MoK: Redirecting Negativity

The March of Kindness is about making the world a kinder, safer, more loving space in which to thrive as a human being. We can do this by adding goodness to the world, but we can also accomplish this goal be removing negativity and replacing it with something more constructive.

We’re all too often willing to participate in gossip when we personally agree with it or view it as just idle conversation with friends or co-workers, but it’s far from idle. What people say about each other becomes their identity to a listener. And that can have extremely serious consequences.

If someone didn’t like someone else in high school and they end up getting a job at their company, the new person can be destroyed before they’ve even started because everyone’s been cued to only watch for pattern-matches to what they were previously told. We all say the odd dumb thing, but if people are on the lookout for that then suddenly the odd silly statement can turn into a person becoming dumb rather than just the statement, when in fact the person might be perfect for their job.

We’ve all been victims of it and it’s not like it improves as we age. Who hasn’t had a bitter ex spread lies about them? And the workplace can be just as vicious as the schoolyard. The way to identify gossip isn’t by whether you agree with it, it’s whether or not it’s negative.

If someone is commenting on or judging someone in any negative way then it’s gossip. Period. Unless you’re the person’s manager or teacher your personal opinion has no relevance to anyone but you, and even in the cases of managers and professors, the reasoning should be based on their alignment with the work, not with your personal feelings. A student or worker can be someone you’d never be friends with but that shouldn’t impact how you evaluate their work.

As the saying goes, loose lips sink ships. It’s not like gossip is a minor force in the world. It literally changes lives. It ruins companies and institutions, undermines science, and it can easily destroy lives. People have committed murder, suicide, vandalism and other horrible acts all based on gossip.

Talking is thinking out loud. Taking negatively about someone else is not healthy for the person doing the talking. It’s a sign of being locked into an ego-based, judgmental and superior perspective. The world is the world. It looks different to everyone. You’re not supposed to be going around poisoning other people’s views with yours. Your view is yours. Our personal opinions were never meant to be applied to the broader world. At our healthiest we should function from a position of principle, not opinion.

Today’s act in our March of Kindness is simply to spend the day actively listening for gossip. At work, at school, even at home and out. If someone offers a negative assessment of someone else, then our job is remind the people listening that there are other views. If they identify something they don’t like about the person, identify something you respect about them.

If someone says, Mindy’s always telling people what to do, you could add: We’re all different, and I don’t share her style of doing things, but I have noticed that what she wants people to do isn’t about her or anything selfish, her comments are usually focused on more or better work getting done. At minimum her heart’s in the right place.

Or if someone says, Did you hear that Jennifer’s dating Chris? What an idiot. You could respond, Well, we all like different kinds of people. Do we really want everyone judging who we love? I’m just glad they’re both happy. The idea is to take a negative and insert a positive. Double value if you normally would have agreed and joined in!

Don’t help sink someone else’s ship. Get your oar in the water and let’s make the world better by sharing more about what’s good about the world and less about what we don’t like about it. After all, mental health is really little more than having a rationally optimistic view of the world and the people in it. So let’s make gossip the enemy rather than people.

Have a great day everyone.

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.

MoK: The Powerful You

Surprise!

I know; I haven’t done posts on Saturdays in a few years but I owe you one from Friday. I appreciate your patience. First my parents were very ill with a stomach flu and then as soon as I got them through the worst of it I ended up catching it too. Once nice thing about being sick is that you really appreciate your everyday health a lot more, and that sense of grace helped me create, at least in my opinion, a particularly helpful post for you today.

When we’re struggling it’s natural for us to look for help. Our brain gets a lot of its base ideas from childhood, but that’s generally when our needs are necessarily met by others. As we age we progressively learn that we are much more capable than we imagine, and then as we decline near the end of life we return to a more childlike state of neediness.

Since very few infants read my blog, nor a huge amount of seniors, I tend to focus on the tough bits; the bits in the middle where we’re trying to discover our strengths and resiliencies. This is when a conflict arises between how you have seen the world versus how you will need to see before you can move forward. We all know this moments–these epiphanies–they’re those a-ha! moments where we suddenly realise we’ve been making a big, simple mistake.

Mistake is the right word because it’s not like you were making your life difficult on purpose. The mistake is generally thinking that there’s something wrong with us versus understanding that something is wrong with our perspective. Wanting to feel better is a perspective. Importantly, it’s a perspective that presumes that we need help.

Sure, sometimes we really do need help. Little kids want to do things themselves but often can’t, and seniors are often late in realising they need help. But those realities are very different from thinking we need help. Stephen Hawking obviously needs a lot of actual help, but he never would have become who he is by assuming he couldn’t do things. That’s easy for anyone to do. Even the most powerful, wealthy and beautiful people in the world face all the same human struggles and pains you do, they’re just better at hiding them.

Importantly, thinking we need help requires us to presume a state of weakness. We are reaching up. But what if this is where our mistake is? What if we’re assuming our childlike identity when it’s not the right tool for the job? And if an old identity isn’t going to help, and our current identity is experiencing struggle, then what’s required is a new identity.

As counter-intuitive as it seems at first, the answer to our wanting feelings is not for us to get what we want. That just reinforces the weak identity as being who we actually are, when what we need is to choose who to be. Wanting something implies first that there is a separate “me” and that there’s something missing, when neither is true. That’s just the subject-object nature of the conversations you have with yourself.

The way to feel better is to stop that conversation, and the way to do that is to stop making the assumption that your feelings are a result of the world rather than the result of your own thinking. So instead of listing our wants and needs to ourselves and others, we’re better to shift to not thinking about ourselves and instead focusing on the needs of others.

Even if you’re in a down state, you still have fantastic resources. Even your painful experiences are helpful to those going through those things right now. So even at your weakest you have a great deal to give. We can see this with babies. They’re 100% needy, and yet they get loved like crazy just for being. You’re actually still like that.

So this weekend, no matter what we feel our current state is, our assignment in the March of Kindness will be to feel stronger by finding a way to be generous. The important aspect of this is that you cannot generate generous feelings in the weak part of your mind.

By focusing on others you cease to create the troublesome, needy you and instead your mind is focused on the outside world. By taking generous action, you reinforce to yourself that you also contain strong identity, and strong identities tend not to review their problems, they’re too busy reviewing the strengths they have available.

Get out there today and be generous. Share yourself with others and feel more connected, worthwhile and powerful in the process. You can do a lot of little things or one big thing, but by doing either you add much more positivity to the world, you model healthy behaviour to others, and you prove to yourself that you are a multi-dimensional being with many forms. And if you’re aware of that truth, then no matter what state you’re in you know the answer isn’t to change the world, it’s to change yourself.

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.

An Appreciation of You

1103-relax-and-succeed-the-purpose-of-this-lifeThis week we started off with gratitude for uncommon things. Then we discussed judgments and how they separate people. They’re essentially the opposite of gratitude. One makes you feel abundant and cared about and the other leads you to feel alone and insecure. Today we develop the resilient part of you that gets you through the difficult times so that you can get to better times.

If this resilience is going to be truly helpful to you in dark times then it will need to be handy, so it’s best if it’s actually an aspect of yourself. People drug themselves or anaesthetise themselves with alcohol or distract themselves with technology, but these all pale in comparison to the high one gets from believing in our actual connection to the universe. It’s a very real thing.

Let’s look at who and what you actually are. Factually, your DNA is 99.9999% the same as an ape, so how much different could you be from Albert Einstein, or Usain Bolt, or Adele, or Stephen King, or The Pope or anyone else on Earth? You can be grateful for that, and you can also feel grateful if you’re not challenged even more, because you’re also almost identical to Stephen Hawking.

1103-relax-and-succeed-if-science-proves-some-beliefNo matter who you are, 99% of the mass of your body consists of just six chemical elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium make up that last 1%. In physics terms, you’re literally made out of the dust from the parts of old stars from the universe’s past. Seriously.

Get down to the quantum level and the air in your lungs and all of those elements start bleeding into the background of the world. As Jill Bolte Taylor described in her Stroke of Insight, the border between you and an external world is pretty tenuous. If we had vision that saw it, and you were standing in a river, how would the water that makes up so much of your body differ from the water in the water? And what about the atmosphere in your lungs? Is that the world or you?

To say that you’re not connected is frankly ridiculous. You can think thoughts about being separate, but you’ll still be all of those connected things thinking those ephemeral thoughts. You’re still made of the universe and you live within the universe, so any separation is an illusion created by your temporary thinking. You’ll still just dissolve back into the world when you end, like ink returning to the inkwell. What you’ll think about that will be irrelevant.

1103-relax-and-succeed-at-the-deepest-level-of-beingYou were born of the universe and you will return to the universe. This is just a layover on your flight through eternity, so you might as well enjoy it. It’s not like you’ll be graded on your performance. Everyone gets to go home equal in the end.

You can think thoughts about how this truth also makes you like all the people you don’t like, but you have to remember that there are people that love those people. So no matter who you decide to use as an icon of your existence, they will be loved. You can’t get away from it. You belong in the most fundamental way that no one can take it away from you. You are truly a child of the universe and you truly are connected to all.

So if this is all factually true, why would you waste that existence thinking thoughts of separation and weakness when you could be grateful for those connections? You could worship yourself not as a self-centered ego, but as a genuine and critical aspect of the universe. You weren’t created by accident. The universe wanted you to be, so Be. That’s why the original Hebrew word for God kind of means Is-be. Be your Is. Stop being a definition and start just plain being.

1103-relax-and-succeed-you-exist-in-timeToday’s meditation is simple: find five things to be truly grateful for about yourself. If you saved a friend, be grateful you saved that wonderful life. If you’ve had a child be grateful for the act of creation. If you helped someone in a way that matters, own that. Five compliments from you to you about you. When you’re better you could find a zillion of them. But for now five will do. Five will give you a nice launch into your weekend. Enjoy. You are loved.

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.

Where Defines You?

Sorry this was late everyone. I got hacked.

1087-relax-and-succeed-as-soon-as-you-are-bornWe’ve talked about how your name is interpreted by every person. We talked about how people will judge you based on your alignment with their judgments, and when you’ve lived determines what kind of living you can earn. It was pretty impossible to be an IT person in 1860 and it’s a lot harder to find work as a blacksmith now than it would have been then.

Today we add how where you’re from defines you, where you’ve been defines you, and where you are defines you. And remember, each of these who, what, when and where layers are all happening simultaneously. You are an ocean, with one current going one direction and others traveling in their own, and yet all are the ocean. And on top bobs your ego like a boat, thinking it is moving up and down, when really it is the universe.

As an example, the town you’re from can define your physical ability to withstand big climactic changes, what teams you feel passionate about, or even what your politics are. You won’t even know you absorbed these identities. Additionally, your nation defines your culture, what tastes in foods you’re loyal to, and what language you speak. In turn your language further informs your understanding of the world. Languages can break down the idea of something as obvious as colour into as few as three categories while others can create hundreds!

1087-relax-and-succeed-i-am-somehow-less-interestedWhere you’ve been defines you because that will impact how flexible you believe the world is. Before you’ve eaten at someone else’s house for the first time, you think you know how each food tastes, but really you know how your family cooks. Then you leave your country to backpack around the world and you discover there’s places that can’t even buy your foods let alone cook them the same way.

Where you are defines you because I’m sure ancient grass-skirted Polynesians seemed strange or even scary to the first whites who met them, but they eventually figured out they were super peaceful and now today things travel by media, so even if you’ve never seen Hawaii personally, you can go there virtually, and therefore pretty much half the world now knows how to Hula.

How they combine is this: Imagine you’re a tourist on holiday, it’s the nation you’re visitings national holiday, and you’re at a ceremony laughing and singing while you learn their cultural dance. You can imagine that’s a very pleasant experience. Maybe you make lots of local friends you dance and sing with.

1087-relax-and-succeed-all-wars-are-civil-warsNow imagine it three years later, after a revolution, and you’re a doctor in the military of what is now viewed as an opposing force. You still love the place and you think you’re still the same person with the same name, and you’d operate on anyone from either side. You thought you were there to help, but the locals might see the uniform in the new time and context and rather than dance with you they’ll want to attack you even though you’d personally save them. People can literally kill people that they would be life-saving friends with in another time or context.

Today’s meditation is to ask three questions and get three answers to each: How has the city you’re from shaped you? How has your nation shaped you? How has where you been shaped you? And if you’re not currently in your birthplace; how has where you are right now defined you? Because as people from “away” well know, you can live in Canada’s Maritimes since you were ten years old and yet you will never be considered a local by the locals.

Don’t just get easy answers. Try to find at least one surprise in there. These process are always worth a lot more if you find yourself surprising yourself by what you discover. Because those discoveries are what expands you. They literally push out envelopes of possibility. So be as big as you’re able, because it’s a grand universe and it’s just waiting for you to discover that for yourself.

Have a wonderful day 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.

When Defines You?

1086-relax-and-succeed-caveman-man-barcodeYes, when defines you. Really, this is kind of obvious. If I take you back to the Middle Ages, no matter who you are you’re bigger than da Vinci. You’re the greatest genius ever. You would casually be able to do things that would have been astounding in other times.

Sure, a Knight from the round table might find the steel armour of your car fascinating, but you would appear like a God with your ability to drive it. By the same logic, if we put you 200 years into the future you’d likely be lost. You’d be looking for a kitchen, not a replicator. And even if you found one you wouldn’t know how to use it and you might not even recognise half the food.

Can you see that you’re neither smart nor dumb? You can know a lot about now and be considered smart, or you could know very little and be seen to be dumb, and yet we could take Einstein into the year 2500 and he would be clueless. Einstein would have no idea how to use the internet. See? In some ways you’re smarter than Einstein, but even though that’s obviously true, you don’t feel smarter than Einstein do you?

1086-relax-and-succed-remember-when-many-jobsNow let us look at who you’ve been in the past. When you were born you were helpless. Eventually you got to the point where you could look after some basics, and then you were primarily independent, and maybe in your thirties or forties you will hit your peak. By then there’s another generation coming along with a bunch of new things you’re not even interested in learning.

Many of the new things and ideas won’t appeal to you because by then you’re interested in things worth a lot more than any identity. After that, even without conscious development, most people will slowly stop fighting to protect their identity just because it starts to seem so meaningless once you’ve hit the point where you really do accept that you’re going to die. This is one of my only two advantages over everyone else. By five I knew you could die.

First you need others, then less so, then not much, then more so, and finally you reach a point where you couldn’t even hope to help yourself. That’s everyone’s point of ultimate acceptance, but you don’t have to wait for death for it. You can accept yourself now.

1086-relax-and-succeed-life-of-modern-peopleToday’s meditation asks you to look back at your life to find: three separate versions of yourself. Pick three ages where your identity changed. Look at how different these people are. They might not even strike up a conversation at a wedding they’d see themselves as so unrelated. You could easily get into arguments with different versions of yourself!

For example, I could list being below the age of consent. You might have been able to drive the car when you were 13, but in most countries you’re at least 18 before you are defined as being someone capable of driving. Later, they’ll take your licence way–maybe even prematurely–because you have been defined by your age just like you were when you got the licence.

Then I could take myself in my 20’s, when both the world and I had the idea that I should be married. That was somehow automatic. That identity was given to me by my culture. I got married to a wonderful person just so I could be the person I was supposed to be at that age. But we both faked it. We were trying to be something for other people but, the truth is, we just hadn’t met the people we wanted to marry yet. And that would have been fine; we would have made good friends if we had not been so subtly defined by our time.

1086-relax-and-succeed-i-love-you-every-stepFind out who you’ve been. See how much you’ve changed. There’s been people that loved every version of you and yet you could argue with yourself. So ask yourself; if these different versions of me could even disagree about me, then why would I even try to impress other people? Seriously, think about that last sentence carefully.

Three ages. Don’t stop until you’ve caught yourself being surprised at how different you really were. For this reason, this can be a great exercise to do as a pair or in a group; especially if they’ve known you a long time. Many of them would see your changes better than you can. Do this exercise. Become less solid and more fluid and you will flow through life with greater grace.

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.

Who Defines You?

108f-relax-and-succeed-you-cannot-be-lonelyI’m getting smart, sophisticated questions from those of you who have been doing these meditation exercises. I suspect by now you can figure out for yourself that I’ve been vague in my answers to each of you because the real value is that you’re asking the deep psychological and spiritual questions you are. You’re the ultimate teacher. I’m just the guide that helps you find and then hear your true self.

Let’s start this week with the simple question: why do you want to change? When your friends and family already love you, why do you want to become someone else? What if you change into someone the people who love you have more difficulty with? Why isn’t that a concern to you? Some of these relationships are extremely valuable to you.

You want to change because you feel like your identity is a potentially beautiful home to live within, but it needs a lot of repairs and renovations. You have trouble relaxing in your space because of two things: 1) You have some changes you have to make to better-suit the work you’re currently doing, or 2) You want changes because you don’t want someone to drop over mid-renovation and think that’s really how you live, even if it’s accurate.

1084-relax-and-succeed-if-you-dont-valueIf you want to renovate yourself, you’re misunderstanding. A suicide is like bulldozing the house, but even anxiousness is like constantly moving around the house making minor adjustments while you watch out the windows to make sure no one sees you naked.

The question is, who are these people showing up to judge you? And why are you worried about a door to door salesman’s view almost as much as a good friend’s? Doesn’t that seem curious? Unless it was your new boss or in-laws, why over-worry about what a stranger first thought of you?

Today’s meditation needs you to really slow down and give this some deeper thought. Choose three people you’ve met/know. Make one someone who doesn’t really know you well, another who knows you maybe only through work or school, and then there’s the really close people who already approve of you. What is the actual difference in how you feel about each of these groups? Could it be tolerance?

1084-relax-and-succeed-nothing-destroys-self-worthAsk yourself this: who is this new person that you need them to like you? Don’t stop the meditation until you have an answer that’s deeper than because it’s nice to be liked. This is about you, not people in general. Then ask who the “co-worker” is and answer the same question; who is that person to you? And finally, who are your loved ones? What is it that separates them from the other two groups, even though you might spend a lot of time with them too?

This isn’t a distraction from your day. This is us studying what your day even is. If you’re not going to do this, then pretty much everything else you’re going to do is just going to lead you back to a lesson like this. You only have one thing to do in life, and it isn’t to become perfect. It’s to accept yourself, and right now that probably seems more unattainable than perfection!

Do the exercises. Find your three people. If after some meditation your answers seem unfocused or uncertain that’s fine. The answers aren’t where the value is, it’s in sincerity of the questioning. These aren’t check-boxes. This answer isn’t for me, it’s for you. These are sacred answers. None of them on their own are useful. But collectively, as many of you are starting to sense, they somehow add up in a strange and mysterious way. The good news is, that strange way is really the path back to your true self.

These are getting deeper and more important. Collectively they’re even bigger than the sum of their parts. These are tiny amounts of your life. But they’re definitely worth it. And you’re definitely worth it. Have a great 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.

Evaporating Ego

1069-relax-and-succeed-happiness-can-only-existThe only reason you’re even undertaking a resolution is because you’re unsatisfied with yourself the way you are. You’ve operated under the assumption that you need to improve when in fact you need to understand. Your real self is already beautiful, capable, valuable and worthwhile but your ego doesn’t believe that. When you talk to yourself all day? That’s your ego.

Mental health, clarity and confidence emerge quite naturally when you quieten and disengage from your internal story. That’s why kids are so confident and can learn to walk and talk so fast. Until you can talk to yourself–no ego! So there’s no voice limiting you. You’re brilliant, enlightened and free.

Most people try to stop the negative voices and switch them for positive voices but frankly that’s people who are pretending to understand this stuff. If your teacher is recommending that as your ultimate goal then they can’t teach you this because they don’t know it. Yes, a positive voice is better than a negative one, but that’s like saying you want a holy ego. That’s not really what to shoot for. Again: you want to understand. And that’s a big thing, so we’re doing it in little pieces.

1069-relax-and-succeed-warning-reflections-in-this-mirrorWe’ll start with attacking the credibility of your story. You think you’re talking to yourself about yourself but you really aren’t. You are a story telling itself a story, so in no time you’re totally lost inside the thoughts. When you first hear that voice in your own head it’s so startling that a kid will always ascribe the voice to a toy or an invisible friend. Then before long the invisible friend is comfortably living inside you. Worse, your ego soon has roommates. [Insert foreboding music.]

Telling your invisible friend to go away seems like a good idea until you realise that it’s your invisible friend saying that. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. Rather than argue with it, you want to evaporate your ego by being indifferent to it. And we can take a big step toward that today, because you actually think you’re ego’s talking to you about you.

I’ve been teaching people for 25 years that they should ignore their internal story because it’s a lie. Not a little lie. A total lie. You are a complete fiction. Can you see if you can come to truly grasp that, that you are instantly much better off? It would be like if your ego was your child and all of the school reports about the child’s behaviour came from a chronic liar. In the end you have no idea how good you are unless you’re being someone intentionally.

1069-relax-and-succeed-when-someone-is-trying-to-changeFor now we’ll skip the intentional part and we’ll focus on recognising the lie. Your identity is only a memory of who you believed you were, just as your worries are your fears about who you might be. But not only do you believe things about yourself that are unfair, you believe things that never even really happened.

If you ever studied this as intensely as I have this is quite obvious. People believe all kinds of things about themselves that aren’t true so how do you know who you need to be if you don’t even know who you are? And if you doubt this, just as with everything I’ve taught, science always catches up because frankly I learned it through experiments too. It’s just no one thinks a a five year old with a head injury would be doing brain and thought research all day because no one else that age spends their entire life thinking about thinking.

A scientist from near my home and who now lives in Britain has done what to you will be shocking research. I’ve noted it many times before in this blog, but below is an short video of her explaining how she proved that you really are a fiction. I doubt she has any idea that you’re 100% a fiction, but we’ll start with some doubt. That’s actually a pretty decent achievement. So watch this video and then I’ll give you today’s exercise.

Are you starting to get an inkling of how big and serious this is? Your ego is your history and you have almost no idea what yours or the world’s history really is.

Why pay attention to a story if you can’t be sure it’s true? Rather than making it go away, why not just ignore it the way you ignored people that you don’t respect? If someone has zero credibility with you are you offended by their insults? No, because you don’t choose to believe those because you don’t trust the source. You have to stop trusting your own ego.

So here’s exercise one: Before the end of the day you and your partner(s) in pursuing peace of mind are going to compete to see who can find the most examples of you making a past belief-shift. This would be examples where you could say for instance, “I kept wondering what I was doing wrong in my marriage and then I realised I’d innocently married the wrong person,” or “I always thought I was stupid because my Mom said so, but then I had a great teacher who showed me that I had a specific kind of intelligence.” These are when you changed your story.

1069-relax-and-succeed-if-you-keep-telling-the-same-sad-small-storyTo be clear, your new story was also a lie, but by recognising that it’s always changing it’ll feel less powerful and you’ll start to see why some cultures don’t even name your identityThat voice is always an opinion and even that comes from someone just as confused as you.

Find your examples of when you changed from someone into someone else and then use your thinking usefully; to meditate your ego away. Use that close inspection as the heat that evaporates your ego. It doesn’t matter who you are today because you clearly change who you are anyway.

Make your list. Meditate on each example. This is no small thing. This is proof that you are an ever-changing fiction. Make your list. Evaporate your Self. This is step one. I’ll see you tomorrow.

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.

Who Have You Been?

1066-relax-and-succeed-dear-brain-please-shut-upWhen you started this year you may have wondered; where are you going to get the energy to do all these great things we’re talking about? But don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of energy once you quit wasting it by talking to yourself incessantly about the past and future.

That self-talk eats up a ton of your life. Way more than you can imagine. And it’s an Opportunity Cost as well. Not only are you hurting yourself with all of that thinking about yourself, you’re also doing that instead of enacting your health. That’s how it works; you either move forward or backward, but there is no sitting still in life. It ticks by whether you’re spinning in place or boldly exploring.

To get the life you want we have to get you to expand yourself; and to do that you need to leave your comfort zone to explore new ways of being. Rather than another year of bashing yourself inside your own head just start each week here. Every Monday I’ll create a simple weekly objective. Those little tests and meditations can then act as signposts along your journey to become less of a self-talking ego and more like inspiration in motion.

1066-relax-and-succeed-dont-wait-the-time-will-neverThis process will be way less painful and far more rewarding than what you’re doing now, so you can sleep well tonight knowing that you’re taking action. And you can be comfortable knowing that these assignments won’t be overwhelming. In fact, often they’ll seem surprisingly easy. That’s how we change these things. Not all at once. A little bit at a time. We’ll make you so good at healing yourself you’ll end up healing others too.

The real question now is, do you really want to change? That might seem a strange question to someone suffering, but it’s valid. Lots of people start things like this over and over and yet never get anywhere and when you’re clear headed you too will be able to see why. Those people fall into a pattern of failure because because they want to.

A lot of people’s entire lives are built around sympathy. Everyone has stories about themselves that involve suffering but some people spend most of their time relating these stories, or reading or watching things about their story. They’re experts on their own story and all the damage it’s caused. And they pay for that expertise with suffering, which in turn creates the need for sympathy and you can see how the circular addiction forms.

1066-relax-and-succeed-are-you-happyThis will be an enjoyable process, but take today and be a bit hard on yourself. Call, or even better write (they’ll be more honest), to some close friends and ask them; when I’m negative what does that look like? And then ask them what kinds of things bother you. Ask them what makes you angry, what makes you sad, what scares you. Look for the stuff they mostly agree on. That’s your psychological set point. That’s what we’re going to move.

If you have honest enough friends you should get some answers that surprise you. Learn from them. Look at what you focus on. Understand that they see it as something you would do, meaning it’s not something they would do, meaning it’s a choice. You can make better choices, but before you try it’s a good idea to see what kind of choice-picker you’ve historically been.

The friends you ask to help you are your friends for a reason. The qualities you’re asking about are the ones they’ll easily accept because you’re worth it. If they can accept those things and love you then so can you. And when you can finally love yourself as you are, you’ll open yourself up to more complete love between you and others. So go find those good friends and spend today trying to really profile how it is you get sad or angry or scared, and then we’ll show you how to turn those little defeats into victories, and how to make this year better than last.

Onward and upward. See you tomorrow.

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.

Emoji Emotions

You’d think with a picture there could be no confusion, right? An emoji is an emoji, right? Uh, no. Just like words are symbols an emoji is a symbol and despite what people think, these are not language-free methods of communications because culture forms from language and vice versa, so the variations in language also describe the variations in people.

1049-relax-and-succeed-cherry-blossom-emojiIn the first group of emoji’s to exist, the creators included the cherry blossom emoji that still exists, albeit in a much fancier form. I have a lot of readers in Boston. If one sister sent another sister a cherry blossom, someone from Boston would think one sister sent the other flowers at work. Awww.

If say, a Japanese boy sees his younger sister get a message from his older sister that included a cherry blossom; and because in Japan it represents the fragility of beauty and short life, he might take the context they’re all in and conclude that their older sister has just learned that their father’s cancer is indeed terminal.

1049-relax-and-succeed-how-something-appearsIf a Chinese schoolmate saw one of the two Chinese sisters she hangs around with and sister-one sent sister-two a cherry blossom, then the schoolmate may rightfully conclude from this symbol of female empowerment, freedom and sexuality that their friend did lose her virginity that weekend.

Not every Chinese or Japanese person would even do those things, and some non-Asians would if they lived there for long enough. Societies are big things filled with many small things.

From awww to death to sex?! Using one simple picture?! So, no; emojis are not universal communication systems. The only thing in the universe like that is love. Everything else is a lie in the big spiritual sense. It’s all an illusion created by our interpretations of things like light, which might be formed into an emoji that might lead us to feel happy, sad or excited, but all of that would have been created with love. Everything else is language. Everything.

1049-relax-and-succeed-we-dont-have-to-agreeThe most interesting parts of any culture is not the food, dances and clothing, it’s the way they see. It’s the vision that the food, dances and clothing came from. Some divide the world into male and female, some have words that are built around geography, others have words built around vegetation, or navigation. We’re all different.

We’re all interpretation machines. Giving us the same input we’ll all still come up with our own versions of the truth. And that larger truth, is the important truth to seek. There is no objectivity. Surrender. Begin accepting others realities as being as valid as your own and your life will improve.

Oh and don’t forget; all of this all applies to other people’s views of them and theirs of you too. 😉

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 Accidental Patterns of Sexism

1037-relax-and-succeed-you-have-to-be-your-own-teacherThere’s a trick I used to play on people to show others how easy it is to get someone’s brain on an assumption track where they’ll assume things that don’t even make sense in an attempt to pattern-match new information with their original beliefs, even if the belief is new too. Here’s a story I used to tell an example of me planting and harvesting a false belief:

A boy goes fishing with his father and brothers and the boat tips over. The boy is pulled to shore unconscious with a serious head injury. An ambulance is called and, with the help of the father and sons pushing from below, the two attendants man-haul the boy up the steep banks of the lake and they race him to the hospital. He’s wheeled straight into surgery and, as the team moves their equipment into place the surgeon suddenly turns his attention to the patient and says, “I can’t operate on this boy. This is my son!” The question I would then ask is, who is the surgeon?

Maybe people would be better at it today, but up until about six or seven years ago, traditionally the number one answer is easily that it’s the father, along with the theory that he rode back with them in the ambulance. When  I remind the listener that he and the other sons are still back at the lake, a huge percentage of the time the next guess is that it’s his step-father; and after that it’s usually a second gay dad, then a grandfather that was a proxy-parent. When people have been told these guesses aren’t right, they’ve even tried Priest-Surgeon.

1037-relax-and-succeed-did-you-fact-check-thisMany smart people pondered long and hard without ever considering that the doctor might be a woman, and if they had it’s likely that mother would have been the easy, obvious first guess. This shows how powerful assumptions are. Just by using all male pronouns, combined with the fact that most surgeons were historically male, I could tilt even a female listener’s mind away from the obvious guess (especially if she’s not a mother herself). And you don’t need sexism for it to happen.

Not that long ago I was listening to an interview with Phyllis Web, the female creator of CBC Radio’s excellent documentary program, Ideas. In an interview a few days after the documentary on the origins of the program, Phyllis was asked if she hired any women to be on the staff of the show and the young lady seem shocked to learn she hadn’t hired any. She enquired as to why not?

Phyllis actually had to think about it before saying that it just never occurred to her. She knew people she’d always wanted to work with and now she had the power to put them all on one team with her. What gender they were never figured into her decision; it was admiration.

1037-relax-and-succeed-the-purpose-of-studying-buddhismThe fact remains that Phyllis would have had more women to admire if more women had been in positions of authority where she could look up to them, but my point is that she didn’t actively omit women–the genders literally never occurred to her.

This is much the same as when I work in film. If you ask anyone of any race in North America to cast a teacher for a TV show, 99% of the time you would see a white person because that was who was on TV so even an ethnic casting director thought that way. The important part is that this behaviour is innocent. It’s not an attack on anyone, it’s an error by omission. It’s just a brain pattern-matching what it’s seen in the past.

I’ve heard many times that men are hostile to women on executive boards etc., and I know every possible human behaviour is eventually acted out, so I’m sure there have been some horrible examples, but I’ve been in those boardrooms and I never recall anyone dissing women so it certainly doesn’t happen all the time. And yet those men would fall into the same trap of primarily considering men for jobs.

1037-relax-and-succeed-cognitive-dissonanceThat unconscious desire was not an active omission of women, it was one done on the same  subconscious level that lead Phyllis to hire no women on Ideas. The same thing would happen to a feminist who wouldn’t see herself as blocking men when she backed a woman, she would just see it as making some long overdue headway. No one’s trying to be a villain, it’s just that everyone has their own reasons for anointing their own champions.

There is a lot of polarisation going on today and many people see many enemies that exist only in their imaginations. Yes, it’s a frustrating thing that it has taken so long to see women rising to key positions and equal pay, but the trend was started a while ago and it will continue to build exponentially as men and women and various cultures alike all learn as individuals to naturally include all types of people in their considerations.

Don’t see enemies where there is only a trick of the mind. Yes, there is room for improvement, but people are already generally far more decent, kind and generous than they’ve been getting credit for lately. This is a path, we’re going the right direction, we can all relax and stop worrying. Rather than be angry about how it is we’ll accomplish more by enjoying our movement toward something better. Each of us needs only to decide to actively build our day by consciously seeking out positive, optimistic and rewarding experiences and the big issues will take care of themselves one individual at a time.

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.