Nurturing Empathy

1074-relax-and-succeed-nurture-more-kindnessI’ve been pleasantly surprised by the depth of your meditations. People aren’t letting themselves off easily. That’s excellent. Frankly, the more realistically you view yourself the better others will start to look. We all generally hold others to higher standards than we can maintain ourselves.

When you did the meditations last week you discovered that you had forgiven people, but that it was unlikely an official pronouncement with a definite end date. Instead it was a process where your developing understanding allowed you to slowly let a thought go as it made less and less sense. What happened is that your narrative about their transgression lost its momentum.

That momentum comes from your dedication to think it. When we say something means a lot to us, what we really mean is that it’s a thought we volunteer to think a lot. Sometimes those thoughts are worthwhile. They can be part of grieving or recovery. But far too often they are someone just spinning on negativity that has no purpose in their life.

1074-relax-and-succeed-we-are-oneFortunately, it is difficult to maintain a narrative that makes no sense to you. Once understanding has increased, connection is increased. With the two people being able to see each other within each other, the differences become less important and the similarities become comforting. This is literally what the world needs more of.

How this works in practice is that, as other people talk to you they add their perspectives to yours. You expand, capable of seeing more and farther. In doing so, more people can be included in that family of people you’re prepared to care about. Those additions to your perspective come in two ways; you meditating your way into a discovery or someone delivering you an observation.

You’re in control of your own thinking so you can do the meditating on your own, but how can you help the discovery process? You can’t do that to yourself; that would be meditating toward an internal insight. You can only assist in the discovery process of someone else. To that end, today you will become more aware of a healthy person’s role in life.

1074-relax-and-succeed-darkness-cannot-drive-out-darknessSick and unhealthy people think about themselves a lot. Healthy, balanced people think of themselves very little, although their generosity is a version of them being selfish about giving. They know it feels good to invest more in others than yourself, and so they selfishly do so.

Today you’re looking to avoid creating your own ego-self by pointing your consciousness out, rather than in. Rather than load your attention up with self-reflective egotistical thoughts about you, instead you want to focus outward, on the experiences of others. Watch people’s faces as they listen to others talk. See their emotional reactions as their personal experience. Note how it might differ from yours. Watch for your opportunities.

Today’s meditation is simple: Watch the outside world for an opportunity to provide context. In short, you want to find at least one opportunity today to expand the awareness of someone else. Keep in mind, this cannot be done correctively as that assumes they already have the knowledge and aren’t using it. You have to invite them to include the knowledge by making it harmless.

1074-relax-and-succeed-teach-peaceYou cannot ask someone to assume the identity of jerk. You cannot defy their current beliefs. Your only job is to expand the context from which they might choose to view an event. That’s it. Just plant a seed. Just find a way to present that idea in supportive way. If you succeed at this, before you know it the other person can integrate the added information into their understanding, thereby making it theirs and boom; we have empathy.

Get out of your own head. Today, get at least one compassionate connecting idea into the head of at least one other person and do it without sounding preachy, instructive or superior. Just wonder out loud and leave the rest to the inherent goodness of their spirit. Do that and you’ll have done more for yourself than you ever could have imagined. Enjoy your 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.

Extending Kindness to Ourselves

We’re still in March Kindness Month so we want to stay on theme, but it’s Monday, so I have an easy one to start your week. Today you’re going to be kind to yourself in a Maslow kind of way. Food and shelter. Going forward you’re going to make two tiny changes for yourself.

886 Relax and Succeed - Create healthy habitsFirst, become more aware of your body. In previous posts I’ve talked about how only one in ten cells in “your body” are actually you; how most of “your bodyweight” is just the organisms that live in and on us and keep us alive. See yourself as their host and realize that when they are doing well, so are you.

Imagine your mouth as an entry port into your space station. You don’t let just anyone or anything in. You want to make sure that every arrival is about nurturing your society, not destroying it. You will get occasional attacks by viral or bacterial forces, but you have an army of white blood cells you’ll begin recruiting the moment you sense an attack underway.

Let’s make sure your troops and citizens are well-fed. Take the day and be hyper-aware of what goes into your mouth. Food and drinks. Find one that you consume fairly regularly that you know you would benefit from changing.

886 Relax and Succeed - Don't call it a dreamThere’s a tiny portion of your community up near your taste buds that likes to run things because it’s near the gate, but your Consciousness is Captain, so the orders come from you as long as you’re awake and in the Captain’s seat. So get your awareness on duty and find that one muffin or soft drink or chocolate bar or whatever, that you can switch for something else.

A doughnut for an apple. A sugary drink for a water. Candy in the drawer replaced by nuts and berries. Your morning cereal shifts from sugary to fibery. Rather than sparking yourself with coffee, try some natural sugars in some orange slices. Switch one common side dish for a healthier side dish. Stop buying one unhealthy food and replace it with one healthy one.

Now it’s important that when you do this you keep in your awareness why: because you will feel good and that’s what you really want. You don’t want someone to date, or to lose weight, or to live somewhere else, you want to feel good for most of your life. Well you don’t do it by changing things outside of you, you do it by changing the inside of you.

886 Relax and Succeed - Your life doesn't get better by chanceWe also want to change what you load into your consciousness, so also look at where you live and how it impacts your senses. Remove one unhealthy reminder or thing and replace it with only one other–better–thing. So you’ve always had a broken coaster on your office chair. Fix it. Or you have a picture up of an ex and you replace it with one of a new friend. Get nicer sheets. Finally put a brighter bulb in that lamp you read by. Tidy up that crazy drawer.

Do these things and always remember to be grateful each time you encounter them. These are literally steps in your expansion as a being. Every time you eat that banana instead of a chocolate bar, congratulate yourself. Every time you wake up from a good sleep on your new pillow, be grateful that you made the switch. Live your healthy pro-your choices.

Associate your choices and your actions as being the things that define the quality of your life. Increase your awareness of that relationship and you will find yourself progressively feeling more in control. Be kind to you: one food, one thing. By the end of the day, write your switches down on a note and leave it somewhere so you’re reminded to maintain it. March. It’s half over. It’s not too much to ask. Trust me, you’re worth it. Be kind to you today. One food, one thing. Go.

peas. 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.

Feeling Like a Fool

You can’t lose. You really can’t. Because you either get the thing you want or you get something that makes you bigger. That’s how your world works. It’s one or the other. So you can have a great time hanging out with your beloved cousin, or you could have that same cousin suffer an injury and nearly die—or maybe they do die. So in one scenario you gain because you enjoy yourself, and in the other scenario you learn what it feels like to lose someone close to you. And so later when you’re around people who are going through a loss similar to that, you’ll be more empathetic and you’ll often know what to do or say just through your experience. The cracks are where the light gets in, so to speak. When everyone else is crippled by their lack of experience you know what to do.

653 Relax and Succeed - An adventure is only an inconvenienceLikewise, if you fail a test you also become more resilient. Maybe you’re more familiar with the pressures surrounding the test, or maybe you’re becoming more resilient to outside judgment. Everyone’s lives are littered with failed tests and no one more-so than the sort of person who wants to achieve a lot. Want to be an astronaut? Then fail a lot. Because you have to be good at a lot of things to be an astronaut and to be good at a lot of things you have to have failed at them first. When my brother was a salesman and he knew that one in ten people was a real buyer, he knew that a non-buyer was someone who had kindly checked off one of his nine empty boxes and he would be grateful for them because he understood they were just as necessary as the one who actually bought. And so my brother always met his next sales prospect with a great attitude and that gave him a much better chance at increasing his odds from one in ten to two in ten and that one small difference made him rich.

Maybe you’re in an exciting, whirlwind romance where you feel like you’re floating twenty feet off the ground. Or maybe you’re bawling your eyes out for the fifth night in a row because you got dumped. Either way you win by enjoying the romance and the back rubs and the cuddles and the cares, or maybe the very absence of those things has raised your awareness of the value of those things and so you are now more likely to place greater value on your future partners. Or maybe you’ll be better at choosing a partner next time. But 653 Relax and Succeed - Pain means you're growinghowever it happens, the loss of a relationship results in a gain in awareness about something useful, usually involving how you could have been a better partner. This is why they say the second spouse gets what the first one paid for. Again, you win no matter what.

In each and every case there will be some form of good fortune for us in every experience. The only question is, do we strictly look at everything for what we expected or do we look at life to see what we’ve actually received? Because in many cases we will get lessons that we did not even know we would need some day and yet in many cases those lessons will prove to be more valuable than the original benefit we sought by undertaking the activity. Certainly all of us know the wonderful level of comfort that gets created by someone who has been where we are and who is comfortable being there with us. That empathetic connection alone is worth a lot.

As the Buddhist’s say, there are no one-sided coins. You either get the benefit you were expecting or a benefit you weren’t expecting, but either way you win so never get too down on life. If it looks like you’re losing just wait a while. Your vision will clear and soon you will happily be on your way as you once again notice the incredible good fortune that every single life enjoys.

Every day is a gift. Treat today like that’s what it is and it’ll treat you pretty well right back. Have a great one!

peace.