MoK: Tolerance as Kindness

Thank you all very much for your patience while I’ve been ill. It turns out that your patience is quite fitting, because today our March of Kindness assignment will involve determining the subtle difference between patience and tolerance.

We feel patience with someone when we perceive that they generate some degree of value in our lives that we do not want to lose. Maybe that value is that they’re the clerk at the store and we need their help to purchase something that has value to us, or maybe it’s a co-worker whose advice you value and so you offer to look after their dog while they’re away, or maybe it’s a very sick spouse that has such tremendous value that their partner can serve them for many years, despite receiving no reciprocation. It all depends on how much one person perceives the other’s value.

Because we start from a position of goodwill, we tend to use the word patience for situations we deem as reasonable. We begin to use the word tolerance once we feel we’re extending past what is reasonable or, in other words, past the point where the other person’s value has run out in proportion to the request being made. But what about those people that start with no value in our emotional bank?

When meeting most strangers very few of us will presume the worst, and many of us will presume something so positive that we’ll offer our own positivity in advance. But there are some people that we immediately assume we’ll be out of alignment with. The reasons don’t matter much; maybe we have unpleasant history between us, or maybe they’re just in a group we’ve defined as undeserving of our patience, but when people have no deposits in our patience bank then they are immediately borrowing from our tolerance account. This form of kindness is more dangerous to us, like an unsecured loan; where we’re unsure–even suspicious–about ever being paid back.

When we use tolerance we’re no longer investing in value we will receive ourselves, tolerance is an investment in the Bank of Karma. That’s when–instead of believing in an individual manifestation of a person–we believe that the fundamental oneness of the universe is expansive, or “good.” We believe on some elemental level that if we put positivity in, some positivity will result for someone, somewhere. Today we want to use tolerance as a way of sending some of that good karma out.

Today’s act in our March of Kindness will be to actually seek out people or ideas that we traditionally have no tolerance for. Maybe all we do is comment on a politician we see in the media, or maybe we’re aggressive with street people, or a we’re a contrarian on social media, or maybe some stranger’s just asking you for directions and you don’t want to be disturbed; the idea is that the kindness you show today has no value to you personally–in fact, your expression of it may exact a small price.

As I stated previously, we don’t improve the world unless we convert some darkness into light, so today’s act is particularly important. All you have to do is find one example of where you would offer negativity–a comment, a judgment, a challenge, a rebuke–and instead offer tolerance.

There’s a lot of us, so if we each just take one bit of negativity and, instead of offering it to the world, we hold it back out of a sense of kindness and tolerance, then we will absolutely have made the world a better place. That’s where we all want to live, and the March of Kindness is about helping us get there. Thank you for participating in our collective journey.

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.

Man School

Let’s imagine Man School. This is where a boy goes to learn to be a man. Input comes through a screen and some speakers. All the parts of the brain and body are present and ready to learn. The Brain at the front of the class narrates for the other body parts.

T940 Relax and Succeed - I have reached the stagehis boy does not have a great role model but he does pretty well because he does something quite rare; he trusts his own internal guidance more than what he’s told and shown. Keep in mind that this is also how both of his parents learned to be a Mom and a Dad:

Brain: Okay everyone, ready? Remember, we’ll be spending most of our time and we’ll get most of our guidance from The Mother, but since we’re a Boy let’s keep a close eye on what The Dad does, okay? Okay Eyelids, open up, it’s morning.

Brain: Okay okay she’s taken us into the kitchen for what is called breakfast. Tongue, we know you love the part called bacon. Stomach, see if you can remind me with some gurgling to slow down on the coffee so we don’t have to get all the Nerves jangling later?

Stomach: Consider it done. This’ll be good, a bunch of the muscles have been complaining about wanting more protein.

Brain: This is what we eat on what’s called a Weekend. Okay hold on: she has a list for him. Okay our part is the reaction; we’re the boy…. Okay, we apparently do not like lists. Face, please practice frowning while I access Memory for some excuses for the mouth and vocal chords.

Face: No problem. I practice that one a lot.

BRelax and Succeed - When you speak to your spouserain: Nice work Face. Nice work. Okay, let’s see. Apparently if we disagree it appears the other person will become more insistent. See that Face? She’s giving us an angry and disappointed look.

Self (silently): I enjoy my connection to others and prefer that those connections continue.

Brain: Okay they’re both upset about not getting what they want. Watch the man: no, he doesn’t like that. Now he’s mad so he’s yelling. So if you want something and you don’t get it and it’s a weekend and a meal then we yell. Got that diaphragm and vocal chords?

Diaphragm: We’ll need an extra push from the stomach.

Stomach: You can count on me. I’m like steel down here.

Brain: Okay, Legs see that? If I don’t tell you otherwise, you walk toward her fast like that. And arm do you see how he’s got his Hand cocked back in that fist?

Eyes: She looks terrified. I think that’s because of his Hand.

Hand: Why would I do that?

Self (silently): I enjoy my connection to others and prefer that those connections continue.

940 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes I open my mouthBrain: I’m not sure. Maybe we find out as we grow up. For these first few years we just copy what we see. If it needs to change we can learn that later when we learn things in a non-experiential way. It’s not an easy or effective way to learn but it can happen.

Memory: Should I get Ears to jot down all those names he’s calling her? They seem mean. I don’t really want them.

Brain: Sorry memory, everything gets stored, but if it hurts I’ll do my best not to access those files very often okay? But in general whether it’s words or actions; if you see it a lot, do it a lot. If you only see it every now and then; just throw one in once in awhile.

Hand: By the way, I’m not in a fist anymore. Now I’m grabbing her hair and shaking her. I don’t like how this feels.

Self (silently): I enjoy my connection to others and prefer that those connections continue.

Eyes: It looks bad too. Are you sure this is how this is supposed to go?

Gut: Yeah, this feels off to me.

Heart: Yeah I like that lady more than anyone.

940 Relax and Succeed - Experience is not what happensBrain: Hey guys, I feel the same way but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. You know they made me brain because I’ll faithfully copy down what I see. I’ll do my best later to improve on this but this is how we’re built, I’m sorry. The best we can hope for is for the parents to behave in a healthy way.

Gut: Okay fine, but I’ve got an idea. It’s actually pretty clever, I’ll bet not many people think of it but; if we have to wire this behaviour in then let’s wire in a reverse switch too. None of us likes it. So let’s take all of those signals and let’s use them for the opposite of all of this stuff.

Hands: You mean like holding and stroking hair and cuddling instead of grabbing and shaking her?

Gut: Yeah. If we like her and she’s upset then let’s hold her instead, okay?

Eyes: So if I see her crying we don’t yell we hug?

Gut: Yeah.

Arms: I like that.

Chest: Me too.

Brain: Does everyone agree?

Mouth: That’s a lot of programming to reroute. Can I blow any extra energy off as yelling?

940 Relax and Succeed - The only person you are destined to becomeEars: It’s not ideal, could you work on it?

Mouth: Absolutely. I thought it would just help dispel some of the energy if I could transfer to something less destructive.

Brain: All of us find yelling quite loud so I know none of us are big fans so if you need to because of this programming then we get it. But let’s agree no shaking and no hitting and we don’t like mean names–and we only yell if we absolutely have to. We’re still allowed to experience pain but it would still be better to go for a walk.

Legs: I’d do that.

Mouth: What should we yell at?

Brain: How about our inability to not yell?

Mouth: Then I’ll feel dumb.

Brain: Good. I’m hoping if you do that enough times that maybe it’ll just stop.

Ears: Sounds good.

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.

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.

Changing Direction

Winner: 2015’s Blog of the Year #4

A lot of people come to me in their 30’s with the simple question, what the hell is going on with my life? Needless to say it isn’t turning out the way they planned. But rather paradoxically the challenges they are facing stem directly from those plans. You must be very careful when making plans.

689 Relax and Succeed - My entire life can be describedYour life is lived in Nows. You add those together and call that your history, but it’s really just some stuff that happened. And when your life intersected with that stuff your previous life experiences caused you to react to them in the way you did. Then using your memory you take all of that unrelated stuff and you stitch all of those individual experiences together.

You’ll call that tapestry your life, but when it comes to impacting today or your future it’s about as meaningful as the contrails off a plane’s wing. That line in the sky is just what your plane did. At the moment of living your wing met the cold, wet air of the world and an event took place. That event trails off behind you as nothing more than white vapour. But it’s just vapour. Even if you’ve flown in the same direction ever since you took off, at any point a Captain can become conscious and he or she can turn their plane in any direction.

All of these directions are equal. Same with the altitudes. The Dalai Lama’s life is not better than yours because he flies in a different level of understanding. His life is just like yours otherwise—it is made up of his day to day sensations. So there is no specific way to fly across the sky. There’s just where you go. But that’s not what you’re taught.

689 Relax and Succeed - We all have bad daysYou are taught to fly to one of the airports of beauty or one of the airports of education or the airport of a happy family or an airport of fame or financial success. Everyone around you is doing it so you do too. You don’t even see it as an option. Right off the bat the Captain is confused because all of these other planes are just coming off the end of the runway and they’re all headed the same basic directions. And so without ever knowing it your Captain inadvertently surrenders his or her Captaincy and instead becomes a dutiful autopilot follower. Then you’re just doing what you were programmed to. So that’s problem one. You’re not actually setting your own direction.

The next problem is that after you set it you never question it. You just fly along to where you think you’re supposed to be going and so you interpret any storm (a job loss, a divorce, financial ruin) as a problem or something in the way of you reaching your goal. But remember: you were just accidentally convinced by the other planes. There is no goal. You can fly anywhere you like. But instead you’ll get locked onto these targets and you’ll get so angry and, so sad and so insecure about being knocked off what you perceive as your course, that you’ll end up hating the trip. That’s the part where the 30 year-olds call me.

But calling me turns out to not be the failure you might imagine. You imagine that there is something wrong with your plane and that you need to be rescued. But I don’t fly out and repair your plane in the sky. I just talk to you. I ask you where you got your map? Why are you following these directions? And you say, I’m not supposed to follow these? And I tell you, no, that’s what people use when they sell themselves to society–those are just put in there for show. That’s what mass media is. It’s like the fake photos you get when you buy picture frames. You’re just supposed to throw all that out.

689 Relax and Succeed - Regret is longingAfter you’ve called you’ll still debate against me for a few weeks. Because everyone else has also mistaken society’s maps for actual maps you won’t believe me. At least not until you realize that you cannot answer my questions about the meaning behind your previous directions. This surprises and even disturbs you, but you eventually surrender that it really is true—that those charts weren’t the way to go just a way to go and you were always free to go any direction you chose.

So the next question they ask me is, where can I go? That’s the great part. You’ll still carry a lot of momentum from your previous directions and that will influence you for a while, but slowly over time you start to realize that your airplane is 100% flexible. You can point that baby in any direction you like. But then you’ll ask me, which is my direction? And I’ll tell you that you don’t have one; that your problem was that you thought your life was the plane going from here to there on a voyage, when really it’s not about the places we’re going, it’s about the pilot and the pure joy of flying.

So you were never really going anywhere—you just fly this thing until it runs out of fuel—then you’re free to walk the tarmac and find yourself another plane. Don’t panic about the transition. Death for 80% of you means gliding to a gentle stop and just never departing again. If you’re old enough to have learned a bit, even in a dramatic accident you will calmly think to yourself, no way, this is how I go? Weird. Well: here we go. You actually won’t be focused on the plane you’re exiting. You’ll be more excited about boarding the next one.

689 Relax and Succeed - Stay positiveDo you see if you remove an objective that you were previously attached to then things can’t go wrong? Then the air pockets are just low pressure and crosswinds are just winds at an angle to you and lightning is just the weather. But it’s not your weather. And none of it can hurt you by pushing you off course anyway—not if you’re always completely willing to have your course changed. After all, there’s no shortage of great flying to do in any direction.

Understand: you can take your present moment and use it to chart your current course. But keep it current. It’s not some permanent setting. That defeats the purpose of having a whole sky. So set your course and then just focus on the flying. And when you need to change direction because of conditions or when you just want to change it out of some desire you can’t even explain, then go for it. There’s no penalty. No price. No sadness, anger or frustration unless you go think that into your life.

The weather and the winds will have you feeling various things. But if you actively choose to feel them in the moment then they just come and go like any other contrail of experience. It’s when you let them interfere with some course you’re locked onto—that’s when you’re lost. Then you have to sort them out. Then you have to solve them or find a way to get back on course. The other way you simply accept the perfection of wherever your plane it is at any given moment.

689 Relax and Succeed - Nothing is permanentWhere your plane is makes perfect sense. If you added up the uncontrollable forces like the weather and add them to the choices made by you the pilot, we could literally plot a course right to you. That airflow over that rudder in this weather would lead you here. Wherever you are at any given moment always makes perfect sense and yet you always have the ability to change direction.

Your life isn’t falling apart because you’re breaking up or because you got pregnant or didn’t get into university. Those are just the weather and/or your course changing your direction. Don’t sit in the cockpit yelling at the instruments. Get focused on flying. Be quiet and use your thoughts to guide your plane, choice by choice. Better times are always easiest to find when the sky is the darkest. That’s when the light’s the brightest. Just head toward that. Seriously.

You stop failing when you realize there is no failure in life. There is only living and your judgments before and after the fact. But those are history and imagination. Your real life is right here, right now, where the air meets the wing. And that does not happen in any time other than the present. So Be present. Forget striving. Forget destinations. Stop looking at your charts. You’re right where you need to be. There’s nowhere you need to go other than to realize it’s always been you in the cockpit.

Happy flying. 😉

peace. s

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

Other Perspectives #12

360 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Dear past stop tapping me

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

Other Perspectives #9

342 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Take all the time you need

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

What Are You Good At?

73 Relax and Succeed - Where the magic happensAs strange as it sounds, lot of people don’t really want to be free. That’s because the brain is good at what it’s already done and it’ll take the path of least resistance it if can. It will go toward whatever feels common. That’s what our brain got good at, so that’s the terrain it’ll seek. After that the only question regards self-perception, which will either tip toward the confident and deserving, or the insecure and undeserving.

What this means is, if you’re a confident person but your brain got good at being yelled at by an angry Dad, then you will have hated being treated that way; meaning you will pay significant prices in your life in your effort to only date people who never yell. But if you got good at being yelled at and you felt like you deserved to be yelled at, then your brain will literally be more comfortable with a spouse who yells and makes you feel smaller. Strange eh?

The first person is concerned when they’re yelled at. The second gets uncomfortable if they’re not yelled at. You’ve seen this. We all have friends who consistently choose people who treat them poorly. They just don’t know they’re free. They think they deserve to be where they are, rather than they chose to be where they are.

73 Relax and Succeed - Live out of your imaginationTo be truly free you must abandon the idea that your past must dictate your future. Just because your brain processed yelling so much that it became your “normal,” doesn’t mean you need yelling. It’s true that your ego will be so used to it, that for a while there will be an echo of desire for consistency. For a while, not being yelled at will feel a little uncomfortable.

This discrepancy will cause you to notice that you’re not-doing something. But that discomfort is just the feeling of you moving out of your comfort zone. But that’s a wonderful thing if your comfort zone includes allowing yourself to experience poor treatment by others.

I’ve used the example before: pig farmers don’t smell pigs. They’re so used to it—it’s so normal in their lives—that it’s not even there. The same goes for being treated poorly by others. If it happened a lot when you were young, you’ll think that’s normal. You’ll think that’s what you deserve. But no one deserves anything. Things just are, and you either choose to be near them or you choose to not be near them.

73a Relax and Succeed - I always wonder whySo if you want to live near pigs—or people that treat you poorly—then go ahead. That’s how freedom works and the people around you should respect your choices just as they want you to respect theirs. Just don’t blame the pigs for the smell they always have. And don’t blame people for being who they are. Just decide whether or not being near their smell is actually worth it to you.

What you’re used to is not what you are. If you have a boss that constantly belittles you, then your problem isn’t your boss (that’s his problem). Your problem is that some collection of experiences convinced you to have such a low view of yourself that you feel you either deserve poor treatment, or they convinced you that you’re so weak that you need someone else to come and rescue you from it. Neither of these things are true.

What you’re used to is not what is inevitable in your life. What’s inevitable is that you will live out your choices. And you will choose circumstances that align with who you believe you are. So believe you are strong, and beautiful, and worthwhile. Accept those facts as absolute, and then decide where and how you want to live. Because you don’t want to be choosing to live with pigs just because you’re used to a life that stinks.

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.