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.

Parenting in the Digital Age

I do not envy the people struggling to pull off raising a child in the new millennium. There are challenges today that have never existed before, and many routes through life that most parents have never even considered as a part of their parenting options. But if we want healthy children then we must consciously give them an environment that promotes both their physical and mental health as well as the ongoing maintenance of both.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn creating this post I came to learn that it is best presented as a four-parter that includes last week’s Friday Dose (which includes a set of links to relevant documentaries etc.), and yesterday’s Other Perspectives. In this posting I will cover the culture of fear and the value of freedom, mistakes and the nature of growth. In the next I’ll cover advertising, ego, insecurity and inter-personal connection.

First off, let’s remember how different it is for kids now that just a short time ago, because these are the biggest changes that the human brain has had to face since the construct of abstract language. This is big. Really big.

Let’s talk about children’s media environment rather than just the internet. When I was a kid you were too focused on playing outside to really find TV all that inviting. Yeah you had your big shows you watched, but we only had three channels so even until the invention of video tape there was no way to even see a re-run. The three channels shut off at 1am and turned back on at 6am and that was it. That meant we used to be influenced primarily by our family’s values and the values of their friends and the immediate culture you lived in. Today you’re influenced by your friends and peers even at home—via social media—but more importantly you 607 Relax and Succeed - If you don't fit inare influenced by two additional groups, and those groups do not have the same agenda for your life that you have at all.

Politics and advertising create most of the current zeitgeist. Countries used to be much more unique, and while they still are to some degree, the spreading of media has homogenized the whole world. People are dressing more alike, listening to the same music, and eating the same foods. What’s important is that the homogenization was designed by people who had a motive. Your motive is to raise your kids to be happy, successful, good-quality citizens who can contribute to their culture in a meaningful way all while building a life they find to be largely secure, rewarding and enjoyable. Politicians want you and your kids to vote for them, and advertisers want you to to get you and your kid’s money. How this shapes your brain is no small issue.

A key political strategy almost everywhere is to create an us by creating a them. The them is generally another society you can compare yourself against—so when your own country is in political turmoil politicians create an enemy. Maybe that’s a war with another country, or maybe it’s stoking fears at home about who among us might be untrustworthy or dangerous. It’s very easy to ask people to support your politics if you want to stop crime or violence. Who doesn’t want to do that? But there’s tons of research: jails don’t stop crime and there’s no indication laws do either. The one thing that science has proven over and over is that the easiest, cheapest way to stop crime is to make a solid investment in early childhood development. Norway did that and ended up having to close a large number of their jails.

607 Relax and Succeed - My friends love is better than anger
At this writing there’s an upcoming Canadian election. This man was a politician but I’m not attempting to influence anyone politically. My use of it is strictly for the quote.

Now the fact is that, no matter where you are, there have never been fewer criminals and there’s never been less violent crime. Never. Anywhere. And yet in survey after survey people are worried about what might happen. The biggest fear I hear about is abduction, and yet this is remarkably unlikely. Yes, agencies that get their funding for children’s protection will give you statistics that don’t mention they include stats on every divorced spouse who was turned in for having their own kids back to their vengeful spouse one hour late. Think about how seldom you hear an Amber Alert. Hardly ever. And when you do, you almost always learn it’s one of the parents or a grandparent that has taken the kids away from a situation they (rightly or wrongly) feel is bad for the kid. That’s not the sort of abduction that they do fear-laden TV shows about.

Cases where it isn’t someone known to the kid are so rare they make international news. Remember the British girl who went missing in Spain? That was 2007. Or the little girl who was kidnapped and murdered in Toronto? That was 2009. Just try to think of them and you realize there’s hardly any and there’s billions of people who’s children can make the news. If you were in poorest parts of Asia or Africa or South America I can see being concerned about your kids being grabbed because there’s an easy profit motive there—mostly so they can sell them to rich white people. But for the average North American, European, or even most Asians, Africans or South Americans, there is no rational reason to worry about your kids every day.

The number one place by far for a child to die is in a car with their parents. So why are parents so casual about driving around, and yet people are getting complaints from schools and parents, or their kids are even being taken by police or child services because parents let them walk to school??? So we don’t worry at all about the still-very-unlikely but much much much more likely 607 Relax and Succeed - Miracles start to happenstuff? Instead we’re going to freak out our kids by worrying about things as likely as lightening strikes? If you’re doing this you need to realize that you’ve been living in a culture of fear and it is adversely affecting your children.

Children learn from experience but adults can get like insurance mathematicians who are busy calculating the extreme potential downsides to every single thing that the child even might do. A woman in an interview said that she wouldn’t let a 10 year old and a six year old walk home alone because if something happened she didn’t think the 10 year old would know what to do. When the reporter asked what sort of things might happen outside of the aformentioned highly unlikely worst case scenarios, the best the woman could come up with was that the six year old might fall. Fall? From the height of a six year old? Oh yeah, you need maturity and a medical degree to deal with that, don’t you?

Let’s not be ridiculous. Can something happen? Of course, the aforementioned girl in Toronto was walking with her brother but he regretfully left her to walk another kid home. But it’s important to place that in the appropriate context, which is that hundreds of millions of young people made it to school just fine that day and hundreds of other days entirely safely. So why would anyone presume to load their kid with the entirely unrealistic fear that they have to limit the child’s life in the hopes of lengthening it? To avoid something incredibly unlikely? Generations of kids walked to school. I never ever remember hearing of a kid falling on the way to school and getting hurt. And even if they did, we’re going to limit the hundreds of millions of kids lives to try to potentially save one all while we’re losing thousands in cars?! It doesn’t even make sense.

We are teaching children to be afraid. Youngish parents write to me as though it’s the generation behind them that’s afraid, but my generation can easily see that there was a change, and for those paying close attention, it showed up when TV and later the internet took off. Kids didn’t used to read the paper. But they could overhear the news. And as more stations were created there was more competition for advertisers and so the news got increasingly sensationalized in the fight to get people to advertise to. News stations then went to 24 hours, so they had to find and even create news. As I’m writing this Fox news was just noted world wide for having had to apologize four times in a single day for reporting fear-mongering things that they later admitted were based on absolutely nothing. So why did those alarming stories get reported if they were made up? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABecause they would attract viewers. That’s great for shareholders but very bad for your kid.

We’re also teaching children to be weaker. There are studies going on regarding why kids increasingly have no sense of direction. What they know so far is that modern brain scans show we all have neurons that keep track of where the sun is as you walk, and with experience it helps your brain understand where things are in relation to each other. So there’s no such thing as a bad sense of direction, there are just unpracticed and undeveloped senses of direction. But if a kid gets driven everywhere, how are those brain structures going to get built? They can’t. And so the kid becomes smaller than the parent when the idea is that the parent helps the kid be bigger than they themselves ever could have been.

You only have two jobs as a parent: to teach your kids what they need to know to live without you, and to love them. Of course they need to know they are loved, but they also need to know how the world actually works. Insulating them from that is literally constructing an incapable 607 Relax and Succeed - A child does not have to be motivatedkid and it’s why we’re increasingly seeing parents showing up to conduct their kids job interviews. My instructions to the companies I advise is to never hire these individuals because their parents are very obviously proving that they have built a child that is actually entirely unprepared for the workplace, or likely even society in general.

Sitting in a jungle four degrees off the equator and most of the way up a 4,200 meter (14,000 foot) mountain I asked an anthropologist what she had learned from the tribes she had studied for 23 years. She told me it was that she had unwittingly but grossly underestimated her children. We saw children as young as five walking across tree trunks to cross very high gorges and they would do so without an adult nearby. They were trusted and they responded to that trust by simply watching the people around them, all of whom walked confidently across the makeshift bridge. And then the kids did what every kid does—and they mimicked it.

So you can teach your child to mimic fear. Or you can teach them to act confidently. Because in 23 years that anthropologist never, ever heard of one of those kids falling. And even if one did, that wouldn’t change those parents. Because they’re not busy worrying. They’re not guided by fears about jaguars or snakes. They’re busy living a good life and in doing so they’re showing their kids how to do the very same thing. And every kid needs parenting like that. So who’s teaching your kids to avoid fear and enjoy life?

peace. s

Note: Tomorrow we’ll talk about how advertising and social media are changing how children’s brains are structured and what that means for them/you as adults.

Defining Success

Scott, just when I think I have it all clear in my head, I stumble now and then.
Please help, again, with this status you recently posted:

As an adult ego you surrender your freedom to create your own feelings.
Now you believe someone else anoints you with feelings of success.”

signed,
Curious

Dear Curious,

Thank you for your question. While I respect your humility, please allow me to take a large part of the responsibility for your confusion. It’s not my best work. Add to that the limitations of our 140 character world and we’re left here—where I’ve managed to communicate almost nothing. 🙂 But as life is, there is always another side, and the upside of this is that my lack of clarity means it’s now a blog entry instead of a status line, so hopefully I’ll be clearer in 700 words than I was with 140 characters.

316 Relax and Succeed - A good life is a collectionOur feelings are created through our own awareness. We have to learn to see our consciousness like a container and we have to start getting picky about what we’ll put in that container. No more toxins! When we’re kids we’re geniuses because we waste zero energy on self-consciousness or worry. We just do. We are fully invested in our awareness so we notice so much. But by the time we’re adults we trade feelings for emotions, and now we’re filling up our container with stories about the world and our doubts about our place in it. So as a child “success” was a given, every day. It was all you did. Because without failure there is no success, and without language there can be no failure.

As a kid you were. You knew how to Be. Not Be anything specific. Just Be. And that in and of itself is the ultimate success. It is to live an enlightened life. But as an adult you learn all these word-ideas. You get graded in school, you get told what’s right or wrong by your religion or government, you learn about prices and limits and achievements and status and like ladders you want to climb these ideas.

You want more and you’re always aware of what you’re lacking or missing. You now have a list of words that describe success and you’re trying to get the puppet of your ego to perform the script written by your culture. You’re busy collecting people, things and experiences that you believe will frame an acceptable you. Your success is now dependent. It is conditional. It is outside of you and you need to earn it. This is just the modern version of the age-old idea of original sin.

316 Relax and Succeed - Success is going from failureIs this making sense? When you were a kid you were happy to swing at a ball and miss. As an adult you need to hit it to feel like anything even happened. When you were a kid you would happily perform dance numbers in front of people, but as an adult you’re shy and you roll your shoulders in as you try to become part of the background. When you were a kid you would proudly show the world every piece of art you painted, and yet even if you’re a trained adult with a good reputation, you’ll still worry every time you start a painting that you might do something wrong.

Success is not something missing that we need to go get. Success is a verb that we must enact in our own being. We must move successfully through the world, without attachments or desires or wants. We must be clear and open and free. We must be like children, with their silent thoughts and their wide open minds. We must see again. We must awaken to the everyday wonder that makes every day of our existence so profoundly meaningful. To relax into that reality is to have truly succeeded.

That’s my shot at extrapolating that status, Curious. It’s up to you to decide if I expanded you or not. But I thank you nevertheless for the opportunity to make this spiritual concept clearer to you and others.

All the best,

peace. s

Understanding Ambition

You say live in the moment not in the future. But if I don’t plan and have goals
why would I do anything? Don’t I need ambition to motivate me?
signed,
Ambitious One

Dear Ambitious,

My heart broke a tiny bit when I read your question. I could immediately feel it—you’re thinking yourself too small. There are all these built-in assumptions in your question and they all point to the fact that you’ve been programmed to see yourself in weak and broken terms. Let’s change that. Because that change happens instantaneously in any collection of moments where you remember that you are in fact a critical aspect without which the universe would be incomplete.302 Relax and Succeed - What lies behind us

…if I don’t plan and have goals why would I do anything?” Oh, so cavemen had a goal to become civilized? Every day they would have just laid around having sex and eating grapes? They never would have thought to find easier ways to get food, or there never would have been an animal or plant that they would have noticed things about and thereby learned things from?

Did it ever occur to you that most of the remarkable things we’ve achieved since becoming human were done before we even had language to allow us to be conscious of an “us?” Ego is primarily made of language. Nature comes to you as feelings. It does things like motivate you to eat by making you hungry, or it motivates you to stay near people because it feels good to be around them. These are the fundamental motivations that activate children to learn to walk and talk in only two years and they weren’t even students and no one was even teaching them.

So first off, you’re not naturally lazy and uninterested in learning. Quite the opposite. If you stopped replaying those limiting ideas to yourself in your head you would naturally realize how amazing you truly are. No one told you you were a poet and a leader and a singer and a dancer when you were three. You just had no reason to think that you couldn’t be any of those things. But today, with all of the thinking you do, now you think you have to earn things. 

You can’t learn by being anymore. As an adult ego you’ve surrendered your freedom to create your own feelings and now you believe someone else anoints you with feelings of success. You’ve been taught that following your nature is now somehow lazy, or irresponsible, so your 302 Relax and Succeed - The more I want to getlife is primarily dedicated to getting others to think favourable thoughts about you. That is not responsible though. Quite the opposite. Doing everything your told to is irresponsible. Where is your choice to be constructive in that? Where is your contribution? If everything you do is made of obligation and repetition then you cease to be a Human Being and you’ve become some kind of economic robot that’s following someone else’s lines on the floor. That is not a free life. Needing over 90% on an exam is not a route to freedom. Loving learning is.

Secondly, why do you need a future goal to motivate you? So you’re telling me that you can be motivated to save for the down-payment on a house, but you’re not interested in having day to day happiness? You mean you’re not ambitious about this moment? You mean you will surrender your joy in this moment, in the hopes that you will accumulate more of it at some future event which may or may not happen?

Your life happens in moments. This one was either happy or it wasn’t. When it’s over you shift to the next one. So you can’t save up moments. You can’t store happiness and then rain it down on yourself in buckets in the future. You either used a moment to create happiness or you used it to create something else. But once it’s gone you’ve used it. Once it’s gone it’s gone—that’s it.

So yes, be ambitious. About your own joy. You weren’t put on this planet to work 10 hours a day for some company. Hours and companies don’t even really exist. They are constructs of our minds. But your joy is an actual experience. When you’re waiting for an ambulance you can easily stretch minutes into hours, and yet when you’re experiencing a tearful goodbye, an hour can suddenly feel like minutes. But throughout, moment by moment, you feel your life as you traverse events. So do not mistake concepts for experiences. 30 degrees is a concept. The feeling of heat is an in-the-moment sensation. Most of the things modern ambition chases are 302 Relax and Succeed - When  l loved myself enoughconcepts like money, fame, status and the imagined security of power. To lead a healthy life we must be ambitious regarding the quality of our experiences. We must be motivated by our intrinsic compulsions. We must trust who we are. Because Issac Newton hated people, worked naked and never bathed, but that worked out okay in the end didn’t it. He did what felt right for him and genius emerged.

So what’s important is your Experience of Life. I would encourage you to be very dedicated and enthusiastic and bold about steering each individual moment toward what feels right for the person you are in that moment. Wherever that takes you will be just fine as long as you don’t mistake superficial pleasure for profound interaction with the universe. Getting high might temporarily feel pleasurable, but unless its active effects promote either stronger connections or the breaking down of barriers, then a high simply isn’t as gratifying to you as something like falling in love, or having a sense of personal achievement.

Don’t start off with the idea that you’re lazy and stupid because you want to enjoy your own life. You should want to. Why else live it? But don’t live it in some maybe-future. Live it in your for-certain Now. It’s not that hard if you just pay a little attention. And stay ambitious about being joyful.

peace. s