The Freedom of Possibility

1006-relax-and-succeed-this-is-just-not-going-to-work-outProvided they haven’t experienced powerful trauma, kids are naturally very skillful at enjoying life. In the healthiest situations they are excited by their fears; they want to stay up and hear the scary campfire story that will keep them up all night terrified. They believe they can do anything. And every experience is met with wonder. And they grow and grow and grow.

You don’t limit yourself to the expected when you’re a kid. You see more possibility. And we could argue that those odds are long, and yet it is also true that even long odds are ultimately true sometimes. So you can live in a boring world where houses get boarded up because people die, or you can live where kids live; where houses are boarded up because they’re haunted. Waves are sea serpents, basements contain boogeymen, and all meteor’s are spaceships. When we’re young we go into every situation anticipating adventure.

As we age repetitive experiences limit our imagination. If we’re abused long enough we’ll start to actually seek out abuse because that’s all we can fit into our highly limited imagination. And yet our child-mind is still alive within us. We still maintain the ability to see things another way.

1006-relax-and-succeed-the-idea-is-to-die-youngThink of the people you know. The freest ones are the ones who are willing to offer the craziest solutions. They just never say die. There’s always good news somewhere and they’re just as pleased to search for it as find it. Other friends see gloom and doom at every corner. They see the worst in others. They see lots of limits, lots of reasons that things can’t happen.

If you don’t believe something’s possible you won’t take the steps to see that thing happen in your life. If you think you’ll never have friends because everyone hates you, then you’ll never have friends because you never met anyone–because you guessed they’d all hate you when only some of them would. But even they would only hate you out of confusion.

Your friends wouldn’t love you more than your enemies, they would just see you more clearly. So even friendship is a childlike thing that we do less of as we age. When we’re young we’re more prepared to assume someone might be the source of good experiences but by the time we’re older we just sit in judgment all the time and then wonder why we don’t have more fun.

1006-relax-and-succeed-the-soul-is-healed-by-being-with-childrenYour life is a set of beliefs about things you think can’t happen or have to happen, but those beliefs are not the actual world they’re just your idea of it. People’s lives change every day, but in most cases it was because they actually began doing something different. The different thing you can do is truly monitor your judgments about things and find your own limits within those judgments. Again: those limitations are not the world, those are ideas you have and they prevent you from experiencing all that life has to offer. Be more childlike.

Study your own limits. Ask yourself how you’ve actually changed since you were a child. What things did you think were possible that you talked yourself out of? Open yourself up to more possibility. Imagine a life bigger than the current you could ever deserve. You can have something bigger than that. People certainly call Elon Musk’s dreams crazy but does he care? He doesn’t have the time/thought-space to think about their judgments: he’s too busy building a spaceship!

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.

Videogames and Parenting

974 Relax and Succeed - And those who were seenI’ve wrote about this before but it keeps coming up. One of the most common complaints I hear from parents is that their children–particularly the boys–play video games too much, and yet when I ask the parents which games their children play I have yet to have a single parent that knows. That’s a remarkable demonstration of how a busy life lowers our awareness.

If it’s worth complaining about it’s worth knowing at least something about it, but instead every game is thrown into one pile as though they are all equal when some are mindless addictions and others require great thought. There’s strategy games, puzzle games, war-based games, society-based games, team games, solo games, and each will have its own moral angle and points system, so how can all of those be seen as one thing?

Not knowing anything about the games is like saying a kid reading a textbook is the same as a kid reading People Magazine. (Note I didn’t use comics because in my experience the smartest adults I know were often comic readers.) There are millions of games. There is a reason that their fans love them.

974 Relax and Succeed - Play is the highest form of researchAs I’ve noted before, it should come as little surprise that the very first location that took off in Second Life was a dance bar called Wheelies and it created a meeting place for users in wheelchairs. In a virtual world someone in a wheelchair is just as mobile and capable as someone out of it so you can see why they would value it. A lonely kid can value team games, a leader can like them too. An independent person can love first-person shooters that allows them to team up when they choose, or they may prefer a game that requires great patience and planning.

Video games today can encourage good behaviour. They get you to love characters before they die in real storylines, creating more empathy. Whereas they used to give you awful choices like raping prostitutes, those same game designers now have daughters of their own and now the same game makes you calmly do yoga or you can’t continue to the next level. I watched this have a real impact on a friend of mine who learned to moderate his quick temper thanks to it.

If parents added up how many hours they look at the screens on their TV’s, their computers and their phones they would realise they are screen-watching a huge amount of the day so it’s no surprise kids are comfortable sitting and looking at screen just as the children of joggers are often joggers and just as the children of big eaters are often big eaters. That’s the real parenting, not what you say; it’s what you do.

974 Relax and Succeed - Children don't need more thingsTry to get your kid to teach you some games. If you’re lucky you might even like the same type. But at least at the start they’ll get to beat you a lot and that’s good for a kid as long as they don’t try to turn it into a habit and thereby become a poor loser. Each parent has to make decisions about their situation and their kid, but it’s important to note that many children of divorce talk about how valuable it was to be able to bury their head in a game while they watched their parent’s marriage descend into bickering.

Nothing is good or bad only thinking makes it so. If everyone from military leaders to 747 pilots to astronauts can advance themselves using virtual training then there’s no reason to think that your child isn’t also developing themselves. Certainly they could just be hiding from life, but if you don’t even know the games they’re playing then you can’t hope to guess if that’s where they’re at.

Slow down. Pay attention. Trust yourself. From there the love for your child will tell you all you need to know. Kids are future adults. Whether we like it or not they will be shaped by the forces around them. Rather than try to push against them, start working with them. You might find you have more allies than you’ve realised.

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.

Woman School

Today let’s imagine Woman School. We’ll be in the same house as when the Boy learned to become the Man. Input comes through a screen and some speakers. All the parts of the brain and body are present and ready to learn. The Brain at the front of the class narrates for the other body parts.

941 Relax and Succeed - She took the leapBrain: Okay everyone, ready? Remember, we’ll be spending most of our time with and we’ll get most of our guidance from The Mother, so watch her closely. She’s making breakfast on a weekend. We didn’t sleep well, sorry guys.

Memory: Sorry. I babbled a bit last night.

Imagination: Yeah, I wasn’t exactly quiet either, sorry.

Brain: Okay I think everyone’s been served. She has a list she’s written out. See that Hand? You give lists to him.

Hand: Got it.

Eyes: Oh oh. I don’t think he wanted a list. He does not look happy.

Brain: She’s tired of him not being happy with any lists.

Mouth: To talk to a future husband like that I’ll need some help from the diaphragm. She got a bit stern there.

Memory: Meet unhappiness with increased pressure. Got it.

Ears: Oh oh. He’s yelling.

Eyes: He’s mad. He’s coming toward her.

Self (silently): I enjoy my connection to others and prefer that those connections continue.

941 Relax and Succeed - Children learn moreEars: Hear that Mouth? She starts to offer apologies.

Eyelids: She’s starting to flutter in case he swings.

Eyes: I’m scared for her.

Legs: Should we go over and help?

Brain: NO!

Head: That did not work out well for me last time.

Ears: Those are terrible names he’s calling her.

Memory: We hear them a lot. I’ve already got them down as ‘normal.’

Nerves: Yeah it’s been a while since we’ve reacted to harsh names.

Ears: That feels weird to me.

Eyes: If my hair ever gets grabbed like that I’ll need some tears ready.

Brain: I’m confused. Why doesn’t her fight or flight chemistry come on? Ours is.

Self (silently): I enjoy my connection to others and prefer that those connections continue.

941 Relax and Succeed - People have a hard timeHeart: I don’t think anyone taught her to love her own heart enough to know she deserves to be defended.

Brain: That’s crazy! Why not!?

Ears: We have overheard her say a lot of negative things about herself.

Memory: Yeah we have a lot of those stored and we do hear her replaying them a lot to herself.

Eyes: Thank goodness he’s letting go!! He’s storming away!

Legs: Let’s get over there and comfort her.

Arms: I agree. It’s time for a hug.

Self (silently): I enjoy my connection to others and prefer that those connections continue.

Eyes: Why did we have to see that?

Nerves: Yeah. Sorry guys. I got overloaded. It’s gonna take me a day or two to fully settle down so let’s keep things calm. That’s hard on me.

Memory: Do I really want to just store this?

941 Relax and Succeed - Learning is a giftHeart: It feels wrong.

Legs: She’s headed to the bathroom to cry again.

Eyes: If you’re this sad apparently it’s important to see yourself in a mirror.

Brain: I wonder what she’s thinking?

Ears: Sounds like she might be replaying those words; the mean ones.

Brain: Why? Ouch! Those would hurt. Why would she hurt herself because he lost control and hurt her?

Ears: Mouth, why are we saying we’re fat when she looks fine?

Mouth: I don’t know. Memory’s just supposed to write it down.

Memory: Brain, can’t you get her to pick some other thoughts? I don’t want to record those.

Brain: I agree. I’m okay with meditating around a lot of things away but this is not something that should be meditated away. This is a guy a woman should not be around.

Memory: So are we saying we’re not going to do what the Mother did?

941 Relax and Succeed - Parents can only give good adviceBrain: I don’t know when when it’s so obvious but she must not feel worthy. I think that’s why she thinks his behaviour is in alignment with who she is when it doesn’t feel right to any of us.

Self (silently): I enjoy my connection to others and prefer that those connections continue.

Memory: If it doesn’t feel good why are we storing it for future use?

Brain: I don’t know. I’m designed to copy everything.

Memory: But we all get a say. And it’s mostly Face and Arms and Back that get the punishment. What do they think we should do?

Face and Arms and Back: We’re not interested in being hurt like that.

Brain: Okay fine, but then what do we do?

Legs: I don’t think it’s a good idea but she can stay if she wants to. But if most of us still feel worthy we could just leave if it was us.

Brain: I suppose it’s true. We could just decide and leave if it was us.

Face: I know I’d appreciate that.

Brain: Okay, we’ll stay and help her as much as we can but we do not want to copy the parts about men. On those we’ll do the opposite. Sound good?

Heart: Yes. I’d rather be alone that put up with what she’s putting up with. We’re worth more than that.

941 Relax and Succeed - The most difficult thingBrain: Got that everyone? So we have some tolerance for when people are struggling but from now on there’s certain things we won’t put up with. We’re worth more than that. Everyone comfortable with respecting ourselves?

Legs: So we’d walk out if it was us?

Brain: Let’s still do our best to protect The Mother.

Face: Isn’t it up to her to do that?

Brain: I suppose you’re right.

Face: Let’s hope she does.

Brain: Okay. Everyone’s in? We’d leave if it was us?

The Body: Yes!

Brain: That does feel like a good answer.

Ears: Indeed. That sounds like love.

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 Good Dad

Whether it’s from single parents or couples or combos of people, almost everyone responsible for raising a child struggles with the notion of how to be a good parent. And by struggle I mean they’re certain they’re transferring their worst faults to their kid and that freaks them out. Fortunately it doesn’t have to. You can relax.

936 Relax and Succeed - The greatness of a manMy Dad is an absolutely brilliant parent and it was easy. He only went to grade eight. You would call him clever but not notably smart. He owned a little company and did okay but he was no brilliant businessman nor did he get rich. Considering how much time every kid spends with their parents I recall very little of our total time spent together, but what I do remember very clearly is his leadership through life. I remember how he lived.

Since shoe-tying Dad never really teaches me anything directly. He didn’t sign me up for classes or have here’s how it is talks, he’s just lived and let me watch things and he answered questions when I asked. And it turns out that’s really what matters most when it comes to succeeding as a parent. It’s why I still want to be like him today, although now more consciously.

My Dad is truly remarkable in that he’s 90 and I’ve literally never seen him angry or sad in my life. I’ve seen him be strong in the face of adversity or even challenge danger, but not with anger. I’ve seen him deeply concerned for the welfare of others but never sad. I’ve never heard him put down anyone. I’ve never even really heard him complain. Kids copy what their parents do. Good living therefore equals good parenting.

936 Relax and Succeed - It is very simpleThe other thing I got from Dad is a sense of spirit about life. He’d survived Scarlet Fever, The Depression, a terrible and violent father, and he was just about to be transferred from Europe to Asia in WWII when they dropped The Bomb, so he knew well what war was like and everyone then lost friends and family. All of that made being alive that much more important to him and he instilled that in me: it is important to enjoy your life.

The ways Dad creates his own joy is mostly through assisting others. He just really loves to help and because it brings a lot of joy to people I also saw him as a constant source of positivity to others. The reason he realised someone was facing a challenge he could help with was because Dad never thinks about himself much, which is why he’s never angry or sad. Dad thinks about others.

Being invested in other people is a lost art. Everyone’s connected and no one’s connecting. Dad never listened to be polite. He truly always wants to know what’s going on for other people. He loves hearing about other exciting things in their lives and he’s extremely good at being happy for them. He doesn’t dwell on sadness nor commiseration but he’s as with-you as someone can be.

936 Relax and Succeed - Listen earnestly to anything your childrenWhen I get asked why my Dad is so great I’ll mention his emotional stability and decency but that’s not the main reasons I think he’s so good. That’s because he’s invested. He’s always been interested. He cared. And he’s always been supportive. I’ve had a crazy life pursuing crazy dreams and so many of them have come true and so many times he was the only person who didn’t think I was crazy to pursue them.

I love my life despite the usual calamities. It’s no coincidence that I also had a parent who simply loved their kid through their earnest interest in that kid’s life. If your child’s life is unfolding as though what is happening to them is a part of the greatest story you’ve ever read then you will have done an enormous service to your child.

Too many adults think they have to be amazing or it doesn’t matter. That can change if our culture starts valuing a parent’s interest in a child as being far more important than what they provide the child materially. There is no greater way to inoculate a human being against long term failure than to instill in them the idea that, regardless of what’s going on, they always truly matter.

Be a good person, show your kid you love them unconditionally and the rest is up to them. Don’t worry. Do that and they’ll almost always do great.

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 Friday Dose #85

Plain and simple, watching people be kind is an uplifting thing to do and I would like to help all of you feel better right now. So let’s get straight to it. It’s amazing what will happen when you just give people an obvious opportunity to be kind and/or generous? Another great idea from Improv Anywhere:

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And I’m going with two videos today because I really like Soul Pancake’s creation, The Secret to a Happy Family. It doesn’t need any more introduction than that. Enjoy!

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Go do some nice things for strangers and for people you love. Not for them. For you. Always remember, kindness, generosity and compassion all feel good for both parties. Don’t steal from yourself. You have more to offer than you realize.

peace. s

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

The Friday Dose #83

775 FD Relax and Succeed - Be happy for this momentI’ve got super-valuable information on raising pre-schoolers, I’ll blow your mind with what’s being 3D printed and for the introspective I’ve got a very human, open and raw video on breaking up. And, if you want a super-cool video about how movies secretly influence you then duck back a couple days to The Movie of Your Life. Let’s start with this article and idea that I hope gets a lot of attention. As a species we’re a lot more brilliant than we give ourselves credit for and this article points toward a part of brain development that has been vastly undervalued for about 25 years:

The Decline of Play in Preschoolers
and the rise of sensory issues

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And now we’ll have a couple videos, one for the people feeling good who want to fill their minds with wonder, and one for the people who are in the midst of some of the heavier parts of life and are therefore seeking more introspective things. This breakdown of what’s currently being 3D printed will seem funny and dated someday, but looking at it today I think you’ll be amazed by what’s already happened:

And we’ll end off with people. People breaking up, specifically. As we age we learn that our views will change and our perspectives will shift as well. That means we can literally change our thoughts and the people we know become actual different people to us. This is a great example of that as a couple who broke up years ago agree to answer each other’s questions. (Warning, they do talk a little bit about sex.)

Have a good weekend everyone. Spend it like it’s your own life. 😉

peace. s

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

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Parenting Adults

When someone had a baby I used to always write in the card, “congratulations on your future teenager!” It seemed so fitting to me. By my mid teens the studies that emerged from my accident lead me to the conclusion that our personalities were little more than thought patterns, and while they were changeable their direction was fundamentally established quite early in life.

769 Relax and Succeed - Hardship often preparesThis is not to say we can’t become so conscious that we can’t make course alterations but the paradox is this: once you’re that aware–that conscious–then you don’t want to be anyone else. You accept that enjoying the experience of this universe means you have to choose a point of view. You have to be someone. The trick is to be that person but not take that life’s challenges as failures. Those aren’t failures–they’re just the steps required to live that life.

No matter how you parent your children there will be a yin and yang to their experience. If you’re open-minded and teach them to be, then they’ll struggle more with close-minded people than people who grew up in more combative, competitive or contrary households. If you’re very successful and functioning well above average in many areas of life, then your child may be stressed by their very normal levels of performance. Rather than enjoy their life they may strive for one that appears more impressive. So there is no point in trying to parent the right way. Every way has consequences that go every possible direction.

The most useful thing a parent can do is remember that they only have one job: to teach a child all the things they will need to know to be able to live without the parent. So don’t think about behaviour as being good or bad. Ask yourself what wiring your child’s brain will need to deal with a situation. If every time they struggle you assist them, they will be very weak when they must face any of life’s normal struggles. If their complaints of boredom are always met with offers of distraction then they be distracted, poorly motivated adults.

769 Relax and Succeed - If you wish to moveI liked hanging around the teachers I’ve worked with who were self-aware, who truly cared about the kids and who were always so generous with their wisdom. I learned a lot from them. But everyone had the same sense. That we felt the recent groups of kids had the same potential to be brilliant, but that they were all stifled by a very noticeable discomfort with making their own decisions. They seemed to guess far more than use critical thinking to draw their own conclusions, and they seemed more interested in symbols than principle. So they were more focused on their grade than their own sense of whether or not they grew. This effect increased quite strongly year over year.

The reason for this is very simple. People want to sell you things like guns or alarms or locks or insurance, and the news needs you to stay for the ads, so they show you lots of scary stories, and it’s convinced you that our very safe world is somehow much more dangerous than it really is. This false belief then creates over-protection which leads to the underdevelopment of the fundamental skills of character. What’s missing is the parent’s understanding of how truly incredible their child is.

Parents have been taught by advertising culture to constantly look at their lives for what’s missing. Because of this they live within a zeitgeist of defeat. This transfers to their childrearing and the result is like taking the notion of original sin and putting it on steroids. People feel they’re fundamentally not enough and they worry or stress their lives apart by trying to be someone other than who they are. You don’t need to be anyone else. Just be yourself in a state of mind where you love the world. That’s all the development you need.

769 Relax and Succeed - Life is like a cameraWhen I heard the brilliant interview (below) I was thrilled. Julie Lythcott-Haims was Stanford University’s Dean of Freshman and she too noticed the trend I referred to above. Her new book How to Raise an Adult lead to a recent radio interview that is worth any parent’s time. Parents are stressing themselves too much when in fact what they should be doing is far less.

I really love the world. But if anyone asks me if there’s anything I would change it’s only that I wish a much larger percentage of people would own how incredibly capable and strong and creative and courageous the core of every human being is. We always save our best for when things are at their absolute worst. I would like to see us to look less at some of humanity’s mistakes–those are very well documented. I would like is all to remember the remarkable achievements of humans as individuals and as a species.

We have good reason to believe in ourselves. And we have good reason to believe in the young people of this world.  It’s time we unleashed that potential by trading our fearful thoughts of what might go wrong, for thrilling thoughts about what might go right.

Have a wonderful day.

Interview: How to Raise an Adult vs Helicopter Parenting

peace. s

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

The Friday Dose #52

605FD Relax and Succeed - The greatest thing you'll ever learn

This is one powerful Dose. This is unusual in that usually I distract your painful thinking with fascinating things, but if you’re looking for something short and inspirational just shoot straight to the last video. But the first three entries work as a group and they’re there to demonstrate that children will shrink or expand to suit our expectations and that the difference between the two can be incredible. These postings are longer in nature, but collectively they are extremely powerful and the one on blindness will almost be unbelievable to you. You can listen online or download the podcasts. This combination of offerings is brilliant and they’re designed to intersect in such a way as to have the sum equal more than the total of the parts, thereby exposing a larger idea about belief and its importance in all of our lives (even the non-religious).

This coming week I’ll be talking about the parenting process and how too many adults get so caught up in superficial details and general busy-ness that they forget what parenting itself actually is. Because the divisions of responsibility or respect or academics are all mental divisions, but in life what a parent is teaching is literally how to be in the world. Which is why kids never learn it in words. They learn it by watching their parents in the world and by believing what their parents tell them. So in the case below, some kids parents allowed their kids to walk to school but some other kid’s parents felt that that was too dangerous and so they called the police. Wow. It’s quite the discussion:

The Debate Over Free Range Parenting

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Next we’ll meet the least fearful parent ever. But that lack of fear resulted in a bonafide miracle. And I mean an actual miracle. Because if a parent can smother a child’s life with the belief that they’re constantly in danger, this incredible mother helped create an actual miracle by believing in her son so much that he became the first blind person that ever developed the ability to actually see. And he’s taught other people to believe it too. And now when science watches them navigate very clearly around a room just like a sighted person, despite that their eyes do not work, the scientists see that it is their visual cortex that’s guiding them just as it would for a sighted person. What you believe about yourself changes yourself for better or for worse. So be extremely careful about how you talk to yourself. And please take the time to download the podcast or online stream this incredibly inspirational documentary that just gets more and more amazing the longer it goes:

How a mother’s belief literally made a blind boy see

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If you’ve listened to that documentary already then you know how amazing it is. And that stuff doesn’t just happen with blindness. World-famous percussionist Evelyn Glennie was deaf by the time she was a teenager. But all hearing really is, is your brain interpreting the vibrations of the bones in your ears. But because Evelyn couldn’t do that, she learned to listen with her entire body and that turned her into the first-ever “deaf” student to attend Britain’s top music school. Fortunately, along with challenging your definition of “deaf,” Evelyn also plays for you during the talk. Enjoy:

We’ve all had a turn at feeling like we don’t fit in. Well here is a wonderfully inspirational video about how one small change in what we believe about ourselves can make a massive change in our lives. You could do something like this in your life today. You’re worth it. The only question is, what’s it going to be and when are you going to start? 🙂

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Don’t forget you’re awesome. And so is everyone else. So have a great one. All the best.

peace. s

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. Save these for when you’re feeling low and you want to change your perspective. They’ll help Enjoy. And please let me know if you bump into any broken links. Thanks!

The Friday Dose #50

595 Relax and Succeed - You're mad

Welcome everyone! It’s the first Friday Dose of the year, and we’re starting off with a Washington Post piece on parenting in the age of the internet and cell phones. Parents will often come to me with very sensible and realistic concerns about their kids and their developing brain’s ability to wisely negotiate cyberspace. I don’t blame them. Kids haven’t fully built the part of their brain that fully comprehends consequences until they’re out of their teens and yet the kids will believe they know all they need to know. And yet there’s no way to turn the internet off, and the constant access of a phone is largely understandable in the modern context where so much of what kids are given to do by schools and clubs etc. will be made easier through the use of both social networking and by phone apps. Who knows how long these things last, but for now it’s a tricky issue and there’s no clear solution. Fortunately the best answer is always the best answer: give the child what they need to calculate well reasoned answers to questions so they can take in their facts and context and then prudently and logically develop appropriate responses. You also want them to have a foundation of self esteem and the knowledge that they are loved and have value no matter what their circumstances might be at any point in life. And last but definitely not least, you want them to believe in the unbelievable. In magic. In things outside the bounds of current thought. Because that is where the discoveries are made. Where we push on our assumptions. But as good as it is, absolutely none of that fine parenting will have much of an impact on the weirdness that is kids hanging out in a place called cyberspace:

The Washington Post: Parenting as a Gen Xer

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Next we’ll go to an interview with disgraced journalist Johann Hari. For a man who had spread so many mistruths in his efforts to elevate his status and ego, his fall has created a humbler, wiser man who has surrendered any concerns about what we think of him. He agrees that you shouldn’t think much of what he did. But he makes an observation about addiction that I’ve mentioned in my blog many times. It involves the idea of not stopping an addiction, but rather starting to have such meaningful contact with people and the world that there would be no interest in an addiction. I place this here in the hopes that if I made the concept too abstract, perhaps you’ll grasp it when you hear how Mr. Hari states it. However the wisdom comes to you, I hope you too come to know the value of genuinely and enthusiastically investing in the enjoyment of your own life:

The Guardian interviews Johann Hari

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Next I’m gonna surprise you. I often refer to advertising as the most damaging and insidious force in our world today. But to be a fair-minded person you must be prepared to disagree with your friends and agree with so-called enemies. And so it must be the truth we seek more than to be right or to win. And so I must admit I recently saw an ad that I thought struck an impressive tone, where it honoured a living truth of the world and it approached the viewers with positivity instead of negativity. That it would come from a diet company is something we should all take heart in. Because we all know most advertising is fairly ridiculous lying. But if the world is shifting to greater positivity and it’s leading companies in this direction then advertising will significantly lessen its negative impact in the world. Enjoy:

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And finally we’ll finish off with another beautiful way to convey an extremely important point to every man on Earth. The video’s so well done I will simply let it speak for itself, but the agency that came up with this should be proud. I won’t be surprised to see it in Cannes this year. It’s as beautiful as it is clever. Enjoy:

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Have yourselves a spectacular weekend everyone!

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.

Teen Parents

An extremely common thing I am approached about is teens who begin to exhibit behaviors that are perceived to be undesirable. I’ve never actually counted them, but I’m confident they would be my most common client—them or their parents or some combination of both. Because it’s so common it’s also a good basis for discussing the concept of separate realities, so I’ll use it as a case study to explain where the tension comes from and what you can do about it.

553 Relax and Succeed - No one should abandon dutiesHuman beings are wired up not to notice things if they’re too repetitive. Better to invest the available brainpower in something useful, than to constantly stop everyth—SQUIRREL!!! You get my point. So if something goes on too long, it becomes invisible to us by being absent from our consciousness. As I often note, pig farmers don’t smell pigs.

A good example of this is one of the subtle things that happens to parents: they have, for more than a decade, unconsciously been the undisputed masters of their kids schedules, activities, resources and wisdom. So when the child actually begins to change that relationship by having their own ideas, that stands out as extremely noticeable to a parent. It is a shift from near-absolute automatically presumed control, to an inability to control, combined with belligerence and distance. It’s like a two year old with a driver’s licence. To the parent it’s a real whack to the wiring in the brain and even the most open-minded person will need time to adjust.

From the kid’s perspective, they didn’t go looking for autonomy. All that happened was, they eventually had enough trusted outside sources of perspective to allow them to develop an idea about the world that differs from their parent’s. And they notice it when they do it. I remember doing this. It was startling. It was like a whole new way to be. And kids like this new thing to do with their mind, and so they exercise it a lot—which is understandably insanely frustrating to their parents who, until then, could wade in and end any big kerfuffle quickly and effectively. There is no way to break up eye rolling. They either volunteer to quit rolling them or you voluntarily control homicidal fantasies on a fairly regular basis. Either way, for both parties it’s all new.

553 Relax and Succeed - You do not have to make your childrenThe kid is at a huge advantage. All of this capability of opinion is captivating. They develop paper-thin perspectives on everything. And blasting electricity into these new parts of the brain feels exciting and compelling. On the flip side, parents are pulling their hair out as they legitimately watch their carefully built lives completely upended by the dramatics that go with the hormones that go with the teen years. This whole era for the relationship is a much better deal for the kid than the parent.

What I want to focus on is the fact that the reason these two parties are in conflict is because of what is contained in their consciousness. The parent wants the kid to have a clean room, and the kid—at least some kids—previously kept their rooms clean out of a sort of blind obedience. But it’s not like a clean room ever had much actual value to a 10 year old. They’d live in a tree fort if they could. So they clean it out of obedience in a one-mind kind of way. They don’t recognize that they have certain autonomies and so they “behave.” But as they age those opportunities to decide appear more and more often and autonomy increases as a result. We never achieve pure independence, but that’s what we seem to target.

My point is that what is in the kid’s brain is legitimate. For a kid. Yeah, an adult can choose to think about how much they paid for the house and how they imagined it looking (like from a magazine), etc. So then this messy room gets converted into some glowing sign pointing at bad parenting, a bad kid, and a non-showhome home. But meanwhile the kid’s actually not doing anything wrong. Doesn’t it make sense that a teen isn’t necessarily going to be invested in the reasoning behind slaving to keep a gorgeous room that only the occupant will ever see? That’s saner than it is crazy.

553 Relax and Succeed - Yeah I made mistakesA lot of kids have trouble following the parent’s rules simply because their mind is filled with the sorts of things it should be at those ages. They are learning about who they are and an integral part of that involves learning things through experience. So they need to be involved in those experiences. They need to be invested in their own life and priorities to a large degree. If they’re destroying your home, kick them out. But if they leave socks on the floor well… so do lots of great people.

It is not unreasonable for parents to feel violated if they have worked hard to buy nice things and live somewhere nice, and then have it be disrespected by the very people who they built it all for. In their imaginations they have built that castle in the sky and now they want to live in it. But the kid sees no such castle and so they simply cannot comprehend what you mean when you describe their mistakes as defying logic and common sense. Because they cannot see the future you see, they cannot imagine what logical steps would get them there.

This process is entirely innocent. The kids aren’t aware they’re doing it, and yet the parents have every reason to feel exasperated on a regular basis. It’s simply the chemistry of those ages. It’s why older parents like mine are much more sanguine about things. They weren’t when my much-older brothers were kids. But by the time I rolled around they were wiser, and I got the benefit of that. They just didn’t offer much resistance at all and I was given general support, but never firmly guided on what to do. I’m sure I looked lazy for a while, especially during the time where my friends and I spent long summer days in the basement playing video games. But those friends grew into good men, and we’ve all gone on to good lives.

Periods of apparent drift shouldn’t be worried about too much, because it makes perfect sense that a teenager would not have the same priorities as someone in middle age. They are learning to socialize and this automatically translates to at least some failure as they learn to make their way through life. But however they get there, if children have been around respectful, positive, compassionate behaviour for most of their life, then they’ll have learned all they need to be truly successful.

peace. s