Following Your Calling

1245 Relax and Succeed - The things you are passionate aboutWhen a dictionary describes a calling they say something along the lines of, “a strong urge toward a particular way of life or career; a vocation.” Despite this definition most people get confused about how to recognise their calling or path because they too-often see it as strictly work-related, which confuses the perception process.

Yes, it’s good if you have a vocation; something you’re particularly well suited to, or something that you enjoy doing. But your calling doesn’t know borders like work and social. Your calling always impacts you because it’s a kind of compulsion.

It’s rarely the kind of thing you can explain to another person using words. It’s too subtle to be hacked up into individual pieces. That said, I’ll do my best to describe how you can find yours, and the value in trusting it.

1245 Relax and Succeed - If you don't follow your heart

When people feel like they have made a bad decision they know it because they tell themselves so in their thoughts, and the amount they do that will impact how much they feel the suffering. But people with a calling don’t ever ask whether something’s enjoyable or perfect or even as-described. They simply do it because there’s no other choice. It’s the same reason people don’t like being called hero after doing something heroic. They know full well that they had no choice–they were called to act. To not act would be more painful than to act.

You can see this in jobs and relationships. Once the pain of the job outweighs the value, the person can leave quite easily. But before that there’s a lot of ego-weighing going on. With a calling there’s no weighing because it’s irrelevant. It’s like telling someone who wants to be an Olympian that it’ll mean working-out all the time. Obstacles have no effect except to invigorate a response.

For the driven athlete it’s still a price, but it’s not a problem because it is a step on a journey they feel called to take. It doesn’t even mean they’ll make the whole journey. They could get the flu during the Olympics and ruin their chance at a medal. But they did not ruin their chance at enjoying life through having followed their calling. The Olympics last two weeks. The preparation often takes more than a decade1245 Relax and Succeed - It is only couragePart of the pain of leaving professional organized sports is that athletes must take on a singular approach to life when previously their dedication lead them to make themselves subservient to the needs of the team. Notice that: they permit their freedom of choice to be taken away in service to their calling. They feel they need to do it as a part of who and what they are.

It’s the same reason a leader feels comfortable making a decision for a hundred thousand employees. If that’s their calling, then they feel comfortable just like the athlete. It does not mean they’ll win the Olympics or an election or keep their CEO job, but they’ll be fully invested when they try. So will the guy who surrendered into his calling to become something that others wouldn’t see value in. It doesn’t have to be notable to be your calling.

Many people think it’s crazy that I’d work so hard to build such a beautiful home only to sacrifice it so that I can care for my parents. People say “put them in a home,” but that’s not what they want and I love them, and so I offered because I felt called to do it. The fact that it isolates me and is often boring, and that it prevents me from working as much as I’d like; in the end none of that personal “pain” matters. The price is irrelevant. I feel called. To not do it I would have to not be me. I always listen to this pull even when others think it’s crazy. That’s freedom.

1245 Relax and Succeed - Some beautiful paths
Path

Don’t ask yourself what the perfect job or person or life for you is. Ask instead what do you want to do even when it’s hard? What would you do if you won the lottery or if you had to squeeze it in between three other jobs?

When you’re looking for your calling you’re not looking for joy or ease or wealth or fun. You’re looking for inspiration, effort and reward. You’re looking for something you’d make sacrifices for. For some that’s trading gridlocked traffic for the freedom of being a courier with no boss hanging over their head. For others it’s surrendering a successful life to care for a loved one. In the end it’s the same thing.

Stop looking for appealing things and start looking for things you’d pay a price for, whether that’s in the realm of a job, relationship or even a hobby. The appealing parts of life are for your ego, but the rewards in our lives don’t come from that basic attraction, the rewards come from the kind of devotion that exacts a price.

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.

Friends and Enemies

952 Relax and Succeed - Appreciate your rudeYes, appreciate your rude/blunt friend for being real. And appreciate your shy self-deprecating friend for preferring to hurt themselves rather than hurt you. And appreciate your angry aggressive friend for wanting to rush to your aid. And appreciate your quiet friend for not wanting to give you the wrong advice. And appreciate your oblivious friend because they have something else to focus is on and if that’s a good thing it’s motivation for you, and if it’s something bad then it reminds you you’re not alone in your pain.

Of course you can see the blunt friend as rude, the wounded one as a self-centred victim, the angry one as negative, the quiet one as being unhelpful, and you can even be mad at the oblivious friend because their life is going so great in comparison. These choices regarding how you view people happen with everyone you meet. The ones you choose to see like the first paragraph are your friends. The ones you choose to see like this second paragraph are your enemies. That’s also why some of your friends are other people’s enemies and vice versa etc. etc.

952 Relax and Succeed - When you judge anotherPeople have names but they’re not consistent. Everyone ebbs and flows between strength and weakness, awareness and ego, peace and suffering. Nirvana is not when you reach a place where everything is always easy and beautiful, it is a place where you have attained the wisdom necessary for you to know in your heart that the world will be as you choose to see it, and in so being it always has the potential to be beautiful.

You cannot live within this beauty because beauty must have a definition and a definition cannot exist without things outside of that definition. Without ugliness you cannot have beauty. Light and dark, hot and cold, happy and sad, friend and enemy. Without not-path you cannot have a path.

Your job is not to become a spiritual person that somehow learns to float above the thorns at the side of the path and your job is not to religiously suggest it’s possible to remove all of the thorns from the entire world so there are no sharp things to step on. Your job is to walk consciously through the world within a universe of paths and thorns.

952 Relax and Succeed - We can never judge the livesYou need not panic about perfection. Some paths are just too narrow and you will definitely get scratches, there are wash-outs, thickets, bogs, and all kinds of other ways for you to wear yourself out or even get hurt. But the alternative is to sit and go nowhere and that is a fate much worse than death. To just sit would be spiritual stagnation. It would be to not live at all. There is no path or thorn that painful.

Negative views are the thorns and the positive views are the paths. Step this way with your judgments and you step on something sharp. Step that way and your path is clear. Each moment–each step–we get to reassess our direction, so you can blame the path or your shoes or the thorns, but no one’s listening. The universe has done it’s job giving you the opportunity for happiness and the free will to pursue it. From there it’s your choice where you step.

You can appreciate things or want them to be different. The choice is yours. They’re your feet. Which direction will you walk in today?

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.

Finding Your Way

Are you under-selling yourself in the world? Are you apologizing for yourself? No one has to argue for their right to exist. Absolutely everyone brings enormous strength and brilliance to the table. The only question is: what do you do with it? Do you become a famous artist or scientist, or are you known in your family for the compassion and love you offer? Are you the friend people like to be with when they’re in pain? Many things constitute winning depending on who is living the life.

784 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes the people around youWe do not need the kind of life that would be featured in People or Robb Report or National Geographic. You can be a spiritually developed and personally successful person leading any kind of life. Do not let advertising convince you that you need some photo-spread existence. Do not let it convince you that there is a way to have pure enjoyment.

Too many people are living their lives churning through their unsatisfied judgments about their life or using social media to compare their life to others when they could be putting that very same energy into turning into something that they would love. Instead they churn and churn those thoughts, they ask those questions and imagine those answers as though any of that speculation has anything to do with how your future will actually unfold.

You don’t need to change your life. If you want to quit, leave, stop whatever–feel free. But if you believe your problem is outside of yourself then you don’t have the clarity to really see which direction to travel in. It’s only when all paths can be seen as equal that you will be able to see which one is yours.

You are not failing if you are in pain. You are being requested to change your thinking about your situation. The more pain you’re in the more demanding the request that you change the course of your thoughts. We’re all Pigpen from Peanuts. We live in a cloud of busy thinking. Use your emotions to steer you past your dangerous narratives and ultimately quiet them into open awareness.

784 Relax and Succeed - Individuals are like vasesDo not think that your path is the one with no obstacles, or that it includes all of the rewards you were innocent enough to imagine. Every path will include tremendous up periods and tremendous down periods. But as long as they are lived fully there is no real harm in that. They are experiences like any other. And without their darkness the light of joy and happiness would not appear so bright.

Even thousands of years ago people were killed by animals and inflicted by weather. The idea that life ever was idyllic or that we’re working toward or back to that is misunderstanding what’s going on. The world isn’t on some trajectory from bad to good. It was never bad and it can’t ever be good. The world simply is. It’s a wave that you surf, a stage you perform on, a song you sing, a game you play. Whether you’re doing a drama or comedy or singing a heartbreak ballad or a love song, being ahead or behind at any given point is meaningless. It’s always and only ever been whether or not you enjoyed surfing, performing, singing or playing.

Wipeouts, forgotten lines, missed notes or temporary losses are not fatal. You don’t dwell on them in some hope you’ll evaporate them from your history. Life happens and then it’s gone. The only way you can get anything close to wrong is if you view it through your expectations instead of accepting it as reality. And even then–that’s not wrong. It’s just painful.

Stop questioning where you are and who you are. Look at yourself, look at your life and your resources and ask yourself–where would I like to take me next? And then go. No matter which direction you choose your path will still be felt within you anyway.

peace. s

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

Are You Spiritually Responsible?

96 Relax and Succeed - Flow with whatever may happenThere are so many forces in your life focused on what’s “wrong” about you, that much of your very being is spent trying to become the person you believe will deserve a good life. But no one deserves a good life. Some people create one, some people don’t, and children’s hospitals, war zones and famines are filled with people who didn’t even get a real chance at much of a life. So the point isn’t to build a good life. It’s to live one if given the chance.

You will not become someone who never gets angry. You won’t become someone who never worries. You will not always remember to be grateful, you will sometimes be dishonest, and other times you will be extraordinarily cruel. Because without anger there is no calm, without worry there is no peace, without ingratitude there is no gratitude, without lies there is no honesty, and without cruelty there is no kindness. This is the Yin and Yang of life.

Your job is not to be a good and deserving human being. Your job is to be your part of the universe. There’s no rules, no judgment, no prize. It’s just an opportunity. Your life is a chance, a blank canvass, unwritten pages. The point isn’t to live in some way that’s been predetermined to be good—that’s just following orders. Nazis did that. The true way, is all about feel.

96 Relax and Succeed - Start where you areYou don’t want to live in a state of love because it’s good for other people. You don’t want to live in a state of love because some religion or leader told you to. You want to live in a state of love as much as possible because that represents the most enjoyable life for you.

You are responsible for your portion of the universe. You must be selfish about doing what is necessary for a good life. And the good life is largely a happy life. That does not mean that if you are good you will be happy—it means that if you are happy you will be good. So you must be more selfish about your happiness, and less critical of when you’re unhappy.

You don’t have to go the rest of your life without losing your temper. The Dalai Lama loses his temper. You haven’t failed in your spirituality if you yell at your kids. That’s just the world happening. You were never supposed to find some magical way to always sail calm seas. You were only supposed to notice that the calmer seas are often easier to enjoy. But the calm ones are also absent of wind, so you don’t get very far. So it is with life. The nice feelings are nice, but they don’t take us much distance. The less pleasant feelings are where we gain the most, but we also don’t want to live just collecting skills and never applying them.

96 Relax and Succeed - Reiki PrinciplesJust live the moment you’re in. Don’t worry about what Rebecca or Francois or Gurveer or your mom or your boss think of your behaviour. Choose love because it feels better for you. And when you don’t choose it, that’s fine. Just start choosing it again as soon as you’re able. Because no one’s judging but, at the same time, the best way to have a good life is to intentionally do the things that cause one to exist. And the best bet there is always love. Love others, love yourself too.

Remember: no beating yourself up for when you’re not happy. That’s just more unhappiness. Just make your choices regarding the moment you’re in. Don’t waste this moment thinking about moments passed, or moments not-yet-arrived. You cannot act in the past or future. The present is your only opportunity. And you cannot fail in the present. You will only choose your future. But you can’t fail there either, because by then your future is your present.

Understanding the nature of the present moment is the key to the most peaceful and loving sort of existence. Only focus on what you do there. Because the present moment is the only place where you can join the rest of us in creating a beautiful life. I look forward to seeing you there.

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.