable and that’s lead to insecurity that in turn leads to loneliness etc. etc. We shouldn’t use harsh judgments to build sharp, tall fences around ourselves when we are also stumbling through reality. We need each other, including each other’s forgiveness for our own inabilities.

There are two major ways to connect ourselves to others: the love we share that is comforting, and/or our value in terms of what we can contribute to their lives. Put another way, someone who protects us from dragons can get away with being grumpy; and being lovable is simply dragon-slaying love with a nicer role. But what binds us is a shared responsibility to each other. Denying that is painful, fulfilling it feels good, even if that involves fighting ‘dragons.’

Every role done well has value, and every tribe can carry a struggling member for a time. This is the value of community, and our ability to appreciate that value explains why we naturally become more aware of the value of kindness while we are in the presence of others.

Enjoy your days.

peace. s

Soul Singers

1286 Relax and Succeed - Soul Singers

Moods feel like they randomly happen but the truth is we create them. The question is, are we going to do that intentionally? Or only unconsciously, out of habit?

Unconsciously we’ll all just follow whatever patterns were established early in life, often by simple childhood experiences or big or traumatic life experiences then or in adulthood. It is these subconscious thoughts that lead to chemistry that we experience as a mood.

By remaining conscious we can lead ourselves to a much more rewarding life through better choices. As an experiment to prove the principle to yourself, take some time where you feel crappy, but not super awful. Let’s start small and work up.

First, think of some songs that make you feel powerful and strong and confident and then make a playlist or just remind yourself of how those songs go.

As soon as we notice we’re in a grumpy mood that’s where we direct ourselves to find one of the songs on our phone or in our memory –the ones that help us feel strong and capable– and we commit to hum or sing that song for five minutes to ourselves in our head or out loud. Five actual minutes if we’re doing this for real.

1286 Relax and Succeed - If we alter our choices

It won’t take that long though, because if you do the exercise earnestly, you’ll feel your chemistry shift quite quickly and you’ll feel that as an easing of the frustrated feelings that are tensing your stomach or shoulders or back or chest or….

A song that is stored in your mind as being powerful will run interference with thoughts that leave you feeling negative and incapable. It’ll shift your mood because you experience your brain via the chemistry created by choice and action and your life is engaging with that powerful song.

If we alter our choices regarding how we fill our now, our minds will generate the chemistry associated with our new thought or action. That is how the conscious song’s chemistry can happily conquer the sad regions of our habitual and detrimental subconscious thoughts.

Use that knowledge to enjoy your days.

peace. s

Accepting Reality

1285 Relax and Succeed - We can make any experience our teacher

I used to run the precusor to what a website now is. It was linked up three other writer’s BBS’s. One of those guys took his time off during the writer’s strike to create a TV series that did very well. It was built around a character named Garfield that a guy he knew was trying to sell as a cartoon to newspapers. At the time I think Mark was writing on Cheers. He essentially described sitcoms this way: Act One a guy gets a date, Act Two he steps in dog poo, and Act Three was when the poo got from his shoe to his hat.

If viewed the right way, re-starting the blog right before a pile of unforeseen complications is a bit like being in a sitcom. Either I laugh at the unlikely nature of each additional complication or I perform a narrative docu-drama in my head about a sick person with a heavy workload. Which one sounds like a good investment of my consciousness to you?

Maybe I flick past that sad brain-channel a couple times to test it. But the fact that it feels bad is my signal to change channels to something that expands me (which, granted, sometimes can be the sad thing). We can make any experience our teacher, so I’m better to face adversity in a way that allows me to practice the act of learning from the experiences.

By staying conscious instead of thinking about the past or the future too much, I was aware that some unusual surprises to my schedule had me unusually run down. So it wasn’t surprising when a simple head cold took me out. That was win number one: when I got sick I didn’t feel disappointed. I looked at the facts and being sick made a lot of sense. So I slid into acceptance of the fact that life was just doing what it often predictably does. I had no motivation to feel my illness was ‘unfair’ in any way.

I did quickly and necessarily calculate the illnesses negative impacts to my schedule and life, but that process didn’t take long because before I was even done adding things up I realized that there was no way I was getting it all done, so it wasn’t like the volume was the issue, it was the priority.

I could have had a meaningless debate in my head about how important my entire list was, but that’s obvious because the things were on my schedule in the first place. But equally obvious was the fact that clearly it all wasn’t possible to get done while being sick, so the question was only: what should be sacrificed? Any thoughts about what ifs or I wish it were’s would only be consciousness-time invested in meaningless thinking.

…but why not feel guilty later about the stuff that is late?

Did you see that?

Pretty subtle wasn’t it? I just bent reality back there. I torqued time. (We all do things like that routinely, but try and tell someone to do it voluntarily and suddenly we’re all full of excuses about why we can’t.)

If I got sick because I was harried then clearly my schedule was over-full. No one is really motivated to keep their schedule over-full except the few people who are using that schedule to avoid something that maybe should be on their schedule. But for the rest of us our schedules are as they are because it’s just a part of life that reality will often give us more marbles than jar.

If you asked me the day before I got sick, all of those things were must-dos by a certain dates. Yet by getting sick, I managed to push the future back to a later date, allowing me to prioritize the important things and then pepper the rest into the following weeks until I’m caught up. Some of the dates on those musts didn’t appear flexible until they needed to be. Such is the triage required for adult life.

Yet still it’s easy to imagine you asking, but why not feel guilty later about the stuff that is late? The answer is acceptance. I don’t believe I should feel guilty when what’s happened is reasonable, and getting sick is a part of life.

The day before I got ill was the end of a period of working past a reasonable limit and that eventually caught up with me. Since I was aware that I was gambling the gains of the extra work against the risk of making myself ill, when I got sick my brain immediately went into acceptance mode because the extra work had been done consciously, with the knowledge that there was a risk and reward trade-off in action.

1285 Relax and Succeed - If we've only thought of one

This is the big advantage of living in the Now. Decisions are conscious; where we think about what we’re truly choosing and all the ways it could potentially go. If we’ve only thought of one expected and desired consequence of any decision or choice, then we haven’t really thought about that choice at all.

By living in the now, I make my later easier because rather than wonder why I got sick, I can instead accept that the gamble that I took means that I sometimes do not win. Again, there is little to no war of words in my head about how it should be the other way when it simply isn’t. I can’t change the deal I made with the world after the fact, I can only ensure that when I make it I am conscious. That one small thing could save many from a lot of suffering.

To whatever degree we can, we benefit by avoiding the act of filling our heads with self-talk about how we wish things were, or how bad the price will be, or even blaming the person we believe lead to our problem or made us ill. Having these initial thoughts is natural and none of us should criticize ourselves for having immediate reactions. But entertaining them without serious consideration can steal our lives away if we don’t remain vigilant about our thinking.

Enjoy your days.

peace. s

PS Because my parent-care schedule makes this challenging, if you guys spot any typos or formatting errors in a blog, feel free to message me through the facebook page or here.

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

Emotional Awareness

1283 Relax and Succeed - Start seeing your interactions

I eat and sleep very well given the chance, but due to various responsibilities and circumstances I am often unable to get as much sleep as I would prefer, and I often am forced to skip meals because there are many cases like this recent one that legitimately prevent that from happening.

Dad recently has had several visits to Emergency where I am his guardian. If you go in before a meal, you can’t just leave your dementia dad in a hospital waiting room while you run across a parking lot of pure ice to get to the nearest source of food, (which isn’t even healthy), because he could wander away. And it’s not like I can take him with me; at his pace it’d take an hour in – 25C weather just to get there and we’d miss our call after two hours of waiting to get into see the doctor while they rightfully attend to much worse situations.

I did contribute to a panel for that hospital that recommended healthier food be available since it was a health facility, but they just added Rice Krispie Squares to a vending machine of chips. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The lack of sleep and food can biochemically throw anyone off balance. Once I notice those bad feelings my awareness kicks in and if there’s no negative thinking attached then I know it’s biochemical. If I can’t eat right then, I am left to manage it actively like most of you are learning to. Note: that that won’t mean that I am somehow above being abrupt, unfair or even mean. Even the Dalai Lama has a temper. We’re all human.

Just last night my mother was watching the old film Outbreak and it features numerous scenes of people being very reasonably unreasonable –it’s too bad YouTube doesn’t have the part where Hoffman and Rene Russo scream at each other in sleep-deprived states. Those are realistic events in people’s lives. Any parents of toddlers know that frustration is essentially guaranteed as a part of the process.

This is why tolerance is valuable. Expecting others to always be at their best is simply crazy as a belief. And that’s also why I leave those unfortunate experiences in the past. I do my best to apologize, but I won’t feel guilt because I have no expectation of being superhuman. The whole reason I feel bad is because I’m a decent person who didn’t meet my own standards, so my standards are fine.

Reactions make sense given their context. But dragging them out of that context for inspection is a huge waste of time. By then all the people involved are in totally different states of mind that makes entirely different things possible.

I’m human. I just accept it. It’s just as crazy to think that you can can control your emotions under adverse conditions as it is to think you can walk on a broken leg. You can, but will hurt like hell and not do you much good unless you’re walking to a hospital.

So here I am, after two weeks of racing around catching plates just before they hit the ground. I’m exhausted, distracted, and I have a huge amount to do. I need to marshal my internal resources. I need to take action to change my state of mind and I thought you might learn something from me describing what I’ll do as I shift from survival mode to my usual enthusiastic zeal. This is a great exercise for anyone at any time, so consider joining me in trying this for the rest of your day:

The idea is to get out of thoughts about ourselves, because those are the ones that are debilitating us. To do this, we need to focus on other things or people. That being the case, when we leave the presence of anyone for the next couple days –even on the phone or via text or via social media etc.– we should just take a moment to earnestly meditate on what happened from their perspective (as much as that is reasonably possible).

Note whether the other people were likely to see our interactions as being positive or negative. But don’t just count arguments or meetings or parenting –also count shorter relations like holding doors for strangers, not yelling at your kid when tempted, or even saying thank you. Those are all volunteered positives. Every interaction with another person should be taken into consideration.

If you do feel a response was negative, you can apologize, but don’t make things worse with even more negative and guilty thoughts about the past. We don’t really need to worry about what happens either way anyway, because, of course, over time, negatives can become positives and positives can become negatives.

Reactions make sense given their context. But dragging them out of that context for inspection is a huge waste of time. By then all the people involved are in totally different states of mind that makes entirely different things possible.

We can feel it was bad to be fired, but if our next job introduces us to a beloved career and maybe even our spouse, then, looking back, getting fired seems like one of the best things that ever happened to us. Likewise, we can feel great about learning we got a promotion only to find out our personality and our new job description do not fit well together, and later we view the promotion as the beginning of the end.

Nothing is good or bad, only thinking makes it so. That’s why we let the past go and focus on the present moment. It’s practical. And if others do likewise, tolerance absorbs the balance.

Remember: how many people do we leave better off, versus how many we leave worse off, is not what’s important. This isn’t a comparative numbers game in the end, because it’s highly likely that we’re all far nicer than any of us will give ourselves credit for. So this isn’t about us being guilted into being nicer. It’s about us understanding the practicalities of how to get back on track as quickly as possible. That’s actually the fastest way to expand that capacity in us, not guilt or tortured regret.

So let’s pay attention to the thinking we do today. Let’s see our interactions with others less as what we did, and more about how everyone –including us– felt doing it. Awareness of that dimension of being makes more things understandable, and an appreciation of how bad things innocently happen is what gives us the wisdom to also know how to make a shift as soon as we’re able. It’s something we get better at the more we practice the act of letting go.

After a screw up, we should just apologize and forget it as soon as possible and get focused on the present moment so we don’t screw up again. The fact that you feel badly about it is all the proof you need that you’re truly a good person.

Here’s to all of us staying conscious enough to create ourselves a wonderful day.

peace. s

 

One Day Off

1282 Relax and Succeed - No thought. Simply be. That itself is a meditation

During those wonderful times where we feel a strong sense of flow, confidence and often attendant success, we often achieve it without feeling like we’ve been burdened by overthinking regarding our doubts, worries, our confusion or our disappointments. In fact, the lack of debilitating thinking is exactly why we are able to capture that sense of flow.

Despite the fact that the successful person noted above is a real version of ourselves, it is amazing how quickly we will dismiss that person as though they don’t exist within us –and all because of our debilitating thinking. Because if you’re like most people you’re pretty hard on yourself in your thoughts on most days.

You think about how you don’t look the way you want, you think about how you would like to be somewhere different in your life by now, and you think about all the reasons you can’t seem to be the better person you want to be. Hell is a good name for that place of belittling over-thinking. It exists in eternity and eternity is happening now, which basically means that ego-based thinking is hell.
So what can we do about it?

We can avoid visiting there. After all they are our thoughts. So let’s make a simple deal, okay?

It’s Family Day today where I am, so let’s celebrate it by honouring our participation in the family of humanity. 7.5 billion of us are each individuals and we are each fulfilling our roles perfectly. Sometimes we play the hero, sometimes the clown, and yes, sometimes we are the villain. And often times we don’t find out who we were until the final curtain because perspective changes everything. So just forget all of the pre-judgment and let’s just let go and stop all the critical thinking about ourselves, others, and the world.

If we really feel the need to, we can all go back to beating ourselves up tomorrow. But just for this one day, let’s just dismiss those thoughts about how we are lacking, or how our life is lacking, or how others are failing to meet our expectations, and let’s just let those thoughts go instead.

Simply breathe and look around and treat your day like you’re on holiday, or visiting inside your own body. Look at everything familiar as though it is new and needs review. See the logos on products you use, note the names of machines, or look on parts of your computer screen you usually ignore. Talk to the person you normally barely notice, or listen for the differences in timbre between two friend’s voices.

However we do it, we need to get our minds focused on what’s happening in the moment that we are in, even that’s just the sound of our feet on the floor. There is richness in stopping our incessant thinking. So today let us all commit right now to spend less time having critical thoughts about what we are doing and instead we will invest that energy on spending more time being in the space between the thoughts.

peace. s

Thank you!

1281 Relax and Succeed - Are you curious as to what people lined up onI would like to begin by thanking you all for the very warm welcome back. You caught me a bit off guard; I had been so focused on what I had to do that failed to consider external reactions along the way.

I’d also like to thank you for your impressions, ideas, needs and hopes. In one way or another I will attempt to give each person who commented some form of answer in the blogs in whatever form they ultimately take. What I really appreciated was that you all described your perspectives quite well and your requests were very interesting.
Are you curious as to what people lined up on?

I was floating the idea of the assignments because those had been extremely popular in the past, but I was also aware of one thing: the world has changed a huge amount in a short period of time. Everyone today feels overloaded.

Work is filled with constant upgrade courses, getting customer service on anything takes forever, everyone’s stressed polarized and more inclined to be rude, and the gig economy has people working all hours for too little insecure income, and life in general is seen as simply far too busy.

Phones are now largely seen as quite unpleasant things by anyone with a serious and responsible full time job. It’s more like a leash, or a cattle prod. Or a procrastination drug. So who wants some assignments on top of all of that? A few people, but most would like something more open. And more positive.

Negativity and argument were big themes. People are exhausted through simple exposure to such rampant negativity. The reading of the blog itself can act as relief to a small degree, but people were looking for non-assignment-based ideas about how they can practically impact their lives to generate a more positive –and dare I say– fun environment. I can relate to that desire, so that definitely helps the writing.

So it appears that rather than a plotted plan like an assignment structure, we will end up with something more free-flowing and open to evolution, but it’s thrust will be positivity and practicality. That works perfectly, because this is not only my blog, it’s also me working out parts of an upcoming book and those are the themes. The reason we likely lined up on what we feel pulled toward is that many of us are all experiencing the same sensations.

No matter what ‘sides’ they are on, people are tired of watching society render itself into individual pieces. Rather than just wallowing in negativity most of us want something more active and positive to rally ourselves and others around. We all want direction on how to make an effective, long term positive difference in our lives lives and the lives around us. That’s it in a nutshell.

1281 Relax and Succeed - People want direction on how to makeSo now that we know what it’s about, I want to discuss its frequency. I really have no idea how easy it could ultimately be on each weekday as before, but even under current conditions that might be doable if the pieces are a bit shorter. It depends on a lot of unrelated things. At the same time, I may find I only have time for one piece a week on a general theme and one on caregiving and what can be learned about ourselves from that. Even non-caregivers can learn about life from the latter.

We’ll have to wait and see what we end up with, but I enjoy bringing value to your lives so I’ll do the best I can.

Finally, if you’re a man reading this, I think it’s worthwhile noting that a very large percentage of the communication I had on the issue of how to focus the blog, surrounded the problem of very negative husbands who made home-life a constant angry discourse on what is wrong with the world.

We all feel that way sometimes so I’m sure the spouses can relate. But when almost every woman writes with the same issue, regardless of what part of the world they live in, then we as guys simply have to accept that it’s possible that the ways our brains are naturally wired is not leading us to meet today’s world in a healthy manner and we need to get conscious and change course or we’ll start having more concrete reasons to feel like things are going wrong.

This applies to virtually any of us who’ve been overly negative –which is likely all of us. I know I’ve had my own little flurries on days where I’ve had to figure out the sort of stuff no one wants to ever have to figure out, especially for people you love. So the world also needs tolerance for when people are in pain and lash out, but at the same time we all want 2019 to be a more positive year.

How about we end this blog with a simple reminder that by watching for positive things we tend to find them, and that if we truly love the people we’re around, we shouldn’t be trying to get what we want, we should be trying to build a positive environment for ourselves and others. Because it feels really good to make a difference.

Thanks again everyone. It feels good to be back.

peace. s

What Do You Want From Me?

1280 Relax and Succeed - Life is what happens

That title is less clickbait and more just me choosing something that made me laugh –and laughing is good, particularly when life is heavy. It’s nice to be back.

You might recall that I thought I might be taking a break over Christmas in 2017, and I left with exciting plans for the blog in 2018. Then a bunch of life happened, as John Lennon once quoted in a song. Additionally, the idea for the blog turned out so well that it’s being fleshed out as a book. Which brings me to today and the plan for 2019, which is to say there isn’t one. And I want you to help form whatever angle or shape the writing takes this year.

Here’s the two things I do know:

1) While I may touch upon it at other times, I want to dedicate one day a week on caring for someone with dementia because in caring for my parents I’ve realized that it’s a wonderful teaching tool. By understanding how we deteriorate we can better understand how we’re assembled when we’re healthy.

I also think it could potentially provide some guidance or comfort for people doing what I’m doing in caring for parents when dementia is involved. And for medical professionals who’ve never lived with someone with dementia, they too could likely also learn more about how to look for clues on how to connect that would be helpful to patients.

The fact that I’m sensitive to patterns has made watching the dementia process a very educational experience to have. It’s been a challenge for sure, but how we approach things can make a huge difference, and that principle still applies even in situations that are not this extreme.

Also:

2) In past years you’ve requested that I answer questions, that I write about various subjects, or that I speak to particular quotes, but there was nothing you seemed to like better than getting assignments. The biggest and most active period was when you were all getting a daily assignment to help train your awareness to stay awake. Admittedly, it was one of the things most likely to achieve lasting benefits for participants, and quite quickly too, so it is a good candidate to form my return around but, as I said, I do want your thoughts.

Now I know that above I said those two things were the only things I knew, but I do know other things; like how sewers were invented in their current form in London, in the 1800’s by a genius Frenchman. But, as you can see, those are not helpful things to know here, or anywhere really. But when life is very serious, as I noted, it is often helpful to make light, so this is my lame attempt at toilet humour. Back to business.

I have one idea to offer but I’m open to you emailing me, messaging me or commenting with your ideas. Here’s mine:

Each day I could present a challenge or assignment based on something I caught myself doing. These always exist both as superficial examples, and as principles. So being rude to one person is in principle the same as being rude to anyone. The source of a fear doesn’t matter as much as the principles we employ in facing it.

The idea would be that I would look for common daily events where I was urged to enter my thinking and get lost in some form of emotion (I can consciously rotate through all of them), and then I would include the part about how I mitigated it, or why I forgave myself if I couldn’t.

This would be followed by my urging people to find the same sort of events in their own day, and to review how they historically would react. As before, it would really help if people worked in pairs so they can discuss their results. Once we meditate on the reasons why some things bother us we are then free to see avenues as to how it might be done differently. Maybe people could even get comfortable enough to start sharing blog or social media comments describing their own examples, as well as a note on how their self-intervention went…? That would be both an assignment and not overload me while looking after Mom and Dad, and it might help me find ways to earn my living while doing so.

But how would you feel about that assignment idea versus some other plan? Would you like to find a partner and do daily exercises in awareness? Maybe you want 100% relationships instead? Or all about anger? Or sex? Or a discussion of contemporary issues and how we can learn to relate to those in a meaningfully healthy way? (Maybe you’re now fascinated by sewers and I’ve accidentally trapped myself in a figurative version of one.)

You tell me. You can do it in the comments, or on facebook or twitter, (he says, knowing most of you will email). But in the meantime I’ll just do some pieces that occur to me, at least until we set a course in a few days. I appreciate you joining me and I look forward to connecting.

peace. s

The Calling

You’ll likely want some volume.

 

peace. s

Give Peace a Chance

1278 Relax and Succeed - Give peace a chanceA lot of my readers are from many different religions. The fact that I grew up in a predominantly Christian place means that my family has always defaulted to Christian holidays, although we happily added most of those others over time too. This means that, thanks to the approaching season and some important personal matters, I will not be writing for the blog again until January 1st of 2018, at which time I am contemplating a shift in its direction.

You’ve all been very kind with your notes of thanks, and your sharp eyes for typos and people attempting to plagiarize my work. You all respond well to positivity and while you experience negativity, you don’t dwell on it. Despite being scattered all over the world, you are all a part of a community of like-minded people who care; people who prioritize peace and love over status and power. I am happy to count myself among you.

It has been a pleasure sharing these lessons with you for another year, and I thank you for taking the time to read them. Without any expectation but lots of anticipation, I eagerly await 2018 and all of the many surprises it’s sure to bring.

All the best for whatever seasons you celebrate.

Warm regards, 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.