Something’s Gotta Give

971 Relax and Succeed - c'mon inner peaceWe’ve seen it reflected in elections and unrest around the world. We can see it in the fact that the world never really has bounced back from the economic card game that collapsed in 2008. Once people had maxed out their credit trying to survive the world hit a limit. With no more money available and no ability to work harder or longer, even in the richest countries there are a lot of scared people and frightened individuals create an angry and defensive society.

Added to the financial stress is time stress. Everyone’s rushed. Everyone’s phone now gives work access to them 24 hours a day and work will use that time if it can get it. Work isn’t human. Work is a creation of mankind. It is an animal that perpetually wants to be fed more and more every month, every day, every year. No sales manager ever told his team to sell less next month. If someone’s over 40 that’s really starting to add up to no personal life.

In the days where your landline waited at home while people were at work, people used to answer their phone maybe once or twice a day for a personal phone call. No texts. No instant messages. No collection of 20 messages at 10 different social media sites. No classes, just maybe the odd kid taking piano or in judo. Rather than organised sports most kids played pick-up neighbourhood games. Just remove all of those responsibilities from your week. That is a huge percentage of your day. And how much of that would you care about on your deathbed? None. You’d care if your kid was there by your side, you wouldn’t care whether or not they could play the piano.

971 Relax and Succeed - Dream more complain lessSo what did people used to do with all of that time and peace of mind? They used to pursue hobbies or took courses to expand themselves not to make more money. They didn’t need that money because they didn’t have to buy a microwave VHS Walkman CD juicer iPod monitor DVD gym membership X-Box Blu-Ray smartphone Occulus or 70% of the restaurant food now sold. They used to spend way more time with friends and family. Most people didn’t hire anyone else to build decks or fix a toilet or do basic work on their car. If they didn’t know how to do something they found a friend or neighbour who did and you know what? They had the time to help and they did and it was often very enjoyable time.

The challenge with the technological world is that it has created the image that we’re all connected when we’ve never been further apart and it’s not just grey-haired people that can feel that. I’ve taught college kids who were stressed by 25 that they couldn’t keep up with technology. Most people have given up by 35 or they’re stressed. So what’s it all for if we just want to surrender it later?

The pain tells us that it’s information. It’s not life going badly, it’s information about how life is going. Pain is like a gauge in your car. The thermostat isn’t overheating, it’s telling you that the car is. Pain isn’t you failing, it’s the universe telling you that what you’re doing isn’t working. The problem today is that a lot of people can’t figure out how to get enough time to eat or sleep let alone find a way to find some other path that can work for their life, so the problem isn’t the humans it’s the machine.

The machine distracts us from being human. Rather than looking at a face and hearing a voice we contort our hands into machine-shapes and type a message on a keyboard that appears on a two-dimensional screen in symbols that strip out the valuable human information that would be transmitted by having in a person’s eyes right in front of you. It’s shallow when what we seek is depth.

It can seem strange then that I might suggest giving as a solution but I don’t think I mean it in the way you might imagine. I know a lot of people would be almost angered by the thought: how is giving everything not enough!? But I’m not suggesting adding more giving, I’m suggesting that you alter where your giving goes. Only by reintegrating ourselves back into our communities can our communities reintegrate back into us. We must know our neighbour before we can do them favours, and if enough of us do that then we’re not doing each other favours, we’re cooperating on a larger goal to create a safe and healthy society. That’s how drops become a drink.

971 Relax and Succeed - It's not about havingWe’ve spent too much time being sold the singular, cool, proud, branded, I gotta be me; loaded with achievements and never needing help. That is not how humanity got here and it won’t be how it goes anywhere. You’re not broken if you’re tired and worn out. We accidentally built an inhuman world and you’re hardly alone. Even the so-called winners are often alcoholics and drug addicts to cope.

Start cutting the selfish in favour of the selfishly selfless. Rich and poor alike, we don’t need another app or another website or another tool of efficiency. What we need is some restful time where we’re connected to others, but that will not happen until you stop and do a serious assessment to figure out how your time can be better invested in your future happiness.

Set aside some time right now to do that this weekend. Look at a normal week and be brutally honest about where the time goes, even if it is frivolous. And then ask yourself where it could go? And if you ask long enough… I guarantee you’ll find something that’ll feel enriching and rewarding–something you’ll get excited about. I do hope you give yourself that time.

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.

Ikigai

960 Relax and Succeed - Ikigai The reason to get up in the morningEven though they may not know the concept abstractly, when you listen to people discuss their work complaints they will always focus on where they can feel that their Ikigai has lost balance. The term is composed by compounding two ideas: iki which is to be alive; and kai, which is the worthwhile result of your being, otherwise stated as your reason for being, your motivation, or the meaning to your existence. Your raison d’etre. I’m sure you can feel the pull of that sensation just reading about it.

One way to help define Ikigai in your life is that it will not change in good times or in bad. Someone who loves firefighting will love it as much in the firehall as they will at a fire. A true writer will enjoy the research for their new book as much as they enjoy the writing of it. And almost everyone who works in a refugee camp will face daily tragedy and yet they continue with an enthusiasm and energy rarely seen in the corporate world.

Bruce Lee did it with martial arts, Prince did it with music, Kurosawa did it with film. My father did it with a roofing company. If that last one doesn’t seem to fit as well, that might point to your misunderstandings about its nature.

960 Relax and Succeed - IkigaiTo move around the concept; my father enjoyed earning his pay by doing the same level of work he would do on his own home. In doing so he would create value by making someone else’s home and property more secure and by providing for his own family. He also loved the feeling of great satisfaction that he took from his customer’s satisfaction, and in all the years he ran the company I can recall my father being taken advantage of twice, but I have no recollection at all of an unhappy customer. I also have no recollection of my father ever complaining about his job, he only preferred when it wasn’t raining so he could do it.

There is no shortage of unfulfilled office workers who derive no personal joy or meaning from their work. There is also no shortage of chronically poverty-stricken artists who have trouble finding or transmitting the value in what they do. Even among the “successful,” there are doctors who care and doctors who like expensive cars.

It is important to note, however, that the existence of a Porsche doesn’t translate to an absence of ikigai. Sometimes–but not always–great personal gain can come from the pursuit of our ikigai. But to the individual the gains will be irrelevant. If they were fantastically wealthy they would still pursue their ikigai; if they were not paid at all they would still do it with equal zeal. Wayne Dyer didn’t need money to motivated him, nor does Yo-Yo Ma. Once you are fed and sheltered nothing you can buy can offer more life satisfaction than your ikigai.

960 Relax and Succeed - These are free rangeLook at your life. Where is it out of balance? Because if you look at the stresses in this world they can easily be attributed to the fact that so many people are not balanced in this way. To do unfulfilling work with unappreciative people in a largely meaningless way is to court a type of death. It is one thing to make a beautiful cake that will be consumed only hours later in joy, and another thing altogether to make a cheap plastic toy that won’t survive the birthday party.

Today’s youth can sense the lack of ikigai in their parent’s lives. They feel the tension, the anger, the frustration and the lack of satisfaction. How many children in the world hear their parents discuss their life’s work with passion? What did you hear as a child, and if you have children what do they hear you communicate about your work? What emotional state would they most closely associate with your work?

You have not failed if you have not found your place yet. The journey itself is a honing process. But it is important to keep this concept in mind. Many people would never have taken promotions or jobs or would have never left the children in a day-home, etc. etc. etc. if they had paid more attention to the notion of ikigai.

Be still. Spend some real time meditating on this. You are not finding a mystery, you are realising your true self. You cannot get this wrong any more than you can get your favourite colour wrong. The only thing you can do is to never ask the question, which in a way is like never actually starting to live at all. It’s in you. Find it and release it. We’re waiting for you.

With love, 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 Struggle of Millennial Entrepreneurs

The brain is built by what it does. People accept this when it comes to skills and knowledge but for some strange reason they arbitrarily stop at personality when that too grows directly from your experience. So what differences exist that can help explain the consistent struggle I now see with so many Millennials?

When I was a kid nothing came to you. You had to walk to the library to do school work, there wasn’t half the work-saving machines around the house, you had to run for the phone when it rang, we had crank windows on cars, no power steering or brakes, we walked almost everywhere we went, and on summer days our parents barely told us what to do. That meant our entire day was self-created and unknowingly to most that built a brain with the wiring for initiative.

Now consider the challenge the next generation had: everyone thought it was good that there were so many labour saving devices but that slowly put people out of shape. Hamburgers got delivered to their cars. They were driven many places. Unless they were in a small town, much more of the schedule of a Millennial was being subtly booked and controlled by parents. You now had study nights and more tutors. It became mandatory to play a sport or pursue something creative like dance or a musical instrument. Grades became more important and then school became a pressure-cooker for university entrance. It was never about who you were, everything became about setting up who you could be in some future.

956 Relax and Succeed - To live a creative lifeMost damaging to the brain was the fact that everything and everyone sort of guided you or told you what to do. Lego, Meccano and Light Bright were open source. You opened the box and there was just a bunch of pieces. No one gave you a blueprint, the boxes weren’t little worlds, they were just plain pieces loaded with potential to be formed by whoever’s initiative faced it.

Then suddenly there were Gobots and Transformers and Lego sets. Some Toy Executive in London or New York would limit and channel a kids thoughts into what they wanted them to build (usually for advertising). But what if you’re now an entrepreneur and there’s no one telling you to start, or what to do?

I have lots of Millennials who come to me because their life really needs them to take action and they just can’t. They can think about what to do, plan what to do, even get excited by it, but they cannot actually turn it into a daily verb. They cannot just sit down and do undirected work for long periods of time and then act. They’re champion procrastinators.

956 Relax and Succeed - Fear is a liarAre you one of those Millennials who gets next to nothing done all day? I know, there’s a lot of you. There’s no point in using your thoughts to create guilt. You didn’t even know this was happening to you. But it did happen and there’s only one thing you can do about it. It’ll feel really scary, but it’s actually much more gratifying and enthusiasm-generating than the fear you’re currently experiencing.

You can sit and calculate the downsides forever. You can worry about how it will go wrong and do nothing and then it will go wrong by not going at all. There is no other choice I’m sorry. No other answer will be delivered.

Take heart though. Look around you and see who’s happy and feeling fulfilled. It’s the people who are busy. They have lots of responsibility and pressure and yet they’re thriving. They get a ton done and it seems to happen by magic. But it’s just taking some initiative and taking the next step. Yes, that step might be wrong, but better to retrace than to never step at all.

956 Relax and Succeed - Most people fail in lifeYour brain needs to have initiative built into it or you’ll have this challenge until you die. That will mean you literally didn’t live your life. I see far too many brilliant talented people who have done almost nothing by the same age that me and many of my peers already had numerous significant achievements. This isn’t because that generation was stronger or better or more creative. But it did have loads and loads of accidentally developed initiative. In the end we were lucky. If you have this problem you will have to make your own luck, but don’t worry. I promise it’s not only doable; once you pull it off you won’t believe how much living you’ll do.

Find someone else to work for. Don’t think about your life, think about what you can contribute to the world, your community, your household. Feel responsible; work for the betterment of others and you won’t meet that same resistance that comes from doing things just for you. In the end it’s about a month of concentrated effort and from there the muscle will be built and it’ll only be a matter of continuing to build it up.

I feel for you. I really do. I hear all the time about the hiding, the excuses, the ineffectiveness, the financial challenges, the guilt. It’s no way to live. Trust me, those things are far harder for you to do than to take the leap into action. Even if it’s wrong it won’t be as painful as nothing at all. So go for it. I know you can do it. Even if you are scared. Act anyway.

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 Stress Test

Over-thinking. It’s one of the most damaging and disrupting things we can do in our lives and yet almost everyone in modern culture does it. You can still find calm thinkers in outlying areas of the globe, but in 1st World civilization those people become extremely rare.

904 Relax and Succeed - You should sit in meditationThere are a variety of reasons for this but I’m sure anyone over a certain age can just feel them on day to day basis and even those younger are telling me they would also like things to slow down. As strange as it sounds, there used to more time.

I don’t remember anyone ever getting upset that you called them the next day instead of the day they called, or even for the first few years of email no one felt that the sender was demanding an answer in a very short period of time or otherwise many more messages would follow. That was what we liked about texts and emails. You could get back to them when it made sense. Now you have to get back to the person when it makes sense for their life, not yours. Get enough people doing that and there’s no time left for you.

You all know the assorted beeps and tweets and rings and chimes that run your life. Think about how much time you dedicate to self-monitoring. A bit here to set up for your jog, a bit there to load something into your calendar, more there to check a text that it turns out isn’t even important, calls you never wanted, more ads fewer stories, more worrying, more fear, more blame and all that adds up to the difference between a day then and a day now.

904 Relax and Succeed - It's not a racePeople aren’t crazy to think something’s wrong. We’re now letting the technology dictate our lives. We built a monster and now we’re upset that it pokes and prods us constantly. The work day no longer ends. I know countless people with 8am-4pm jobs who now will often get work emails and texts between 5pm and–thanks to time zones–even 5am. And all this work is piling up while you’re asleep.

All of this adds up to a new kind of day that quite simply includes way more work. So you’re not crazy to be more exhausted. The issue then becomes that we have to be just as aggressive about our calming down because we have to fit it into these shortened lives. The list is extensive and it manages to include everyone except those calm people I noted at the top.

Now we have apps that try to interrupt you for itty bitty slices of peace. We have sound-blocking headphones and software that blocks the web for predetermined lengths of time, there’s courses, therapy, pills, alcohol, weed, and even stress disability. These are all a means of coping with a world that is going faster than modern humans want it. We’ve started building our work lives like we’re all 20 years old with extremely limited responsibilities.

The issue is, too many of these things end up adding to the problem rather than subtracting from it. Why? Because all the tech answers still keep us plugged into the same virtual space that we already feel is stealing too much of our time.

904 Relax and Succeed - The time you enjoy wastingOne of the biggest issues with the drugs, alcohol and weed is that they all prompt the wrong kind of inactivity. Too often these turn into nothing more than depressing or stressful ruminations wherein the person sits entirely still and just thinks negatively about their life and eventually themselves. This goes to the point where the next day they have to add even more guilt about the stuff they didn’t get down while they were “relaxing.” If you’re not really enjoying it then it’s not really relaxing.

Look at your life. Feel that stress as a sign that something is wrong. Don’t drug yourself into a stupor. This is your life. And you have far more to offer than you realize. The world is being deprived of too many shining lights and we are sensing the darkness that results.

What the world really needs today is less of your stressful work and more of your joy. So do things that excite you, motivate you and enthuse you. That’s actually inportant. Because life is a very short and precious opportunity to create an even bigger world with more room and time, you just can’t let all of the bells and whistles take it all away.

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.

Made to Order

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #5

Despite how parts of it are sold, society is a cooperation not a competition. Traffic, infrastructure, schools, corporate structures, the internet; these are all things that were designed to help us cooperate.

903 Relax and Succeed -Calvin and Hobbes
The Story Behind This Cartoon

Our societal cooperation works best when each of us intentionally aligns our deepest self with the larger goal. So for some big startup company to succeed it needs someone who wants to lock themselves away alone to do some deep, complex thinking. But it also needs bold, talkative, likeable salespeople who’re good at managing grey areas, and those salespeople all have to be different to appeal to different clients. Then the organisation will also need accounting and legal staff that then turns grey areas into black and white. Etc. etc.

It is called an organisation because it is the coordination of all of these very disparate and even conflicting skill sets. So the saleswoman intentionally generates grey area to achieve a sale only for accounting to have to slice all the grey into neat little boxes. One person’s work literally creates the other person’s work. Nothing’s wrong there, it’s just the nature of an organisation.

The challenge occurs when a catch-all idea tries to encapsulate all of these complex relationships. We see this most often in schools, where it used to be presumed that some students were strong in some subjects and not in others. Now if you’re a good student you’re not allowed to be a human with natural skill set. Now a good student gets good grades in everything.

903 Relax and Succeed - Action without visionStudents are no longer their experiences, now they are just the memories in their brain. In turn their brain is seen as a computer to be programmed, and the notion is that the same process applies to programming math skills as reading skills when that is simply not the case.

Some kids look out their bedroom window and see the stars move each night and they wonder about those movements and they get good at math because they are innately interested in becoming a cosmologist. Some can’t sit still in class and they become world-renowned ballerina, Karen Kain. Some aren’t good at math but they’re good at understanding complex physical relationships, as was the case with the physicist, Albert Einstein.

Those are not people who succeeded because they got good grades and fit into the boxes at school really neatly. These are people who had just the right conditions to become fully themselves, even when that self conflicted with some pattern that society found convenient. Yes, we want to see ourselves as a part of larger society, but we don’t want salespeople to start acting like accountants any more than we want accountants to act like salespeople.

903 Relax and Succeed - Notable college dropouts

Real drive, real success and real happiness do not come from good grades, good pay and people approving of you. You’ll get all the approval you need from yourself if you’re realising your inner motivations and then working hard to achieve them. Because that doesn’t even feel like work–it just feels like the steps you need to take to get you where you’re going.

Yes, we all need to do reasonably well in school because those basic skills do end up way more important than any kid realises up until they’re about 25 years old. But we shouldn’t panic if someone struggles in a subject or their grades are average. College is no guarantee of a good life, but knowing how to realise yourself through diligent work is. If something matters enough to someone they’ll work incredibly hard at it whether that’s in a college or outside of it.

Do not treat kids like pegs to fit into holes. They are all individuals and as much as a hassle it might be for a parent or teacher to have Karen Kain and Steve Jobs in the same class, it’s important to remember that the school is a construct not a natural occurrence. Meaning we should be less invested in things like grades and more focused on seeing if the kids themselves feel like they are expanding.

Too many of our pressures on kids have to do with conforming and getting into line. Yes, teach kids to be good, solid cooperative citizens. But not at the price of choking off their spirit, because if that’s intact it will drive their intellect to create not only great things, but also a great life.

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.

Just The Job for You

We have looked at how your national identity contributes to how you see yourself. We’ve looked at how your daily habits point to signs of who you really are. Now we shift to things you’ve been more active in choosing. These things will always have important wisdom hidden within them.

876 Relax and Succeed - The most decisive actions

For the most part you choose your job. Even if it feels like you didn’t, if you really look at it closely you’ll usually see that there were other options but the job you’re in seemed the best fit for who you feel you are. You could have not done anything at all. That would say something about how your mind works too. Your whole life is shaped by these tiny little choices all day long.

Even if you’re a shy person in an more extroverted job you’ll still find shy ways to be extroverted. So look at your workday. What do you do that you don’t need to? What do you avoid that you shouldn’t? What do you like about your job? What don’t you like about it? Who don’t you like at work and why in the most basic terms? Who do you like, expressed in the most basic terms?

Don’t tell yourself a big long narrative about these things. Stick to basics. Do you like control or do you seek to give it away? Are you irritated by people who want control or are you relieved that someone else is doing it? Do you volunteer for the difficult jobs or avoid them? Do you volunteer for the least desirable jobs or avoid them? What do you hate about your job? What do you love about it? Meditate on why.

876 Relax and Succeed - Both optimists and pessimists contributeDoes your job bring you into contact with a lot of people and that’s your favourite part, or does it force you to serve people one on one and that makes you nervous so you hide or avoid it with busy-work? Do you prefer being alone or working in groups? Do you like jobs where you can be certain you’re right or wrong (accounting, engineering, math teacher) or ones where the performance is judged more subjectively like a writer or priest or a social studies teacher?

The different nursing departments attract different types of people. Different classes attract different teachers. Firemen don’t mind some jobs and can’t stand others but they’ll all have different choices for which ones are which. People who like to serve and motivate and guide and focus a staff is one kind of leader and someone who likes to have total control to have people do their bidding is another kind of boss. Look at your life. What silent, quiet choices have you been making and what do they tell you about yourself?

Who’s your crowd at work? Ask yourself why you respect one person and not another and then ask yourself who would feel that way–you’ll be able to learn a lot from yourself from just that one short meditation. Why does one person make you feel safe and inspired while the other makes you feel worried and weak? Your entire life–even where you eat and with who and why–is good information. Study yourself.

876 Relax and Succeed - When do you bow downKnow thyself. Stop thinking thoughts about how you wish the world was and start using all of that energy to just quietly study yourself in action during your day. You’ll walk to the coffee pot and avoid some people’s desks but seek out others. Why? You’re procrastinating on this with something seemingly harder–why? You’re friends with one group at work but not another. Why? Etc. etc. etc.

Understand that all of these little invisible forces have shaped you into a collection of preferences. Your life unfolds from that Preferential DNA–a few key experiences in a variety of critical areas codes the rest of the decisions you make for the rest of your life. You are easily able to remodel those codes with experiences that intentionally undermine the value of the previous choices. But before you do that you have to figure out where you’re starting.

You’ve got an interesting day ahead of you. Enjoy it. This is a two-day meditation because you have a lot to find. Don’t forget to calendar it for tomorrow so that you remember to study yourself at work. Turn work into a way of learning more about who you accidentally became.

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.

An Epidemic of Dissatisfaction

Every year there’s more. People who feel they have lost their way. They’re feeling depressed. They feel alone against the odds and misunderstood. They feel their life is a meaningless string of responsibilities. That their work lacks meaning. That their partner doesn’t contribute enough. That life has become little more than a repetitious cycle with no hope of anything better. Fortunately they’re only part-way right.

782 Relax and Succeed - Life is like a game of cardsThe part they’re right about is that many modern jobs are rather mindless acts and many managers demand mindless workers. But in any job you will find people enjoying their lives and feeling rewarded. This isn’t to say everything’s perfect but overall they like their own lives and they would describe them as rewarding. The question is, how are they doing it?

The single most important factor to stay in touch with is the knowledge that your dissatisfaction doesn’t emerge from your circumstances, but rather you conjure it into existence at a psychological level. When you can operate at that level you’re fully aware that your pain serves a purpose. You don’t fight the pain, you realize you are being communicated with by your psyche. The question only you can answer is: what is it telling you and what do you do as a result?

Yes, you might feel unsettled and unhappy because you’re supposed to change your life. But it’s far more likely you’re being urged to change yourself. Not in a–you have to change because you’re not good enough kind of way, but you do need to change your perspective on your definition of you. And without guidance that can be a strange thing to do.

782 Relax and Succeed - Your mind is like a computerStudy your own thinking without criticizing it. Just see what direction your subconscious takes you. Do it almost as though you’re looking at a different person. If you’re earnest and honest you’re likely to realize that you have a lot of dissatisfied narratives about your life. You have stories about how you don’t like your job, your relationships, your daily existence etc. etc. This is your ego’s dissatisfaction and it is literally made out of those self-conversations about your disappointments. That is illusory suffering. That doesn’t indicate anything is wrong with your life. That’s just self-talk.

People who achieve a clear enlightened state don’t have their lives change because the outside world changes, their lives change because their interior life changes. They become more awake in their consciousness. Their psychology is less busy and it becomes more peaceful. It has no desires. It understands the value of gratitude.

Gratitude is a wonderful feeling. It’s like love unbound. Unconditional. At its best it goes everywhere at once. Those are the days where you say thank you world for this amazing life. But you can’t live there. You need the contrast of not being there to appreciate the value of being there. The question is: when you’re not there, do you still stay conscious? Or do you assume that when you stop being grateful that your life has gotten worse?

782 Relax and Succeed - Relax it's all just perspective

It is important to learn to stay conscious while you’re suffering. And if you’re doing that you’ll recognize that your dissatisfaction is coming from your thoughts and not your life. That might not mean you can immediately redirect them to something more enjoyable, but as long as you’re conscious that the suffering is illusory then you’re fine. That’s like being worried for a character in a TV show–you do that all the time. If there are ultimately none of those negative, dissatisfied conversations and you still feel like things aren’t quite right, then you might consider making some major change in your life. But the vast majority of your time it’s just your ego.

Get a clear head. Quiet your self-talk and avoid a great deal of stress, worry, fear, anger and sadness.  While it’s far more likely that your expectations for your life were more about externals than internals, in the end all the money and fame in the world cannot buy peace of mind. Even I can only guide you to it. You must look at your existence openly to realize this truth in your own life. Once you have profoundly and thoroughly accepted that your feelings emerge from your thinking then you can begin to steer your life much more consciously, and much more enjoyment and much less stress will ensue.

peace. s

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

Working for a Living

If you’re a young person what will you future look like? If you’re a parent how do you prepare your child for an unknown future? Things are changing fast and yet in many ways they’re staying exactly the same.

767 Relax and Succeed - If you are working on something excitingThere are programs being set up to ensure that kids learn computer coding in school. The CEO of Google recently spoke about the need for school systems to ”train the knowledge workers of the future.” He said nice things about how those are the people who get the jobs and there was a suggestion that the people in those jobs are the ones who are capable of taking greater control, which is both true and misleading.

What I would like draw your attention to however is the CEO’s assumption about education: as though it could only be for job training. In fact, I’ll bet many people reading this are thinking–but it is! Not historically. We’ve been so brainwashed to think we need to buy things and then work to pay for them that we can’t even remember that people used to just live through cooperation and that they learned for learning’s sake.

Remember being a kid? Being alive for joy instead of profit? I know the two are sold as being the same thing but they most certainly are not. One very often prevents the other.

767 Relax and Succeed - The work you do while you procrastinateI support the idea of teaching coding. As someone who’s worked as a teacher, I joined many other fine instructors in their concerns. It was not difficult to detect the shift. The students are just as capable, but there has clearly been a steady decline in their reasoning skills. When I asked students about it virtually all of them admitted they felt it too–as though other people understood things more completely. That sense of uncertainty lead to them feeling less confident.

There are always exceptions but we are all a product of our environments. Modern students often give up very easily and seemed to be primarily preoccupied with the grades and not the subject itself. They wanted the answer that would save them from punishment and earn them praise, rather than the answer that vigourous and thoughtful debate would reveal.

They’re very good at looking things up and amalgamating other people’s ideas together (intellectual mash-ups, video editing, DJing etc.), but they are increasingly poor at concluding or deducing or otherwise reasoning forward using themselves as the source rather than the culture around them. They all have great smarts, but they are only able to get them half way out of their head.

767 Relax and Succeed - Success is not the key to happinessCoding is a form of logic and it has a form of grammar, which is a separate thing from the language itself. So by seeing the separation between the language and the grammar in that setting it becomes easier for a student to see it in English or whichever traditional languages they’re studying. Despite the concerns about education being viewed as job training, the simple fact is that in the ego-created outer world, the logic aspect will also help a great deal with students problem-solving skills.

I’ve never met a truly stupid person. I’ve met very ignorant people who have been exposed to very few ideas and often by very dominating and rigid personalities. Everyone I taught excited me with their potential. And I am fascinated to see what world they will live in and what world they will build.

What will be fascinating is when we reach the point where the robots can run the whole place themselves. This really isn’t that far away. They’ll be able to mine the metals, build the structures, install and maintain the workings, they will be able to act as the arms and legs of someone paralyzed or maybe we’ll just grow a new spine for the person who injured theirs, and then we’ll have it put in perfectly by a robot surgeon.

767 Relax and Succeed - There's no way I was just bornWe’re going nano, where they’re floating submarines through race horse’s veins and we’re building little DNA dumptrucks that can deliver cancer drugs right to individual cells and then harmlessly dissolve into your body. AI is now programming itself and the levels of sophistication regarding touch and the other senses are getting truly remarkable. Soon you won’t even know if your nurse is real or if she’s a robot that gives amazing back rubs. But either way, something will have to change because there will be no more work.

Are you trained for the future? Because if the robots are driving the cars and picking the stocks and cleaning rooms and mowing lawns and flying the planes and rockets and monitoring babies and writing music and even creating scientific theories and ways to test them (as was done for the very first time just recently), then what are you going to do? If it keeps going the direction it’s headed the future should leave you with no job. So what will your identity be then? Who would you be if you didn’t describe yourself through your work?

Imagine the robot world complete. You have all of the free time in the world and if you want a nicer houses you just have a robot build you one. What’s your day look like? And really think about it. Because if you say masturbate or play video games or text, you know full well you’ll get bored after a while.. Too much of anything is unpleasant. But with the time you’re not using for those things, what are you using it for? This is a question that cuts to the core of who you are.

Whatever future you unfold, and in whatever context–just be aware. You are a genius by birth. Your only true job in life is to realize your own genius and then live that reality boldly for as long as possible. You belong. The suffering you experience is not failure. It is training you to be able to actively lead your own life. Enjoy.

Namaste. s

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

The Law of the Jungle

How good is your life balance between work, family and your social life and friendships? It’s tricky to do, and the constant connectivity of smartphones means you never really leave work. The question is, how much work do you need for success, what kind of success should you target, and how far do you go on that road before it’s too far? When’s work billing life for too much? When are you just being asked to be dedicated and when are you being asked to be abused?

762 Relax and Succeed - Your value doesn't decreaseAmazon is famous for its brutal corporate culture. Weird eh? They brag about it. Can you imagine if we were back in the days of Kings and Queens ruling everything, where your livelihood was entirely in their hands just like it is now, and you happened to live under the King who was a selfish jerk and then bragged about how bad he treated you? That would suck.

The thing is, you probably moved into the neighbourhood intentionally. You may have very actively sought to live under that King. Many many many people–yes me included–have worked towards external goals like wealth or power, but these are really all just attempts to to feel loved and respected. We want people to be impressed by us rather than to love our own lives by feeling connected strongly to our work. (See the second video in last week’s Friday Dose.)

If you go to somewhere like Amazon because they have their oar in some water that you believe in then you can sustain that for a career. You can love creating value for others, but that must be weighed against the cost that King exacts on his kingdom.

762 Relax and Succeed - What's money A man is a successShareholder Value is a much more ethereal thing that most people realize, and no one lays on their deathbed wishing they could stick around to make more money. But a nurse might welcome caring for one more patient. Or a carpenter might love building one more home he put real care into. Or a designer might want to create one last piece of jewelry. But if you’re only at your job for money and status then you’re most certainly doomed.

At your death-bed you’ll realize that neither money nor status goes with you. But the other folks have already lived the joyous moments of a connected life. They carry with them the sense of a life of real value and purpose because it wasn’t about themselves, it was about others. Their lives will carry forward. This is key. Otherwise you will crush yourself.

There’s no way I can criticize someone for pursuing hollow dreams when the nickname some girls painted on my gym bag in Junior High was “Mr. Billion.” I had my first business while I was still in high school. I bought new cars and stupidly expensive clothes. When you look into the face of a kid starving to death due to money, and you spent most people’s monthly wage on one outfit, you just realize you could have done a lot better. You could have made the kind of difference that you would really feel good about. And so next time you do.

762 Relax and Succeed - The poorer we are inwardlyWe’ve got a pretty good brainwashing system. No one did it by design. It just kind of tumbled this way accidentally. But schools train people to compete and win with grades, and then that principle gets converted into money when we’re in the workforce. It’s a treadmill and only half the people figure out their on it before they die, and even then it’s usually because they got really sick or someone significant died to remind them that time is limited and how do you want to spend yours?

Maybe this is the group I feel most compassionate toward in our society. They are trying to impress us and that’s exhausting. They’re making really big sacrifices to get and keep their money and they will eventually realize that it doesn’t create value in our life. You can easily be super rich, in a fantastic house with fantastic cars and with a fantastic spouse–but if you have a crappy way of thinking none of that other stuff will make any difference at all.

Don’t ask yourself what you want to “do” for a living. Ask yourself what you can really get passionate about–where work won’t even feel like work–and then find or create a place where you can do that. Because if you don’t figure that out, Amazon etc. might just convince you to live in the dog-eat-dog world of their corporate and claw-filled jungle.

peace. s

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

The Friday Dose #67

680 FD Relax and Succeed - Life is not about success

Let’s use today to move through the stages of life. We’ll finish with dying, and we’ll precede that with aging, a look at the middle of your life and we’ll start off here with kids. As I’ve written before, most of the world group-sleeps. Brothers and sisters and other family members cuddle up, using each other as pillows and they sleep to the sound of each other’s breathing. There’s an epidemic of people who have trouble falling asleep and that’s a huge reason why. Here’s a talk with James McKenna on how our society urges us to train children to be unnatural:

A Conversation with a Co-Sleeping Expert

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Next David Cain takes on the next stage of programming of your life. This is where you learn to work instead of live. He talks about the simple joys in life that are surrendered without us even realizing it. If this short article doesn’t get you to really think about your life carefully I’ll be surprised, and the comments are almost as interesting as the short article:

Working to Live

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Next we’ll hear Maurice Sendak, author of books like Where the Wild Things Are, as he discusses aging and dying and how life only becomes more precious and where our tears are generated more by great thanks and appreciation than over loss or sadness:

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And we’ll close with a talk by the great Alan Watts on what you’re supposed to do before and after your life:

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No matter what stage you are in life I hope you found this helpful in getting yourself to where you’d really like to be. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

peace. s

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