Big Decisions

918 Relax and Succeed - The awakened sagesI will need a lot more deep meditation before I can distill everything I am learning about time, but one thing I can state is that I’m slowly starting to have a deeper understanding why so many of you struggle with the idea of having to make big decisions.

If you live on a timeline where you can move toward or away from events then that is fatalism. If you’re locked in and nothing you can do will change anything then you’re predestined for a certain life. But you’re not a fatalist because you’ll also place possibility on that timeline, which means looking backwards you’ll see a single line of where you have been, but looking forward you see an infinite number of potential lines and in some cases where they go is wildly different.

By wildly different I mean having a kid or not, living in this country or that one, marrying this person or that. I don’t mean that one direction is adventure and joy and the other is pain and suffering–the path won’t have as much impact on your feelings as your state of mind, and that’s kind of my point. When I say wildly different I mean what’s different is the narrative that unfolds during your life.

918 Relax and Succeed - If you are depressedSo a big decision is when your most preferred routes through a situation represent massively different outcomes to you, with the outcomes being defined as the labels you’re left with. So in one case you’re married to this person and in another you’re married to that person and as time moves forward you feel pressure increase to make a choice before time causes the choice to vanish (people getting too old to have kids, marrying someone before someone else does, etc.).

These decisions matter a lot to you because you see those label distinctions as being indicators of the right decision. And by right I mean that later in life you assess that the decision lead to lots of labels that you value at the time of your judgment regarding the decision’s “success.” So if you left a bad relationship just in time to have a kid with someone, then that kid being a source of joy will be seen as being the result of the decision to leave the previous relationship. So the child and parenthood will be seen as a positive outcome resulting from the decision to leave the old relationship. I get your logic in that. It makes sense. But only in an ego-world.

Imagine the exact same decision but the new love ends up injured, then addicted to painkillers and that leads to challenges raising the child who later becomes a drug addict and a whole helluva lot of trouble. That could totally happen. And then you’d be sitting there in your rented apartment with an eviction notice because your stoned kid damaged the place again. You would determine that the choice to leave the previous relationship many years ago was the wrong decision and that it was what lead you to where you are–even though you know if your partner never got that injury none of the other issues would have unfolded.

918 Relax and Succeed - Life is like a cameraSo was the decision really wrong because it lead to the troublesome kid? Or was it just a choice that lead to a zillion other choices which combined with the choices of a zillion other people and things that all lead you to where you are? Because otherwise you’re highlighting events in time rather arbitrarily, like someone randomly choosing stars from an infinite sky and then forming just those chosen ones into a constellation that they then call their life.

My point is, on a later date they could just as easily look up and choose different stars and get a different picture of their life. It would all depend on the mood of the astronomer at the moment they were asked to judge their life. So to me trying to sail toward some specific constellation is to try and choose castles in the sky to live in. It can’t really be done.

You cannot choose tomorrow’s happiness today. Life has no guarantees. No matter what you decide your life will depend far more on who you are in any given moment than it will on what choices you made in some past moment. Sure, you might have a kid or not have a kid and that can seem huge, but in the end even the wonder of a child is just like any other experience in life–it’ll still be variously enjoyable and challenging.

918 Relax and Succeed - You either get the benefit you were expectingWhether I’m finding life rewarding or challenging, those two states are determined by my agreement with or resistance to what is going on in the present moment. That being the case, I choose to focus more on my moment-to-moment reactions to what’s happening now than on any long term planning for success. Otherwise there’s just too many factors that I don’t control. This is what it is to surrender into existence.

Our desire to avoid suffering leads to a hopeless desire to plan our way around it. The acceptance that there is no clear and perfect path takes that pressure away. Time becomes less compressed and the labels lose their value. What you are left with is the beautiful simplicity of the present moment.

The question is, with the world looking as it is and with people’s lives feeling like they do, what convinced us that decisions made in the moment are somehow less likely to lead to rewards than when we plan? If people look closely at the people around them I think they might find the opposite is more likely to be true. The planner’s lives are filled with successes and failures and a great deal of dramatics. The in-the-moment people never have failures, they’re always either simply enjoying themselves or they’re growing. And if you’re okay with that, that can feel like winning either way.

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.

Attachments and Forgiveness

880 Relax and Succeed - There are only two daysHave you noticed yet that I’m structuring this like the New York Times crossword? Every day gets a bit more challenging with the Wednesday-Thursday post being the one you’re better to spend a couple of days getting a good grip on. Again, do these meditations and you will come to the same conclusion everyone else has, from the Siddhartha under his tree all the way to today.

Attachments in the present are easy to find. But attachments to the future or past are more subtle. Going backward attachments are things like regret, guilt, bitterness, resentment etc., and attachments going forward are things like expectations, hopes, worries, fears and even anger. These are the things you get stuck on; the things you have trouble letting go.

But of course there is no letting go. In fact, the issue is your lack of understanding regarding what exactly is bothering you. You think it’s the events when in fact it is your thoughts–your judgments– about those events. And those are happening now, not earlier or later. Again: you do not live where your body lives you live where your consciousness is.

880 Relax and Succeed - Life is like riding a bicycleFind your darlings. Ask friends what you talk about a lot. Study your ruminations. Pay more attention to what thoughts you are feeding through your consciousness processor. If you ordered a horror from iTunes then it’s a bit strange to be complaining that you’re scared. You asked for it. Same with this. Thoughts are like bicycles. You don’t want to pedal in circles–you want to move your life forward.

This is of course one of the biggest issues for most people. These are the illusions that you can create with your thinking. You can think you have a problem or an issue but what you really have is some thoughts that attempt to deny what is. There is no escaping the is-ness of life.

Stop wishing reality away, stop hoping it will go away, and stop regretting that it’s not already gone and you know what…? It’s just an emotion. Just something to feel. It won’t kill you. It’s just some unnecessary suffering. So stop being so scared of reality. Little kids go past stuff like that in no time because they haven’t learned pride and resentment. They let stuff go and get back to the moment they’re in. If you have kids it’s worth it to watch them recover. They prove to you what you can do.

880 Relax and Succeed - Inhale the futureOnce you’ve discovered your repetitive ruminations simply recognize them for what they are–just some conversations you’ve had with yourself. That’s what worked for Eckhart Tolle. He wanted to kill himself he hated himself so much–but then he thought–wait! There’s two of me? That’s right. There’s the thinker and the thoughts. Don’t get them confused. One is a puppet, a shadow, an idea. The other one is the real you.

Quiet your mind. Use your Dominant Positive Emotion to shift your thinking. You’ve learned more than you think by now. You’ve had 60 days of meditations. For the next two days it is time for you to simply turn it all into a verb and literally practice the art of a still mind.

Now go find yourself an awesome day. Big hugs.

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.

Working for a Living

If you’re a young person what will you future look like? If you’re a parent how do you prepare your child for an unknown future? Things are changing fast and yet in many ways they’re staying exactly the same.

767 Relax and Succeed - If you are working on something excitingThere are programs being set up to ensure that kids learn computer coding in school. The CEO of Google recently spoke about the need for school systems to ”train the knowledge workers of the future.” He said nice things about how those are the people who get the jobs and there was a suggestion that the people in those jobs are the ones who are capable of taking greater control, which is both true and misleading.

What I would like draw your attention to however is the CEO’s assumption about education: as though it could only be for job training. In fact, I’ll bet many people reading this are thinking–but it is! Not historically. We’ve been so brainwashed to think we need to buy things and then work to pay for them that we can’t even remember that people used to just live through cooperation and that they learned for learning’s sake.

Remember being a kid? Being alive for joy instead of profit? I know the two are sold as being the same thing but they most certainly are not. One very often prevents the other.

767 Relax and Succeed - The work you do while you procrastinateI support the idea of teaching coding. As someone who’s worked as a teacher, I joined many other fine instructors in their concerns. It was not difficult to detect the shift. The students are just as capable, but there has clearly been a steady decline in their reasoning skills. When I asked students about it virtually all of them admitted they felt it too–as though other people understood things more completely. That sense of uncertainty lead to them feeling less confident.

There are always exceptions but we are all a product of our environments. Modern students often give up very easily and seemed to be primarily preoccupied with the grades and not the subject itself. They wanted the answer that would save them from punishment and earn them praise, rather than the answer that vigourous and thoughtful debate would reveal.

They’re very good at looking things up and amalgamating other people’s ideas together (intellectual mash-ups, video editing, DJing etc.), but they are increasingly poor at concluding or deducing or otherwise reasoning forward using themselves as the source rather than the culture around them. They all have great smarts, but they are only able to get them half way out of their head.

767 Relax and Succeed - Success is not the key to happinessCoding is a form of logic and it has a form of grammar, which is a separate thing from the language itself. So by seeing the separation between the language and the grammar in that setting it becomes easier for a student to see it in English or whichever traditional languages they’re studying. Despite the concerns about education being viewed as job training, the simple fact is that in the ego-created outer world, the logic aspect will also help a great deal with students problem-solving skills.

I’ve never met a truly stupid person. I’ve met very ignorant people who have been exposed to very few ideas and often by very dominating and rigid personalities. Everyone I taught excited me with their potential. And I am fascinated to see what world they will live in and what world they will build.

What will be fascinating is when we reach the point where the robots can run the whole place themselves. This really isn’t that far away. They’ll be able to mine the metals, build the structures, install and maintain the workings, they will be able to act as the arms and legs of someone paralyzed or maybe we’ll just grow a new spine for the person who injured theirs, and then we’ll have it put in perfectly by a robot surgeon.

767 Relax and Succeed - There's no way I was just bornWe’re going nano, where they’re floating submarines through race horse’s veins and we’re building little DNA dumptrucks that can deliver cancer drugs right to individual cells and then harmlessly dissolve into your body. AI is now programming itself and the levels of sophistication regarding touch and the other senses are getting truly remarkable. Soon you won’t even know if your nurse is real or if she’s a robot that gives amazing back rubs. But either way, something will have to change because there will be no more work.

Are you trained for the future? Because if the robots are driving the cars and picking the stocks and cleaning rooms and mowing lawns and flying the planes and rockets and monitoring babies and writing music and even creating scientific theories and ways to test them (as was done for the very first time just recently), then what are you going to do? If it keeps going the direction it’s headed the future should leave you with no job. So what will your identity be then? Who would you be if you didn’t describe yourself through your work?

Imagine the robot world complete. You have all of the free time in the world and if you want a nicer houses you just have a robot build you one. What’s your day look like? And really think about it. Because if you say masturbate or play video games or text, you know full well you’ll get bored after a while.. Too much of anything is unpleasant. But with the time you’re not using for those things, what are you using it for? This is a question that cuts to the core of who you are.

Whatever future you unfold, and in whatever context–just be aware. You are a genius by birth. Your only true job in life is to realize your own genius and then live that reality boldly for as long as possible. You belong. The suffering you experience is not failure. It is training you to be able to actively lead your own life. Enjoy.

Namaste. s

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

The New You

People are always telling me about how bad their life is. What they mean is: so far they have made the kinds of choices that have lead to a life that wobbles between unpleasant and tolerable, with occasional spikes into worthwhile and deeply rewarding. But you can spend way more time intentionally feeling much better about your life if you know how.

550 Relax and Succeed - You are not directedThe mistake people make is that they spend most of their lives wishing for a different and better situation than they’re currently in, and they justify that useless fantasy by telling themselves that it might have really happened if your past had gone differently than it did. Well your past didn’t go that way so—as I’ve said before—if you’re aunt was a man she’d be your uncle. There’s no point in discussing ifs. It’s what is that counts.

So imagine there’s a bunch of different souls of you, and they take turns running your current body through the universe. So imagine we’re at soul three, going into four. (the Dalai Lama’s at 14!) The old soul—the one that has the endured the most recent experiences and that has collected the the most recent wisdom—s/he leaves the body and the new you jumps in. BAM. You’re suddenly the physical, live version of you for the very first time. It’s all new to you. Really basic stuff would be fun because it would be just like your first time. It would be like being each previous version of you for a short while before you caught up to who you are today. Hot, wet, funny, celery, dogs. It would be amazing to experience those things with five senses for the first time again. But the best part? Each successive soul leaves their wisdom behind! I know! It’s crazy what a great deal that is but that’s what happens. You step in fresh and you get all of their knowledge, wisdom and experience. Get ready to rock.

Can you imagine that? You’re free. Clear. Yes, you have those memories within your brain, but the old you doesn’t hang around to explain your history because all you really need is the wisdom. So you would just move forward with clear-headed, open and aware innocence. You’d be a genius. And you always can be. You just have to shut down your judgmental, opinionated mind and stop returning to/recreating past dramas in your imagination. Your past is not now. It’s what you do now that will build your future. So don’t waste that opportunity by lamenting where you wish you could have been or on what might have happened. Instead fully live the life you’ve chosen so far, but do it more wholeheartedly. See it for what it is: an opportunity to be alive. You’ll realize what a privilege it is when you feel your death approaching.

550 Relax and Succeed - Go quiet with genuine faithEach morning, step out of bed and remind yourself that these are early days for this new you. Feel the surfaces under your feet. Smell the air. Make eye contact with pets as though you’re truly getting to know them for the first time. Taste your beverage like you’ve never had liquid in your mouth before. Be fully alive. Remind yourself that you have been asleep, your predecessor has departed and you have awoken into this life. There is no need for historical thinking. You can simply move forward with a quiet mind in the present moment, and if you feel compelled to think about anything, it’s your future.

Your past does not dictate how well your life will turn out. It is moment to moment decisions that ripple out into effects on a moment to moment basis. So your future isn’t mapped and decided—your past is irrelevant. Just be in the moment you’re in and make the choice that feels right. Because this new you has nothing else to go on but feel. So go for it. It’s a lot less work than all the guessing and planning and speculating and worrying that you were doing before. And it will leave you more aware and awake to enjoy the incredible life that will come from trusting yourself. Because in the end, where you end up matters way less than who’s present when you get there. Have a great day.

peace. s