Spiritual Lessons From Sport

Even for non-sports fans, sports offers excellent examples of how people behave when they’re functioning from an enlightened perspective. The lesson I’ll present today surrounds my own city, Edmonton, Canada, and our hockey team, The Edmonton Oilers.

The context is that Edmonton got an NHL team at the end of the 70’s and within only five years that team began a run of 5 Stanley Cups. Frankly, it created very high expectations that have since proven quite painful. With one almost accidental exception, the team has floundered at the bottom of the entire league for twenty years.

The contrast between the two team histories had made Edmonton hockey fans a somber bunch. There wasn’t much to rally good thoughts around. Recently, into the vacuum created by seasons of finishing last, came a once-a-generation elite draft pick and a brilliant new coach and GM and the nicest arena in sports. Suddenly the team has gone from vastly underachieving to significantly overachieving.

An important part of the lesson is that normal is defined by whatever you’ve gotten used to. For a generation of Oilers fans losing was normal, so winning stood out like a sore thumb. It was sure easier to enjoy. If your team is dominant–as Edmonton was in the 80’s–then you couldn’t help but half-expect to win. And that is a recipe for disaster.

When you expect wins and they don’t come it’s painful. Likewise, expecting losses and getting wins feels especially good. Fortunately, that phenom player really is as good as they said he was, and so are the coach and GM, so in short order orange jerseys and t-shirts were selling like crazy to very, very happy fans who were suddenly forming more of an actual identity around the team, (now that the team finally had one).

Here’s another important part of the lesson: most people started off the year excited by the fact that we might make the playoffs for the first time in eleven years. And then boom. We beat the really good team we’re up against and we’re in the second round of the playoffs. It was Oilermania in Edmonton. Suddenly this previous source of anger and frustration and sadness has people feeling awesome, and how awesome depended entirely on all of that anger and frustration and sadness.

At public screenings of the game total strangers embraced after goals. They are now a family of fans. For good luck, there is now a First Nations drum circle done by Oiler fans prior to every game. I have witnessed people I know to have racist feelings about Natives, showing support for the Native drum circle. Stop and think about what’s happening in that person’s mind.

A guy has a very dim view of First Nations Canadians. This is innocently because of the part of the province he grew up in and some early programming from his parents, plus some unfortunate early experiences. So he’s always felt entirely justified. If he sees one of these guys as a Native then he’ll take a dim view of the very same person he will embrace if the guy’s beating a drum at an Oiler game! Think about that. The Native guy has multiple identities within the mind of the racist fan. And that racist opinion is so thin that it can be burst by an orange jersey. This is real bridge-building between cultures.

Even non-hockey fans got into these playoffs. They weren’t joining in the love of hockey. They were joining in on that wave of positive civic feelings. And why not? Why not make choices that help you feel connected and good? That’s how healthy, connected people do it. Once everyone was in a healthy state of mind, when the team finally lost something very interesting happened.

People think they’re not being successfully spiritual if they don’t dispel their expectations. It’s true, that’s a path to the path. But as I always say, you can’t have path without not-path, so that “wrong part” is actually equally important to your spirituality, hence yin and yang and the acceptance of suffering that the Eastern philosophies suggest. So yes, dispel your expectations, but don’t think you’re “outside” of spirituality if you have them. As long as you accept the teeter totter you’re on, you do get to trade your expectations for intense experiences.

In the end what happened was that everyone would have been happy if the team just made the playoffs at all, so this year everyone felt that the team had exceeded expectations. They were able to trade those exceeded expectations for very little pain when the team finally did lose in the third period of game seven of round two.

Yes, many fans were disappointed in that seventh game, many said so when interviewed. But to a person, they also said that it had been a wonderful year, they were proud of their team, proud to be a part of the fanbase, they’d made many friends and they lived in excited anticipation of next year. That is wonderful! They became voluntarily part of a family. They fell in love with the team and each other, and they’re hopeful. And for this year, they are literally happy about losing.

Of course, all of this will set up our expectations, so if we don’t make the playoffs next year people will be especially disappointed. I won’t have that expectation, just anticipation. So I’ll avoid the roller coaster. But I might join it for the playoffs, voluntarily. Why? Because it’s fun. And because, when it comes to true spirituality, even when you’re out you’re in. This is the yin and yang of life that we all must accept before we can live in peace. Here’s hoping this lesson helps you understand how that state of mind works. Have a great 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.

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 Caged Bird

986-relax-and-succeed-when-a-caged-bird-singsThis is one of those quotes that can feel nonsensical at first; as though it means nothing at all. The truth is, it’s a story about the incompatible brain states of happiness and comparison. These sorts of clever sayings can provide a great deal of learning but they are so ubiquitous they are now seen more as declarations than learning tools.

In this case we must ask the question, what transpires? A caged bird sings, other birds gather and the caged bird ends up experiencing longing. Again we ask, why does the caged bird sing? Because it has a song in its heart. It is its nature. And why do the other birds gather? They are attracted by the song. So then why does the singing bird end up feeling tortured?

We as humans outside the cage know the bird’s original nature was outside and in a flock, but if the bird has lived in the cage for so long that it is now that bird’s known and comfortable home then it has no desires for great flights of distance or a sharing of life with a large flock of other birds. It knows its owners and its feeding schedule and how to entertain itself where it is. And yet it does not entirely lose its nature, the bird still sings.

When the other birds show up the bird can now recognise his own bars. It can now see a limitation that did not live as a possibility within the bird’s mind before birds existed outside the bars. Now the bird can compare its formerly happy existence to another existence it knows little about other than it includes more birds. That desire for the fresh and new is where the sensation of longing is formed. Previous to that the bird was happy because it had no desires and the same is true for all of us.

986-relax-and-succeed-if-you-think-that-peaceThere is no point in chasing happiness. It is not somewhere else, it is not doing something else and it is not someone else. Happiness is a way of seeing things. You do it all the time but it’s such a clear-headed state that you don’t actually note what you’re doing. If you did you’d see that when you feel great you aren’t using your thoughts to create a you that is separate from something or someone desired, you’re just being-doing. You are a human being in motion. Suffering is when we forgo that to wish instead.

Go inside. Use these quotes to shape your meditations. What are your desires? What is your flock? Were you in a boring but decent marriage until you met someone else? Did you see someone’s renovation and want one of your own? Or how about if your friends roll around in their new car? It is the comparison that creates the desire which leads to the suffering. It’s why the Buddha said, “There is no fear for one whose mind is not filled with desires.”

Think back to when one of your cages was built and ask how and why that happened. What’s been brought to your attention that wasn’t a problem before you knew about it but now it is? Can you see that your life hadn’t changed only your idea of it had? Can you see that the difference in your ideas was that you suddenly felt separate from happiness? Suddenly you felt your happiness was created by something outside of yourself. Study that source of suffering closely and I guarantee you will have begun a very useful meditation.

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.

Special Notice

715 Relax and Succeed -Keep goingToday there would normally be a Friday Dose here, but this week we’re doing something a little different. More than a little different. Today is a big day for me. I’ve got a special surprise for you too, but let’s save that for the end. I have to tell you a few things first.

Several people wrote to me at the end of 2014 asking me why my listing of your favourite blogs didn’t also include my favourites of 2014, which I had historically done. The reason was; I was saving them for now.

The two weeks when most Canadian kids get out of school is historically the blog’s slowest period. During that time I’ll be implementing some changes to the website and blog to improve both its performance and content. While I’m doing that, you’ll be treated to what I personally feel are the strongest and deepest examples of my work.

715 Relax and Succeed - Nature does not hurryBecause I did a six month period where I answered reader’s questions, I will divide the two weeks up into the section with my favourite traditional blogs, as well as a week of my favourites from the question and answer section of the year.

Because you’re all used to me leaving you with some form of powerful mental distractions on Fridays, I am still leaving the following video below. I’ve posted it before but it was included with several others and many of you felt it deserved its own day. Many of your described as the kick in the pants you really needed.

This is one of the harshest approaches to happiness I’ve seen, but the bottom line is that what it says is true, and many of you found it worked. So for those of you who would benefit from such a spiritual kick, I offer you this:

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Now have yourself an awesome couple of weeks reading what I feel is my very best work. Thanks everyone!

peace and love to all, scott

Shadow Personalities

What you perceive of as people’s individual personalities are actually just shadows cast by your own thinking. This may seem ridiculous but it happens in much the same way that a cinematographer can make a character look angelic or sinister to you depending on where he or she places the light. The angle of the light represents the perspectives of our beliefs. A character or person can change drastically based on our beliefs. Just think of how that angle changes between falling in love and breaking up! But what changed? Them, or the direction of the light?

687 Relax and Succeed - In this lifeYou spend a lot of your life trying to manage people’s perceptions of you but that is futile and wasteful in all kinds of ways. First off, you have no idea what their perceptions are. Even if they say so you still don’t know. The prettiest girl in school can give you the sort of make-up and hair advice that subtly suggests to you that you are ugly, but she’s more likely to do that if she actually thinks you’re the prettiest girl in school. And even if she thought that something or someone was ugly, who’s to say she won’t change that opinion? We do our whole lives. So why try to manage the entries in some weird historical Etch-a-Sketch book that’s always being shaken clean? Why not live instead?

You don’t see others and they don’t see you. Not figuratively, literally. Because there is no you to see. Because everyone has their own idea of value and so everyone perceives you in their own unique way based on their knowledge and life experience. So since everyone has their own idea of you—their own angle of light—then they’re all seeing something slightly different. And there’s no way to reconcile that. Since there is no one who would even be able to perceive any strange, general Objective Reality above that, we can just relax into the idea that all that really matters is our Subjective Reality. We don’t have to manage all of those people because the universe won’t let us. We only have to manage our own thoughts. Because it’s from those that we shape the beliefs that in turn shape both ourselves and others.

687 Relax and Succeed - I have already lostYou have to see people in some way. So your views are fine to have as long as you don’t take them too seriously—that you remember they are just your views. The cinematographer doesn’t want to start treating the actor like he’s the character. And this applies to others opinions about you as well. Do some views carry consequences in your life? Yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that you have no control over their perspective. Your ability to influence anyone’s view of you is crippled by the fact that you don’t even know where to start. You cannot think from their perspective and so you have no idea what their view of you is.

Despite this reality everyone spends most of their lives trying to manage these perceptions. They get angry or sad or bitter about their perceptions of other people’s perceptions about them. To surrender all of that is to be free of your ego’s need to prove itself. To be valuable. To be worthy. And it turns out that all you have to do is stop talking to yourself under the presumption that anything’s wrong with you or anyone else. Do that and suddenly you don’t need all of the self-discussions about, what do I do to become acceptable? or how do I get that person to do what I want so I can deem them acceptable? Instead you’re fine with people and things the way they are. You just have peace.

Find the angles you light people from. Had a bad experience with betrayal? Then you’ll probably cast a suspicious light on others. Had an angry, reproachful father? Then you’ll be inclined to look at things and people fearfully. Or was your mother carefree almost to the point of neglect? Then you’ll either need that same kind of freedom or you’ll crave order but, either way, unless you become very conscious, your experiences with your mother will have shaped where you place the light on yourself and others. That’s why so many people vote just like their parents. They’ve only ever seen issues lit in one fundamental way.

687 Relax and Succeed - What is loveForget all of that head-talking. Forget gossip. Forget the words that you use to place the lights that will shape your vision. Stop wanting your spouse or co-workers to be different people. Accept by going quiet. Let their light be natural. It’ll still have an angle relative to you, but you’ll have saved yourself all the effort of re-lighting it yourself with your psyche. Because the less your ego is involved the more you open the light up and the better you can see. But no matter who you are no one sees everything. There is always mystery. There is always shadow. The secret is to stop asking. Relax knowing that the mystery is where your future is. And it’s not a future you’re not supposed to figure out, you’re just supposed to live it.

Now go have yourself an awesome day.

peace. s

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

Finding Yourself

Winner: 2015’s Blog of the Year #2

In my lifetime I am pleased to say that I have played a part in inspiring a great many people to go on significant travel adventures. As anyone who’s gone on such a trip knows, these often constitute one of the most important experiences in the shaping of who we ultimately become.

663 Relax and Succeed - In all affairsOvercoming challenges builds confidence and strength and seeing how other cultures handle various situations exposes your own culture to be a choice rather than a fait accompli. This frees people and opens their minds. I am very pleased to say I currently have two friends traipsing around the world on my suggestion and it’s been absolutely thrilling re-living my own travels through them.

There are vacationers, holidayers, travellers and trekkers. The first two groups stick to tours and lodgings that remind them of home. The latter two seek exactly the opposite of home and they’re the ones that are truly travelling as opposed to sight-seeing. Every traveller knows that strange sensation of getting out into the streets after a long haul flight. There’s this wonderfully surreal feeling of, wait a second… wasn’t I just there and now I’m here?!?!

A change like that always seems so curious to your brain at first. It’s aware the entire culture has shifted. Every face looks different. Maybe they drive on the other side of the road and the food all smells different. I’ll never forget eating turkey with peach sauce in a restaurant in Budapest only hours after I had been playing with my band back in Edmonton. That’s still my most memorable changeover. That shock to the brain is a very cool feeling that I’ve always enjoyed. I know I’m building new pathways in my brain by being exposed to these differences.

839 Relax and Succeed - If you want somethingAs you travel your own assumptions about the world and yourself get stripped away. How you use a payphone. How you sit when you eat. What you eat at what times of day. How you use a toilet. How introverted or intelligent or rich you seem to other people. All this stuff changes and as it does it exposes to you that your culture doesn’t do it the right way, your culture is literally made out of the way that it does things.

There can be many cultures within one country—you can get a recipe for some authentic Italian cooking from someone in northern Italy and it will look nothing like the authentic Italian cooking from a different family in southern Italy–or even just across the street. What we call “tradition” is really just a habit passed from one generation to the next.

You also realize that food is just a word. It can be applied to all kinds of things that you’ve never traditionally thought of as food. Like monkey brains. But then, to devout Hindus you eating beef is pretty grim. In Europe you can order tongue or tail in restaurants. Watermelon juice is common in Asia whereas Black and Logan Berry is often served in Eastern Europe. North Americans buy special food for their dogs. The entire world has habits that its culture has taught it and so many times people are seen to be wrong if they exist outside of those habits, but these are just ways of being. And there’s no reason they can’t all comfortably co-exist.

663 Relax and Succeed - Go find yourself firstWhether you’re a traveller or not, take a look around your life at the assumptions that you make. Look at how you have a list of acceptable things to eat for breakfast. The fence in your head that is created by the definitions you were taught is precisely what the Buddha meant when he talked about seeing through the illusion. You can have a giant cinnamon bun or a hunk of sausage or chili for breakfast if you want. You’re an adult. You can run with scissors. But so much of your life has been dictated to you by what you’ve been taught to think. Seeing past these limitations is what allows people to become fully themselves. And in being fully themselves, they can finally truly see others.

Whether you go on a big trip or not make sure you challenge your own assumptions. Build a life that suits you rather than pointlessly struggling to become someone that suits a pre-ordained life. That isn’t your life. That’s the chalk outline of a life. You can be much bigger than that. The only thing that’s stopping you is an ephemeral wall of thought. As the composer Roger Waters said, it’s time to tear down the wall.

Love you all.

peace. s

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

Other Perspectives #61

651 OP Relax and Succeed - Hurt me with the truth

We say we would prefer to always have the truth but we only say that during those times when we’re stressed by the act of not-knowing—when we’re stressed by our own wandering imaginations. In day-to-day experience we learn early-on in life that we’re likely to be punished for wrong answers. So people learn to give no answer, or intentionally ambiguous answers, or they state outright lies—yes, you included. You couldn’t find one person on this Earth who hasn’t done that. It’s human. Life is complicated. And people are fundamentally decent and we cannot always see their changing motives. So the real truth is, if someone has a choice of telling you the truth, but that means they have to watch you be hurt or angry because you’re hurt, then they’re not going to want to do that. Not when they could lie to you and have that pain deferred to a later date. None of these acts are horrible in that they are always motivated by an effort to get along. Yes, it’s true that these actions can inadvertently be cruel. Nevertheless, it’s still an inevitable part of life. People can make us all of the promises in the world but we won’t really know what anyone will do until we watch them live any particular moment. Because that is when we all decide how to live our lives, and in real-time people are far more likely to avoid your pain than incite it. If we accept this as fundamentally human it seems less like a failure and more like the poignant recognition of a basic human frailty. After all, we’re talking about the birthplace of many of music and literature’s greatest artworks. It’s important to forgive others because we’ll need that same forgiveness on occasion. So don’t try to live in a world made of ideas and don’t ask others to live there either. Live with human beings instead. It’s messier in many ways. But there’s still nothing better. 🙂

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.

A Room Full of Toys

What’s the advantage of a should-have-been-dead accident when you’re five years old? It teaches you very clearly that any human being can die on any day. Any of us can watch the news and see that half the world struggles with even surviving basic hunger. And even if you’re lucky enough to be born or move to the 1st World, you’re still human. Cars, diseases, work-place accidents—people die every single day. But that’s not depressing. It’s exactly the opposite. If you’re really paying attention, that’s actually invigorating.

649 Relax and Succeed - How are you investingIf you watch people closely you will see that the majority of you are remarkably timid about your own lives. Even though you’ll be a capable adult, you’ll still be afraid to be the first person to put your hand up to ask a question at work or in school. You’ll routinely see people standing a long distance away from the line up here sign as though being front and centre and next-in-line is somehow too big a stage for their insecure selves. People will speak so softly and timidly that you routinely can’t even hear them, which only forces them to repeat themselves over and over, which frustrates the listener and only further adds to the speaker’s fears.

You’re not a vampire. You are not immortal. And as Bram Stoker pointed out, the agony of being a vampire is the absence of mortality. Because if you cannot die you cannot truly live. Because unless life is precious it’s much like kids with swimming pools—they only swim when someone who values a pool is visiting. Whether it’s diamonds, gold, Ferrari’s, Faberge Eggs, or time, anything that’s limited in supply will have its value increased. But you’re not investing your time in joy. You’re not going on that big trip or starting that new business or quitting that lousy job because you’re afraid. You spend all of your time calculating the downsides and too little thinking about what you might accomplish and how you might grow. You’re too worried about what others think to really dive into life and live it large.

649 Relax and Succeed - It is not how much we haveYou know people who do live deeply. Everyone knows at least one. Someone who’s bold and excited by their life. Someone who says yes a lot. These people are quick to volunteer. You can actually hear them sing the anthem at sports events. They’ll karaoke, they’ll wear outrageous Halloween costumes. They’ll have had a kid and still wear their bikini to the beach even though they have a C-section scar. But these people aren’t any better than you. They just understand one simple idea.

Imagine that everyone you know is represented by four other people. Now imagine life is a room filled with 500 fantastic toys in it. These toys are metaphors. Some are objects like clothes or houses, but some are also capabilities like job skills or personality strengths. And now imagine that your lifetime is represented by the fact that you only get eight hours to play in that room and then you’ll will be locked out forever. So one lifetime equals five kids, 500 toys and eight toy-room hours.

Inside the room twenty of the 500 toys are broken. So you when you enter you have the option to have a ton of fun playing with 480 toys for eight full hours! But you know what most of you do? Out of 480 other choices, you will notice that people are judging the toys and then collecting the ones that they deem the most valuable. So soon virtually no kids are playing because every kid is too busy grabbing toys and placing them in boxes with their names on them. If you’re aware of it you’ll notice that they spend a lot of time keeping an eye on their boxes so that no one else steals the toys they’ve already collected. This is why adults surrender fun time to meet with security companies.

As they’re busy collecting the kids will periodically stop to compare their boxes. The kids with the best toys will be described as successful but if you were watching closely they will have spent the most time 649 Relax and Succeed  - Are you trading the hours of your lifecollecting and protecting their toys rather than playing with them. And they’ll be further convinced that ownership is better than experience because most of the other kids will gather around the closed boxes and they’ll sacrifice experiences with their own toys in order to worship or want what’s inside the better collector’s box.

Of course the kids also stumble upon some of the twenty broken toys. They want to own as many toys as possible so that they win the contest, but before they can show the broken toys (traits, abilities etc.) to anyone they feel they need to repair the damage. So as with “personal faults” the problem with this is that if people believe that they will be judged for having a broken toy then they will invest far too much time attempting to hide and repair it before anyone notices. Do you realize what this means for your lifetime? So for your short eight hours of time to play you will spend most of it hoarding, hiding and fixing your toys, but you’ll spend surprisingly little time in actually playing with them. And then there’s people like a small percentage of us.

We come in the room and we start playing right away. We grab a toy and we play with it. It naturally leads us to another toy and we play with that. If someone takes it we’ll just grab a different one and keep playing. We don’t see the room as a competition. It’s an open opportunity to play. So while others are busy hoarding, hiding and repairing their toys, we just play. And if we 649 Relax and Succeed - The happiest of peopledo run into a damaged toy we just set it aside and move on to the next toy. Indeed, by the end of the eight hours we’re the only kids who have the potential to have a box filled with the broken toys.

The other kids will obviously have a few broken toys in their box too, but they’ll invest a lot of time hiding those, and even more time in collecting the good toys to distract you. But me? I had that bad accident when I was young, so I remember that I’m just going to get kicked out of the room anyway, so I don’t really care what broken toys are in my toy box. I don’t really care what the other kids think of my toys or what my tally of toys was compared to theirs. We all leave the room. Ownership is essentially meaningless. Like the Pharaoh’s wealth it’ll just be entombed in a room anyway. I’d rather be exhausted from all of the playing I did than be exhausted from building a big vault.

Stop wasting your valuable life trying to get the most coveted toys in your box. There are no windows into the room so whoever built the room is definitely not studying you to judge whether you won or lost, or whether you were deserving or not. The room is merely an opportunity for you to exercise your ability to choose this toy or that. There’s no right toys to get. No one gets to keep anything. In the end when the buzzer sounds and the door opens back up and we leave the room, that’s when most kids realize they never really did play much. Don’t be those kids. Don’t squander your life trying to fix your 649 Relax and Succeed - You don't have to live foreverproblems or hoard all the toys. Play instead. Because in the end the kid that won the game was the one that did the most playing. Yes, they had to accept that their box had some broken toys in it. But what does that matter in the face of having had so much more fun?

Stop being so timid. Stop worrying about being judged for the toys you have or don’t have. Just play with them. You only have eight hours. You’ll be amazed at how fast it goes by. So if you want the time you have to feel long, then the best thing you can do is play a lot. Because in the end life is a verb. So the real winner isn’t the person with the fewest broken toys, or the person who has the most or best toys, the real winner is the person who spent the most time playing. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to play. 😉

peace. s

Conditional vs Unconditional Love

What’s the difference between a partner looking at you with conditional versus unconditional love? It’s all the difference in the world. It’s the difference between someone who wants to guide you to look like something that will adorn them, versus someone who thinks you are gorgeous the way you already are. You don’t want someone who thinks you look great because you’re all decked out for some important event. You want someone who thinks 638 Relax and Succeed - You can't really rely on how you lookyou’re the most gorgeous thing on the planet because you’re the mother of their beloved children—that whole new people that were created by your intense attraction to one another. It’s a totally different thing and you can look like anything and be from anywhere and have unconditional love happen to you.

Below are two examples. The first is common and was easy for me to create. The second is concocted from an amalgamation of things that either happened to couples I know or they’re things that couples have told me about in their process with me. But everything in each example is actually something that I’ve either witnessed or it’s something that someone told me they’ve experienced or done. So if you’re in the first group and want to be in the second, know that there are people walking all around you who have achieved that status, and if you stop looking at all of the people that conform to advertising standards you’ll end up seeing a lot of the people who have found true, unconditional love.

Conditional Love

He looked carefully at each of the ladies there and yes, there were some extremely impressive figures moving about the room but in comparing them he felt his fiance was indeed the most beautiful there that night. She was waiting on the other side of the theatre lobby for him 638 Relax and Succeed - Never chase lovewhen their eyes met. When he looked at her his eyes snaked up her body, starting at her shiny super-high spiked heels, on past the long straight and narrow legs that her diet and daily jogging had helped to maintain.

He motioned for her to twirl in the dress he’d chosen for her and she did, and that twirl showed off that ass she worked so hard on every day. Her stomach was perfectly anorexia-flat and yet gave way to large, perfectly placed, absolutely identical breasts that cooperated perfectly to create substantial cleavage that she further used makeup to enhance. She wore the very large and prominent diamond he gave her on her left hand, the matching earrings dangled from her delicate ears like neon signs pointing at his wealth. She was relived about the earrings. He had always told her the story about how he had broken up with his first girlfriend because of the weird shape of her ears. He used to tease her all time time about them but she never wore hairstyles that covered them, which embarrassed him. His fiance was another story. Her ears were perfect little Disney Princess ears, drawn as a perfect set by the universe. Her voice was 638 Relax and Succeed - Real love beginsbeautiful, her jawline sharp and very sexy.

Her father was a wealthy dentist and every single tooth was a perfectly shaped electric-white chiclet. She smiled, knowing he approved of her extremely provocative dress. He liked to show her off and that made him feel good. Her high cheekbones and perfectly shaped, symmetrical eyes looked back at him, pleased that he liked how she looked. She’d just changed her hair to style he’d asked her to switch to and it made her happy that it turned out the way he wanted. For his part, he took her all in and felt as though every other man in the room must be incredibly jealous of him for having such a Playboy-bunny girlfriend. He walked up to her, pushed a bit of hair off her face, smiled and he lead her back into the darkness of the theatre.

Unconditional Love

They were on opposite sides of the theatre lobby. She was waiting in a line to get them wine and he was in another to get her something to eat. The moment their eyes met the whole 638 Relax and Succeed - One big universeroom disappeared for him. That always happened as he fell into her beauty. Her smile lit up a room, and she had such a warm and gentle spirit that she made everyone around her comfortable. Whenever he looked at her he could see the faces of their beloved children, each who had emerged not out of a plan, but directly out of love. She was the only woman he had ever slept with where he felt his love was so intense, so massive, that his orgasms would need to create an entirely new human being just to contain the amount of love he felt.

Despite her colourful and artful attire, on her finger was a plain old rubber O-ring—a match for the engagement ring she had given him one day when she spontaneously proposed to him in the aisle of a hardware store. Every time he looked at her smile his heart leaped. His eyes welled with tears as he tried to contain how much he loved her. How her skin seemed to glow from within, and how it was oddly magnetic. He couldn’t stop himself from touching it. When they made love he wiggled and worked to position himself as though his goal was to get as many molecules as possible of him to touch as many molecules as possible of her. He wanted to be near her cells. He wanted to embrace her so deeply that the border between them would melt and waver in that beautiful way that always 638 Relax and Succeed - The greatest complimenttook her breath away. He loved how in bed he could snuggle behind her and reach around and his hand would fit perfectly around the wrinkly roll of post-pregnancy skin on her belly. He loved how it allowed for even more molecules of him to touch even more molecules of her.

He loved how she smelled, how she tasted and it was as though Mozart has written a lullaby based on her breathing. She enchanted him. She had taught him so much and she had always brought out the best in him. Just her smile alone would have him basking in how fortunate he felt to be with her. And whenever he was, it was as though there was no one else in the room. And every woman in the room who saw him looking at her thought to herself, “if only a man looked at me like that…” And as everyone headed back into the theatre for the start of the second act, instead he turned to her and said, “The play’s fantastic I know. But would you mind if we skipped the second act? I’d really rather just be with you.” And together they walked out of the theatre and off into the darkness, together, with the hopes and wishes of every other woman there trailing off behind them.

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638 Relax and Succeed - Find someone who knows that you're not perfectWhat kind of relationship does your partner want? What kind of relationship do you foster with your words and behaviour? You can pose for the world with an ego-based relationship, or you can dive deeply into the world of unconditional love. It’s really only a matter of which search you enact with the way you live your life.

For your sake I hope you get to feel the intense approval and acceptance that goes with unconditional love. It is a wonderful environment in which to thrive. At the very least I hope you will join me in creating for yourself a life in which your qualities are being acknowledged regularly, even if that’s the unconditional self-love that we should all be giving ourselves. Be kind to you and you will model the behaviour for others. If we all lower our ego-expectations it becomes much easier to see that there is a large number of people with whom we can meaningfully connect. Here’s to you creating more of those sorts of connections in your life.

With love, s