An Appreciating Life

How’s your gratitude going? Today I wrote: “I’m really glad I was able to recover most of my work from my computer crash last night.” Most. Not all. Still grateful though. You be can angry you broke your arm in a car accident or you can be grateful you didn’t die. The choice is always yours. This week’s all about you getting serious about choosing appreciation.

845 Relax and Succeed - Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsMaslow’s Hierarchy of Needs orders what we need to reach our personal peak. First you must meet your Physiological needs. You have to have enough food and water and you must have enough shelter to be able to survive. It’s a painful to thing to want to be able to eat but to not be able to, whether you’re in a drought in Africa or a cancer ward in Edmonton. Most of us aren’t experiencing that and we can be grateful for that every day.
Next is Safety.

Next we get into connections to others. Maslow noted next you need Love. This is where you feel you belong. You are part of friendship or a family or maybe you have intimate contact with someone. This gives you a chance to give to a limited number of people as a kind of training ground for a higher purpose with all people. Love is the greatest feeling we experience and we should be deeply grateful for those that inspire it in us.

845 Relax and Succeed - A pessimist sees the difficultyNext is Esteem. First and foremost you need to have self-esteem. You have to see that you deserved the love you were given. Having that, you will then benefit from the confidence and admiration of a group. In short you need to know that your impact will last beyond yourself and your days on this Earth. If you’re a boss or parent or coach or even a friend, you should feel grateful for the chance to serve others and to use your amazing abilities to inspire others to greatness themselves.

Next is your spiritual self so to speak. You need to Self-Actualize. You need to do something for the real you. The you that steers the physical you. You need to paint or dance or learn to fix cars or give a speech or travel. You need to enact your calling. You need to expand the universe by expanding yourself. It’s like taking your sense of love and expanding it outside yourself and into the larger world.

And that was where Maslow originally stopped because he wasn’t old enough yet to know there’s another phase after that.

845 Relax and Succeed - Let your light shine so brightlyYour final and most important shift is when you live in a state of Self-Transcendence. That’s when you are so complete, so overflowing with success that you can stop thinking about you and you can start investing your time in thinking about others instead. That’s what created my books, movies and this blog. It’s hard to suffer when your mind hasn’t even created a you to do the suffering. And there is no you because your mind is fully absorbed in what you’re doing and your appreciation of how it helps others. Do not steal from yourself the incredible joy of having been a person who really made a meaningful difference.

Wake up each day and be grateful and use that fuel to lift you higher and higher, past health and safety and love and success. Take it all the way to Buddahood. It’s just waiting for you to turn it on with your efforts. Be grateful, feel the energy build and before you know it a new outlet will appear and you will have a brand new canvas to fill with your dreams. I very much look forward to you making the world more beautiful with them. I am grateful for you.

Have a fantastic day everyone. Create that for yourself by filling it with appreciation. Even if it’s with a broken arm. 😉 Much love.

peace. s

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

Good Feelings Bad Feelings

You might think you want to be happy all of the time but in reality you would not enjoy that. In fact you wouldn’t even be aware that there was anything to enjoy unless you had something to compare it to. The only reason you can see these black letters is because they are on this white page. So you need both things, hence the idea of Yin and Yang. But while you may require both for existence to happen, you nevertheless will have emotional states you prefer. So rather than saying an emotion is good 659 Relax and Succeed - If you are too excitedor bad it would be better to describe them as emotions you enjoy for long periods, and emotions that derive their value from their rarity.

It can feel really, really good to have a good cry and yet no one wants to be depressed. We all love the feeling of falling in love but the very nature of it demands that it come to an end in one way or another, so in a way we are setting ourselves up for pain and disappointment by pursuing that joy. I love my parents dearly and so when I lose them it will be painful, whereas I have friends who had terrible parents and they were relieved when they were gone. For every positive feeling there’s a negative one. The trick for us is to stay conscious about what we’re entertaining within our consciousness so we can spend more time with the feelings we enjoy. We just don’t want to entirely lose touch with the value of our more poignant or intense feelings.

The world will always have its Yin and Yang. As a monk on a train once lead me to conclude that the secret of life is that everything changes. So how this works is that when things are good you should be grateful because it will change. And if things are going badly, don’t worry too much because it will change. So you can see in that equation 659 Relax and Succeed - There is nothing good or badthat there are still bad feelings, but they are inextricably connected to this Yin and Yang circle of existence. Each needs the other much like a wave is made of a trough and a peak and yet you cannot separate the two parts.

Do you see then that this is how you listen to songs, read books, or go to the movies or watch TV? You volunteer to be scared or worried or angry or sad and you do this because the nature of the program allows you to accept the idea that this pain is limited. You’ll only suffer for a maximum of a couple of hours and then the movie will end. This act of acceptance happens in your head and is the act of not thinking about an alternative. So the reason you like movies more than your life is because you’re not in a movie theatre thinking, I’m really scared in this horror and I want to go home! Because you know you went for the thrills! And it’s just like that with the rest of your life.

You’ve already lived all of the perfect lives. This is the one you chose to live Now. If you genuinely accept the dramatic, sad or torturous parts of life then you also get to experience the most wonderful joys. It’s a package deal, the only problem is you keep wasting your peak by complaining that you want a wave without a trough. You think that resisting thought over and over. You wonder how it might be or how it would have been. You do not accept now for now. You do not see your life as a 659 Relax and Succeed - If only we would stop tryingtheatrical display in the way you see the movie. And so you take it more seriously and that leads you to suffer more in the real world. And you’re doing it by experiencing the very same feeling that you’ll happily pay for at a theatre!

Start seeing your life less as a competition or pursuit for happiness. Be content instead. Be fine where you are. Offer no resisting thoughts to the moment you are in and you will discover that a wonderful peace is waiting for you there in that mental silence. Quiet your arguments about how you wish things were and watch your own life like a movie instead. Enjoy all of it, the good parts and the bad. Because when you can do that you are free of most of the agonies in this world and that is a beautiful thing.

peace. s

2014’s Blog of the Year #3

584 Relax and Succeed - Belief creates the actual fact*

Learn about how brains wire up and how you can do small things that can have big impacts in other people’s lives. I am so happy this posting turned out to be in the year’s top three. It’s not only about a good friend, which is nice, but it’s also an example of a blog that can be turned into a verb in a way that truly makes the world a better place.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And without further ado:

CLICK BELOW TO READ:

2014’s Blog of the Year #3

peace. s

Uninspired Lives

You can live your life in ego or you can live your life in spirit. One is inspirational (it’s very root is in-spirit) and the other is mundane. One lives life, and one wonders about life. One makes inspired choices while the other worries about what might go wrong. One moves toward what excites them and one tries to avoid making mistakes. One is happy, and one is sad.

537 Relax and Succeed - Attention Do not let leave your longingsAll of my life I have watched people surrender the tremendous, wonderful gift that life is. Because I knew you could be dead at five, I understood life not as a span of years, but as a chance, an opportunity—a stage on which you can perform any life you choose. So I never understood why people deigned to sit in the audience to watch and comment on the real lives that so few of us choose to enact.

As yesterdays blog pointed out, every life has hills and valleys. Every life is filled with challenge and defeat and struggle and failure. So why endure all of that only to pick a life that you know full well is filled with compromises? You can choose to struggle to climb Mount Everest or you can choose to struggle with the daily tedium of a rush-hour drive to work toward a job you hate and a life you find uninspiring. You struggle either way. Why leave yourself stuck in traffic when you could climb to such incredible heights? It’s the world’s most common form of crazy.

People often comment about the fact that I’ve lead an awesome life, and it’s true I have. I’ve got to make movies and advise billionaires and have super-cool jobs and travel the world. I’ve been an extremely lucky guy but I’ve also created a lot of that luck by living boldly. And your life can be your own bold version of you. Because my life may be fantastic, but it’s no better than anyone who’s gotten married to someone profoundly inspiring and who they feel thrilled to raise children with. There are all kinds of richness and excitement and reward. You can stop paying attention to 537 Relax and Succeed - Ask yourself what is really importantyour pay or your status or your investments of time and you can trade all of that for a job that feels fantastic.

I meet wealthy lawyers and bankers and business people who spend their days scrabbling around trying to keep all of the columns aligned. Their lives are primarily in problem-solving mode with flickers of genuine excitement and inspiration. Rather than accept that great lives have struggles too, they have accepted an uninspired life because they already have invested so much struggle in it. Their egos are frightened. They don’t want to leave the known path they are on for the excitement of the unknown. Better the devil they know. Booorrrriiiinnnnggggg.

I’ve worked in jails with underpaid counselors who help broken people find their own spirits. They achieve tremendously profound satisfaction from watching their clients learn to see their own strengths. I know a guy who starred in four Superbowls and yet he considers his biggest moment was when a man 537 Relax and Succeed - What if I failapproached him in a grocery store with his family. The man explained that he was alive because of Jim’s work with underprivileged kids, and that his beloved family wouldn’t even exist without Jim. Jim told me he considers that his real superbowl win. He lists it as the most inspiring thing in his life. So you don’t need a prominent, big or “important” life. You just need one that puts inspiration first.

Stop with all of your settling. Stop with all of the incessant self-conversations about which way you should go. You do not find which way to go in life by talking to yourself about the best choices. You don’t pick best choices intellectually. You have to be willing to relax, be open and feel your way to the most meaningful kind of success. You build fences with your limited thinking and trap yourself with choices that other people will approve of. You lack courage. You know which way to go, but you won’t make the leap.

The fact is, the vast majority of you will read this and know it’s the truth. You’ll be able to feel that. You’ll know you’re in that group that’s surrendered your spirit. And you’ll come here and read this and other things, and you’ll look longingly at truly inspired lives. But precious few of you will have the courage to ask if this truth is truly alive within you as well. You’ll think I’m lucky, or different or that my big bash to the head gave me something you can’t have. But you’re wrong. You’re just scared. Scared of your own life. And so you’ll give it up, and you’ll cash it all in for something uninspired. Rather than feeling bigger every day, you will shrink 537 Relax and Succeed - Fear is a prisonuntil you’re almost invisible to the world around you. You will feel inconsequential and even tragic—and you’re right, it’s a shame. Because the only thing that’s holding you back is fear.

The good news is that it’s never too late to enact your true self. You may have surrendered certain inspired paths through life, but there are many more so that’s okay. But absolutely none of those are available to you if you’re constantly trying to calculate the right decision. The best decisions aren’t calculated. They are known. And I know you know that feeling. The only question is, will you act on it?

You’ll know which one you chose by how your day feels. Because I can tell you, if you’re making choices for the right reasons, life feels fantastic on a routine basis. So don’t surrender. Don’t settle. Don’t talk yourself out of your own life and into someone else’s. Because you have nothing to gain by doing that, and you have so much to lose. The choice is always yours.

peace and love, s

The Friday Dose #42

533 Relax and Succeed - If you light a path

Larry Evans is an inspirational guy. He’s become a bit of a facebook celebrity. What I like is how he helps demonstrate the fact that people are generally good and decent and deep down they want the best for others. Larry might seem a target for teasing and surely he has been most of his life. But if you look at his facebook posts, you have to scroll for a long time to find a negative comment. And that’s actually true with people too. The people commenting on Larry’s posts are inspired, they are encouraging, they are supportive, caring, empathetic, compassionate and loving, all without any motivation other than to help Larry. And that reflects what humanity is like. It strikes out in pain every now and again, but for the most part it’s pretty awesome. Larry’s a great example of that awesomeness:

The Beautiful Inspiration of Larry Evans

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Drug companies like naming things so that they can then sell a pill. You can’t solve a problem until there is a problem. Media helps by reducing edits in the more-is-better philosophy of life. Then the media frightens parents for money, then parents get paranoid about the kids and all “play” gets turned into official cordoned activities and there’s a lot of sitting at computers and playing video games and on phones, and some energetic kids are very naturally exploding to move. Is it the kid that’s sick or is society asking the kid to wear the psychological equivalent of a corset? It’s worth studying our own assumptions:

A Leading Neuroscientist on ADHD

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Are you familiar with the Burning Man Festival? It’s a lot of things, but the main thing it has is an unusual zeitgeist. Because there’s no money allowed there, one of life’s primary hidden agendas is removed from play and peoples interactions are immediately more authentic. Another thing that Burning Man is famous for is fantastic art. If you’ve ever thought that artists don’t work hard then you need to watch this. Enjoy!

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Isn’t the world just super cool and full of surprises? Have yourself an awesome day.

peace. s

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

Princesses

Winner: 2014’s Blog of the Year #3

I know an actress who’s had a pretty good run getting some nice roles over the last few years. My favourite part about her as an artist is how much consideration she puts into everything she does. Recently she got offered a job with an agency playing various princesses for kids birthday parties. At first she thought it didn’t fit with what she wanted to do with her life, but she gave it some thought and realized maybe it had more in line with her objectives than she realized. She had gotten into acting to impact people through storytelling, but she had always imagined 506 Relax and Succeed - the biggest liethat would always be through her work in film or on TV. She hadn’t until then considered the fact that as a princess to a fully believing group of live little girls, she was essentially improv-ing any story she wanted, so she signed up.

Before she could take the job she did have to go to princess school. This was a concept that we both thought was cool but when I asked her what they taught someone at princess school, she said that was the disappointing part. After the consideration she had given the job, she assumed they would discuss some of the philosophical issues surrounding the role they would be playing. She said they learned some good safety and etiquette issues, as well as how they could approach various difficult situations, but there was no philosophical discussion at all about what it was they were actually doing relative to the little girls they were visiting. She found that surprising. After all, they were going to parties filled with people who were going to be certain that they were very real princesses. To the children, a princess is literally a celebrity—and maybe one of the most whole-hearted and coveted she will ever have. With this awe comes an awesome opportunity.

My friend said she gave a lot of thought to what a little girl would feel like when she met a “real” princess. Anything your idols tell you has such power in your life. A positive comment from a beloved princess could literally be what sets a successful course for the child. Because the way the brain wires; if a little girl is told she is awesome and capable by someone she 506 Relax and Succeed - Be the reason.jpgrespects wholeheartedly, and she believes it for long enough, that confident self-identity will become difficult to change and it will become the base wiring for her personality. And by the time she realizes there aren’t really princesses (at least not ones that would come to birthdays), by then the brain wiring will be in place and that confidence will be built right into her.

Recently my friend was arriving at a little girl’s birthday party in a park. She got out of her car and was walking through the park toward the party when another little girl (not from the party) spotted her and bolted over. She was thoroughly amazed. She gave my friend the Princess a huge, long hug and then she backed away with a smile full of wonder nearly exploding off her face. My friend knelt down and looked her in the eye and asked her her name.

Madeline,” she said.

Madeline!? What a beautiful name! And you are such a wonderful girl! I love your beautiful blonde hair and your smile. And I can tell you have a beautiful heart, and a beautiful heart is what turns a girl into a princess. I’m so glad we saw each other today. You have a wonderful day Madeline!” Madeline gave her another giant hug and smiled that exploding smile and then they waved their goodbyes.

Now, everyone reading this knows that later that day Madeline tells this story to everyone she meets. And maybe her brothers or someone else can try to rain on her parade, but it won’t work—because she knows she actually met the Princess. And so she’s going to just be floating. She’s going to fully believe that Madeline’s a beautiful name and that she’s beautiful 506 Relax and Succeed - Amazing people do not just happeninside. She will feel worthwhile and meaningful because she believes she is. And no one can take that experience away from her. Not even teasing brothers.

It’s a shame they don’t talk about stuff like this in princess school. I’ll bet a lot of the women doing it would love to feel the radiant joy of connection that comes with inspiring another person’s soul. And those simple interactions could easily change the course of a person’s life. So make sure you take your opportunity to point things the right direction if you’re ever someone’s “princess.” Because if you cause someone to spend enough of their young life believing something great about themselves then that becomes their natural setting. And it’s a wonderful thing when the wave of a Princess’s wand can actually help make confidence and self esteem a reality in a grown woman’s life.

Be kind to each other. It can be tough out there. We can all use some back rubs and princess encounters. Now go and make your day better by improving someone else’s. Love you. 😉

peace. s

Spirituality is a Verb 2

I know it’s a holiday for a lot of people, but this is a great blog to start your week with. It’ll invigorate your spirit and inspire you. It’s a quick, easy-to-read bit of positiveness.

It’s not only a holiday in Canada, but this is the week a lot of my readers are putting their kids into school, so this is when readership dips for a bit, making it a good time for me to take a week off for the first time since I started this blog.

This week I’ll be presenting some awesome posts that were written back when the blog was new and very few people knew about it. So it’s highly unlikely you’ve read any of these, and even if you had you’d have changed enough as a person since then that the material would appear entirely different.

This will be fun–I get to hand pick some old favourites that are still extremely relevant to our lives today, and you get to read a selected collection of my best writing. Enjoy! 🙂