The Emotional Wobbles

1209 Relax and Succeed - Happy piggy desk wobblerBoing. Maybe you even have one of these wobblers on your desk or dashboard. They remind me of people. When we’re younger we have an idea of our lives that is unperturbed. It’s starts as a straight line. We have a general direction and lots of energy and we see no reason why our crisp clean dreams won’t line up.

But dreams are a form of expectation, and when we’re young we tend to overvalue the happiness that will be derived from the achieving the expectation, which leads to unhealthy attachments. Simultaneously we undervalue our own internal peace. Many of us can remember some early, less mature relationships that we took to be true love, when really those were just some of our first encounters with non-familial love, so they felt a bit intense due to a lack of contrast. We overreact because we don’t have that spectrum of experience to balance things with yet.

Our love is true then in the sense that we see none of the person’s undesirable traits when we look at them, but when we have limited experience it’ll be highly conditional love based on the person meeting our expectations, which were based on our dreams. But they can’t act out our dreams. They have a dream of their own that they expect us to be a part of. And when we both first feel that impact to our egocentric, thought-based dreams, it sends us reeling. Our pendulum naturally swings hard to one side, which in turn generates a near-equal and immediate response and we all fly back in the opposite direction.

1209 Relax and Succeed - Things that matterBecause your dreams of your future depend on this person loving you, you are prepared to reach too far to bend yourself into your dream. But the more you demand, the more the person insists on being themselves and the more they move away from you, and the push and pull between your ego and spirit have you penduluming back and forth for a while before you calm down. (As an example, think of how teens and parents push against each other’s wills.)

What you really want in your life is love, but if you mistake the person for the love then you can end up wobbling strongly off your center in your attempt to connect to them, when in fact you’re actually reaching for a finger instead of noticing that it’s pointing at the moon. You eventually surrender your dream as you realise you’ve miscast it. As you wobble your way out of those thoughts your emotional swings are consistently less dramatic until life gets almost too still and too boring.

Over time we get sanguine about the impacts. As each hit comes and does the same thing, and as we see ourselves react, it’s not like our life is rocked less; it’s more that we accept the extreme motion as a natural result of the intensity of the original event. Rather than making it worse by hurrying to calm it, we learn to just ride it more like a seasoned circus performer whose act is to gracefully balance. They can do that because they stop focusing on the external motion and they focus instead on maintaining their internal center of balance.

1209 Relax and Succeed - Focus on the goal not the obstacles

With any event, the less you focus on the impact and the faster you focus on the way out, the better. But this means letting go of our attachments and even after we’ve grown in wisdom, that’s not a painless process. But then again, we need some sources of sorrow too, don’t we? Otherwise we’d lose all of the beautiful relevant art as well as all of the empathetic experiences we share and connect through.

Allow yourself to swing from side to side when you’ve taken a hit. But don’t make that emotional sway your identity. You’re still the thinker of those thoughts, you’re not the thoughts themselves. You still get to choose your thoughts and your attitude about life. They’ll just get interrupted by emotional extremes while your wobbles are extreme. But once you feel them, use that as a signal to reset and calm your internal voices.

Over time, and by nature, the swings always reduce in intensity as you learn to let your internal arguments go. And by the time you’re life is too still, a part of you will be secretly conspiring to get some drama back. Because deep down our spirit likes that drama. You can tell because, when you stop to think about it, most of our wobbles actually originate with us.

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.

What’s the Difference Between a Justification and an Excuse?

The words are so similar that it’s obvious they will be interchanged. Even native English speakers aren’t certain of the difference if you press them, other than the fact that a lot of them know that lame more often modifies one, while good often qualifies the other. After all, who’d rather offer a lame excuse when they can offer a good justification?

To start with, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of the time most people do not intend to do harm. If they do it’s usually because they feel they’re trying to regain ground they feel they have already lost, so they see it more as justified revenge. But even a retaliation is really a new attack, so it’s really just another aggressive form of blaming someone for over-blaming you. In essence then, harm is another form of blame.

Since blame is an offensive act, the only logical reaction is a defensive one, so we shouldn’t be surprised that justifications and excuses are both defensive terms. The difference is, the justifier believes their reasoning to be valid, whereas in an excuse we generally believe that someone is trying to avoid their actual responsibilities. But if that’s the case, who decides which it is?

Remember from paragraph two; people don’t see themselves as starting problems. They see blame as them making things right. If someone won’t accept our blame then we feel things cannot be made right, and this just intensifies the blame. But what do we mean by made right?

The fact is, most people give justifications but hear excuses, so what your explanation is called is often dependant on who’s naming it. That’s why it’s called being held responsible. It’s not like anyone feels you would stay still for it if you were going to experience blame. Even your dog hides when it feels it’s done something wrong.

This means the sender sends blame, the blamed offer their justifications, and then the blamer either accepts the justification or they rename the justification an excuse. But even if you don’t want to accept an excuse, that doesn’t mean that the person who did it doesn’t feel justified. This leaves us with one act with two definitions, which is yet another clear demonstration that the world is clearly made up of individual perspectives, not one central truth.

In the end there are neither justifications or excuses, there are only the opinions or judgments of those ascribing them. Which begs the question, why do you feel it necessary to offer so many justifications to the opinions you hear? You know when you feel good about what you’ve done and when you feel bad. That should be your divining rod, not people’s random, ever-changing opinions.

Forget making excuses for your life. Forget justifying it. See these words for what they really are: explanations that people will either accept or not accept. How honest you’re being will have little to do with whether they believe you or not, so if the person has power over you through your attachment to either love or money, then accept the fact that until you get out of that situation you may need to live as though you share their opinion when you don’t. But even that is a weighted choice. In most cases you can leave.

People will make judgments about your life all the time. You job isn’t to make them stop or to justify your actions. Your only spiritual responsibility is to do your best to stay on a path where you feel good inside about your reasons, even if they were only good reasons when you made the decision. After the moment it was made in, even your own view of it is just another opinion. And you don’t want to live in that kind of self-talk because trust me, you are far too great a being, living in far too fantastic a universe, for any opinion to ever be able to encapsulate all the wonder that you truly are.

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.

Managing Frustration

You know those times where you work hard on something and yet no matter how hard you try or how important it is, it just won’t work? It’s worthwhile focusing on how to manage frustration because unmanaged, it soon becomes anger. Then, before you know it it’s not your challenge that’s the challenge, it’s your state of mind.

Step one is to be more emotionally aware. Don’t be the frustration, realise that it is a product of your use of your consciousness. If you want to change how you feel you need to change what you’re focused on. The frustration emerges from that focus being on your desire. All you start seeing is that a) you want it, and b) you can’t have it. But those are both things that don’t relate to your actual problem, they are judgments regarding your inability to solve it. That’s quite different than tackling the actual solving.

After I’ve noted I’m feeling the emotion, the first thing I try to check for is my two common mistakes: I’m overtired or really hungry. I’m normally better at these, but with my life being very naturally busy at this stage there isn’t as much choice in these matters as I would like. But I can still make sure I rest and eat when it’s most helpful. It’s a challenge I’m actively working on.

Another action to take is to remove yourself temporarily from the problem. Ideally this is to do something entirely unrelated, like spending time playing a game, or walking in nature, seeing loved ones (including pets), as well as things like cooking or other non-word-based activities like gardening or photography. It can even be a 20 minute power nap.

It’s said that Thomas Edison, when stuck on a problem, sat in a rocking chair with a fork pinched between his two fingers, which he hung over a metal pie plate he placed on the floor next to him. As he fell asleep his grasp would ease, the fork would clatter down and Edison would be awakened in a fresh state of mind, having let go all of his previous avenues of thought.

Remember, frustration is the overuse of one area of your mind. You burn it out, and if you’ve been through it exhaustively then the answer just isn’t there. The only thing that prevents you from abandoning the path you’re on is your own self-generated internal dialogue about how much work you don’t want to abandon. That causes your narratives to keep trying to meaninglessly convey the importance of your deadline or the thing itself. It doesn’t matter how important those are if you’re not looking in the right place for your answer. It’s time to accept that reality and regroup and set out in a new direction. Your emotions are guiding you wisely.

After you’ve done your reset, simply relooking at the problem will often present new ideas for solutions. This is where all of your seemingly wasted previous work becomes useful because, by working so hard on figuring something out, you get to know its component parts extremely well. Once you find your path you really can move faster.

Sometimes this needs to be done multiple times on a task. I watched a guy go for about 20 walks on his way to trying to building a model airplane. I remember him telling me that he found it hard to surrender, but he knew from experience that it was better to go for the walks than to smash the airplanes. Indeed, it’s easier if you start the management process before you’ve lost your cool numerous times.

A lot of anger would be avoided if people managed their irritations and frustrations more actively. Work on yours this week. Stay aware of your state of mind and actively manage it to your maximum benefit. You’ll be more productive, happier and you’ll enjoy what you’re doing a lot more. Here’s to a great week for all of 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.

Understanding Your Raison D’être

1082-relax-and-succeed-we-are-stars-wrapped-in-skinDid you find what and who haunts you yesterday? For some it was easy and for others the specifics of their central truth was difficult to clarify, but almost everyone will have mistaken their gift for a problem.

In theatresports, a form of improv comedy, there is a terrible thing the host can do to a team and it is to leave them in space, with no surfaces for them to push off of to propel themselves. You can’t just put a performer on stage and say slow-motion! or astronaut! or nighttime! because that’s akin to saying be funny.  That is too much to ask of the performer.

You’re a soul. Your identity is the performer. So your identity needs some surfaces to triangulate off of to ensure you are free to go anywhere once you have intention. When we discussed the temari yesterday, we did a meditation designed to get you to find your temari frame; otherwise known as your problem, or… the framework that you push off to get where you’re going.

1082-relax-and-succeed-people-torture-themselvesSomeone who suffers from a mental illness is missing some surfaces and so their movement is limited and they have the potential to leap completely away. And someone with too many surfaces can be spun into meaninglessness by bouncing around inside them incessantly without ever going anywhere. Regardless of how sides we have, we all need somewhere to start. Even if all we’re going to be is in opposition of it, we need something to be in opposition of.

Without comparison we don’t exist. Existence is co-dependent. We had to be someone. Even if we became enlightened and could be a profound version of nobody, the world will make us someone through comparison. That is how egos work. They compare, value and judge. A man gave up everything but love and became Gandhi, and yet he was killed because someone else thought him evil.

Today’s meditation is to meditate on the relationship between your life and your villain. You’re looking for the links. Do not stop looking until you find one that surprises you. Only then are we somewhere new in your mind. Are you like Steve and did you become someone in opposition to someone, or were you inspired by one parent to wrap while the other built your frame? Or…” These last two days are very important. Make sure you do these meditations earnestly. You’ll be the winner.

1082-relax-and-succeed-we-assume-others-show-loveHow the outside world reacts to you during your life is no good sign of whether or not you’re on the right course. If that were true there’d be no Van Gogh’s. People’s reactions come from their identities which are versions of their egos. The only really good indicator is that divine, pure intelligent part of you that is connected to everything. That’s the feeling that caused you to fall in love inexplicably–but you knew. It’s like recognising your own child the first time you see them–but you knew. Well deep deep down, you know yourself like that because deep deep down you deserve love too.

The challenges you faced when you were young are not the harsh cold edges of the bane of your existence, they are the very framework on which the vine of your brilliance can wrap itself as as it grows and expands and flowers.

The frame is the frame and everyone has one. Comparing to see whose is worse is not the point. Discussing them is not the point. Understanding them is not the point. The wrapping of our frame is the point, because once you’re done wrapping your temari, you’ll be left with something beautiful: you. And that is how  the greatest villains in our lives can secretly become our saviours.

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.

Gradual Growth

1073-relax-and-succeed-we-can-live-without-religionIsn’t it strange learning something in a non-linear way? I have to do it that way because I’m showing you something that you can’t understand by processing it in the usual way. In fact, that usual way is what causes you all the trouble, so I have to work around it by doing things your logical mind can’t fully understand.

Today’s meditation involves the reason you’ll feel like you have problems and how it often connects to your ideas about time. The brain is decent at storing things, but it’s best dealing with now because in reality that’s the only place you can ever really be or act to change your life. It makes sense that if you have something you want to solve, you need to deal with it around the time that you perceive the problem.

Our focus today is, was that really a problem? Or was it simply a lack of understanding? What is a problem?

Problems are things that we think might cut us off from others. Connection is natural and anything that threatens that is something to be dealt with. So if someone’s mad at you, what does that imply? Your problem is their anger and so you want to explain so you can fix it. Or maybe their problem is that they feel you betrayed them and you want them to understand. Or maybe they want something different than you so you have to explain how they should want what you want.

1073-relax-and-succeed-the-practice-of-forgivenessThink back to three people you’ve been upset with in your lifetime; three people who you now have forgiven despite the fact that they never apologised or maybe even changed. Some little things are fine, but include at least one big thing. Ask yourself what changed between when you were mad and when you let it go? Did they change or did you?

If you look closely, your forgiveness would have come easily once your understanding and empathy increased. Once you either understood the world or yourself better you adjusted your judgments. This is no small thing. This means you can change others by changing yourself.

People are not fixed points in a fixed universe. They look different from every angle, like Earth might from different directions in space. Look at it one way and it’s the Pacific, another and it’s the Himalayas. How you saw others would be like aliens looking at the Himalayas and concluding that the entire planet was a mountain range that reached up over 6,000 meters (20,000 feet). But you need a broader, more well-rounded perspective before you can really say you have even a basic understanding of Earth. The same goes for people.

1073-relax-and-succeed-the-future-is-something-which-everyone-reachesFind your examples. Note your forgiveness and see that it was acceptance. Note how they didn’t change, you did. A change in your perspective changed who they are to you because there is no truth. There is no hallowed ground to stand on. Everything is a perspective. This is about abandoning the desire for certainty to live in the reality of mystery. You think you don’t like mystery, but over time I will prove to you that you really do.

What I do is weird, I know. But if you read the testimonials on my website or talk to people who’ve worked closely with me, they’ll all tell you that they too were lost before they were found. This isn’t linear knowledge, it’s more a congealing of truth. It’s harder to measure, but it’s happening.

Despite the fact that it’s difficult to perceive for you right now, I can guarantee that doing these exercises this week actually changed who you are. Over time those will add up and one day you’ll look in the mirror and you’ll suddenly realise that you’re a different person. And much like understanding others from the distance of time, that’s when you’ll understand what I’m doing now. In the meantime, congratulate yourself on making changes and have a great weekend.

peace. s

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

Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right

It isn’t too much to ask is it? Just one other person who gets you. Just one. Just someone who accepts you for who you are and who’s into the same things you are. There’s seven billion of us. Surely they’re out there. Right?

817 Relax and Succeed - Expectation is the root of heartacheThe reason people always feel they’ve made the wrong choice is because eventually some things don’t work out. But by “don’t work out,” I mean they fight, or argue, or they cry or get confused when communicating. Everyone figures if they could just find someone who’s truly compatible then that wouldn’t happen.

But what does compatible mean?  Because if you think it means no arguing, no hurt or upset feelings, or no pain or confusion then you don’t understand the journey that is your life.

People always ask me questions like this: how much do you compromise for your partner before you stop being yourself? The real question should be: how do I grow closer to my partner?

817 Relax and Succeed - The fool doth thinkIn these exchanges compromise is always seen as a loss. It’s you giving up a bit of yourself for them or they’re giving something up for you. Yeah, you could choose to look at it that way. But in the best relationships that is not what they’re doing.

People in the best relationships are not saying, Stop yelling at me! You know I’m always late! If you loved me you would accept me for who I am! The healthy couples look at each and the always-late-person remembers that one of the many reasons they were attracted to their partner was because they demonstrated themselves to be better at respecting other people’s time.

The healthy couples realize that they can develop the strengths their partner has if they simply emulate some of their healthy behaviours. In the case of being late, the person could simply start with the simple goal of genuinely trying to be on time more often. But healthy people aren’t doing that for their partner. They do it out of respect and appreciation for how they feel their partner is more successful than them. The changes we make are not a loss. They’re an improvement. The problem comes when we don’t tackle these issues in the order someone else thinks we should. After all, these things ultimately take us all a lifetime. But since they’re putting up with us learning it’s not unreasonable that we would put up with their learning too.

817 Relax and Succeed - Go and love someoneIf you’re constantly focused on how your partner is better than you then you’re often in a state of appreciation, which is the healthiest state to be in. It’s a everyday kind of steady love. Then, from that healthy place, the times where you are really late–your partner is more patient and understanding because they’ve been fully aware that you’re trying–because they were watching and appreciating you just as much as you were of them. When you both do this it all points upward.

Explaining yourself ad nauseum points directly downward. The more people talk about how they see it, the worse they do. The more they try to understand the other position, the better they do.

The two people in a relationship are in a state of growth throughout their lives. The unaware, ungrateful couples grow apart and more rigid. The conscious, appreciative couples grow ever closer as they both become stronger and more capable thanks to lessons learned–but not taughtby each other.

817 Relax and Succeed - It is better to bendYou can see your partner suggesting a different approach to things as them being incompatible to you. Or you can see it as an invitation to expand yourself. But if you have a list of things that your partner needs to change for you to be happy then you’re sunk. If you have a list of changes you want to make for yourself that were inspired by your partner, then you’re in a healthy state of mind where you’re not trying to direct the world to suit your worldview, you’re expanding your worldview to include more of life.

Which course you take your relationship on is always open to change, so if right now you think you’ve maybe chosen the wrong person, just ask yourself this one question: what are the ways in which I have grown by being with my partner? Because if you can’t find any then that’s not their fault. If they were good enough to attract you then they should be good enough to have at least one thing to emulate. If you don’t know what it is then the problem in the relationship is likely not them.

You were never supposed to crack the code of finding the perfect person for you. There’s no secret formula. The formula is awareness and appreciation. You are only supposed to find people that inspired you and then you voluntarily choose to try to grow to be more like them because you recognize that it would expand and improve you as a person in your own eyes. That act adds to your relationship’s cycle of gratitude and appreciation and it is those couples that have by far the fewest issues. Here’s to you joining them on that path.

peace, s

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

Other People

It can seem so clear. They approach you. They talk to you. They use your name. They refer to things you know about or that they want you to know about. They’ll even ask you questions! And then they’ll either directly or passive aggressively attack you. What is up with that?

804 Relax and Succeed - If you are willingMaybe it’s your Mom and she’s just been grinding at you. Maybe it’s your brother who’s usual daily bullying has turned cruel. Maybe it’s someone at school or work who is running around gossiping about you to others. Or maybe it’s a total stranger and you barely know what they’re talking about, (as it is with almost everyone, all day, who works in customer service).

So how do you handle these people? What do you do to get them to be reasonable? How do you get them to leave you alone? And what is their problem anyway? How do those customer service people do this all day?!

Okay, so the first thing the sanguine customer service person realizes is that when people approach and talk to you specifically, what it is really happening is that they’re approaching and talking to the person their thoughts compile into you. So they have ideas about who you are and if that’s who they think you are then that’s obviously the only person they can attempt to talk to.

So if your Mom’s having her new boss over for dinner and you’ve messed the house up and she’s yelling at you, understand that she is pointing at you, using your name, but her words are not being used to describe you when she says phrases like you show no respect, you don’t care about how hard I work for us, you’re like your father you’re such a slob and now you’re in serious trouble. But if she’s not talking to you who’s she talking to?

804 Relax and Succeed - People think you're crazyShe’s talking to the situation. And in her fear and helplessness she may blame you, but in the end what she’s really describing to you is what her experience legitimately is. So rephrased it would be:

You didn’t respect that I cleaned up before work because I knew I wouldn’t have time afterwards. I’ve really been stressed and I’ve been underperforming at work. This dinner was supposed to save me and now it’s going to feed into the image the boss already has of me that I don’t get my work done, when that’s not actually accurate if he watched me all day. So now our income is in danger and I know you going to university after school was important to your Dad. But he wasn’t an organized man and that meant he never did take care of any life insurance so now we’re poor and I’m terrified that if I’m unimpressive to my boss that we’ll lose everything.

And all that comes out as an angry version of you show no respect, you don’t care about how hard I work for us, you’re like your father you’re always so lazy and now you’re in serious trouble.

804 Relax and Succeed - I am responsible for what I sayIn the case of your brother, he’s got a new girlfriend. She does drugs and she’s gotten him secretly into them. So when he’s coming down or wants more, he’s particular irritable and the drugs affect his brain chemistry, so things he would do are suddenly influenced by the drug. Particularly with things like cocaine and meth this can turn the person into an unwitting asshole. They can be mean and cruel and they’ll think they’re cool. But once the drugs wore off when he got clean–presuming he did–then things like the cruelty you’re describing will be some of the hardest things for the addict to remember because they recognize it as so unlike the previous version of themselves that you got to know.

And in the case of the gossip at work, who knows if it’s that they feel threatened by your skills or appearance or friendships, or maybe you remind them of their high school bully just by chance. Or maybe they just watched their Mom gossip every single day from their stroller, and then they watched the same thing at the playground and then later at the dinner table. So that co-worker or schoolmate doesn’t think that talking behind people’s backs is gossip, they just think it’s what people do, and the reason some people don’t like it is because they think they’re pointing out a universal truth when in fact it’s just their own filtered perception–just like you have of them.

And if it’s a stranger that’s attacking you then they’re focused on what you represent. Your company, the delays in traffic, their fears about cultures they don’t know and understand. Like all of the above, each case is the person wearing a mask you see them in, and they speak to a mask they see you in. And if they think your mask looks stupid or unfair or lazy or whatever, then that’s how they’ll act. Likewise you are looking at a mask of theirs built from your own thoughts about them–and those will also be based on almost no real information.

804 Relax and Succeed - He who does not understandThe point in all of this is that they are never talking to the real you. That is always their ego addressing your ego. It’s two masks talking. It’s ridiculous in the end. And it’s unnecessary. Silence is much more valuable than filling space with useless thoughts. And when the time comes you’ll recognize soul-to-soul communication when it happens because it creates those connections that are so rare today that they often last a lifetime.

You cannot reconcile other people’s views of you with your view of yourself. You both built your ideas of each other out of your personal thinking. And while you might have attached the thoughts to each other, they can be massively different thoughts about who you each feel you are. That’s because the other person’s view will be based on their experience of you, just as yours of them is. But they spend all day with themselves and you do the same with yourself, so everyone’s always generating their views of other people based on a warped perception of a tiny percentage of the other person’s life.

It’s the same reason you think your mother’s crazy cleanliness standards, or your brother’s new bad attitude, or your co-worker’s negativity are all things about you. Because that’s what happens when you’re with them. But really that’s just the tip of a much larger iceberg that was created long before you showed up. Yes, you might trigger something in them that’s fairly consistent, and they might hold you responsible for their trigger, but you do that to others too. It’s the only way to live in ego and most of the world spends almost all of its time in ego.

804 Relax and Succeed - Maturing is realizingSo when people approach you and they’re upset, just deal with what’s actually going on and respond to that instead of all of the language around it. If it needs no taking care of then great–you can just forget it. But you will make yourself very unhealthy if you continue to retell the stories of those events to either yourself or to others. The replaying of that mental tape will only lead to suffering and it will also serve to solidify your own opinions into more permanent judgments that you will come to believe. And those beliefs are what take you further from the truth that leads to peace.

Getting along is mostly just letting people be where they’re at. If that’s unreasonable then you have to find somewhere else to go. But asking people to react to the person you know as you is impossible. Everyone will always be treating you like who they believe you are and those beliefs will be based very little on who you actually are. Forget trying to reconcile this–it’s the agonizing battle most people engage in most of their lives. Surrender. Realities are separate. If you truly and deeply accept that fact you become a witness to the world in a very special way. And in that way you can enjoy almost any person or experience as exactly that–just another interesting experience.

Be like water. Let other people’s ideas flow through you instead of hitting something solid. Be flexible. Allow them to have their state of mind. They’ll have it anyway and the allowing will feel really good for you to do.

peace. s

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