The Foundation

When we’re young we’re more interested in what someone has or does than in what they are. We want our partners to be attractive and sexy and successful and smart. Later, after a lot of hard-fought experience we want someone kind. Someone who will be gentle with us when we’re struggling. Someone who will genuinely see our problems as theirs just as much as they see our successes as theirs too.738 Relax and Succeed - I am practicing being kind

That’s the value of dating and breaking up. It feels like we’re failing. Like maybe we’re lost or unworthy or we’ve chosen some other narrative to explain our repeated periods of being single. The longer it goes the harsher we get with ourselves because we presume that something’s going wrong, when people older than us can easily see we’re just living life.

Yes there are childhood sweethearts that fall in love and stay married. But there will be challenges in that marriage just like any other. But the far more popular route is to date five to ten people before finding someone that you feel really comfortable with. As long as you’re okay with the waiting it works out fine. Each relationship brings us something and it costs something. We’re just looking for the good fit between comfort and price. It’s more like trying on clothes. And you have to put a few things on before you really know how to respect the differences.

We all think our cultures haven’t brainwashed us. We always think that’s the other guy. But it’s us. We want beauty and youth and sexiness and wealth. Of course those are things we can see but you don’t really experience anyone’s beauty as anything more than a visual experience. But things like kindness and compassion and patience are experiences you feel. As you age you care less about how things look and more about how they feel, and that’s largely because we come to realize that even the relationships we thought were awesome are still having their serious challenges.

738 Relax and Succeed - Kindness is not an actThese challenges can come in big events. It’s very hard for couples to survive the death of a child. Financial trials and infidelity can test people’s idea of for better or for worse. But the challenges can also come like a death of a thousand cuts. Like when someone just feels disregarded or dismissed or taken for granted. The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. And couples can start to think resentful thoughts that lead to them to be indifferent to their partner’s suffering and that is a death knell for a relationship. When connection and compassion are gone, everything changes.

Maybe you’re always messy and your partner has learned to live that way out of love for you. Maybe you’re always late and your partner has learned to live that way out of love for you. Maybe you’ve got a shorter temper and get off the plan for the kids more often but your partner has learned to live with it out of love for you. Maybe you’re very rigid and your partner must make significant concessions to simply be with you. Maybe you regularly lose your temper or pout or cause some other price to be paid.

738 Relax and Succeed - GratefulBottom line, none of us are perfect. So if we want to know how our partner loves us we should simply look to our own weaknesses. Because our partners will most certainly have had to accommodate for them. And as we mature we realize that is the sign we are loved. We become grateful because we realize that while we were busy trying to get other people to be other ways, some of the ways we were being were not very reasonable. And then we begin to take stock of the more invisible contributions of our partner.

If you share living space with another human being then you have a large impact on their life and they have one on yours. Rather than telling them how they could make yours better, it might be an idea to actually get a clear understanding of how much they give to you already. Because no matter who you are, I guarantee you’re getting a lot more than you’re taking into account.

peace. s

Increasing Meaning

Plainly put: to decrease your suffering you need to increase your empathy. By focusing on yourself your mind is required to create a suffering you to star in all of those painful narratives. When you focus on others you might still feel the engaging pain of empathetic connection to someone in a bad situation, but because it’s not about you your mind spends no time creating a you nor then can it attach those painful ideas to you. This is why you can be in pain experiencing a movie and not mind. You’re experiencing it but you’re detached from it.

737 Relax and Succeed - We either make ourselves miserableA great way to add more joy to life is by doing the same thing with the positive things you do. This can be done with any small gesture but for the sake of example let’s use donating items as a test case. Someone I know recently donated their daughter’s old wheelchair because it’s the type you have to manipulate yourself and her daughter can no longer do that.

Now many people would focus on the me story and they would incessantly tell themselves sad and painful stories about their own child no longer being able to manipulate their chair, the challenges of getting the new one etc. etc. And I’m sure she did a bit of that. She is human if I forgot to mention.

She’s not only human, but she may be the best text-based student I’ve ever had. She reads every blog and social media post with the same earnestness that I write them with. On my social media she genuinely tries to find every quote in her own life, she tries every exercise and she’s seen noticeable results that she’s been very grateful for and I appreciate her sharing that with me. So, being who she is she was actively looking for positivity and that leads her to think she thinks to donate the old wheelchair.

737 Relax and Succeed - Be a rainbowNow she can do like most people and she can drop it off and feel pretty good that it didn’t go to waste. And she can be happy that at least if her daughter only had it a short time that means it’s in unusually good shape for the second user, which is quite rare I understand. But then you could do the same thing but then drive away and start thinking about you again.

Or you could invest as much time in the happy stuff as you tend to invest in the sad, angry or guilty stuff. If you have to think at all, you could really think about who could be looking for that chair? Whose financial situation could be even worse than our own? Who’s child in even greater need? Or a child in less need, but a mother new to it all and much more frightened. And we all know the intense shower of relief that cascades over us when we find a solution to a serious problem. That is one of the most grateful feelings in the world.

Maybe it’s just the feeling that your exhausting search is over. Maybe it’s that you feel terribly guilty about the chair you think you have to give your child and then you see this one in much better shape and your heart just flies. Maybe you already lost your husband in an accident and the insurance company is creating all sorts of hassles that demand so much attention and the kids are all in pain because they’ve lost dad and yet your daughter still needs that chair and you’re just so so so so tired and then there it is: just what you need, just dropped off a few hours ago by a very nice lady and you cry tears of relief because you just love that lady. In that moment over time and over space you love her.

737 Relax and Succeed - You never knowThat’s what we’re actually giving. We’re not giving things. We’re giving experiences. Give a kid too much and you give them the experience of no connection to the work required and the kid will be very naturally lazy. Give a person an idea that they can do a big and bold thing and the world might change. Giving is the ultimate universe-expanding act. That’s why it feels stellar.

People spend so much time trying to use negative thinking to beat down negative thinking. It’s getting it but not-getting it. The lady who reads carefully gets it. It’s a verb. You literally set down the negative thinking and choose something positive with the clear recognition that you innocently chose the bad thing previously. That humility—that willingness to be wrong about that first choice—is at the heart of why that woman has been so successful. She won’t always trade for better thoughts but at least stays aware of the act of choosing, and in doing that she can’t do anything but get increasingly deeper into this beautiful spiritual knowing.

Now go give because giving feels good. Be selfish in your giving. Revel in your achievements. That sense of gratitude you feel after contributing to someone else’s life is a clear sign that the universe loves you and always will.

peace. s

Other Perspectives #76

I’m all for this idea I just don’t see why it says woman instead of person. But, of course, this is the very same mistake men made. That’s why I decided to use this: to illustrate that no one means to exclude anyone when they make an affirmative statement. So it wasn’t that men historically left women consciously out of things like voting any more than this writer intended to leave men out of this statement. She’s not saying that men can’t have this experience. But when she wrote this it simply never occurred to her that it unnecessarily left men out. And this woman will certainly have a father and possibly brothers, maybe a mate and male children. So really good people can be accused of being heartless when in fact their actions are quite innocent. I recently heard a policeman say that after he left the Baltimore police force he could see that their day-to-day violence was largely unnecessary. It was an actual attack on law-abiding citizens by the government. But at the time he didn’t see himself as the government or them as citizens. He saw it as necessary or unnecessary to doing the job. We can get angry about that, or about gross male privilege or angry feminism, but that just creates more divisions. It’s better that we just focus on the positive intents of peoples messages and then we can do the rewrites ourselves. Because as in this case, it might say it’s for women but C. Joybell C. did write something that’s useful for all of us.

peace. s

The Friday Dose #75

735 Relax and Succeed - Don't hate what you don't understand

Today we’ll go around the world. Did you know English people experience more blame and shame than other cultures? We’re also not as good at saving money. The Chinese don’t use time in their language while Fins don’t use gender. And there’s Aborigines from Australia who can intuitively know which direction their facing. And all of that came from what language they spoke. You were shaped by your culture in amazing ways you cannot imagine so you can stop feeling personally guilty for the actions your culture has taught you to feel bad about. Attached is Jessica Gross’s article on language:

How Language Can Affect The Way We Think

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Next we’ll visit the Pacific Islands, where we learn that the tenets of Capitalism—that were the perceived tenets of people themselves—are actually incorrect. We are not fundamentally competitive in nature, we are cooperative, as this Salon by Linda Geddes points out:

A Friendly Species

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And finally we’ll end on the shape of the world itself. Most of us never noticed that those Mercador maps in school put North up, and they put the equator three-quarters of the way down the page. That stretched the rich northern countries that made the maps, like Europeans and their colonies, and it made those countries look much, much larger and more important while Africa and South America looked much, much smaller. Peter’s Maps prevent that from happening and many people are pushing to have them used in schools. Here’s a funny scene from a great series, The West Wing, in which two of the President’s aids learn that they really don’t know what the world actually looks like.

You are a product of your environment. That’s why if you change your environment you’ll also change yourself.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone.

peace. s