Pain versus Suffering

People often start off on the wrong foot by coming to me thinking that their friends recommended me because they’re so happy. They think I make people happy. Sure, they end up happier, but that’s almost the exact opposite of what I actually teach them.

599 Relax and Succeed - We do not see things as they areI teach them to suffer. Only I teach them to suffer wisely.

Wise suffering? I know, weird eh? Who knew I was going to bump into such truths when I stumbled into figuring this out. So how do you suffer wisely? The answer is acceptance. Because if you meditate on the subject more closely you will see that it’s not really the pain that bothers you, it’s the concern that your suffering will linger or even stay.

As I’ve noted many times before, if emotions were actually good or bad then theaters and bookstores would be empty. No one would offer to pay perfectly good money to buy a book, bring it home, put some time into reading i, and then have it deliver to them the very thing that they tried to avoid all day—whether that’s fear or worry or profound sadness. But no, we’ll break our own hearts with Ivanhoe, or sit in dread with Stephen King, and we’ll even pay for the privilege. So in the end your own life proves to you that emotions themselves are not good or bad.

So what’s with this lingering-staying-suffering part? Please pay attention to the fact that everything I’m talking about here takes place entirely in your consciousness. And within your consciousness, because you choose to believe that some emotions are bad, when they show up in your life your reaction is to panic. You start to think to yourself, “Oh no, not sadness. I don’t want sadness again. Why do I keep dating people? It’s always painful! I’m so stupid! No wonder no one wants me,” etc. etc. Okay, so the realization of loss was something your pre-thought non-illusory mind experienced. But because your society trained you well, 599 Relax and Succeed - One day things will get betteryour brain immediately sought to categorize that thought into separate ideas that you describe to yourself using labels called words.

What you need to grasp is that it isn’t your breakup from two weeks ago that’s making you cry for days on end. The pain of loss and the occasional recognition or reminder of recent loss will understandably trigger the sad feeling we think of when we think of losing someone. The pre-word, pre-thinking feeling. But if you fully feel that without hesitation—and if you’re not afraid of any emotions—then you simply move into the next moment and feel your thoughts about that. These are those times when you might say that it felt good to cry. So if you’re only crying when you actually want to cry, then you just have to deal with the occasional painful feeling that gets stirred up when your consciousness is unexpectedly reminded of your past.

If however you choose to think a streaming narrative similar to the one I created above, then you will experience that as your emotions. Feelings come before the words, after the words it’s emotion. It’s why babies can feel love but not jealousy. One is before words so babies can feel that, but they can’t build the one after words until first they learn words. So what’s actually hurting you two weeks later isn’t your breakup, it’s your thoughts about the breakup. It’s the words. Because if you wouldn’t keep telling yourself stories about how it could have gone or how it should have gone, then those words would go quiet and you would feel what you were experiencing in the current moment—like the view, or a sound or smell—instead of chemically constructing a past or future experience out of unpleasant, judgmental words.

599 Relax and Succeed - We cannot control the windIt’s no different than reading a book. If your consciousness is considering a painful idea you will experience pain, just like when your consciousness is intentionally focused on the most rewarding thing you can find—then you feel exalted. You don’t feel what happened, you feel what you’re thinking about in this moment. So can you time travel and choose to think about painful things from the past? Of course. It’s how most of the world manages their sadness. But just the same you can manage your happiness too. You can choose to focus on what you’re grateful for.

This is all actually quite easy to do, so if you’re telling yourself I’m being flippant or that I’m wrong, understand that what you’re trying to do is off target. Because this is incredible easy. Remember at the start I said that people got happier by suffering wisely? Okay, so now maybe this explanation will make more sense: To suffer is to choose to think unpleasant pain-engaged or pain-resisting thoughts (they both involve pain equally), and all of this gets done in the hopes that the pain will somehow magically go away because we’ve suffered enough. So you have to put work into this. You have to choose to go in that painful direction—there’s effort #1—and then you have to put effort #2 into creating all 599 Relax and Succeed - If you want to be happyof the narratives that pedal the bicycle of your ego.

My way you just stop thinking, focus your consciousness on the most enriching, pleasant thing you can find and that naturally feels good. But to do that you have to accept the unpleasant feelings first. You can’t be thinking you live in some dream-world where the pain might possibly stop because you want it to, or that there is some magical way to live where you’ll never be in pain again. If you don’t work to hold those crazy beliefs then you only have to experience the feeling of actual pain but not the daily suffering of ego. (Things like being offended, or thinking people are wrong about their politics or art. It’s all very taxing.)

599 Relax and Succeed - The journey is the rewardYou will suffer. Many times. So stop trying to worry it away from your future, or regret it away from your past. Be present instead. If a powerful feeling is appropriate then feel it. But don’t use your ability to think in words as a way to torque a feeling into an emotion. Be sad when it’s appropriate to be sad. Be fearful when it is wise to be fearful. But the rest of the time just let your consciousness relax in silence—which is otherwise known as… happiness.

peace. s

 

2014’s Blog of the Year #4

583 Relax and Succeed - In the end

My apologies.

I had wondered why so many people went to the page listing the Blog of the Year but relatively few followed the link through to the actual winning blog. And you guys picked good blogs this year, so they’re worth reading. But I didn’t realize until yesterday’s version that the links to the winning blogs were only working for some of you. That should be fixed now. Again, my sincere apologies for accidentally making them harder to reach than necessary. Today should go better. 🙂

This winner proves a few different things. First it underlines the fact that my readership is far more female than male, it demonstrates that many women are having the same challenges, and that the men aren’t failing to respond personally, it’s that they honestly don’t get it because they’re all behaving that way as an unconcious group. This blog was an attempt to offer some solace to women, and to give men a really big and important heads up. All of this year’s blog winners are great, but along with the Blog of the Year #9, reading this one might just save you a ton of pain, heartache and money:

CLICK BELOW TO READ:

2014’s Blog of the Year #4

peace. s

2014’s Blog of the Year #6

581 Relax and Succeed - You do not need to struggle*

Life goes in phases whether we want it to or not. Most people spend most of their life trying to smooth those phases into a uniform height but that is wasted effort. The world is the world. Our job is not to shape the world, it’s to shape ourselves to make the most of it.

Your outside circumstances absolutely do not have to dictate your enjoyment of your life. I can easily find you wealthy people with easy lives with nice families and those people will still be suicidal. And I’ll show you a little girl who was molested when she was young, lived in poverty, absentee parents and yet she’ll climb out and become a successful and happy lawyer, mother and wife. The tribulations you have to traverse in life are not what shapes it. Your thinking is what shapes your life, so it’s about time you started accepting more of your journey and paying more attention to your judgments of it.

This Blog-of-the-Year helped a lot of people having rough days feel better. If that’s you right now, I hope it does the same for you. Either way, people tell me there’s some useful wisdom here. Click the link and enjoy:

CLICK BELOW TO READ:

2014’s Blog of the Year #6

peace. s

Life Is What Happens

Most of us think we’re adults by the time we’re about 16-18 years old. We may be “legal” from about 18-21 but really and truly we’re still kids. This is only because schooling or early jobs have us confused about how the world really works. I’ve noted it before—I’ve asked people all over the world how old they were when they felt they were an adult and every single person told me either 26 or 27 years old. Because that’s when you first start to realize that your naive and youthful dreams weren’t taking all kinds of factors into account, like limited time or resources—with the biggest resources being time and money.

536 Relax and Succeed - Life is what happensBy the time you’re in your mid 30’s you’re either feeling lost or you think you’re really on your way. Maybe you thought you’d be married and have kids and yet you just got dumped, and you’re doing the math forward: if you’re single at 36 then it might take a year to find someone. You date for 37-38 and then maybe get engaged and you hope to be married before 40 so you can start a family. Or maybe you’re on a strong career track and you’re feeling confident about reaching your long term goals but you don’t have a meaningful relationship. So this can either be a very disconcerting and disappointing aspect of life, or you feel like you’re on top of the world and you’re not so far in debt that you can still have fun and see your friends a lot—and that’s fantastic.

Of course, at every age there is a decent percentage of people who are experiencing serious derailments of their plans. Maybe your marriage ended quickly and you never imagined yourself as divorced. Or maybe your children aren’t healthy, or you realize you’re not actually suited to your chosen career and you’re talking about having to entirely change tracks which is costly in both time and money. Or maybe you’ve been diagnosed with something serious or you’ve lost important family members. Everyone has these phases in life. It’s only a matter of when they come.

By the time people reach their 40’s they have realized that the reason their parents lives looked like they did was largely because every kind of life will have shortages of something major. Money, time, or love. People will have abandoned their A-plan as naive, their B-plan as unsuccessful in some way shape or form, and so by mid-40’s you’re on your C, D, E or even F plan.

Maybe a weak marriage is starting to feel like a really bad decision you should have changed a decade ago. Or your health is out of control due to your diet or lack of exercise. Maybe an addiction is really starting to take a toll. Or maybe you’re not even sure of what you’re doing or why.

It’s very easy for this to be a crisis time where we can feel quite verklempt about where this is all going. Maybe parents are dead or dying or frail enough that we can see the writing on the wall. And that reminds us that we’re next in line. So we’d better get into gear and make something of this life. Strangely, it can be that sense of frustration of failed paths that make us want to make some more meaningful internal change to help insulate us from the vagaries of life. That’s why most of my readers are in their mid 30’s to mid 50’s. That’s crisis time.

After that I’m guessing, but I’m confident it’s a similar progression. Where we’ll have felt too old for life in our 50’s but 70 year-olds know we’re still young enough to have all kinds of fun they’ve had to surrender. You start reading the obituaries looking for friend’s parents, then the friends themselves. In the 60’s medical visits become more routine, and by the 70’s half your life is meeting friends at funerals and by your 80’s you just hope you have enough dough for a decent, safe place to live.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter that it’s gravy, but still it won’t seem like it because being that old is not for the faint of heart—pun intended. At 20 it hurt to lift heavy weights in gym. In your 80’s it hurts to lift your own weight off a toilet. But what’s nice about everything after the late 40’s is that you have enough life experience that you now know that everyone goes through these phases. That every single life is visited by terrible tragedy. And that everyone has their bad choices and misdirections and utter failures. We are all equal.

We come to know that the people we thought had truly made it had in fact paid big prices. Maybe your friend is a super famous scientist. But his marriage might suck. Or your friend’s a famous singer, but you know she still can’t have children. And of course in those highly public lives, pressure often leads to addictions and other unhealthy ego-based activities. So in a way, everyone faces serious losses in life. So what’s the point?

When you come to realize this wisdom is entirely up to you. Everyone has the potential to know it. The wisest among us learn it very young, but usually through hard experience. But life is an opportunity. Not to become someone relative to others. But to become yourself. To become the person who can realize the life that only you could. And how that life looks to others is irrelevant. The wise person isn’t trying to have an impressive life, they want an interesting one. Fun can be a big part of it if that’s the priority, but again the wise ones will know that there’s no avoiding the fact that every life has an underbelly. The only question is, when do you accept that and then focus your energies on what you can do?

536 Relax and Succeed - The beauty of lifeEveryone’s performing patterns because we’re all much the same. The timing of our events might happen differently but by 50 most people are aware that there’s a few different streams through life, and we start to just accept that some people’s streams merge well with ours while others don’t and that’s no ones fault.

As you age you will surrender dreams for reality and then reality for choice. Regardless of age, true wisdom is when we accept the strange and unpredictable fates of life and rather than trying to control the wave, we focus on doing a good job of surfing whatever wave we’re given.

Go ahead. Make plans. Move “forward.” But when you don’t end up where you’re headed, don’t be surprised. Just use your new perspective to adjust your targets and get into motion again. Over time you will refine your path. Not so it will lead you to success, but so it will lead you to yourself. Because in the end the only thing you truly every enjoy or not-enjoy is yourself.

Do not judge your life. Just amalgamate your lessons into your choices and then proceed knowing that a re-adjustment of your direction is normal and that, in the end, you weren’t really going anywhere anyway, so you might as well just relax. And that is why this page is called what it’s called. 😉

Now go have yourself a relaxing, successful day.

peace and hugs 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.

Resistance is Futile

You have a lot of different names for the resistance you offer the universe. You call them problems, or betrayals, or opinions, or judgments etc. etc. You’re so sure you know best, that you actually expect to control the entire universe. You say you don’t, but you act like you do. Because you get upset if it doesn’t go exactly the way you imagined. You think something’s gone wrong if reality doesn’t line up with your imagination.

518 Relax and Succeed - People do not seem to realizeFace it. It’s true. You can’t be free until you own the fact that you do that. Don’t pretend you don’t. If you truly didn’t, you would never have been reading this blog because it would have looked like a map to your own house. You read this for the A-ha! moments. You read this because you want your problems to go away. You want peace. And you think you’ll get peace in the absence of strife. But you can’t ever be completely absent from strife. And so the only way to be peaceful is to be okay with things that aren’t okay.

This can range from very small things to very major things. Yes, there are rules to the road that we’re supposed to follow. But if you’re expecting everyone to actually shoulder check and use turn signals and actually pay attention then you’re the crazy person. Clearly it would be safer but clearly that isn’t happening. So if you hit the road anticipating that everyone will do what they’re supposed to do, then you are setting yourself up for failure. You are resisting the reality that a large percentage of drivers are poorly skilled and many aren’t paying anywhere near enough attention. If you’re going to let that constantly exasperate you, then the only thing you’ll do is drive yourself crazy.

The universe is infinite. It includes everything—including the opposites of all of our ideals. And so those aspects of the universe are just as valid as the ones we prefer. So the world can be legitimately terrible for a period of time. Our job isn’t to work or pray or yell it into being a perfect place. Again, the world is made of opposites. The point is to be grateful for the ditches. For as bumpy and off course as they are, they nevertheless are the very thing that defines our own road to salvation. They point the way to smoother sailing.

518 Relax and Succeed - Paradise is not a placeDon’t waste time with a friend in a restaurant complaining about the wait staff when you could just as well be talking about the fun things you’ll be doing later that day. Life is made of those little choices, and too often we’re making poor ones about how to invest our consciousness for the limited time that we are here.

If you’re always talking about how things should have gone, then you’re offering an opinion or judgment or otherwise resistance to what either is or was. You are arguing with reality. It has unfolded or is unfolding, and you don’t like what you see. You reject it. You asked for decaf and she accidentally poured caffeinated. If you discuss that “mistake” as though it shouldn’t have happened, then your judgmental ego is offering resistance to what is and you absolutely will suffer for doing that. While your friend enjoys (or tries to) the taste of their food, you are still back 20 minutes previous, when the waitress took your coffee order. It’s crazy. Drop it. If there’s no upside, shut up to others and to yourself. That negativity will debilitate you and your relationships in the long term.

Allow the world to flow. Don’t take everything so personally. So many great things emerge from “tragedy.” If a big yard-swing didn’t crush my head when I was five, I wouldn’t be able to help people through my courses, speeches, coaching and writing. Lives and marriages have been saved because of that “horrible” day. So was it a good day or a bad day? Depends on when and who you ask. So it’s neither. It’s like a wave of potential that each of us can turn into our own individual particle of belief. And it will only survive for as long as we actively believe in it. So if I choose to look at my good fortune in being able to help you, then I am a happy and fulfilled person. But if I look at things I do not have, then I will feel a sense of want and scarcity.

518 Relax and Succeed - Life is a giftDo not offer the universe your resistance. Do not think that you know which way you should go. In your life you’ve likely chose agonizing relationships, boring courses, untrustworthy friends, and jobs you hated. So since you’ve proven that you don’t know which directions are best, just go any direction, but go that way consciously. That’s the secret of connection. You stop thinking personal thoughts in favour of joining the flow via awareness and consciousness.

The universe is waiting for us. If we can stop complaining about how we want things to be, we’ll be free to listen to the universe as it brings us into contact with near infinite wonders for us to enjoy. We just have to stop resisting the whole process with our personal thinking. Quiet those words. Learn to simply Be. Don’t worry, it’s natural for you so it won’t be hard. You just have to practice. No resistance.

peace. s

Other Perspectives #31

474 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - It's hard to answer the question

I’m not taking a thing away from how heavy and dark and painful the human heart can feel. Life itself is an agonizing love-song-creating experience. And if it combines with other struggles and those persist over enough time through nothing more than misfortune, then a sadness can set upon us like a heavy blanket that smothers every activity with its tired, uninterested and depressed attitude. But the solution to this isn’t to argue the validity of our depression. Agreed: if you think about all of the horrible parts of one of the harder parts of your life then of course you’ll be sad. That’s obvious. But as long as your heart is beating and you’re breathing, you have opportunity. Literally three-quarters of the world would trade places with you in an instant precisely because they would be more aware of your good fortune than you are. Again, not taking anything away from how bad the pain is, but the only way out is to focus on what’s good. And then which direction will your life go? The direction you point it. So do not dwell on what’s wrong. Yes, life is very bad at times and if you need to be angry every now and then that’s fine. But overall life is made of the opportunities we take, not the ones we miss. Look at Stephen Hawking. So I’m profoundly sorry if life’s been super heavy. Here’s an ((e-hug)) full of love. But remember, no amount of your depression can make flowers lose their beauty or music lose it’s beat. The universe has created many incredible things. Pay attention to them instead of you and you will naturally grow healthier. Enjoy the process of expanding. And included in that, still be okay with being sad every now and then, because that’s just part of every life.

peace, s

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

The Blame Game

You have to begin by appreciating the fact that you and absolutely everyone around you is in a constant, moment-by-moment fluctuation between ego and wisdom. And so we’ll never completely get rid of ego because of course it is Yang to wisdom’s Yin. So what we’re shooting for is a largely enlightened society where there are enough people living in wisdom for long 470 Relax and Succeed - Even the nicest peopleenough stretches that they can absorb and not re-transmit the negativity that tends to emit from ego.

One of the key ways we can express negativity is through frustration, anger and blame. Blame is the result of the chaining together of expectations that are then compared to what is and then a judgment is made—and this is all taking place in only your consciousness. The fact that an ego would tell itself such a story should hardly be surprising. So when someone points the finger of blame at you, remember to understand it as being impersonal.

As I noted, blame is about comparing what is with what we wanted. Arguing the logic that they had no business making their initial assumption in the first place will not go over well when people are feeling frustrated. What we should do instead is really put ourselves into their shoes. See what’s happened not from your superior position of knowing what happened behind the scenes, but what it looks like to them. I can give you a great example.

I have a client I really like and she is friendly and reasonable and even generous. But you know those tasks or projects that just end up being the Bermuda Triangle of activities? Where no single major thing goes wrong. In fact, if the disappointed person was there to witness it, they would easily understand and wouldn’t feel let down at all. And most people will give you the benefit of a doubt even if they didn’t see it themselves. But when you get those fluke instances where one person runs into several consecutive experiences like that, it makes sense that the part of their brain that’s starting to feel familiar is: incompetence. Now, on our end—precisely because 470 Relax and Succeed - Breathe deep and let gothings had gone so badly—everyone was working extra, extra hard in an effort to make up the difference. So it’s really bad math when things keep failing by fluke. Because the harder the people try, the more negativity they face. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just the natural flow of things.

So whenever the woman would express frustration in an email, one co-worker would feel she was being unreasonable because she wasn’t respecting how hard everyone was working in their efforts to try to ensure things went right. When you’re ignoring other people’s needs to address someone else’s it’s easy to feel gratitude would naturally flow from that. But if the person is continually not having their promised needs met, it makes sense that their egoic narrative would begin to loop angrily through the region that includes incompetence. I on the other hand wanted only to resolve the woman’s concerns immediately. Her frustrations seemed entirely understandable to me and I wasn’t insulted at all whenever she expressed them. I understood that from her perspective it was impossible to see how hard everyone was working to resolve things.

We can’t really live successfully if our objective is to avoid any and all discord. But we can eliminate a lot of the unnecessary discord by being more patient and understanding about the sources of people’s behaviour. If you understand that someone is reacting to their narrative rather than your reality then it’s much easier to not take their responses personally.

As much as possible try not to lay blame. It’s largely counter-productive. But if you lay it, forgive yourself. And if you’re the one blamed, take it in stride. It’s not that big a deal. Just hear it remembering that the blame is them responding to their internal monologue, not yours. Realities are separate and they can be quite different. So don’t exasperate yourself by trying to get other people to live in yours. It just can’t be done. So when people blame you, just remember that they forgot that you can’t see their reality nor live up to all of their expectations.

Now knowing all of this, I wouldn’t blame you at all for having yourself an uber-fantastic day!

peace. s 😉

Producing Disappointment

I ways back I used to eat my porridge every morning in a greasy spoon near where I lived. An old farmer owned it and it was one of those totally unpretentious places where everyone knew everyone, the service was fast and friendly and it wasn’t unusual to have strangers at your table. I went in the morning of my 28th birthday and ended up sitting next to a huge Aboriginal guy who was quiet, but very friendly. He heard the staff wishing me a happy birthday and he asked me how old I was turning. When I told him he said, “Ah, 28. The year you learn to say ‘no.’”

453 Relax and Succeed - There is only one wayNot long after that I got a call from a billionaire that used to meet with me fairly regularly. He used to use my ability to notice strange patterns in things to help him make business decisions, although secretly I think he was actually more interested in the fact that my Dad is my hero and I think he wanted to know how to be a hero to his kids. This time the call was all business. He was greatly expanding his television network and he wanted me to come on board to help choose and develop future programming on the both the film and TV side. I had just come off a couple of movies and a few series, so I was due for a change and I agreed. What exactly I was agreeing to though, I did not fully comprehend.

Canada was/(still is?) the second largest exporter of TV worldwide after the US, but it was still a small enough industry that all of the steady working people knew most of the people in their region and a lot of us knew most of the people from one end of the country to the other. That closeness proved to be an interesting factor when it came time to do the job.

I had a budget that was the envy of the industry. I had the freedom to work in both free and pay TV, on series as well as features. It was the only job like it in the country and it brought virtually every type of producer into my office. On average we would receive about 1600+ submissions a year, we would develop maybe 25-50 and produce about a dozen, including series. Of course those numbers meant that I was saying “no” the vast majority of the time.

The trick was, I was saying no to my friends. People who I had grown up with in the industry. People I liked and respected. People close to me. And to each of those people their projects were generally the only thing they were working on. They had all of their eggs in that basket—their heart and soul was into it, and I would be the guy who would crush their dreams of ever getting or sustaining a mortgage.

453 Relax and Succeed - If nobody hates youBeing the guy I am I was able to appreciate that someone had to make the determination. They couldn’t give the money out on a first come first served basis. Nor could we do it alphabetically, or by script weight. Someone had to give an opinion about what they thought would work and the billionaire anointed me. I won’t say that I liked turning down my friends—or even the non-friends who I knew had worked super hard on their submissions. But this wasn’t a popularity contest. I had a job and my job was to pick things that would recoup their investments and it turned out I was extremely good at that. But that meant that I had to turn down development proposals that ended up destroying companies and careers. And it’s not like I didn’t turn away some heartfelt personal stories. And undoubtedly I was wrong many times. I crushed a lot of dreams being a success at that job.

When you’re responsible for money like that it’s strange. Everyone has theories about what they would do if they had the job, but it’s much different imagining spending one million dollars on Richard Chamberlain. It’s another thing altogether to actually be responsible for one million dollars for Richard Chamberlain. Because there is no way to actually calculate beforehand if he would be worth it (it turned out he was), and there was no shortage of people I’d turned down who disagreed. I also had to chastise lazy writers, and inform neophytes about what they didn’t know. I had to not cast people’s spouses and even for those that got money, they didn’t always get what they wanted.

People used to ask me if it bothered me that there were people that hated me for those decisions (and undoubtedly for differences in our personalities too). But the answer was no, it didn’t bother me. Why would it? No matter who I chose, someone wasn’t getting money. A lot of someones weren’t. The majority of someones weren’t. And so I made a lot more people angry than I made happy. But hey, that’s why it’s tough at the top. That’s why they pay you the big bucks. But bottom line, you can’t be who you are and also cater to the desires of everyone you meet. You have to be your own person. You have to have faith in yourself. Not to be 453 Relax and Succeed - Stop being afraid of what could go wronginfallible. But to realize that you’ve been given a job because it needs doing. And your job is to do it the best you can, which I did.

We won a lot of awards and set a few records while I was there, but that’s not why I felt successful. I felt—and continue to feel—successful because I chose those projects with great care and with tremendous respect for the money I was investing and for the work that had gone into the projects. I knew I couldn’t be right every time, but I was going to be right as often as I could.

You sense of self can’t come from the approval of others. If everyone likes your decisions then you’re not making any—or at least any of consequence. To make an omelet you have to crack a few eggs. You can’t focus on the cracked shells, you have to focus on your objective, and the objective wasn’t to reject things. I’m sure there were many money makers in the “no” pile. But again, I only had so much money. So rather than focus on who I disappointed, I focused on who I could help. And I’m pleased to say that I gave a start some very talented people who’ve gone on to great careers. But I couldn’t have done that if I wasn’t prepared to put myself out there to be criticized for my decisions. I get that. If I worked two years on something and it got rejected I would be upset too. And I might even call the person who did it some names for a few minutes after I found out about the rejection. But eventually that would wear off and I would know that someone had to choose, and they couldn’t say yes to everything and so it only makes sense that we all have a better chance of being in “no” pile.

453 Relax and Succeed - You are not designedDon’t let fears of being liked prevent you from doing what you think is right. You absolutely will be wrong quite often, just like all of us. But as long as you’re right more than you’re wrong, they let you keep playing the big sandbox.

I’m glad to be out of that now. I had a ton of fun at the height of the industry—just before the internet took the legs out from underneath the golden age. It was nice hotels, limos, cool festivals and real life movie stars. But you got none of that unless you were willing to have some writer scream obscenities at you in a hotel bar. You had to be willing to know that a good friend considered you the reason that her business failed. Again, everyone has their separate realities and it’s obvious I would be the villain in many people’s rejection narratives. But that’s like having someone mad at you because you don’t want to date them. You’re not saying they’re not worth anything. You’re just saying they don’t match you.

Don’t be a pleaser. Be yourself and those who love you will make ample room for your choices. You’re not here to make us happy, you’re here to make you happy. So respect people. Be empathetic to their pain. But as much as possible, don’t let the downsides dictate a decision. Just make the best decisions you can with the information you have and go from there. And just always remember that they could be right; you could be wrong. 😉

peace. s

The Friday Dose #28

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.

443 Relax and Succeed - You were born with all the unique

There are have probably even been times where you were sick and tired of listening to yourself. Well often other people are sick and tired of it too. We’ve all been slowly convinced that our value comes from our suffering, and that the most respected among us should be those enduring the most pain, versus those who share the most love. It’s time to put away our petty complains for our sakes. Doing this really, seriously, truly and honestly will make a difference. It really will:

45 Things No One Wants To Hear You Bitch About Anymore

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Next is a fascinating radio documentary featuring James Carse, an author and philosopher who makes a powerful and extremely well-thought out case for how we interact with our own beliefs and both the absence and presence of religion. His book Finite and Infinite Games is one of the best I’ve read on the subject of understanding how the principles I impart on this blog come alive in our societies, cultures and personal lives. There’s some big thinking in here, but if you’re the right kind of person these are fascinating meditations that will encourage your growth:

James Carse on After Atheism: New Perspectives on God and Religion

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And after all of that seriousness we need to feel free and enjoy ourselves. People can judge and comment and have their opinions, but enjoying yourself is enjoying yourself and I never get tired of watching this human being have a great time being himself:

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And finally we’ll close with a graphic. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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443 Relax and Succeed - Science of Happiness

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peace. s

The Road Not Travelled

I found my dream job by accident last month. I applied, the interview went great, I was short listed, the second interview went even better and then I got a call they were going with someone else. Now I hate the old job I used to like and the days drag on forever. You say sometimes we have to accept that life is harsh and other times we have to just change our thinking. Which one is my situation?

signed,
Lost Opportunity

Dear Lost,

412 Relax and Succeed - Remember that not getting what you wantI am happy to report that this experience is in the Change Your Thinking category. These are times when we must accept that life is harsh. And I mean things like finding out you’ll be in a wheelchair, or about the death of a loved one, or even a runaway dog; but even that stuff can turn out wonderfully. This? This easily has as much of a chance to be good as it does to be bad.

You called your current job your old job. Can you see that you (the legal identity) had not even finished the process to be chosen for that job and yet you (the ego identity) already assumed you had it? You had mentally left the old place in your thinking and you feel you have failed and are returning with your tail between your legs. But you never left so you can’t be returning. Plus you used to like this job so there is zero reason you can’t again, and you can do that exactly the same way you did previously: by paying attention to what you like about it, not how it compares to your fantasy job.

So you didn’t ever have the job so you didn’t lose it, but even then its potential to make you happier than your old job is entirely in question. We can’t just assume because it’s newer that it’s better. And we can’t assume that because it looked good at the interview stage that it necessarily is a good place to work. For all you know you dodged the biggest baddest bullet of your life.

412 Relax and Succeed - Just because something isn't happeningMaybe you avoided a company going down, working for a crazy manager, or maybe getting a co-worker pregnant at a drunken Christmas Party when you never went there intending that. Seriously. These and a billion other things might have happened. And only some of those things are enjoyable, others not so much. You’re not a prognosticator. You don’t know the future. So you have no idea if the thing you never actually lost was in the end something great or something terrible. So why would you think about it in the painful way you are when it could all be a fairy tale?

As you age and look back at your life a worthwhile meditation is to look at the causal effects of things. So stop to look at your blessings and then reel them in backwards in search of their origins. In most cases you will see that without something relatively “bad” happening, you never would have achieved or gotten something that you value.

You met your wife when your parents moved you away from your old school. Or you met your best friend working at your worst job ever. Or had your best summer working the hardest job you ever had. Or your best job grew out of your worst relationship. Or the death of your sister caused you to start a charity that’s helped thousands. This is causation and the entire universe is a giant blend of these relationships so you cannot ask for all Yin and no Yang because without the other neither is possible.

412 Relax and Succeed - Today's rain is tomorrow's whiskyYou’re fine. All this did was change your thinking. Now you’re comparing your daily life to an imagined life. Comparing is an egotistical action in that the comparison requires a you to exist to be compared. Whereas you used to focus on parts of your job and life you enjoyed, now you’re using your thinking to compare how the other job might have been better.

First off, you’re almost certainly wrong because why would we assume you could guess the culture and personalities you’d be working with? And secondly; you used to like your job. So then pay attention to it like you used to and you’ll like it again. You’re just spending your day wanting instead of appreciating. Don’t blame your job for that.

This is no big deal. Use it as a spiritual lesson. Because in all seriousness, that really could have turned out to be the worst job you’ve ever had. Remember, the divorce rate is close to 50% and that’s between people who chose to be together forever. What we imagine is good for us is wrong in all kinds of cases in life. So forget those thin, maybe thoughts and get back to focusing on the day in front of you. Trust me, there’s plenty to make life worth it right there.

Create yourself a great day by focusing your thinking on things you appreciate and not on comparing. Any time you feel good that’s what you’re doing: appreciating, so it’s not like you don’t have experience doing it. Go for it.

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.