Exhale Your Ego

1310 Relax and Succeed - Surrendering into ourselves

A lot of our stress comes from us being engaged in striving for perfection. Even by definition it’s an impossible problem. Who defines perfection?

Playing an instrument. Dancing, painting. Cooking. Parenting. A religion; yoga; even the Japanese tea ceremony. These are all activities that are best done with an active, creative, present focus. If there’s a precise ‘way’ to do anything, then that’s just another form of expectation.

Even in Buddhist tea ceremony, the precise actions shouldn’t create the headspace, the headspace and the precise actions should become one. Yes, one is designed like a meditation to lead to the other, but in practice they are not one in the same. That’s missing the point. When a wise person points to the moon, we’re not supposed to look at their finger.

Every one of us; let’s all forget our ideas for how we’re supposed to be. Let us just be who we are instead. It’s easier. Surrendering into ourselves is like performing a spiritually relaxing exhale of ego.

Maybe we’re experienced and have a slow steady flow to life, maybe we’re new and are lost but wild with enthusiasm. Neither person is right or failing or doing it ‘the right way.’ We’re all just individuals climbing around on the terrain of life.

Everyone is already living their lives perfectly, we just keep telling ourselves otherwise because we each imagined a different story. But do you see? That is a part of our story too –that we tell ourselves stories that aren’t true.

1310 Relax and Succeed - Doing anything really well

We don’t need to fix anything, we don’t need to improve or be perfect. We just need to realize that the way we already are is totally fine if we maintain a healthy headspace of knowing who we are, and by avoiding the act of telling ourselves that we should be someone different. If we’re not self-talking we can remain fully present for action.

It is unhealthy to be so rigidly focused on rituals, rules and history that we fail to notice our opportunities to make our lives and the world around us into a better place for all. Doing anything really well is not defined by how we do the thing itself, it’s defined by how conscious we are when we do whatever we do.

Without consciousness, we are left to be crippled by our own insecurities. This unnatural over-thinking state leads us to feel discomfort, as the universe naturally urges us to go quiet and come alive.

The universe sees no value having any aspect of itself spin in on any other aspect of itself. That is spiritually unproductive. Self-absorbed self-criticism is unproductive and worse, it can lead us to deny the universe the value of our creative and social contributions to it.

We must get our thoughts out of our way in order to enact our lives. Why not start right now?

peace, s

Mental Health Assignment One

1068-relax-and-succeed-let-go-of-your-cup-of-yesterdayOne of two things happens. Either you’ve already failed at your traditional New Year’s resolutions and you’re happy to restart, or you’re a person who’s more rigid about your commitments and so it feels weird to start this coming Monday instead of on the 1st. But then, that was secretly my first lesson to you….

Who cares where the planet is in relation to the sun when you decide to make changes? Why is the 1st important? Or why target 365 days? You’re not a planet, you’re a person. Your life happens in moments and you can enact health in any moment of any day. Someone you love may be dying and yet you can still feel grateful that their doctor is so good. So remember: you don’t succeed or fail all at once. Each moment is its own opportunity. Every new moment is a restart in the world of mental health.

I want to state that very clearly once more to make sure you’re going into this in a healthy, productive way: the people who are happier, more productive and more connected than you all still have death, disease, accidents, heartbreak, betrayals and trouble to deal with. Seriously. You don’t improve your life by making those things go away.

1068-relax-and-succeed-dont-carry-your-mistakes-aroundYou need to take today and really dispel the idea that you can truly “succeed.” If a champion athlete hasn’t won their first championship yet, are they succeeding or failing at the gym? Or, if they never won a championship but they met their partner at an athletic event, was that succeeding or failing? Did you really want the trophy more than the spouse?

Also, anticipate that it would be very weird if you won 100% of the time. That would be so boring you wouldn’t even do that. Otherwise, why aren’t all of your games against people you know you could beat? Without challenge life has no flavour. We’re not here just to burn calories. We’re here to live, and that means overcoming challenges and growing in capability as a result.

Anticipate days where you’ll struggle. Accept them as valid stones to step on as you cross the water. It’s true, they’re slipperier and more likely to cause to go in, but there’s also no way to move around the lake of life without stepping on some. And you get better as you go. Again, everyone deals with those, even the people whose lives you think are fantastic. They just don’t take a fact and then make it worse with a bunch of fearful thinking.

1068-relax-and-succeed-your-past-mistakesSo what do you do with the fearful thinking? Well that’s the thing, if it’s fearful generally your words are running away with your psyche in your head. You need to employ some detachment. Understand that your thoughts will lead to brain chemistry that will match your thoughts. The trick is, they’ll also appear to you to match the situation, so that’s where you’ll get confused.

That brain chemistry and your emotional reaction are not coming from the world and they are not happening to you. (Read that again.) Your emotions are from your thinking and they are generated by you. Most people leap to thinking that should mean that if they’re your thoughts that you should be able to change them whenever they want. Except those thoughts aren’t yours in the way you currently believe they are, but that’s too much to explain now. You’ll just know that when you’re thinking dies down enough so don’t worry about it. That will happen naturally.

1068-relax-and-succeed-success-is-buried-on-the-other-sideSo here’s your assignment: all you need to do today is to find two or three short biographies of people you admire; people you consider successful. And then read through them and note how nicely all of the really hard, painful parts are written about. “After overcoming that challenge so-and-so poured their heart into their new album…” Oh wait, you mean that rock star had to go through the pain of a divorce to write those great songs? Find their pain. Make them more like you, because you’re more like them than you realise.

Do it. Find the bios. Read them on Wikipedia or in an article. Just take some down time that you would have used to shop or surf the internet and instead do this and start your route to better health. Do the work to dispel the quiet lie you’ve always told yourself. The people you want to be don’t have better lives than you, they just have more control over their thinking. That is a do-able task for all of us, so you can relax until Monday. We’ll start there and we’ll get you where you’re going one moment at a time. Have a wonderful 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.

Other Perspectives #49

591 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - This will be my year

It’s a good thing to be excited by your future. What you don’t want to do is go so far as to develop an attachment to it going well. If you get attached to the idea that your year will go great then you’ll inevitably be disappointed because a year’s a long time and life’s always and for everyone a mixed bag. You can easily avoid that disappointment by anticipating rather than expecting the year to go well. Obviously you won’t enjoy every individual collection of moments, but if you’re focused on realizing rather than just having a better year then you absolutely can. You just have to live assuming that something good is coming your way. Just don’t be specific and expect. It makes all the difference in the world to live knowing that you will be fortunate. Because what you watch for is what you’ll see, so it’s important to remember to keep a keen eye out for things to be grateful for. This is also why pessimists have so much evidence for pessimism—they’re also looking for what they perceive is confirmation that they understand the world. But again, the only truth to see or understand is the truth behind the fact that you simply see what you look for. So don’t expect a good year, look for it. Be like an archaeologist who digs for happiness. Because what pessimists fail to notice is that optimists live in the same places as pessimists yet their views are much more enjoyable to the optimist than a pessimist’s views are to the pessimist. So choice has everything to do with it. And you can absolutely use the new year as a marker for when you consciously chose to change your life by simply acknowledging, on a routine basis, more of the legitimate reasons for you to feel genuinely grateful every single day.

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.

Go With The Flow

86 Relax and Succeed - Go with the flowGo with the flow. It’s catchy. You might have even said it to people when you saw them struggling. But what exactly did you mean when you said it? What is going with the flow? If you had to put that into other words what would you say? That’s where a lot of people get stuck. How does one go with a flow anyway?

Let us analogise your life into a river. Way up in the high peaks you melt into a little baby trickle. You burble along to the point of becoming a toddler/brook. You don’t impact the world around you much, but you are continually growing to the point where eventually you’re a creek and you have a real flow/personality of your own. Now you can start to have a hand in shaping your own shores.

Along the way you intersect with occasional tributaries. These are the people that help you become who you become. Through them, your creek will grow and grow to the point where you’re a full-on raging teenaged river.

As a river you will continue to grow you will move through a lot of different terrain (social situations, work situations, ages, eras in time etc.). You will pass through stunningly beautiful terrain, and hostile difficult terrain. Sometimes you’ll be at your kid’s weddings. Other times you’ll be taking your spouse to cancer treatments.

You will sometimes move wide and slow, like when you’re either lazily relaxing, or other times when the bottom’s so shallow you’re not sure which way to flow. Sometimes you will crash through canyons so narrow that your sheer force of being will carve solid rock, just as you may have left a very serious scar on the person you once hurt. Sometimes you’ll move so slowly you’re silent. Other times you’ll thunder with the crush of a waterfall. All of these ways of Being are very different and yet all of this is you.

But none of that really matters because eventually you spill back out into the ocean where you are reunited with All—you become indistinguishable from your surroundings as you diffuse and ultimately evaporate—the infinite parts of you rising into the sky like some ephemeral angel to be reincarnated into new snowfall that will melt into new trickles that will form new brooks, creeks and rivers. This is the cycle of life. But what’s that got to do with defining the phrase go with the flow?

86a Relax and Succeed - Here's how it works100% of that river’s journey is your life. From trickle to ocean, that’s all you. Sometimes you’re lazy and slow. Other times you’re falling so fast you can’t hold on. Sometimes the world tells you where to go and other times you make your mark on it. But whether it’s rapids or flats, the river is the river. Going with the flow just means that you’re okay with whatever part of the river you’re on/being. The point is: don’t stand on the flat parts wishing for more excitement and danger, and don’t stand in the rapids worrying because things are so exciting or dangerous.

Every river has its own flow—and yes, some are more dramatic than others. But they all have to get from the mountain to the ocean, and they’re all going to see a variety of terrain, so don’t get caught up in using your thoughts to want different terrain. Just acknowledge where you are on your river and then go with the proverbial flow. Don’t add to your challenges by talking to yourself about how you wish this part of the river was like another part of another river. Because that’s a nonsense conversation and your attention would be better placed in the Now.

All lives have rapids and slow spots. All move through beautiful backdrops and ugly wastelands. But since there is no getting around those facts why not just stop the internal discussion about what should, could or would be better? Why not just stay quiet?

86-relax-and-succeed-dont-try-to-understandThis is what the Buddhists mean when they talk about acceptance. You stop arguing with what is. It’s not that you become enlightened and you have no more challenges and everything goes your way. Becoming enlightened means to come to an acceptance that there will always be such challenges. The point isn’t to prevent them from happening. The point is to be able to comfortably have them happen.

If things are tough, let them be tough. If they’re going really well—enjoy it fully. But don’t fight gravity by arguing with yourself about which way the river should have gone. It will always go the way it goes, just as you will. The point is that you shouldn’t judge your flow. You should just follow your nature and go with whatever your life presents you.

If your life is currently quiet, then you should be good with quiet. But if it’s rapids, then you should be just as good with the rapids as you are with the quiet parts. Or in other words, you should be just as good with vexation as you are with peace. That’s what it is to live the good life. That’s what people should mean when they say, just go with the flow.

Have an awesome day, regardless of where your water is flowing. 😉

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.