Type One and Type Two Fun

1260 Relax and Succeed - By seeking pleasureI heard an astronaut on the radio yesterday. When asked if it was fun to do a spacewalk, he responded that it was Type Two Fun, meaning it’s not the kind of fun that you really feel while you’re doing it. The two are very different, but it’s often easier to look at the day around the fun to help determine whether it’s Type One or Type Two Fun.

Type One Fun days are often a lot easier. That’s stuff like going to the beach, or having a party, or going to a good show. Type Two Fun comes from experiences where our own attention needs to be highly focused and the experience is more demanding, like on a spacewalk, or during a big dance number in a show, or when I race my brother’s race car. It’ll be a fun memory when I think about it later, but at the time I need to stay present to keep a very fast car from hitting a wall.

Type One is fun at the time. Two is rewarding later. Rather than suffer for our whole life by trying to avoid Type Two days, we’re all better to understand that inactivity and a lack of motion or creation will lead to our worst suffering. Meanwhile the pain endured to acquire strength or skill ends up as stored energy that releases Type Two Fun when our own personal genius makes itself known through action.

1260 Relax and Succeed - Dwell in possibilityType One Fun is easy. But yin and yang means that there is no getting around certain kinds of suffering in life. Let me write that again: there is no getting around suffering in life. Not for anyone. Young people die, you can’t fight City Hall, and around the world the weak suffer. What makes existence holy is when we accept this fact and we begin turning an idle sadness about life into an action that converts difficult times into rewarding Type Two Fun. Med school is hard. Saving lives feels awesome.

The only help people ever need with Type One Fun is if they start to dose it with thin pleasure, from things like drug addictions etc. But for the most part Type One Fun is easy to enjoy, just possibly harder to find. Opportunities for Type Two Fun abound. They are plentiful all around us. Every complaint points to a potential Type Two Fun solution. Like with being a doctor, refugee camps are hard places to work. Saving lives there feels awesome.

When we’re urged to do what scares us it’s not the fear that has the value, it’s the discovery. Doing things outside our comfort zone increases the size of our comfort zone, and as that circle expands, its growing perimeter encounters increasingly more opportunities to do the sort of things we tend to look back on with pride and self-satisfaction. That’s credit we know we’re truly due, and it never feels better than when we rightfully give it to ourselves.

1260 Relax and Succeed - For most people their spiritual teacherIf most of us look at our lives, our suffering is caused by our resistance to things that are “hard.” That fact is a demonstration of how we all live in illusory worlds, because if we stopped to meditate on our own lives for just a while, we would suddenly make the genuine connection between our suffering and our avoidance of challenges, versus our joys and our overcoming of them.

You will make choices regarding your path every day. Some will be motivated by fear, others by fun, but for greater clarity we require a greater level of consciousness about those choices. Rather than perpetually seeking Type One Fun and torturing ourselves in that act, we are better to fully grasp the value and profound rewards that go with taking on Type Two Challenges.

Don’t hide from what scares you. Use the yin in your life to make room for the challenges that you can then convert into a wave of Type One Fun. It’s in you to do. Enjoy your day.

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.

A Life Made of Moments

1257 Relax and Succeed - What makes a life awesomeYou’ll find cases who are big stars, or some will be your friends, family or maybe a mentor or lover. They don’t feel like failures to you because they don’t feel that way themselves. Even someone with a small life filled with disasters can really like how it all unfolded, because they know that even most awesome-looking lives are filled with reactions to failure. What makes a life awesome isn’t based in our results, it’s found in the quality our interactions in pursuing them.

A good example of the results not mattering was yesterday’s post, where we looked a gold medal athlete who might move into retirement feeling sorry that they passed on a must-win attitude that makes both themselves and their child their worst, most impatient, critical selves. A gold medal can’t fix the fact that the quality of their daily interactions will have suffered to get it and, in the end, which is worth more when the athlete’s 50? Love and companionship, or ostensibly a necklace too ostentatious to wear every day?

When we hear of people shifting in this direction or that, extremely few of them are following some muse or calling, because, even if they were that does not remove the fact that life doles out a lot of punishment on its way to giving us its rewards. (Warning: movie spoiler alert.) This is what makes the ending of the film Arrival so beautiful; even though she knows she’s signing up to watch her daughter slowly die, and to be deserted by a beloved husband, when given the chance to do it all again, she joyfully takes it.

1257 Relax and Succeed - Successful people aren't betterMost of the moves we see people make in life are because of the punishment life delivers. Part of this life-game is down at the bottom of Maslow’s Pyramid and we all need to eat, so some aspect of life is invested in providing for ourselves and/or others, and our comparative minds we tend to evaluate a large part of ourselves on the basis of how much ‘food’ we’re able to provide. Likewise, we judge others on much the same basis.

This means we can detect the possibility that a manager who moves into a lower position in a new company may have been fired by the previous company, but we don’t often realise that the creation of a new TV show was actually the product of someone having their previous show fail and be cancelled. We see the new show as a victory, not as a reaction to the failure of the old show.

Lawyers lose a lot of cases. Athletes lose a lot of games. Lovers have their heart broken, and a parent can move up or down in status in their pursuit to ensure they’re providing for their children. This means that lives that we may judge as failures are also filled with successes, just as the lives we view as successes are always also filled with rejections.

1257 Relax and Succeed - When your'e not concerned with succeedingWhat counts is: what did that person do in the face of rejection? Curl up and die? No, they move forward on whatever path is best, whether it appears to lead up or down? Because it’s not like we can tell where a path is going by how it looks at the start. No one begins thinking their wedding will lead to a legal nightmare, just like they won’t assume divorce is the greatest thing that will ever happen to their love life, and yet both things often happen just that way.

Our failures will come. Some we’ll see coming, some will be unexpected. The healthy reaction is to avoid turning that fact into a personally destructive internal narrative about failure. We must free ourselves by understanding that failure litters every life, and that the quality of your life will actually be dictated by how you react, and not by what happened.

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.

Effort vs. Inspiration

1243 - Relax and Succeed - Stop being afraidEffort can be helpful. Effort can get us to lift more weight, more times. It can get us to run farther, or faster. But effort fails to capture everything we have within us. Effort is like squeezing liquid from a sponge, whereas inspiration is more like the natural lift of buoyancy.

Effort involves ego. It’s when we’re doing whatever it is for abstract reasons instead of acting from an internal drive. Inspiration is when we feel pulled to do something rather than pushed. Rather than intellectually knowing something is good for us, we should feel the thrill of engagement and do whatever it is as an act of expressing our own life and vitality. It should be more of a celebration of everything, rather than striving for some specific thing.

You’re not looking for phrases like, come on, you can do this, or; just three more blocks, just three more. Just keep moving, or; push!!!!!! You should feel like you’re excited to do the thing because you know you’re moving along your path toward your own surprises. You’re not exercising your body, you should be exercising your spirit. Flex it.

1243 - Relax and Succeed - Warning, ExerciseOf course you can do it, and you don’t reach a running goal, you’re chasing something and you can feel the thrill of catching up to it. And the weight you’re lifting doesn’t require your effort, you simply need to exert your superior understanding of the forces of the universe. After all, we’re all only atoms lifting atoms. Atoms are mostly space. Stay aware of how ephemeral the weight you’re moving really is.

Stop talking your ego into things and start being them. The real you doesn’t need a pep talk. It doesn’t even use language. The strong part of you simply understands that you need time to master new things, but that no new thing is outside of your capability. You have to approach everything in life aware that you have a natural prowess at it all–you just often psyche yourself out with words in your head too often.

Quiet your mind. Simply act. If you catch yourself thinking you do not respond by being upset or scolding yourself, you simply move back into action. Action, action, action. Move your day from activity to activity. Stay aware as you flow through each function. Fully be the thing you are doing. Make you and the activity into one thing. Forget the words and flow into being the real you. It’ll take courage, but only because you do it so seldom. If you consciously did it more often you’d soon realise that capability is your natural state.

1243 - Relax and Succeed - I am learning every dayGo make your day happen. Act as though even your derailments are a part of the plan for your day. React as though you were expecting them. Act, act, act. Less thinking, more being. Become some type of verb, whether it’s to read, to write, or engage in physical effort.

Avoid getting in your own way with words and instead conjure for yourself the pure feeling of capability. After all, every time you’ve felt capable it was only because you told yourself it was so. Therefore I would suggest that you take the entire day today, and make it so again.

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.

A Life Unlived

When my father got sick we almost lost the house. I was just getting out of high school and I had never seen my parents to stressed. They’d never fought, now they were fighting all the time. I was too young to understand the tension of a mortgage back then, but with my brothers and sisters already moved out and living in different cities, it was up to me to help.

Unfortunately the only thing I knew that could make me money fast was to work with my brother’s friends. They dealt drugs and wasted it all on fancy cars and stupid stuff. I paid my Dad’s medical bills and my parents kept their house. Still, the money solved my problem but that’s not who my parents raised me to be and I always worried about the people buying the stuff, so to get away from that stress I took night school and eventually I got an engineering degree.

My eventual engineering job replaced the money I was making and we got my parent’s house paid off. Now I was free, but I didn’t know what to do. I’d been trained to be afraid that there’d never be enough money, or there’d always be too much work and that was was bad training for what would come next. That’s when I started talking to Scot and he pointed out that I’d always been responsible–in a whatever way that made sense at the time. That made me feel a bit better.

I had this invention. No big thing, but it was a good idea that could easily replace a good wage. I’d been laid off, so I had the time to develop it, but being laid off had a weird effect. My parent’s situation had taught me to be paranoid about money, so despite having a lot of savings I still worried about money all the time because no more was coming in. It wasn’t a healthy mental situation. And it was ironically keeping me from developing the idea.

Scott had been explaining to me how I’d been accidentally taught to process the world. I saw it as a place that was lacking, that was short, that my life needed work to come from others before it could be secure. I learned to over-process my fears and under-process my dreams. I spent far more time thinking about what could go wrong than what could go right.

Keep in mind during all of this that Scott kept pointing out that I’d done very well in school, and that even my ability to save for meaningful things was businesslike, and that the idea I’d developed was not only good, but the tons of research I’d done on it was not only excellent and thorough, but it represented more proof than most good ideas had to support them when they proceeded. He kept asking me what it was that was holding me back.

For a long time I listed what I thought was holding me back. What if it didn’t work? What if I made some fatal judgment error and ruined a good idea? What if there was a hidden pitfall I couldn’t predict? And what about all of the mistakes in life I’d already made? I had a huge list of fears but Scott just kept reminding me that they were all made of my own thinking. I thought he got what I meant until one day I had a huge revelation.

I was out walking. Okay, I was out procrastinating. If I wasn’t walking then I’d have to work on my idea, and if I did that then I was getting closer to a thing that scared me, so it did make a kind of sense that I was avoiding it. But avoiding it to do what? And that’s when it hit me.

It was so subtle I hope it even comes across now but, I realised that I was avoiding the pursuit of the idea so that I could instead think the fears that might possibly relate to the idea. For the first time I saw my thinking as an action–as what I was doing with my life. I wasn’t going anywhere. I was using my fears about being responsible to keep me from my responsibility to live.

My idea was good. The world would benefit from it. So who was I to keep it from the world because I was busy thinking thoughts that were irrelevant to everyone else? And why would I use the energy from my life to think those destructive thoughts when I could be using the same life energy to build that business?

The fact is, all of this worrying has been me failing. Even if I built the business and it bombed, I would have been done by now and I would have had the advantage of the experience and I would have felt like I accomplished more. Suddenly thinking appeared to me as the opposite of living.

Don’t be like me. Don’t avoid life. Because now that I can see through my thinking, I realise that like the walk, it’s a form of procrastination too. And it requires me to see myself as weak and ineffectual, as though I can’t pull this off. There’s no evidence I can’t do it. Just my fears. And those are no where but my consciousness. So now I hear myself think them and I get why they’re there, but they don’t stop me anymore.

I’ve come alive. I’ve stopped thinking about a timid life and I’ve started living a bold one and it turns out that boldness feels a lot calmer and more peaceful than all that worrying ever did. Listen to Scott. Trade your thinking for living. It makes all the difference in the world.

Sincerely, C

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.

Why Connects Us

1088-relax-and-succeed-you-are-a-part-of-everythingWhy are you here? Why do you exist? We’ve all wondered that occasionally. We even go so far as to wish we didn’t exist. And yet walking off something tall is pretty easy and barely anyone does it intentionally. Those that survive said they knew it was a mistake the second they let go. Why?

Someone thought they wanted to die so they walked to a bridge and they thought about all the reasons. And it made them want to jump. All those reasons. All those thoughts. Round and round and round. They’re loud and negative and awful and they hurt. People want to leave all of it behind. So they let go.

Why would someone miss and hit the water, survive, and then not just walk back up and go again but just a little to the left?

1088-relax-and-succeed-perhaps-somewhere-someplace-deepMay I suggest it’s because the act of falling suddenly brought life into perspective. This wasn’t some reset button. This was splat. This was no more. They close the casket, everyone goes home, cries some, and life goes on as it has for tens of thousands of years; without you. But that is not what anyone was really looking for.

What people are actually seeking is peace. They want the noise to stop. We all feel that way. When people are upset they’ll often sit huddled, or they’ll hug their own knees, or they’ll even go so far as to cover their ears. They’re trying to block all of that noise out.

When they let go they realise the sound wasn’t coming from the outside. They realise their so-called problems weren’t the issues, it was the noise, and the noise is self-created. They’re arguments or complaints or whines about the fact that in the end there are always only two routes.

1088-relax-and-succeed-why-struggle-to-open-a-doorI’ve said it before but it bears repeating: there are either solutions to problems, in which case someone doesn’t have a problem, they have a solution they’re working on; or they have something they can’t do anything about but, that’s not a problem either, that is just the world as it is for everyone.

If things went the way people expected there would be no point in living. Without the surprises, the challenges and the achievements it just wouldn’t feel like being alive. It would be boring. That being the case, today’s meditation asks you to find three examples from your life when you thought it was terrible. Find three non-current examples of “problems” and then find where they lead.

Continue the meditation with all three examples and find the value in each. Find the ways that you expanded from experiencing those tough times. Look for examples until you have three where you genuinely realise that the unpleasantness had a value you now wouldn’t trade away.

1088-relax-and-succeed-the-universe-is-my-homeMost people want “problems” to stop because they assume they don’t have that value, when in fact most people have just never done this exercise. They’ve made a huge assumption that something that feels unpleasant must automatically be bad, when it’s really the foundation of all of meaning.

Without the foundation of this page’s whiteness you wouldn’t be able to see the black marks I write with. Without contrast there is nothing. You wouldn’t come to read a blank blog. Why read something that didn’t even bother to exist?

Life’s value is derived from overcoming. If I will not face the white noise of a blank page I cannot hope to draw from myself the love and compassion that creates the black lines that make up these words. Yet if I can use them to connect us and share our souls, then we both can feel we have improved the universe. And nothing is more important, because if nothing is wrong we cannot hope to make it better. And making the universe better is critical because collectively, that universe is made of us.

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.