Too

1230 Relax and Succeed - When you judge someoneThere were other smaller signs steadily after the accident, but it wasn’t until Junior High School that I started to have mature enough experiences that the differences between me and others was becoming strange. I was confused hearing people described as too…. Too tall, too fat, too talkative, too mean, too quiet, too untrustworthy, too smart, or their stories were too big.

I knew by then words were very important to how people saw the world, but it would be years before I would realise that everyone I was watching was taking their own thoughts seriously; that they had no separation between their thoughts and their life. I could only be in alignment with them using the word too if we had a context. There are just simply times when Simon is too big to fit through a hole, or Beth is too tall for the uniform. That I understood.

When I got confused was when someone used too when they spoke of someone else, away from others (gossip). With no context I didn’t understand how someone could be too anything. To what standard was the person measured? Who set it, and why is it there? Certainly I understood politeness was a form of social dancing, where everyone more or less knew their role. And I knew that culture was taught and that it evolved as it was passed from generation to generation, but to me those were like a communication system that gave people a starting place for each new meeting. But what was too?

1230 Relax and Succeed - To other peopleOf course, eventually I figured out that the thing they were comparing everyone to was their own personal ideal. It wasn’t even how they thought the other person could be a better person. The frustrations and demands and judgment was all about the other person doing what the person judging them wanted them to do. I went through those motions sometimes, but it never occurred to me to see my perspective on it as a universal truth.

If the want being sated was based on any personal gain, then I couldn’t identify with hurting someone else to elevate myself. But if the person was in pain, here again I could re-connect with people, because that was an experience I knew from my own life. In fact, to me, anguish was defined as a period of time during which I took my thinking too seriously. But once I felt better I was fully aware that my judgment was an illusory expectation painted onto that other person–it wasn’t the actual person. (This makes forgiving much easier.) Again, no one was too anything.

Too tall is statuesque to some. Too fat is cuddly to others. People that talk a lot take pressure off shy people. Mean people are often hurt people who have high degrees of empathy once they learn to get distance from their thinking. Quiet can be contemplative. Untrustworthiness can exist as a positive or negative force. Too smart is a form of deferential respect, and exaggerations are so common they’re why every 30 year old discovers that life isn’t much like we’d been lead to believe when we were younger. It’s much more… practical than that. In the end, we’re hunter-gatherers with a good imagination. We still need purpose, and we still experience our thinking as the world.

Listen today to your own voice. Don’t just form words, have the real you monitor what your ego says. Observe your own behaviour and recognise the ephemeral connection between thought and your daily life experience. You’ll still be you, making most of the same “mistakes,” (also known as being you). But increased awareness can prevent you from developing, reinforcing or sharing your judgments about someone else’s identity, because those will only ever be true within your own consciousness. We should free others from having to live in the shadow of our expectations. There are just too many of us making the request at the same time.

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 Casual Perfectionist

934 Relax and Succeed - I have taught that when error ceasesSubconsciously many modern people are striving for perfection. They won’t give themselves an off day; they’ll look at some skill they have and then compare themselves to the best person they know at that skill; they will rarely credit their successes and will primarily note their flaws. Sound like anyone you know?

Taken from the egocentric perspective of a disconnected being the quote above means that if you work at it hard enough some day you’ll have fixed yourself. You’ll be done. Complete. Finished. Impressive. But that’s not a healthy way to take the quote.

934 Relax and Succeed - How we see flowers“When error ceases” is the first portion I’d like you to focus on. They don’t mean stop making errors, they mean get rid of the idea that there is such a thing as an error. Is a driver making an error when they’re worried about all that weight and speed and skill so they’re looking just off the end of the hood? No. They’re learning. Learning is a series of missteps that helps us refine our path to success. So those aren’t errors. They’re just steps on a journey to knowledge.

Next look at “for what you are.” Because the healthiest way to dispel your idea that you can make mistakes is to not make a you at all. Just like the concept of an error, you too are just a collection of ideas in various contexts. Lose that idea of a Self and you lose the idea of mistakes because there’s no one to own them. On top of that you realize you never were an individual, you always were just a collection of constantly evolving beliefs that reeled through your consciousness and appeared to you on a screen called reality.

You know, you could just love where and who are right now. There are ways to be grateful in virtually any day. But to do that you have to give up the idea that you need to do something, become someone or obtain special knowledge. You have to know and fully believe that you are the best expert there has ever been for the living of your life.

934 Relax and Succeed - I am willing to let the love inAbandon your ideas that you need to be anything other than who you are. You hide because you think you need to be more. Maybe you hide with shyness. Maybe you’re always out there but all of your connections are intentionally superficial. Regardless, you do not need to hide anything or be anything. Yes there will be people who don’t like who you are. You want the right to not like some types of people too don’t you? So let them be and don’t think it’s your job to get them to like you or accept they’re wrong. Just be you and let your friends find you.

Take a big breath in and slowly let it out. Do it again. I’ll wait. I said I’ll wait. Breathe. Slow. Feel your body. Feel the air enter your lungs. Get Now. Those feelings, without the story of who they belong to, is the real you. Quiet that layer of judgmental desire-filled thought and free yourself to combine with the world in a strange but beautiful dance called life. It’s been waiting for you to love it because it wants to love you back.

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.

Going Deeper

We have ideas of ourselves. And we can look at our lives and find examples of us being that person. But how often are we that person? For instance, how far does our compassion extend? We can say we’re compassionate because we care about the plight of young girls in 674 Relax and Succeed - If it looks like a duckAfghanistan or Nigeria, but are we compassionate in our own daily lives?

This is never fun to confront, but our egos live by opinion. So you have an idea of who everyone you know is. You have a thought-based framework around which you interpret everything they do. So if you think someone’s snobby but they’re really shy, you’ll see all of their shy behaviour as snobby behaviour. That’s how the brain works. It fills in gaps it can’t see. And in an egos life the gaps are much bigger than the glimpses of any greater truth.

If you don’t like people it’s usually because you don’t like their solution. People’s actions are solutions aimed at the problems they perceive. So if you’re hungry you walk to the kitchen, open the fridge and get an apple. Problem solved. If you’re really hurt by something and you just don’t know how to react, you’ll copy whichever parent you witnessed do that same thing—and you won’t even notice you did it. Maybe that’s getting angry, maybe that’s getting sad or maybe that’s getting drunk. But you won’t recognize it as pattern-matching a caregiver. You’ll just be solving your problem.

674 Relax and Succeed - To be aware of a single shortcomingThese solutions extend much deeper as well. You can look at a girl’s clothes and behaviour at a party and see a slut, whereas you could incorporate more compassion so that if you told yourself any story about her it would be a charitable one. You could use her as a meditation—a study on separate realities and what it’s like to see the world from other perspectives. You could see her as a slut or you you could see her behaviour as being directed at solving her problem, which might simply be that she’s insecure and like many of us needs the approval of others.

If it were me and I was in a judgmental state of mind and felt myself doing that, the story editor in me would think backwards to what her problem might be. Why would that be her strategy? And in looking at her more closely and in listening to her talk maybe I would notice her large breasts and her innocent manner. I could imagine a young girl with a heavily overworked but dedicated single mother. Life with a kid is busy and tough and so guys don’t stay. But this little girl might have longed for a male role model as most kids do. And if she developed at a young age she would have realized that her physique could hold men’s attention. So long before she would have had any sexual feelings of her own she’s already mimicking sexualized behaviour 674 Relax and Succeed - Opinion is the lowest form of human knowledgesimply as a way of getting that time with male role models. So should she be judged and disliked because as a kid that was the approach that actually worked to some degree?

In another example of trading judgment for compassion—you might look at a slow-moving grey-haired bagger at the grocery store and think to yourself that he should quit if that’s as fast as he can go. And I might think, gee, most people that age have wanted to retire and yet this guy’s still working—he must have to. It must be his solution. Plus people his age have arthritis and yet he’s picking up stuff with his hands all day. No wonder he rubs them between customers. So I feel connected to the guy through compassion whereas egocentric thoughts build a wall between the other person and ourselves and this hurts us as much as them.

We have to become more generous. If we want more love we have to give more. You’ve got to get serious about this. You can’t just read this blog and post some quotes and that’s it. Enlightenment is a verb. It’s an action. And it takes you being far more conscious than just taking your own narrow interests into account.

Start thinking less about yourself and more about others. And do so from the perspective of compassion. Where you really meditate on the challenges of being a single mom, or all the challenges that would go into a special needs child, or a job that had you travelling every 674 Relax and Succeed - Humility is not thinking less of yourselfsecond week, or how difficult it would be to be morbidly obese or have a beloved spouse who was gravely ill. Noticing these realities will allow us to more easily see our own good fortune. And in seeing that we are immediately made grateful and grateful people are generous and kind.

Be grateful. Get out of your head and out of a constant alignment with only your own goals and aims and desires and start getting behind other people’s. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to have a good day if you seriously take action to invest in the objectives of others. Maybe that’s just letting them into traffic. Or maybe it’s something bigger. But no matter how big or small it is, both parties benefit from compassionate generosity so practice it with wild abandon. Because in the end any giving you do is like giving to yourself.

peace. s

Check out this video of people reacting differently to kindness and compassion and see how lost many of the “successful” people in our culture really are:

Managing Your Consciousness

I don’t know why you pay so much attention to the outside world. If you pay attention to your personal interior world you’ll see that when I say that you live within your consciousness I’m not speaking figuratively or metaphorically. As I’ve said before, Stephen Hawking’s body might have been bound to a wheelchair but his consciousness has touched the edges of the known universe. And that rule applies to all of us. We would all applaud a surgeon cutting our bodies wide open to repair us just as long as our consciousness isn’t present to notice.

658 Relax and Succeed - Not my circusBecause your emotional experiences take place in your consciousness via your thoughts, it is a beautiful thing to be able to genuinely wish the best for someone who would traditionally be categorized as an enemy. Because any hating or resentments or anger would be taking place in my consciousness not theirs. I would be experiencing it not them. So I can love an “enemy” and they won’t even know I’m doing it and yet it allows me to feel much better than I would if I was hating them. That’s totally in my control and the good thoughts are guaranteed to feel better than the bad ones.

Likewise, when other people are upset with you that’s something that happens in their consciousness. If you start to consider and re-think and wonder about their thoughts then you can injure yourself because now those are your thoughts too. People have lied about you to get things they wanted, or to accomplish things they thought were important, or to hide a mistake they made etc etc.. And people have given you credit for things you didn’t do, or they’ve had overly generous opinions—in the end, good or bad, every opinion of you is just that: an opinion. So there is no need for you to invest any of your lifetime in trying to manage the interior of everyone else’s consciousness.

Opinions are ideas about who you are and even the most detailed ones are based on shockingly little information when you think about the complexity of a human life and all of the reasons you did this or that thing. So someone can know someone for two months and decide they’re “slutty” when in fact the person is just going through the tail end of a divorce and it’s enormously common for most people to be a bit slutty during that am I still attractive? phase. So is that person casual about their sex or did someone see 1/10,000th of their life and paint an entire picture based on it?

658 Relax and Succeed - Never explain yourselfYou’ve all had this happen. There are all kinds of opinions out there about all of you and they differ wildly. So you can’t be all of those people so who are you? You are the thinker of your own opinion of you. You too have an idea of who you are. And keeping that version of you healthy already requires a lot of your attention so there’s no need to cripple your awareness by considering every other opinion about you.

In the end the closest thing to who you are is what you do under given circumstances. So pay less attention to what people think about you—bad or good—and focus on what your friends know about you by watching you live your life over time. Because most people’s judgments will have been gotten second hand so they can easily storm up and combine to “define” someone’s reputation. And yet those views are ultimately nothing more than a collection of thoughts in a collection of heads. Those don’t matter. Half the time people have misinterpreted your motives even if they do get some decent facts. So you can’t live your life trying to have a good reputation. You have to live your life fully as yourself, unafraid of judgment, because that is where real bravery, real character and real respect reign.

Now go have yourself an awesome day.

peace. s

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

The End of Defensiveness

We’ve all been there. There’s these moments in our past—these things we said or did either in the heat of a moment or out of confusion or a lack of maturity—and we really hurt someone. Or someone hurt us. Maybe they never properly understood due to the heat of the moment, or maybe they were confused or immature, Or maybe they’re reacting to something we never even did. Or maybe someone slandered or libelled us—leading others to believe things that are not true for purposes of their own. We’ve all got things we’re defensive about, be they things we really did or things that people believe we did that we didn’t do.

634 Relax and Succeed - Can all your worriesWhat happens is that we tend to re-live these moments in our life in vain attempt to rewrite them into something we feel is more honest. We want people to understand the state of mind we were in at the time, or we want them to have a perspective that is ours. So it gets replayed and replayed in our memory, turning those circuits into super-highways. The energy around our brain finds those like water finds low ground. So if someone hits on a part of our brain that we have spent a lot of time defending ourselves in, then it’s no wonder our reaction is quickly and strongly defensive. It’s our go-to reaction when we encounter that event, meaning people witnessing us in that state of mind are likely to come to the conclusion that we have overreacted to the current events.

So how do you get over a profound regret? How do you forgive cruelty and surrender the fight? These things visit you a lot because you think about them a lot. They’ll always be a part of your life experience, but they don’t need to be accessed that regularly. That’s what mental health is—spending time in the healthier parts of your brain rather than trying to retell a past narrative (or worry about a future one). So when you encounter those kind of thoughts you’re best to simply feel how lousy they feel and then respond very naturally to that feeling and set the idea down. It’s like a bicycle made of words. It goes nowhere unless you peddle it.

We’ve all had angry exes lie about us. And the people in school we bested. Anyone who was jealous of us—and if you’ve ever had a stalker they’re unlikely to say nice things about you. Anyone with opposing views will colour and hue any tales of you. And then there’s how our 634 Relax and Succeed - If you don't have enemieswork impacts our human relations. I used to be the head of creative at a TV network. I’d get over 1600 submissions a year and I had enough money to develop about 25 and shoot about 6 of varying sizes. 30 things out of 1600 got money before my budget was gone. So I disappointed a huge number of people and these creative works are understandably like children to them. So their very real feeling is that I crippled a child of theirs and it makes sense they don’t like it.

I’ve been slandered. I’ve heard rejected writers and producers tell complete fabrications that make me look bad, but an older wiser friend who had the same job with another network warned me about this eventuality. This happens in much the same way that anyone who’s ever been a boss knows that it’s unlikely that people we fired or scolded are going to be going around saying nice things about us. Which is why you can’t care. Because you still did what felt wisest at the time and you have requirements other than just nurturing their ego. So when people say that stuff—those people have agendas. Your ego would too if you started defending yourself. So don’t. Surrender to the inevitability and relax. None of that fluff ever affected your real friends anyway.

634 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes letting things goSure, when they initially happen those experience can sting. It feels unfair for people to describe us as exactly what we are not. That kind of thing hurts anyone. But the point of this blog is that you can’t let those inevitable events bother you. Even in the worst cases I won’t indulge thoughts about whatever’s happened to me for too long—maybe 90 minutes.

After the most recent attack I can recall happening to me, I called a friend and told him I needed an empathetic connection. He’s a wiser sort who knew to give me a quick connect via empathy and I was ready to move on. Forget about the events—I didn’t like the feeling I was experiencing so I switched to thinking about something more enjoyable. I wasn’t going to harbour discontent. I understand that people do that sort of thing all the time. I’ve done it. We shift responsibility for our guilt. Who wants to own that? So I accept that people are human and that egos all do some giving and we all do some receiving. But those experiences are painful, so I’m not interested in replaying them repeatedly. And nor should you with your versions of similar events.

The same applies to things you actually have done. I’ve written before about the eight people I was willing to hurt to elevate my own status. I wince every time I think of going for a laugh and sacrificing their feelings. I literally get physically sick with shame. I’ve found five of them and apologized. But rather than waste my life feeling terrible, I use the unpleasant feelings to 634 Relax and Succeed - Don't expect apologies on big betrayalsmotivate me to notice that if I’m bothered by hurting people then that’s actually a sign I’m a good person. I feel bad about doing something that hurt people. Only good people do that. And so I forgive myself because as I said, we all give and we all receive. And then I endeavour to do better. I don’t ruminate and regurgitate those thoughts. I leave them in my past and use them as platforms to build a bigger, better, more inclusive and loving me.

We cannot live with a desire to have a good reputation. Because that is impossible due to perspective: Gandhi was a freedom fighter to many but he was a terrorist to the British rulers in India. Jesus disrupted the Roman Empire. The Chinese want to de-legitimize the Dalai Lama. Extremely attractive people are often hated by other people. Smart people are derided for making less intelligent people feel insecure just by their presence. Everyone’s being judged unfairly. You have to go by your own character. That’s why it’s so important.

You can’t try to get everyone to like you, you have to find a way to be where you like you. Where you have a set of limits—a set of guiding principles that you apply to yourself as well as all others. And those limits define your character. If you’ve never really thought about those limits then you do not yet have character because character is what you believe in overall, not what you think about an individual circumstance. It’s why I 634 Relax and Succeed - Don't carry your mistakessometimes have to agree with people who are abhorrent to me. Because despite their hateful discourses, my character is that I value quality information. So I cannot dismiss quality information because of the source, despite my person feelings . Because character is above personal feelings.

Forget being defensive. Recognize your mistakes, apologize whenever you’re able, and forgive others their immature and cruel moves, and move on yourself. Move on to a new moment and a blank slate. Start fresh each moment with an aim toward realizing your character and you will have no reason to revisit your worst days for much time at all. Save yourself the daily agony and invest yourself in loving people today instead. It feels great and it’s probably the most productive thing you can do.

Love you all. Have a great one.

peace. s