Pronoia

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year

1007-relax-and-succeed-pronoia

Here’s what I don’t get: why is there an it’s too good to be true, but not an, it’s too bad to be true? When the crime rate’s gone down steadily for over 3o years; when tons of people volunteered to go into helping professions; when such a tiny percentage of the population ever gets in trouble, why are we so quick to assume the worst?

We all want the world to be better and yet we’ll actively engage in kind of paranoia. There is no reason we couldn’t look a stranger in the eye as we walked past them on a street because our odds of getting a scowl would be very low and our odds of a smile would be very good (almost 100% if you go first), and if we do miss that positive experience it’ll probably be because the other person is still looking down, assuming that we’ll be a bad experience.

There are marginal excuses for these unhealthy, disconnecting behaviours. If you’ve been traumatised then it can be possible to find yourself unrealistically but validly hyper-concerned, but for the average person that jaundiced view of humanity is completely unjustified. The vast majority of people we’ll meet in a day treat us nicely, and we ourselves spend time being in that remaining minority too, so we’re better not to judge.

If you’re watching closely you see evidence of this goodness every day. Giving money to the homeless means someone is volunteering to be poorer with no gain to themselves except the good feelings that come from that sort of compassion. Friends write supportive messages, people make positive social media posts, within every bad news story there will be heroes. People are polite, they tell jokes, they go outside the bounds of their job to help you for no gain to themselves. It’s everywhere.

1007-relax-and-succeed-good-people-bring-out-the-goodPolice risk their lives to protect people. Firefighters run into burning buildings to save strangers. Doctors save patients. People give blood. They run and walk and cycle countless miles for countless charities. They hold doors for usu, they give us compliments, or maybe even just a smile. People are overwhelmingly good, even if they’re not always doing what we want them to.

How can we benefit by thinking the worst of others? We’re doing the thinking. That’s happening inside our head, and it’s our body that’s experiencing the negative reaction that comes from negative thinking. The person we’re thinking about probably doesn’t even know or care. They might be busy, happily smiling while we’re wasting our lives thinking dark, suspicious thoughts.

May I suggest that our lives will improve the moment we adopt a new paradigm? Pronoia is the opposite of paranoia. Rather than thinking that the world is conspiring against us, we start thinking that it’s conspiring in our favour.

Instead of mistrusting someone because we think they’re going to do something behind our back, we’ll trust them and stay open to the idea that they might reward us unexpectedly. Or if we have some big project fall through, instead of feeling like a failure, we can instead happily assume it’s because we’ll need the time and resources for something even better!

1007-relax-and-succeed-you-must-not-lose-faithPeople who scowl a lot will tell you that pronoics are silly and unrealistic but those scowling people also live inside their beliefs –beliefs which suggest that optimistic, trusting, positive views are less likely than pessimistic, untrustworthy and negative ones. But they’re scowling; and for every one of them I could introduce you to some extremely successful person and they will talk about how they can’t believe how lucky they’ve been.

You can go through life watching for bad things and I assure you you will find them just as day turns to night. At the same time, if you go through life watching for good things then I assure you, you will learn to turn nighttime into daylight.

We’re good people. The people walking toward us have every reason to assume that. And they’re just like us. So going forward let’s all try offering more help, accepting more help, and just in general let’s get off our phones and get back to each other. Because when it comes to improving society and connecting with people in the moment we’re in, there’s simply no app for that. So let’s go practice some pronoia.

peace. s

The Friday Dose #36

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.

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497 Relax and Succeed - Why we shout in anger

Why We Shout

A Hindu saint visited the river Ganges to bathe and found a group of family members on the banks shouting angrily at each other. He turned to his disciples, smiled and asked. “Why do angry people shout at each other?’”

The disciples thought for a while before one of them said, “Because we lose our calm, we shout.”

But, why should you shout when the other person is just next to you? You can tell him what you have to say in a soft manner.” asked the saint.

The disciples had no explanation, so the saint gave them one.

“When two people are angry at each other, their hearts are a great distance apart so they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other over that great distance.

“But what happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but instead they speak softly, because their hearts are very close.”

The saint continued, “And what happens as their love deepens? First they begin to whisper, but as their love grows even closer, eventually they do not even need a whisper, for a look will say it all. And when people finally become One, words and looks are unnecessary because the simple presence of the other person in the universe is enough. That is how close two people are when they truly love each other.

So do not try to bring someone closer by raising your voice. Instead of increasing the distance to the point where you cannot find you way back, instead use your awareness to close that distance with soft and loving responses. Because that is how you will find you way back to peace. Because that is the only voice that love can truly hear.”

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497 Relax and Succeed - Think outside the box

Think Outside the Box

You are driving down the road in your car on a wild, stormy night, when you pass a bus stop and you see three people waiting for the bus:

1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.

2. An old friend who once saved your life.

3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Which one would you choose to offer a ride to, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your car? Think, before you continue reading.

This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job application. You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first. Or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.

The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his answer. She simply answered: “I would give the car keys to my old friend and let him take the lady to the hospital. I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams.”

Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations. Never forget to “Think Outside of the Box.”

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Natarade

I couldn’t find a way to reblog this from Natarade’s own site, but I’ll include a link here because this is an artist that’s worth checking out in more detail. Here’s an example of why. This set of panels clearly depicts two routes through life. You’re safest picking the one with least judgment and the most life:

The Link to Naterade

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The Link to Naterade

peace. s

Other People’s Lives

210 Relax and Succeed - Don't let comparison
Other people’s lives are not better than yours. If you’re a struggling writer and you’ve never sold anything, you’re not missing any of the neural-chemistry that a super successful writer has. And you also don’t have any of their thoughts to think. So while the new writer tortures herself with questions about ability, the “successful” writer tortures himself with theories about how lucky he was with his first book and about how he cannot ever hope for the second book to be as successful. Ergo, both live in fear of writing. Of being accepted. Both are living in ego.

Many women who don’t match the look that advertising sells, end up feeling left out by the images in her society. That feeling in turn can than lead to her simultaneously not want to be friends with women who do match that look because she will appear worse by juxtaposition. Of course, this leaves pretty girls with fewer friends and the basis for the friendships they do have is much more suspect. Likewise, the pretty girls are never sure if the guys are there for them or for their looks. Ergo, both women live with a fear of being accepted and both are trapped in torturous ego.

Smart people can figure a lot of clever things out. They can negotiate all sorts of aspects of life easily and successfully. But their ability to think also means they ruminate more than people who do less analysis. That means they’re better at taking their own decisions apart to study them. It also means they’re better at finding what went wrong, and they’ll be better at blaming themselves because they feel their capability should have insulated them from failure. So both live with a fear of failure it’s just one’s image of that failure is more detailed. This like saying it’s better to die by ten bullets than one.

210 Relax and Succeed - I wish everyone could get
Are there lives that are more joyful than others? Absolutely yes. Are they more joyful because of the definitions of the individuals or their circumstances? Absolutely not. The skills of the people and their circumstances are not nearly as important as their own sense of being. Some of the richest, most beautiful, successful people have killed themselves out of profound sadness. Many others sink deeply into addictions and other unhealthy behaviours.

Stop wishing you were someone else. Stop doing theoretical negotiations of what it would be like to live someone else’s life—because you’re only looking at a sliver of it. Every mind contains the ability to assemble the same ideas and get the same responses within your consciousness. Rich or beautiful or talented people do not have brain chemistry that you don’t have.

We must become conscious of our creative abilities. We must use our ability to direct our thinking and we must point it toward an appreciation of our own existence. Because wanting someone else’s life will always always always feel like a pang of hunger—like an unrealised desire. But appreciation feels the same in all who think it, rich or poor, weak or powerful, young or old.

210 Relax and Succeed - To wish you were someone
Surrender. Forget about moving things around on the outside of your life. Focus on what you are involved with within yourself. For that is where your real life is lived. And that is the landscape you must negotiate with wisdom. So do not put on the blinders of ego. Keep an open mind. And use it to find and create circumstances which expand our capacity and motivation for even deeper appreciation of what already Is.

You are perfect precisely the way you are. You need only to quiet your disputing thoughts. Because they are the only barrier between you and the beautiful awareness that will otherwise flood your consciousness. And you know this is true, because every time you look at something you think is radiantly beautiful, whether it’s a person or a sunset, the reason you can appreciate it is because the majesty of the view convinced your ego to shut up. And whenever it’s quiet, true appreciation naturally occurs.

So don’t use your thoughts to struggle your way to health. Quiet them and realize you were always already right where you were trying to get to. Now go create a beautiful day. Because that’s the only way anyone ever had one.

peace and love, 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.