Other Perspectives #58

Far from your memory being separate from you, it more or less is you. You collect data on the world as you grow up and other people inform how you interpret that data. And the details surrounding that subtle act of translation is what makes up your identity. So if you were happy and you chose to think of a sad event, then it was not the event that made you sad it was your current sad thoughts about that past event. You could just as easily shift back to the current happy event and think about that, and then you would feel happy instead. So your memory is not some separate creature that roams through your brain like it has a mind of its own. It’s your mind and you’re doing the wandering by choice. Sure, go through a period of mourning the death of a relationship. But only do that as long as it feels good to do it. Once it starts to feel bad that’s the signal that you’re supposed to shift your thinking. That’s why it feels bad. So don’t spend much life living in past sadness wondering what if? People can drag that thinking out for decades. It’s terrible. Meanwhile life slips by. There’s no need. Sure it’s harsh sometimes. Accept that and move on. Not one of us has the market cornered on suffering. A decent percentage of the people we meet every day are going through huge challenges, be it serious medical treatments, a child or parent with serious disabilities, learning a new language, a violent spouse, the threat of unfair deportation, they’re in line to lose their job, or they have an addiction. Everyone has struggles. So life will already give us enough hills to climb. We don’t have to make it even harder for ourselves by adding in unnecessary barriers, like choosing to recall a past relationship rather than enjoy today by doing whatever feels right for the you you are today. Do not live in the past. For every moment you are doing it you are letting your present slip by. And the present is the only time you have available in which you can act. So live now. Appreciate what’s working, accept what isn’t and march on. But don’t use your ability to think to go retrieve painful memories. That’s simply a misuse of your consciousness. It’s innocent and easily fixable, but it can only be done by you. So please do choose yourself a beautiful day. Thanks! 😉

peace. s

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

Leaving the Past Behind

We all know them. You might be one of them. A lot of people are. People who have either experienced difficulty most of their lives, or they faced one big event that included very high levels of betrayal or pain or fear. I’m talking about the people who aren’t happy today because of something in their past, be it as sharp as a violent parent, or as diffused as a marriage lost to “drifting apart.”

613 Relax and Succeed - When your past calls don't answerThe good news is that we are under no obligation to re-live those painful, scary or sad events. We call them big and therefore we claim to ourselves that they are somehow especially compelling; that you have to think them.

When I say stop you’ll say I can’t help it. But that’s hilarious because you don’t need to help it as though it takes some kind of effort. You need to take effort away by stopping yourself from assembling the narratives in the first place. You can’t make a narrative go away by replacing it with a second narrative that tries to justify the first. Remember, you put work into these narratives. I’m saying be peaceful instead. It’s much easier.

The only reason you believe you have to think certain things is because you do think those things a lot, and your brain gets good at anything you ask it to do a lot. So it’s like like the biggest valley in your head, caused by the largest amount of flowing water. That’s the route most of your thinking travels. If your attention is skipping across your brain it’s more likely to settle in the widest, deepest valley, which is created by the greatest amount of thought. But that doesn’t make it inevitable. Hardly. They’re still your thoughts. Who else would be thinking them?

613 Relax and Succeed - NowThis isn’t like you being chased through your own consciousness by some past event. It’s more like you going into your consciousness, way down into the basement where you keep all the painful stuff, and then you dig through years and layers of different thoughts—any of which you could choose to think—and instead you grab these same sheets of paper you often do, and you re-read them again, all the time complaining about how bad the story is that’s written on them.

I remind you that life remains filled with other filing cabinets also filled with other thoughts and, even more importantly, our actions in this moment are creating brand new pages in the story of our lives. If you’re choosing to think back and select a painful event, how is that the fault of the world or the people who were involved in the thought? Why does something that happened ten years ago need to be thought of today?

Time exists only in your head. You are always alive now. You are never alive any other time other than the moment you are in. But you can take that current moment and you can think about when you lived. You can take your aliveness and you can invest it in remembering and therefore in re-living past events, but why would you do that when those events are painful? You only do it because you think you must head to those deep valleys in your brain. But your brain changes as you use it. The less time and energy you spend on recreating the past in your imagination, the more time and energy you have to move your life forward today.

613 Relax and Succeed - Do you want to be happyStop worrying about days gone by. The real question is: if you had just been someone else, and you just died and got reincarnated into your who you are right now, you wouldn’t care what your body had done 10 years ago. You would assess its capabilities in the now and you would use those to move yourself forward.

There’s no reason you can’t do that yourself right now. Just do not invest energy going to collect and replay old memories of unpleasant events. That is not the fault of the people in those stories nor is it proof that there’s anything wrong with you. But the pain you’re feeling today is 100% your responsibility because no one chooses what you think about other than you. That’s why the thoughts are painful. They’re telling you not to think them.

Forget about worrying about the future or regretting the past. Be alive today. Because it’s what you choose to do today that will create where you get to start from tomorrow. Your past is over. It’s your future that’s open to change. Start living like you know that’s true.

Have yourself an 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.

Other Perspectives #12

360 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Dear past stop tapping me

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

Other Perspectives #6

Houston street am

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

Memories

212 Relax and Succeed - Nothing prevents happinessYour memory is like a location. It is back in time. It is the recollection of events in the past. To remember is to do something. It’s a verb. You are remembering. So it might be now, but you can use now to recall then. Of course your state of mind now will certainly impact your recollection of then, so memory is never trustworthy. But the important thing to remember is that remembering is an activity. It is something you do.

Let us say you have experienced the searing pain of a broken romance. You loved the person and you even believe they loved you—but it just wouldn’t seem to work on a daily domestic level and it breaks your heart. At night you say the breakup has given you insomnia, but what you really mean is that at night you are recalling your romance rather than remembering what it’s like to sleep. One leads to the chemistry for sleep, and the other to anxious chemistry that would be more inclined to keep you awake.

212-relax-and-succeed-you-cant-start-the-next-chapterIf a person is heavily cross-wired into your brain’s central idea of relationship happiness, then it makes sense that you’ll immediately compare everyone to them, but because of your lovelorn perspective your comparisons will be focused on finding reasons to reject each suitor because a part of you doesn’t want the new person, it wants the old person.

Of course if you’re looking for reasons not to like someone you’ll find them. This means the broken-hearted often have difficulty recognising motivated suitors. They don’t pay enough attention to them because they assume they’re a bad fit. And they only do that because the suitor can’t possibly match the person they think about all the time in lovelorn patterns—and those thoughts therefore falsely associate love and happiness with only that one person when that’s not actually true.

Trying to forget someone won’t work either though. Thinking, okay I won’t think about that person IS in fact a form of thinking about that person. All you have is acceptance. They’re gone for whatever reason so there’s no point in thinking about it. Those thoughts will only blind us to the present moment in which we actually live. Happiness is not dependent on who you’re with. It is dependent on what you place in your consciousness—hence the importance of using memory wisely.

You do not need to return to happier times. You’ll have those again when you do the same things you did back then—you created that fun. You were open to it. Your idea of where joy came from wasn’t so limited and conditional. So you don’t need to change anything but your perspective. But you can’t start looking for what’s great about today if all of your time is invested in either wanting the past to return, or in remembering it as though people only have one route to happiness.

Do not live in the past. Do not talk about it, re-live it or re-imagine it. Your memory is good for finding your way to the store or the beach, but it’s not useful when it comes to creating happiness in the present moment.

Forget then. Be Now. Happiness is created here.

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 Light of Your Consciousness

80 Relax and Succeed - You are not the mistakesImagine that the universe is a city and that “we” are each in houses within our own neighbourhoods. If we are not yet enlightened the windows of our house will all be boarded up, keeping it completely dark inside. Our Consciousness is like a flashlight. We can take the flashlight to any part of the house, but it has a relatively narrow beam so it can always only light up a small aspects of our homes. What our flashlight lands on—what is illuminated within us—is the experience of our lives.

What neighbourhood our house is in is irrelevant to us because we live within the boundaries of our individual homes. People may call on the phone to tell you about the outside of your home, but the exterior of your house is largely irrelevant to you because you dwell on the inside. What matters to you is what you shine the light of your consciousness on. This is how the rich can still be unhappy.

Understand that this is a metaphor for our entire day. All day long we are not individuals walking around in an exterior world; we are actually self-imagined people moving around in an self-created interior world. Essentially we have a self-image (our ego) that picks up our flashlight (our consciousness) and points it (via our thinking) at whatever evidence it can find to support its own existence.

80 Relax and Succeed - Life is too shortIt’s always self-reinforcing by comparing itself to what it sees. So if we do something “wrong” at work and get scolded for it, we react by quickly taking the flashlight of our consciousness down to our personal basement where we’ll open boxes and go through old report cards, or sports photos, or whatever will remind us to keep seeing ourselves as failures. Are you starting to see how we operate? Are you starting to get a sense that both today and our memories are all a part of our life that takes place via our consciousness?

Where do you go with your flashlight? Do you open boxes of photos of yourself when you were slimmer and then talk about how you impossibly want to look young again? Do you head into the office to shine your light on the filing cabinet and review the file on your bitter divorce? Or do you go to your old room to read your old diary where you used to write the insults your mother hurled at you when she was drunk?

These are all valid events, but thinking about them after the fact is a choice. We can always take our flashlight anywhere in the house. We just keep taking it to the same places because we think those few spots define us. We keeping hoping that one day we’ll go to that drawer and the sad diary won’t be there. But that’s misunderstanding how we come to have a good life. We can’t keep going back hoping those places within us won’t be there. If they happened they will always be there. But they will only be in our current-moment experience if we have chosen to go down to the basement with the flashlight of our consciousness.

80a Relax and Succeed - Bad memores do not openMeanwhile, while we’re staring at sad things wishing there was no light on them, other people are wandering through our house with their flashlights and they’re finding out about all kinds of cool and interesting things about us. Do you see it is only us that cherry-picks all of our failures and supposed short-comings? So why are we all doing that? Our friends ignore that stuff in favour of the things they like about our home. We can do that for ourselves, too. We just need to start acting more like we’re our own friends and less like we’re our own enemies.

So how do we get healthy? We stop wandering through ourselves. We stop navel-gazing. Stop looking for what’s wrong. Stop wondering about ourselves. We need to open the door to our house. We need to take our flashlights into someone else’s home and ask some questions. Connect with someone. Make a friend. Attract a new lover. Maybe find someone whose house we like so much that we’d actually sign the deed. Our own homes are valid and worthwhile and much more interesting than we realise, but if we only rattle around inside of that, we’ll limit our experiences far too much.

Forget going through old boxes. Open the doors to your mind. Find other houses you like and spend time in them. And while you’re there, remember to shine your light on what you like about them. That will lead you to enjoy your time with them even more. It really is that simple.

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.