The Advantages of Being Average

1332 Relax and Succeed - It may contain competitions within it

Have you seen the Alan Rickman film A Little Chaos? It’s about a peasant woman learning that she is freer than her King. Things can be imperfect. The sun can strike her skin, she can choose her own friends, she can relax. She can even fall in love.

Imagine being a King of yore. You couldn’t marry who you wanted to, you needed to marry for power. You can’t even wear what you like. You’re forced to always dress up in stockings, wear tons of ruffles and heavy buttons even when it’s hot. And who wants to wear scratchy wigs made of wire and hair from dead people and animals?

Tension and fear are the price for fashion in the King’s courts and so it is today. That white powder on the noble faces was lead-based, and it often killed them at far too young an age –all for appearances and a desire to somehow separate themselves from the peasants who worked in the sun.

If we look around us we can see today’s examples of the same dangerous desire to be special.

There’s the girl that gets third degree burns by leaving her tooth-whitening chemicals on for too long; the YouTube mountain biker that breaks their neck trying to get that great piece of footage; or during the running of the bulls in Spain, there was even a runner that favoured getting good footage of himself being gored over prioritizing his escape.

Seen another way, there are parents that end up with suicidal kids by pushing for strictly straight A’s. There are workers who destroy their families trying to get promotions that take them even further from their families. There are people who bankrupt themselves trying to keep up with the Jones’s.

These are all examples of us wanting. They all operate on the premise that we do not yet have enough value and must earn it in some way. It’s true that we can expand our value, but we should not live feeling as though our lives are a burden to the universe. Everyone is born worthwhile. Our value comes through the living of our lives.

If we’re motivated to stand out, then we can trust that. But we should not chastise ourselves for not wanting ‘bigger’ or ‘better’ lives for that is, in other words, a way of saying that we are content, satisfied and without want. According to many spiritual leaders, that’s the ultimate definition of ‘rich.’

Being the top dog has a price. No one should feel strange about being in the middle of the pack. It may not make us a household name, but it can offer us the wisest path to less ego, and more accessible fun. And the fact that it is the average is a demonstration that most people agree with our general choice.

peace. s

The Joy of Stable Instability

The world is a flowing, changing place and you keep looking for stability and certainty and victory. I’m sorry, but you can’t have any of those things unless you accept unpredictability, uncertainty and loss. What would one be without the other? How could you describe light if you couldn’t use dark– its opposite–as the main way to describe it?

You have this want, this desire to know. That’s how education and false ideas like right and wrong lead you astray with their illogical silliness. Yet all we really do is believe. And if the belief lasts for a very long time–even right from when it began until forever–we call it scientific. But eventually we’ll find a universe where even those truths won’t hold, and then it’ll be a qualified truth. There will be places where it’s not true. So that’s the real world. It’s uncertain. Can you understand that you’ll feel more stable if you accept its uncertainty?

A friend of mine is trying canoeing for the first time this weekend. She wondered if she should bring her dogs out for her first paddle since they’ll be going on a longer trip with her shortly. As a canoeist, I recommended just getting used to the boat first, and then introduce the unpredictability of the dogs. Otherwise, that’s adding a lot of skills at once.

She’s better to learn to feel stable even with the boat’s instability before she adds things that will decrease its stability even further. After all, it is long and narrow with a curved bottom on a slippery surface. And so it is with life. We’re better to have good balance before the boat starts rocking.

Today, it’s like everyone’s standing in a canoe, attempting to get their balance and avoiding life until they get it–only they learn their boat will sink before that will ever happen, and that’s when it dawns on them that the could have always gone for it, fallen in, and then climbed back in! It’s that simple; all every spiritual seeker wants to do is actually live with that attitude before they learn they’re going to die (BTW: you’re going to die).

What exactly are you worried about? Do the judgments other people have in their heads actually impact your life? Do they have some kind of super-villain ray-beam I’m not aware of? Can they, from a distance, control what chemicals your hypothalamus pumps out? Let’s see, tons of people thought tons of highly achieving people couldn’t achieve their goal, so, ahhh, nope. It turns out that it does not matter how hard someone laughs at you, you can still always climb back into a canoe. Do it enough times and people will respect your attitude no matter how many times you fall in.

Everyone’s misunderstood what winning is. Everyone wants ego wins. They want people to think highly of them. Hey, that’s a nice thing don’t get me wrong. But not if you have to trade your life for it. Healthy people are fine with not being liked. It makes sense to them. There’s people they don’t like either. Who wants to be forced to like someone? Real winning is when you enjoy your life. Then people know your presence is authentic. If you’re with them, they can know it’s because there’s nowhere else that you think is more worthwhile in this moment.

You’re exhausting me just watching you all strive like you’re weak and don’t belong. It’s crazy. You’re amazing and beautiful, but not to everyone. Maybe your tribe is even tiny. Who cares? There’s seven billion of us. Even tiny is big at that scale. How many people do you need to love you anyway? Isn’t a bunch enough? If you’re authentically yourself you’ll definitely find at least a bunch.

Be free. Stop apologising for yourself. Stop thinking you’re too weak or too small to handle the consequences of bigger actions. You don’t get ready for a job and then get the job, you get the job and then learn the job on the job. Learning to be different versions of you is just like that. So stop trying to know and start relaxing into some mystery. You’d be amazed at how relaxing and beautiful it can be.

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.

Wrestling With Life

He had been that way since the 1970’s but I had no idea he was hugely famous until I moved to Australia. I was just horsing around with a buddy at my uncle’s and when I grabbed him in a mock headlock I said, “Bret Hart throws him in a sleeper,” and the two kids in the room just exploded in excitement at the idea of an adult that would voluntarily mention Bret Hart. Likewise, I couldn’t believe two Australian kids would even know who he was.

Now I’m not into wrestling at all, but I come from Alberta, and if you’re from here it was almost impossible not to know about the huge clan of Hart children and their father, Stu. They ran the Stampede Wrestling League out of Calgary, the birthplace of modern technical wrestling. And then Bret took over worldwide wrestling for a few decades. So why should you care?

There’s a great lesson in Bret’s life. Here we have a guy famous for being very polite and kind (when not playing part of his character’s role). He’s intelligent, he comes from a big, hard-working family with a great work ethic, plus he’s a respectful, likeable person. He became a huge star and made a ton of money. It seems like a dream life if you’re okay with the wrestling part.

Bret has respect, admiration, good parents, physical prowess, intelligence, business sense, financial success and he’s well liked. None of that protected him from a two divorces, a bicycling accident that lead to a debilitating stroke, and very recently he was diagnosed with cancer. And while all that’s going on, I heard him mention in an interview that his body is pretty badly banged up from all of those years in the ring and he’s in a lot of pain. So again, he sounds like a nice guy but what’s this got to do with your psychological health?

I would submit to you that the reason Bret has been so successful is that he has a great attitude. I don’t mean every second of every day, I mean overall. We can’t judge people by when their stone skips off a surface when that’s a tiny portion of how far they go.  That’s just the price Bret was willing to pay for his success. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as he accepts it, and he seems to do that with the same grace he did all his training with. He just digs in and does it.

But look at what got him to where he is. Note how double-edged every decision is. Bret’s great work ethic lead to a broken body. Maybe his success contributed some to his divorce. Maybe his money made it harder for his kids to trust that their friends were real. There’s all kinds of negative spinoffs out of everyone’s life choices.

Even a good work ethic and dedication to one’s career had downsides, so do you see how life works? You’re not supposed to avoid the downsides. Those are inevitable. That’s not what failing is.

Failing is not living; Bret Hart has really lived. Pain is mandatory in life, so rather than whine about it, just ask yourself if you’re in a situation where the pain seems appropriate both for its reasons and its duration. And then if it is: just feel it. It’ll hurt, but it won’t last as long as the agony of resisting.

Don’t avoid life because you don’t want to get hurt. You will get hurt. But it’ll hurt a lot worse if you die with your life left unlived. Go.

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.