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.

1234 Relax and Succeed - Nothing makes a fish bigger
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

peace. s

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

The Friday Dose #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

00 Relax and Succeed - Friday Dose Footer

Values for Living

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

peace. s

Easy on Yourself

When people ask me to define the psychological/spiritual advantage my accident gave me in just a sentence, I’ll often say that I saw things for what they were and that I didn’t mistake words for things. This is entirely accurate, but to be truly helpful it’s time I gave that statement a bit more detail.

647 Relax and Succeed - The most dangerous risk of allWhen you’re like me and you can see through words here’s the kinds of strange things you notice: people will tell you that they love progress and new things but you’ll note that they’ve just been brainwashed because in many cases the new thing is much, much worse for the person than the old thing was. The two best examples we have are so huge, and we spent so much money on them, that they clearly demonstrate our willingness to actually trade more for less if we’re told it’s an improvement.

Rolling Stone magazine did an entire issue surrounding the quality of MP3 recordings. Producers don’t like MP3’s because they hold less information than CD’s which limits their creative freedom in way it previous wasn’t, so music marketers sold the idea that this recording wouldn’t skip when you jogged or in your car, even though too few people jog and there were even fewer at the time, and I never remember anyone listing CD skipping as a major car issue. Besides, music is about listening to art. Why would we care more about convenience than the art itself? That’s like we’re doing with our food, where we’re starting to care less about it being tasty and nutritious in favour of it being fast and mobile, practically given to us in toothpaste tubes that we can quickly inject into ourselves as we rush from our 647 Relax and Succeed - Normal is getting dressedfirst job to our second or third. (You may notice that’s why the wrap is replacing the sandwich.)

Next, people used to press between seven and ten buttons on a phone to be in a position to actually hear the other person. We could hear their tone, their mood, and I never remember a couple coming to me because they were looking at ending their marriage over a phone call that went bad. But texting? I cannot tell you the number of times that the couple in front of me is there because of a 140 character facebook status, tweet or especially a text. So now we hit hundreds of keys and young kids are getting repetitive stress injuries all so that we can communicate in a slower, far less effective way. Sure, texts can be useful. But most people have replaced basic conversations with them and way more often than not the communication was either meaningless or it could have been done more quickly with a call and some voices.

Another major area I saw this related to my age. Just as I was growing up the fitness craze started. When I was a kid the only adults that went to gyms were professional body builders and boxers. No one else. But then automation started to take over, more people were driving, fewer were walking, food was beginning to be processed, so it was loaded with fat and sugar and people started to suddenly put on a lot of weight. So what my brain noticed was that all 647 Relax and Succeed - We buy shit we don't needof these people had worked to pay for conveniences that that in the end only incurred more time and more expense because now they had to get a gym membership. This weird insanity continued to the point where I saw a fitness club in my city where you could sit in the lobby and literally watch people ride up the escalator to the gym where they would go in, change and then pay money to climb fake stairs!

Our bodies were built over a long time to do specific things just like any animal. And if you start changing those things you will change the animal. So people are sold iNDEPENDENCE and in turn they get loneliness where they sit alone in front a screen looking at life rather than what they used to do, which is take the energy they used to have for joy and they would go out with their friends. But by 30-35 years old most people aren’t seeing their friends that much, but they’ll be likely to be working very long hours to pay for all of their conveniences.

This is all insanity. Your life isn’t better because your phone is better, or because your car is faster, or because your TV is bigger. You don’t enjoy the championship game 30% more 647 Relax and Succeed - Slavery has many different formsbecause your screen is 30% bigger. Sorry, the guy listening to the game on a radio is maxing out his excitement so there’s no beating 100%.

We’ve all been sold a bill of goods. We’ve been convinced to do things that, if we look at them closely, we realize have no real benefit to us. We’re working for weeks to get enough after-tax dollars to be able to buy the car model with Navigation because we have FOMO, even though we barely ever drive to anywhere we haven’t been before and even if we are, someone else can tell us how to get there just like before. So we work all of these extra hours to get this shiny bauble when in fact we would have drew more joy from some free time talking with a good friend.

We have to start doing far better accounting of our joy. Because we will quickly learn that the reason people go camping to quiet, remote, undeveloped places on their weekends is because it’s slower and it doesn’t include all of those conveniences. We want simplicity, quiet, and companionship. The healthiest people you know are the ones who eat like 100 years ago, who work their bodies like 100 years ago, and who have positive social relations not tons of likes.

647 Relax and Succeed - Imagine there is a bank accountYour life won’t improve if you just put your head down and watch the ads and do as you’re told. It really is crazy for you to spend your life stressed because you bought some expensive thing to impress people and now you own it, but it owns your joy. You have to start being slower and more judicious with your money. Because you give up a lot of life for that power to spend, so spend it wisely. Spend it on things that bring joy and goodness to your life, rather than things that—if you really stopped to think about it—really don’t make much sense. So stop hiring another kid to cut your lawn or shovel your walks when you’re in your basement working out. Because if you can’t see that’s crazy, then you’re very deep inside the illusion that the Buddha was warning you about.

Be free. Spend less on things and more on creating time. Ask yourself, does this create more time or less time? Because it might save an hour, but if you had to work an extra two to buy it, you’re actually an hour down. Remember: use after-tax dollars, not pre-tax dollars when figuring out what something costs your life. Because that’s the real measure, and it almost instantly makes many more things look much more expensive because that’s what they really are.

Here’s to your freedom. Here’s to more joy, more time with people you care about, and a more fulfilling life. Because no one was on their death bed asking someone to collect all of their stuff. No one is saying, just one last tweet, just one last selfie. No, they want to hold hands and look into the eyes of the people they loved. If they had more time it would be for that, not another social media post. So remember that while you’re walking around every day. Because if your attention is one place, it’s not some place else. And right now other people decide where your attention is more than you do and it’s time you changed that. Here’s to freedom and time. That’s real wealth.

Have yourself an awesome day!

peace. s

Save Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

peace. s