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 you’re even undertaking a resolution is because you’re unsatisfied with yourself the way you are. You’ve operated under the assumption that you need to improve when in fact you need to understand. Your real self is already beautiful, capable, valuable and worthwhile but your ego doesn’t believe that. When you talk to yourself all day? That’s your ego.

Mental health, clarity and confidence emerge quite naturally when you quieten and disengage from your 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 you. You’re brilliant, enlightened and free.

Most people try to stop the negative voices and switch them for positive voices but frankly that’s people who are pretending to understand this stuff. If your teacher is recommending that as your ultimate goal then they can’t teach you this because they don’t know it. Yes, a positive voice is better than a negative one, but that’s like saying you want a holy ego. That’s not really what to shoot for. Again: you 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 your story. You think you’re talking to yourself about yourself but you really aren’t. You are a story telling itself a story, so in no time you’re totally lost inside the thoughts. When you first hear that voice in your own head it’s so startling that a kid will always ascribe the voice to a toy or an invisible friend. Then before long the invisible friend is comfortably living inside you. Worse, your ego soon has roommates. [Insert foreboding music.]

Telling your invisible friend to go away seems like a good idea until you realise that it’s your invisible friend saying that. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. Rather than argue with it, you want to evaporate your ego by being indifferent to it. And we can take a big step toward that today, because you actually think you’re ego’s talking to you about you.

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. You are a complete fiction. Can you see if you can come to truly grasp that, that you are instantly much better off? It would be like if your ego was your child and all of the school reports about the child’s behaviour came from a chronic liar. In the end you have no idea how good you are unless you’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 recognising the lie. Your identity is only a memory of who you believed you were, just as your worries are your fears about who you might be. But not only do you believe things about yourself that are unfair, you believe things that never even really happened.

If you ever studied this as intensely as I have this is quite obvious. People believe all kinds of things about themselves that aren’t true so how do you know who you need to be if you don’t even know who you are? And if you doubt this, just as with everything I’ve taught, science always catches up because frankly I learned it through experiments too. 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.

A scientist from near my home and who now lives in Britain has done what to you will 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 you really are a fiction. I doubt she has any idea that you’re 100% a fiction, but we’ll start with some doubt. That’s actually a pretty decent achievement. So 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? Your ego is your history and you have almost no idea what yours or the world’s history really is.

Why pay attention to a story if you can’t be sure it’s true? Rather than making it go away, why not just ignore it the way you ignored people that you 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 realised 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 recognising 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 someone just as confused as you.

Find your 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 as the heat that evaporates your ego. It doesn’t matter who you are today because you clearly change who you are anyway.

Make your list. Meditate on each example. This is no small thing. This is proof that you are an ever-changing fiction. Make your list. Evaporate your 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.

Titanic Realities

1050-relax-and-succeed-a-ship-in-port-is-safeYou keep trying to improve your life by making adjustments to the outside, but that’s a bit like trying to fix the Titanic by softening the iceberg rather than just getting the current Captain to pay more attention and steer around it. Likewise, if you manage your life from the outside your results can sink you.

Precisely because you get some good feelings from some things you like, it appears to confirm what you’ve heard so you’ve never looked to see if you get good feelings from things you don’t like. Everyone tells you that the things you like are better than the things you don’t like so it all makes sense except for the part where you’re not happy enough.

Part of the problem is that you’re looking for happy instead of satisfied. Happy sounds like it should be better doesn’t it? If we put life on a ladder, happy would be higher up than satisfied, wouldn’t it? But that’s thing; we’re not on a ladder. This isn’t a one-directional space. Yes, you must move forward relative to yourself, but not relative to the universe. Forward for you can be wandering all over the place for the universe. And likewise, satisfied for you can turn out to be what you expected happy to be.

1050-relax-and-succeed-whatever-the-present-moment-containsThe way this works is that satisfaction done in this way is complete satisfaction. Rather than being satisfied with my entire life I can be satisfied with everything about the moment I am in. I can have left tragedy and be moving toward disaster, but if I am satisfied in between then no one can ever take that away from me. That time will have been lived and I will have been profoundly satisfied. The idea is to win as many of those little time-squares as you can.

Consider every moment like a quadrant on your voyage through life. Each quadrant contains your thoughts and actions. If the box presents a problem like an iceberg then you can enjoy the action of finding the solution, or you can resist finding a solution by thinking about the problem. One will feel good one will feel bad. The bad one tells itself that it should already feel better and it goes about what it’s doing. The good one is grateful it knows how to be better now and it makes changes.

Doing all of this is a lot easier if you stop reconsidering every moment in your past and stop worrying about every potential moment in your future. If you do that you have no mind left to find the solution in the current moment. You can’t be so worried about the schedule of the passengers that you start ignoring the icebergs.

1050-relax-and-succeed-i-am-not-afraid-of-stormsNote that above I say “find the solution” and not “fix your problem.” You’re only fixing it if it wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place and no one ever made that deal with you. If anything we made the opposite deal. This is the North Atlantic. Everyone has to steer past icebergs. No one’s boat is that good.

Abandon your expectations for this day. Look into yourself for your hopes and your beliefs and your wants and know that those guarantee you nothing. Everything changes, it’s only a matter of when; and were you appreciating it before it did change? Because if you were in the act of appreciating then that felt good, and if you accepted that feeling could go away then you would immediately shift to rewarding thoughts about its presence. Gratitude for gratitude. It works every time.

Rewarding thoughts can include things like being grateful that you know how to create the solution that is required in the new moment. And if you don’t know the solution, then you get to use the subsequent moments to learn and expand yourself so that you might then have a solution within you for the future. Either way you’re winning.

1050-relax-and-succeed-ships-dont-sink-because-of-the-waterIt just depends on what you’re focused on; your happiness that you’re able to help, your happiness that you have the ability to learn it and then help, or your happiness about having an appreciation for the fact that it does no good to flog a dead horse, so you’re happy to move on to something else worth appreciating. It’s not like the universe is stingy with those unless you get picky about the one you want.

Do not expect, do not become attached, manage your reactions to change instead. It won’t be classically good or classically bad in a health state of mind. It can be happy to be working on a solution or direction change with gratitude; or it can be painfully wishing for what you expected and got attached to. One hurts, one feels good. Your choice. Either way, you create the reality you live in.

Find today’s attachments. They’re inside you. Find ways to manage them now so that when they come up you have an actual strategy you believe in to execute, because those feelings originate inside of you, meaning you have total control over them. Trying to fix the external world, on the other hand, is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Forget the outside. Become your own Captain. Take control of the inside. You have places to go.

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.

Holding Onto Peace

1042-relax-and-succeed-the-world-is-full-of-magic-thingsRemember I told you earlier this week about my friend going through the enlightenment process? As expected, he’s had to circle in after a few days for a debrief. He’s starting to understand that he really has changed; that the glow he felt that night isn’t going away. He’s worried he’ll forget, and yet he can feel that fear isn’t really founded on anything. He can already see his fearful thoughts arising and they seem harmless.

Why this is confusing to him is that he’s currently aware enough that his ego can tell him something but now he hears it from this new clear-headed perspective. He knows those are just thoughts. So he feels in his nature compelled to be afraid because that’s what his ego did with anything worthwhile; it worried he would lose it. He had some significant confidence suddenly removed from him at a young age, so it makes sense that he has a fear of repeating those feelings.

His weird challenge now is that he hears these voices that he used to always do battle with, except now the big, real part of him is no longer believing the story of weakness so rather than being the battle we’re thinking, we’re more detached. We’re more a witness to it.

1042-relax-and-succeed-the-mind-that-perceivesSo now my friend can see how his ego used to conjure pain for himself and he can see himself trying to do that same thing about losing his wisdom. But whenever he tries to go to the habitual fear he can no longer maintain his belief in that fear. He knows now it comes from thought. Reacting to it seems silly now. He’s just worried he might start reacting like he used to.

I actually told him he most certainly would. Being enlightened doesn’t get him all yin and no yang, it makes him accept the yang and yin as two sides to one valuable coin, rather than opposites. The difference now is he’s seen the full circle. Now, if he’s desiring all good things then he knows that’s ridiculous and rather than being lost in jealousy or envy or some other egotistical pursuit, he just looks at himself like some innocent kid wanting something impossible. Now he sees those actions the same way I do. They no longer make sense.

He can take his thoughts seriously for a while now. He can get lost in ego for chunks of time. But you can’t forget things you know. You know your name, you know how to multiply numbers and you know who your dog is. Those aren’t things you can forget. Well he can’t forget this either. He’s seen the universe at too fundamental a level. When he looks at anyone now, they all just look like people who are strangely acting as though other people see their internal thoughts.

1042-relax-and-succeed-whenever-anything-negative-happensHe can see everyone trying to reconcile everyone else to their perspective, yet he can also see that each perspective is a separate reality describing a different manifestation of their own thoughts, very much as if two LSD patients compared their trips. That’s essentially what egos do when they try to reconcile realities. It looks that weird when you’re healthy.

Once you’ve seen the truth you still have to practice it to have it alive in your life. But that’s not work, that’s less work that living through ego, but the awareness is a kind of effort at the start. Eventually it becomes more natural to be that peaceful.

Right now my friend feels like he’s on the greatest, happiest holiday ever, and when his ego does show up it just panics that he might not get to stay. I told him that’s part of his journey. But he actually understood me when I explained that now he’ll like problems because he’ll know they’re not real and all he’ll do with them is take them apart like puzzles. And that alone is infinitely less painful than trying to treat them like they’re an objective reality.

My friend is done. He’s learned that big lesson. He has the key to the big secret now. From here on in it’s just how much he uses that key. But just like he didn’t lose it from when he was a baby, he can’t ever really lose it now either. His struggles are now games. It’s just so good it’ll take him a while to believe that the universe really is that generous and beautiful. It’s important for you to remember dear reader, the one thing you do share with my friend and I, is that you live together with us in that generous universe. Your only job after that, is to appreciate that fact as much as we do. Why not start today? What’s good about right now?

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 Accidental Patterns of Sexism

1037-relax-and-succeed-you-have-to-be-your-own-teacherThere’s a trick I used to play on people to show others how easy it is to get someone’s brain on an assumption track where they’ll assume things that don’t even make sense in an attempt to pattern-match new information with their original beliefs, even if the belief is new too. Here’s a story I used to tell an example of me planting and harvesting a false belief:

A boy goes fishing with his father and brothers and the boat tips over. The boy is pulled to shore unconscious with a serious head injury. An ambulance is called and, with the help of the father and sons pushing from below, the two attendants man-haul the boy up the steep banks of the lake and they race him to the hospital. He’s wheeled straight into surgery and, as the team moves their equipment into place the surgeon suddenly turns his attention to the patient and says, “I can’t operate on this boy. This is my son!” The question I would then ask is, who is the surgeon?

Maybe people would be better at it today, but up until about six or seven years ago, traditionally the number one answer is easily that it’s the father, along with the theory that he rode back with them in the ambulance. When  I remind the listener that he and the other sons are still back at the lake, a huge percentage of the time the next guess is that it’s his step-father; and after that it’s usually a second gay dad, then a grandfather that was a proxy-parent. When people have been told these guesses aren’t right, they’ve even tried Priest-Surgeon.

1037-relax-and-succeed-did-you-fact-check-thisMany smart people pondered long and hard without ever considering that the doctor might be a woman, and if they had it’s likely that mother would have been the easy, obvious first guess. This shows how powerful assumptions are. Just by using all male pronouns, combined with the fact that most surgeons were historically male, I could tilt even a female listener’s mind away from the obvious guess (especially if she’s not a mother herself). And you don’t need sexism for it to happen.

Not that long ago I was listening to an interview with Phyllis Web, the female creator of CBC Radio’s excellent documentary program, Ideas. In an interview a few days after the documentary on the origins of the program, Phyllis was asked if she hired any women to be on the staff of the show and the young lady seem shocked to learn she hadn’t hired any. She enquired as to why not?

Phyllis actually had to think about it before saying that it just never occurred to her. She knew people she’d always wanted to work with and now she had the power to put them all on one team with her. What gender they were never figured into her decision; it was admiration.

1037-relax-and-succeed-the-purpose-of-studying-buddhismThe fact remains that Phyllis would have had more women to admire if more women had been in positions of authority where she could look up to them, but my point is that she didn’t actively omit women–the genders literally never occurred to her.

This is much the same as when I work in film. If you ask anyone of any race in North America to cast a teacher for a TV show, 99% of the time you would see a white person because that was who was on TV so even an ethnic casting director thought that way. The important part is that this behaviour is innocent. It’s not an attack on anyone, it’s an error by omission. It’s just a brain pattern-matching what it’s seen in the past.

I’ve heard many times that men are hostile to women on executive boards etc., and I know every possible human behaviour is eventually acted out, so I’m sure there have been some horrible examples, but I’ve been in those boardrooms and I never recall anyone dissing women so it certainly doesn’t happen all the time. And yet those men would fall into the same trap of primarily considering men for jobs.

1037-relax-and-succeed-cognitive-dissonanceThat unconscious desire was not an active omission of women, it was one done on the same  subconscious level that lead Phyllis to hire no women on Ideas. The same thing would happen to a feminist who wouldn’t see herself as blocking men when she backed a woman, she would just see it as making some long overdue headway. No one’s trying to be a villain, it’s just that everyone has their own reasons for anointing their own champions.

There is a lot of polarisation going on today and many people see many enemies that exist only in their imaginations. Yes, it’s a frustrating thing that it has taken so long to see women rising to key positions and equal pay, but the trend was started a while ago and it will continue to build exponentially as men and women and various cultures alike all learn as individuals to naturally include all types of people in their considerations.

Don’t see enemies where there is only a trick of the mind. Yes, there is room for improvement, but people are already generally far more decent, kind and generous than they’ve been getting credit for lately. This is a path, we’re going the right direction, we can all relax and stop worrying. Rather than be angry about how it is we’ll accomplish more by enjoying our movement toward something better. Each of us needs only to decide to actively build our day by consciously seeking out positive, optimistic and rewarding experiences and the big issues will take care of themselves one individual at a time.

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.

According to Who?

1034-relax-and-succeed-just-because-you-are-rightYou’re right, you’re flawed. You don’t have a bunch of the downsides you think you do, but you do have some. Or, if you’re like some of us, you either can’t comprehend a lot of social choices; or you do but they feel inauthentic, which makes us appear even more flawed. I say appear because when we say we’re flawed; according to who?

Whether it happens in your mind or someone else’s, ephemeral opinions and beliefs about you should not be seen as being the same thing as the real you. Those are spectres in your mind. They are created in your theatre of thoughts and only you see your stories. Other people see theirs. So even if you’re happy with the way you live, you can be sure others won’t be.

Just like every religious person has a different idea of their religion, and just as a soldier, a politician and a bureaucrat will have somewhat different ideas about what it means to represent their nation, every person you meet and lots you’ll never meet will each have their own opinion of you and it will have far more to do with them than you.

1034-relax-and-succeed-dont-be-surprisedThat’s what society is: a big criss-cross intersection of all of our cooperative and conflicting ideas and beliefs. That is the landscape you navigate every day as an ego. That is the mess that things like traffic laws and communications protocols and democracy all try to loosely corral.

It isn’t possible for you to manage all of those varying personalities in their varying moods going through various things in their life. They’ll hide how they really feel, they’ll lie, they’ll unintentionally mislead you or you’ll just plain misunderstand them; but the more you try to understand it all the more complex it will all become. Thoughts beget thoughts.

You don’t have to get everyone to understand you and you don’t have to understand the universe you just have to understand yourself, and how you–like everyone–has thoughts about things but those thoughts are not those actual things. You can call rain bad but without it you’d die, so clearly it’s not actually all bad, but you can paint it that way for yourself inside your own head; just like people can paint you and just like you routinely paint them.

1034-relax-and-succeed-i-am-aware-that-i-am-less-than-some-people-preferFree yourself from caring about something meaningless. If they’re your boss and their opinion has some impact on you that you can’t control, then you can’t control that anyway so you’re better to not care about the opinion and be your usual self.

It’s like the friend of mine who rhetorically argued with every caller on a call-in radio show he had playing in his car. He said I should be upset too but I told him it didn’t look either enjoyable or productive. I asked him if he agreed that on every issue as big as the one being discussed, if most people would have their own opinion. He agreed. He also agreed that every opinion from crazy to crazy would be included. So I asked him, if he knew that, why he was surprised to hear them call in? Why was he angry? Why wasn’t he just going; oh it’s that guy.

Funnily enough that made simple sense to my friend and he could actually listen to the show seeing it that way. He felt better and he listened better too. That change spawned this blog. I hope you find this helpful too. That way, the next time someone meets you and doesn’t like you, you can just say I knew there had to be a bunch of you somewhere. It’s nice to meet you. Sorry to disappoint you with who I naturally am. I’ll do my best to not let that taint my view of you. It’s authentic, it’s open and caring, and trust me, people will think it’s weird. But who cares what they think anyway, right? 😉

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.