Intentional Being

It’s actually pretty likely that the person reading this is not the person you’d actually planned to be when you grew up. I’m not sure it happens to some Masai guy on the Serengeti but if you live in the modern world then it’s very likely you’re going to end up accidentally being someone. I know. Weird eh? But that’s what people do. They wake up at some time in the next seven or eight years and go, what the…? Whose life is this?!

Let’s pick the art-forms of dance or acting because these are two of the toughest professional challenges there are. A writer can pay his bills by day and dedicate his nights to writing. Professional acting and professional dance understandably and invariably require full day-time and full night-time commitments, so those artists can hold temporary jobs but they can’t climb up any ladders because they’re always leaving when they get a gig. And they will always leave. Artists know their jobs allow them to more fully be themselves than most of life does and so they’ll pretty much die before they’ll give that up. In fact if they do give it up, something has died.

People need to survive. They finish school, they’ve got their school debt and likely a car payment and some insurance and a chunk of some rent somewhere. And eventually you want to date, maybe get married and think about maybe having enough resources to support a family. And all of a sudden your life vanishes and you replace it bit by bit with surviving. You just hope by the end of the month to be able to make ends meet. The ends. You stop living and you start making a living. It can get a bit desperate.

You’ll do your best, so you’ll work to become a better salesman, a better people-manager, a better task-manager, being more organized—whatever. You’ll start developing and competing as that instead of offering the world who you are. So you’ll be more interested in the best sales technique, which isn’t finding the person the best product, but rather it’s the most effective and quick way to get people’s money.

To have a more fulfilling life, instead of just getting their money we can seek what Robert Pirsig called the moment of Quality. The Now moment, when cannot care about the sale itself because there is no subject and object. There is no act and result. Everything is combined. All attention and focus is on the enthusiastic creation of anything original, whether it’s some brand new choreography or an oft-repeated tea ceremony. It all comes from us.

If we continue to care about Quality we won’t lose track of who we are. But if we want to satisfy our ego by trying to be good, or if we just seek to make money, then the blinders go on and invisibly we climb onto a kind of autopilot treadmill. That’s why everyone looks half-dead today. They’re not adding any real value to the world. And if it’s happening to you, what makes you notice it is the monotony and the futility. See? Even those things have advantages.

One day you wake up and realize, whose life is this? When did I become this person? It’s not like you had to get on Broadway or TV, you could have just done community theatre and enjoyed your major in school like a hobby. A lot of places in the world would think that quite sane. It’s less so now, but I like how European students were propelled to be who they wanted to be through their studies, whereas in North America it’s always felt more about training for what you’ll do. That’s a hard thing to define, but there’s something rich about pouring a bunch of education into yourself and not a career you might hate in a few years.

I’ve written it before—your life will go in roughly 7-9 year stretches. That’s about as long as I see people being anyone before they’ll eventually stumble into being someone else. There are those moments of becoming. It’s hard to remember those early ones—where you got your first real independence, or went into puberty, or shifted into young adulthood—but by 25 or 27 years old you’re getting a bit more conscious and you notice the change into actual699 Relax and Succeed - If you don't build adulthood (which is about when your brain stops growing—no joke intended).

So one of the people you will become is a person with a job trying to stay ahead. Not get ahead in many cases. Just keep the wolves at the door for another 30 days. Some people watched their parents resign themselves to that too, but that’s like handing over your life to slavery. Your work day is 50% of your waking life. If you can’t turn it into something meaningful then you’re surrendering way too much.

Fulfill yourself. Change jobs. Create your own value-based company. Or if that feels impossible at least go to your job as a salesman invigorated by the standing ovation you got last night in your community theatre production. Start a dance class for the disabled where you work as an orderly. Teach singing to poor kids at the school where you’re the custodian. There are a lot of ways to be the thing you imagined in university. It doesn’t have to be your work. It can be a big and nourishing part of your life though. We have to stop dividing those two things up as though they’re different. They’re all you being you.

There was wisdom in your youth. Before you were told about responsibilities and obligations etc., you were free. You had ideas about how you would expand the world, not fit into it. What were those dreams? And is some aspect of them still alive? Do you still want to write that novel? Do you still want 699 Relax and Succeed - If you aren't making a differenceto learn to build a computer, or ride a unicycle, or play on the sports teams you had dreaded as a kid? Then do it. Because any pain you feel—any boredom or frustration or lost-ness all stems from you doing and not being. Shakespeare talked about the seven ages of man, and he also said “To be or not to be,” not “To do or not to do.”

Don’t trade your life for money. Don’t do work you can’t invest in. Do things that allow you to genuinely enjoy your day, even if that’s via your customers and co-workers versus the work itself. Because as long as a lot of your days are spent joyfully creating worthwhile things or experiences, then you will continue to expand as is your nature.

Don’t be someone accidentally. Be intentional about your life. Choose your life, choose how to act and choose to be okay with however you feel. Those are all trickier than they sound, but they are all also ultimately answers that are hard to find precisely because they’re so easy and obvious.

Don’t complicate things. Just be yourself. That would be perfect. And have yourself a stupendous day.

peace. s

I’ve posted it on a past Friday Dose but despite some of the language it’s just too appropriate not to re-post, so here’s Joe Rogan’s video The Society Trap. I recommend taking the time to take a look:

The Friday Dose #67

680 FD Relax and Succeed - Life is not about success

Let’s use today to move through the stages of life. We’ll finish with dying, and we’ll precede that with aging, a look at the middle of your life and we’ll start off here with kids. As I’ve written before, most of the world group-sleeps. Brothers and sisters and other family members cuddle up, using each other as pillows and they sleep to the sound of each other’s breathing. There’s an epidemic of people who have trouble falling asleep and that’s a huge reason why. Here’s a talk with James McKenna on how our society urges us to train children to be unnatural:

A Conversation with a Co-Sleeping Expert

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Next David Cain takes on the next stage of programming of your life. This is where you learn to work instead of live. He talks about the simple joys in life that are surrendered without us even realizing it. If this short article doesn’t get you to really think about your life carefully I’ll be surprised, and the comments are almost as interesting as the short article:

Working to Live

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Next we’ll hear Maurice Sendak, author of books like Where the Wild Things Are, as he discusses aging and dying and how life only becomes more precious and where our tears are generated more by great thanks and appreciation than over loss or sadness:

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And we’ll close with a talk by the great Alan Watts on what you’re supposed to do before and after your life:

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No matter what stage you are in life I hope you found this helpful in getting yourself to where you’d really like to be. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

peace. s

00 Relax and Succeed - Friday Dose Footer

Values for Living

People often wonder, am I doing the right thing? Is there something better or more important I should be doing? We’re always asking the world who it wants us to be and it’s sitting there looking impassively at us, waiting for us to be the only thing we ever could be—ourselves.

668 Relax and Succeed - They say love is the best investmentIf you want to calculate the value of anything you’re doing you have to put it into terms of time. That’s your limited resource. It’s how much of that you’ll pay that determines how valuable you actually believe something is. So if you’re a $1,000 dollar an hour lawyer and you buy your wife a $350 dollar dress then you’ve invested about 20 minutes in her, whereas if you hand made her a birthday card that might take you two hours plus the time buying the craft supplies at the store plus the time to earn the money for that, so in that case the card would be worth more than the dress.

This not only applies to relationships with our lovers, but also the relationships we have with our children, or even our employees or co-workers. You can work to get a promotion that results in more hours but higher pay so that your kid can ride in a nicer car, or those hours can be spent at a less stressful job and more of that time can be invested in spending nows with the actual kid. Using this scale I think you can easily see that most of the Western world is wasting their lives on things that ultimately have no value. No one lays on their death bed wishing for more time in a mall or on social media. They want more time with their brother, or their wife or their son.

Every day you make choices regarding where you invest the time of your life. Like a vein of gold running through rock you have no idea when your lifetime will come to an end. And so starting to spend it more wisely is something that should be done as soon as possible. Do not always assume there will be more time. The vein will eventually be emptied. The answer that defines your life is, what did you invest your time in?

668 Relax and Succeed - It is no bad thingStart calculating your life based on how much time you’re giving to the different aspects of your life. Is enough going towards sleep? And how about food? Is enough going toward buying, preparing and paying for quality food? And is your time spent repetitively, or on debts for things that no longer assist us you in being happy? Because you need far less than you realize. If you slow down the rate of your desires you’ll be able to shift into the speed of life. This is where the most valuable thing is: connection. Maybe it’s you connecting to nature. Maybe it’s you connecting to your lover, or your family or to your friends. Or maybe it’s you connecting to yourself. That’s what life is. The time spent in those states of interplay with other aspects of the universe—that is when you are alive. Owning things has absolutely nothing to do with that. Those are the decorations around life but they are not life itself.

Spend less time adorning your life and talking about your past or future choices and start making choices in the moment you are in. Stop commentating on your life and others and start living as a verb instead. Don’t have a lifetime of items and opinions at the end of your time here on Earth. Have a lifetime of experiences. Have a lifetime of living.

668 Relax and Succeed - I was dyingSo many are bound up by thoughts about the paths that they believe were theirs to happiness. But there is no path to happiness. Happiness is how we walk any path. It is a choice to accept everything that comes and not argue with it because it steals our attention away from the experience we would otherwise be having. Talking about life is not living life. Decorating life is not living life. Being in the moment you are in is the only way we can actually live our lives consciously. The sooner we realize that the sooner we do it and the sooner our decisions start to more closely reflect who we truly are.

What are you currently investing your time in? What does that say about your values? Because we can make all the excuses we want, but where our time is is where our heart is and possessions don’t have a heart. Even the people in our life must be freely choosing to spend their time with us before a connection is truly achieved. Love cannot be possessed. It can only be lived and experienced as a collection of decisions about how we chose to invest the value of our lifetime.

peace. s

Spiritual Priorities

What are your priorities? Not the ones you automatically tell people as part of your ego’s pose in the world. What does your life indicate your priorities are? Where are your actions in life and to what end? Do you spend your day actually trying to get happier, or are you mostly focused on affording what you either have or want?

593 Relax and Succeed - If we do not feel gratefulRecently the New York Times did a piece on John Osburg, the author of Anxious Wealth: Money and Morality Among China’s New Rich. It’s an interesting article in which Osburg is asked about how the wealthiest Han Chinese respond to their success and he notes that, “…there’s no question tastes are evolving, albeit somewhat slowly. Now that every Shanxi coal baron’s mistress can afford Louis Vuitton, in order to differentiate themselves, other new rich are moving on to other pursuits and tastes.”

That trend isn’t exclusively Chinese of course. When I was head of creative at the network in the 1990’s we did a two-part movie-of-the-week with Richard Chamberlain called The Lost Daughter. It was about the Order of the Solar Temple cult, which included many extremely wealthy families from Europe, North America and Australia. Much like the Chinese noted above, these people were very successful in the materialistic world, but once you can buy all the things you’ve dreamed of, how do you distinguish yourself?

So why do people want to be distinguished? Why do they want us to admire them? Because much like victims employ sympathy, admiration is a shallow refection of love, which what they want but don’t feel they can get without achievements. And so in their desperate attempt to find greater meaning, wealthy, educated people were encouraged to not only commit mass suicide, but to murder their own family members as well. Can you see how this unhealthy lust for love can manifest? Because remember, those murders were viewed by the parents as acts of love.

593 Relax and Succeed - Carrot and stickNone of that is much different than a victim sacrificing their enjoyment of their own short time on Earth to instead focus on garnering sympathy. Not loving someone is seen as reasonable, but not giving someone sympathy is seen as cruel and the people who use sympathy subconsciously know this. And so they tell their sad story and they get their imitation of love.

Now if their attempts to find value in themselves is what leads them to healthy spirituality then that’s great. If some crazy-rich Lamborghini-driving 29 year old Han ends up discovering true enlightenment by hanging around Monks for status, then the route up the mountain isn’t what matters—it’s the view once you’re up there.

So do you see that you can save yourself from trying to achieve material success in your own life? Can you see that you’re just on some kind of weird treadmill-ladder where no matter how long you climb you still get off at the same height? So you might as well jump off now. Think of how developed you’d be if you invested the same time on your spiritual development as you do in making, saving and spending money. When you think about it, that’s the vast majority of your waking day.

What I like about all of this is that it’s media-friendly. These stories will travel well. And these are stories of the richest people in the world who are placing their spiritual development above their material success. Material success is simply not enough anymore. Not in an age where someone like Ambani can build a billion-dollar 400,000 square foot (37,000 square meter) 27 story house for a family of six. Once you get to that kind of ridiculous excess you literally start to look crazy instead of successful and so people realize that they need to find something that people can genuinely respect. And in the end, when push really comes to shove, the only thing people will ever wholeheartedly respect is if you unconditionally love them.

593 Relax and Succeed - RevolutionIf it continues like this we’ll either destroy the world or we’ll come to the realization that ever-increasing wealth isn’t the answer to happiness, satisfaction and ultimate success and it may very well be the super-wealthy that signal this change. If they start being honest, humble and public about how disappointing their lives are, then that may be the signal for the next big change, which is not a political revolution, an industrial revolution, nor a technical revolution—it’s a spiritual revolution. Not a revolution of religion. One of compassion. Of prioritizing the happiness and security of people rather than focusing on economies. We can invest in ourselves instead of in the stock market. In the end the investment in yourself pays far better dividends.

Look at your life honestly. How much of it is spent shopping or working? How much of it is about money and how much of it is about happiness and life and meaning? Because far too many people wait until they’re seriously ill or dying before ever considering these questions and that’s unfortunate. Because most people who do consider them end up realizing that they’re not actually living the life they truly want and they begin to make changes. Don’t be brainwashed by your society. Don’t have silly, meaningless priorities because that’s what some business needs. Live your life by being present in it. It doesn’t matter what you wear or drive or where you live. What matters is, do you feel connected to other people and do you find it easy to give love? If you have those two things then you have everything that anyone ever truly wanted or needed.

peace. s

Save Yourself

Most of us get too much of our food from unhealthy sources. Almost every one of us wants the animals we eat to be cared for better. Most of us are rushed and harried. Our lives are too busy to be as rewarding as life feels like it should be. And it’s true. In North America we’ve gone downhill in the total quality-of-life scale since about the very early 1950’s. We need two 484 Relax and Succeed - A savage is the one who livesincomes now to care for fewer kids because each kid and both parents have so darned much stuff. Just their car alone has about 14,000 parts in it. We’re busy people and so we consume a lot. A lot of what? A lot of everything.

So what’s this mean? It means our gross consumerism is doing two things: it’s disrupting the social structures that our relationships were formerly based on, and it’s eating up the world and spitting out toxic garbage. What’s toxic mean? It means it’ll kill the planet. And what do we want all that stuff for anyway? We just lose it all when we die. By now, 80% of 40 year olds and older will be working very hard to deal with whatever unexpected financial event happened in their life. Maybe they got cancer and were only getting a percentage of their wage on disability, maybe they had an expensive divorce or got defrauded or maybe an illness lead to an early retirement. Bottom line, people have never worked harder to be more stressed and the planet itself is in a declining state.

These two things are linked. We need to consume because our lives are hollow because our relations are shallow and short and fickle and thin. Not as long ago as it seems, people lived in groups. They slept in groups, hunted in groups, gathered in groups. And now we invent houses and encase ourselves. We talk to each other through phones even though we’re at the same restaurant table. We’ve become unnatural. And we have to get back to being more natural or we’re all gonna die.

If the Earth were the size of a basketball, the atmosphere is about as thick as two coats of paint and we have been pumping crap into it for 150 years. I’m a scuba diver and in my short lifetime I have witnessed the degradation of dive sites I had previously visited. I have seen the fish disappear and the shorelines change. We water golf courses and flower pots outside hotels, but if you’re travelling around the 484 Relax and Succeed - Sustainable development is the masterful balanceworld a lot and you’re watching for it, you’ll notice that a lot of things are dying.

We’re too interested in money and not interested enough in life. Our own or the planet’s. I don’t want you to do this because I’m some green activist because I’m not. I’m a guy who loves everyone around him and that’s the way of living that this blog exists to impart. It just so happens that a byproduct of that objective is that you fall in love with the whole world around you.

I’m not saying it’s easy or without its huge challenges, but seriously try to reconsider the world and your life at the same time. Instead of going out to a movie where you all stare in the same direction in the dark and don’t talk, try staying in, facing each other at a small table, and play a board game and talk. You’ll be surprised at how therapeutic it is. And it’ll leave a tiny footprint on the planet. People playing Scrabble or Chess or Monopoly tend not to do a lot of damage to the Earth.

You want your life to feel better. I’m not kidding. This is how. Stop caring about yourself and your happiness and start caring about other people’s welfare. The sharing of compassion is at the heart of the sort of love we’re all seeking. It’s that wonderful warm feeling where you don’t feel like you need to be anywhere except where you are. You are Be-ing.

484 Relax and Succeed - I thinkn a hero is any personPay more attention. Live more consciously. Choose connection. Choose friendship and camaraderie. Eat healthier and be easier on the planet simultaneously and both you and it will get stronger and healthier. But it must be intentional. You must really want to be this person who lives this way. It’ll be easy though. Because once you start, and once you get past the initial awkward stage that goes with any new thing, you’re left with one of life’s better experiences and that will motivate you to want to recreate them. And the only way to do that is to care. To actively care, with the accent on the active.

We can’t think the world into being better. Too many of you are unhappy and too many of you aren’t doing anything concrete to help anyone in a significant way. Choose an activity you currently derive little benefit from, and instead of doing that, put consciously compassionate living in its place. We’ll all be better off. The world could use your love. You’re awesome.

peace. s

Knowing vs Understanding

Most of the time in life we don’t stop to truly consider each idea that is presented to us. We just accept them, and yet if someone asks you something obvious like: what exactly is the difference between being alive and being dead? you realize that even philosophers who ask that question as a full time job are incapable of finding one, single encapsulating answer. That’s because it is possible to understand something without knowing it.

481 Relax and Succeed - Out of your vulnerabilitiesSo we all know what death basically is. We just don’t know what defines the actual transom between life and death. Knowing that is a bit like a mathematician taking me through the various steps of a large formula. I can understand each step, but if you ask me if I know the whole formula itself, I probably don’t. My knowledge would not be deep enough. Similarly, I understand how a car engine works, but on 95% of breakdowns I wouldn’t know enough to be able to help.

Knowing is when you own an idea. That’s when your brain is wired up to include a framework for the analysis and calculation that goes with that idea. If someone explains something to you, they can step by step you through other ideas you already know to eventually reach the correct conclusion. But that is different from you practising that calculation until you understand it in a different way. When you get what it’s doing—that’s when the idea becomes yours and you can’t unlearn it. It is now a part of your brain. You have been expanded.

This explains why smokers can understand that smoking is bad for them and yet they still do it. It’s why lovers return to bad relationships over and over. It’s why people eat when they’re not even hungry. You can understand an idea intellectually. But until you can see how that idea comes alive in your own life, you cannot make any real use of your awareness. Knowing about something is not the same as understanding that if you don’t act soon, there will be 481 Relax and Succeed - It is not what you do for your childrenrepercussions you’d prefer to avoid. When that idea belongs to you as an aspect of your own life, then you know something well enough to be able to act upon it. To own it, those pathways have to spend time in your brain being used.

This is why you can’t suddenly teach your kids about money when they’re in their teens. That’s way too late. Money is a concept. If it’s not linked to sacrifice early in life, then later lessons will have much less value. It isn’t a matter of a kid learning to add or subtract better, it’s them developing a strong framework for the idea of limits and planning and value. How much work/time is this or that worth? It’s funny how much less appealing something is when you actual weigh out how hard you’ll work to earn that much—after taxes.

If a kid has to deal with money issues, they become second nature just like some kids eat potatoes and some eat rice. If you’re exposed to something you come to understand it through that exposure. But for those pathways in the brain to be effective, they have to be well-established before the introduction of larger amounts of money. To wait until then is to leave a child with an unsharpened tool to hunt with.

Teaching a kid to budget isn’t cruel or difficult. It’s necessary if you want your child to have a brain that can actually manage money in a useful, sophisticated way. Because otherwise they’ll nod at you and earnestly tell you that they do understand, but once they get out into the world they will eventually realize that they never did truly know what it was they were doing.

481 Relax and Succeed - Treat people as if they wereDon’t teach your kids a set of beliefs. Instead, teach them how to learn, and then inspire them. Let them go at whatever pace suits them. Some kids develop quickly at one age, others at other ages. There is no set of rules other than the fact that their brain will be built by experiences. Put a smart kid in a car and drive him everywhere and he’ll have a high IQ and no sense of direction whatsoever. Same with the ability to manage finances.

Don’t explain things to your kids. Set up experiences and then let them learn by living up to the same responsibilities that simply reflect the world they will actually live in. It’s easier on you and it helps them to see how capable they truly are, which is great for their sense of self-worth. And self-worth is something every ego struggles with whether it’s rich or poor, so as much as possible avoid ego, and after that just teach the kid the stuff they need to know to survive without you. Have fun!

Have an awesome day.

peace. s

Other Perspectives #29

462 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - 97 percent of people

This is a classic case of one individual assuming that other individuals place the same value on the same things they do. They make that mistake the same way you do: because to them the sources of the value are obvious. But clearly one person can want to be the number one salesperson, while another person wants to be a good father, or someone else wants to work for a charity that prolonged a loved one’s life. These would all create different choices, priorities and paths through life. There’s lots of things to value in life, but because our cultures have such an addiction to money, many capitalists assume that because they want to be rich and in charge, that you want that too. So it’s assumed that if you didn’t become a wealthy entrepreneur that’s not because you didn’t want to, it’s because you couldn’t—because you gave up and you are therefore inferior to those who chose that particular priority. But of course many of us aren’t interested in the hassles associated with being in charge, just like many of us aren’t interested in great wealth, celebrity or prestige. We have our pursuits and others have theirs. None are more important than others. The only success there is in life is the joy of being alive. Everything else is disappears.

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.

Capitalism Versus Spirituality

Winner: 2015’s Blog of the Year #6

We have a constant ego-based structure in our society that will prohibit our spiritual development until we succeed in shifting our priorities away from personal individual gain and more toward collective well-being. Money was intended to act as a place-holder for labour. We could store someone’s labour in the idea of money, and then they could collect on their previous labour later, when they found something they wanted to have or experience.

246 Relax and Succeed - Advertising has us chasingEventually ideas like interest and fees came to exist and everything was disturbed because now it was possible to get the money without the labour. This evolved over time and eventually raced out of control. Because our ego has so many wants —and because advertising exists for the sole purpose of inflaming those wants– we have a culture that now urges people to place their personal wants ahead of the health of the tribe overall. This is a form of egoic disease that has the potential to be our ultimate downfall.

You cannot exist without others. No matter how many iDevices you own, no matter how many advertising slogans tell you that you’re important or special, no matter how much money you have you simply cannot live without other people. Can you grow or inspect or even prepare your own food? Can you generate electricity or fix your own machines? Can you clean your own water, or can you educate yourself, or perform an operation on yourself?

All of these things require cooperation and yet capitalism has told the lie that we benefit most from competition when modern science shows that cooperation is what we’re wired for. I’ll go along with the competitive advantage that to a degree. Boys running across a field might run quicker if they’re racing each other, but they don’t need an artificial, external imaginary reward like money or status for that to happen. They’ll do it naturally until we corrupt that with me-over-them thinking.

246 Relax and Succeed - Seven dangers to human virtueThe Tarahumara Indians are featured in the brilliant book Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. They have zero violence in their culture, their diets are remarkably impressive, and they are the absolute best runners in the world. You can completely remove them from their experience—you can put them in cold weather, way above sea level, running in conditions that are entirely unfamiliar and yet they will still beat the best professional runners in the world quite easily. And how do they train? They don’t. They run for fun.

The Tarahumara run because they like it. And with that as their motivation: when they have “races,” they don’t recognize a winner. They’re like kids. Children are happy because happiness is the pursuit not the achievement. Adults in our cultures are unhappy because they have surrendered joy so instead they can work to close the gap regarding inequities in beauty, wealth, power and status. The Tarahumara prove that you can be an adult and still keep your priorities straight.

Why is Capitalism so insidious? Because it creates a falseness between us. Do you think it’s a coincidence it’s hard to find the contact us link on most commercial websites? Do you think they forgot to include a convenient number for you to call, or that they didn’t know to hire enough people to answer the phone?

246 Relax and Succeed - Your work is going to fillDo you think it’s an accident that a website screen frustratingly jumps around in an effort to encourage you into clicking an ad you actually have no interest in? Do you think those things like insurance on your purchase etc. got into your on-line shopping cart by accident? Do you think they want you to read their terms of use, or is it like your insurance forms and credit card agreements—where someone has put real effort into making it intentionally and intimidatingly long and confusing?

These are people’s jobs today! Their job is to irritate, trick, confuse and lie to their fellow man! Capitalism was supposed to be about making things better but the stock market and concepts like status have turned that into people wanting your money or they’ll make your life worse. Just one word: telemarketing. Is it any wonder everyone’s stressed? And then we all get on the roads at 5pm and drive home with all of these other people who’ve also been forced to do awful stressful things because someone was trying to trick their money away from them.

(Surprising Examples of How You’re Tricked Every Day)

Likewise, our personal interactions are sullied. In 90% of cases the clerk at the computer store will not love his job, so he will not recommend the best part to you he’ll recommend a workable part for which he is paid the biggest bonus. $4.99 is a lie—the thing is five dollars. Interest is money invented out of thin air and it has no relevant labour connected to it. And thanks to the stock market wanting 15% growth every year, a company can be seen to be failing even though it has experienced a 10% rise in profit. That’s simply silly.

246 Relax and Succeed - It is not enough to be busySo how do the Powers That Be suggest that 15% is achieved? By charging you 15% more, or by making your soup can 15% smaller, or by paying the farmers 15% less, or by adding in 15% more filler that isn’t good for you. It’s a losing game and that’s guaranteed by the rules. Growth (or winning) in a capitalistic market is created by providing less for more. Period.

As we age we become jaded by the falseness of life. We realize that many people we do business with are willing to use this system to get the money without the labour. Repairmen charging for work that isn’t done, food companies silently inserting less healthy ingredients and accountants looking the other way because something is profitable even though it is clearly not something we would have done to anyone we cared about. If you’re approving dumping effluent into a river because it saves money then you are profoundly removed from your spiritual nature because that is not something you would do without the egocentric attraction of money or success.

We usually recognize the falseness of the material, capitalistic world once we first face the notion that our time here is limited. People always say time is money, but they forget that money is also time. And if you’re busy making more money then you are missing out on the time you could otherwise be spending with those you love. And once you recognize that time is limited your ego begins to fall away and you begin to re-prioritize the world the way a healthy child would. You’ll pause to care for the suffering—your compassion will not be mitigated by any calculations of who gains or who loses. You’ll value joy and laughter and caring. And you’ll realize that the rest really is just stuff.

246 Relax and Succeed - What do you think is the secretCapitalism isn’t antithetical to spirituality. But it’s currently running contrary to it because it hinges on us forever wanting more. That constant pull on our society steals energy from the open, supportive loving that we would otherwise do. What do we do in emergencies? Do we ask the Tsunami/ Volcano/ Flood/ Hurricane/ victims if they have cash or do we send them what they need? Do we worry about who’s paying for a search and rescue team or do we act on our natural impulse? Do we think people with more money deserve better health or would we like to see any loved-one, no matter how wealthy, get the health care they need to stay happy and available to contribute to the lives of their loved ones?

Star Trek didn’t show people elevating themselves through their wealth or their clothing. That’s not how we fantasize our future. We fantasize that we’re past all of that. That we’ve risen above it. Okay, well what’s above trying to get things from each other? How about trying to give things to each other? After all, you didn’t see Captain Kirk sending a bill after he’d rescued another planet.

Yes, there is more wealth in the world. But there remains a lot of preventable suffering, we have deteriorating ecological conditions and we’re still willing to sell objects of death as a way of paying for the high life. We don’t even live like we believe what we claim to believe. So if you want the world to be a better place consider asking what you can give instead of what you can get. Let your life be your prayer.

246 Relax and Succeed - Ego EcoI was once in a little store on Salt Spring Island and I heard a lady ask how much a hand-made hat was. The owner asked what the woman thought it was worth and the woman said $25. The store owner agreed to the price and the lady left happy with not only the hat but also with the authenticity exhibited in the purchase itself. After she left and I asked the owner what she would have been happy with, she told me $15. And she didn’t even have to compete for the other $10 because the other lady obviously thought it was worth it.

Both women felt they had been given a gift. Now that’s a win-win. And yet, despite you believing me about what living this way has the potential to do, you still feel resistance—don’t you? You still want your stuff and you’ve got narratives to justify why. That’s okay. You’re hardly alone. Just remember: that is ego. You don’t have to rush out and kill it. But whenever you can, watch it. As you come to realize that it is the bane of your existence it’s power over you will slowly dissolve.

Go live as though you’re an integral part of the world you want to see created. Because it is your actions and the actions of those around you that will cause that to happen. Forget ego. Forget ownership. Forget wealth. Forget status. Instead, look at your life closely. For if you do that reflection honestly you will easily recognize that your most rewarding joys throughout your life have not come from what you got, but rather from what you gave.

peace. s

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