MoK: Tolerance as Kindness

Thank you all very much for your patience while I’ve been ill. It turns out that your patience is quite fitting, because today our March of Kindness assignment will involve determining the subtle difference between patience and tolerance.

We feel patience with someone when we perceive that they generate some degree of value in our lives that we do not want to lose. Maybe that value is that they’re the clerk at the store and we need their help to purchase something that has value to us, or maybe it’s a co-worker whose advice you value and so you offer to look after their dog while they’re away, or maybe it’s a very sick spouse that has such tremendous value that their partner can serve them for many years, despite receiving no reciprocation. It all depends on how much one person perceives the other’s value.

Because we start from a position of goodwill, we tend to use the word patience for situations we deem as reasonable. We begin to use the word tolerance once we feel we’re extending past what is reasonable or, in other words, past the point where the other person’s value has run out in proportion to the request being made. But what about those people that start with no value in our emotional bank?

When meeting most strangers very few of us will presume the worst, and many of us will presume something so positive that we’ll offer our own positivity in advance. But there are some people that we immediately assume we’ll be out of alignment with. The reasons don’t matter much; maybe we have unpleasant history between us, or maybe they’re just in a group we’ve defined as undeserving of our patience, but when people have no deposits in our patience bank then they are immediately borrowing from our tolerance account. This form of kindness is more dangerous to us, like an unsecured loan; where we’re unsure–even suspicious–about ever being paid back.

When we use tolerance we’re no longer investing in value we will receive ourselves, tolerance is an investment in the Bank of Karma. That’s when–instead of believing in an individual manifestation of a person–we believe that the fundamental oneness of the universe is expansive, or “good.” We believe on some elemental level that if we put positivity in, some positivity will result for someone, somewhere. Today we want to use tolerance as a way of sending some of that good karma out.

Today’s act in our March of Kindness will be to actually seek out people or ideas that we traditionally have no tolerance for. Maybe all we do is comment on a politician we see in the media, or maybe we’re aggressive with street people, or a we’re a contrarian on social media, or maybe some stranger’s just asking you for directions and you don’t want to be disturbed; the idea is that the kindness you show today has no value to you personally–in fact, your expression of it may exact a small price.

As I stated previously, we don’t improve the world unless we convert some darkness into light, so today’s act is particularly important. All you have to do is find one example of where you would offer negativity–a comment, a judgment, a challenge, a rebuke–and instead offer tolerance.

There’s a lot of us, so if we each just take one bit of negativity and, instead of offering it to the world, we hold it back out of a sense of kindness and tolerance, then we will absolutely have made the world a better place. That’s where we all want to live, and the March of Kindness is about helping us get there. Thank you for participating in our collective journey.

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.

Relationship Rules

1001-relax-and-succeed-in-obedience-there-is-always-fearJealous people didn’t just randomly pick up jealousy as a habit–it got taught to them. In general they’ll have witnessed it or had some very bad experiences relating to the damage that can be caused by cheating. These are painful experiences and they are worthy of our respect, but respecting a jealous person’s experience isn’t the same as living inside of it. No one owns a relationship, we share them.

It doesn’t matter how many rings we exchange, how many contracts from the government we sign nor how many people were present in a pointy building when we made our promises, the fact remains that real relationships are always, 100% of the time, voluntary. You cannot police a relationship into being secure; that is the opposite of respecting the person’s ability to make their own choices. We can lock a person in a room and never let anyone else see them and we still can’t force them to love us if that’s not what we’ve been nurturing with our behaviour.

A person dealing with someone scarred by jealousy is like being a dog that’s been beaten by its owner. Without the trust the relationship quickly deteriorates as the dog’s anticipation of a positive experience is replaced by fears of a negative one. The owner’s rules for the dog can be entirely logical; they can be about safety and responsibility and good behaviour, but if the price for failing is a verbal or physical beating then the dog will cower and the relationship will begin to fail.

1001-relax-and-succeed-love-is-always-bestowedFailure isn’t imminent. Just as a dog can be beaten and left for dead, and as many rescue dogs have proven, consistent love, care and respect can return them to their naturally loving state, but if the behaviour of the owner is inconsistent between love and threat then the dog is still left uncertain, unsafe and disconnected. Even if the treatment is good 95% of the time, how’s the person or dog know when the other 5% is? They have to be on guard all the time. It’s exhausting. We can’t threaten anyone into good behaviour we can only encourage it with our own good behaviour.

Whether it’s done overtly or in a manipulative manner, the rules jealous partners try to exert are doomed to fail simply because they are imposed rather than chosen. We can’t make anyone feel anything they’re not prepared to feel, not with logic, not with begging and not with the force of threat. We can feel sympathy for the jealous person’s plight; we all have our crosses to bear, but our early life is only where we start. As mature people our job is to look honestly upon the world and ask ourselves which lessons we took from life that are fruitful and which are poisonous.

Jealous relationships always end, whether the person stays or goes. The only way to save them is to remove the jealousy, it cannot be managed with rules or promises or absolutes. We either show our respect for someone by trusting them or we show them disrespect by not trusting them. Obviously disrespect, however understandably motivated, is never going to generate increased love in a relationship. Instead it will strangle it.

1001-relax-and-succeed-however-the-tea-is-preparedIn this quote the Dalai Lama expresses that the rituals of religion are pointless without a foundation of compassion. Likewise, direct or implied rules in a relationship are effectively meaningless. What’s needed is compassion and connection. You can either be a person the dog is happy to see or someone they’re afraid to see and that won’t depend on words or promises, it’ll depend on behaviour.

I normally use the word “human” rather than “owner,” but I wanted to make a point. Rules are like a rope. They might keep the dog in the yard but that’s not the same as the dog wanting to be in the yard because it’s so great to be there. In one case if the dog gets loose it happily stays, in the other it just keeps running.

A relationship must be nurtured to stay alive. People just don’t fall in love and then love solves all their issues. Relationships aren’t cars that we fix when they’re broken, they’re things we cultivate and maintain. You can mistreat a car for years and then spend a lot of money and you can get it running like new, mistreat your dog and it might take a lifetime for them to trust anyone again.

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.

Something’s Gotta Give

971 Relax and Succeed - c'mon inner peaceWe’ve seen it reflected in elections and unrest around the world. We can see it in the fact that the world never really has bounced back from the economic card game that collapsed in 2008. Once people had maxed out their credit trying to survive the world hit a limit. With no more money available and no ability to work harder or longer, even in the richest countries there are a lot of scared people and frightened individuals create an angry and defensive society.

Added to the financial stress is time stress. Everyone’s rushed. Everyone’s phone now gives work access to them 24 hours a day and work will use that time if it can get it. Work isn’t human. Work is a creation of mankind. It is an animal that perpetually wants to be fed more and more every month, every day, every year. No sales manager ever told his team to sell less next month. If someone’s over 40 that’s really starting to add up to no personal life.

In the days where your landline waited at home while people were at work, people used to answer their phone maybe once or twice a day for a personal phone call. No texts. No instant messages. No collection of 20 messages at 10 different social media sites. No classes, just maybe the odd kid taking piano or in judo. Rather than organised sports most kids played pick-up neighbourhood games. Just remove all of those responsibilities from your week. That is a huge percentage of your day. And how much of that would you care about on your deathbed? None. You’d care if your kid was there by your side, you wouldn’t care whether or not they could play the piano.

971 Relax and Succeed - Dream more complain lessSo what did people used to do with all of that time and peace of mind? They used to pursue hobbies or took courses to expand themselves not to make more money. They didn’t need that money because they didn’t have to buy a microwave VHS Walkman CD juicer iPod monitor DVD gym membership X-Box Blu-Ray smartphone Occulus or 70% of the restaurant food now sold. They used to spend way more time with friends and family. Most people didn’t hire anyone else to build decks or fix a toilet or do basic work on their car. If they didn’t know how to do something they found a friend or neighbour who did and you know what? They had the time to help and they did and it was often very enjoyable time.

The challenge with the technological world is that it has created the image that we’re all connected when we’ve never been further apart and it’s not just grey-haired people that can feel that. I’ve taught college kids who were stressed by 25 that they couldn’t keep up with technology. Most people have given up by 35 or they’re stressed. So what’s it all for if we just want to surrender it later?

The pain tells us that it’s information. It’s not life going badly, it’s information about how life is going. Pain is like a gauge in your car. The thermostat isn’t overheating, it’s telling you that the car is. Pain isn’t you failing, it’s the universe telling you that what you’re doing isn’t working. The problem today is that a lot of people can’t figure out how to get enough time to eat or sleep let alone find a way to find some other path that can work for their life, so the problem isn’t the humans it’s the machine.

The machine distracts us from being human. Rather than looking at a face and hearing a voice we contort our hands into machine-shapes and type a message on a keyboard that appears on a two-dimensional screen in symbols that strip out the valuable human information that would be transmitted by having in a person’s eyes right in front of you. It’s shallow when what we seek is depth.

It can seem strange then that I might suggest giving as a solution but I don’t think I mean it in the way you might imagine. I know a lot of people would be almost angered by the thought: how is giving everything not enough!? But I’m not suggesting adding more giving, I’m suggesting that you alter where your giving goes. Only by reintegrating ourselves back into our communities can our communities reintegrate back into us. We must know our neighbour before we can do them favours, and if enough of us do that then we’re not doing each other favours, we’re cooperating on a larger goal to create a safe and healthy society. That’s how drops become a drink.

971 Relax and Succeed - It's not about havingWe’ve spent too much time being sold the singular, cool, proud, branded, I gotta be me; loaded with achievements and never needing help. That is not how humanity got here and it won’t be how it goes anywhere. You’re not broken if you’re tired and worn out. We accidentally built an inhuman world and you’re hardly alone. Even the so-called winners are often alcoholics and drug addicts to cope.

Start cutting the selfish in favour of the selfishly selfless. Rich and poor alike, we don’t need another app or another website or another tool of efficiency. What we need is some restful time where we’re connected to others, but that will not happen until you stop and do a serious assessment to figure out how your time can be better invested in your future happiness.

Set aside some time right now to do that this weekend. Look at a normal week and be brutally honest about where the time goes, even if it is frivolous. And then ask yourself where it could go? And if you ask long enough… I guarantee you’ll find something that’ll feel enriching and rewarding–something you’ll get excited about. I do hope you give yourself that time.

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.

Graceful Reactions

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #4

892 Relax and Succeed - Kindness is always fashionableAs you move through these exercises keep in mind that you are in fact meditating. You don’t have to be cross-legged in robes going Ooohhhmmmm. You can just be consciously working your awareness to increase its scope. So the value in thinking about others is ultimately that it prevents us from creating a me.

We started off the week by giving someone unpleasant some positive verbal feedback. Then we shifted to doing something nice for someone even if you don’t like them, and today we’ll focus on how you react to challenging people in real time.

The key to your meditation is to remember not to take people’s behaviour personally. This can be challenging when they’re standing there doing it, but in reality they are not talking to you. They are talking to an idea of you, and a transient one at that. And don’t blame them for that, even you have these about yourself. Just think back to who you were five years ago. Different person, right?

892 Relax and Succeed - Don't be surprisedWhen someone’s upset with you they are upset that their expectations weren’t met. Of course, you had no knowledge of their expectations nor could you ever hope to keep track of everyone’s, and even if you could do that, what would you do when they conflicted? If one friend is upset with your neighbour and they want you to support them, but you also want you to be that other neighbour’s friend too, how can you meet both expectations?

No, your job is not to try and meet people’s or society’s expectations. They can have them, but people go outside of those lines every day. Those expectations are their issue just like yours are yours. It’s even worse when you’re really attached to that expectation. Ouch. It’ll hurt even if you’re talking to the nicest person in the world if they can’t give you want you want.

When someone’s upset it’s because they want something, rather than listen to their words personally try listening to them for the want. Maybe you can meet the want happily or maybe you can’t. Maybe you can ease their loss by giving them something else instead–like when they’re heartbroken they missed seeing someone before they left so you hug them to help them feel better. That works too.

892 Relax and Succeed - Anger is a misdirected pleaDo not think angry or upset people are talking to you. They’re talking to the world. You just happen to be in front of them, whether it’s the first time they met you or if you see them every day. They’re innocent in that desire. They’re just like us when we’re upset and blaming someone else for an unmet want of ours. We’re all like that. We should just stay as conscious as possible so that we’re not like that often, and when others are we like that we should forgive them as we would like to be forgiven.

Take the next negative person and just absorb the karma they’re trying to dispel, or convert it to positive energy if you can. Just don’t take it personally. Just be kind by being patient and understanding. That’s one of the most valuable kindnesses you can extend. The happy people never do need a lot of help. Now go create a wonderful day for yourself. 🙂

peace. s

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

Kind Words

We’re nearing the end of March Kindness Month so it’s time to start increasing the scope of our awareness. It’s easier to be compassionate to children or the elderly or the frail, so to stretch ourselves this week we’ll focus on difficult people.

890 Relax and Succeed - Judge each dayYou’re already friends with your friends. That part of your life doesn’t need special attention, but taking the teeth out of a difficult person can really improve your day, especially if it’s someone you see regularly.

So we’ll start off by literally watching for people whose body language, words and manner all inform us that the person is upset. Maybe it’s the cashier at the grocery store, maybe it’s a co-worker, it can even be a family member. Just get outside yourself by extending kindness to someone locked in a cycle of suffering.

We’ll start off with some nice words. Offer a compliment, maybe support or even defence. Look someone in the eye and connect with them. It’s funny how hard someone will work to get the after-tax dollars necessary to buy something nice to make them feel better and yet this kind of small action in life is free and easy and yet it’s the place where most people fail to turn their mental health dreams into a practice.

890 Relax and Succeed - Small actsThese small actions count for you far more than for the person you’re offering the support to. You feel what you live. If you live generously you feel rich, even if all you’re giving is smiles and patience and some kind words. This is the one thing everyone’s short of today. Just some basic human connections that say, “yes, I see you and I care.”

It isn’t that the struggle forward through life doesn’t have real challenges. It just means that those aren’t actually very bad to deal with when you feel you have the support of the community. But as we work with people we don’t live near, and our kids are bussed to school with kids from too far away to be active friends, and a lot of people pull from their cubicle at work to their cubicle garage at home and they never even meet their neighbours, we shouldn’t really wonder why we don’t feel better.

Free yourself from thoughts about yourself. Get your awareness pointed outward instead of inward. Find someone having a bad day and just say some small supportive thing to them. A kind word, a compliment on an accomplishment or themselves, point out a good quality, even just smile, wave, and extend some patience. It might not be enough to shift their mood completely, but if they run into two good things in a row they’re on a new trajectory.

Use words to share positivity. It’s not hard and you’ll both benefit. They only reason you wouldn’t is habit, and that’s what this is all about–developing healthier habits. So act. You don’t get mentally stronger by thinking about mental health. You get that way by enacting it. So let’s go make a difference. Go say something nice to someone whose day could use it.

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.

Making Changes

Hello! It’s a holiday here a student had a very big breakthrough yesterday and it was so inspiring that I felt like writing to you even on a day off. Besides,we’re right in the middle of our discussion about slowing down our moments enough to allow us to escape from unnecessary egotistical suffering. Today we’ll draw meaningful distinction between suffering and pain. The former you can do something about, the latter you simply accept and feel.

869 Relax and Succeed - Be kind to unkind people

Okay let’s say you’re dealing with someone you love and care about a lot, but someone who often makes you angry. Maybe it’s your kid, maybe it’s your parent, maybe it’s a sibling or an important friend. These are the sorts of relationships where no matter when someone asked you, you would always know that in the end you would forgive the person. Maybe not the behaviours, but the person is ultimately accepted without conditions. Despite that they can still be exasperating for any number of valid or invalid reasons.

So you’re in the process of yelling–notice I don’t care about what. No matter why I’m doing it the route out is the same; you must alter the direction of your thoughts. You can’t go somewhere and ask for adrenaline and then take it and complain that you’re all worked up. You asked for it!

Same with the anger you’re feeling. Anger is always masquerading fear, so your anger is really worry that you won’t be able to keep paying these prices. You’re concerned your loved one will go beyond the limit of your life. It makes sense you’re afraid and that you’d have angry thoughts about how the person isn’t cooperating with something so obviously good for everyone involved. And that frustration would impact your voice. Fine. That still doesn’t mean you want to stay there. It’s generally not useful and it’s unpleasant for you. That’s suffering not pain.

869 Relax and Succeed - Be gentle with yourselfIf you’re going to think the sort of thoughts that are resistant to what is, what was or what may be, then you will suffer. To bump harshly into the walls of ego can be helpful though. For instance: you catch yourself yelling at the loved one. Your impulse is that you should make yourself stop, but instead I would suggest that you simply watch yourself getting upset.

Understanding will change your behaviour not effort. Your ego is yelling. With this meditation you’re focused on keeping some consciousness with the watcher–the real you, the creator of your ego. Once you recognize that the story you’re telling yourself is colouring your feelings about it, go back to recalling the connection you have and the person you’re angry with.

Look at them while you yell at them. Know in non-word terms that it’s true that you will always love that person. From there you will naturall realize that the current ugliness between you can only be a portion of your journey together, so why not make it as brief as possible for no other reason than selfishness? For no other reason than it feels better? Why not just take the pain but leave the suffering?

That is personal freedom. Taking responsibility for your thoughts to the point where your selfishness creates increased happiness, which increases gratitude, which in turn makes us generous and then our problems end up being solved in surprising ways by things like love.

869 Relax and Succeed - Yelling silences your message

Once you’re watching yourself semi-regularly you will be able to stay more aware by choice. You’ll have experience over time, so you’ll know with quick confidence that if you’re yelling you must be lost. I know it sounds strange but you can interrupt any emotion just by knowing you don’t want to feel it. Just that desire is like sticking something in the spokes of a moving bike.

If you’re thinking that desire into existence then you can’t be simultaneously using your thoughts to create the undesirable issue. That single step away from your ego allows you to redirect the course of your consciousness onto more productive things, no different than you tune a TV to get different types of shows. You never have problems. Your mind is just sometimes tuned to a painful channel.

As you get better, once you’ve stopped yelling and are in touch with some loving feelings you’ll be more able to take some action like call a friend, cuddle your pet, or dive into a hobby etc. Slowly your wisdom will creep in where the anger was taking up space and you will be able to move toward more thoroughly loving feelings. You’ll also find many more constructive ways to face your challenges.

Yes this benefits the person you’re yelling at, but do this because you love and care about yourself. I’m an action guy. You don’t get better thinking about how to be better, you get better by taking different actions than you have been. These are the actions to take within your consciousness. Fumble through them and learn them until they are entirely natural. That knowledge and practice is the never-ending path to peace and wisdom.

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.

Other Perspectives #86

786 OP Relax and Succeed - There is no true loveWrong. With no offense intended toward the creator of it, I believe this is the first one I’ve ran into that’s 100% backwards. The truth is that there is no true love with jealousy. Anyone who thinks that true love includes jealousy–or worse demands it–is at least in the fortunate position where in their future they will get their first taste of genuine true love. This quote is nothing more than some person’s excuse to think insecure, worried and untrustworthy thoughts about someone else. Either trust someone or leave. Don’t justify your poor treatment of them as being rooted in love. Real Love isn’t possessive in any way shape or form.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.00 Relax and Succeed - Other Perspectives Footer

Humans Racing

Everyone’s looking for relief. People used to want to find themselves or get enlightened. Today those things are merely byproducts of just finding some much-needed relief. We just need a break. For the pressure to be off. To get a moment of peace. Sheesh.

754 Relax and Succeed - Life moves pretty fastBut the world just keeps coming. The older you get the more you can relate to street people. Giving up can often look pretty appealing to an overworked Mom or Dad caring for both children and aging parents. Highly paid executives look at barista’s and think they have a great job because it doesn’t go home with them. But the barista can’t pay the executive sized prices in today’s world so he has peace of mind at work, but when he goes home he’s stressed about money plus he has no social life.

So we desperately seek. We look for solace. For comfort. For quiet. For peace. For acceptance–despite the fact that we’ve ducked out of the pressure and are sitting still. It’s not uncommon for my student/clients to come to me guiltily, as though taking time away from their overload of responsibilities to look after themselves is somehow treasonous to the human race. But they come anyway because they just can’t stand a life that just seems like a stream of obligations with almost no room for the person at the heart of it all.

You’re not wrong. Hyper consumerism has turned every moment of the day into a sales opportunity. Your phone used to be for your friends to call but even before cell phones we had all stopped because answering them because we were screening for telemarketers. Ads are on every surface asking us to do this or noting how we’re deficient in that. Your phone essentially removes your privacy because yes you can choose to not answer it, but there’ll be a price for that.

754 Relax and Succeed - The cells in your bodyAnd we just keep thinking and thinking and thinking–what is the way out of this? But in a weird way, we’re only adding to the problem with all of that. Think of thoughts as cells. They can divide and multiply to create amazing new ideas and experiences. But they can also be used to attack ourselves, others, or the state of the world in some way. But if we do that we are letting the cells multiply without control because if it was in control, why would we choose such overwhelmingly negative subjects to think about? So if we’re on long negative periods then we are allowing our thoughts to eventually lower themselves to low ground. There they mix with other negative thoughts and they start bouncing off each other and before you know it the negativity has grown.

That much thinking is like cells that are out of control. This is that spinning, frenzied, anxious thinking that you have to be anywhere but where you are. That much thinking is like cancer. It takes perfectly good space in your body and refills it with something damaging. In one case it’s out-of-control cells and in the other it’s out-of-control thoughts, but either way the effect is eventually the same–the repetitive action starts to have a debilitating effect on the person doing the thinking.

754 Relax and Succeed - The mind is its own placeI remember about 15 years or so ago there was the beginning of a bunch of studies that surprised many in the medical community when it showed that it wasn’t sick people that got depressed, but rather depressed people that got sick. It opened up a whole new area of research that has lead to the increasing popularity of positive intervention therapies, which have in turn proven to be much more effective than those used previously.

You don’t make the problems of the world go away by thinking about them. You don’t make your personal problems go away by thinking about them. Think when it’s fun and useful. But you really should maintain a general idea during the day of what you’re using your thoughts for. Because if it’s for reasoning something where reason applies, great. But if it’s just churning negativity on issues where you have no control then at least control what you do control–the direction of your thoughts.

Stay conscious. Life isn’t that hard once we learn to keep a closer eye on the choices we make all day long. Make this a day of even just slightly more conscious, slightly better choices. Do that each day and you’ll be amazed where you end up.

peace. s

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

Basic Choices

So I look out my back window and I see a guy I’ve never seen before and he’s hurling my neighbour’s blue bag contents all over the alley. Edmonton was the first major city in the world to not need a garbage dump because we recycle literally everything. The blue bag is where you put things that are designed to be recycled because they can very easily be re-purposed.

749 Relax and Succeed - We were all humansI walked out and said a friendly hello but the guy was immediately concerned. Many homeowners will immediately assume the person has no morals because they have no home. I don’t think that, plus—even if he is a total jerk—I’m smart enough to make friends with any potential troublemakers in my neighbourhood.

Many people are on the street because of a mental illness or a lack of self control manifested as hostility. They get cared for up until eighteen and then—boom—now they live on your street. This guy isn’t mentally ill but I do know he has a bad temper problem so I’m not surprised that he blows up when I nicely ask him to just put the stuff back in the bag when he’s done.

“What are you going to do, make me do it?

“Make you do it? What? You think I would fight you over recycling? Dude. You do bad math. It would be infinitely easier for me to just re-load the bag myself than it would be to fight you, even if I beat you the first punch…. then police and jail and losing work. And that’s if I win the fight. That blows me away. You don’t look like you’re jonesing and I know you well enough from the diner that I know you aren’t mentally ill. Is that anger the only reason you’re out here?”

“Fuck you.”

749 Relax and Succeed - For every minute you are angry“Yeah, that anger. What’s that for?” I’m still really calm. I start putting the stuff back in the bag. I’m acting almost offended because that will be unexpected and it’ll force him to think differently. “You whip that out at strange times buddy. I get that anger can be useful, but I’m a pretty nice and helpful guy and your anger is so strong it warped who you thought I was. Are you sure you’re not just angry by habit?” I point to the bag as a reference. “Anyone who loses track of their choices is going to lose track of their life. That’s just logic.”

“I’m not angry, people are fucking dumb.”

“That is what most angry people assume, yes. And, well, you’ve kind of got me on that one because I myself am an excellent representative of being fucking dumb.” I can tell he’s got a lot of us-and-them going on. He sees me as above him so I take the opportunity to lower myself so he can feel more secure. I mimic his language and concede some weakness. “I am fucking dumb so much more regularly than I’d like. But hey, we all have our thing right? That’s my thing. That’s my version of your anger. That’s my dumb choice.”

He starts to help with the bag. “I don’t choose being angry.” He says it angrily, but there we go. Now at least we’re rolling.

749 Relax and Succeed - Remember thisSo I look at him like he’s crazy. “Uhh, if it’s not you choosing it who is?” I can see he doesn’t have a good answer. “I know—it’s always so easy to see other people’s and so hard to see our own, right? But everyone’s got a personality and a personality is just how you choose things. Tortured people try to make those choices just go away. People like me just let them be and work with it.”

“And you think mine’s anger…?” It took me a second to realize he meant it as a question.

“I just don’t get why you would chemically torture your own mind by thinking such angry thoughts when there’s a zillion other things you could have thought of instead. I mean it’s not like the angry thoughts or words ever changed anything right? Or if they do they changed me from nice to threatened which doesn’t do you any good. Angry thoughts just get the angry brain chemistry flowing. So you can’t blame people for thinking it’s a little strange that you would pick that so often. Sure, occasionally choose anger. But not all the time.”

“I don’t choose’em. People are fucking assholes.”

749 Relax and Succeed - Today was the absolute worst day“Duh. Do you think? I just told you I’m one pretty routinely. You are too.” I motion to the alley around us where the stuff was scattered. “But what? You figure you’re the only person who has to deal with that? No offense buddy but it’s time to put on your big-boy pants. You’re not talking about avoiding assholes, you’re talking about avoiding life. I’m on the road every day with assholes who think every red light is their office. Sometimes I even have to pick up recycling that some asshole has hurled around my alley for no good reason.” He’s quiet until we’re done. He just stands there as I re-tie the bag and put it back.

He very obviously has a question but isn’t sure how to ask it so I kill a ton of time tying. Finally he speaks. “I can’t help it if I’m angry.”

I look at him like he’s said something crazy because in a way he has. “Look buddy I’m seriously sympathetic. I am. But again: if you didn’t pick it who else could? Do you get how you work? Do you understand how you pick how you feel?” I say this like it’s some key everyone got that he somehow missed out on. And this works because I know he genuinely feels that the rest of us have some special thing inside us that he doesn’t. The thing that keeps us off the street. The thing that he’s missing. The thing that keeps him down. So he’s listening.

“Pick how I feel..?”

“You know–using your emotions. That’s what they’re for.” I’m casual as hell because I’m lying. What I’m telling him is actual what enlightened people do, which is currently a tiny percentage of the population. But hey, why make him just functional when we can make him healthy? So I tell him this is what “people” do.

749 Relax and Succeed - If you listen to your body“Getting angry feels crappy, right? The crappy part is what’s telling you to stop thinking the crappy thoughts. That’s why I’m confused. It’s a pretty simple system and you almost function as though someone never explained that part to you before. I mean, I don’t want to insult you—I know you know that [I did not think he knew that], that’s why I’m mystified as to why you make the choices you make because otherwise you seem like the kind of guy who could have any kind of life you wanted.”

By this point I’ve made my point and he needs to keep his pride, so I can’t leave him to exit the conversation or he’ll have to rise back up again somehow to prove he’s stronger and that’s what I’m trying to avoid, so I end it. “Hey, I’d like to keep talking but I’ve got a friend who’s gonna show up right away. Thanks for the help with the bag. Have a good one buddy.” I shake his hand which really s surprises him. As I head back to the house he waves and says a nice goodbye.

Every time I’ve seen him since he’s looked a bit less angry and at the very least he’s always nice to me. And I’m sympathetic because we’re all variations of him. We all have some simple choice we could make that would massively change our lives. The question is, what is it? Figure that out and then just make that choice instead of what you were choosing and do that until that becomes your habit. Voila. And yes, it really is that easy. It’s staying conscious of the choosing that’s the trick.

Now go have an awesome day and don’t hurl your emotions around on people for no good reason. Lead by example. And appreciate the roof over your head.

peace. s

Scott’s Favourite Blogs of 2014 #3

722 BY3-14 Relax and Succeed - I'm sorry for passing

Because I had started the year answering direct questions, that left me only six months to choose from and still it was difficult picking just three favourites. I had to leave out The Master and the Priest, Directing Your Life and Because We Love The Children. But that also means I really love the three I do get to bring you. And we’ll start off with this little piece of practicality: How about if we all just gave each other a little more room to be human? Enjoy.

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Winner: Scott’s Favourite Blogs of 2014 #2

peace. s