Other Perspectives #37

Winner: Scott’s Top Other Perspectives of 2014 #1

510 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Someday you will find the one

Orand here’s Scott being all harsh and everything again—or you might stay single your whole life. Yep. Sorry. Could happen. And you know what? That could easily be a wonderful, full, rich life filled with love and tenderness. But it still might not include a “permanent” relationship. In fact it’s that very concept that gets so many people in their 30’s and 40’s to throw away their lives while they analyze their existence against some impossible invented standard. Then they end up feeling like they’re failing when really they’re just being human. You’re not supposed to be in a relationship, you want to be in one. Well as this blog has clearly stated many times, wanting creates suffering whereas gratitude creates love. So it’s not the lack of a relationship that’s painful—it’s the fact that you want one. Stop waiting for your life to start after this or that event takes place. There is no destiny. You create it with the verb of your life. You have free will. Create a life. Make choices. Move forward. Live boldly. Do that and you will feel the love that is the basis of our universe, and there is no greater love than that.

peace. s

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Blinded by Choice

When I divorced seven years ago I expected to be married and having kids within two or three years. I got obsessed with getting remarried but I went on so many bad dates with so many stupid horny guys that I have given up on the idea of being with someone. The challenge now is that I can’t decide what to do with all of this time in my life. Now that I can see all of these non-relationship choices I have I’m overwhelmed by them. I am scared. What if I pick the wrong thing? How do I figure out the right direction for me?

signed,
Blinded by Choice

433 Relax and Succeed - Maybe the journey isn't so much about becomingDear Choice,
(The person who wrote this was very self-conscious about their English and so they asked me to re-write the question, so that’s my phrasing not theirs.)

Okay, so when it comes to your “problem,” I believe this is what the term embarrassment of riches was meant for. I’m very happy to hear that you’ve started to look at what’s there rather than what you perceive as missing. Nothing is ever really missing. We just get attached to certain ideas of permanence and then we act like something is wrong when our ideas don’t align with the ongoing, roiling action-of-being that appears to us as the outside world. In the end nothing is permanent, the only question is, are we present for its transition or some aspect of that transition?

I will not lie: you have every ability to continue returning to that same old bundle of lonely thoughts for the rest of your life if that’s what you choose. You could re-live that identity forever and no one could do anything about your choice of thoughts but you. But you’ve got to ask yourself, why would you choosing those ones? I mean really; that’s worthy of some serious meditation. Because those thoughts hurt. So why choose to think them when they’re so incredibly painful?

433 Relax and Succeed - Find ecstasy within yourselfTo escape this cycle of painful thinking you don’t need a whole new life. You just need to live your current one more consciously. You don’t need some big decision and a grand master-plan for change. You just need to—moment by moment—choose thoughts and experiences that feel good rather than choosing ones that lead you to feel some form of suffering.

All thought-habits are basically addictions so I’m not going to pretend I’m doing anything other than getting you hooked on feeling good, but that’s how we made it here. That’s how mankind and every other animal got the way they are. That’s how the world works. You just move toward what feels good and it all jostles out. It doesn’t need us figuring out some over-arching plan. We just do our bit moment by moment.

Great lives aren’t lives of note. They are lives well lived. If some guy makes all kinds of sacrifices and as a result he wins an Oscar or a Nobel or a Pulitzer or a Tony, you can’t look at him and say, “Oh that guy’s successful. If I would have been as dedicated as him I could have done that.” That may be true. But why would you do that if that’s not what you felt compelled to do?

433 Relax and Succeed - So what if instead of thinking about solving your whole lifeFor all you know that “successful” guy could go home to a marriage that makes him want to club himself to death with his own awards. He could have a debilitating disease. Or a horrible sex life. Or ungrateful children. Or any number of things that would make his life not so impressive to live. It’s not how notable you are that dictates how good your life is. The only measure of a good life is the percentage of moments that were spent at peace or loving, as opposed to how many were spent in torment, or not-loving.

You don’t build a great life by making one that compares well to others. You live a great life by moving boldly and certainly toward your own interests. Don’t waste your precious existence on anything other than discovering all of the wonderful intersections between you and this remarkable world we co-create to live within. And you don’t need a big plan for that.

You just need to be fully in the moment you’re in and choose what feels right for you then. That will still leave you with challenges in life but at least this way you don’t overthink them, and it really is the thinking that’s painful not the living itself so live boldly and have fun.

peace and a big hug. 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.

Post-Divorce Loneliness

I left my husband about ten years ago and after five years of disastrous dating I gave up. I can survive not being married but I’m finding I’m spending a lot of time feeling really lonely. Do you have any good strategies for dealing with loneliness?

signed,
Single and Alone

Dear Single,

I’m sorry to hear you’re not enjoying your single life as much as you might. Let’s do something about that.

364 Relax and Succeed - The worst lonelinessFirstly, what do you mean by “gave up?” Do you imagine there are hard borders around such an activity? I mean, you can say you’ve given up, but if some awesome man crosses your path tomorrow and shows serious interest, I suspect this “gave up” stuff would be out the window. It might be more that you mean you’re backing away from trying to make that happen and what’s that’s left you with is your own company—which you find unsatisfying, ergo the loneliness.

So until you’re dead, you’re at least theoretically in the dating market. But that’s besides the point because your life isn’t made better by being with someone. If that was the case then you would have stayed or gotten back together with your husband. Your problem isn’t a relationship or no relationship, your issue is that you don’t enjoy your own company. I suspect other people will enjoy it more when you do too, so let’s focus on that.

Surely there are times where you feel like being alone. Everyone likes some time to themselves every now and then. So what is the difference between quality time alone and loneliness? Why does alone-time feel nourishing and positive sometimes, and empty and separated at others? It’s not the status of your relationship life—it’s the quality of your thinking.

If you’re busy using your thoughts to want to be with someone then your time alone will clash with that desire or wish or expectation and the chasm between that want and your present situation is where all of your good feelings disappear. But if you accept and appreciate your time to yourself—if you embrace it—then you will definitely generate positive feelings.

Remember, your happiness is not dependant on the outside world. Your happiness is entirely connected to your ability to appreciate. No one can stop you from appreciating except you. And even then, you have to tell yourself a provably false story to make that happen. You have to forgo all of the things that you could be happy about in order to facilitate you forcing your attention 364 Relax and Succeed - you cannot be lonelyonto what you want, which is company, or companionship, or even just an excuse to not-think wanting thoughts. But again, you don’t need to be distracted away from thinking about your alone-ness. You can just choose not to think those narratives into existence.

Learn to listen for them. There will be stories you’re telling yourself when you’re alone. Maybe you’ll think you’re a loser, or that you should be with someone by now, or how you wish that your day was different than it is. It doesn’t really matter what sad story you tell yourself, the point is that it is sad. Think sad thoughts, get sad feelings. Think angry thoughts, get angry feelings. Think lonely thoughts and get feelings of loneliness.

Learn your narratives. Listen to how self-centered and needy they are. Then shift them onto something better. The very unpleasantness of the feeling is the signalling system that tells you to change those thoughts. So use that to your advantage. You don’t feel the sad feeling and then tell yourself a story about how that feeling is okay because you’re alone and not with a man. If you get a sad feeling that’s a notification from your psychology that you’re using your thoughts to want rather than appreciate.

So don’t turn being alone into a big deal. Don’t pile thoughts on to thoughts—just breathe out and let it go. If you stop wanting things to be different, then what shows up is a kind of success that’s innate. It doesn’t need you to accomplish or be anything or with anybody. So rather than thinking about your alone-time as lonely, start thinking about it as something you chose. Live it as though you picked it. Because that attitude and approach is the only thing that can turn the acute pain of loneliness into the profound peace that is simply Being. And every single one of us was born to do that.

Breathe out. Embrace this moment without conditions. Go quiet inside. Simply Be, and joy will come to you whether you are alone or together.

peace. s