The Universal Playground

1029-relax-and-succeed-life-isnt-as-seriousYou feel like you’re in some hostile place where you have to constantly prove yourself while simultaneously battling a never-ending series of problems but; what if you were looking at it from the wrong angle? A cube can look like a two-dimensional square from six different perspectives and yet that doesn’t make it a square to some perspectives but it will absolutely and honestly be a square to those six perspectives. Other views have other views.

What dimensionalises things is when you flip the universe from a place hostile, (where you’re not good enough to overcome all of your problems), to a generous place (where you start off belonging and the universe is keen to cooperate with your creativity). But if your perspective is that you can’t be happy until you’re in Los Angeles, or until you’re with that certain person, or until you own this or that; then the world will always feel wanting.

1029-relax-and-succeed-no-im-not-being-immatureThink of the angle of a pinball machine as your nature. Without anything in your way, you’ll just naturally head that direction until you die and you’ll be quite graceful about it. But life includes all of those things you can hit along the way. Bang, smack, poke, there’s bells, chimes and sirens and the sudden, unexpected direction changes has the whole mess going all over the place. It can feel like you just move from one impact to another. But…

…but I never said you were the ball. If you related to all of those problems and impacts to yourself then you thought you were the ball but the ball is only your ego. You are the player. And the player has a perspective the ball does not. By having a higher perspective your soul realises that all of those impacts aren’t bad things. Those are actually where you’re gaining all of your points; your experience points.

The other thing you’d notice as the player and not the ball would be that the impacts are all to the ball and not the player. You’d also notice that some of the hardest impacts your ego felt weren’t from bumps of beneficial experience, but rather from your soul actively redirecting you, thereby preventing you from going down the hole. So your ego feels like it’s being battered and yet the player is doing all he can to keep you alive, and it’s all just a great big bunch of bouncing and noise until then.

1029-relax-and-succeed-the-most-dangerous-thingWhen you die the player simply runs out of balls and leaves the machine, so the ball will never get to see its own score so that’s not a reason to play. The player can see the score, but the wisest, happiest players are those that know that to play to win is to live and die as the ball. To be truly alive is to enjoy the playing of the game itself, and so they’ve learned to ignore any scores. If you’re a player you just move to the next game.

Too many people stare endlessly at the machine, fearful to release even the first ball, always imagining failure. But there is no losing in the game of life. The playing itself is the victory. Life is crazy. And it’s good. It’s always been able to be both. So just accept today’s craziness and play your game and I’ll watch for you out on the playing field of life.

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.

Anxiousness vs Authenticity

You feel uncertain and anxious but it’s not your fault. You are however the only one that can get you out of that trap, but to do that you don’t need to change yourself, you just have to recognise that the only reason you feel uncertain is because long before you, humans created language and we used words to assemble ideas of right and wrong (as opposed to what we personally preferred). For the first time there was a way for a human being to be unacceptable.

In school you were taught this correct thing and that correct thing and you got big red X’s for anything that wasn’t correct. The problem is, later in life it turns out those same educational experiences taught you to always look for answers outside of yourself. A line was drawn between you and your natural wisdom. You were inadvertently taught to seek external approval, meaning you literally, subconsciously learned not to trust yourself, like a mechanic trusting a computerised scanner over something obvious to their own eyes and ears.

So here’s your lifelong problem; you spend your whole life searching for the parts that will make up a healthy you when you were whole right right the start. Yes you might need to add to some knowledge to do some specific thing, but after that you have to trust yourself in life. It’s like that trust exercise where one person falls backward, counting on the person behind them to catch them? This is like that except you’re both people. You need to trust you. You just also have to remember that sometimes even the catching part of you also falls. It just goes like that sometimes. For everyone.

1027-relax-and-succeed-stop-trying-to-fit-inYour life isn’t over. It hasn’t even started. Understand that the world still has a lot of cool directions to go. That’s all highly acclaimed art and science are; it’s art that not only was fantastic from a craftsmanship perspective, it’s the stuff that is more like a philosophical treatise, like when Picasso created cubism. Most breakthrough science entails uncovering new knowledge that couldn’t possibly have been learned by looking at what already existed. We must have faith in the infinite nature of the universe. Trust me, if you had a better appreciation for how vast it is you’d feel more comfortable with the idea that it has enough space even for you to be a genius.

What’s you being your own genius look like? I dunno, maybe you’re a working mother who deeply would rather stay home and raise your kids like you were raised, but you and your husband need the money for the mortgage, plus if you’re not working then other women will think you’ve lost your mojo or something. But think about it: these are your kids and they’re only kids a short time. Better you shape a tree when it’s young. It’s not crazy to prioritise family over work, but how brave have you been about making something work?

Can your ego accept a smaller house and the lower payments that would allow you to be a stay-at-home mom? Could you trade the joy of what feels natural and the upsides to your kids for whatever thought-based reputation you have among your friends and co-workers? Is what anyone thinks of your decisions really important when those judgments only remain place in the conscious of often unimportant people for a short time?

You can afford to be braver. We all have plenty of headroom in that regard. But you can’t second-guess yourself using egocentric, word-based thought because if you’re scared you’ll always be able to rationalise your decision not to take action. You are not that voice. That voice is just something you do instead of taking action.

As I’ve written about before, there’s a guy whose ultra-religious family lead him to rebel by creating super creepy art featuring blood and skulls and snakes and things and he’s rich and lives in a castle and has superstar clients. What would you have done if that’s what you wanted to do? Surely you have an easier calling being a stay-at-home mom, or whatever your authentic choice yours is. Just don’t expect to live in a castle, because that’s not the point. The point is that he’s happy with his life and he does what moves him and somehow that either works out to be wonderful or it’s some kind of valuable lesson. Either way you win.

Stop worrying and create more original living in your life. You don’t have to read the right book or take the right class or meet the right person or get the right job; you just have to be yourself and your place in the world will be known. And then wherever you are you’ll always feel comfortable because you’ll always be comfortable with yourself.

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.

Pronoia

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year

1007-relax-and-succeed-pronoiaHere’s what I don’t get: why is there an it’s too good to be true, but not an, it’s too bad to be true? When the crime rate’s gone down steadily for over 3o years, when tons of people volunteered to go into helping professions, when such a tiny percentage of the population ever gets in trouble; why are we so quick to assume the worst? And yet look how the people in this video assume good things are automatically suspicious:

People want the world to be better and yet they’ll actively engage in this kind of paranoia. There is no reason you couldn’t look a stranger in the eye as you walked past them on a street because your odds of getting a scowl would be very low and your odds of a smile would be very good (almost 100% if you go first), and if you do miss that positive experience it’ll probably be because the other person is still looking down, assuming that you’ll be a bad experience.

There are marginal excuses for these unhealthy, disconnecting behaviours. If you’ve been traumatised then it can be possible to find yourself unrealistically but validly hyper-concerned, but for the average person that jaundiced view of humanity is completely unjustified. 98% of people we’ll meet in a day treat us nicely, and we ourselves spend time in that other 2% so we’d best not throw stones.

If you’re watching closely you see evidence of this goodness every day. Giving money to the homeless means someone is volunteering to be poorer with no gain to themselves except the good feelings that come from that sort of compassion. Friends write supportive messages, people make positive social media posts, within every bad news story there will be heroes. People are polite, they tell jokes, they go outside the bounds of their job to help you for no gain to themselves. It’s everywhere.

1007-relax-and-succeed-good-people-bring-out-the-goodPolice risk their lives to protect people. Firefighters run into burning buildings to save strangers. Doctors risk losing a patient to save them. People give blood. They run and walk and cycle countless miles for countless charities. They hold doors for you, they give you compliments, or maybe even just a smile. People are overwhelmingly good, even if they’re not always doing what you want them to.

How can you benefit by thinking the worst of others? You’re doing the thinking. That’s happening inside your head, and it’s your body that’s experiencing the negative reaction that comes from negative thinking. The person you’re thinking about probably doesn’t even care. They might be busy, happily smiling while you’re thinking your dark, suspicious thoughts.

May I suggest that your life would improve the moment you adopted a new paradigm? Pronoia is the opposite of paranoia. Rather than thinking that the world is conspiring against you, you think that it’s conspiring in your favour. Instead of mistrusting someone because you think they’re going to do something behind your back, trust them and stay open to the idea that they might reward you unexpectedly. Or you have some big project fall through, instead of feeling like a failure, you can instead happily assume it’s because you’ll need the time and resources for something even better!

1007-relax-and-succeed-you-must-not-lose-faithPeople who scowl a lot will tell you that pronoics are silly and unrealistic but those scowling people also live inside their beliefs–beliefs which suggest that optimistic, trusting, positive views are less likely than pessimistic, untrustworthy and negative ones. But they’re scowling; and for every one of them I could introduce you to some extremely successful person and they will talk about how they can’t believe how lucky they’ve been.

You can go through life watching for bad things and I assure you you will find them just as day turns to night. At the same time, if you go through life watching for good things then I assure you, you will not only see them during the daytime; they’ll glow like stars at night.

You’re a good person. The people walking toward you have every reason to assume that. And they’re just like you. So going forward let’s all try offering more help, accepting more help, and just in general let’s get off our phones and get back to each other. Because when it comes to improving society and connecting with people in the moment you’re in, there’s simply no app for that. So go practice some pronoia. And trust me, if you’re paying attention you’ll quickly notice that you are not alone.

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.

Relationship Rules

1001-relax-and-succeed-in-obedience-there-is-always-fearJealous people didn’t just randomly pick up jealousy as a habit–it got taught to them. In general they’ll have witnessed it or had some very bad experiences relating to the damage that can be caused by cheating. These are painful experiences and they are worthy of our respect, but respecting a jealous person’s experience isn’t the same as living inside of it. No one owns a relationship, we share them.

It doesn’t matter how many rings we exchange, how many contracts from the government we sign nor how many people were present in a pointy building when we made our promises, the fact remains that real relationships are always, 100% of the time, voluntary. You cannot police a relationship into being secure; that is the opposite of respecting the person’s ability to make their own choices. We can lock a person in a room and never let anyone else see them and we still can’t force them to love us if that’s not what we’ve been nurturing with our behaviour.

A person dealing with someone scarred by jealousy is like being a dog that’s been beaten by its owner. Without the trust the relationship quickly deteriorates as the dog’s anticipation of a positive experience is replaced by fears of a negative one. The owner’s rules for the dog can be entirely logical; they can be about safety and responsibility and good behaviour, but if the price for failing is a verbal or physical beating then the dog will cower and the relationship will begin to fail.

1001-relax-and-succeed-love-is-always-bestowedFailure isn’t imminent. Just as a dog can be beaten and left for dead, and as many rescue dogs have proven, consistent love, care and respect can return them to their naturally loving state, but if the behaviour of the owner is inconsistent between love and threat then the dog is still left uncertain, unsafe and disconnected. Even if the treatment is good 95% of the time, how’s the person or dog know when the other 5% is? They have to be on guard all the time. It’s exhausting. We can’t threaten anyone into good behaviour we can only encourage it with our own good behaviour.

Whether it’s done overtly or in a manipulative manner, the rules jealous partners try to exert are doomed to fail simply because they are imposed rather than chosen. We can’t make anyone feel anything they’re not prepared to feel, not with logic, not with begging and not with the force of threat. We can feel sympathy for the jealous person’s plight; we all have our crosses to bear, but our early life is only where we start. As mature people our job is to look honestly upon the world and ask ourselves which lessons we took from life that are fruitful and which are poisonous.

Jealous relationships always end, whether the person stays or goes. The only way to save them is to remove the jealousy, it cannot be managed with rules or promises or absolutes. We either show our respect for someone by trusting them or we show them disrespect by not trusting them. Obviously disrespect, however understandably motivated, is never going to generate increased love in a relationship. Instead it will strangle it.

1001-relax-and-succeed-however-the-tea-is-preparedIn this quote the Dalai Lama expresses that the rituals of religion are pointless without a foundation of compassion. Likewise, direct or implied rules in a relationship are effectively meaningless. What’s needed is compassion and connection. You can either be a person the dog is happy to see or someone they’re afraid to see and that won’t depend on words or promises, it’ll depend on behaviour.

I normally use the word “human” rather than “owner,” but I wanted to make a point. Rules are like a rope. They might keep the dog in the yard but that’s not the same as the dog wanting to be in the yard because it’s so great to be there. In one case if the dog gets loose it happily stays, in the other it just keeps running.

A relationship must be nurtured to stay alive. People just don’t fall in love and then love solves all their issues. Relationships aren’t cars that we fix when they’re broken, they’re things we cultivate and maintain. You can mistreat a car for years and then spend a lot of money and you can get it running like new, mistreat your dog and it might take a lifetime for them to trust anyone again.

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.

Turning Over

990-relax-and-succeed-being-on-a-spiritual-pathEveryone wants balance but to be perfectly in balance means that you’re also static. Life isn’t like that. Life moves. So rather than wanting balance we should seek balance. A student studying martial arts in a temple in Asia doesn’t stand on one foot and want balance, when the student loses balance it is immediately sought. Likewise, once the sensei sees that balance has been struck the student is intentionally pushed off balance and offered the chance to continue growth. The lesson is as much in the pushing as in the recovery.

In the example the student represents an individual consciousness and the teacher becomes the world. As you pass each grade you are given harder work. As you lift more weight you are given more weight to lift. As you get each promotion your responsibilities grow. When you’re single you learn to be together. When you’re a couple you learn to accommodate a family. When you’re older you learn to live with your partner in a house without kids. And of course eventually we must prepare to lose control of even our bodies and minds. This is how the sensi is like the world.

If we place this on a turning wheel it might be easier to grasp the notions of yin and yang. Rather than separate entities these are two parts of one entity, like the a wave has both a crest and trough but both things can only be experienced in unison. There is no border or line between yin and yang. This should be seen more like a pot of hot water mixed with a pot of cold water. Where they mix there is no line but they they are nevertheless two separate parts of one larger body (of water, in this case).

990-relax-and-succeed-good-judgment-comes-from-experienceNow let us turn our wheel into a clock. From 9:00 until noon is when you’re grasping a concept and then growing in your ability. Noon is when you crest in that ability and the wheel continues to move forward into your new future (a new relationship, job, financial situation, whatever), but now you’re unprepared and you can feel the wheel begin to sink. By 3:00 you’re now heading toward the ground fast, you’re upside down by 6:00 and it all just seems like it’s going to crush you.

Alas, at the base of our experience we render our old selves apart and we reconstitute our idea of our new self as stronger and more capable, and we begin a slow rise. We still feel upside down right up until 9:00 again, but at least things seem to be making more sense. But 9:00 we’re back on the rise and making use of all of the lessons we learned from 6:00 until 9:00, making those critically valuable times.

Of course your life is made of many wheels at once. Your relationship wheel, your work wheel, each friend has their own wheel, your health, your habits etc. etc. When we’d say our biorhythms are high we have many wheels rising. When we say we’re very down is when they all line up going the other direction. But most of our life is a mix, which is important, because it means there’s usually some area of life we can focus on where things are rising toward better feelings.

990-relax-and-succeed-when-there-is-great-doubtWhat people want is a wheel that’s had the 3:00 to 9:00 part removed, but that wheel wouldn’t turn very far. This is why acceptance is so important. We must come into life knowing that the teacher will push us off balance. Our job is not to stop the meddling teacher, our job is to recover balance. So there’s no life skill that saves you from trouble, but there is one that helps you rapidly recover your balance.

It is important to remember that you cannot even seek balance if you’re still complaining about it not being there. The complaint period is the descent from 3:00 to 6:00, but after 6:00 we’re accepting our situation or we’re acting to change it. That is the only way to move forward. Everything else is braking fear. It’s why so many people are stuck. They’re trying to avoid the bottom part of the circle of life, but without the bottom life cannot turn.

Look at each area of your life. Which wheels are rising and which are falling? Can you sense the resistance of your suffering? Can you feel where are you slowing yourself down by preventing your spin toward 6:00? Success is not avoiding 6:00, it’s to turn through it as smoothly and evenly as you would any other time. So it is to be in the flow, full of acceptance and moving forward.

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.

Model Parenting

981-relax-and-succeed-what-dads-seeA fearful parent isn’t parenting when they’re preventing danger, they’re parenting when they’re being afraid. An angry parent isn’t parenting when they’re disciplining, they’re parenting when they’re scaring people. And a sad parent isn’t parenting when they’re warning their child about all of the potential pitfalls in life, they’re parenting when they see themselves as weak and incapable. And the narcissists… well they aren’t parenting at all.

Of course each of the examples is in a small way a form of narcissism in that any of us in an egocentric state would be focusing on a personal wants rather than the needs of the child. The fearful parent wants a safer world, the angry one wants a more predictable world and the sad one wants a more loving world. An ego just talks to itself about how scary the world is, how dumb people are, or how much life sucks.

You can live or you can ruminate. Rumination is static life. Nothing’s actually happening, you’re just thinking about things and going through the motions of a very limited existence. That’s like being in the Matrix. It’s repetitive and uninspiring and unproductive. A life of action however is filled with inspiration, cooperation, creativity and productivity. You can’t want to give blood or want to get a new job or want to invent something–you have to actually turn that thought into an action and you will meet other like-minded souls.

981-relax-and-succeed-your-kids-dont-want-a-perfect-momParenting while ruminating is to be an absentee parent. You can sit with your kid and be on your phone or doing work or thinking about your own problems but then you’re not really with them at all and they feel it. I know countless kids who live in gorgeous showhomes and they ride around in the finest cars and yet their lives are hollow and cold. More than anything kids want genuine connection and our own wants can get in the way of that happening. It can’t be ego to ego, it has to soul to soul. It’s better for all involved.

Put the phone down, stop working, don’t have a time limit. Just be with them. Notice when you speak and when you don’t. Are you corrective? Warning? Upset? From what perspective do you parent? There’s no wrong perspectives as long as you manage yourself–and your kids will be very forgiving–but it’s up to you to model the self-control they’ll need when they’re older. If you just listen completely you’ll be surprised at how helpful you can be.

Your fears are yours. Have them. Feel them. But don’t transplant them into your children. In other words don’t limit them with your fears. Don’t let your anger make them afraid to express themselves or you’ll cripple every romantic relationship they have. And don’t drag them down to commiserate with you in your sadness. You’d both be better off going to a good comedy together. The bottom line is, kids should courageously find out who they are and not be frightened into being someone smaller.

981-relax-and-succeed-i-am-ready-to-accept-youWe’ve been raising kids for millions of years. Lately some are becoming remarkably capable while at the same time others are functioning as mere shadows of their true selves. Insecure and depressed kids aren’t lacking in potential at all, but many have been crushed by the hopes and fears of their parents. To the contrary, the capable kids weren’t parented into being amazing, they were amazing simply because they had the room to grow. Let your kids grow.

Life comes with some bumps and bruises to the body and the heart. Don’t let that stop you from living. Lead by example. A deep and meaningful life is waiting. Your children only need to see you pursuing your dreams for them to understand that they should chase theirs too.

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.

Spiritual Courage

976 Relax and Succeed - You must understand the whole of lifeYour ego is scared. It’s quite telling that I’ve never had a blog read less than yesterdays. It wasn’t disliked, it was barely even read. That’s not only statistically bizarre, it cuts to the point of the entire post: If you want to get healthy without having to make sacrifices of ego (not real sacrifices) then you’re reading the wrong blog. If you want someone to lie to you and tell you there’s an effortless, glorious way through this then you’ll have to read someone else, I’m here to actually help.

This blog’s like Krishnamurti: it tells the hard clear truths. They’re still beautiful truths once you see them from a different perspective, but if people want to grow without facing their own personal resistance then they’re really better hanging out with friends or going to a funny movie than they are to read a blog that will tell you that you can have it all. You realise the Dalai Lama lives in exile and he struggles with his temper, right?

Monks make sacrifices to grow, people get cancer and grow, people meditate long and hard and grow and some people are just so busy doing things that they never have time to ask themselves if things are good are bad, they always simply are and it turns out that’s pretty close to enlightenment. They certainly aren’t afraid of a blog that might tell them that they’re hiding from their responsibilities to themselves, to those around them and to their spirituality.

976 Relax and Succeed - This is my secretThere’s a saying about tribes that commonly states: if you want to know how to grow just look across the fire and find something you dislike about another person and then find the source of that dislike within yourself. Do the same with these blog posts. Why do you have that resistance? Why do those ideas upset you? What about your life is out of alignment with your spiritual self? Because the real you is huge and capable.

What do they do on guided LSD or Ecstasy treatments for trauma and depression? They make you walk toward your fears. Heard of ayahuasca? You puke, you get chased by jaguars and people are terrified–it’s stressful. But that’s your ego being stressed. Your spirit is always fine. These are events restricted to your personal consciousness. The whole point is to detach your identity from your experience so that you can simply have experiences without judging them. That is what acceptance is.

You can hide from all of this for decades. I known spiritual seekers who’ve been busy at this for 30 years and gotten nowhere because every time it gets hard they panic and pull out. In return they get to have bookcases filled with spiritual texts and yet they live tiny, frightened timid lives as though love can only look like birthday cake and not your Mom yelling at you not to cross the street when it’s dangerous.

976 Relax and Succeed - One is never afraidYou’ve heard it from many sources; you must kill your ego. To do that you must face it and dissolve it. You must disassemble its counter-arguments leaving yourself in internal silence. Without your ego’s arguments and excuses you would be free and those arguments and excuses are meaningless to anyone but another ego. It’s not me that’s being hard on you it’s you. And by turning away from a challenge rather than toward it you not only don’t grow, you shrink.

Timid people who are missing out on life are in far worse shape than someone crashing and burning by moving forward. Business-people who are looking for the perfect decision never make one. Successful people make them as best as they can and if they go wrong they take new action in that new moment to rectify that. Anything else is spiritual stagnation and, as you may have noticed, it’s painful.

I care about each and every one of you in a way that you cannot imagine from an ego’s perspective. It’s not me that’s beating you down by telling you the truth, that’s the feeling you’re getting from the resistance you’re creating inside. I talk to your spirit. It’s the one creating your ego like a shadow of itself. I just talk to it and you slowly remember who you really are and that healthy spirit grows and grows until there is no more room in your consciousness for an ego, you’re too busy being awake and alive.

976 Relax and Succeed - The ability to observe without evaluatingDon’t read quotes you like, focus on the ones you don’t like. Don’t shy away from the blogs–mine or anyone else’s–that make you angry. Anger is the reaction of ego. Anger is born of fear. I’m fine with you being afraid of the death of your ego because that makes sense. But you don’t get healthy by reorganising your existing ideas, you get healthy by challenging them and replacing them with something better.

Move toward your fears. There is nothing to be worried about. You are always safe. Every action you take takes places in the palm of the universe. You cannot fall. No matter which way you topple, the universe will catch you. So be brave. Be bold. Your life is on the other side of the doors you are afraid to open. And no matter what you find there, you will still be loved.

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.

Something’s Gotta Give

971 Relax and Succeed - c'mon inner peaceWe’ve seen it reflected in elections and unrest around the world. We can see it in the fact that the world never really has bounced back from the economic card game that collapsed in 2008. Once people had maxed out their credit trying to survive the world hit a limit. With no more money available and no ability to work harder or longer, even in the richest countries there are a lot of scared people and frightened individuals create an angry and defensive society.

Added to the financial stress is time stress. Everyone’s rushed. Everyone’s phone now gives work access to them 24 hours a day and work will use that time if it can get it. Work isn’t human. Work is a creation of mankind. It is an animal that perpetually wants to be fed more and more every month, every day, every year. No sales manager ever told his team to sell less next month. If someone’s over 40 that’s really starting to add up to no personal life.

In the days where your landline waited at home while people were at work, people used to answer their phone maybe once or twice a day for a personal phone call. No texts. No instant messages. No collection of 20 messages at 10 different social media sites. No classes, just maybe the odd kid taking piano or in judo. Rather than organised sports most kids played pick-up neighbourhood games. Just remove all of those responsibilities from your week. That is a huge percentage of your day. And how much of that would you care about on your deathbed? None. You’d care if your kid was there by your side, you wouldn’t care whether or not they could play the piano.

971 Relax and Succeed - Dream more complain lessSo what did people used to do with all of that time and peace of mind? They used to pursue hobbies or took courses to expand themselves not to make more money. They didn’t need that money because they didn’t have to buy a microwave VHS Walkman CD juicer iPod monitor DVD gym membership X-Box Blu-Ray smartphone Occulus or 70% of the restaurant food now sold. They used to spend way more time with friends and family. Most people didn’t hire anyone else to build decks or fix a toilet or do basic work on their car. If they didn’t know how to do something they found a friend or neighbour who did and you know what? They had the time to help and they did and it was often very enjoyable time.

The challenge with the technological world is that it has created the image that we’re all connected when we’ve never been further apart and it’s not just grey-haired people that can feel that. I’ve taught college kids who were stressed by 25 that they couldn’t keep up with technology. Most people have given up by 35 or they’re stressed. So what’s it all for if we just want to surrender it later?

The pain tells us that it’s information. It’s not life going badly, it’s information about how life is going. Pain is like a gauge in your car. The thermostat isn’t overheating, it’s telling you that the car is. Pain isn’t you failing, it’s the universe telling you that what you’re doing isn’t working. The problem today is that a lot of people can’t figure out how to get enough time to eat or sleep let alone find a way to find some other path that can work for their life, so the problem isn’t the humans it’s the machine.

The machine distracts us from being human. Rather than looking at a face and hearing a voice we contort our hands into machine-shapes and type a message on a keyboard that appears on a two-dimensional screen in symbols that strip out the valuable human information that would be transmitted by having in a person’s eyes right in front of you. It’s shallow when what we seek is depth.

It can seem strange then that I might suggest giving as a solution but I don’t think I mean it in the way you might imagine. I know a lot of people would be almost angered by the thought: how is giving everything not enough!? But I’m not suggesting adding more giving, I’m suggesting that you alter where your giving goes. Only by reintegrating ourselves back into our communities can our communities reintegrate back into us. We must know our neighbour before we can do them favours, and if enough of us do that then we’re not doing each other favours, we’re cooperating on a larger goal to create a safe and healthy society. That’s how drops become a drink.

971 Relax and Succeed - It's not about havingWe’ve spent too much time being sold the singular, cool, proud, branded, I gotta be me; loaded with achievements and never needing help. That is not how humanity got here and it won’t be how it goes anywhere. You’re not broken if you’re tired and worn out. We accidentally built an inhuman world and you’re hardly alone. Even the so-called winners are often alcoholics and drug addicts to cope.

Start cutting the selfish in favour of the selfishly selfless. Rich and poor alike, we don’t need another app or another website or another tool of efficiency. What we need is some restful time where we’re connected to others, but that will not happen until you stop and do a serious assessment to figure out how your time can be better invested in your future happiness.

Set aside some time right now to do that this weekend. Look at a normal week and be brutally honest about where the time goes, even if it is frivolous. And then ask yourself where it could go? And if you ask long enough… I guarantee you’ll find something that’ll feel enriching and rewarding–something you’ll get excited about. I do hope you give yourself that time.

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.

Big Decisions: The Sequel

922 Relax and Succeed - Life is only a reflectionApparently a lot of you are facing some big decisions and you want the weight of them gone. Enough people have called or written to challenge the ideas presented by Alan Watts in the video from last week’s Friday Dose that I’ll use this week’s Dose day to offer a response. This will attempt to clarify why our decisions about how we live life aren’t as important as the decisions we make about how to look at the choices we’ve made or are making.

Every example I was given presented a very high-stakes dramatic version of a choice that would seem to define something as definitely good or bad. The differences in their chosen narratives pointed to the central fears each person would have. These hinged on either an “unjust” death or the removal of someone from people’s lives, or someone “betraying” someone else’s love in a central relationship like those between siblings, spouses, lovers, best friends or parents and children.

Simply because it’s easier to write about, I’ll use an example of someone dying because of a drunk driver. As many people posited: surely we could say that the killer made a bad decision to drive.

922 Relax and Succeed - We thought it wasIndeed it will feel appropriate to go through Kubler-Ross’s five stages of death immediately thereafter. There’s nothing “wrong” with that; that is merely the experience of a life. Like a roller coaster, its highs depend on its lows until eventually things start to level more as our momentum runs out. So that pain is enlightened pain. That’s why it’s so profound. You’re being with it in that moment fully. Those experiences are always bigger.

So on the day of the accident or shortly thereafter, if you felt compelled to label the decision to drink and drive you would say it was a bad one. But that compulsion is not a necessity. You didn’t have to label it and push against it. You could also accept it and be at peace because you understand the Buddhist concept of causality.

Zillions of things had to conspire for that accident to happen, so to blame it on the recent ones is an incomplete look at reality. If the Dad never beat the kid he would never have started drinking and the accident wouldn’t have happened. Otherwise it’s like saying the last goal in a one goal game is the “winning goal.” You needed all of them.

922 Relax and Succeed - Rather than spend eonsOnce everyone is dead there will be no one to remember the accident or maintain the “wrongness” about it. Will it still be wrong? This is what they mean when they say, “when a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Without being able to impact an individual’s expectations no conflict in life can exist. Like a wave is both trough and crest equally, “issues” exist for people wherever their expectations are impacted by reality.

So let us imagine that the brother of the victim was having a difficult life himself with alcohol. Racked with anger he used the death as motivation to change and he dedicates his life to curing alcoholics. But in that time he learned that drinkers aren’t drinkers, they’re someone with something in their past that they think too much about and they use the alcohol as a kind of sedative. It works temporarily until the depressive qualities kick in. He drank for the same reasons his brother did, and he ends up feeling sympathy for people like his brother’s killer.

And say the person who was killed had a family too. If we ask his wife, yes it hurt terribly at the time and she hated the driver of the car but, the truth is, after time passed she did meet another man and both she and her children had a better companion in their life. It was a horrible way to find one and thoughts about that make her feel guilty, but there’s no denying it improved her life overall. Maybe because of his accident they had to leave where they lived and emigrate for work and the kids have much safer, brighter futures now. Is the father’s death a bad thing then if his children miss him on special occasions or when they’re otherwise prompted to recall him in their memory?

922 Relax and Succeed - Do not let the behavior of othersDue to his drinking the victim’s parents feel the children are better off with his wife and new husband and since they are old and the children are their only legacy, they die happy that their lineage will go on. Plus, maybe even with enough life experience they come to realize how many times they personally were in a position to kill someone but didn’t more by fluke than plan–we all do this a lot as kids and almost everyone I know except me has driven drunk before. In that fact you can see the role of causality.

So the question becomes, if the person is missing but the total of happiness for all the people connected to him rose as a direct result, then is it a good or bad event? And when would you decide this judgment of good or bad and how long would it last? Because their life conditions could change again and the very same incident could lead to back to great bitterness. It’s up to the person doing the judgment of the event, which is Watt’s general point in the video below.

Our view of the past is constantly being rewritten based on what we believe on the day we recall it. If the person is in a good mood and grateful for their life, then they will be blackly grateful for the death. If they’re getting their car fixed because a drunk hit it, then they’ll be thinking that all drunks should just be shot. This is akin to the “sound of one hand clapping.” Without opposition to something there is no noise, no “emotional content.” Flow flows, conflict with flow claps.

922 Relax and Succeed - Let it beIt’s not that a decision can’t be called good or bad the moment it’s made, but that’s like taking a photo of a river and saying it’s a photo of the river rather than of one small section that this particular bit of water happened to be passing at this particular time. The water is you, the world around you is the shore. In short, life is made of facts and their context. Change the context and the fact gets changed too.

So this is what it is to flow: you endeavour to live in each moment without stopping to judge it. You move fluidly from experiencing this feeling to that feeling without every doubling back to reassess or reevaluate events. And if you do you realize the entire exercise is taking place not in the world but in your consciousness and that makes it both real and strangely harmless.

This is a very weird and persistent part of the illusion of reality. I hope this helped clarify more what Watt’s point was. Have a great weekend everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Angry Words

You’ll see how quickly people are ready to believe bad versus good: someone can date someone for months, they can meet their parents, get to know their friends–but then there’s that day when you see the angry for the first time. The person snaps. Sharp words come out loudly.

818 Relax and Succeed - We build too many wallsThe fears and insecurities drive the brain chemistry that in turn drives everything from the volume of the speaker to the choice of words. And yet despite the fact that the anger is an indication that there is fear, people will tend to say phrases like, I finally saw the real him/her, or when she/he was angry I saw their true personality come out. True personality?

First off, personalities are something we perform, not something we are. So there is no real or hidden us–we are simply one thing for a while and then another thing for another while. You’re this person in this context and this person in another context and that’s what people know as you. But none of those is us. They are things we do and say.

So why then do worried souls concern themselves with waiting until the secret’s out when the same behaviour could easily be seen as she’s usually really nice, I’m not what sure what’s going on right now. In the latter we’re just noting a new or rare behaviour. But how do we make the leap to it’s a secret identity?

Why would we see someone function for maybe 6 months, over 4300 hours, and yet out of those 4300 we see 2 that are unpleasant and we conclude we’ve discovered the person’s secret identity? No. You haven’t found a secret. You’ve just seen how they get mad.

818 Relax and Succeed - The enemy is fearEveryone’s mad looks different. Some people scare you with their look or silence. Others scream and protest. Some hurt themselves and some hurt others. But the vast majority of people just act mean and say terrible things because they feel the need to equalize.

If two people’s vibrations as beings are too far apart then will naturally want to harmonize. This is connected to the reason that women who live together will start seeing the biological alignment of their cycles. It’s why if you see people laughing you’ll eventually laugh, and if you see people concerned you also feel concerned.

The trick comes when one person is vibrating at a healthy rate and the other person has been removed from a context that feels comfortable, and so they are vibrating in a scattered and uneven way. To get the two people into alignment, the scared, angry person will deliberately cause damage not because their secret’s out, but because they will feel safer with that alignment.

Obviously if someone is hitting you or verbally abusing you on a regular basis then that is not healthy for either party and you should make careful plans to escape. But if you just saw your 6 month relationship lose it and you think you’ve exposed some secret personality then you’re paranoid, not keeping yourself safe. Because everyone does this. This only question is how.

Do not see other people’s anger and frustrations as being about you. They are admittedly ugly, aggressive and even scary requests for love. But they are not windows into how the person really is. They’re just really scared. Act accordingly. You’ll both be much better off if you both seek peace rather than trying to calculate whose behaviour was better.

peace, s

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