The Friday Dose #136

I haven’t done a Friday Dose in a while, but what I teach people has always been in pretty nice alignment with Dr. Gabor Maté. I recall early in his career he was seen as strange or even ridiculous, but I knew that he actually understood addictions and how the mind works far better than most other people.

If you’re a regular reader there is nothing here you wouldn’t have already read in thes Relax and Succeed pages many times before, but it’s a Friday, so sit back and relax for four minutes and have your mind expanded. And then and ask what that expansion means for your life.

You have a natural peaceful self. Don’t waste your life trying to change the part that isn’t the real you.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

peace. s

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

Flights of Passion

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #9

929 Relax and Succeed - We aren't here to be perfectMany adult relationships won’t crash and burn with something like cheating or collapse under the weight of losing a child. Most will die a slow dull death and for that reason they are the ones that feel the most salvageable. Despite that possibility there is usually some external catalyst required for that to happen because otherwise the issue is difficult to overcome.

Imagine people are airplanes and the people inside are the potential experiences that everyone is born with. Flying is living. There is nowhere specific to go, so the closest thing you can do to “winning” is to land with all of your passengers / potentialities having already disembarked because they were fully realised. In short: you lived.

Okay, so everyone’s an airplane and when we’re flying high we have tons of perspective and we can appreciate tons of choice in terms of our direction. When we’re low-consciousness, we’re weaving through mountains of thought that half block-out the sky. It feels perilous and scary and we get angry and absent-minded in our efforts and yet the “mountains” are ultimately ephemeral; made only of our own thought and existing only within our own consciousness.

929 Relax and Succeed - Make your life worth lovingA relationship is when two planes choose to fly together. You happen to be on a similar course, you like how they fly and how their plane’s design works, and your passengers love waving to each other so you radio over and ask them if they’d like to join you on a permanent flight. Maybe you even make it official in front of all of the other pilots at some ceremony where you sign each other’s Flight Logs or something.

Obviously your planes fly differently so they’ll be impacted differently by weather, but in general the flying is good and you both enjoy the flow of your travels. This goes on for years until something happens. Maybe it’s an addiction, maybe you work too much, or you’re always angry or depressed, but somehow one or both of you goes into a downward spin. You’re no longer going anywhere, you’re only thinking about how much you hate the spinning.

The most their partner can do is radio instructions to them because the healthy partner does not actually have their hands on the unhealthy partner’s controls. Instead they naturally begin circling from as close as they can get without doing the same tight dangerous spin. They radio the tower for wisdom but it’s reconfirmed that there is nothing that can be done other than the pilot changing course. Any direction will do, but the plane needs to straighten itself out and only the pilot can do it.

929 Relax and Succeed - Don't let your struggle become your identityIn the best case scenarios the person realises that they are just spinning on thoughts about past regrets, or thoughts about future anxieties. They realise that there is no “correct direction.” They just need a direction. What was hurting wasn’t the danger in the future or the pain of mistakes made in the past, it was the spinning itself; it was the asking of the unanswerable question. At a certain point there are no more answers sought because in the end it is accepted that all that can be done is to fly and so the person does.

But in some cases the person spins too long. And while their partner has done a lazy circle for literally years in the hopes that their companion will pull out of it, eventually their passengers get restless. How much fuel do they have? There’s a lot of life to experience and they can’t live any of it flying in circles for literally years. Because one plane’s going down does that mean both should? The pilot feels that pressure and the passengers note that there’s been little to no sign that anything will change. Eventually the only question is: when will the pilot listen to the passengers, not if. And therein lies the problem.

Once that plane finally does depart (as incredibly reluctant as it will be to go), there will be an immediate sense of relief on the part of the passengers and crew. After all, they’ve just been doing a wider version of that same spin. They do not want to go down in the middle of a deep ocean having not seen much of anything in literally years. Ironically, their departure can sometimes be what triggers a genuine recovery in the partner. By focusing on that change the unhealthy pilot’s mind gets out of its loop and focuses as suddenly the partner gives chase.

929 Relax and Succeed - We travel not to escape lifeThe problem is that they’re usually a long way behind. It makes sense that they would radio their beloved other pilot and ask them to circle for a while until they catch up, but at the same time they can appreciate the difficulty in that. Now that they are finally in motion the notion of travelling backwards or circling more is particularly unappealing. Often even an intense love for their partner cannot overcome it. Too much recent time has been spent on down and backwards. Their souls are literally starved for forwards and upwards.

These are crushing circumstances. No one wants what comes to pass. These are the worst and most poetic days we will face in life. There are no winners in a scenario like that spin. People can pull out of those dives and they can draw a strong and passionate direction from the emptiness of their previous life so those experiences are never losses. They are however extremely painful. The most we can come to is an understanding that the passengers in all the other planes have the same will to live that ours do.

How long a partner should circle is the big debate. Some say marriage vows say you circle until your plane goes down. Some people say you leave right away. Others dedicate years, decades and lifetimes. There is no right answer. Others may judge but, they’re not in your plane, they don’t know your fuel situation and they don’t have your passengers. So all anyone can do is use all of their plane-flying skills and instincts and do what they genuinely feel is best. There just isn’t a better flight plan than that.

Enjoy your day.

big hug, 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.

Bad Rap

823 Relax and Succeed - One of the best things you can doYou hear it all the time. People dissing humanity. We’ve screwed it all up! some angry person shouts. We polluted the Earth and got selfish and everyone’s on their phones and no one cares and there’s huge problems in the world–AHHHH! Yeah, I understand those concerns but still, you know what? I think humanity is just getting a bad rap.

I met a guy at a job I worked at a few years back. Other than the fact that we both primarily played the same musical instrument I didn’t see that we had a ton in common. But that never seems to matter. There’s just these times when we feel compelled to notice some people. It’s like we half-recognize them or something.

Since living this way I’m very patient with that feeling. I know it can take years to play out. Decades even. But those people you have that weird sense about–that your life and theirs have something to do with each other–those do unfold. Who knows, physicists can’t really explain why you can remember your past but not your future so maybe you really are recognizing them for another time rather than from another time. But we’ve all had the feeling. Our favourite version of it is when we meet a new friend.

823 Relax and Succeed - Be who you neededRecently that person posted on facebook that they were in the midst of one of life’s toughest challenges. It was a humble admission of both a problem and the current struggle to overcome it. I honestly don’t know all of the details involving the problem and I don’t really care. Those details are irrelevant. What matters is that he’s struggling. I have no interest in judging him, I just want to respond to his need with compassion. That’s what feels natural for anyone when you’re not seeing the world from an egocentric view.

Why do I say people don’t deserve the bad rap they get? Here’s some evidence: When this guy exposed his vulnerability and weakness the immediate response by friends and strangers alike was to offer him support and assistance. Far from judging him everyone noted feeling inspired by what he had done through his admission.

Everyone has their battles. Big and small. We all share that. We all know what it feels like to try something difficult. Something we’ve not done before. Something other versions of us tried to do but couldn’t. But we all know there’s a version of us that’s ready. And that version is sometimes very hard to find. So when you see another human being exhibiting it, compassion just naturally flows.

823 Relax and Succeed - If grass can growIt’s like I’ve written about in the past in relation to the strange thing that used to happen on the show Fear Factor when a competitor got in real trouble. If they needed the prize money for an important reason–like an operation for their sick mom or something–then you’d never see people able to maintain their goading. They couldn’t undermine those people and if it looked like they might fail their competitors would switch to cheering them on. Yes, their former trash-talking competitors. Because that’s our nature. Because unless we have been abused, that’s what humans do.

People can criticize the idea all they want but when we are most in alignment with things is when we are experiencing love and connection. When our connection is so pure that we don’t even sense the border between an us and them, then> we know we are visiting our natural home. And it is not a failed life to wobble in and out of it. It is what a lifetime is. And we wouldn’t want it it any other way. Because when people are wobbling is precisely when they can inspire the people who aren’t.

Thanks to my friend for his inspiration. I sense very good things in his future. And I’m confident there’s many good things in store for yours as well. Now go create yourself an awesome day.

Much love. Big hugs. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Other Perspectives #84

776 OP Relax and Succeed - The past cannot be changedThe past is the past. It’s happened. There’s no do-overs. But the past does not entirely dictate your future and it can obviously be forgotten. And as we now know about memory–every time you recall something you’ll imbue it with the feelings you’re having at the time of the recollection. So your memories not only can be edited, they will be. Despite that quibble, it is true that you can only accept the steps that lead to where you are. The ship can’t alter its wake. But nor can it be directed by it. No matter what unfortunate things have happened to you, once you’ve lived long enough you realize that most of the things you value in life are also somehow also tied to your big supposed missteps. This leads us to question our ideas of good or bad. Because if an addiction or affliction of ours acts as training on how to get someone else through the same tough experience, then in a way our so-called failure was in fact a very special kind of training on how to live a successful life. Know you are complete because you have enough to give. And you are you because of your past. You have much to offer. You are worthy of your own acceptance. Have a wonderful day.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

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The Friday Dose #74

730 Relax and Succeed - Healing is not about staying away

Today’s Dose is all about addiction. Or might it be better described as repetitive action? I’ve said for decades: it is more like an animal pacing frenetically in a claustrophobic zoo than it is a disease. I’ve written about it and the intersection with neuroplasticity for years. And while there still isn’t enough focus on thought, increasingly the general view is in fact shifting toward this more logical, organic and historically successful approach. Attached below is a link to Laura Miller’s Salon article on a neuroscientist who shares some of my views:

Laura Miller: Addiction is not a Disease

(Below please find three links to Relax and Succeed addictions postings.)

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And I’ll leave you with the wise words of Dr. Gabor Mate:

AA or your Way

The Nature of Addiction

Addictive Behaviour

peace. s

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Other Perspectives #72

706 OP Relax and Succeed - You can't change someone

This is a tricky one in that it’s almost an exact split between helpful and misleading. The general thrust of it is valuable but it’s aim is off in that it presumes a person can change someone else and that simply isn’t true. But to the quote’s point, even we will only change ourselves when we see more value in going a new direction than in the old one. So remember: you don’t succeed in life by getting people to change their actions through coercion, manipulation or force because as soon as those forces lift things start to go back to their nature. This applies to parenting, dating and employing people. Real and ongoing change only happens because the person themselves sees and values the world around them differently. Because of that shift in perspective they will initiate change themselves—not as a way of stopping one activity, but as a way of starting a new one. And sometimes they need to suffer a lot more than you before they’ll choose a new path and even then they might not pick the one you were hoping for. So don’t blame people for living their lives. Just live yours and then align yourself with those in your natural tribe of behaviour. That is your real family and for as long as you are a part of it you won’t be asked to change. But remember: everyone and everything inevitably changes, so it’ll only be your family for about seven to nine years and then you’ll have to find a new one or your life will get static. And when you do that you won’t do it because you perceived something wrong about your current life, it’ll be because you see something promising off in a new direction. So to stay healthy throughout your life it’s really as easy as staying vigilant for promising things.

peace. s

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The Friday Dose #50

595 Relax and Succeed - You're mad

Welcome everyone! It’s the first Friday Dose of the year, and we’re starting off with a Washington Post piece on parenting in the age of the internet and cell phones. Parents will often come to me with very sensible and realistic concerns about their kids and their developing brain’s ability to wisely negotiate cyberspace. I don’t blame them. Kids haven’t fully built the part of their brain that fully comprehends consequences until they’re out of their teens and yet the kids will believe they know all they need to know. And yet there’s no way to turn the internet off, and the constant access of a phone is largely understandable in the modern context where so much of what kids are given to do by schools and clubs etc. will be made easier through the use of both social networking and by phone apps. Who knows how long these things last, but for now it’s a tricky issue and there’s no clear solution. Fortunately the best answer is always the best answer: give the child what they need to calculate well reasoned answers to questions so they can take in their facts and context and then prudently and logically develop appropriate responses. You also want them to have a foundation of self esteem and the knowledge that they are loved and have value no matter what their circumstances might be at any point in life. And last but definitely not least, you want them to believe in the unbelievable. In magic. In things outside the bounds of current thought. Because that is where the discoveries are made. Where we push on our assumptions. But as good as it is, absolutely none of that fine parenting will have much of an impact on the weirdness that is kids hanging out in a place called cyberspace:

The Washington Post: Parenting as a Gen Xer

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Next we’ll go to an interview with disgraced journalist Johann Hari. For a man who had spread so many mistruths in his efforts to elevate his status and ego, his fall has created a humbler, wiser man who has surrendered any concerns about what we think of him. He agrees that you shouldn’t think much of what he did. But he makes an observation about addiction that I’ve mentioned in my blog many times. It involves the idea of not stopping an addiction, but rather starting to have such meaningful contact with people and the world that there would be no interest in an addiction. I place this here in the hopes that if I made the concept too abstract, perhaps you’ll grasp it when you hear how Mr. Hari states it. However the wisdom comes to you, I hope you too come to know the value of genuinely and enthusiastically investing in the enjoyment of your own life:

The Guardian interviews Johann Hari

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Next I’m gonna surprise you. I often refer to advertising as the most damaging and insidious force in our world today. But to be a fair-minded person you must be prepared to disagree with your friends and agree with so-called enemies. And so it must be the truth we seek more than to be right or to win. And so I must admit I recently saw an ad that I thought struck an impressive tone, where it honoured a living truth of the world and it approached the viewers with positivity instead of negativity. That it would come from a diet company is something we should all take heart in. Because we all know most advertising is fairly ridiculous lying. But if the world is shifting to greater positivity and it’s leading companies in this direction then advertising will significantly lessen its negative impact in the world. Enjoy:

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And finally we’ll finish off with another beautiful way to convey an extremely important point to every man on Earth. The video’s so well done I will simply let it speak for itself, but the agency that came up with this should be proud. I won’t be surprised to see it in Cannes this year. It’s as beautiful as it is clever. Enjoy:

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Have yourselves a spectacular weekend everyone!

peace. s

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The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Focus on these and change your mind. Enjoy.

Smart Phone Disconnections

451 Relax and Succeed - Don't just look observePeople often ask me why I don’t have a smart phone. They know I’m comfortable with technology and I’ve always been an early adopter. I was the first person I knew to have a digital watch, a video camera, a computer, a notebook, I even had Palm Pilots etc. But to me every single device was also something that my brain met. That is, if it was a new way of approaching something, then it was also a new way for my brain to process the world. And so I would review those changes to see how I might expect my brain to adapt as a result. And I don’t want my brain de-adapting to a smart phone.

Of course people want to argue with me all the time. I had a decade of people pitching me that multi-tasking was better when I knew in fact there was never any multi-tasking going on and what you were in fact doing was constantly switching your focus which I knew was a) counter productive, and b) taxing, and yes c) occasionally necessary. But to make it lifestyle? No way. Anything you repeat changes your brain. Including switching focus. This is all now proven science.

So why was there no ADHD when I was a kid? Because our brains were programmed by fewer, more concentrated experiences rather than being dazzled by media. A lot of us read and no one really watched a lot of TV, plus there were much much much fewer channels and programs and far fewer edits per minute. We only watched a screen for an hour or less a day. If you account for all of the screen time kids put in today (including TV, computers, video games and phones), kids spend the majority of their waking hours in virtual space as opposed to physical space.

451-relax-and-succeed-tree-climbingMy generation had mostly free time to do whatever we wanted wherever we wanted with whomever we wanted. We barely saw our parents because we were out in the world. Today kids have no privacy and so they have to hide from their parents in the highly edited and constructed world of cyberspace. While one generation was usually finding some chunk of nature to swim in or build a tree-house in, kids today have their lives surreptitiously guided by salespeople and psychologists. We lead ourselves through life. We were free to explore, learn and focus. And focusing is something your brain does separately from knowing what it is focusing on.

The freedom we had was where we developed our interpersonal skills, our capacity to manage where we were in the world, our way to find our way around geographically, and our ability to solve problems without help. Even we didn’t feel as capable as our parents, and yet we pretty much all knew the fundamentals of things like gardening or how a car basically worked, or which chemicals not to mix in your kitchen.

We could use slide-rules as we were still mostly pre-calculators etc. You could have a calculator once they existed, but you couldn’t use it exclusively in class and definitely not on an exam. If you couldn’t do it long-hand then being able to do it in on a calculator didn’t help you get a passing grade. Oh yeah, and you actually had to pass grades. There was such a thing as failing. You could come in last. There were no participation badges. The world was pretty much as it really is: harsh, sometimes cruel, challenging, and because of all of that it was deeply rewarding. That’s why you don’t pick running races with two year olds. Easy victories carry no joy.

451 Relax and Succeed - Knowledge makes a manOur challenge is that babies watch us closely to learn how to be human just like animals learn to hunt or forage. What they used to watch was people interacting. If 10 people were in a waiting room there would be conversation, facial expressions and the sharing of ideas. People would meet people unlike them. People who thought differently.

These weren’t just our usual friends who generally agree with us. These were sometimes people who challenged what you viewed. And there was no way to just switch them off. You couldn’t “block” them. You had to deal with them and their ideas in the real world, because that happens even if you choose to pretend it doesn’t. But today, put ten  people in a waiting room and no one will look up from their phone, yet the phrase TLTR exists. So what’s this mean for the baby?

Babies used to watch faces to understand humans. But today babies think phones are what’s important because that’s what everyone’s looking at 90% of the time. I saw two mom’s wheel their kids into a restaurant, point their strollers at walls and then they both got on their phones and they barely interacted with each other, the babies or the waitress.

451 Relax and Succeed - In today's rush we all think too muchIt was a very sad moment for me because I knew those mom’s were inadvertently crippling their children. Because faces are what show what our brain chemistry is. Not our phones. And so those kids were learning how to understand technology rather than people. They weren’t even learning to look at people who were talking.

You call people now and they’ll never answer despite everyone having a phone with them all the time. Why are people harder to reach when we’re more connected? Because they’re getting increasingly uncomfortable with social interaction. Easy things are becoming hard. People are actually losing their ability to relate to other people in favour of relating to technology.

People today are more comfortable contorting their hands into typing tools than speaking with someone or holding their gaze for 20 seconds. If you’re honest you know you’ve done this. You’ve called someone when you knew you couldn’t reach them just because you were uncomfortable with the socialisation aspect. You’ve screened calls you should have taken. Calls that would have improved your life.

451 Relax and Succeed - The struggle you're in todayAnother major negative is the search function in your brain is separate from the knowledge itself. So when you have an experience it automatically loads into your brain. But if you never practice retrieving that information from that experience then it’s useless. It’s like having millions of dollars in banks all over the world and no way to get it to where you are. So in the case of your knowledge, instead you use Google on your phone and you have someone else drop the information into your lap. Meanwhile all of the value from your experiences is squandered.

Every time you search rather than trying to figure something out or remember it, you are actively degrading the search function in your brain. I have already detected that a 25 year old North American is far far far less capable of processing information than their grandparent is. The grandparent knows things. They kids knows how to look things up, and because the kid can use a smart phone and their grandparent has more difficultly, that leads the kid to believe they’re smarter when really they’re just more familiar with something new.

New isn’t necessarily better. If a solar flare took out the Earth’s electronic systems and brought the internet down for a long period of time, the grandparents would survive far longer than the kids. They’d figure it out.

451 Relax and Succeed - No man chooses evilTechnology is first and foremost a product. It is something someone wants to make money off of by selling it to you. That’s why you’re constantly getting new phones, new TV’s, new jeans. Marketers have convinced you to do what they want you to do rather than what’s good for you. And now they follow you everywhere. Everyone has the world’s marketers with them 24/7. They sold you the idea that you should carry them in your pocket and look at their feeds constantly. You volunteered to be brainwashed.

You can lie to yourself and pretend you haven’t seen hints of what I’m talking about. You’ve worried about how much you check your phone, you know it’s insanely stupid to look at it while driving but you are fully addicted. You are tortured if you lose you phone. You feel like you’re out of touch with the world when you’re standing right in the world.

You can’t even see here and now because you’re too addicted to being in virtual space rather than real space. If you don’t look at your phone you suffer. And you just don’t want to admit that to your brain it’s no different than being addicted to a drug. It doesn’t matter if you syringe something into your veins or whether you use your phone to trigger your own personal brain chemistry for experiences of fear and anger—you’re still dosing yourself with chemistry and getting hooked on it.

451 Relax and Succeed - Time is preciousGo ahead, use technology as a tool. I clearly do too. I know how to type. I’m better with computers than lot of young people I know because I know what’s going on behind the interface and they don’t care. Adding this knowledge to other knowledge is great. But replacing other knowledge with the ability to use technology is nothing short of crippling.

If we don’t consciously choose to do something differently soon, you’re about to see a very different, very disconcerting change happen to society. You can expect people to be increasingly detached, increasingly unsympathetic, and increasingly impatient and intolerant. They are already rapidly losing basic social skills. This is the single biggest pattern I’m seeing shifting and its impacts will be increasingly felt.

Attached is an article on testing and how the retrieval of information is harder if you haven’t been tested on it. They’re referring to actual exams in schools etc. but you can easily see that this would apply to smart phone use as well. If you use IMDB to look up every actor’s name you can’t remember, then you are using your smart phone to dumb yourself down because you’re not testing your ability to get that information from your own mind even though you know for sure it’s there.

451-relax-and-succeed-no-smartphoneI very much doubt people will react to this posting positively. At best some of you will feel guilty because you’ll recognise yourself. But how many of you will actually take steps to break that unhealthy addiction? Because if you want something good for your brain, you’re far better to sit quietly in a park than you are to sit with friends sharing other people’s ideas through your facebook posts. I’m not saying to avoid the latter. But if you’re going to avoid the former, then be prepared for that to have an effect.

Be alive in this world rather than wondering what’s going on in someone else’s. Go to a concert and enjoy the music rather than documenting it to prove you saw this or that band or were at this or that festival. Think about leaving your phone at home on Sundays. Get out in the world. Look around with your head up, like you used to. See things, smell things, taste things, hear things and touch things. Don’t just look at things, have experiences.

Smile at people. Look them in the eye. Have conversations with strangers. And do it selfishly. Because no number of points in social media game will ever add up to as much joy as one day of quiet awareness in a beautiful park.

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.

NY Times: How Tests Make Us Smarter

The Kindness of Strangers

You’re looking for big stuff. You want massive change. You want people to start caring for each other, for animals and the environment. You want governments and businesses to act more humanely, with some value placed on happiness and respect and peace. You raise your voice against things you dislike. I love your heart. I love your passion. I love your effort. But I would like to suggest that those efforts can be much more effective than they currently are.

237 Relax and Succeed - Never worry about numbersYes, support the organizations that are doing important work. But if you want a more compassionate society then you have to act like it, not talk like it. What’s the use of wanting someone else to respect or care for someone when you don’t do it yourself? Do you let people into traffic? Do you offer help to those you know are struggling? Will you slow down your own life enough for a child or a stranger?

If they’ve managed to turn their life around, every former homeless person, drug addict or convict I ever met told me that the consistent love, support, and compassion of just a few people made all of the difference in the world. And their material support was only a small part of it. What they really valued was the belief these other people had in them. They saw something good in them when the person themselves saw little or no hope. And don’t think that was always easy for either party. It was just worth it.

Where do you think street people or even the active and working poor come from? Sure, a small percentage got themselves into trouble with blind foolishness but, even in those cases, if we looked at their life we would see that they never had the appropriate mentors. They never had anyone to explain the value of education or cooperation, or how to handle their finances, legal obligations or even manage their tempers.

237 Relax and Succeed - Hey you out there in the coldIf you grew up with both of your parents drunk and fighting all of the time, then it makes sense that you wouldn’t learn the same useful skills that a lot of other people consider common sense. The fact is, we model the behaviour we see because that’s how you learn to live. If we’re fortunate enough to get a secondary influence that provides some contrast, we might be okay. But barring that, we are all trapped by the information we have available.

Most people who are down and out are there for very good reason. If you slow down enough to hear their stories you realize that most were tripped more than they fell. Is it some woman’s fault that she’s bankrupt after her divorce because her husband gambled all of their money away? For that matter, is the husband even as responsible as we might initially assume? If we say that he is, then what do we think an addiction is? The whole point of an addiction is that the person has very genuinely lost touch with their ability to choose.

We must keep in mind that, for an addict, withdrawal is often painful in a variety of ways. If it’s something like gambling, we must remember that these people are often pushing back against an entire industry that hires millions of dollars worth of psychologists and sociologists to help ensure that every piece of scientific knowledge is used in the effort to actually try to get that person to be a regular customer (read: addicted).

237 Relax and Succeed - We know what a person thinksHundreds of scientists and tons of money are all aimed at getting a certain percentage of the population to do something. If you don’t think that’s a real force in this world then maybe you should remember that 90% of your life is absolutely impacted in very serious ways by advertising. Everyone says not them, but the research proves them wrong. So you might not be in the same boat as the gambling addict, but you’re in a boat nevertheless.

Stop judging others. Stop assuming you know how they got where they are. Because I’m the one slowing down to actually know these people, and I can assure you that virtually every one of them was simply operating without enough information and instruction about how to negotiate life. Either that or they went through absolutely horrific experiences.

I have no idea what it feels like to get raped by a parent, but I can easily see that you might feel safer living on the street. So if you grow up without positive, informed, supportive people, then it makes sense that there are things you won’t know. We can say that it’s common sense that you have to eat to stay alive, but that is a much different thing than knowing how to hunt for your own food. So if we were in the jungle and no one taught you how to catch and kill a chicken, or what plants were safe to eat, you would be in the very same situation as the person you’re judging. You certainly wouldn’t have any useful common sense.

237 Relax and Succeed - Too often we underestimateSlow down, be kind. It’s actually enjoyable for you and it will actually accomplish something. Because all of your judgments are thoughts you’re thinking, and so it’s you that’s getting the emotional responses that go with those thoughts. This is a lose-lose proposition, whereas kindness and generosity are a win-win for all involved.

If you want a better world start with yourself. Make your little piece of it better by not thinking negative thoughts about yourself or anyone else. Let people into traffic. Buy someone’s coffee at a drive-through. Offer a hand or lend an ear to someone who could really use it. Because failing in our culture is painful enough. We certainly don’t need to add harsh judgment on top of it.

Open your heart. Care for others. Build a better life and a better world simply by consciously making caring, supportive and loving decisions regarding the people around you. Do that and, as Gandhi said, you will have actually been the change you want to see in the world. If you want to be spiritual, let that be the manifestation of your spirituality.

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.