The Sillage of Life Itself

1095-relax-and-succeed-you-are-the-templeHow was your focus on yesterday’s meditation on taste? Hopefully some of your discoveries surprised you. That would indicate you’ve seen something in a deeper way than previously. Today we’ll be doing the same thing with scents, although in this case it’s important to remember that your sense of smell is closely linked to your memory.

We evolved as humans, so your most valuable asset when eating would be determining the safety of your food. Remember, to early life and mankind; which smells were safe and which were dangerous were as important as a pilot today remembering how to fly an airplane. Get it wrong and people die. You come from a long line of successful smellers.

With few exceptions most of you won’t track things anymore by scent. We have food inspectors for that. You watch TV and have a phone and a computer. You watch screens. In the last few decades you have shifted a great deal. Now your sight is what takes up the vast majority of your mind’s focus.

1095-relax-and-succeed-the-mind-is-like-an-icebergYour job today is to turn the world into a scentscape. Rather than focus on visual directions, follow the flow of a current of air on which a scent of cinnamon buns travels. Trace perfumes and colognes. Who is wearing what? Maybe you even get a chance to smell some flowers or chocolate or perfume or cologne today….

Use your mind to define the scents. Can you pin down what it is before you can see it? What can you learn from a scent? Treat it as though it has secret information hidden in it because it does. It is possible to smell carefully.

What you’re searching for is a memory link as your awareness focuses on scent all day. Without sniffing anything dangerous, start smelling packs of paper at work, smell the food wafting by from nearby tables at lunch, smell people, don’t just see them. Smell flowers, and plants and the air around you.

Assign everything a scent quality other than nothing. You have to find at least one word for each situation you’re awake in. Oh and by the way, you’ll be terrible at this at the start. That’s how little you do it. But it’s not like the scents aren’t there. They just haven’t gotten your attention in a very long time.

1095-relax-and-succeed-sillage-the-scent-that-lingersMove through your day with this one added awareness operating and you will have literally exercised the size of your consciousness. It feels weird and clumsy and inefficient at first, but like weightlifting or studying, you get better at the things you practice. Just do it and your mind will develop. With few exceptions; you can tell a peppery wine from a fruity one with only your nose.

You’ll still execute your day. You’ll still get your jobs done. But make sure to set up timely reminders to yourself to stay aware. Maybe stick a post-it note to your coffee cup or computer screen. But do it. What you smell isn’t as important as that you smell. Becoming conscious of the world takes practice. Most people have only been focusing on their internal egocentric conversations for many years. We all miss a huge percentage of what’s going on.

In today’s meditation you smell your way through your day, counting how many times your memory is spontaneously triggered to remember some unrelated event. If you’re working with a partner then compare your numbers. Who noticed more things? To care about who wins is to still be in ego. What counts is the awareness. There are no losers in this meditation.

Enjoy your day. Add dimension to it. Do the meditation. Expand yourself.

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.

The Guru

1093-relax-and-succeed-my-love-is-unconditionalYou can become conscious of externalised thoughts and act in the moment. You can become conscious of your judgments of others and you can meditate to create more understanding. You can silence your own attacks on a thought-created identity you mistake for the real you. And you can understand that each of those actions are subdivisions of one universal action.

The only remaining step for meditation is to be challenged. This can come through text, as it does here and through books, or even through visual and/or auditory means. But each of these will be generalised deliveries. And like young monks, that is plenty as people first begin to shift their awareness.

Once that initial stage is over it is common for people to feel motivations to connect. This is a healthy impulse emerging from the person’s sense of certainty. There is a point where people have crossed the line from wanting the world and ourselves to be better, to taking responsibility for reality and ourselves and then learning to manage that. It’s a very big moment of spiritual maturity.

1093-relax-and-succeed-sometimes-one-createsOnce people have lived in this new way for three or four years they can easily tell the difference between the many false guides who use the right words, versus the few who speaks from knowing. They sound almost exactly alike from a position of ego, but nothing alike to people living with clarity. How’s that for some spiritual irony?

Watch for humility. It is the balance point between confidence and ignorance. In humility we know what we know and we also know what we don’t know–and we’re entirely fine that both realities exist because they are merely expressions of the idea of yin and yang. At the same time, you will hear a particular confidence in the voice of someone who sees clearly.

Even the “wrong” guru can be a worthwhile aspect of your search in that they will eventually trigger your wiser self and you’ll feel it as a sort of resistance. Your denial of true responsibility might upset you, but deep down you’ll know a real guru’s correct shortly thereafter. The other kind of upset will build over time because the process itself will feel either too organised and general, or otherwise it tends to feel as though it lacks direction.

1093-relax-and-succeed-i-cannot-but-see-you-as-myselfYou could find a guru in any walk of life. Some are professional and some not. They can also be in traditional uniforms of knowledge. Over the years I’ve worked with a variety of counsellors, doctors or psychologists or psychiatrists on their own challenges, and yet I would submit they could be very useful guides. As someone further down the path of their own earnest discovery process, the person doesn’t need to know the whole forest to know the way in certain parts of the forest. And some of them know the forest well.

The opposite of that is seen when I get reports back from readers about their counsellor, doctor, or even religious leader presenting these very posts as modified versions of their own work. This unwillingness to engage in humility is a sign that the person may be a useful example for learning from, but the people confirming with me are correct to sense the person is likely not a legitimate guide. A real one is happy to use whatever is helpful in conveying aspects of the otherwise invisible reality at hand.

Contrary to that are the professionals who love to expand to their own awareness and connections. They feel almost childlike in their excitement. That innocence and enthusiasm is always a good sign. You’ll see some of those people commenting on various blogs here and elsewhere. There is no end to discovery within this infinite realm. You’re just looking for someone who understands how to see it, not someone who can see it all at once.

1093-relax-and-succeed-take-a-smileThey won’t have to be near you, they won’t have to be anything like you, but when you feel the compulsion to connect regarding your journey, that is when a guide should be sought. They will never have difficulty metaphorizing their wisdom for you regardless of who you are, and while you absolutely will feel challenged by them, you will just as certainly feel cared about.

More important than which meditation you do, and more important than who you do them with, is simply that you do them. Maintain your commitment to this week’s awarenesses and you will notice a shift in your understanding. And that shift, will bring increased peace. That shift is what you’re really looking for.

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.

Sticks and Stones

1047-relax-and-succeed-stabbed-in-the-backIs it a parent? Another kid at school? And if it’s one at school it’s usually at least three. A young boy will punch you straight in the face and it hurts, but the girls will sneak around behind you and try and turn everyone against you, and that totally undermines your place in the world in this horrible way that you can’t do anything about.

A boy can get stronger, study a martial art, but there’s no way for a girl to improve herself out of being called names that have little to nothing to actually do with her. Opinions live inside other people’s minds and we hear them through their voices. Neither of these things are in our control so there is only one other answer.

If you surrender the idea of fighting against it that doesn’t mean that you’re accepting it. It means the exact opposite. Because you don’t stop fighting it because it’s beating you, because if it was beating you and it didn’t stop eventually you’d die, and no one’s ever died from people having an opinion about them.

1047-relax-and-succeed-do-not-make-your-enemys-thoughtsIf they lynch them that’s one thing and we all have to take action quickly, but if all they do is use their voices; trust me, those can’t hurt you at all unless you choose to believe them and think them too. Besides, there’s very few people who will be around your life permanently and they certainly won’t be that type. What they say will matter for a tiny period of your existence. Tiny.

How’s a voice hurt you? How’s someone telling a joke hurt you? How’s someone using a slur on you do damage to you? Even if fifty people listened and did nothing, that won’t mean they agree with what was shouted, that will only mean they’re too cowardly to do anything about it. The more you ignore it and the more dignified and unperturbed you behave, the less interesting it is to try to knock you off balance when you’re so obviously well-balanced, and the more impressive you look to all of the cowardly people. But you don’t do that by performing like it doesn’t matter; you do it by understanding that you literally cannot be hurt by words.

1047-relax-and-succeed-famous-failuresWe’re starting to live in a world where people cannot accept differing opinions. The truth is, everyone has there areas in life where they shine, and other areas where they are less capable. That is entirely normal, and just like you will have times where you have to move around the inabilities of others, they will have to do that with you sometimes too. But everyone has those so you get yours too. People can go ahead and not like it, but as they mature they’ll realise that people like you will still be a large percentage of the population so they will also realise their opinions are only in their head and no matter how loud they are they do not make things true.

People can say whatever they want, until you repeat it to yourself and actually ask yourself if it might be true, it is not true for you. Truth exists in people singularly. It isn’t a group concept. The closest thing we have to that is science and science has no opinion about your personality.

If you start thinking other’s thoughts then that’s the beginning of your thinking starting to make that idea true, because whether it’s true or not won’t impact whether or not you can believe it. There’s no difference between your beliefs and what you think is true. So do not make your enemy’s thoughts about you your thoughts about you.

1047-relax-and-succeed-find-a-group-of-peopleSomeone can turn the entire school against you and you can still have a fantastic life. The kid who thinks that controlling anything in childhood would ever actually matter is just lost in their own false belief of importance. They go to the bathroom too. Their relationships will end too. Life ebbs and flows throughout it’s length, so every human being spends times up and times down. Who goes first doesn’t mean a thing.

Believe in your strengths, spend time with those who see and appreciate them. The others have opinions about you just as you have yours about them. Since those never last, they just don’t matter anyway. Develop your strengths. Start now. Because while other kids are bullying you and making their future more difficult by quietly turning others against them, you can take that time to ensure that you’re becoming more capable, thereby setting up a confident, successful future for yourself.

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.

Real Peace Is Not What You Think

1022-relax-and-succeed-i-am-not-what-you-think-i-amYesterday we discussed Decision Fatigue and how it is wearing a lot of people out today, but a lot of people are misunderstanding what their peace has to look like. Making lots of decisions about your life is stressful, yet responding to needs of those we love often has a strange, compelling effortlessness which is representative of the psychological and spiritual peace you’re looking for.

One of the best examples of this is infant parenting. People can find parts of it nerve-wracking as they try to figure out what the right thing to do, but even that is just us dithering between ego choices rather than quieting our mind and calmly trusting our instincts like we’re forced to do in an emergency. It’s also why people working in refugee camps are often calmer and enjoying life more than successful people with nice office jobs. What to do is often so clear, important and obvious that there is no need for but-if thinking.

This is why stay-at-home moms will often have a strange transition as their kids reach more independent ages. Even by 2 or 3 years old they have enough ability to communicate that we begin treating them more like adults and we start heaping expectations on them, which of course they can either satisfy or not satisfy, but that’s where the over-thinking of the mother starts because it theoretically could go differently….

1022 Relax and Succeed - Forget trying to find your path

Strange huh? When the responsibility is shared with the child because they can communicate now things can go well or go poorly because blame is possible. The child can have listened or not have listened, so in a way they can now misbehave for the first time ever. They now have enough control over themselves that the mother can regain her sense of expectation, which in turn spawns a sense of depression.

What happens to all of us in these cases is that we mis-ascribe the source of the pain. The mother will think she’s just lost two years of her life and never thought much about herself. A fireman will wish there weren’t so many candles at Christmas that start fires, or the surgeon will imagine how the surgery might have gone if they’d only known about…. It is the revisiting of these choices that is stressful not the choices themselves, because at the time of making them they often weren’t choices they were simple reactions to life-threatening events. No time to over-think.

So the Mom ends up feeling depressed that she didn’t to have a bath or read a book in the last two years and yet she will often look back on those very years as some of the best of her life. Why? Because she was largely selfless during them. And what is it to have no ego? It is to be selfless; it’s literally to avoid using the mind to create a self than can then think wanting-for-itself thoughts. She didn’t mind not having a life of her own because she had no time to stop and think about it.

1022-relax-and-succeed-there-is-tremendous-happinessSo don’t think you need a quiet hardwood room with tatami mats on the floor, don’t think you need a book or a glass of wine, don’t think you need to be bent into some particular shape; peace can be wherever you go and in whatever you do, but the secret is to make friends with the present moment. It’s not to second-guess what happened, it is a time to be and not to do.

You don’t need emergencies to winnow down your thoughts, you can stop yourself from building them in the first place. Work on focusing your mind rather than creating wanting thoughts and you will find yourself in the same peaceful state of mind shared by a meditating Monk, an athlete in the midst of their best performance, an artist at the height of their creativity, and a parent who is fully mindful of the needs of their child rather than on wants of their own.

Remove your personal thoughts that would compare, judge or want and you are instantly free. The only question is, will you look at your life and actually see that you were at your best when you were forced to trust yourself rather than think, and then having confirmed that; will you be vigilant and practice your mindfulness today?

peace. s

PS This is a companion piece to the post Decision Fatigue.

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.

Decision Fatigue

You sense it’s happening to you more and more; a worn-out, bad-decision, I’m exhausted and don’t care attitude that increasingly invades your day and often leaves you collapsed and feeling unproductive at night. This in turn leaves you feeling guilty the next day that didn’t get enough done even though you got a lot done.

1021-relax-and-succeed-good-people-sometimes-make-bad-decisionsI remember experiencing decision-exhaustion from being both a writer and as a film and television executive. All day long you make decisions and they are fundamentally what you’re paid for, so to get too many of them wrong means to wrong yourself right out of your mortgage payment. That helped make each choice feel bigger and therefore more taxing, and because there were a lot of them all day, by the time I got home I was worn out in a way that left me more tired than any physical job I’d ever had.

If my wife or girlfriend wanted me to pick a restaurant for dinner on a decision-filled day we would argue because she really couldn’t relate to how intense my avoidance of another decision was. I told her I was burned out, which to say that deciding is an action and it takes energy and I had put too much energy through the decisions circuits already and they were now worn down to the point of no longer being precise channels but more like general directions.

A common example of this is that in many tests a poorer person will actually be better at financial decision-making than a wealthier person because their decisions are often around a budget with no room for error. That means you have to make real calculations and decisions even just to buy a quick lunch if you’re late, whereas a wealthier person is just hungry and they only make the decision of where to stop and what to have. By the end of an average day the poorer person has made so many more critical choices that they get worn out and they start giving big, broad answers that are more likely to be easy rather than helpful.

1021-relax-and-succeed-if-you-want-to-have-more-creative-flowYou likely know this feeling too: you’ve spent all day trying to stay on your diet and eat all the right foods, you got all of your work done and you figured out how to manage the kids, but by the time the day’s done you’re exhausted and end up blowing everything you saved all day by stopping on the way home at some fast food place, or by wasting money buying junk at the grocery store which ruins your diet and it’s all just so defeating. But take heart; it’s not just you being defeated, it’s all of us. (That entire link is definitely worth the read.)

What’s important to note is that the decisions that were wearing me out were primarily taken in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s, prior to the smartphone. By then I had accepted that the brain was just like any part of your body and that it would become increasingly less efficient the more it was used. When smartphones came out I saw two unhealthy things: the diversion of my attention away from the present moment and the constant connectivity, which I did not feel would be healthy long term because it would also mean that there would soon be many more ways to reach me.

This is why I still just use a flip phone; I avoid thinking about all of the decisions that the phone has added to your day. Not just which platforms should you join, but all the notifications and privacy set-ups, the decision to answer a call or text or not, then the decision of what to answer, then a chime telling you to do this or a warning telling you not to do that. Calendars, emails, voicemails, instant messengers, check-ins and measurements of every kind. And that leaves out all of the stuff your computer at work has added.

1021-relax-and-succeed-respect-yourself-enough-to-walk-awayAll day long you’re bombarded with choice. Stores even sell it like it’ll make you feel good when science shows it’s the route to feeling bad. Decisions are taxes to your mind. It’s why tons of top-level business executives and entrepreneurs wish they could go be a barista in a coffee shop–what they’re pining for is fewer decisions. The customer just tells you what they want and you make it. No choices. Simple. Ahhh.

Many decisions in the modern world cannot be avoided but many can. Look at your life and ask which parts of your life require the most decision-making and then value your loss of mental peace almost like money. Do you really want to spend all of your energies where they’ve been going? For most people the answer is no, they just never take the time to reassess. Do that today.

Simplification is not you failing, nor are you becoming irrelevant or even less capable. In fact you’ll be increasing the strength of the quality of your choices if you make fewer every day. The science is very clear: busy-ness and choice are the enemies of peace. The only thing left for you to do is to become more conscious of all of your daily choices and then only make the ones that actually improve your life and stop making the ones that don’t.

Here’s a peaceful, stressless day for all of us.

peace. s

PS This piece is a companion to the post, Real Peace Is Not What You Think.

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.

The Friday Dose #129: Mindfulness

1013-fd-relax-and-succeed-resistance-is-futileStaying vigilant about our thinking can be a challenging thing. My accident gave me a huge advantage in that there was a distinct separation between me and my thinking, but I know when I jam the two together that they feel like one thing, so I suspect that’s what it feels like for everyone else most of the time. As ephemeral as it is, all I really do in my work is create some distance between souls and egos.

One way to create some distance and to slow down that process is to study it closely and break it down into its component parts. It’s like a drummer learning a new beat. You have to do it super slowly, super slowly and then build the wiring and build the wiring until you can go faster and faster and faster until it’s natural.

Since our mental health is tied to us accepting rather than resisting the universe as it is, a good candidate for study is complaining. Complaints are pure resistance. They’re either internal resistance thoughts, or spoken external ones, but they’re resistance either way. A man recently tried going only 21 days without complaining and he found it very difficult. That said, he also did notice a shift in himself in only those 21 days. I would suggest that this would be a beneficial process for everyone to undertake.

Here’s a link to an interview with the author, and here’s Michael J. Fox on how your circumstances can appear worse than average and yet your life is better than average. It’s really only a question of how much resistance you choose to produce.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone because, despite your genuine challenges, in many ways you’re still more fortunate than a lot of the world. Enjoy that.

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.

The Friday Dose #126: Understanding

Teachers or gurus or guide’s or counsellors, regardless of the name we put on a wise individual, what they bring is a simple clarity of vision. They aren’t really teaching anything. They are being themselves and in this case their call was to talk about reality. Other wise people paint or are lawyers or fishermen.

Not every person who understands is called to communicate what they know but out of all of them, the two I am most often compared with are Alan Watts, because he’s often funny, and Jiddu (not to be confused with U.G.) Krishnamurti, who is known for his willingness to challenge people as they undergo their process of understanding.

Below is a wonderful piece by Krishnamurti. His accent may initially feel thick but you quickly can relax into it once you realise that it has a lot of British in it. The subject may appear very abstract, but I can assure you he is describing in quite simple terms how to see this fundamental, profound truth you’re all looking for. Part of our problem is that we use our thinking to make something into a thing it is not. You had this vision as a child. You don’t need to learn anything, you need to forget who you were taught to be so that the real you can be free. Enjoy.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

peace. s

Wiser Than You Think

970 Relax and Succeed - Walking I am listening in a deeper wayYou’re not on your own you know. Not only would more people help you than you realise (if only you’d ask), but you also have the benefit of all of our ancestors. For millions of years each being has marched in a slightly different direction that gained them unique knowledge and you are no different.

A lot of people remember that we’re 99.9% the same as a Chimp or Bonobo but, as I’ve noted in the past, we’re about 50% the same as a banana! And within us is stored historical information. Wisdom, guidance, instinct. Instincts are just abilities that we have had for so long that we actually feel them without thinking at all. When it comes to basic instincts we’re all born as Bruce Lee.

The difference between people who are comfortable or uncomfortable is simply ego: if they’re using their ability to create words to build an ego then they are focused on that and not on accessing all of their wisdom though nature. They want to find knowledge through the symbolism of words but that’s other people’s wisdom. You’ve got your own wisdom, but you have to quiet that uncertain voice and act instead. You won’t always be right but at least you’ll be in service to your own life a lot more than you are now.

Even if you don’t feel separated from your wisdom right now just remember that it’s always there whether you notice it or not. When it’s there it feels like comfort more than confidence. Other people would just it as confident but when there’s no voice between you and your greater self then you feel that as an internal sense of contentedness.

As an example, we’ve been approaching, greeting and getting to know others ever since nature got mobile and yet a shy person can interrupt all of that wisdom by simply wondering to themselves what the right thing to do might be. Even a banana has a seed and can make another banana and yet despite all of that knowledge a modern new Mom isn’t excited to bring life into the world like she would be in the jungle or the high north. In the city the woman thinks she won’t know what to do and she’s afraid of the pain as though she’s the first person to ever experience it. She does not trust herself that the biggest aspects of her being has been there before.

We all do this all day long. We think uncertain thoughts and we mistake that layer of thought as intelligence and planning when that’s just what we’ve been brainwashed to think it is. In turn that means that when things go wrong we don’t think we over-thought it or that our plan was futile with so many unknown variables–no, when things go wrong you’ll think you didn’t think it through enough.

970 Relax and Succeed - Don't believe everything you thinkThought is a disease. The only reason it has any validity is because we all keep referencing the same symbols as though they are things. The Gross Domestic Product of a nation or your productivity numbers at work are not your life, they are measurements of a few of the results that stem from you living. But those are only in exist in relation to themselves. If your productivity at work is 4.8 but you have no idea what anyone else’s is, then you’re just working however hard you’re working that day. You need to compare scores before you can describe yourself as successful whereas with direct, non-thought-based living you live the success. It’s what you do.

If you’re feeling lost or unwise you’re just putting a lot of thinking between you and your wisdom. Over time and no matter what, pure living will help you hone this skill. As you age you will increasingly see through the smoke and mirrors that make up modern life. What will bother you won’t be that you were tricked–it’ll be all the living you surrendered for a mirage. There is no way to get the time back.

Forget worry. There’s no prize for being timid. You snooze you lose. Life is there for any who choose to live it fearlessly but that effort requires you to act. If you do that without reservation you will have access to the collective knowledge of the billions that live within you. That still might not be enough if you’re adding to our collective wisdom by forging new territory, but it’s still a lot better than sitting all alone talking to yourself.

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.

The Quiet Mind

 

944 Relax and Succeed - We are all explorersThe doorway to understanding about who you are and what you should do is not locked. The “lock’s” really a puzzle and when you can see it’s only an illusion you’ll just open the door and enter. Until then you’ll try to think your way into this wise action but that won’t work. You cannot think about, you must know.

When snow falls in a schoolyard there could be a playground full of kids but all of them will react in their own unique way and none of them will question if that way is right or not they will simply be their actions in the present moment.

Some will notice all the flakes have six sides and they’ll wonder why and they’ll become a physicist. Another kid notices that the freezing feeling also feels like burning and they become interested in the brain and nervous system. Another kid isn’t dressed warm enough and she wished she knew it was going to be cold and so she becomes a weather forecaster. Another kid ignores the snow and notices what the teacher’s doing and that kid maybe becomes a teacher. This is how we naturally become who we really are.

944 Relax and Succeed - The most important thing in life

The clarity you seek emerges when you quiet your internal conversations. Certain pursuits will naturally occur to you in much the way that you’d itch a scratch. That’s the real you speaking so avoid listening to the voices you egocentrically create within your imagination. Open the door of your perception. In that quiet space you’ll find the confident you. That’s the one who still remembers who you really are.

Give the real you a hug. You guys belong together but that relationship demands more silence. I hope you’ll create some. A quiet mind is a healthy mind.

Love ya. Have a great week.

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.

Hyperlink Thinking

907 Relax and Succeed - Mom what is normalYour brain is structured to do every activity you do. Whatever you ask it to do is what it will get good at. But when people think of all their capabilities, they only think of the surface stuff their brain does like remembering directions, or calculating numbers or knowing how to read or write. And without further meditation those all seem like they’re just manipulations of the data. So what they believe they know is the directions, the numbers and the communications, but what they also need to have is the remembering, the calculating and the creation.

This is why I use a flip phone. Most of you have already noticed the drop in functionality of your memory due to smartphones. People used to routinely remember all 30 of their friend’s phone numbers, all of their bank account numbers, credit card numbers, etc. etc. We had to remember a lot and those of us who haven’t surrendered the skill can still do it. But like a muscle, if I don’t do the work the ability will deteriorate.

Mental Disorders are not tangible. You can’t cut someone open and find depression or ADHD, but you can find tumours creating pressure, or damaged structures from drug use or strokes, or actual observable issues with various aspects of the brain’s function. This is because physical damage is not the same as confusion about usage. A car can crash because a part breaks, or it can crash because the person driving it wasn’t properly trained. Mental Disorders are just innocent driver errors due to poor or missing driving instructions.

907 Relax and Succeed - Let me remind youI know a lot of you really have a strong aversion to me saying this because you feel it makes you or someone you love somehow more responsible, but if you think that you’re misunderstanding. That’s like saying people who’s kids were injured in a car crash in 1950 should feel responsible for the seat belt not being invented yet. You can’t even start working on something until you know it needs the work. So no one is guilty here, but some things are happening and I help people precisely because I deal with what’s happening and I do not subscribe to little boxes that do not exist except in the imagination of the person believing in them.

If you ramp up the amount kids watch TV, movies and games at the same time that you perpetually shorten the length of each edit then this is like repeatedly hitting the novelty switch in your brain. Not that long ago you were a lot less safe and a lot more hungry, so your brain was wired up to notice new things because they might be either food or a predator. So you were built to notice new things. Edits, to your brain, are new things.

Ask the brain to get good at switching but not at holding and guess what? It gets good at switching and not at holding and ADHD is born, and the nations with less media report less incidence. Even Europe records less than half the cases of North America where media addictions are worse.

907 Relax and Succeed - Notice is hereby givenThe other brain function impacting this involves the nature of the internet. Hyperlinks are literally opportunities to distract yourself from what you’re doing. Yes, Hyperlinks are related to what we’re doing so we can justify using them, but we are nevertheless creating our own edit now, but in a text document not a video one. Many times these are useful for finding the article or information you were really looking for, but often times you’re being far less directed than that.

Over time this has lead to us all doing Hyperlink Thinking in our daily lives. Now I always liked how Europeans didn’t need conversation to be linear and goal-oriented like North Americans, but that’s not the willingness to go with the flow that I mean. Two humans actually connecting involves that connection, so the flow should serve that. But in the document it often only serves as a distraction and it explains why so few people feel they are getting enough or as much done.

If you can’t read a book for more than 30 minutes without getting up and doing something else, then already your brain has been trained to think it is supposed to flit from here to there, and so your very concentration is seen as an enemy by a brain trained for switching. This is why you so often lose focus, get distracted and are unproductive even on work you care about.

907 Relax and Succeed - Take a walkI only noticed this because I slipped into it too. I limit my screen time intentionally, but even then I could feel myself losing focus far sooner than I was accustomed to. Noticing that, I immediately raised my awareness and quickly I noticed my impulse to follow part of a thought in a new direction and there I had my culprit. My brain had gotten good at chasing down other angles and I was getting increasingly willing to wander off of my original intention. 

I’m currently putting this to a stop and you can too but it requires awareness, targeted non-action and diligence. It takes a while to learn not to wander so much but I got good at wandering by wandering so I’ll get good at focusing by focusing too. Now I regularly check back in with my original intention to ensure I’m still on it.

Don’t let Hyperlink Thinking invade your day and steal both your productivity and your mind’s ability to focus on an issue at a level that makes you more successful. Your capabilities are not a fixed asset, you are a flexible being, capable of altering yourself to suit your needs. But you must do it consciously. I’d maybe help more with a hyperlink to another relevant post right here but… you know… .  😉

peace (of mind) 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.