Rewarding Discomfort

1072-relax-and-succeed-the-reason-people-awakenYesterday we did a meditation that was designed to help you recognise that you and everyone around you is viewing things from a perspective. Without even noticing it, you too belong to a perspective group. Even if you’re in one of the most popular groups, that’s still includes fewer people than you might think.

Even with someone from a very different background or culture, you will have a lot more commonalities than differences if your perspective is similar. A very aggressive and social personality that lives in rural Zimbabwe will have more in common with an aggressive, social, urban Japanese person than they will with a fellow rural Zimbabwean who’s passive and introverted.

Can you see that for this reason, when you ask people for advice only a small percentage of people will say anything truly useful? Most people will tell you what a mind like theirs would do, but that’s based on their own experiences and the resulting capabilities. They can’t really tell you what you should do. It’s still good to hear other ideas regardless, because those do help you find the one that’s truly yours. But don’t look at some great person and think you should do what they did just because they’re great. You don’t get great by being a certain way, you realise your greatness by being courageous enough to be yourself.

1072-relax-and-succeed-never-stop-lovingWhy do people need courage to be themselves? If you’re not out there actually trying to physically harm anyone and you’re not trying to undermine loving relationships, then what made you think that the way you are is unacceptable?

Because most people don’t know what it is to act without the social fear of not belonging. Societies are set up to give you some lines to walk between. Every society has their own lines, but the group you want to get yourself into starts to ignore the directions of the lines and instead they focus on why you or anyone else is going the way you are. They don’t care if you’re lined up with the lines anymore, you only care if you actions are loving or not.

Today your job is to find times where you were courageous and times where you were cowardly. You’re not a better person when you’re courageous, but when you’re courageous you will act more naturally. It’s our nature to be loving, so you can see how the ego-view can be confusing if it overlaps with a societal rule.

1072-relax-and-succeed-the-primary-teachingIf you view people from an ego perspective, nice behaviour can appear loving when really it’s just professional or possibly even a performance for others. That kind of niceness eventually turns into a poison because it’s motivated by abstract ideas like duty or correctness, rather than being like the core of all spirituality, which emerges from love.

You may never have noticed it, but if you’re in alignment with the Tao even you can feel pretty good about failing as long as it’s in a loving direction. At worst your loss is poignant. But you can do the right thing as far as the rules are concerned and still you’ll be tortured if you didn’t follow the Tao. No matter how technically correct he or she is, it’ll still be painful for a Detroit sheriff to throw out an unemployed single mom and her kids because she owes on her water bill.

1072-relax-and-succeed-the-world-doesnt-want-to-be-savedToday’s meditation asks you to find four instances in your life: two where you did something technically correct but it felt terrible, and two where you broke the rules but it felt right. And as with all of these meditations, the idea isn’t just to find them and write them in like test answers. The value is in really looking at the event from your new perspective. Revisit these times that you wouldn’t have were it not for these meditations. Look at them closely. Recognise your own courage. See it’s value.

Two each. Look for the big ones. The ones that stuck with you. They can be big or small to the outside world, but these are the ones that bring you shame or a healthy sense of pride. See that those feelings are not actually aligned with society’s lines. See that those feelings are aligned with you, because you are aligned with something much more significant than some lines in the sand.

Have a wonderful day everyone.

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.

The Horns of a Dilemma

1020-relax-and-succeed-this-wayIn every life people will reach big moments where they have to choose between two very different opportunities that are mutually exclusive. It could look like a great new job in your old field versus an entry-level job in an industry you’ve always want to work in, or maybe you have to decide between a job opportunity and love. Maybe it’s between having a baby or not. There’s lots of ways we can be stuck trying to decide the undecideable.

To decide comes from French and before that, Latin, and it essentially means to cut off. So you have reached a point in a path of life where one path necessarily cuts you off from another. It’s either this or that but never both. We think what is painful is our inability to see far enough down the path to know which one works out better, but just that thought means we believe that a decision today will determine the rewards in our life later, when that’s just not true.

The notion of a path to success and a path to failure misunderstand what it is to succeed and what it is to fail. Your life is a set of experiences, not a set of gradings by you or anyone else. No one can tell an elementary school teacher who loves their job that they should have chosen something more valuable, because they are the one enjoying their job. That joy is a feeling they experience, it isn’t a theoretical gain in people’s imagination. Being called successful isn’t the same as feeling a real connection to your own life.

1020-relax-and-succeed-if-you-cannot-do-great-thingsYou being important happens in other people’s heads, your daily joy is in your head. How others–or even a changing you with your fluctuating priorities–view your life choices from a distance isn’t as important as how much you enjoy those choices in the individual moments you’re in. So it’s not the path that’s good or bad, it’s your walking of it.

There’s a lot of people trying to improve their life through better life-choices at key moments rather than trying to improve it moment by moment. Even terrible marriages that are better abandoned will still have a lot of fun and joy in them, that’s why they happened in the first place. So a “failed” marriage can have been largely good, but that bad part might still be serious enough that the person may still have to leave the relationship. But that doesn’t erase the parts of it that were or are good, it just makes the payment worth more than the benefit. So you leave, but not because the other path was bad, but rather because it was unwalkable, which is like having no choice at all.

The agony we feel at these times of choosing is based on our thought-based bouncing between two very nebulous, ambiguous ideas. The truth is, each path will contain it’s own unknown opportunities for suffering and it’s own unknown opportunities for joy; we won’t know what those are until we live those moments, which is why the style of our walking is more important than the choice of our path.

1020-relax-and-succeed-hold-onWhat will make any path bad is constant comparison to any road not taken. Our imagination regarding what would have happened is just an uninformed guess. Whatever we think we know, we’d have to be there to be sure. People tend not to advertise the downsides of their choices lest they look bad to others, so we never really know what a life feels like until we live it. But if that’s the case, then there’s no point in torturing ourselves over a dilemma. We’d literally be better to flip a coin, choose, and then dive back into the world’s individual moments with our eye pointed toward joy, because looking for it is how it’s found. It’s not the path you’re on, it’s the perspective you take while you’re on it.

What path are you on that you’d like to be off? What’s making the current path bad? Is it really bad, or are you just trapped in a state of wanting when deep down you’re not even really sure what you’d get if you got what you want? Because no matter what path you’re on, nothing will make it feel worse than wanting to be on another path.

Be where you are. Live consciously. Maybe the job or spouse or choice you’ve made really is a great choice. Maybe you just haven’t realised that because you’ve been too busy wanting something else instead. Either way, you never really have to worry about going the wrong direction because your life happens in your consciousness where there are no paths, there is only presence or want, and you are always in control of which of those two states you’re in.

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.

The Friday Dose #124: The Humans Raced

988-fd-relax-and-succeed-faces-1I have no idea if these are true. They at least appear largely believable, although the list is far from “complete,” but that’s irrelevant to the point being made. Even if we could somehow say these were entirely accurate definitions, can you recognise these designations as illusions? This is what the Buddha meant when he said see past the illusion. Let me illustrate.

988-fd-relax-and-succeed-faces-2If you take any of these groups and then find every person within that ethic designation (however you define that), you will still find a very broad spectrum of faces. And let’s say you somehow subdivided that list into smaller sections, like which city you’re from. We do that with sports. Again, the range of people would be extremely wide. We could do those subdivisions forever until we got down to an individual level and your personal name.

988-fd-relax-and-succeed-faces-3The point is that all of these names are merely thought-projections we layer over top of a wide variety of human beings. They aren’t things in the real world. Alien cultures can’t come and find our races. They would just see a huge directionless spectrum of DNA that was all stunningly similar. If anything they would be likely to marvel at how we could all behave so differently when we are all essentially the same.

988-fd-relax-and-succeed-faces-4Words are not things. Names are not meanings. Meet each human being and any other aspect of the world originally. Don’t meet what you call them, meet the person right in front of you at that moment. Because even if you know their name because the person was a jerk to you 10 years ago, that doesn’t mean they’re a jerk today. Keep your mind open. See past all of the illusions and you will be free.

988-fd-relax-and-succeed-faces-5

peace. s