The 7-5-3 Code

Yesterday I gave you some basic strategies to avoid having your irritations and frustrations evolve into anger. Today I’ll tell you the more challenging part, which is how to recover once you’re upset. Before I set the context, fair warning: you might find parts of this story difficult.

In life in general I do attempt to set myself up to do well under challenging circumstances by basically following the same code a Samurai would use for health. I will admit it’s been tough getting enough sleep in these last few years that have included caring for my parents–but I eat pretty well, I have natural exercise built into my life, and I actively care about myself and the world around me.

As this blog is a testament, I always seek and greatly value having a calm, clear, alert awareness in order to achieve a healthy emotional balance and the highest levels of performance. But I can’t do that all the time and the day I’m going to tell you about was preceded by a week of bad food, too little sleep, and a loss of awareness.

Work was extremely busy and it was a very critical time on a long project. My parents had a stomach flu and didn’t want to eat, and what they wanted to eat came right back out one end of them or the other. At 91 they don’t move fast so I was cleaning up all over the place and yes, it was super gross.

I was doing a lot of extra cleaning and wiping and fluid checking (during which I was washing up incessantly to try to avoid catching it too because that would even be worse). Since I generally cook for them and I wasn’t joining them in their dry toast, I wasn’t eating either. I was always often finishing so late that it prevented me from getting enough important work done and that made me think too much. It was a recipe for disaster.

A while ago we had to shift Dad to an adult diaper. It’s just a minor one, mostly for the 10% of the time where he quits peeing just a moment after he puts himself back into his shorts. In those cases you can say, “Dad you should change,” and after he finally hears you he’ll do it fine on his own.

But this day included the flu. I’d just sat down after cleaning up vomit in three different parts of the house when he very notably jumped up off the sofa and then shuffled faster than I’d seen him go since his last stroke. Look, this is where I’m just going to be candid. Dad’s got a liquified stomach, 91 year old legs trying to get him to a toilet 40 feet away, and along the way his only defense is a 91 year old asshole. It’s just not as snug as it was when he was younger, and it’s okay if you laugh.

Sure enough he couldn’t keep it together and whatever happened before I got the door opened I’m not sure, but to put it bluntly there was a lot of poo–including on Dad, the wall, the bathtub, everywhere. It smelled worse than anything I’d ever encountered in my life. I worked to hide my gagging from him.

This is where I felt myself start a rise. My mistake was, I wasn’t fully aware of my father’s vulnerable state or it easily would have moved me to active compassion. No, I made the experience about me, and so rather than being present with him I started thinking about how long it was going to take me to clean everything up.

Dad had his diaper back up and so I gave him a bag to put it in and I asked him to put on a new one. I got to cleaning the bathroom all while thinking about the uncompleted important work sitting on my desk. The smell was brutal, and now my stomach was starting to rumble too.

About halfway through cleaning the bathroom (I’ll save you the horrible details), I stopped thinking about me for a moment and that helped me realise that Dad can’t balance, and so he sits when he changes his pants. I looked at the mess and thought to myself, Dad went in there to change a dirty diaper…!

I leapt up, raced to his bedroom and sure enough, he’d stood up to pull off the old one. It was overfull and didn’t keep it’s contents together, so his ass is still covered in poo. And just as I came in–just after he drops the dirty diaper half on the floor and half into the bag I gave him–he does what’s logical to his Dementia-influenced mind and yes, he sat down on the bed to put on a new diaper. I tried to stop him but it was too late. It was awful. I snapped at him. “Great Dad. Now I’ve got to wash the bedding too!” It did not feel good to say.

I ordered (ordered!?) him back into the bathroom because I had to get him cleaned up before I finished cleaning the bathroom, floor and bed. I had already calmed myself down quite a bit by the time I was helping him get cleaned off. It was an extremely intimate moment for both of us. This wasn’t a baby who doesn’t understand what you’re doing for them. We’re both adults and it was the first time he’d needed that level of help in the bathroom. I could see the shame in his eyes–something I never saw before in my life. My heart immediately broke.

As I stopped thinking about me and started getting present with him and his vulnerability, my rectitude flooded back and I used courage to move past my own shame. I placed my hand warmly on my Dad’s naked back. I looked him in the eyes, and with open honesty and sincerity I said, “I’m sorry for getting upset Dad. You’re more important than my schedule. You’re my Dad and I love you. That was my fault. I’m sorry. I’m learning how to do all this Dementia stuff too. I’ll do better next time.” He liked that.

That helped me shift my own emotional tone even further, and the kindness and respect that I attempt to always to cultivate returned. As I wiped him off and he relaxed into his new reality, I looked him in the eye and we connected in a way we never have in all my life. He was saying thank you with his eyes in a very tender and loving way, and as I rubbed his back I warmly and lovingly responded, “You’re doing great Dad. You’re just sick that’s all. We’ll get through this together. I’m with you through this no matter what. You’ve been a great Dad. I love you and I’m here for you.”

He’ll forget it all happened in twenty minutes. But our experience was real. He started to offer an apology but I told him that it wasn’t necessary. He was sick and I was caring for him and I had not done my duty. My parents had been there for all of my gross kid-parts, I was not going to shy away from them when it was their turn to need the same care. He could count on me. And boy, could I see the comfort that last part gave him.

I cannot tell you how much I respect healthy, professional care workers who do these same things, with the same levels of compassion,  all for people who are entirely unknown to them. I now know how they’re able to do those very tough jobs; it’s because, just like everything else in life, if you’re willing to push past some really challenging feelings, you’ll end up experiencing important and meaningful things that too many people miss out on.

As gross and as challenging as it was, I now wouldn’t trade that day for anything. I wouldn’t trade the moment that Dad and I shared for anything. And I was happy to wash those sheets. Yes, I would be late getting work done and people were going to be upset. But my Dad was okay, and I’d been the person I most like to be; comforting. When I finally laid my head down on my pillow I went to sleep feeling like it had been a really good day.

You too can turn your worst days into your best. But it requires an awareness of the present moment and the ability to change your emotional tone by adjusting the focus of your mind. Practice both now. No matter who you are you’ll need it. And when you do, you’ll understand even more why it’s so important. Because if people behave according to their deepest feelings, loving someone in the trenches bonds a relationship together like nothing else.

peace. s

PS And if you’re wondering–yes–just as they were getting better I did actually catch the flu myself. 🙂

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.

The Friday Dose #135: Koselig, Gezellig and Hygge

1048-fd1-relax-and-succeed-koseligKoselig, Gezellig and Hygge? Remember them? To someone from outside Norway, Holland or Denmark these might seem like characters from The Lord of the Rings, but in fact these are ways to have your mindset positively impact your attitude. To boost winter happiness you could click on each of those links and have a quick read of one each morning from tomorrow to Monday.

Just the other day a place near me was literally the coldest place on Earth, at -33 degrees Celsius (-27F). Here, the average winter temperature is -11C (-12F), and we’ll usually get a snap below -25C for about a week a year. Negative people will often literally take the worst nighttime low they can find and they’ll add three extra months to it and then describe that as winter. Positive people would note that last winter ended in March and it was above zero right up until a week ago, so we might not be growing apples right now but we’re still doing extremely well.

Everyone adjusts to the weather where they live so cold is a different temperature every place. But we still have a choice of how we personally adjust to that external shift. Many continue to go outdoors in the winter due to an appreciation of nature that has a mental, physical and spiritual value that doesn’t change when it’s cold, it just manifests differently.

1048-fd2-relax-and-succeed-hyggeFor these people the outdoors becomes more of an excursion or adventure, and indoors is for recovery and gathering. Winter is for venturing out and then getting cozy for some cuddling and snuggling and nuzzling, whether it’s with a fire and a great book, your pet, some friends or family, or a quiet candlelit night sitting listening to audio, or maybe even another trip outside to see the Northern Lights if you’re able to.

If you think the weather decides your mood then you’re right. But if you think it doesn’t have to decide it, you’re right too. If you truly understand how things work then you’ll know you can be involved enough in your experiences that you can ensure that winter changes your attitude in a positive way yet again.

Have a wonderful day everyone. No matter what it looks like outside. Because if you’re going to let the weather turn your mood ugly then you are likely dooming and volunteering yourself to many days of unhappiness that are entirely unnecessary as is demonstrated by others who chose something different. Chose wisely.

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.

Holding Onto Peace

1042-relax-and-succeed-the-world-is-full-of-magic-thingsRemember I told you earlier this week about my friend going through the enlightenment process? As expected, he’s had to circle in after a few days for a debrief. He’s starting to understand that he really has changed; that the glow he felt that night isn’t going away. He’s worried he’ll forget, and yet he can feel that fear isn’t really founded on anything. He can already see his fearful thoughts arising and they seem harmless.

Why this is confusing to him is that he’s currently aware enough that his ego can tell him something but now he hears it from this new clear-headed perspective. He knows those are just thoughts. So he feels in his nature compelled to be afraid because that’s what his ego did with anything worthwhile; it worried he would lose it. He had some significant confidence suddenly removed from him at a young age, so it makes sense that he has a fear of repeating those feelings.

His weird challenge now is that he hears these voices that he used to always do battle with, except now the big, real part of him is no longer believing the story of weakness so rather than being the battle we’re thinking, we’re more detached. We’re more a witness to it.

1042-relax-and-succeed-the-mind-that-perceivesSo now my friend can see how his ego used to conjure pain for himself and he can see himself trying to do that same thing about losing his wisdom. But whenever he tries to go to the habitual fear he can no longer maintain his belief in that fear. He knows now it comes from thought. Reacting to it seems silly now. He’s just worried he might start reacting like he used to.

I actually told him he most certainly would. Being enlightened doesn’t get him all yin and no yang, it makes him accept the yang and yin as two sides to one valuable coin, rather than opposites. The difference now is he’s seen the full circle. Now, if he’s desiring all good things then he knows that’s ridiculous and rather than being lost in jealousy or envy or some other egotistical pursuit, he just looks at himself like some innocent kid wanting something impossible. Now he sees those actions the same way I do. They no longer make sense.

He can take his thoughts seriously for a while now. He can get lost in ego for chunks of time. But you can’t forget things you know. You know your name, you know how to multiply numbers and you know who your dog is. Those aren’t things you can forget. Well he can’t forget this either. He’s seen the universe at too fundamental a level. When he looks at anyone now, they all just look like people who are strangely acting as though other people see their internal thoughts.

1042-relax-and-succeed-whenever-anything-negative-happensHe can see everyone trying to reconcile everyone else to their perspective, yet he can also see that each perspective is a separate reality describing a different manifestation of their own thoughts, very much as if two LSD patients compared their trips. That’s essentially what egos do when they try to reconcile realities. It looks that weird when you’re healthy.

Once you’ve seen the truth you still have to practice it to have it alive in your life. But that’s not work, that’s less work that living through ego, but the awareness is a kind of effort at the start. Eventually it becomes more natural to be that peaceful.

Right now my friend feels like he’s on the greatest, happiest holiday ever, and when his ego does show up it just panics that he might not get to stay. I told him that’s part of his journey. But he actually understood me when I explained that now he’ll like problems because he’ll know they’re not real and all he’ll do with them is take them apart like puzzles. And that alone is infinitely less painful than trying to treat them like they’re an objective reality.

My friend is done. He’s learned that big lesson. He has the key to the big secret now. From here on in it’s just how much he uses that key. But just like he didn’t lose it from when he was a baby, he can’t ever really lose it now either. His struggles are now games. It’s just so good it’ll take him a while to believe that the universe really is that generous and beautiful. It’s important for you to remember dear reader, the one thing you do share with my friend and I, is that you live together with us in that generous universe. Your only job after that, is to appreciate that fact as much as we do. Why not start today? What’s good about right now?

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.

Shinrin-Yoku

967 Relax and Succeed - The earth has music for those who listenThere is a much easier way to deal with life than the ups and downs of the roller coaster that most people voluntarily climb onto every day. Everyone today has big problems and they’re looking for big sweeping solutions. The habit has become to seek some grand catharsis, or to see a doctor for an answer-all pill, or to come to someone like me in the hopes of suddenly finding clarity or enlightenment, as though it’s a quick cure and not a way to practice living.

It’s as though we collect rocks from every negative experience and we put them in our pockets and over time they weigh us down. We keep looking for someone outside of us to assume responsibility for all of our rocks when our low-consciousness finally notices that they’re really weighing us down. Enough rocks can really slow your progress. Then things can get really heavy and you can eventually find it difficult to even move, and if still nothing is done there can be physical consequences.

Another less-drastic option is to maintain your being and your life. That is to say, rather than battling disorder and disease you can instead nourish and nurture health. Whereas the battles tend to be ugly and have victims, the maintenance of health is often very enjoyable and rewarding. So you can collect rocks and then look for someone to dump a pile of them on, or you can go for a walk every day and drop a few out as you go, by yourself. That’s called empowerment.

Last year while working with an organisation that promoted both nature and wellness, I was surprised to learn they had never encountered the Japanese idea of shinrin-yoku. It literally means forest bathing. As I’ve noted in posts for years now, walks are not idle efforts. Careful scientific study has externally proven what anyone who spends time in nature knows internally: nature has an impact on us.

These impacts include things like pheromones given off by trees, the soothing quality of the sounds of running water, and even the general quality of the air because of course plants and trees are really the cleaning system for our atmosphere. Our exposure to nature also provides opportunities for unexpected experiences with other people and animals, which can be much richer experiences than just sightings.

When was the last time your bare feet touched the Earth off your own property or not on some beach? How often do you walk barefoot around the nature in your own neighbourhood? Kids used to climb dozens of trees and develop all sorts of useful spatial awareness skills but now there are many kids who have never even been allowed to attempt such a connection.

Touching a tree, smelling a flower, skipping stones on water, seeing the sunlight dapple in through the leaves; these are all very old very human experiences. To trap ourselves in a world of right angles, where everything is labeled and processed and pre-set is to live in an inhuman world. Comfort is not nature. Nature addresses both the outsides and the insides of us.

967 Relax and Succeed - Daily tip wanderI have been unable to walk through my nearby beloved ravine for about a week now. It’s rare that I’m so busy that I can’t create time for doing nothing but walking and breathing. I often do sessions walking through it and for good reason. If you don’t think nature has much value to your psychological and spiritual goals, I can assure you that anyone who spends a lot of time in nature will clearly indicate its value if it’s removed from their life. They will immediately start to feel weighed down by small amounts of stones that you’d never even notice in your busy world.

Go for a walk. Skip some of your own stones across a pond. Commune with a duck. Hug a tree. Wade in a creek. Because bringing a smartphone and looking for Pokemons is fine, but being distracted in nature is to miss the point. Your life is all about efficiency and sense and value but how does that look like it’s working for everyone?

People have never been more stressed. Meanwhile, if you pay attention to the mountain climbers, the naturalists, the hikers and the campers in your life they will all share a uniquely healthy spirit. That isn’t them being more successful than you as a person; that’s them being more connected to the world as an aspect of their own nature. You can do that too.

Forget concepts and roles and responsibilities. Join us. Join the universe. Find your own nature. And make sure you toss a few stones out every single 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.

The Friday Dose #119: The New Brain

963 FD Relax and Succeed - A beautiful lifeIn general people inside and outside of the sciences will tend to overestimate what is known versus what it is still unknown. It makes sense that brain researchers would feel they were studying a relatively well-known organ and yet earlier this year an entirely new, large and significant brain structure was discovered. Earlier this month they found out what it’s for.

Obviously if you’re social you will be in contact with more germs. So if you’re going to be near a lot of bacteria and viruses then it’s logical that your body would want you to have greater protection. It’s just that previously no one knew about the relationship between how you feel and how your immune system will work.

If you’re alone all the time there is little reason for you to need a robust immune system, much like someone who never lifts anything will have little reason to build up a robust set of muscles. Likewise, if you’re near people and you’re immune system is depressed, then it makes sense that your brain would encourage emotions that would make you less social. I’ve noted it in previous blogs, but until the last decade or so almost no one realised that being sad would lead to being sick. Now we know those observations were well-founded: being sad usually means being isolated and it’s likely the isolation that will lead to the health issues.

There is still much to be learned. Are your moods dictated more by your health or is your health dictated more by your moods? What we do know is they’re interconnected, so in the meantime the best thing you can go by is your own direct experience in life. Unless you’re somehow prevented from participating in your society, it’s a good sign if you’re mixing with others a lot, because now we know with even greater certainty that you will literally build the body that suits the life you live.

Decide who you want to be and the universe will do its best to cooperate with that. It all starts with you. Have a great weekend everyone.

peace. s

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

Healthy Body Healthy Mind

In previous blogs I’ve discussed how the unusual thinking that resulted from my accident caused me to be confused by people’s fear of death and their distaste for being wrong. I also find people approach their physical health in a rather strange way.

789 Relax and Succeed - I workout because I love my bodyWhy is exercise seen as work? Or an obligation? Or that it’s done to stave off aging or to prevent a loss of beauty? Why can’t it be an act of love?

Imagine you have two brains in a drawer that goes through the middle of your head. If you pull it to the one side you’re using one brain, pull it to the other side and you’re using the other brain. It’s called changing your mind. Absolutely anyone can do it at any time.

Now imagine that these two brains are filled with stories. One brain has wiring to take the world and process it as either painful, wounded, debilitating, or sad, and it can lead to feelings of isolation and a loss of enthusiasm for life in general.

The other brain is wired to see everything as a plus. So whatever is input gets processed in a grateful, strong, respectful and happy way. And you choose which drawer to use for every single thought you think.

789 Relax and Succeed - I feel energized and happySo do you want to see your food and your daily exercise as a diet and a workout? Is a restricting word and almost violent one the best way to describe something you do every day? What if you ate and were active as a part of loving yourself? Of loving your body?

What does a quadriplegic miss? What can’t they do in their chairs? These are things you currently take for granted. They see the basic movement of a human body as a gift–as something to be enjoyed. Don’t go to the gym because you hate your body, go because you love it. Treat it like Yoga. Get your mind fully immersed in the movement rather than the stillness.

And why do people find it easy to stick to healthy diets after years of junk food? Because very shortly after changing their diets they’ll notice all kinds of health benefits from how they sleep to how they use a bathroom. Their vision and hearing appears sharper. They feel stronger and they have more balance. And they crave things like carrots and spinach and yes maybe some meat too if in their own experience they reacted positively to it. Don’t let your food be a source of guilt. Honour your body and honour the food. You’re both worthy.

789 Relax and Succeed - You are what you eatDon’t turn your health regime into a cruel dictatorship. Don’t look at food as an enemy, but rather as a lover. Don’t look at exercise as working anything out, it’s instead an exploration of your own physical being. If you were an alien given a space ship you’d want to take it out for a spin and have fun with it. Same for your consciousness inside your body. Take it for a spin. Have some fun with it.

Love yourself like you love no other. And make eating, activity and sleep an honoured part of your day. These are not the things you squeeze in around work. These are fundamental human experiences and for you to be healthy they must be too. Have a wonderful day.

peas. s

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

Fitting In

We all know that cloying feeling of wanting to fit in. We imagine a warm feeling, like a blanket that covers every part of us. The revelation is when we really go from intellectually knowing to truly understanding that absolutely everyone–within their own reality–feels the same way we do. They experience the same emotions all of us do. No one escapes, everyone wins.

757 Relax and Succeed - We all live with the objectiveYes, the people you feel are super confident, the ones who seem to fit in everywhere with everyone? They experience the pain of not fitting in too. Yup. Everyone feels like the outsider sometimes. And our identity is the narrative story we tell ourselves to explain our out or in-ness.

Our natural desire to belong is a healthy drive toward cooperation that has been turned ugly by modern life. We used to all live together and share, now we all live in separated boxes called houses that we have to pay for, many people are alone, everyone works and everyone has artificial light tricking their brain into thinking it’s daytime. So first people have insomnia and then they’re exhausted all day. Where is there any connection in that? Where is the value in that?

The truth is, if you have feelings of disconnection and longing you just have to understand them correctly. That isn’t you failing at life. You’re not failing at the Rat Race. You don’t add that lack of connection into your pathetic narrative of you–you use that feeling as an indicator of what is really going on. It’s feedback for steering your life. It’s feedback for taking action.

757 Relax and Succeed - The more I traveledIf you feel longing then don’t assume you’re a failure–go find people to be with. If you’re unhealthy, don’t beat yourself up. Use that same energy to join a running or cycling group. If you’re just lonely, go to one of those board games clubs, go bowling, take some classes in a field of interest, learn to paint in a class, walk your dog in a dog park during busy times. Whatever.

Don’t blame yourself for having human feelings in an inhuman world. You’re healthy and correct to be pushing back against many modern bits of life. If you could break free of all of your programming you would be absolutely amazed at how much of our lives are a bizarre collection of rules created by us, for us. Even the keyboard I’m writing to you on is laid out to slow typists down because typewriter keys used to jam.

But after the world’s typists had learned how to work around the machine by training their fingers to move rather unnaturally, there was no way anyone wanted to learn a new machine pattern and re-train their fingers and brains when we changed to computers. So instead of being healthy, we do what modernization tells us to. Then when we don’t feel connected to others we attack ourselves instead of the frameworks we live under.

757 Relax and Succeed - Comparison is the theif of joyWe don’t need to find out how to be better to feel better. We have to get conscious and start caring about the world and our place in it in a different way. A way that prioritizes how life feels and not how well we fit into a larger patterns. The things we’re taught to do as a society are acts surrounding life but they are not life itself. Those things are representations. But that’s like saying a Profit and Loss Statement is the same as the business itself, rather than saying it is a picture of the business taken from very specific angles that show some things and hide others–as every perspective does.

Don’t look to be more popular or more successful or hipper. Those are illusions. Try to make your life more humane instead. Ask yourself what brings you joy as a person and then look to build opportunities for that to happen into your daily life. Create connections with others that are meaningful and personal and deep. I’ve said it here before: the two dates on a tombstone are brackets. The dash in between is your life. It’s shorter than you think, so start living it like it’s yours–because it is.

peace. s

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

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

The Friday Dose #44

545 Relax and Succeed - Choose joy

Hello everyone! Today’s Dose is a mix of health, wisdom and style. We’ll start off with CNN’s breakdown of the 10 healthiest cities in the world. Do you live in one? Should you move? Or can you make where you live into a healthier place to live? And how much is that a priority for you? Would you change cities for a job and money? Would you change cities for your health? And what do the answers to those questions tell you about yourself?

CNN’s 10 Healthiest Cities

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Next we’ll go to Pamela Druckerman for her New York Times article, What You Learn In Your 40’s. It’s not a depressing piece on what you’ve missed and how you failed, it’s about how much wiser you are than you’ve tended to give yourself credit for. And it’s also the era where you’ll quit trying to be liked so much , which frees you up to actually live out your own life. I loved the article for two reasons. It wasn’t the ever-popular fearful warning or meaningless regret—it’s actually funny, touching and supportive. We need more of that today. More positivity. Less focus on what we’re not good at and more focus on what we are good at. Less illusion and more reality. Enjoy:

New York Times: What You Learn in Your 40’s

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And we’ll end with some music that sounds like it might have come from the 40’s. I’ve always liked the supportive quality that the song All About That Bass offers women, and I like that in my lifetime there’s been a huge growth in acceptance about what constitutes a healthy and attractive female form. This song speaks to that. Being a jazz guy, I absolutely love Kate Davis’s rendition and I hope you find it puts a positive spin on your day too. Have a great one:

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Remember, wherever you are in life is perfect. If you’re losing weight you won’t be happier when you reach your target. You can’t want to gain wisdom or move to a different place—none of those things are the true source of happiness. You are. Wherever you go, at whatever weight and at whatever age: that’s still you that’s there. And it’s you that will decide how good your life really is. I wish you every good fortune with that endeavour. Because you have much more control over the enjoyment of your own life than people historically think they do. So have a great one by creating a great one. Just focus on the good. It’s always there.

peace. s

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The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Focus on these and change your mind. Enjoy.

The Friday Dose #32

The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Enjoy.

467 Relax and Succeed - You say I dream too big

Today’s Friday Dose is a fascinating mixed bag. Some of you may recall that in the past I wrote about an autistic kid who kept breaking into the NYC subway because he loved the trains so much. He was considered a nuisance until a smart young psychologist suggested giving him a job. He knew every train station and every time by heart. Now he answers the phone when you’re looking for subway directions and he doesn’t need a computer to help you. And now, because he’s an employee, he can ride the trains all he wants. Win-win. Well here’s a story on a new employment agency for people with Aspergers and Autism. We have not yet begun to access all the capabilities that humans bring to life:

An Employment Agency For Autistics

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Second we have an absolutely fascinating radio podcast documentary about identity. Imagine waking up as a middle aged adult with the mind of your 15-year-old self! What would the bright-eyed, optimistic, unfettered version of you think of your life today? Because of how the brain is wired, what happened to these people is entirely sensible. But it’s still amazing. And it still lead them to big conclusions and big changes in their lives. Give it a listen. And when you’re done, think back to really meditate on what you thought about yourself back then. And ask yourself if you’re selling yourself short with your defeated thoughts about a life that is still filled with glorious opportunity:

The Story of a Real-Life Time Traveller

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Commencements speeches are generally thought to be for graduating students. But we would all do well to remember that our life is a constant state of commencement. With every single choice, with every single decision we create our lives. So it’s worth it to occasionally stop to re-think our own identity and what kind of limitations we have placed upon ourselves. What kinds of thoughts don’t we think belong to us? What do we believe about ourselves that prevents us from realizing the greatest aspects of our existence? And what might awaken within you if you actually take some real time in your life to slow down and to listen to someone whose only goal is to help you to realize how incredible you truly are. Enjoy. (And, if you’re in a really big hurry, you can always skip to about ten minutes in.)

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The rest of your life starts today. What are you going to choose to do with it?

peace. s