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.

Recoupling

A lot of my student/clients are struggling marriages. If I’m given enough time and they are both genuine and earnest enough to allow me to take them through a process, then only one of two outcomes takes place. Either they fall back in love, or things end shortly thereafter.

??????????????????????????????????????????I consider myself successful either way because I don’t save marriages, I show people the way to have enjoyable, rewarding lives. If the relationship actually makes it unnecessarily difficult for the participants—including kids—to enjoy life, then the raised awareness of either one or both partners leads them to take action. They will be less interested in preserving their legal status and more invested in circumstances that are more conducive to healthier, happier living for both partners, be that together, alone or with different partners.

Even if you’re going to stay together and have a fun, successful relationship, you still need to know how to get through rough times. Those are inevitable. You need to know what they feel like, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to recognize the fact that you’re usually happy. Fun times are easy, but when you’re experiencing them actually take some time to pay real attention to how your mind is processing events.

You’ll see that your optimistic view has you noting many opportunities for you to be happy. By contrast a person creating negative feelings will be able to sit in the same context and notice nothing but what’s lacking or wrong. So the most important starting place for any couple is for it to be made up of two people who are genuinely dedicated to their own happiness. Not structureless, self-indulgent pleasures, but a rather a 627 Relax and Succeed - We're all entitledgenuine appreciation for the value of rest, recouperation and the space for creativity to take place in—be that time, space or both.

Sure, if someone’s got cancer or whatever then they get to be a bit needy and surivival is good enough, we don’t need to add to their struggles by holding them to some super-high standard for happiness. We all have tough times like that. That’s when love kicks in and carries the most weight. But other than those times where you simply need love and support, a central relationship responsibility is to your own happiness. If you can’t do that then there’s no point in complaining to a partner. People don’t make other people happy. People can ultimately only make themselves happy.

If you know how to be happy then you will have many go-to thoughts to jump toward that can be far more pleasant than the ones that go with a bad marriage. To escape to higher-frequency busy thoughts you need to be able to recognize that you are lost. Fortunately our emotions do a great job of signalling us because the angier we get the louder we get. And once we’re angry we’re not fighting the point anymore because making a point doesn’t require hurling insults. Wanting to win against someone—that can quickly degrade into name-calling and cheap shots. 

So if you hear your voice raised, then it’s a virtual guarantee that you are locked in ego and doing things that are likely to run contrary to your larger objectives. You are far better to take your chemical-filled blood and yell back, “I can tell by the fact that I’m ?????????????????????????????????????????????????yelling that I’m saying things I may not mean and so I’m going to take this anger, go outside for a walk to calm down so that I can talk to you about this more constructively because we both deserve that…!” That’s actually helpful; to just announce that you’re lost and then try to create a delay until your consciousness can settle a bit. As angry as they may be, the other person will recognize you’re attempting to be genuinely helpful to the situation. If both parties are on board then that’s the best possible scenario.

Once people have calmed down they generally don’t need any help. They fell in love without help. They just need assistance seeing each other. So know that angry temporary blindness or fears will cause us to miss important details and react in counterproductive ways. So as much as possible just delay your relations with others until both parties are more able to be genuinely constructive. Do that and you will reduce the amount of resentment moving forward, and that is what will keep your relationship healthy: leaving the past in the past and searching for the best possible present. It’s always there to do.

Enjoy your day.

peace. s

Crazy Talk

Ever since the concepts of sane and crazy were invented everyone has spent at least some time wondering if they’re nuts. But what if there was a test that you could administer to yourself that told you conclusively if you were or not? What then? Because such a test actually exists and I will give it to you in this blog.

529 Relax and Succeed - I have reached a pointOkay, are you ready? Go to a mirror or hold one up to your face, or use that mirror app on your phone. Take a good look at yourself. Do you look human? If the answer is “yes” then you’re crazy. Because all humans are crazy. How do I know? Because if I didn’t know that then I couldn’t properly write this blog. I’ll explain.

Everyone lives inside their own thinking. What the Buddhists call the illusion is the layer of words and descriptions and opinions that we layer over the real world which simply Is. Through poignant events, or rapturous moments, everyone spends some time in an enlightened state. When we’re laughing and thrilled with life. When we’re exhilarated and fully alive. It’s whenever we’re appreciating the Isness of things. The healthiest people do that by choice and they do it often. So people caught up in the illusion will argue over whether a movie or a book was good or bad, whereas someone who can see through the illusion finds the whole discussion meaningless.

An enlightened person can appreciate that everyone lives inside their thinking and so people don’t see a book or a movie, they see their thoughts about it. So knowing that, it seems so unnecessarily unfortunate that good friends would invest any amount of life getting into arguments over their opinions. What difference does that make? Why would you ruin your day to have a pointless debate where you both compare beliefs that exist only in your own consciousness? Even if you won that argument, what did you win? So to the contrary, an enlightened person can even be called crazy and they’re okay with it. Because they know everyone looks crazy to a lot of people.

529 Relax and Succeed - Happy is the man who canTo a meek non-physical safety conscious administrator, working as a whitewater rafting guide or a heli-skiing guide can look crazy. But then then the professional skier probably thinks much the same thing about the administrator in his little cubicle all day staring at a screen. Someone giving a speech or doing a radio show can seem insanely brave to a quiet person, and yet to a talk show host, they might find being alone a huge challenge whereas the quiet person likes it. Likewise a guy going to school and getting into debt for a decade past high school so that he can be a doctor and swab sores and stick his fingers in people’s bums—that can look insane to a kid who’s getting good money to work outdoors at a job that keeps him in peak physically shape. Meanwhile the doctor is relieved he doesn’t have to live a life of menial labour. So what’s crazy? It depends completely on who you ask.

Having kids, not having kids, being married, not being married, this job, that job and on and on and on. We’re all just walking swirls of opinion and when we get in proximity to the opinions that make up other people—if our opinions are too solid they tend to impact other very solid opinions. But if we’re more ephemeral and flexible and open, then we can pass through each other and feel the experience without it containing a harsh impact.

Go ahead and be crazy. Know that there’s people who will view your life from the outside and they will have harsh and negative and incorrect opinions. But whatever. How does that actually affect you? Even if they say it, words are just sound waves hitting your eardrums. They don’t demand that you engage with them.

529 Relax and Succeed - Tacenda things better left unsaidYou can be open to others views even if they’re about you. After all, you have some opinions about other people too. But instead of sharing them or even complaining about them, how about if—as much as possible—we all stayed conscious of our thinking and we just dropped the combative thoughts about differing opinions? And not just our internal thinking, where we poke at their statements even as they’re speaking. I mean the external talk too. The arguments, the put-downs, the needless opinions. That should all be muted as much as possible. We should favour input over output.

Instead of spreading negativity, what if we also focused on what we do like about the world? Because there is no point in striving to be seen as sane or healthy or smart or successful in the eyes of someone else. Their opinion lives only inside their head, and whoever else they can convince to believe it too. But there’s seven billion people in the world. They don’t all have to like you regardless of the reason. And even the ones that are your friends don’t have to agree with you about everything. So just relax and listen to people without feeling that their views have anything to do with you. Do that and people will still think you’re crazy. But at least you won’t care because you’ll be enjoying life so much more.

I hope you enjoyed reading today’s blog as much as I enjoy writing them. Thanks for your time. Have an awesome day.

peace. s