The Friday Dose #95

847 Relax and Succeed - The best way to find yourselfAs noted earlier in the week, the Dose’s format will change slightly but it will still essentially be your distraction page. If you get caught in a painful thought loop the Dose’s are a collection of things that either relate to what I teach, or they’re designed to simply be interesting or cool to the point where you forget about your own problems and instead you get lost in fascination. This year the Dose will be divided into sections. Enjoy!

Weird and Wonderful

A man invents a switch for sperm:

The Sperm Switch

Education

Families are lost without their leaders:

Ineffective Parenting

Relationships

Do you understand the men in your life or do you believe you do?

The Secret Lives of Boys

Understanding

How good is your awareness?

Thanks for a great first week of 2016 everyone. Have a wonderful weekend!

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.00 Relax and Succeed - Friday Dose Footer

Basic Choices

749 Relax and Succeed - We were all humans

This one day, I look out my back window and I see a guy I’ve never seen before and he’s hurling my neighbour’s blue bag contents all over the alley. This is somewhat ironic considering that the blue bag is where we’re supposed put things that are designed to be recycled because they can very easily be re-purposed.

I walked out and said a friendly hello but the guy was immediately concerned. Many homeowners will immediately assume a person has no morals because they have no home. I don’t think that, plus—even if he is a total jerk—I’m at least smart enough to make friends with any potential troublemakers in my neighbourhood.

Many people live on the street because of a mental illness or a lack of self control manifested as hostility. They get cared for up until eighteen and then —boom— now they live on our streets, with us. This guy isn’t mentally ill but I do know he has a bad temper problem from previous experience, so I’m not surprised that he blows up when I nicely ask him to just put the stuff back in the bag when he’s done.

“What are you going to do, make me do it?”

“Make you do it? What? You mean physically force you? You think I would fight you over recycling? Dude. You do bad math. It would be infinitely easier for me to just re-load the bag myself than it would be to fight you, even if I beat you the first punch…. then police and jail and losing work. And that’s if I win the fight. That blows me away. You don’t look like you’re jonesing and I know you well enough from the diner that I know you aren’t mentally ill. Is that quick temper the only reason you’re out here?”

“Fuck you.”749 Relax and Succeed - For every minute you are angry“Yeah, that the anger I meant. What’s that for? I’m trying to be nice.” I’m still really calm. I start putting the stuff back in the bag. I’m acting almost offended because that will be unexpected and it’ll force him to rethink things to try to figure it out. I continue.

“You whip that anger out at strange times buddy. I get that it can be useful to protect ourselves sometimes, but I’m a pretty nice and helpful guy. Your angry approach makes you treat me like an enemy. What, is all that just out of habit? Is this what frustration or a lack of trust looks like for you?” I point to the bag as a reference. “Anyone who loses track of their choices is going to lose track of their life.”

“I’m not angry, people are fucking dumb.”

“That is what most angry people assume, yes. We all think that sometimes. And it’s true. I myself am an excellent representative of being fucking dumb sometimes.” I can tell he’s got a lot of us-and-them going on. He sees me as above him so I take the opportunity to mimic his language and concede some weakness. “I am fucking dumb so much more regularly than I’d like. But hey, we all have our thing right? That’s my thing. That’s my version of your anger. That’s my dumb choice.”

He starts to help with the bag. “I don’t choose being angry.” He says it angrily, but there we go. Now at least we’re rolling.749 Relax and Succeed - Remember thisI slowly look over at him like he’s crazy. “Uhh, duhhh. If it’s not you choosing it who is?” I can see he doesn’t have a good answer. “Dude, everyone’s got a personality and a personality is nothing more than a collection of how we respond to life. Tortured people try to make challenges go away. Being healthy just means accepting that crap and finding the best way available. I agree. It sucks a lot of times, but that’s how it works. I’ve never met the person who thinks their life went all-good. But your responses are in your control. You can still accomplish a lot with that. You can be less angry.”

He challenged me. “And you think my problem’s anger…?” It took me a second to realize he meant it as a question hidden by pride.

“I just don’t get why you would chemically torture your own mind by thinking such angry thoughts when there’s a zillion other things you could have thought of instead. I mean it’s not like the angry thoughts or words ever changed anything right? Or if they do they were most likely to change me from coming out to be nice to me feeling threatened, which doesn’t do you any good. Angry thoughts just get the angry brain chemistry flowing. We all do it, but you can’t blame people for thinking it’s a little strange that you would pick that response so often. Sure, occasionally. But not all the time. Not out of habit.”

“It’s not my fault, people are fucking assholes.”749 Relax and Succeed - Today was the absolute worst day“Duh. Do you think? I just told you I’m one pretty routinely. You are too.” I motion to the alley around us where the stuff was scattered. “But what? You figure you’re the only person who has to deal with that? No offense buddy but it’s time to put on your big-boy pants. You’re not talking about avoiding assholes, you’re talking about avoiding life.

“I’m on the road every day with assholes who aren’t even looking at the road. Sometimes I even have to pick up recycling that some asshole has hurled around my alley for no good reason.” He’s quiet until we’re done. He just stands there as I re-tie the bag and put it back.

He very obviously has a question but isn’t sure how to ask it so I kill a ton of time tying. Finally he speaks. “I can’t help it if I’m angry.”

“Look buddy I’m seriously sympathetic. I am. I’m sure some ugly experiences lead you to use that for protection and I’m sorry whatever that shit was ever happened. But again: you pick how you feel. Don’t be less angry for other people. Be that way for you. The world won’t need to punish you for it. The being angry part is the punishment.”

Almost as an afterthought I add, “You need to get more aware of how you’re choosing to feel.” I say this like it’s some key everyone got that he somehow missed out on. And this works because I know he genuinely feels that the rest of us have some special thing inside us that he doesn’t –so many homeless have told me that.

If he’s like them, he’ll want to know the thing that keeps us off the street. The thing that he’s missing. The thing that keeps him down. So for maybe the first time I feel he’s really listening, like it’s now just a plain old conversation between equals. He finally says, “Pick how I feel..?”

“Yeah, you know –using your emotions. That’s what they’re for.” I’m casual as hell because I’m lying. What I’m telling him is actual what enlightened people do, which is currently a tiny percentage of the population. But hey, why make him just functional when we can make him healthy? So I tell him this is what “people” do.

749 Relax and Succeed - If you listen to your body“Getting angry feels crappy, right? The crappy part is what’s telling you to stop thinking the crappy thoughts. That’s why I’m confused. It’s a pretty simple system and you almost function as though someone never explained that part to you before. If it feels painful, stop doing it/thinking it/saying it. Even if we’re just talking to ourselves. If the thoughts hurt we should stop thinking them. Suffering = stop thinking. If you try it and practice it, it’s pretty easy. I’m sure you can do it.”

By this point I’ve made my point and he needs to keep his pride, so I can’t leave him to exit the conversation or he’ll have to rise back up again somehow to prove he’s stronger and that’s what I’m trying to avoid, so I end it. “Hey, look, uh… I’d like to keep talking but I’ve got a friend who’s gonna show up right away. Thanks for the help with the bag. Have a good one buddy.” I shake his hand which really surprises him. As I head back to the house he waves and says a nice goodbye.

Every time I’ve seen him since he’s looked a bit less angry and at the very least he’s always nice to me. And I’m sympathetic because we’re all variations of him. We all have some simple choice we could make that would massively change our lives. The question is, what is it and do we feel it’s really worth it for us to change it?

Figure that out and if it’s really worth it, then whenever we can we should just make that choice instead of what we were choosing and we should practice that until its our new habit. Voila. And yes, it really is that easy. It’s staying conscious of the choosing that’s the trick because emotions can blind us to our wisdom.

So, knowing that, let’s all go have an awesome day as much as we’re able, let’s try not to hurl our emotions towards others for no good reason. When we can, let us lead by example. And let’s all appreciate the roofs over our heads. Many in this world are not so fortunate.

peace. s

Going Deeper

We have ideas of ourselves. And we can look at our lives and find examples of us being that person. But how often are we that person? For instance, how far does our compassion extend? We can say we’re compassionate because we care about the plight of young girls in 674 Relax and Succeed - If it looks like a duckAfghanistan or Nigeria, but are we compassionate in our own daily lives?

This is never fun to confront, but our egos live by opinion. So you have an idea of who everyone you know is. You have a thought-based framework around which you interpret everything they do. So if you think someone’s snobby but they’re really shy, you’ll see all of their shy behaviour as snobby behaviour. That’s how the brain works. It fills in gaps it can’t see. And in an egos life the gaps are much bigger than the glimpses of any greater truth.

If you don’t like people it’s usually because you don’t like their solution. People’s actions are solutions aimed at the problems they perceive. So if you’re hungry you walk to the kitchen, open the fridge and get an apple. Problem solved. If you’re really hurt by something and you just don’t know how to react, you’ll copy whichever parent you witnessed do that same thing—and you won’t even notice you did it. Maybe that’s getting angry, maybe that’s getting sad or maybe that’s getting drunk. But you won’t recognize it as pattern-matching a caregiver. You’ll just be solving your problem.

674 Relax and Succeed - To be aware of a single shortcomingThese solutions extend much deeper as well. You can look at a girl’s clothes and behaviour at a party and see a slut, whereas you could incorporate more compassion so that if you told yourself any story about her it would be a charitable one. You could use her as a meditation—a study on separate realities and what it’s like to see the world from other perspectives. You could see her as a slut or you you could see her behaviour as being directed at solving her problem, which might simply be that she’s insecure and like many of us needs the approval of others.

If it were me and I was in a judgmental state of mind and felt myself doing that, the story editor in me would think backwards to what her problem might be. Why would that be her strategy? And in looking at her more closely and in listening to her talk maybe I would notice her large breasts and her innocent manner. I could imagine a young girl with a heavily overworked but dedicated single mother. Life with a kid is busy and tough and so guys don’t stay. But this little girl might have longed for a male role model as most kids do. And if she developed at a young age she would have realized that her physique could hold men’s attention. So long before she would have had any sexual feelings of her own she’s already mimicking sexualized behaviour 674 Relax and Succeed - Opinion is the lowest form of human knowledgesimply as a way of getting that time with male role models. So should she be judged and disliked because as a kid that was the approach that actually worked to some degree?

In another example of trading judgment for compassion—you might look at a slow-moving grey-haired bagger at the grocery store and think to yourself that he should quit if that’s as fast as he can go. And I might think, gee, most people that age have wanted to retire and yet this guy’s still working—he must have to. It must be his solution. Plus people his age have arthritis and yet he’s picking up stuff with his hands all day. No wonder he rubs them between customers. So I feel connected to the guy through compassion whereas egocentric thoughts build a wall between the other person and ourselves and this hurts us as much as them.

We have to become more generous. If we want more love we have to give more. You’ve got to get serious about this. You can’t just read this blog and post some quotes and that’s it. Enlightenment is a verb. It’s an action. And it takes you being far more conscious than just taking your own narrow interests into account.

Start thinking less about yourself and more about others. And do so from the perspective of compassion. Where you really meditate on the challenges of being a single mom, or all the challenges that would go into a special needs child, or a job that had you travelling every 674 Relax and Succeed - Humility is not thinking less of yourselfsecond week, or how difficult it would be to be morbidly obese or have a beloved spouse who was gravely ill. Noticing these realities will allow us to more easily see our own good fortune. And in seeing that we are immediately made grateful and grateful people are generous and kind.

Be grateful. Get out of your head and out of a constant alignment with only your own goals and aims and desires and start getting behind other people’s. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to have a good day if you seriously take action to invest in the objectives of others. Maybe that’s just letting them into traffic. Or maybe it’s something bigger. But no matter how big or small it is, both parties benefit from compassionate generosity so practice it with wild abandon. Because in the end any giving you do is like giving to yourself.

peace. s

Check out this video of people reacting differently to kindness and compassion and see how lost many of the “successful” people in our culture really are: