The Friday Dose #129: Mindfulness

1013-fd-relax-and-succeed-resistance-is-futileStaying vigilant about our thinking can be a challenging thing. My accident gave me a huge advantage in that there was a distinct separation between me and my thinking, but I know when I jam the two together that they feel like one thing, so I suspect that’s what it feels like for everyone else most of the time. As ephemeral as it is, all I really do in my work is create some distance between souls and egos.

One way to create some distance and to slow down that process is to study it closely and break it down into its component parts. It’s like a drummer learning a new beat. You have to do it super slowly, super slowly and then build the wiring and build the wiring until you can go faster and faster and faster until it’s natural.

Since our mental health is tied to us accepting rather than resisting the universe as it is, a good candidate for study is complaining. Complaints are pure resistance. They’re either internal resistance thoughts, or spoken external ones, but they’re resistance either way. A man recently tried going only 21 days without complaining and he found it very difficult. That said, he also did notice a shift in himself in only those 21 days. I would suggest that this would be a beneficial process for everyone to undertake.

Here’s a link to an interview with the author, and here’s Michael J. Fox on how your circumstances can appear worse than average and yet your life is better than average. It’s really only a question of how much resistance you choose to produce.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone because, despite your genuine challenges, in many ways you’re still more fortunate than a lot of the world. Enjoy that.

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.

Schadenfreude

965 Relax and Succeed - Envy blowing out the other person's candleSome people calling it dissing, others will say they’re cutting someone down to size and for some it’s just plain open negative gossip, but schadenfreude (and in a way, “glückschmerz“) has never been more popular. It seems most of modern politics is pure schadenfreude. If you actually listen for it during your day you’ll not only hear it all over the place, you’ll also likely hear it coming from you.

If you feel competitive with a person or group that will be because you perceive that you share a goal and you feel only one of you can achieve that goal. Gazelles will either escape and live or the lion will eat and live but both are running after life. But there will be no feelings of schadenfreude for the gazelle and lion. If we’re in a healthy state of mind, a motivation to achieve doesn’t equate to a story about being happy that another person or group has lost.

It’s only through “higher thought” that people are now using words to construct this unhealthy pleasure for themselves even when they have caught no gazelle. All they need now is a story about another lion not getting a gazelle. There are now people who completely forgo feeding their own souls in order to invest their lives in trying to steal or poison other people’s achievements.

965 Relax and Succeed - In the practice of toleranceIt’s comforting to think of these people as the horrible dark-minded haters that are doomed to lives of blind on-line trolling, but we don’t get healthier by pointing fingers we get healthier by functioning differently. So rather than think of all of the places you’ve witnessed schadenfreude try thinking of the times you’ve executed it.

Who do you feel competitive with? A person? A company? A nation? A religion? A political party? How does that influence where you go, what you do, what you want, what you say, what you wear and who you act like? Because even if you win every one of those little competitions they will still have been dictated by the other person and your lowest nature.

Freedom is not when we are living a life of reaction it’s when we live a life of action. The great sculptor does not set out to create the greatest sculpture ever, they are instead fully invested in their relationship with the material and the result then flows through them in unimpeded brilliance. Even then, the true artist has little interest in admiring what’s done. Completion is what creates the opportunity for further creativity, not a platform for comparison.

965 Relax and Succeed - Winning is the illusoryAnalysis, comparison and judgment are all required for schadenfreude. These are all egocentric functions. It doesn’t matter if you’re happy that someone got dumped or sad that someone else found love, if you’re invested in negativity then that is what you’re living, experiencing and putting into the world. You could be creating something wonderful but instead you are creating negativity. You aren’t being positive by being negative about something you see as negative.

It’s easy with some harsh analysis, comparisons and judgments to create others so different that we can abide by and even cheer for their suffering. But these judgments are only layers of thought. There is no real separation. We really are all in this together. Yes, we will clash sometimes by nature, just as the ocean crashes at the shore. But that crashing is not accompanied by a story of conquest and defeat and nor should our lives.

Forget about what you think about others and focus on living your life instead. If you leave all of those agonised judgments behind you’ll be surprised by how many rewarding experiences you can have.

Go be forgiving. Go create a great day for you to live inside. It’s far more in your control than you realise.

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.

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

2014’s Blog of the Year #6

581 Relax and Succeed - You do not need to struggle*

Life goes in phases whether we want it to or not. Most people spend most of their life trying to smooth those phases into a uniform height but that is wasted effort. The world is the world. Our job is not to shape the world, it’s to shape ourselves to make the most of it.

Your outside circumstances absolutely do not have to dictate your enjoyment of your life. I can easily find you wealthy people with easy lives with nice families and those people will still be suicidal. And I’ll show you a little girl who was molested when she was young, lived in poverty, absentee parents and yet she’ll climb out and become a successful and happy lawyer, mother and wife. The tribulations you have to traverse in life are not what shapes it. Your thinking is what shapes your life, so it’s about time you started accepting more of your journey and paying more attention to your judgments of it.

This Blog-of-the-Year helped a lot of people having rough days feel better. If that’s you right now, I hope it does the same for you. Either way, people tell me there’s some useful wisdom here. Click the link and enjoy:

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2014’s Blog of the Year #6

peace. s