Following Your Calling

1245 Relax and Succeed - The things you are passionate aboutWhen a dictionary describes a calling they say something along the lines of, “a strong urge toward a particular way of life or career; a vocation.” Despite this definition most people get confused about how to recognise their calling or path because they too-often see it as strictly work-related, which confuses the perception process.

Yes, it’s good if you have a vocation; something you’re particularly well suited to, or something that you enjoy doing. But your calling doesn’t know borders like work and social. Your calling always impacts you because it’s a kind of compulsion.

It’s rarely the kind of thing you can explain to another person using words. It’s too subtle to be hacked up into individual pieces. That said, I’ll do my best to describe how you can find yours, and the value in trusting it.

1245 Relax and Succeed - If you don't follow your heart

When people feel like they have made a bad decision they know it because they tell themselves so in their thoughts, and the amount they do that will impact how much they feel the suffering. But people with a calling don’t ever ask whether something’s enjoyable or perfect or even as-described. They simply do it because there’s no other choice. It’s the same reason people don’t like being called hero after doing something heroic. They know full well that they had no choice–they were called to act. To not act would be more painful than to act.

You can see this in jobs and relationships. Once the pain of the job outweighs the value, the person can leave quite easily. But before that there’s a lot of ego-weighing going on. With a calling there’s no weighing because it’s irrelevant. It’s like telling someone who wants to be an Olympian that it’ll mean working-out all the time. Obstacles have no effect except to invigorate a response.

For the driven athlete it’s still a price, but it’s not a problem because it is a step on a journey they feel called to take. It doesn’t even mean they’ll make the whole journey. They could get the flu during the Olympics and ruin their chance at a medal. But they did not ruin their chance at enjoying life through having followed their calling. The Olympics last two weeks. The preparation often takes more than a decade1245 Relax and Succeed - It is only couragePart of the pain of leaving professional organized sports is that athletes must take on a singular approach to life when previously their dedication lead them to make themselves subservient to the needs of the team. Notice that: they permit their freedom of choice to be taken away in service to their calling. They feel they need to do it as a part of who and what they are.

It’s the same reason a leader feels comfortable making a decision for a hundred thousand employees. If that’s their calling, then they feel comfortable just like the athlete. It does not mean they’ll win the Olympics or an election or keep their CEO job, but they’ll be fully invested when they try. So will the guy who surrendered into his calling to become something that others wouldn’t see value in. It doesn’t have to be notable to be your calling.

Many people think it’s crazy that I’d work so hard to build such a beautiful home only to sacrifice it so that I can care for my parents. People say “put them in a home,” but that’s not what they want and I love them, and so I offered because I felt called to do it. The fact that it isolates me and is often boring, and that it prevents me from working as much as I’d like; in the end none of that personal “pain” matters. The price is irrelevant. I feel called. To not do it I would have to not be me. I always listen to this pull even when others think it’s crazy. That’s freedom.

1245 Relax and Succeed - Some beautiful paths

Don’t ask yourself what the perfect job or person or life for you is. Ask instead what do you want to do even when it’s hard? What would you do if you won the lottery or if you had to squeeze it in between three other jobs?

When you’re looking for your calling you’re not looking for joy or ease or wealth or fun. You’re looking for inspiration, effort and reward. You’re looking for something you’d make sacrifices for. For some that’s trading gridlocked traffic for the freedom of being a courier with no boss hanging over their head. For others it’s surrendering a successful life to care for a loved one. In the end it’s the same thing.

Stop looking for appealing things and start looking for things you’d pay a price for, whether that’s in the realm of a job, relationship or even a hobby. The appealing parts of life are for your ego, but the rewards in our lives don’t come from that basic attraction, the rewards come from the kind of devotion that exacts a price.

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.

Weirdos in Love

1009-relax-and-succeed-were-all-a-little-weirdMaybe you both like wear costumes and go to Comicons. Maybe you’re both covered in piercings. Maybe you spend your Saturday nights together doing advanced mathematics. Maybe one of you is a 40 year old size 18 who genuinely loves Justin Bieber and maybe the other is an Elvis impersonator for retirement homes. Maybe what you do is kinky….

You can geek out on cars, computers, fish, books or games etc., or maybe you’re one of those weird guys who works in an office where you wear dead alligators on your feet and you tie one of those thin pieces of fabric around your neck in a weird elaborate pattern, and maybe you date someone who wears fake eyelashes and pays money to go somewhere so she can climb fake stairs in a room surrounded by mirrors. It all sounds crazy if you look at it from another perspective.

Look, there are no normal people. We’re all strange. But our personal thinking convinces us that we’re alone. Even the people that match the tall, thin white people in most movies and advertising in the Western world feel all feel alone. I know a lot of ethnic kids believed they were the ones that were teased in school because they were “different,” but they they thought people need bigger differences than they do.

1009-relax-and-succeed-in-a-society-that-profitsI have numerous Asian friends who dreaded taking out their lunches in school for fear of being teased for their “strange food,” but then I pointed out to them that English is one of Canada’s official languages, the English created the notion of Canada, and yet when I was in school I was teased by German kids for eating jam and cheese sandwiches–something entirely normal in England.  So even being English doesn’t insulate anyone even in Canada.

It’s not about you. It’s about people asserting differences as ways of distinguishing themselves in a group. And if they tease you then they’re just attempting to lower your standing in the group and thereby raise their own. It’s very human, you do it too. At this level it’s juvenile, but where else would you be juvenile except while you’re in school? It’s still all just words. You decide if they hurt you. And no one’s immune. The German kids that teased me ended up being teased for eating stinky cheese.

Everyone feels like they don’t belong and yes, I also mean the most “successful” people you can imagine. You either feel insecure and fail, or you succeed and you suffer from Imposter Syndrome. Either way, what an ego does is think it’s not worthy, but it only does that because of its constant narratives about differences. Those narratives separate us from the connected feeling that would otherwise be natural.

1009-relax-and-succeed-be-weirdThe reason us weirdos find other matching weirdos is because these are the few people we’ll let our guard down with–and yet when we do look what happens! Once differences are ignored and similarities are shared people naturally feel connected. It’s why we almost feel like we become one person with our best friend. The connection comes from each party acknowledging the underlying truth that, without the interference of thinking, our natural state is to see people’s beauty.

There are no losers in love. It’s a wonderful experience. Don’t let things as ephemeral as people’s opinions prevent you from experiencing it as much as possible in your life. Be yourself. Everyone’s opinions live only in their own consciousness or for as long as they say them out loud. After that you’re free to be the weirdo you are, and that is super important because there are a lot of other very compatible weirdos looking for you. If you watch for each other I’m sure you’ll find each other.

Be weird, be free. In the end the only calculation is, how much loving did you do?

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.

Inspiring Freedom

253 Relax and Succeed - Life begins at the end
Once people learn to quell their own fearful thoughts they suddenly become aware of everyone else’s. You suddenly realise that people are constantly arguing for their limitations. They love music, they sing in the shower every morning, and yet when you go to karaoke they don’t want to sing. Sorry. Bullshit. They do want to sing, it’s just they didn’t realise that if they had stopped thinking that fearful narrative into existence, they might have picked a song and sang it instead.

People: it’s the new millennium. Seriously, it’s time to drop all of this unnaturalness. I’m not saying put anyone in serious physically danger. But if it’s just a matter that someone doesn’t like what you do or say; well that is their issue not yours. The dissatisfaction with your choices exists in their consciousness and only they have control over that, just as only you have control over your thoughts.

When I suggest that people should be free, fearful people often respond by saying, if you take the rules away what’s to stop people from taking all kinds of advantage? Okay, first off you have to recognise the presumed negativity of that statement. The assumption is that you need to stop them because they will surely try to take advantage. And yet there are far more studies that show the opposite. In most cases, most people are quite just and fair, (with accommodation made for cultural differences). Why would we anticipate the behaviour of 3% of the population in the other 97%? That’s a lot of wasted life on worrying over pretty low odds. How about we just do like the Buddha said and accept that there will be suffering? Then we can move on to the not-suffering.

253 Relax and Succeed - Doubt kills more dreams
The sorts of people that my family or neighbours used to call crazy or eccentric or weird seemed very strange to me when I was younger. But when I realised that thoughts were personal ideas, I re-examined these same people and I realised they were the only ones I could find that were just being who they were. They just didn’t care what other people thought of their clothes, or job, or actions. They were comfortable being themselves, and that seemed pretty healthy to me. They certainly seemed less bothered than the tense, judgmental egos that were defining them.

This week’s video blog is a lot of fun. This kind of freedom is infectious, as you’ll see. These people let more than a few people out of jail for a few minutes. Just try not to move your face or your body as you watch this first one. It’s really hard. He’s really evocative. And it’s because he’s unrestrained. There’s no holding back. He’s pouring everything he knows into it. And look at the people around him. They revel in it.

They’ll brag later at the bar that they were the ones sitting right near him. Because he’ll be the one that makes the news. And that’s because he’s so insanely rare. He’s free. So why aren’t you doing stuff like this? I’m not kidding. You won’t even tell people they have food on their face or that their fly’s undone—how are you gonna be free?!

Seriously. Watch this guy. Be inspired. I promise you, what he’s doing is way easier than what you’re trying to do. Life is too short to wear some mental corset. You’re a good person. Relax. You won’t rape and pillage. You’re far more likely to be even more generous than when you lived in a state of ego. So don’t worry. Be free.

Seriously. This guy is awesome. He just gets better and better:

And along the same vein, here’s another one. This actually reminds me a lot of me dancing at my dear friends Christina and Aaron’s wedding. And yes, I really was dancing a lot like that. I’m sure she still has many incredulous relatives that can act as witnesses. So seriously, relax. Forget what other people think. Be free. If I can do this at a wedding you can at least do it in your living room alone. Come on. You can do it. Turn up some music. Dance.

dance. 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.