The Right Time

957 Relax and Succeed - Some pursue happinessWhen considering financial decisions, jobs, education, relationships, hobbies, friends, etc. etc., if you have a lot invested, when do you bail on something? When do you surrender, give up, change direction or grab something new? Your mind can whirl for aeons on a question like that and get nowhere because you don’t solve a thinking problem with more thinking.

Do you see how your rational ego searches for a rational solution? You want a pro and con column to add up to a negative number so you can tell yourself a story later about how careful you were before you made the decision. You want to be sure. You want to be confident. You’re a good person and you don’t want to do the wrong thing. Your problem is that confidence does not come from knowing you’re right and the idea of being wrong lives only within your thinking.

Confidence is a natural state. A little kid will swing a bat or kick a ball or any other thing quite poorly and yet still feel confident because that just means that they’re doing what they’re doing without self-talk interference. Insecurity is a thought-induced state. Confident people aren’t saying anything to themselves. They’re just being in the moment. I can assure you, we’re not internally going, “Oh yeah, I know what I’m doing, I’ve got this. I am totally good enough to pull this off easily,” Those are the words of someone insecure trying to bolster themselves with words. Confident people aren’t certain about success, they’re just ready to proceed.

957 Relax and Succeed - Only the truth that is your ownRight and wrong are also value judgments. If a little kid does something and a parent notices the difference between how the kid did it and how a pro would do it, then they’ll teach them the language of wrongness and that’s how they’ll talk to themselves in their heads even after their parents are long gone. They’ll always notice what’s missing.

A parent that notices what the kid did well, or if they just show enthusiasm without specifics, then that child can develop securely, certain that the parent’s support isn’t connected to external achievements but rather to the actual child. You shouldn’t love what your kid does, you should love your kid.

So how’s this help with decisions? Do we really think humans never made a decision prior to language? We needed language to turn right or left on a path? No, you could just have a sense of knowing and then go. We do it all the time but we never give it value because we can’t turn it into words and share it with others. It is an entirely personal, internal experience. So it absolutely is possible to know things without being able to explain how. Explain how you love seafood. Explain your love for your pet. Explain red.

957 Relax and Succeed - Don't cling to a mistakeJust live. Trust yourself. When it’s time for you to stay or go, trust me you’ll know. Because all the words do is define a range of time. You’re thinking about leaving your job for a year and then suddenly you leave. It’s not like you finished thinking. It’s not like you came to a conclusion to some calculation and then told them immediately. You still had to feel the time was right. So why do all the thinking if you’re just going to get that feeling and act on that anyway?

Even if we later feel we left early or late, that’s just another person’s judgment in another time. That’s literally the person that benefited from the wisdom of the decision looking back and wondering why the person who didn’t have that wisdom didn’t make that decision. It’s crazy. You weren’t that person yet. The decision is what created that person. So that decision wasn’t right or wrong, it was just appropriate for who you were at the time.

If you want to hold on to something too long or let it go too soon, just overthink it. That’s the only way to screw that up. Because right and wrong, good and bad and should or shouldn’t all live in thought but not in reality. Reality has actions and consequences and that’s it. You’re always fine. The rest is just a story you tell about yourself, to yourself.

957 Relax and Succeed - Your journey has molded youGo quieter. Look less for answers and instead wait for spontaneous insights. You get them all the time, but the thinking of science has convinced you that spontaneous insights have no current scientific explanation, so they–you–must not be trusted. Better to trust an abstract scale outside of yourself that is not built for you, but for your entire society. You are you. You will know what’s right for you personally if you just stay quiet inside and wait.

The issue is, we’re not good at being internally quiet and waiting. And so people think. And they get impatient for answers. And so the suffering goes. In the end you’re still not lost. At any time you can reconnect to your wisdom and access that higher knowing, and those connections will come from simply being quiet enough for long enough that you’ll actually be able to hear the voice coming from the confident soul you always were as a very little kid.

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.

Other Perspectives #90

811 OP Relax and Succeed - Mom what is marriageThis is funny. In my experience thus far, the vast majority of men get left for the same reason every time. Same with the ladies. The guys tend to be emotionally inattentive and they keep calling their decisions the couple’s decisions. The ladies get it wrong when they do what this quote suggests: when they assume that their way of doing things is the correct way and that their spouse’s way is stupid, as opposed to just being another way of approaching something. Both the inattentiveness of the men and the certainty of the women lead to them usually being completely blindsided when their spouses leave them. Speak respectfully of those you love. Because you could flip this quote around to read, Dad, what is marriage? It’s a fancy word for having to put up with a bossy arrogant person who will constantly try to treat you like a child. Doesn’t sound nice, does it? Respect. If you’re going to be in a relationship with someone then make sure your commitment to love them is a verb that you practice daily and not just something you claim out of obligation or habit. Because whether they’re talking to other people or talking to their spouse, healthy people in healthy marriages talk about their partner’s qualities a lot more than the challenges they present.

peace, s

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

The Friday Dose #84

780 FD Relax and Succeed - Alexandr MilovToday we’ll focus on relationships. We’ll start with a discussion of art and the wisdom of children, then shift to a detailed conversation on how to communicate without judgment, and we’ll end with some profound relationship advice from a child.

First off is a discussion at Collective Evolution about one of this year’s most popular Burning Man art pieces, by Ukrainian artist Alexandr Milov. Seen above, the piece manages to say so much with so little. I have tremendous respect for such artists. Here’s a link to more information on Alexandr:

Collective Evolution: Alexandr Milov

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Next we’ll look into improving your relationships through mindful, nonjudgmental Buddhist communication thanks to Cynthia Kane at The Washington Post. It’s a good article and quite clear, so without further ado:

Cynthia Kane’s: How to Communicate like a Buddhist

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And finally we’ll end on some very clear wisdom on how lowering the intensity of our emotions can result in a much more peaceful and loving life:

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

peace. s

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

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Leaving a Cheater

They had moved their lives and their family halfway around the world together. They were a team. They had been married for 15 years. Most people thought they had a great marriage and he did too. And then he found out his wife had been lying to him. There was a boyfriend. Heather didn’t mean for him to find out but it came out in something she said. She didn’t notice that she had accidentally given something away. And Nigel didn’t say anything for the first while. He used that time to gather information.

777 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes good things fall apartAnd gather it he did. Once he started looking he noticed that the clues were all over the place. Unfortunately, as jealous people prove–you can develop quite a list of clues that turn out to be false if you’re looking for them. So even 90% of his clues weren’t actually clues at all, but he did find a half-dozen actual things.

So Nigel would think about those six real things plus the 5o or so he imagined and he could tell himself story after painful story–which he did. Over and over, and he was more and more hurt, and that made him angrier and angrier. And while his anger was masked it still came out pretty clearly if you weren’t Nigel. Heather certainly noticed. He was eating away at her. He was criticising her body. He wanted her to feel insecure. If she was going to be naked with someone else he wanted her to waste it being worried.

He thought about moving back to Britain but he couldn’t do that to the kids. As angry as he was he wasn’t crazy–this was about his relationship with her, not hers and the kids. That was a separate issue and he knew full well he wanted her guidance and influence in the kids lives and that they loved her. But this hurt and hurt people hurt people. So they both suffered.

777 Relax and Succeed - Love is what we are born withHe never did define what he was waiting for, but eventually those silent resentments built up and Nigel exploded in a totally uncharacteristic way. He stormed around, threw things, called a rental company and was loading a truck all in the same day. It was extremely dramatic. And when he was gone he was totally gone.

The kids were obviously completely broken up about the breakup and it made perfect sense that at their age and the way they would be able to understand things–it would almost inevitably lead to them blaming their mother, which in turn meant them choosing to live with their father. In another city.

So there he is. Away from someone that up until a short time ago he loved. She was also his main support even though he’d barely noticed that part. Not that she had noticed that he was doing likewise for her either. Now it’s two years later, the kids have mostly forgiven their mom and they’re better for it. And he’s realized he had been somewhat inattentive to his wife prior to her affair which ended anyway. Now she’s single and he’s still alone too–too scared to get hurt like that again. And he’s still trying to find a way to forgive her so he can do what he calls moving on. That’s how he described it to the ancient Chinese guy who taught his Tai Chi class.

777 Relax and Succeed - Forgiveness is not something we do for other people“I am sorry. I do not understand.” The accent was Chinese but this guy went to a British-style English upper class school in Hong Kong. The serenity about him was undeniable. “What do you mean by overcoming? And moving on?”

“You know, that moment where how you feel about something–about someone–changes…? Then you can forgive the person because you see what happened differently so you can move on.”

The Tai Chi teacher seemed confused and it was obvious. “I see.”

“I just have to wait until I can see this–thing–in this certain way and then I can get back to living my life.”

The old man laughed. “1980. John Lennon. Double Fantasy. Beautiful Boy. The song is four minutes twelve seconds. ‘Life is just what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

777 Relax and Succeed - Too many people go through life“That’s my problem, I can’t make any plans until I put this behind me.”

“Then you have plans to put that behind you, and until you succeed at your plan you refuse to move forward.”

“Not refuse. Can’t.”

“Mr. Nigel. You are a very good student. You learn Tai Chi well but you are very mechanical. Your motions are individual. You must learn to flow.”

“I’m not sure I….” 

The old man just looked at him for a good long while. “I’ve have been alive a very long time Mr. Nigel. My own life does not include the moment you have told me about. And I know if I never needed such a moment, and most of the people I know never needed one, then neither do you.”

“But then what do I do?”

777 Relax and Succeed - We are not held back“If there is nothing left to do with your past then you are free to make a plan and begin taking the steps of your future.”

Nigel slumped. He felt weak. The old man put his hand on Nigel’s back. “But how do I get over what happened and feel better?”

“You leave it in the past. You don’t bring old opponents into today’s battles. You fill your mind with other things. I remember when I met you you told me about an old car you wanted to restore?”

“I haven’t felt good enough to do it.”

“You have not felt good because you’ve been thinking about the worst events of your life. May I suggest you may have been happier working on the car. Our life is our own responsibility Mr. Nigel. No one gives us a good life. We each must fight our own opponents and win our own battles. But between the battles is the time for living.”

777 Relax and Succeed - Life is too shortAnd Nigel got it. He really did. He’d misunderstood. He was waiting for a lightning bolt of insight. A stroke of wisdom that allowed him to understand. Understand what happened. But the stroke of insight wasn’t about the events from years ago. Of course that would always be what it was. The insight was that he misunderstood literally how to live. He was trying to figure out how to have it always be okay and instead he realized he was just supposed to respond wisely to it not being okay.

And from that day forward Nigel responded to feeling badly by doing more of the things he enjoyed. He was not only a lot happier, but it resulted in more women finding him attractive and him eventually finding a new partner that easily kept his mind off his problems–and on top of that, on weekends they got to drive around Nigel’s sunflower yellow 1948 Ford Coupe.

Now go build your life’s a hot rod. 😉

peace. s

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

Relationship Issues

Winner: 2015’s Blog of the Year #7

Are you a couple with issues? Not violence or psychological torture, just some serious issues. Do you see the same problems coming up over and over and over? Do you want them settled once and for all? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to want someone to understand and appreciate your view of something and then respond to it does it? So what do you do?

752 Relax and Succeed - To find signs we are lovedI actually have super-good news for you. As I’ve been able to demonstrate with lots of other couples, this problem can in fact disappear in no time flat. But they can also reappear just as quickly and easily. The fortunate part is–that’s all up to you.

Think of your consciousness as a jar of water. When it’s clear you can see in every direction clearly. But every single jar on this Earth has a bit of sediment at the bottom left over from its creation–from its childhood. These are things that interfere with the clear functioning of our consciousness.

The inevitable occurrence of challenging circumstances will jostle our little jar and cause some of that busy thinking to float up into our consciousness. But we must remain calm and understand it belongs there as an aspect of the jar and it will naturally settle again if left alone.

If we battle against these reactions, if we want and desire and otherwise agitate our consciousness in an attempt to shake it out of us, we only serve to further decrease our clarity and further block our view of the outside world. At the same time, to the outside world we only look darker, more chaotic and less inviting.

752 Relax and Succeed - PatienceA relationship is two jars sitting touching each other. When things are good and calm it’s easy for each jar to capture the light travelling through the other jar. This is the light of the very universe itself and we see it filtered through a person we love clearly. Our vision of that light is at the heart of our feelings of love.

If we develop an egocentric personal sense of events around us then we begin to think that our partner’s sediment is our sediment. We then begin to shake ourselves in order to shake them in the vain hope that this new-to-us sediment will go away. We start to think the agitated sediment shouldn’t be there, rather than the truth; which is that we must accept that it is there and understand our role in agitating it into something we now have to deal with, just as our partner must contend with the messy details of our childhood.

In relationships the sediment gets called a problem. And rather than accepting what is, we all want to fix the problem. But there is no fix for the sediment there is only acceptance. Because every time you try and make it go away you’ll only serve to agitate it further. It’s like trying to pat down water waves to make them go away. It just makes them worse.

752 Relax and Succeed - Spending today complianingThe best example I know of this is when a couple argues over something that happened the previous day. Okay, so it’s already happened. You can’t go back in time and unmake it happen. But people will often wake up the next morning, see the sediment from the previous day lying there inert, and instead of leaving it alone they’ll shake the other jar, activate the sediment and then blame the partner! There is nothing to fix. Nothing to sort out. Nothing to be understood. It’s crazy. It would have just laid and done zero damage if the person wouldn’t have shaken it.

There are no actual problems in relationships. There are only current agitations of thought created by the desire to live within a different reality. But until that thought-based cloudy thinking settles, our own light and the light of our partner will be obscured. The more we shake it to be different the darker everything will get.

Accept that your partner has sediments just like you do, and accept that those get agitated occasionally by life. That’s not something being wrong, that’s being alive. You don’t fix that. You calmly know that by doing nothing things will naturally settle and that the light you see in your partner will always return. Because after all, that light isn’t actually them. When it’s unconditional love what you’re seeing is the undisturbed light that’s at the heart of the very universe itself.

Have a wonderful day.

peace. s

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

Other Perspectives #77

741 OP Relax and Succeed - The best gift a manRomance can get confusing and before you come to an understanding of how things work a lot of wisdom can seem like paradox. So I didn’t X this quote out because I only do that with the ones I feel are strongly misleading. This one’s more subtle. Yes, I’ll note that we shouldn’t be surprised if things go poorly when we demonstrate our love in a way that our partner has trouble absorbing, but that doesn’t actually conflict with this statement. Stealing from The Five Love Languages, if your partner likes Quality Time but you keep presenting them with either Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service or Touch then the struggles you’ll have will make a kind of sense. But if you’ll notice, if both people are spiritually and psychologically healthy then this quote does actually include all five languages. The Gift is the presence itself. And while it may not initially be perceived as a gift, it would be over time. After that it clearly lists the Time which is used for Attention which is just another word for Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service or even Touch. And if you ask most women why they left their marriages it wasn’t because of some big emotional reason like cheating—it’s usually just a slow, simple lack of attention. Men get so busy managing life and work that they sometimes forget that their partner needs more attention than they do. If you don’t think to give your spouse regular compliments then you’re not really noticing your spouse, because if they were good enough to marry then they’re certainly worthy of regular recognition.

peace. s

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The Foundation

We realize it when we’re older: when we’re young we’re more interested in what someone has or does than in what they are. We want our partners to be attractive and sexy and successful and smart. That really seems like a great list. Later, after a lot of hard-fought experience we want someone kind. Someone who will be gentle with us when we’re struggling. Someone who will genuinely see our problems as theirs just as much as they also want to share our successes.738 Relax and Succeed - I am practicing being kind

That’s the value of dating and breaking up. It feels like we’re failing. Like maybe we’re lost or unworthy or we’ve chosen some other narrative to explain our repeated periods of being single. The longer it goes the harsher we get with ourselves because we presume that something’s going wrong, when people older than us can easily see we’re just living life.

Yes there are childhood sweethearts that fall in love and stay married. But there will be challenges in that marriage just like any other. But the far more popular route is to date five to ten people before finding someone that you feel really comfortable with. As long as you’re okay with the waiting it works out fine. Each relationship brings us something and it costs something. We’re just looking for the good fit between comfort and price. It’s more like trying on clothes. And sometimes you have to put a few things on before you really know how to respect the differences.

We all think our cultures haven’t brainwashed us. We always think that’s the other guy. But it’s us. We want beauty and youth and sexiness and wealth. Of course those are things we can see but you don’t really experience anyone’s beauty as anything more than a visual experience. But things like kindness and compassion and patience are experiences you feel. As you age you care less about how things look and more about how they feel, and that’s largely because we come to realize that even the relationships that looked good from the outside were actually experiencing serious challenges on the inside.

738 Relax and Succeed - Kindness is not an actThese challenges can come as big events. It’s very hard for couples to survive the death of a child. Financial trials and infidelity can test people’s idea of for better or for worse. But the challenges can also come like a death of a thousand cuts. Like when someone just feels disregarded or dismissed or taken for granted. The opposite of love isn’t hate it’s indifference. And couples can start to think resentful thoughts that lead to them to be indifferent to their partner’s suffering and that is a death knell for a relationship. When connection and compassion are gone everything changes.

Maybe you’re always messy and your partner has learned to live that way out of love for you. Maybe you’re always late and your partner has learned to live that way out of love for you. Maybe you’ve got a shorter temper and get off the plan for the kids more often but your partner has learned to live with it out of love for you. Maybe you’re very rigid and your partner must make significant concessions to simply be with you. Maybe you regularly lose your temper or pout or cause some other price to be paid.

738 Relax and Succeed - GratefulBottom line, none of us are perfect. So if we want to know how our partner loves us we should simply look to our own weaknesses. Because our partners will most certainly have had to accommodate for them. And as we mature we realize that is the sign we are loved. We become grateful because we realize that while we were busy trying to get other people to be other ways, some of the ways we were being were not very reasonable. And then we begin to take stock of the more invisible contributions of our partner.

If you share living space with another human being then you have a large impact on their life and they have one on yours. Rather than telling them how they could make yours better, it might be an idea to actually get a clear understanding of how much they give to you already. Because no matter who you are, I guarantee you’re getting a lot more than you’re taking into account.

peace. s

Scott’s Favourite Blogs of 2014 #2

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Relationships are always a popular topic. Divorce is common but not always the route to happiness people presume. And before any life-changing decisions are made, this blog suggests getting the clearest possible view of the people and circumstances involved. With that, often a choice or decision may become self-evident through simple quiet-minded impartial observation.

CLICK BELOW TO READ:

Winner: Scott’s Favourite
Blogs of 2014 #2

peace. s

Scott’s Favourite Questions of 2014 #1

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Ending a long term relationship can seem very compelling but we must also weight the invisible additions those relationships make to our lives. If we’ve been with someone for a long time then we’ll naturally have begun to take aspects of them for granted. And yet sometimes things can be genuinely unhealthy. My favourite question of the year came from a couple who wondered how to find the line is between break-up bad and stay-together good.

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Winner: Scott’s Favourite
Questions of 2014 #1

peace. s

Modern Relationships

Without meaning to people quite deliberately—albeit slowly—chip away at, scar and eventually undermine their relationships to the point that without intervention they will eventually topple.

602 Relax and Succeed - Always be a little kinderDespite our for better or for worse statements during our wedding services, most of us quietly and subtly shifted our sense of things to the point where 90% of our exchanges are requests for things and only 10% are offers of assistance. Of course, during the dating phase it was almost exactly the opposite—which is why it went so well. At that stage you’re upset when people do things for you because you can’t do things for them fast enough. And then you do what an unconscious mind does—you start to take things you see regularly for granted. As though they will always happen when that is simply not true.

And so a tired husband comes home to a tired wife because of a tired job and a tired two year old and everyone wants. Because we used to live in tribes and we went slower, and we were more connected and a part of each others lives and that helped way more than technology ever could. We not only had help, we also get a sense of value and connection. But now advertisers want us to be iNdividuals, so we cove ourselves off in individual boxes called houses and instead of connecting with people that can help us, instead we connect with celebrities at a distance through, at best Twitter, and at worst just by watching some reality show. People aren’t failing when couples fight like. Life’s strenuous today. We’ve quite literally built an inhumane society.

Far from serving people, most of our inhumanity is designed to support our institutions (governments, bureaucracies, companies etc.), our beliefs (the economy, money, time), and our status (homes, clothing, cars). A huge percentage of Earthlings are essentially slaves to their employers (hard-working people will worry when they’re five minutes late to their job), and they’ll buy cars they can’t afford and clothes that aren’t comfortable to wear all because of what they believe those things will cause other people to think. Wow. When we’re dressing for other people—when we’re buying shoes to impress others—we’re full-on living an ego-based life. We’ll literally suffer to be liked. Ouch.

602 Relax and Succeed - Be an encouragerSo everyone’s racing on this crazy sideways roundabout treadmill and people they don’t even have time to find a way off. And the centrifugal force of its spinning nature creates impacts between people that aren’t really between the people, they’re generated by the tiredness and stresses created by the trajectories generated by the spinning. In the middle of it is some couple with a screaming two year old and there’s no getting around the fact that that is just really really hard; that we’re at a time in history when our culture and society have made that much harder than it needs to be. Because every parent knows that someone else being there means that—even if it’s just for a few minutes—they can get little things done that make a huge difference. It’s why Japan’s government invests in those group play centers in their neighbourhoods, or why Indian or Chinese families often have several generations in one house. It makes people closer and it makes everyone’s life better when we all share the load.

A marriage can die a death of a thousand small cuts. Don’t start to develop resentments. Don’t come home assuming your partner has extra energy with which to help you past your challenges. You’re better to assume they could benefit from your help because for everyone that’s basically always true. And if you both think that way you’ll be in a giving mood more often. And two people in a state of giving and appreciation have way more fun and use way less energy than two people taking and wanting.

Save your marriage with a thousand tiny strokes. Little moments of physicality, putting your phone down when you talk to them, caring about what they care about, and helping.

Use your marriage to give yourself a great life. It happens when two people enact simple acts of kindness and then repeat that over decades. It really works.

peace. s