The Friday Dose #123: Female Leadership

983-relax-and-succeed-you-dont-need-a-reasonWhat if women ran things? Would government run differently? Would business run differently? Would their natural inclination be toward more cooperative efforts? I’m sure there’s advantages and disadvantages to each perspective but I would welcome giving more women a chance.

There are some signs in nature that this could work well. There are also signs that our natures are quite flexible given healthy circumstances. But even the most natural creature can break down if it has to live an unnatural life. That’s probably what happened to us. When we lose our reliance on each other we destroy ourselves.

It’s fascinating to listen to this remarkable story about the strange circumstances these baboons found themselves in, and how that lead to them being lead by the females which in turn lead to their culture becoming kinder and more compassionate. They thrived. It’s a good lesson for any family no matter what gender heads it.

Radiolab is always well done. This story is hard not to find fascinating. Enjoy.

Violent Baboons and Female Leadership

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.

Stretching Our Spirit

Relax and Succeed - Nature is busy creating absolutely unique individualsThere are a lot of ways to be beautiful. Like many things in life though it can take time to come to appreciate certain kinds of beauty. Much like young people start off entirely selfish and grow towards ever-increasing empathy (if they’re healthy), when we’re young we also start of with relatively shallow ideas about beauty and (if we’re healthy), we expand those ideas to include more and more things and therefore people.

It’s natural for a child, tween, teen and young adult to recognise physical health as is manifested by our genes and our habits. If someone 10,000 years ago was too lazy to hunt that would be reflected by being underweight, whereas being able to eat a lot would be a sign of success in a  pre-money pre-symbolism world. And if you’re raising kids, obtaining food is the bottom of Maslow’s Pyramid. You do that before anything so it makes biological sense that we would want to be with someone who can look after themselves

To actually have a child a woman would be in competition for a mate with other women and therefore the qualities that denote physical success would be more attractive to the men who also want to see their lineage move forward in that wonderful way nature has.

977 Relax and Succeed - You are beautifulAs we actually attempt relationships we find out they’re about more than just the sexual attraction and the food. That can get a person pregnant but if sharing the food only lasts a short time then the children are in jeopardy, so having a male who feels dedicated enough to stay long enough to protect those offspring also makes sense. So then commitment to the relationship becomes important.

Again we grow and we realise that commitment only comes from certain temperaments reliably, so now we’re looking for the right personality. How nurturing is someone? How courageous? How enjoyable?

Eventually the child-rearing years are over and now the commitment does not have the bind of the children which is why a lot of divorces happen within a few years after the kids are independent. But if things prior to that have been so enjoyable and secure it can be in both parties interests to stay linked. This is based on appreciation.

977 Relax and Succeed - The more we can appreciateIt is possible to move quickly through this evolution if we can come to grasp these individual ideas as a larger concept: we get that people stay because we treat them well and we treat them well because we appreciate what they bring into our lives. That’s why when we’re young we can wonder how a woman can be attractive with stretch marks and yet when we’re older we see those as signs of life’s greatest achievement.

The problem comes in when we compare because everyone is viewing things from a different perspective. Like the old Indian stories about the four blind men studying an elephant, one can think its tail is like a rope, another can find the legs like a tree, another finds the tusk like a spear and the last finds the trunk like a snake. A younger person does not yet have the capacity to appreciate the larger meaning of a stretch mark and so they can see it as a scar rather than a symbol. So the problem isn’t the stretch mark on the older woman, it’s an illusion created by the younger person’s limited ability to appreciate due to having less experience in life.

It’s much the same with anything. Men can historically look at moneymaking  (aka food-gathering) as the main skill, but as we come home from some hunts wounded we come to realise that care and support after the hunt can be what enables us to hunt better tomorrow. In this way people grow toward each other in mutual interdependence, which is a form of appreciation–the highest form of awareness. Meanwhile in a thought-based comparative world where two people are less skilled at appreciation they will end up co-dependent, thereby making the relationship unhealthy for both the parents and any children.

977 Relax and Succeed - You will b e too much for some peopleDo not apply the perspectives of others to views of yourself. You have no idea by looking at someone where they are on that shallowness-appreciation spectrum. You were on it too so don’t lament that someone else is, but don’t apply it to yourself any more than you should use your thoughts to compare yourself today to your younger self from an earlier time. The comparison itself is what generates the pain. It is the result of a thought-calculation. There is no comparing in appreciation. There is no room in our consciousness for anyone or anything other than what we’re appreciating.

Love yourself wherever you are on this spectrum. There is no need to hurry or to cling to any point. We each move at our own pace which is fine, because if we don’t use our thoughts to generate the judgments and comparisons then we’re not anywhere on any spectrum–we simply are. And that is the very best place to be.

Go be. Go be whoever you are now. Trust me. That person is beautiful and perfect.

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.

Other Perspectives #90

811 OP Relax and Succeed - Mom what is marriageThis is funny. In my experience thus far, the vast majority of men get left for the same reason every time. Same with the ladies. The guys tend to be emotionally inattentive and they keep calling their decisions the couple’s decisions. The ladies get it wrong when they do what this quote suggests: when they assume that their way of doing things is the correct way and that their spouse’s way is stupid, as opposed to just being another way of approaching something. Both the inattentiveness of the men and the certainty of the women lead to them usually being completely blindsided when their spouses leave them. Speak respectfully of those you love. Because you could flip this quote around to read, Dad, what is marriage? It’s a fancy word for having to put up with a bossy arrogant person who will constantly try to treat you like a child. Doesn’t sound nice, does it? Respect. If you’re going to be in a relationship with someone then make sure your commitment to love them is a verb that you practice daily and not just something you claim out of obligation or habit. Because whether they’re talking to other people or talking to their spouse, healthy people in healthy marriages talk about their partner’s qualities a lot more than the challenges they present.

peace, s

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

The Friday Dose #90

I finally found her
I finally found her!

I finally found someone I wanted to introduce you all to. I also found someone who mixed science and math and birds and art together in a cool way, and we’ll close with a new way to see half the world. Pretty big stuff.

First off is the artist that took the great shot above. My blog’s about the quotes and I had posted the one above in the blog The Listening Man. But I couldn’t find out then who had taken the shot so I asked the question in that post and I’ve kept an eye out ever since. Well I finally found her. Her name is Laura Williams and you can find her prints here:

The Optical Absence of Laura Williams

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Next we’ll look at something pretty cool. My suspicion is that Andy Thomas is possible a Douglas Hofstadter fan. Doug’s a cool mathematician who used to draw music. That’s kind of what Andy’s done here except he’s mapped out frequencies and pitches etc. as colours, shapes, speeds, volumes etc. He’s made sound visible and the sounds he chose here are birdsongs and they’re pretty darned cool.

Here in Canada we just got a new federal government and the most powerful part of it–the Cabinet–was just converted from being a small central group of old white men that met at secret times without the rest of Cabinet, to a much less secretive and inclusive group that looks just like Canada. I think there’s 16 languages spoken, we have Aboriginals, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Christians (maybe Jewish I’m not sure), and they include a Veterans Affairs Minister who is in a wheelchair, people who’ve been political prisoners in other countries, a badass Sikh spy who served in four theatres of war, the commander of a space station, gay people, young people, old people, and–oh yeah, half of it is rather appropriately female. Even Barbie can get behind that.

The world is what you make of it. So make it awesome, because that suits you.

peace. s

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

The Subtlety of Racism

A while back I was contacted by a very conscious individual. She was a blog reader of mine and she had managed to make many changes in her life that were very beneficial. One of the things she had gotten quite good at was feeling her day. Every student has their own way inside what I’m teaching them and that was hers. She was good at ignoring her word-based illusory thoughts in favour of focusing on her feelings.

788 Relax and Succeed - Love and compassion are necessitiesThat ability to sense herself and her emotional reaction to her day lead her to an awareness. What initiated her call was that she was developing a consistently negative reaction to any Muslim woman wearing a niqab (the face and head scarf), or for that matter even a hijab (the head and neck scarf).

She knew the feelings were coming from her thoughts but she felt so strongly about the subject that she was unable to alter the course of her anger. It’s no secret to anyone that world tensions are a bit high and that in the most general terms Islam is seen as some sort of general threat. This plays out in big and obvious ways as in the case of governments or even armies. In smaller ways it plays out in everyday life, as with this woman.

I started off by noting the very un-racist-like reaction she had to her concern that she might be racist. She’s a very conscious mother and she didn’t want to teach her children to judge others based on appearances and she knew they learn from your actions not your words. Wise mom.

788 Relax and Succeed - Darkness cannot drive out darknessI simply explained that she had a firm narrative about the scarves and that we needed to replace it with a natural, real empathetic connection. The woman was clearly a feminist and so I offered examples of two feminists I know who have chosen to cover their faces with a niqab.

The first is a very classically beautiful, slim, high-cheekboned elegant woman who was raised by very spiritual parents. Back at home her parents would have been considered hippies. And her husband will laugh if you suggest he has any sort of control over his wife. He’s not that keen on her wearing a niqab himself but he respects his wife and he knows she takes her spirituality very seriously–and one aspect of it is humility. Inner beauty is what is valued and the ego is to be suppressed. On top of that, as a beautiful woman she wants to be sure she is succeeding by her abilities and not her appearance. That all sounds pretty healthy, doesn’t it?

Like the liberated woman sitting in front of me, the friend who wears the niqab does not believe that a woman should be judged based on her appearance and yet study after study proves that from dating to job prospects, that still happens. She also wants to respect herself as a creation of God. If you’ve read my previous post Loving Balpreet you’ll know that this is similar to the Sikh practice of allowing the body to exist as a creation of God’s, without any intervention–including haircutting or shaving. It’s a sign of respect for inner beauty and natural holiness.

I also added that my friend never needs to purchase or apply makeup when she goes out. That raised some eyebrows in envy.

788 Relax and Succeed - The cultural icebergThen I also told her about another friend who left Canada to move to the arabian peninsula. I told my student about how I asked that friend why she chose to wear her niqab. She very confidently noted that as a 240lb woman in Canada she found men never paid any attention to her, but where she lived she was often asked on dates and treated very respectfully. She felt she was being valued for her personality and not her appearance.

In both cases the women subscribed to the idea of the niqab as an expression of their values, not of oppression. It wasn’t that their husband wanted them covered, it was that they valued human spirit and expression more than appearances–these are the exact same values my student extolled to her children and the same ones most of us say are noble.

In the end the niqab is much thinner than a winter scarf. It’s certainly not a barrier to these women being able to see each other for what many of them really are: true feminists. Once my student could see that connection between her and these seemingly different women, her veil of thought made no more sense and she dropped it in favour of her new awareness.

788 Relax and Succeed - Before you assumeIt’s important to note–had we not intervened in that thinking when we did she could easily have expanded the narrative of her incorrect assumption into a full blown story that would result in bigotry and hatred. And she would then have taught that to her kids. It’s that easy. We all need to be vigilant.

We all love everyone. If you think you can’t love and respect someone and you really want to grow spiritually then I would suggest you look more closely at their life. Because if you do so honestly and openly you are certain to find someone just like you. Someone who’s had to overcome great hardship and who has felt great love. Our differences exist only in our thoughts.

The woman left feeling comfortable that she would no longer create the negative reaction that had been attached to her thoughts. With better understanding came empathy and from that came connection and a lack of desire to judge. It’s really that easy. You’ll see that if you try it. 😉

peace. s

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

The Friday Dose #63

660 FD Relax and Succeed - You are beautiful

Let’s start with a young woman who starts to question the concept of beauty she has been sold after she starts asking individual men what they think is beautiful. She’s surprised by the responses:

100 Men’s View of Physical Beauty

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Next we’ll tackle the question, is ADHD a disease or is it merely the unintended consequence of modern habits?

ADHD and the relentless internet—is there a connection?

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Which door would you walk through? This was a brilliant idea for an experiment:

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And finally, do you have a Fear of Missing Out? Then you won’t want to miss this:

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I trust you found something useful, expansive or enjoyable in this “collection of stuff that Scott found interesting.” Have yourself a spectacular weekend!

peace. s

The Friday Dose is a fascinating, informative, funny collection of mind-changing links, pictures, videos or audio clips. If you are currently mentally or emotionally suffering then use these to distract yourself from the painful courses of thought that are generating that suffering. Or, you could just enjoy being fascinated. 🙂

2014’s Blog of the Year #4

583 Relax and Succeed - In the end

My apologies.

I had wondered why so many people went to the page listing the Blog of the Year but relatively few followed the link through to the actual winning blog. And you guys picked good blogs this year, so they’re worth reading. But I didn’t realize until yesterday’s version that the links to the winning blogs were only working for some of you. That should be fixed now. Again, my sincere apologies for accidentally making them harder to reach than necessary. Today should go better. 🙂

This winner proves a few different things. First it underlines the fact that my readership is far more female than male, it demonstrates that many women are having the same challenges, and that the men aren’t failing to respond personally, it’s that they honestly don’t get it because they’re all behaving that way as an unconcious group. This blog was an attempt to offer some solace to women, and to give men a really big and important heads up. All of this year’s blog winners are great, but along with the Blog of the Year #9, reading this one might just save you a ton of pain, heartache and money:

CLICK BELOW TO READ:

2014’s Blog of the Year #4

peace. s

Sex and the Single Lady

I’m shocked at how shallow men really are. I don’t mean to be egotistical but I have always been considered far above average in the looks department. But now that I am over 40
I have noticed that men just get what they want and leave. Are there any mature
single men left out there or am I doomed to stay single?

signed,
Doomed

Dear Uncertain,

If it makes you feel any better, I too am single and I certainly don’t feel “doomed” so you have that option open to you as well. I quite like my life. But on behalf of my entire gender you have my apologies for any poor behaviour you’ve endured as a result of a minority of men’s myopic interest in sex. It is fine for sex to be important—even very important—in a relationship, but it can never be the entire basis for one.

298 Relax and Succeed - The beginning of love is to let those we loveWithout knowing more about your situation I can’t say whether or not this may have been a factor but I can speak to a trend I’ve definitely noticed in my work. People may not like these facts, but if you remove the difficulties generated by child-rearing, I overwhelmingly see two basic situations in the struggling relationships I work with: the first is grossly inattentive men, and the second is blindly selfish women.

By 40 even the most jaded guy’s-guy will have done at least some introspection on the fundamental questions surrounding our existence. The few that haven’t will seem remarkably immature and undeveloped, but even for those that have—that still doesn’t mean they’ve also built the communication skills necessary to convey those personal discoveries and the resulting values. So it’s not that there isn’t depth there, it’s that there is no language to describe it. This can make many men very challenging to communicate deeply with.

Men are taught to become masters of their own destiny, so because they are busy advancing their own cause, in many cases they have greater challenges in becoming attuned to the needs of others around them. This is why it’s considered ridiculous for a man to have sex and not orgasm, whereas it’s all too common for women (and that’s largely because the guy really doesn’t even have her satisfaction on his radar). Most men never even consider the fact that their wives might be faking their orgasms every single time.

Again, removing powerful forces like addictions or violence, when men get left in midlife it will very often be because they are failing to connect with what’s going on around them. They fail to notice some of the more mundane but troublesome aspects of running a household. It’s common for men to come to me after being left and they are deeply embarrassed about the fact that their wives had quite pointedly described all of the things that they needed to see changed and yet it’s common for the men 298 Relax and Succeed - A sure sign of a man's strengthnot to have addressed any of those things. They will not have helped more with the kids or around the house, they will not have made even the slightest earnest effort to even try to control their tempers or temperaments. In short they weren’t very present within their relationships and that lead to challenges. That said, the ladies have their own version of these challenges and you may be running into that too.

Whereas men tend to be lacking in introspection and general awareness of needs outside their own, the ladies will also often inadvertently be just as selfish. But rather than being unaware of their selfishness, they will justify theirs with volumes of thought. Of course this thought is all self-talk inside her own head so of course it does tend to be overwhelmingly self-supporting and congratulatory. The net result is that a lot of women leave fairly good marriages because they have expectations of a strange kind of perfection.

Through their ruminations about men and love, many women will have imagined their ultimate relationship for some time. They will have imagined it for so long that it will become a hardened plan. They will have essentially pre-built their own version of a “good relationship” in their head. They will know how the couple should act in public, roughly what they should wear, and maybe what level of job the husband should achieve and how the kids should behave etc.. I’ve heard these get remarkably detailed. And they would be great if the man (and the kids) weren’t individuals themselves. Because in the case of the husband, just by being himself he will step outside of her script. Because it does not match her imagination it will be viewed as him being “wrong.” His personal choices will be viewed as being unsupportive of “the relationship” rather than as examples of him merely expressing who he really is. This leaves very little room for the natural growth or the desires of the man. As men age and the allure of sex appeal begins to fade, the desire for peaceful relations begins to increase.

So how this plays out is that middle-aged women are looking for complete, well-rounded, emotionally intelligent men, and the men are looking for women who smile easily and who need very little to be happy. On one side there’s a desire for a man who’s ambitious about nurturing his relationship, and on the other there’s a desire for a woman who’s easygoing about conducting her relationship.

If you’re considerably above average in the looks department then you’ve likely had men extending you kindnesses that a lot of women would never see. But as those men age many will have faced years of complaints about not meeting the expectations of their 298 Relax and Succeed - For beautiful eyes look for the goodpartner’s scripts. So far from seeking beauty or sex appeal, they begin to seek carefree happiness. They want more calmness and less wrongness.

Only you know your own situation. But when you’re on these dates, pay attention to when you find the men disengaging. It may in fact be when they’ve achieved their “goal” and gotten their sex. Or it might be when you start making demands, or if you start describing your definition of a “good” or “proper” relationship. Because at this stage in life, whatever you do will get compared to the rest of his life. And men mostly do one of three things together. They play a game or sport where they’re focused on the moment they’re in and what they’re doing; they discuss subjects that fascinate or entertain them; or they make fun of things or each other and they laugh. These are all very fun activities, so when that’s what’s waiting for them it becomes difficult to hold their attention with expectations and demands.

If you’re having to deal with guys who are just plain bad at commitment, or who are only seeing you as a sex object, then at least they’ll make a more dedicated man stand out by comparison. And if you find they’re disengaging when you apply any restrictions on their adult freedom, then it may have less to do with them rejecting you and more about them respecting their own freedom as an individual. Either way, as long as you’re enjoying your life I’m fine with you being attached or single. In fact, when you’re okay with either scenario is likely when the highest quality men would find you most attractive.

In the end a relationship never really is a commitment. It’s always a choice. And it doesn’t get made on a wedding day. It needs to happen every single day. So if we’re looking to have good relationships, we need to encourage good choices. If we’re generally consistent, open, loving people, then healthy people will find it easy to choose to spend time with us.

I’m certain there are many avenues to good fortune in your life, so keep your eyes peeled. I wish you every good fortune in finding a way to share your heart more often. And I hope you always remember to be kind to yourself in the process.

peace. s

Dustin Hoffman on Being a Woman

158 Relax and Succeed - The saddes songHere’s a nice moment that helps us expand our consciousness. Dustin Hoffman discusses a revelation he had about an accidental lack of kindness. While I obviously didn’t come by it the same way, life prompted me to have the same realization and I felt much the same way—that I’d somehow been convinced to steal from myself in the worst possible way.

It’s a common thing to talk about how advertising is a thoroughly losing proposition for women. But maybe the men lost even more, by losing the women that they may have otherwise known.

If there’s one thing age teaches, it’s that beauty is skin deep. Avoid judging anyone on such a superficial basis. Because if you do, it is inevitable that you will miss out on a variety of wonderful life experiences.

You might want some tissues for this one:

Try to stay aware of this next time you’re out and about.

peace. s

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

Who Can See Your Beauty?

28 Relax and Succeed - The eyes are uselessDo you think you see with your eyes? Then how can one person love a painting and another person hate it? Or more importantly, why can someone look so gorgeous when you start dating them and so ugly when they fall out of favour? Did they actually grow uglier? Or do you only see what you look for? If your thoughts about someone are uglier will your vision be that way too? And if we can make the world uglier with our thoughts can we also make it more beautiful?

In the docu-drama What The Bleep Do We Know?! many people assume the film is being figurative when it states that early Native Shaman had to teach tribesmen to be able to see Christopher Columbus’s ships. People assume if they can see something then everyone must be able to. After all it’s not small—it’s a ship. And while I would agree that most people have the potential to see it, you still can’t see anything that your brain can’t file. Your brain needs a holding place for the concepts of things. That’s what things are.

A good example of this is me and my bird-watching biologist neighbour. “Hey, there’s a yellow-breasted warbler,” he’ll say as we walk through the ravine near our homes. I look and look but I can’t see it.

“It’s right there,” he’ll say, pointing at a very specific nearby tree. “See where the main trunk V’s? And just above that is a little knot in the wood?”
The knot shaped like a figure eight?”
Exactly. See the two horizontal branches right above that?”
The two almost exactly parallel to each other?”
That’s the ones. He’s on the lower one, just to the left of the knot in the wood.”

28 Relax and Succeed - Beauty doesn't last foreverNow this is a very easy place to identify on the tree. And I was looking at the right spot. But even though the light is entering my eye just like it is with my neighbour’s, my brain had no idea what a yellow-breasted warbler looked like so I couldn’t pull his colours and shape from the background. Until he moved. Trees don’t suddenly dart around, so as soon as the bird did that my brain was able to brilliantly subtract everything that didn’t move, and voila I was left with a yellow-breasted warbler!

The problem is, now that I have the name of it I’ll likely never see it again. Because that’s how we look at the world—blindly. It’s why the world is so fascinating to little kids. Because they don’t have many words to divide the world up with, they can actually see things. It’s exactly why they can find the arrow in the FedEx logo and adults usually can’t (unless they’ve seen the test before). Because adults know the alphabet, they get blinded by that knowledge and they only look for what they they’re supposed to see. Kids are less judgmental so they can find the arrow almost immediately.

fedex-logo-470What you see through your thinking is much more than just bird-watching. It’s how your relationships work too. Because I have the life experience necessary to know that some people make it easy to think nice thoughts about them, I am now far less interested in the physical beauty of a woman and far more interested in her internal beauty. I absolutely must take responsibility for my own thinking, and yet the wisdom of patience knows that people will encourage or discourage nice thoughts about themselves.

If I’m with a younger buddy and we see two women and he finds one physically attractive, he stops right there. He doesn’t even know who she is. But she is instantly “attractive” simply because she matches things he got excited about while he happened to be going through puberty. I’m affected by that too. But experience has taught me to also look at how she is in the world.

Did she hold a door open for that lady with the crutches? Did she offer to carry a friend’s drink into the movie because the friend’s hands were full? Was she polite to the server? Is she quick to smile? etc. etc. etc. I do this because I know that this beautiful girl will quickly be exposed as an ugly woman if her thinking is ugly too.

So while my friend ignores the plump woman because other people don’t put photos of her in magazines, I notice what the magazine would never have looked for—that she’s trying to help a crying little boy find his Mom. And there’s only certain people who will stop their own personal thinking and instead think of doing something like that. And that kind of person is really beautiful.

You don’t live with skin and bone structure. And even if you did those things will certainly change. You live with people’s attitudes. So to have a happy life it is important to appreciate that people aren’t made beautiful because advertising executives anointed their type as attractive.

They aren’t attractive because they look like a famous singer or actor. And they aren’t attractive because of how much money they make or what kind of car they drive. They are attractive because they conduct themselves in this world with compassion, generosity, patience and love. If you keep your eye out for those things you’ll find yourself on the smoothest path through life there is.

Here’s to a day of awakening. Enjoy it thoroughly.

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.