The Friday Dose #104

Are you repressed or empathetic? Does that make your life better or worse? How big is your tribe? Who do you let in it and why? Would you let in people you don’t like if you really thought it would help you?

The reason we do March Kindness Month here is 885 FD Relax and Succeed - True happiness is givingbecause empathy is a specific thing you do. If you don’t do it enough you’ll start thinking there’s something wrong with the world when really there’s only something wrong with your connections. The old ideas of survival of the fittest are dead. Science has proven that’s only true to a small degree, because a group of cooperating people will always defeat a group that’s selfish and uncooperative, which is why we show this beneficial tilt toward cooperation, empathy and connection.

Start exercising your empathy and your life will improve. If someone ahead of you is carrying boxes, run ahead and get the door. If someone’s coming for the elevator, hold it up for them. Let someone into traffic. Be patient with a clerk having a tough day. Do a surprise favour for a family member. Call someone and let them know you think they’re special. And if you really want to do something meaningful–be nice to someone who isn’t nice to you.

There are a zillion ways to express your empathy and compassion. If you don’t do any of them then don’t expect to feel any better. And if you do them, those acts may not always make you or the world better-off, but they definitely give you the very best odds at a good life. And those odds are plenty good enough to make it worth it.

Be nice as a habit and do it because it’s good for you. That kind of selfishness the world can use more of. 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 organizations around the world.

Big Changes

Society is maturing. This is the technology/nuclear age where we have started to better understand that the damage we can do is permanent. The world’s greatest minds are terrified of where Artificial Intelligence will go, we’ve made a lot of changes in the environment in various ways but at least now we’re quickly growing a greater respect for where we live and what we are and how we connect.

772 Relax and Succeed - How do we change the worldIt might look bad, but this is where we begin an era of attempting to gain more self-control as a species. We’re thrashing around less. Most of us want treaties not wars. And now that Maslow’s Pyramid has been largely fulfilled, we’re looking for the why’s behind life. What’s the point of all this effort to stay alive?

More and more people are looking for more and more meaning. That explains why fewer and fewer people are seduced by materialism or status. It’s now easier and easier to see that the people who still live still deep inside the matrix have fallen into a destructive kind of materialist addiction of working and spending. Meanwhile, an increasing number of people are trading less work for a smaller life.

Young people used to discuss the cars they wanted to own and the clothes and the trips they wanted to brag about. Some still do. But more and more of today’s youth are more interested in seeking peace and connection.

Personally they want less ownership (or should I call it Onerouship?). They want more time with friends. And that shift in values means they see fewer reasons to economically protect ourselves.

Increasingly we are seeing ourselves as having more in common with other people from other places. Money might be finite and we may have to battle over it but such is not the case with love. There is always more available. This leads us to see each other less as races and nations and more as humans. This is a big step for humanity.

772 Relax and Succeed - Where there is too muchThe era we’re entering right now is an exciting one. Many of us can pretty easily sense the rumble of change. There’s a real disconnection with materialism, celebrity, efficiency, social conduct and politics. These things feel hollow and meaningless and we are less and less mesmerized by their tricks and we’re more interested in the genuine substance of life.

Before any big change in a person or the world there were always be tumult beforehand. Things will be restless as they reorganize for the change. Then we change, work to understand the change, exploit the change and then move on.

Our current tumult is leading to our togetherness phase. This is where we really start to realize how challenging life can be. We start to actually want help. We’ll admit vulnerability and in doing so we will realize that the greatest feelings we get are from cooperation, compassion and love, not competition, comparison and indifference.

The issues that concern people are all about false idols. People do terrible things to each other to obtain fame, power and money. And we’re all focused on blaming each other. But these issues aren’t solved by some know-it-all politician or some divine guru who leads us to the next evolution of our being. This is a personal journey that cannot be lead by anyone guided by fame, power and/or money. We must all lead our own journey. But lead it we must do.

772 Relax and Succeed - Everyone thinks of changingDon’t look to elect a certain government as a way of making things better. Go be nice to your neighbours. Be kinder. Gentler. Happier. Be more patient and tolerant. Because all that other stuff doesn’t really matter on a day to day basis if our interactions aren’t of good quality. My taxes might be low but if I argue every day with my neighbour then my life sucks. We’ve gotten to the point where a large and ever-increasing number of us are starting to care less what life looks like and we are caring more and more about how it feels.

You are an integral part of this change. The whole cannot change if each part does not cooperate. The decisions you make in life will either add to this current or run contrary to it. But everyone’s always a part of what happens and the river always flows toward the sea no matter what unfolds. None of this is a matter of if, it’s only a matter of when. The world is maturing. If you look for it you’ll see many signs of that. Rejoice.

peace. s

Hating People

Is there someone you just absolutely hate? Someone who either hurt you personally or hurt someone you love? Or maybe they’re part of a group and that group did something and so you hate them as a proxy for the group. An example would be Russians hating terrorist Ukrainians while Ukrainians hate terrorist Russians. It’s the hate that makes the terrorist.

753 Relax and Succeed - Be softWhen we hate another person we either hate them for something they have done or not done, or we hate them because we believe they are associated with people who have done or not-done things we feel are very significant. But this hate is not experienced by our enemies, it is an internal psychological experience that is ours and ours alone. The painful biting brain chemistry we feel as hurt, angry and hateful emotions are not coming from our enemy, they are from our thinking about our enemy. This is a damaging thing to do to ourselves.

Hate is when people fail to recognize the humanity in another person. A personal example would be when someone we love falls in love with someone else. We can perceive that they lack character, cheat and lie or have no morals. But from their perspective they unexpectedly fell in love while they were already dating someone. On a larger scale it’s like hating a good husband and dad and soccer coach, a guy who’s good friend to his buddies at work, all because he has on a different team’s jersey.

753 Relax and Succeed - Hate has caused a lot of problemsThe reason any terrorist will attack it is because he feels his way of life is being threatened and he believes that threat is coming from who he or she is attacking. But that person can be a religious zealot from halfway around the world or he can be a libertarian who blows up a public building and kills his own citizens because he feels his government is now undermining his way of life.

Any person who is acting in a disrespectful way to others will eventually have resentments build until things boil over and get worse. And this goes for husbands and wives as much as corporations and countries. The problem isn’t the name of the person or group, it is that someone has lost touch with another person’s humanity and then begins to treat them inhumanely. It’s why a terrorist will strike and why a good person will condone the horrors of torture even though they may have the wrong person and in fact be committing the crime they claim they’re fighting against.

753 Relax and Succeed - Love is the only alchemyYou cannot fight hate with hate. You cannot fight misunderstanding by informing someone with anger or violence. As much as these might be our immediate reactions we must allow ourselves to feel that pain without converting it into a cudgel to hit someone with. Instead we must meet hate with love. If we don’t, we are suggesting that we feel that love can lose in such a comparison. But that is only an underestimation of the power of love.

Hate has never overcome hate. But love is a natural state. Do not be an agent of hate. You will die wondering why you invested your life in such an unrewarding pursuit. Instead enact love in your life. You’ll do more good, keep more people safe and you’ll have more great chances at love than any other way. Just don’t let words and thoughts get in the way of seeing anyone’s humanity because whether we recognize it or not, it’s always there.

peace. s

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