MoK: Redirecting Negativity

The March of Kindness is about making the world a kinder, safer, more loving space in which to thrive as a human being. We can do this by adding goodness to the world, but we can also accomplish this goal be removing negativity and replacing it with something more constructive.

We’re all too often willing to participate in gossip when we personally agree with it or view it as just idle conversation with friends or co-workers, but it’s far from idle. What people say about each other becomes their identity to a listener. And that can have extremely serious consequences.

If someone didn’t like someone else in high school and they end up getting a job at their company, the new person can be destroyed before they’ve even started because everyone’s been cued to only watch for pattern-matches to what they were previously told. We all say the odd dumb thing, but if people are on the lookout for that then suddenly the odd silly statement can turn into a person becoming dumb rather than just the statement, when in fact the person might be perfect for their job.

We’ve all been victims of it and it’s not like it improves as we age. Who hasn’t had a bitter ex spread lies about them? And the workplace can be just as vicious as the schoolyard. The way to identify gossip isn’t by whether you agree with it, it’s whether or not it’s negative.

If someone is commenting on or judging someone in any negative way then it’s gossip. Period. Unless you’re the person’s manager or teacher your personal opinion has no relevance to anyone but you, and even in the cases of managers and professors, the reasoning should be based on their alignment with the work, not with your personal feelings. A student or worker can be someone you’d never be friends with but that shouldn’t impact how you evaluate their work.

As the saying goes, loose lips sink ships. It’s not like gossip is a minor force in the world. It literally changes lives. It ruins companies and institutions, undermines science, and it can easily destroy lives. People have committed murder, suicide, vandalism and other horrible acts all based on gossip.

Talking is thinking out loud. Taking negatively about someone else is not healthy for the person doing the talking. It’s a sign of being locked into an ego-based, judgmental and superior perspective. The world is the world. It looks different to everyone. You’re not supposed to be going around poisoning other people’s views with yours. Your view is yours. Our personal opinions were never meant to be applied to the broader world. At our healthiest we should function from a position of principle, not opinion.

Today’s act in our March of Kindness is simply to spend the day actively listening for gossip. At work, at school, even at home and out. If someone offers a negative assessment of someone else, then our job is remind the people listening that there are other views. If they identify something they don’t like about the person, identify something you respect about them.

If someone says, Mindy’s always telling people what to do, you could add: We’re all different, and I don’t share her style of doing things, but I have noticed that what she wants people to do isn’t about her or anything selfish, her comments are usually focused on more or better work getting done. At minimum her heart’s in the right place.

Or if someone says, Did you hear that Jennifer’s dating Chris? What an idiot. You could respond, Well, we all like different kinds of people. Do we really want everyone judging who we love? I’m just glad they’re both happy. The idea is to take a negative and insert a positive. Double value if you normally would have agreed and joined in!

Don’t help sink someone else’s ship. Get your oar in the water and let’s make the world better by sharing more about what’s good about the world and less about what we don’t like about it. After all, mental health is really little more than having a rationally optimistic view of the world and the people in it. So let’s make gossip the enemy rather than people.

Have a great day everyone.

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 #94: The Dangers of Fairness

1041-op-relax-and-succeed-im-human-so-dont-be-meanYou put an “X” through that?!

Yeah. Mean of me wasn’t it? They even used little kid handwriting to make it look more vulnerable and still I X’d it out. Tough luck kid. That’s a dangerous idea to give a you.

This is the first new Other Perspectives for the first time in a long time, but I have to. I learned by doing this series that a lot of people learned a tremendous amount about why they were struggling as adults. They began realising the dangerous ideas in our culture are often not the dark ones, they’re the light ones. They’re the big lies that get told to kids and those kids grow into adults who spend their entire lives upset that those particular lies didn’t come true.

1041-op-relax-and-succeed-dont-worry-about-the-peopleThose are the lies about being nice, taking turns, being fair, responsible, ethical–it doesn’t matter: still lies. Every kid finds their own version of those things, because like everyone’s principles for life, it includes a lot of real-life exceptions that need to be added to the parent’s rules in order to maintain the order the parent claimed existed. They need to add those exceptions because they need ways to figure out how to handle when someone else doesn’t match the behaviours they were taught were correct.

How this translates is that the kid/person tries to be nice to everyone they can, but if someone isn’t nice to them then the deal their parents said would exist is obviously not in operation. If that’s the case then the kid will no longer feel like they have to be nice either. The other person was mean first. After all, you have to be fair.

If we make fair important then it’s okay if you have to forego a responsibility to get your revenge, because you’re making sure that fair thing gets resolved. Then later you and your friends and family can discuss how unethical the other person was. And therein we circle the squares of our family subcultures.

1041-op-relax-and-succeed-human-kind-be-bothWhat got sold to the kid was a code of conduct. The parents defined both good and successful behaviour and the kid was told to live by both. But they’re instantly stressed because before they can even get to Grade One they’re learning that people don’t do what they’re supposed to do. People live based off how they feel. And the best way to keep them feeling good is actually to allow the idea of reciprocity develop.

Reciprocity was what we were attempting to codify and when we created the behaviour codes that shape our societies. But using the word fairness for reciprocity was a terrible idea. To say societies aim for those ideals is fine, but if we teach kids to expect fairness and suggest to them that something is wrong when things aren’t fair, that’s literally teaching them how to be unhappy the rest of their lives because their view of how they want the world to work will never line up with how it is.

Fairness is the quality of making a judgment without any kind of human, personal, or emotional content. Even when robots do that it makes us upset because it’s not taking into account the desire for reciprocity. The word is actually derived from the idea of beauty or attractiveness, so it’s a shallow, ego-based word.

1041-op-relax-and-succeed-if-someone-is-too-tiredReciprocity on the other hand has its origins in French, extending from a term meaning, to move backwards and forwards. Give and take. That still leaves room for people to give too little and take too much, but fairness doesn’t. Fairness is egotistical and rigid. It wants to live in all moments equally, whereas reciprocity is happy with just flexing to fit the moment where it’s needed.

Don’t tell little Jennifer that another kid is a bad kid because they teased your her, because little Jennifer’s going to do that some day too and then she’ll feel like a bad person. Explain that just like she does, some kids have very bad days before they get to school and those kids have a lot of pain in them that will come out during the day. Then little Jennifer can be taught to be compassionate to the unreasonable people because that’s what will make them more reasonable, not a demand that they be fair when they already feel they are down. We don’t save the world by keeping the happy people happy, we need to get the sad people happy.

It’s natural to want to protect a kid. But think about protecting the adult they’ll be too. Because teaching them to try to bend the world to the shape you claimed it was is a life of hell. But learning to manage the world as it really is can lead to a heavenly life, even if it’s spent dealing with plenty of unfairness.

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.

Kaizen

898 Relax and Succeed - KaizenKaizen is a modern Japanese concept that was co-opted in the 80’s and 90’s into a term to describe the way small and continuous improvements create differences between Japanese and Western company structures and the successes of, particularly, their assembly lines. But these “improvements” always only involve efficiency or things that directly impact efficiency, which means we shouldn’t take the concept into our lives without examination.

We certainly don’t want our life to feel like an assembly line so please don’t see spiritual growth as a demand. Wanting spiritual development is just as painful as any other wanting. And there is nothing in your life that exists outside of our basic framework for being so you don’t even need something from outside yourself to advance in that way. You are already complete, you simply don’t know it yet.

Our spiritual development is very much connected to our life development. If you want to know how spiritual you are simply ask yourself how contented you are? If you are content, kaizen is not continuous improvements of us, it is a continuous improvement of what we do. In a healthy mind there is no you, there is only an action (or inaction as action), and those actions add up to who you will have been.

898 Relax and Succeed - The Pursuit of excellenceDo not see yourself or the world as needing fixing or being broken or having anything wrong. I know it’s incredibly compelling to see it that way because all the egos agree that there are some terrible things going on and to ignore them places us in peril. But we have the choice of focusing our energies on the peril, or on creating solutions.

For essentially every single problem on Earth there are lot of people working on solutions. That’s impressive and it’s why the world has changed so much. Yes, we got a bunch of stuff that only half-worked, but that’s how learning goes. You try something, see if it succeeds or fails and then build off what you’ve learned. There doesn’t have to be failure or improvement in that. It can simply by an action: attempt, observe, adjust, attempt, observe, adjust. At no point are you wrong, instead you are simply in a constant state of kaizen, which means you are never actually judging yourself.

The meditations you’ve been doing over the last three months will have made a difference, but that difference will depend on how earnestly you undertake the tests to your awareness. It’s one thing to read about lifting weights, but until you move some you really can’t fully grasp the value in doing it. Same with our attention.

898 Relax and Succeed - Aging is an extraordinaryWe can read that it’s not good to focus on your weaknesses but most of you still do. You don’t see improvements as opportunities, you see previously untaken opportunities as failures. It is important to understand Kaizen not as a rigid practice about moving you up some invisible ladder. It instead is a very aware state of mind in which new, quality ideas can naturally emerge. We don’t invent good ideas out of pressure as much as we focus on our work and improvements simply occur to us. It’s intentional in a completely different way. It’s how you learned to walk.

Do not want to be better. Do not want to be different. Do not want to be like someone else. But you can improve. You can change. And you can observe and listen to others for guidance, but nevertheless you ultimately have no obligations. You could theoretically just surrender your way into a mental institution where people fed you and looked after the base of Maslow’s Pyramid for you. Why don’t you? Because you’re naturally creative, and you life is your ultimate work of art.

It is important to remember that the full value of your life’s work of art doesn’t even get considered until your funeral, so you won’t even be around to see if you won or not and none of the judges were present for much of your performance anyway. You’re here for the creation but not the competition. So don’t waste your life on meaningless doing as a way of achieving. Egos compete. Souls are complete. But it will take your life to make the journey through your abilities, so stop worrying about what others think of you and instead spend this week focusing on actions that grow you.

You’re not a herd dog keeping your own unruly flock in line, you are the herd and you’re naturally moving to where you naturally feel like being. That is your way. Now 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.

A Brighter Light

Gifts can arrive in such unlikely packages. A friend mine is the sort of person who makes you instantly smile when you recall him. In fact, he himself has an absolutely infectious smile. He’s kind, intelligent, he’s extremely enjoyable company, he’s a loving soul and he is quite simply what my father would call a good man. There is no higher praise from my father.

809 Relax and Succeed - SunriseToday my heart broke for my friend. Because my father is my hero and my friend just lost his. We spoke a bit about his home and his life when we met a few years ago. It was clear that he had an understanding of what his father had given him throughout life. And I knew he must have given him a great deal because that is the only way to become a good man. To have people who truly and deeply believe in you.

The friend and I met doing business with each other and became friendly based on his warmth. That warmth showed through when he recently posted a quote in relation to his father’s passing. I read quotes all day–they’re what this blog is about: breaking down the quotes to deeper meanings. But today my friend introduced me to what very well may be the most beautiful quote I have ever seen in my life.

I’m well aware of Tagore, I’m interested in his work and yet somehow–remarkably–this quote about the lamp eluded me. It is quite simply the most elegant, graceful and accurate description of death I have ever seen. Indeed, for every student of mine I’ve taught I have urged them to do what I saw tribal Fijians do when I was very young man.

809 Relax and Succeed - Death is not extinguishing the lightWhile my friends caught a nap I ended up on what was supposed to be a short side-trip with a local, that ended up being an education into the rituals of dying. I had thought I was at a celebration because I was. This was no funeral. This was described to me and it certainly looked like more of party. It was like Thanksgiving but for a person.

Everyone was celebrating the person’s existence and they expressed their gratitude for what that person had given them. It will be a painful process, but I do hope my friend is able to stay in touch with that very sentiment. Because his father gave him one of the greatest gifts a father can give a son: the gift of character. His son’s lives will be forever bettered by that gift and the light of their father will always shine because of it.

The reason I love the quote is that–for the person we love the light never really feels like it changes. As the full light of morning strikes we can stop telling ourselves a story in the darkness of individuality and instead we can become one again with everything.  And who among us would not move toward this brighter light? Who among us cannot appreciate the incredible infinite beauty of an expanding sunrise over the limitations of the lamp?

This is not a death. To the real soul it is a type of awakening. Truly a dawn. It is those of us left behind who cast our thoughts into the deepest darkest reaches of loss. But for my friend’s father, he has finally moved to the only place immense enough to express all of the infinite love he feels for his wife and children now that he is truly free.

With love and tears, s

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

Status Addictions

763 Relax and Succeed - The bias of the mainstream mediaThere’s a new disease out there. You may not have really bothered to hone in on it, but you have an awareness that it exists. You’ve seen the symptoms. Some people have already unknowingly been affected and have toppled over the edge into a new kind of insanity. You can’t blame them. There’s so many transmission points in our culture it’s difficult for kids today not to be diseased by a very young age.

By “diseased” I mean the very root of the word: dis-eased. Our natural way of being has been impacted somehow. Life has a natural ease to it. How to win is clear: move your genes forward by ensuring you can feed and provide shelter for yourself and then self-actualize. Enjoy yourself. Maslow yourself. Become. But those fundamental priorities are disappearing fast.

Back in the day of newspapers you printed as many pages as there was news. But the formula got turned around backwards when the creation of cable TV created a much busier marketplace and as people looked to fill it, the 24 hour news cycle was born. That lead to journalism being reduced to speculation the majority of the time and increasingly celebrity culture began to really dominate in a way it never had before.

763 Relax and Succeed - If a man has an apartmentSo where you used to be known for singing or dancing or science or something you created, increasingly you can be a celebrity just for its own sake. In many cases you don’t need any skill whatsoever and–to the contrary–you can even be self-destructive and poorly mannered in terms of how you treat others. It no longer matters what the person stands for as a verb, all that matters is if you’re even superficially present in the media.

The other way to fall into a status addiction is through money. This is where you continue to earn money far past the point of it making any logical sense whatsoever. I was very close with an extremely extremely wealthy man and that was mostly what he talked about once he knew he was sick. He could not figure out why he had sacrificed his life for more money than he could ever use in several lifetimes. He wanted to know his children better. He wanted to be their hero and there was no time left. That’s a crazy trade.

These addictions lead to the same crazy kinds of behaviour as any other addiction. It will lead to things like billionaires suggesting they cannot afford to pay minimum wage, to billionaires like Ken Lay losing everything and dying in shame by lying and stealing to hide the fact that he had made some big mistakes in business. In the end trying that strategy lead to him being even more embarrassed and exposed than if he would have just met it head on with character, rather than reputation.

763 Relax and Succeed - People want you to be realYou don’t need to be a part of this mass addiction. Stop and ask yourself if your social media presence is relaxed and really you, or if you curate it for effect. Do you remove unflattering photos that tell the truth about you? Do you tailor your contributions for how they will impact others view of you, or your view of your own life? Do you feel that you are allowed to be your true self and still be successful?

Do not get caught up in what others think of you. It’s an endless messy loop of differing opinions and it totally misses the fact that you are the only person who can be perfectly you, so we can’t have you wasting time being things for other people. Yes, we all have to meld and cooperate to succeed and form a beneficial society, but you don’t have to surrender your true self to do that. You just have to respect all the other true selves.

We create celebrity culture with what we do. We show children through our actions who will get the attention. Einstein and a lot of other scientists used to be in the mainstream news and it made kids want to be smart. When the space race happened kids wanted to understand technology and how it worked. Now it’s primarily appearance for the mainstream.

763 Relax and Succeed - Seek to be worth knowingLet’s not teach kids their value is in how they look. Let’s show them they are so much more than that. But we can’t if all of our attention is on ultimately meaningless and mindless activities. Life is waiting for us to live it, we don’t have to watch others live theirs. So let’s all set a great example for kids and let’s make sure our attention is on enriching and rewarding things. It’s like having a healthy diet for your mind. From there your love and basic good judgment will take care of the rest.

Have an awesome day today. And all the best to you and all those you love.

peace. s

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

Staying in Character

I remember what it’s like. You want to know. I remember not-knowing and how it felt like something I would have to strive toward—like something outside of myself that I needed to get. I had to add to myself. I had to discover something and then I could nod knowingly and after that life would be easy. Life is pretty easy, but the rest of all of that is wrong. That’s what I thought back then. But then there was a me thinking of that, and a me will never get that answer right because me’s are blind to reality.

664 Relax and Succeed - When I accept myselfThe reason I get to live in an enlightened state at least some of the time is because I don’t make a me. Things are happening. I have a presence at those events. But I don’t perceive my comprehension of those events to be reality or the truth. I know that I am little more than a specific way in which to distort all into a personal reality. I am but one character in this great play of life. But knowing that, I remain aware that I am in a play and that my role is only that—a role. My reactions are less mine than they are the ones I was taught. English isn’t my language it’s just the one I speak.

If I begin to take this me too seriously I will think I have to defend or protect or advocate for the character I’m playing. I’ll start arguing with the other characters and I’ll be frustrated by their lack of understanding but then I’m applying my logic to the logic of the play, and that doesn’t work. Each character has to stay as themselves otherwise the whole production falls apart. I can’t suddenly break character and go, oh hey, we don’t have to duel to the death over this issue. We can just remember that we’re just characters in a play and we can go out for a beer after the theatre! Of course that is true, but then the play lacks tension and there’s no point. We have to take it a bit seriously or else it lacks drama. It’s the same reason we like movies and TV. Conflict is drama.

664 Relax and Succeed - When you've run out of excusesSo in a movie you know you’re not the character so you can enjoy roller-coastering through the various emotions. You can feel anger or fear or worry and you won’t mind at all because it’s all in the context of the show you’re watching. But get into the rest of life and all of a sudden you’re taking your waking character way too seriously. There’s no judge in this event. No prize or winning. The event is the event. Life is life. There’s nothing to get. You just get a few years to squeeze experiences into. That’s it. But that’s actually quite profound when you really give it serious thought. Because it makes it precious. And we treat precious things with great care. We love precious things and love is what the universe is made of so any time we feel love we know we’re close to enlightenment.

Relax into your being. There is no need to achieve or impress or hide or mask or any number of strategies to be successful. Relax and succeed. Succeed by relaxing. That is the victory. To not have life chase you, but to fill it like a vase with what you want to drink. Taste your favourite flavours. Bask in existence. It’s a miracle. The odds of all those infinitesimally small bits of 664 Relax and Succeed - Something will growuniverse all congealing together into you is just so incredibly unlikely and yet here you are. It’s amazing and it’s why I look at you and think—why are they sitting there? Why aren’t you off being your magnificent self? Who else would be that person? We can’t have that person going un-lived. This is the universe. Every possibility gets played out. It’s just which one did you choose?

This is your life. Treat it like you chose it. Like you selected your own life story on TV or at the movies. You only have so much time on air. You’re here to enjoy it. You’re hear to get value from it. Sometimes movies make us laugh and sometimes they make us cry, but every type can enrich us and be a worthwhile experience. So stop wanting your life to be different and remember that this is the script you chose. Play your character fully. Trust me. The dramas will be what make it all worth it. After all, those are your life. It’s time you started enjoying it.

Wasn’t it interesting that your character chose to read this? 😉

Now go create an awesome day. Big hugs.

peace. s

Decision-making Simplified

If you’re looking to live a peaceful life then a principled life provides the greatest levels of consistency and the most positive results overall. Yes, statistically the principled life can mean prices can be high, but the reward is the calm equanimity of a life with a peace of mind. So how do these principles work?

654 Relax and Succeed - How you do anythingKeep in mind, this isn’t me reading a dictionary to you. This is my definition based on my understanding of how the human mind is wired up. A principle is like a conceptual limit. Anything outside of it would exist outside your definition of yourself. So if you don’t believe in murder, then imagining yourself killing someone would be highly unpleasant because the thought would conflict directly with your principles.

If you claimed to hold the principles stated above, then killing someone for money would be to sell your character. Because that deal means you’ll be forced to function outside the framework of the principles you claimed to have. As soon as you’re outside that line you’re behaviour lacks character and you are a wild card for the rest of the world and for yourself. A great deal of energy is expended in being this way because each experience becomes strictly an emotional outcome rather than the larger philosophical growth opportunity it could be. Because if we take enough of those growth opportunities and we add them together we eventually end up at wisdom. So if you’re operating from a basis of principles you can climb quite high in life. But if you’re only using your daily opinion then 20 years of experience gets turned into the same year re-done 20 times.

654 Relax and Succeed - The more you love your decisionsThe reason wisdom is important is because our mood—our thought chemistry—can drastically impact how we’ll react to any given circumstance. Something that seemed reasonable 10 minutes ago can suddenly seem horrifying, or insane and the opposite’s true too. So we can’t be making decisions based only on how we feel, especially during a pique of emotion. Even the Dalai Lama will admit to having a temper. So we need something to filter out the kinds of errors we’ll make when we’re overly emotional: enter principles.

These are like pre-decided conceptual ideas. If you claim to value human life then you are in principle against murder. That means that when you get asked whether or not the government should be able to use the death penalty you know the answer must be no because yes would exist outside of your principles. Likewise, if you value human dignity then you would in principle want people to be treated with respect. And that would mean you that you absolutely would not take advantage of a date who was under any kind of influence. To the contrary you would protect them.

You can’t buy character. You pay for character. If you believe people should be treated equally, then character dictates that if you work for a CEO that lays off a bunch of low level employees and then he applies their salaries to the bottom line to boost executive bonuses, then you have to quit or figure out what charity you’re going to give that money to. Because spending it would be to allow one group to take advantage over another, and if you truly believe in everyone being treated equally then you know the 654 Relax and Succeed - The ultimate measure of a manmoney was obtained through unprincipled means and you have to find some reasonable way to get yourself back on-side with your principles.

If this sounds expensive sometimes it really is. But do not underestimate how much easier it makes life. Because when you see tortured people trying to make the “right” decision in some tense or difficult situation, you can just calmly look at it and know what the mathematics of your principles would dictate and your answer would be spit out by your pre-determined belief structure, rather than your current brain chemistry. That often leads to much better long term outcomes, and the nature of it means that you’ll do less actual thinking than the people who are trying to feel what the right thing to do is, rather than calculate it based on their carefully chosen principles.

Take the pressure off yourself. Set your principles and then live by them. You’ll be surprised at how good you feel when you pay a price to live up to them. It’s only then that you realize that most of the heroes in the movies and books and shows of your life have all been the one who exercised strong principles—even if you didn’t always agree with their values. But in the end, the closest thing anyone can consistently be is the decisions that emerge from their character. Their thoughts will change, their cells will change, but only by experience and by choice will their decision-making change.

Figure out where your lines in the sand are. What are your absolutes? Build yourself a framework of principles and then spend some time living with them. They’re trickier than you first realize if you’re serious about it. But after you fall into the habit they make a wonderful decision-making tool.

Here’s to easier decisions that are more in alignment with our values and which should therefore create more peace of mind and the opportunity to more deeply enjoy the very act of living. I wish you the very best.

peace, s

Partly Cloudy Partly Sunny

The reason you have difficulty realizing an enlightened state is because you see it as some high-level guru-inspired nirvana-achievement. It’s something special. Something you don’t normally do. But that’s the trick—you do do it all the time. You just don’t account for it.

499 Relax and Succeed - When things are going wellYou hit some super long putt, or a free throw in basketball or a wrist shot in hockey—and you know know know you’ve scored the moment it leaves your control. Sometimes you’re busy doing something mundane and you look up and you can’t believe how much time has passed. Or when you were just enjoying yourself so much that you felt entirely secure and therefore your ego had no reason to perform. In each of those cases you were in an enlightened state.

In those cases you’ll note that you weren’t investing much or any energy on creating a you. Instead you were busy taking in the world. You were an input aspect of the universe, not an output aspect. You were enjoying the universe itself. And that can take all forms. You can be mesmerized and thoroughly absorbed by baby pandas, and you can be just as riveted by a pride of lions taking down a baby gazelle. One thing is cute and one thing is natural but very harsh, and yet both experiences are equal in that they are fully engaging; meaning they leave us with no space to insert our egos. There is a great lesson in this. To improve your daily life, you simply have to apply this same response to less compelling aspects of life. Stop reserving this skill for mountain-top sunsets and baby animals. Start using this with frustrating co-workers and stressed spouses.  Because even those things are ultimately not about you.

A499 Relax and Succeed - You simply have to acceptccept that there will be days when people who are usually reasonable will suddenly be difficult. This is not the secret-them coming out. This is not some gross miscalculation of character on your part. This is normal human existence. How’s our diet? How about sleep? Are there challenging and unavoidable things going on in life and how good are your support systems? These are things that will impact a person’s reactions, not to mention big shifts in hormone changes that can be the result of everything from bodybuilding drugs to puberty, to menstrual cycles and menopause and changes resulting from drugs or diseases and their treatments. There’s a lot of reasons for all of us to occasionally get snippy. We’re better to learn not to be so quick to judge. Watch people over the long term. That’s the closest thing you could call who they are.

The world isn’t perfect when everyone’s unnaturally polite. The world’s perfect when everyone is compassionate enough to let themselves and everyone else be a fully realized human being leading a full and rich life. Because even the greatest life includes frustration and agony and doubt and struggle. So we must let those moments be. Those are merely clouds hovering over the landscape of our life. They only obscure the sun. They do not actually make it go away. All we have to do is wait and when we see rays shining through up ahead, we must set that course as our destination. Because it is by moving toward the light, that we realize our own path through life.

Accept not everything feels good, then as soon as possible move toward what does feel good. That’s pretty much the whole secret to life in a nutshell. Go for it.

peace. s

The World’s a Stage

The main stumbling block for most people is that they’re working toward the wrong thing. They want to attain enlightenment and be free of suffering. They want to be seen as wise and peaceful and beyond reproach. They imagine having no hassles. That’s what enlightenment is to most people: no hassles. Does that seem as lame as it actually is? Because that is a super lame definition of enlightenment. I totally understand that there’s good reasons people think that, but let’s clear up right away that it is totally wrong, and working toward that will just delay you in getting to where you’re really going.

495 Relax and Succeed - Authenticity is the daily practiceDo you think the people who know me would call me enlightened? A few would. But most would think that was ridiculous. And I don’t blame them because they, like you, don’t imagine someone like me when they imagine someone enlightened. They think the person should almost float and make no mistakes and speak in Asian rhythms. But that’s the TV version of enlightenment. The Dalai Lama often talks about his bad temper. So maybe you’re not so far from where he is after all, huh?

Real enlightenment is pure freedom. The freedom to have a view and the freedom to allow others to have theirs too. The freedom from replaying narratives about—or otherwise caring about—other people’s opinions or criticisms. The freedom to make mistakes and therefore the freedom from guilt. Enlightenment is satisfaction with yourself that you are a good person and any troubles are inadvertent and unintentional.

When you’re enlightened you may not like everyone but you do love everyone. So you allow them to be who they are, even when that person conflicts with who you are. Because the enlightened person knows that’s like two characters arguing in a stage in a play. It makes no sense for the actors to spend their night angry about the argument even after the play is over. It was the character’s argument. The character is just a set of beliefs you’re portraying. But being an individual is expressed through choices based on our beliefs, so in then end we’re all just slowly evolving patterns of choice. We’re all characters in life’s great movie.

The important part is, our beliefs were randomly dictated by the experiences we just happened to have in life. So if our choices are informed by our random experiences growing up, why take being that person so seriously? The role’s 60-90 years if you’re lucky. After that, no matter how good you were they write you out of the show. So since it’s all just for its own sake, why not just see life like Shakespeare suggested: “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players.

495 Relax and Succeed - All the world's a stageDon’t take yourself or other people too seriously and you’ll find life is quite enjoyable without any effort at all. And then you’ll realize that there are enlightened people around you. Not a lot of them, but there’s people that get it. People that have quiet non-judgmental ego-free minds. But most people live in a sea of their own instructions on how to get this or avoid that. They’re always wanting. Enlightened people don’t want. They Be. And there’s nothing you could want that could ever be as good as Be-ing. Not even no-suffering.

Don’t try to be calm and holy and perfect. Be human. Fully unapologetically human. Including your mistakes, misjudgments and misses. That is part of being human. Someone saying you can’t ever do that is like telling the person they can’t be human. No way. That’s not how it works. We’re all born with our humanity. It is ours. The rest is just people’s ideas and opinions.

So instead of being holy or righteous or sanguine, be your whole and complete self instead. Because that his what the universe is waiting for. Enjoy.

peace. s