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

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.

Influencing Children

Yesterday I covered the culture of fear that has been created by politics and the news media and how that affects parenting and the brain development of children. Today we’ll talk about how social media and advertising combine to create an entirely new set of forces that are 608 Relax and Succeed - You decide who you areshaping your children’s minds in ways that have never been seen before. Some of it is exciting and awesome. Some of it is troubling and dangerous.

Again, it’s important to remember how different the world is than just a short time ago. A surfable smartphone didn’t exist until 1996 but due to capability and production limits they weren’t really in our consciousness until about 2001. Facebook was created in 2004, and Twitter in 2006 (even Google was just getting started in 1998), so at the time of this writing none of the people who’ve grown up with these influences are even adults yet so researchers can’t study the effects.

I heard a stat the other day that either this year or last year, 90% of the photos taken in history had been taken that year. That is a huge indicator of how incredibly important cameras have become. I have maybe 50 photos in total of me from a baby to age 25. Some friends whose parents were more technically motivated used cameras more often and they would have more, but it was expensive processing pictures back then very few people went crazy. But the fact that 90% of photos were taken last year shows how insanely different the numbers are today. A child will have more photos taken of them in a month than they would have had in a lifetime. And so that lens—that eye—becomes one of the eyes they understand they should pay attention to.

How this plays out is that if you’re talking to someone and you hold your camera up to take a photo, they’re quite likely to mug for you, or give you their best angle. So just the very appearance of a camera changes the social setting and people interrupt their human conversation for a machine-based ego-focused interaction. We all see this with text messages 608 Relax and Succeed - The most precious giftwhen we’re having lunch with a friend as well. It’s now common for people to not look at or pay attention to their tablemates for large percentages of their time at the table.

What this does is get the kids who are watching believing that phones are more important than people because that is exactly the behaviour everyone is actually modelling. So what I’m seeing now is kids who will choose to look at a camera lens or cell phone screen instead of looking at the people they’re with. So rather than learning how to socialize and read facial and body language cues, instead they learn how to look down and spend time in a place that exists only in their imagination—a place called cyberspace.

It’s very important for parents to remember that we all live where our consciousness is. So if you’re sitting on a beautiful beach alone thinking about how 10 years ago you were on this beach with a love you have since lost—despite all of the pleasures available on the beach today, the person will be sad because in their consciousness they are reliving 5 years ago and comparing it to today.

608 Relax and Succeed - We are living in a worldThe same is true for kids except they travel less in time and more in space. I walked to school with all of my neighbourhood friends. Kids today primarily get driven or take the bus so they can have friends that live two buses away. So they might be physically at home because their parents never let them go anywhere without some detailed plan, but in reality they’re meeting their friends in cyberspace. The important part about that is that if your kid can always meet their friends in cyberspace then, in a way, it’s like their friends are present for every single thing that happens in your house. Technology has changed society much more than people currently recognize.

Privacy for all intents and purposes no longer exists. By 16 every kid knows your email can be hacked, friends can choose to share photos they were never supposed to share, there’s revenge porn sites and robots are crawling through everything you write and post in an attempt to understand you well enough to help advertisers sell to you when you’re most vulnerable. There’s even video and audio systems that detect crying so that they can respond. Do we really want robots responding to crying?

I’m hardly anti-technology. I was the first person I knew with a digital watch, the first with a programmable calculator and both a video recorder and a video camera. I was the second person I knew to get a computer and I started a large BBS system before the internet even existed. So I’m pro-technology in many ways. But with all things we must weigh the advantages against the costs. And the costs of social media are almost as high as the costs of advertising.

608 Relax and Succeed - If you find yourself constantly tryingSo where politics and the news media lead new citizens to be unnecessarily afraid, advertising leads them to be insecure. Secure people don’t need a product to fix their insecurity. So when I was young everyone thought teeth should be teeth-coloured and so no one would have put harmful chemicals in our mouths to whiten them. But today kids will feel stressed if their teeth aren’t unnaturally white. Go backwards and my mother never knew mouthwash until she was older. And her mother never even knew tooth-brushing or that breath should smell “fresh” until she was ten years old because advertising had not created that insecurity yet. The entire tooth-brushing fresh breath movement emerged out of advertisers testing the idea of whether or not a fear could be created and leveraged into a product. Obviously it worked and now every kid has a huge list of things to feel insecure about.

Advertisers need you to think the jeans you bought last year aren’t good enough for this year. Same with your hair style and your shoes and your purse and your car. There is always a new way to be acceptable or impressive to others. There’s always something new to buy. But do you see what this is telling the brain? The brain is being told that the person is not okay being who they are they must be someone else in order to be accepted, which in other terms means that the love they receive is conditional. It is based on their alignment with what advertisers have deemed acceptable rather than being loved just for who you are right from birth. The idea that you have to add to or change yourself before you are worthy is as unfortunate as it is dangerous.

608 Relax and Succeed - If a mother values herselfYou don’t need different jeans or a different hair colour. You don’t need different music or to like different movies. You just need to love yourself. Because you’re parenting when you’re living. Just like those kids watch smart phone screens because you do, they also worry about their hair and weight because you do. So if you really want to parent in an amazing way that will strengthen and support your kids to be all they can be, then stop worrying about the bad things that might happen or the judgments they might face, and instead focus on realizing the natural greatness that lives within yourself, because that will teach your children to look for that strength and capability within themselves. And that’s all they need to do. Because it’s always there waiting.

Your kids live in a sea of other people telling them who they should be. Be the one person who stands out for not telling them who it would be good or positive or healthy to become, and instead just ask them who they would most like to become and then help them do that. Because if Michelangelo’s father had had his way his son would have been a bricklayer and we wouldn’t have the incredible Statue of David. So don’t get in the way of your kid’s David. Don’t help frighten them into being small and worried. The world is too awesome for that and it will only be made more awesome by the contributions of you and your children.

Thank you.

peace. s

Other Perspectives #43

546 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - That moment when you are having

Okay, just so we’re clear: that’s every moment, right? Every moment of your life your body is doing what you’re telling it to do. So if you’re thinking really sad thoughts, then the chemistry for those thoughts moves through your bloodstream and affects cells all over your body. Your shoulders sag, the muscles in your face droop or frown. Likewise when you feel great. You’ll smile and your eyes will be open wider, you’ll breathe deeper. You’re physical self is just a manifestation of your thoughts in the present moment. So you will absolutely make the face that goes with whatever thought you’re having. And if you think, “No! Don’t show them that you feel whatever you’re feeling,” then your face looks like you’re hiding something. I know when you’re the one doing it that you assume you got away with it because no one called you on it. But just because they didn’t say anything doesn’t mean they didn’t think it. But you wouldn’t have noticed their brief look of recognition because you would be too busy trying to mask your own natural chemistry. You will always express your thoughts with your being. Don’t focus on controlling your face. Focus on quieting your thinking. Trade output for input. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

peace. s

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Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offence to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

The Friday Dose #22

407 Relax and Succeed - When someone is impatient

This week’s Friday Dose is a wildly mixed bag. We’ll start with this National Geographic study on what intermarriage will do to the human face over the next 35 years. I love this because racism disappears when you can’t look at someone and then jam them into a definition you already have. We’ll all be better off when everyone’s beige:

What the Human Face will look like in 2050

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I’ve travelled a lot and every time I return to North America I note how much it whines. How it is easily one of the richest places in the world and yet it seems like the richer we are, the weaker we get. We don’t need much to upset us. The rest of the world lives with much less and they are subsequently better at gratitude. Here’s an indication of how different things are depending on where you are:

16 Children’s Bedrooms from Around the World

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And we’ll close with a video from the show Q, on CBC One, where Chilly Gonzales (the musical genius) does a cool little piano lesson before playing his new song, Tarantula. If you want to jump right to the song you can head straight to about the 2:30 mark, but the little lesson’s pretty cool:

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Here’s to a wonderful weekend for you and all those you love.

peace. s

The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Save these for when you’re feeling low and you want to change your perspective. They’ll help Enjoy. And please let me know if you bump into any broken links. Thanks!

Your Secret Communication

Winner: 2013’s Blog of the Year #8

When I’m watching auditions and screen tests for a project I’m casting I’ll always watch the actor when their role isn’t talking because that’s when you can see if they’re truly in character. A bad actor will tend to either just play the emotions, or they’ll create a collection of affectations that they imagine is interesting and in alignment with the character. The really good actors don’t have a line between the character and themselves. They are Being the other person by thinking their thoughts. But how do I know which is which?

44 Relax and Succeed - If you have good thoughts they will shineWhat you perceive as “your body” is actually a cooperation of individual cells working together to make you operational. Your brain does the processing, but your whole body is smart. And your body talks via chemistry. So when you think a frightened thought, your hypothalamus will stop pumping out the chemical for your previous experience, and it will shift to pumping out the chemicals for fear—chemicals like adrenaline.

Your body will react instantly to this chemical signal. Each cell has essentially been given its orders relative to the group. Muscles in the legs will tense in preparation to fight or run, your heart rate will increase to oxygenate those muscles, and… the muscles in the face will adjust by opening your eyes wider to allow your dilated pupils to see everything going on. The chemicals will flare your nostrils to allow more air to get into your lungs so your heart can get it to those muscles. And the result of all of that is what we call “a frightened look.”

So back to the actors; when the bad actor isn’t talking, he looks like he’s waiting to say his next line because that’s what his thoughts are doing. The good actor looks like he’s listening to the other actor as though he’s never heard the words before.

All of this means that when you believe you’re hiding how you feel, that’s because when you talk to someone you say to yourself, “yes, just smile and nod. That’s right, let this bitch think you really care one second about what she’s saying,” and you can almost genuinely smile. But when the person leaves, you’ll feel safe and you’ll go back to your internal narrative. And you’ve forgotten people can still see your face. And because you’re inside those thoughts at that time—you are being them, rather than observing them—you don’t notice that you’re communicating a lot to the people around you. It’s why deaf people generally spot liars much faster and more easily than people who can hear.

I used to walk my little Bichon Frise down Whyte Avenue and in the winter he would look particularly cute in the little boots that protect his feet from freezing. I would see punks or skinheads or hipsters, and when they first saw Mo their face would expose a dog-lover. They would explode into a smile—but then they would catch themselves. This is a street to be cool on. And I would watch them remember that, and that thought would shift their expression to 05 11 Mo dressed 2careless indifference. (I suspect it’s models and mannequins that suggest to young people that pouty dissatisfaction is equivalent to being sophisticated and discerning.) So on the street with the dog, that kid will have forgone his own natural interests in favour of looking cool to others. It’s like we’re all peacock’s and advertising has taught everyone that mating season is 24/7 for 365 days a year.

Your face is a real-time biography. Everyone knows much more about you than you realize because your face can’t keep the secrets if your brain thinks the thoughts. You can’t have one thought and another expression. That’s what an expression is; it’s the result of the chemistry from your thinking.

So if you really want to look beautiful, forget buying better foundation or eye-liner—try actually noticing what’s nice about the universe around you. Because that thought will immediately beam out of your face, and it’s the only look that everyone agrees is beautiful.

Now go be yourself. Go be beautiful.

Much love, s