Accounting For Taste

1094-relax-and-succeed-nothing-happens-just-because-we-are-awarePart of why people think too much is that they’re too idle. You can be, or think about being, but you can’t do both. Whereas healthy people invest themselves in the actions, others use more thinking to try to stop their thinking but, you don’t stop thinking; you replace it with activity. The activity of being alive.

The problem is that most people don’t even know what life activity even looks like. Even the idea of basic listening, or patience, or openness is too-often seen as unproductive; as though all of the value is in how much someone does, not how well they do it. But if we’re only doing then that means those tasks are for other people, but even if they’re for other people we should still be alive while we do them.

You can repeat an action and still be alive while doing it. You can still do something generous and do it for you. But to do so you must slow down your thinking and deepen your focus. Once you do this, you’ll see the world slow down and it will make more sense because you will be taking in more information.

1094-relax-and-succeed-life-is-a-seriesA good way to do this is through your senses. We’ll start today with your sense of taste. You’ll have to stay aware to remember to do it when you eat or drink, but otherwise your job in today’s meditation is wonderfully simple: simply taste anything you consume.

Seems weird doesn’t it? Lots of people can think, I already taste everything I eat, but that’s actually pretty unlikely. Most people are so busy using their mind to create internal dramas that they rarely just focus on the taste experience.

This meditation is two-fold in that it helps you maintain a level of awareness throughout the day so that you can catch yourself eating or drinking, and then once that experience starts you can work on adjusting your focus down to that one sense. The idea is that your brain is doing nothing but tasting the food. No commenting, no desires, no words, just taste whatever it is and be fully aware of all aspects of that flavour.

1094-relax-and-succeed-rather-than-being-your-thoughtsIt seems easy but it does require a constant low-level awareness on what you’re doing so that you’ll be more alert. But the real gold is if you can really find yourself noticing a substantial difference in eating or drinking. It shouldn’t feel like fuel even if it is. It’s not just something you do on the way to something else, it’s literally an action that keeps you alive. Invest more in it. Besides, a lot of the food you eat is presumably really good.

Pay attention to everything you eat or drink until bedtime. Tomorrow, either make a mental note in the morning of the day-before’s favourite taste experience, or share your top moments of awareness with your meditation partner. It’s a nice meditation to do. You not only gain in awareness, but it makes lunch taste a lot better. Enjoy.

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.

Releasing Motivation

1039-relax-and-succeed-you-have-been-criticisingThe reason artists are often called “crazy” is that the two states of creativity and insanity are really degrees of the same thing; few people talk to themselves more than artists need to, and more talking to yourself than that starts to get dangerously close to being lost in thought, otherwise known as “crazy.”

Most people have a boss with deadlines and job descriptions they have to fulfil so they can’t see how much that format is making them work, because even entrepreneurs know it’s much harder when there’s no external deadline imposed. But at least an entrepreneur has a client they’re servicing, but the reason they find marketing the hardest part is the same reason art’s difficult; there’s not only no boss, there’s no customer and the job is pure open space. As an artist you can’t even go to work until you decide how big your canvass should be.

Athletes might bemoan their hours spent training, but most artists would trade them that feeling for the agony of finding it difficult to create. I get a lot of mock hate-comments from artist friends who can’t figure out how I can do other writing and these pages every day by 7am. When your thoughts hold you back creating is very very hard indeed. I remember that sense well.

1039-relax-and-succeed-dont-think-about-making-artIt’s terrifying to start a piece of art because you have a lot of notable things to think about. You have big, public ways to fail. If you’re an author you’re probably comparing yourself to literally the very best people in the world. If you’re a painter you’re worried about $2,500 in paint and canvass you have to invest before you can even try to sell it. If you dance you’re worried about injuries and being a musician on the road has all sorts of potential pitfalls. It can easily make you crazy if you do too much thinking and too little creating.

We’re all such harsh critics. We could still have our opinions and yet talk to people with the approach we’d use with them a kid, where we’d have fewer expectations and where we’d want to be more encouraging. But as adults we make it painful to show personal things. We offer our negative opinion; our corrections. And even if they’ve paid us for that opinion, it still hurts them to hear voices of nonacceptance. And so creating art is hard. The climb is high and the fall feels long.

What’s important for the artist or any other person to remember is that these distances we’ve climbed and these heights we fall from all exist only within our imaginations. You’re not linear. You didn’t advance and then fall back; you expanded and then expanded again. The courage to create work is hard enough; the courage to show it publicly is even more precarious. These are victories not failures. These are what every great artist experiences. It is simply the act of moving past our fears and into an act of creation.

1039-relax-and-succeed-act-without-doingWe tend to think that when things are painful we must be doing something wrong but we only feel that way because there’s a cult of feeling good when in truth you wouldn’t even be able to sense feeling good without feeling bad to compare it to. So we must embrace feeling unsettled and wounded too, lest the art of our lives be shallow and hollow.

Artists spend very little time actually physically creating their art. What they do is spend time doing is observing life and then capturing poignant, worthwhile moments of it in art so that we too can benefit from their keen observations. Maybe they see something funny, maybe it’s what lead them to no longer be racist, it doesn’t matter; their only job is to place it in the world for us to find in the format we personally understand things in, whether that’s dance or painting or any other form.

Artists would benefit if they treated their art more like work, but before they can do that they must have enough respect for themselves that they actually feel genuinely motivated to live up to their own deadlines. If an artist is excited about what’s next then it makes sense that they’ll be excited to complete the project they’re working on, and that’s what gets the deadlines met; not a boss, not a date on a calendar–a genuine desire to finish so that more can be created. That’s a lesson the rest of the work-world can learn from successful artists.

Find what matters about your work even if that ends up being your co-workers having better days so they go home to their kids happier. As long as you feel genuinely motivated to create that positivity by doing what you’re doing, then the doing of it won’t feel much like work because it won’t be. It’ll be your life. It’s time you started actively living more of it. I’ll be better for everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Fears

1032-relax-and-succeed-dont-place-your-mistakesI’ve got a rare situation that’s given me an equally rare state of mind to write from. This makes it an ideal time for me to write about how I’ll face this emotional challenge, because the nicest thing about living in the present moment is that you trust that you learn from experience so you feel authentically bad about unfortunate things, but then you can move on.

You feel hits to your ego but you don’t hold grudges nor do you worry about what might happen and maybe most importantly you don’t beat yourself up. You accept that everyone learns and everyone makes mistakes, you grab the lesson with humility and then move on as soon as you’re sure the lesson’s been learned. There’s no extra time wasted in ruminating on should’a could’a would’as. But today I crossed that line we all have within us; the mistake that bothers us the most because it betrays some fundamental aspect of ourselves that we place great faith in.

1032-relax-and-succeed-courage-is-the-decision-to-favour-actionI had figured out by nine years old that the human mind could not really be trusted despite people’s best intentions. This lead me to develop a series of thought-tests that I would put my own ideas and other people’s ideas through to ensure they were solid. Today I did the thing that bothers me the most: I didn’t make use of a mental tool that I knew I had built for a reason when I know full well I only build those tools when it’s important.

What a lot of my students start off doing is they start telling themselves stories about what they should have done. Then another part of the brain will calculate the damage, and then it’ll be angry that it happened at all, and then fear of what will happen, then the consideration of an alternate future where you made the opposite decision, and finally self-criticism for making the same mistake yet again despite the fact that making the same mistake actually makes a lot of psychological sense.

1032-relax-and-succeed-if-all-else-failsI will feel strongly compelled to react in all of the ways noted above. I suspect I will bounce into actually doing those things for bursts of time. But I spend so much time peaceful that I will notice when I’m tortured, so that’ll be a good cue. From there I’ll pursue strategies to take my mind off the painful useless subject and place it on better things.

This means that the idea becomes like a ball of pain on a ping pong table, where my natural reaction to the approaching pain is to swat it away. I think of those words and narratives as little balls of pain and when I run into one in my head I hit it away but shifting my attention to something more productive and peaceful.

I will wage this little battle for as long as it takes before my mind finally accepts the situation fully, and meanwhile I’ll have been able to take immediate action to mitigate any additional damage. That’s as good as you can do after a mistake, and dreaming like it was possible to never make one was something I surrendered many thousands of surrenders ago.

Bad feelings feel bad for a reason. Just by their sensation they urge you not to think them. So when you feel in pain, don’t turn inside yourself and self-discuss that pain. Recognise that as coming from your thinking and then shift it. That power is always in your hands and the more you use it the stronger you’ll be.

Have a wonderful day everyone.

peace. s

PS. Funny side-note, it turns out I hadn’t made the mistake I thought I had. Good thing I didn’t engage in a bunch of painful, useless thinking about something that was ultimately just a false belief.

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Ultimate Observer

999-relax-and-succeed-the-no-mind-not-thinksWho do you want to be? No one. Why? Because then you’re everyone. If you understood everyone’s perspective then there would be no issue or behaviour that would confuse you. The world would make sense, but you want to do that as an ego by learning lots of the words and ideas. What would really take you where you want to go is if you stopped trying to learn the contents of other people’s thoughts and you focused instead on the act of thinking itself.

You have to remember, you start off prepared to believe anything. It’s not like your brain is dark and you light it with education. You’re born with your whole brain lit up. You then have experiences that, if discussed with too many words, can become differences that evolve into the separateness you dislike so much. Those become the dark parts of your mind.

Any experience you call personal shut off parts of your brain just as soon as there’s an individual you to believe in something. That separates you from the unimpaired connection and understanding you displayed as a kid when you volunteered to take on the very complex and difficult tasks like learning to walk and talk and socialise. The ideas we come to learn only live within our consciousness as beliefs but they limit us nevertheless.

999-relax-and-succeed-to-know-and-to-actSome kids can go to a horror and love it. They can be scared as themselves and yet still remember they are simultaneously a movie-goer. So the experiences they’re having in the theatre are real, but they are also understood in a way where they are not damaging. The kid who forgets they’re in a movie and thinks Jaws might attack him in bed at night has lost that separation and therefore feels fear when it is clearly not needed–much like your ego does.

The Ultimate Observer would have no distortions in their view. No dark spots blocked out by experience. No raindrops on the side mirror of their car. No rose-colour on their glasses. Any impediment to an enlightened view will create a kind of blindness that influences our behaviour. We’ll start to worry, or be angry or disappointed or hurt. This is what it is to be an ego: you can be things like fearful or angry or heartbroken. The Ultimate Observer would be aware of those things but there would be no personal feelings. Things would simply be.

This is why empathy is so closely related to health. To be empathetic is to assume someone else’s perspective. You actually take that on yourself and in doing so you expand who and what you are. You become larger. You clean the observer’s lens. You remove an impediment to your world view. You remove a limitation. You see more.

999-relax-and-succeed-do-not-seek-the-truthEven if you’re an atheist, do a thought exercise and imagine that there is a God. Imagine this God is a single clear and reflective sphere. Light beams from within it, and yet at the same time it’s mirrored surface means it reflects the universe back to itself. Now imagine this sphere sprouting mirrored tentacles. Can you see that each of these tentacles is a consciousness? A perspective? That one of them is you?

What is reflected back to that tentacle isn’t the world, it’s just a small part of the world. The place you live, the languages you speak, the people you know, the ideas you’re aware of etc. etc. By losing our differences and fostering our connections we can merge these tentacles to the point where we can regain our sense of belonging to that central sphere. There is great peace in that knowing.

Clear your lens. Remove your opinions. See through your beliefs. You cannot see all, but you can know that all can be seen. Relax. Surrender. You cannot ever know the God-view in its entirety, but you can fully live your aspect of the God-life by keeping your lens as clear as possible and your mind as open as possible, and that’s important because in the end the light that travels through our lenses is love.

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.

A Healthy Perspective

You can live or you can think. You can be or you can do. These are vastly different states. Everyone spends time in both, with little kids starting off in the super healthy camp and then we slowly coax them away from that and into the world of thought. Once you’re in that world you’ll have to meditate your way out.

992-relax-and-succeed-to-dare-is-to-lose-ones-footingThe fact that you’re naturally in from birth, plus the idea that we want to return to that later, is what gives our egos the idea that we’re lost when we’re outside of that healthy perspective. But there can’t be a found without a lost, so these two concepts are interdependent. It’s like the inside and outside of a cup. They exist only in conjunction with each other. To fill oneself with life one needs both parts. Someone who was born enlightened and died enlightened with no ego in between would have no knowledge of the idea of either enlightenment or ego. Explaining that would be like explaining water and ice to a fish.

Both of states exist within the world of consciousness. When you think of consciousness it might be better to think of it as a universal place. If you think of the ideas of the universe or unified field theory, or oneness or even God, then you’re getting close to the idea of consciousness. That’s the stage everything is taking place on, both for ego and enlightenment. But you can’t fall off that, it doesn’t even have an up and a down. So why not go for it?

When you were learning to walk you failed more than you moved. You tilted and toppled and fumbled and fell. And still you kept happily marching forward, adding your small bits of progress together until you could run. You couldn’t talk yet so you couldn’t build an ego to punish yourself with, so you learned to walk and talk shockingly fast for such complex tasks. Then you start over-thinking and you end up struggling with something much easier, like algebra or grammar.

992-relax-and-succeed-having-an-ego-is-likeYour ego did the struggling with your “tough subjects,” and by tough I mean the ones you told yourself you couldn’t do. Those fears of failure then prevented you from fully engaging the way you did with walking and talking. When you were learning to talk you were willing to loudly babble away incoherently in public, but by the time you’re older you’re afraid of “looking bad” (whatever that is), and so you don’t try. You won’t wobble, you won’t fall and you don’t grow. Worst, you don’t live deeply, you exist to ruminate shallowly.

People have survived amazing things and then gone on to more amazingness. Polio patients later won medals in the Olympics. Refugees have gone on to become world famous leaders. The bankrupt have gone on to create jobs. Each of us has these feats in us, but few enact them. Instead we think and think and think and that itself is an illness. It is dis-ease in its most basic form. You are unsettled in the universe, whereas when you were learning to walk there wasn’t even a you let alone a universe.

Let go. There’s nowhere to fall. Babe Ruth was also a strike-out king. Picasso painted more mistakes than famous works of art. Those who succeed aren’t any better than you. They just found their thing and they wobbled and tripped and fell their way into being the activity rather than doing the thing. Lose that idea of right and wrong, success and failure and start thinking in terms of quality of experience. Because that sensation is what your life is actually made of.

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.

Mental Health Opportunities

969 Relax and Succeed - I used to careThe medicalisation of mental health is the product of an industry. That being the case, it’s worth it to ask what the agenda of that industry is. I won’t pretend to be able to read the minds of drug company executives but I know they have the same problem that any executive in a publicly traded company has: your job and your pay and a large part of your family’s happiness is based on how well you either cut costs or increase profits. But what’s the mean for the rest of us?

A lot of people work in jobs where they’re already overtaxed by too few staff and old or malfunctioning equipment, so we’ve cut expenses about as much as we can. That leaves profits. If only we could have 15% more diseases every year….

A disease is a findable thing. A doctor can point to something and say; this is happening because a disease is impacting you in this particular way. A disease is its own entity seeking to do its own thing that is often contrary to the needs of its host. At the same time, with no disease present we know otherwise healthy muscles can atrophy and disappear if we just choose not to use them. They will appear diseased because they will shrink and contort but if we went to the gym and changed how we used them they could again be strong and flexible. So it goes with our emotions.

969 Relax and Succeed - If there are no ups and downsYou can feel an emotion and take a pill to rid yourself of it or; you can experience that emotion, become familiar with it and then master it. Some people never learned to juggle the ball of happiness by getting lots of chances to drop it. Some people never learned to juggle the knives of misfortune because they always closed their eyes and ran rather than face some early cuts. So when it comes to negative emotions we’ve either ran or tried to shut them down, but what if you coped instead? You remember that don’t you: coping?

I’ve written for years about the value of nature. I’ve written for years about the value of friends. I’ve written for years about the value of laughter and enjoyment. Meanwhile most people go buy something, or they go to their doctors and get mood pills or they go to a friend to get weed or some other socially acceptable medication, but hardly anyone copes. And every year it gets worse.

Bad things do not create a bad life. A bad attitude about things creates a bad life. Good things do not create a good life, a good attitude about things creates a good life. So what’s a good attitude? Turn it off! Give me my pill! Shut up! Go away! Nope. A good attitude is more like, wow, today was hard. Want to go swimming or biking tonight? How about if we visit the neighbours? They’re always so funny! Or how about a great meal?

969 Relax and Succeed - A good laugh and a long sleepThere you go right there. Want to know the difference between a happy family and a miserable one? That’s it: how you respond to the world. Happy people don’t have better lives they react better. They don’t dull themselves with a pill, they don’t smoke a big bowl and then sit in front of a screen until they fall asleep and they don’t sit and bitch and commiserate. They take action. They run somewhere, accomplish something or see someone.

Take all of the time you spent wasting life, wanting it to be better. Be honest: it’s a huge amount of your day for most even mildly unhappy people. Now what would your life look like if that time was spent exercising, or learning, watching comedies and seeing friends? Would your life still be so small and dull? Would it still seem overrun and rushed? Would you still have as many problems?

There are things we can do things about and things we can’t do much about. Start looking at your life for its opportunities. Rather than a pill take a walk. Rather than escapism connect with a friend. And rather than idleness choose movement. Your life is what you make of it. If it’s currently full of complaints and struggle then you built it that way. Start looking around for the invisible choices you’ve made and find better ones. Because you shouldn’t be surprised that you’d enjoy laughing with a good friend a lot more than bitching about a bad one.

Go create a good week with good choices. They’re not hard. They’re just not a habit–yet.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Productive Life

950 Relax and Succeed - You don't choose your futurePeople pick a goal and then they imagine what their life would be with that goal already accomplished. That’s called wishing and its ineffective as you’ve no doubt noticed. It’s also painful because now you have your actual life to directly compare to your finished, complex dream. That creates unnecessary suffering.

That sort of procrastination and struggle is often associated with an external ego-based goal. Those are things you’re interested in because you think others value them and you do this because you use your thinking to theoretically deduct from your own natural value and so you feel the urge to add to yourself from the outside.

950 Relax and Succeed - To avoid criticismAs an example, if you’re afraid to make a decision you might let one of your parents pick your career and they might do it based on money rather on how you enjoy spending your time. Or maybe you want to be famous because you didn’t get enough attention when you were young. But if your spirit isn’t into your work then that advice won’t help you no matter how famous you are. We’re more inventive and original than that and those are answers society needs. The real question is, what life do you feel compelled to do and how do you want to live it out in your own life?

Even your personality is just a habit of thought. From it will emerge your attitude toward the challenges you face. But those challenges will require action. You don’t want to use your thoughts to dream up a life you’re not having or that’s what you’ll have–an unlived life. You want to use your consciousness like a flashlight; primarily shining it on those thoughts and activities that align with a goal you feel is central to who you are. Overcoming those won’t always be easy, they’ll just usually feel worth it.

950 Relax and Succeed - You don't have to see the whole staircaseOf course nothing can guarantee your future, but you can determine your habits and your habits can strongly influence your future. In fact, your habits of behaviour and your habits of thought are the legs with which you walk through life. Stand on them strongly. Lean on others when you need to, but once you start standing up for yourself–for your own life–you’ll quickly see that the best thing you can possibly focus on is the step you are taking.

Don’t sit there wishing and waiting for a great life to arrive. Take strides toward who you would like to be. Strongly choose your direction and take action every day to move yourself closer to realising the idea in your imagination. You’re not lost or wrong before you’re there–you are always on the step you’re taking. The questions today are, who chose these steps? Where are these steps leading? And do you want to choose a new direction?

Life is not giant decisions, it’s tiny ones about individual steps. Stop being intimidated by looking at your whole journey at once and simply focus on where you are and where you want to go from here. From that perspective the next step to take is often quite obvious and easy. The question is, will you take it today?

Have yourselves a great day everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Friend Test

930 Relax and Succeed - You are the average of the five peopleIf you’re looking for a litmus test to see how well you’re doing at life one of the best ones you have available would be to look at who you spend your time with. And I don’t mean their title, like your boyfriend, or your sister or your coach, I mean what they’re like in the world.

Do they cheat, manipulate for advantage, withhold important information, intentionally mislead others, do a lot of drugs, commit crimes, be violent, or be generally unkind or selfish? Then that is who they are. We are what we do. And so the meeting point between the characters of your closest companions will shape your new normal. Stay there long enough and that’s who you’ll become.

For this reason one of the healthiest things we can do is nurture our relationships with positive, healthy people. You still always want to feel like you could be happy on your own if that was the case, but in general the people you see the most often should be influencing your life toward growth, expansion and discovery.

930 Relax and Succeed - The people we surround ourselves withLife is this series of choices that feel like they’re about one thing when we make them. Later we often find out we were choosing more than we thought. You thought you chose your friends but in fact they were largely your friends because that’s who you went to school with. Proximity did most of it. Families move and kids make new friends. School ends, work starts and before you know it you mostly have a new set of friends. They’re far more incidental than we usually realize. Those few that travel with us throughout our life are the ones that are our deepest and truest friends.

So the deep and true friends are indicators of who you fundamentally are. The qualities that they have that attract you are indicators of your most defining values. Your more incidental friends are the indicators of how you’re behaving, not who you are. So if everyone leaves work to do drugs or go get drunk then that will create a different life than people who go to the gym or take classes.

Expansion is natural. Growth is inevitable. To even slow it down is so painful that people will usually need substances to numb the pain created by their resistance to be creative in the world. Unhealthy people are always hidden away, either wounded or doing things they’d prefer others didn’t see. Healthy people smile, they’re lives are full and they’re active. A lived life looks like it’s being lived.

930 Relax and Succeed - Make your lifeA lot of people slip onto a treadmill and their life becomes a steady uninspiring pattern. No one they know does much and they don’t either. There’s little new and rarely something to get genuinely excited about. Life does not have to be that way. There are people living it with zest and zeal. Not every minute of every day, but a lot of the time. They are moving toward life. They are taking chances, accepting challenges and pursuing their dreams. Where they end up doesn’t matter because it’s the going that matters, not where we go.

Look around your life. Ask yourself what it says about how you’re living. Ask if that’s how you want to be living and if it’s not, begin looking for things to change that will shift you more off balance; something that will require you to act to succeed. That is expansion: solving problems, creating things and friendships and experiencing moments of genuine joy. These things don’t happen by accident, they happen by intention. Take today, assess and then act with intention. Life has much to offer.

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.

March Kindness Month

882 Relax and Succeed - March Kindness MonthThe nature of the meditations this year meant that I couldn’t start March Kindness Month until today, but that still gives us plenty of time to practice the part of our personality that can make a real difference to us and the people we interact with. So get a friend or your classroom or your school on board and let’s use the rest of this month to make a real difference in the world.

You’ve had it happen–someone gives you a random and unexpected compliment. It sticks with you for days, or even longer. It’s so rare, and yet insults are not. Why would we choose to be angry or disappointed in others when we could feel compassionate and supportive? These are win-win or lose-lose scenarios so the choice should be obvious.

We think we need things to create happiness in our life. More respect, more money, more friends, more education–whatever. But in fact, it is the giving of respect, the contribution of money, behaving like a friend, or or offering to teach someone something are all excellent ways of feeling good. So why are we so bent on the world recognizing our pain instead of noticing and reacting to the opportunities around you?

882 Relax and Succeed - Do something good todayThis isn’t a moon and stars request. These are simple things. Holding doors for people with kids or packages or if they’re older. Offer directions to someone clearly lost. Being patient with someone learning their job, or your language. These are scary moments in people’s lives–we don’t need to compound them by adding pressure just to satisfy us.

Shift your awareness from your egocentric self and focus instead on those around you. Rather than pointing the flash-light of your consciousness at yourself and your own repetitive self-conversations, shine your light on someone else.

You think you need to change your life to enjoy it more, when in fact you would enjoy it more if you focused your energy on others. If you have enough to give then surely you have enough for yourself. You know that in a fundamental way, so the act of giving becomes one of reinforcement and resilience for the giver. The more you help others the stronger you feel.

882 Relax and Succeed - The smallest act of kindnessStop trying to elevate your ego. Enrich your soul instead. Connect with others knowing that you have the capacity to do enough to make a difference. Maybe it’s not a lot, but the act itself has value.

Give today. In random ways. Pay for the coffee behind you at the drive-thru. Hold a door for someone carrying things. Let someone else have the parking spot. Do a favour for a co-worker or friend. Look into volunteering to see if there’s something you would actually enjoy doing more than what you’re spending your time on now. It doesn’t really matter what it is you do. What matters if is if you do it.

Get out there. Make a difference. Add yourself to the section of humanity that has discovered the secret to enjoying one’s life–the simple recognition and sharing of our existing good-fortune. Go ahead and make some great days everyone. Starting now.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.

The School of Life

122 Relax and Succeed - Unbeknownst to mostYour life is much like you being locked in a school, where the only way out is to die. So what are you going to do? You can’t avoid the death part. So what’s left? Are you going to sit in a desk and not move because you don’t know where you’re supposed to go, or what you’re supposed to do?

Are you going to spend all of your time pulling on the doors the entire time, hoping in vain that they’ll suddenly open and you’ll be able to see the workings of the world outside your school even though you know that’s not possible? Or are you going to accept that you’re in there for an unknown amount of time, and are you going to spend that time actually living or not?

TV shows that wrap up a mystery in 44 minutes have taught you to think that there are always answers and that you can have those answers in short order. But the universe is far too big a mystery for you to ever figure it out. So why do you waste time trying to wrap your head around something so enormous? Why not just live instead? The healthy people haven’t figured out all meaning. They’ve surrendered. They’ve given up trying to figure out where all the books come from. They just find a comfortable spot in the library and they settle in to enjoying the reading.

122 Relax and Succeed - There is another worldSo many people I meet are trying to figure life out. I understand how they would be lead there by modern discourse, but do we really think there’s an answer to that? Do we really believe that there’s a God-knowledge? That we can know everything? That we can understand everything? That is not what Enlightenment is. We should easily be able to recognize the impossibility of that. What goes on outside the school is truly not our concern. It is beyond our capacity for individual understanding. And since there is no grading inside the school, that also means that there is nothing specific to achieve. So all that is left is surrender. Or put another way: freedom.

You have a gym, a library, science and art rooms—you have the freedom to fulfil every sort of interest. So don’t sit in wherever you started, worrying that you might pick the wrong room, or worried that you might not get a good-enough grade.

There is no grading in the school of life. You simply attend. You get to meet some schoolmates who float through your life-school, you grow through learning, you physically express yourself through sports and play, and maybe you even brighten things up with some art or music. But there’s no right or wrong thing to do. The school is just a school. There’s no way to win at it. It’s just a chance—an opportunity to Be.

122 Relax and Succeed - You get there by realizingPeople are looking for a path. But there is no path through the school of life. There is no right order to go through the rooms in. There is no way to win within the context of the school. There is only attendance. You simply have to be there. After that, you are a free soul.

What are you doing with your freedom? Really ask yourself how you’re spending it. Because it is limited. And I can assure you, when the Principal comes to tell you that you have to leave, you will suddenly want to visit every classmate,  you will want to run and jump and play in the gym, you will want to read every book in the library, and you will want to fill every canvass in the art room with paint. So don’t delay doing those things. Because you’ll never get answers to the big questions anyway. The living of your life will be your only possible answer.

Don’t waste your life thinking there’s a right or wrong way to live. Just go meet your friends on the courts, play some games and have some fun. Because that’s how you succeed as a student of life.

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.