Mental Health Assignment One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Crazy People

505 Relax and Succeed - Doing what you like is freedom

I know two guys. They don’t like each other. The guy we’ll call Joseph is a lawyer —a prosecutor— and the guy we’ll call Pete is a street person who makes his living collecting bottles in residential neighbourhoods.

Both of them think each other’s lives are crazy and both wonder how I can be friends with someone as strange as the other guy. I find them fascinating. And you might too. Because they really help delineate the remarkable differences people can have in their sense of reality.

Joseph can’t imagine why a guy would want to live under a bridge, or why he would collect bottles when there’s even a single job available. Especially in where I am, in Edmonton, where it gets cold and snowy in the winter. He assumes the only reason anyone would do this is either mental illness or alcoholism or drug addictions, so let’s look closely at those reasons.

Pete notes that, as governments cut services to keep taxes down for guys like Joseph, the politicians naturally attack the things that won’t hurt them in the voting booth, which makes small and expensive problems like mental illness and crime rehabilitation end up as logical and easy targets for cuts.

It’s not hard to see Pete’s point. In many jurisdictions around the world there are people outside that belong inside, getting care and support in a professionally staffed facility.

But in addition to the addicts and the mentally ill, there’s another group Joseph can’t comprehend. They’re like Pete. They’re on the street by choice. Some of them even have sizable bank accounts. They’re like the pre-depression hobos. They’re more philosophical. They just don’t want to live the way we do. They think we live with too many rules and obligations and judgments.

505 Relax and Succeed - A man is a success

To Pete, Joseph’s life looks like a straight jacket. His boss might be less intelligent and capable than him, but that won’t matter –Joseph will have to take those instructions. In court he has a Judge and a set of rules to follow “like’s he’s five years old.” Pete says. 

For large parts of his day, Joseph has to speak in a highly formalized way before he’ll even be recognized, and because we’re in Canada he’s even wearing robes. If you take away the spectre of ‘the law,’ it looks like some weird silly alien piece of theatre. But it’s not just Joseph’s work that seems crazy to Pete.

Pete notices that Joseph also waits in a lot of line-ups to spend all of his money. At the gas station, in convenience stores, at the bank, at retailers that never seem to have staff, in tents overnight for iPhones…. Spending money has never been less pleasant.

Pete notes that Joseph has the needs of other people guiding his actions for 95% of his waking day, whereas Pete has total control for 95% of his own. To Pete, he’s the rich one, not Joseph. And if you really stop to think about it, Pete’s got a decent point. I know me and most of the people I know would love more peace, volition and freedom (not to mention less time in line-ups.)

In the end neither of them is right or wrong. They just each have to pick their own poisons. Joseph takes comfort and conformity and status, and Pete takes freedom, challenge and individuality.

Every person faces these questions as an individual. Will it be a strange dance of formal English and appointments and obligations? Or will it be waking up when you feel like it but sleeping in the cold? Even these extremes can lead to an enjoyable life, it’s just a matter of who we are and what feels natural for us.

We should not feel compelled to let other people tell us how we should feel about anything. Pete and Joseph might be a long ways apart for the purposes of the example, but even people who seem close can differ in some surprisingly big ways. Most marriage tensions occur because each individual imagined a different form of relationship.

What would be right for them may not be right for us, so we need not bother with other’s judgments. And while we’re at it, we an avoid judging their paths too. We are all better to fully focus on your own.

Today, let’s go make the sort of choices that will lead to a truly rewarding day for the people we are.

peace. s

Other Perspectives #23


426 Relax and Succeed Quote Rebuttal - Live in such a way.

Hey, I get the sentiment here and it’s a nice thought. And I’m all for people leading “good” lives. But to me that is a life you love, because those kinds of lives include joy, laughter, sharing, compassion—all the makings of the easiest type of life. But have a great life selfishly, because it feels good for you, not to influence people around you. Only you experience your thoughts about your life, so what other people think is entirely irrelevant. Everyone lives in their own separate bubble of judgmental thoughts. That’s what the world is to all of us: our ideas about the world. And the people in it. So no matter how you lived, there would still be people who would have hateful thoughts about you. If you were perfect people would hate you for being perfect. Remember, Nelson Mandela was in jail and Martin Luther King and Gandhi were both shot. So no matter how “good” you think you can be, there’s no way to please seven billion people, so just relax and selfishly do what feels right to a happy and connected. You and everything will be as good as you each can be. We can’t seek perfection, we must realize ourselves authentically in as many moments as we’re able to stay conscious for. If you demanded a definition for goodness, that’s what I would use. Because that is the purest form of us in the spiritual sense. And that is Truth in motion. That is the universe being. And there is nothing “wrong” in that.

peace. s

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.