MoK: Appreciation

Today’s post is late for the same reason that Friday’s was, and so I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude for your understanding. It’s really rather fitting, because that sort of appreciation is at the heart of any good life, plus it was today’s scheduled assignment.

Feeling grateful requires us to consider what it is we’re grateful for. Whether it’s avoiding an experience we dislike or attaining some experience we do enjoy, it’s a positive internal experience to engage in conscious appreciation. Additionally, because gratitude is fairly universally held in high regard, it’s also often displayed quite clearly and often even publicly, which makes it a very multidirectional form of kindness.

It’s a very nice feeling to be appreciated, and when accept it we share in another person’s sense that there is a connection between us. Something happens which leads a person or people to be grateful, and when they express it, that in turn feels good for the recipients of that gratitude. On top of that, any witnesses to the expression are also very likely to be impacted positively.

All this being the case, today your assignment in the March of Kindness is to do three simple things:

1) Take a moment to be personally grateful for someone you’ve never met. Maybe it’s the person who invented your mechanical knee, maybe it’s the surgical team that saved your mother after the car accident, or maybe it’s just the person who made your favourite boots; the ones that always make you feel better when you wear them. The point is to find someone who needed to exist for you to feel a specific joy and then take a moment to feel genuine gratitude for them.

2) Today, keep your awareness set on high and watch for a stranger to thank. Don’t do this and be half-hearted; really look them in the eye and make sure you both know that you mean it. It’s not just that they let you into traffic or held a door, they honoured your very being by noting your presence even though they don’t know you. That’s no small thing.

3) And finally, for the most meaningful example, slow your life down and find someone so obvious that you tend to take them entirely for granted. Just imagine one month without them and how that would impact you, and then don’t just thank them–really take some time to detail how they impact your life. This is the sort of person who, if they were missing, much of your future would change for the worse. Appreciate their contribution to your life.

Some of these might feel awkward at first, but all will be worth it. Three little moments of kindness expressed within us, and some of them externally as well. With each of us doing it, that’s a lot of kindness that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Feel good about that. A bucket is filled with many drops. So thank you for joining us on the March of Kindness.

Enjoy your day.

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.

Discoveries in Gratitude

1100-relax-and-succeed-interrupt-anxiety-with-gratitudeA feeling of want cannot exist without thoughts of being incomplete. You want this relationship, this person, this thing, this job, this money, this respect, this opinion. But opinions are just thoughts. There is no point in even trying to manage someone’s history, or something as ephemeral as someone’s constantly adjusting perspective. Which means no one’s opinion is truly worth you even thinking about. It would change anyway.

Respect is worth little unless it is self-respect. Lots of people have respected others who committed horribly violent acts, but it is difficult to respect oneself when people either worship or fear you because both of those things are sublimation, not cooperation. They aren’t with you, they just don’t want to be against you. With self respect you can be all alone and you can still comfortably stand up for what you believe in.

Money is a proxy. It isn’t anything more than a storage device for the value of your work or maybe your family’s work (and if you own something, then everyone who works for you volunteers to give you a portion of their daily value). But even if you get lots of it, impressing someone with money or things is mistaking sizzle for steak. They aren’t impressed with you, they are impressed with what you can potentially do for them. Stop doing it and you’re back to being worth nothing to them because it was never you in the first place.

1100-relax-and-succeed-people-were-created-to-be-lovedNo matter how cool a job looks there are always downsides. What thing has only one side? You obviously can’t have an upside if there’s no downside. So famous musicians have to battle with who they can trust, or with drug and alcohol issues, or with always being away from home. Big business people spend a lot of their lives with lawyers and accountants. Little jobs have less power and pressure but they also have less control. Whatever you get you give something up. Managers are less likely to be able to use their status to leave early; they’re more likely to leave late.

Things are things. A new outfit doesn’t change who you are to anyone unless you’re very young, and even then…. Doctors can have their stethoscope and white coat ceremony when they enter med school but they know nothing more after they put it on than before. Lots of people are terrible drivers in beautiful cars. And cars get dated, clothes get dated, fads are group-think and they’re subject to constant change.

Which brings us significant people. When you’re living in ego, thinking your way through life; when someone moves away from you don’t see that as having to do with them, you think that’s about you. Your translation is that if they don’t want to be close to you that there’s something wrong with you, when just as many people leave personal relationships because they don’t feel good about themselves.

1100-relax-and-succeed-awareness-is-like-the-sunFinally, if one particular person doesn’t love you, then that does not leave you unloved, whether it’s a romantic relationship or even your own parents. Unloveable? Seriously. There’s over seven billion of us. There are only so many ways to be, so we would surely find millions who knew experiences like ours and who understood and loved us.

Today’s meditation is easy. If you’re working with a partner or partners then set a time to discuss your findings and then you have from now until then to find five things to be genuinely and significantly grateful for that you’ve previously taken for granted. Five things that you’ll share with your partner(s) at your prescribed time.

Remember, these have to be things you haven’t considered before. The idea is to expand your ability to enjoy life by getting you to see it as more expansive than you’ve previously realised. To do this it can only be you pushing out your own envelope, but it’s a pretty nice task to be asked to find things that please you.

1100-relax-and-succeed-thank-youThey’re always there. Find them. Seriously. If you don’t take this simple task seriously then you aren’t taking changing your life seriously–and that’s fine. But don’t avoid changing it and then complain. Either change it or keep it, but if you keep it then finding five things should extra easy. And remember, this is important. These exercises are all much more meaningful than you ego can appreciate. These are how you get to where you want to be.

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.

Feeling Physically Fortunate

Look around you. Meditate on the possibilities. Maybe it’s someone on crutches or in a wheelchair. Maybe it’s someone even bigger than you who’s having trouble getting comfortable in their chair. Maybe it’s something hard to see like Crohn’s Disease or or cancer. A large number of the people you walk past and talk to each day are suffering much more than you.

854 Relax and Succeed - Not every disabilityA lot of this suffering you can’t see but, if you’re watching for it, there’s plenty of instances where you can. When we see these things, rather than mock others or feeling superior, why not recognize our own good fortune? The good feelings we would get from that would create more compassion in us than if we ignored our own mental state and went straight to helping someone strictly out of obligation.

Some you can see some you can’t. For whatever flaws you feel it has, your body been the vessel you’ve moved through your entire life inside. It has served you well. You could be a paraplegic–or even a quadriplegic. I know some very happy and productive people without legs. If they can be grateful surely you can.

Consider your favourite physical quality. On a good day you’ll give yourself credit for great hair or a nice ass, cute feet, cute ears, eyes that go on forever… choose the one thing you’ll give yourself compliments on fairly regularly. After you notice how lucky you are to not be down, consider your assets and feel lucky to be up.

854 Relax and Succeed - Appreciate people

I know it sounds incredible but I swear it’s true. Your suffering does not come from the parts of you that you hate, it comes from you hating some parts of you. Likewise, feeling good is when we choose better quality thoughts. So go ahead. Acknowledge your weaknesses. Accept them and then leave them. Why carry them around? That’s neither wise nor productive. Let. Them. Go.

Shift your thinking to what you genuinely admire about yourself and a very huge change will–choice by choice–take place over time. You’ll look back and be amazed at how much better you look and feel and yet all you did was shift from attacking yourself to patting yourself on the back. But to do that you must be kind to you. No one can give you that kindness but you. Do so.

Today’s easy. Notice others and be grateful that you don’t have as much wrong with you as even they have. And if you are going to think about yourself, let it be to think positive thoughts about what you like about you. It’s not egotistical to like yourself. It’s insecure not to like yourself. So don’t be insecure, like yourself. The choice has always been yours.

Stay on top of it and you should be able to weave yourself a pretty nice day. I wish you so much good fortune that you bubble over with it and need to share. 🙂

peace. s

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

Rewiring Your Self

846 Relax and Succeed - When you discover that all happinessI know I said there would be no Thursday blogs this year while I worked on the edit of a new book, but since we took Monday to establish the plan for this year this week will be an exception.

Some of you started this exercise already pretty good at appreciating. Some of you are pretty terrible at it. A lot of people basically bitch all day. Every other driver, shopper, boss, co-worker, friend and family member draws out a judgement. Too many of you want too many things to be the way you want them to be rather than loving them the way they are. That’s why you suffer and why the world is robbed of the contribution of your genius.

Your brain makes adjustments every moment and it’s flexibility is stunning. There are functional people walking around with very large and complete components of their brain that are completely missing. A woman in the States has no frontal cortex and yet she functions quite normally. These weekly exercises are there to help you more consciously and intentionally do that rewiring so that it’s easier to make better choices.

846 Relax and Succeed - Stop focusing on how stressed you areIf you get up and do the gratitude exercise first thing in the morning–while your brain is still waking itself up–you are establishing a pattern within yourself. Just like if you go to the gym and build muscle by using that part of your body, if you make appreciation a daily habit your brain will get better and better at it. Then your body starts to listen too.

If you think a lot of stressful thoughts your body will produce all of the necessary chemistry to create the sensations you experience as stress. Everything from a furrowed brow to a tight stomach to altering your cell receptors. If you always give your body a consistent chemical it will get good at handling that chemical–because that’s what it believes you want. You ask for it you get it.

Start choosing your thoughts instead of having them be just unconscious habits. Your morning exercise absolutely will change your brain. Change your brain change your chemistry, change you chemistry change your life. My body’s brilliant at being happy. My cells can do sad, but it’s not very good at it. Happiness flows through me and I feel elated. Sadness won’t stick. Many of you are the opposite. No problem. Just change that morning habit and over time it’ll change itself. Make gratitude the habit.

846 Relax and Succeed - Each day is a new beginningIt’s just a little 20 minute exercise each morning and it’s easy. What could be more important? Why work twice as hard to make more money to get more things to create a temporary sense of satisfaction when you could have your current life and just change how you feel about it?

Do the exercise. If you won’t even do that then you can go ahead and keep saying you want to be happy. Because wanting it is what keeps it at bay. Wanting is always away from you. Appreciation happens within you. Take control over what you do control and you’ll see you don’t need to control the rest.

For my own part in appreciation: thank you for taking the time to read my work. I sincerely hope you’re enjoying the process. I know you will if you do it. So enjoy your day. Intentionally. 😉

peace. s

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

An Appreciating Life

How’s your gratitude going? Today I wrote: “I’m really glad I was able to recover most of my work from my computer crash last night.” Most. Not all. Still grateful though. You be can angry you broke your arm in a car accident or you can be grateful you didn’t die. The choice is always yours. This week’s all about you getting serious about choosing appreciation.

845 Relax and Succeed - Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsMaslow’s Hierarchy of Needs orders what we need to reach our personal peak. First you must meet your Physiological needs. You have to have enough food and water and you must have enough shelter to be able to survive. It’s a painful to thing to want to be able to eat but to not be able to, whether you’re in a drought in Africa or a cancer ward in Edmonton. Most of us aren’t experiencing that and we can be grateful for that every day.
Next is Safety.

Next we get into connections to others. Maslow noted next you need Love. This is where you feel you belong. You are part of friendship or a family or maybe you have intimate contact with someone. This gives you a chance to give to a limited number of people as a kind of training ground for a higher purpose with all people. Love is the greatest feeling we experience and we should be deeply grateful for those that inspire it in us.

845 Relax and Succeed - A pessimist sees the difficultyNext is Esteem. First and foremost you need to have self-esteem. You have to see that you deserved the love you were given. Having that, you will then benefit from the confidence and admiration of a group. In short you need to know that your impact will last beyond yourself and your days on this Earth. If you’re a boss or parent or coach or even a friend, you should feel grateful for the chance to serve others and to use your amazing abilities to inspire others to greatness themselves.

Next is your spiritual self so to speak. You need to Self-Actualize. You need to do something for the real you. The you that steers the physical you. You need to paint or dance or learn to fix cars or give a speech or travel. You need to enact your calling. You need to expand the universe by expanding yourself. It’s like taking your sense of love and expanding it outside yourself and into the larger world.

And that was where Maslow originally stopped because he wasn’t old enough yet to know there’s another phase after that.

845 Relax and Succeed - Let your light shine so brightlyYour final and most important shift is when you live in a state of Self-Transcendence. That’s when you are so complete, so overflowing with success that you can stop thinking about you and you can start investing your time in thinking about others instead. That’s what created my books, movies and this blog. It’s hard to suffer when your mind hasn’t even created a you to do the suffering. And there is no you because your mind is fully absorbed in what you’re doing and your appreciation of how it helps others. Do not steal from yourself the incredible joy of having been a person who really made a meaningful difference.

Wake up each day and be grateful and use that fuel to lift you higher and higher, past health and safety and love and success. Take it all the way to Buddahood. It’s just waiting for you to turn it on with your efforts. Be grateful, feel the energy build and before you know it a new outlet will appear and you will have a brand new canvas to fill with your dreams. I very much look forward to you making the world more beautiful with them. I am grateful for you.

Have a fantastic day everyone. Create that for yourself by filling it with appreciation. Even if it’s with a broken arm. 😉 Much love.

peace. s

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

Setting an Intention

Thank you for being so enthusiastic about this year’s plan. It was wise of many of you to involve a family member or co-worker so you can help keep each other on track. That’s definitely a good idea and it will help.

844 Relax and Succeed - I am thankfulSo what’s first? If you’ve read me much then you know that the most important thing you can do with your consciousness is either want or appreciate. A little want is irritation, more is frustration, a lot is anger and if you hate things so much that you want to be someone else–that’s depression. Your other choice is appreciation. A little leaves you pleased. More makes you happy and a lot makes you joyful. And at maximum manifestation you disappear and you become so huge you need nothing–in fact you are so overflowing that it becomes your nature to give.

So how do we do it? I started off yesterday by saying mornings are important. In the morning all the wiring in your brain that makes you you is just sitting there. It’s not active yet. You spent the night integrating your memories from the previous day. So before you start wanting it not to be a workday, or wanting it to be warmer or later or with someone else or somewhere else just stop, sit down with your notebook and pen, settle your thoughts and then start with Day 1:

Set an intention for your life: gratitude. Then write down at least 5 things you are grateful for. Health, love, your parents, the writers of your favourite show, a visit from a much-loved friend, whatever you like. Include what you’re grateful about in your past and what you’re grateful will happen today. Remember, even your legs are something a lot of people in a wheelchair would love to have more than any other thing in the world and yet when were you last grateful you could walk? When you were two?

844 Relax and Succeed - When you arise in the morningIf you find it hard to write your list at the start then the good news is you’ll benefit more than the rest of us. Now remember–this is a practice. This should happen every workday at least, and always during your quiet time with no interruptions. No music, just the sound of the pen on the paper and the slow creation of the list. This tells your brain what wiring to warm up for your day and it literally makes it more likely that you’ll pay attention to the driver that let you into traffic than you will on the guy that cut you off. Doing the opposite is what makes life feel like hell.

People suffer by death of a thousand cuts. Every time you judge another person or people–or even nature or yourself–you do this by wanting. Once you shift from wanting to the more natural appreciating your life changes. So save yourself from finishing the day hacked to bits by your thinking. Appreciate instead. Go ahead. Start your list. And include something about yourself in there too. Something you’re grateful you can do or something you are, like healthy.

Now this is all supposed to happen very early in the morning so if your timezone doesn’t sync with mine, just follow one day behind and read yesterday’s today and today’s tomorrow. Do this each workday and by next year we will have successfully rewired your brain to ignore wanting  in favour of gratitude.

844 Relax and Succeed - If you focus on resultsYou build billions of new body cells each day and while you keep brain cells for life, you do build close to 1500 neurons a day and that’s what we want working for us. What creates them is you expanding yourself through play or education or experience. Or complaining. The choice is yours. It’s just a matter of: what do you want to be good at?

Just watch how much easier it gets each week to find things for your list. By the end of the month you won’t have enough time to write out all the stuff you’ve been noticing. That’s a great sign that the rewiring is working.

So easy right? All you have to do is wake up, write down five things each morning that you’re genuinely grateful for and you’re done. Easy peasy. You’ve got this. As long as this is done sincerely, this absolutely will change you starting right away and that change will continue to the point where a year from now you won’t have the same mind you do now. It’s gonna be awesome.

Enjoy your day. I love you all.

peace. s

PS From here forward these will post in my usual morning run, after you’ve written in your gratitude journal. Each Monday I’ll get you started early and then you can use the later blogs to tune and enhance your meditation.

An Attitude of Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving today in Canada and so I present you this fresh edit on the notion of gratitude. Have a wonderful day everyone. I am grateful to have you to write for. Much love.

Relax and Succeed

It’s funny where gifts can come from sometimes. A friend of mine has had a few pretty challenging years—you know, big stuff. Serious health concerns, bigger than average job stresses, all while she’s had to deal with some big family issues like death and dementia. Life is like a card game and right how she’s in the midst of a run of less-than-easy hands to play. And then she got her gift.

555 Relax and Succeed - Life is full of give and takeThe strange part was, the guy who gave her the gift has next to nothing himself. He was on TV. He was there to try and raise money to be sent to people like him, but instead he gave her a gift. She was trying to get caught up on some overdue paperwork and to get her kitchen cleaned and in her head she was adding up all of the balls she was juggling. The more she entertained…

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Living vs Happening

Nina and Dani work together. Both are attractive single women in their mid-30’s. Nina’s not very focused on a relationship and yet it seems she’s constantly dating. Dani wants nothing more than a relationship and she barely leaves her house. What’s going on?

787 Relax and Succeed - Too blessed to be stressedThe simple answer is: Nina appreciates and Dani wants. Nina feels lucky every day. She moved to Canada from a very poor country so for her turning on a tap and getting clean water is a pleasure. She’s warm and safe, there’s a police force, the government isn’t dangerous, and she’s never worried about her little sister getting raped and yet that was her main fear growing up back home.

Nina feels lucky and it’s written all over her face. As she looks to and fro she sees things she is so grateful for that it lights her face and voice right up. She has bountiful amounts of energy and she’s always volunteering for charity groups at work, she’s very active in her community, and she invites her friends over often and it’s rare when she doesn’t accept an invitation too.

Nina’s life is busy but it brings her into contact with so many people that–even though she’s not really looking for a relationship right now–she still accepts most offers for dates because you never know. She’s always ready for her life to get better.

Dani’s family integrated a long time ago. Clean water and safe streets are nothing new to Dani and so she takes all of that for granted. In fact, she’ll even go so far as to mock people who try to value those things because she’s never walked down a street or slept in her bed and felt terrified. To her safe, warm and fed are normal.

787 Relax and Succeed - Your mantra is thank youDani’s dream isn’t something vague like freedom. Hers is detailed. She knows exactly what kind of guy she’s looking for. She knows what kind of ambition he has, what kind of personal look, and she definitely wants someone her friends and family will consider a good catch.

Dani however is frustrated that she hasn’t been able to find a match to her dream. And as she’s aged she’s watched some lines creep across her eyes, her naturally svelte figure is now a bit more lumpy, and her mid-level administration job has turned her wardrobe into little more than a source of pockets.

For Dani it’s the same monotony every day. Her same dull uninspiring boss, the same tasks, the same drive home, the same packaged dinner and then she’ll exhaustedly tour through a few dating websites in the hopes of finding someone for Friday or Saturday.

Meanwhile Nina finishes work and then races over for her free meal at a nearby hotel where the social team is putting together the company Christmas party–even though Nina’s not even Christian. She laughed when she got there because the meal was the exact same thing she ate last week when a guy from the volunteer association in her neighbourhood took her out to thank her for her hard work.

787 Relax and Succeed - Plant your own gardenWhen men look at Nina they see a vital, engaged and awake human being. Someone who lives each moment as fully as she can. She says yes a lot. Meanwhile Dani says no a lot. She’s always got reasons that she can’t enjoy her life. She’s an expert at providing them to the point where she can not enjoy it even when it would be easy to enjoy.

Nina goes out with men because it seems like it would be fun and it’s rarely unpleasant. Dani sits at her computer looking at profiles wishing she had a life. While Nina is living Dani is wishing. Nina moves past her sometimes initially tired reactions and she goes toward life. Dani always champions her tiredness and says no.

Your life is beautiful because you make it that way. Appreciation is an act not a result. If you’re complaining about your life it’s time you looked at it for the opportunities you are almost certainly squandering every day. The question is, will you find them and will you do anything about them?

Start today. Make fun a priority in your life. That’s how it happens.

peace. s

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

The Foundation

We realize it when we’re older: when we’re young we’re more interested in what someone has or does than in what they are. We want our partners to be attractive and sexy and successful and smart. That really seems like a great list. Later, after a lot of hard-fought experience we want someone kind. Someone who will be gentle with us when we’re struggling. Someone who will genuinely see our problems as theirs just as much as they also want to share our successes.738 Relax and Succeed - I am practicing being kind

That’s the value of dating and breaking up. It feels like we’re failing. Like maybe we’re lost or unworthy or we’ve chosen some other narrative to explain our repeated periods of being single. The longer it goes the harsher we get with ourselves because we presume that something’s going wrong, when people older than us can easily see we’re just living life.

Yes there are childhood sweethearts that fall in love and stay married. But there will be challenges in that marriage just like any other. But the far more popular route is to date five to ten people before finding someone that you feel really comfortable with. As long as you’re okay with the waiting it works out fine. Each relationship brings us something and it costs something. We’re just looking for the good fit between comfort and price. It’s more like trying on clothes. And sometimes you have to put a few things on before you really know how to respect the differences.

We all think our cultures haven’t brainwashed us. We always think that’s the other guy. But it’s us. We want beauty and youth and sexiness and wealth. Of course those are things we can see but you don’t really experience anyone’s beauty as anything more than a visual experience. But things like kindness and compassion and patience are experiences you feel. As you age you care less about how things look and more about how they feel, and that’s largely because we come to realize that even the relationships that looked good from the outside were actually experiencing serious challenges on the inside.

738 Relax and Succeed - Kindness is not an actThese challenges can come as big events. It’s very hard for couples to survive the death of a child. Financial trials and infidelity can test people’s idea of for better or for worse. But the challenges can also come like a death of a thousand cuts. Like when someone just feels disregarded or dismissed or taken for granted. The opposite of love isn’t hate it’s indifference. And couples can start to think resentful thoughts that lead to them to be indifferent to their partner’s suffering and that is a death knell for a relationship. When connection and compassion are gone everything changes.

Maybe you’re always messy and your partner has learned to live that way out of love for you. Maybe you’re always late and your partner has learned to live that way out of love for you. Maybe you’ve got a shorter temper and get off the plan for the kids more often but your partner has learned to live with it out of love for you. Maybe you’re very rigid and your partner must make significant concessions to simply be with you. Maybe you regularly lose your temper or pout or cause some other price to be paid.

738 Relax and Succeed - GratefulBottom line, none of us are perfect. So if we want to know how our partner loves us we should simply look to our own weaknesses. Because our partners will most certainly have had to accommodate for them. And as we mature we realize that is the sign we are loved. We become grateful because we realize that while we were busy trying to get other people to be other ways, some of the ways we were being were not very reasonable. And then we begin to take stock of the more invisible contributions of our partner.

If you share living space with another human being then you have a large impact on their life and they have one on yours. Rather than telling them how they could make yours better, it might be an idea to actually get a clear understanding of how much they give to you already. Because no matter who you are, I guarantee you’re getting a lot more than you’re taking into account.

peace. s

Father’s Day

This past Father’s Day felt different for me. Anyone who reads me knows my Dad’s been my hero since my first trip to Australia. My Aunt and Uncle had such positive views of my parents, and I respected my Aunt and Uncle so much that I began to reconsider who my parents might be—not as my parents—but as individual people living their own lives.

712 Relax and Succeed - Life is too ironicI’ll be forever thankful to particularly my Aunt Ev who did such a great job of helping me to learn to recognize those qualities in all adults. She also did a great job of explaining some of the challenges of adulthood that too-often kids assume are things about them rather than about adulthood. That was the beginning of my father becoming my hero.

As I’ve written in these pages, Dad had a massive brain injury of his own when I was young and he was not expected to live the night. Two weeks later he was out of a coma, slowly regained his memory and his brain became a subject of debate between me and a very talented neuroscientist.

Because it was well-before the 2000’s the prevailing wisdom was that, because brain cells didn’t replace themselves in the same way they do in the rest of the body, this lead everyone to conclude that the brain didn’t change. It does grow new cells, but there was no recognition of other changes. I knew the brain had what is now called neuroplasticity and that it can and did change all the time. Her beliefs lead her to the conclusion that my father would get worse. I was young then and I couldn’t explain very well at the time how I knew for sure, but I assured her that my father would improve and that the brain does grow and change, and those two things are now known to both be true.

712 Relax and Succeed - It is not joy that makes us gratefulThe funny thing is, even though the doctors that night told Mom and I that Dad wouldn’t make it, and even though his head was this weird shiny smooth pumpkin of bruises and tubes, and there was nothing recognizable about his head, I was still entirely sure he would be fine. I literally had zero worry for him—I was more concerned about how my Mom was. But this year—after his last fall, that actually frightened me. That brought time into focus. I try not to think about time, but for Mom and Dad I’ll do anything.

I may get 20 more Father’s Day with my Dad. But I also know that he’s way past the national average for age and so this year’s could also be our last. An acute sense of that had Dad glowing in the dark this year. My parents have always been so precious to me but I have modelled myself after my father. And the idea of living without him terrifies me. But I happily go toward that terror because I know by facing my fears I will be making him even more precious and that will make us even closer.

My Dad has this one particular skill. He can be fully invested in you. This means that if you are in front of him and you’re angry about how you can’t stand Mark, and that Mark is the reason for all of your pain and suffering, my Dad would not join you in attacking Mark. But he would support you completely as you attacked Mark. He would be genuinely sorry you were in pain and he wouldn’t argue with you about Mark. You would get full empathy from him.712 Relax and Succeed - I never had a policy

Now, if my Dad went to see Mark and Mark told the opposite story—the one where you’re the jerk—then again—my Dad would not join in on any bashing of you. But he would fully support Mark. He would be sorry Mark was in pain. But Dad knows only support. He has no attack. He can just be with you in whatever moment you’re both in, and he doesn’t need any opinions of his own when he’s there. He’s there for you.

If you think you have unlimited Father’s Days, or Summers, or Christimas’s or Tuesdays, then you’re fine. But eventually you figure out you don’t, and then each of those things becomes stunningly special. Far from wanting just one more Father’s Day, you’ll want one more weekend, one more day, one more hour.

I’m not a vampire and neither is my father. We have hearts and our souls will eventually leave them. That temporary nature is the very quality that gives life its richness. It is what the vampire can only taste in small doses but humans can activate throughout their lives.

712 Relax and Succeed - When you plant a seed of love

I have my father’s sense of humour. I remember distinctly the day I learned courage from him. I remember distinctly when I learned compassion from him. And he taught me what it was like to be with a human being who was sincerely and completely invested in connecting with me. Experiencing that connection always felt so incredibly good and it gave me so much strength that still today I do my utmost to have as many of my exchanges be like that as possible. Dad has always left people better than he found them.

I’m grateful that my Aunt woke part of me up while I was still young enough to have a very deep and wonderful relationship with my parents. I will miss my Dad if he leaves this Earth before me. But in the meantime I won’t let my fears eat up my insides. Not when I can use them to push me even closer to Dad.

Reconsider the people around you. Do not take them for granted. That would be stealing from yourself.

Have an awesome day.

peace. s