Reactions to Failure

Staying conscious is being mindful. If your head isn’t full of self-conversation then much more of the world can get inside you. You notice more and that’s helpful. So when a friend and I were recently disagreeing about an important issue we were working on I noted quite clearly that in the middle of the discussion of the good friend said, “have you eaten?”

972 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes when things are falling apartMe being upset lead to a friend asking if I’d eaten, meaning she had related my mood to my food. I trust her so we ate and I did feel better as my body chemistry regulated. It turned out I just needed some sugar. You could leave it at that but if you’re going to think don’t ruminate, meditate. So I spent the next two days meditating on how that happened.

In that meditation I recalled another similar experience where I had snapped at a different friend for very little reason. At the time my reaction had been so strangely immediate that it registered with me. I remember meditating then on the fact that I loved the friend so it didn’t make sense, plus I hadn’t been thinking any relevant negative thoughts. So what was the cause? My disappointment over how I treated my friend was what motivated my meditations.

After more consideration I realised both situations reminded me of when I got upset really easily for about eight months when I was in my late teens. I was going through a growth spurt and my off-balance chemistry gave me a different personality for a short time. And now here was a friend responding to me being unreasonable by asking me if I’d eaten. Food relates to body chemistry. Can you see if you’re more aware that the truth becomes obvious? The question was, how did it happen?

972 Relax and Succeed - Never regret anythingSometimes the big challenges in life are so obvious and huge in our lives that they cause us to miss some of the smaller implications. A few years ago I underwent my life’s most difficult period where rather than an 8 hour day and a 40 hour week I needed a 40 hour day and a 280 hour work week just to avoid disasters, but that in turn lead to a series of sub-decisions that were far less conscious. Life can deliver us more than we can handle. That happens.

There is no good way to prioritise the very serious and absolute demands presented by very elderly and sick parents, a book deadline, your life’s work, the needs of clients and the business that pays your equally important mortgage, or even your basic life obligations like the fact that you need to eat, drink, sleep, grocery shop, and personally groom, plus you’ll have needs relating to everything from house and yard work to necessary car repairs or maintenance and of course there’s the never-ending administration that life requires.

I knew during that time that I would be letting friends down and I accepted there would be a price. I worked with my doctor on a plan for so little sleep and so much work and I developed a special diet, but even then I accepted there would be both a price and a limit. I worked off an insanely inhuman schedule that I still can’t believe I maintained.

972 Relax and Succeed - A friend is someone who understandsDespite all that effort I was still constantly letting everyone down, including myself. I never had enough sleep and I had quietly developed terrible eating habits over time. I was still eating healthy, but I would often go to bed at 2am realising I hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 5am the previous day. And there in my mediation was my answer: In my busy-ness I had accidentally learned not to eat.

Because historically we can be chased by wild animals the desires to eat and to pee can be deferred to later. Pain stays, the desire to eat comes and goes. I got so used to dealing with not being able to eat that it became an unconscious habit to just immediately dismiss the desire. I needed to get conscious about food again.

For the next several weeks I watched myself closely. Sure enough, once I was watching I caught myself tons of times deferring the desire to eat. As often as possible I would remember to respond to it and I’m currently about half way to re-teaching myself to eat when I’m hungry. That’s how busy-minded we can get: we can forget something as basic as eating.

972 Relax and Succeed - Don't deny what's occurringSo can you see that I’m now glad the friends reactions were pain because I care about them? And I’m glad one defended herself by asking me if I’d eaten? Without those signs that I was off the path how could I have rediscovered the path? I needed those ditches to help me find the road. Of course we always want to treat loved ones well, but part of love is that they can help us make it through tough times like that and then we can do the same for them. That’s how love serves.

So now I’m grateful that the universe has taught me to appropriately value food and that my friends were patient and now that I do have the time to eat I’m getting conscious enough to actually do it. So this can help you too if you remember that if you have a problem don’t focus on the problem itself, ask yourself what its source is.

Believe you are a good person that is lost not a bad person that needs changing because that is the greater truth. If you approach your mistakes that way you can see your innocence and then make the change without guilt. Speaking of not feeling guilty, another great truth is that I’m hungry right now so, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to get something to eat. In the meantime, you have yourself a stellar day. Bon appetite.

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.

Conscious Creation

961 Relax and Succeed - You don't change your lifeYou can actually build a body that is good at being sad. You can also build one that is good at being angry, or good at being a victim or even good at being happy. Each of those emotions are created by chemical signals from your brain to your body and your personality is defined by which chemicals your body is most addicted to.

When a cell splits it’s paying attention. Each cell makes this little contribution to your consciousness. They’re awake and alive and they’re doing their best to create the reality you are asking for. So if you’re angry a lot then your cells are most likely to split when you’re angry and so that’s what the daughter / sister cell will be tuned to. Over time you end up with a body made of so many cells made in angry that you have literally become an angry person.

My clients are generally addicted to sadness or anger although occasionally I get one addicted to happiness. They’re never seeing me for relief though–they want to go higher. They want to feel exalted. They’re hunting enlightenment and you can’t do that until you are experienced at being in a conscious state, so the first step is to consciously build a healthy mind-body connection.

961 Relax and Succeed - If you knew how powerful your thoughts wereIt’s like you’re a clear plastic container shaped like you. Every moment a grain drops out of your food and each moment you have to add a new grain to the head of your container. Each grain is a different chemical. At the end of about eight years you will have traded almost all of your grains of identity and, if you’ve changed your thought patterns, you will look entirely different to everyone. People would say you have changed.

You must take ownership of this process in order to guide it. You cannot just surrender to what the world wants to throw in your head. You can be lucky you got home from war or happy you survived; both grains will be thrown toward your head but you’ll decide which one gets inside. You’ll think the thought. Someone else’s actions are just the toss, you are the catch. You decide what you allow to enter you. You can either make excuses for ugly chemistry or you can collect the qualities that make you beautiful.

No one is pure, not even an enlightened being. Without unenlightenment there can be no enlightenment. It’s like heaven. It lasts for eternity, which is means it’s also now, and every moment has the potential to create many different identities. You decide if you which ones you include within you with your attention. What you focus on is what you get.

961 Relax and Succeed - I have chosen to be happyYour thoughts are powerful things. With them you literally shape who you are. Do not allow this process to be habitual. Don’t just throw in whatever your childhood taught you to throw in because most people’s parents weren’t conscious and so you got a happenstance identity not a conscious one. This is the next stage for humanity. We get the material world pretty well. It’s time we took on the world of consciousness and energy.

Be aware. Be conscious. And if you catch yourself adding negative chemistry, don’t attack yourself for failing or that will just be more negative chemistry. You must love yourself before you can love others. This is an important mission. You cannot tell the world a story about how you don’t deserve it. There is no such thing as deserve. We are all one. You will be who you ask to be. So start today and ask to be who you really would like to be. Because if you can think like your hero for a few years, you will literally become your own hero.

You’re human, I know you can do this. The only question is, when will you start? Me? I try to do this every day. So let me start off my own day be choosing to love you, because in the future I would like to be even more loving than I already am. That is my goal, that is my aim and that is what keeps me conscious. I love you.

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.

Rewiring Your Self

846 Relax and Succeed - When you discover that all happinessI know I said there would be no Thursday blogs this year while I worked on the edit of a new book, but since we took Monday to establish the plan for this year this week will be an exception.

Some of you started this exercise already pretty good at appreciating. Some of you are pretty terrible at it. A lot of people basically bitch all day. Every other driver, shopper, boss, co-worker, friend and family member draws out a judgement. Too many of you want too many things to be the way you want them to be rather than loving them the way they are. That’s why you suffer and why the world is robbed of the contribution of your genius.

Your brain makes adjustments every moment and it’s flexibility is stunning. There are functional people walking around with very large and complete components of their brain that are completely missing. A woman in the States has no frontal cortex and yet she functions quite normally. These weekly exercises are there to help you more consciously and intentionally do that rewiring so that it’s easier to make better choices.

846 Relax and Succeed - Stop focusing on how stressed you areIf you get up and do the gratitude exercise first thing in the morning–while your brain is still waking itself up–you are establishing a pattern within yourself. Just like if you go to the gym and build muscle by using that part of your body, if you make appreciation a daily habit your brain will get better and better at it. Then your body starts to listen too.

If you think a lot of stressful thoughts your body will produce all of the necessary chemistry to create the sensations you experience as stress. Everything from a furrowed brow to a tight stomach to altering your cell receptors. If you always give your body a consistent chemical it will get good at handling that chemical–because that’s what it believes you want. You ask for it you get it.

Start choosing your thoughts instead of having them be just unconscious habits. Your morning exercise absolutely will change your brain. Change your brain change your chemistry, change you chemistry change your life. My body’s brilliant at being happy. My cells can do sad, but it’s not very good at it. Happiness flows through me and I feel elated. Sadness won’t stick. Many of you are the opposite. No problem. Just change that morning habit and over time it’ll change itself. Make gratitude the habit.

846 Relax and Succeed - Each day is a new beginningIt’s just a little 20 minute exercise each morning and it’s easy. What could be more important? Why work twice as hard to make more money to get more things to create a temporary sense of satisfaction when you could have your current life and just change how you feel about it?

Do the exercise. If you won’t even do that then you can go ahead and keep saying you want to be happy. Because wanting it is what keeps it at bay. Wanting is always away from you. Appreciation happens within you. Take control over what you do control and you’ll see you don’t need to control the rest.

For my own part in appreciation: thank you for taking the time to read my work. I sincerely hope you’re enjoying the process. I know you will if you do it. So enjoy your day. Intentionally. 😉

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Your Internal Guidance System

You implore the universe to help you. You beg it, beseech it and are left bereft when it does not. But maybe it answered before you were even asking. Maybe it knew what you would need and it made sure you had it. Maybe the thing you thought was making you sick is the same thing that can make you healthy…..

819 Relax and Succeed - Everybody is youI’ve written about it before and it’s important enough that it gets its own section in my latest book. You have to stop seeing your life as this event that is happening to you personally and you have to start seeing the signals you’re getting as being human. Those were put within you because the universe knew you would need them.

Like the Dalai Lama recently said about the world, “We cannot solve this problem through only prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.” Indeed. Wanting is an ego-based activity. Action is the nature of the universe. But we keep mistaking its guidance for its results.

The universe will be bountiful and generous but you must go out and meet it in all its forms. Nature, other people, art, culture etc. will not come to you–you must be active in the creation of your more positive, emotionally successful life. You must recognize the signs that God or the universe provides you and you must use them to your advantage. Not so that you can undermine other aspects of nature or the universe, but so that you can become alive within your own life.

819 Relax and Succeed - loneliness is a requestYou can actively choose to move away from suffering and toward something better. And that’s important because getting to that place is not nearly as important as the personal effort to get there. That’s where you derive your satisfaction from living–from your movement. You are an aspect of the universe. Where you are dormant the universe is dormant.

Look at how brilliant you are: Loneliness is a request for connection. Anger is a request for safety. Frustration is a request for assistance. Sadness is a request for fun and Love is a request for more love. Nothing happens if you look at the emotion and say, Look what God brought me! God didn’t bring that.

God or the universe created everything. Including all of the smart cells that make you up. Including the ones that produce the chemistry for your brain. All you need to do is stop seeing your emotions as the end result and instead see them as the universe speaking to you. You’re not a spectator. You’re a participant.

819 Relax and Succeed - Everything you do is based on the choices you makeYour emotions are not meant to be destroyed they’re meant to be employed. Don’t add to them by complaining about them. They are requests for action. You can’t sit in your home every night alone and then complain that your life is bad. It’s not bad. You’re not living it. Every day you get delivered tons of information about what would help you but you keep waiting for life to arrive rather than understanding that it is an action.

Start listening to your emotions. Use them to motivate your life. Use them to move you towards love and away from indifference. There is nothing greater that you could do for the universe than simply manifesting your greatest self. Ready? Of course you are. You were born ready.

Let’s go! s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Scott’s Favourite Friday Dose of 2014 #1

There have been amazing advancements in fields where experts on the beauty industry are merging with experts in the brain chemistry area and some of the experiments results will shock you. If this video doesn’t blow you away you don’t get it. You’re thinking about it too superficially, because these women changed their entire lives in an incredibly short period of time.

CLICK BELOW TO READ:

Winner: Scott’s Favourite Friday Dose of 2014 #1

peace. s

Driving People Crazy

I was riding in a friend’s car a few weeks ago and the guy beside us made a crazy no-look, no-blinker lane-change and had my friend not nailed the brakes hard it was a for-sure accident. I was a bit surprised when I heard my friend yell at his front window, “Stupid #*@%ing Asian driver! Go back to China you moron!” We were pretty pumped on adrenaline after the near miss, so the outburst itself wasn’t surprising, but I found it amusing that an Asian guy had just been yelled at and called names by another Asian guy.

Similarly, years ago I was driving with a brown friend who had a similar interaction and he pulled up at a light, had me roll down my window so he could tell the “stupid #*@%ing Paki” next to us to learn to drive like a white man. Like a white man?! My buddy was also Pakistani. So are these two people self-hating or what’s going on here?

What’s going on is that we think when we’ve heard the words that we understand the idea behind them but that’s ridiculous. As I’ve often noted here, when I told my university and college classes that “last night I shot a man in my pyjamas,” every class agreed that they’d understood what I’d said—odd as it was—but in reality they couldn’t have understood it because the sentence has four possible meanings. So what they mean is that they presumed they had understood it correctly because they had found an idea that made sense to them. They never looked past that self-confirmation to see if there were other possible meanings.

So what’s happening to you, me and my Pakistani and Chinese friends is that we are having an experience via chemistry which we interpret as an emotion that we then convert into language. This isn’t to say the language is accurate, sensible, logical, or even decent. We’re rarely good when we hurry at anything. So our response is just what’s instantaneously assembled in the face of the immediate chemistry. It’s why people that don’t usually swear will often cuss like a house on fire if they hit their finger with a hammer. So my Chinese friend wasn’t insulting Chinese, he was simply using the man’s Chineseness to help point the resulting chemistry at the appropriate cause. But when that chemistry is adrenaline etc., we can get a little broad in our applications of language.

493 Relax and Succeed - Don't be in a hurryIt’s like when my relatively short, 280 lb friend complains about the fat people taking too long at the grocery store checkout. He’ll start attacking their food choices even if he has the exact same stuff in his basket. Again, he’s not really attacking them, he’s just reacting to his thoughts that the process is taking longer than he expected. Well what was he doing expecting anything? Does he think he’s a prognosticator? He doesn’t know the future, so he’d be better to just wait for it to unfold, but because we have words we tend to time travel and build futures that won’t come true.

So my over-tired friend compared what he thought would happen at the checkout to what did happen and the result was a burst of adrenaline and an instantaneous anger that he wanted to point at someone. And so fat was the word he used to do the pointing at the person he was blaming for not making his imagined future come true. And even when he said it he knew the skinny cashier was more the reason we were going slow but the other woman was simply more convenient to attack. He’s not assigning actual blame, he’s just having an emotional experience that’s emerging as words.

When people suffer they will want to blame. It’s a natural reaction. It doesn’t mean anything because it’s just the immediate reaction. Once they calm down they’ll process the event as themselves. When it first happens they’re a drugged version of themselves and the drugs don’t help. The fear comes out as a combination of neuro-chemistry that has you feeling angry when in fact you’re afraid. And that anger is what comes out of us at some velocity, and it’s natural to want to focus that energy somewhere and the words are what defines the target.

So does my Chinese friend hate Chinese? No. Does my Pakistani friend hate Pakistanis? No. And does my overweight friend hate overweight people? No. So if you’re still re-living some schoolyard fight where some kid referred to you as anything—it doesn’t matter what identifier they used—then you just can’t take that personally. Not and be healthy anyway. People say all kinds of things they really don’t mean.

493 Relax and Succeed - The pendulum of the mindIn my initial example, two blocks down the road my buddy had chemically calmed down and he actually let that very same Chinese guy into traffic when he got stuck behind a bus. When he did it he said, “go ahead you idiot”—which made us both laugh. His tone of voice wasn’t mad at all, but he was being darkly comic because he needed a stepping stone between the angry place he was and the calmer place he was headed. Bottom line he was polite and helpful to the guy, so what matters? What he yelled at his windshield? Or how he actually behaves throughout most of his life? We all say all kinds of crazy stuff when we’re emotionally high. So no, my opinion of my friends does not change. Over time they have repeatedly demonstrated their good character. They are allowed to be human.

Try not to judge people for individual moments because that’s not who they are, that’s who they’re being under those conditions. And you’re the same way. When you’re expressing fear/anger you will absolutely think/say things you patently do not believe. So don’t assume other people really mean everything they say either. They might mean the emotion but they very well may totally disagree with their own words. So pay less attention to what they’re saying and more attention to why they’re saying it. Because bottom line, when you get right down to the nitty gritty, the vast vast vast majority of people are pretty decent. If you want to see how a person’s character can conflict with their words, simply watch Clint Eastwood’s brilliant film Grand Torino and you’ll see an excellent example of what I mean.

493 Relax and Succeed - There is no better test of a man's integrityTake the world less personally. And don’t be hard on yourself when you lose it for a moment or two. That’s human. Those emotions are useful in the right circumstances, its just that they can sometimes be tricked into showing up when they’re less useful—or worse, even hurtful. Let others and yourself have your natural bursts of fear/anger and then let them go. They are natural experiences. But you ultimately control your emotions, so it’s on you to reign them in well enough to strongly ensure that no one is physically intimidated, or injured, and there is no intent toward psychological or any other kind of harm. Because in the end people are people and they’re all pretty amazing and awesome, and if you ever did end up in a car accident, it might just be their blood that ends up saving your life. So then you and they can’t really be all that different in the end anyway, can you?

Have a great day and please be as courteous on the road as you can and everyone will get where they’re going more safely and more efficiently. All the best.

5 Random Driving Tips

  1. If you’re driving well you have lots to pay attention to. And you don’t want the nickname “Killer” in prison. Put down your phone. And yes you’re still driving when you’re sitting still at a red light. (See point 5.)
  2. It’s a natural impulse, but try not to speed match passing cars, nor race to fill gaps. Particularly approaching a zipper merge: if someone puts their blinker on, don’t race to fill the gap where they would have otherwise gone. Instead make room and maybe even flash your lights to let them know they’re safe to come over. Everyone will get home faster that way.
  3. 493 Relax and Succeed - Humility is not thinking less of yourselfIf you live in a cold climate and your side windows are always fogging in the winter, that’s because you have your climate controls set on inside air, so the air that’s supposed to come up your windshield and circulate around your car to clear the windows is instead pushed up the windshield, and then is promptly sucked back into the intake fan under the dashboard, so it never gets to hit the side windows. Switch to outside air and your side windows will clear. And if you want to reduce humidity to clear glass, turn on your air conditioning (with the heat still on).
  4. When driving down residential streets look for shadows under the parked cars to see if kids may be behind them, where they could suddenly run out onto the road.
  5. Always look around you when you’re stopped. 5 times out of 10 you’ll be in a situation where—if you moved just a bit—someone else could get where they’re going. I see this all the time. 25 cars lined up to turn right onto a clear road, but they can’t because the person going straight—the person at the front of the line—needs to pull forward a tiny distance to allow everyone through. But they don’t notice those honks are for them because they’re too busy texting. Or a guy wants to turn left into a side street but people lining up for a red light block the road entirely unnecessarily. We’ll all do better if spend a bit more energy on trying to make the roads run smoothly for all of us rather than just prioritizing what we’re doing and where we’re going.

We need to start driving spiritually. Meaning: as though we actually care about each other. If your commute sucks, then stop thinking about where you’re going and start thinking more about where they’re going. Because in the end, that’s far more likely to get you to where you where you really want to go.

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.

Other Perspectives #31

474 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - It's hard to answer the question

I’m not taking a thing away from how heavy and dark and painful the human heart can feel. Life itself is an agonizing love-song-creating experience. And if it combines with other struggles and those persist over enough time through nothing more than misfortune, then a sadness can set upon us like a heavy blanket that smothers every activity with its tired, uninterested and depressed attitude. But the solution to this isn’t to argue the validity of our depression. Agreed: if you think about all of the horrible parts of one of the harder parts of your life then of course you’ll be sad. That’s obvious. But as long as your heart is beating and you’re breathing, you have opportunity. Literally three-quarters of the world would trade places with you in an instant precisely because they would be more aware of your good fortune than you are. Again, not taking anything away from how bad the pain is, but the only way out is to focus on what’s good. And then which direction will your life go? The direction you point it. So do not dwell on what’s wrong. Yes, life is very bad at times and if you need to be angry every now and then that’s fine. But overall life is made of the opportunities we take, not the ones we miss. Look at Stephen Hawking. So I’m profoundly sorry if life’s been super heavy. Here’s an ((e-hug)) full of love. But remember, no amount of your depression can make flowers lose their beauty or music lose it’s beat. The universe has created many incredible things. Pay attention to them instead of you and you will naturally grow healthier. Enjoy the process of expanding. And included in that, still be okay with being sad every now and then, because that’s just part of every life.

peace, s

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

Smart Phone Disconnections

451 Relax and Succeed - Don't just look observePeople often ask me why I don’t have a smart phone. They know I’m comfortable with technology and I’ve always been an early adopter. I was the first person I knew to have a digital watch, a video camera, a computer, a notebook, I even had Palm Pilots etc. But to me every single device was also something that my brain met. That is, if it was a new way of approaching something, then it was also a new way for my brain to process the world. And so I would review those changes to see how I might expect my brain to adapt as a result. And I don’t want my brain de-adapting to a smart phone.

Of course people want to argue with me all the time. I had a decade of people pitching me that multi-tasking was better when I knew in fact there was never any multi-tasking going on and what you were in fact doing was constantly switching your focus which I knew was a) counter productive, and b) taxing, and yes c) occasionally necessary. But to make it lifestyle? No way. Anything you repeat changes your brain. Including switching focus. This is all now proven science.

So why was there no ADHD when I was a kid? Because our brains were programmed by fewer, more concentrated experiences rather than being dazzled by media. A lot of us read and no one really watched a lot of TV, plus there were much much much fewer channels and programs and far fewer edits per minute. We only watched a screen for an hour or less a day. If you account for all of the screen time kids put in today (including TV, computers, video games and phones), kids spend the majority of their waking hours in virtual space as opposed to physical space.

451-relax-and-succeed-tree-climbingMy generation had mostly free time to do whatever we wanted wherever we wanted with whomever we wanted. We barely saw our parents because we were out in the world. Today kids have no privacy and so they have to hide from their parents in the highly edited and constructed world of cyberspace. While one generation was usually finding some chunk of nature to swim in or build a tree-house in, kids today have their lives surreptitiously guided by salespeople and psychologists. We lead ourselves through life. We were free to explore, learn and focus. And focusing is something your brain does separately from knowing what it is focusing on.

The freedom we had was where we developed our interpersonal skills, our capacity to manage where we were in the world, our way to find our way around geographically, and our ability to solve problems without help. Even we didn’t feel as capable as our parents, and yet we pretty much all knew the fundamentals of things like gardening or how a car basically worked, or which chemicals not to mix in your kitchen.

We could use slide-rules as we were still mostly pre-calculators etc. You could have a calculator once they existed, but you couldn’t use it exclusively in class and definitely not on an exam. If you couldn’t do it long-hand then being able to do it in on a calculator didn’t help you get a passing grade. Oh yeah, and you actually had to pass grades. There was such a thing as failing. You could come in last. There were no participation badges. The world was pretty much as it really is: harsh, sometimes cruel, challenging, and because of all of that it was deeply rewarding. That’s why you don’t pick running races with two year olds. Easy victories carry no joy.

451 Relax and Succeed - Knowledge makes a manOur challenge is that babies watch us closely to learn how to be human just like animals learn to hunt or forage. What they used to watch was people interacting. If 10 people were in a waiting room there would be conversation, facial expressions and the sharing of ideas. People would meet people unlike them. People who thought differently.

These weren’t just our usual friends who generally agree with us. These were sometimes people who challenged what you viewed. And there was no way to just switch them off. You couldn’t “block” them. You had to deal with them and their ideas in the real world, because that happens even if you choose to pretend it doesn’t. But today, put ten  people in a waiting room and no one will look up from their phone, yet the phrase TLTR exists. So what’s this mean for the baby?

Babies used to watch faces to understand humans. But today babies think phones are what’s important because that’s what everyone’s looking at 90% of the time. I saw two mom’s wheel their kids into a restaurant, point their strollers at walls and then they both got on their phones and they barely interacted with each other, the babies or the waitress.

451 Relax and Succeed - In today's rush we all think too muchIt was a very sad moment for me because I knew those mom’s were inadvertently crippling their children. Because faces are what show what our brain chemistry is. Not our phones. And so those kids were learning how to understand technology rather than people. They weren’t even learning to look at people who were talking.

You call people now and they’ll never answer despite everyone having a phone with them all the time. Why are people harder to reach when we’re more connected? Because they’re getting increasingly uncomfortable with social interaction. Easy things are becoming hard. People are actually losing their ability to relate to other people in favour of relating to technology.

People today are more comfortable contorting their hands into typing tools than speaking with someone or holding their gaze for 20 seconds. If you’re honest you know you’ve done this. You’ve called someone when you knew you couldn’t reach them just because you were uncomfortable with the socialisation aspect. You’ve screened calls you should have taken. Calls that would have improved your life.

451 Relax and Succeed - The struggle you're in todayAnother major negative is the search function in your brain is separate from the knowledge itself. So when you have an experience it automatically loads into your brain. But if you never practice retrieving that information from that experience then it’s useless. It’s like having millions of dollars in banks all over the world and no way to get it to where you are. So in the case of your knowledge, instead you use Google on your phone and you have someone else drop the information into your lap. Meanwhile all of the value from your experiences is squandered.

Every time you search rather than trying to figure something out or remember it, you are actively degrading the search function in your brain. I have already detected that a 25 year old North American is far far far less capable of processing information than their grandparent is. The grandparent knows things. They kids knows how to look things up, and because the kid can use a smart phone and their grandparent has more difficultly, that leads the kid to believe they’re smarter when really they’re just more familiar with something new.

New isn’t necessarily better. If a solar flare took out the Earth’s electronic systems and brought the internet down for a long period of time, the grandparents would survive far longer than the kids. They’d figure it out.

451 Relax and Succeed - No man chooses evilTechnology is first and foremost a product. It is something someone wants to make money off of by selling it to you. That’s why you’re constantly getting new phones, new TV’s, new jeans. Marketers have convinced you to do what they want you to do rather than what’s good for you. And now they follow you everywhere. Everyone has the world’s marketers with them 24/7. They sold you the idea that you should carry them in your pocket and look at their feeds constantly. You volunteered to be brainwashed.

You can lie to yourself and pretend you haven’t seen hints of what I’m talking about. You’ve worried about how much you check your phone, you know it’s insanely stupid to look at it while driving but you are fully addicted. You are tortured if you lose you phone. You feel like you’re out of touch with the world when you’re standing right in the world.

You can’t even see here and now because you’re too addicted to being in virtual space rather than real space. If you don’t look at your phone you suffer. And you just don’t want to admit that to your brain it’s no different than being addicted to a drug. It doesn’t matter if you syringe something into your veins or whether you use your phone to trigger your own personal brain chemistry for experiences of fear and anger—you’re still dosing yourself with chemistry and getting hooked on it.

451 Relax and Succeed - Time is preciousGo ahead, use technology as a tool. I clearly do too. I know how to type. I’m better with computers than lot of young people I know because I know what’s going on behind the interface and they don’t care. Adding this knowledge to other knowledge is great. But replacing other knowledge with the ability to use technology is nothing short of crippling.

If we don’t consciously choose to do something differently soon, you’re about to see a very different, very disconcerting change happen to society. You can expect people to be increasingly detached, increasingly unsympathetic, and increasingly impatient and intolerant. They are already rapidly losing basic social skills. This is the single biggest pattern I’m seeing shifting and its impacts will be increasingly felt.

Attached is an article on testing and how the retrieval of information is harder if you haven’t been tested on it. They’re referring to actual exams in schools etc. but you can easily see that this would apply to smart phone use as well. If you use IMDB to look up every actor’s name you can’t remember, then you are using your smart phone to dumb yourself down because you’re not testing your ability to get that information from your own mind even though you know for sure it’s there.

451-relax-and-succeed-no-smartphoneI very much doubt people will react to this posting positively. At best some of you will feel guilty because you’ll recognise yourself. But how many of you will actually take steps to break that unhealthy addiction? Because if you want something good for your brain, you’re far better to sit quietly in a park than you are to sit with friends sharing other people’s ideas through your facebook posts. I’m not saying to avoid the latter. But if you’re going to avoid the former, then be prepared for that to have an effect.

Be alive in this world rather than wondering what’s going on in someone else’s. Go to a concert and enjoy the music rather than documenting it to prove you saw this or that band or were at this or that festival. Think about leaving your phone at home on Sundays. Get out in the world. Look around with your head up, like you used to. See things, smell things, taste things, hear things and touch things. Don’t just look at things, have experiences.

Smile at people. Look them in the eye. Have conversations with strangers. And do it selfishly. Because no number of points in social media game will ever add up to as much joy as one day of quiet awareness in a beautiful park.

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.

NY Times: How Tests Make Us Smarter

Other Perspectives #25

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438 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Fear is temporary

Okay let’s be careful with this one. The first part: fine. You feel fear—which is a rush of neurochemistry—as long as you’re thinking the fearful thoughts. When those change, as they inevitably do, so too does your chemistry. But what do we mean when we say, “regret is forever?” I’ll buy that if you’ve done something and you don’t like the results, then any time you think of it you’ll again feel the pain of not liking the results and we can call that regret. But it’s the word forever that’s concerning me. Because you have no storage place for regret within you. There isn’t a part of your brain that stores regrets, there’s no internal organ filled with regret-juice. You feel regret when you think about what happened and compare it to what you would have liked to have happened. It’s what egos do. They time travel, they judge and they compare. So no, regret does not have to be forever. You can accept what happened. You can accept that you either did not know enough to prevent it then, or you did not do enough, or you didn’t want to do anything. Whatever you must accept. And once that is achieved, there is no reason or purpose behind continuing to think about it. Without the thoughts you can’t have the chemistry and voila, you are free of regret and yet not the lessons you want regret to reinforce. Nice huh?

peace. s

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

Bad Drivers and Spirituality

What if you stopped arguing with life? What if, instead of getting frustrated at a bad driver on the road, you demonstrated your spiritual awareness by recognizing your own resistance to life? Did you really think there were no unaware drivers out there? Of course you didn’t. But still you argue, blaming your mood on the other drivers rather than on your own lack of awareness about your ego’s resistance to reality.

You’ve heard of Buddhist Acceptance. Okay. Then accept bad drivers. The next time you see one, don’t use your mental energy to offer resistance to the reality of unaware drivers. Don’t have a big long discussion with yourself about what they should have done. Instead, try singing to the song 49 Relax and Succeed - To offer no resistance to lifethat’s on the stereo instead. Or check your speedometer. Or your mirrors. Or look further ahead. Focus anywhere but on the idea of that bad driver (or your phone). In short: drive. Drive your car. With your skills. Stop shouting at the ocean for giving you the wrong waves.

Everyone can experience tension for a period. But if you’re consistently angry or frustrated behind the wheel, then there will be no comfort until you accept that you are your problem, not the other drivers. Are you humble enough for that?

Imagine letting go of that battle. Imagine not saying those words, building those narratives, telling yourself those stories…. Imagine not getting the chemistry that goes with an angry story like that.

Here’s how it works: on the drive home you get upset at everything you perceive to have been stupid. Ignoring the fact that you might not have had all of the facts, the bottom line is that your angry thoughts lead to angry chemistry in your brain. This will tense muscles, increase heart-rate, and it’ll make that chemical easy to stay on because you’re already on it. Then you get home to your family.

Maybe your kid dropped his bike on the driveway when he leaped off it to help his mother with some toppling groceries just a moment ago. But you don’t bother to find out that you’ve raised a helpful son. You consider the single clue with your already chemically tipped brain, and you go instead with a blame-filled narrative that continues your flow of angry chemistry. And making things worse, if someone else kindly jumps in to offer a 49 Relax and Succeed - The true hero is one whodefence for the wrongly-accused, they won’t be seen as bravely doing the right thing, they’ll be angrily seen as supporting bad behaviour. And all of this negativity with your family will be instigated by events in the car on the way home. Events that, under different brain chemistry, would result in no reaction at all.

You don’t just react to things. You think about things. You compare them to an ideal you were taught. Amazingly, if you don’t get your ideal, you get upset. (Egos are childish that way.) How you get upset is through those narratives about how they should have driven. Those are crazy narratives. Because of course there are lots of unaware drivers that make crazy mistakes. Some just found out they have cancer. Others have to pee. Some are lost. Some were taught poorly. Bottom line, accept that they exist, drive with suitable awareness, and stop arguing with yourself. Save your consciousness for the present moment and what’s enjoyable about it. Because when you’re in a super good mood, you don’t even notice unaware drivers.

Your spirit is old. Your ego is childish. Get it out of the driver’s seat and leave your spirit in charge. Your spirit doesn’t even think birth and death are a big deal. It can easily and gracefully glide past a driver making an illegal left turn.

Your chemistry is yours. Steer your consciousness accordingly. Now go prove you’re serious about this spirituality thing by actually calming your driving down. Thanks. 😉

peace. s