The Joy of Stable Instability

The world is a flowing, changing place and you keep looking for stability and certainty and victory. I’m sorry, but you can’t have any of those things unless you accept unpredictability, uncertainty and loss. What would one be without the other? How could you describe light if you couldn’t use dark– its opposite–as the main way to describe it?

You have this want, this desire to know. That’s how education and false ideas like right and wrong lead you astray with their illogical silliness. Yet all we really do is believe. And if the belief lasts for a very long time–even right from when it began until forever–we call it scientific. But eventually we’ll find a universe where even those truths won’t hold, and then it’ll be a qualified truth. There will be places where it’s not true. So that’s the real world. It’s uncertain. Can you understand that you’ll feel more stable if you accept its uncertainty?

A friend of mine is trying canoeing for the first time this weekend. She wondered if she should bring her dogs out for her first paddle since they’ll be going on a longer trip with her shortly. As a canoeist, I recommended just getting used to the boat first, and then introduce the unpredictability of the dogs. Otherwise, that’s adding a lot of skills at once.

She’s better to learn to feel stable even with the boat’s instability before she adds things that will decrease its stability even further. After all, it is long and narrow with a curved bottom on a slippery surface. And so it is with life. We’re better to have good balance before the boat starts rocking.

Today, it’s like everyone’s standing in a canoe, attempting to get their balance and avoiding life until they get it–only they learn their boat will sink before that will ever happen, and that’s when it dawns on them that the could have always gone for it, fallen in, and then climbed back in! It’s that simple; all every spiritual seeker wants to do is actually live with that attitude before they learn they’re going to die (BTW: you’re going to die).

What exactly are you worried about? Do the judgments other people have in their heads actually impact your life? Do they have some kind of super-villain ray-beam I’m not aware of? Can they, from a distance, control what chemicals your hypothalamus pumps out? Let’s see, tons of people thought tons of highly achieving people couldn’t achieve their goal, so, ahhh, nope. It turns out that it does not matter how hard someone laughs at you, you can still always climb back into a canoe. Do it enough times and people will respect your attitude no matter how many times you fall in.

Everyone’s misunderstood what winning is. Everyone wants ego wins. They want people to think highly of them. Hey, that’s a nice thing don’t get me wrong. But not if you have to trade your life for it. Healthy people are fine with not being liked. It makes sense to them. There’s people they don’t like either. Who wants to be forced to like someone? Real winning is when you enjoy your life. Then people know your presence is authentic. If you’re with them, they can know it’s because there’s nowhere else that you think is more worthwhile in this moment.

You’re exhausting me just watching you all strive like you’re weak and don’t belong. It’s crazy. You’re amazing and beautiful, but not to everyone. Maybe your tribe is even tiny. Who cares? There’s seven billion of us. Even tiny is big at that scale. How many people do you need to love you anyway? Isn’t a bunch enough? If you’re authentically yourself you’ll definitely find at least a bunch.

Be free. Stop apologising for yourself. Stop thinking you’re too weak or too small to handle the consequences of bigger actions. You don’t get ready for a job and then get the job, you get the job and then learn the job on the job. Learning to be different versions of you is just like that. So stop trying to know and start relaxing into some mystery. You’d be amazed at how relaxing and beautiful it can be.

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.

A Healthy Perspective

You can live or you can think. You can be or you can do. These are vastly different states. Everyone spends time in both, with little kids starting off in the super healthy camp and then we slowly coax them away from that and into the world of thought. Once you’re in that world you’ll have to meditate your way out.

992-relax-and-succeed-to-dare-is-to-lose-ones-footingThe fact that you’re naturally in from birth, plus the idea that we want to return to that later, is what gives our egos the idea that we’re lost when we’re outside of that healthy perspective. But there can’t be a found without a lost, so these two concepts are interdependent. It’s like the inside and outside of a cup. They exist only in conjunction with each other. To fill oneself with life one needs both parts. Someone who was born enlightened and died enlightened with no ego in between would have no knowledge of the idea of either enlightenment or ego. Explaining that would be like explaining water and ice to a fish.

Both of states exist within the world of consciousness. When you think of consciousness it might be better to think of it as a universal place. If you think of the ideas of the universe or unified field theory, or oneness or even God, then you’re getting close to the idea of consciousness. That’s the stage everything is taking place on, both for ego and enlightenment. But you can’t fall off that, it doesn’t even have an up and a down. So why not go for it?

When you were learning to walk you failed more than you moved. You tilted and toppled and fumbled and fell. And still you kept happily marching forward, adding your small bits of progress together until you could run. You couldn’t talk yet so you couldn’t build an ego to punish yourself with, so you learned to walk and talk shockingly fast for such complex tasks. Then you start over-thinking and you end up struggling with something much easier, like algebra or grammar.

992-relax-and-succeed-having-an-ego-is-likeYour ego did the struggling with your “tough subjects,” and by tough I mean the ones you told yourself you couldn’t do. Those fears of failure then prevented you from fully engaging the way you did with walking and talking. When you were learning to talk you were willing to loudly babble away incoherently in public, but by the time you’re older you’re afraid of “looking bad” (whatever that is), and so you don’t try. You won’t wobble, you won’t fall and you don’t grow. Worst, you don’t live deeply, you exist to ruminate shallowly.

People have survived amazing things and then gone on to more amazingness. Polio patients later won medals in the Olympics. Refugees have gone on to become world famous leaders. The bankrupt have gone on to create jobs. Each of us has these feats in us, but few enact them. Instead we think and think and think and that itself is an illness. It is dis-ease in its most basic form. You are unsettled in the universe, whereas when you were learning to walk there wasn’t even a you let alone a universe.

Let go. There’s nowhere to fall. Babe Ruth was also a strike-out king. Picasso painted more mistakes than famous works of art. Those who succeed aren’t any better than you. They just found their thing and they wobbled and tripped and fell their way into being the activity rather than doing the thing. Lose that idea of right and wrong, success and failure and start thinking in terms of quality of experience. Because that sensation is what your life is actually made of.

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.

Owning Happiness

962 Relax and Succeed - Trying to be happyLife is living. It’s a verb. An action. A motion that appears to move us through time. Possessions are inert. They are inactive. They are still. They are not life. Where it gets confusing is that adults will invest living into working, and then using their thoughts they will apply the value of the relevant work to the actual possession. So an expensive thing is worth something.

The problem is, parents live with kids and kids don’t do that addition of value until they start working. In a way this is one of the most important designations of adulthood that a person will experience. It’s why kids are often seen to be unappreciative. They don’t mean to be. They just can’t do the math yet.

How this difference in perspective leads to suffering is quite simple: a parent or parents works hard at their job(s), they contribute to their society through their taxes so that they have roads to drive on, airports and ports, food inspection, police, ambulance and fire services, public universities etc. etc., and in most countries, free hospitals and medical care as well. Part of what’s left goes towards necessities: food, shelter etc,–and then there’s the stuff we notice.

962 Relax and Succeed - I want to rememberIt’s easy to forget that we helped build a road, it’s a little easier to remember that we’ve paid our mortgage but we really remember buying that new car, or our nice new clothes or our new electronics. Those are the things that most commonly have our work-soul invested in them. These are the things that are choices. These are often given the most value via our thoughts.

Because kids don’t have any way of comprehending this relationship they live in an entirely separate reality from their parents. They can know their parents work and that they get pay that gets spent on things, but those are all abstract ideas until you’re actually at work, getting paid, and having to buy stuff. So to kids life is life and to their parents life has often been translated into their possessions.

Having a reality that is too possession-focused means that breakage, damage and devaluation become reasons to suffer. Someone broke a vase so you’re angry; someone left a mess in the kitchen and made it look less beautiful than in magazines so you’re frustrated; the car is damaged in a minor accident that could have been much worse and you’re scared about the costs.

962 Relax and Succeed - Good moms have sticky floorsIt is a reasonable stumble into ego for us to suddenly think a flurry of frustrated thoughts when something we have valued has its value reduced or lost. But that fact is why it’s so important to not immediately react whenever possible. Let the chemical storm pass, breathe and then respond from a larger context: is this something you’ll still be mad at a day from now? A week? A year?

Find the living in your life. As much as possible invest in the living; in the motion. By thinking less and being more you will find the world will help expose just what possessions will truly bring you the most value as well as how to understand that value in a larger context. More importantly, that internal quietness will also clearly expose the connections with others that truly give life its greatest value.

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.

The Friend Test

930 Relax and Succeed - You are the average of the five peopleIf you’re looking for a litmus test to see how well you’re doing at life one of the best ones you have available would be to look at who you spend your time with. And I don’t mean their title, like your boyfriend, or your sister or your coach, I mean what they’re like in the world.

Do they cheat, manipulate for advantage, withhold important information, intentionally mislead others, do a lot of drugs, commit crimes, be violent, or be generally unkind or selfish? Then that is who they are. We are what we do. And so the meeting point between the characters of your closest companions will shape your new normal. Stay there long enough and that’s who you’ll become.

For this reason one of the healthiest things we can do is nurture our relationships with positive, healthy people. You still always want to feel like you could be happy on your own if that was the case, but in general the people you see the most often should be influencing your life toward growth, expansion and discovery.

930 Relax and Succeed - The people we surround ourselves withLife is this series of choices that feel like they’re about one thing when we make them. Later we often find out we were choosing more than we thought. You thought you chose your friends but in fact they were largely your friends because that’s who you went to school with. Proximity did most of it. Families move and kids make new friends. School ends, work starts and before you know it you mostly have a new set of friends. They’re far more incidental than we usually realize. Those few that travel with us throughout our life are the ones that are our deepest and truest friends.

So the deep and true friends are indicators of who you fundamentally are. The qualities that they have that attract you are indicators of your most defining values. Your more incidental friends are the indicators of how you’re behaving, not who you are. So if everyone leaves work to do drugs or go get drunk then that will create a different life than people who go to the gym or take classes.

Expansion is natural. Growth is inevitable. To even slow it down is so painful that people will usually need substances to numb the pain created by their resistance to be creative in the world. Unhealthy people are always hidden away, either wounded or doing things they’d prefer others didn’t see. Healthy people smile, they’re lives are full and they’re active. A lived life looks like it’s being lived.

930 Relax and Succeed - Make your lifeA lot of people slip onto a treadmill and their life becomes a steady uninspiring pattern. No one they know does much and they don’t either. There’s little new and rarely something to get genuinely excited about. Life does not have to be that way. There are people living it with zest and zeal. Not every minute of every day, but a lot of the time. They are moving toward life. They are taking chances, accepting challenges and pursuing their dreams. Where they end up doesn’t matter because it’s the going that matters, not where we go.

Look around your life. Ask yourself what it says about how you’re living. Ask if that’s how you want to be living and if it’s not, begin looking for things to change that will shift you more off balance; something that will require you to act to succeed. That is expansion: solving problems, creating things and friendships and experiencing moments of genuine joy. These things don’t happen by accident, they happen by intention. Take today, assess and then act with intention. Life has much to offer.

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.

Inspiration, Enthusiasm and Motivation

812 Relax and Succeed - I love being meInspiration. It has “in spirit” right in it. The root word behind enthusiasm means possessed by God. It’s a motivation; a stimulus to action. If these things aren’t in your life they should be. A friend and I made an entire feature film motivated by a desire to discuss the strange behaviour of many of our friends who went to jobs every single day that they hated.

I know bored people. Unmotivated people. Uninspired artists. Unenthusiastic participants and passionless parents.  But the truth is their spirits are simply not in motion. Every human being is a creation machine. Every day we build a life. You’re not just moving around some flesh and blood. Your existence is far more like the work of a novelist. You life is a story you create. People who have a lot of good days do so because they choose to. They’re intentional about it.

I’ve got other blog posts for people who are sad, this is for those of you who are just not in motion. You’re existing not living. You probably don’t even have to change jobs. But you do have get invested in your own life. You have to find ways to make your work matter.

812 Relax and Succeed - If you are happyMaybe you’re a security guard at a mall. You don’t make a lot of money, you can move a bit up the ladder, but really the value you’ll create in your life won’t be ego value it’ll be quality of life. Maybe you’ll always do your best to smile and make people feel welcome. Maybe you share your lunch and give dignity to some homeless person. Maybe you buy a little old lady coffee every day and let her waste your break telling her about her grandkids because you can tell it really matters. And you’re right–it does.

You have to find things that matter like that in your life. You need reasons. You need the sort of reason that easily gets you out of bed because you’re happy to live your own life. It’s a lot easier than you’re imagining. You think you have to go hike the Annapurna Trail or scuba dive through a famous wreck, or cross the Sahara on a camel or something, but all you have to do come alive within your own daily life.

You have no idea how fantastic an ordinary day is when your mind is filled with wonder. Have you looked at little kids faces? How exciting everything is? They jump up and down at sounds and colours and puppies. Every new person they meet might be their new friend. Learn from that. Have more wonder. Create more things, relationships and ideas without fear of reactions. Do it the way a great scientist finds something. He or she isn’t trying to get a million dollars from Sweden for a Nobel, the scientist is trying to solve the riddle. That’s their motivation.

812 Relax and Succeed - Be so happyIf you have kids I mean… just think about it. You created a human. You have to really stop and think sometimes. That was some cells inside you or your wife. And now it’s playing hockey or getting B- in math. Math? Those cells you tipped over like dominoes number one and two–those lead to something that can do math?!?! Seriously parents. They are only every age for one day. The next day, poof. Invest in that. That’s amazing.

Even if you don’t have kids. Maybe you’re a collector. A conversationalist. A buff. Maybe you have a job like law or politics where you can have an inspirational impact on others. Maybe you’re a great friend, or you run every day and you absolutely love it. Adding love to the world counts. It doesn’t matter what you do or where. What matters is that you do it, that you do it genuinely, and that you do it one moment at a time. Everything after that is just surfing the wave you get.

Come alive in your own life. Shake off your low expectations of it. Start to think like you did when you were five. What did you want to be then? What about that life appealed to you? Because it probably still does. So what’s its new form? Should you take skiing back up? Go back to school? Record your music? Actually start having heart to hearts with your kid? It doesn’t matter as long as you’re adding to the universe by being original. By taking original, authentic action that means something to you.

There are people who ventured out of the cave looking for new vistas. Some–more timid–stayed back and protected things. Too many people are acting like we need too much protecting. What we really need is more living. More alive-ness. Come on people.

Put on some music in the morning and dance as you get dressed. Listen to the comedy channel on your satellite radio. Add your laughter to the world. Or cook a great meal, go talk about that movie you saw, figure out a better process at work. As long as you’re expanding the universe you’re good.

Don’t leave your life unlived. That is the only thing it is possible to truly regret. Everything else is simply living.

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 #66

675 FD Relax and Succeed - Spend your life doing strange things

Today’s Dose will start off with the photographic project Exactitudes, which looks at the real meanings behind our fashion choices. Photographer Ari Versluis and profiler Ellie Uyttenbroek demonstrate that our selections are ultimately far less about our own individual identity and much more about belonging to a group:



Next we’ll listen to the story of Suzanne Crocker and her husband Gerard Parsons who left the hustle and bustle of Dawson City (pop. 1400) because they never had enough time for their family and their own interests. The two doctors took their kids into the wilderness with no running water, no electricity but no shortage of time. This interview is a fascinating look into what the parents and the kids experienced by being so unplugged. In the end everyone got closer and no one wanted to go back to the city. Here’s why:

All The Time in the World


Many years ago I was involved in some research on Sensory Deprivation Tanks. It’s funny that the word deprivation is in there because you get so much from being in a tank. It was the great Dr. John Lilly (one of the world’s leading experts on dolphin human communication) who pioneered a lot of the research into the value that changes in consciousness can bring through the tank process. They even made a movie that related loosely to Lilly’s research called Altered States. Here’s Joe Rogan (who swears a bit) explaining some of the value of floating:


And we’ll end with a stunning display of calm and self control. How a flock of geese can emerge from this incredible act is amazing. But you’ll realize as she finishes just how amazing Miyoko Shida Rigolo’s delicate skills really are. Super wow. This is almost unbelievable:


Told you. Incredible isn’t it? Have yourself a fantastic weekend and do it by ignoring all of the crap in the world because there are plenty of amazing things that deserve your attention instead.

peace. s

00 Relax and Succeed - Friday Dose Footer

Dashing Through Life

Imagine your life as a line of dashes: – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -. There’s no right or wrong place for this line to go, although some of you may choose various directions for various periods of your life. But even for those of you who are big on establishing a plan or direction—you too will have to change direction multiple times during your life as your perspective expands.

507 Relax and Succeed - This is a wonderful dayThe gaps between the dashes are so infinitesimally small that you cannot ever hope to sense them, but—to use some terms from quantum mechanics—they represent the point where the wave of your potential future dashes becomes the dash-particle that you’ll experience as your present reality. That moment is where your salvation lays. That is the moment where you choose your future.

In each gap you choose your next thought-experience. So if you think a dreadful thought the next dash is a dreadful experience, and if you think a happy thought the next dash is a happy experience. The reason people struggle is that they’re focused on where their line is going relative to other people’s lines but that has nothing to do with happiness. The lines don’t go to happiness, the dashes are made of happiness. Those who are living in-the-moment aren’t dashing toward a good life. They are merely picking the best dash that’s currently available.

So let’s imagine the universe is a sheet of paper and that our lives are the lines we draw on that paper with our dashes. Because we’re limited in our thinking and we don’t have a God-like perspective, we cannot imagine the universe in all of its entirety, so as a way of making it comprehensible to us, we reduce it to an up and a down and a right and a left. This is really just so our dashed line can communicate to other dashed lines about our experience of moving around the sheet of paper that is the universe. That way we can say another line is to the left of us or above us, which means we’ve now made our position relative to someone else. Even 507 Relax and Succeed - There is no path to happinessthough the paper itself has no up or down or right or left, we impose that idea on it so that we can talk to other dashes about our life position relative to theirs. That conversation between dashed lines is what we call one ego talking to another ego.

So what egos do is talk about where their line is, where other people’s lines are, and where we judge/think ours and their lines should be. This conversation of course is just drawing more dotted lines so in the end the ego is nothing more than a spin around oneself. It’s like a line circling in on itself in a downward spiral. The point in life isn’t to try to make the right choices that move your line up the paper, it’s to make the appropriate moment to moment choices that lead to the line itself being made up of as much joy and appreciation as possible.

In the end you can draw a line that stays right up near the top of the paper relative to other lines, but that won’t actually create a better life than the person who pays much more careful attention to only one choice: the choice involving the very next dash. This is called living in the moment and it is the most assured way of creating a beautiful life. Because where the line goes is not important at all because in the end we will eventually box ourselves in and we’ll run out of paper—at which time we die and are re-born onto a fresh, blank page. So since this all just ends anyway, stop worrying about where your line is relative to everyone else’s and instead 507 Relax and Succeed - Interrupt anxiety with gratitudejust focus on your next dash. Focus on making the thought-choice that will lead to that dash being a rewarding experience and that will ultimately lead to the very best life possible.

Become more conscious of your thought choices. Spend less time thinking about your line and more time focused only on the very next dash. If your current dashes don’t feel good, then change the direction of your thinking. That’s the whole value in feelings. They’re a fantastic GPS system for our thoughts. They let you know right away which direction you’re headed so that if it’s not the direction you truly want, you can use that feedback to make the appropriate changes to the course of your thinking.

It’s really much easier than most people imagine. You just have to have the patience to watch your thinking over a long enough time that it starts to slow down, and thereby allows you to intervene and make the best possible choice for your next dash forward.

Here’s to an awesome moment, minute, hour, day, week, month and year. Every dash is a fresh opportunity. Enjoy your right to choose.

peace. s

The Friday Dose #37

503 Relax and Succeed - We can only be said to be alive

This week’s Dose is a mixed bag. We’ll start off with this cool piece of art wherein photographer Dita Pepe re-imagines her own life lived in many different ways. By shooting herself in portraits expressing different values and lifestyles, she is able to capture a moment of virtually being another self from another road not-travelled. Like almost everyone will do when they see her work, it’s hard not look at it without imagining yourself living different lives that would have stemmed from different decisions. I love art that makes you reconsider long held beliefs:

The Many Lives of Photographer Dita Pepe


Next we’ll take a few minutes to allow you to get to know yourself a little better. We’ve been conditioned to believe all sorts of things by various experts, but we must keep in mind that we are an aspect of nature and as such, we are ourselves brilliantly engineered to be human. This means many different things, but one of the most important is our capacity for compassion. This isn’t just a nice idea—this is an aspect of who and what you are. Get to know yourself and fall in love:

And we will end with a gorgeous, slow-life-down video of some very talented artists at work. Often times in many artforms the patience and calmness of the artist is key to achieving the work itself. You can certainly see confident hands at work here, and it’s even better if you turn your sound on:

Your life is a constant set of choices from birth until death. Your choices thus far have lead you to where you are now. Do not lament your direction. Simply do the wisest thing possible and make as many future steps as possible from a conscious perspective. Because your decisions now won’t affect the past, but they will certainly affect your future.

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. Focus on these and change your mind. Enjoy.

Life to the Fullest

When most people say they want to change, what they mean is they want to act in ways that they think will advance their life toward more enjoyment and less toil or trouble. So if they can quit smoking, their health will improve and they’ll get more time with the grandchildren. Or if they calm their temper down they’ll hold their beloved marriage together. Or if they can just focus a little more at work they can impress the boss and earn that coveted promotion. So that’s why they want to change. Millions of reasons like that.

502 Relax and Succeed - I'm not interested in competingThe tricky part is that we have to beware of desires that are ego driven be that through gaining wealth or status or power. If your aim is to be “above” everyone else, then there’s no healthy way to do that. You can’t have an egoic pursuit done in a spiritual way. You can accept certain goals in the understanding that you live in a world ruled by ego, but you can’t actually subscribe to those values because those two worlds are mutually exclusive.

You can’t live spiritually and value egotistical gains. So we’re not talking about you changing by moving “up” relative to other people (although that may be a relative byproduct of you following your nature). We’re talking about you finding the ideal place for you to manifest the biggest, grandest, most capable and satisfying version of you that exists. Because a good life isn’t defined by what you own or how your lovers look or any other external thing. Your life is an experience. What counts is, how good are your experiences on average? Are you satisfied with how your own life tastes? Because an ugly decanter can still hold the world’s finest wine.

If you feel the tug to change that feels less like guilt and more like an aspiration, then that’s the kind of changing you can productively engage in. Changes that are dictated by your nature. Changes that you are naturally motivated to make. Changes that feel like they make you bigger.

Life is a verb. Even if you live past the national average it’s over in a blink. The longer you live the shorter life seems. So the point isn’t to get it right because there is no such thing as right. Because that guy? The one who dates the exciting girlfriend who’s gorgeous? And she thinks he’s the greatest guy that’s ever existed? And they barely argue and even when they do they have fantastic make-up sex? Those people might make their living by politely robbing banks with guns. You want to say that a person like that doesn’t get a good life because of the bank robbing, but I’m sorry to report that that 502 Relax and Succeed - The more room you give yourselfis not how the universe actually works. If you’re in Bonnie and Clyde Jr.’s life, it’s exciting and fun and free and that’s why—despite their social transgressions—these people often become folk heroes. In a way we envy their freedom—their total disregard for all the damn rules.

As illegal and morally challenging as their behaviour might be, they cannot be said to be leaving their lives unlived. Most in the 1st world can’t say this though. Most die with loads of regrets. A few about things they’ve done. But far more about things they never even tried. You don’t have to rob banks. Try singing in public. Or asking someone out on a date. It’s crazy how timid you are about pursuing your dreams. But whatever you do, don’t waste your existence chasing things you lose when you die. Invest that life energy into weaving your own life experiences into the infinite fabric of the universe.

Stop trying to change into someone else who does different things. Instead, become your fully realized self and then see how you act. The lives you admire aren’t perfect. They’re just authentic. So if you realize your authentic self, you might find that version of you needs a lot fewer changes than you might currently imagine.

Now go live a bold and interesting life. You might as well. Because no matter what you choose, the worst that can happen is a bold or interesting experience. So you win either way.

peace. s

The Game of Life

There was something I wanted to write about and I was going to use food as a metaphor, but I believe sports will work better for what I want to say. The reason I add this preamble is that I want to make a distinction between my point here and the somewhat similar point that James Carse makes in his brilliantly insightful book, Finite and Infinite Games. So as much as I’m a huge fan of the book, any resemblance here is merely due to the fact that I also want to use the concept of playing as the basis for my metaphors.

475 Relax and Succeed - This is my lifeSo for the sake of this point, imagine that your life is a sport. When you’re young you just learn to keep your balance and get your body doing what you want it to. Then you develop a sense of basically how this sport works, before you go through childhood and through puberty where you learn all of the rules. By the time you’re a teen you’re pretty much only focused on scoring. And in various ways, that’s what you’ll do for the rest of your life unless you become conscious.

Before you’re conscious you’ll complain about other people, as though them being themselves and living their life is done as an affront to you personally. But think about this philosophically. You’ve got this great opportunity to play, but it’s not like you set up your own game. You need all of these other players, including your opponents. So you can stop wasting energy complaining about the inevitable, and instead you can invest that energy in being grateful that the game even exists, let alone that you have been invited—through no conscious choice of your own—to enter the field of play. So the very fact that you even get to play means you’re fortunate. You have opportunity. The question is, what kind of game are you going to choose to play?

First off, to be physically fit is a key factor for long term success in any sport. So you have eat well, sleep well, and exercise. And don’t do those things because they’re good for you. Do them because they actually feel good. It’s just we’re not usually focusing on how good it feels. We’re too busy telling ourselves a story about how it’s terrible that we have to exercise. The best runners in the world—the Tarahumara Indians—believe you should run at the a speed you can converse in. So instead of a whining internal monologue, go run with a friend and turn your talk sessions into walk/run sessions where you talk about something other than how tired you feel.

475 Relax and Succeed - The best way to find yourselfOnce you can contribute to your own success and the success of those around you, you’re ready to be a part of a team. Because like it or not, life is a team sport. You’ll have players who’ve played in your position and so they can relate better to the challenges you face. And there will be other players who will see the play very differently. If you’re a conservative, concerned defenceman, you’re watching for threats, whereas an optimistic, enthusiastic and aggressive forward is watching for opportunity. So what each of you will think is the right thing to do will occasionally differ due to that perspective difference. So you have to able to appreciate that fact so you can maintain good, helpful relations with your teammates.

Once you’ve committed to being dedicated to putting the team’s goals ahead of your own, you are philosophically ready to play. Presuming you’re also physically ready, the next question is what style of play will you employ in life? We can play by the rules or we can cheat. And how far will we go in cheating if we do cheat? And does this line in the sand move if we’re losing in an important game, or is it absolute? And what if it’s our own player’s infraction? Are we as anal about following the rules then? These decisions define the character of our play. When people think about our game overall, this is what they will generally use as your identity.

The reason your character is important is because next we’ll be discussing how you face challenges. Remember, a sport is a competition. So you will have egos as opponents who will actually put effort into trying to screw you up. You can scream at them, appeal to the referee, or any other thing you want, but without the opponents there is no game. So you can do like a Buddhist and accept that, or you can spend your life complaining about the fact that opponents are inextricably tied to the concept of playing a team sport. Without another team your team is just a bunch of people milling around in similar clothes. So your character is made up of how 475 Relax and Succeed - Being happy doesn't mean everything is perfectyou play. And you maximize your play when you cease to argue with the fact that you cannot have a game without opponents.

As I noted at the beginning, it’s easy to get caught up trying to get laid or get rich or get married or get pregnant or get whatever. But you don’t win at the game of life by scoring more than the other team. You don’t win by having more points. Because the goals are non-transferable. It’s not like when you die some dude with a clipboard greets you and says, “Ah, I see you earned a lot of money in your life. Well because of all of your effort in that lifetime, we’re going to let you be a well fed house cat this time.” No, your status and your accomplishments and your money don’t mean anything once time’s up. So eventually you realize that, and then your game shifts into pro mode.

You’re playing seriously when you realize that this game can end at any time. You’re playing seriously when you realize you can’t take your prizes with you. You’re playing seriously when you realize that you can enjoy trying to win the game, but there’s no way to actually win at life. There is only the playing itself. And so goes the paradox, that the most serious players are those that play for fun.

Now, even if you’re at work, go out and make it play.

peace. s