Let More Be

1189 Relax and Succeed - One person's craziness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

peace. s

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

Your Life Story

There’s debates about who said it or who said it first, but somewhere sometime someone said that every writer has to write a million words of shit before they’ll write anything any good. The number itself is largely a metaphor for the fact that in everything in life, we get good by doing. And the more we do (either in intensity or duration or both), the more skilled we get at that thing.

Just as in life, every writer wants to be good because they know the tools. They know the alphabet, so they have their hammer; and they’ve read sentences–which is like watching a house being built–so that’s where they start. But it’s absurd to think they’ll be as good of a carpenter on that first job as they’ll be in 25 years.

That logic applies to anything. The conscious person who learns with intensity learns more than someone with less intensity, and someone conscious who puts in more time also learns more than someone who puts in less time or who uses less consciousness. This is is true of writing, cooking, raising kids, teaching, or–yes–living.

Living is a skill. So yeah, physically and mentally you eventually deteriorate, so maybe your life-work gets a bit sloppy near the end, but by then everyone’s forgiving you. But otherwise you just get better and better at living life every year you live it, and the more conscious you are the more your learn. That’s all well and good. The problem comes in when you want the wisdom before you’ve even had the experiences that teach it.

Your expectations of yourself and your life start off pretty wacky. Because you can edit your writing you think you can edit life. And because of that you’ll go through these periods where you’ll feel like you’re totally failing because you’ll be nowhere near your targets and you can’t fix your past. But it’s not your life that’s the problem, or your ability to edit; it’s your expectation that you would know things before you learned them. You do that all the time and yet it’s truly crazy.

Graceful living requires only one thing: live the moment you’re in fully and presently. That means being in it and aware of it, rather than thinking about what-ifs or regrets. Things going in challenging ways aren’t failures, that’s just the texture of the surface you’re climbing. And when you reach the summit of your own peak–your own death–you’ll have a better understanding that you weren’t supposed to climb the highest mountain or the hardest–you were just supposed to climb. Which mountain you started on never really mattered.

You will know more tomorrow than today, and today you know more than you knew yesterday. If you go back and rethink and rethink over and over, re-editing all of your life’s work, you’ll never get much writing done and you won’t get much living lived.

Trust that as the writer writes, the writer improves. Forget the early pages. They’re both written and read. Because that’s the other important thing; other people will only glance at your book just as you’ll only glance at theirs. You might read deeply into maybe half a dozen books in your life. Because it turns out these weren’t being written to be read, the were written for the writing’s sake.

Stop worrying about your mistakes and just write–just live. You were never supposed to be perfect. You were just supposed to be here. That in and of itself, is perfect.

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.

Ego Awareness

1026-relax-and-succeed-the-goal-of-meditationMost people want to make changes but they’re too busy being who they think they are. They never stop to actually figure out who their ego is and how they might more easily identify it when it shows up. It’s important to remember; an ego must be summoned. Your natural state is peace. Your thinking-in-words state is your ego. So how do we find that little trouble-maker?

One of the easiest ways to catch your ego is to simply listen to yourself. And I don’t mean the sounds. If you had to ascribe a tone to your conversations and your responses, would it be negative or positive? Do you take what someone said and polish it up to look nicer, or do you take it and make it worse?

Get to know yourself. Most people you know would know your ego more than the real you. Without you being aware of it your ego is the angle that ideas will bounce off of you and the people who know you call that your personality.

1026-relax-and-succeed-the-darkness-that-surrounds-usDon’t think these little differences in how you talk and interact are unimportant. Keep in mind that those are direct reflections of your brain’s wiring. So as trivial as it might seem, there’s almost nothing more important than, if someone says, Nice day isn’t it? Do you say something negative or positive?

Let’s look at some possible answers to that question, but first let’s keep in mind that I live in one of the world’s northernmost cities and we have had one of our warmest years ever. Last winter was very short on low temperatures, and rather than warm weather extending from May to September, this year it’s gone from March to November. That’s five extra months of warm temperatures. But that doesn’t help someone if they have a negative perspective.

In my experiment I’ve been saying Nice day, isn’t it? for a few weeks and here’s a collection of the responses I got. Many of you are likely one of these or close to one of these.

Negative Responses to the question, Nice day isn’t it?

[No answer. Sullen expression]
Yeah, I guess it’s not bad.
It’s about time.
It won’t last.
Maybe for some people.
Yeah, but whatever it gives us now it’ll take it away worse, later.
Just wait a few weeks.
Not warm enough for me.

Anyone can have a challenging day where their patience is short and some negativity shows up. Sometimes people are dealing with very overwhelming circumstances so they’ll be more inclined to the negative but, all that said, there is no more important time to watch for the best things than when things are at their worst.

Take your little stab at negativity occasionally. We all do, because if there’s a path you’re seeking then there must be a not-path too. But you don’t want to stay on that path any longer than you have to, and the only way off that path is through raising your awareness and leading yourself out with a more optimistic perspective. The people above are experiencing one of the warmest years ever and yet they can still find ways for that to not be good enough. This is why expectations and comparisons kill happiness.

Pay more attention. See conversations as balls lobbed over a net toward you; every statement is a new ball. The question is, do you predominantly shoot those back toward the other person’s backhand, or their forehand? Do you make it easy to play, or do you make it harder? Do you take responsibility for your interpretation of reality or do try to pawn it off on others as though it’s their fault, or that somehow they were luckier than you, rather than they were more positive than you?

Positive approaches generate lots of support and assistance. Negative approaches attract anger and blame. Gee, I wonder which one leads to a better life?

Get conscious. Wake up. Don’t answer people out of habit and don’t initiate contact out of habit. Be aware. Choose your words carefully for they are the brushstrokes that form your painting of the world. If a person is always the victim of something, then that is what they are using this lifetime to become: a victim.

A person can do that their whole life if they choose to. Many more people have wasted lives than lived them. You’re the one who lives with those choices. But those can go both ways, because after anyone responds to me negatively, I still usually meet the next person with a positive attitude and it’s amazing what wonderful people are brought into your life though that simple act.

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 Horns of a Dilemma

1020-relax-and-succeed-this-wayIn every life people will reach big moments where they have to choose between two very different opportunities that are mutually exclusive. It could look like a great new job in your old field versus an entry-level job in an industry you’ve always want to work in, or maybe you have to decide between a job opportunity and love. Maybe it’s between having a baby or not. There’s lots of ways we can be stuck trying to decide the undecideable.

To decide comes from French and before that, Latin, and it essentially means to cut off. So you have reached a point in a path of life where one path necessarily cuts you off from another. It’s either this or that but never both. We think what is painful is our inability to see far enough down the path to know which one works out better, but just that thought means we believe that a decision today will determine the rewards in our life later, when that’s just not true.

The notion of a path to success and a path to failure misunderstand what it is to succeed and what it is to fail. Your life is a set of experiences, not a set of gradings by you or anyone else. No one can tell an elementary school teacher who loves their job that they should have chosen something more valuable, because they are the one enjoying their job. That joy is a feeling they experience, it isn’t a theoretical gain in people’s imagination. Being called successful isn’t the same as feeling a real connection to your own life.

1020-relax-and-succeed-if-you-cannot-do-great-thingsYou being important happens in other people’s heads, your daily joy is in your head. How others–or even a changing you with your fluctuating priorities–view your life choices from a distance isn’t as important as how much you enjoy those choices in the individual moments you’re in. So it’s not the path that’s good or bad, it’s your walking of it.

There’s a lot of people trying to improve their life through better life-choices at key moments rather than trying to improve it moment by moment. Even terrible marriages that are better abandoned will still have a lot of fun and joy in them, that’s why they happened in the first place. So a “failed” marriage can have been largely good, but that bad part might still be serious enough that the person may still have to leave the relationship. But that doesn’t erase the parts of it that were or are good, it just makes the payment worth more than the benefit. So you leave, but not because the other path was bad, but rather because it was unwalkable, which is like having no choice at all.

The agony we feel at these times of choosing is based on our thought-based bouncing between two very nebulous, ambiguous ideas. The truth is, each path will contain it’s own unknown opportunities for suffering and it’s own unknown opportunities for joy; we won’t know what those are until we live those moments, which is why the style of our walking is more important than the choice of our path.

1020-relax-and-succeed-hold-onWhat will make any path bad is constant comparison to any road not taken. Our imagination regarding what would have happened is just an uninformed guess. Whatever we think we know, we’d have to be there to be sure. People tend not to advertise the downsides of their choices lest they look bad to others, so we never really know what a life feels like until we live it. But if that’s the case, then there’s no point in torturing ourselves over a dilemma. We’d literally be better to flip a coin, choose, and then dive back into the world’s individual moments with our eye pointed toward joy, because looking for it is how it’s found. It’s not the path you’re on, it’s the perspective you take while you’re on it.

What path are you on that you’d like to be off? What’s making the current path bad? Is it really bad, or are you just trapped in a state of wanting when deep down you’re not even really sure what you’d get if you got what you want? Because no matter what path you’re on, nothing will make it feel worse than wanting to be on another path.

Be where you are. Live consciously. Maybe the job or spouse or choice you’ve made really is a great choice. Maybe you just haven’t realised that because you’ve been too busy wanting something else instead. Either way, you never really have to worry about going the wrong direction because your life happens in your consciousness where there are no paths, there is only presence or want, and you are always in control of which of those two states you’re in.

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 Friday Dose #111

 

There are two levels of response that I talk about when I work with people. One is psychological and it’s actually quite easy to understand because everyone has a psyche and what I do is uncover and expose someone’s personal logic so that they are no longer so mysterious to themselves. This is where peace of mind and the success that follows begins.

The second level is where the spiritual meets the psychological. This level is no less sensible (it’s more so), but it requires a more radical shift in understanding. Not a big shift; a surprisingly small one with a much deeper understanding of our place in the universe. This is the one where enlightenment begins, and at that point you no longer feel like a competent surfer atop a perfect board and an amazing wave–at that point you, the board and the wave are all seen as one thing.

919 FD2 Relax and Succeed - We are sacred artistsIf that seems weird, just remember a lot of remote tribespeople in the jungles of this world do not see themselves as having 5 or 6 senses, but rather one big sense. Watts hints at this in the video below when he makes the quote placed above. It is that second you–the separate you on the separate board riding the separate wave–that makes the board and the wave and the quality of the riding within itself. You create an ego and that is the story it tells you.

Watts and I are suggesting to you that if you were never encouraged to create that other idealized you then you would be One with your life and there would be no time in which a separate you felt you were making a distinct decision. You are simply in the flow. There is no time-travelling to pre or post-evaluation of a “choice.” 

That is the point of ultimate peace. When your internal narrative disappears it takes the notion of choices and mistakes along with it. The tension of those judgments is instead replaced with a relaxation and openness that permits the natural reintegration of our greater selves back into the fold of that famous moment called Now. 

Have a fantastic weekend 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.

Resistance to Happiness

865 Relax and Succeed - If you are brave enoughIsn’t it strange? You’ll know a certain course of thought hurts. It’ll be as painful as physical pain. And you likely even caught yourself doing it and yet you didn’t go try to conjure up your Dominant Positive Emotion. So when you didn’t switch to being happier–why did you resist? Or do you not recognize your resistance in the word  “…but…”

The “but” is there because you you have attachments and so that means that you believe some thoughts weigh more than others. There are ones you can toss out easily, like deciding to have the salad instead of the soup at lunch. But the difficult ones are about subjects that you feel matter.

By “matter” I mean you have an attachment you want to maintain. Something that’s considered important is just something you value more than other things precisely because you believe it is more important to your happiness. But people will be terrible at making this calculation in the heat of too much thinking / rationalising. We’ve all seen people return to extremely unhealthy relationships and put up with abusive bosses or continue damaging habits etc.

865 Relax and Succeed - If you still talk about itNothing from outside of you creates your happiness. You must abandon this one idea: that your happiness is delivered to you externally by external experiences. Until you do that you will hand over the responsibility for your own joy to someone else. You’ll expect them to make you happy instead of remembering to do that yourself. It’s a lot easier to have a successful marriage by being a happy partner rather than having a happy partner. As I’ve written before: we feel the love we give, not the love we get.

So you’ll see when you encounter these things that you’ll pass over the idea of stopping those thoughts. Those are important thoughts you’ll tell yourself. If someone said stop thinking right then you would say “but…” If there’s a “but” in your talking and it’s there to defend more thinking or more talking or more pain that’s actually fine. It just means you’re going to use your imagination and creativity to create pain for yourself rather than enjoyment. You will want rather than appreciate. You have freedom. The universe will let you do that.

You can ask the universe for anything. For your spouse not to leave you, to end your money woes, for your health to turn around–but while you’re busy wanting you will be actively generating your own voluntary suffering. For a better life you don’t need a bunch of external changes, you need one subtle internal change. You need to see that each and every day your experience of that day is psychological and that you don’t have a day, you feel one.

865 Relax and Succeed - There comes a dayThe best way to achieve a lot is to have a positive mental mindset and then be active. You don’t have a lot of control over your day but you do have a lot of control over your thinking. No, you won’t be exercising that control all the time, especially this quickly. But that doesn’t matter because the biggest step you’ll take in this journey is just leaving on the road to study your own thoughts and the patterns in your thinking.

I’ve worked with lots of people who were told they had Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)–a new disorder that was fairly recently invented. Before that some people just complained a lot about winter. Now there was a pill for it. Someone thought cleverly about ending their money problems and they realized that they could do that by convincing you that your happiness could be restored by a pill and that what made you sick was the location of the Earth relative to the Sun. Something you can do nothing about. That was sure convenient for a drug company.

865 Relax and Succeed - Go 24 hours without complainingSome people had parents who had extremely resistance thoughts about winter and they taught some of their kids to conjure those resistant thoughts too. End of story. The people who tell themselves healthy cuddly cozy stories about the cold like the Norwegians do will always be happier than some person bitching in a street half as cold in Canada. Because it’s not the cold that hurts us–it’s our resistance. Our resistance to what Is. Thinking is resistance. Trust yourself. Stop the thinking. Stop the resistance. Surrender and accept. From there all you have to do is switch from wanting to appreciating and you’re miles ahead.

Take 24 hours–until you read my next post–and use that time to notice your resistance. Note the things you’re resistant about. Try to determine what things you’re valuing in your life in what ways and how that leads to your suffering. Follow these strands of thought and you will see they are tied to nothing. You always are and always have been free. So you can be happy. Because if you’re reading this then you’re definitely on the way to being a soul that lives itself out in freedom.

Now go use the focus of your attention to hoover-in whatever you see to appreciate. That simple act will lead you to a wonderful day. Do that more often than not and you have a wonderful life. Enjoy. 😉

peace. s

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

Other Perspectives #89

This is true although it’s important to point out that this choice–this decision–gets made every moment of every single day. It’s not like one decision makes you a good or bad person for the rest of your life. People are all the same–they all hold the same potential. Their behaviour is not who they are, but at the same time their life will be made up of that behaviour. So you can develop a reputation for a certain behaviour but that’s not the same as being a bad person. Everyone still has other behaviours available to them. So never lose sight of yours or anyone else’s potential. It’s always only one moment–one decision, one choice–away. After that you just have to know with certainty that you will choose bad behaviour occasionally no matter who you are. But if you’re awake and paying attention, the consequences that result will be all the motivation you need to return to more rewarding choices. Make those choices starting right now. Give the next person you meet a compliment and start off their time with you by helping them to recognize their ability to make good choices about their life too. Have a great week everyone.

peace. s

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

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