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.