Producing Peace

Okay, so you’ve had a week of starting your day off with what you feel grateful for. If you do that earnestly for a while it will really start to pay off. And how did you do watching for judgments? It’s amazing how many of them you make in your mind. I like this song, that hairstyle looks terrible on her, what’s he doing telling me how it should be done? Blah blah blah all day long.

850 Relax and Succeed - Tim is on the internetFor the rest of this week I want you to notice how seldom people make each other feel good and how often they reduce each other. Feel your own reductions so that you can appreciate how it feels for others when you insert an unrequired, unsolicited opinion on anything from their car to their childrearing. If the world needs our help it’ll ask. In the meantime, we could be giving compliments instead.

Most of the time when you say do it the right way you mean do it your way. That’s a judgment call. To each their own. You don’t want other people telling you how to do every other little thing, so just stay quiet in the driver’s seat and let your co-parent actually parent. Get out of the habit of thinking that your view is the right one. Stop thinking anyone has the right one. Realize that we don’t need better behaving people, we need a more tolerant society that can allow people to a) do things differently and b) learn while doing.

For the rest of this week stop at the top of every hour and check in on how many judgments you made of yourself and others, out loud and internal. Study them and realize how ridiculous they are–how they’re primarily just requests to act like you. See them for what they are: pointless commentary on the game of life. It’s time you and everyone else gave up all the judging and got back to the serious business of playing instead.

850 Relax and Succeed - Kindness is the new blackWhat kind of words show up when you judge? Watch for them. Better, right, proper, etc etc. Avoid those words. See how few judgments you can pass in a day. And do it very seriously for the rest of your work-week. If you want a more peaceful life you have to get out of the habit of judging every single step you and others take. The world doesn’t need referees or teachers watching our every move. We all need to get quieter minds. So when someone corrects you remember it means nothing to you, and remember the opposite is also true: your opinion lives only in your head. Unless asked for it we should just leave it dormant within us.

By the end of today you should have categories of judgments you’re aware of. Physical ones, philosophical ones, factual ones etc. etc. etc. Know them. Be familiar with what incites your judgments. Be wary in those situations. Each day work to reduce the amount of comments you make about others driving, work, attitudes and level of respect. Just Be you. If you’re doing it right that will keep you plenty busy.

Now go create an awesome day by quieting your mind by studying and stalling your judgments. Put it in your calendar so you’re reminded each morning: no judgments today. Practice will never make perfect but it will create a ton of peace for you to enjoy. Have a great day everyone!

peace. s

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

Other Perspectives #88

801 OP Relax and Succeed - I set my alarm earlyUsually the Other Perspectives series is to used to point out how ambiguous quotes can be dangerous to your spiritual health if taken the wrong way, but in this case the quote undermines your spiritual and psychological health by encouraging you to do what is already one of the modern world’s most widely practiced rituals. Getting your mind ready to be dissatisfied and judgmental is very seriously what a very large number of you do every single morning. This is a terrible tone to set for your thinking. The morning is important. You have awoken with a clear head. Do not start off your day by telling your brain to get ready to complain. Use that valuable time to wake slowly and comfortably–even if that means setting your alarm a half hour ahead and then taking a half hour to get up. That’ll also ease that rushed feeling you get. And while you’re laying there–at the time that feels appropriate to you–begin to tell yourself how you will be acting throughout the day. More patient, kinder, as a better listener–whatever you’ve chosen. Imagine you’ve already succeeded and it’s almost like you’re saying how it ended, not how it’s starting. And then slowly get up and you will over time see that this simple change will have lasting and very valuable impacts on your life. And don’t forget to tell yourself that you’re going to have a great week. 😉

peace. s

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

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Being Aware of Yourself

You are two things at once. You are your spiritual self, which is free and brilliant and unlimited, and that self travels around within your biological self, which is also free and potentially brilliant but it does have some limitations, including the fact that your brain is built as a pattern-matching, repetitive system that essentially uses cues to tell itself a story about what is happening around it.

793 Relax and Succeed - If you carry the bricks from your pastWithout mindfulness that pattern-matching behaviour will lead to an unconscious life. You won’t be choosing your existence so much as your existence will be directing you–like someone who was bit by a dog when they were young can end up being afraid of dogs for the rest of their life. Imagine how important that becomes when you start applying it to personal intimate romantic relationships.

One incident hardly condemns all dogs or people, but if a person isn’t careful and there are no intervening, countervailing experiences, they will use those unpleasant experiences to cage their spirit even more than the limitations of their body. Your body could be around a dog–or a beautiful brunette–it’s your worried thoughts that can’t.

The trick is to notice these extremely subtle patterns in life. Yes there’s the obvious stuff like; if you leave the house every day with your wallet and one day you leave without it your brain does signal you that something is off-pattern. That’s what you’re feeling when you say, I’ve got this feeling I forgot something. You’re exactly right.

793 Relax and Succeed - Do not give your pastThe harder patterns are ones like–how often you look at your phone? And what’s the pattern behind what you’re doing immediately before that, that reminds you to check it? Is it a notification that allows you to escape from harder work, or do you hit a timer in your head and you need a fix?

Do you only phone your friends when you’re sad or angry? Does your stomach tense up when you’re stressing? Do you automatically get up in a bad mood if it’s windy? Or on the way to your parents? Do you say things to your children out of habit rather than reacting to them originally, in the present moment? Do you always choose one or two genres of music, or does the same street always make you think of the same person?

The contexts that surround these patterns act as our cues. We should know our cues. You should intimately be aware of what upsets you and those closest to you. Even better, you should know what relaxes you and makes you happy. We need that pattern-match part of our brain to survive, but we don’t want it fencing us off from experience when it serves no useful purpose.

Get to know yourself much more intimately. Dedicate an entire hour to looking very, very closely at your own face. You know how you can write down or look at a word for so long that the letters start to lose their meaning? You’ve burned out the part of your brain that patterns those letters into that word, so as that energy flares out it hits all the jumbled angles on those letters.

793 Relax and Succeed - face it you are lovelyWell the same effect happens with your face. You know it as you. But when you stare at it long enough, there’s this sudden moment when you see not what you see–but what a stranger might see. The nice part about it is that it will happen for sure, and that you will realize you’re more interesting and beautiful than you thought.

Get to know your thinking. Do you have thought habits in the morning? When you drive home? Every workday do you literally go to the window to see if your neighbour parked in that way he always does that makes you mad? The crazy unaware person isn’t the neighbour who parks strangely, it’s the guy who chooses to consistently piss himself off as one of his daily rituals. Free yourself with awareness of who you really are.

What are your patterns? The more you find the more you will find because your brain is good at patterns, remember? It’ll get easier and easier to spot them. Trust me, they are all over the place and layered much much thicker than you can imagine. You’ll find times in the week where you are absolutely guaranteed to be upset between 7:12 and 7:32pm every Wednesday. If it’s that predictable surely there’s a work-around. But you have to be aware.

Awareness is key. You don’t need to be smarter or better, you just need more awareness. That will open up the doors to everything you are searching for. Don’t forget to have fun while you’re doing it. Now go get to know this person you call yourself. And you will know all that you need to know to make the most of your life. Enjoy.

peace. s

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