The Generous Husband

When considering the greatest acts of love imaginable this is not likely to be on your list. You might think of someone escaping a war-torn country to be with his love, or some woman defying her entire culture to share her life with the man she truly loves, or maybe you’d think of some couple who meets during a disaster and goes on to have a wonderful family. But you won’t think of this.

We think of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia as diseases that impact much older people but by her late 40’s Karen was already showing signs that something was wrong, and soon she couldn’t even set a proper dinner table let alone run her life safely and effectively. By 50 they were making plans to get her into a home where she would be safe and well looked after.

Maybe the doctors and nurses were more prepared for it due to their experience. These brain diseases can attack various regions and often they’ll attack the ones involving our social comprehension. So people will become rude without meaning to, or they’ll say inappropriate things, or sometimes they’ll even do them. And sometimes, they’ll behave in ways that are far more complicated.

The home called. They had caught Bob’s wife in bed with another man. It was clearly sexual. A meeting was called. They trick is, the people involved were young enough that it was difficult to control their every move. More of these instances seemed inevitable. What did Bob and his daughter want to do?

What a thing to be asked. Do? What would someone do in such a situation? Both Bob and his daughter wanted some professional guidance but there is no guidance for a wife becoming extremely uninhibited and sexualised. No one else could consent on her behalf, and yet obviously no one knew if she was capable of consent if she needed it. And worst of all for Bob, his wife didn’t remember Bob or his daughter, and instead she thought she was married to the man she was sleeping with. Who imagines dealing with that at 50? Or is it worse for Bob’s daughter at half his age?

This can seem like an impossible situation unless you’re Bob and you’re in it. But Bob found a way through it. I’m sure it’s not easy, but it’s a route he can have faith in. Because Bob’s basically been told that this love and sexuality is an aspect of his wife’s disease. Even if they move her to another home, it isn’t likely to change. So Bob asked the only intelligent, loving question left. “Is she happy when she’s with him?”

I’m confident it was a very difficult answer to give him because it was overwhelmingly affirmative. Yes, she and the stranger she met in hospital appear to love each other very much and both seem happiest and healthiest when they’re together. Bob’s wife is happier and more alive if she is allowed to experience her love with another man.

Can you imagine the position Bob is in? Can you imagine that you’ve planned your retirement and just as you’re getting close to the point where you hit what you thought would be the easiest period of your lives together, instead you’re not only entirely forgotten about, but moreover you must actually approve of, and even in strange ways pay for, your spouse to have a powerful romantic and sexual relationship with someone else? Wow.

This is the height of love because what has Bob done? He’s put his wife’s needs before his own. He volunteers to suffer so that his wife may have peace and happiness. That’s as generous a love as we can have. Bob wants his wife to be happy, even if that means she’s happiest with someone else.

If Bob can do all this, then I’m sure the rest of us can do better than we’re doing. So let’s all take Bob as an example and, for the rest of this week, do your best to put the needs of your partner ahead of yourself. And while I do feel for Bob, I’m also happy that his spiritual courage has lead him to experience the greatest form of love that anyone can partake in. Because as daunting as it may be, we should all be more like Bob.

peace. s

PS You can follow the link above to hear Bob tell his own story.

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.

Egos and Salespeople

Richard and Alice didn’t even want to be there, but they had been in an accident and they needed to replace their car. They tried being stealthy but the salesman’s training took care of that. He was ready. Everything about his training taught him how to take full advantage of whatever kind of personality was in front of him.

Alice was just as shy as Richard but, for little more than sexist reasons, she pushed–and Richard accepted–the lead shy person’s position and so he’s the one that talked to Sammy. Richard immediately tried to play his cards close to his chest, but all that he and Alice talked about were safety features, so Sammy figured out that scaring them into buying it was the fastest, surest way to sell them a new van that was more expensive than the one they came in for.

Sammy talked about features, but he was sneaky about always adding in little references to how his van had this or that feature that kept them safer than other vans. Half the time Sammy was making the name of the feature up, and he had no idea what the competitors vans had for safety or features, but he knew if he said his was safest and the customers trusted him, then they’d never check. Besides, Mac was the kind of salesman that told the truth about that sort of thing and he was always in trouble with their managers for reading research instead of selling. Sammy didn’t need that hassle. He wanted to be a good employee.

In a short time Sammy had them scared into dealing with him only, and he had scared them into his van specifically, and then he scared them into a price. Of course his manager started them far higher than the monthly payment number they gave him, but that’s how Sammy’s boss contributed to the psychological assault. And that way Richard and Alice are so off balance that they never even noticed that the monthly payments added up to a lot more than the van plus the interest.

For their part, Richard and Alice are legitimately scared. They can’t deal with those other lying, thieving salesmen. Good thing Sammy warned them about them. And it has to be the D-Lux model, not for all of those expensive features, but rather because that’s how they get the best safety equipment. Besides, Sammy had got them such a great deal. (Sammy also made sure they felt in line to have several more accidents during their driving history.) So they felt they had no option except to nearly double their original monthly payment budget.

Once they’d agreed to that, Sammy handed them over to Polly. She’s the dainty, cute girl that works in the finance office. She was going to take care of the “paperwork” with Richard and Alice, and Sammy had told her about his good friends Richard and Alice, so innocent-looking little Polly also knew to tell a bunch of really frightening stories as she recommended various insurance or protection options. Totally scared of theft, accidents, death and every projectile imaginable, Richard and Alice doubled the price of the van again.

Finally they get word back from the bank but now they’re scared again! After all of this work and planning, the bank won’t approve the loan. Oh no! They can’t let the van go now! It’s the last one like it! Of course none of this is true, but with Sammy, Polly and their manager saying it, Richard and Alice panic. Yes, of course they’ll pay more!

Boom. Polly got her bonus–because had they not been willing to pay more, then the interest rate problem would have suddenly been solved by Polly’s genius instead or Richard’s wallet. So in the end, Richard and Alice got the van that will destroy their future finances and they’re even relieved to have it. They’re so grateful to Sammy for focusing on their safety and not their wallets that they’re planning on sending him business.

On a sidenote, when they picked up their van, Richard and Alice were so excited and happy that they didn’t even notice Mac, the honest salesman, being escorted out of the building with his belongings. Which was too bad for Mac, because the next day he ended up missing out on the free cake to celebrate Sammy’s win as Employee of the Month.

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.

MoK: Converting Anger

1107-relax-and-succeed-mok-sorryEveryone gets angry, it’s just some hide it better than others. But passive-aggressiveness and yelling are both disruptive to human relations. It’s important to remember that you do have the chemistry within you to create anger for a reason. It does serve a purpose. But everyone gets tired, everyone gets hangry, everyone has some easy days and some that are particularly challenging.

Today’s acts in our March of Kindness are simple and straightforward. The first thing have you have to do is identify when you last got angry towards a specific person, then contact the person immediately after you’ve identified them and offer an unequivocal apology.

The most valuable apology is in person, looking the person in the eye, offering zero excuses, just responsibility. Next most valuable is a phone call, where they can hear the sincerity (and possibly discomfort) in your voice that signals your willingness to suffer a bit for what you feel is important–namely respecting that person.

1107-relax-and-succeed-mok-never-ruin-an-apologyOther electronic forms of apology are less personal and less effective but at least they’re a step in the right direction, so if you don’t have the courage for in-person then the next best option is a clear email that outlines your understanding of the lack of respect you’ve shown, that expresses your sincere regret, and that makes a commitment to do better in the future.

Text or instant messenger apologies are the weakest but again, are still far better than no apology at all. If you do this you can increase the value somewhat by also apologising for the fact that your sense of guilt makes it difficult for you to offer the apology in a more personal form. Own your weakness, don’t add it to the insult to the other person.

And finally, apologies to friends are critical to ongoing friendships, but the world is improved when we add people to the number we’re prepared to respect, so in many ways an apology to an opponent or enemy can be the most useful type for society overall. It models good behaviour and reduces tension in both parties.

1107-relax-and-succeed-mok-the-first-to-apologizeIt’s better not to overthink these. Just define the person, choose the form and then do it. It’ll take a few moments and the only suffering you’ll do is between your own ears, within the confines of your own consciousness. The harder it is to do, the better you’ll feel once it’s over. And who knows, maybe you’ll even get one yourself.

If we want to grow as people we must be willing to function outside our own comfort zones. The fact that this feels awkward is directly related to its value to the other person. Let’s start making apologising more common, because it’s human nature to eventually get tired of apologising for the same mistake and that’s usually what leads to us actually changing.

Do it, and do it ASAP. The March of Kindness needs your kindness to be active.

And have a wonderful day everyone.

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.

What Defines You?

1085-relax-and-succeed-the-ability-to-observe-without-evaluatingYesterday we meditated on the sources of judgment. Who is it you want to be better for? Today we’ll ask about what their definitions are made of. Where did they emerge from and why are they so different depending on the source? Why do some people hate you and others love you?

Humans named a bunch of things so that made us feel like we’re somehow above what we are, but once people get pushed near the lower two echelons of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we’re all pretty much apes. If the lead chimp in a group is decent at sharing, then the group is stable and tight. But if the leader is greedy or selfish, the others can sense that and they will, one by one, band together, and they’ll eventually take action.

We would all like to believe we’re above that, and yet we all know most parents would easily die–or even kill–for their children. This would include stealing food from someone else if your child needed badly enough, and it would justified by your love and sense of protection. The problem is that we’re all still individuals, and so we all put the line where we’d start stealing in a different place.

1085-relax-and-succeed-opinion-is-the-mediumYour friends are essentially the people that agree with where your line is because there’s is in a similar place. They’ll call that match correct, right, moral, or even sane. If you’re either inside or outside their line you will be incorrect, wrong, immoral, dangerous and crazy. Of course these are just judgments within the confines of their own consciousness. But people will act on those thoughts, which is why they matter to a degree.

This line is circular, but more importantly it’s also irregular. It might be shaped like a D or it might have a wedge cut out of it like pie. A person could be super-nice in almost every way and yet be a terrible -ist. Misogynist, racist, even a terrorist. That’s why the neighbours of double homicide say things on the news like, “I never would have expected it. He kept such a nice lawn.” The housekeeping and home maintenance part of his circle was nice and round–the rest, not so much.

Everyone assumes everyone either is, or is supposed to be, a perfect circle, when in fact there is no such thing. With others, if you see a good chunk of curve then you extrapolate that its curves won’t change. No matter who they are, until you see those sides you’ll assume they have a nice round circle when you might have just been judging an entire human being based on his lawn.

1085-relax-and-succeed-one-of-the-greatests-tragediesSince the advent of popular psychology people’s expectations of this perfect roundness has become very firm and unforgiving. Others are disappointed if they mistook you for someone else. They guessed your circle was round and anything short of that is you failing.

When people fall in love their senses are impacted by chemicals and they naturally round off every wobbly or irregular part of their partner’s circle. But, as they know each other longer and longer, and wander further around each other’s circles, their expectations rise. Before they could round off those wobbles in their own head. Eventually they’ll start asking you to do something about them. And that’s when trouble starts.

Our circles are too big and changing them is challenging because that’s not really the way to live. You’ll actually do more to improve the roundness of yourself by accepting the shape you already are, then watch for opportunities for you to use that shape in some way that benefits you and others. Otherwise you’ll spend your entire life neurotically bouncing around the inside of your circle, trying desperately to round off every side that someone meets. This is why weddings are stressful. There’s so many other circles to try to match at once…

1085-relax-and-succeed-who-am-i-to-judge-othersEach of these judgments exists only within the reality of the person making it. You do the same with others and you all do it with yourselves too. Today your meditation is for you to find three occasions where; 1) you did change your circle and you regretted it, 2) you didn’t change it and regretted it, 3) you wanted to change it but couldn’t, and 4) and a time where you did change and you didn’t regret it.

As you might guess, the middle two are to help you understand the world better, but the main value is in the difference between why #1 felt like it did and #4 felt so different. The first is where you became someone for someone, while the other is you became more of your true self. Your job is to be your true self, that’s why that one feels so good while the other is unpleasant.

Find your examples. Four of them. Try to spend some time examining your headspace at that time. Recognise your fluctuating state, and that the judgments of others are not absolute. They are based on their own circles. Your friends accept your circles no matter how they’re shaped, and your health will be represented by how many imperfect circles you will accept. Now do your spiritual exercise or I’ll judge you. 😉

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.

Unconditional Surrender

1078-relax-and-succeed-you-are-where-you-need-to-beYou want to be the best person you can be and you want to enjoy your own life more. Those are good goals and that’s why you’re here. And I have good news! You’ve already taken an important step in your journey, but it won’t be very visible to you until it’s a ways behind you.

A percentage of the people who started these daily meditations have already gone back to old habits while many others have been quite enthusiastic. It’s curious isn’t it? I assured people results if they just stuck with a series of easy tasks and still a percentage of people could not appreciate that their peace of mind would be worth that small effort. In short, they have too little to lose. They need their suffering to get worse before they’ll think that easy trade is worth it.

The people who are still doing the exercises fall into two groups. Some are not sure what’s going on with these weird exercises either, but they’re giving it a try. Some of you have a light, forgiving childlike spirit that’s already close to its home, so it takes on the challenges playfully and trusts. But for many more, their dedication comes from their pure fatigue with the idea of suffering. They just want relief and they have little pride about how to get it. They just want to surrender. And both of those sound like open people to my ears.

1078-relax-and-succeed-stay-afraid-but-do-it-anywayAround now is when a bunch of you are on the fence regarding which group you’re in. I’m not bothered or offended by your uncertainty. In fact it makes sense to me. But I can’t convince you. I can make an offer and I can do it from a genuine place of compassion, but your acceptance of it is up to you.

Only you can invite these ideas into your landscape of possibility. That can feel weird and new and awkward, which is why some people just resort to old behaviours, habits or addictions. It’s so easy to play yourself a recorded message of some excuse. And like water, the words and internal narrative become repetitive actions in your life. That’s a psychological downslope and it’s easy to flow in that direction. It’s why most people accept an unpleasant life for far longer than they later feel they should have. It’s easy.

Not much harder is just a bit of diligence, some awareness, and some trust that innocent, playful nature we all have. You don’t want to do these exercises and then continue to beat yourself up in your own thoughts like some failed adult. Throughout these meditations you should not invest psychological energy in the narration-creation of a failing you. That runs contrary to our purpose.

1078-relax-and-succeed-when-you-throw-dirtThe idea is that you just do the exercises here and then stop beating yourself up the rest of the time. You’re doing this; you don’t need to attack yourself. You’re already dealing with your issues. And I’m helping you, and I’m telling you that you’ll help me help you if you’ll just let yourself off the hook.

Even if you treat someone badly, just forgive it and give it to me and this process. Surrender. You don’t need to do anything else. You’re doing enough by doing my strange little exercises. I know the concept of over looks weird when you live in a two-dimensional world, but trust me, being able to get over a problem is worth some time being confused in the two-dimensional world.

Today, just practice surrendering. Every time you catch yourself using your internal narrative to attack yourself or your work, just stop and give that to me. Just say, “I’m taking care of this stuff with those meditations on Relax and Succeed. He said to just let things like this go, so I’m letting it go.” Then shift your energy away from creating that narrative to noticing something in that present moment. That’s it. It’s both easy and yet you already know this is a tricky one. That’s why you should practice it all weekend.

1078-relax-and-succeed-my-only-goal-in-life-right-nowLet me worry about your sins. You just do your exercises and live and we’ll look up in a quarter of a year and see if you feel like your dedication to this weird plan was worth it. We’ve already spent a few weeks poking holes in your sense of reality. You’ve done more to undermine it than you think. Stay for the duration and we’ll tear a big enough hole for you to see through.

Surrender. You’ll see. Once I get your ego out of the way you’ll take fantastic care of yourself and your life.

peace. s

PS And don’t forget to put your quiet time from yesterday into your calendar. Even if you have to move that commitment, ensure that you get your three opportunities each day. It will be worth your efforts.

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.

Relationship Insecurities

This is a healthier exercise for a couple than a lot of fearful thinking would be.
This is a healthier exercise for a couple than a lot of fearful thinking would be.

Couples routinely come to me because the trapped partner wants me to convince the insecure partner to honour their basic freedom as a human being. But I don’t fix jealous relationships by getting people to stop being jealous, I get them to stop being insecure.

At the end of the day the problem isn’t the attraction or fidelity of the spouse, the problem is that the insecure person does not feel they are good enough to hold their partner’s interest. That leads to control issues which then mean it’s even easier for someone else to treat the partner better.

I pick up extremely quickly on how a person’s communication patterns reveal their perspectives on life so it usually doesn’t take long for me to pick up on it when one of the partners defines the relationship in relatively static and rigid way. They’re looking for security in a world that has taught them that disaster is always lurking.

1046-relax-and-succeed-you-cant-fix-yourselfOf course disaster isn’t always lurking, but you can make it seem like it if you look for it hard enough. Jealous people are master narrative creators. They can take one tiny detail and fill up hours worth of self-talk stories in their imagination. Hours. Out of a tiny detail that other people would ignore as insignificant. But in the mind of the frightened person? It’s huge. They can think it until it is legitimately huge in their consciousness.

Psychology historically would invest many hours in how the person got that way but you don’t need more than broad strokes if you know what you’re doing. The details just muddle things, the point is to find something worthwhile in the experience and then move on. Healthy people stay for joy and they leave unpleasant situations asap, right after they have taken the lesson from the experience.

Insecurities are the self-talk conversations that make us feel small, which means we also feel weak, and then we feel we need other people’s extraordinary help just to make it. In fact we’d be fine on our own. We just have to tough it out long enough to see that we really can choose to sit and read or watch a movie just as easily as we can choose to sit and ruminate on what might be happening. But that latter will tend toward the painful and it’s almost always inaccurate as well because there’s billions of things that could be happening at any given time so I very much doubt anyone anywhere is even close to accurate most of the time.

1046-relax-and-succeed-if-you-truly-loved-yourselfTo end jealousy the jealous person must actually come to see themselves more through the eyes of their partner, rather than through the lenses of past experience. They must not see themselves as a lightning rod for danger but rather a pillar of strength. And that’s actually a natural feeling if only we don’t intercede with our insecure thinking.

If you’re going to think insecure thoughts then of course you’ll feel insecure. But even if they were rational thoughts–which they rarely are–so what? What good would it do to be insecure when you do anything, let alone the act of saving your relationship? No one benefits from insecurities. Find the lies that were told to you when you were young and meditate on the proof that those are wrong. Your clarity will show up in your refusal to fall into the traps of the illusion of security.

Insecurity destroys relationships. Confidence is a natural feeling for everyone. When you were five you thought you could be anything. But someone said things and you listened and now you repeat them in your head, and then you took your worst experiences and built fears around those and then you watch for that too. And it’s all a lot of worried, suspicious watching. How can that be good for a relationship? Stop the narrative. Flood yourself with peace and love and you will have no difficulty attracting and holding a partner that is suitable for you.

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.

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.

Pronoia

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year

1007-relax-and-succeed-pronoiaHere’s what I don’t get: why is there an it’s too good to be true, but not an, it’s too bad to be true? When the crime rate’s gone down steadily for over 3o years, when tons of people volunteered to go into helping professions, when such a tiny percentage of the population ever gets in trouble; why are we so quick to assume the worst? And yet look how the people in this video assume good things are automatically suspicious:

People want the world to be better and yet they’ll actively engage in this kind of paranoia. There is no reason you couldn’t look a stranger in the eye as you walked past them on a street because your odds of getting a scowl would be very low and your odds of a smile would be very good (almost 100% if you go first), and if you do miss that positive experience it’ll probably be because the other person is still looking down, assuming that you’ll be a bad experience.

There are marginal excuses for these unhealthy, disconnecting behaviours. If you’ve been traumatised then it can be possible to find yourself unrealistically but validly hyper-concerned, but for the average person that jaundiced view of humanity is completely unjustified. 98% of people we’ll meet in a day treat us nicely, and we ourselves spend time in that other 2% so we’d best not throw stones.

If you’re watching closely you see evidence of this goodness every day. Giving money to the homeless means someone is volunteering to be poorer with no gain to themselves except the good feelings that come from that sort of compassion. Friends write supportive messages, people make positive social media posts, within every bad news story there will be heroes. People are polite, they tell jokes, they go outside the bounds of their job to help you for no gain to themselves. It’s everywhere.

1007-relax-and-succeed-good-people-bring-out-the-goodPolice risk their lives to protect people. Firefighters run into burning buildings to save strangers. Doctors risk losing a patient to save them. People give blood. They run and walk and cycle countless miles for countless charities. They hold doors for you, they give you compliments, or maybe even just a smile. People are overwhelmingly good, even if they’re not always doing what you want them to.

How can you benefit by thinking the worst of others? You’re doing the thinking. That’s happening inside your head, and it’s your body that’s experiencing the negative reaction that comes from negative thinking. The person you’re thinking about probably doesn’t even care. They might be busy, happily smiling while you’re thinking your dark, suspicious thoughts.

May I suggest that your life would improve the moment you adopted a new paradigm? Pronoia is the opposite of paranoia. Rather than thinking that the world is conspiring against you, you think that it’s conspiring in your favour. Instead of mistrusting someone because you think they’re going to do something behind your back, trust them and stay open to the idea that they might reward you unexpectedly. Or you have some big project fall through, instead of feeling like a failure, you can instead happily assume it’s because you’ll need the time and resources for something even better!

1007-relax-and-succeed-you-must-not-lose-faithPeople who scowl a lot will tell you that pronoics are silly and unrealistic but those scowling people also live inside their beliefs–beliefs which suggest that optimistic, trusting, positive views are less likely than pessimistic, untrustworthy and negative ones. But they’re scowling; and for every one of them I could introduce you to some extremely successful person and they will talk about how they can’t believe how lucky they’ve been.

You can go through life watching for bad things and I assure you you will find them just as day turns to night. At the same time, if you go through life watching for good things then I assure you, you will not only see them during the daytime; they’ll glow like stars at night.

You’re a good person. The people walking toward you have every reason to assume that. And they’re just like you. So going forward let’s all try offering more help, accepting more help, and just in general let’s get off our phones and get back to each other. Because when it comes to improving society and connecting with people in the moment you’re in, there’s simply no app for that. So go practice some pronoia. And trust me, if you’re paying attention you’ll quickly notice that you are not alone.

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.

The Friday Dose #127: The Ex

A lot of people will direct themselves toward very negative thoughts about their former relationships as an expression of their suffering. Spiritually loving someone is a beautiful connection. Having the ego believe that bond is broken creates suffering and there’s often a natural desire to defer responsibility for that suffering.

People will talk about people changing, or people not changing but in the end we are all who we are and others either accept us or don’t. When our relationships end our friendships don’t disappear. Other people continue to see our value, what’s missing is the acceptance of our partner. They no longer approve of us, so when someone’s mad that you let them down what they really mean is that they had inappropriate beliefs about you that didn’t align with who you actually are.

Just as your friends do, there are romantic partners who can accept you. The more acceptable you are to yourself the more people you’ll find yourself acceptable to because that’s otherwise known as confidence. But always remember: there is no succeeding or failing in a relationship, there is only the dropping of expectations or the demand that expectations be met. One brings people closer, the other divides them but no matter what, it’s all done with thought.

Here’s the brilliantly insightful Tony De Mello discussing the same subject. It’s worth a listen.

If you’re in Canada, have a wonderful long weekend everyone, and if you’re not in Canada have a wonderful weekend nevertheless.

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.

Relationship Rules

1001-relax-and-succeed-in-obedience-there-is-always-fearJealous people didn’t just randomly pick up jealousy as a habit–it got taught to them. In general they’ll have witnessed it or had some very bad experiences relating to the damage that can be caused by cheating. These are painful experiences and they are worthy of our respect, but respecting a jealous person’s experience isn’t the same as living inside of it. No one owns a relationship, we share them.

It doesn’t matter how many rings we exchange, how many contracts from the government we sign nor how many people were present in a pointy building when we made our promises, the fact remains that real relationships are always, 100% of the time, voluntary. You cannot police a relationship into being secure; that is the opposite of respecting the person’s ability to make their own choices. We can lock a person in a room and never let anyone else see them and we still can’t force them to love us if that’s not what we’ve been nurturing with our behaviour.

A person dealing with someone scarred by jealousy is like being a dog that’s been beaten by its owner. Without the trust the relationship quickly deteriorates as the dog’s anticipation of a positive experience is replaced by fears of a negative one. The owner’s rules for the dog can be entirely logical; they can be about safety and responsibility and good behaviour, but if the price for failing is a verbal or physical beating then the dog will cower and the relationship will begin to fail.

1001-relax-and-succeed-love-is-always-bestowedFailure isn’t imminent. Just as a dog can be beaten and left for dead, and as many rescue dogs have proven, consistent love, care and respect can return them to their naturally loving state, but if the behaviour of the owner is inconsistent between love and threat then the dog is still left uncertain, unsafe and disconnected. Even if the treatment is good 95% of the time, how’s the person or dog know when the other 5% is? They have to be on guard all the time. It’s exhausting. We can’t threaten anyone into good behaviour we can only encourage it with our own good behaviour.

Whether it’s done overtly or in a manipulative manner, the rules jealous partners try to exert are doomed to fail simply because they are imposed rather than chosen. We can’t make anyone feel anything they’re not prepared to feel, not with logic, not with begging and not with the force of threat. We can feel sympathy for the jealous person’s plight; we all have our crosses to bear, but our early life is only where we start. As mature people our job is to look honestly upon the world and ask ourselves which lessons we took from life that are fruitful and which are poisonous.

Jealous relationships always end, whether the person stays or goes. The only way to save them is to remove the jealousy, it cannot be managed with rules or promises or absolutes. We either show our respect for someone by trusting them or we show them disrespect by not trusting them. Obviously disrespect, however understandably motivated, is never going to generate increased love in a relationship. Instead it will strangle it.

1001-relax-and-succeed-however-the-tea-is-preparedIn this quote the Dalai Lama expresses that the rituals of religion are pointless without a foundation of compassion. Likewise, direct or implied rules in a relationship are effectively meaningless. What’s needed is compassion and connection. You can either be a person the dog is happy to see or someone they’re afraid to see and that won’t depend on words or promises, it’ll depend on behaviour.

I normally use the word “human” rather than “owner,” but I wanted to make a point. Rules are like a rope. They might keep the dog in the yard but that’s not the same as the dog wanting to be in the yard because it’s so great to be there. In one case if the dog gets loose it happily stays, in the other it just keeps running.

A relationship must be nurtured to stay alive. People just don’t fall in love and then love solves all their issues. Relationships aren’t cars that we fix when they’re broken, they’re things we cultivate and maintain. You can mistreat a car for years and then spend a lot of money and you can get it running like new, mistreat your dog and it might take a lifetime for them to trust anyone again.

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.