The Generous Husband

When considering the greatest acts of love imaginable this is not likely to be on your list. You might think of someone escaping a war-torn country to be with his love, or some woman defying her entire culture to share her life with the man she truly loves, or maybe you’d think of some couple who meets during a disaster and goes on to have a wonderful family. But you won’t think of this.

We think of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia as diseases that impact much older people but by her late 40’s Karen was already showing signs that something was wrong, and soon she couldn’t even set a proper dinner table let alone run her life safely and effectively. By 50 they were making plans to get her into a home where she would be safe and well looked after.

Maybe the doctors and nurses were more prepared for it due to their experience. These brain diseases can attack various regions and often they’ll attack the ones involving our social comprehension. So people will become rude without meaning to, or they’ll say inappropriate things, or sometimes they’ll even do them. And sometimes, they’ll behave in ways that are far more complicated.

The home called. They had caught Bob’s wife in bed with another man. It was clearly sexual. A meeting was called. They trick is, the people involved were young enough that it was difficult to control their every move. More of these instances seemed inevitable. What did Bob and his daughter want to do?

What a thing to be asked. Do? What would someone do in such a situation? Both Bob and his daughter wanted some professional guidance but there is no guidance for a wife becoming extremely uninhibited and sexualised. No one else could consent on her behalf, and yet obviously no one knew if she was capable of consent if she needed it. And worst of all for Bob, his wife didn’t remember Bob or his daughter, and instead she thought she was married to the man she was sleeping with. Who imagines dealing with that at 50? Or is it worse for Bob’s daughter at half his age?

This can seem like an impossible situation unless you’re Bob and you’re in it. But Bob found a way through it. I’m sure it’s not easy, but it’s a route he can have faith in. Because Bob’s basically been told that this love and sexuality is an aspect of his wife’s disease. Even if they move her to another home, it isn’t likely to change. So Bob asked the only intelligent, loving question left. “Is she happy when she’s with him?”

I’m confident it was a very difficult answer to give him because it was overwhelmingly affirmative. Yes, she and the stranger she met in hospital appear to love each other very much and both seem happiest and healthiest when they’re together. Bob’s wife is happier and more alive if she is allowed to experience her love with another man.

Can you imagine the position Bob is in? Can you imagine that you’ve planned your retirement and just as you’re getting close to the point where you hit what you thought would be the easiest period of your lives together, instead you’re not only entirely forgotten about, but moreover you must actually approve of, and even in strange ways pay for, your spouse to have a powerful romantic and sexual relationship with someone else? Wow.

This is the height of love because what has Bob done? He’s put his wife’s needs before his own. He volunteers to suffer so that his wife may have peace and happiness. That’s as generous a love as we can have. Bob wants his wife to be happy, even if that means she’s happiest with someone else.

If Bob can do all this, then I’m sure the rest of us can do better than we’re doing. So let’s all take Bob as an example and, for the rest of this week, do your best to put the needs of your partner ahead of yourself. And while I do feel for Bob, I’m also happy that his spiritual courage has lead him to experience the greatest form of love that anyone can partake in. Because as daunting as it may be, we should all be more like Bob.

peace. s

PS You can follow the link above to hear Bob tell his own story.

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.

MoK: Marching For Peace

Yesterday’s act of kindness was an important one. I’d like to think all of you participated in being kind to yourselves even though that often feels difficult and unnatural. It’s a shame we’ve constructed society in such a way that we find something that healthy to feel that unnatural. Similarly, it’s a shame we find making amends with others difficult to the point where, if it happens, it’s usually only half-intentional. Today is about becoming fully intentional.

As the old saying goes, except for a few cases in life, you’re better to be happy than be right. Being right implies that the other person must be wrong. This reinforces that subject-object division between you and the rest of the world with which you are otherwise naturally unified.

The separation between you is strictly made of thought–it’s made of your beliefs about what is right and wrong, and about your perceptions of what really happened. In addition, let’s face it, we all have those examples where, deep down, we actually know that we’re at minimum complicit in the confusion, if not entirely at fault.

In some cases we even feel guilty, even though we still come across as defensive about the issue. What hurts is that we are good people, and so when that happens we know our words and actions lacked respect or integrity. We feel that lack of responsibility as the pain that leads to our defensiveness.

Our job on todays assignment for The March of Kindness is for us to find one of these examples and to let it go. Even better if we can actually settle the disagreement formally, and the ultimate goal would be to apologise–even if it’s for something small. The point is, if it requires real effort and challenge then we’re overcoming something and we’re benefitting along with the person we’re apologising to or forgiving.

Find your example, examine your reactions and your behaviour and really come to a better understanding about how your personal, ego-based motivations overrode your natural integrity and personal nature. Reinforce your own goodness in this way. Maybe you say something, maybe you don’t. Maybe you write something, or send a card or email or even a text. Maybe you just stop being passive-aggressive towards them.

Even if your apology or forgiveness or act of letting go is silent, or even if it’s done with full knowledge that the other person really was in the “wrong,” make this an active and meaningful act of kindness. This isn’t just about you, it’s about the world. It’s about the other person and about creating more peace within one or both of you.

By accepting our responsibilities to create peace we also gain empowerment over our actions. By being able to forgive or apologise, we become more expansive and capable, and by letting go of our disagreements and grudges, we not only free ourselves, but we all make an important contribution to there being less discord and more harmony in the world. And after all, that is the entire point of The March of Kindness.

Thanks for your participation. Much love.

peace. s

MoK: Sad Kindnesses

1108-relax-and-succeed-it-is-not-enough-to-be-compassionateToday in the March of Kindness we’re dealing with sadness, which for the purposes of this discussion we’ll divide into two categories. The first is unwelcome sadness within ourselves, and unwelcome sadness in others, and the second is a welcome sadness in ourselves and/or welcome sadness in others.

Unwelcome sadness will have destructively overstayed itself. It could be anything from chronic to simply overdue for a change. In the case of longer term sadness, part of the challenge is that we will often have already overtaxed others ability to provide compassion, meaning our act of kindness can be to relieve that pressure from those around us.

This isn’t to say our pain isn’t necessarily valid, but we all must remember that everyone has their own visible and invisible challenges as well, so focusing too much on our own sadness can lead to a form of selfish disrespect for those around us. We’re unlikely to be the only people from whom the extension of compassion would be appropriate, and no one’s supply of energy for such things is limitless.

1108-relax-and-succeed-mok-be-kindChronic sadness can be a challenge for those around us because it becomes invisible through its consistency. Essentially, sadness becomes a personality trait rather than an emotional state. We and others can eventually accept a sad identity and we won’t attempt to change it out of respect.

If we’re one of the people who’s been locked into some form of long-running destructive sadness, we can add kindness to the world by consciously choosing to rescue those around us from having to talk, act and work around our personal own personal suffering for today. Rather than asking for energy we can emit it.

If someone is currently experiencing welcome sadness–that is, meaningful sadness related to a death or other very profound life event–then we can extend our kindness by avoiding the desire to rush the person out of their healthy state of grief. Sadness can accomplish important things of us, and often just assessing which is which in ourselves and others can be a very valuable awareness exercise.

1108-relax-and-succeed-mok-if-you-love-someoneToday, either enact your kindness by consciously removing your long term sadness from the lives of others, or practice kindness by exercising compassion regarding someone else’s temporary but meaningful sadness. What’s important is that this action is intentional and obvious. If you’re lucky enough to have no sad people in your life at the moment, feel free to use someone from the News.

The former can be the announcement of a commitment to choose positivity for the day, and the latter can come in the form of a simple expression of empathy that you’re aware that sometimes these experiences are necessary, and yet you want the person to clearly know that you do care despite the fact that you’re providing “space” for their experience.

These are both kind and simple acts that are not particularly socially awkward so this act in the March of Kindness will likely be easier for you than yesterdays. Don’t forget to stay conscious. This can be a very healthy form of connection.

Now go be kind, and then have a wonderful weekend. We’ll start again on Monday. But don’t think you can’t continue to exercise these first few forms of kindness over the weekend. Take care.

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 Performance

1044-relax-and-succeed-half-of-life-is-lost-in-charming-othersI know you’ve believed it all of your life. You think people are being figurative when we tell you that reality happens in your imagination but we’re not. And until you face that absolute fact that ties us all together, you will suffer because you will spend all of your time trying to satisfy a bunch of other people’s heads when that’s impossible because they all see you their own way.

Your belief is that reality is the events and practices of your life. You can’t be happy at work because it’s called work and you reserve your happiness for the word play. You’re like that to the point where you can even dislike other people for the fact that they love their job. Or maybe you you believe you can only be happy if you’re with one particular person because the definition of you as half of that partnership is all you need to cause your brain chemistry to change.

1044-relax-and-succeed-anxiety-is-the-worst-use-of-imaginationSo you’ve let your society tell you what’s good and what’s bad and you live up to it. For the vast majority of you, any unknown food is also an unwanted one. Pregnancy has to be an awful, painful experience you need drugs for. Or if someone in your family is afraid of heights they can teach you to be too. But does it really seem likely that heights themselves are dangerous? Of course not, people stand at the edge of substantial heights all the time.

Could I find people who like unpopular things? Could I find people who love their job? Can I find women who valued pregnancy and went through it without drugs? Due to simply no other choice, that would be more than half the women on Earth so you can definitely find them. And as noted, there’s no shortage of people walking in places featuring extremely high heights. Maybe you also believe these people are working with more than you are. Maybe you really just aren’t that good. Unfortunately, that one probably is believable to you.

Your life is an emotional experience. You list it as things that made you happy and things that made you sad, when really it’s things you allowed yourself to think gratefully about, versus things you want to be different. It isn’t the difference you need to gain, it’s the wanting you need to lose.

1044-relax-and-succeed-you-were-born-an-originalYou perform so much of your life to please others it’s ridiculous. Every life has challenges and it is experience that helps us find where the line is between things we should accept versus things we should put our energy into changing. But if you want to change yourself every time someone else wants you to act this or that way then you’re not even living your own life, you’re reading a bunch of other people’s disconnected scripts.

Go ahead, be yourself. The people who will respond most positively to it are your people and you don’t need anything to earn their love and support other than be yourself. It’s so much more relaxing that it leaves you tons of extra energy that you can use to become even better version of you. Stop wanting your life to be different. Appreciate how it is. Because the latter happens inside your head, meaning the act of appreciation is always within your control. And if you’ve got that, you’ve got happiness no matter where you are.

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.

Body Language

871 Relax and Succeed - I will attract into my lifeSome of you have taken up the meditations and really given them some consideration during your day and already you’re subtly feeling the effects. Now let’s use your increased awareness of what you want to move toward and away from, and now we can develop a way for you to steer yourself using every tool available.

Your mind stores ideas of you and the world in much, much more complex ways than you currently imagine. It’s why we walk and age like our parents and we can always ride a bike. We might have to find the part of us where the bike is, but when we do we’ll have a lot of it back at once. Well, we want to make happiness like bike riding.

Why does the bike riding work? Muscle “memory,” although all of you is smart. Your mind is your experience of it all–but your being does know how to ride in a way that’s difficult for you to comprehend. But because happiness doesn’t require your balance and because falling off is less immediately painful, people don’t store happiness with the same detail that they store bike riding. So let’s change that.

871 Relax and Succeed - Be an optimist primeFor the next few days just monitor your mood and your being. Notice signs of you being low or signs of you being up or signs of you being angry etc. etc. Maybe it’s how you talk, maybe it’s how your breathe or stand. Maybe you walk differently or keep your eyes fixed somewhere differently. For instance, if I start to feel hurried my hand will curl into the position it was in immediate after my accident. That will lead me to stand up and shake out the tension, do my breathing exercise and then settle back into work in a different frame of mind.

Know signs that you’re in a state of mind you enjoy and don’t enjoy. Then (unless you’re learning something valuable), you can just use your “memory” of what your body moves like when it feels good and you can literally steer it away from feeling bad. Your thoughts and resulting brain chemistry will trigger a smile but a smile will also need a bit of brain chemistry. It’s like boosting your car or fiddling with a radio dial. Make yourself an antenna for nice feelings.

Don’t think this is hard because you already do this. Maybe it was an important work day and you were sick but you bucked up and went–the act of “bucking up” was the conscious switch. Likewise when someone can tough it through a bad cold for a day out in the snow with friends, whereas a day of work would tilt them towards resting. You do this all the time. Start doing it on purpose, not just when your family patterns and habits would suggest it.

871 Relax and Succeed - It's not hardIf you’re focused on learning about yourself you’ll have less attention to pay to others. That’s good because as we discussed yesterday, their opinions are varied, fleeting and meaningless in almost every single case. Better that you’re focused on your own life. You’re amazing. Get to know you and you’ll realize you have all kinds of ways to influence yourself.

Get conscious. Less thinking about others and yourself and more just watching and noticing. You don’t have to search or make efforts to change. Just observe. Trust me, if you’re mindfully observing you won’t need any help in noticing useful things. Then when you catch yourself demonstrating low behaviour you can decide to switch to something nicer whenever you’re ready. Just adopt the physical signals that your body recognizes as happiness and shift your thoughts to the nicest things available. The rest your body will know how to do by nature. It really is that easy. 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 #89

This is true although it’s important to point out that this choice–this decision–gets made every moment of every single day. It’s not like one decision makes you a good or bad person for the rest of your life. People are all the same–they all hold the same potential. Their behaviour is not who they are, but at the same time their life will be made up of that behaviour. So you can develop a reputation for a certain behaviour but that’s not the same as being a bad person. Everyone still has other behaviours available to them. So never lose sight of yours or anyone else’s potential. It’s always only one moment–one decision, one choice–away. After that you just have to know with certainty that you will choose bad behaviour occasionally no matter who you are. But if you’re awake and paying attention, the consequences that result will be all the motivation you need to return to more rewarding choices. Make those choices starting right now. Give the next person you meet a compliment and start off their time with you by helping them to recognize their ability to make good choices about their life too. Have a great week everyone.

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 - Other Perspectives Footer

Scott’s Favourite Blogs of 2014 #3

722 BY3-14 Relax and Succeed - I'm sorry for passing

Because I had started the year answering direct questions, that left me only six months to choose from and still it was difficult picking just three favourites. I had to leave out The Master and the Priest, Directing Your Life and Because We Love The Children. But that also means I really love the three I do get to bring you. And we’ll start off with this little piece of practicality: How about if we all just gave each other a little more room to be human? Enjoy.

CLICK BELOW TO READ:

Winner: Scott’s Favourite Blogs of 2014 #2

peace. s

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

Parenting vs Exampling

It is extremely common for parents to come to me with what they feel are problem children. They talk about behavioral issues, worrisome friends, disrespect, aloofness, bad grades, or casual sex etc. Certainly there’s almost always at least a few kids in my roster who genuinely need some serious help from me, but I’m happy to report that most don’t need much. In fact, in most cases the kid barely needs me at all. Because the issue actually isn’t with the kid. And it’s not with the parents either. But it is with the parenting.

549 Relax and Succeed - The kids who need the most loveAgain: this isn’t to say the parents are bad. Their dedication isn’t an issue, and all of them are intelligent, successful people in whatever life path they pursued. They bring their kids to me because they love them and want them to do well. They’ve invested time and money and effort and endured all kinds of things before they meet me. And always, the kid in front of me is—despite their issues—impressive in all sorts of ways. So the parents have overwhelmingly succeeded, despite a few lingering concerns. In the end, the problem is really very simple: it’s just that most people don’t parent as consciously as they believe they do, so once I help them become more conscious they certainly don’t need any advice from me.

Parents will believe they’re putting a lot into their parenting by giving a lot of thought to their kid’s development and their “issues.” And they are putting a lot in, in a way. But it’s largely wasted energy because their parenting is choosing and inflating those issues unconsciously as a reflective or reciprocal resp0nse to the parenting they got. So if you feel like your life would have gone better if you paid more attention in school and your parents never pushed you in school, then you will be more urgent about trying to get your children to do well in class. But it’s also logical that if you did well in school and that brought rewards, then you will also urge your child to do really well so they can have those rewards too. Yet at the same time, it makes sense that a kid who is 549 Relax and Succeed - Make the ordinary come alivepushed too hard could crater and drop out from the pressure, even though they’re smart. The point is, you’ll act a lot like your parents, or a lot like the opposite of your parents, and you’ll do this in super subtle ways that you will find largely invisible, except for a few key issues (“Oh my God, I sound like my Mother!!”)

So most parenting is based in fear, and on the act of trying to prevent bad things from happening, and the parents choose the bad things they’re most afraid of based on their own lives and the parenting they got. If your mother’s sister died from drowning then you can bet that you’ll be taught to be extra wary when you’re near water. Or if your dad was never home because he was always working, you will have unconsciously learned to leave work exactly on time for the rest of your life, because you want to get home to your kids. Those are the kinds of motivations that create unconscious parenting.

Can you see how that’s like a crazy chain of misinformation and misunderstanding? You don’t need to manage a kid’s life like you’re their agent. There’s little need to focus on individual areas of a child if they feel fully actualized by parents who are parenting under the automatic assumption that their kid will be a successful human being. Not in an egotistical, materialistic 549 Relax and Succeed - The best security blanketway, but rather they will be confident enough to do as well as they should at whatever they try. So some things they’ll be built for, other things not so much, but they’ll feel secure doing either. We’re all crappy at some things, so if a parent’s focused on their child’s weak points, the child will soon have no self esteem and that is the worst blow of all.

If you really want to have an effect, the most effective form of parenting is exampling. If you and your spouse yell at each other, then you have no business telling your kid not to yell. That’s ridiculous. So they have to live to a higher standard than you? No wonder they’re sassy; you’re a hypocrite. And if you’re constantly focused on their bad classes and wanting them to do great in every subject, then again—they’re doomed. No one is good at everything. 80% of the world believes they are bad a math. For God’s sake, let them be a human. They’re allowed not to be good at things and so are you. Everyone gets that by birth.

School and sports have become like the stock market. They drive people insane. The book publishing industry was historically a 4-6% profit business. But then big international media companies bought all the publishers and because they were publicly traded, they wanted the same 15% a year that all their other businesses are whipped into providing—as though 6% is a failure. But of course, the desire of the market to make 15% does not change the state of the world any more than the existence of schools and classes means that kids should be good at 549 Relax and Succeed - The educational systemevery subject that gets invented. It doesn’t matter if you want 15% or A’s, sometimes 6% and C’s are all that’s available. And it seems cruel to whip a zebra because it’s not a horse.

Most people are much, much smarter than they give themselves credit for. But they limit themselves with narratives that they’re stupid or incapable. And those scripts come from responding to the demands of parents. You don’t want to push a kid into a subject, you want them to be inspired toward it. And for the few things they’ll suck at, you can use those as life lessons about how everyone has things they struggle at and that’s okay.

So the best thing you can do is, if you want your kids to focus, focus yourself. If you want them to speak respectfully, then speak respectfully yourself. If you want them to be kind to others, then be kind to others 549 Relax and Succeed - Behind every great kidyourself. If you want them to get their stuff done, get your stuff done. And if you want them to care about something, don’t demand it. Care about it yourself. Because you don’t build a kid. You nurture one, and they’ll grow toward the light.

Forget talk-parenting. Forget lessons. Take some responsibility for their behaviour. Example what you want to see. Show it to them and they’ll amaze you.

I normally would have stopped at the previous paragraph but I want to take a moment to stress that the example above is common. A lot of my current and past clients read the blog regularly and it’s remarkable to me how often they all constantly believe a blog is about them specifically. It shows how much we’re all the same. These are always amalgamations and re-creations of many experiences. So if you’re insecure about you’re parenting, this truly isn’t about any individual, it’s about you the human being. And I do hope it helps de-stress you so that you and your child can more fully enjoy each other’s company. Because I’m confident you’re doing a better job than you think you are.

with love, s

Romantic Relationships

Who should you be in a relationship with? Or should you be in one at all? And if you are in one, how can you tell if they’re the “right” person? This is the age-old question: when is someone good enough and when are we expecting too much?

470 Relax and Succeed - We are all al little weirdOkay, let’s start off with the fact that coupling is an entirely fabricated mental construct. You might have a favourite person to spend time with, confide in, and even have sex with. But the reason you’re not spending more time with, or confiding in, or having sex with other people isn’t because those things wouldn’t at times feel natural, it’s because of mental borders or restrictions or limits you place on yourself using language.

Being in love with someone doesn’t stop a guy from getting an erection when he sees a woman he finds extremely attractive. That’s the biology that magazine covers are trying to harness. That’s a part of us. So I want to be clear: if you want to couple off that’s fine, but we can’t discuss this issue with you assuming that coupling is natural when there is strong biological evidence that it clearly isn’t. It’s just how society is currently set up in many places, at this time in history.

All that said, since our societies train people to think of themselves as half of a couple, it makes sense that this will be your first inclination. And if we’re not going to be in tribes, at least pairs or families make it a little closer to the real world, where none of us can actually survive alone. So if you’re going to date or get married, you can’t expect perfection but you can start off on the right foot with a good understanding of what traits and qualities are most likely to lead to happiness in the relationship. Fortunately—and probably very surprisingly—this isn’t complicated.

470 Relax and Succeed - True love has no expiration dateWho should you be with? Someone who wants to be with you. Told you. Easy.

Think about it. Do you want someone that is attracted to your appearance? No, because that will inevitably change drastically. Do you want someone who is attracted to your wealth or status? No, because those too are very likely to fluctuate. Do you want someone that’s attracted to your personality? Now we’re starting to get into healthy territory. Your personality is essentially who you are. So yes, you want someone who wants to be near someone like you. The rest is all superficial.

Start paying attention to the couples around you. 50% of them get divorced and even in the 50% that’s remaining there are many relationships that are less than respectful. This means a very large percentage of couples simply aren’t very nice to each other. They’ll complain and chide and ridicule and insult. An enormous percentage of their exchanges will exist to point out mistakes or offer correction. How the person drives, how they spend money, how they look, how they act, who their friends are, what kind of shape they’re in, etc. etc. etc., all hidden deep within their “normal” exchanges.

470 Relax and Succeed - Never love anyone who treats youThink about that again: a very large percentage of couples simply aren’t very nice to each other. They are either actively unkind or passively unsupportive to their spouse and their objectives. So obviously, odds are you’re in this group. So who makes up the other group?

A much smaller percentage of couples admire each other. They don’t solicit their partner’s advice out of obligation or respect, they do it because they genuinely want their input to be a part of their deliberations. They think so highly of their partner it’s like going to get advice from the greatest guru you’ve ever heard of. Those couples are fans of each other. When their partner is out of earshot they’re more likely to be complimenting them than they are to be offering judgments about them. Simply put, they act as though they feel very nearly perpetually in awe of their good-fortune in having such an excellent source of love, support and information constantly available to them.

All day long I see couples losing track. They take each other for granted. They forget why they got married, or they didn’t get married for good enough reasons in the first place. Of course you should also have enjoyable separate lives with friends etc. but your spouse or romantic partner should essentially be the number one confidante you have. They should be the source of information you trust most. They should be your hero and you should be theirs. It really should be a mutual admiration club where you both just want to constantly show your gratitude for the other person being in your life.

470 Relax and Succeed - A criticism is just a really bad wayThis has several advantages. People who feel safe and secure perform at their best, and so it’s likely that the loving couples really are getting the best advice. There’s also less energy applied to unnecessary friction and arguing, and both parties experience the health and energy benefits of less stress. Not to mention they’re acting as far better guides to their children. While other kids are learning to argue, judge and complain, those kids are learning kindness, gratitude and love.

I’ve watched people waste their entire lives in a relationship they don’t like, all because they don’t want to be seen as having “failed” when they end the it. They over-calculate the damage and under-calculate the upsides of a more positive change. You’re better to be single than be disrespected or live unadmired. Every human being is worthy of love and admiration. It is never a matter of whether or not you’re worth it—you’re born worth it. It’s a matter of whether or not you’re with someone who can see you clearly enough to recognize how mazing you are in your own unique way.

You don’t have to sort out difficulties. You just have to focus on realizing yourself, and then pay attention to who naturally feels compelled to be near that realization. Be closest to the people who love the way you naturally are.

Big hugs.

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.

Attached are some links relevant to the discussion:

How Long Should a Relationship Last?

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