Compassionate Management

There’s been a lot of studies done on what makes businesses succeed and–what a surprise–it’s the same thing that allows any group of people to succeed. And note I said allows and not causes. People will naturally surprise us with their capability, the only question is; just how skilled is a leader at finding those opportunities?

1024-relax-and-succeed-a-bad-manager-can-take-a-good-staffEvidence of this can easily be seen when a new manager takes over an old group. The very same group of people that the previous manager felt were useless can suddenly become superstars–why? Very often it’s because they stopped being managed like they were in the military and they started being managed like they’re human beings rather than human doings.

Bad leaders think people do things for them, good leaders know that in a good team all of the people are working together toward a common, meaningful goal. In one scenario the staff work for the leader and in the other all of them work for each other. In one case their job title is ordered to perform a business function and in the other some human beings cooperate to get something done that’s of mutual benefit.

Many times management will be so off target that they won’t even have considered the texture and feel of their employee’s day. All the manager sees is their own to-do list and they imagine that all of these people have been gathered under them to help them get their manager’s list taken care of. Ordering something get done is not management, it’s just orders, and those you can get from a machine.

1024-relax-and-succeed-if-people-are-goodWeaker managers will often be baffled about what else they would even do other than get their own lists done. They just see work; you do this, he does that, she does the other thing. There is no philosophy driving the work or how it’s done, it’s just a daily list.

Meanwhile, a stronger manager realises that the work day is generally at least 1/3rd of their co-workers lives, which is close to the number of waking hours people will spend with a spouse. Ordering consistently unmotivated work to be done in an unmotivated fashion is the same thing as covering the windshield and then telling the staff where you want them to drive. They can understand the directions and maybe even find it on their GPS, but that doesn’t help them negotiate the daily traffic of their lives. The problem for the weaker manager is that they’re only managing their own life and not the lives of everyone that works for them.

As an example, let’s say a mom returning from maternity leave has returned to work. She’s capable, hard-working and liked by her co-workers, but she starts coming in late. A bad boss draws her attention to her lateness and then possibly sets some kind of penalty. She tries to explain the challenges created by where her daycare moved to, but the manager doesn’t really listen to how the woman’s windshield is covered. Maybe she’s a woman too and she raised kids and worked, so she doesn’t see the problem. So she tells the woman to get to work despite the covered windshield, as though there’s no limits to managing around a kid.

Around a kid. A manager should hear that come out of their mouth and know immediately that’s gotta be wrong. The manager is asking a parent to value their work more than their child. Now the bad manager would say that’s not what they’re doing, but that’ll just be their beliefs about themselves. There’ll be a but… in there for the manager. Yeah, I know she’s gotta a new kid and that’s challenging, but she still has to get her work done…. So the manager basically says; your problem, not work’s. And technically that’s true, especially in countries that don’t even have mandatory support for maternity leave.

A manager is best to try to help solve their employee’s challenge because something being technically correct isn’t actually very useful to a manager. Technical correctness is a term for things that look like they should work but they’re missing some humanity. A poor manager sees the staff like buckets of skills that you fill with work. The staff see work as a major part of their life and they absolutely will respond positively to any co-worker/manager who finds a way to make that daily experience more enriching.

If you’re on a staff somewhere, figure out if your manager is trying to build a team and if you’re cooperating with that effort or putting yourself first. Because you may very well end up further behind by putting yourself first. And if you’re a manager somewhere, make sure that you also are not putting yourself first. You will be rewarded well for any efforts you make toward ensuring that the people you work with have an environment that is generally understanding, constructive, pleasant, supportive, and rewarding. And fortunately, creating even one of those things often leads to the others developing quite naturally.

Now go get on a team. It feels good to surrender your wants for almost any goal achieved in cooperation with others. And a good manager knows that.

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.

Fitting In

We all know that cloying feeling of wanting to fit in. We imagine a warm feeling, like a blanket that covers every part of us. The revelation is when we really go from intellectually knowing to truly understanding that absolutely everyone–within their own reality–feels the same way we do. They experience the same emotions all of us do. No one escapes, everyone wins.

757 Relax and Succeed - We all live with the objectiveYes, the people you feel are super confident, the ones who seem to fit in everywhere with everyone? They experience the pain of not fitting in too. Yup. Everyone feels like the outsider sometimes. And our identity is the narrative story we tell ourselves to explain our out or in-ness.

Our natural desire to belong is a healthy drive toward cooperation that has been turned ugly by modern life. We used to all live together and share, now we all live in separated boxes called houses that we have to pay for, many people are alone, everyone works and everyone has artificial light tricking their brain into thinking it’s daytime. So first people have insomnia and then they’re exhausted all day. Where is there any connection in that? Where is the value in that?

The truth is, if you have feelings of disconnection and longing you just have to understand them correctly. That isn’t you failing at life. You’re not failing at the Rat Race. You don’t add that lack of connection into your pathetic narrative of you–you use that feeling as an indicator of what is really going on. It’s feedback for steering your life. It’s feedback for taking action.

757 Relax and Succeed - The more I traveledIf you feel longing then don’t assume you’re a failure–go find people to be with. If you’re unhealthy, don’t beat yourself up. Use that same energy to join a running or cycling group. If you’re just lonely, go to one of those board games clubs, go bowling, take some classes in a field of interest, learn to paint in a class, walk your dog in a dog park during busy times. Whatever.

Don’t blame yourself for having human feelings in an inhuman world. You’re healthy and correct to be pushing back against many modern bits of life. If you could break free of all of your programming you would be absolutely amazed at how much of our lives are a bizarre collection of rules created by us, for us. Even the keyboard I’m writing to you on is laid out to slow typists down because typewriter keys used to jam.

But after the world’s typists had learned how to work around the machine by training their fingers to move rather unnaturally, there was no way anyone wanted to learn a new machine pattern and re-train their fingers and brains when we changed to computers. So instead of being healthy, we do what modernization tells us to. Then when we don’t feel connected to others we attack ourselves instead of the frameworks we live under.

757 Relax and Succeed - Comparison is the theif of joyWe don’t need to find out how to be better to feel better. We have to get conscious and start caring about the world and our place in it in a different way. A way that prioritizes how life feels and not how well we fit into a larger patterns. The things we’re taught to do as a society are acts surrounding life but they are not life itself. Those things are representations. But that’s like saying a Profit and Loss Statement is the same as the business itself, rather than saying it is a picture of the business taken from very specific angles that show some things and hide others–as every perspective does.

Don’t look to be more popular or more successful or hipper. Those are illusions. Try to make your life more humane instead. Ask yourself what brings you joy as a person and then look to build opportunities for that to happen into your daily life. Create connections with others that are meaningful and personal and deep. I’ve said it here before: the two dates on a tombstone are brackets. The dash in between is your life. It’s shorter than you think, so start living it like it’s yours–because it is.

peace. s

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

Scott’s Favourite Questions of 2014 #2

718 SFQ14 Relax and Succeed - The first 40 years

This blog got on my top 3 list for the very simple reason that several dear friends of mine in their 30’s found it profoundly informative when it came to contextualizing the challenges they were facing in life. Relationships, careers, our families—these are all things that our growing maturity views in completely new ways. Thanks to that new perspective we come to need drastically new ideas about how to live. I certainly hope many of you find it as liberating as many others have. It’s a holiday here, so I would like to close by wishing my fellow Canadians a warm and happy Canada Day! Enjoy everyone!

CLICK BELOW TO READ:

Scott’s Top
Questions of 2014 #2

peace. s

Other Perspectives #70

696 OP Relax and Succeed - Life is too short

Hey, odds are I know how to get and stay happy better than you and even I would never set a crazy expectation like this. It’s a nice basic idea but if you go in by defining success as you being happy then failure is any time you’re not happy. But now you’re trapped because you can’t even know that success exists unless you know failure exists. But failure doesn’t use happiness to imprint itself on you. Different emotions imprint different types of experiences. Thinking you’re failing because you’re sad is like thinking a book you wrote is bad because of the librarian who filed it. That’s just who files it. One’s not better versus worse. It’s not this librarian is smarter than that one—your librarian is never wrong, they just understand more about the library than you. But your ignorance causes your ego to divide them up into the librarians you like versus the one’s you don’t like. So there’s the happy librarian versus the sad one, the calm one versus the angry one etc. etc.. But they aren’t actually good or bad. They just handle the books of experience that are appropriate to them. It was your ego that placed them in categories. The librarians don’t rank themselves. They don’t think happy is better than sad nor should you. Because if you’re going to sit in judgment of your librarians—of your own mind, of your own self—then you will criticize them for ever including failure in your library. And yet we’ve already established that you need some failure, so that very criticism of the librarians ends up just being a source of more failure and negativity. That causes the library to receive more of the types of books that will be carried by the librarians you don’t like. So don’t try to build an all-happy library. That’s a myth. Build one you can really enjoy, and that one doesn’t have more of this kind of book versus that kind of book, it just has lots and lots and lots of books. Because it turns out that reading (read: living) a lot is what leads the universe to deliver more of the books of experience that you enjoy the most. So by just reading your painful books without complaint you will actually cause more enjoyable ones to be delivered. So go have yourself an awesome day by accepting all of your emotions. That will allow them to be quickly filed so that you can get on to your next book/moment. Because in the end life is never about our judgment of the books, the real secret is that life is about the reading.

peace. s

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Values for Living

People often wonder, am I doing the right thing? Is there something better or more important I should be doing? We’re always asking the world who it wants us to be and it’s sitting there looking impassively at us, waiting for us to be the only thing we ever could be—ourselves.

668 Relax and Succeed - They say love is the best investmentIf you want to calculate the value of anything you’re doing you have to put it into terms of time. That’s your limited resource. It’s how much of that you’ll pay that determines how valuable you actually believe something is. So if you’re a $1,000 dollar an hour lawyer and you buy your wife a $350 dollar dress then you’ve invested about 20 minutes in her, whereas if you hand made her a birthday card that might take you two hours plus the time buying the craft supplies at the store plus the time to earn the money for that, so in that case the card would be worth more than the dress.

This not only applies to relationships with our lovers, but also the relationships we have with our children, or even our employees or co-workers. You can work to get a promotion that results in more hours but higher pay so that your kid can ride in a nicer car, or those hours can be spent at a less stressful job and more of that time can be invested in spending nows with the actual kid. Using this scale I think you can easily see that most of the Western world is wasting their lives on things that ultimately have no value. No one lays on their death bed wishing for more time in a mall or on social media. They want more time with their brother, or their wife or their son.

Every day you make choices regarding where you invest the time of your life. Like a vein of gold running through rock you have no idea when your lifetime will come to an end. And so starting to spend it more wisely is something that should be done as soon as possible. Do not always assume there will be more time. The vein will eventually be emptied. The answer that defines your life is, what did you invest your time in?

668 Relax and Succeed - It is no bad thingStart calculating your life based on how much time you’re giving to the different aspects of your life. Is enough going towards sleep? And how about food? Is enough going toward buying, preparing and paying for quality food? And is your time spent repetitively, or on debts for things that no longer assist us you in being happy? Because you need far less than you realize. If you slow down the rate of your desires you’ll be able to shift into the speed of life. This is where the most valuable thing is: connection. Maybe it’s you connecting to nature. Maybe it’s you connecting to your lover, or your family or to your friends. Or maybe it’s you connecting to yourself. That’s what life is. The time spent in those states of interplay with other aspects of the universe—that is when you are alive. Owning things has absolutely nothing to do with that. Those are the decorations around life but they are not life itself.

Spend less time adorning your life and talking about your past or future choices and start making choices in the moment you are in. Stop commentating on your life and others and start living as a verb instead. Don’t have a lifetime of items and opinions at the end of your time here on Earth. Have a lifetime of experiences. Have a lifetime of living.

668 Relax and Succeed - I was dyingSo many are bound up by thoughts about the paths that they believe were theirs to happiness. But there is no path to happiness. Happiness is how we walk any path. It is a choice to accept everything that comes and not argue with it because it steals our attention away from the experience we would otherwise be having. Talking about life is not living life. Decorating life is not living life. Being in the moment you are in is the only way we can actually live our lives consciously. The sooner we realize that the sooner we do it and the sooner our decisions start to more closely reflect who we truly are.

What are you currently investing your time in? What does that say about your values? Because we can make all the excuses we want, but where our time is is where our heart is and possessions don’t have a heart. Even the people in our life must be freely choosing to spend their time with us before a connection is truly achieved. Love cannot be possessed. It can only be lived and experienced as a collection of decisions about how we chose to invest the value of our lifetime.

peace. s

The Friday Dose #61

650 FD Relax and Succeed - Don't stay where you are tolerated

Remember, the point of The Friday Dose is that if you’re locked into a mindset that’s painfully sad or angry or worried or lonely, these things are designed to draw your attention in, and redirect your thinking toward these enriching stories and experiences that demonstrate the best Human Beings have to offer. I routinely have people call or write to tell me that they hit the Dose in a bad mood and left in a good one and that is entirely the point. Today let’s start off by humanizing everyone. Below is a link to a collection of:

29 Breathtaking Photos of Human’s Being Human

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Next we’ll take a look a beautiful little reminder that everyone is equal and that only our perceptions of each other change. Change yours to include everyone. Because there’s often this way that you will allow you family to be who they are even though that might not be a personality you would naturally have made friends with. Well if you can love a brother or sister or even a parent who you don’t agree with, then you can do it with strangers too:

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People will complain about the world but there’s already a new crop of social entrepreneurs who see their work as creating beautiful places to spend time in, as opposed to creating businesses that are strictly financially profitable. In fact, these sorts of businesses will often sacrifice some profits to ensure that the workplace itself is an enjoyable place to be. It’s about time we started respecting our own enjoyment of life more than the abstract and extremely variable value of only money. This is what the future can look like and it’s a lot friendlier:

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And finally, we spent some time this week on really bad managers, but this video reminds us that there’s also an increasing number of employers who are having a tighter labour market encourage them to learn or discover that there are far, far better ways to motivate people than the ways that are currently used by people who were trained to only see financial profit as the goal, rather than the new leaders who value quality of life as their driving force:

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There’s a lot more to life than making money and acquiring things that you will drag around with you for your lifetime. As you age you will begin to be far less interested in objects and you’ll be far more interested in experiences, particularly enriching ones with people you genuinely care about. So remember that this weekend. Because if you go shopping, you have doomed yourself to more slavery to your work. But if you go spend time with friends, you will return to work rested, reinvigorated and you’ll be more patient and open minded. So nurture your own peace. And have yourself a wonderful weekend.

All the best, s

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. Save these for when you’re feeling low and you want to change your perspective. They’ll help Enjoy. And please let me know if you bump into any broken links. Thanks!

Winning in Life

Who would have ever thought that compassion would be the key to a winning formula in an ultra-masculine sport? You would think something like car racing wouldn’t even be a team sport, but it very much is. And when I listened to former Formula One World Champion Peter Windsor discuss what was required to win at that level, I wasn’t surprised to learn that he used the same techniques that any smart business leader will use with any team working in any business.

639 Relax and Succeed - Peter Windsor
Peter Windsor, F1 World Champion

When asked how and why Nigel Mansell was able to win a World Championship in Formula One racing, his Team Manager Peter Windsor (now head of Formula One‘s web presence) pointed out that you ultimately needed two things: an intensely passionate team who had found ways to truly love what they did, and those people had to be as passionate about each other as they were for winning. And so Peter Windsor, a journalist with no real business experience, was able to assemble a winning team in the toughest, richest sport in the world. So why is a guy with no business experience beating people with tons? Because you can go to work and spend 15 years learning, or you can do like a lot of people I know and you can do the same year 15 times and not learn a thing. Peter Windsor learns.

There are two kinds of managers: militaristic and humanistic. The former believes you should listen because of your title and the manager’s title and it’s simply a top-down pyramid where the crap flows downhill. The humanistic manager is much more humble and open. He’s more like oil and his team members are like engine parts. His job is to keep them flowing smoothly. He can’t 639 Relax and Succeed - There is nothing noble in being superiorpresume to know how to manage the group because the group dictates that, not the manager. What a ridiculous idea that the same management systems would apply to a different group of people! So a bunch of lazy introverts requires the same techniques as a bunch of A-type overachievers? Hardly. And anyone who thinks so is absolutely going to be a blind manager. Blind to what? Blind to what needs actual management.

Engineers are very often very technical and almost Asperger-ish in their disinterest in human emotion. This is precisely because they see the emotions as being extraneous to the process—which it’s hard to argue—but nevertheless, as the rest of know, those very emotions are often at the core of our efforts. So some of the engineers can be passionately focused on winning by ignoring emotion whereas others on the team will be just as passionate about the teammates themselves. So part of Windsor’s job was to either run interference between these two groups, or to ensure that they are the right sorts of people to be able to communicate effectively without his help. Because you can have the smartest people in the world working together and it will be useless as long as they can’t communicate and share their abilities. And that told me that Windsor would have succeeded in any business he went in to. Because he understands that ultimately what makes a team successful is how well it shares.

Lewis Hamilton is a brilliant, intuitive driver. He’s just come off a winning season but Windsor’s concerned about his next season. They’ve changed engineers from one that was very human and engaged with Lewis as an intuitive. He would listen carefully to Lewis’s intuitive feedback 639 Relax and Succeed - There is a sense in whichand he would translate it into the numbers on his computer screen. This year they’ve gone with a different engineer and Windsor rightfully picks up that this may be fatal for Lewis’s season. If the person responsible for the car can’t communicate well with the person driving it, then I think you can see that F1 truly is a team sport, because the car will end up being worked on hard and built to some strange standard that lives in the unshared world of two people who aren’t truly communicating. Windsor would know to either go translate, or get a different engineer. That is the smartest kind of management—to see a team as an organic, living being that must be treated like a living thing and not a list of jobs that pull on each other like levers.

If you’re in business and you’re looking to maximize the impact of your team, the most important thing you can do is clearly identify the goal, and then ensure that every team member is genuinely invested in helping his teammates achieve their aspect of that larger goal. So in essence, everyone is helping everyone, which removes what I term friction in a business.

639 Relax and Succeed - Creativity is intelligence having funFriction slows a race car down and friction slows a business down. If you have two or more people infighting over something, then the life force that those people arrive at work with each day will not be expended on getting the car to go faster or the business to do better, it will be expended battling against each other. Now that friction can be healthy when used for development of ideas when it’s done in the most positive ways. But it cannot be allowed to drift into personal friction, where people are now battling each other. Once we start yelling we’ve stopped arguing for a point and now we’re arguing for ourselves.

There was a lot of business people at the event this past weekend. It took place at one of my clients, Modern Auto Body, a super-high end auto body shop that more reconstructs high end cars than fixes them. And the audience was filled with financially successful business people. But financial success doesn’t mean those businesses didn’t have even more head room. Because anyone in there that wasn’t running their team with the respect for friction that Windsor has—that business person has left a lot on the table. Because a stronger manager would draw more value from those same people by treating them, not as pegs filling job slots but, as human beings who spend half of their waking life at work. If you can make that work inspiring and have the team feel like a family, then you will have created the hardest, most conscientious workers there are.

I loved the event and I loved spending some quality time with a man who I not only respect for his achievements, but also for his humanity. I think it was summed up nicely when I asked a female non-race fan if she had enjoyed his talk, and she told me that she had loved it, and that it was very impressive to her how much Windsor genuinely cared about his team. She noted that he always knew such beautiful personal details about the lives of his team members, and 639 Relax and Succeed - Success is not the key to happinessthat he always spoke with such reverence about everyone from the driver and engineer all the way on down to the 160th member of the team. I had the same reaction. It’s the same one I have whenever I’m around the people who’ve lead the most holistically successful lives. Because if you just win races but hate every minute of it, then you haven’t won anything at all. So ultimately it wasn’t the World Championship that made Peter Windsor—it was the love for his co-workers that made him the great man and leader that he still is to this day.

Now go be a good team member on whatever team you’re on, be it at home or work. And always remember to drive safe out there. All the best. 😉

peace. s

The Comforts of Home

You’re pretty hard on yourself. You imagine everyone is watching your life like a personal performance and you want to make sure they’re all taken care of. You want to keep them entertained and happy. You want them to like you. In these clawing, depleting motions you crawl away from your own being so that you can put on a performance for them.

623 Relax and Succeed - I can't tell you the key to successWho’s them? Wow. There’s your parents. Siblings if you have them. Then enemies. Schoolmates and facebook friends. There’s even the them that is suggested to you by advertising. They lead you to believe that everyone’s just watching you for mistakes. Well I can tell you they aren’t. Because people like me don’t care about your mistakes and the remaining 97% of people aren’t looking at you because their ego is making them do the same thing you are! They’re sitting in their life thinking worried thoughts about what you think of them.

People think I’m kidding, but even school bullies are just being proactive about their fears. Rather than figure out how to face a challenge they try to intimidate everyone to the point that no one ever challenges them. It’s easy to win battles you never have to fight. Likewise, girls with fragile spirits will tease others to protect themselves.

People’s background motivations are easier to spot than you might think. But to be aware in that way you do have to have a quiet mind. You cannot be busy building narratives about your opinions or views of what’s going on. You can’t even be with them in a dress that is green because even that is too much of your opinion dividing up the whole. Just be open and aware with no expectations. Have faith in your ability to understand. Because that is the only way to spot the person beneath the performance.

Seriously. You can always go back to living the old way if this doesn’t work. But just take one day and dedicate it to this one shift: instead of talking about how you look bad or how you wished you looked differently, focus on others. As you watch them walk by the food court or whatever, just try to look at them and imagine what they beat themselves up for in the mirror every morning.

623 Relax and Succeed - When we cultivate true love of selfIs it their looks? The balding head or expanding belly? Is it their shoes? Or that 5 year old blouse? Or maybe it’s their dark roots, or what they’re ordering for lunch. Maybe it’s their kids, or that they can’t quit smoking. Maybe they feel trapped in a job where they don’t feel respected, or that they haven’t felt beautiful or loved in years. There’s a lot of things written on people’s faces that are worthy of compassion if you’d only stop assuming that everything is about you. Because every expression you have ever seen is a product of that person’s thoughts about their life and therefore their “reality.” And rarely does it have anything to do with you. And all too rarely does it feel any better than yours.

Spend some time meditating on why you do virtually everything you do. Really meditate on the reasoning behind every action of your life. You might be surprised at how often you come to the conclusion that your own actions were only undertaken because you hadn’t inspected them closely for value. Because way too much of your life is dedicated to building or maintaining an image, and not enough is being invested in living a real life.

Stop dancing for us. Stop being who you think will be acceptable to us. Sure there will be people that will judge the real you as well. But there’s people judging you now, but you don’t get the joy of fulfilling your role as the real you. You don’t owe us anything. But the world would be better if your life was joyful. So stop worrying about what anyone else is thinking and instead open your awareness and simply take in the many reasons to be joyful. Because that state of mind is ultimately your home.

peace. s

The Friday Dose #54

615 FD Relax and Succeed - Isn't it pretty to think so

This week’s Dose is all about the phases of life that we move through. Let’s start with when we’re young and we see the world as material. Here’s an idea that seems good on the surface—a place that teaches kids how the economy works, and what it’s like to sacrifice fun to go to work, and how you can save and spend money. I noticed however they don’t seem to cover the idea of debt, which most 30 and 40 year olds will tell you is one of the most important words in their life and one they wished they’d learned about sooner. This feels place feels more like it indoctrinates kids into a world where having a job is presumed when such a thing has only existed for a relatively short time. It also teaches consumerism, as though fun is buying. Brands know that the sooner they imprint their product in your head the better, so this is perfect from the “sponsor’s” standpoint. Parents delivering their kids to and paying for the privilege of looking at advertising? What business doesn’t like that? And what an interesting business strategy it is. One location in each country all over the world when usually companies master a market and them move with all of their borrowing power and expertise into a new market. This is more like planting an idea all over the world rather than the usual expansion by geography. But if people dress up four year olds in sexy outfits for beauty pageants then I have no doubt that there’s also people who will flock to a place like this, but that feels a little sad. Certainly the idea of what fun is has changed almost completely within my short lifetime. These kids are learning to work in fast food or a factory. This honestly feels like it should be one of those subtly satirical ads that you’d see on the TV in an 80’s science fiction film like Total Recall. How did we come that far that fast? Is this Kidzania or Insania?

New Yorker Magazine Article on Kidzania

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Now we’ll look at the next phase of life, which involves the attraction of mates and the establishment of status within our existing subculture. Here’s where we hand over a lot of our freedom and we believe we’re being individual because we’re no longer conforming to what our parents chose for us, but we’re failing to notice that some industry ads are what informs a girl what colour her hair should be and how her eyeliner should look. And so in their effort to exert their “freedom,” teens will often just join some corporate camp where they’re dressed just like everyone else in their subculture whether that’s Gap or Goth. Here’s an example of how the beauty industry has rotated through different versions of beautiful once the market was saturated with the materials required to achieve the old beautiful.

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So after all that let’s finish off with something that feels super-real. Something that seems beneath all the crap and pulls and lies and manipulations. Something pure. Something that makes some sense of all the chaos. Alan Watts is often good for that. In this talk he addresses the real you:

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Have an amazing, beautiful day you incredibly gorgeous soul you. 🙂

peace. s

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. Save these for when you’re feeling low and you want to change your perspective. They’ll help Enjoy.

Failure by 30

Winner: Scott’s Favourite Questions of 2014 #2

I’m only 30 and I feel like my life is over. I’m already divorced and dating has been one ugly experience after another. My parents are getting older and need more of my help right when I need to get a second job to cover all of my debt. And I have no spiritual life to speak of other than quotes I share on facebook. My personal relationships are bad or non-existent, I have way more debt than equity, and I haven’t taken one step toward nirvana. Please tell me I’m not doomed. (I’m doomed I know it.)

signed,
Feeling Doomed

Dear Feeling,

Ha! That is such a common Western state of being. Does it make you feel better to know you’re in with a huge collection of society? Lots of people feel that way, and for good reason. The story you’re telling yourself about your life isn’t a good one—it’s not surprising that you find it painful to listen to. But you do understand that it’s just a story, right? Because I can offer a 409 Relax and Succeed - Let go or be draggedcompeting story and it will make just as much sense as yours:
From my perspective you have about 30 years of youth left. If you stay active you’ll be surprised at how active you can be at 60. So you have this fabulous luxury of time in which you can fit all sorts of >experience. Because your life isn’t made up of relationships or finances, your life is made of experiences. That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s how you know what happened in your life. It’s a collective sense provided by all of your sensory inputs. It is an experience.

So you don’t take your experience opportunities and squander them sitting still re-thinking about past experiences. The way you improve your life is to make better experience choices today than you did yesterday and that’s generally pretty easy because we have the advantage of the results of our previous choices. So with experience comes wisdom. Not age; experience.

But of course your experiences are shaped by your thoughts. So if you want to have quality experiences then you have to have quality thoughts. You can tell yourself a wanting story or you can tell yourself an abundance story. Want hurts. Appreciation feels good. It’s a nice system that’s been set up to encourage you to choose what’s best for you. So go for what’s good. Especially when it would be easy to think a painful, suffering story. That’s when it’s most important to remember that your life is made of your experiences and your experiences are shaped by your judgments. So make them wisely because you will feel them instantly.

409 Relax and Succeed - When you realize there is nothing lackingYour life is not a waste. The way you are judging it is negative and harsh. And you are as spiritually close to salvation as anyone. Everyone is always only one thought away from enlightenment. So you are as close to the glory of God as anyone who’s been in church or mosque or temple for their entire life. Because if you can see how the universe works—if you can profoundly come to understand your role in describing your life to yourself—then you are free to use your imagination to create for yourself an interesting, entirely worthwhile collection of experiences to go live.

You don’t need external markers of success. You don’t need a relationship or a certain status or list of friends. You don’t need achievements or skills or experience. You only need conscious control over the very natural process of invoking your own thinking. If you can choose to focus on appreciation and not on want then your life will constantly feel rich and abundant and generosity will be your nature. Such is the way of wisdom. I look forward to seeing you alongside me along the way.

peace. s