MoK: Redirecting Negativity

The March of Kindness is about making the world a kinder, safer, more loving space in which to thrive as a human being. We can do this by adding goodness to the world, but we can also accomplish this goal be removing negativity and replacing it with something more constructive.

We’re all too often willing to participate in gossip when we personally agree with it or view it as just idle conversation with friends or co-workers, but it’s far from idle. What people say about each other becomes their identity to a listener. And that can have extremely serious consequences.

If someone didn’t like someone else in high school and they end up getting a job at their company, the new person can be destroyed before they’ve even started because everyone’s been cued to only watch for pattern-matches to what they were previously told. We all say the odd dumb thing, but if people are on the lookout for that then suddenly the odd silly statement can turn into a person becoming dumb rather than just the statement, when in fact the person might be perfect for their job.

We’ve all been victims of it and it’s not like it improves as we age. Who hasn’t had a bitter ex spread lies about them? And the workplace can be just as vicious as the schoolyard. The way to identify gossip isn’t by whether you agree with it, it’s whether or not it’s negative.

If someone is commenting on or judging someone in any negative way then it’s gossip. Period. Unless you’re the person’s manager or teacher your personal opinion has no relevance to anyone but you, and even in the cases of managers and professors, the reasoning should be based on their alignment with the work, not with your personal feelings. A student or worker can be someone you’d never be friends with but that shouldn’t impact how you evaluate their work.

As the saying goes, loose lips sink ships. It’s not like gossip is a minor force in the world. It literally changes lives. It ruins companies and institutions, undermines science, and it can easily destroy lives. People have committed murder, suicide, vandalism and other horrible acts all based on gossip.

Talking is thinking out loud. Taking negatively about someone else is not healthy for the person doing the talking. It’s a sign of being locked into an ego-based, judgmental and superior perspective. The world is the world. It looks different to everyone. You’re not supposed to be going around poisoning other people’s views with yours. Your view is yours. Our personal opinions were never meant to be applied to the broader world. At our healthiest we should function from a position of principle, not opinion.

Today’s act in our March of Kindness is simply to spend the day actively listening for gossip. At work, at school, even at home and out. If someone offers a negative assessment of someone else, then our job is remind the people listening that there are other views. If they identify something they don’t like about the person, identify something you respect about them.

If someone says, Mindy’s always telling people what to do, you could add: We’re all different, and I don’t share her style of doing things, but I have noticed that what she wants people to do isn’t about her or anything selfish, her comments are usually focused on more or better work getting done. At minimum her heart’s in the right place.

Or if someone says, Did you hear that Jennifer’s dating Chris? What an idiot. You could respond, Well, we all like different kinds of people. Do we really want everyone judging who we love? I’m just glad they’re both happy. The idea is to take a negative and insert a positive. Double value if you normally would have agreed and joined in!

Don’t help sink someone else’s ship. Get your oar in the water and let’s make the world better by sharing more about what’s good about the world and less about what we don’t like about it. After all, mental health is really little more than having a rationally optimistic view of the world and the people in it. So let’s make gossip the enemy rather than people.

Have a great day everyone.

peace. s

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

MoK: Absorbing Shots

Today for the March of Kindness we’ll focus on negativity. Negativity itself is not a problem, it is a critical aspect of life. You truly cannot have up without down, nor happy without sad, so we don’t want negativity to completely disappear, but we also don’t want to entertain it for longer than is necessary.

Negative things are really nothing more than signals. Your freedom lies in how you respond to the negativity in others, and when doing this it might be best to think of something like tennis or ping pong as a metaphor.

If people express their negativity toward you it can be responded to in one of two ways. If you choose to meet the negativity in a hard, reflective way, that is like hitting a shot back. Someone insults you, so you insult them back. By meeting their shot with a shot of your own, you join them in the exchange of negativity. This will continue until one of the egos involved feels it has “won.”

If the person is responding to previous points they feel you (or people like you) have scored against them, they will keep hitting negative serves to you until they feel they’ve scored an equal the number of points. This is actually a healthy process that keeps relationships internally balanced so that resentments do not build.

The only way to shorten a game of negativity is to not hit a shot back. If you intentionally miss a shot fired at you, or if you strike it back weakly, this means the person has won their point and has less of a reason to continue throwing more negativity your direction. Again, once they feel they have won that game it will naturally end.

So how do we absorb a shot? It’s really quite easy: instead of responding with a hard argument back, we can instead offer the softness of kindness. But what does this look like in practice?

Say we’re in a class at school and someone tries to bring us down with a negative comment, we can simply respond with a compliment back. So rather than participating in the game of negativity exchange, you can toss the ball back with no intention of scoring a counterpoint. Eventually the person gets tired of you not playing and they stop serving to you.

In an office, if someone is being negative about something, you can choose to kindly find a way to agree with them rather than argue back. It can feel very counter-intuitive to not offer your best argument in return, but you can do that if you remember that real winning is when you dissolve the disagreement rather than beat another person.

Today in the March of Kindness our jobs are easy. We each make the world a lot better by finding at least three chances for us to offer kindness were you could easily offer disagreement. All you’re trying to do is find people who want to have a game of negativity but then you let them win. They challenge you for a seat on the bus and you offer it to them. They want that parking stall, it’s theirs. They want to dislike you or your friends, let them. Easy.

Do you see how generous that is? You’re offering to lose. That is so kind. That is what we do for very little kids. We understand they’re growing, so we let them beat us in games by intentionally avoiding our own best game. In those cases we’re more interested in the development of the person than we are in personally winning. We just forget that once we’re adults, but the effect is exactly the same.

Participate in the March of Kindness. Make someone else feel like a winner and you will have made the world a better place. Because there are no losers with kindness.

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.

MoK: Sad Kindnesses

1108-relax-and-succeed-it-is-not-enough-to-be-compassionateToday in the March of Kindness we’re dealing with sadness, which for the purposes of this discussion we’ll divide into two categories. The first is unwelcome sadness within ourselves, and unwelcome sadness in others, and the second is a welcome sadness in ourselves and/or welcome sadness in others.

Unwelcome sadness will have destructively overstayed itself. It could be anything from chronic to simply overdue for a change. In the case of longer term sadness, part of the challenge is that we will often have already overtaxed others ability to provide compassion, meaning our act of kindness can be to relieve that pressure from those around us.

This isn’t to say our pain isn’t necessarily valid, but we all must remember that everyone has their own visible and invisible challenges as well, so focusing too much on our own sadness can lead to a form of selfish disrespect for those around us. We’re unlikely to be the only people from whom the extension of compassion would be appropriate, and no one’s supply of energy for such things is limitless.

1108-relax-and-succeed-mok-be-kindChronic sadness can be a challenge for those around us because it becomes invisible through its consistency. Essentially, sadness becomes a personality trait rather than an emotional state. We and others can eventually accept a sad identity and we won’t attempt to change it out of respect.

If we’re one of the people who’s been locked into some form of long-running destructive sadness, we can add kindness to the world by consciously choosing to rescue those around us from having to talk, act and work around our personal own personal suffering for today. Rather than asking for energy we can emit it.

If someone is currently experiencing welcome sadness–that is, meaningful sadness related to a death or other very profound life event–then we can extend our kindness by avoiding the desire to rush the person out of their healthy state of grief. Sadness can accomplish important things of us, and often just assessing which is which in ourselves and others can be a very valuable awareness exercise.

1108-relax-and-succeed-mok-if-you-love-someoneToday, either enact your kindness by consciously removing your long term sadness from the lives of others, or practice kindness by exercising compassion regarding someone else’s temporary but meaningful sadness. What’s important is that this action is intentional and obvious. If you’re lucky enough to have no sad people in your life at the moment, feel free to use someone from the News.

The former can be the announcement of a commitment to choose positivity for the day, and the latter can come in the form of a simple expression of empathy that you’re aware that sometimes these experiences are necessary, and yet you want the person to clearly know that you do care despite the fact that you’re providing “space” for their experience.

These are both kind and simple acts that are not particularly socially awkward so this act in the March of Kindness will likely be easier for you than yesterdays. Don’t forget to stay conscious. This can be a very healthy form of connection.

Now go be kind, and then have a wonderful weekend. We’ll start again on Monday. But don’t think you can’t continue to exercise these first few forms of kindness over the weekend. Take care.

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.

Peace Within You

1092-relax-and-succeed-if-you-want-to-become-fullInvitations and violations. Invitations to love, to health, to compassion. Violations of love, of health, of compassion. That is the only two actions you take each day. Nonviolence, or violence. Embracing the soul or violating it.

Can you see that each exercise this week focused on a different aspect of reality? You see these as; how you speak to others, what you think of others, and what you think of yourself. But there are only others in the world of ego.

In the world of spirit reality is one continuous whole, as it is with a baby; where they can’t even recognise themselves in mirrors. They can’t think enough to draw ephemeral lines through reality; they can’t see themselves as separate. You need to think to be lonely. You need to think to be depressed. You need to think to suffer.

1092-relax-and-succeed-revolving-sun-moon-yin-yangAre you beginning to grasp the idea of yin and yang now? Your ego thinks it’s good and bad, but in reality it is nonviolence and violence, light and dark, this side and that side. It is necessary for reality to exist, and yet we are propelled by love and togetherness, which is why we feel unloved and alone when we’re in pain.

How can we create love unless there is space to create it in? And if this space can be filled with love, then it must begin with no love. If it is filled with violence, then it can become nonviolent. Nothing is wrong in this scenario. We are simply in motion. We are one. Your goodness is tied to badness. You cannot care for a loved one in pain unless the loved one is first in pain. You cannot fall in human love without also ensuring you experience the pain of love lost.

Yin and yang. Nothing is wrong. And yet you have a purpose. You get lost in the dark and you move toward the light.

1092-relax-and-succeed-extra-extraToday your meditation is to incorporate an appreciation for the reality of oneness into your daily life. You normally discuss the dark side. You complain, but you tell yourself you’re positive because you’re arguing to make you or the world better, but negativity is negativity. Love makes it better. Love doesn’t ask others to change. Love accepts and recognises the incredible value within each and every person.

The meditation looks like this; every time someone says something bad about the world your meditation is to find some way to not violate or deny their feelings, and yet convert the discussion to a more positive view. You also want to do this inside your own head, and you want to do it when you attack others and when you attack yourself, because in spiritual reality those are all one thing.

No matter how old you are the world has gotten massively better in your lifetime. The news and social media are products designed to sell you fear and loathing. They are violent forces in our society and both present a warped image of the world back to the viewer. There must be something wrong with you or your life if you need their product to improve or fix it.

1092-relax-and-succeed-the-world-is-full-of-good-peopleTo quote from a recent episode of Ideas on the subject of peace, the facts are quite different from your beliefs: The world has never been richer, healthier, better-connected, or safe. The number of conflicts around the world have dropped radically. 75 years ago it was 240 people per million who were killed in conflict, today only 11 people per million are killed in conflict.

At the turn of the previous century, 90% of the world was considered poor or very poor; today it’s 11%. 100 years ago 85% of the world was illiterate. Today 85% can read and write. Disease deaths are down or even eliminated. Even terrorism dropped by 15% last year. The news sells fear. The truth is that humans have done really well at caring for other humans.

You job today is to simply begin acting like you actually live in our current nonviolent reality, instead of the violent delusional world of ego and fear. If your eyes are truly open you will see evidence of this truth everywhere you look. Enjoy.

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.

Stolen Happiness

Scott’s tied up in a burlap bag, bound and gagged. I know this because I did it to him. I’m Stella, Scott’s evil twin. All of his stupid positiveness drives me nuts. I’m taking over. Let’s face it; life is crap and we all know it. There’s no getting out of this alive, it’s just a matter of how long and how badly you suffer until then.

I had some crook bilk me out of $400 last year. $400! Scott figures I should forgive that guy by forgetting about him. Screw that. I think about that jerk every day all day. I imagine how I’d get my revenge, I think about who could have stopped him so I can be mad at them too, and I imagine my life if it never happened and the comparison is agony, so no one can tell me that thief didn’t ruin my life. Just look at all of that!

The whole thing just stresses me out. Scott says I should change my focus so that I’m not giving myself stress-chemicals. Well maybe that’s what they’re for! Yeah, I know I’m not being chased by a sabre-toothed tiger, but maybe this exam for work is today’s version of a tiger. Don’t tell me I’m not stressed. I can list every single reason why.

1010-relax-and-succeed-lifes-not-fairIt’s not like I can look forward to a brighter future either. If anything it’ll probably get worse. Someone in my family must have broken a lot mirrors or walked under a lot of ladders because I’ve been plagued by bad luck all my life. Or maybe I just have more people stabbing me in the back. It’s not like you can trust people.

Scott believes you’re better to bet on the goodness in people, that it’ll lead to a better life than the opposite. Yeah sure. I’ll just assume this guy walking down the street isn’t a rapist. What’s he doing on this street? Why’s he walking? I know he’s a neighbour but he’s a creepy one. Look at him. He’s smiling. See? Creep. He just comes home from work and watches TV. There’s probably bodies in the basement or in jars somewhere.

Nope. You can’t risk dying just for some stab at a good life. Then it’s over. Then what? Then you have zero opportunity to actually get that good life you’ve been waiting all this time for. You don’t want to die bungee jumping or learning to fly or by asking someone to dance. Better to wait for the good luck others get. Once you have that you can start your life. For now it’s just too risky out there. You might lose some face.

1010-relax-and-succeed-12-symptoms-of-a-spiritual-awakeningScott claims our feelings of being hurt are some kind of interpretation we do with personal thinking. Interpretation? I don’t care if I was being treated badly, I still got dumped; I don’t care that I wasn’t home when it happened, someone robbed me; and I don’t care if I found out I’m cancer-free, I can’t believe they worried me so much with all of that unnecessary testing. People should show me more respect!

You can see why the world’s so crappy. The reasons are laying all over the place but you don’t see anyone doing anything about it. No one cares. The idiots. If they had half a brain they’d have some compassion. Well screw them. They’re in this sinking, stinking boat too. I can’t wait for it to sink. I just want to go to sleep. I find thinking about all this just so exhausting.

Here’s hoping your day isn’t as bad as mine’ll probably be.

STELLA

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 Karma Question

942 Relax and Succeed - How people treat youI’ve discussed this before in previous posts because the concept of karma is often perverted by the human ego. Rather than being about energy flow, if you Google ‘karma quotes’ you’re far more likely to see a museum dedicated to anger, bitterness and revenge.

Because people take the world so personally it’s hard finding a karma quote that hasn’t been converted into the Western idea that God’s watching and judging us. The closest thing I got was the Wayne Dyer one that nicely tightropes between the spiritual truth and people’s thought-based desire to have religion secure the concept of fairness for them. But fairness can’t work because in the spiritual world even your wishes count, so negative hopes for another person is still negative karma even if you think they deserve it. You can’t win with karma.

Because each person has an individual identity the concept of karma ends up inadvertently confused with the western concept of what comes around goes around when it’s really more like; we’re all in a pool together, please don’t pee more than necessary or just because the people around you are. In short the lesson is: be conscious about what you put out into this world.

942 Relax and Succeed - No act of kindnessRather than think of karma as some force that happens to you (a force you can possibly win some favour over), think of it more like a direction. So imagine a pool of water comprised of billions of microscopic H2O molecules all milling together. Can you see that if one molecule leaned in one direction that it would impact the other molecules immediately around it? The force of that lean could be called karma.

This force acts on those closest to you. A decent act in one city will only rarely impact someone else in a city half the planet away. But if you lean in and help someone in your community then that creates a tilt inside the person you’ve been kind to; they’re now more inclined to do something for you or someone else.

Due to that connected, cooperative nature can you see that all large movements of the water in the pool all begin with a single movement that is joined? Can you see that these movements cannot take each other into account and sometimes they will lose their energy and direction by smashing into other people’s opposing energy and direction? And do you see no one did anything wrong in that?

When we smash together as individuals we say we had a fight, or if a few people clash that’s an issue, and when huge groups hit each other we calls those elections. A large wave in the pool would be created by a great deal of cooperation. It’s important to remember that it’s possible to cooperate on creative beautiful expansive things, but it’s also possible to cooperate on ugly, divisive anger and blame. One is confidence and the other is fear.

942 Relax and Succeed - peace it does not meanStronger flows will create stronger turbulence. Waves of things like mass humanitarian aid can flow in one direction while waves of angry fascism flow in the opposite direction. But it is important to remember that in a wave it is the energy that flows not the water itself. A seagull will go up and down on the waves but unless it paddles it will not come to shore because the water it’s sitting on is usually sitting still even when it’s participating in a wave. So it goes with people. They aren’t this or that. That’s just where they’re currently floating.

Can you perceive the extremely subtle difference? Karma in your life is the energy of the wave and you feel that as your direction as you move either up or down. But these individualised ups and downs combine together and the waves that form are natural. Yes, it’s possible to be calm and have all of your currents flow below the surface but not all of the ocean can do that at once lest we encourage stagnation. No: change is necessary for growth. The movement is integral to life itself.

In the what comes around goes around model of karma you have to wonder what you did that was so terrible that you deserved what’s happening to you. Or, you have to justify what great things you did to deserve your good fortune or you’ll end up experiencing guilt. In reality you are just one leaning force among an infinite number. Yes you do directly impact things, but there are far too many leaning forces in this pond for you to ever say that you truly control your life.

942 Relax and Succeed - There is a huge amount of freedomYou control your life’s direction and that is worthwhile, but there are many other people who will impact and influence the karma you experience so it’s unwise to take its impacts personally. Stop always framing the world from positions of control. You keep looking for the right things to do; the smart things; the things that will lead to success when those concepts simply do exist in the real world. These are ideas but they are not forces. That is the illusion of thought.

There is no way to guarantee an outcome in life. The closest thing you can get is to be a conscious force as you function within this world.  Karma is collective and so you feel its forces, but karma is not something you get, it is something you cooperate with or lean against. Left, right, this way, that way; it’s all part of a larger cosmic movement. It is only the up and down motion that you too often mistake for your own success or failure. Surrender your individualised ideas of this world and be free.

You cannot escape karma but none of this is personal. You can only accept it as the very nature that you are a part of and live within. By accepting that, you too can begin a life of peace within this larger cosmic non-personal flow. May we meet there soon, together.

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.

Emotional Conversion

938 Relax and Succeed - When you have a choiceThere are people–maybe you’re one of them–who genuinely enjoy pain just like you might enjoy a foot massage. I know that seems odd to many of you but the only reason most of us have similar-ish likes is that we were all raised in a similar way. Add just one oddity to someone’s upbringing and they can easily end up liking something like being scared or in pain or in danger. This can happen based on even one notable but pretty basic experience.

There are people who get tattoos for the pain, work out for the pain, run for the pain, lift for the pain, there are people who enjoy piercings and S&M and BDSM, not to mention the people on Jackass. So that proves that people can take unpleasant feelings and somehow rewrite them to positives, and if they can then you can too. You can take the negative feelings you currently have and you can rewrite them into something enjoyable.

Anger is a reaction to a fear. Find out what fear is holding your back and realise that your growth is on the other side of it. The place where you expand is outside of your comfort zone. So to develop a skill of any type you must be willing to fail and be wrong. But those are also the steps that lead to ability, so rather than be afraid of failing and being angry about having to face it, we could convert that feeling into the big, confident sensation we get when we know we’ve prepared well.

938 Relax and Succeed - Until we have met the monsters in ourselvesSadness is a reaction to disconnection. The sadder people are the more their discussions are sad and the less people are motivated to listen. If the person is sad long enough people surrender hope they’ll change and they just see them as a generally sad person. But if someone can’t help their friend’s sadness and low energy and they’re no fun to be with then it makes sense that disconnection will eventually happen. It’s healthy for the healthy person to disengage.

If you’re the sad person you can use those departures as fuel for your negative self-defeating narratives or you can see it for what it is: information. It’s no surprise that people hang around other people who are fun and interesting and people who are sad all the time are neither. By enjoying yourself you’ll attract other happy people and that will create more connections and a greater sense of belonging and happiness. But to do that you have to be out there.

Keep in mind you can also pervert good feelings into pain. I know people who hear about the struggles of others but don’t care at all. Their lack of empathy robs them of the rich feelings that go with connecting with others. Some people care but they don’t really give it much consideration so they skip over some bad feelings but they miss out on the good ones too. And then there are people who are tortured by the plight of the less fortunate and they are angry, hurt and largely ineffective.

938 Relax and Succeed - Some people want it to happenThose angry hurt feelings could be wonderful feelings of rich connection if they were converted from thoughts about how things should be into actions of leading to how they could be. Your compassion is worth far less to you if it’s not going and helping out and connecting with friends or helping at a shelter or something somewhere where you can convert your compassion into a wonderfully meaningful shared experience.

Just like with pain we can use compassion to hurt ourselves or we can use it to teach ourselves to consciously enjoy a rich life. The choice is ours.

Feelings are feelings. You tilt them with your thinking. Anxiousness can be excitement. Worry can be potential. Fear can be determination. Sadness can be connection. It all depends on what you actively do.

peace. s

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

The Friday Dose #107

905 Relax and Succeed - You are the universeI see a lot of really wonderful people who struggle with the suffering in this world. This is of course only a sign of your empathetic connection to others. If we’re witnessing pain and we succeed in avoiding the creation of any judgments, then it’s quite natural to recall our own experiences of similar pain and therefore experience a very personal sense of compassion within ourselves.

The issue is, because modern society is addicted to critical over-thinking, people are turning an empathetic connection in one moment into a narrative that rides over top of many other unrelated moments. So when you’re at lunch with co-workers you can talk about science or nature or sports or business or your hobbies, so it’s important to recognize that discussions about the problems of the world are unhelpful, energy-tapping choices.

No one stopped a war from the lunchroom at work. But you can be gracious when a co-worker makes a mistake. You can be patient with people who don’t understand something as well as you. You can let people into traffic, give a compliment or do someone an unexpected behaviour. The world’s issues are due to the actions of the entire society. None of us controls society, but we can all take ownership of ourselves and then engage with our fellow Earthlings using compassion as a common connection.

It’s a great message from a wise man. Enjoy the video.

peace. s

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

The Friday Hoax: Lessons in Misery

It’s April 1st, so I thought I would do a reverse-post. Rather than telling you how to have a rewarding life, I’ll focus on how to be miserable. It might be more illuminating than you imagine. Ready?

897 Relax and Succeed - You should text himIf you would like to be miserable you must be prepared to be committed. Suffering requires much more dedication than peace. It’s not a natural state, you must create it with your will and determination. Otherwise each new moment is like an open net through which all of your bad feelings can escape. You must aggressively re-capture all of your negative thinking if you hope to maintain sadness, anger, bitterness, resentment, guilt, anxiety or fear for any duration.

Since your natural unthinking state would be peace it is important to be vigilant. Think often and think a lot. The longer you can go all day and still stay talking to yourself the more in ego you’ll be. It’s easily dissatisfied with what its critical comparisons of virtually everything and everyone, but if you don’t turn that disappointment into emotional chemistry you can experience what’s the point?

If you want to be release this painful chemistry you have to be prepared to invest a great deal of your time thinking about–and telling others about–your misfortune. You don’t have to have more misfortune than anyone else–in fact statistically, sad people often test as more fortunate than happy people. You can easily have lots going for you and you can still ruin it. You’ve got guilt, self-hate, tragedy-stretching, blame, even basic complaining.

897 Relax and Succeed - You miss 100Even the most dedicated person can get really tired of thinking of new things to complain about, so it can be helpful to find something in your past or future to feel bad about today. Future worries and fears are great because they can convert to anger the fastest. While the past may seem more finite with fewer opportunities, in reality it’s just as open as the future.

The way your memory works is that you essentially rewrite it every time you revisit it, and any memories that brush against your old ones can also influence them too. Memories can easily be adjusted to be better or worse than the event that took place. You can even remember things that never happened. It’s up to you, but you can guess what the people really good at misery choose. They remember bad times. Often.

One of the best ways to use memory for misery is to find someone in your past–an ex lover, an ex boss, a bully at school–someone that there’s no real reason for you to think about, plus your thoughts about them are very consistently painful. There’s your answer. Drag them into your daily thoughts for weeks, months, years or even decades and you have one of the easiest and most effective routes to a bitter and wasted life.

897 Relax and Succeed - Friends are like potatoesIf you can, find an angle to play that can last a lifetime. You can turn that into a broad identity. This is very valuable because initially others can be annoying by rallying around a sad person in a foolish attempt to cheer them up. If you’re able to dodge this by resisting their kindness then you can really set yourself up isolation, which in turn helps you fortify your very deep and effective identity of suffering.

The very best route to long term suffering is victimization. By placing yourself in that state of official suffering you remove people’s ability to motivate you toward something better. Victims and the afflicted are given a hallowed status in our society and it’s possible to play that like a fiddle if you’re good at it. Any story will do but, whatever you do, don’t go competing in the Olympics if you’re lucky enough to end up with a story as good as being in a wheelchair.

Victimization and misfortune work really well to keep happy people at bay and thereby protect you from their influence. Even better; your dedication to your sadness will eventually attract other sad people who recognize your skills. Just watch yourself find each other at parties! You’ll be able to turn nice events into sad ones in no time at all if you have help from someone good at commiseration.

897 Relax and Succeed - People inspire youKeep in mind, the world will be conspiring against you at all times. Positive, happy, life-affirming events happen at a much, much faster rate than the negative and unpleasant ones, plus there are dangerously happy people all over the place. These improvements in the world are seen in the form of steady drops in crime, lower infant mortality, increased life expectancy, real incomes, food supplies, health delivery etc. etc. etc. The world is getting massively better so you’ll have to really focus to convince yourself it’s getting worse. Facebook, the news and some negative friends can really help in that regard.

Bottom line, suffering takes effort. If you’re not prepared to replay non-stop useless negative self-critical narratives, then maybe you’re not cut out for sadness. If you can’t walk around with crazy-high expectations then being angry all the time may not be for you. If you can see that things really are getting better then you should lower your hopes for a miserable life.

You can do it. I have faith in you. The real question will be what do you do from here? Take the easy route and have a great day, or prove to us you really mean it by reinforcing a negative identity as many times as possible between now and bedtime. The choice and power are yours. Use them wisely Young Skywalker.

The Sadness Guru

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

The Apology

895 Relax and Succeed - I wonder which mistakeAre you happy about your ability to be energy-aware yesterday? Were you able to see people’s dealings with you as experiences they were having rather than ones you needed to have? Were you, like a matador dodging a bull, able to turn your ego aside and allow someone’s aggressive thought to pass by? If you succeeded in that, then congratulations. Practice that skill and you’re a long way towards improving your life substantially.

“Letting” someone be angry with you, or be sad or upset around you does require us to keep our ego at bay. But what about inviting them to be upset? What about reminding them of something unpleasant or painful? What if you had to demonstrate your spiritual and psychological strength by apologizing for something?

This is one of the most generous acts you can participate in. You know that from receiving them. It’s shockingly rare. Egos have no interest in that responsibility, whereas your soul lives somewhere where that storm is taking place in a sky so vast that you can both recognize it and see it for what it really is–an act like any other.

895 Relax and Succeed - We rise by lifting othersYou are not being judged. You do not get points or a reward for doing the right thing. This isn’t about you appearing noble or fair or any other thing. Those are all ego-achievements. This is less about an achievement for your soul and more like an awakening of it. You’re not on a ladder of development and apologizing is higher up the rungs than where you are. The reward in life isn’t where you get to, it’s about how connected you get.

Apologizing is a form of connecting and when you’re getting mentally healthier it becomes less scary and more rewarding. Think about how good it feels to get one. People remember these things for their entire life.

I’ve already explained that you don’t pay a price for not apologizing–it just means you’ve stayed asleep. Many do until just the moments before death. But being awake and truly alive is the most vibrant, rich and rewarding life you can have. It’s a wonderful world where even your mistakes lead you to greater connections with the rest of the universe.

895 Relax and Succeed - Apologizing does not always meanThis is a guru-act. You have to be Buddha-like to pull it off. You have to truly have understood your own mistake so well that it loses its personal nature. Even if it was an intentional act, you must see your act as misguided thinking and that it was never about the other person. You must see not only their innocence, but yours as well.

Once it can be seen as an innocent collision at a psychological level we become less focused on the details of the story, instead we simply see innocence and suffering, and as wise and aware people we thrive on finding opportunities to unify with the universe. We feel secure in our own being and we simply want to help–to connect.

So screwing up with someone is like getting a chance to connect spiritually. Except when most people do something they later feel was genuinely out of sync with their spirit, they compound that by feeling regret or guilt for long periods of time. Meanwhile the other person is thinking victim-thoughts. Now we have two people lost in the wrong kind of thinking. Angry ones and guilty ones. Better that thoughts drop in favour of connection.

895 Relax and Succeed - Let your light shineSee clearly. Accept yourself at a low point. Okay, so you did something you wouldn’t repeat. That’s evidence you’re a good person (a “bad” person wouldn’t care). You know it would feel better, it’s just scary. But even if they have a bad reaction, that won’t last long and it won’t leave you worse off than feeling guilty. At least one of you is clear-headed.

Find something you’ve done that you genuinely feel was a mistake. Take that thing, see the form of your innocence in causing it, and then contact them and offer the apology. It’ll be like jumping off the high diving board for the first time at the pool. It feels genuinely scary when you first start doing it, but pretty quickly you learn that the reward for facing that is one of the most liberating feelings you can give yourself.

See if you can give that feeling to yourself today. Pick the person and apology within the hour and make the apology before the end of the day. You can do this. Go for it.

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.