Waking Up Our Kids

1292 Relax and Succeed - Over-thinking steals livesIt’s common for people to wish they’d learned to control their thinking when they were younger. What’s effortless to learn for largely egoless kids is a bit harder when we’re older, that’s fair. More importantly, for a kid, a lot of suffering can be avoided or abbreviated if we know how to manage our emotions earlier in life.

Phones and computers and automation give many of us a false sense of control. But when we are faced with situations that are overwhelming, increasingly people are finding they are incapable of managing that very normal aspect of life. Lessons on managing our feelings needs to start young –younger than we might think.

Every parent should at least consider waking their kid up in a way that helps them truly understand how the world and our minds merge to create our reality. Rather than just telling them to get up and being perfunctory about getting them physically ready, if possible, we should consider taking a moment to get them psychologically ready too.

Kids generally assume that whatever their parents are doing is what’s happening in every house. Normal is whatever our parents do routinely. So if they wake up and they witness us taking a moment to set an intention for a good day, and if we casually expect that they should do likewise, those things quickly instill that healthy ritual as a normal part of waking up.

A parent can present the idea like it’s a big moment –like when a kid doesn’t have to wear diapers anymore– or, if the kid’s older, it can be said much like you might tell them that they have to remember to grab their skates for hockey practice.

It’s either exciting or pedestrian, depending on how much child-like wonder your kid is still functioning with. I’ll use a young kid in the example. In my admittedly highly idealized example, it starts as easily as:

“Tomorrow when we get up we’ll get you started on setting your intentions,”

“What’s that?” the kid may say in some form or other.

“Well, without an intention people’s feelings are kind of like flags or balloons. They just float in the direction the wind is blowing. And you know how people have good moods and bad ones?” The kid nods. “Well, other people’s moods and our own thoughts are the ‘wind’ everyone has in their day.”

“The wind?”

“Yeah, it’s like a wind of thinking. Sometimes it blows us along and makes things better, like when people cheer for us or when we’re thinking lucky thoughts. But sometimes it blows hard right at us, like when a lot of people are picking on us, or if we’re mad, or sad. Some days there’s no wind, but most days there’s at least a breeze. So it’s important to start the day with an intention to not get blown off course.”

“What happens when we’re blown off course?”

“Well, we’re just individuals. We’re very strong and we have lots of control, but sometimes we’re hungry, or over-tired, or sometimes we’re just surrounded by too much sadness or anger. But we don’t want to stay angry or sad –or even get angry or sad if we can avoid it, right?”

“I don’t want to be sad.”

“I don’t want you to be sad either, but we have sad feelings because sad is a part of life. Without sad we lose a lot of love songs, and love songs are beautiful. As we get older we start to understand what to do with sadness –because we can use it to find more happiness if we do it right. But some sadness is just built into life. The way to avoid being too sad for too long is to set an intention to have a good day. That way you avoid the avoidable sadness.”

“You mean we can not feel sad? How?”

1292 Relax and Succeed - Stop thinking and end your problems

“Sometimes you ‘can not feel sad.’ Other times it’s the right feeling for what’s happening, like when we were sad at when we had to take Pepper to the vet to go to sleep.”

“I miss Pepper.”

Cuddles the child. “I do too honey. Thinking about Pepper can be a nice kind of sad though, right? That’s the kind of sad it’s okay to feel. Missing Pepper is because we loved her.”

“There’s good sad and bad sad?”

“Yeah. Good sad is the sad we want to feel. But sometimes you don’t want to feel sad, or we’re tired of feeling the kind of sad we liked and now we want to feel better. When we feel that feeling we have to shift our attention to different things.”

“… what kind of things?”

“Well, if we don’t want to be sad then we can’t think our own sad thoughts because they’re sad. And we don’t want to think other people’s negative thoughts –stuff like insults– either, because that hurts too. Auntie Sara sometimes makes herself sad because she thinks she should look different. But we love Sara exactly the way she is, don’t we.”

“I love Sara… Why does Sara want to be different?”

“Well, wanting is made of thinking. So Sara is thinking about looking different than she does and she likes the person in her thoughts better.”

“So she doesn’t like her real self?!”

“Sometimes. Yeah.”

This genuinely dismays the child. “Why? Then why doesn’t she stop thinking that?”

“I guess she forgot to. Maybe because she didn’t have the habit of setting her intention for the day.”

“How do I do that?”

“It’s when we decide how we’re going to use our focus for a day. All day long we all each decide what we think about. Nobody else thinks for us. So if you’re thinking about Pepper and it’s making you sad but you like that kind of sad, you can keep focusing on your thoughts on Pepper. But if you’re too sad and you want to stop, instead of thinking about Pepper you have to think about something or someone that makes you happy, like the time we went horseback riding, or when you went on the airplane.”

“I can think about that?”

“You can think about anything you choose.”

“That will make me happier?”

“Yup –if you choose thoughts that make you happy.”

“Can it be a rabbit?”

Every parent knows this kind of stifled laugh when kids introduce an idea from nowhere. “Yeah, sure it can be a rabbit. It can be anything that makes you happy.”

1292 Relax and Succeed - If we don't like something

“How?”

“You and your ‘how’s.’ Okay. Well, when think about nicer or happier things our brain stops making chemicals that make us feel sad, and it starts making ones that feel better. Sad feelings, happy ones, when we’re mad, or laughing –all of our feelings come from inside us, from our thinking.”

“Inside of us?” The kid goes cross-eyed trying to get a look past their forehead to their brain.

“We kind of ask for our feelings. But when we’re young we only know how to do that when it’s easy, like when we get to do something fun. But when we’re old enough, it’s time to start learning the important part. That’s where we learn to to stop being too sad even when a sad wind is blowing.”

“How do I stop being sad when I don’t want to anymore?”

“Just the way I said –you just change to think about something nicer –that you feel better about.”

“That’s all?”

“Yup. It’s pretty easy. But the voices in our heads can get tricky. They try to tell us we don’t want to be happier when really we know we do, but our thoughts get confused by the chemicals.”

“The sad chemicals?”

“Any of them can confuse us. Wait until you’re older and fall in love. The first time doing that is really confusing. But like everything, we get better at things the more we do them. That’s why it’s important to start practicing when we’re young.”

“I don’t want to be sad like Sara. Sara’s beautiful.”

“Awww honey. Yeah, she is. I don’t want her to think that either. Or for you to think like that about yourself. But doing that is easier if we set an intention. So when we wake up, before we completely get up we have to remember to stop for a few moments. That’s when we do our little meditation.”

“A medit… a m… a what?”

“A meditation. That’s when we take some time to remind ourselves that our thoughts create how we feel each day. And then we remind ourselves that we want to feel good that day. That way, if we forget during the day –and everyone does sometimes– then the intention from the morning reminds us of what to do. If we don’t like our feelings we have to change our thinking. Do you think you’re ready to start trying that?”

If it’s a matter of ready, most kids will jump at the chance to prove more capability and freedom.

“Okay. I’m going to do mine out loud so you have an example, but you can make up your own. What’s important is that it reminds you of your power. No one can change our thoughts but us. Okay, are you ready?”

By now the kid is fascinated to hear what magic spell comes next. And it’s about as close to a real one as we need. Eyes closed, the intention begins.

“Today if I lose my way and I get lost in my thoughts, I will use this intention to remind me that I want to make the most of my day, and so I do not want to dwell on sad, or angry, or guilty, or mean thoughts about myself, my life or any other person or thing.

“Instead of choosing to feel badly I will choose to feel better as soon as my intention reminds me to focus on something better. I thank my intention for helping me keep my thinking in control and thank you for making this little monkey here,” snuggles the child, “so that I always have such a beautiful little monkey to think about to help me when I’m sad.”

“You think about me when you’re sad?”

“I do. When I think of you it makes me happy.”

“When I think of me that makes me happy too.”

“That’s a whole other conversation about identity and ego my little Confucius. Let’s save that talk for a few years.”

“Okay. Can we get a rabbit?”

peace. s

Sailing Through Life

The little boy settled onto the blanket, next to his father. They were on a steep rocky headland and they had a beautiful view of the entire ocean before them. The wind flicked a blond wisp into the boy’s eyes and he pushed it away. “Do you see her?”

“Not yet Simon. She’s still off over the horizon.”

“What’s a ‘horizon?'”

His father points out over the water. “You see it on the sea, and you can see it out in the country too when it’s really flat, or you’re really high up; and you can see it in life too.” He points out toward the ocean. “Auntie started sailing from another continent–another giant island like the one we live on–but we can’t see it because the world is curved. And if you were on one side of a giant ball you wouldn’t be able to see the other side would you Simon?”

“If I had a see-through ball I could.”

His father smiles. “That’s very clever. Yes. If it was see-through you could. But otherwise you couldn’t. And the Earth isn’t see-through, it’s covered in rock and water; so the line where we can’t see anymore, that line is the horizon and we can’t see your auntie until she comes over that line.”

Simon seems confused. “Then how does she know where to go?”

“Well, that’s a good question. She has a good boat, she’s well trained, she has courage and determination, and after that all she needs is a direction and her knowledge. That’s all life is. We’re never really sure where we’ll end up or how exactly we’ll get there. It’s just ability and effort. The rest is like the ocean. So put the best equipment you can put together, the best training you can find, and then add courage and a real desire to do it, and then apply yourself. That’s a good way to approach every part of life.”

This sounds like good news to Simon. He looks up at his father expectantly. “If she has that will she win?”

“Oh, that’s difficult to say. She’s the best sailor of all of us. She’s been winning regattas since we were kids but, like I said, sailing’s a bit like life Simon. You can be the best sailor in the world and still get wrecked on the rocks, and you can be terrible and end up fumbling your way through in record time.”

Simon’s brow furrows. “That’s not fair.”

“Yes. That would make sense. Fair’s an idea we get in our heads, but the ocean doesn’t have a head, so it can’t think fairness into existence. So my sister–your aunt–has to use her head to outsmart the sea. And maybe if she’s smart and lucky with the wind and the waves, maybe she’ll win. But we’ll be proud of her no matter what. It’s no easy thing crossing an ocean alone.”

“But you said someone terrible could win.”

“Well, that’s true, but it’s less likely. Especially in this race. But the world isn’t fair, it’s just made up of a bunch of systems. The way water and wind work, have systems. So if auntie can be smarter and use those systems to her advantage, she increases her chances of success. But if she’s lazy and unprepared and she runs into lots of things she has to guess about, then she’s less likely to be right about her answer and she’s less likely to win. So you can’t guarantee anything. But the reason your Mom and I want you to be a good student of life is because that makes you more capable, like auntie, and that increases your odds of winning races and being free. You just have to always remember that any of us can get smashed on the rocks too, so don’t be hard on yourself if that happens too. That happens to everyone.”

Simon backs away from the cliff a bit. “I don’t want to hit the rocks.”

His father looks at him but steps toward the cliff and points out at the ocean. “Oh, no one wants to hit rocks Simon. But people are tiny and look how big the sea is. Sometimes a person’s best still isn’t enough. But that’s okay too. That way we know how much we can survive. Once, your auntie wrecked in blue water and she had to sit on the hull for a day before she was rescued.”

“Was she scared?”

“Maybe sometimes. But she’s smart too, so she would have used her brain for figuring out smart things. I don’t think she would have wanted to give much time to fear. She survived that, and that helped her feel stronger, and that’s why she took on this race five years ago. She felt like she could handle it, and her first year she was in the top ten boats.”

Simon seems proud of his own connection to her. “Maybe auntie will take me sailing.”

“Well Simon, people tend to like it when you’re interested in the things they’re interested in. So I suspect she’ll take you. Maybe I could even come and help.”

“Okay. But you have to listen carefully. Because we live not on the ocean so you drive mostly. Auntie has trophies and stuff for boats. So we will be safer if you listen to her careful, okay?”

“Sure Simon. I promise I’ll be careful so that we can relax and have fun.”

“I can’t wait to sail!” he literally shakes with excitement.

“Good. That’s the feelings that gets you through the storms and that’s the same one that makes any day a good day.”

Simon smiles.

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.

Let More Be

1189 Relax and Succeed - One person's craziness

Every year it seems, people are increasingly focused on their differences and very little heed is being paid to our overwhelming similarities. What’s curious about those differences is that they’re all theoretical. If you look beyond your personal beliefs to the greater truth that forms all realities they’re all equally uncertain.

Like everyone else, you’ve changed your mind about a subject or two in your life. Maybe you’ll even admit to executing a few of life’s inevitable flip-flops too. Maybe you thought Person A was your friend, then you thought they weren’t, and then they were again. It’s not like Person A was flip-flopping who they were. You were just changing the opinion you colour them with.

The fact is Raj or Sirah or Dennis or Clare or Sydney or Dylan sound like a group of friends when really that’s just a collection of words. Because who are those people? Not only will they each change at their own rates and for their own reasons throughout their lives, but likewise, so will their opinions of each other. So who is what, when?

1189 Relax and Succeed - Reality is negotiable“Society” is nothing more than the averaging of everyone’s assembled–yet still individual–views. We draw a Venn Diagram with seven billion circles and we find the layers of overlap and we call that “normal.” Whether it’s about people or things or ideas, we all come to accept ideas at different times.

Some people believe things as soon as they like them. Others need tons of proof. Others need high quality scientific proof. Others will only believe people they like, and they’ll never believe anything coming from someone they don’t like. Others doubt everything. We’re all on this spectrum somewhere.

This means the rules and ideas and concepts that shape and guide our society are like a collective amoeba, organically working its way along as we all pursue things that are in alignment with our current capabilities and our individual natures. This is the subtle person by person way that a society’s fundamental perspective can appear to suddenly shift, when really all that happened is that the slow ebb eventually tipped your personal scale.So collectively, first we believed there were Kings and Queens who killed you if they didn’t approve of you. Then only wealthy land-owning men could vote, and you could be destroyed if they didn’t approve of you. Then only men could vote, and you could be destroyed if they didn’t approve of you. And then women could vote, and thankfully there’s no one left for them to prove their strength to because at least all of us humans all equal.

The strange thing about “differences” is that you could still find people today who still believe only landowners should be allowed to vote. There’s people that still think only men should. And some think children and eventually animals should be able to. We are all alive on the same planet at the same time. So all of these views co-exist. Is that really something to get upset about? Doesn’t that just make sense? How else could it be?

So, if we’re all changeable, and none of us knows what we might believe in the future, then surely some of the views that we’re hearing today are actually correct and we will eventually change our mind. Maybe it’s about a musician or maybe it’s about a spouse, but that means big argument or small, you may just be arguing for a view you won’t have later.

Just think back. I’m sure you can find some painful examples of where you held a belief you no longer do. Everyone has loads of those. When I was a kid my neighbour used to want to be a fire truck. I doubt he does now. More recently, for a while, another neighbour thought they wanted to be married. But like I suspect the fire truck kid did, she ended up changing her mind about that. (I sure hope she also remembered to change her “divorce is failure” belief while she was at it.)

Who knows what you’ll believe a year from now? Why not just breathe out? Why not just let other views co-exist with yours like books in a library? You don’t have to read them, but if the cover ever does catch your interest, you can thank the people around you for placing that book in your library of potential beliefs. And if you never pick that book up. That’s fine too. You’ll leave plenty lying around that other people won’t read either.

The world appreciates the efforts of your good heart but there’s no need to suffer to save it. Yes, there are things for you to care about. But mistaking caring for worrying is like mistaking the efforts of love for the efforts of resistance. As Mother Teresa said, skip the anti-war rallies. Go to the ones for peace. So it is with life. Don’t resist it so much. Let more go. Be more fluid and flexible. Let things be. And in so doing, be free.

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.

A Life Unlived

When my father got sick we almost lost the house. I was just getting out of high school and I had never seen my parents to stressed. They’d never fought, now they were fighting all the time. I was too young to understand the tension of a mortgage back then, but with my brothers and sisters already moved out and living in different cities, it was up to me to help.

Unfortunately the only thing I knew that could make me money fast was to work with my brother’s friends. They dealt drugs and wasted it all on fancy cars and stupid stuff. I paid my Dad’s medical bills and my parents kept their house. Still, the money solved my problem but that’s not who my parents raised me to be and I always worried about the people buying the stuff, so to get away from that stress I took night school and eventually I got an engineering degree.

My eventual engineering job replaced the money I was making and we got my parent’s house paid off. Now I was free, but I didn’t know what to do. I’d been trained to be afraid that there’d never be enough money, or there’d always be too much work and that was was bad training for what would come next. That’s when I started talking to Scot and he pointed out that I’d always been responsible–in a whatever way that made sense at the time. That made me feel a bit better.

I had this invention. No big thing, but it was a good idea that could easily replace a good wage. I’d been laid off, so I had the time to develop it, but being laid off had a weird effect. My parent’s situation had taught me to be paranoid about money, so despite having a lot of savings I still worried about money all the time because no more was coming in. It wasn’t a healthy mental situation. And it was ironically keeping me from developing the idea.

Scott had been explaining to me how I’d been accidentally taught to process the world. I saw it as a place that was lacking, that was short, that my life needed work to come from others before it could be secure. I learned to over-process my fears and under-process my dreams. I spent far more time thinking about what could go wrong than what could go right.

Keep in mind during all of this that Scott kept pointing out that I’d done very well in school, and that even my ability to save for meaningful things was businesslike, and that the idea I’d developed was not only good, but the tons of research I’d done on it was not only excellent and thorough, but it represented more proof than most good ideas had to support them when they proceeded. He kept asking me what it was that was holding me back.

For a long time I listed what I thought was holding me back. What if it didn’t work? What if I made some fatal judgment error and ruined a good idea? What if there was a hidden pitfall I couldn’t predict? And what about all of the mistakes in life I’d already made? I had a huge list of fears but Scott just kept reminding me that they were all made of my own thinking. I thought he got what I meant until one day I had a huge revelation.

I was out walking. Okay, I was out procrastinating. If I wasn’t walking then I’d have to work on my idea, and if I did that then I was getting closer to a thing that scared me, so it did make a kind of sense that I was avoiding it. But avoiding it to do what? And that’s when it hit me.

It was so subtle I hope it even comes across now but, I realised that I was avoiding the pursuit of the idea so that I could instead think the fears that might possibly relate to the idea. For the first time I saw my thinking as an action–as what I was doing with my life. I wasn’t going anywhere. I was using my fears about being responsible to keep me from my responsibility to live.

My idea was good. The world would benefit from it. So who was I to keep it from the world because I was busy thinking thoughts that were irrelevant to everyone else? And why would I use the energy from my life to think those destructive thoughts when I could be using the same life energy to build that business?

The fact is, all of this worrying has been me failing. Even if I built the business and it bombed, I would have been done by now and I would have had the advantage of the experience and I would have felt like I accomplished more. Suddenly thinking appeared to me as the opposite of living.

Don’t be like me. Don’t avoid life. Because now that I can see through my thinking, I realise that like the walk, it’s a form of procrastination too. And it requires me to see myself as weak and ineffectual, as though I can’t pull this off. There’s no evidence I can’t do it. Just my fears. And those are no where but my consciousness. So now I hear myself think them and I get why they’re there, but they don’t stop me anymore.

I’ve come alive. I’ve stopped thinking about a timid life and I’ve started living a bold one and it turns out that boldness feels a lot calmer and more peaceful than all that worrying ever did. Listen to Scott. Trade your thinking for living. It makes all the difference in the world.

Sincerely, C

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.

The Spirit of Possibility

Whether it’s their own idea or someone else’s, people scoff when they hear dreams that seem too big. But too big for who, and when? Is it possible that the limitations of the world are merely made up by the limitations of our imagination? Is it possible that everything mankind has wrought started with a thought?

Every single thing you see before you; every cup, every phone, every car, everything you watch on a screen, everything that was ever created–including the blog you’re reading now–began with an idea. So why do you act like ideas are nothing? Why is your reaction to a big idea to note why it wouldn’t work, rather than getting excited by finding out how?

Did a pyramid seem possible to early man? Did the rule of law and democratic government seem possible to the subject of a king or queen? Did cars seem possible to cowboys? Did going into space seem possible to people who’d grown up without electricity or running water? And did the internet or smartphone seem possible even a few short years before their inception? Probably not. But they seemed possible to some collection of people. That’s the only reason you have any of the things that exist.

There’s an interview with David Lynch and Patti Smith where she asks him where his ideas come from and he gives an answer that will feel good to every truly creative person. He talks about how there’s a completed puzzle somewhere off in the universe, and he finds the fragment of it somewhere in the universe and he falls in love with it. And that love attracts other fragments, and the more fragments that get attracted the bigger the bait for more fragments. And that’s how every single amazing thing ever happened.

Darwin felt a tug and he followed the passion right out of his beloved church and right into discovering evolution, which in a way was him trying in his own way to describe what God or the forces of nature had created. But people adopt these ideas at their own pace. There are still people coming to accept that idea, and yet so much of the modern science and medicine the nonbelievers use will have been built directly as an extension of that initial creative truth.

Darwin won one friend over, then another, then a publisher, then a society or two, and eventually the public and the school systems. But it all started with one guy falling in love with his personal fragment, and you yourself are like a spiritual fragment-finding creation. That’s how you found all of your friends, and if you have a family it was literally born from the initial thought to bring those two first fragments together. And you felt it as a simple sense of recognition that felt something like, “Oh, he’s attractive.”

Watch yourself today. See people’s statements to you as offerings, and ask yourself what you do with them as offerings. Do you reflect back a previous belief regardless of what they’ve said, or do you attempt to prove it wrong using what you believe versus what they believe? Or, do you take it in and ask questions and really ask yourself what’s being said? Because Einstein told people about gravitational waves 100 years ago, but few believed him then.

Fortunately Einstein’s initial thought was enough bait to attract 100 years worth of clinging fragments, and recently some of the fragments who are scientists actually turned enough of their own thoughts into machines and processes that they were actually able to prove that Einstein’s had formed a truth.

Too often children and adults alike are told that ideas are crazy or too big. Too often we tell ourselves that, but we must shake that collective tendency. It’s ego-related and it’s all about your fears. Forget those. Find your fragment–the thing that will be worth you moving past your fears for. Maybe you’ll be right, maybe you’ll be wrong about what’s on the other side. Maybe you’ll create the thing and maybe you won’t. But that doesn’t matter. Because the power isn’t in the creation, the power is in creating. Even your so-called failures add value to the universe.

Don’t sell your dreams short. The route to them might be entirely unexpected, but if you boldly go forth you are sure to accomplish something meaningful. Start today.

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.

Egos and Salespeople

Richard and Alice didn’t even want to be there, but they had been in an accident and they needed to replace their car. They tried being stealthy but the salesman’s training took care of that. He was ready. Everything about his training taught him how to take full advantage of whatever kind of personality was in front of him.

Alice was just as shy as Richard but, for little more than sexist reasons, she pushed–and Richard accepted–the lead shy person’s position and so he’s the one that talked to Sammy. Richard immediately tried to play his cards close to his chest, but all that he and Alice talked about were safety features, so Sammy figured out that scaring them into buying it was the fastest, surest way to sell them a new van that was more expensive than the one they came in for.

Sammy talked about features, but he was sneaky about always adding in little references to how his van had this or that feature that kept them safer than other vans. Half the time Sammy was making the name of the feature up, and he had no idea what the competitors vans had for safety or features, but he knew if he said his was safest and the customers trusted him, then they’d never check. Besides, Mac was the kind of salesman that told the truth about that sort of thing and he was always in trouble with their managers for reading research instead of selling. Sammy didn’t need that hassle. He wanted to be a good employee.

In a short time Sammy had them scared into dealing with him only, and he had scared them into his van specifically, and then he scared them into a price. Of course his manager started them far higher than the monthly payment number they gave him, but that’s how Sammy’s boss contributed to the psychological assault. And that way Richard and Alice are so off balance that they never even noticed that the monthly payments added up to a lot more than the van plus the interest.

For their part, Richard and Alice are legitimately scared. They can’t deal with those other lying, thieving salesmen. Good thing Sammy warned them about them. And it has to be the D-Lux model, not for all of those expensive features, but rather because that’s how they get the best safety equipment. Besides, Sammy had got them such a great deal. (Sammy also made sure they felt in line to have several more accidents during their driving history.) So they felt they had no option except to nearly double their original monthly payment budget.

Once they’d agreed to that, Sammy handed them over to Polly. She’s the dainty, cute girl that works in the finance office. She was going to take care of the “paperwork” with Richard and Alice, and Sammy had told her about his good friends Richard and Alice, so innocent-looking little Polly also knew to tell a bunch of really frightening stories as she recommended various insurance or protection options. Totally scared of theft, accidents, death and every projectile imaginable, Richard and Alice doubled the price of the van again.

Finally they get word back from the bank but now they’re scared again! After all of this work and planning, the bank won’t approve the loan. Oh no! They can’t let the van go now! It’s the last one like it! Of course none of this is true, but with Sammy, Polly and their manager saying it, Richard and Alice panic. Yes, of course they’ll pay more!

Boom. Polly got her bonus–because had they not been willing to pay more, then the interest rate problem would have suddenly been solved by Polly’s genius instead or Richard’s wallet. So in the end, Richard and Alice got the van that will destroy their future finances and they’re even relieved to have it. They’re so grateful to Sammy for focusing on their safety and not their wallets that they’re planning on sending him business.

On a sidenote, when they picked up their van, Richard and Alice were so excited and happy that they didn’t even notice Mac, the honest salesman, being escorted out of the building with his belongings. Which was too bad for Mac, because the next day he ended up missing out on the free cake to celebrate Sammy’s win as Employee of the Month.

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.

MoK: The Powerful You

Surprise!

I know; I haven’t done posts on Saturdays in a few years but I owe you one from Friday. I appreciate your patience. First my parents were very ill with a stomach flu and then as soon as I got them through the worst of it I ended up catching it too. Once nice thing about being sick is that you really appreciate your everyday health a lot more, and that sense of grace helped me create, at least in my opinion, a particularly helpful post for you today.

When we’re struggling it’s natural for us to look for help. Our brain gets a lot of its base ideas from childhood, but that’s generally when our needs are necessarily met by others. As we age we progressively learn that we are much more capable than we imagine, and then as we decline near the end of life we return to a more childlike state of neediness.

Since very few infants read my blog, nor a huge amount of seniors, I tend to focus on the tough bits; the bits in the middle where we’re trying to discover our strengths and resiliencies. This is when a conflict arises between how you have seen the world versus how you will need to see before you can move forward. We all know this moments–these epiphanies–they’re those a-ha! moments where we suddenly realise we’ve been making a big, simple mistake.

Mistake is the right word because it’s not like you were making your life difficult on purpose. The mistake is generally thinking that there’s something wrong with us versus understanding that something is wrong with our perspective. Wanting to feel better is a perspective. Importantly, it’s a perspective that presumes that we need help.

Sure, sometimes we really do need help. Little kids want to do things themselves but often can’t, and seniors are often late in realising they need help. But those realities are very different from thinking we need help. Stephen Hawking obviously needs a lot of actual help, but he never would have become who he is by assuming he couldn’t do things. That’s easy for anyone to do. Even the most powerful, wealthy and beautiful people in the world face all the same human struggles and pains you do, they’re just better at hiding them.

Importantly, thinking we need help requires us to presume a state of weakness. We are reaching up. But what if this is where our mistake is? What if we’re assuming our childlike identity when it’s not the right tool for the job? And if an old identity isn’t going to help, and our current identity is experiencing struggle, then what’s required is a new identity.

As counter-intuitive as it seems at first, the answer to our wanting feelings is not for us to get what we want. That just reinforces the weak identity as being who we actually are, when what we need is to choose who to be. Wanting something implies first that there is a separate “me” and that there’s something missing, when neither is true. That’s just the subject-object nature of the conversations you have with yourself.

The way to feel better is to stop that conversation, and the way to do that is to stop making the assumption that your feelings are a result of the world rather than the result of your own thinking. So instead of listing our wants and needs to ourselves and others, we’re better to shift to not thinking about ourselves and instead focusing on the needs of others.

Even if you’re in a down state, you still have fantastic resources. Even your painful experiences are helpful to those going through those things right now. So even at your weakest you have a great deal to give. We can see this with babies. They’re 100% needy, and yet they get loved like crazy just for being. You’re actually still like that.

So this weekend, no matter what we feel our current state is, our assignment in the March of Kindness will be to feel stronger by finding a way to be generous. The important aspect of this is that you cannot generate generous feelings in the weak part of your mind.

By focusing on others you cease to create the troublesome, needy you and instead your mind is focused on the outside world. By taking generous action, you reinforce to yourself that you also contain strong identity, and strong identities tend not to review their problems, they’re too busy reviewing the strengths they have available.

Get out there today and be generous. Share yourself with others and feel more connected, worthwhile and powerful in the process. You can do a lot of little things or one big thing, but by doing either you add much more positivity to the world, you model healthy behaviour to others, and you prove to yourself that you are a multi-dimensional being with many forms. And if you’re aware of that truth, then no matter what state you’re in you know the answer isn’t to change the world, it’s to change yourself.

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.

Peace Within You

1092-relax-and-succeed-if-you-want-to-become-fullInvitations and violations. Invitations to love, to health, to compassion. Violations of love, of health, of compassion. That is the only two actions you take each day. Nonviolence, or violence. Embracing the soul or violating it.

Can you see that each exercise this week focused on a different aspect of reality? You see these as; how you speak to others, what you think of others, and what you think of yourself. But there are only others in the world of ego.

In the world of spirit reality is one continuous whole, as it is with a baby; where they can’t even recognise themselves in mirrors. They can’t think enough to draw ephemeral lines through reality; they can’t see themselves as separate. You need to think to be lonely. You need to think to be depressed. You need to think to suffer.

1092-relax-and-succeed-revolving-sun-moon-yin-yangAre you beginning to grasp the idea of yin and yang now? Your ego thinks it’s good and bad, but in reality it is nonviolence and violence, light and dark, this side and that side. It is necessary for reality to exist, and yet we are propelled by love and togetherness, which is why we feel unloved and alone when we’re in pain.

How can we create love unless there is space to create it in? And if this space can be filled with love, then it must begin with no love. If it is filled with violence, then it can become nonviolent. Nothing is wrong in this scenario. We are simply in motion. We are one. Your goodness is tied to badness. You cannot care for a loved one in pain unless the loved one is first in pain. You cannot fall in human love without also ensuring you experience the pain of love lost.

Yin and yang. Nothing is wrong. And yet you have a purpose. You get lost in the dark and you move toward the light.

1092-relax-and-succeed-extra-extraToday your meditation is to incorporate an appreciation for the reality of oneness into your daily life. You normally discuss the dark side. You complain, but you tell yourself you’re positive because you’re arguing to make you or the world better, but negativity is negativity. Love makes it better. Love doesn’t ask others to change. Love accepts and recognises the incredible value within each and every person.

The meditation looks like this; every time someone says something bad about the world your meditation is to find some way to not violate or deny their feelings, and yet convert the discussion to a more positive view. You also want to do this inside your own head, and you want to do it when you attack others and when you attack yourself, because in spiritual reality those are all one thing.

No matter how old you are the world has gotten massively better in your lifetime. The news and social media are products designed to sell you fear and loathing. They are violent forces in our society and both present a warped image of the world back to the viewer. There must be something wrong with you or your life if you need their product to improve or fix it.

1092-relax-and-succeed-the-world-is-full-of-good-peopleTo quote from a recent episode of Ideas on the subject of peace, the facts are quite different from your beliefs: The world has never been richer, healthier, better-connected, or safe. The number of conflicts around the world have dropped radically. 75 years ago it was 240 people per million who were killed in conflict, today only 11 people per million are killed in conflict.

At the turn of the previous century, 90% of the world was considered poor or very poor; today it’s 11%. 100 years ago 85% of the world was illiterate. Today 85% can read and write. Disease deaths are down or even eliminated. Even terrorism dropped by 15% last year. The news sells fear. The truth is that humans have done really well at caring for other humans.

You job today is to simply begin acting like you actually live in our current nonviolent reality, instead of the violent delusional world of ego and fear. If your eyes are truly open you will see evidence of this truth everywhere you look. Enjoy.

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.

Sources of Reality

1070-relax-and-succeed-reality-exists-in-the-human-mindAre the implications of what you learned yesterday truly sinking in? I don’t expect you to fully accept this idea already, but what Dr. Shaw’s research confirms is that you absolutely have a faulty memory. That’s tough to accept. It’s not only filled with inaccurate memories of real events, you also believe things that never actually happened. You won’t accept that idea yet, but the fact is, reality is already iffy.

I know you intellectually get that the scientists aren’t lying, but I also understand that you can’t just suddenly live in the super-flexible reality they’re proving. You’ve lived the other way a long time. You have a lot of beliefs. Reality still feels pretty solid and “out there” to you. It still feels like it’s objective and not subjective. And yet her research proves that idea wrong.

You also found a bunch of examples of where you had made an identity change. You used to be afraid to speak up and now you’re not. Or you used to feel confident but not anymore. You used to feel like a kid and now you feel like an adult. You used to feel young and now you feel old. Etc. etc. Those are also examples of your reality changing.

1070-relax-and-succeed-have-you-ever-just-stopped-and-realizedHow strange is that? You don’t believe in a subjective reality, and yet you’ve already proven through your own actions that you’ve been actively living as though you sometimes believe it. That’s weird. And that feeling is always a good sign. That’s bigger than you think it is.

Today you want to get those changes into two categories. Today we’re going to look at where your changes came from. It was my my uncle who explained to me that my aunts and my uncles were my parents brothers and sisters. That’s an outside change that made me look at the world differently. You want to find examples like that.

Also find examples of internal changes. When I saw my ex-wife’s disappointed reaction at her big surprise birthday party, I had an internal realisation that I’d created the party I would want, not the one she would want. Rather than the world being different, I appeared different to myself. You want to find examples like that too.

Find at least three times when you were told something and changed, and three times where you realised something and changed. That’s a minimum of six things. Make sure you confirm your list with your partner. The value in these exercises is not what you’re learning, it’s what I’m making your imagination do. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense to you. If it made sense to you, you wouldn’t be here reading me.

1070-relax-and-succeed-if-you-want-to-changeIt feels weird to do at first, but once you get your brain seeing things from the right perspective you realise that these changes are laying all over the place. Compete with your partner. Find as many examples as you can of each, even if you limit yourself to an hour to find them. The point is the search. If you can, I’d keep these lists in the same file or notebook for later reference. It’ll be like a diary of who you’ve been.

That’s it. It’s that easy. Just find a minimum of three changes in reality motivated by new outside knowledge, and a minimum of three changes to your reality motivated by internal realisations. If you find more you’re just deepening the effect so the effort is worthwhile. But even three on each side will do the trick.

Find them, write them down, and then look at yourself in a mirror and congratulate yourself for finally taking some serious steps toward finding a different way to live, even if right now you’re still confused. The point is, if you’ve done what I’ve asked then you’re doing the right things. You can relax, satisfied that you are taking action in your life.

We’ll leave it at that and I’ll see you tomorrow. The longer we go, the more you’ll understand what it is we’re actually doing. In the meantime, have a wonderful day.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Evaporating Ego

1069-relax-and-succeed-happiness-can-only-existThe only reason we even undertake resolutions is because we’re unsatisfied with ourselves the way you are. We’ve operated under the assumption that we need to improve when in fact we need to understand. Our real self is already beautiful, capable, valuable and worthwhile but our ego doesn’t want to believe that because it’s a wanting machine. When we silently talk to ourselves during the day? That’s our ego. Wanting.

Mental health, clarity and confidence emerge quite naturally when we quieten and disengage from our internal story. That’s why kids are so confident and can learn to walk and talk so fast. Until you can talk to yourself–no ego! So there’s no voice limiting us. We’re brilliant, enlightened and free.

Most people try to stop the negative voices and switch them for positive voices but frankly that’s helpful, but it shouldn’t be seen as our ultimate target. Yes, a positive voice is better than a negative one, but that’s like saying we want a holy ego. That’s not really the ideal to shoot for. Again: we want to understand. And that’s a big thing, so we’re doing it in little pieces.

1069-relax-and-succeed-warning-reflections-in-this-mirrorWe’ll start with attacking the credibility of our story. We think we’re talking to ourselves about ourselves but we really aren’t. We are a story telling itself a story, so in no time we’re totally lost inside our own thoughts.

When we first hear that voice in our own heads it’s so startling that as kids most of us tried to ascribe the voice to a toy or an invisible friend. Then, before long, the invisible friend is comfortably living inside us. Worse, your ego soon has roommates. [Insert foreboding music.]

Telling our invisible friend to go away seems like a good idea until we realize that it’s our invisible friend saying that. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. Rather than argue with our ego, or wrestle it with relentless positivity, we can simply evaporate our ego by being indifferent to it. And we can take a big step toward that today, because we can become much more dismissive of our ego when we realize it’t not really talking to us about ourselves. Which leaves the question, who are we really?

I’ve been teaching people for 25 years that they should ignore their internal story because it’s a lie. Not a little lie. A total lie. We are all complete fictions wrapped around a few facts. We don’t mean for this to happen, but brains are strange things when it comes to interfacing with the complexities of the modern world.

But if we can appreciate how unreliable our own opinions are, are we truly grasping that this is freeing? It would be like if our ego was our child and we just found out that all of the negative school reports about the child’s behaviour came from a chronic liar. In the end we have no idea how good we are unless we’re being someone intentionally.

1069-relax-and-succeed-when-someone-is-trying-to-changeFor now we’ll skip the intentional part and we’ll focus on recognizing the lie. Our identity is only a memory of who we believed we were, just as our worries are our fears about who we might be. But not only do we believe things about yourself that are unfair, we believe things that never even really happened.

If you ever studied this as intensely as I have this is quite obvious. All of us believe all kinds of things about ourselves that aren’t ‘true,’ so how do we know who we need to be if we don’t even know who we are?

Everything I’ve taught eventually sees science find it too because we’re using the same tool –experiments. It’s just no one thinks a a five year old with a head injury would be doing brain and thought research all day because no one else that age spends their entire life thinking about thinking. To me it was like doing a very interesting puzzle.

A scientist from near my home and who now lives in Britain has done what to you may be shocking research. I’ve noted it many times before in this blog, but below is an short video of her explaining how she proved that we really are a fiction. I doubt she has any idea that we’re essentially completely a fiction, but we’ll start with some doubt. That’s actually a pretty decent achievement.

Watch this video and then I’ll give you today’s exercise.

Are you starting to get an inkling of how big and serious this is? Our ego is our history and we have almost no idea what ours –or the world’s– history truly really is.

Why pay attention to a story if we can’t be sure it’s true? Rather than making it go away, why not just ignore it the way we ignore people that we don’t respect? If someone has zero credibility with you are you offended by their insults? No, because you don’t choose to believe those because you don’t trust the source. You have to stop trusting your own ego.

So here’s exercise one: Before the end of the day you and your partner(s) in pursuing peace of mind are going to compete to see who can find the most examples of you making a past belief-shift.

This would be examples where you could say for instance, “I kept wondering what I was doing wrong in my marriage and then I realized I’d innocently married the wrong person,” or “I always thought I was stupid because my Mom said so, but then I had a great teacher who showed me that I had a specific kind of intelligence.” These are when you changed your story.

1069-relax-and-succeed-if-you-keep-telling-the-same-sad-small-storyTo be clear, your new story was also a lie, but by recognizing that it’s always changing it’ll feel less powerful and you’ll start to see why some cultures don’t even name your identityThat voice is always an opinion and even that comes from a confused part of us.

Find examples of when you changed from someone into someone else and then use your thinking usefully; to meditate your ego away. Use that close inspection to dissolve the power of the ego because it doesn’t matter who we are today because we clearly can change who we are anyway.

Make a list. Meditate on each example. This is no small thing. This is proof that we are an ever-changing fiction. Make a list. Evaporate our Self. This is step one. I’ll see you tomorrow.

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.