The Casual Perfectionist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Swapping Sexes

884 Relax and Succeed - First of all he saidHow did you do at your meditation yesterday? Were you able to hold your attention on your schoolmate or co-worker’s perspective? Did you learn something about them that makes them more human, more connected, more deserving of your empathy?  If you did that much you did a lot.

Today we’ll focus on the differences between the genders. What’s it like to live in your society as the opposite sex? Men have more personal freedom and often a greater sense of safety, a woman will have more freedom to experience her full range of emotions but she will feel almost instantly less safe. These are not small challenges for each gender to face. These are some of the biggest issues each group has.

It’s terrible to say, but even in a modern country like Canada the most recent stats show women making on average 72 cents for every dollar a man makes. Guys, just take whatever you buy today and multiply the cost by 1.28 and you’ll quickly realize it would take you far longer to recover or get ahead. And remember–these are for a lot of the same kinds of jobs.

884 Relax and Succeed - Empathy isGuys–imagine how ridiculously unfair you would think that was if it was men of your colour, nationality or body type? How would you feel if something arbitrary like that almost certainly guaranteed that you would be up for fewer promotions, get sexually harassed, and make 72% of the guy’s pay? Face it: we’d be furious and we would take action. And if our sisters and mothers and wives and daughters didn’t leap to help us that would feel terrible.

Ladies–imagine how difficult it is to be the one who is carrying the lion’s share of the total costs of living? Most people couldn’t maintain important aspects of their lifestyle without their 72% salary being married to a 128% salary. And maybe you make more, but you don’t feel like you could leave your job if you’re being abused, mistreated, threatened or even if you just can’t stand it. Without the guy the household topples and everyone’s living a much different lifestyle. That can be extremely stressful at time and it can make work feel like a jail.

Whether it’s work feeling like a jail or a dark street feeling like a very real threat, we walk through each day without an enormous amount of consideration for how the other half lives. Just watch your spouse for one day and imagine doing what they’re doing. Imagine if all of the responsibilities were swapped? Imagine if you had to even know what they know, or if ladies couldn’t call friends when they were distraught or men couldn’t protect themselves in everyday situations.

884 Relax and Succeed - Where there is no loveThe fact is, you probably haven’t had much cause to think at all about your spouse’s or brother’s or mother’s or son’s lives. Doing so will expand your awareness and that will open you up and that will feel good. Get out of your head. Establish empathy with more people. Stop thinking about how they affect you and start thinking about how they are impacted by you.

There is greater connection and increased respect between people who understand each other’s experience. Men will never know what it’s like to have a baby and women will never know what it’s like to first in line for dangerous duty, but we can invest ourselves in the healthy action of leaving our own thoughts and worries behind for a day so that we can expand our meditating abilities and establish better relations with the opposite sex. Actually do it. It will expand who you are.

Now go have a great day everyone. I gotta go figure out where I’m gonna put this tampon….

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.

The Other Guy

You would be shocked at how much of your life is invested in noting how other people could be better. You’re like a sports commentator on duty 24/7. You analyze how they dress, do their hair, how they talk, or what they know, or how they approach their job or driving or child-rearing. You have umpteen opinions on all of that stuff. But those opinions are just thoughts. Those thoughts accomplish nothing other than dosing you with the chemistry for dissatisfaction and upset. They have no actual affect on anyone but you. So since you feel the downsides and there is no upside… why would you allow yourself to continue doing it when all that’s required is that you learn to stop?

556 Relax and Succeed - If you simply practiceThat’s most of what I write about: how to stop your constant barrage of opinions about how you want things to be different than they are. Because you think that your life would be better if other people behaved differently. But I’m here to tell you that your life only gets better when you think differently. If you’re in a constant I-gotta-get-exactly-what-I-want-or-I’m-not-happy state that most egos live in most of the time, then you are doomed to have an unpleasant, even agonizing existence. People are individuals, which means they each have their own personality which in turn means that they will each make unique choices, which in turn means they are likely to eventually disagree with you. This does not make either you or them wrong. It makes you individuals. To find peace you simply must accept that we all literally live in separate realities.

You can do two very simple things and your life will change enormously. The first is to shut off your inner sportscaster. Half the “players” you’re judging are injured anyway, and you’re comparing everyone—including yourself—to unrealistic ideals. You have no idea how much energy they have, or how many distractions they have, you don’t know if they’re in pain physically or if they’re emotionally suffering…. So change your life by stopping all the judging. You do it a lot so it’ll take a while. But if you keep switching from complaints to compliments, it’ll be a habit that will serve you well until the day you die.

556 Relax and Succeed - Simply be the qualitiesThe second thing is to take that energy you used to use to judge everyone, and use it to be grateful instead. Instead of loading your consciousness up with wants and opinions, use it to absorb things to be grateful for. It’s not hard. Just take whatever you’re doing and imagine it being done in the year 1900. A good percentage of the materials your life is made out of didn’t even exist back then. Water, light, heat. Very simple things get super complex if you go back that far. Or imagine having no money. Or poor health. These are not easy things. So be grateful for your life and your mind will experience gratitude. And that is much better than experiencing frustrated judgment.

I’m sorry that spiritual and psychological health it doesn’t feel like jumping off a cliff and flying. I’m sorry that it isn’t some instant salve that you just lay over yourself and it’s done. It’s a practice. Every day you have to eschew judgment of others in favour of gratitude for your own life. You’ll never do it all the time, but that’s okay because there can’t be a path unless there’s not-path too. But don’t walk on the thorns of dissatisfaction for long. The path is always waiting. You just need to take a few steps through gratitude to get there.

peace. s

Crazy Talk

Ever since the concepts of sane and crazy were invented everyone has spent at least some time wondering if they’re nuts. But what if there was a test that you could administer to yourself that told you conclusively if you were or not? What then? Because such a test actually exists and I will give it to you in this blog.

529 Relax and Succeed - I have reached a pointOkay, are you ready? Go to a mirror or hold one up to your face, or use that mirror app on your phone. Take a good look at yourself. Do you look human? If the answer is “yes” then you’re crazy. Because all humans are crazy. How do I know? Because if I didn’t know that then I couldn’t properly write this blog. I’ll explain.

Everyone lives inside their own thinking. What the Buddhists call the illusion is the layer of words and descriptions and opinions that we layer over the real world which simply Is. Through poignant events, or rapturous moments, everyone spends some time in an enlightened state. When we’re laughing and thrilled with life. When we’re exhilarated and fully alive. It’s whenever we’re appreciating the Isness of things. The healthiest people do that by choice and they do it often. So people caught up in the illusion will argue over whether a movie or a book was good or bad, whereas someone who can see through the illusion finds the whole discussion meaningless.

An enlightened person can appreciate that everyone lives inside their thinking and so people don’t see a book or a movie, they see their thoughts about it. So knowing that, it seems so unnecessarily unfortunate that good friends would invest any amount of life getting into arguments over their opinions. What difference does that make? Why would you ruin your day to have a pointless debate where you both compare beliefs that exist only in your own consciousness? Even if you won that argument, what did you win? So to the contrary, an enlightened person can even be called crazy and they’re okay with it. Because they know everyone looks crazy to a lot of people.

529 Relax and Succeed - Happy is the man who canTo a meek non-physical safety conscious administrator, working as a whitewater rafting guide or a heli-skiing guide can look crazy. But then then the professional skier probably thinks much the same thing about the administrator in his little cubicle all day staring at a screen. Someone giving a speech or doing a radio show can seem insanely brave to a quiet person, and yet to a talk show host, they might find being alone a huge challenge whereas the quiet person likes it. Likewise a guy going to school and getting into debt for a decade past high school so that he can be a doctor and swab sores and stick his fingers in people’s bums—that can look insane to a kid who’s getting good money to work outdoors at a job that keeps him in peak physically shape. Meanwhile the doctor is relieved he doesn’t have to live a life of menial labour. So what’s crazy? It depends completely on who you ask.

Having kids, not having kids, being married, not being married, this job, that job and on and on and on. We’re all just walking swirls of opinion and when we get in proximity to the opinions that make up other people—if our opinions are too solid they tend to impact other very solid opinions. But if we’re more ephemeral and flexible and open, then we can pass through each other and feel the experience without it containing a harsh impact.

Go ahead and be crazy. Know that there’s people who will view your life from the outside and they will have harsh and negative and incorrect opinions. But whatever. How does that actually affect you? Even if they say it, words are just sound waves hitting your eardrums. They don’t demand that you engage with them.

529 Relax and Succeed - Tacenda things better left unsaidYou can be open to others views even if they’re about you. After all, you have some opinions about other people too. But instead of sharing them or even complaining about them, how about if—as much as possible—we all stayed conscious of our thinking and we just dropped the combative thoughts about differing opinions? And not just our internal thinking, where we poke at their statements even as they’re speaking. I mean the external talk too. The arguments, the put-downs, the needless opinions. That should all be muted as much as possible. We should favour input over output.

Instead of spreading negativity, what if we also focused on what we do like about the world? Because there is no point in striving to be seen as sane or healthy or smart or successful in the eyes of someone else. Their opinion lives only inside their head, and whoever else they can convince to believe it too. But there’s seven billion people in the world. They don’t all have to like you regardless of the reason. And even the ones that are your friends don’t have to agree with you about everything. So just relax and listen to people without feeling that their views have anything to do with you. Do that and people will still think you’re crazy. But at least you won’t care because you’ll be enjoying life so much more.

I hope you enjoyed reading today’s blog as much as I enjoy writing them. Thanks for your time. Have an awesome day.

peace. s

Guilty Pleasures

Today on the radio I heard a debate between two writers who were discussing the issue of guilty pleasures. One was defending the guilt, arguing that it serves a purpose, while the other argued for freedom of taste and that guilt was inappropriate when applied to something like a song or a band.

The pro-guilt argument was somewhat beside the competing point in that the two men seemed to agree that the guilt was appropriate for things like foods that weren’t good for you, or if you were watching TV 508 Relax and Succeed - Don't take things personallyshows when you needed to be getting work done, but the anti-guilt case was made where there would be no tangible, material loss. So it’s one thing to feel guilty for eating your brother’s dinner because you know he will actually experience hunger as a result, and the guilt is likely to motivate you to be more compassionate in the future. But guilt makes no sense if the only price is paid inside your own imagination.

Saying that a singer or a band or a song is a guilty pleasure makes no sense because we should feel no guilt about our own tastes. Just because your friends don’t like onions doesn’t mean you should feel guilty because you do. Likewise with clothes or music or movies or TV shows or anything else that’s a personal choice.

All this is what makes junior high and high school so agonizing for 95% of students; because they actually spend a lot of time thinking about what the other kids are thinking of their choices. The healthy 5%—the really cool kids—those are the ones who couldn’t care less about what the other kids opinions are.

An opinion is just a thought expressing someone’s personal preference. It has zero meaning or value outside of the head that’s thinking it. And because the cool kid doesn’t dwell on the insult or judgment in their own consciousness, it ceases to exist in their reality and they can move through life happily and with much greater ease than most people do.

Like whatever clothes you like. Like whatever food you like, whatever music, movies, singers, dancers, authors, books, TV shows, friends, cars, sex etc. etc. etc. Like whatever you like. 508 Relax and Succeed - The one thing that you haveThat’s the freedom of being you. No one makes those choices for you but yourself. And no one else’s opinion matters. The pretending-to-be-cool kids can throw all the insults out they want, but if the kid being insulted understands that those are just spoken thoughts and they have zero actual impact on anything meaningful, then they are free of any pain or suffering.

You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. You can like whatever colours, fragrances, places, people and things you choose to. Those preferences are what causes you to be you. Those define you in the outside world. So don’t make them and then second-guess them. There’s literally no point in that at all. The opinions others have about you will say far more about them than they will about you, so try not to judge others and if others judge you, just focus your consciousness on anything other than voluntarily replaying their hollow opinions. There’s too much great stuff in this world for you to spend your time dwelling on crap like that.

Be free, be strong and keep a clear head as much as you’re able. Do that and your life will not only be good, it’ll also truly be yours.

peace. s

The Friday Dose #36

The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Focus on these and change your mind. Enjoy.

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497 Relax and Succeed - Why we shout in anger

Why We Shout

A Hindu saint visited the river Ganges to bathe and found a group of family members on the banks shouting angrily at each other. He turned to his disciples, smiled and asked. “Why do angry people shout at each other?’”

The disciples thought for a while before one of them said, “Because we lose our calm, we shout.”

But, why should you shout when the other person is just next to you? You can tell him what you have to say in a soft manner.” asked the saint.

The disciples had no explanation, so the saint gave them one.

“When two people are angry at each other, their hearts are a great distance apart so they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other over that great distance.

“But what happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but instead they speak softly, because their hearts are very close.”

The saint continued, “And what happens as their love deepens? First they begin to whisper, but as their love grows even closer, eventually they do not even need a whisper, for a look will say it all. And when people finally become One, words and looks are unnecessary because the simple presence of the other person in the universe is enough. That is how close two people are when they truly love each other.

So do not try to bring someone closer by raising your voice. Instead of increasing the distance to the point where you cannot find you way back, instead use your awareness to close that distance with soft and loving responses. Because that is how you will find you way back to peace. Because that is the only voice that love can truly hear.”

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497 Relax and Succeed - Think outside the box

Think Outside the Box

You are driving down the road in your car on a wild, stormy night, when you pass a bus stop and you see three people waiting for the bus:

1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.

2. An old friend who once saved your life.

3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Which one would you choose to offer a ride to, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your car? Think, before you continue reading.

This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job application. You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first. Or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.

The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his answer. She simply answered: “I would give the car keys to my old friend and let him take the lady to the hospital. I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams.”

Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations. Never forget to “Think Outside of the Box.”

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Natarade

I couldn’t find a way to reblog this from Natarade’s own site, but I’ll include a link here because this is an artist that’s worth checking out in more detail. Here’s an example of why. This set of panels clearly depicts two routes through life. You’re safest picking the one with least judgment and the most life:

The Link to Naterade

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The Link to Naterade

peace. s

The Friday Dose #25

The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Enjoy.

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Today’s Dose starts off with a photo that quite simply makes me laugh when I look at it. I hope you find it as funny as I do, because laughter is really good for the body and spirit. Oxygenate your brain, lighten your spirit. Laugh:

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425 Relax and Succeed - Drunk octopus wants to fight

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Next is a beautiful piece that should speak to us all. Remember, every single aspect of your personality and even your physical self is nothing more than an opinion. The person you see in the mirror is not who other people see. We all see our thoughts about ourselves. And other people don’t see us either. They see their thoughts about us. There is no us. There is no steady “I.” To be alive is to be in a state of flow. And so when someone says you “are” this way or “are” that way, what they mean is: that is their judgments about your being. But that has nothing to do with your enjoyment of your own life. The only thing you need to know is that there is never a shortage of people that will feel you are beautiful, particularly if you’re also happy and compassionate. Then it’s a guarantee:

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And finally we’ll finish with a wonderful bit of life on Earth. There are so many places in the world where nature expresses itself in fascinating ways. If I had to guess I would say this is in Thailand, but almost certainly it is somewhere in south Asia. It certainly gets you to rethink the idea of a stampede if you’re from cattle country. 🙂

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The world’s a weird and wonderful place. You’re here for a much shorter time than you imagine. So get out there and experience it. It really is worth it. Enjoy your days!

peace and love, s

Scott’s Favourite Blogs of 2013: #2

Winner: Scott’s Favourite Blogs of 2013 #2

266 Relax and Succeed - You don't need anybodyNext year I’m going to give myself a Top Ten instead of a Top Three. It was really hard choosing. Thank goodness that the Ten Most Popular included two that I wouldn’t have wanted to see left out of being recognized. I get calls and emails about these and some of them are extremely touching, while others are simply grateful for some new skill. Either way it’s all music to my ears and beauty to my eyes.

My Second Place Blog-of-the-Year is all about how to not be liked. People mistake popularity for success but real success is when other people can’t disrupt your life much. That’s how you get equanimity: self-control. By actively managing our consciousness it is possible to face a great deal of negativity all while maintaining a compassionate, generous, open perspective. I like it for its clarity about the mechanics of how we torture ourselves by replaying other people’s thinking. Enjoy.

How Not To Be Liked

Because society has used group-thinking to build walls around ideas like beauty or intelligence or value, there are many ways for you to imagine you are failing or wrong. But these are just ideas. This is what it is to liberate yourself—you have to understand that other people’s opinions are just narratives they think that lead to chemical responses in their brain. Quite literally none of that happens in any world you live in. It’s an internal experience they have.

5 Relax and Succeed - There is no way to live where everyone likes youEven if they say something out loud, you still have to confirm it within your own thoughts before you’ll get any change to your chemistry. That’s why Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” If you’re not choosing to think that they either are or may be right, then their words mean nothing. They have no echo in your consciousness. And since there is no such way for their judgment to be “right” anyway, you’re free the moment you switch your insecure thought stream away from that internal conversation and on to something more productive.

You see, your job was never to be liked. Magnets aren’t trying to get metal to like them. Magnets just are and metal just is and the result is that they naturally go together. Magnets don’t attract glass. That doesn’t make either the glass or the magnet “wrong.” They just don’t naturally go together. They can easily and comfortably co-exist in the world but they simply aren’t parts of the universe that fit directly together. We should accept that these differences exist at home at work and within society at large. You don’t date someone because they’re hot because that’s like a tight, cultural lasso binding you together. It’s better that you naturally and constructively fit together, like a magnet and metal, because then your attraction will last and it will have no tension.

If you’re busy trying to be liked you’ll be performing for everyone you meet. You’ll stress yourself trying to sound knowledgeable about sports when you could care less. You’ll put on a dating profile that you love camping when you hate it. You’ll dress in uncomfortable clothing just to create envy in other people. That’s not freedom. That’s the exact opposite. That’s oppression. Why are you running around following all of these lines on the ground? Who painted the lines?

Being Authentically You allows the metals and magnets in your life to find each other. If you’re wearing a mask trying to be everything to everyone then you’ll be blocking your naturally attractive qualities. Your camouflage will hide you from your natural friends and allies. Letting 266 Relax and Succeed - Some people don't like youthose thoughts go and opening yourself up represents a huge plus, because you can take all of that energy you spend trying to look cool or smart or attractive and you can put it into enjoying life!

Apparently Isaac Newton hated people, didn’t bathe, and he worked in the nude. But he loved to discover. That was where his joy was—not in pleasing others. Their ideas about him didn’t bother him because he wasn’t thinking about those ideas—he was thinking about his life’s work. Other people’s ideas about you are meaningless. Do not let them dampen your spirit. Be thoroughly and unapologetically you. There are friends you haven’t met yet who need your light to shine brightly so they can find you.

So remember: what other people think of you is largely irrelevant. Some religious or political fundamentalists may hate the Dalai Lama, but that doesn’t mean the Dalai Lama has to hate them. There is nothing to be gained by carrying that in his heart. They can have that view and he can continue to exist. He can even thrive. After all, Tibet is now much bigger than its borders. It’s a worldwide nation of sorts. Not bad for a guy who was kicked out of his own home and who has lived his entire life under attack. Maybe the peace you seek isn’t so far away after all, huh?

peace. s

Here’s a link to a fascinating radio/podcast documentary that shows you how subtly you’ve been taught to see yourself critically: Under the Influence: Shame