MoK: Converting Anger

1107-relax-and-succeed-mok-sorryEveryone gets angry, it’s just some hide it better than others. But passive-aggressiveness and yelling are both disruptive to human relations. It’s important to remember that you do have the chemistry within you to create anger for a reason. It does serve a purpose. But everyone gets tired, everyone gets hangry, everyone has some easy days and some that are particularly challenging.

Today’s acts in our March of Kindness are simple and straightforward. The first thing have you have to do is identify when you last got angry towards a specific person, then contact the person immediately after you’ve identified them and offer an unequivocal apology.

The most valuable apology is in person, looking the person in the eye, offering zero excuses, just responsibility. Next most valuable is a phone call, where they can hear the sincerity (and possibly discomfort) in your voice that signals your willingness to suffer a bit for what you feel is important–namely respecting that person.

1107-relax-and-succeed-mok-never-ruin-an-apologyOther electronic forms of apology are less personal and less effective but at least they’re a step in the right direction, so if you don’t have the courage for in-person then the next best option is a clear email that outlines your understanding of the lack of respect you’ve shown, that expresses your sincere regret, and that makes a commitment to do better in the future.

Text or instant messenger apologies are the weakest but again, are still far better than no apology at all. If you do this you can increase the value somewhat by also apologising for the fact that your sense of guilt makes it difficult for you to offer the apology in a more personal form. Own your weakness, don’t add it to the insult to the other person.

And finally, apologies to friends are critical to ongoing friendships, but the world is improved when we add people to the number we’re prepared to respect, so in many ways an apology to an opponent or enemy can be the most useful type for society overall. It models good behaviour and reduces tension in both parties.

1107-relax-and-succeed-mok-the-first-to-apologizeIt’s better not to overthink these. Just define the person, choose the form and then do it. It’ll take a few moments and the only suffering you’ll do is between your own ears, within the confines of your own consciousness. The harder it is to do, the better you’ll feel once it’s over. And who knows, maybe you’ll even get one yourself.

If we want to grow as people we must be willing to function outside our own comfort zones. The fact that this feels awkward is directly related to its value to the other person. Let’s start making apologising more common, because it’s human nature to eventually get tired of apologising for the same mistake and that’s usually what leads to us actually changing.

Do it, and do it ASAP. The March of Kindness needs your kindness to be active.

And 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.

Beefs and Bouquets

1079-relax-and-succeed-the-first-rule-of-kindnessFriday’s meditation made you uncomfortable. It was awkward trying to act and think like you were sin and fault-free. Isn’t that sad? You’ve been taught to treat yourself as though you don’t deserve the same unconditional love that you bestow on the imperfect people you love the most. Why do you think your closest friends and family love you?

Those closest to you are aware of all of the challenges that you present just like you’re aware of theirs. But like you they don’t really care because you’re so easily worth it. You’re not supposed to get rid of your faults, you’re supposed to accept that everyone has ways of being and there are times and places where those ways are ideal, and there are times and places where those ways will be unsuitable for creating success. That’s not a fault, that’s just being an individual.

Everyone around you is doing this. Stop for a second and think about that. Whether you realise it or not, everyone around you is wrestling with things they call faults. What they really mean is that instead of doing something meaningful in the moment they are in, they’re instead busy sitting still so that they can think up an internal argument against themselves.

1079-relax-and-succeed-self-criticism-is-just-another-opinionWhat a giant waste of time. Why is anyone even bothering if no one is thinking about you anyway? They’re all just as worried about themselves as you are about you. That’s a whole lotta invisible brain-yakking for no good reason.

Can you imagined if we filmed a busy street and you could see and/or hear what everyone was saying? It would look crazy as we all passed each other trading useless barbs and comments with ourselves and others when all of that energy could have been applied to the sort of internal silence that is very healthy, or an external activity that is, in response, more enthusiastically engaged.

People in pain are stagnant. People who are creating new daily experiences in an active way are better off, even if their circumstances are worse. It is the lack of thinking that’s at the core; what naturally fills that gap is creativity. Sometimes that’s creating a healthy meal. Sometimes that energy goes toward some enjoyable time with friends, or studying to grow. But if all of your energy is spent worrying and judging, you won’t have much left for actual growing or living.

1079-relax-and-succeed-the-best-cure-for-the-bodyYou need to get more comfortable with seeing yourself as you, rather than as an imperfect potentially perfect person, (wouldn’t we all have a different idea of what that would like for you?). You are awesome at criticising yourself. You do not need my help in that regard. But you seriously have to start exercising the self-appreciation part of your brain.

This isn’t you being a narcissist, this isn’t you having some huge infallible ego, this is just you seeing yourself as the person your friends routinely see. You’ll all have different ideas about each other, but as long as those are positive then good things will emerge from those friendships. But only you can learn to look at yourself and truly see a worthwhile, capable, unashamed person who is deserving of love and respect.

Today’s assignment is a competition. You and your partner keep score. The idea is that you get -1 point for criticising yourself or any other part of the world, and +1 point for giving yourself some entirely deserved credit or for noticing something nice about the world. Keep track on your phone, on a post-it note, whatever. At the end of the day, you compare scores.

1079-relax-and-succeed-slow-down-your-thinkingThat score will be informative in some ways, but it isn’t nearly as important as your intention to win. That very intention creates the focus that allows you to filter reality through your intention, meaning you’ll see more things in alignment with that intention. This is otherwise called, going with the flow. Minus one and plus one. Whatever your score is it is. But be aware. Keep score. 

Even your general frame of mind and the events that happen around you will have a lot to do with your score. As you count your constructive things and criticisms; you’ll catch a tiny percentage of them right now, but that’s fine. Doing these exercises each day is like building up part of your mind. So watch for your insights, because they’ll congeal out of nowhere.

Now go have an aware and awesome 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.

The Friday Dose #123: Female Leadership

983-relax-and-succeed-you-dont-need-a-reasonWhat if women ran things? Would government run differently? Would business run differently? Would their natural inclination be toward more cooperative efforts? I’m sure there’s advantages and disadvantages to each perspective but I would welcome giving more women a chance.

There are some signs in nature that this could work well. There are also signs that our natures are quite flexible given healthy circumstances. But even the most natural creature can break down if it has to live an unnatural life. That’s probably what happened to us. When we lose our reliance on each other we destroy ourselves.

It’s fascinating to listen to this remarkable story about the strange circumstances these baboons found themselves in, and how that lead to them being lead by the females which in turn lead to their culture becoming kinder and more compassionate. They thrived. It’s a good lesson for any family no matter what gender heads it.

Radiolab is always well done. This story is hard not to find fascinating. Enjoy.

Violent Baboons and Female Leadership

Have a great weekend everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Reasons for Optimism

954 Relax and Succeed - Be the lightBecause the news trades in fear, anger, sympathy and titillation you have been innocently lead to believe that the world is much, much worse than it really is. The news is one hour long: a couple minutes for the intro intro, a few minutes of flashy graphics interspersed, a few minutes for what’s going on in your city, a few for your country and then huge chunks for what is essentially entertainment: weather and sports. Over a quarter of it is advertising, which means you see almost nothing about what’s actually going on around you. That’s hardly enough time to encapsulate even a tiny fraction of humanity’s achievements each day.

Every single day a huge number of friendships get made, degrees are earned, citizenship is obtained, freedoms are gained, and things are learned. Much joy is felt and there are many very good reasons to be optimistic. Everyone imagines everything growing worse and there’s many signs that won’t happen the way people are imagining.

We invented terrible bombs in the 40’s and put treaties on them and started dismantling them within 50 years. Pollution was a byproduct of the work-saving era of the Industrial Revolution. The point was to save people from backbreaking work, not to create pollution. So that was generally our first big worldwide issue but there was no internet so the world couldn’t get organised as quick as it can now. By the time we hit acid rain we got on it and fixed it pretty quickly. We tackled the ozone layer, CFC’s and now we’re on carbon. We’re doing pretty good. We actually fix things faster than we break them, not to mention that disease treatments make important advances every day.

954 Relax and Succeed - Everyone thinks of changing the worldThe news makes its money selling fear and uncertainty, not confidence. What’s wrong with our world isn’t that big stuff because that’s clearly going better than the news will ever give it credit for. What’s wrong with our world is that we talk to ourselves and others about what we don’t like but we don’t actually do the things we claim we like.

Politeness isn’t something for chumps or losers. Maybe a gangster would say that but gangsters live to about 25 so…. Politeness is simply the acknowledgement of the presence and value of another human being. It’s odd that politeness ever got perverted into being something we shouldn’t prioritise for our own sake. We win in that exchange.

How many calories or milliseconds does it take to hold a door for someone? And yet how nice is it when someone takes the time to hold it for you? It’s not like you needed to use a lot of calories on the door either, but this way you both acknowledged each other in a society whose primary sickness is its self-centred focus. Despite the fact that the connections consistently feel good you often choose to do things that then prevent you from making more of them.

954 Relax and Succeed - Today will never come againYou do a lot of very active things to cut yourself off from other humans. Have you looked at those things to see if you want to keep all of them? Yes, you need down time and alone time, but most people are starved for more contact. Stop making that a problem of the world’s and start creating your own personal solutions by actually taking opportunities to make just the simplest of connections; smiling as you walk by on the street, saying good morning to co-workers, buying the person behind you a coffee, holding a door.

The world does not get better because we’re smart and know what other people should do. The world and our own lives get better because we’re just plain nicer, more patient, more tolerant and more loving than we’ve ever been.

peace and love. 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.

Converting Energy

894 Relax and Succeed - You will know that forgivenessSince there is no blog on Thursday, these are the final three installments of the kindness challenge we’re doing through March. Fittingly, I saved the toughest ones for last. We exercised your spirit all month in preparation for these. We’re in the playoffs now.

We’ll still go from easiest to most challenging, so we’ll start today with kindness through graciousness. This is still very challenging for some but even then, for most of us, if you got enough irritants in a row people will start to have it bleed into their own consciousness. We start seeing the issue personally. It becomes a narrative within us and then we suffer.

This is the nature of karma. The negativity spreads through various manifestations of the universe. As I’ve written before, there is a common misunderstanding about karma. It is of a spiritual nature, and being so it relates to our state of oneness, not our separate ego-state. So as I often say, it’s not what comes around goes around, it’s more like someone peed in the pool.

894 Relax and Succeed - Water is softSo today we’re focused on the karma we generate, and we want to start by disconnecting that from the karma we receive. This is your opportunity in the universe. This is how you contribute. So how this works is that you have to start allowing things to move past you, as though there is no you for the idea to get disturbed by as that current of energy travels past. Rivers get eddies and chop and white water around bridge supports and obstacles but otherwise it flows smoothly. Same with you. Don’t have anything personal sticking up and things will flow right past you.

So what constitutes an obstacle in the flow? Words assembled into sentences which become personal narratives. So stop your opinions regarding what is or what could be, and simply accept and then act originally.

Divorce this moment from the last. What happened in that last moment only matters if you want to conjure it again for this next moment. That’s a choice. So don’t act originally and then repeat energy unconsciously. Recognize that this is where there we can make all of the difference in life. This is what it is to live consciously.

894 Relax and Succeed - You can saveSo today when someone is rude to you or takes some advantage you might otherwise categorize as unfair (or if you do it to yourself by taking a moment to recall past offences), just leave those echoes out of the next moment and respond with graciousness as much as possible for the entire day until you go to bed.

You’ve practiced this a bit, but this is a concentrated day after a month of prep work so don’t assume it will be hard. Tricky maybe, hard: no. Pay attention to how you fail. Is it certain people that can get you off balance? Or is it situations that steadily wear you down? Paying attention to things like that can be some of the most important meditating you can do.

Become a transformer. Take any negative energy you receive and convert it into humour, patience and kindness. Because this right here is how the world and you get closer to your ideals. And hey, this is all about positivity, so don’t forget to have fun. 😉

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.

Right Action

891 Relax and Succeed - Even the smallestLife can feel counter-intuitive even when it’s not. A lot of you were nervous about saying something nice to a difficult person but, as many of you found out, grumpy people don’t get a lot of compliments so they’ll either scoff at yours or they’ll love it. I’m glad so many of you got such positive reactions.

Okay, so yesterday we shared some nice words with a person we might otherwise avoid. Today we’ll take some small action. This can be as simple as bringing a coffee for the grumpiest person you work with. Or maybe it’s taking your poorest-behaving kid out for some special solo time doing something they really value.

How these things work is that co-worker might genuinely be going through something tough and you create a valued connection. Or maybe the kid’s being bullied and needs a safe alone-space to share that. No you’re not going to change someone’s personality with one nice act, but you can do things that encourage them to have their awareness a little more open.

891 Relax and Succeed - Right thoughts produceIf you get a negative reaction for your gesture, considering who you’re giving it to that’s not entirely a surprise and so then you can focus your attention on the act of giving–which always feels good. And if the reaction is positive then you have used your candle to light another. That’s how the world gets better. Imagine if every one of us just did that once a day. Even if no one responded we would all feel so much better just from the giving.

The world didn’t get impersonal and corporate and legal and complicated on its own. We made it that way and we can make it another way. We can stop worrying so much about the fences our ideas create between this person or that idea of property and we can focus instead on how our life feels.

Yes, the world does improve when people take positive action. But your world improves the moment you take that action. This is the wonderful selfishness that is giving. Generosity in general will lead people to very positive feelings.

891 Relax and Succeed - It is love aloneThere are no guarantees in this life. You can put in something good and get something terrible out. But by far the best odds of getting something good out does come from putting something good in. Call it karma, call it God, the name or concept matters far less than how that manifests in the daily experience of those on this Earth.

Your life is not where you are, who you are, or what you are doing. What matters is, what are you thinking? What are you holding in the preciousness of your consciousness? Because if it is the welfare of another, then that automatically implies that you have not only enough for yourself, but also enough to share. And there is no richer person than the one who needs nothing.

Give. Not for their sake. For yours. Today. Take some action. Say something nice to continue yesterday’s meditation and add an action for today’s. Enjoy.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.

Kind Words

We’re nearing the end of March Kindness Month so it’s time to start increasing the scope of our awareness. It’s easier to be compassionate to children or the elderly or the frail, so to stretch ourselves this week we’ll focus on difficult people.

890 Relax and Succeed - Judge each dayYou’re already friends with your friends. That part of your life doesn’t need special attention, but taking the teeth out of a difficult person can really improve your day, especially if it’s someone you see regularly.

So we’ll start off by literally watching for people whose body language, words and manner all inform us that the person is upset. Maybe it’s the cashier at the grocery store, maybe it’s a co-worker, it can even be a family member. Just get outside yourself by extending kindness to someone locked in a cycle of suffering.

We’ll start off with some nice words. Offer a compliment, maybe support or even defence. Look someone in the eye and connect with them. It’s funny how hard someone will work to get the after-tax dollars necessary to buy something nice to make them feel better and yet this kind of small action in life is free and easy and yet it’s the place where most people fail to turn their mental health dreams into a practice.

890 Relax and Succeed - Small actsThese small actions count for you far more than for the person you’re offering the support to. You feel what you live. If you live generously you feel rich, even if all you’re giving is smiles and patience and some kind words. This is the one thing everyone’s short of today. Just some basic human connections that say, “yes, I see you and I care.”

It isn’t that the struggle forward through life doesn’t have real challenges. It just means that those aren’t actually very bad to deal with when you feel you have the support of the community. But as we work with people we don’t live near, and our kids are bussed to school with kids from too far away to be active friends, and a lot of people pull from their cubicle at work to their cubicle garage at home and they never even meet their neighbours, we shouldn’t really wonder why we don’t feel better.

Free yourself from thoughts about yourself. Get your awareness pointed outward instead of inward. Find someone having a bad day and just say some small supportive thing to them. A kind word, a compliment on an accomplishment or themselves, point out a good quality, even just smile, wave, and extend some patience. It might not be enough to shift their mood completely, but if they run into two good things in a row they’re on a new trajectory.

Use words to share positivity. It’s not hard and you’ll both benefit. They only reason you wouldn’t is habit, and that’s what this is all about–developing healthier habits. So act. You don’t get mentally stronger by thinking about mental health. You get that way by enacting it. So let’s go make a difference. Go say something nice to someone whose day could use it.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.

A Dose of Kindness #105

889 Relax and Succeed - Be kind whenever possibleSo what have we learned? We’ve learned our ego hurts us by talking to us about our own lives. So we want to avoid thinking about ourselves because it’s unhealthy.

What else have we learned? We’ve learned we feel what we think, we feel good when we think loving thoughts, and compassion for others is an act of love. Nice, we know how to be sick and we know how to be healthy.

So what should we do? Easy: we should turn our attention to the needs of others. That is the way to create more happiness within ourselves. You are a candle. Your light does not grow by holding it within you. It grows by you lighting other candles.

If you saw this woman on the street doing this you’d think she was crazy. Think about that. You think being sad and tense is sane and being open and loving is weird. You really do. It shows how brainwashed we are to be buying things when it turns out what makes us feel good is giving them away. This woman knows that secret, which is why she does all this stuff:

Light a candle today. Mark them on your calendar. Every day until the end of the month just do one kind thing per day. Just one. We all do that and the world changes. And haven’t you noticed how much generous people enjoy their lives? 😉

Have a great day and weekend everyone. Spread that kindness. Bring mental health and peace of mind upon yourself through your own generosity. Trust me, it’s addictive in the very best way. This is how the Law of Attraction really works:

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.

The Kindness of Others

888 Relax and Succeed - We scientists don't knowRemember, the point of all of these awareness-raising exercises is to give you a rewarding and enjoyable life. And for the people doing them, it’s working. Whether it’s the morning gratitude meditations from week one, or giving the opposite sex more serious consideration, or by being more grateful for the kindness already shown to us, people are using these exercises to enhance their ability to feel good.

Kindness is helpful in this pursuit because it is a form of direct link between beings. Kindness nurtures support and engenders cooperation and defense. Kindness is the basis for our societies. The old capitalist idea that we’re all fundamentally selfish was proven wrong many decades ago. It wasn’t hard to see that a cooperating group would always defeat a selfish group, so kindness is like the glue that holds us all together and it therefore deserves our respect and attention.

Who are the kindest people you know? Who is kindest in your family and how? Who is kindest at work or school? Again, how? Who is kindest in your social group? What is the kindest organization you’re involved with? Ask yourself very seriously how these people express their kindness. A decent act done out of obligation loses its kindness. Look at these examples in your own life to see the results of genuine generosity.

888 Relax and Succeed - You become like the 5Like many of the others this might seem like too simple a mental task to undertake. But there’s the challenge for a lot of you: you say you want to feel better, you start things with an aim to have them help you feel better (like, for instance, reading this blog), but then you’re half-hearted or undedicated to the actual “work” of creating a better life.

Now by “work” I mean doing the things that will feel more rewarding, less taxing and more beneficial to your soul. These things aren’t really work because they’re easier than what you’re doing now–it takes a lot of effort to suffer. That’s where the people who have really suffered have the advantage and it also might explain the idea of the meek inheriting the Earth.

People who have been through a lot always value feeling better like it’s a life and death question–which it very much is. You either live your life consciously or you never actually come alive much at all. But to do it consciously you have to endeavour to make yourself conscious. It’s what you always did as a kid so it isn’t difficult, but you do have to do it. If you’re going to use all those words to get yourself lost, then you’ll have to put some effort into being found again.

888 Relax and Succeed - I slept and dreamed that life is all joyI’m getting great emails from people who are simply doing the exercises. They fit into gaps in their day without too much trouble and just by earnestly doing each one these people are noticing real benefits. So I can’t save you. I can guide you. But ultimately everyone saves themselves. And you do that by being open and loving and supportive to people. It turns out that feels good, and it also makes people want to act that way toward you. It’s a good system.

So look at your life. Find the kindest people in it and call them–don’t text, let them hear the meaning in your voice. And thank them or go see them so they can see see the genuine appreciation on your face. Look at their lives and ask–how do they do it? Is it that they don’t judge? They’re funny? They can be silent and give you space when you need it? They stay in regular touch? Ask yourself exactly how they’re kindness-smart and what you can learn from them.

Find the three kindest people you know and write down what makes them particularly kind, and then before the end of this week do each of those three things for someone else. And be conscious of how you feel when you do it. It will be those good feelings that get you to continue, because as any happy person knows, kindness is a beautifully selfish act. Enjoy.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.

Where You Go

887 Relax and Succeed - If you think you're too smallYesterday you did two tiny things that were kindnesses to yourself that should be easy to keep doing and that should do nothing but contribute to your self worth. Eating even slightly better food is clearly an improvement, as is respecting yourself enough to want your space to reflect a healthy interior. Now that you’ve treated yourself well you want to stop thinking about you and start thinking about others again.

Today we’ll add two more tiny things to your day. These will often seem too small to matter to people but again, I remind people that buckets are filled with drops. Waiting for huge changes takes up a lifetime. Making small incremental ones is that slow and steady progress that wins this non-race called life.

The first change will be to your environment for the rest of your day–where you go to work, where you volunteer etc. You need to find a kindness there. Maybe it’s bringing in high quality coffee for the staff machine so everyone is enjoying their morning just that little bit more. Maybe it’s hanging a piece of art, or getting everyone involved in a charity. Some small positive change at work, that’s it. It can even be as small as you making sure you greet everyone with eye contact every day.

887 Relax and Succeed - The person who saysNext you’re going to tackle your environment. This can set a great tone too. Maybe it’s about the health of the environment. I saw a man in a suit stoop down and grab a paper cup in a parking lot and he threw it is in the trash on his way into the mall. Behind him an unrelated little boy of about four saw him. He then found a piece of paper and he then mimicked the man by putting the paper in the garbage. I see this sort of leadership all the time.

Do you see how this positivity chains out? That one guy’s decent action lead to another one. The kid ended up inspiring me enough that I went out of my way to find some trash to throw away too. My city has a million people in it. How amazing would it look here if every single day just half of those people managed to garbage 500,000 things–a day?

That would obviously add up to a huge difference. Even if you take out weekends, that’s 130 million pieces of trash. What would that weigh? Clearly that would matter right up until people were so used to it being cleaned that they never threw anything down in the first place. In which case we can then shift our change-a-day energies to something else. Now this change can be something like picking up one piece of garbage a day, or it can be doing one small favour in traffic per day.

887 Relax and Succeed - Mark Bustos worksAgain, just imagine: half a million or so drivers all doing one small favour per day. We would feel that. Every city would feel friendlier. Everyone would get to work in a better mood. And like with the kid with the garbage, it will chain out. People will see one person do it and they will too.

Decide for yourself. They can literally be anything. But your assignment today is to find and enact your two commitments–your two ongoing changes. Let one person into traffic, always offer to water the plants at work. Or pick up one small wrapper, and then offer to run the Corporate Challenge team. Give someone your seat on the bus and then collect and ensure that no one’s birthday gets forgotten about at work. Start making a list of your tiny changes and makes sure you hit each one each day. You will start to feel good about that.

It doesn’t matter what you choose–that’s the point, we’re all individuals and we’ll all do different things based on our own histories. But all of those actions done in your city and elsewhere are what adds up to a better world that’s easier to feel good about. Get your oar in the water. As I’ve said before, if we all sweep in front of our own door, the whole world can be clean.

Assignment: Two things. One for co-workers or schoolmates, the other for fellow citizens. Two every workday. Go.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.