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:

Managing Your Consciousness

I don’t know why you pay so much attention to the outside world. If you pay attention to your personal interior world you’ll see that when I say that you live within your consciousness I’m not speaking figuratively or metaphorically. As I’ve said before, Stephen Hawking’s body might have been bound to a wheelchair but his consciousness has touched the edges of the known universe. And that rule applies to all of us. We would all applaud a surgeon cutting our bodies wide open to repair us just as long as our consciousness isn’t present to notice.

658 Relax and Succeed - Not my circusBecause your emotional experiences take place in your consciousness via your thoughts, it is a beautiful thing to be able to genuinely wish the best for someone who would traditionally be categorized as an enemy. Because any hating or resentments or anger would be taking place in my consciousness not theirs. I would be experiencing it not them. So I can love an “enemy” and they won’t even know I’m doing it and yet it allows me to feel much better than I would if I was hating them. That’s totally in my control and the good thoughts are guaranteed to feel better than the bad ones.

Likewise, when other people are upset with you that’s something that happens in their consciousness. If you start to consider and re-think and wonder about their thoughts then you can injure yourself because now those are your thoughts too. People have lied about you to get things they wanted, or to accomplish things they thought were important, or to hide a mistake they made etc etc.. And people have given you credit for things you didn’t do, or they’ve had overly generous opinions—in the end, good or bad, every opinion of you is just that: an opinion. So there is no need for you to invest any of your lifetime in trying to manage the interior of everyone else’s consciousness.

Opinions are ideas about who you are and even the most detailed ones are based on shockingly little information when you think about the complexity of a human life and all of the reasons you did this or that thing. So someone can know someone for two months and decide they’re “slutty” when in fact the person is just going through the tail end of a divorce and it’s enormously common for most people to be a bit slutty during that am I still attractive? phase. So is that person casual about their sex or did someone see 1/10,000th of their life and paint an entire picture based on it?

658 Relax and Succeed - Never explain yourselfYou’ve all had this happen. There are all kinds of opinions out there about all of you and they differ wildly. So you can’t be all of those people so who are you? You are the thinker of your own opinion of you. You too have an idea of who you are. And keeping that version of you healthy already requires a lot of your attention so there’s no need to cripple your awareness by considering every other opinion about you.

In the end the closest thing to who you are is what you do under given circumstances. So pay less attention to what people think about you—bad or good—and focus on what your friends know about you by watching you live your life over time. Because most people’s judgments will have been gotten second hand so they can easily storm up and combine to “define” someone’s reputation. And yet those views are ultimately nothing more than a collection of thoughts in a collection of heads. Those don’t matter. Half the time people have misinterpreted your motives even if they do get some decent facts. So you can’t live your life trying to have a good reputation. You have to live your life fully as yourself, unafraid of judgment, because that is where real bravery, real character and real respect reign.

Now go have yourself an awesome day.

peace. s

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

Bathwater Babies

Hey everybody slow down with all the judgmental thinking. Everyone’s gotten very absolute recently. Increasingly since the 80’s there’s been this polarization of everything. Politics is more divided and vehement. People’s uninformed opinions about child-rearing will be offered 617 Relax and Succeed - It is the mark of an educated mindaggressively to total strangers. People argue about the environment and art—particularly music. It used to humbler. More often it would be I like this or that band, and now it’s become my band’s genius and yours shouldn’t even exist.

People will talk like nations will collapse if certain governments got into power and yet if the news didn’t tell them who won an election the vast majority of people’s actual lives would have virtually no indications of which party was in power at what time—because life really changes more due to what’s going on immediately around us than by what government is in power.

Even in friendship things are upside down. I was horrified to hear about a study that demonstrated that modern students minds see a strong link between friendship and likes. Yikes. Your best friend isn’t the friend that always agrees with you. That’s a lap dog. Everyone’s unique so if you talk long enough you’ll have opinions that differ from even those closest to you. But your best friend isn’t just a cheerleader. They are also the person that will speak up on your behalf even when you won’t and no one else will either.

617 Relax and Succeed - These days respect meIf you’re drinking too much and people at the office are starting to smell it, then it’s not the people that smile and pretend they don’t know. Those aren’t your friends. No, it’s the guy who takes you into your office, closes the door and tells you that he’s concerned about your drinking. That guy gets hated. You hate that guy for telling you that because you know it’s true and you wanted to keep living the way you were. Plus the office will hate that guy for causing a scene. But he doesn’t care about that because your friend cares about you. And he can see your life from the outside and so he knows you’re heading for disaster. And so he speaks up, even though it will likely cost him the friendship. That’s how much a best friend loves you. They’ll break their own hearts just so that you benefit.

People get into camps now. They try and win. The other side is stupid. Anti-Vaccine Pro-Vaccine, Pro GMO Anti-GMO, Protect Animals Eat Meat. Honda Toyota, Pepsi Coke, it goes on and on. And so few people can see the other side as being in any way reasonable. Too many people are just shouting and no one’s listening. There’s some good arguments to be heard on both sides of most issues. But you have to actually listen for them. You cannot tell them.

617 Relax and Succeed - Listening does not meanOther people know things you don’t and so you have to listen to them to find out what those things are. Because if you can listen to both sides evenly and you have a decent mind for reason, then you’ll be fine. But, if you’re deciding based on dogma—and you don’t even really examine any other ideas—then you can’t really say that you’ve come to the conclusion that your answer is the best one. You’ve voluntarily left data out, so in essence you are guessing. Science checks. Logic checks. Mathematics checks. There’s no absolute reality. But the measurements of science are the closest thing we have to a shareable reality.

If you’ve only voted for one party your entire life, and you’ve never supported an idea by any other party, then you can’t really say that you chose your position through examination. You adopted it culturally maybe, or you inherited it, or your society insists on it, but again—it isn’t a conclusion if it’s never changed in 40 years. Come on, not only do you change a lot in 40 years, but every party accidentally elects at least one unqualified person every 40 years.

Most of your opinions are entirely unexamined regardless of what they’re about. If you were actually questioned on any subject on which you’d offered an opinion in the last week, you would freeze up as you realized you know almost nothing about it. Not the court cases in the news, not the headlines on facebook, not even about subjects you probably should know 617 Relax and Succeed - Compassion can be put into practicemore about, like all of the important the rules of the road or how to look after your health, or what breed of dog best suits your lifestyle.

We all have to stop having knee-jerk opinions that see babies thrown out with the bathwater. We’re throwing too many good ideas away in our attempt to oppose the other. Instead we use our ability shape our media landscape and so now we build egotistical shrines to our own opinions with our choice of shares. We must open our minds. We must begin to listen to people we have marginalized or blocked out. It’s not like the world couldn’t use some new ideas that would create opportunities to grow and learn and expand.

If we all spend a bit less time judging and a lot more time having fun, life will be even more rewarding going forward. But we really do have to stop focusing on any differences and focus instead on the fact that we all want fundamentally the same things out of life—namely love, joy support and inspiration. Ready? Less judging more compassion: go!

peace. s