Avoid Getting Caught

1234 Relax and Succeed - One day I woke upDespite our self-criticisms all of us are actually smart and capable. Our problem isn’t our potential, it’s our limits on that potential. The potential is always ready to go by nature. It’s not that we aren’t realizing it, it’s that we’re holding ourselves back by being tricked into going the wrong direction.

We should think of ourselves as a fish. Our three-dimensional world gives us the ability to move in any direction. Eating another fish would be like combining ourselves with another part of the universe and we would use the energy to grow even larger and more capable.

The ego-based world is more like bait. There’s some fisherman who lives in a world nothing like ours, and they’re going to pull us into their two-dimensional world and eat us up. Knowing the difference between bait and nourishment is key to our enjoyment of life.

1234 Relax and Succeed - We don't need anything more

Today, on each and every decision that we can recognise (we’ll probably identify less than 10% of them), we must ask ourselves whether the decision we made/are making was/is about more, or for better? Are we just trying to get more time, more money, more stuff, more respect, or more control etc.? Or was/is the decision about improving how we feel about our life?

We have very healthy feelings just before we quit a job we despise, or just before we end a taxing relationship. We’re giving up more for better and it feels good. That’s like flailing and getting the hook out of our mouth.

All day long we make these little decisions and brick by brick they build our world. So greater consciousness is critical, but to do this we need awareness. But our radar can’t learn to pick up that other 90% if we don’t start with trying to find the big, easy 10% that affects 90% of our life. We shouldn’t be working hard to save things that have no meaning.

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Nothing makes us wiser and more capable than learning to tell the difference between bait and nourishment.

No one really wins an argument. Achievements are always short-lived. Comfort breeds complacency. Ease makes us dull. Control crushes value. Money can’t buy happiness, status is fleeting and dangerous, and attachment destroys love. We can’t want more. We must seek better or our lives are an endless loop of consumption of people, things and places.

We shouldn’t get hooked and swallowed up by a two-dimensional world that limits our heights. Rather than forever seeking more–as though some gap in ourselves will be filled by achievement–we must all turn our eyes away from the collection of life and toward simply sharing in its remarkable abundance and beauty, because we sure don’t need much when the life we’re leading is rich.

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.

 

Owning Happiness

962 Relax and Succeed - Trying to be happyLife is living. It’s a verb. An action. A motion that appears to move us through time. Possessions are inert. They are inactive. They are still. They are not life. Where it gets confusing is that adults will invest living into working, and then using their thoughts they will apply the value of the relevant work to the actual possession. So an expensive thing is worth something.

The problem is, parents live with kids and kids don’t do that addition of value until they start working. In a way this is one of the most important designations of adulthood that a person will experience. It’s why kids are often seen to be unappreciative. They don’t mean to be. They just can’t do the math yet.

How this difference in perspective leads to suffering is quite simple: a parent or parents works hard at their job(s), they contribute to their society through their taxes so that they have roads to drive on, airports and ports, food inspection, police, ambulance and fire services, public universities etc. etc., and in most countries, free hospitals and medical care as well. Part of what’s left goes towards necessities: food, shelter etc,–and then there’s the stuff we notice.

962 Relax and Succeed - I want to rememberIt’s easy to forget that we helped build a road, it’s a little easier to remember that we’ve paid our mortgage but we really remember buying that new car, or our nice new clothes or our new electronics. Those are the things that most commonly have our work-soul invested in them. These are the things that are choices. These are often given the most value via our thoughts.

Because kids don’t have any way of comprehending this relationship they live in an entirely separate reality from their parents. They can know their parents work and that they get pay that gets spent on things, but those are all abstract ideas until you’re actually at work, getting paid, and having to buy stuff. So to kids life is life and to their parents life has often been translated into their possessions.

Having a reality that is too possession-focused means that breakage, damage and devaluation become reasons to suffer. Someone broke a vase so you’re angry; someone left a mess in the kitchen and made it look less beautiful than in magazines so you’re frustrated; the car is damaged in a minor accident that could have been much worse and you’re scared about the costs.

962 Relax and Succeed - Good moms have sticky floorsIt is a reasonable stumble into ego for us to suddenly think a flurry of frustrated thoughts when something we have valued has its value reduced or lost. But that fact is why it’s so important to not immediately react whenever possible. Let the chemical storm pass, breathe and then respond from a larger context: is this something you’ll still be mad at a day from now? A week? A year?

Find the living in your life. As much as possible invest in the living; in the motion. By thinking less and being more you will find the world will help expose just what possessions will truly bring you the most value as well as how to understand that value in a larger context. More importantly, that internal quietness will also clearly expose the connections with others that truly give life its greatest value.

Have a wonderful day everyone.

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.

Intentional Being

699 Relax and Succeed - I began to realize

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.

699 Relax and Succeed - Work is love made visible

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 cannot care about the sale itself because there is no subject and object in the present. There is no seller and no buyer. There is nothing to be bought or sold, and 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 in the present.

If we continue to care about that kind of 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. They’re signs you’re going the wrong way.

One day you wake up and realise, 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 instead of  a career you might hate in a few years.

699 Relax and Succeed - If you don't build

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 actual adulthood (which is about when your brain stops growing at around 26—no joke intended).

One of the people you can accidentally 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 when you were younger. 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.

699 Relax and Succeed - If you aren't making a difference

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 to 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.

To close, I’ve posted this 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:

 

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 Dose #65

670 FD Relax and Succeed - Are you trading

Happy Friday to you! So many people are so stressed by debt that today’s posts are going to be about how to live in a simpler, less stressful, more cooperative and more connected way than you currently are. Let’s start off with a link to an article in the BBC News Magazine by writer James Wallman, the author of Stuffocation: Living More With Less.

The Hazards of Too Much Stuff

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Now that we know our motivation, how do we get around the habits of our brains so that we can really do something about it? For this we’ll link to Lifehacker’s Patrick Allan for his piece:

How to Program Your Mind
To Stop Buying Crap You Don’t Need

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And let’s finish off with this nice little five minute Graham Hill piece on living with less stuff and more peace.

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You don’t need to be surrounded by things or status. Your friends love you when you’re camping and you have bacon beer breath and dirty clothes and you slept on the dirt in a bag. Have less stuff have more fun and remember, life isn’t for collecting, it’s for living.

peace. s

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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