Love in the Trenches

They were out at the lake. The husband had just yelled at his wife for how how dissatisfying he found his lunch. He barely tasted it, choosing instead to storm back down to the lake and take another shot at fixing that stubborn boat engine. The very liberated daughter had watched the whole thing and she clearly was not happy.

“Why would you let him talk to you that way? If Ray ever spoke to me that way I’d show him the door.”

The mother just smiled as she picked up her husband’s uneaten food. She sat at the counter and ate it herself while they talked. “Ray’s way to be angry is to get quiet and cold. Honey, if I left your father every time he was upset we would have been divorced hundreds of times over.”

“All the more reason! Why do you let him treat you like that again and again? You didn’t raise me to be weak like that.”

The mother took a moment before speaking. “You’re right, we didn’t teach you to be weak. But what’s your definition of strong? He was one of the few liberated husbands when we were young. He cooked for you kids, he helped with school work, and he always made sure there was a roof over your head even if he really didn’t like what he was doing for work.”

“That’s 20 years ago! If you’d made him behave back then you probably wouldn’t be dealing with this now.” The daughter was very piqued.

“He’s not a child. And how exactly do you make someone behave? Withhold affection? Make demands? Fight with him? Why would withholding, demanding and fighting do anything for a relationship?”

“Mother! You just made him a incredible quinoa salad and he insulted you! He could at least appreciate that you made it for him!”

The mother pushed her meal aside and she went to the fridge and she started to make a sandwich. “Your father doesn’t like quinoa, you know that. When he was at the peak of his career I used to complain about him not being home enough.”

“Well he wasn’t.”

The mother returned to the fridge for more ingredients. “He wasn’t successful to spite me. Why would I criticise him for something I was proud of? Aren’t you trying to get a promotion right now? Do you see that as an attack on your relationship with Ray? Of course not. You’re trying to succeed at being a good professional, like we raised you to be. It’s a sign of respect to others to do your job well. You know your father always says that.”

“He still shouldn’t talk to you that way.”

The mother stopped and looked at her daughter for a long moment before speaking. “I’m not sure what ‘shouldn’t’ means. Your Dad was in pain. I was just being compassionate. I’m not a pushover.”

“What pain?! He wasn’t in pain! He couldn’t get the stupid boat motor working and so he got angry at you, like he always does when something breaks.”

The mother went back to finishing the sandwich. “Your father prides himself on being able to fix things, it’s what made him look capable in front of his Dad. He feels like he’s letting his Dad down, or he’s not being a man, if he can’t fix something. He’s always been like that.”

“All the more reason for you to tell him it’s time to stop.”

The mother smiled. “I might do that if I could figure out a way to stop getting mad at him. Demands don’t fix relationships honey. Love does.”

“Love doesn’t yell at someone for making them quinoa.”

“That’s right, love doesn’t. He knows I made it because you and Ray were coming out. Your father just told me is that he’s feeling a long way from feeling good. That’s the problem, not whether he likes quinoa. My job isn’t to demand that he like the food you and I like it’s to love him when he feels unlovable.”

“He yelled at you!! Why would you be helping him!! It should be him crawling back up here to apologise to you!”

“Crawling?” The mother smiled at the thought. “Your father’s having his version of a tough day. He stayed too long trying to fix the boat and now he’s really hungry and he came up to eat and found something he finds totally unsatisfying. He gets angry when he’s hungry. That’s just being human.”

The daughter notices the sandwich. “You’re making that for him!”

“He’s hungry. I’m just being practical. He’s in a better mood after he’s eaten. When I’m menopausal and screaming at him for no reason, these are the things he remembers to help balance things out. You see him upset about quinoa. I see a man I care about having a bad day; a man who’s proven himself over and over for all of us.”

“Your expectations are too low.”

“I’m trying not to have any.” The mother picks up the sandwich and starts for the pier. “Sweetheart, you guys just had a baby. You’ve been exhausted and your hormones are going wild. I’ve seen you be pretty mean to Ray, but ninety percent of the time he just takes it because he loves you.” The daughter chases after her.

“That’s a baby! How can you compare that to a boat motor!?”

“Pain is pain. It doesn’t matter whether you broke a foot or a leg.” As they near the water we can see the daughter really cloud over. She is harbouring a lot of anger toward her father. The mother stops and addresses her before walking onto the pier where he and Ray are working.

“Honey. Again: your father’s problem is that he’s suffering. I’m not going to debate whether he deserves to or not. What makes a marriage isn’t weighing whose suffering is worse. I can think about me and what I want, but does he really look like he’s got much to give right now?” Just then the father hurls a wrench angrily onto the pier. The mother kisses her daughter on the cheek and walks out onto the pier and offers the sandwich. He half-heartedly thanks her, but he seems a bit embarrassed.

Later that afternoon he does get the boat going. After a nice steak dinner he suggests a boat ride. Ray suggests, “Should we head down to Half Moon Bay?”

The father walks to his wife’s side and puts his arm around her. “Diane likes the view down by the promenade. I thought we’d go down there.” The mother turns to the daughter, winks and smiles.

Later, while the father and Ray do the dishes, the mother sits down for a tea with her daughter. “Ray might go under soon and we all know it. Every business like his is struggling in this recession and he just had a baby. If that happens you can kick him while he’s down and demand that he do the impossible and undermine his confidence. But after 35 years of marriage I can tell you, you might find that you’d get where you’re going quicker if you just made him some sandwiches instead.”

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.

MoK: Reaching Out With Awareness

Hey there beautiful reader, I’ve got an easy one for you today. You’ve put so much positivity into the world in March that I wanted to thank/reward you with something simple that can add as much to your life as it does to someone else’s.

Today’s action in the March of Kindness requires you to maintain awareness of the world around you. Your eyes and ears have to be on-guard for an opportunity. You want to watch and listen for your chance to be helpful.

This can be anything really. But the idea is that the person can tell that you’ve gone out of your way to help. Maybe you’re leaving a building with no automatic doors and you see a mother with a big stroller heading toward a set of double doors. Running back to help her is clearly out of your way–and that’s what helps her feel “seen.”

The point here is the “seen” part, not the favour. It would be like if someone at work was overrun with work, and you took half your lunch to help them and they’re not even in your department. That’s so rare it’ll feel weird for them that you’d even offer, which is sad in a way. That’s what this March of Kindness is about; weaving kindness more deeply into our lives, our days and our societies.

One of the best places to do these things is with people with whom you are the most familiar. How often does a husband just say to his wife spontaneously, Hey honey, I was thinking it would be nice if I expressed my love in same tangible way that eased your life. Is there anything I can fit into this half hour that I could do for you that would have a big impact on your day or life? That would be something she’d be likely to tell her friends about it would be so notable.

Even small acts like the ones referenced in this article are valuable for the very same reason that the woman being “seen” with the stroller is. It’s the recognition that makes people feel cared about more than the act. Literally, it’s the fact that they were even in your awareness that counts.

Turn up your awareness. Tune into what’s going on. Watch your social media for opportunities rather than things to get outraged about, and then act. If everyone did this every day, the world would literally change. This is why this post from the facebook page yesterday was there. In poor places like Burundi, people need each other more and that need creates tighter, happier communities.

And do me one favour? Enjoy it while you do it. Imagine the feeling they’d have if they suddenly found out the thing you’re doing is taken care of. Because that lightness–that happiness–is really what you gave them.

Have a wonderful day everyone.

peace. s

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

MoK: The Rarest Kindness

By this point we will all have contributed a lot of positivity to the world through our actions in the March of Kindness. Congratulations. Collectively we’ve done a lot. Now it’s time we remembered to include ourselves in that process.

Just as everyone around us benefits equally from kindness, we do too, and in this often fast-paced world too many of us are either so focused on what we’re doing, or we’re too focused on caring for others, to have the time or energy left to care for ourselves.

The greatest kindness anyone can pay to anyone is simply to be present. These are those times when the person feels seen or heard or understood or that a strong connection exists. But most of us have a much better sense of when that’s happening with other people than with ourselves.

When we sense conflict with others we feel an automatic impulse to repair it because in the end, the deepest part of us knows we need each other. This brings the other person or people into focus our awareness and our impulse is to act. Unfortunately, when we have conflict within ourselves we attempt to resolve the conflict by trying to “improve” rather than by making a stronger connection.

You know that improvement feeling. That’s those times where you talk to yourself critically and talk about what you should have done or should do. You spend a painfully large percentage of your life doing that and it’s all for naught. You don’t get better by “improving” yourself, you expand by being present with the world and acting on your nature. When you help others is a great example of that. So today it’s time to shine that same light upon ourselves.

Your act today in the March of Kindness is very simple. Immediately after reading this (or as soon as you have at least 10 full minutes to focus on it), take about five to ten deep breaths. Fill your lungs. Oxygenate your mind and body. Give it part of the fuel that will power your perception.

First, look at your life. Not in that critical, judgmental way you usually do, but look at yourself like you would view a friend or relative you love a great deal. Now imagine someone loving you the same way you love that friend. Imagine that friend just got back from a year away and they’d been in a monastery or something–you couldn’t talk.

Now imagine that they’ve just heard about what’s been going–and I mean literally do this, not brush your way through it quickly like it’s silly. Caring for yourself is not silly. Remember, this friend just heard about your life and they love you. This person that loves you comes back from the monastery all peaceful and caring. They don’t have a lot of money available and they understand you have some real responsibilities, but they know and love you. What act of kindness do they suggest?

Maybe it’s simple–they take you out for your favourite meal. Maybe it’s that they convince you to skip the gym to see a beloved childhood movie. Maybe it’s extra sleep. Maybe they take you for a walk and they discuss with you all of your good times, all of your achievements, all the times you felt proud of yourself. Wouldn’t that be different from all of that self-criticism!

Or here’s a a couple rare ones: Say no to someone when you usually wouldn’t. Or here’s the most challenging one of all. They help you with something. But you’re thinking, Scott, there’s no actual friend. This is me and me. I get it. What I mean is that you find something you need help with and you actually ask for the help you never ask for. Now there’s a rare one.

That’s it. Easy. Be a present open, aware and loving friend to you. But you have to take this seriously. Do you get it? This one’s very important. You can’t shortcut it, cheat it, downplay it or dismiss it–this friend loves you and they’re wise. Take what they suggest you do and then do it. You’re worth that. I’m absolutely certain of it. Do it. I love you.

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.

Background Noise

1098-relax-and-succeed-be-still-and-listenTo many people, there are sounds and then there are words. Words communicate specific ideas between specific people, whereas sounds are more general. Words are intentionally spoken but, other than music, a lot of daily sound is simply the sound of living. It wasn’t for anyone.

If you’re in the forest, sound might mean birds and a waterfall; in a city it can mean sirens and traffic. But to most people that is background. Unless you’re a sound person in film or possibly a composer, for most people those sounds are habitually subtracted from our consciousness. Subtracted. As in; you’ve removed some reality.

If we really want to hear someone we’ll ask the people around them to be quiet. We’ll want to focus on that one voice. Words seem very intentional. Background noises appear less so, but not to whoever or whatever made them. That’s because we handle sound much like we handle the thought-experiment from yesterday about looking versus seeing. We listen for things, we rarely just listen.

1098-relax-and-succeed-the-sound-of-rainIt is because we place such a massive emphasis on words that we’re often lost. If we have a problem and we need an answer, we turn the problem into words and we ask people to give us advice in words. But words are symbols for the world, they are not the world. And people lie all of the time for valid social reasons. So if they’re symbols, and they’re often misleading, why do we use them so much to find our way?

Making matters worse, we spend all day treating these word-symbols as though they are solid, because we see them not as descriptions of the world but rather the world itself. We believe when we then transfer the words to the insides of our heads that we’re continuing to manage the real world using our minds, when it’s really just our ego juggling a bunch of symbols.

In truth we’ve trapped ourselves in an illusion and we’re trying to get out of a symbolic world by using even more symbols. It is the symbols that create the famous Buddhist illusion. When the Buddha speaks of ego, he speaks of mistaking a superficial description for a thing itself.

When you talk to yourself that is 100% symbols. Someone can drive a car without thinking of all of the words associated with driving a car. People aren’t behind the wheel going, “alright, blinker, shoulder check, all clear, lane change, blinker off, check rearview mirror….” etc. They’re just driving. Can you imagine being like that with people?

1098-relax-and-succeed-silence-isnt-emptyIn today’s meditation your job is to flip the world over. Rather than making the words important and the rest the background, you’re going to start ignoring your ego and focusing on the world itself. You want to trade words from outside your head or inside your head for just plain listening. In fact, this practice is often so unusual today that people aren’t even sure how to do it.

Don’t cycle other’s words, or words from your past. Don’t discuss things longer than necessary. Look for a conclusion to the need for words and then take action. The idea is to try to stop using words as soon as you can, and then trade that for active listening. Again, it’s like the difference between going to a big crowd of people and looking for someone, versus noticing someone you know because your eyes and mind are open.

All you’re trying to find today is three things you couldn’t have known or learned were it not for the way you were listening. Three things you realised through sound but you learned it from sounds other than words. If that seems abstract to you–if you’re not sure what I mean–if my words are unclear; just try listening to the world. Then maybe, like seeing a friend you didn’t know was there, you will be able to hear this lesson clearly. 😉

Forget all the words. Be present instead. And have a wonderful weekend everyone.

peace. s

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

Touching Awareness

1096-relax-and-succeed-getting-in-touch-with-your-true-selfYour meditations this week have surrounded different senses, yet each exercise is developing your general sense of awareness. As you leave the busy thoughts in your head behind, life slows down and experiences become deeper. Today we shift that from being limited to your nose our mouth; today we’ll get your whole body involved.

It is easy to forget how complex the world is until we begin to spend time in it instead of our thinking. Not only do things have a texture to our fingers, but they also have a hardness or softness, a smoothness or a roughness, there are angles and temperature and weight. There is the weight of our body on our legs and hips as we press into the floor or our chair. These are all examples of your daily body experiencing feelings that you aren’t actively processing into your personal experience (because you’re too busy talking to yourself).

People find it difficult to block out their own talking head unless they replace that activity with something else. If your brain isn’t busy doing something specific it will wander and create dramas. It is important that your actions are specific and active or, in other words, your actions in life–even including sitting still–should be done so with intention.

1096-relax-and-succeed-touch-has-a-memoryToday you won’t just get another coffee; today you’re going to go through a list of as many adjectives to describe the cup as possible; it’s cold, smooth, heavy, it lists to one side, and it’s heavier than the one you use at home. You feel its weight change as you fill it. You feel the heat transferring around the cup. You feel the subtle strain it places on your upper arm.

If you’re working with a partner, choose some object that you’ll both have access to in your own lives, then compare your touch-based analysis of that object. Maybe you use coffee cups, maybe you use your left shoe, or a product or a tool. Even rolling a plain office chair on a carpet will create all kinds of vibrations etc.

The point again isn’t what you find, it’s that you find it. It’s that you’re telling your mind that tuning itself to the outside world will be helpful. It’s often as helpful as it is to a mountain or rock climber, but when you take away immediate danger people tend to think there’s no danger at all. That’s how people get fired or dumped.

1096-relax-and-succeed-the-body-remembersIf you’re in a relationship, when was the last time you extensively touched your partner in a way that wasn’t sexual? A husband stunned by his divorce once told me that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d said I love you to his wife (hearing), he couldn’t remember the last time he took her out for dinner (tasting), he couldn’t remember the last time he’d bought her flowers (smell) and he remembered he used to massage her shoulders after work but he had no idea when he stopped (touch). I explained to him that because he didn’t know those things then we also had no idea of when he actually discarded his wife from his sensual life. He got the point.

You can not care about doing these meditations. No one is making you do these exercises. This is actual spiritual psychology school. If you don’t even want to participate that’s entirely allowed. But to not participate is also to generally not participate in life; to live without awareness. And that generally goes about as well as anything you do randomly. Add some intention however….

Notice I don’t note a correction. That’s because there’s nothing wrong with you. Once your awareness is up then you have the ability to move to whoever you’re capable of being next. But until then you are trapped by not even knowing fully who or what you are right now.

Today’s meditation is simple. Just feel the world. As much of it as possible, with as many parts of yourself as possible. Because if you want to stop all of those voices there’s no other way except to leave your head and get back into the actual world. That’s where you started life and that’s where you’ll end it. You may as well get familiar with it.

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 Big Lie

What’s the big lie? It’s that nice car where the payment is killing you but it leads your friends to think you’re not in the struggling group. And your ego is happy to have it concealed. Maybe you have nice clothes and makeup and hair, but also a back-breaking credit card bill, or exotic holidays that are added to your line of credit. All of that looks great on social media but it’s also what keeps you running on that treadmill. Still, that’s probably better than the rest, who aren’t into cars or fashion or travel but they are running because of cancer, a divorce, a disease or a lawsuit.

Since the housing crisis almost a decade ago, around the world many people are struggling with the downturn. A lot of good people worked very hard for years and now they’re exhausted, broke, they’re losing everything and they can’t even figure out where to turn in their white flag to surrender. They literally wonder where their life went. Certainly having a positive, abundant attitude will help a great deal in finding solutions, but we must look for our solutions in spiritually sound ways.

I heard a guy who wrote a book on happiness on the radio yesterday and he stated that everyone has a dream inside them and that everyone can make their living doing something worthwhile and fulfilling if they just approach finding it the right way. This has become a very popular idea and the implication is this choice would carry you safely and happy into your later years. I’ll agree that we should lead inspired lives, but that’s where I depart from most other people on what’s real. In fact, I would argue that selling that idea is part of what’s causing the suffering we’re seeing today.

1012-relax-and-succeed-tibetan-proverbYes, you could write a book that sells a million, but there was a reason that novelist was listed as one of the most over-rated jobs by Forbes. That’s just one book. There’s very few writers who string several together. You might write a great app–that happens all the time. It also doesn’t happen the vast majority of the time and that’s okay because you’ll likely find more happy people at simple jobs than at impressive or powerful ones.

As Paul McCartney said about what he’d do if he wasn’t a musician; “I’d be a gardener or a carpenter.” That’s wise. Those people do their time, don’t think about it too much and then go home with a clear head and no one texting them from work at 11pm. They sleep well and they have the energy to put into dreams that have nothing to do with money.

My Dad just shingled roofs most of your life. It’s hard work but it’s honest and it keeps you in shape. He was happy to provide for his kids. He took actual active pride in that. He didn’t feel badly for what we didn’t have, he was pleased that he gave us a stable home with no violence–which is something he didn’t have.

1012-relax-and-succeed-the-real-giftIn this world there are bad stone-cutters, there’s true craftsmen and there’s Michelangelo. Dad was a craftsmen. The first two aren’t failed attempts at the third. The first is either inexperienced or in the wrong job, the second’s day is made up of their focus, which is why they can be admired by other stonecutters. It’s only Michelangelo’s fame that makes us feel like he’s a pinnacle, but we have to remember he was forced to build a church he didn’t want to build for a Pope he didn’t like. It’s not like that fame bought him more time with his stone angels, rather it took him away from them.

Rather than look for a lofty dream or something big or profound or impressive, try making everything you do profound with your presence. I watched my Dad often at work, and unlike a lot of workers you never saw him muttering to himself about anything; how he wished the past had gone, how he hoped the future would go, or how he felt the present moment was treating him personally. He just nailed shingles.

Maybe that doesn’t seem like much, but that quiet mind and focus added up to peaceful days, a happy man and a wonderful father, and those are extremely fulfilling things that will please you far more than fame or wealth on the day you die. So don’t feel lesser if your work isn’t shiny and impressive. What matters is that you’re fully focused on the doing of it, because when my Dad shingled he wasn’t excited or inspired, he was truly Zen. He simply chopped wood and carried water and he didn’t think too much about it. And as it turns out, that is actually what real success looks like.

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.

Emotional Conclusions

You have a primary one of these. It’ll be invisible to you because you’re blinded by your ego’s narrative justifications but it’ll be what most other people primarily know as your personality. We have those angry friends, or the passive ones, or the judgmental ones, or the make-peace ones and we’re one of those too. Won’t it be interesting for you to figure out which one you are?

984-relax-and-succeed-anxiety-girlThat is the definition of a meditation. Use thought to take the thinker apart. If someone brings you a bald fact like; something broke, are you inclined to immediately want to ascribe blame? Do you immediately get angry? Do you immediately offer help? Do you apologise even if you had nothing to do with what went wrong? You’ll do all of these, but you’ll do one or two of them a lot. Those are your most common emotional conclusions. You’ll look at facts but you’re subconsciously heading toward a particularly family of negative energy conclusions.

This is why it is important to become conscious. Your brain should not be allowed to chew through the world all willy-nilly without someone guiding it. It doesn’t matter what happens you always have choices about how you react to anything so it makes sense that we would want to practice that sort of control. That means slowing down our processes.

We have to get off autopilot by forgetting our objective. We can’t have a destination we’re trying to force a conversation toward. That silent objective is our enemy. It is created in a false future by our ego. We need to be fully aware of the person we’re communicating with in the present moment. We need to hear what they say with no expectation and we have to simply let the information be, and trust that our real answer will emerge naturally. We must be patient for wisdom to become known to us.

984-relax-and-succeed-conclusionYou’ll have a personality. There’s nothing wrong with that. Bands need both lead singers and drummers. So don’t be afraid to be yourself, but be a conscious self. Be aware that your ego tilts towards particular types of thoughts. Some people are more afraid where others are more adventurous. Some are strict and some play fast and loose. Some are very serious and others are very humorous. Some are helpful others are selfish. And some of these people are us.

You’ll still get caught in ego and have reactions you regret, but as you get more distance between your true self and your automatic ego-responses you will find it easier to apologise for your ego. It’s almost as though it’s another person, like it’s your dumb twin that often does the wrong and selfish thing.

Egos think the world is about them, although they see those times as the world being “wrong.” Your higher self has no personal perspective at all and it’s that very open awareness that helps your soul divine the direction of your path through life. To struggle is to swim across or against the current. To soar is to float in the centre of the Tao, in the flow of not-being. Don’t let subconscious thought habits prevent you from experiencing the clarity of that reality. Find your primarily conclusion today, become conscious and be free of needless suffering.

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.

Model Parenting

981-relax-and-succeed-what-dads-seeA fearful parent isn’t parenting when they’re preventing danger, they’re parenting when they’re being afraid. An angry parent isn’t parenting when they’re disciplining, they’re parenting when they’re scaring people. And a sad parent isn’t parenting when they’re warning their child about all of the potential pitfalls in life, they’re parenting when they see themselves as weak and incapable. And the narcissists… well they aren’t parenting at all.

Of course each of the examples is in a small way a form of narcissism in that any of us in an egocentric state would be focusing on a personal wants rather than the needs of the child. The fearful parent wants a safer world, the angry one wants a more predictable world and the sad one wants a more loving world. An ego just talks to itself about how scary the world is, how dumb people are, or how much life sucks.

You can live or you can ruminate. Rumination is static life. Nothing’s actually happening, you’re just thinking about things and going through the motions of a very limited existence. That’s like being in the Matrix. It’s repetitive and uninspiring and unproductive. A life of action however is filled with inspiration, cooperation, creativity and productivity. You can’t want to give blood or want to get a new job or want to invent something–you have to actually turn that thought into an action and you will meet other like-minded souls.

981-relax-and-succeed-your-kids-dont-want-a-perfect-momParenting while ruminating is to be an absentee parent. You can sit with your kid and be on your phone or doing work or thinking about your own problems but then you’re not really with them at all and they feel it. I know countless kids who live in gorgeous showhomes and they ride around in the finest cars and yet their lives are hollow and cold. More than anything kids want genuine connection and our own wants can get in the way of that happening. It can’t be ego to ego, it has to soul to soul. It’s better for all involved.

Put the phone down, stop working, don’t have a time limit. Just be with them. Notice when you speak and when you don’t. Are you corrective? Warning? Upset? From what perspective do you parent? There’s no wrong perspectives as long as you manage yourself–and your kids will be very forgiving–but it’s up to you to model the self-control they’ll need when they’re older. If you just listen completely you’ll be surprised at how helpful you can be.

Your fears are yours. Have them. Feel them. But don’t transplant them into your children. In other words don’t limit them with your fears. Don’t let your anger make them afraid to express themselves or you’ll cripple every romantic relationship they have. And don’t drag them down to commiserate with you in your sadness. You’d both be better off going to a good comedy together. The bottom line is, kids should courageously find out who they are and not be frightened into being someone smaller.

981-relax-and-succeed-i-am-ready-to-accept-youWe’ve been raising kids for millions of years. Lately some are becoming remarkably capable while at the same time others are functioning as mere shadows of their true selves. Insecure and depressed kids aren’t lacking in potential at all, but many have been crushed by the hopes and fears of their parents. To the contrary, the capable kids weren’t parented into being amazing, they were amazing simply because they had the room to grow. Let your kids grow.

Life comes with some bumps and bruises to the body and the heart. Don’t let that stop you from living. Lead by example. A deep and meaningful life is waiting. Your children only need to see you pursuing your dreams for them to understand that they should chase theirs too.

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.

Healing Animals

932 Relax and Succeed - When I look into the eyes of an animalWe all want to feel better. We all seek solutions to problems or to better ourselves in some way. We want to see life advance and grow and expand and we want to deal with people and situations that will permit or even encourage that growth. We see the challenges associated with money, status and power but we recognize almost none regarding peace.

Peace of Mind is an actual state. You have no resistance, no struggle, no distance, no desire. You are completely fine with the world as it is. You accept it and there isn’t even any classification of things let alone full narratives about them. You are clear and present in the moment–the most peaceful and beautiful place to be.

When we’re locked in ego we’ll tend to try to use ego to get back to peace, which you can’t really do. You can’t try your way into peace you have to relax your way in. It’s an act of letting go. A good example is a young lady who has been walking her dog in front of my house for several years now. She used to be very happy but now she has many problems.

932 Relax and Succeed - Learn a lesson from your dogBack when she’d first got her dog the dog was the center of her life. It got played with in the park, he was always looked at and talked to. Dogs are great because they’re a pack animal that is brilliant at forgiving and it’s like they’re just always waiting for something great to happen. She used to love watching him spot a squirrel or another dog he was excited to see. Now she’s mostly upset.

She’s a teenager now so her parents got her a phone. Presumably this is about connectivity with her family and friends and that’s all understandable and yet, being a tool, she’s learned to think of her tool as her answer instead of herself. So before she had the phone she got half an hour off each evening for a nice peaceful dog walk. Now the dog walks ignored alongside her while she mostly argues with people via her phone via earbuds that block the world out.

Sometimes she walks by talking to someone about some offense she’s experienced, sometimes she’s texting with a worried or angry look on her face. She used to smile and say hello to many neighbours previously, but these little doses of happiness have been forgone in favour of the phone. Those dog walks used to create great happiness within her but now her what’s next? brain is waiting for happiness to be delivered to her via the external world.

932 Relax and Succeed - The vital function that pets fulfillMeanwhile the dog is still there, ignored but very present. He notices the neighbours every time he passes. She can walk past some amazing things and not even notice she’s done it. So the purpose of her wanting the dog was wanting companionship and the dog did that really well. The phone was also a request for increased companionship in a way, but if you were to look at the results the way a scientist would, it seems crazy that the phone would go on the walks because it almost always leads to frustration or worry or sadness whereas the dog never did.

Now she’s locked into an external world where she’s fighting an external battle for status or money or power or love. These are all gains of the ego. Her spirit could easily be happy with just the dog. There’s a lot of evidence that the dog would do the same thing as before if she only paid it some attention. He still has the same demeanour, he still watches her hoping she’ll interact. He still believes in her. It’s her that doesn’t believe in her.

If you have a pet then consider spending more time with it as a spiritual exercise. Watch how the animal reacts to the world relative to you. Watch how you feel when you’re with it. Just like any good guru a dog will always be willing to join you in the moment you are in if you are willing to abandon your thoughts about other places and other times.

Look into your fellow creature’s face. See your old friend there. They’re waiting for you to come to them so they can heal with you. Join them.

pees. 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.

Wanting More

908 Relax and Succeed - It's only your egoWhen people start to work on themselves spiritually or psychologically it is usually because they want to feel better than they currently do. But wanting inevitably involves a time other than now–a time in which you hope to have your want filled. Therefore it is impossible to be in a state of wanting and to simultaneously also be fully present in the now.

People find this easier to grasp when they think of trying to not want foods that aren’t good for them, or from spending too much, or any other thing they’ve done for years. Those are pretty material, physical things that we can imagine doing and stopping. So we can want a million dollars, but we learn if we can’t have it in this moment then we’re better to stop wanting it because the wanting will create our suffering.

908 Relax and Succeed - Remember that sometimesThe trickier wants to prevent and stop are the ones you don’t see as wants. Things like wanting to be loved, wanting to be understood, wanting to understand, wanting to know what happened, wanting to be somewhere else, wanting to be with someone else, wanting to feel better, wanting spiritual growth–these are the ones that eat away at our lives.

Jealousy, envy, comparison, worry, stress, longing, frustration, anger–these all require wanting. Wanting someone to date you instead of someone else, wanting to have a particular waistline, wanting to know who’s getting laid-off, wanting to have your career progress more quickly, wanting something to stop, wanting something to start, wanting a different history or a different future, wanting to be enlightened–these are all just variations on optional suffering.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering simply arises because of our wanting. Modern life, elements of language and the complexities of large-scale social structures have created environments that can leave us feeling inadequate when really we’re just being asked to be good at too many different things.

908 Relax and Succeed - A secret to happinessWe all know people that are good with their hands or others who are great at calculation, or others who are physically strong or brave. Yet we built a world in which each us us is expected to be good at all of these things. This is what ultimately leads to us turning our thoughts against ourselves in our desire to be a version of complete that was never intended by nature. It imagined us working together, not each of us trying to be everything to everyone.

Understandably, under constant stress to be too many things, we either want changes to other people or changes to ourselves. So rather than flow with life and turn our attention to the many gifts life always brings, instead we time travel, scanning and searching our future and past for any damaged caused or potentially caused by our inadequacies. Too few people see avenues of intense interest. Most are navigating through their fears.

Be free instead. Watch for your wanting today. Note how it’s always there when you’re suffering. Remove the desire, remove the want. They’re only made of thoughts. Refocus them elsewhere. It’s really easy. All you have to do is practice. Will you?

Have a wonderful day everyone.

peace. s

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