Mental Health Opportunities

969 Relax and Succeed - I used to careThe medicalisation of mental health is the product of an industry. That being the case, it’s worth it to ask what the agenda of that industry is. I won’t pretend to be able to read the minds of drug company executives but I know they have the same problem that any executive in a publicly traded company has: your job and your pay and a large part of your family’s happiness is based on how well you either cut costs or increase profits. But what’s the mean for the rest of us?

A lot of people work in jobs where they’re already overtaxed by too few staff and old or malfunctioning equipment, so we’ve cut expenses about as much as we can. That leaves profits. If only we could have 15% more diseases every year….

A disease is a findable thing. A doctor can point to something and say; this is happening because a disease is impacting you in this particular way. A disease is its own entity seeking to do its own thing that is often contrary to the needs of its host. At the same time, with no disease present we know otherwise healthy muscles can atrophy and disappear if we just choose not to use them. They will appear diseased because they will shrink and contort but if we went to the gym and changed how we used them they could again be strong and flexible. So it goes with our emotions.

969 Relax and Succeed - If there are no ups and downsYou can feel an emotion and take a pill to rid yourself of it or; you can experience that emotion, become familiar with it and then master it. Some people never learned to juggle the ball of happiness by getting lots of chances to drop it. Some people never learned to juggle the knives of misfortune because they always closed their eyes and ran rather than face some early cuts. So when it comes to negative emotions we’ve either ran or tried to shut them down, but what if you coped instead? You remember that don’t you: coping?

I’ve written for years about the value of nature. I’ve written for years about the value of friends. I’ve written for years about the value of laughter and enjoyment. Meanwhile most people go buy something, or they go to their doctors and get mood pills or they go to a friend to get weed or some other socially acceptable medication, but hardly anyone copes. And every year it gets worse.

Bad things do not create a bad life. A bad attitude about things creates a bad life. Good things do not create a good life, a good attitude about things creates a good life. So what’s a good attitude? Turn it off! Give me my pill! Shut up! Go away! Nope. A good attitude is more like, wow, today was hard. Want to go swimming or biking tonight? How about if we visit the neighbours? They’re always so funny! Or how about a great meal?

969 Relax and Succeed - A good laugh and a long sleepThere you go right there. Want to know the difference between a happy family and a miserable one? That’s it: how you respond to the world. Happy people don’t have better lives they react better. They don’t dull themselves with a pill, they don’t smoke a big bowl and then sit in front of a screen until they fall asleep and they don’t sit and bitch and commiserate. They take action. They run somewhere, accomplish something or see someone.

Take all of the time you spent wasting life, wanting it to be better. Be honest: it’s a huge amount of your day for most even mildly unhappy people. Now what would your life look like if that time was spent exercising, or learning, watching comedies and seeing friends? Would your life still be so small and dull? Would it still seem overrun and rushed? Would you still have as many problems?

There are things we can do things about and things we can’t do much about. Start looking at your life for its opportunities. Rather than a pill take a walk. Rather than escapism connect with a friend. And rather than idleness choose movement. Your life is what you make of it. If it’s currently full of complaints and struggle then you built it that way. Start looking around for the invisible choices you’ve made and find better ones. Because you shouldn’t be surprised that you’d enjoy laughing with a good friend a lot more than bitching about a bad one.

Go create a good week with good choices. They’re not hard. They’re just not a habit–yet.

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.

The Friday Dose #119: The New Brain

963 FD Relax and Succeed - A beautiful lifeIn general people inside and outside of the sciences will tend to overestimate what is known versus what it is still unknown. It makes sense that brain researchers would feel they were studying a relatively well-known organ and yet earlier this year an entirely new, large and significant brain structure was discovered. Earlier this month they found out what it’s for.

Obviously if you’re social you will be in contact with more germs. So if you’re going to be near a lot of bacteria and viruses then it’s logical that your body would want you to have greater protection. It’s just that previously no one knew about the relationship between how you feel and how your immune system will work.

If you’re alone all the time there is little reason for you to need a robust immune system, much like someone who never lifts anything will have little reason to build up a robust set of muscles. Likewise, if you’re near people and you’re immune system is depressed, then it makes sense that your brain would encourage emotions that would make you less social. I’ve noted it in previous blogs, but until the last decade or so almost no one realised that being sad would lead to being sick. Now we know those observations were well-founded: being sad usually means being isolated and it’s likely the isolation that will lead to the health issues.

There is still much to be learned. Are your moods dictated more by your health or is your health dictated more by your moods? What we do know is they’re interconnected, so in the meantime the best thing you can go by is your own direct experience in life. Unless you’re somehow prevented from participating in your society, it’s a good sign if you’re mixing with others a lot, because now we know with even greater certainty that you will literally build the body that suits the life you live.

Decide who you want to be and the universe will do its best to cooperate with that. It all starts with you. Have a great weekend 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.

Getting Out Of Line

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #2

955 Relax and Succeed - The quieter you becomeIf we’re lost in ego there’s only two directions we can go: forward and back. That’s the problem with ego–it’s a simplistic personal view and it is very limited in it’s vision of potential directions. Our egos can live in our past and egos can live in our futures, but living in the present moment is so completely and thoroughly involving that it simply does not leave us any consciousness left to use words to weave illusions like time. The quiet of our soul is always Now.Blog of the

The ego is an action a lost soul will take. Rather than being present and aware in the moment, a spirit will create an ego that can leave the body where it is and then take the mind on a word-based journey forward or backward in time. For example, we can be in a lineup for something. There’s maybe tea to taste, maybe some flowers to smell and maybe there’s some music to listen to. Children don’t yet know words so they can experience those things as a soul. They perceive but they do not divide and judge.

As an adult we can be standing with the child in a lineup, tea in hand, flowers nearby and music audible and yet we will ignore all of that and it will begin talking to ourselves about something we’ve judged as embarrassing from a week ago, or a month ago, or years ago. So that’s where the ego is–back on its past, dealing with something it’s already done.

955 Relax and Succeed - These mountains that you are carryingIt’s like watching a movie over and over because we don’t like the ending and we’re hoping if we keep watching it that one day it’ll have changed. But if it’s a terrible story then it’s important to remember that you’ll get the same chemistry now that you got then.

Meanwhile, there’s the kid that’s with us in line and they’re living in spirit. The song’s nice, the people around us are smiling, maybe someone’s holding a puppy in their arms that we haven’t even noticed. The kid is happy and in pursuing that happiness in that moment they move toward the puppy.

Meanwhile we’re the adult lost in our thoughts about a past event. The chemistry we’re asking for by reliving that thought is painful. That pain leads us to be sensitive and easily upset. And because we’re lost in our thoughts we haven’t noticed the puppy. So from our perspective, when the child takes off it’s for no apparent reason. We then take our anger from our past and use it to scold the child in the present using words our parents taught us years ago, and all while we truly don’t even know what’s going on in the present moment. This is why children often think their parents are unfair and it’s also how children learn to be adults that stay in line.

955 Relax and Succeed - Pause for a few secondsAs children our parents constantly and unknowingly invited us out of the present moment and instead encouraged us to stitch together our egos. We were told puppy’s don’t belong in banks and we were taught to pay attention to abstract ideas like obedience. Eventually we do this so much that we also don’t notice the puppies because we’re we too busy with our own painful thoughts; wondering if we’re out of line, regretting that we’ve ever been out of line and hoping we’re never be out of line again.

Our past is our past and has little to no bearing on the quality of our future. Moreover, hopes and fears about what might be can cripple that future by preventing us from attending to the present moment from which it will be built.

You think all the time and you’re reading this because you want something better. Better is easy. Better is quiet inside. Better is to simply Be. Because you never could go back and fix the past or guarantee your future. But if you’re present you might actually find a few more puppies in your life.

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.

The Productive Life

950 Relax and Succeed - You don't choose your futurePeople pick a goal and then they imagine what their life would be with that goal already accomplished. That’s called wishing and its ineffective as you’ve no doubt noticed. It’s also painful because now you have your actual life to directly compare to your finished, complex dream. That creates unnecessary suffering.

That sort of procrastination and struggle is often associated with an external ego-based goal. Those are things you’re interested in because you think others value them and you do this because you use your thinking to theoretically deduct from your own natural value and so you feel the urge to add to yourself from the outside.

950 Relax and Succeed - To avoid criticismAs an example, if you’re afraid to make a decision you might let one of your parents pick your career and they might do it based on money rather on how you enjoy spending your time. Or maybe you want to be famous because you didn’t get enough attention when you were young. But if your spirit isn’t into your work then that advice won’t help you no matter how famous you are. We’re more inventive and original than that and those are answers society needs. The real question is, what life do you feel compelled to do and how do you want to live it out in your own life?

Even your personality is just a habit of thought. From it will emerge your attitude toward the challenges you face. But those challenges will require action. You don’t want to use your thoughts to dream up a life you’re not having or that’s what you’ll have–an unlived life. You want to use your consciousness like a flashlight; primarily shining it on those thoughts and activities that align with a goal you feel is central to who you are. Overcoming those won’t always be easy, they’ll just usually feel worth it.

950 Relax and Succeed - You don't have to see the whole staircaseOf course nothing can guarantee your future, but you can determine your habits and your habits can strongly influence your future. In fact, your habits of behaviour and your habits of thought are the legs with which you walk through life. Stand on them strongly. Lean on others when you need to, but once you start standing up for yourself–for your own life–you’ll quickly see that the best thing you can possibly focus on is the step you are taking.

Don’t sit there wishing and waiting for a great life to arrive. Take strides toward who you would like to be. Strongly choose your direction and take action every day to move yourself closer to realising the idea in your imagination. You’re not lost or wrong before you’re there–you are always on the step you’re taking. The questions today are, who chose these steps? Where are these steps leading? And do you want to choose a new direction?

Life is not giant decisions, it’s tiny ones about individual steps. Stop being intimidated by looking at your whole journey at once and simply focus on where you are and where you want to go from here. From that perspective the next step to take is often quite obvious and easy. The question is, will you take it today?

Have yourselves a great day 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.

Other Perspectives #72

706 OP Relax and Succeed - You can't change someone

This is a tricky one in that it’s almost an exact split between helpful and misleading. The general thrust of it is valuable but it’s aim is off in that it presumes a person can change someone else and that simply isn’t true. But to the quote’s point, even we will only change ourselves when we see more value in going a new direction than in the old one. So remember: you don’t succeed in life by getting people to change their actions through coercion, manipulation or force because as soon as those forces lift things start to go back to their nature. This applies to parenting, dating and employing people. Real and ongoing change only happens because the person themselves sees and values the world around them differently. Because of that shift in perspective they will initiate change themselves—not as a way of stopping one activity, but as a way of starting a new one. And sometimes they need to suffer a lot more than you before they’ll choose a new path and even then they might not pick the one you were hoping for. So don’t blame people for living their lives. Just live yours and then align yourself with those in your natural tribe of behaviour. That is your real family and for as long as you are a part of it you won’t be asked to change. But remember: everyone and everything inevitably changes, so it’ll only be your family for about seven to nine years and then you’ll have to find a new one or your life will get static. And when you do that you won’t do it because you perceived something wrong about your current life, it’ll be because you see something promising off in a new direction. So to stay healthy throughout your life it’s really as easy as staying vigilant for promising things.

peace. s

00 Relax and Succeed - Other Perspectives Footer

Shadow Personalities

What you perceive of as people’s individual personalities are actually just shadows cast by your own thinking. This may seem ridiculous but it happens in much the same way that a cinematographer can make a character look angelic or sinister to you depending on where he or she places the light. The angle of the light represents the perspectives of our beliefs. A character or person can change drastically based on our beliefs. Just think of how that angle changes between falling in love and breaking up! But what changed? Them, or the direction of the light?

687 Relax and Succeed - In this lifeYou spend a lot of your life trying to manage people’s perceptions of you but that is futile and wasteful in all kinds of ways. First off, you have no idea what their perceptions are. Even if they say so you still don’t know. The prettiest girl in school can give you the sort of make-up and hair advice that subtly suggests to you that you are ugly, but she’s more likely to do that if she actually thinks you’re the prettiest girl in school. And even if she thought that something or someone was ugly, who’s to say she won’t change that opinion? We do our whole lives. So why try to manage the entries in some weird historical Etch-a-Sketch book that’s always being shaken clean? Why not live instead?

You don’t see others and they don’t see you. Not figuratively, literally. Because there is no you to see. Because everyone has their own idea of value and so everyone perceives you in their own unique way based on their knowledge and life experience. So since everyone has their own idea of you—their own angle of light—then they’re all seeing something slightly different. And there’s no way to reconcile that. Since there is no one who would even be able to perceive any strange, general Objective Reality above that, we can just relax into the idea that all that really matters is our Subjective Reality. We don’t have to manage all of those people because the universe won’t let us. We only have to manage our own thoughts. Because it’s from those that we shape the beliefs that in turn shape both ourselves and others.

687 Relax and Succeed - I have already lostYou have to see people in some way. So your views are fine to have as long as you don’t take them too seriously—that you remember they are just your views. The cinematographer doesn’t want to start treating the actor like he’s the character. And this applies to others opinions about you as well. Do some views carry consequences in your life? Yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that you have no control over their perspective. Your ability to influence anyone’s view of you is crippled by the fact that you don’t even know where to start. You cannot think from their perspective and so you have no idea what their view of you is.

Despite this reality everyone spends most of their lives trying to manage these perceptions. They get angry or sad or bitter about their perceptions of other people’s perceptions about them. To surrender all of that is to be free of your ego’s need to prove itself. To be valuable. To be worthy. And it turns out that all you have to do is stop talking to yourself under the presumption that anything’s wrong with you or anyone else. Do that and suddenly you don’t need all of the self-discussions about, what do I do to become acceptable? or how do I get that person to do what I want so I can deem them acceptable? Instead you’re fine with people and things the way they are. You just have peace.

Find the angles you light people from. Had a bad experience with betrayal? Then you’ll probably cast a suspicious light on others. Had an angry, reproachful father? Then you’ll be inclined to look at things and people fearfully. Or was your mother carefree almost to the point of neglect? Then you’ll either need that same kind of freedom or you’ll crave order but, either way, unless you become very conscious, your experiences with your mother will have shaped where you place the light on yourself and others. That’s why so many people vote just like their parents. They’ve only ever seen issues lit in one fundamental way.

687 Relax and Succeed - What is loveForget all of that head-talking. Forget gossip. Forget the words that you use to place the lights that will shape your vision. Stop wanting your spouse or co-workers to be different people. Accept by going quiet. Let their light be natural. It’ll still have an angle relative to you, but you’ll have saved yourself all the effort of re-lighting it yourself with your psyche. Because the less your ego is involved the more you open the light up and the better you can see. But no matter who you are no one sees everything. There is always mystery. There is always shadow. The secret is to stop asking. Relax knowing that the mystery is where your future is. And it’s not a future you’re not supposed to figure out, you’re just supposed to live it.

Now go have yourself an awesome day.

peace. s

Other Perspectives #51

601 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - I know I have to be careful

This. This is the kind of quote that’s very easy for people to misinterpret, which makes it a perfect quote for the Other Perspectives series. Be very careful with this quote. Someone created this and wrote the statement with a heart full of hope that they had warned someone else to watch for this challenge in life. It’s very thoughtful. But it’s dangerously ambiguous. Because if it’s from a person who’s talking from ego then what they’re saying is that some people have badness within them that they must suppress or it will emerge. If that’s what the quote means then don’t listen to that because it’s well intentioned but misleading. If however they meant that they know their own ego from the observer-perspective, and they have identified their egos destructive habits as a way of avoiding them, then that would we wise. But if the latter case were true then it would be unlikely the person would have used terms like “careful” or “destructive.” It would have read more like, “I’m aware my ego has some tendencies that lead me to negative consequences so I endeavour to stay mindful of them.” Whereas this comes across more as, “I was born with something wrong with me because I often undermine myself for reasons I don’t understand.” Stick with the first definition. You don’t need to be worried—you’re a fundamentally a good person. You just have to manage your peccadilloes so they never reel out control to the point where you’re forcing or coercing or manipulating otherwise unwilling participants to be involved in what you’re doing. And for the vast vast vast majority of people that’s not hard at all. So rather than the world having to worry about bad people, we’ll do more good by stopping unhealthy limiting thoughts about ourselves. Here’s hoping you use this to springboard yourself into kinder, gentler thoughts about yourself. Have a great week!

peace. s

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

A Difficult Decision

Over the last 6 months or more I have had two rescue dogs I just love. One of them had a troubled past which has lead to some serious behaviour issues. I’ve been through two trainers and a behaviourist with little effect. He’s needed operations—I was with him in the ICU spending a fortune I don’t have when nothing was for sure. I have dedicated untold hours, sweat, love, tears and frustration in my efforts to rehabilitate my dog, but with my other dog learning his bad behaviour, I’m really wondering if I’m doing the right thing.
Do I give up and admit defeat, or do I lean on how wonderful he is when
he is behaving and he’s on his back for a belly rub?

signed,
Sincerely Torn Dog Lover

Dear Dog Lover,

Let me begin by thanking you for picking up some of society’s slack. Maybe it’s a family-less senior’s dog that ended up in a shelter after a death. Or maybe it was an immature purchase by someone who hadn’t really given it appropriate thought. Whether the arrival of an animal at a shelter is preventable or not, someone has to take up that slack and I’m so grateful that you 307 Relax and Succeed - The price of any thingand so many of my friends are very active in this regard. You also have my sympathies regarding the associated challenges. What you’ve glossed over in a paragraph is actually a lot of life. I realize that situations like this can come to dominate our lives.

Of course no one but you can ultimately decide whether you should keep your dog and fumble through the challenges, or shift your attentions to an animal that is capable of receiving them in a useful way. But I’ll do my best to give you some things to ponder which may help you find your way through a maze of what I suspect must be very conflicting thoughts.

Firstly, you aren’t defeated if you were in an unwinnable battle. For all you know the dog has some undetected physiological issue that’s impacting its ability to act in a safe and survivable manner. You also aren’t responsible for the experiences the dog had before the shelter, and it appears those may have been very serious experiences that powerfully embedded some ideas into the dog. You cannot get attached to results. You can only focus on your action, not on outcomes. If the action is loving, then there is no need for regret.

Secondly, I can see why you might be inclined to see it as a failure and that you may have a sense that you’ve “let the dog down.” You didn’t. You’ve clearly done far more than most people would and you should feel good about that. But there’s no way around the fact that stopping now will be traumatic for both you and the dog. I’m not going to pretend those hours will be easy. But then again, most of life is already traumatic for you and the dog at this stage. And the world is not currently benefiting from all you have to offer, so I want you to consider it another way.

307 Relax and Succeed - Its not like everything is someones faultImagine that every being in existence is equal. I suspect this idea is easy for you. And let us say that each person’s ability to contribute to the world in a positive way is rated from +10 to -10, with zero being someone who has no extra compassion or energy to give, but they also don’t need any from anyone else. Most of us are lucky to just bounce temporarily into that negative zone. Big life events like getting fired, or divorced or insulted by someone you respect—those will all take you lower. But likewise, successes, compliments and cooperation will get you higher. Now let’s get to you specifically.

If you’re doing all you’re doing for these two dogs, then clearly you’re on the plus side of the equation. You have a lot to give. The question is, who should you give it to? Can you see that right now you’re taking your +7 being and you’re giving 8 points to your -9 dog? So he’s still a -1 but now you are too! In the accounting of the universe this is not always a good deal.

I would like you to think about what would happen if you only gave away 4 points to a dog that was a -2? Then you would be a +3 and the dog would be a +2. That feels a bit better, doesn’t it? Because that has some balance to it. A -9 dog needs several people to pour a fair amount of life energy into it, and even then that’ll 307 Relax and Succeed - Life is a series of naturaltake time and people can get tired of the expense to their lives. So it’s not so much that this dog doesn’t deserve the care—of course he does. But we also must be prepared to accept what is, and if you’ve poured that much work in, then you’ve probably already demonstrated that this is not likely to be a rescue-able dog. That is a shame, but rather than pour good energy after bad, you might well be wise to consider if your loving efforts might yield more valuable results elsewhere.

Again, no one can answer this but you. But don’t waste your +7 life having -5 guilty-thoughts. As I’m sure your friends have told you, you’ve done much more than most people would. There is no shame in surrendering in an unwinnable battle. And I’m sure there’s some adorable little balls of love that would really benefit from time with a soul as loving as yours so obviously is. So maybe the troubled dog isn’t a rescue case after all. Maybe he’s a lesson in disguise. Maybe he’s a lesson in perseverance. Or maybe he’s a lesson in letting go. And deep deep deep down, I believe you already know which lesson he is. So trust yourself. Because those feelings are how the universe speaks to you.

Big hug. Good luck to all involved.

pees. s 😉