Disadvantaged Youth

452 Relax and Succeed - I am twoWhen parents talk about kids having it easy, they’re talking about the fact that they’re not dealing with either money or relationship issues. But to the child their challenges are very real and the emotions they face as a result are the exact same ones we face. This means terrible disappointment feels like terrible disappointment whether you’re broken up about a divorce, or broken up about the fact that you can’t play at your favourite friend’s house. Relatively speaking the disappointment is just as big and it’s felt just as strongly and we would do well to remember that.

Another thing worth remembering is the fact that kids are human. I see this all the time. A child is considered to have misbehaved every time they do something other than exactly what the parent wanted. They essentially get scolded for being their age. Kids learn through interaction. They learn through trial and error. To be scolded for that is to be scolded for being human.

So you didn’t love it when your kid dropped stuff off their high chair in their attempt to understand concepts like gravity or here and gone—but you put up with it because they were babies or toddlers. But as soon as they can talk they’re more like employees or soldiers. They’re simply supposed to do what they’re told and anything else is classified as misbehaving. And that is ridiculous and entirely unreasonable for the kid.

452 Relax and Succeed - So often children are punishedThere are days where you get a bad sleep. Maybe it was the way your body was positioned. Maybe it was the dreams you had. Or maybe you’re ill and don’t know it. But everyone’s woken up feeling less than ideal and it makes the day a lot harder. Diets can impact our moods as can the various bacteria and virii that compromise much of who we say is “us.” But adults can have bad days. Kids don’t get bad days. Kids are being bad when they’re disagreeable. They don’t have the luxury of a grumpy day. No one will give them that latitude.

Kids can’t want something different, they can’t need some time alone. Every disagreement is seen as bad behaviour rather than recognising that it’s very often just being created by the simple and very real differences between the parent’s personality and the kid’s. In short, your kid isn’t obstinate and difficult—they know who they are and they know what directions feel like theirs.

The fact that society makes demands on them that are unnatural doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the kid—the concept of society itself is just a subconscious agreement we all make to follow largely silly unnatural patterns. Just because some guy invents the concepts of a clock and a job doesn’t mean that an actual individual human being is wise to live their life according to those two things. (See: Intentional Being Video)

452 Relax and Succeed - Normal is getting dressed in clothesIf we want to be truly healthy we have to respect what we are in nature and stop forcing ourselves into the shapes that society demands for conformity. Kids are still wise enough to resist that pressure as unnatural. Adults get subdued into a state of mind where they just follow the patterns and lose all consciousness. And then they wonder why they barely laugh while kids laugh all day.

Stop expecting perfection from kids. Start to understand their behaviour not as something that’s not only relative to you and your rules, but as something unto itself. Because that’s what egos do—they assume everything has to do with them. So when their kid has a tantrum in a public place the kid is making the parent look bad, rather than the kid is having their own very distressing experience.

Do you think back in our tribal history that when we saw a kid freaking out that our reaction was to try to get them to conform so we would look good to our fellow tribesmen? Or do you think we would have watched them in an attempt to understand their actions. Might we then see that the kid is discovering how the world works, or maybe they’re actually noticing something valuable that you’re missing?

452 Relax and Succeed - Childhood is not a mental disorderYou will have conflict with your kid when you try to talk them out of a noisy instrument like drums in favour of some musical instrument they have zero interest in. If your kid loves drums and you buy them a guitar because it’s quieter, then your kid isn’t being difficult by not wanting to go to guitar lessons—he or she is just being a drummer.

Stop spending all of your time reciting complaints to your kids. Stop and actually ask if what they’re moving toward is really a problem, or are you creating one by wanting them to do what you expected rather than what was natural for them? For instance, some people are naturally nighthawks and some people are natural early-risers. An early-rising parent who forces a nighthawk awake is placing a greater value on society’s external rules than on nature. Even their love for and appreciation of the individual that is their child doesn’t overcome that. We may not find that fact convenient but it’s true.

Cities and nations etc. make us conform. We have to surrender who we are to some degree to function smoothly with others (i.e. traffic laws). But beyond that a lot of people will still demand changes just to suit them personally. You can’t blame kids for pushing back against any unnecessary restriction–because they’re right. It’s not them that’s wrong; we’re the ones who’ve been brainwashed and convinced to subjugate our natural impulses.

452 Relax and Succeed - Play is often talked aboutBe with your kids less as a corrections officer at a prison camp filled with rules, and more as a fellow human being who is co-discovering the world alongside them. Because in the jungle there are no bedtimes, no wake times, no school and no rules. There is the world and how it works and after that everyone’s allowed to be who they are. And it works, because that kid in the jungle will know and understand his world far better than any city kid who only sees the world as a set of pre-organized concepts that can only be manipulated in pre-decided ways, like life is a Transformer that can be this or that, rather than it being like Lego where it has the freedom to be anything.

Your kids are people first and your kids second. Respect them as individuals. Instead of telling them what to do try listening for who they are. What do they place a value on that you don’t? Maybe no one in your family plays an instrument but your kid sits at every piano he sees. Now that’s a kid you put in music lessons. Maybe you want them to sit still and they can’t. Well maybe they’re a kinetic kid who’s a dancer or an athlete. Maybe your kid likes to be off alone drawing or reading. That’s not antisocial, that’s a dedication to practising something.

Respect children. They do need your help establishing healthy limits. But don’t always assume you know best. Yes, for practical daily reasons sometimes they just have to water-ski along behind your day. Whenever possible, really try to see their behaviour as having less to do with you and life’s rules and more to do with their own individuality and how that meets this great big world. Because ultimately your job isn’t to teach them who to become—it’s to help them realise who they already are.

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.

Inspiring Freedom

253 Relax and Succeed - Life begins at the end
Once people learn to quell their own fearful thoughts they suddenly become aware of everyone else’s. You suddenly realise that people are constantly arguing for their limitations. They love music, they sing in the shower every morning, and yet when you go to karaoke they don’t want to sing. Sorry. Bullshit. They do want to sing, it’s just they didn’t realise that if they had stopped thinking that fearful narrative into existence, they might have picked a song and sang it instead.

People: it’s the new millennium. Seriously, it’s time to drop all of this unnaturalness. I’m not saying put anyone in serious physically danger. But if it’s just a matter that someone doesn’t like what you do or say; well that is their issue not yours. The dissatisfaction with your choices exists in their consciousness and only they have control over that, just as only you have control over your thoughts.

When I suggest that people should be free, fearful people often respond by saying, if you take the rules away what’s to stop people from taking all kinds of advantage? Okay, first off you have to recognise the presumed negativity of that statement. The assumption is that you need to stop them because they will surely try to take advantage. And yet there are far more studies that show the opposite. In most cases, most people are quite just and fair, (with accommodation made for cultural differences). Why would we anticipate the behaviour of 3% of the population in the other 97%? That’s a lot of wasted life on worrying over pretty low odds. How about we just do like the Buddha said and accept that there will be suffering? Then we can move on to the not-suffering.

253 Relax and Succeed - Doubt kills more dreams
The sorts of people that my family or neighbours used to call crazy or eccentric or weird seemed very strange to me when I was younger. But when I realised that thoughts were personal ideas, I re-examined these same people and I realised they were the only ones I could find that were just being who they were. They just didn’t care what other people thought of their clothes, or job, or actions. They were comfortable being themselves, and that seemed pretty healthy to me. They certainly seemed less bothered than the tense, judgmental egos that were defining them.

This week’s video blog is a lot of fun. This kind of freedom is infectious, as you’ll see. These people let more than a few people out of jail for a few minutes. Just try not to move your face or your body as you watch this first one. It’s really hard. He’s really evocative. And it’s because he’s unrestrained. There’s no holding back. He’s pouring everything he knows into it. And look at the people around him. They revel in it.

They’ll brag later at the bar that they were the ones sitting right near him. Because he’ll be the one that makes the news. And that’s because he’s so insanely rare. He’s free. So why aren’t you doing stuff like this? I’m not kidding. You won’t even tell people they have food on their face or that their fly’s undone—how are you gonna be free?!

Seriously. Watch this guy. Be inspired. I promise you, what he’s doing is way easier than what you’re trying to do. Life is too short to wear some mental corset. You’re a good person. Relax. You won’t rape and pillage. You’re far more likely to be even more generous than when you lived in a state of ego. So don’t worry. Be free.

Seriously. This guy is awesome. He just gets better and better:

And along the same vein, here’s another one. This actually reminds me a lot of me dancing at my dear friends Christina and Aaron’s wedding. And yes, I really was dancing a lot like that. I’m sure she still has many incredulous relatives that can act as witnesses. So seriously, relax. Forget what other people think. Be free. If I can do this at a wedding you can at least do it in your living room alone. Come on. You can do it. Turn up some music. Dance.

dance. 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 Nature of Success

149 Relax and Succeed - Don't settleWhy are you so timid about what you love? Why are you so dedicated to things others care about? Why would you do things for money when money can only buy things and events, but not experiences?

Why do you spend more time deciding what to do with your time in the outside world when you should be spending more time choosing what to do within your consciousness? So long as you are more interested in what goes on outside of you than inside of you, you will suffer much more than necessary because—despite all appearances—your life is actually an internal experience. This is the quantum leap you must make: you are not a person doing things. Your life is not what you do. You are not a Human Doing, you are a Human Being.

Two men can dig a ditch. One can spend that time thinking about a woman he loves, and the other can be in a jealous rage, and the ditch will have had nothing to do with either. And those personal experiences will be so powerful, one man will return home to make love and the other will return home to create an angry, stressful, emotionally overwrought experience whether his wife cheated in the physical world or not.

149 Relax and Succeed - I don't know the key to successIt simply doesn’t matter what happens, the focusing of your consciousness will create and manifest your individual experience regardless, and loving thoughts are what erase the separation from one thinker and another. Loving thoughts are what create unity. So why do you make yourself so separate with your thinking about the outside world? Why are you more worried about other people’s judgmental thoughts than you are about your own actual experience?

You occupy a critical part of the universe. You are the only person with your preferences. In fact, those preferences are the only thing that distinguish you from other beings. So far from aligning your preferences with others—which is what we do to have our egos fit in when we’re young—you must instead align your life with your own preferences. Can you see? You’re looking for your path through life, and yet you use your thoughts to argue the validity of your preferences.

You want to leave a relationship but you don’t because you care about the other person’s feelings more than your own. You’ve been taught that you are a good person if you put others above yourself. You feel that you should follow their preferences rather than your own.

149 Relax and Succeed - One day she decidedThis means that if your society says don’t be a quitter, that means you should keep reading things you don’t enjoy; that because your society says material wealth is success., we should keep working at unhealthy jobs just because they pay great money; or that it’s right to spend time with people you’re related to even if you don’t enjoy their company. Does that sound like freedom? Does that sound like a life well lived? Sorry. That’s the sort of life people feel was a giant waste of an opportunity.

Life is like a huge field filled with different kinds of foods and sights and smells. You’re not supposed to come to this field and then go straight to a desk to be told by others what route you’re supposed to take through the field, or which flowers to smell, what things to look at or for how long. Nor should you ask about what you should drink or what you should eat. The field isn’t an obligation. It’s an opportunity.

You’re supposed to dance through the field with joy and acceptance as your guide. And if you do that, you may be seen as irresponsible to the people waiting patiently in line at the desk, but the point is you will be free. And even more importantly, it will allow you to bond with other people who are free. And that will be easy, because you will encounter them doing what they love. And if you love that too, then you’re already connected even before you’ve met.

150-relax-and-succeed-never-be-afraid-to-do-the-thingsStop living for other people. There’s nothing wrong with having fun. This is your life. It’s time to start living like it actually belongs to you. Look at your life and figure out what’s easy to enjoy in a deep and profound sense.

You’re not looking for earthly pleasures, you’re looking for the fulfilment of your soul. Because that is the only real responsibility you have, and yet it is the one you show the least respect. Change that. Value fun. It’s not irresponsible. It’s exactly the opposite. It is the only kind of responsibility that matters. The only question is, are you prepared to be responsible for your own life experience?

Don’t look for happiness because you’ve checked off all the boxes. Create happiness by stepping outside of them into a whole new way of living. If you do that, who knows, maybe we’ll bump into each other out there in that beautiful field called life.

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.

Loving Balpreet

Reddit is a large, popular discussion hub that is based on posts by registered users. There have been many intelligent, informed and illuminating discussions on Reddit and it’s generally an excellent community. But even excellent communities have their hiccups.

When human beings are in motion they are thinking about what they are doing. They are rationalizing their behaviours either reasonably or not. In the case I’m going to refer to, the poster was hoping for a laugh. He was attempting to draw himself closer to others through humour—through a shared experience. Unfortunately that experience was at someone else’s expense.

A Reddit user that goes under the name european_douchebag, posted a photo he secretly took of a woman at an airport. The reason he took the photo was because the woman stood out in a way he thought others might find funny. The reason she stood out was that she is a devout Sikh, and as such she believes her body to be sacred and unalterable. To change it would be to offend the creator/creative process. And so she has her long hair under her turban that has never been cut. And she has facial hair and body hair that’s also never been cut. Far from being strange, she may be the first truly natural person you’ve ever seen. And natural people look so strange today that—for some people—they look funny.

118 Relax and Succeed - Loving BalpreetSome people defended the woman. Some people laughed. A lot of people attacked her. Hardly anyone noticed her t-shirt. And then the woman showed up herself.

“Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture. I actually didn’t know about this until one of my friends told [sic] on facebook. If the OP wanted a picture, they could have just asked and I could have smiled 🙂 However, I’m not embarrassed or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positive] that this picture is getting because, it’s who I am.

“Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will.

118 Relax and Succeed - Do what you feel in your heart“Just as a child doesn’t reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us. By crying ‘mine, mine’ and changing this body-tool, we are essentially living in ego and creating a seperateness between ourselves and the divinity within us. By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions.

“My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it? When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can. So, to me, my face isn’t important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are. 🙂

“So, if anyone sees me at OSU, please come up and say hello. I appreciate all of the comments here, both positive and less positive because I’ve gotten a better understanding of myself and others from this. Also, the yoga pants are quite comfortable and the Better Together tshirt is actually from Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that focuses on storytelling and engagement between different faiths. 🙂 I hope this explains everything a bit more, and I apologize for causing such confusion and uttering anything that hurt anyone.”

118 Relax and Succeed - To be beautiful meansThose are the words of an extremely healthy person. She doesn’t argue with anyone. She sees no opponent. She sees what is true: only confusion. She is happy with her life, and she understands that others cannot understand this form of happiness because they have been indoctrinated into more profitable forms. Certainly Balpreet won’t be making Max Factor any richer.

I would submit that Balpreet’s focus on her inner life is paying off. She’s open, considerate, intelligent, informative, reasonable, compassionate and caring. And her appreciation for the innocence of the ignorance is as charming as it is wonderful. It was so effective, it gently shook-awake the original poster, who offered this response to Balpreet’s message:

“I know that this post ISN’T a funny post but I felt the need to apologize to the Sikhs, Balpreet, and anyone else I offended when I posted that picture. Put simply it was stupid. Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you’re making fun of. It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post.

Funny wasn’t the proper place to post this. Maybe racism or douchebagsofreddit or intolerance would have been more appropriate. Reddit shouldn’t be about putting people down, but a group of people sending cool, interesting, or funny things. Reddit’s been in the news a lot lately about a lot of cool things we’ve done, like a freaking AMA by the president. I’m sorry for being the part of reddit that is intolerant and douchebaggy. This isn’t 4chan, or 9gag, or some other stupid website where people post things like I did. It’s fucking reddit. Where some pretty amazing stuff has happened.

118 Relax and Succeed - Elegance it is not easy“I’ve read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid internet points and I was ignorant.

“So reddit I’m sorry for being an asshole and for giving you negative publicity. Balpreet, I’m sorry for being a closed minded individual. You are a much better person than I am, I’m sorry for insulting your culture and way of life. Balpreet’s faith in what she believes is astounding.”

And so goes the power of love. These two people—seemingly so different—come to an awareness that they respect each other. Thank goodness european_douchebag had Balpreet to lead him out of the darkness of ignorance. Out of the darkness of not-love. And she did it with compassion and generosity.

If you’re looking to expand your ability to love and stay open to the world around you, then consider your surroundings. Not so much your physical ones. Think more about your mental ones. Because your friends and co-workers build your psychological landscape. So hang around people like Balpreet. Hang around people that use the power of their creativity to actually make the world into a better place. Because those people might look like they are always serving others, but in fact they are they are the freest people among us. And from that perspective, Balpreet is certainly and easily one of the most beautiful women in the world.

peace. s

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