Titanic Realities

1050-relax-and-succeed-a-ship-in-port-is-safeYou keep trying to improve your life by making adjustments to the outside, but that’s a bit like trying to fix the Titanic by softening the iceberg rather than just getting the current Captain to pay more attention and steer around it. Likewise, if you manage your life from the outside your results can sink you.

Precisely because you get some good feelings from some things you like, it appears to confirm what you’ve heard so you’ve never looked to see if you get good feelings from things you don’t like. Everyone tells you that the things you like are better than the things you don’t like so it all makes sense except for the part where you’re not happy enough.

Part of the problem is that you’re looking for happy instead of satisfied. Happy sounds like it should be better doesn’t it? If we put life on a ladder, happy would be higher up than satisfied, wouldn’t it? But that’s thing; we’re not on a ladder. This isn’t a one-directional space. Yes, you must move forward relative to yourself, but not relative to the universe. Forward for you can be wandering all over the place for the universe. And likewise, satisfied for you can turn out to be what you expected happy to be.

1050-relax-and-succeed-whatever-the-present-moment-containsThe way this works is that satisfaction done in this way is complete satisfaction. Rather than being satisfied with my entire life I can be satisfied with everything about the moment I am in. I can have left tragedy and be moving toward disaster, but if I am satisfied in between then no one can ever take that away from me. That time will have been lived and I will have been profoundly satisfied. The idea is to win as many of those little time-squares as you can.

Consider every moment like a quadrant on your voyage through life. Each quadrant contains your thoughts and actions. If the box presents a problem like an iceberg then you can enjoy the action of finding the solution, or you can resist finding a solution by thinking about the problem. One will feel good one will feel bad. The bad one tells itself that it should already feel better and it goes about what it’s doing. The good one is grateful it knows how to be better now and it makes changes.

Doing all of this is a lot easier if you stop reconsidering every moment in your past and stop worrying about every potential moment in your future. If you do that you have no mind left to find the solution in the current moment. You can’t be so worried about the schedule of the passengers that you start ignoring the icebergs.

1050-relax-and-succeed-i-am-not-afraid-of-stormsNote that above I say “find the solution” and not “fix your problem.” You’re only fixing it if it wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place and no one ever made that deal with you. If anything we made the opposite deal. This is the North Atlantic. Everyone has to steer past icebergs. No one’s boat is that good.

Abandon your expectations for this day. Look into yourself for your hopes and your beliefs and your wants and know that those guarantee you nothing. Everything changes, it’s only a matter of when; and were you appreciating it before it did change? Because if you were in the act of appreciating then that felt good, and if you accepted that feeling could go away then you would immediately shift to rewarding thoughts about its presence. Gratitude for gratitude. It works every time.

Rewarding thoughts can include things like being grateful that you know how to create the solution that is required in the new moment. And if you don’t know the solution, then you get to use the subsequent moments to learn and expand yourself so that you might then have a solution within you for the future. Either way you’re winning.

1050-relax-and-succeed-ships-dont-sink-because-of-the-waterIt just depends on what you’re focused on; your happiness that you’re able to help, your happiness that you have the ability to learn it and then help, or your happiness about having an appreciation for the fact that it does no good to flog a dead horse, so you’re happy to move on to something else worth appreciating. It’s not like the universe is stingy with those unless you get picky about the one you want.

Do not expect, do not become attached, manage your reactions to change instead. It won’t be classically good or classically bad in a health state of mind. It can be happy to be working on a solution or direction change with gratitude; or it can be painfully wishing for what you expected and got attached to. One hurts, one feels good. Your choice. Either way, you create the reality you live in.

Find today’s attachments. They’re inside you. Find ways to manage them now so that when they come up you have an actual strategy you believe in to execute, because those feelings originate inside of you, meaning you have total control over them. Trying to fix the external world, on the other hand, is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Forget the outside. Become your own Captain. Take control of the inside. You have places to go.

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.

Emotional Attachment

As you may have guessed from yesterday, your attachments and your Dominant Emotions are closely tied together. The stronger you feel about something or someone–positively or negatively–the more you will think about them.

879 Relax and Succeed - Turn your face to the sunThe more you think of those thoughts the stronger the feelings you get. Think lovingly about someone all day and you will fall in love. Think angry, bitter thoughts about someone and you will develop the opposite attraction: hate. Both kinds of thoughts tie you to the other thing, person or event. Your words are like binding ties that hold you down and keep your psyche trapped.

You can only sustain those thoughts as long as they are being peddled by your mind. The trouble will be, when you’re not pedalling love and admiration quite so strongly, then the other person will appear to have changed for the worse. All that’s happened is some negative thinking eventually finds its way into your thought stream and you slowly de-link yourself from the other person, all the while building a narrative about how your partner is unsatisfactory.

This is easy to note in conversation. When someone first falls in love we hear so many good things about the other person, but often in time we hear very little that’s good and instead there is a new focus on what needs to be changed. Again, that shift will get blamed on the person place or thing, but it’s not them: you’re that way because of the illusion the Buddha talked about. Because people don’t change like that–but you can place that illusion over them via your judgmental thoughts.

879 Relax and Succeed - When we are holding on toYou know how you can give super simple advice to a friend and you just can’t figure out why they can’t do this simple thing? You would do it easily and end the relationship and yet they can’t bring themselves to do it. Of course that’s only because we’re talking about an area they discuss all the time, and you rarely do. So it’s easy to give advice and be confused about someone not following it. When people do that to you that’s because now you’re in an area where you think a lot and they don’t.

In essence then your “friends” are people who come into the least conflict with you because they think very similarly. You have compatible Dominant Emotions. You can both can feel negative but they don’t see it as deeply as you because for them changing isn’t really required–they already think healthier thoughts about that subject so they just have to activate them, whereas you have little experience with them at all–and vice versa.

Take your Dominant Negative Emotion and find the attachments that connect to it. The more you do these meditations the easier it will get to look inside. It’s by watching your inside react to your outside–almost as though you’re separate people–you get the sort of distance that allows you to watch a horror on TV and still somehow enjoy it. It’s why I like my life so much.

This is an important exercise. Find your attachments. Open the door to your freedom. And have and have an awesome day.

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.

Resistance to Happiness

865 Relax and Succeed - If you are brave enoughIsn’t it strange? You’ll know a certain course of thought hurts. It’ll be as painful as physical pain. And you likely even caught yourself doing it and yet you didn’t go try to conjure up your Dominant Positive Emotion. So when you didn’t switch to being happier–why did you resist? Or do you not recognize your resistance in the word  “…but…”

The “but” is there because you you have attachments and so that means that you believe some thoughts weigh more than others. There are ones you can toss out easily, like deciding to have the salad instead of the soup at lunch. But the difficult ones are about subjects that you feel matter.

By “matter” I mean you have an attachment you want to maintain. Something that’s considered important is just something you value more than other things precisely because you believe it is more important to your happiness. But people will be terrible at making this calculation in the heat of too much thinking / rationalising. We’ve all seen people return to extremely unhealthy relationships and put up with abusive bosses or continue damaging habits etc.

865 Relax and Succeed - If you still talk about itNothing from outside of you creates your happiness. You must abandon this one idea: that your happiness is delivered to you externally by external experiences. Until you do that you will hand over the responsibility for your own joy to someone else. You’ll expect them to make you happy instead of remembering to do that yourself. It’s a lot easier to have a successful marriage by being a happy partner rather than having a happy partner. As I’ve written before: we feel the love we give, not the love we get.

So you’ll see when you encounter these things that you’ll pass over the idea of stopping those thoughts. Those are important thoughts you’ll tell yourself. If someone said stop thinking right then you would say “but…” If there’s a “but” in your talking and it’s there to defend more thinking or more talking or more pain that’s actually fine. It just means you’re going to use your imagination and creativity to create pain for yourself rather than enjoyment. You will want rather than appreciate. You have freedom. The universe will let you do that.

You can ask the universe for anything. For your spouse not to leave you, to end your money woes, for your health to turn around–but while you’re busy wanting you will be actively generating your own voluntary suffering. For a better life you don’t need a bunch of external changes, you need one subtle internal change. You need to see that each and every day your experience of that day is psychological and that you don’t have a day, you feel one.

865 Relax and Succeed - There comes a dayThe best way to achieve a lot is to have a positive mental mindset and then be active. You don’t have a lot of control over your day but you do have a lot of control over your thinking. No, you won’t be exercising that control all the time, especially this quickly. But that doesn’t matter because the biggest step you’ll take in this journey is just leaving on the road to study your own thoughts and the patterns in your thinking.

I’ve worked with lots of people who were told they had Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)–a new disorder that was fairly recently invented. Before that some people just complained a lot about winter. Now there was a pill for it. Someone thought cleverly about ending their money problems and they realized that they could do that by convincing you that your happiness could be restored by a pill and that what made you sick was the location of the Earth relative to the Sun. Something you can do nothing about. That was sure convenient for a drug company.

865 Relax and Succeed - Go 24 hours without complainingSome people had parents who had extremely resistance thoughts about winter and they taught some of their kids to conjure those resistant thoughts too. End of story. The people who tell themselves healthy cuddly cozy stories about the cold like the Norwegians do will always be happier than some person bitching in a street half as cold in Canada. Because it’s not the cold that hurts us–it’s our resistance. Our resistance to what Is. Thinking is resistance. Trust yourself. Stop the thinking. Stop the resistance. Surrender and accept. From there all you have to do is switch from wanting to appreciating and you’re miles ahead.

Take 24 hours–until you read my next post–and use that time to notice your resistance. Note the things you’re resistant about. Try to determine what things you’re valuing in your life in what ways and how that leads to your suffering. Follow these strands of thought and you will see they are tied to nothing. You always are and always have been free. So you can be happy. Because if you’re reading this then you’re definitely on the way to being a soul that lives itself out in freedom.

Now go use the focus of your attention to hoover-in whatever you see to appreciate. That simple act will lead you to a wonderful day. Do that more often than not and you have a wonderful life. Enjoy. 😉

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 #83

771 OP Relax and Succeed - Accept what you cannot changeOuch. This one seems downright painful. If you read me regularly then you’ll be confident that I’ll support the idea of accepting what you cannot change. And I even like the idea of people working toward change that hasn’t happened yet. But the idea that we will be able to change everything we don’t accept is simply impossible. Sooner rather than later the world will teach you that are certain fates from which there is no “escape.” But this in and of itself is not a problem. The need to change the unchangeable will lead to distress in all personal relationships, business relationships and even within ourselves. Not being attached to an outcome and acceptance of our situation is essential to our spirit. As the Dalai Lama says, “If a problem is fixable there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable then there is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”

peace. s

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

Other Perspectives #78

746 OP Relax and Succeed - Never let anyone take away your happinessNever is a big word. Like all of us you’ll accidentally allow at least a few people to get attached to your happiness when you’re young. But that’ll hurt so you’ll learn that’s a dangerous thing to do. If you do lose track of your happiness you’ll want to make sure you’re maintaining an awareness that you gave the happiness away as opposed to someone took it. No one actually has the power to take away anyone else’s happiness so this isn’t a challenge or a warning. It’s more a reminder: do not be attached, be attracted. You’ll definitely need being sad or angry or worried so you can even recognize being happy, but don’t let other’s behaviour dictate whether or not you’re happy. They always have the freedom to leave but you always have the option of what to think about that.

peace. s

00 Relax and Succeed - Other Perspectives Footer

The Friday Dose #63

660 FD Relax and Succeed - You are beautiful

Let’s start with a young woman who starts to question the concept of beauty she has been sold after she starts asking individual men what they think is beautiful. She’s surprised by the responses:

100 Men’s View of Physical Beauty

*

Next we’ll tackle the question, is ADHD a disease or is it merely the unintended consequence of modern habits?

ADHD and the relentless internet—is there a connection?

*

Which door would you walk through? This was a brilliant idea for an experiment:

*

And finally, do you have a Fear of Missing Out? Then you won’t want to miss this:

*

I trust you found something useful, expansive or enjoyable in this “collection of stuff that Scott found interesting.” Have yourself a spectacular weekend!

peace. s

The Friday Dose is a fascinating, informative, funny collection of mind-changing links, pictures, videos or audio clips. If you are currently mentally or emotionally suffering then use these to distract yourself from the painful courses of thought that are generating that suffering. Or, you could just enjoy being fascinated. 🙂

Hills and Valleys

233 Relax and Succeed - Gather strengthYour path through life will rise and fall despite your best efforts. If we’re wise and focused we can certainly choose the path we would prefer, but there is no way around the fact that everyone will have to climb some very steep hills as they move forward. And by forward I don’t mean toward some destination. I just mean: in motion.

The point of life is to be alive. You would be surprised at how few people ever are, once they’re in adulthood. Most are blindly on a path without ever really asking why. Most never do any kind of assessment of its value. This means that they’re inclined to think they’re failing when they’re in pain, and that they’re succeeding when they’re not. But there is no success or failure because each is dependent on the other, and everyone will experience both. So rather than fighting that idea, we are better to accept it, because the “failures” we experience today have little to do with what will happen tomorrow.

The truth is, no one knows where you are in your life. You could be just about to meet the love of your life, or you could be driving home to a divorce, or maybe even your own death. So don’t assume that if things are “bad” that they will stay that way, or that you will have to do anything other than wait. Life will change even if you don’t.

233 Relax and Succeed - Experience is not what happensIf you’re at a low point in life as you’re reading this; if you’ve failed to accomplish some goal, or if you’ve lost some love, or you otherwise feel alone and defeated, remember what excellent company you are in. All of humanity has been there. DaVinci, Mozart, Shakespeare. Everyone’s been afraid, or challenged to the point of tears. Everyone has questioned their value at times. But the important thing is, once that is done, we must simply return to our passions. Because there is no success or failure. There is simply doing or not-doing.

If you’re feeling low, don’t worry because everything changes. And if you’re feeling up, then enjoy it because everything changes. So up or down, careful or not, you were going to fall down some holes. Just don’t take them too seriously. Handled with wisdom, they can become passages to deeper understanding and capability.

Remember, don’t have your mood affect your judgment, have your judgment affect your mood. Choose your thoughts carefully, and when you’re in a mode of suffering, then just know that it is both inevitable and temporary. More opportunities will arise. But you will not see them if you’re not watching for them. So even when you’re feeling low, keep an eye out for anything positive. Because enormous success can follow shortly after crushing failure. If you don’t believe me, ask these folks:

.

.

peace. s

Meditations

130 Relax and Succeed - The wisest guruIntrospection is a form of meditation. Siddhartha sat under the tree trying to understand suffering. He asked himself questions: >why must there be suffering?, what is the source of suffering?,  and who is it that suffers? From this he was able to draw lines between the ideas of causality, judgment, and acceptance.

You must come to realise: your sources of happiness are intricately linked to your sources of pain. The reason you are so happy when you see your lover after a long absence is the same reason you suffer when they are leaving or gone. You cannot have one feeling without the other, just as you couldn’t find these black words if the background wasn’t white. Likewise, suffering and joy exist in mutual dependence.

If you use language to develop an idea of a separate you, then you have a subject and object concept of the universe. In that world you can own things either by purchasing them like products, or by “owning” them by title—like your boyfriend, or your child, or your parent. Of course along with the attachment of something being “yours” you will have all sorts of rules and limits and invisible agreements about how these things or people can function.

130 Relax and Succeed - The more real you getIf people or things don’t do what you expect then your attachment to an outcome will cause you to suffer. So if you compare how your mother acts versus how you thought a mother should act, then that comparison will generate suffering. If you don’t think your girlfriend should even talk to other men, then suffering will be generated by your comparison between what you want and what actually is realistic.

Acceptance is when we use words to argue with Now. We can use words to build ideas like obligation, or duty, or rightness and wrongness, but these are all merely word-based arguments with the Present Moment. The actual words form the act of non-acceptance. But that non-acceptance will still only exist in our own minds.

The outside world does not have a right and a wrong, you apply that feeling to the world with your Personal Thinking. You either approve of the world or you don’t. But whether you do or not, your unwillingness to accept the Is-ness of life is still something that is your personal experience. Your disappointment is not something in the world itself—it is a layer of Personal Thinking that you are laying over the world.

130 Relax and Succeed - There are two mistakes one can makeDo you understand that a book isn’t good or bad, it’s just a book? Your feelings about that book are based on the story you tell yourself about it. But that story isn’t a thing in other people’s lives. It’s not true for them unless they choose to think about it the same way you are.

So a book can simultaneously be both good and bad. Which one we think it is will simply depend on who’s reality we’re generating with our thinking. But we’re not supposed to reconcile everyone’s opinions. The point of life isn’t to find out how to neatly sort everyone’s individual views. We’re not Tetris-ing the world together into some form of perfection. We’re understanding that there is no such thing as perfection.

Spend time thinking about the strange but important questions in life. Who are you? What defines you? What is suffering? What are the sources of your suffering? What does it mean to accept something? What is an attachment made of? And, what is the difference between your personal thinking and the world itself?

130-relax-and-succeed-there-is-nothing-that-strengthns-the-egoThese are truly not difficult questions. But they do require your attention. They can be strange and unwieldy to handle at the start, but the more time you spend with these questions the clearer and more useful they become. And you can ask these questions anywhere; while you drive, in line at the bank, while you run, or even out loud with a friend. These are all useful meditations.

Fortunately these sorts of questions are becoming more common, and so our culture is getting better at having this useful conversation. By expanding our awareness of how the world works, we reduce our exposure to unnecessary suffering all while we also expand our capacity for joy. And in doing that, we achieve the goal Gandhi set when he suggested that we “be the change we want to see in the world.”

Enjoy your day.

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.