Your Life Story

There’s debates about who said it or who said it first, but somewhere sometime someone said that every writer has to write a million words of shit before they’ll write anything any good. The number itself is largely a metaphor for the fact that in everything in life, we get good by doing. And the more we do (either in intensity or duration or both), the more skilled we get at that thing.

Just as in life, every writer wants to be good because they know the tools. They know the alphabet, so they have their hammer; and they’ve read sentences–which is like watching a house being built–so that’s where they start. But it’s absurd to think they’ll be as good of a carpenter on that first job as they’ll be in 25 years.

That logic applies to anything. The conscious person who learns with intensity learns more than someone with less intensity, and someone conscious who puts in more time also learns more than someone who puts in less time or who uses less consciousness. This is is true of writing, cooking, raising kids, teaching, or–yes–living.

Living is a skill. So yeah, physically and mentally you eventually deteriorate, so maybe your life-work gets a bit sloppy near the end, but by then everyone’s forgiving you. But otherwise you just get better and better at living life every year you live it, and the more conscious you are the more your learn. That’s all well and good. The problem comes in when you want the wisdom before you’ve even had the experiences that teach it.

Your expectations of yourself and your life start off pretty wacky. Because you can edit your writing you think you can edit life. And because of that you’ll go through these periods where you’ll feel like you’re totally failing because you’ll be nowhere near your targets and you can’t fix your past. But it’s not your life that’s the problem, or your ability to edit; it’s your expectation that you would know things before you learned them. You do that all the time and yet it’s truly crazy.

Graceful living requires only one thing: live the moment you’re in fully and presently. That means being in it and aware of it, rather than thinking about what-ifs or regrets. Things going in challenging ways aren’t failures, that’s just the texture of the surface you’re climbing. And when you reach the summit of your own peak–your own death–you’ll have a better understanding that you weren’t supposed to climb the highest mountain or the hardest–you were just supposed to climb. Which mountain you started on never really mattered.

You will know more tomorrow than today, and today you know more than you knew yesterday. If you go back and rethink and rethink over and over, re-editing all of your life’s work, you’ll never get much writing done and you won’t get much living lived.

Trust that as the writer writes, the writer improves. Forget the early pages. They’re both written and read. Because that’s the other important thing; other people will only glance at your book just as you’ll only glance at theirs. You might read deeply into maybe half a dozen books in your life. Because it turns out these weren’t being written to be read, the were written for the writing’s sake.

Stop worrying about your mistakes and just write–just live. You were never supposed to be perfect. You were just supposed to be here. That in and of itself, is perfect.

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.

Love in the Trenches

They were out at the lake. The husband had just yelled at his wife for how how dissatisfying he found his lunch. He barely tasted it, choosing instead to storm back down to the lake and take another shot at fixing that stubborn boat engine. The very liberated daughter had watched the whole thing and she clearly was not happy.

“Why would you let him talk to you that way? If Ray ever spoke to me that way I’d show him the door.”

The mother just smiled as she picked up her husband’s uneaten food. She sat at the counter and ate it herself while they talked. “Ray’s way to be angry is to get quiet and cold. Honey, if I left your father every time he was upset we would have been divorced hundreds of times over.”

“All the more reason! Why do you let him treat you like that again and again? You didn’t raise me to be weak like that.”

The mother took a moment before speaking. “You’re right, we didn’t teach you to be weak. But what’s your definition of strong? He was one of the few liberated husbands when we were young. He cooked for you kids, he helped with school work, and he always made sure there was a roof over your head even if he really didn’t like what he was doing for work.”

“That’s 20 years ago! If you’d made him behave back then you probably wouldn’t be dealing with this now.” The daughter was very piqued.

“He’s not a child. And how exactly do you make someone behave? Withhold affection? Make demands? Fight with him? Why would withholding, demanding and fighting do anything for a relationship?”

“Mother! You just made him a incredible quinoa salad and he insulted you! He could at least appreciate that you made it for him!”

The mother pushed her meal aside and she went to the fridge and she started to make a sandwich. “Your father doesn’t like quinoa, you know that. When he was at the peak of his career I used to complain about him not being home enough.”

“Well he wasn’t.”

The mother returned to the fridge for more ingredients. “He wasn’t successful to spite me. Why would I criticise him for something I was proud of? Aren’t you trying to get a promotion right now? Do you see that as an attack on your relationship with Ray? Of course not. You’re trying to succeed at being a good professional, like we raised you to be. It’s a sign of respect to others to do your job well. You know your father always says that.”

“He still shouldn’t talk to you that way.”

The mother stopped and looked at her daughter for a long moment before speaking. “I’m not sure what ‘shouldn’t’ means. Your Dad was in pain. I was just being compassionate. I’m not a pushover.”

“What pain?! He wasn’t in pain! He couldn’t get the stupid boat motor working and so he got angry at you, like he always does when something breaks.”

The mother went back to finishing the sandwich. “Your father prides himself on being able to fix things, it’s what made him look capable in front of his Dad. He feels like he’s letting his Dad down, or he’s not being a man, if he can’t fix something. He’s always been like that.”

“All the more reason for you to tell him it’s time to stop.”

The mother smiled. “I might do that if I could figure out a way to stop getting mad at him. Demands don’t fix relationships honey. Love does.”

“Love doesn’t yell at someone for making them quinoa.”

“That’s right, love doesn’t. He knows I made it because you and Ray were coming out. Your father just told me is that he’s feeling a long way from feeling good. That’s the problem, not whether he likes quinoa. My job isn’t to demand that he like the food you and I like it’s to love him when he feels unlovable.”

“He yelled at you!! Why would you be helping him!! It should be him crawling back up here to apologise to you!”

“Crawling?” The mother smiled at the thought. “Your father’s having his version of a tough day. He stayed too long trying to fix the boat and now he’s really hungry and he came up to eat and found something he finds totally unsatisfying. He gets angry when he’s hungry. That’s just being human.”

The daughter notices the sandwich. “You’re making that for him!”

“He’s hungry. I’m just being practical. He’s in a better mood after he’s eaten. When I’m menopausal and screaming at him for no reason, these are the things he remembers to help balance things out. You see him upset about quinoa. I see a man I care about having a bad day; a man who’s proven himself over and over for all of us.”

“Your expectations are too low.”

“I’m trying not to have any.” The mother picks up the sandwich and starts for the pier. “Sweetheart, you guys just had a baby. You’ve been exhausted and your hormones are going wild. I’ve seen you be pretty mean to Ray, but ninety percent of the time he just takes it because he loves you.” The daughter chases after her.

“That’s a baby! How can you compare that to a boat motor!?”

“Pain is pain. It doesn’t matter whether you broke a foot or a leg.” As they near the water we can see the daughter really cloud over. She is harbouring a lot of anger toward her father. The mother stops and addresses her before walking onto the pier where he and Ray are working.

“Honey. Again: your father’s problem is that he’s suffering. I’m not going to debate whether he deserves to or not. What makes a marriage isn’t weighing whose suffering is worse. I can think about me and what I want, but does he really look like he’s got much to give right now?” Just then the father hurls a wrench angrily onto the pier. The mother kisses her daughter on the cheek and walks out onto the pier and offers the sandwich. He half-heartedly thanks her, but he seems a bit embarrassed.

Later that afternoon he does get the boat going. After a nice steak dinner he suggests a boat ride. Ray suggests, “Should we head down to Half Moon Bay?”

The father walks to his wife’s side and puts his arm around her. “Diane likes the view down by the promenade. I thought we’d go down there.” The mother turns to the daughter, winks and smiles.

Later, while the father and Ray do the dishes, the mother sits down for a tea with her daughter. “Ray might go under soon and we all know it. Every business like his is struggling in this recession and he just had a baby. If that happens you can kick him while he’s down and demand that he do the impossible and undermine his confidence. But after 35 years of marriage I can tell you, you might find that you’d get where you’re going quicker if you just made him some sandwiches instead.”

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.

The Friday Dose #125: Mutual Benefits

I hear friends over 40 concerned about reasonable things, I hear friends under 40 espousing reasonable things, and yet in the middle is the wisdom of both. It’s true, when we’re young there’s much we still don’t understand, and yet it’s also true that it’s important that the older generations keep their minds open.

Those more experienced are seeing challenges that are invisible to those with less experience and yet those with less experience are seeing opportunities that are invisible to those who end up blinded by their experience. This is an easy problem to fix though, we all just have to listen to each other respectfully and then actually expect to hear wise things.

Let’s not dismiss ideas or people with broad terms for ages or names for generations. We’re all in this together, much like those who are more liberally minded can venture into the unknown to make discoveries while those who are more conservatively minded can stay with the known to protect what exists, those younger can offer innocence and openness while those older can offer experience and awareness. By cooperating and working together we can make a big difference. Start today by listening to wisdom from the people in your life. If you’re listening carefully enough you’ll hear brilliant things from basically everyone.

Here’s some Alan Watts on the same subject. Have a great weekend 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.

The Scientific God

692 Relax and Succeed - I searched for GodCan I find a place in the universe where someone who believes in God and someone who believes in science could both see the world and each other entirely comfortably? I believe if people were open to it I can. But I have to take them to a very special, very specific place. Paradoxically it is also every place. And that’s what makes it Godly.

Forget the idea of an old guy with a beard who is separate from you and judgmental toward you. I’m not talking to religious people. Very few of them believe in Michelangelo’s metaphor or that anyone flew into the sky for three days. He was a weak translation for what in the original Hebrew was a word something like Is-Be. But most religious people aren’t tortured by a fear of a supernatural God, they’re tortured by their egos just like non-religious people. Scientific people too-often have overly condescending attitudes toward religious people. They assume they’re entirely unscientific when there’s lots of scientists who are also religious. It’s the logical person will make the mistake of believing that the most outrageous newsworthy examples on TV mean that every religious person thinks that their religion’s metaphor’s are to be taken literally.

692 Relax and Succeed - People don't realizeSo starting with a blank slate, with no one judging anyone’s dedications, what would a religious person want God to be? That’s pretty easy. Everything. All-powerful. Nothing happens without God. God is the creator. Okay. So is there a scientific place or thing in the universe where creation begins, somewhere or something that is everything and all-powerful? Ooh. Turns out there is.

There is a moment you’ve heard a lot about. It’s called Now but as much as you might watch the former physicist Eckhart Tolle’s talks and read his books, most people wonder if they’ll ever experience the sensation of living in that moment. But you have felt it. You just didn’t have a way to account for it while you were in that state of mind. No one’s taught you to call that feeling Now. Any time you lose track of time you’ve experienced Now. When you get a great idea out of seemingly nowhere—again, that’s Now. That’s where all those answers are.

You know when you’re with friends and someone says something in a delicate conversation and everyone’s silent reaction is, Oh dude, no. That was not the thing to say. Everyone can feel that the guy shouldn’t have said whatever it was. They know. How? Because they have let themselves be close to God. They have let themselves be close to Now. They know.

692 Relax and Succeed - You are the universeBoth scientists and religious people are quite comfortable with an infinite universe, so clearly our future is infinite. If the future is infinite then how did everyone know the dude shouldn’t have said what he said? He had infinite choices. How can they all be sure that’s the right one? Because in the Now you have the only place in the universe where two things are—the past and the future.

The only place you can find 100% of the universe’s history is Now. Any time before Now and you’re missing some information. And Now is also where you are right on the edge of your infinite future—where you have access to anything. But how can you possibly choose? Fortunately, the world before us chose certain mathematical patterns and we unwittingly chose to live within them. That’s why Fractals exist. We thought math showed us that everything made sense but then modern math and physics started to suggest other universe’s with different rules. So what makes a choice feel right—the reason the friends knew the dude shouldn’t have said what he said—was it’s misalignment with the universe we’re currently living in.

692 Relax and Succeed - The most beautiful thingSo in this strange sense there is no such thing as good and bad as we tend to think of it, but that alignment with the universe still has what Robert Pirsig called Quality, and that definition can easily fit inside most religions. Likewise the science of Now—the place you find this alignment with God—is where creation begins. It is where the waveform of potential collapses into the a particle of existence. Meaning every part of the universe is actively being the universe. Including you.

I’m not sure if that’s completely confusing to you and that it just seems remarkably sensible to me because I already know what it means, but that description feels like a pretty straightforward explanation to me. I’ll let you judge for yourself, but in the end you don’t really want an intellectual understanding of it anyway. You don’t need a description of enlightenment you want enlightenment itself. And so you have to surrender wanting to know. Knowing is a verb, there’s no way or place to go get it.

Every truly talented fashion designer, architect, musician or industrial designer would know the feeling of Now. That is precisely where they try to hover… not settling on any reality… living with the infinite nature of wave potential until they feel drawn toward something that they will use to convert all of those waves of possibility into a particle of existence within the logic of the universe of our understanding. If it wouldn’t fit our understanding we simply wouldn’t perceive it.

692 Relax and Succeed - We are one speciesOnce a creation exists it immediately becomes a study-able, historical thought (or sometimes eventually even a thing, like a paint colour) that you can revisit and re-analyze and improve. The moment after an artist discovers their creation it becomes a part of the past, locked and solid and unchangeable except to be a wholly new version of itself as a revised draft, in a new Now. So your ego lives in the past and discusses creations and it and tries to wish things turned out differently but that’s crazy. You can’t fix the past. Life is out front in the Now—where creation happens. There you can act to change your life so that your new past can look more like a record of the Nows you were really looking for. But all of those choices—all of those prayers get answered in the Now.

What lies behind you is unimportant. The out-of-sync decisions made from an ego headspace do not hinder the infinite nature of your future. God is all-powerful and has infinite choices available. No matter what has happened any future is possible. You just have to be willing to not-know so that you can feel you way toward knowing. Like a scientist looking for a hypothesis, you need to trust the universe that something of value is out there for you so that you can grab it when you recognize it, and through you it can realize creation.

God is all things. The universe is all things. Everything has its origins. But everything is both from the past as well as being from the infinite future. But the Present Moment is the only place where both sources exist. That is why it’s where creation happens. That is where you use the power of the God-Universe to snap the reality of your choice into existence within the world of your consciousness. And so goes the miracle of your life.

Much Love.

Or, if you’re the scientific type:

Much Dopamine, Oxytocin, Vasopressin and Testosterone. 😉

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.

Feeling Like a Fool

You can’t lose. You really can’t. Because you either get the thing you want or you get something that makes you bigger. That’s how your world works. It’s one or the other. So you can have a great time hanging out with your beloved cousin, or you could have that same cousin suffer an injury and nearly die—or maybe they do die. So in one scenario you gain because you enjoy yourself, and in the other scenario you learn what it feels like to lose someone close to you. And so later when you’re around people who are going through a loss similar to that, you’ll be more empathetic and you’ll often know what to do or say just through your experience. The cracks are where the light gets in, so to speak. When everyone else is crippled by their lack of experience you know what to do.

653 Relax and Succeed - An adventure is only an inconvenienceLikewise, if you fail a test you also become more resilient. Maybe you’re more familiar with the pressures surrounding the test, or maybe you’re becoming more resilient to outside judgment. Everyone’s lives are littered with failed tests and no one more-so than the sort of person who wants to achieve a lot. Want to be an astronaut? Then fail a lot. Because you have to be good at a lot of things to be an astronaut and to be good at a lot of things you have to have failed at them first. When my brother was a salesman and he knew that one in ten people was a real buyer, he knew that a non-buyer was someone who had kindly checked off one of his nine empty boxes and he would be grateful for them because he understood they were just as necessary as the one who actually bought. And so my brother always met his next sales prospect with a great attitude and that gave him a much better chance at increasing his odds from one in ten to two in ten and that one small difference made him rich.

Maybe you’re in an exciting, whirlwind romance where you feel like you’re floating twenty feet off the ground. Or maybe you’re bawling your eyes out for the fifth night in a row because you got dumped. Either way you win by enjoying the romance and the back rubs and the cuddles and the cares, or maybe the very absence of those things has raised your awareness of the value of those things and so you are now more likely to place greater value on your future partners. Or maybe you’ll be better at choosing a partner next time. But 653 Relax and Succeed - Pain means you're growinghowever it happens, the loss of a relationship results in a gain in awareness about something useful, usually involving how you could have been a better partner. This is why they say the second spouse gets what the first one paid for. Again, you win no matter what.

In each and every case there will be some form of good fortune for us in every experience. The only question is, do we strictly look at everything for what we expected or do we look at life to see what we’ve actually received? Because in many cases we will get lessons that we did not even know we would need some day and yet in many cases those lessons will prove to be more valuable than the original benefit we sought by undertaking the activity. Certainly all of us know the wonderful level of comfort that gets created by someone who has been where we are and who is comfortable being there with us. That empathetic connection alone is worth a lot.

As the Buddhist’s say, there are no one-sided coins. You either get the benefit you were expecting or a benefit you weren’t expecting, but either way you win so never get too down on life. If it looks like you’re losing just wait a while. Your vision will clear and soon you will happily be on your way as you once again notice the incredible good fortune that every single life enjoys.

Every day is a gift. Treat today like that’s what it is and it’ll treat you pretty well right back. Have a great one!

peace.

The Friday Dose #58

635 Relax and Succeed - Because when you stop and look around

You’d better be ready for this. Because this is substantial. This is meaningful. This is life-changing. Three different things that encourage you to look past the weak, insecure, uncertain thought-you and instead look deeply into your brave, capable and beautiful soul. Let’s share this baby around and get people feeling good about themselves!

Because these are so good I’m not going to get in the way much today. Here’s a good example of something you’re very likely to take entirely for granted—and yet as these people prove, you have a beautiful, precious gift that the universe has given you and you take virtually no joy from it. These people understand how lucky we are every single day. Maybe we should too:

 

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Some people will be angry with this. But that’s okay. When we’re ready to see it we see it. And everyone who saw it made these same arguments about other people not understanding. But of course they were human and they did understand. And they were offering us the most beautiful spiritual embrace that later it seems silly that we tried to argue with them. May you realize clearly that this not disrespectful, it’s inspiring. And as it says, the difference is in how you look at it:

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And let’s finish off by letting you listen to someone that realized that the difference between being a success and enjoying life, or feeling sad and lost. Those who read me regularly will find all of this very familiar—except she’s way cuter. (Watch the video, it sometimes starts 20 seconds in for some reason.) For those who are ready, here’s someone who’s inviting you through the doorway, with love. Come and shine your light. We’re waiting for you:

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Hopefully that has you at minimum questioning your thoughts about your limitations and maybe it even inspired you to the point where you feel awesome. But I can assure you that it is absolutely possible for you to revel on a regular basis in your own good fortune. When I teach people I don’t do anything for them. I just show them an ability they’ve misunderstood. And once they learn to really live with an attitude of genuine gratitude, then their lives transform and that’s when our days become magical. I look forward to when I can share that feeling with all of you. Until then,

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.

Seeds of Advice

Parents want their kids to take their advice. Friends want their friends to take their advice. Teachers want their students to take their advice. Journeymen want novices to take their advice. And they are all very often frustrated to see the other person or persons not making any use of the advice they were given. We can keep the advice but let’s get rid of the frustration.

573 Relax and Succeed - Everything happens for a reasonFrustration is painful for you to experience and in cases like the ones above, a lot of frustration gets generated by your unmet expectation that the person would do as you suggested. But of course if you studied yourself you would know that you too have ignored most of the advice you were given. And it’s not that you or they are rude people. It’s that advice exists in the world of words. It’s an abstract mind-based concept. But we learn in the real world. But that isn’t to say that the advice is useless.

The simple fact is, we do need to go the wrong way before we can determine the right way. So it is often the heat of experience that germinates the seeds of advice. It’s when we’re suffering that we’ll recall advice we were given and—juxtaposed to our pain—we profoundly understand the advice. It is burned into our consciousness by the pain experience. That is the trade-off. Yes you experience pain, but in doing so you reduce your chances of repeating the same mistake.

When dealing with individuals, ideally I would wait for people to ask for advice before giving it, but there are obviously situational reasons where giving it is the only thing that makes sense—this blog being a case in point. But even if you do give it and the person appears to ignore it, you will have planted that seed. And in the right sun, with just the right moisture and fertile soil, that seed can suddenly take hold minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or even years later. These are the aha moments when we finally understand why something in our past was the way it was.

Don’t feel frustrated that your advice is rarely taken immediately. It’s a good lesson on how suffering is built on a bedrock of expectation. Just say whatever you feel a motivation to say and trust yourself. Then know that’s just the seed. Don’t even expect to see it for some time. Let it surprise you. And when it does, you’ll know you made a difference.

573 Relax and Succeed - Never think that what you have to offerLessons taught, lessons learned, and lessons understood are three different things. Too many times people want to immediately go from step one to step three with no gap in between. That is crazy. It doesn’t work that way. People need time to absorb new concepts. You’re no different. So we have to stop being in such a rush—just because we’ve made a new rule or got people’s commitments, things are still going to happen before we comprehend the advice well enough to be able to put it to truly good use.

Loving people is even better than advice, but caring via advice isn’t a bad substitute. Tell people what you want them to know. And then fully expect them to go bump into the universe in all kinds of ways that defy your advice. But if you are wise and if you’re not influenced by ugly past feelings, then the odds are people will pick up your advice and if anything, hone it further.

Care about people. Friends and strangers alike. This week I’m going to teach a new Canadian how to drive on snow and ice. It’s going to feel good knowing he’ll feel safer, and I might be able to save him from who knows what trouble. That sharing feels good. So share advice if you feel it’s warranted. Just don’t expect people to implement it until they can own it themselves, and the best way to do that is for them to have meditated on it long enough that they eventually see the same value you do. Now go have yourself an awesome day!

peace. s

Bits of Wisdom 2

523 Relax and Succeed - Embrace the glorious mess

It’s a long weekend here in Canada, so as usual I’m posting from a collection of my early works that readers are unlikely to have seen before. Those who have seen it often comment on how well it describes the ways that parenting and other key developmental experiences are key to developing our concepts of how the world works. It’s a simple metaphor that a lot of people have found useful. I hope you do too. Enjoy:

The Greater Whole

A lot of my students are aware that I have a wide and varied life and that in addition to many other roles, I’m also a film and television producer. When my latest film The Pharmacist was licenced for broadcast by Superchannel in Canada, it got me thinking about movies, and that intersected with me seeing this meme, and that has lead us to this blog:

196 Relax and Succeed - She could never go backImagine that your life is an improvised play. It is entirely unrehearsed and it is performed live in front of everyone you know. Imagine that this ninety minute play is your ninety year lifetime. You can easily see that its improvised nature combined with your desire to perform well for your friends will certainly lead you to occasionally blow at least a line or two, or maybe miss a cue or an opportunity.

Those “mistakes” feel loud and gigantic when you first make them. But by the time you’ve been on stage a while you’ve seen everyone make one, and over time you simply come to accept that those sorts of things are simply a by-product of the improvised nature of the work. This is the advantage of aging–if we’re paying attention. But just because you miss a line here or there, or just because one aspect of the plot doesn’t pan out as hoped, that doesn’t mean it (your life-play) still can’t be great. It’s important to remember that many masterpieces include tragedy.

No play is perfect. Every playwright would love a second pass at life so they could erase their mistakes. But this is live. This is improv. You just do the best you can. Sometimes the people up there on stage with you just suck and you can’t turn it into anything good no matter what you do. Other times it will be your co-performers that will be carrying your dead weight. But the 196 Relax and Succeed - We are not lookingmain point is that these smaller shifts don’t matter in the larger context. What matters is, in the end, will you be glad you lived your own life? Will you have enjoyed performing it? Because it is a choice. So if you don’t really like it, then change your part. This is improv. You can do anything.

Don’t worry about individual scenes or shots. As long as the story of your life unfolds in a rich and meaningful way, then it doesn’t matter how you’re doing at any given moment in the play. Whether you die a hero or a scoundrel, the naming of it won’t make your life. You living it is what does that. So pay attention. Be awake. Life is a long road that is traveled quickly. Be conscious and enjoy the trip. Because that is the only real way to make a life beautiful.

Now go start making the choices that will lead you in the direction you want to go. It’s that easy. And you’re allowed to bunny-hop backwards every now and then. But at least be pointed toward happiness. And you will have a wonderful day.

peace. s

Superchannel Showtimes for The Pharmacist

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No Mistake About It

Winner: 2013’s Blog of the Year: #2

My accident had caused me to think differently, but the first time I recognized that was when I first noticed how people reacted to being wrong. It made Grade One surreal. Everyone saw wrong as a mistake or a problem or otherwise something that you do not want to do. That truly baffled me because it’s an indefensibly crazy idea.

191 Relax and Succeed - Self-education isYour brain processes/creates the world in such a way that you notice patterns in things. That’s how you know how the world works. So if your mom buys five cans of soup at the store, before too long you’ve figured out that you don’t need to look back in the cupboard for another soup if you’ve already eaten all five. By making that mistake when you were little, you learned that five is five is five and gone is gone and done is done. These are concepts that your brain had to learn to absorb and then apply elsewhere.

The point in the soup story is that you needed to be wrong. You had to try something that wouldn’t work before you could begin to understand the reasoning behind what did work. For you to recognize a pattern you have to identify its rough edges by failing. As William Blake said, “You never know what is enough unless you know what it is more than enough.”

Failing is why you lost your helium balloon as a kid. Kids always lose them because they are making the mistake that the balloon will fall down and not up. Because they’ve practiced that gravity idea, remember? They dropped stuff from their highchair all the time. Intentionally. Just to watch it fall. And in doing so they built the idea of gravity. And it looks like it’s always in operation—until a kid sees either a hot air or helium balloon, or a plane or helicopter, and of course these are all things that amaze kids. These things break the law of gravity and that’s one of the most certain ones we feel we have.

191 Relax and Succeed - Ever make mistakesThroughout life you collect that reasoning and the laws and principles that emerge in life (like gravity or grammar or customs etc.), and then you live your life according to them. But none of those neural networks could exist without you using Socratic Method. Your brain must guess and test itself through the world, and the wrong answers are more important than the right ones because they will eventually be what exposes why the right answer does work. And then that principle can get applied to other situations. So much like the best batters are also the people who strike out the most, being smart is like being willing to be wrong the most. Remember, when you’re born your brain doesn’t grow outward like branches on a tree. Rather the entire thing glows with possibility and by learning you shut ideas off—you remove possibilities. Yes you can add new concepts too, but in the end your beliefs/identity are less like a tree and more like a sculpture.

There is no shame in being wrong. As Jonathan Swift said, it’s a way of saying your smarter today than you were yesterday. How can you be upset about finding out you’ve been wrong? Finding out you’ve been wrong is the end of being wrong. Why would you be upset that the ignorant part is over? You should celebrate that. You just had a eureka moment. You’re bigger now. You understand more. You’re more capable.

Your vocabulary doesn’t expand if you don’t look up the words you don’t know. If you can’t admit you don’t understand it, then you can’t take the steps to correct your misunderstanding. So people who don’t like to be wrong are the same people who learn the least. You know those people; they’ve had the same job for 20 years, but really they haven’t grown—they’ve just re-lived the same year 20 times with no growth-from-wrongness occurring.

191 Relax and Succeed - When I let goLeap towards your mistakes. Revel in being wrong. Rejoice at learning that you were incorrect. This is an expansion of you. This is what makes you better at being you. Failed relationships increasingly point to what we truly want in a partnership and from ourselves. Getting fired points out either bad bosses or missing skills. Being turned down for one thing creates an opportunity for another.

Your divorce wasn’t a failure. It was you testing the world to see what you truly want. And maybe that was a healthy marriage for who you were at one time. But life changes. People grow. Sometimes together sometimes apart. So as experience teaches you that, you don’t think you made the wrong decision getting married 20 years earlier. Realize instead that you’ve had 20 years of growth from two people and that it would almost be surprising if they were still wanting all of the same things in life.

Your life isn’t a collection of successes and failures. It’s a set of tests that had results, and the results informed which directions you chose in life. That’s all anyone is doing. And even if they’ve been super successful at negotiating the work world, that doesn’t mean they’ll have been good at the marriage world, or the kid-raising world. So stop comparing yourself. And stop beating yourself up for the mistakes that are an inevitable part of your growth. Your realizations that you’ve made a “mistake” are merely you recognizing that your tests of life have lead you to become someone who is both bigger and better.

peace. s

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