Thens and Whens

The definition of stultified is “to cause to lose enthusiasm and initiative, especially as a result of tedious or restrictive routine.” Sound familiar?

We all have an instinct for how life should feel and let’s face it, because egos seek security over experience, a lot of folks feel like their lives are small dashes of fun amidst a sea of monotony, responsibility and anxiousness. And who can blame them? Who wants to think that’s all there is?

But here’s the deal: think or live. The world is not completely terrible, we aren’t completely inadequate, our life does not completely lack potential. So why are so many people thinking those three things?

The answer is habit, supported by the fact that every other ego around us is doing it too, which makes it appear sane when it’s actually the key form of mental disruption for people today.

People want answers but there aren’t any; we are an answer. Our life is an answer. And we write that answer as we live and that is a part of the perfection of how this all works. That’s once again why Kierkegaard went on about how you live forward but understand backward.

Everyone can just be, and life would then become the simple, collective jostles we experience as we move through life together. But we can’t do that because too many of us avoid the jostling. We have resistance.

We don’t like being uncomfortable. We don’t like it if someone doesn’t like us, and we don’t like to fail. But achieving comes from trying and trying is another word for failing, so now what do we do?

Success is on the other side of failure. Do we go for it anyway? Or do we live in the past or present, constantly thinking; always trying to figure out who we were supposed to be? Calculating what’s wrong now, and then figuring out how bad our future is likely to be?

Seriously? No way. We all have way too much potential for that.

First, we stop the fearful thoughts by carefully considering what’s actually happening. That leads to the eventual realization that often the only suffering brought on by failure is that which is produced by our own thinking.

Fortunately, we control that. We’re free of everyone except ourselves. And even if we do attack ourselves, it is always harder to take that criticism seriously once we’ve truly considered how meaningless our transient fearful thinking is to the world.

Rather than living our life afraid that the world is too big for little us, we should live knowing that life is a powerful imperative within us. Standing in its way is sure to be painful. We were meant to be.

As the naturalist David Attenborough said about plate-sized lichens, surviving for hundreds and thousands of years, “They simply exist, testifying to the moving fact that life, even at it simplest level, occurs –apparently– just for its own sake.” If you’re going to feel an urge to live anyway, why be a lichen? Why not live and enjoy a bunch of it?

I recently saw a quote: “The worst kind of sad is not being able to explain why.” But either we found out we have cancer or we didn’t. Someone died or they didn’t. We feel lonely or we don’t. Let’s not pretend that sadness just shows up like some kind of invisible cloud. It’s brain chemistry that’s fired by what’s in our consciousness. There’s freedom in that.

If something didn’t recently happen, then the reason we’re sad is why anyone would be sad: we’re taking our Now to think about depressing thens or whens. It hurts because those aren’t our path. We went this way. The rest is just thinking.

The pain just increases as we avoid life and think more. It is our nature, our destiny and our future to fill our lifetime.

The universe simply wants some things to be and the internal arguments we replay in our heads mean nothing in the face of it creating our lives. Instead of talking to ourselves about ourselves, it’s time we climbed on board our own life. And let’s ride it to wherever we really feel like going. Even if the route is challenging.

peace. s

The Space To Be You

You know what you need? Nothing. That’s what you need. You need gaps, you need space. You need room to simply be. But you can’t do that because you’re either too busy being busy, or you’re busy being something other than yourself. You’re either too busy thinking other people’s thoughts or you’re too busy thinking about yourself. You’re anxious or worried or angry or depressed, and yet your nature is not. There are zero depressed babies.

The worst thing you can do to a baby is take it away from human contact. That’s why being depressed hurts so much when we’re older too. It cuts us off from the natural camaraderie that is part of a healthy human life. If you’re spending a lot of time alone and you’re hurt or angry, then keep in mind that it’s pretty normal for any human to feel that way if you’re in any way deprived of human engagement.

Temporarily wanting to be alone after taking an emotional hit is fine, but the reason that being isolated eventually always hurts is because the pain is signalling us that our time alone is over and we’re now being prodded by our healthy self to end the source of the suffering: the isolation.

The problem is, people will often mistake the pain of the isolation for the pain for the original experience. Fortunately, that’s just a small mistake our mind makes. Once we’ve trained it to watch for those things it can handle telling the two apart quite easily. But you can’t do that if you think all of your suffering comes from the outside world. The pain, okay. But the suffering you need to accept as your responsibility before you can be free of its agonies.

Let’s say you got cut off from your social group in some harsh and thorough way. Because we’re creatures that do better in the company of other creatures, it makes sense that you would find that experience painful. So go be alone for a while. But then when the aloneness doesn’t feel better–when it doesn’t feel like solitude and space and quiet–then you’ll start to suffer in that aloneness, and that’s your sign.

If you’re suffering you’ll have started to overthink and, if you’re not careful, soon you’ll mistake the emotional results of your thinking for the emotional pain of the inciting event from the past. You’ll blame the outside world for something you’re doing to yourself. You’ll develop all kinds of rationalisation stories that explain why your pain is someone else’s fault. But it won’t be. It will be you. And your freedom is hidden in that fact.

If you put yourself there you can get yourself out. If something painful’s happened, take some time and collect yourself but then rejoin life. But if you’re just wallowing in suffering every day then I’m sorry, but that’s you. You can tell yourself all the stories you like, with all of the sad events and evil characters you can think of, but it will not change the fact that you are powerful. You are free to think what you choose, and you’re free to end your suffering the moment you decide to focus of your consciousness on things that inspire you.

Being alone isn’t lonely if that’s where you feel you should be. Being with people isn’t busy or complicated if you’re quiet inside. No place or activity is right or wrong, it is simply either in or out of harmony with who you are being in any given moment. Allow yourself some sadness. But don’t regard your own thinking as though you have problems when you’re only problem is all of that thinking. After all, learning to tell our thinking from a direct experience is a key part of being healthy.

Save yourself. Whether you’re alone or in a crowd, create more space. Create more openness in each day, and more acceptance of yourself and your life. You are expansive and capable. Listen to your own guidance and then trust it.

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.

Emotional Rescue

937 Relax and Succeed - A bird doesn't singPretty much everyone knows if just a few people would change then things would be so much better. The only problem is everyone has a different list of who should change and how. And even if we all did change we’d inevitably end up changing into someone that still other people didn’t approve of. So what do you we do?

Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop. Rather than sadly and idly wanting the world to be better we can accept it is less than perfect but believe it’s worth saving anyway. What would you do to add to or improve the world? Instead of engaging in the act of wishing it was better, or in thinking about the distance between where we are now and a workable solution, what if instead we focused your energy and attention on the first step of that solution?

The reason this makes us feel better is not because we’re now suddenly “good people” making the world a “better place.” It makes us feel better because we’ve engaged in living life as an active verb and not a half-conscious verb obscured by confusing layers of thought and second guessing. Everyone’s tired of all that thinking anyway. It hurts. It’s time to live.

937 Relax and Succeed - We either make ourselves happyTo live as an activity and not an idea you must be prepared to be where and when you are. Most people aren’t. They suffer by imagining better times and then they wonder why they’re not then. Again, the thought-distance between these two ideas is where the thought-based suffering occurs. Suffering is not pain. Suffering is voluntary. To be healthy is to simply engage in reality without the judgment that leads to suffering.

Why does helping others feel good? Because there’s a psychological element to what I impart in my work but there’s also a spiritual one. From the outside they can sometimes appear to be in paradox but in that spiritual realm–the realist one to our true selves–we are all not only connected; we are one. That being the case, and as many prophets have pointed out, caring for another truly is caring for oneself.

People want to contribute. They feel that spirit within them flickering, begging for more fuel to stoke its fire. But people hide away and wait to feel better, not understanding that they need the fuel. Far from locking themselves away, people feeling low on energy should understand that the low sensation comes from negative thinking and depressed inactivity.

The human spirit should run contrary to the urges created by self-defeating thinking and instead we should use it’s painful feedback to prompt us to rejoin with the world and share in the great deal of love and support that exists in it every single day.

937 Relax and Succeed - We make a livingWe all can make a huge difference just by being more patient, more tolerant, more conscientious, more polite, more compassionate and friendlier. Smiles, favours, giving someone the benefit of a doubt, helping someone with a mistake instead of chastising them; these are the many ways in which you can add to the karma of a day.

Get involved with the world. It doesn’t need your commentary or opinion it needs your spirit and your efforts. There’s a reason that the poorest people give the most; it’s because they understand what it’s like to truly struggle. But they also often test as happier and that’s because their shared efforts create a strong sense of community. Through helping others we’re reminded that we have more than enough.

Get out there. Before the end of the week find some way to contribute to your community in some small or large way. But find it. And it has to be a real commitment. You have to join with the world to feel its strength within you. Give it your most enthusiastic efforts and it will respond with joys and rewards beyond your dreams.

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.