Good Feelings Bad Feelings

You might think you want to be happy all of the time but in reality you would not enjoy that. In fact you wouldn’t even be aware that there was anything to enjoy unless you had something to compare it to. The only reason you can see these black letters is because they are on this white page. So you need both things, hence the idea of Yin and Yang. But while you may require both for existence to happen, you nevertheless will have emotional states you prefer. So rather than saying an emotion is good 659 Relax and Succeed - If you are too excitedor bad it would be better to describe them as emotions you enjoy for long periods, and emotions that derive their value from their rarity.

It can feel really, really good to have a good cry and yet no one wants to be depressed. We all love the feeling of falling in love but the very nature of it demands that it come to an end in one way or another, so in a way we are setting ourselves up for pain and disappointment by pursuing that joy. I love my parents dearly and so when I lose them it will be painful, whereas I have friends who had terrible parents and they were relieved when they were gone. For every positive feeling there’s a negative one. The trick for us is to stay conscious about what we’re entertaining within our consciousness so we can spend more time with the feelings we enjoy. We just don’t want to entirely lose touch with the value of our more poignant or intense feelings.

The world will always have its Yin and Yang. As a monk on a train once lead me to conclude that the secret of life is that everything changes. So how this works is that when things are good you should be grateful because it will change. And if things are going badly, don’t worry too much because it will change. So you can see in that equation 659 Relax and Succeed - There is nothing good or badthat there are still bad feelings, but they are inextricably connected to this Yin and Yang circle of existence. Each needs the other much like a wave is made of a trough and a peak and yet you cannot separate the two parts.

Do you see then that this is how you listen to songs, read books, or go to the movies or watch TV? You volunteer to be scared or worried or angry or sad and you do this because the nature of the program allows you to accept the idea that this pain is limited. You’ll only suffer for a maximum of a couple of hours and then the movie will end. This act of acceptance happens in your head and is the act of not thinking about an alternative. So the reason you like movies more than your life is because you’re not in a movie theatre thinking, I’m really scared in this horror and I want to go home! Because you know you went for the thrills! And it’s just like that with the rest of your life.

You’ve already lived all of the perfect lives. This is the one you chose to live Now. If you genuinely accept the dramatic, sad or torturous parts of life then you also get to experience the most wonderful joys. It’s a package deal, the only problem is you keep wasting your peak by complaining that you want a wave without a trough. You think that resisting thought over and over. You wonder how it might be or how it would have been. You do not accept now for now. You do not see your life as a 659 Relax and Succeed - If only we would stop tryingtheatrical display in the way you see the movie. And so you take it more seriously and that leads you to suffer more in the real world. And you’re doing it by experiencing the very same feeling that you’ll happily pay for at a theatre!

Start seeing your life less as a competition or pursuit for happiness. Be content instead. Be fine where you are. Offer no resisting thoughts to the moment you are in and you will discover that a wonderful peace is waiting for you there in that mental silence. Quiet your arguments about how you wish things were and watch your own life like a movie instead. Enjoy all of it, the good parts and the bad. Because when you can do that you are free of most of the agonies in this world and that is a beautiful thing.

peace. s

Comings and Goings

We all have ebbs and we all have flows. There are times when life is easy and all the cards are falling your way, but there are also times when despite your best efforts you are not succeeding. There are times when life is so heavy we can’t seem to even move. We all have these periods, so true friendship, or a marriage, or any kind of relationship will be based on the idea that you are still worthy even in those, the lowest of times.

459 Relax and Succeed - I've come to realizeHow this translates is, even though it’s totally unrewarding and quite painful to deal with a spouse with a form of dementia, if the marriage was on solid ground and both people had generally been loving throughout the marriage, then as bad as that time is, you simply just move through it. If you have an employee who’s always been excellent but then went through a divorce or the death of a close relative, and then their work just fell apart, you don’t give up on that employee. You saw how they acted for years. That’s really them. And if your friend is suddenly behaving very differently then it’s more likely they need help than correction.

If you’re the person who’s struggling you have to be conscious about your thinking. You don’t want to start rolling on woe-is-me, who’s going to want to hang around with someone like me narratives. Your value does not come from what you do. It doesn’t come from your relationships or your job. Your value is inherent. It simply is. You can’t shake it, lose it or throw it away. Your value never changes but your assessments of your value do. And those assessments are done via narratives and as you know, I’m all about shutting down narratives so that you can be.

When I think of my closest friends I don’t have quick easy answers as to why they’re my closest friends. I could sum it up quickly by saying they’re the best people I know, but when it comes down to it, I just like how they are. Because I faced one of those struggle-periods and my friends did get to make their love for me very clearly known, but they were my friends before I needed them like that. In fact, prior to that one occasion, they would have certainly needed me much more than I ever needed them, but I never even realized that until I was writing this. Because I don’t do that sort of accounting in my head. I see my friends and I’m instantly happier. I don’t use words to build a breakdown of why. I just enjoy their company.

So no one is really your friend because of what you do for them, and you’re not anyone’s friend for what they do for you, so can you start to see that friendship has more to do with an ephemeral quality that relates somehow to being? Friends like they way we are in the world and vice versa. There’s no job requirements, you don’t 459 Relax and Succeed - I owe no explanationsneed a certain amount of money or education. We can even make mistakes and let them down when life is hard because they’ll forgive it the same way I recommended forgiving the challenges of the employee who’s struggling with a tragedy. With friends we don’t have a lot of demands and neither do they. We just go to them whenever we want to Be. Only best friends let you be.

Now there are still some very good people who aren’t behaving in friendly ways toward you. So let’s not forget we can all get caught up in our thoughts and lose sight of our natural wisdom. We can all engage our egos and we’re more likely to do it when we’re under duress. So if people have rejected you for reasons you don’t agree with then that’s fine. You can disagree and they can go replace you as a friend, but no one’s actual value has changed. This is the key: only the thoughts of those individuals has changed. Nothing in the natural world has. You are still the same you. So stick with the friends who make life easy—which is primarily because of their acceptance of you—and forgive those who couldn’t make it last. Life’s challenging and Yin and Yang dictates that if there is an “in” then there is also an “out.” So if you can be enlightened then you can also be in ego. And egos make any friendship challenging. In fact, even in your lasting relationships your most challenging times have always been when one or the other of you was deep in ego.

Forgive as many people as you can, including yourself. Be with who’s available. Be with who makes life better and forget the rest as other times. You only live Now, so other times are largely irrelevant to your happiness. As you move through life, know that you will gather friends and you will shed some too. We’re a bit like intersecting lines. We are in near perfect long term alignment with some people and yet with others the angles mean our meeting will be shorter and at a much sharper angle. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with either of you. That just means the world’s a big place with about seven billion people on it, so it makes sense that at any given time at least a few of those people won’t be acceptable to you and you won’t be to them. That doesn’t mean anything’s wrong. So stop telling yourself stories like something is.

 peace. s

Alan Watts: The Dream of Life

Winner: 2014’s Blog of the Year #8

213 Relax and Succeed - Wisdom is knowing

I was five in grade one, and that’s when I experienced the first example of me realising that I didn’t think the way most people did. During a conversation about a story or something, our teacher casually referred to the fear of death that everyone shares.

Whoa—what? I’m supposed to share a fear of death? Why? I don’t know what sort of childish language I used, but I literally asked it out loud. The teacher brushed it off as a don’t-be-silly of-course-everyone’s-afraid-of-death, but I was genuinely and deeply perplexed. On the way home I asked the kid in the class I trusted the most if he was afraid of death. He asked why I wouldn’t be?

To me, being afraid of death is like being afraid of eating, or breathing. These are inevitables. There’s no way around them, whether there’s another one coming, like a meal, or you only get one or maybe two per lifetime, like death. Why think about stuff you’re sure will happen, but you can’t know when? That’s crippling. Those thoughts are expensive in terms of energy, and they don’t buy you anything. You’re better to not-think them and instead just go live. Death can happen whenever it happens. Deal with it then, but don’t waste your nows worrying about something that could be decades away. Don’t do that with things even moments away.

213 Relax and Succeed - You don't hve to have it all figured out

My friend thought that was weird, so he asked me if I was afraid of God. I still find it strange that I didn’t think it was odd that I had an answer ready immediately. I don’t ever remember thinking about the subject at all. Because I’d had my accident, I used the word “consciousness” at five. I told him that “God” was everyone’s consciousness mixed together—that the most fundamental forms of everyone is actually all one thing, and that thing is everything. He thought it sounded crazy and now that I’m older I understand why. But it didn’t change how sure I was. And it’s even easier to be that sure today. Even I find that strange.

You don’t have to worry about death if you’re not worried about paying some kind of supernatural price, so stop the worrying-about-death thoughts, and make sure you don’t trade those for worrying-about-life thoughts. Forget striving. Forget regrets, and guilt and shame. These are pointless. Yes, feel the sting of immediate regret. That will singe the idea into your mental framework. But there is no need to carry on with those thoughts after you have already deemed the matter regrettable. The fact that it’s regrettable literally proves you don’t want to repeat it, so what’s the problem? You’re done. You know what you want to do, now you have to use your nows for something else other than worry.

Remember, you don’t owe anyone anything. You were complete and whole and perfectly you, right from the start. Even the questioning of all that is, is an aspect of you. But you cannot be separate. There is no outside in a dream. All of the characters in a dream feel separate to themselves, but we understand they are all the dreamer. Relax into that idea. Stop trying to prove your worth and just be yourself and your worth will be realised naturally by your own passionate interests.

It’s easier than you think. Quiet your mind. Be yourself.

Alan Watts died in November of 1973. Born in Britain, Watts was actually best known for introducing Eastern Philosophies like Buddhism, to the West. A popular writer and speaker, Watts was a man who enjoyed a rich life, and he’s still today one of the clearest voices in the effort to expose and deconstruct the human ego. I’ve always liked this talk. I hope you enjoy it as well:

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.