The Art of Believing

Intuitively you know it, but it’s rare even among writers for a human being to break language down enough to realise how ephemeral it really is. It always surprises me that it can accomplish anything at all it’s such a faulty, misunderstood communication system. Half the time it’s like broken Morse Code where 25% of the dots and dashes are missing plus both parties got different versions of the codebook from their parents and culture.

Writers and scientists and a few weird researchers like me are the ones who look at communication crazy-closely. We slow it down, watch it unfold, and in doing so we can see why people say they’ll do things they never intended to do, or why a spouse doesn’t relax when their partner curtly tells them that they’re “fine.” Yeah, their tone sounds a bit pleasant, but….

These are all communications indeed, but the words used will often combine with the tone and circumstances and history to create entirely different meanings, and often that meaning will even be intentionally imprecise. The people we know well don’t really do this any better than anyone else but over time we do get to know each other’s codebooks a little, so friends have more success than strangers, but still….

None of this should surprise us. If you listen for it today you’ll realise that often times people are speaking precisely because they don’t want to communicate accurately. “We’re looking into it,” if it’s said to a boss, can just as easily mean, “We’re trying to figure out how to tell about you this without getting fired.”

Of course parents know this process all too well. Many times the year’s backpack gets tossed out the following year because the kids actually lied about cleaning all their old lunches out of them before putting them away for the summer. Imagine that. A kid lying to their parents. It’s almost as though they’re trying to hide something…. And look at that. I’ve ended three sentences now with ellipses (…) Even I’m implying things I’m not saying.

Isn’t it weird that you roll around in these lies and misdirections every day and you don’t even really acknowledge it? There’s nothing you can do about it, so it’s not like it’s worth worrying about, but you could benefit enormously by keeping in mind that it’s always happening. It is not crazy to walk away from any exchange thinking to yourself, “Okay, I think I understand what they meant.” That way, if it turns out you didn’t–no problem. You didn’t have the expectation that you had.

We all need to believe something to function but it’s important that we not mistake our interpretations of the world for the world itself. There’s no way to talk about the world itself because no one sees the world, everyone justs sees their perspective on it. It’s like we’ve all gathered around the base of Mount Everest. Everyone has a different view; everyone can see something others cannot, and they can’t see things that some others can. In that scenario it’s just crazy to want to be the person who sees through everyone’s eyes. No one has that view unless you want to call that the God-view.

Your view of things, your view of ideas, your view of other people, and your view of yourself will not align with others views. If you look at your life you’ll see a ton of it gets wasted in your efforts to reconcile these views. You invest a lot energy trying to get people to see things from your perspective when that’s rarely necessary and it never really works anyway. You’d be far better off to just let things be, including misunderstandings, and particularly including misunderstandings about you.

This is why you trusting yourself and your naturally cooperative heart is so important. All of the other information that you have could be faulty. And everyone’s using different information anyway, so what’s the point in reconciling just this or that one? You can let all of that balancing and correcting and sorting out and fixing to other egos and you can live a spiritual life instead.

Be okay with being misunderstood. Be okay with misunderstanding. Be okay with truths. Be okay with lies. Understand that these all make sense from their individual perspectives, and that you can never hope to grasp all of the complexities. You are better to let go and flow instead.

Don’t compare events to what you thought would happen based on discussions, just accept them as they are and move on to the next moment. That is what it is to truly understand communication. That is how you use your understanding of it to free yourself to live a fulfilling life. Accept but don’t believe. Live in the mystery. It really works. I really mean it.

Have a wonderful week everyone.

peace. s

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

The Friday Dose #121: In Other Words

973 FD Relax and Succeed - 6 duendeA lot of different perspectives created a lot of different cultures. They ate different foods, they sang different songs, they faced different weather, terrain, seas and they all had different temperaments. Languages grew out of various groups and the words those cultures needed suited the way they saw the world.

I’m not sure what you’ll each feel about each word but it’s interesting that these are often the only cultures that will have this word, and in some cases they can be the only people in the world who even have a basis to discuss certain subjects. It really shows us that even right in front of us there are big differences. Someone speaking another language will live in a different reality because while you might not be, for them the entire world in front of them could be either masculine or feminine.

I’m a big fan of Marija Tiurina’s work, and I would encourage you visit her site and see how her style has evolved from the ones presented below. Art is subjective but most of you will be very impressed by what you’ll see. As as an expression of the differences that can exist in language, here’s a few of Marija’s wonderful examples. Enjoy.

973 FDb Relax and Succeed - torschhluss
973 FDc Relax and Succeed - Cafune

973 FDd Relax and Succeed - palegg

973 FDe Relax and Succeed - schlimazl

973 FDf Relax and Succeed - gufra

973 FDg Relax and Succeed - age-otori

973 FDh Relax and Succeed - tingo

973 FDi Relax and Succeed - baku-shan

973 FDj Relax and Succeed - luftmensch

973 FDk Relax and Succeed - kyoikimama

973 FDl Relax and Succeed - tretar

973 FDm Relax and Succeed - schadenfreude

Again, her name is Marija Tiurina.

Slow your mind down, slow your life down, pay more attention to art. Breathe. And have a wonderful weekend.

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.

Overcoming Excuses

946 Relax and Succeed - Chapter oneThis quote feels true, doesn’t it? But how can you take a quote like this actually make it come alive in your life? How do I make healthier things more important? What is this way? Why do I keep making these excuses? What makes it a tricky quote is that it’s casually referring to two separate entities and yet without the proper perspective it can come across as one.

The key word is you, because there’s a whole bunch of yous out there. There’s the real you that doesn’t think in words, there’s the egocentric you that does think in words, and then on top of that everyone who meets you will form their own personal sense of your identity all made from their thinking.

Everyone will take their version as true–including you–because the only thing anyone looks for is what they expect to see, so their view of you and your view of yourself will perpetually self-reinforce itself unless you take energy away from that egocentric process.

If we look at the second sentence that’s the egocentric you because excuses are presented in language and language is words and words are symbols and symbols are connected to ego. So in other words the second sentence just says, “If you don’t stay in the present moment you’ll use your ability to think to create a bunch of internal conversations that will then generate negative emotional reactions which will further fuel your conversations.” Not good.

946 Relax and Succeed - Resist impulses to label yourselfIn the first sentence the first you is up for grabs; the quote isn’t sure which you’d pick, but that second reference to you refers to the real you, the energy you, the spiritual you, the wise you; the you that does the thinking for the other you; the you that leaves your cells when you die. That you doesn’t have a layer between it and the world. It doesn’t talk, it listens.

Your healthy life is a verb. It’s an action. It doesn’t vacillate on choices. It never guesses it knows. It acts, accepts consequences and then acts again. It does not stop to label, judge, consider, or compare. Nor does it hold desires for the future or regrets about the past. And it does not generate word-based excuses.

Get quiet inside. Shut those conversations down. It is them that weigh you down. Go deep enough and you’ll drown. And yet your salvation is right in your hand. Let go of those limiting thoughts and instead engage with the world as the real in-this-moment you. Don’t think you can’t–that’s just more ego.

It’s far more natural than what you’re doing now–that’s why what you’re doing is often so tumultuous and painful. There is better in store for you, but the only way in is to go quiet inside. You can do it. Start today.

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 #92

820 FD Relax and Succeed - Good people bring out the goodGood day to all of you. In today’s Friday Dose we look into the latest research on how healthy your phone is for your brain and your relationships, we’ll see where all languages began, evolved and spread, and we’ll end on a video that introduces you to a super-inspiring guy who is quite literally saving the world by building the coolest jobs ever for scientists and engineers.

Let’s start with the phone and your brain and your life. Because this is seriously getting to be one of the biggest psychological experiences of your life and yet most people are trying to ignore it because they sense what they’ll find if they look. I wrote about it previously in Smart Phone Disconnections, but here’s a streamable/downloadable radio interview on what the research demonstrates you are doing versus the hidden prices you pay.

Sherry Turkle on Smartphones and Relationships

I used to date a linguist and a job like that breeds intelligence. If your brain can read and write 10 or so languages (including those in considerably different groups, like Chinese, Arabic and Hungarian), then you end up with a pretty good grip on how these other languages organize the world. The Spanish don’t assign blame, the Japanese don’t have the concept of an individual identity, and a bunch of languages can’t decide if bridges and boats are male or female. This cool map that quickly animates the slow evolution of these languages and the subtle ideas that underpin them:

And we’ll end on this wonderful video from the organization Billions in Change that features the inspiring work of Manoj Bhargava. If you don’t think the world is getting a lot better you’re paying too much attention to the news and not enough to what’s going on in the world (and no, they’re not synonymous):

The world is a cool place. Get out into it and meet it. If you’re serious you’ll see things that will amaze and inspire you. We all look forward to your contributions. Much love.

peace, s

00 Relax and Succeed - Friday Dose Footer

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

The Friday Dose #75

735 Relax and Succeed - Don't hate what you don't understand

Today we’ll go around the world. Did you know English people experience more blame and shame than other cultures? We’re also not as good at saving money. The Chinese don’t use time in their language while Fins don’t use gender. And there’s Aborigines from Australia who can intuitively know which direction their facing. And all of that came from what language they spoke. You were shaped by your culture in amazing ways you cannot imagine so you can stop feeling personally guilty for the actions your culture has taught you to feel bad about. Attached is Jessica Gross’s article on language:

How Language Can Affect The Way We Think

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Next we’ll visit the Pacific Islands, where we learn that the tenets of Capitalism—that were the perceived tenets of people themselves—are actually incorrect. We are not fundamentally competitive in nature, we are cooperative, as this Salon by Linda Geddes points out:

A Friendly Species

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And finally we’ll end on the shape of the world itself. Most of us never noticed that those Mercador maps in school put North up, and they put the equator three-quarters of the way down the page. That stretched the rich northern countries that made the maps, like Europeans and their colonies, and it made those countries look much, much larger and more important while Africa and South America looked much, much smaller. Peter’s Maps prevent that from happening and many people are pushing to have them used in schools. Here’s a funny scene from a great series, The West Wing, in which two of the President’s aids learn that they really don’t know what the world actually looks like.

You are a product of your environment. That’s why if you change your environment you’ll also change yourself.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone.

peace. s

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