The Friday Dose #121: In Other Words

973 FD Relax and Succeed - 6 duendeA lot of different perspectives created a lot of different cultures. They ate different foods, they sang different songs, they faced different weather, terrain, seas and they all had different temperaments. Languages grew out of various groups and the words those cultures needed suited the way they saw the world.

I’m not sure what you’ll each feel about each word but it’s interesting that these are often the only cultures that will have this word, and in some cases they can be the only people in the world who even have a basis to discuss certain subjects. It really shows us that even right in front of us there are big differences. Someone speaking another language will live in a different reality because while you might not be, for them the entire world in front of them could be either masculine or feminine.

I’m a big fan of Marija Tiurina’s work, and I would encourage you visit her site and see how her style has evolved from the ones presented below. Art is subjective but most of you will be very impressed by what you’ll see. As as an expression of the differences that can exist in language, here’s a few of Marija’s wonderful examples. Enjoy.

973 FDb Relax and Succeed - torschhluss
973 FDc Relax and Succeed - Cafune

973 FDd Relax and Succeed - palegg

973 FDe Relax and Succeed - schlimazl

973 FDf Relax and Succeed - gufra

973 FDg Relax and Succeed - age-otori

973 FDh Relax and Succeed - tingo

973 FDi Relax and Succeed - baku-shan

973 FDj Relax and Succeed - luftmensch

973 FDk Relax and Succeed - kyoikimama

973 FDl Relax and Succeed - tretar

973 FDm Relax and Succeed - schadenfreude

Again, her name is Marija Tiurina.

Slow your mind down, slow your life down, pay more attention to art. Breathe. And 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.

Meditating on Judgment

How’s your slow-waking morning meditations going? If you miss any days never worry about how many. That’s irrelevant. Just do it as much as you can and it’ll grow on you. This week we’re going to focus on one particular type of thoughts. As we work to quiet your mind, it’ll be easier if you focus on one type of thoughts at a time. Trust me, that will keep you pretty busy.

848 Relax and Succeed - You've been criticizingWe’re going to start the expansion of your awareness by focusing on judgments. The reason I like these as a teacher is because they’re very stark examples of one of the most frequent and painful things we do to ourselves and to others. Our familiarity with judgment makes us unconsciously aware of the difference between the feeling you get from an external judgment versus the feeling you get when you attack yourself.

Don’t beat yourself up if you catch yourself doing a lot of judging… because of course that’s just more judging. But do notice a) how much of it you do, and b) the origins of what you say, and c) the feelings you get when you do it. After that you’re wise. And you’re a decent human being. In the deepest part of you you don’t want to hurt anyone, including yourself. But for a while you’ll beat yourself up anyway. You’ll think you feel badly because the insults you say to yourself are true, when in fact the reason you feel terrible is because saying those things to yourself hurts–so stop!

Learn to switch out. Use that pain. Red flag! Danger! Wrong way! And shift your thinking. Even if you never catch it, just noticing you missed it means that you were more aware than you were previously. So you’re already going in the right direction–you have the you that did the thinking and the other you that watched. Even if you rang the alarm too late–at least there were two identities. The more time you spend with them both the more you’ll realize that one is more like the shadow of the other, and you’ve been innocently and accidentally living as the shadow.

848 Relax and Succeed - You either as beautiful or as uglyYou have a lot to look forward to. A quiet mind is so creative that it’s like a vacuum for meaningful experiences. It always feels comfortable even if it’s uncomfortable. No envy, no guilt, no grudges. Easy. Just watch for judgments. Count them per hour and then zero out and start again. See what your best hour is. How few judgments will you catch yourself making to yourself or out loud? Trust me: you do it almost all day long. You might want even score internal attacks separately from external ones.

Remember: don’t think you’re getting worse because you feel crappy. That’s just because you’re becoming conscious of how often you make yourself feel crappy. But trust me: if you just keep watching yourself you’ll naturally start associating the thoughts with the feelings and you will make the shift all on your own because your natural wisdom will guide you toward the most rewarding choices available.

Get your “judgment score” down. No rating drivers, co-workers, friends, schedules, news stories, the weather, anecdotes, yourself–anything. Learn to be clear, with no opinion. You can experience things much more intimately if you’re not blinded by a perspective. Judgments make things go away. Remove the judgments and even your ego disappears.

Don’t forget to have fun. Do your morning gratitude exercise, then start to watch for judgments and I’ll be back tomorrow to expand upon the lesson. Big hugs. Take care everyone.

peace. s

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

The Other Guy

You would be shocked at how much of your life is invested in noting how other people could be better. You’re like a sports commentator on duty 24/7. You analyze how they dress, do their hair, how they talk, or what they know, or how they approach their job or driving or child-rearing. You have umpteen opinions on all of that stuff. But those opinions are just thoughts. Those thoughts accomplish nothing other than dosing you with the chemistry for dissatisfaction and upset. They have no actual affect on anyone but you. So since you feel the downsides and there is no upside… why would you allow yourself to continue doing it when all that’s required is that you learn to stop?

556 Relax and Succeed - If you simply practiceThat’s most of what I write about: how to stop your constant barrage of opinions about how you want things to be different than they are. Because you think that your life would be better if other people behaved differently. But I’m here to tell you that your life only gets better when you think differently. If you’re in a constant I-gotta-get-exactly-what-I-want-or-I’m-not-happy state that most egos live in most of the time, then you are doomed to have an unpleasant, even agonizing existence. People are individuals, which means they each have their own personality which in turn means that they will each make unique choices, which in turn means they are likely to eventually disagree with you. This does not make either you or them wrong. It makes you individuals. To find peace you simply must accept that we all literally live in separate realities.

You can do two very simple things and your life will change enormously. The first is to shut off your inner sportscaster. Half the “players” you’re judging are injured anyway, and you’re comparing everyone—including yourself—to unrealistic ideals. You have no idea how much energy they have, or how many distractions they have, you don’t know if they’re in pain physically or if they’re emotionally suffering…. So change your life by stopping all the judging. You do it a lot so it’ll take a while. But if you keep switching from complaints to compliments, it’ll be a habit that will serve you well until the day you die.

556 Relax and Succeed - Simply be the qualitiesThe second thing is to take that energy you used to use to judge everyone, and use it to be grateful instead. Instead of loading your consciousness up with wants and opinions, use it to absorb things to be grateful for. It’s not hard. Just take whatever you’re doing and imagine it being done in the year 1900. A good percentage of the materials your life is made out of didn’t even exist back then. Water, light, heat. Very simple things get super complex if you go back that far. Or imagine having no money. Or poor health. These are not easy things. So be grateful for your life and your mind will experience gratitude. And that is much better than experiencing frustrated judgment.

I’m sorry that spiritual and psychological health it doesn’t feel like jumping off a cliff and flying. I’m sorry that it isn’t some instant salve that you just lay over yourself and it’s done. It’s a practice. Every day you have to eschew judgment of others in favour of gratitude for your own life. You’ll never do it all the time, but that’s okay because there can’t be a path unless there’s not-path too. But don’t walk on the thorns of dissatisfaction for long. The path is always waiting. You just need to take a few steps through gratitude to get there.

peace. s

Crazy Talk

Ever since the concepts of sane and crazy were invented everyone has spent at least some time wondering if they’re nuts. But what if there was a test that you could administer to yourself that told you conclusively if you were or not? What then? Because such a test actually exists and I will give it to you in this blog.

529 Relax and Succeed - I have reached a pointOkay, are you ready? Go to a mirror or hold one up to your face, or use that mirror app on your phone. Take a good look at yourself. Do you look human? If the answer is “yes” then you’re crazy. Because all humans are crazy. How do I know? Because if I didn’t know that then I couldn’t properly write this blog. I’ll explain.

Everyone lives inside their own thinking. What the Buddhists call the illusion is the layer of words and descriptions and opinions that we layer over the real world which simply Is. Through poignant events, or rapturous moments, everyone spends some time in an enlightened state. When we’re laughing and thrilled with life. When we’re exhilarated and fully alive. It’s whenever we’re appreciating the Isness of things. The healthiest people do that by choice and they do it often. So people caught up in the illusion will argue over whether a movie or a book was good or bad, whereas someone who can see through the illusion finds the whole discussion meaningless.

An enlightened person can appreciate that everyone lives inside their thinking and so people don’t see a book or a movie, they see their thoughts about it. So knowing that, it seems so unnecessarily unfortunate that good friends would invest any amount of life getting into arguments over their opinions. What difference does that make? Why would you ruin your day to have a pointless debate where you both compare beliefs that exist only in your own consciousness? Even if you won that argument, what did you win? So to the contrary, an enlightened person can even be called crazy and they’re okay with it. Because they know everyone looks crazy to a lot of people.

529 Relax and Succeed - Happy is the man who canTo a meek non-physical safety conscious administrator, working as a whitewater rafting guide or a heli-skiing guide can look crazy. But then then the professional skier probably thinks much the same thing about the administrator in his little cubicle all day staring at a screen. Someone giving a speech or doing a radio show can seem insanely brave to a quiet person, and yet to a talk show host, they might find being alone a huge challenge whereas the quiet person likes it. Likewise a guy going to school and getting into debt for a decade past high school so that he can be a doctor and swab sores and stick his fingers in people’s bums—that can look insane to a kid who’s getting good money to work outdoors at a job that keeps him in peak physically shape. Meanwhile the doctor is relieved he doesn’t have to live a life of menial labour. So what’s crazy? It depends completely on who you ask.

Having kids, not having kids, being married, not being married, this job, that job and on and on and on. We’re all just walking swirls of opinion and when we get in proximity to the opinions that make up other people—if our opinions are too solid they tend to impact other very solid opinions. But if we’re more ephemeral and flexible and open, then we can pass through each other and feel the experience without it containing a harsh impact.

Go ahead and be crazy. Know that there’s people who will view your life from the outside and they will have harsh and negative and incorrect opinions. But whatever. How does that actually affect you? Even if they say it, words are just sound waves hitting your eardrums. They don’t demand that you engage with them.

529 Relax and Succeed - Tacenda things better left unsaidYou can be open to others views even if they’re about you. After all, you have some opinions about other people too. But instead of sharing them or even complaining about them, how about if—as much as possible—we all stayed conscious of our thinking and we just dropped the combative thoughts about differing opinions? And not just our internal thinking, where we poke at their statements even as they’re speaking. I mean the external talk too. The arguments, the put-downs, the needless opinions. That should all be muted as much as possible. We should favour input over output.

Instead of spreading negativity, what if we also focused on what we do like about the world? Because there is no point in striving to be seen as sane or healthy or smart or successful in the eyes of someone else. Their opinion lives only inside their head, and whoever else they can convince to believe it too. But there’s seven billion people in the world. They don’t all have to like you regardless of the reason. And even the ones that are your friends don’t have to agree with you about everything. So just relax and listen to people without feeling that their views have anything to do with you. Do that and people will still think you’re crazy. But at least you won’t care because you’ll be enjoying life so much more.

I hope you enjoyed reading today’s blog as much as I enjoy writing them. Thanks for your time. Have an awesome day.

peace. s

Scott’s Favourite Blogs of 2013: #2

Winner: Scott’s Favourite Blogs of 2013 #2

266 Relax and Succeed - You don't need anybodyNext year I’m going to give myself a Top Ten instead of a Top Three. It was really hard choosing. Thank goodness that the Ten Most Popular included two that I wouldn’t have wanted to see left out of being recognized. I get calls and emails about these and some of them are extremely touching, while others are simply grateful for some new skill. Either way it’s all music to my ears and beauty to my eyes.

My Second Place Blog-of-the-Year is all about how to not be liked. People mistake popularity for success but real success is when other people can’t disrupt your life much. That’s how you get equanimity: self-control. By actively managing our consciousness it is possible to face a great deal of negativity all while maintaining a compassionate, generous, open perspective. I like it for its clarity about the mechanics of how we torture ourselves by replaying other people’s thinking. Enjoy.

How Not To Be Liked

Because society has used group-thinking to build walls around ideas like beauty or intelligence or value, there are many ways for you to imagine you are failing or wrong. But these are just ideas. This is what it is to liberate yourself—you have to understand that other people’s opinions are just narratives they think that lead to chemical responses in their brain. Quite literally none of that happens in any world you live in. It’s an internal experience they have.

5 Relax and Succeed - There is no way to live where everyone likes youEven if they say something out loud, you still have to confirm it within your own thoughts before you’ll get any change to your chemistry. That’s why Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” If you’re not choosing to think that they either are or may be right, then their words mean nothing. They have no echo in your consciousness. And since there is no such way for their judgment to be “right” anyway, you’re free the moment you switch your insecure thought stream away from that internal conversation and on to something more productive.

You see, your job was never to be liked. Magnets aren’t trying to get metal to like them. Magnets just are and metal just is and the result is that they naturally go together. Magnets don’t attract glass. That doesn’t make either the glass or the magnet “wrong.” They just don’t naturally go together. They can easily and comfortably co-exist in the world but they simply aren’t parts of the universe that fit directly together. We should accept that these differences exist at home at work and within society at large. You don’t date someone because they’re hot because that’s like a tight, cultural lasso binding you together. It’s better that you naturally and constructively fit together, like a magnet and metal, because then your attraction will last and it will have no tension.

If you’re busy trying to be liked you’ll be performing for everyone you meet. You’ll stress yourself trying to sound knowledgeable about sports when you could care less. You’ll put on a dating profile that you love camping when you hate it. You’ll dress in uncomfortable clothing just to create envy in other people. That’s not freedom. That’s the exact opposite. That’s oppression. Why are you running around following all of these lines on the ground? Who painted the lines?

Being Authentically You allows the metals and magnets in your life to find each other. If you’re wearing a mask trying to be everything to everyone then you’ll be blocking your naturally attractive qualities. Your camouflage will hide you from your natural friends and allies. Letting 266 Relax and Succeed - Some people don't like youthose thoughts go and opening yourself up represents a huge plus, because you can take all of that energy you spend trying to look cool or smart or attractive and you can put it into enjoying life!

Apparently Isaac Newton hated people, didn’t bathe, and he worked in the nude. But he loved to discover. That was where his joy was—not in pleasing others. Their ideas about him didn’t bother him because he wasn’t thinking about those ideas—he was thinking about his life’s work. Other people’s ideas about you are meaningless. Do not let them dampen your spirit. Be thoroughly and unapologetically you. There are friends you haven’t met yet who need your light to shine brightly so they can find you.

So remember: what other people think of you is largely irrelevant. Some religious or political fundamentalists may hate the Dalai Lama, but that doesn’t mean the Dalai Lama has to hate them. There is nothing to be gained by carrying that in his heart. They can have that view and he can continue to exist. He can even thrive. After all, Tibet is now much bigger than its borders. It’s a worldwide nation of sorts. Not bad for a guy who was kicked out of his own home and who has lived his entire life under attack. Maybe the peace you seek isn’t so far away after all, huh?

peace. s

Here’s a link to a fascinating radio/podcast documentary that shows you how subtly you’ve been taught to see yourself critically: Under the Influence: Shame

 

Advice on Advice

257 Relax and Succeed - Being successful means something
People give a lot of well-meaning advice. Their aim is to help us successfully navigate our way through a challenging situation. Parents who felt they were always held back by the fact that they didn’t finish school will strongly advise their kids to not only finish, but to go on to post-secondary as well. Friends who got ripped off at a store will strongly recommend that you not shop there. Your boy/girlfriend will recommend you taking the job, or class, or vacation that they feel is best. Your friends will even advise you on whether you should continue to date who you’re dating.

But of course all of this advice is from someone else’s perspective. It quietly incorporates their personal skill set. It takes into account their fears, their knowledge, and their abilities. So an extrovert will give an introvert an extrovert’s solution. A strong logical thinker will present a solution that cannot be comprehended by someone who operates purely on instinct. They might mean well giving the advice, but it’s not actually very useful.

If we want to be useful to someone we can listen carefully and ask them some questions or explain how we see things, but we cannot pretend that we could possibly know what the right decision is because there is no such thing. Right and wrong are temporary opinions. You might think leaving this job for that job is a great idea until you find out the secret, ugly dark sides of your new boss. Of maybe you thought at one time that your spouse deciding to end your relationship was the worst thing that ever happened to you, but now you’ve met someone who you’ve come to love and now you’re grateful for that very same breakup.

257 Relax and Succeed - Success is liking yourself
As Shakespeare said, “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” So if no one can give good or bad advice, why give any at all? To listen and inform is one thing. To discuss the philosophical perspectives from which to make a decision can be worthwhile. But to parachute advice into someone else’s life is to ignore the reality of separate identities. Everyone sees the world and everyone in it in a unique way. Everyone has developed subtly different human skill sets, and each version will offer opportunities and challenges that others do not. This must be respected.

Care about people. Love them. Send positive vibes and good thoughts their way. But don’t tell them what to do unless they ask you—and even then, be careful. When we’re young we spend a lot of time pursuing other people’s ideas of what would be good and right for us and yet most of those are misguided suggestions. It is when we feel we can go in any direction, and when we finally feel comfortable failing, that we can boldly make the choices that are ours and ours alone. When we’re not afraid to be wrong is when we become free to be ourselves.

You don’t have to solve anyone else’s issues. Sometimes you have to just be with someone while they go through something alone. Create a supportive environment for their choices. Let them give themselves their own advice. Because while that may lead them astray as well, at least they will have exercised their right to choose. And at least their own advice takes into account who they are, what they know, and what their resources and values are.

Being successful isn’t about money or power or fame or prestige. Being successful is about enjoying your life and being fulfilled. Because the person who wants for nothing is the richest person of all.

And yes. That was just some advice about not giving advice. 😉

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.

Interiors

183 Relax and Succeed - The quieter you become

All day long your ego walks in a sea of its own thoughts. And where you are has very little to do with what you’re experiencing. And all around you other people are doing the same thing you are.

There is a beautiful, heart-wrenching quote by Plato that goes, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Each day, take the opportunity to take some weight away from the load of another through simple kindness. On a very challenging day, someone simply smiling and holding a door for you can have an enormous impact.

Be the change you want to see in the world. Hold a door. Help a mom get her groceries loaded. Stop to help that person changing the tire. Ask the crying person if there’s anything you can do. Because when we get out of the inside of our own heads, we’re free to be available to others. And that is when we are at out best: when we aren’t creating an ego by thinking about ourselves. It’s like in emergencies—we’re best when we simply act. The secret to being heroic is simply to not get in the way of your natural instincts to offer love.

1016070_552631538133453_1698209048_n

For the next few days, do your best to stay conscious of the experiences going on around you. Look at people’s faces for signs of their thought chemistry. Don’t be shy about offering compassion, connection or empathy. These are beautiful forces that enrich our lives. As a friend who worked in a refugee camp once said to me, “it’s funny, I work around tragedy and yet I’ve never seen so many inspiring heroic things in my life.” That’s how people stay doing that work. They get something out of it that’s worth it.

Help others to not feel so alone. Connect to them even with a smile. There’s no reason for us to surrender our ability to affect the world around us. And even when you can’t impact it, please try your best to be patient and understanding. Because while this video is centered on a hospital, it’s important to remember that almost all of the people in it will eventually be back outside, living among the rest of us, and they will still be very deserving of our compassion. Just as we are deserving of theirs.

And never assume your situation is worse than the ones around you. Because just like the times when no one recognized some of your darkest days, some people around you are living theirs right now. So go be compassionate.

love, 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.