Inspired Living

959 Relax and Succeed - Our culture has bred consumersNarcissism, at least in the psycho-spiritual realm, is not about beauty or appearance, it’s about immobility. When we imagine someone thinking about themselves too much we imagine someone losing weight or wearing pretty things or someone staring at themselves in a mirror thinking, look at me, look at me, but the damaging part of self-centeredness isn’t the part that says look at me, it’s that by doing so it says: do not pay attention to others. What’s painful in the life of the narcissist is their lack of true connection to others.

I met a nice young woman a few years back. Smart, funny, very creative. She wanted to talk to me about feeling fulfilled. She had a tremendous amount of trouble motivating herself and she wondered how that could be improved. She had way above-average skills and the time to use them, but she was stuck in her home office endlessly wondering why more wasn’t happening. She had been immobile for a few years trying to figure it out.

959 Relax and Succeed - That horrifying momentSo what was she doing? She was spending her time thinking about how to make her own life great. That was her version of Narcissus and the reflecting pool; she sat and stared all day at her own life and wondered why she couldn’t figure out how to make it more impressive. That was the action of her life. That was its verb: wondering. Instead of doing things she wondered. She was trying to wonder her way to a better life.

Meanwhile everyone has Maslow’s Pyramid to deal with. We need food and shelter before we can do anything else. So does someone like me want to take a hard-won client and lose them by telling them something I know they really don’t want to hear? No, but I always do anyway. I do pay for it in lost clients, but that’s still an easy trade compared to my success rate. Because if people make it through the responsibility part they do fine every single time. And if they bailed they weren’t ready yet anyway and they need to go suffer some more.

In a healthy person the inspiration isn’t some magical bolt of lightning that tells someone how they’ll feel fulfilled. Inspiration is created when we feel connected to others, just as narcissism is thinking about ourselves instead of others. So she was thinking about herself, endlessly looking for some motivation that was truly hers, and I was suggesting she think of her spouse and that her motivation could be how she could make his life easier. If she loved him didn’t she want him to have a good life? Wasn’t he missing out on holidays and things for himself if he was paying her to be idle?

959 Relax and Succeed - Me weIn short, instead of wanting even more for herself she could appreciate what she was already getting from her spouse. That gratitude could then be the valuable inspiration she needed to change that situation. But she couldn’t see that because she was too busy thinking about herself and her troubles all the time even though those troubles were all brought on by her lack of action and contribution.

Once she realised that her spouse was actually struggling and sacrificing his life for hers to be idle, she suddenly found motivation. His life could be improved significantly with her help. Suddenly she was motivated to get any job that would take that pressure off him. She no longer needed the job to be fulfilling to her soul in some abstract way, what was fulfilling to her soul was that she was actually contributing to improving the life of someone she loved.

There’s plenty of spouses running hobbies as businesses with little effort toward profitability, even though their entire life is being supported by a hard-working partner. There are plenty of children idly dreaming while their hard-working parents pay their bills because to the child, just earning a living seems unspiritual and uninspiring. But that’s only because the child has turned the work into money, instead of into a mechanism for benefiting a loved one.

959 Relax and Succeed - Dreams require actionThe money isn’t what counts, it’s the respect. Respect is a kind of connection. It says, I care about what you go through every day. So sitting around idly while someone else works for you ends up as a lack of respect, which is a breaking of the bond between one person and another; a spiritual bond. We’re all in this together. They’re there for you, but you’re not there for them.

If you spend all your time thinking, I don’t know what to do, then I would suggest looking around to see what others around you are doing for you and start with that. If your life seems bogged down then someone somewhere is making up for your inactivity because we all need food and shelter as our spirits take our bodies along this journey called life. So who’s doing what and how can you help?

A spouse or child could gain great personal satisfaction by simply caring more actively about the people supporting them. The same goes for any other scenario where someone isn’t carrying their own weight, from benefits from relatives, to friends to even our societies. Everyone has empathy for those in genuine need, but if someone can recover from a spinal injury in a year or two and go on to a fulfilling life in a wheelchair, then surely an able-bodied person can do it in the same amount of time if they care enough. The question is, who are you caring about?

959 Relax and Succeed - Integrity is doing the right thingStop living for yourself and start living for others. What’s wrong with society is the same thing that’s wrong with individuals: a lack of cohesion, a lack of attraction, a lack of responsibility to one another. You don’t need inspiration you need connection. Respect and awareness is all the inspiration and motivation a healthy soul needs.

Whether you’re a street person or a wealthy idle spouse, you will be in pain if you do not connect to and contribute meaningfully to the lives of others. Love is what love does. So you are never far from salvation no matter how bad it seems. All you need to do is stop thinking so much about yourself and start to think more about others.

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 #68

686 OP-R Relax and Succeed - When you start seeing your worthIt’s a holiday here in Canada so I hope you have the day off and can spend it with your loved ones. In today’s Other Perspectives I discuss that very thing—how to spend healthy time with your loved ones. Because a lot of people have a lot of misconceptions about what a good, healthy, long-lasting relationship looks like.

Enjoy.

peace. s

Taxing Our System

Everyone’s stressed. Everyone’s taxed. Everyone’s tired. Fuses are short, tempers are hot and despite how logical all of our anger and frustration is, consequences remain. It makes sense that people will be pushed past physical limits by things like pain, a lack of sleep, a bad diet or other particularly long-term stresses. So as a society we must learn to accommodate flashes of various emotions that are entirely natural for people to experience. At the same time we don’t want to coddle people who are literally addicted to anger as their natural response to not getting what they want. That’s onerous for others to deal with and that’s not good for harmony in the tribe. And as challenging as aspects of the 436 Relax and Succeed - Nothing in the world can bother you as muchtribe are, you simply cannot live a rewarding life without a tribe.

Just the other day I saw a guy losing his temper near my house. They’re rebuilding a lot of the roads and sidewalks near where my parents and I live, and I also live near several churches. I recently saw a guy railing in anger while his wife patiently listened to him for over half an hour about how the city shouldn’t have done this and it should have done that. Of course this guy has zero appreciation for the complexities of actually planning anything like that, and of course these are private companies and not “the city,” and even then, we’re only talking about a one day inconvenience to him. And for that he put his wife through a minimum of a half hour of hell. Volunteering to do that is crazy. And listening to it when you know it’s crazy is what love does. Because I could tell by the look on her face that she totally knew his diatribe was his and his alone. It had nothing to do with the city. The city did not insist that he ruin his day with his wife.

It’s important to remember that your anger will get worse the more you use it. Like any part of the body, your mind gets better at recreating emotions if you create them pretty regularly. So the more you get angry, the better you get at being angry. It’s why Olympians and Jeopardy contestants both train the way they do.

Now, as to the why you’re getting angry—this we can dissect. We can prove that your criticisms are one-sided and unreasonable. As soon as you accept the truth in that, then it will be your truth too and so will end that conflict within you. Now I’m actually fine with you expressing a flash of frustration—and if your mind turns that into a burst of colourful language, no problem we can all handle it. Sticks and stones. Where it’s too much is when it starts fuelling itself. Meaning, you aren’t venting off some chemistry from an immediate reaction—instead you’re fuelling your own personal internal dialogue and this now has nothing to do with the original event other than the subject matter is the same. Your angry replaying of it is entirely voluntary.

436 Relax and Succeed - If you feel badWhat this effectively means is, the man was not angry about the sidewalks and roads. He was angry about his thoughts about the sidewalks and roads. You know how I know this? Because I’ve got entirely different thoughts about the very same situation. And I know how the brain works. So I can appreciate that the addictive quality to knowledge—that is; the belief that things will continue to follow the same patterns they historically have—makes sense for so many things that we do subconsciously. Even things as difficult as driving, which we rarely think about consciously. But it can be very dangerous to desire patterns when it comes to our emotions because, as you can see, when that man’s mind wanted things the same and the nature of the world did not comply, his brain smashed into that reality—that Isness—and his reaction was to incite the chemistry for anger, which his wife then had to deal with. We want to change that by changing our narratives, and then go on to use our elevated consciousness to eventually dispel our narratives altogether.

So why don’t I get angry about the same thing? Because I don’t tell myself the story that guy told himself. Because I didn’t expect things to stay the same. I know they’re changing. All the time, every moment of every day. I get that it’s difficult to avoid inconveniencing people when you’re doing something as major as paving their street. This guy wanted them to only do half the streets and sidewalks and then come back another time to do the other half. But breaking up the work—even if it’s done back-to-back, is going to be way, way more expensive. And pretty much every city council in history gets blasted if they announce even a 3% tax hike. Well if we want them to work around our daily needs to that degree then that’s going to cost a lot of money and I have this sense that a tax increase would just be one more thing that poor guy’s wife would have to hear all about.

There’s nothing wrong with the world my friends, we just think we’re more important than the world does. We’re all integral—that’s for sure. But none of us is critical to the ongoing survival of civilization. The world is doing some big things for large numbers of people. Sometimes small numbers of people need to move out of the way to accomplish a greater good. So yeah, we can look at things and think “these idiots. They’ve made it so hard to move around,” as though that’s what they were doing—trying to make it hard for us. Or we can see it the way I do, which is either no opinion at all, or maybe something like “wow this will be great. When they’re done we’ll have brand new sidewalks and roads!” I’m not lying to myself. What I’m saying is true. But it’s also enjoyable to think. And that’s what we all need to do. We need to approach things selfishly. We need to notice things in ways that feel better for us.

436 Relax and Succeed - Your complaints about life are meaninglessHere’s a way of thinking about it: You can smash your expectations into reality, or you can be like Bruce Lee recommends and be like water. Because water can flow and water can crash. But it does not win through resistance, just persistence. So if for instance the change to the roads and sidewalks is a rock in your flow, then you don’t freeze up in anger and trap yourself. Instead you have your initial shock wave of chemistry that goes with recognizing the situation—the splash—and then let those thoughts go and flow around the issue and get your mind onto the next moment where you can choose thoughts that feel better. It really is that easy. Stop thinking things should be different. Accept how they are and move into the next moment with that flexible reality being the context which you are operating from. It’s not, I want the sidewalks a different way, it’s: now that they’ve done this, what’s my best bet?

Anger is created within us by whatever narrative we choose to engage in. If we become conscious of our thinking we will go there far less often and we will be highly motivated by how good it feels to succeed at redirecting our previously angry thoughts. It’s quite the achievement both psychologically and spiritually. If I can do it anyone can do it. It’s just changes in habits of thought. It’s tricky, but it’s not hard. I wish you every good fortune with your meditations. And my best to your spouses. 😉

peace. s