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.

Fully Being

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #7

Depression is when you feel a long way away from your greatest self. Feeling great is when you feel in strong alignment with experience and sensation. The rewarding feelings happen when you are so busy taking in the world and offering your nature within it that you simply have no leftover life energy to put into thinking an ego-identity into existence.

911 Relax and Succeed - Follow your blissWe are not musicians in this metaphor. There is no gap between player and playing. Rather than thinking you’re struggling with broken strings or no instrument at all; we are all like musical chords floating through space, the quality of our tuning always depending on what parts of the universe we’re exposed to at that time.

It’s important to remember that the musical scales are born out of cultures just like our thinking is. That’s why music from some parts of the world will sometimes appear off-key to you. It’s not, it’s just your frame of reference; as though you’re looking to divide an inch down into quarter-inches but you only have a ruler with millimetres and centimetres. Nothing’s wrong, you just can’t divide reality up to match someone else’s perception. This is why things like understanding tend to help cultures relate and why the more people know a culture the more they’ll be comfortable with it.

Despite all of this there are some humans who can travel far and wide and like Buddhas they are understood everywhere they go. It’s as though their language is universal. They can relate to any scale you play. They are open, and playful and they are both meeting and leading you simultaneously because for them there is no you and them, there is only being. What people see as impressive is really simply someone Fully Being.

911 Relax and Succeed - You look ridiculousTwo excellent examples of this were David Bowie and Prince. I’ve written about them both before because their fame and lengthy success was directly tied to a special kind of spiritual success. Their drive to do what they did was them carefully listening to and acting upon that inner voice that we all have. It does not mean they avoided failures or challenges or hassles. But it does mean they lived fully, adding a great deal to the book of humanity.

If they thought up an outfit they made it or had it made. If they thought of a dance move they performed it in front of huge audiences. If they thought of a new song they presumed it had value and they pursued and developed it with the zeal of a palaeontologist, removing everything unnecessary until they were left with only the truth of the universe.

If they felt out of tune they sought out collaborators like themselves–people open and free who would meet them in that strange place outside society’s current thoughts. And any human can see that they are fully and thoroughly engaged in what they’re doing. Despite having enormous fame, that fame was always a result of their passions rather than being generated by going off track due to things like ego.

911 Relax and Succeed - Let yourself beThe strange thing is that you know people who do this very close to your life. Maybe they parent with the zeal, enthusiasm and heart of Prince. Maybe they do their job as well as Bowie did his. Maybe they’re a fantastic friend that seems both more helpful and less needy than any others. Maybe you feel that way about math, or architecture, or cement, or carpentry, or cooking, or even learning something bizarre and minor. Maybe you travel with that light in you. And it never matters how many people harmonise at any given time–it’s only about how pure that connection is.

You have dance moves you save for when you’re alone. Your singing voice is loudest when you’re in the car by yourself. You have ideas you’re too scared to share. You have aspects of yourself you keep hidden. You have fears about judgment. And so rather than living with the zeal of your heroes, instead you are like a religious person who worships someone else’s journey rather than taking your own.

You deny the divine qualities in yourself. You’re life isn’t unsatisfying because of failures or a lack of ability, you’re life is unsatisfying because you aren’t living yourself out large. You’re living in corrals and fences of words and ideas and because you believe in them you are hemmed in, constrained, confined and committed to stay in line.

911 Relax and Succeed - If you limit your choicesIt’s important to remember those fences are made of thought. Bowie ignored them. Prince ignored them. And you can too. They walked right through them and toward their real life. Yes, they got famous and we all know them. But what we recognise in them is our own greatest self, and so if we’re to pay homage to these inspiring souls, then the best way to do it would be to immediately become bold about your own life.

Forget the need to align yourself with others or society. You can still do that after you’re fully realised. But society will always make room when it recognises greatness, whether that person is a famous musician or just a kid who says they want to be an astronaut. So start asking yourself about your actual dreams. And once you remember them, forget your ego’s concerns about judgment and you’ll stop creating a fearful, tired, unsatisfied you and that will leave you free to live your life in full.

You don’t have to be on stage and famous to lead an inspired and exciting life. Whether you’re writing a letter, collecting stamps or raising your kid, you simply need to trust yourself and act on what you truly know. Are you ready? Let’s go.

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.

The Friday Dose #86

790 FD Relax and Succeed - The eye sees only what the mindThis week the Dose is all about how you see things. We’ve got instructions on changing your perspective, we share a new look at an old world, we see how art can expose our sense of perception and we’ll end with an ad-man talking about perceived value. We’ll start off first with WikiHow’s instructions on changing your mind:

WikiHow on Changing your Perspective

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Next we’ll take a look at the world through a variety of perspectives that you may never before have considered. It’s pretty fascinating stuff:

Strange Maps of the World by Buzzfeed

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Next we’ll check out a short of video of a sculpture that I can only assume was done by the filmmaker, Gary Bruno Schmid. It really shows you that your perspective can change reality quite a bit:

And for those who are dedicated to the idea of exploring their perspectives and how they might be manipulated, I offer you this TED Talk by sociologist-ad-man Rory Sutherland:

We are swimming in a sea of ideas with a varying perspective. There’s just too much up for grabs for you to be able to have any certainty about what to do so you might as well relax, be yourself and become active in life and see where that leads. You are the genius of your own life. Don’t be penned in by limiting thoughts.

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 - Friday Dose Footer

The Friday Dose #55

620 Relax and Succeed - Use what talentsI’m pretty excited about today’s Dose. This should leave you feeling a lot more passionate about living in a way that truly suits your nature. So how about if we take about 20-30 minutes for some very enjoyable activity and literally come up with a plan to change the world? Okay, let’s start with—where are we now? Even though the crime rate has gone down steadily for about 40 years, all we see on the news is people treating each other terribly. Fraud’s, thefts, violence, murder and even rape. We all see enough of that. Instead, let’s use the best version of ourselves as a starting point. The problem with modern culture is that everyone is forced by their work to be disingenuous. Accountants will proudly state, “I can take a two million dollar profit and make it a four million dollar loss and still meet all the generally accepted rules of accounting.” Fancy words for lie. $4.99 is a lie. It’s five bucks. At a dealership it’s always so hard to get the price of the car! No one’s cooperating. Everything’s faking like these are genuine relationships, with first names and handshakes or even hugs, but this is no tribe that’s grown up together and would die for each other. In our system it’s literally structured based on the fact that each person is motivated fairly strictly by their own needs. So like a telephone, we lie through the numbers or words and other people pretend to listen to us for an entirely artificial conversation. So has anyone fixed that problem yet? This guy’s off to a pretty good start. 🙂

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Okay that was pretty cool. Do you see how already that felt so much better than the duplicitous version where the person or business pretends to be helpful? But that’s all a magician’s trick where it’s just to get you looking the other way so they can pad a charge somewhere. I know people try to stay in that healthy, respectful zone, but our social structures sort of force us into those roles as though we’re in a play and our role is the bad guy. Okay, so how do we become our own director? How do we take a healthy form of control so that we can use that energy in a focused way. Well this guy here has an absolutely beautiful encapsulation of what I do. I will still engage with certain things, but because I want to, not because I can’t control myself. This is brilliant. I really think this is going to add up to something, so think about sharing this page of videos. I really do want to change the world. Okay, so let’s here this young genius:

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Nice! Okay, so now we’re under control so we don’t have to be so hard on ourselves. Now what? Well, if we’re not engaging in much negativity then we’ll have a whack of energy to apply to other things, so how about we think about shaking that cage that makes us act in ways that we don’t feel good about? We have to remember that it’s not really a cage. It’s in our minds. All of these controls are only in our minds. Here’s a pretty inspirational video on breaking out. And I love that this is how farmers and artists and craftsmen live:

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Now that we’ve decided to dismantle what we had in order to build something better, what do we want to build? What are our aims? Well, we all would like to find a way to be in a physical and psychological place where it’s possible for us to really and truly love ourselves and our life. So let’s stop all the problems in the world. Gandhi is a pretty impressive role model, and we all know he said be the change you want to see in the world. Well some people are already modelling that behaviour.

I have some soul-close friends I’ve travelled the world with who attend Burning Man semi-regularly. We’re all planning a big trip with a large group of friends soon, but we need a lot of lead time because we really want to do something smart and spectacular. Because Burning Man isn’t like anything else. Burning Man is the future. And best of all, we can truly be our own uninhibited selves. Imagine if you actually felt so awesome acting in public the same way you only do when you’re dancing in front of your own mirror to your favourite song! True freedom. And you feel great about it because everyone around you is doing it too. And that combination of collective spiritual freedom of the soul is actually the culture of Burning Man.

Your joy and creativity in realizing your true self is what that culture is all about. So let’s change the energy for a minute and I’ll provide a list of videos that collectively will give you a good sense of why the festival is so unique and famous for how it feels. Here’s an overview so that all the super cool stuff will make sense. In many ways it really is the most important part. It’s the framework for the plan to save the world:

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Here’s a video that gives you and idea of what the festival actually looks like. And remember, this 60,000 person city rises up out of nowhere for one week and when everyone leaves you’d never know they were there. The art projects, the fantastic vehicles and the amazing costumes all flow into the culture and spirit and the whole place sort of feels like a church during a wedding—it’s just got such great energy. Consider joining us. We want the city to expand until it includes the entire world.

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And finally here’s a TED talk delivered by a seven year old about her experience at Burning Man. It’s from a seven year old, but at that age she does a fantastic job of capturing the key reasons why people love Burning Man. They also got a lot of great shots of some of the amazing things her and her dad saw. Here’s her talk and pictures:

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So are you with me? Let’s all start by not taking those bombs from people. It’ll take a while to remember to do it, but if you practice you’ll have it down in no time. And it leaves you with way more energy and enthusiasm. So think about how you would revolutionize your life. Even if you never go, actually plan a trip. Maybe even come up with some creative project. The whole point of Burning Man is that you start to actually wholeheartedly participate in your own life.

There’s so many great photographers at Burning Man, and I know I’ve mentioned him a few times before, but a favourite of mine is Trey Ratcliff. No one can sell anything from Burning Man, but Trey has a lot of other amazing work you’re very likely to find spectacular. Enjoy the site. They’re all as good as this but they vary widely so check it out:

TREY RATCLIFF

620 Relax and Succeed - Trey Ratcliff - The Dock in the Desert-X3

I’ll leave you with a link to a great collection of TED Talks about the various aspects of Burning Man. There’s also a great collection of documentaries on YouTube featuring various perspectives on the festival. As you look at them, do not think of those as ideas isolated out in the desert like a sanctuary. Instead take them into your world and breathe life into them with your own being. That would be very Burning Man. 😉

peace. s

PS 😉

Matthew Schoening

THE BURNING MAN GALLERY

peace. s

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. Save these for when you’re feeling low and you want to change your perspective. They’ll help Enjoy. And please let me know if you bump into any broken links. Thanks!

The Friday Dose #42

533 Relax and Succeed - If you light a path

Larry Evans is an inspirational guy. He’s become a bit of a facebook celebrity. What I like is how he helps demonstrate the fact that people are generally good and decent and deep down they want the best for others. Larry might seem a target for teasing and surely he has been most of his life. But if you look at his facebook posts, you have to scroll for a long time to find a negative comment. And that’s actually true with people too. The people commenting on Larry’s posts are inspired, they are encouraging, they are supportive, caring, empathetic, compassionate and loving, all without any motivation other than to help Larry. And that reflects what humanity is like. It strikes out in pain every now and again, but for the most part it’s pretty awesome. Larry’s a great example of that awesomeness:

The Beautiful Inspiration of Larry Evans

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Drug companies like naming things so that they can then sell a pill. You can’t solve a problem until there is a problem. Media helps by reducing edits in the more-is-better philosophy of life. Then the media frightens parents for money, then parents get paranoid about the kids and all “play” gets turned into official cordoned activities and there’s a lot of sitting at computers and playing video games and on phones, and some energetic kids are very naturally exploding to move. Is it the kid that’s sick or is society asking the kid to wear the psychological equivalent of a corset? It’s worth studying our own assumptions:

A Leading Neuroscientist on ADHD

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Are you familiar with the Burning Man Festival? It’s a lot of things, but the main thing it has is an unusual zeitgeist. Because there’s no money allowed there, one of life’s primary hidden agendas is removed from play and peoples interactions are immediately more authentic. Another thing that Burning Man is famous for is fantastic art. If you’ve ever thought that artists don’t work hard then you need to watch this. Enjoy!

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Isn’t the world just super cool and full of surprises? Have yourself an awesome day.

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.

The Friday Dose #39

515 Relax and Succeed - I believe in God

Today’s Dose will focus on capturing nature at its most magnificent. We’ll start off with John King and his friends, who had an incredible chance encounter with a band of wild Mountain Gorillas. John and his group were walking on a cement pathway through Uganda’s Bwindi National Park when the Gorillas came through and decided they were interested in John. When you’re watching John during the action, keep in mind that he’s just seen the park info and signs and read the placards and pamphlets, so he knows that silverback can reach 1.9 m (6 ft 3 in) in height, with an arm span of 2.3 m (7 ft 7 in) and weigh 220 kg (490 lb). More imp0rtantly, there was once an experiment where a 160 lb man and a 160 lb gorilla were both given the handle of a cable that lead to a dynamometer. The 160 lb man pulled 200 lbs. The 160 lb gorilla pulled 847 lbs. John’s a brave guy:



If you found that to be as amazing as most people, you may want to check out this National Geographic article on Mountain Gorillas. Enjoy:

National Geographic – Mountain Gorillas

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And finally we’ll finish off with my good friend Frank Grisdale. You might have noticed Frank’s gorgeous photography as the background on many of my cover pages, on my sites, and in many of the quotes I post. I remember an interview with Kurt Vonnegut where he was asked what he would be if he wasn’t a writer. He explained that he couldn’t have been anything else, and that he only knew two kinds of writers: the ones like him who could only write and who couldn’t imagine themselves as anything else, and the ones that were good at virtually everything they did. Frank’s in that last group. In business, in art and in life, Frank’s made a lot of cool, interesting and smart choices. 

He’s done album covers, his work hangs in the Waldorf Astoria in New York and in the collections of Presidents and other leaders around the world. Arab Princes invited him to photograph their raptors. And he didn’t start off as some technical master either. He’s learned all that over time. What he does have is vision. I remember his wife once telling me that they were driving down a road in Alberta when Frank suddenly hit the brakes, pulled over, grabbed his camera and jumped out of the car. She looked around thoroughly confused about what he wanted to shoot. And even when she saw him shoot it, it didn’t look like anything special to her. But when she saw Frank’s final print of it—and how his artist’s mind was able to see the world, she was once again amazed by his ability.

I’m proud to have him as a friend and I look forward to seeing all of his future work. I’m a tiny bit of an art collector and I have a few of Frank’s pieces now. I’m also happy to report that, after seeing my pieces, I’ve turned a few friends into collectors of his as well. I’ve included a few of my favourites below, but I would highly recommend checking out his website and browsing through the collections. It’s very peaceful and it’s always an enjoyable experience to share space with Frank’s work. I’ll be very surprised if you don’t find several that you absolutely love. I’ll include the link below. Enjoy and you’re welcome. 😉

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515 Relax and Succeed - The Grace of light by Frank Grisdale

The Grace of Light by Frank Grisdale

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515 Relax and Succeed - Horshue Lake Study #2 by Frank Grisdale

Horseshoe Lake Study #2 by Frank Grisdale

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515 Relax and Succeed - Going To The Sun by Frank Grisdale

Going to the Sun by Frank Grisdale

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515 Relax and Succeed - Golden Eagle's Chest by Frank Grisdale

Golden Eagle’s Chest by Frank Gisdale

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515 Relax and Succeed - Goldfish in Bamboo Stream France by Frank Grisdale

Goldfish in Bamboo Stream by Frank Grisdale

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515 Relax and Succeed - Horshoe Lake by Frank Grisdale

Horseshoe Lake by Frank Grisdale

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Photographic Artistry by Frank Grisdale


peace. s

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. Save these for when you’re feeling low and you want to change your perspective. They’ll help Enjoy. And please let me know if you bump into any broken links. Thanks!

The Friday Dose #34

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. Enjoy.

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479 Relax and Succeed - Ron Mueck

This week’s Dose is about being swept away by artistry. If you’re using your mind to construct frightening fantasies for your future, or if you’re using it to retrace painful or agonizing moments from your past, then use these wonderful examples of human creativity to help you divert your train of thought. We’ll start off with the fantastic work of Ron Mueck. I’ve always found the greatest artists to be the most philosophical in their work—the way Picasso created cubism, or the way Mueck cleverly provides us with a stunning new perspective from which to view ourselves:

The Incredible Artistry of Ron Mueck

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Next we’ll have a look at the remarkable work of Li Hongbo. As with most artists, it was a casual observance that lead to the exploration that ultimately culminated in his art-form taking shape. Balancing 20,000 sheets of paper on top of each other is much harder to do than this expert makes it appear:

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And finally we’ll end on my favourite choreographer. Bob Fosse was a stunning dancer and he’s an even better choreographer and director. He even made an autobiographical film where he dies at the end. As the first person to break down the barriers between forms, Fosse is responsible for much of what we call dance today. Here’s a section of a Sweet Charity that features Shirley MacLaine. It clearly shows off Fosse’s artistry and may be one of the coolest things on the internet:

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Keep your mind open, look for what’s good in the world ,and appreciate both its natural and man-made beauty. Have a fantastic weekend!

peace. s