Mental Health Assignment One

1068-relax-and-succeed-let-go-of-your-cup-of-yesterdayOne of two things happens. Either you’ve already failed at your traditional New Year’s resolutions and you’re happy to restart, or you’re a person who’s more rigid about your commitments and so it feels weird to start this coming Monday instead of on the 1st. But then, that was secretly my first lesson to you….

Who cares where the planet is in relation to the sun when you decide to make changes? Why is the 1st important? Or why target 365 days? You’re not a planet, you’re a person. Your life happens in moments and you can enact health in any moment of any day. Someone you love may be dying and yet you can still feel grateful that their doctor is so good. So remember: you don’t succeed or fail all at once. Each moment is its own opportunity. Every new moment is a restart in the world of mental health.

I want to state that very clearly once more to make sure you’re going into this in a healthy, productive way: the people who are happier, more productive and more connected than you all still have death, disease, accidents, heartbreak, betrayals and trouble to deal with. Seriously. You don’t improve your life by making those things go away.

1068-relax-and-succeed-dont-carry-your-mistakes-aroundYou need to take today and really dispel the idea that you can truly “succeed.” If a champion athlete hasn’t won their first championship yet, are they succeeding or failing at the gym? Or, if they never won a championship but they met their partner at an athletic event, was that succeeding or failing? Did you really want the trophy more than the spouse?

Also, anticipate that it would be very weird if you won 100% of the time. That would be so boring you wouldn’t even do that. Otherwise, why aren’t all of your games against people you know you could beat? Without challenge life has no flavour. We’re not here just to burn calories. We’re here to live, and that means overcoming challenges and growing in capability as a result.

Anticipate days where you’ll struggle. Accept them as valid stones to step on as you cross the water. It’s true, they’re slipperier and more likely to cause to go in, but there’s also no way to move around the lake of life without stepping on some. And you get better as you go. Again, everyone deals with those, even the people whose lives you think are fantastic. They just don’t take a fact and then make it worse with a bunch of fearful thinking.

1068-relax-and-succeed-your-past-mistakesSo what do you do with the fearful thinking? Well that’s the thing, if it’s fearful generally your words are running away with your psyche in your head. You need to employ some detachment. Understand that your thoughts will lead to brain chemistry that will match your thoughts. The trick is, they’ll also appear to you to match the situation, so that’s where you’ll get confused.

That brain chemistry and your emotional reaction are not coming from the world and they are not happening to you. (Read that again.) Your emotions are from your thinking and they are generated by you. Most people leap to thinking that should mean that if they’re your thoughts that you should be able to change them whenever they want. Except those thoughts aren’t yours in the way you currently believe they are, but that’s too much to explain now. You’ll just know that when you’re thinking dies down enough so don’t worry about it. That will happen naturally.

1068-relax-and-succeed-success-is-buried-on-the-other-sideSo here’s your assignment: all you need to do today is to find two or three short biographies of people you admire; people you consider successful. And then read through them and note how nicely all of the really hard, painful parts are written about. “After overcoming that challenge so-and-so poured their heart into their new album…” Oh wait, you mean that rock star had to go through the pain of a divorce to write those great songs? Find their pain. Make them more like you, because you’re more like them than you realise.

Do it. Find the bios. Read them on Wikipedia or in an article. Just take some down time that you would have used to shop or surf the internet and instead do this and start your route to better health. Do the work to dispel the quiet lie you’ve always told yourself. The people you want to be don’t have better lives than you, they just have more control over their thinking. That is a do-able task for all of us, so you can relax until Monday. We’ll start there and we’ll get you where you’re going one moment at a time. Have a wonderful weekend.

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.

Resolving to Change

1065-relax-and-succeed-your-teacher-can-open-the-doorYou really can do it this year. The reason your results will be different will be because you’ll be using a completely different approach. All we need to do is chart a clear, simple path into the new year. We want small, daily steps so that nothing feels overwhelming and yet over time you finally start getting somewhere.

To begin you need to accepting some fundamental ideas. They’re not difficult, but they are a bit radical because; rather than being things that you understand, these are things that you enact, or do, or even better: be. Idea One: Forget trying to understand, you already know. You need to act.

People tend to think they’re on a ladder, and they imagine that when they get to a certain height that the ladder ends and they can suddenly see in every direction and then it’s all clear going forward. That’s what they think enlightenment is. But up and down is an ego thing, and enlightenment isn’t really up from ego, it’s more the other side of it. The real you is like the light that travels through your thinking and forms the shadow that is your ego. You’re not trying to escape it, you’re trying to understand it.

1065-relax-and-succeed-the-ego-is-a-veilRather than being on a ladder, imagine you’re standing in a beautiful and sometimes dangerous landscape. Ego is like walking around in a blindfold. Enlightenment is merely taking your blindfold off so that you can make sure your individual steps are as good as they can be. You want to walk near the flowers and streams, not near the sharp rocks and thorns.

Idea Two: regardless of how clear your vision is, there are places where you can be cornered by cacti and the only way out is to get poked. That’s nature, that’s life. Those places are a part of any healthy garden. But if you’ll allow that reality then you get to take your blindfold off. There’s not that many places where you’ll get completely trapped, and at least with the blindfold off you won’t be you trapping yourself unnecessarily.

So there’s the two things you need to accept to begin: that things can’t be perfect, but having accepted that fact your only job now is to actually enact your mental and emotional and spiritual health as an action in your own life. Forget trying to understand, live your wisdom instead.

Each week I’ll start us off on Mondays with an objective designed to increase your understanding, peace and strength. These will be simple actions that will expand who you are as a person over time. We’ll finish off this first week with some preparation and then next Monday we’ll begin with the actual assignments.

1065-relax-and-succeed-surround-yourself-with-people-who-talk-about-visionsI would recommend you find a partner or group to undertake these exercises with. It will help a lot if you can avoid gossip and instead meditatively discuss your results and also learn from each other’s experiences. We’ll also try to use a little friendly competition to keep you on your awareness toes.

So this is it. You can do it if you want to. Or you can distract yourself with more ego-focused types of temporary satisfaction. You can shop, or binge-watch or get high. You won’t get judged either way; you can live either life. But if you want to travel the path that fewer take, the one deeper into the garden, then these posts can hold the signs that guide you along your journey.

Now relax and enjoy or accomplish things in your own life for the rest of the day. You have no self-improvement required until you read again tomorrow. Then you’ll have a simple task and then your trainer will let you off the hook and you can relax or accomplish things again. These little tests often won’t seem like much. But over time these steps absolutely will take you where you’ve been wanting to get to.

We’ll cover a few more arrangements over the next few days and then on Monday you begin. The commitment to do so is the first part, so congratulations on that already. Happy New Year. Thank you.

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.

A New Beginning

843 Relax and Succeed - Being in a hurryAre you ready? We’re all going to make the slow-motion resolution. We’re going to undertake a weekly series of easy, enjoyable practices and meditations that will increase our peace and awareness and from that place other changes will start happening naturally.

These exercises will be designed to be manageable for your life and for the most part they’ll also be fun. Mondays I’ll set out the meditation. Tuesdays and Wednesdays I’ll offer a relatively short discussions to expand on the original idea and Thursdays will be reserved for any announcements. (I need to drop a writing day to create more time to work on the books that are being edited.) On Friday’s I’ll still put together a Dose but it will change slightly in structure.

To start this week’s meditation tomorrow you’ll only need three things. A notebook and something to write with that isn’t a keyboard. A pencil or pen–it has to be tactile. Then figure out when your quiet time is. It is much preferable that this process is done first thing when you wake up, while your mind is still clear and you can intentionally establish it’s awarenesses for that day. It’s why almost every successful writer I know–especially those with small kids–starts at either 5am or 6am.

843 Relax and Succeed - If you know meAs you achieve more peace you’ll sleep better, have more energy and you’ll naturally eat better. So get your book and pen, find your time and tomorrow we’ll start. This will be a gentle easy year-long process so if you have friends that also want to make big changes then this is the time. Share this with them and they can start with the rest of us.

Once that you see that most of what’s holding you back is your use of your consciousness you’ll simply and easily make the shift toward a better quality state of mind. It isn’t hard when you know how to do it and learning to do it isn’t hard either. It just takes practice. As you start to shift you’ll also positively impact most of the people who deal with you every day and if you have mammals as pets they’ll pick up the difference too.

This is all about mental health, spiritual development and the maximizing of our potential. You all have an amazing amount to offer this world. I’m thrilled to think what the world will look like when we’re all pointing our fantastic energies toward making our lives and the world much better.

843 Relax and Succeed - Our deepest fearFeel as you may about Kanye West but I agree with him when he urges people strongly that, rather than tell him he shouldn’t feel special despite the fact that his life demonstrates he is, we should do as he strongly suggests and feel great about ourselves too and as a result we’ll start finding bigger dreams to bring to life.

You don’t start off broken with some obligation to fix yourself. You’re here to grow. Do not attack who you have been. That person did the best they knew with what they knew. But take this year to find peace and inspiration. Do these meditations. Then be bold: say yes to invitations until you find people and activities that feel good to be around. And then trust your feelings and pursue them. It won’t remove all the pain from your life–every life has pain. But as long as the rewards are far greater it just doesn’t matter. You can have a wonderful life. Let’s go get it.

I’m really looking forward to this. Happy start to your year everyone.

peace. s

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

Other Perspectives #49

591 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - This will be my year

It’s a good thing to be excited by your future. What you don’t want to do is go so far as to develop an attachment to it going well. If you get attached to the idea that your year will go great then you’ll inevitably be disappointed because a year’s a long time and life’s always and for everyone a mixed bag. You can easily avoid that disappointment by anticipating rather than expecting the year to go well. Obviously you won’t enjoy every individual collection of moments, but if you’re focused on realizing rather than just having a better year then you absolutely can. You just have to live assuming that something good is coming your way. Just don’t be specific and expect. It makes all the difference in the world to live knowing that you will be fortunate. Because what you watch for is what you’ll see, so it’s important to remember to keep a keen eye out for things to be grateful for. This is also why pessimists have so much evidence for pessimism—they’re also looking for what they perceive is confirmation that they understand the world. But again, the only truth to see or understand is the truth behind the fact that you simply see what you look for. So don’t expect a good year, look for it. Be like an archaeologist who digs for happiness. Because what pessimists fail to notice is that optimists live in the same places as pessimists yet their views are much more enjoyable to the optimist than a pessimist’s views are to the pessimist. So choice has everything to do with it. And you can absolutely use the new year as a marker for when you consciously chose to change your life by simply acknowledging, on a routine basis, more of the legitimate reasons for you to feel genuinely grateful every single day.

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.

Changes for 2015

I hope you like the annual redesign to not only the blog, but the facebook, twitter and tumblr pages as well. In terms of the blog specifically, each year I’ve tried to tweak it to suit what you’re telling me you’re finding most valuable. I also try to make sure that it leaves me with enough time for my speaking engagements as well as my phone or in-person clients.

590  Relax and Succeed - You must be the changeBoth The Friday Dose and Other Perspectives series have proven very popular, so the collection of thought-distractions that is the Dose will stay active on Fridays, but for 2015 the Other Perspectives rebuttals will shift from Saturday to Monday. As before, on facebook, twitter, tumblr and pinterest I will post a Blog-of-the-Week on Sundays that will feature the most popular blog from two weeks previous. Other than that I will simply continue to find quotes and memes that I see people posting but not really thinking about. By expanding on these everyday statements I will hopefully be helpful to you in achieving insights that help you live and even more rewarding life.

Thanks for a great year last year. It was wonderful to have so many readers become students and it’s been a pleasure working so closely with you as you continue to develop in your understanding. Here’s to a year filled with appreciation and wonder for the entire world. If we approach 2015 that way then we simply cannot lose.

Happy New Year everyone.

peace. s