The Friday Dose #137

A student said to me the other day, “This is stuff is so weird. It seems so strange that you can’t, you know; ‘get healthy.’, You have just start being, uh, being healthy I guess.” He’s right, it is weird. When you try to say to someone that clarity is something enjoyable that you relax into with no effort, it just sounds nice but few people ever accept quickly that it really is that easy.

So here for today’s Friday Dose of inspiration, spirit, meaning and value. Meet Richie Parker. You’ll see why a lot of people might immediately think that Richie isn’t healthy, and yet Richie is extremely clear about what makes life meaningful.

Richie spends literally no time focused on anything other than how he would accomplish whatever it is he wants to do. He doesn’t have a can’t in his vocabulary. Sure he’s had big challenges and frustrations along the way, but look what believing in your own health and capability can create.

Of course, part of the reason Richie is this way is because his parents did everything they could to allow him to feel like he didn’t have limits. In essence, like the Hoyts, they created an environment where there were few cues to Richie that he should think of himself as anything other than capable.

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 organizations locally and around the world.

Sologamy

It’s more popular in other countries, but even here people are starting to understand the true nature of sologamy. At first it seemed like some silly, narcissistic effort at self-aggrandizement, but in fact it is more of a spiritual practice than a ritual or ceremony.

This isn’t about I’m so awesome. It’s not pride, it’s respect. It’s just like real couples either know or learn; no one’s marriage is held together by romantic love. What does it is respect, dedication and perseverance. Those little ceremonial cuddly times are nice, but it’s the partnership itself that counts most. It’s knowing someone has your back.

People who practice sologamy are merely those who have come to realise how critical self-respect is to healthy being. Some don’t even have a ceremony other than the one in their head where they actually make the commitment. You know the one–the one that means you can turn down invites you don’t really want and not feel guilty about it. That one. Self-respect.

Far from being flighty or silly or immature, people who are sincerely practicing sologamy are practicing the art of stillness, focus and wisdom. They won’t want their ego frightened, angered or backed into doing something it doesn’t want to do. They simply want to be able to resign themselves to the harder parts of life, and feel worthy of, and revel in, its joys.

There’s a lot of thin, hollow-feeling single people out there who come across as though they’re worried that if they don’t find an anchor soon they’ll blow completely away. People feel like wispy clouds when they should feel like the sky itself. Yes, we all have weather pass through. It’s inevitable. But the sky is always the sky. Sologamy is about recognising the sky and committing to it.

This isn’t to say you’ll always be faithful. You’ll slip into ego occasionally. You need to, or you’d forget to value peace and clarity. So the idea is to surf. Sometimes you’re riding the way you want to go, sometimes you’re traversing to get to where you want to go, and at the end of every wave–every section of your life–there’s always a tough period where you have to paddle back out.

Don’t waste your life feeling unworthy or incapable or weak or alone. You belong to everything. We all live in the palm of the universe. Even falling down is safe. So be yourself, mistakes and regrets included. The universe finds it very easy to absorb such tiny experiences. And it revels and expands when you’re blossoming and creating.

Maybe it’s through your work, maybe it’s by having a relationship, or even a baby, but your job is to joyfully move through the universe in whichever way feels right to you in any given moment, and any associated consequences for those choices were always yours to live. Your struggles are where you grow stronger. You subconsciously seek them.

Take it seriously. Respect yourself. You don’t have to be pushy or rude, though people may take it that way. But people not liking you representing your own interests is their problem taking place in their consciousness. You’re learning to manage yours. So you don’t want nervous narratives about disappointing others to lead you to somewhere you really never wanted to be. You making a choice to sacrifice for some reason is fine. You going out of a fear of not being accepted is you thinking too small.

Whoever you are are, you are beautiful and you are worthy of your own affection and respect. It will be much easier for people to give those things to you once you know how to give them to yourself. Start practicing today. You have a lot of amazingness to uncover.

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: Tender Mercies

Dear Readers,

May this find you well. I have a strange entry for today’s March of Kindness assignment. Today we will unexpectedly focus on kindness toward ourselves. Valuing ourselves is a form of self-respect and it is distinct from the unhealthy selfishness that causes us to feel guilty, or that requires us to distract ourselves from facing our relevant responsibilities.

For the first time in the many years that I’ve have blogged here and elsewhere, I simply cannot create the time or the very specific meditative headspace I require to write the sort of blog post I feel you all deserve. The needs of my family and friends have been tremendous over the last many weeks and there comes a time when we must face that if we have almost no time to even sleep or eat, then those things must take priority lest we risk the health of the body our consciousness resides in.

This being the case, let’s alter today’s planned March of Kindness post into this: find the area of your life where you personally are overwhelmed and surrender. If the only overwhelming thing you truly have in your life is your own anxious thoughts, then slow those down and open your awareness and then reach out to someone who is truly overwhelmed. Either way, the world is made better.

Kindness toward yourself or kindness toward another, it’s all kindness and it’s worthwhile. I’d like to thank you for your kindness in understanding my situation, and I wish you every good-fortune with your own self-kindness today.

Regards, 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.

Banished From The Tribe

1102-relax-and-succeed-you-not-wanting-meLike apes or wolves or ants, humans are cooperative creatures. Living and working alone are challenging things that can few can do throughout their lives, and if they do they’ll generally pay a big price. Even people who say they live without others needed others to even exist.

You can’t (currently) be born without parents (and even without those you’d need scientists). If all some guy in the bush has is a log cabin and an axe, he needed both the inventor of the axe and he would have needed to have seen someone else’s cabin to imagine one so he could build it. And even he will likely hit the local store when he needs some salt or tools. We’re all living on the backs of all of the other generations before us.

Our desire to be part of the safe and well-fed is ancient and natural. Anything else threaten death, hence the power of potential banishment and shunning that was noted in yesterday’s meditation. People naturally focus on being valuable enough and well-liked enough to maintain the security of the tribe. It’s like your brain’s primary directive, which is why you find being rejected so painful. It’s like someone saying, “We don’t think your genes needs to go any further than this.”

1102-relax-and-succeed-maslows-pyramidWe can all easily think of the times it hurt to be rejected, but what about the times we did the hurting? What about group criticisms people joined in on on social media? What about a group of schoolgirls actually cooperating to cut another person out? What about having your support for one group lead you to even verbally attack the member of another group? What about you rejecting someone because someone more established in your group stopped dating them? Or what about even how you would have handled someone leaving the company you worked for?

Socially it’s a very common, modern experience to exclude someone if they get laid off or fired. Being fired can feel to others like it’s different because it’s “deserved,” but then we all have to ask ourselves how perfect we actually are. Getting fired for a genuine mistake is like being fired for being human. Certainly some things are blatant and need action, but sometimes it’s just that a decent manager and a good employee clash. And in the case of the layoff, generally the immediate boss and the person being laid off would rather not have participated at all.

1102-relax-and-succeed-a-team-is-not-a-groupEven though it’s in an office and everyone’s dressed nice, to your brain–which evolved for that other tribal, cooperative world–these are all examples of being shunned. We all have our family group, our friend group, and our work group. These are tribes we travel between and they often overlap.

Being removed from any of these groups will be among the most painful experiences of a person’s life. If you were aware, you’d know that from your own experience. Any time it happened to you it was a very particular kind of pain and you literally need to go through Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). It’s extremely painful. A company I once worked for laid someone off and that lead very quickly to a particularly ugly suicide and no one in the company was the same afterward.

In today’s meditation, find an example of where your personal awkwardness about how to behave lead you to passively shun someone. Own it. Don’t make excuses, just make the connection between your choice and their pain. Connect the two in a direct fashion. This won’t be a pleasant meditation, but it will increase your empathy and natural self-centeredness.

1102-relax-and-succeed-sometimes-painful-things-can-teach-usIf you do this meditation successfully–if you feel that pain and own that responsibility for your part in it–then it will be one of the fastest results you’ll ever get from a meditation. Because if you do it right, then your brain will understand that idea so well that you are very unlikely to go through the next similar experience without very naturally experiencing lower levels of ego and much greater levels of empathy, which will in turn drive you to more active compassion.

This is the kind of thing that would turn you into that one person that won’t be awkward with the former employee. You may not be able to get them back into your group, but your actions alone could change how hurt that person feels and how much they trust the world going forward. This is no small meditation. In small steps, it is these ones about our common human relations, that are the most valuable meditations you can do. For you and for them.

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.

Mental Health Opportunities

969 Relax and Succeed - I used to careThe medicalisation of mental health is the product of an industry. That being the case, it’s worth it to ask what the agenda of that industry is. I won’t pretend to be able to read the minds of drug company executives but I know they have the same problem that any executive in a publicly traded company has: your job and your pay and a large part of your family’s happiness is based on how well you either cut costs or increase profits. But what’s the mean for the rest of us?

A lot of people work in jobs where they’re already overtaxed by too few staff and old or malfunctioning equipment, so we’ve cut expenses about as much as we can. That leaves profits. If only we could have 15% more diseases every year….

A disease is a findable thing. A doctor can point to something and say; this is happening because a disease is impacting you in this particular way. A disease is its own entity seeking to do its own thing that is often contrary to the needs of its host. At the same time, with no disease present we know otherwise healthy muscles can atrophy and disappear if we just choose not to use them. They will appear diseased because they will shrink and contort but if we went to the gym and changed how we used them they could again be strong and flexible. So it goes with our emotions.

969 Relax and Succeed - If there are no ups and downsYou can feel an emotion and take a pill to rid yourself of it or; you can experience that emotion, become familiar with it and then master it. Some people never learned to juggle the ball of happiness by getting lots of chances to drop it. Some people never learned to juggle the knives of misfortune because they always closed their eyes and ran rather than face some early cuts. So when it comes to negative emotions we’ve either ran or tried to shut them down, but what if you coped instead? You remember that don’t you: coping?

I’ve written for years about the value of nature. I’ve written for years about the value of friends. I’ve written for years about the value of laughter and enjoyment. Meanwhile most people go buy something, or they go to their doctors and get mood pills or they go to a friend to get weed or some other socially acceptable medication, but hardly anyone copes. And every year it gets worse.

Bad things do not create a bad life. A bad attitude about things creates a bad life. Good things do not create a good life, a good attitude about things creates a good life. So what’s a good attitude? Turn it off! Give me my pill! Shut up! Go away! Nope. A good attitude is more like, wow, today was hard. Want to go swimming or biking tonight? How about if we visit the neighbours? They’re always so funny! Or how about a great meal?

969 Relax and Succeed - A good laugh and a long sleepThere you go right there. Want to know the difference between a happy family and a miserable one? That’s it: how you respond to the world. Happy people don’t have better lives they react better. They don’t dull themselves with a pill, they don’t smoke a big bowl and then sit in front of a screen until they fall asleep and they don’t sit and bitch and commiserate. They take action. They run somewhere, accomplish something or see someone.

Take all of the time you spent wasting life, wanting it to be better. Be honest: it’s a huge amount of your day for most even mildly unhappy people. Now what would your life look like if that time was spent exercising, or learning, watching comedies and seeing friends? Would your life still be so small and dull? Would it still seem overrun and rushed? Would you still have as many problems?

There are things we can do things about and things we can’t do much about. Start looking at your life for its opportunities. Rather than a pill take a walk. Rather than escapism connect with a friend. And rather than idleness choose movement. Your life is what you make of it. If it’s currently full of complaints and struggle then you built it that way. Start looking around for the invisible choices you’ve made and find better ones. Because you shouldn’t be surprised that you’d enjoy laughing with a good friend a lot more than bitching about a bad one.

Go create a good week with good choices. They’re not hard. They’re just not a habit–yet.

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 #93

826 OP Relax and Succeed - A big part of lifeThe horns of a dilemma is a tough place to be. Sometimes there just isn’t a good choice, just a best choice–and what’s best is up to who you ask. If an individual feels secure then no one will make a better decision for them than they will. And there is no reason to self-hate ever, let alone because you were forced into some incredibly complex emotional situation. Hating yourself in a mirror is something a lot of innocent egos do because somehow they were accidentally taught that it’s possible to make it through life without having to make some very ugly decisions. There is no life like that. That’s what life is–a series of decisions. Some of them easy some of them hard. But regardless of which they are, they happen in the moment they are in and they are made by the person you are then. So just like other people’s views on that decision don’t matter much, neither do the opinions of later versions of you–because that person will have the benefit of the wisdom you gained from making the decision that later-you is commenting on. But you didn’t have that wisdom then so the criticism doesn’t even make sense. Every face you see has made decisions that involved pain and suffering and complication. Sometimes we will choose something painful. But that’s no reason to talk to yourself negatively. There would be zero happy people if everyone did that. If you want to live your life successfully you do not study and discuss or self-discuss your worst and darkest days. If you want a successful life you have to focus on your successes and build off those. And that’s nice, because it not only works better than beating yourself up, it feels better too. Now go have a great week.

Big hug. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.00 Relax and Succeed - Other Perspectives Footer

Taking Care of You

I am not a teacher. You are a learner. I am simply here. You are passing through me. I’ll offer you everything and you can take what makes sense to you in any given moment. That’s all that can ever happen. All I can offer is what I have, and all you can take is what you have room for. The rest is up to the universe.

759 Relax and Succeed - Don't just be good to othersThe reason we’ll meet is because sometimes you’re done dropping and you’re ready to bounce. Maybe it’s a small bounce, like working through a new job or some dating challenges. Or maybe it’s a huge bounce like overcoming an addiction, ending a relationship or overcoming powerful grief. I am always just a nice straight wall for you to bounce your possible futures off of. From my perspective all situations are all the same.

Whether someone cuts off their finger or their arm, it really hurts and it’s the pain I naturally respond to. That’s what connects me to the other person. Not a detailed understanding of how they came to be that way. That should ultimately be irrelevant to both of us. What was written yesterday does not impact what gets written today other than that the writer is more experienced at choosing their words.

Once we are connected, I simply listen to what you’re saying in a very deep way. The intense way you would listen to your new baby’s breathing, or your mother’s dying words. All-in. No me. I’m not reacting as me, I’m responding to something in you that’s behind the words. We all often know when someone’s hiding something because they will unintentionally tell us so. This is like that, just a bit deeper. It’s listening to intent more than content.

759 Relax and Succeed - The future dependsIt’s true that I can be profoundly helpful, but again I am like the mathematician who proves to you that your rocketship can fly. You will build your own ship and you must fly it. I’ll just help you remember that you already know how to do both those things really well. Your life is much more about your imagination than you realize, so think big.

If you’re ready you know. You either love how things are and you’re wise enough to want to learn how to maintain that while you were happy and a good learner, or you’re tired of things the way they are and your low feelings have been energized into a focused kind of anger. Not anger at you or your history. But an intensity about squeezing the most out of each and every moment. That doesn’t have to mean they’re good moments. Some of my all-time favourites have included a lot of sadness. But such is the sweetness of life. The pie needs some crust to hold the filling in.

If you’re not ready these words mean little to you. If you like the idea but not the words, then seek out another teacher. New clothes or a new car won’t do nearly as much for you as truly attending to your own life. Respect it enough to want lots from it. It’s generous and it’s huge, so feel free to go crazy. Because even the dreams you don’t achieve will lead you to dreams you never even thought to have.

If you’re ready I’ll probably hear from you. If you’re not, that’s cool too. We’ve gotta get lost before we feel the need to figure out where we actually are and where we’re actually going. And that happens to everyone in good time. Maybe I’ll see you then. Either way, you take good care of you.

Much love, s

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