It Starts Now

Video below.

You’re worried and you want certainty. You don’t want to make a so-called “big” decision in case you choose the wrong thing. And yet, as expensive as it is to your life, your mind and your body, you will worry despite the fact that it does nothing but stretch out the decision time. In fact, it’s helpful to recognise that a decision-making delay is the only reason there’s even room in your life for worrying.

The universe rather obviously wanted a you to exist. That’s why you’re here. You’re part of nature. You just have this odd habit of talking to yourself like your someone undeserving of respect, as though the stories you tell yourself in your head matter as much as the fact that the universe bothered to create you in the first place.

Just accept you’ll make mistakes and then trust yourself. Give up on figuring it out before you get to the moment you’re in. Failing is a part of the story you’re in, it’s not anything more meaningful than that. This is a massive drama. Don’t even try to imagine how your role ultimately fits in, just trust that your lines will occur to you when you need them. The best kind of prepared you can be is to be relaxed and to have faith in yourself.

It hurts less. It really does. Too many of your attempts to preserve your life, your health, your sanity and your reputation are all more painful than just facing life as plain old you. Again, your job’s not to be an impressive character, your job is to be you so that the story can unfold naturally. Just live without all of that second-guessing. The second-guessing is the pain. Again: the second guessing is the pain.

All the planning in the world can still not guarantee success. Accept that fact and begin living within reality, where your control is limited, but your ability to adapt is fantastic. Rather than being a rigid person looking for a perfect world, be a flexible person who comes to enjoy the leaps and tumbles that go with discovery, realisation and enjoyment.

If you’d just stop your efforts to avoid suffering, you wouldn’t have to suffer so much. Leap. It’s okay. Life will catch you.

Have a great weekend everyone.

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.

Knowing vs Understanding

Most of the time in life we don’t stop to truly consider each idea that is presented to us. We just accept them, and yet if someone asks you something obvious like: what exactly is the difference between being alive and being dead? you realize that even philosophers who ask that question as a full time job are incapable of finding one, single encapsulating answer. That’s because it is possible to understand something without knowing it.

481 Relax and Succeed - Out of your vulnerabilitiesSo we all know what death basically is. We just don’t know what defines the actual transom between life and death. Knowing that is a bit like a mathematician taking me through the various steps of a large formula. I can understand each step, but if you ask me if I know the whole formula itself, I probably don’t. My knowledge would not be deep enough. Similarly, I understand how a car engine works, but on 95% of breakdowns I wouldn’t know enough to be able to help.

Knowing is when you own an idea. That’s when your brain is wired up to include a framework for the analysis and calculation that goes with that idea. If someone explains something to you, they can step by step you through other ideas you already know to eventually reach the correct conclusion. But that is different from you practising that calculation until you understand it in a different way. When you get what it’s doing—that’s when the idea becomes yours and you can’t unlearn it. It is now a part of your brain. You have been expanded.

This explains why smokers can understand that smoking is bad for them and yet they still do it. It’s why lovers return to bad relationships over and over. It’s why people eat when they’re not even hungry. You can understand an idea intellectually. But until you can see how that idea comes alive in your own life, you cannot make any real use of your awareness. Knowing about something is not the same as understanding that if you don’t act soon, there will be 481 Relax and Succeed - It is not what you do for your childrenrepercussions you’d prefer to avoid. When that idea belongs to you as an aspect of your own life, then you know something well enough to be able to act upon it. To own it, those pathways have to spend time in your brain being used.

This is why you can’t suddenly teach your kids about money when they’re in their teens. That’s way too late. Money is a concept. If it’s not linked to sacrifice early in life, then later lessons will have much less value. It isn’t a matter of a kid learning to add or subtract better, it’s them developing a strong framework for the idea of limits and planning and value. How much work/time is this or that worth? It’s funny how much less appealing something is when you actual weigh out how hard you’ll work to earn that much—after taxes.

If a kid has to deal with money issues, they become second nature just like some kids eat potatoes and some eat rice. If you’re exposed to something you come to understand it through that exposure. But for those pathways in the brain to be effective, they have to be well-established before the introduction of larger amounts of money. To wait until then is to leave a child with an unsharpened tool to hunt with.

Teaching a kid to budget isn’t cruel or difficult. It’s necessary if you want your child to have a brain that can actually manage money in a useful, sophisticated way. Because otherwise they’ll nod at you and earnestly tell you that they do understand, but once they get out into the world they will eventually realize that they never did truly know what it was they were doing.

481 Relax and Succeed - Treat people as if they wereDon’t teach your kids a set of beliefs. Instead, teach them how to learn, and then inspire them. Let them go at whatever pace suits them. Some kids develop quickly at one age, others at other ages. There is no set of rules other than the fact that their brain will be built by experiences. Put a smart kid in a car and drive him everywhere and he’ll have a high IQ and no sense of direction whatsoever. Same with the ability to manage finances.

Don’t explain things to your kids. Set up experiences and then let them learn by living up to the same responsibilities that simply reflect the world they will actually live in. It’s easier on you and it helps them to see how capable they truly are, which is great for their sense of self-worth. And self-worth is something every ego struggles with whether it’s rich or poor, so as much as possible avoid ego, and after that just teach the kid the stuff they need to know to survive without you. Have fun!

Have an awesome day.

peace. s

Engineering Neuroses

My husband and I are both Engineers. We don’t like surprises. We’re extremely thorough and we plan everything. We’re both wasting large amounts of time worrying about the possibility that we may have developed the wrong plans. These thoughts and worries are increasing over time. I’m concerned this will continue on to become something more neurotic.
Do you have any suggestions for curbing this type of behaviour?

Engineering Neuroses

Dear Neuroses,

Shouldacouldawoulda. You’re engineering yourself some agony and you don’t need to curb it, you need to understand it. Because once you truly understand it you’ll realize that it has no power over you whatsoever. Let’s break it down into components.

332 Relax and Succeed - Two things to rememberFirstly—you and your husband were attracted to your profession for good reason. Early experiences shape our thinking. The patterns in that thinking naturally suit certain jobs whereas others will feel entirely foreign and uncomfortable. If you both liked engineering then it makes sense that you would also like to calculate all of your variables as a way of predicting your success. Engineers like things known. They like things to add up. They like things to fit neatly into formulas suitable for analysis. They like to be able to gauge and verify and calculate their benefits. And up until now you had calculated that your planning paid off, but now the math is getting skinny and you’re not so sure. I agree that it’s worth a second look.

Yes we should live in-the-moment, and yes one of the things you can do in this moment is plan for a future moment. But you can’t get attached to those plans. Some ideas are indeed so sure that we do live as though they are certain. Every morning I get up I assume the floor will still be there when I put my feet down. I do not however assume that I’ll win the lottery. And most of life is somewhere between the two. The question is, where is the healthiest place to put your line?

First off, the line can move at any moment so it’s not like this is a decision that has to be made and applied to all contexts. You can have your line be here one day, and somewhere else the next. But you absolutely do need some indication as to when you’re wasting your energy or hurting your potential overall results. So if you waste hours and hours worrying about an event that has very low odds of happening, then you know it’s very unlikely to pay off. But some consideration of the potential downsides is worthwhile. You know when you’ve passed healthy when the suffering from the worrying is exceeding the relief from the avoidance of actual issues. Seeing potential pitfalls and building in safeguards is fine. But pure worry is a complete waste of energy because it isn’t changing anything except for lowering your resilience.

332 Relax and Succeed - Worry is a misuse of your imaginationIt also makes sense that this would be building. You’re Engineers. I’m sure you look at each subject exhaustively. But that just gives you way more starting off points for a self-discussion about what might go wrong. There’s too many details so they end up like tripwires for your thinking. Each one’s a little canyon you can chase your thoughts down. The more details the more canyons. And of course canyon’s beget canyons. Each new one has subsidiaries that also need exploration. Can you see how this maze you’re in gets bigger by thinking, not smaller?

The trickiest part of this will be for you to get comfortable with the discomfort of the unknown. Since it’s your nature anyway, I would suggest you consider selling yourself on the idea because it makes mathematical sense. If every possibility can then be refined into smaller and smaller potential futures, then it only makes sense that your thinking will get busier the longer you do it. The canyons and sub-canyons will always exist. The question isn’t that you nervously leave some unexplored. Rather it’s more than you earnest recognize the futility of the calculations in the first place. Can some things be reasonably predicted? Yeah. But are most way harder to predict than most people guess? Yeah again. So surrender. Realize that you can get more joy by having fun rather than doing insane amounts of calculations in the vain hope that they will protect you from the real three-dimensional world out there. There is a certain amount of pain that is mandatory. Trying to avoid it will only incur more pain.

Stop the course of your mind. Go quiet and observe. What you notice will be much more valuable than what you calculate.

Enjoy your day.

peace. s