The Cooking Test

You are being tested. This is the most meaningful test you will ever take. Your entire life depends on this how you handle it. And the universe itself is giving you this test. This is the test of your life.

713 Relax and Succeed - Act without doingFirst you helped Mom mix things and that was fun but you wanted to grow. So then you got to heat things. Eventually you matured enough to be able to chop things and you’ve had so much fun doing that you’ve entered cooking school. You wouldn’t think a couple words like “cooking school” could be very ambiguous, but like all words—they are.

Because you’re at a school for cooking you set about learning everything you can about the preparation of food. You learn basic skills, you learn about food types, and grading, and texture and colour and timing and temperatures and styles and cultural traditions etc. etc. And you work very hard at mastering all of them.

Most of the dishes are too big and too elaborate for one person and so your kitchen is filled with other cooks. Some are better at this, some are better at that, but all of them have much to learn which explains why they came to school. Everyone’s just trying to get it right. Everyone is studying their teachers extremely closely to see precisely how they prepare their best-tasting dishes.

713 Relax and Succeed - Don't try to follow others pathsAs you advance through the school each year your dishes and their creation becomes more nuanced and detailed as you can add things learned from both experience and ongoing education. Every year you add more, every year the bar for success gets higher. So does the pressure, but you accept that as the heat that goes with the kitchen. Yeah it makes you bark more at your fellow chefs and it really can make you sweat but you came here to succeed. This is a test you’re really serious about and you’re dedicated to doing what it takes to pass.

One of the trickiest parts about cooking school is that, as you advance, there will be things that you’re good at that others aren’t. And rather than notice that they’re good at something you’re not good at, they’re far more likely to undermine your cooking and insult your dishes as a way of not feeling like they’re failing. This is an important school and everyone knows it. Just to get in is a miracle.

As time passes some of the students will come to compare themselves to the other students around them and they will actually decide to give up on their dream of being a great cook. This is a naturally unhealthy state of mind for natural chef to live through but it happens a lot. Those too poor to continue, or those broken and defeated chefs—ones for which the criticisms just got too much—they eventually turn bitter and they will even actively disrupt and damage better chefs meals as petty revenge.

713 Relax and Succeed - To avoid criticismBeing attacked for working hard and being good at something tends to upset people and so you’ll get defensive when they attack you. You’ll attack back. You’ll spend some time going over their cooking and judging it. It can turn into all kinds of ugly and it often puts people off their food.

Eventually someone in a white lab coat comes up with a clip board and tells you that it’s time for your big test. It’s time to feed your dishes to Le Grand Fromage. The Big Cheese. God. Whatever you call it, it’s Judgment Day. Everything you’ve worked for builds towards this test and hopefully your graduation.

When the big day comes you can feel it. The weight of everything that’s come before it is lined up behind you. This is it. The Head Chef is going to taste what you’ve done and that’s it—there’s no more fixing it. You torture your fellow chefs through one final brutal preparation and then you load your dishes up and you enter the room. You go to the table and trembling with fear you set them down and take your place at the opposite side of the table and wait.

713 Relax and Succeed - Tension is who you think you are

The Head Chef eats. You watch her chew. She looks at you across the table. You’re sweating. This is the craziest thing you’ve ever done. You figure it must be okay, because she looks like she’s pleased with you. But seems like it’s taking forever. F-o-r-e-v-e-r. What is her judgment? Is it okay? Did you learn well enough? Are you good enough? Did you pass???

Oh my God, she’s wiping herself with her napkin. She’s finished. She ate the whole thing. She smiles at you and stands to leave. You look at her imploring. “Did you like it?” you squeak out.

“I really enjoyed eating it yes, thank you.”

“But was it good enough?” The Head Chef looks confused. “This was supposed to be my big test. I just want to know if I passed…?”  You’re almost in tears.

The Head Chef looks on sympathetically. “Oh my love I don’t tell you if you passed or failed.”

713 Relax anx Succeed - I am a human being“You don’t?”  You’re lost. “Then who does?”

“You’re asking yourself the wrong question.”

“It’s not about my cooking?”

“No, it’s not about how much me or anyone else likes the dishes.”

“Then how do I know if I passed?”

The Head Chef smiles. “You passed if you enjoyed your time in the kitchen.”

peace. s

 

Parental Limitations

Our mind could have any habits or choose to recall any part of its past, but our very sense of identity means that we get up every morning and load the same software-us into the hardware-us. That brain could be bold instead of shy. It would just have to do one instead of the other. But we generally don’t. We generally surrender that freedom and instead we play out the role we’ve unconsciously written for ourselves. That’s what our ego’s for—it recites who we are to us. If we’re not constantly reminded about our limitations who knows what we might try?

677 Relax and Succeed - A teacher is never a giver of truthI was fortunate enough to have two parents that didn’t really set limits for me. They were stricter than most of my friends parents in most ways, but much more relaxed and open in the most important way. I was expected to live up to commitments and carry my own share of the family chores and pass in school etc. etc., and rather than an allowance I had to pay room and board, but I was not pushed toward any sports or any grades or any post-secondary or employment choices. My parents spent more time asking me who I was as opposed to telling me who to become. That’s huge. That, in my experience, was the biggest fundamental difference in how I was raised. Now, when I asked Mom about this tremendous wisdom, she simply said,“Oh we learned from your [much older] brothers that you can’t really tell a kid what to do.” So they focused on principles and let me find my own way and that has lead to a fantastic life that I’m very happy to have lived.

As with many parents mine each took on different roles. Mom was the one who taught me to follow rules and Dad taught me to question who made the rules and their value. Mom taught me to be polite, Dad taught me to respect others. Mom taught me to vote, my Dad taught me to care for others just as much as for myself or those I loved. Mom made sure I lived up to my commitments regardless of my personal resistance and Dad made sure that I understood that apologies helped people feel better. Mom wanted me to be responsible. Dad wanted me to have fun. Mom wanted me to be a good citizen and Dad wanted me to be a good friend.

677 Relax and Succeed - The rules for being amazingI routinely get all aspects of this wrong but I nevertheless know that I’m always genuinely pointed in a loving, caring direction and so I live without regrets or a sense of judgment. I respect others so much that they are welcome to not like me. If I’m going to be a specific way it only makes sense that I won’t mesh with some people. Meccano can’t be Lego. My parents acceptance of whatever I did as long as it was respectful means that I feel good as long as I am respecting other’s perspectives as much as my own. I may not always agree, but I’m free to have my views and I have no conflict with them having theirs. People are welcome to have their conflicts with me but I do not have any with them. It’s very peaceful.

People could easily look at my life and see that I could have used the skills from my accident in a different way. They can see that I could have done more of this or that, made more money, been more famous or had more status or whatever. But in this weird subtle way, the way I was raised didn’t lead to any of those desires. But it did create a real value around the idea of freedom, respect and openness. I like that I never hold grudges, never hate people, and that I find it easy to forgive. I can’t imagine what money or fame could get me that would equal the value of just thinking enough of others and of myself that I essentially have no real quarrel with anyone. It’s a nice, simple, clean way to live.

We can teach kids how to manage money and understand how loans work and we can teach them to change the flapper in their own toilet or the oil in their car. But if we don’t teach them to value their own life enough to enjoy it then we have spent all of our time paving perfect roads that ultimately lead nowhere. Life is not a destination. There is no particular perch from where it can be lived in total happiness. But at least if happiness is a priority then the child builds a life around what brings them joy rather than what brings them externals. A nice car is only there to bring joy anyway, so why not skip the expensive middle man and go straight to the joy? But that’s not even on the menu unless someone has separated the idea of the car and the joy. One is to get the other, it is not the other itself.

677 Relax and Succeed - My philosophy isIf you want the best way to teach a person to value joy, value it yourself. Laugh more, do more things that are frivolous but joy-filled. Stop teaching kids how to protect themselves from bad things without telling them how to go and get good things. You need both for a successful life. What you don’t need is a cookie-cutter pre-conceived idea of who your children are. Let them be known to you and support the life they choose for themselves just as you wish the people around you would have been fully supportive in whatever you chose. I had that in life. It feels fantastic to have that support. It breeds a lot of confidence and that’s also where a lot of happiness resides.

Don’t worry so much about loading your kid up with every possible skill. They’ll get hurt terribly just like you did. Everyone does. But that’s okay as long as they know what to do between disasters. As long as they wring some joy out of those in-between times they’ll be fine. That’s a lot of life. Most people die without ever having even started to live. So just love and respect your kids and teach them to value their own enjoyment of life and a lot of the rest will just sort itself out. The best thing you can possibly do is be the best version of yourself that you can. Enjoy your own life. The rest is osmosis.

peace. s

Brian Williams Lies

Brian Williams, the highly respected national news anchor has been ridiculed for a lie he told regarding being in a helicopter that was hit by enemy fire. Williams did lie—he was actually in a group of helicopters and one of the choppers from the group ahead of his was hit. So a helicopter in his mission of of helicopters was hit, but even then, each grouping wasn’t 622 Relax and Succeed - We meet ourselves time and againnecessarily close to each other.

The details don’t really matter because those will all have come from interviews with witnesses and they’ll be as flawed as Mr. William’s version. Because there’s actually nothing strange about what Williams did. You’ve done it all your life and so has everyone around you. Remember, I’m that weird kid who was laying in a hospital bed after a massive brain injury and my only entertainment was watching adults have conversations over my brain-damaged body. The most useful part was that they always spoke as though they were the only two people in the room. So by the time I had left that hospital I could figure out that a) the point of life was to have as many rewarding and enjoyable moments as possible before we die, and b) that people lied a huge percentage of the time.

These aren’t conscious lies. Those are pretty rare. Those are the ones people start counting. But all of these other ones are lies too. Which is why researchers apparently said adults lie a lot. Of course, those researchers and their participants have no way of knowing that other lies are permeated into the person’s identity, and so to me the number is still way too low.

622 Relax and Succeed - Without wearing any maskThere are two main reasons that people are comfortable slipping adaptations into their personal narratives. The first is that you don’t even notice you do it because you’re usually just solving an immediate problem. As a friend said, “My resume says ‘responsible for department payroll.’ The truth is I blindly sign time-sheets at the end of every week.” Time proves that some of those stories snowball out of control, but they are useful enough that they still get told. The second reason is that your highest self knows that you are not actually separate from anyone (or anything). So the more enlightened you become the less your own identity weighs. Empathy becomes so profound that it almost becomes a form of transference, where you literally feel a part of the other person’s experience. So later, you can easily describe it as something that has happened to you and nothing will signal you to the fact that you lied because you will have travelled through a legitimate experience you really did have.

Our memories are much more flexible than we realize. As we recall them, just as when we first had them, they will be influenced by our current context and our mood. I know you like to think you don’t lie that much—but most of these are so embedded into your life that even you’ve forgotten you’ve invented them. But if you could find them all and if you witness them being built, you’d be forgiving of yourself. Because you usually lie to be kind or to tell a larger truth. But yes, there are those times where you’ll feel insecure and you’ll elevate. You’ll simply rewrite yourself to seem better or worse because you’re feeling as though you’re doing poorly in some comparison.

622 Relax and Succeed - I am not what happened to meFor all we know the adjustment to William’s story may have been made during a macho conversation between journalists, and it happened on a day where Williams wasn’t feeling secure and so this story got this minor inflation—which was to take some details away in fact. It would have been very easy to phrase as a completely true statement that he could be almost certain would be misinterpreted. And it was to solve an insecurity problem today. But then someone overhears it and re-tells it and now it’s awkward to undo it so Williams doesn’t peddle the lie but it spreads nevertheless. Then he hears people assume it and makes use of it on another insecure night and a gentle creeping motion happens until this event gets assimilated into his original memory and even he believes it to be true when he says it. But, you stop and ask him if it’s true and he goes and looks at the memory in detail, that can be the first time the person even realizes the story isn’t true.

622 Relax and Succeed - The fear of rejectionYou’ll think you don’t do this because you’re not a braggart. But there are many reasons to lie. Avoiding responsibility would be a huge reason, but we also live in a victim society, and so there’s probably far more lies told about how badly someone’s doing rather than how good. People will torque their stories to elicit more sympathy so you’ll invest more of your time and attention on them (these are the two most valuable things in society in the new millennium). But people will also lie for you.

They will change what party an event took place at because you weren’t invited to the other party and if t hey tell that story you’ll be hurt and ask why you weren’t invited. Or you’ll tell them you like a haircut you don’t. Or maybe you’ll use one thing to communicate another. This blog is a hybrid between numerous true stories, and the reason they are melded is because they most effectively help communicate the important underlying theme I’m attempting to convey. And so I collect a bunch of true things and I reassemble them in a way that never happened as a way of more finely pointing to the truth of what did happen in all three melded stories. Make sense?

622 Relax and Succeed - Pretending to be a functioning adultA good example of a daily sort of lie that people tell very often is like a line from my last film, The Pharmacist. The main character’s best friend is helping him get over a decade of no dating by setting him up with her equally nice friends for some blind dates. Every girl asks when his last relationship was and she says “six months ago,” which is 9.5 years too few, but when you see the film you realize that to say 10 years would give the women the wrong impression of him, whereas the lie actually communicates more of who he really is. So in essence she lied to tell the truth because she understood that her friend’s underlying question wasn’t how long has been single? It was: is there some reason people aren’t dating this supposedly great guy?

As a kid I got to use this weird ability that came as a fluke from my accident, and ultimately what came of it was an ability to see through people. And that in turn made me even more compassionate. Because I did realize that people rarely lied to elevate themselves. They almost always did it to protect themselves, elevate someone else, to cover up a mistake they thought would be painful to own, or just as a social lubricant. 622 Relax and Succeed - The more I see the less I knowBottom line, even the sweetest lady at your church has told you tons of lies. I’ve been contacted by people who’ve informed me that their doctor presented a blog of mine as his personal experience, or that a corporate trainer did likewise. I’ve had priests claim their sermon was based on their life when my readers knew it was from my blog. Yes, sometimes you need to act on these things, but most times don’t let their lie bother you, because you’re being told them all day long by your employer, your kids, your parents, your friends and even strangers. Maybe even moreso for strangers because they have more freedom when you don’t know anything about them. So relax. During your lifetime some big lies will be exposed and you’ll feel silly or even stupid, but even then, you’ll eventually get old enough that you realize there’s a wisdom in aging that helps you become more accepting simply because you’ve seen more things and you really do realize much of what you believed in your life ultimately wasn’t true.

People often have excellent reasons to lie and it is only because we have invented the word truth that people presume that’s what we’re doing all the time. We’ve made honesty equal good and lying equal bad, but that would be a mistake because human interactions have never been that cut and dried and there are many times where a lie did far more good than the truth ever would have. That said it’s important to also note that intentional lies for personal gain will often have brutal and horrible consequences and these should be avoided at all costs.

Don’t get so worked up about people’s flexibility with the truth. It’s hypocritical on your part, but even more importantly it steals time away from you discussing things that feel good. And that is a far better use of your consciousness than you being a policeman for everyone else. So try to be more forgiving. Life is complicated and no one gets out without some scars. But that does not have to stop you from having an awesome day, so with that I will let you get to it. Enjoy.  🙂

peace. s

The Game of Life

There was something I wanted to write about and I was going to use food as a metaphor, but I believe sports will work better for what I want to say. The reason I add this preamble is that I want to make a distinction between my point here and the somewhat similar point that James Carse makes in his brilliantly insightful book, Finite and Infinite Games. So as much as I’m a huge fan of the book, any resemblance here is merely due to the fact that I also want to use the concept of playing as the basis for my metaphors.

475 Relax and Succeed - This is my lifeSo for the sake of this point, imagine that your life is a sport. When you’re young you just learn to keep your balance and get your body doing what you want it to. Then you develop a sense of basically how this sport works, before you go through childhood and through puberty where you learn all of the rules. By the time you’re a teen you’re pretty much only focused on scoring. And in various ways, that’s what you’ll do for the rest of your life unless you become conscious.

Before you’re conscious you’ll complain about other people, as though them being themselves and living their life is done as an affront to you personally. But think about this philosophically. You’ve got this great opportunity to play, but it’s not like you set up your own game. You need all of these other players, including your opponents. So you can stop wasting energy complaining about the inevitable, and instead you can invest that energy in being grateful that the game even exists, let alone that you have been invited—through no conscious choice of your own—to enter the field of play. So the very fact that you even get to play means you’re fortunate. You have opportunity. The question is, what kind of game are you going to choose to play?

First off, to be physically fit is a key factor for long term success in any sport. So you have eat well, sleep well, and exercise. And don’t do those things because they’re good for you. Do them because they actually feel good. It’s just we’re not usually focusing on how good it feels. We’re too busy telling ourselves a story about how it’s terrible that we have to exercise. The best runners in the world—the Tarahumara Indians—believe you should run at the a speed you can converse in. So instead of a whining internal monologue, go run with a friend and turn your talk sessions into walk/run sessions where you talk about something other than how tired you feel.

475 Relax and Succeed - The best way to find yourselfOnce you can contribute to your own success and the success of those around you, you’re ready to be a part of a team. Because like it or not, life is a team sport. You’ll have players who’ve played in your position and so they can relate better to the challenges you face. And there will be other players who will see the play very differently. If you’re a conservative, concerned defenceman, you’re watching for threats, whereas an optimistic, enthusiastic and aggressive forward is watching for opportunity. So what each of you will think is the right thing to do will occasionally differ due to that perspective difference. So you have to able to appreciate that fact so you can maintain good, helpful relations with your teammates.

Once you’ve committed to being dedicated to putting the team’s goals ahead of your own, you are philosophically ready to play. Presuming you’re also physically ready, the next question is what style of play will you employ in life? We can play by the rules or we can cheat. And how far will we go in cheating if we do cheat? And does this line in the sand move if we’re losing in an important game, or is it absolute? And what if it’s our own player’s infraction? Are we as anal about following the rules then? These decisions define the character of our play. When people think about our game overall, this is what they will generally use as your identity.

The reason your character is important is because next we’ll be discussing how you face challenges. Remember, a sport is a competition. So you will have egos as opponents who will actually put effort into trying to screw you up. You can scream at them, appeal to the referee, or any other thing you want, but without the opponents there is no game. So you can do like a Buddhist and accept that, or you can spend your life complaining about the fact that opponents are inextricably tied to the concept of playing a team sport. Without another team your team is just a bunch of people milling around in similar clothes. So your character is made up of how 475 Relax and Succeed - Being happy doesn't mean everything is perfectyou play. And you maximize your play when you cease to argue with the fact that you cannot have a game without opponents.

As I noted at the beginning, it’s easy to get caught up trying to get laid or get rich or get married or get pregnant or get whatever. But you don’t win at the game of life by scoring more than the other team. You don’t win by having more points. Because the goals are non-transferable. It’s not like when you die some dude with a clipboard greets you and says, “Ah, I see you earned a lot of money in your life. Well because of all of your effort in that lifetime, we’re going to let you be a well fed house cat this time.” No, your status and your accomplishments and your money don’t mean anything once time’s up. So eventually you realize that, and then your game shifts into pro mode.

You’re playing seriously when you realize that this game can end at any time. You’re playing seriously when you realize you can’t take your prizes with you. You’re playing seriously when you realize that you can enjoy trying to win the game, but there’s no way to actually win at life. There is only the playing itself. And so goes the paradox, that the most serious players are those that play for fun.

Now, even if you’re at work, go out and make it play.

peace. s

Other Perspectives #29

462 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - 97 percent of people

This is a classic case of one individual assuming that other individuals place the same value on the same things they do. They make that mistake the same way you do: because to them the sources of the value are obvious. But clearly one person can want to be the number one salesperson, while another person wants to be a good father, or someone else wants to work for a charity that prolonged a loved one’s life. These would all create different choices, priorities and paths through life. There’s lots of things to value in life, but because our cultures have such an addiction to money, many capitalists assume that because they want to be rich and in charge, that you want that too. So it’s assumed that if you didn’t become a wealthy entrepreneur that’s not because you didn’t want to, it’s because you couldn’t—because you gave up and you are therefore inferior to those who chose that particular priority. But of course many of us aren’t interested in the hassles associated with being in charge, just like many of us aren’t interested in great wealth, celebrity or prestige. We have our pursuits and others have theirs. None are more important than others. The only success there is in life is the joy of being alive. Everything else is disappears.

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.

Failure by 30

Winner: Scott’s Favourite Questions of 2014 #2

I’m only 30 and I feel like my life is over. I’m already divorced and dating has been one ugly experience after another. My parents are getting older and need more of my help right when I need to get a second job to cover all of my debt. And I have no spiritual life to speak of other than quotes I share on facebook. My personal relationships are bad or non-existent, I have way more debt than equity, and I haven’t taken one step toward nirvana. Please tell me I’m not doomed. (I’m doomed I know it.)

signed,
Feeling Doomed

Dear Feeling,

Ha! That is such a common Western state of being. Does it make you feel better to know you’re in with a huge collection of society? Lots of people feel that way, and for good reason. The story you’re telling yourself about your life isn’t a good one—it’s not surprising that you find it painful to listen to. But you do understand that it’s just a story, right? Because I can offer a 409 Relax and Succeed - Let go or be draggedcompeting story and it will make just as much sense as yours:
From my perspective you have about 30 years of youth left. If you stay active you’ll be surprised at how active you can be at 60. So you have this fabulous luxury of time in which you can fit all sorts of >experience. Because your life isn’t made up of relationships or finances, your life is made of experiences. That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s how you know what happened in your life. It’s a collective sense provided by all of your sensory inputs. It is an experience.

So you don’t take your experience opportunities and squander them sitting still re-thinking about past experiences. The way you improve your life is to make better experience choices today than you did yesterday and that’s generally pretty easy because we have the advantage of the results of our previous choices. So with experience comes wisdom. Not age; experience.

But of course your experiences are shaped by your thoughts. So if you want to have quality experiences then you have to have quality thoughts. You can tell yourself a wanting story or you can tell yourself an abundance story. Want hurts. Appreciation feels good. It’s a nice system that’s been set up to encourage you to choose what’s best for you. So go for what’s good. Especially when it would be easy to think a painful, suffering story. That’s when it’s most important to remember that your life is made of your experiences and your experiences are shaped by your judgments. So make them wisely because you will feel them instantly.

409 Relax and Succeed - When you realize there is nothing lackingYour life is not a waste. The way you are judging it is negative and harsh. And you are as spiritually close to salvation as anyone. Everyone is always only one thought away from enlightenment. So you are as close to the glory of God as anyone who’s been in church or mosque or temple for their entire life. Because if you can see how the universe works—if you can profoundly come to understand your role in describing your life to yourself—then you are free to use your imagination to create for yourself an interesting, entirely worthwhile collection of experiences to go live.

You don’t need external markers of success. You don’t need a relationship or a certain status or list of friends. You don’t need achievements or skills or experience. You only need conscious control over the very natural process of invoking your own thinking. If you can choose to focus on appreciation and not on want then your life will constantly feel rich and abundant and generosity will be your nature. Such is the way of wisdom. I look forward to seeing you alongside me along the way.

peace. s

The Friday Dose #18 – Meaningless Joy

383 Relax and Succeed - How beautiful it is to do nothing

Last week I heard a story on the news that golf is dying because young people are too impatient for results and they don’t want to spend four hours relaxing in nature to see who won. They’re in so much of a hurry to get to the destination that they completely ignore the value of the journey. That’s sad, and that world was built and encouraged by my generation. I’m sorry about that. We were only trying to sell you more stuff so we could get more stuff. It’s not like many of us were very focused on the enjoyment of life. It was just a big race to collect what we were told to go get and we just kept adding to what everyone needed to collect. I’m hoping that the resulting emotional exhaustion is the straw that breaks this camel’s back.

Did it every occur to you that apparently useless activities could have value? It’s true. A friend of mine is a brilliant guy who’s ran several different kinds of businesses. He has a glider-flying game for his computer. Why? Because there’s no point. Because there’s no way to win. There’s no objective. You just go wherever you want to go. That’s a form of meditation. People used to sit around and stare at the fire. They still do if you give them the chance. But why? Because it doesn’t interrupt the quiet inside. It keeps you focused but it’s not demanding. You make your choices without tension because there is no price attached to the decision, unlike the rest of your life. That’s why it’s meaningful.

Here’s a meaningless little tool that you can have a lot of fun with. Play around with your choices. You have more of them that you immediately may realize:

Soundscape Manipulation

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Have you heard of the painter Jackson Pollock? He used the tensile strength of paint to help him create. There was a fluid unpredictability to his motions and it adds a quality to his works that I would call kinetic and graceful. This tool is also pretty useless at anything other than relaxing your mind by giving you something to do that you can’t fail at:

Jackson Pollock Fun

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And finally here’s one that’s a little more direct. Turn on your sound, crank up your volume and have some fun. Anyone can do it and it’s as fun as it is meaningless. And meaninglessness has real value in anyone’s life. Start investing more in it today:

A Beatbox For All Ages

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Make your enjoyment of life a bigger priority. Stop trying to get things done and start being present more often. Because you never have been a Human Doing. You always have been and always were intended to be, a Human Being. Now go Be. 😉

peace. s

The Friday Dose #15 – Timeless Beauty

This week’s Friday Dose is all about the kinds of beauty that the media can’t sell you anything for. If people—particularly women—are comfortable with their bodies and selves, then they don’t really need anything from outside of themselves to feel good. They don’t need creams or enhancers or concealers or Spanx or worst—to hide.

365 Relax and Succeed - This is a body hate free zoneBeauty” and “fake” essentially have the same meaning when it comes to women’s appearances. I’ve written about it many times (e.g. Being Beautiful, Cruel People etc.). If a company can’t sell you anything then they need to convince you that you’re wrong the way you already are. That is entirely their job. Advertisers make you think you need products because they teach you there’s an ideal you should be striving for. You know what ideal you should be realizing? The real you. Unadorned, unadulterated, unaltered, unpurchased you. Your beauty does not come from a tube or pill or surgery. Your beauty is innately an aspect of your very being.

We’ll start with photographer Jade Beall who rather accidentally discovered that there were a lot of women longing to see themselves represented more honestly. Now, thanks to social networking, all of us are potential publishers, so it’s not just the people selling something that can spread images. I like that these were popular and if these images were in the media more, women wouldn’t be so stressed about completely acceptable, normal and yes beautiful changes to themselves:

Honouring the Post-Baby Body

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Next we’ll knock down another media barrier. Our perspectives change drastically as we age, which is why many of the insults that young people hurl at older people just bounce off without effect. We know they simply don’t have enough perspective to know what they’re talking about. Sorry kids, but for the most part the media’s completely brainwashed you into liking what they want you to like, and about the best you can do is try to do the opposite, but even that is a form of imitation. Even an anti-social person is letting society decide who they are. The 365 Relax and Succeed - There is nothing more rarevery best part about ageing is the gain of wisdom and experience that allows us to see through all of that salesmanship. There will certainly be innocents who will find something like this unacceptable or even funny. But if they’re lucky enough to live long enough, they too will come to recognize the short-sightedness of their vision:

10 Sexy Grandmas

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And finally we’ll end on a discussion about ageing. This radio documentary asks people of different ages what it’s like to be those ages and how their perspectives have changed. They’re wonderfully honest and frank and the result is a journey of self discovery for the listener. I was amazed at how many of these ideas I had never really thought much about and yet when I heard them I immediately knew them to be true. Download the podcast, listen to it online… it doesn’t matter. But if you’re in the right head-space, it’s a fascinating look at something that will happen to all of us. It certainly nothing to be afraid of. The world just gets cooler and more interesting to me every day. Enjoy:

Ideas: Aging By The Book

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Have yourself a wonderful weekend. Celebrate yourself. You’re worth it.

peace. s

True Love

How do you know if you truly love someone?

signed,
Potentially In Love

Dear Love,

On the deepest and most profound spiritual level there is no separation between you and another. You are literally One, and all that you are is Love. So the truth is: you’ve always been in love with everyone, you just have thoughts that tell you otherwise.

358 Relax and Succeed - Love never failsI realize that you’re effectively asking if there is a way to tell if you’re ready for a relationship with someone and my answer might seem overly abstract, but in the end it really isn’t so let’s take a moment to look at my point more closely.

When you were born you only had experiences. You didn’t even have a You yet. You couldn’t think one into existence. There was zero separation between you and the world. But as you increasingly learned words you began to divide up the world and you did so based on your preferences. Having preferences is fine—it’s what makes you, You. The problem is when you begin to think of your preferences as being right or wrong. Then other people become either bad or good, and that’s how you steal connections from yourself. Your love becomes conditional. You will only share your open love with people that line up with your preferences. But even those that don’t will remain whole and perfect and just as much a part of the universe as you or I. They are entirely and thoroughly loveable despite not lining up with your personal likes and dislikes.

So why don’t you love them? Well again, deep down you really do. If we stripped away all of the pretences that exist in your world and you met them as only a human being and not as an identity, you would feel a closeness to them that would amaze you. You can take two sworn enemies, but if they suddenly need each other to survive you can bet that they will begin to see the value in each other. And in a healthy person, all that they are striving to do is remove more and more thought-barriers to love. They are attempting to expand their circle of who they can love by coming to an understanding that the separation they feel exists only through their thinking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo heartbreak is really us learning that our ideas about people are not the people themselves. We say people have let us down when really we mean they did not meet our expectations. And as long as we go around with a lot of expectations we will have a lot of heartbreak. But if we view these experiences wisely, we can come to see that each new heartbreak offers us a chance to take down our barriers and open our hearts to more and more people.

You don’t need to fall in love with anyone. The universe has already taken care of that for you. All you need to do is to see the other person for what they truly are—which is someone who you could have easily become you. Once you have seen how You were created you will suddenly realize that you are only made of thought, and so is everyone else. And just as you became you, they became themselves. And other than your approval of that fact, there isn’t anything else. If you don’t accept that we are naturally different then you will have conflict. If you can see that we are all aspect of one thing and that our differences are only ephemeral then, like the great avatars of our world, you would find yourself with the capacity to profoundly love literally anyone.

358 Relax and Succeed - You have to keep breaking your heartIntimate, romantic love is generally our first insight into this reality. Other people will question us and wonder why we are with this or that person, and yet we can see clearly how lovable they are. We can see it’s only a matter of our friends having the wrong perspective. But then when we fall out of love we suddenly change how the world works and we label the other person as wrong or unlovable, when really we’ve just done as our friends already did and we’ve changed our ideas about the person.

Romantic love can be a beautiful first gaze into the vastness that is true love. It is an often fleeting look at someone without judgment. If we want to be developed in our life both spiritually and with our relationships, then the very best thing we can do is to encourage ourselves to keep our judgments to a minimum and our appreciation to a maximum. Because it’s not the person that’s our access point to the limitless potential of true love, it’s our openness—our lack of judgment and opinion. The longer you keep your judgments at bay, the longer you will experience the glory of true love. And you can do that with absolutely anyone.

All the best.

peace. s

Blind Ambition

You say that we shouldn’t want anything but then what would motivate me to do anything? Why would I go to work if I didn’t want things? How exactly am I supposed to put together the life I want if I don’t go out and get those things? I want to be as spiritually healthy as the next person but what’s the point if I have to live a life that’s ugly and cheap and unsatisfying? Can’t I have my cake and eat it too?

signed,
Wanting Answers

Dear Wanting,

You sound like the daughter of a Tiger Mom. And if turns out you actually are—which is pretty likely—then take comfort in knowing that your journey is a common one. There is a well-worn path so you don’t have to feel like you have to accomplish some amazing spiritual feat to understand things in a profound way. You 235 Relax and Succeed - Life is shortjust have to take one step at a time. As you climb the hill of understanding you will gain perspective that will cause many previously mysterious things to suddenly make perfect sense.

I love your question so much I want to tackle each part of it separately. Let’s start with “Why would I go to work if I didn’t want things?” Yeah, why do you go to work? Have you ever questioned that? Why do you need a job to exist? Why do you need to work for someone? Think about it. That’s a relatively new idea. That got invented because we envied kings and queens and we wanted stuff like they had. And so a whole system got built up around our egotistical need to try and elevate ourselves by reflecting and collecting our society’s status symbols. And so you feel like your life is building to a point where you can anoint yourself as successful, but I’m telling you you were born successful but you have been convinced to tell yourself a word-based story about how you need to earn your value.

Do you think a famous, talented architect builds a gorgeous house as a way of anointing himself as successful? Do you think a real painter paints to make you like it? Do you think a songwriter is trying to sell songs, or are they trying to tell a sort of truth? True creation is an authentic act. It does not seek to impress or further the agenda of its creator. It exists naturally, without external motivation. It is manifestation, not request. It is the releasing of creativity rather than the ownership of beauty.

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If you want a truly enviable life then live an authentic one. Don’t go to stores and collect all the things you’ve been told to collect by music, and TV and the web and your friends and everyone except you (yes I know you have a story you tell yourself where it really is you!). Be original by being yourself. Move in directions not because they reflect well on you, move in directions that naturally inspire you. Don’t collect things, experience things. Because you can tell yourself a story about your impressive life, or you can go out and actually live a deep and profound one. But you can’t do both.

So think about where you’re investing your psychological energy. Because it just may be that there are some common myths that you may have unwittingly bought into. Free yourself from those and rather than becoming someone impressive know that you already are someone impressive.

peace. s