Waking Up Our Kids

1292 Relax and Succeed - Over-thinking steals livesIt’s common for people to wish they’d learned to control their thinking when they were younger. What’s effortless to learn for largely egoless kids is a bit harder when we’re older, that’s fair. More importantly, for a kid, a lot of suffering can be avoided or abbreviated if we know how to manage our emotions earlier in life.

Phones and computers and automation give many of us a false sense of control. But when we are faced with situations that are overwhelming, increasingly people are finding they are incapable of managing that very normal aspect of life. Lessons on managing our feelings needs to start young –younger than we might think.

Every parent should at least consider waking their kid up in a way that helps them truly understand how the world and our minds merge to create our reality. Rather than just telling them to get up and being perfunctory about getting them physically ready, if possible, we should consider taking a moment to get them psychologically ready too.

Kids generally assume that whatever their parents are doing is what’s happening in every house. Normal is whatever our parents do routinely. So if they wake up and they witness us taking a moment to set an intention for a good day, and if we casually expect that they should do likewise, those things quickly instill that healthy ritual as a normal part of waking up.

A parent can present the idea like it’s a big moment –like when a kid doesn’t have to wear diapers anymore– or, if the kid’s older, it can be said much like you might tell them that they have to remember to grab their skates for hockey practice.

It’s either exciting or pedestrian, depending on how much child-like wonder your kid is still functioning with. I’ll use a young kid in the example. In my admittedly highly idealized example, it starts as easily as:

“Tomorrow when we get up we’ll get you started on setting your intentions,”

“What’s that?” the kid may say in some form or other.

“Well, without an intention people’s feelings are kind of like flags or balloons. They just float in the direction the wind is blowing. And you know how people have good moods and bad ones?” The kid nods. “Well, other people’s moods and our own thoughts are the ‘wind’ everyone has in their day.”

“The wind?”

“Yeah, it’s like a wind of thinking. Sometimes it blows us along and makes things better, like when people cheer for us or when we’re thinking lucky thoughts. But sometimes it blows hard right at us, like when a lot of people are picking on us, or if we’re mad, or sad. Some days there’s no wind, but most days there’s at least a breeze. So it’s important to start the day with an intention to not get blown off course.”

“What happens when we’re blown off course?”

“Well, we’re just individuals. We’re very strong and we have lots of control, but sometimes we’re hungry, or over-tired, or sometimes we’re just surrounded by too much sadness or anger. But we don’t want to stay angry or sad –or even get angry or sad if we can avoid it, right?”

“I don’t want to be sad.”

“I don’t want you to be sad either, but we have sad feelings because sad is a part of life. Without sad we lose a lot of love songs, and love songs are beautiful. As we get older we start to understand what to do with sadness –because we can use it to find more happiness if we do it right. But some sadness is just built into life. The way to avoid being too sad for too long is to set an intention to have a good day. That way you avoid the avoidable sadness.”

“You mean we can not feel sad? How?”

1292 Relax and Succeed - Stop thinking and end your problems

“Sometimes you ‘can not feel sad.’ Other times it’s the right feeling for what’s happening, like when we were sad at when we had to take Pepper to the vet to go to sleep.”

“I miss Pepper.”

Cuddles the child. “I do too honey. Thinking about Pepper can be a nice kind of sad though, right? That’s the kind of sad it’s okay to feel. Missing Pepper is because we loved her.”

“There’s good sad and bad sad?”

“Yeah. Good sad is the sad we want to feel. But sometimes you don’t want to feel sad, or we’re tired of feeling the kind of sad we liked and now we want to feel better. When we feel that feeling we have to shift our attention to different things.”

“… what kind of things?”

“Well, if we don’t want to be sad then we can’t think our own sad thoughts because they’re sad. And we don’t want to think other people’s negative thoughts –stuff like insults– either, because that hurts too. Auntie Sara sometimes makes herself sad because she thinks she should look different. But we love Sara exactly the way she is, don’t we.”

“I love Sara… Why does Sara want to be different?”

“Well, wanting is made of thinking. So Sara is thinking about looking different than she does and she likes the person in her thoughts better.”

“So she doesn’t like her real self?!”

“Sometimes. Yeah.”

This genuinely dismays the child. “Why? Then why doesn’t she stop thinking that?”

“I guess she forgot to. Maybe because she didn’t have the habit of setting her intention for the day.”

“How do I do that?”

“It’s when we decide how we’re going to use our focus for a day. All day long we all each decide what we think about. Nobody else thinks for us. So if you’re thinking about Pepper and it’s making you sad but you like that kind of sad, you can keep focusing on your thoughts on Pepper. But if you’re too sad and you want to stop, instead of thinking about Pepper you have to think about something or someone that makes you happy, like the time we went horseback riding, or when you went on the airplane.”

“I can think about that?”

“You can think about anything you choose.”

“That will make me happier?”

“Yup –if you choose thoughts that make you happy.”

“Can it be a rabbit?”

Every parent knows this kind of stifled laugh when kids introduce an idea from nowhere. “Yeah, sure it can be a rabbit. It can be anything that makes you happy.”

1292 Relax and Succeed - If we don't like something

“How?”

“You and your ‘how’s.’ Okay. Well, when think about nicer or happier things our brain stops making chemicals that make us feel sad, and it starts making ones that feel better. Sad feelings, happy ones, when we’re mad, or laughing –all of our feelings come from inside us, from our thinking.”

“Inside of us?” The kid goes cross-eyed trying to get a look past their forehead to their brain.

“We kind of ask for our feelings. But when we’re young we only know how to do that when it’s easy, like when we get to do something fun. But when we’re old enough, it’s time to start learning the important part. That’s where we learn to to stop being too sad even when a sad wind is blowing.”

“How do I stop being sad when I don’t want to anymore?”

“Just the way I said –you just change to think about something nicer –that you feel better about.”

“That’s all?”

“Yup. It’s pretty easy. But the voices in our heads can get tricky. They try to tell us we don’t want to be happier when really we know we do, but our thoughts get confused by the chemicals.”

“The sad chemicals?”

“Any of them can confuse us. Wait until you’re older and fall in love. The first time doing that is really confusing. But like everything, we get better at things the more we do them. That’s why it’s important to start practicing when we’re young.”

“I don’t want to be sad like Sara. Sara’s beautiful.”

“Awww honey. Yeah, she is. I don’t want her to think that either. Or for you to think like that about yourself. But doing that is easier if we set an intention. So when we wake up, before we completely get up we have to remember to stop for a few moments. That’s when we do our little meditation.”

“A medit… a m… a what?”

“A meditation. That’s when we take some time to remind ourselves that our thoughts create how we feel each day. And then we remind ourselves that we want to feel good that day. That way, if we forget during the day –and everyone does sometimes– then the intention from the morning reminds us of what to do. If we don’t like our feelings we have to change our thinking. Do you think you’re ready to start trying that?”

If it’s a matter of ready, most kids will jump at the chance to prove more capability and freedom.

“Okay. I’m going to do mine out loud so you have an example, but you can make up your own. What’s important is that it reminds you of your power. No one can change our thoughts but us. Okay, are you ready?”

By now the kid is fascinated to hear what magic spell comes next. And it’s about as close to a real one as we need. Eyes closed, the intention begins.

“Today if I lose my way and I get lost in my thoughts, I will use this intention to remind me that I want to make the most of my day, and so I do not want to dwell on sad, or angry, or guilty, or mean thoughts about myself, my life or any other person or thing.

“Instead of choosing to feel badly I will choose to feel better as soon as my intention reminds me to focus on something better. I thank my intention for helping me keep my thinking in control and thank you for making this little monkey here,” snuggles the child, “so that I always have such a beautiful little monkey to think about to help me when I’m sad.”

“You think about me when you’re sad?”

“I do. When I think of you it makes me happy.”

“When I think of me that makes me happy too.”

“That’s a whole other conversation about identity and ego my little Confucius. Let’s save that talk for a few years.”

“Okay. Can we get a rabbit?”

peace. s

Avoid Getting Caught

1234 Relax and Succeed - One day I woke upDespite our self-criticisms all of us are actually smart and capable. Our problem isn’t our potential, it’s our limits on that potential. The potential is always ready to go by nature. It’s not that we aren’t realizing it, it’s that we’re holding ourselves back by being tricked into going the wrong direction.

We should think of ourselves as a fish. Our three-dimensional world gives us the ability to move in any direction. Eating another fish would be like combining ourselves with another part of the universe and we would use the energy to grow even larger and more capable.

The ego-based world is more like bait. There’s some fisherman who lives in a world nothing like ours, and they’re going to pull us into their two-dimensional world and eat us up. Knowing the difference between bait and nourishment is key to our enjoyment of life.

1234 Relax and Succeed - We don't need anything more

Today, on each and every decision that we can recognise (we’ll probably identify less than 10% of them), we must ask ourselves whether the decision we made/are making was/is about more, or for better? Are we just trying to get more time, more money, more stuff, more respect, or more control etc.? Or was/is the decision about improving how we feel about our life?

We have very healthy feelings just before we quit a job we despise, or just before we end a taxing relationship. We’re giving up more for better and it feels good. That’s like flailing and getting the hook out of our mouth.

All day long we make these little decisions and brick by brick they build our world. So greater consciousness is critical, but to do this we need awareness. But our radar can’t learn to pick up that other 90% if we don’t start with trying to find the big, easy 10% that affects 90% of our life. We shouldn’t be working hard to save things that have no meaning.

1234 Relax and Succeed - Nothing makes a fish bigger
Nothing makes us wiser and more capable than learning to tell the difference between bait and nourishment.

No one really wins an argument. Achievements are always short-lived. Comfort breeds complacency. Ease makes us dull. Control crushes value. Money can’t buy happiness, status is fleeting and dangerous, and attachment destroys love. We can’t want more. We must seek better or our lives are an endless loop of consumption of people, things and places.

We shouldn’t get hooked and swallowed up by a two-dimensional world that limits our heights. Rather than forever seeking more–as though some gap in ourselves will be filled by achievement–we must all turn our eyes away from the collection of life and toward simply sharing in its remarkable abundance and beauty, because we sure don’t need much when the life we’re leading is rich.

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.

 

Other Perspectives #96

If all that you did this week was read all five blogs and do the small exercises in each one, you most certainly moved yourself closer to the most important goal we all face; understanding. The journey is taken in small steps. Becoming conscious isn’t difficult, but it does require us to very intentionally focus our attention on that development.

1221 OP Relax and Succeed - Do not interruptWith absolutely no offense intended toward whoever created the original meme, I would suggest you do precisely the opposite; hence my “X”. I can think of fewer easier, faster ways to develop a quiet mind than to raise your awareness of invading thoughts.

Today, see your mind as a vessel that you will fill with the world around you. Don’t listen as yourself; listen to your world not out of habit but out of keen awareness. Don’t see it the same way either; don’t treat rooms like visual funnels. Look at familiar spaces in strange or unusual ways and the world will occupy your mind. Try new foods, pay attention to your sense of touch. Fill the vessel of your mind with the outside world. Use this to drown out your own internal egotistical thoughts about self.

Fill your mind with the world around you and drown out your internal conversations. That’s all you have to do to grow spiritually and to gain psychological control. Strangely, both things are far more practical and ordinary than we tend to believe. And they aren’t even difficult to reach. Which in a way proves that these dramas are ones we’ve chosen. Because even if we’re offered a way out, most of us choose to stay on the roller coaster anyway.

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.

Relationship Insecurities

This is a healthier exercise for a couple than a lot of fearful thinking would be.
This is a healthier exercise for a couple than a lot of fearful thinking would be.

Couples routinely come to me because the trapped partner wants me to convince the insecure partner to honour their basic freedom as a human being. But I don’t fix jealous relationships by getting people to stop being jealous, I get them to stop being insecure.

At the end of the day the problem isn’t the attraction or fidelity of the spouse, the problem is that the insecure person does not feel they are good enough to hold their partner’s interest. That leads to control issues which then mean it’s even easier for someone else to treat the partner better.

I pick up extremely quickly on how a person’s communication patterns reveal their perspectives on life so it usually doesn’t take long for me to pick up on it when one of the partners defines the relationship in relatively static and rigid way. They’re looking for security in a world that has taught them that disaster is always lurking.

1046-relax-and-succeed-you-cant-fix-yourselfOf course disaster isn’t always lurking, but you can make it seem like it if you look for it hard enough. Jealous people are master narrative creators. They can take one tiny detail and fill up hours worth of self-talk stories in their imagination. Hours. Out of a tiny detail that other people would ignore as insignificant. But in the mind of the frightened person? It’s huge. They can think it until it is legitimately huge in their consciousness.

Psychology historically would invest many hours in how the person got that way but you don’t need more than broad strokes if you know what you’re doing. The details just muddle things, the point is to find something worthwhile in the experience and then move on. Healthy people stay for joy and they leave unpleasant situations asap, right after they have taken the lesson from the experience.

Insecurities are the self-talk conversations that make us feel small, which means we also feel weak, and then we feel we need other people’s extraordinary help just to make it. In fact we’d be fine on our own. We just have to tough it out long enough to see that we really can choose to sit and read or watch a movie just as easily as we can choose to sit and ruminate on what might be happening. But that latter will tend toward the painful and it’s almost always inaccurate as well because there’s billions of things that could be happening at any given time so I very much doubt anyone anywhere is even close to accurate most of the time.

1046-relax-and-succeed-if-you-truly-loved-yourselfTo end jealousy the jealous person must actually come to see themselves more through the eyes of their partner, rather than through the lenses of past experience. They must not see themselves as a lightning rod for danger but rather a pillar of strength. And that’s actually a natural feeling if only we don’t intercede with our insecure thinking.

If you’re going to think insecure thoughts then of course you’ll feel insecure. But even if they were rational thoughts–which they rarely are–so what? What good would it do to be insecure when you do anything, let alone the act of saving your relationship? No one benefits from insecurities. Find the lies that were told to you when you were young and meditate on the proof that those are wrong. Your clarity will show up in your refusal to fall into the traps of the illusion of security.

Insecurity destroys relationships. Confidence is a natural feeling for everyone. When you were five you thought you could be anything. But someone said things and you listened and now you repeat them in your head, and then you took your worst experiences and built fears around those and then you watch for that too. And it’s all a lot of worried, suspicious watching. How can that be good for a relationship? Stop the narrative. Flood yourself with peace and love and you will have no difficulty attracting and holding a partner that is suitable for you.

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.

Conscious Creation

961 Relax and Succeed - You don't change your lifeYou can actually build a body that is good at being sad. You can also build one that is good at being angry, or good at being a victim or even good at being happy. Each of those emotions are created by chemical signals from your brain to your body and your personality is defined by which chemicals your body is most addicted to.

When a cell splits it’s paying attention. Each cell makes this little contribution to your consciousness. They’re awake and alive and they’re doing their best to create the reality you are asking for. So if you’re angry a lot then your cells are most likely to split when you’re angry and so that’s what the daughter / sister cell will be tuned to. Over time you end up with a body made of so many cells made in angry that you have literally become an angry person.

My clients are generally addicted to sadness or anger although occasionally I get one addicted to happiness. They’re never seeing me for relief though–they want to go higher. They want to feel exalted. They’re hunting enlightenment and you can’t do that until you are experienced at being in a conscious state, so the first step is to consciously build a healthy mind-body connection.

961 Relax and Succeed - If you knew how powerful your thoughts wereIt’s like you’re a clear plastic container shaped like you. Every moment a grain drops out of your food and each moment you have to add a new grain to the head of your container. Each grain is a different chemical. At the end of about eight years you will have traded almost all of your grains of identity and, if you’ve changed your thought patterns, you will look entirely different to everyone. People would say you have changed.

You must take ownership of this process in order to guide it. You cannot just surrender to what the world wants to throw in your head. You can be lucky you got home from war or happy you survived; both grains will be thrown toward your head but you’ll decide which one gets inside. You’ll think the thought. Someone else’s actions are just the toss, you are the catch. You decide what you allow to enter you. You can either make excuses for ugly chemistry or you can collect the qualities that make you beautiful.

No one is pure, not even an enlightened being. Without unenlightenment there can be no enlightenment. It’s like heaven. It lasts for eternity, which is means it’s also now, and every moment has the potential to create many different identities. You decide if you which ones you include within you with your attention. What you focus on is what you get.

961 Relax and Succeed - I have chosen to be happyYour thoughts are powerful things. With them you literally shape who you are. Do not allow this process to be habitual. Don’t just throw in whatever your childhood taught you to throw in because most people’s parents weren’t conscious and so you got a happenstance identity not a conscious one. This is the next stage for humanity. We get the material world pretty well. It’s time we took on the world of consciousness and energy.

Be aware. Be conscious. And if you catch yourself adding negative chemistry, don’t attack yourself for failing or that will just be more negative chemistry. You must love yourself before you can love others. This is an important mission. You cannot tell the world a story about how you don’t deserve it. There is no such thing as deserve. We are all one. You will be who you ask to be. So start today and ask to be who you really would like to be. Because if you can think like your hero for a few years, you will literally become your own hero.

You’re human, I know you can do this. The only question is, when will you start? Me? I try to do this every day. So let me start off my own day be choosing to love you, because in the future I would like to be even more loving than I already am. That is my goal, that is my aim and that is what keeps me conscious. I love you.

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.

Attachment Awareness

As you begin to take more conscious control of your day you will find some emotions very easy to change while others will be much more difficult. It is worthwhile for you to pay attention to what those difficult ones have in common. That will point to one of your biggest challenges: attachments.

878 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes it's hardYou’ve heard about Buddhism discussing it: lose your attachments. This has many nuanced meanings. When I work one on one or in groups with students I can usually home in on their attachments pretty easily but if you’re aware you can find a lot of yours on your own.

There are conversations you have with yourself that are easy to stop. Maybe you dropped grandma off at the airport and you already miss her. But it lasts until you get into downtown and then you feel okay. But run into your ex at the mall and that will be on your mind for weeks. You love grandma. Why does she only get a half hour and the ex who broke your heart gets weeks?

Don’t think of attachments so much as things you can’t live without, because that implies you’ll only feel them toward people or things that you miss. You might not miss a person at all–but you might miss the apology you never got, or the case you never got to make, or whatever other closing statement you wanted to make to clearly state your position and your awareness of the other person’s responsibility. The attachment is our desire to repeat our argument to the offending person. We blame them for it, but it is us who is replaying our argument. If we’re looking for them to make it go away we’re doomed–we control ourselves, not them.

878 Relax and Succeed - People close to youYou don’t need others to conform to you for you to be happy. That would be ego-based happiness. You want that other more profound happiness.and that comes from a quiet mind, not from when everyone is doing exactly what you want. If you’re wanting you’re suffering. Do not use your mind to want.

Take today and try to work out what your key desires are. What are the things that are so important to you that you’ll yell at people? Is it your kid’s school work? Because you might actually be making it worse with too much pressure. Is it your spouse’s behaviour? Well then leave or accept it. You’re not perfect either. Is it your boss? But do you really even know what their job is? Surely it has parts to it you’re not even told about, so the judgment is pretty careless. You’re not even taking their personal challenges into account.

Find the people or subjects you judge the most harshly. Define them and watch for them. If those are your hotspots–if those are the subjects that make you talk to yourself then start with those. That’s your low-hanging fruit. That’s the easy stuff to find. You might as well take care of it now. Find your three key conversations. The three you have the most. Then see them for what they are: silly wishes.

People live their own lives and they live them for themselves, not for us. We might feel some things are very important but they simply may not agree–and they’re often entitled to not agree. So better that we learn acceptance. Find your attachments. And this week we’ll work on evaporating their impact in your life. Find three today. And have an awesome day while you’re doing it.

peace. s

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

Other Perspectives #86

786 OP Relax and Succeed - There is no true loveWrong. With no offense intended toward the creator of it, I believe this is the first one I’ve ran into that’s 100% backwards. The truth is that there is no true love with jealousy. Anyone who thinks that true love includes jealousy–or worse demands it–is at least in the fortunate position where in their future they will get their first taste of genuine true love. This quote is nothing more than some person’s excuse to think insecure, worried and untrustworthy thoughts about someone else. Either trust someone or leave. Don’t justify your poor treatment of them as being rooted in love. Real Love isn’t possessive in any way shape or form.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.00 Relax and Succeed - Other Perspectives Footer

Freedom and Tolerance

You have times you have to wake up. Times you leave for work. There are the rules of the road, and there is politeness when you reach the front door at work. There are niceties in the elevator and then your duties at work and following that your responsibilities to your children and finally it’s bedtime—a time decided by the fact that allows you to repeat that pattern every day.

465 Relax and Succeed - What is really hard and really amazingThat’s a lot of being someone for other people. Your parents, your spouse, your children, your boss, your friends, organizations you belong to, or even society itself. But what are the times you treasure in your life? You know what I’m talking about. When you’re doing what you want to do you’re either having fun or your doing something rewarding. So the question is, why do we spend so much time in slavish servitude to others when our joy, inspiration and energy seem to come from fulfilling our own impulses?

I’m not suggesting you become some self-entitled jerk who disrespects others. I’m saying there’s a way to pursue what you love while supporting someone else in what they love. Will these things sometimes come into conflict? Of course. There will be nights that your dance recital will be on the same night as his golf final at the club. But I’m not talking moment by moment—overall if you’re supportive of an activity that brings value to your partner’s life then you are by extension bringing more value to your own. And this is very simply because each person is functioning in a context that freely allows their own true sense of Being. When we’re not held back—when we’re supported rather than undermined—we always find the best within ourselves.

The hardest part about being yourself is that yourself can only be you firmly. You can’t be wishy-washy about your youness. This means you will come into conflict at times, with both new acquaintances and old friends alike. And if you’re clear-headed you won’t need to back down, because you know that their opinion and yours can easily co-exist. No one needs to surrender their being for another to be. But many people don’t carry that enlightened view so you will get people who will be upset or angry about your authenticity. Angry at the fact that you’re both willing to say and hear difficult things. You respect people’s right to be who they 465 Relax and Succeed - If you live off a man's complimentsare even if that conflicts with you. It’s easy once you do it, and it creates a beautifully peaceful place inside of you, but it is a weird transom to cross. You have to be willing to have people you love be angry or disappointed in you. Because they’re not really upset with you. They’re upset that you’re not following the rules.

Being free means that if you feel a buddy’s drinking too much, you say something because you love him—because that’s why you have the impulse to say it. He may not ever speak to you again for saying it even though it may be true that he’s on a path to ruin his life with alcohol. Do you see that you’re still doing the right thing by doing what you did? Because his reaction does not change the fact that your impetus was love. You spoke out of care, concern, compassion and love. That’s why an enlightened life is so simple. You just keep doing that and don’t concern yourself with the outcomes. Don’t get attached to people, places or things. Allow them to flow in and out of your life just as you would like to flow freely too. This is the strange paradox of true freedom.

Friends are wonderful things. So are places you live and jobs and co-workers you have—but none of these things should prevent us from being authentic. Because the stresses we feel in life don’t come from our conflicts with others, they come from our conflicts with ourselves.

Be free. Think for yourself. Be aware. Notice the world around you and respond to it as your authentic self. That will lead you to the most holy, enlightened and rewarding life there is. peace. s