Gradual Growth

1073-relax-and-succeed-we-can-live-without-religionIsn’t it strange learning something in a non-linear way? I have to do it that way because I’m showing you something that you can’t understand by processing it in the usual way. In fact, that usual way is what causes you all the trouble, so I have to work around it by doing things your logical mind can’t fully understand.

Today’s meditation involves the reason you’ll feel like you have problems and how it often connects to your ideas about time. The brain is decent at storing things, but it’s best dealing with now because in reality that’s the only place you can ever really be or act to change your life. It makes sense that if you have something you want to solve, you need to deal with it around the time that you perceive the problem.

Our focus today is, was that really a problem? Or was it simply a lack of understanding? What is a problem?

Problems are things that we think might cut us off from others. Connection is natural and anything that threatens that is something to be dealt with. So if someone’s mad at you, what does that imply? Your problem is their anger and so you want to explain so you can fix it. Or maybe their problem is that they feel you betrayed them and you want them to understand. Or maybe they want something different than you so you have to explain how they should want what you want.

1073-relax-and-succeed-the-practice-of-forgivenessThink back to three people you’ve been upset with in your lifetime; three people who you now have forgiven despite the fact that they never apologised or maybe even changed. Some little things are fine, but include at least one big thing. Ask yourself what changed between when you were mad and when you let it go? Did they change or did you?

If you look closely, your forgiveness would have come easily once your understanding and empathy increased. Once you either understood the world or yourself better you adjusted your judgments. This is no small thing. This means you can change others by changing yourself.

People are not fixed points in a fixed universe. They look different from every angle, like Earth might from different directions in space. Look at it one way and it’s the Pacific, another and it’s the Himalayas. How you saw others would be like aliens looking at the Himalayas and concluding that the entire planet was a mountain range that reached up over 6,000 meters (20,000 feet). But you need a broader, more well-rounded perspective before you can really say you have even a basic understanding of Earth. The same goes for people.

1073-relax-and-succeed-the-future-is-something-which-everyone-reachesFind your examples. Note your forgiveness and see that it was acceptance. Note how they didn’t change, you did. A change in your perspective changed who they are to you because there is no truth. There is no hallowed ground to stand on. Everything is a perspective. This is about abandoning the desire for certainty to live in the reality of mystery. You think you don’t like mystery, but over time I will prove to you that you really do.

What I do is weird, I know. But if you read the testimonials on my website or talk to people who’ve worked closely with me, they’ll all tell you that they too were lost before they were found. This isn’t linear knowledge, it’s more a congealing of truth. It’s harder to measure, but it’s happening.

Despite the fact that it’s difficult to perceive for you right now, I can guarantee that doing these exercises this week actually changed who you are. Over time those will add up and one day you’ll look in the mirror and you’ll suddenly realise that you’re a different person. And much like understanding others from the distance of time, that’s when you’ll understand what I’m doing now. In the meantime, congratulate yourself on making changes and have a great weekend.

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 #91

816 OP Relax and Succeed - Forgiveness is a promise

With all due respect, I would like to draw attention to the difference between an ego’s idea of forgiveness and spiritual forgiveness. An ego’s idea is what’s expressed above. It’s a nice sentiment, it’s certainly not a bad thing if you do it, but it asks someone to do something in the future, which doesn’t exist in the healthiest mindspace. You’re always Now. So much like the post on Setting Limits, you cannot set an expectation of the future without risking adding further suffering to your life. On the other hand you can spiritually forgive someone, which has nothing to do with the other person at all. You’re not doing anything for them. You’re saving yourself by only living Now, which means you are not choosing to think about something painful that happened in some ethereal past. If something did happen again and you look past it out of love and forgiveness again, (in that Now), then you’re truly forgiving. So you might “fail” at forgiving one in ten times if you weren’t in a healthy state of mind. But that didn’t mean you failed at forgiving. You just missed being conscious once. And people can appreciate the effort in a nine-out-of-ten. They might even respect you a bit more if they’re occasionally reminded of how much the event hurt you and that it takes spiritual effort on your part to keep it out of your today. No one can demand your forgiveness. But your voluntary choice to leave painful thoughts in the past is something you are always free to do and it does improve all relationships.

peace, s

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

00 Relax and Succeed - Other Perspectives Footer

The Truth About Lying

Mankind has come a long way but we’re still pretty brutal with each other on a fairly routine basis. And I don’t mean insults or cruelty, although those things are becoming increasingly popular unfortunately. What I mean is that we’re so judgmental of those closest to us.

Because some people some where at some time invented the word trust and the words lie and betray, and the phrase let me down, people have come to see these things as absolutes in much the way more and more people see politics. Because you’re one way doesn’t mean you can’t see 598 Relax and Succeed - If we could look into each other's heartsor enjoy the benefits of another way. There’s times in life when one political reaction might prove better than another, just as there are times in life where the truth is not as neat a thing as our judgmental minds would like it to be.

Say your beloved Mom is undergoing chemotherapy and she’s asked you to go wig shopping after she starts to lose her hair. Even if she looks worse than you’ve ever seen her look, are you lying if she asks you how she looks and you tell her “great!” with a big fake smile? No, that’s not lying unless you’re far too literal for healthy human relations. That is clearly an act of love to anyone who’s even remotely in touch with the healthiest parts of themselves. But it doesn’t even have to be that dramatic.

If we say people don’t like lying, what is it they don’t like? It creates a more unpredictable future, so more tension. They don’t like that it also means they have to take into account an ongoing future uncertainty regarding everything the “liar” says to them. And that applies to their past dealings as well, so they wonder about any other potential fallout or false assumptions. And it gets seen as a violation of our commitment to that person. All of that has value and meaning, but it’s not the whole story. Because if we look at why people lie (and everyone does it all day long, they just don’t perceive the things as lies in many cases) , then 598 Relax and Succeed - Most people don't really want the truthwe quickly see that in a huge number of cases the lies only exist to protecting the feelings of the person they’re talking to, someone else, or themselves.

The first two—protecting who you’re talking to, and protecting someone else—those are pretty common and they’re probably easy for you to imagine. But what is it to protect yourself? A good example comes from my younger years. I was dating a stunningly attractive girl that every guy I knew expressed envy over and I agreed. Every time I looked at her I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. But you know what? Beautiful girls often have people focus on their beauty when they’re young. And so they forget that people will love them for who and how they are—that they’re beauty is a separate issue. And so despite the fact that they’re the most beautiful people in any society, they are often commensurately insecure about being beaten out by someone even more attractive.

Over time that insecurity built because there was no action to remove it, but there was steady additions to it. Eventually it gets cumbersome then onerous and finally it’s exasperating. The only thing that was unattractive to me about my girlfriend was that she was constantly questioning my dedication to her. She never realized what an insult that was. And it also resulted in a lot of angry jealous rages which were embarrassing for me as a young man, and it was on more than a few occasions quite extreme.

What those reactions would encourage me to do is lie. Not to really conceal anything meaningful. But because it’s easier on the relationship. So when I was visiting her, would I 598 Relax and Succeed - We are very good lawyerswant to tell her I was at a mall buying shoes from a girl I went to school with that I’ve bought shoes from for 10 years? No. Because that would far too likely lead to an evening-wasting argument about why did I buy them from her rather than from a store two minutes closer? So instead I would lie and say that I was playing video games in a friend’s basement. And that lie is a bad idea, because if she finds out about it she either won’t believe my reasoning and she’ll trust me even less, or she’ll be furious about my reasoning.

So sure, long term the truth as we know it is better. But we would all do well to be a bit more accepting and tolerant of less-than-perfect behaviour. Because unless we’re going to all do that ourselves—and I know that’s not actually possible or desirable—then we really have no business holding other people to what are ultimately inhuman standards. More people lie for good reasons than bad ones. They’re often trying to be kinder, not more selfish.

So be kinder yourself. Let more go. Don’t be so defensive, so busy and so judgmental. Your lack of tolerance will do as much damage to your heart as to your relationships. Relax. See as much value in getting along as you do in being right. And don’t hold people to standards that you yourself couldn’t honestly meet. The world isn’t better when we’re all perfect. The world is better when we’re all open-minded and tolerant.

Have yourself a great day.

peace. s

Other Perspectives #36

504 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Apologies don't mean anything

This perception is so common that it’s actually at the heart of much of the world’s interpersonal strife, and it gets applied in a very self-serving manor. So if it’s you who accidentally over-committed yourself and you genuinely feel bad, then you offer a genuine apology, you’ll expect it to be taken sincerely. But we’re all personality types, and if you’re the type that likes to help you’ll get caught accidentally over-committing throughout your life. This is not you failing to be sincere about your apology, it’s simply the other side of you being a dedicated helper. You do feel badly about how things resulted for the offended party, but it’s not like that’s what you were aiming for. It’s a by-product of who you are. So daydreamers are creative but often late because they’re daydreaming. They aren’t failing the all-important you if they sincerely feel badly when they’ve kept you waiting. But they also don’t owe it to you to change their entire personality just to cater to your desires, rules or promises. Because if we make them timely we’ll also lose some very valuable and important aspects of their creative personality. If you make Einstein have a tidy office he may very well not become Einstein. And the same goes for every personality type. Some are good at schedules and organizing but bad at taking direction from others. Others are terrible at leading but are good confidante’s. Some are good confidantes but they’re terrible in group settings. Every coin has two sides, so stop asking other people to be one-sided coins just because that’s what you want. If you stop and really think about it a moment, you don’t want to be held to this standard either because it’s absolutely impossible. If you’re messier than your roommate, you can’t suddenly adopt their standards any more than you can suddenly drive as well as them, or feel comfortable singing in public because they can, or lose your fear of heights just because they don’t have that fear. We each are ourselves. We can change to a degree, but only in our own time through our own sense of things. So if your lover hits you then yes, they are capable of changing but that doesn’t mean they’ll figure out how. So their apologies are sincere but you simply have to accept who they are and you might have to end that relationship if they’re not going to make that change asap. Either way, that’s still not them failing you, that’s them being raised to have counter-productive life strategies. But just like you can’t change yourself for the better instantly just by knowing what “better” is, neither can they. So stop asking for the impossible. Accept who you’re with whether they’re late, or messy, or horny or violent and then act accordingly. Don’t stay in unhealthy situations, but at the same time, don’t equate apologies with commitments to change because those are two different things and even most commitments to change are little more than sincerely well-intentioned efforts to be someone we ultimately are not.

peace. s

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 offense 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.

Theatre of Life

You’ll use words like wish, or you whine, or you say should or wrong, but whatever reasoning you use, you want something to be a way other than the way it Is. But you don’t get healthy by getting what you want, you get healthy by surrendering all wants and what is exposed is the Isness of life. You just have one problem. You don’t want it the amazing, miraculous, beautiful way it Is, you want it the way you want it. And I’m here to tell you that you’re a great big spiritual baby wallowing in your own egotistical neediness.

454 Relax and Succeed - Life is too importantStop whining. Stop using words to invent expectations and consequences when you could instead just be quiet-minded and immersed in your life. And then you’ll be able to see the work of art that is the story of your life (Lighting and Sets by God). So let’s use an analogy so you can really hold on to the idea:

An Ego is like a person who goes into a theatre and then bitches through the whole movie. They disrupt everyone around them. They talk over dialogue, they complain about every aspect of the film and the theatre. And whether it’s a tense scene, a love scene or even a funny scene, it all feels the same to the Ego. They just sit and bitch because the script isn’t doing what they want it to. And so goes their life. Their time in the theatre ends up being an unpleasant existence instead of an inspired life.

The Spirits on the other hand have become wise. They don’t invite negativity into their life, and so the Spirit is seated in the theatre quietly. Unlike the Ego, the Spirit lets the film wash over them, and they allow each scene to be what it needs to be in order to tell the story of the film’s narrative—in this case, the story of the life they call “theirs.” The Spirit’s life goes up and it goes down. It includes tragic lows, yes. But those are what create the contrast that allows the highs to be so glorious. If you accept that relationship then suddenly it all levels out in a very cool spiritual way.

This is what the philosophical comedian Andy Kaufman was getting at. Have you seen Milos Forman’s brilliant film Man on the Moon? It’s about Kaufman, who was famous for a comedy act where he was basically an asshole. He was an asshole to the media, he was an asshole to David Letterman, he was an asshole in his comedy shows, and he was even an asshole in the wrestling ring. But here’s the catch. Andy was into Transcendental Meditation. And he had 454 Relax and Succeed - The human race has only one reallyreasons to have a clear mind. And those things allowed him to see the Truth. And the Truth was that it was okay if he was an asshole—as long as people got to see the asshole lose. And that’s what Andy did.

Andy’s stage was the theatre of life. He got thrown off Letterman to uproarious cheers from the audience. He looked pathetic when the crowd’s chants scared him, and they cheered at his fear. The best was the ring though, where he would taunt the audience and enrage them, only to be pummelled into oblivion by some meaty giant. And the crowd would go berserk with happiness. And inside, Andy’s bloodied body would smile, despite the fact that a lot of the audience actually thought he was an asshole. Because he didn’t care what they labelled him. He cared about the fact that they experienced thrills and a sense of joy by watching him get crushed. That’s the movie that was playing in Andy’s theatre.

What people think of you or any thing else is irrelevant to your enjoyment of the movie you’re watching. As I’ve said before, the Dalai Lama lived in exile and they shot Gandhi and imprisoned Mandela. You can be super-good and there’s still going to be people that hate you. So don’t cultivate opinions.

Don’t sit in the theatre trying to tell yourself nice stories about what you see on life’s screen. Just let it happen without comment and you will have done as the Buddhist’s say and you will have let it go. You will have experienced acceptance. You will be allowing the story to flow. So don’t pose a life on facebook that’s designed to tell a story make your ex’s jealous. Go live a life that makes you happy. And do that by simply letting the film unfold. Don’t ruin it with negative commentary. Just sit in the theatre and quietly behold the wonder that emerges from the greatest director of all, Creation.

peace. s

Spiritual Practice

I’m sorry, but a lot of you are not going to like the very healthy message in today’s blog. The reason you won’t is because it will remind you that your spiritual health, your enlightenment, is not an achievement or title, it is a practice. It requires vigilance and dedication and persistence. Your spiritual health does not happen by accident it is a conscious choice. So we’re not talking about just posting some 4000 year old Chinese quotes on your facebook wall and 447 Relax and Succeed - Patience is the companionhaving some books on Buddhism in your bookcase. One of the easiest ways to test your own actual spirituality is by how patient you are. A wise person can still behave impatiently, but if you’re consistently impatient then you can’t be a wise person nor do you understand true spirituality.

The reason a wise person can be patient is because they understand. Not necessarily why they are waiting in any given instance, but they know from experience that it is common for many reasons and so the wise person does not live with the expectation that there will be no waiting. The ego-self doesn’t live in reality it lives in the world of its own egocentric thoughts. So because they made a plan for how they wanted the future to go, they acted like that actually was the future. When reality met their expectations, a conflict ensued and their emotions, from anger to disappointment to sadness, emerge from that.

People whine about waiting in lines. A sociologist I heard calculated that the average urban North American spends 3 years of their life at stop signs and red lights. You can use that time to get angry or worry or think uncharitable thoughts about someone your don’t like, or you can use it to meditate. Work with what the world gives you. If you’re sitting in traffic frustrated then don’t see that as a problem, learn to see that as a gift. How is that different than a martial artist who pays money and invests his time in a place that literally beats him or her up?

All you do when you go to martial arts training is have someone boss you around to do difficult and sometimes painful things, all toward you getting into a ring to have someone try to hit you. Why is this okay? Because you see it as an aspect of your development as a person. Even violence toward 447 Relax and Succeed - Mindset is everythingyou is okay if it is in a context of bettering your life. Same with patience. You have to see patience just like that. The person that is challenging you mentally is liked the sensei who sneaks up behind you and pushes you to test your balance. You can see it as an attack on your life, or you can see it as a rock around which you must learn to flow. Resistance is what you do with people who test your patience. Flow is what a martial arts student has when they volunteer for the challenges of training.

Driving, at the office, with your kids, with yourself—more patience. More tolerance. Less expectation that everything goes perfectly. People are imperfect, all of us included. So we need other people’s patience and they need ours. We don’t need better people, we just need more tolerant ones to help release the best in the people we already have.

Prove your spirituality. Live it as often as you are able. Humour, patience, compassion, love. These are signs you are being spiritual. And a sure sign that you are locked in ego is when you start thinking things should be different than they are. Accept things as they are. Quiet your argumentative mind and instead be aware. You will discover far more than your suffering mind could have ever wanted.

peace. s

Because We Love The Children

This message is for anyone who is currently living under conflict where you perceive you have an enemy. Let me begin by saying that I cannot hope to understand the agony of your losses. The price of conflict is high and I’m profoundly sorry that you ever had to experience paying it. No matter what side of the globe you are on I want to do all I can to prevent you or your children or anyone else and their children from going through the gut-wrenching sensation of sudden and violent experience.

442 Relax and Succeed - This is myself and this is anotherThe media—the people who seek to describe the conflict—focus on defining two (or more) groups and they also create the frame for the intractable disagreement. But in daily reality these groups of people are casually described with a single word when in fact they are vastly diverse individuals that have unique opinions even within within their own social, political or religious subcultures. So the name that we throw over any group is effectively useless when trying to define who is for or against us because everyone would use the same words to define different groups based on their own subtle interpretations.

So imagine your enemy is a Canadian. Imagine you’re an American at war with the us (okay, so maybe it’s a hockey game). We can say that you are pitted against a Canadian. A Canadian against an American. But hold on—your enemy’s Mom was born in Boston and she went to school there and later in Virginia because her Dad moved around because he was a Commander in the US Navy.

So your enemy lives in Canada and has Canadian citizenship but half his DNA is American. Then add to that the fact that his Grandmother on his Dad’s side was a Navajo born in Los Angeles, so he’s one-quarter Native-American on that side too—so he’s 3/4’s US blood but you’ll hunt him because he wears a maple leaf? Do you get my point? Where’s the line in these words? Who gets to say who is what? What’s Black? What’s White? What’s Old? Young? What’s mine, what’s yours?

442 Relax and Succeed - Anything war can doThis same truth holds for countries. We can name them whatever we want—and we often change the names—but whether it’s called Bombay or Mumbai it’s still the same place to tangibly live. Likewise, the concept of nations are quite recent and many are changing today much like the names of cities and countries. Borders are generally decided by post-war bureaucrats who lack sufficient knowledge of local history and culture to make wise decisions, which is why they’re later fought over.

So why would we shoot at someone or hate someone just because they ended up on the other side of a bureaucrat’s pencil? We’ll hate someone—call them enemy—because they live just down the road but on the other side of an imaginary line??? We’re that inhuman that we can’t see ourselves in this other-named person?

I’ve travelled a lot. I haven’t met any bad people anywhere. I’ve very occasionally met misguided people, desperate people, angry people, oppressed people, fearful people and people who took labels too seriously, but I’ve never met a bad person. I’m not saying people can’t do atrocious things but if we don’t think that the horrors of war would change us for the worse then we simply lack humility.

442 Relax and Succeed - No one is born hatingAll experience changes us. I can assure you, if you were mistreated long enough you would eventually be capable of doing very ugly things. So we have to be careful or we’ll end up accidentally doing ugly things to a decent person just because of fears and definitions, not because there’s an actual issue between us and them.

If you shoot an enemy or blow him up or poison her then you incur the wrath of their entire family and all of their loved ones. So your one enemy has become six. There is only one true way to get rid of an enemy, and that is to rename them. We must be like Abraham Lincoln who said, “Have I not destroyed my enemy when I have made him into my friend?”

You have met misguided, desperate, angry, oppressed and fearful people. Some of them have labels that you have been taught things about for your entire life. Can you still see their need? Recognise their humanity? Embrace them with compassion and allow yourself to lower your labels and love them? For just like you they want their children safe and their futures bright. And one way to accomplish that would be to have more friends.

Now go be friendly. You’ll save the world and you’ll have a pretty good day yourself.

peace. literally. 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.

Creation vs. Re-Creation

My husband left me for my best friend almost 15 years ago and everyone says I should be over it. That’s easy to say, but not-thinking about someone when
they have betrayed you is hard. I read your blogs and I know that I have to
forgive him but I don’t want to. I want to be mad. I think he deserves it.
But I’m worried that’s not the right thing spiritually.

signed,
Half-Spirited

Dear Spirit,

I hope it helps you to learn that this is very common. It’s very human. It really is. Lots of people feel that way. They look at their life and there’s nothing really wrong with now, it’s just that there’s this thing that’s lurking in the past. And we’re worried it’s going to happen again, so we’re extra alert and on watch for anything suspicious. The only problem with that is: almost anything can look suspicious if that’s the eye you’re looking at it with. Oops.

430 Relax and Succeed - Forgive others not because they deserve forgivenessLet’s get real, okay? Because you’re talking about a psychological place as though it’s where you live, and yet you’re ignoring actual reality. Your suspicious thoughts about your spouse will cause you to have a chemical reaction relating to being threatened. But of course there is no immediate threat—there is only the story you’re making up to tell yourself. You claim this is just you being cautious or thinking ahead, but in reality it’s just an excuse to think a thought whose chemistry you’re addicted to.

Reality does not happen outside of you. There is no objective reality. We each see the world differently because our experiences have trained us to have different sets of filters on our eyes and other senses. So there is no way to reconcile and align everyone’s realities. You can only surrender to the knowledge that all any of us will ever see is whatever we are imagining at any given moment. And so it doesn’t matter what happens outside of you, what matters is what you think you’re supposed to do with what’s happening inside of you.

Your issue isn’t that this thing happened. Every life has horrible experiences a person could choose to remember. Your issue is that you keep choosing to remember the same set of events over and over and over for a decade and a half. Go ahead, tell us how hard it was and how we don’t understand your pain. You still know there’s nothing in life that should be taking 15 years to get over.

430 Relax and Succeed - For every minute you are angryThis isn’t 15 years ago. This is daily for you. Your resentments, your fears, your thoughts, considerations, ruminations and opinions are where you spend your day. That is the chemical structure of where you’re choosing to live. So you want to forgive your ex-husband for one simple reason: he doesn’t even know you’re hating him, meanwhile you’re surrendering your life to hating while he’s out living his life. This is a crazy addiction and it’s time you broke it. You’re like a person who drinks poison in the hopes that their enemy will die.

Start by listening to people who you know love you. So if your family or friends are trying to get you to go out, go! These people love you. Why would you assume time with them would be anything other than nurturing and caring? Have more fun. Take the energy you used to put into remembering this event or being afraid of that event and instead use that same energy to do something fun or exciting or rewarding. Live. This is a short trip we have here. You don’t want to sit still wasting it.

The past is the past. It does not dictate the future any more than a wake pushes a ship, as Alan Watts used to say. If you spend a lot of time talking about or thinking about days gone by then you are spending today reliving yesterday. It’s your choice, but when you feel death coming I can assure you that you will be wanting more time for life and you will wonder why you chose to squander so much of it while you engaged your consciousness in thoroughly pointless and painful activities like remembering only the painful parts of your past.

430 Relax and Succeed - Don't let yesterdayYou are a free person. You can take your thoughts in any direction you choose. So don’t keep habitually choosing the same directions out of blind habit. Become conscious. Think actively. Use your thinking to create the world where you want to live. It’ll never be perfect, but that’s what’s so perfect about it–there’s always something interesting to do. We just have to have our eyes open to so that we can notice it when it does present itself.

Stop being a habit and start being alive. Disengage from old thinking. Change your thoughts, change your life. There’s a lot of living that needs to be done and we need you to climb aboard your own life and sail it into uncharted waters. It’s time to start investing your days with your awareness raised, which will in turn help you realize much more joy and wonder out of this grand adventure that is life.

If we have eyes like a child, we can easily turn the smallest thing into the greatest experience. Life is fantastic. Stop reliving old ugly parts of it and start having a true adventure. We’re waiting for you. I’ll see you out there. 😉

peace. s

Losing Our Spark

Winner: Scott’s Favourite Questions of 2014 #1

I love my husband. I really do. And I 100% believe he loves me. But 90% of our exchanges are criticizing each other and complaining. Hardly any of our contact is enjoyable anymore and a lot of it is pretty negative. We can tell that we’re going to start hating each other and we already feel like our marriage/lives went the wrong directions. We’re lost but what do we do?

signed,
Missing Spark

Dear Missing,

You know why it’s hit-and-miss getting these ideas through to people? Because they read what I write, or listen to what I say, and they assume that what I’m talking about is loftier and more complicated than the actual truth. Little kids can do this. It doesn’t require adding anything to 392 Relax and Succeed - Who looks outsideyou. You have to subtract “You” until all that you’re left with is clarity. When our ego’s out of the way and we can see things clearly, having positive relations with others is much, much easier.

You simply have to accept one idea: that reality is not out there, but instead that it is in here. You don’t experience the world. You experience your thoughts about the world. Unless you practice watching for it, for most people it’s subconscious. Their focus is not on watching their ego, it’s on being their ego. Most people have no awareness of the thinker Their life is a stream of thoughts, but they never wonder who’s thinking them. That’s the advantage my accident gave me. It made me wonder about thoughts and who was thinking them. I was an accidental Buddhist by five.

So reality isn’t what’s happening, it’s what your thoughts are. You will feel what you think. So most couples think uncharitable thoughts about one another and so they get the feelings that go with the thoughts. The problem is when they assign the blame for those feelings on the person they are thinking about. That’s ridiculous and it will get you nowhere fast. No one is reaching inside your head and squeezing your hypothalamus. It’s not their fault that you’re thinking what you are. That’s your choice, 100%. And even though that right there is the secret to your eternal freedom, no one wants to grab it because it seems like a huge responsibility rather than what it really is: a huge opportunity.

392 Relax and Succeed - What is loveSo here’s how it is in a relationship: Most couples don’t get along simply because they make one simple choice: they focus their consciousness on their judgmental thoughts about the behaviour of their partner (past, present or even future), rather than focusing it on how awesome any human being is, let alone the one in seven billion they chose to marry. In short, if they’re that bad leave them. But I’d think about that carefully. Because you also have to start asking yourself how appealing you are. Because the divorce rate for second marriages is higher than for first ones, so clearly a lot of people didn’t feel they traded up. Yes, if it’s painful in any way, leave. But if you’re just suffering over opinions and old events, then that’s a silly reason to end an otherwise good marriage and/or breakup a family.

You wrote that you genuinely love your spouse and you believe he genuinely loves you. Can you see that the onlyAND I MEAN ONLY—thing that’s standing in your way is a veil of thought? You have stopped paying attention to (aka focusing your consciousness on), the qualities of the person in front you. There were actual reasons you got married. Most of those reasons will still be true. You just started quietly taking them for granted, which is another way of saying that you just don’t stop to think about the value in those qualities anymore. You assume they’ll be there so they’re invisible. Until you 392 Relax and Succeed - I don't know a perfect personstart dating. And then you realize all kinds of qualities that your current partner has that you’ve become blind to….

People naturally love each other. It is only our personal thoughts that build the narratives that create the sense of separation people feel from others. If you were going to break that spiritual bond, it’s most likely that your first peek into enlightenment would come from seeing your spouse in the way that Mother Teresa saw Jesus in every leper. That way you don’t have to improve your marriage, instead you can become clear-headed and realize that the only difficulties you have with people are thought-based, self-created, conflicting narratives with very emotional outcomes. Egos are forever intersecting with other egos. There’s no peace in that. Better that we quiet our minds and notice the incredible, stunning beauty of every single aspect of this magnificent universe—your spouse included.

It’s easier than you think. Keep a quiet mind. Smile. Hug. Do fun things. Notice each other. You’re good people. The rest will happen naturally.

peace. s

Other Perspectives #14

372 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Nothing hurts more

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 offense 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.