A Special Announcement

Dear Readers,

979 Relax and Succeed - All human unhappinessPlease pardon me while I alter the usual format to make an unusual announcement. Before I do that I want to start by thanking you all for your support of last Friday’s post. It has been and continues to be heavily shared on social media and understandably so. Hopefully it can be a part of the positive force that helps change our world into a more open and accepting place, and certainly one that is more supportive of women.

Regardless of your gender I would also like to thank you for your ongoing readership. It is a pleasure each day to sit down at my desk to write to you all. My genuine love for others is what makes that process such a joyful act of creation and that love always extends to each and every one of you every day regardless of your history or your present situation.

As I often write, understanding the principles contained in my work does lead to increased happiness. That said, that does not happen by discovering greater happiness, rather it occurs as a result of our being more open and accepting to everything, including pain. Suffering is mental and thought-based and that we can do something about, but despite our best efforts every life will contain pain and that is just the yin and yang of it. The only way I can impart this to you is if I am able to be an example of it myself.

979 Relax and Succeed - Nothing's wrong if life gives us 75 marblesI fully expect my own situation will greatly inform my writing going forward but the simple fact remains that my current circumstances will necessarily prevent me from being able to work on the blog for a couple of weeks. This blog is written as you see it, so these will literally be the first days off I’ll have taken since I started the blog four years ago.

The reasons behind this are all good: I am blessed to have had incredible parents. As incredible as they are they have for some time required more of my attention than my life has actually had room for and attempting to keep up has been running me ragged for some time. As the bulk of the population ages I’m sure this is happening to many of you as well. This being the case I will use these next two weeks to invest myself in getting both them and me set up in a way where I can provide them more easily with my permanent ongoing care. They looked after me, it is now my turn to look after them and I am pleased to be able to provide them with that safety and comfort.

During this time I do appreciate your patience. I know some of you visit a few times a month and read ten posts in a row (and that can still be done via my archives), but I also know there are those who like to start each day with a touchstone for mental and spiritual health and to those of you I would also encourage you to utilise the archives. Even if it was a post you’ve read before, you’ll be a different reader now and it would not at all be unusual for you to find completely new insights within it. In that way you can treat the posts like Richard Bach’s Messiah’s Handbook, wherein any post/page you open will be perfect for you provided you earnestly believe it is and then look for why.

979 Relax and Succeed - When you find no solutionI’ll miss all of you and I am already excited by the idea of my return on September 6th. I will relish that feeling knowing it is the other side of the same coin that makes the blog such a pleasure to write. If you would like me to undertake a series of posts on what this transition is like and how I approached it from a spiritually principled way, please feel free to email me here. If enough readers are interested I’ll commit to writing about the associated challenges, of which there have already been very many.

Again, thank you for your patience. I’ve chosen one of the blog’s slowest periods as parents prepare their kids for their return to school, so hopefully this might even correspond with a hectic time of your own. Please know that even in the absence of new posts, my writing always speaks to a connected, wise and powerful inner strength within you. Even with me away, you won’t be. That strength will always be there for you to access if you seek it. I wish you the very best in doing so in my absence. See you in two weeks.

Much 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 Friday Dose #122: Shaming Mothers

It’s not like women don’t have enough issues to deal with already and now, in a remarkably ironic twist, the biggest media outlet in the world has made it very clear through both words and actions that it feels women should feel good about having thin young bodies but they should feel ashamed and embarrassed about their body as a mother.

978 FD Relax and Succeed - Facebook's rejected postYesterday I wrote a piece about stretch marks and how women shouldn’t feel badly about having them just because some other younger person judged them as unattractive. I explained that the lack of acceptance was a form of innocent ignorance being displayed by otherwise good people who simply don’t yet have the capacity to be able to appreciate those signs of pregnancy as being attractive.

Whenever I get an indication that a blog is particularly meaningful or worthwhile to readers I will spend some money to boost it to ensure women who don’t subscribe to Relax and Succeed can still benefit from the content. When I tried to do that with this post I was told very clearly by a human facebook reviewer that “Ads like this are not allowed since they make viewers feel bad about themselves.”

We’ve all seen plenty of sexual content on facebook. I have no shortage of photos and videos in my newsfeed that depict scantily clad extremely slim young women doing everything from holidaying on Spring Break to playing beach volleyball at the Olympics. If one of the largest media outlets in the world is saying yes to young and sexy and scantily clad while simultaneously arguing that women should feel bad about themselves for having stretch marks what does that communicate to young women and future mothers?

978 FD Relax and Succeed - Facebook's rejectionThis a clear demonstration of how egotistical and judgmental the world has become. I won’t choose to let many things upset me but, on a day where the biggest thing on the internet was a one hour video of a naked Donald Trump statue, this just flew in the face of the freedoms my own father joined the war effort in WWII to protect. That being the case I appealed facebook’s rejection and then received the response depicted–written by a woman no less!

One of the main reasons women write to me is because of body image issues. Just the day before there was a comment on the Relax and Succeed facebook page that noted, “Needed this here in the fun and sun, where shorts, tanks, bikinis and long legged younger women surround me, LOL. Where a reminder is needed that stretch marks, cellulite, and grey hair and wrinkles are beautiful as well.” Indeed.

Everyone who liked or loved the post was female, but facebook doesn’t think anyone should see it because it’s “…extremely undesirable.” Facebook suggested I find a product to advertise instead but since I don’t sell products that would be impossible. I’m a writer who doesn’t even have any ads running on my page and if I ever did I would do all I could to ensure that they didn’t ever make anyone feel ashamed of themselves and the way nature made them.

978 FD Relax and Succeed - Response to FacebookThis is of course precisely what feminists are fighting against and now we know clearly in writing how facebook feels on a policy basis. Facebook has an idea of what you’re supposed to look like and anything outside of their definition is unattractive and therefore should not be seen. They’ll take money for an ad for unhealthy food but they won’t permit people to pay to promote a non-commercial post featuring a genuine women’s issue. This is remarkable considering Mark Zuckerberg has a daughter and his wife is obviously a mother.

Facebook will obviously try to hide it from you but if at all possible I would obviously like to see this blog post shared more than any other I have ever written. Below, I have composed a single photo that depicts the entire event. If you’re mature enough to feel like I do–that mother’s have every reason to feel proud of their post-pregnancy bodies– then please help spread this message on all forms of social media so that appropriate social pressure can be placed on facebook to revisit their sexist standards.

I have nothing against individuals but I do feel strongly that if we want a more just society that permits everyone to feel good about themselves then we must take definitive action to change the sexualised judgments that advertising has historically used to guilt women into buying beauty products. If I was on facebook advertising a cream to hide stretch marks I would have no problem, but if I want to promote women feeling good about their natural bodies that is not allowed.

This is clearly not in the interests of women or men and I would appreciate anything you could do to help ensure that women are also exposed to positive natural body images and words. To all you mother’s with stretch marks–I know you are beautiful and I want you to be confident in that too. On behalf of a male-dominated world I apologise on its behalf for having ever made you feel badly about maturing into the most important job on Earth: motherhood.

978 FD Relax and Succeed - Change facebook policy

Respectfully, 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 relatiYou vely 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 of the kids being born and a few years after they’re 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.

Spiritual Courage

976 Relax and Succeed - You must understand the whole of lifeYour ego is scared. It’s quite telling that I’ve never had a blog read less than yesterdays. It wasn’t disliked, it was barely even read. That’s not only statistically bizarre, it cuts to the point of the entire post: If you want to get healthy without having to make sacrifices of ego (not real sacrifices) then you’re reading the wrong blog. If you want someone to lie to you and tell you there’s an effortless, glorious way through this then you’ll have to read someone else, I’m here to actually help.

This blog’s like Krishnamurti: it tells the hard clear truths. They’re still beautiful truths once you see them from a different perspective, but if people want to grow without facing their own personal resistance then they’re really better hanging out with friends or going to a funny movie than they are to read a blog that will tell you that you can have it all. You realise the Dalai Lama lives in exile and he struggles with his temper, right?

Monks make sacrifices to grow, people get cancer and grow, people meditate long and hard and grow and some people are just so busy doing things that they never have time to ask themselves if things are good are bad, they always simply are and it turns out that’s pretty close to enlightenment. They certainly aren’t afraid of a blog that might tell them that they’re hiding from their responsibilities to themselves, to those around them and to their spirituality.

976 Relax and Succeed - This is my secretThere’s a saying about tribes that commonly states: if you want to know how to grow just look across the fire and find something you dislike about another person and then find the source of that dislike within yourself. Do the same with these blog posts. Why do you have that resistance? Why do those ideas upset you? What about your life is out of alignment with your spiritual self? Because the real you is huge and capable.

What do they do on guided LSD or Ecstasy treatments for trauma and depression? They make you walk toward your fears. Heard of ayahuasca? You puke, you get chased by jaguars and people are terrified–it’s stressful. But that’s your ego being stressed. Your spirit is always fine. These are events restricted to your personal consciousness. The whole point is to detach your identity from your experience so that you can simply have experiences without judging them. That is what acceptance is.

You can hide from all of this for decades. I known spiritual seekers who’ve been busy at this for 30 years and gotten nowhere because every time it gets hard they panic and pull out. In return they get to have bookcases filled with spiritual texts and yet they live tiny, frightened timid lives as though love can only look like birthday cake and not your Mom yelling at you not to cross the street when it’s dangerous.

976 Relax and Succeed - One is never afraidYou’ve heard it from many sources; you must kill your ego. To do that you must face it and dissolve it. You must disassemble its counter-arguments leaving yourself in internal silence. Without your ego’s arguments and excuses you would be free and those arguments and excuses are meaningless to anyone but another ego. It’s not me that’s being hard on you it’s you. And by turning away from a challenge rather than toward it you not only don’t grow, you shrink.

Timid people who are missing out on life are in far worse shape than someone crashing and burning by moving forward. Business-people who are looking for the perfect decision never make one. Successful people make them as best as they can and if they go wrong they take new action in that new moment to rectify that. Anything else is spiritual stagnation and, as you may have noticed, it’s painful.

I care about each and every one of you in a way that you cannot imagine from an ego’s perspective. It’s not me that’s beating you down by telling you the truth, that’s the feeling you’re getting from the resistance you’re creating inside. I talk to your spirit. It’s the one creating your ego like a shadow of itself. I just talk to it and you slowly remember who you really are and that healthy spirit grows and grows until there is no more room in your consciousness for an ego, you’re too busy being awake and alive.

976 Relax and Succeed - The ability to observe without evaluatingDon’t read quotes you like, focus on the ones you don’t like. Don’t shy away from the blogs–mine or anyone else’s–that make you angry. Anger is the reaction of ego. Anger is born of fear. I’m fine with you being afraid of the death of your ego because that makes sense. But you don’t get healthy by reorganising your existing ideas, you get healthy by challenging them and replacing them with something better.

Move toward your fears. There is nothing to be worried about. You are always safe. Every action you take takes places in the palm of the universe. You cannot fall. No matter which way you topple, the universe will catch you. So be brave. Be bold. Your life is on the other side of the doors you are afraid to open. And no matter what you find there, you will still be loved.

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 Fear of Work

There’s an idea afoot that there is some kind of disconnect between spirituality and hard work. It makes sense that younger people are seeking a way to work less and/or more meaningfully than their parent’s generation, but the fact remains that there are people of all ages that are avoiding the struggles that create expansion, increased strength and resiliency.

975 Relax and Succeed - As you work to spiritual advanceIt’s one thing for a person not to have kids because they don’t find themselves with common desires for children, but it’s another altogether for them to not want them because they’ll cramp their style, or be painful to give birth to, or because they require a lot of work. The idea that profound self-actualisation only happens when you focus on yourself is a myth created by misinterpretations of spiritual ideas. In fact the very desire for enlightenment has now become just another selfish personal goal.

I’ve said it many times: enlightenment is not a state it is an action. It is a verb, a motion, a way of being. What it doesn’t involve is self-reflection because in that state there is no self. You are simply doing/acting/being. So an enlightened person is not sitting idle in the lotus position having someone else attend to their daily needs, the truly enlightened person will be that happy, self-less person who generally needs very little and gets great satisfaction from bringing happiness, peace and comfort to others.

It is an entirely market-created ego-based idea that you get up at 10:00am, have a leisurely gourmet coffee before going to morning Yoga, then an organic lunch of tofu and beansprouts, and then finally sitting at your home-office desk at 1:00pm before checking social media for an hour, and then be distracted by notifications and texts and other interruptions “all day” before leaving at 4:00pm for a jog, the gym and a healthy dinner with red wine and cool friends at a jazz bar before pottery class that night. That’s an ad for coffee or Yoga or the gym, not enlightenment.

975 Relax and Succeed - Suffering is due entirely to clingingThere’s some who have wealthy enough external resources that they can live that life of leisure noted above but those are my addicted, lost and suicidal clients. The ones that have those resources and aren’t in trouble are the ones that act more like the group in service. They’re working hard, expanding themselves and they’re finding ways to contribute to those around them.

Then there’s many many many more who absolutely cannot afford to live that life of leisure but they try for too long and just end up buried in stressful debt because there’s little reason to think anyone was saved by some stroke of genius. Einstein read a lot about mathematics and he sat in that chair for a very very long time before he came up with E=MC2. You can’t look at a YouTube millionaire today and have that as a plan to support your spiritual growth because that success on YouTube will almost always demand that you appeal to ego a huge percentage of the time.

The real question is, how selfless were you today? Did you go through your day expanding your mind and body through work of some meaningful kind? Did you work hard and accomplish something? Did you gain a new skill? Did you help your fellow man? Do you act for charities, do you contribute, or are you just a protester?

975 Relax and Succeed - The art of being happyThere is nothing unspiritual or anti-enlightenment about getting up at 6:00am to work as a garbage man, or social worker or a lawyer or anything else. There is nothing unspiritual about raising kids and dealing with their mayhem and complications. It’s no coincidence that people who voluntarily choose a more difficult path end up with more capabilities, confidence and calm.

If you’re investing yourself in what has been sold as the spiritual life then it’s you that has sold out. The real enlightened people are working in refugee camps, they’re stay-at-home moms and tradesmen doing a hard day. If they write they write every day like it’s work. What you put in is what you get out. There’s nothing unspiritual about that and there is no path without suffering. So if you’re hiding from life you can stop and go live. Because it’s not a peaceful path that creates more peace, it’s a selfless path that creates connection and connection creates peace.

Look at your life. How much of it is aspirational dreaming and how much of it is motion forward? Because there’s a lot of stressful sitting still going on today and knowing the lotus position won’t help that. Enlightenment is a verb. Find your verb today. You can still wear your tights and you can still be a vegetarian, you just won’t get the reward without the sacrifice. So rather than avoiding hard work try running towards it, because it’s along the way that you’ll stumble into the peace that you’re currently searching so hard for.

peace. s

PS This was the least-read blog ever and bizarrely so. That fact prompted a popular response the next day. If you did agree to read this one then you probably stand to benefit less from the following one, but regardless they do work well as a pair.

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.

Videogames and Parenting

974 Relax and Succeed - And those who were seenI’ve wrote about this before but it keeps coming up. One of the most common complaints I hear from parents is that their children–particularly the boys–play video games too much, and yet when I ask the parents which games their children play I have yet to have a single parent that knows. That’s a remarkable demonstration of how a busy life lowers our awareness.

If it’s worth complaining about it’s worth knowing at least something about it, but instead every game is thrown into one pile as though they are all equal when some are mindless addictions and others require great thought. There’s strategy games, puzzle games, war-based games, society-based games, team games, solo games, and each will have its own moral angle and points system, so how can all of those be seen as one thing?

Not knowing anything about the games is like saying a kid reading a textbook is the same as a kid reading People Magazine. (Note I didn’t use comics because in my experience the smartest adults I know were often comic readers.) There are millions of games. There is a reason that their fans love them.

974 Relax and Succeed - Play is the highest form of researchAs I’ve noted before, it should come as little surprise that the very first location that took off in Second Life was a dance bar called Wheelies and it created a meeting place for users in wheelchairs. In a virtual world someone in a wheelchair is just as mobile and capable as someone out of it so you can see why they would value it. A lonely kid can value team games, a leader can like them too. An independent person can love first-person shooters that allows them to team up when they choose, or they may prefer a game that requires great patience and planning.

Video games today can encourage good behaviour. They get you to love characters before they die in real storylines, creating more empathy. Whereas they used to give you awful choices like raping prostitutes, those same game designers now have daughters of their own and now the same game makes you calmly do yoga or you can’t continue to the next level. I watched this have a real impact on a friend of mine who learned to moderate his quick temper thanks to it.

If parents added up how many hours they look at the screens on their TV’s, their computers and their phones they would realise they are screen-watching a huge amount of the day so it’s no surprise kids are comfortable sitting and looking at screen just as the children of joggers are often joggers and just as the children of big eaters are often big eaters. That’s the real parenting, not what you say; it’s what you do.

974 Relax and Succeed - Children don't need more thingsTry to get your kid to teach you some games. If you’re lucky you might even like the same type. But at least at the start they’ll get to beat you a lot and that’s good for a kid as long as they don’t try to turn it into a habit and thereby become a poor loser. Each parent has to make decisions about their situation and their kid, but it’s important to note that many children of divorce talk about how valuable it was to be able to bury their head in a game while they watched their parent’s marriage descend into bickering.

Nothing is good or bad only thinking makes it so. If everyone from military leaders to 747 pilots to astronauts can advance themselves using virtual training then there’s no reason to think that your child isn’t also developing themselves. Certainly they could just be hiding from life, but if you don’t even know the games they’re playing then you can’t hope to guess if that’s where they’re at.

Slow down. Pay attention. Trust yourself. From there the love for your child will tell you all you need to know. Kids are future adults. Whether we like it or not they will be shaped by the forces around them. Rather than try to push against them, start working with them. You might find you have more allies than you’ve realised.

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 Friday Dose #121: In Other Words

973 FD Relax and Succeed - 6 duendeA lot of different perspectives created a lot of different cultures. They ate different foods, they sang different songs, they faced different weather, terrain, seas and they all had different temperaments. Languages grew out of various groups and the words those cultures needed suited the way they saw the world.

I’m not sure what you’ll each feel about each word but it’s interesting that these are often the only cultures that will have this word, and in some cases they can be the only people in the world who even have a basis to discuss certain subjects. It really shows us that even right in front of us there are big differences. Someone speaking another language will live in a different reality because while you might not be, for them the entire world in front of them could be either masculine or feminine.

I’m a big fan of Marija Tiurina’s work, and I would encourage you visit her site and see how her style has evolved from the ones presented below. Art is subjective but most of you will be very impressed by what you’ll see. As as an expression of the differences that can exist in language, here’s a few of Marija’s wonderful examples. Enjoy.

973 FDb Relax and Succeed - torschhluss
973 FDc Relax and Succeed - Cafune

973 FDd Relax and Succeed - palegg

973 FDe Relax and Succeed - schlimazl

973 FDf Relax and Succeed - gufra

973 FDg Relax and Succeed - age-otori

973 FDh Relax and Succeed - tingo

973 FDi Relax and Succeed - baku-shan

973 FDj Relax and Succeed - luftmensch

973 FDk Relax and Succeed - kyoikimama

973 FDl Relax and Succeed - tretar

973 FDm Relax and Succeed - schadenfreude

Again, her name is Marija Tiurina.

Slow your mind down, slow your life down, pay more attention to art. Breathe. And have a wonderful weekend.

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.

Reactions to Failure

Staying conscious is being mindful. If your head isn’t full of self-conversation then much more of the world can get inside you. You notice more and that’s helpful. So when a friend and I were recently disagreeing about an important issue we were working on I noted quite clearly that in the middle of the discussion of the good friend said, “have you eaten?”

972 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes when things are falling apartMe being upset lead to a friend asking if I’d eaten, meaning she had related my mood to my food. I trust her so we ate and I did feel better as my body chemistry regulated. It turned out I just needed some sugar. You could leave it at that but if you’re going to think don’t ruminate, meditate. So I spent the next two days meditating on how that happened.

In that meditation I recalled another similar experience where I had snapped at a different friend for very little reason. At the time my reaction had been so strangely immediate that it registered with me. I remember meditating then on the fact that I loved the friend so it didn’t make sense, plus I hadn’t been thinking any relevant negative thoughts. So what was the cause? My disappointment over how I treated my friend was what motivated my meditations.

After more consideration I realised both situations reminded me of when I got upset really easily for about eight months when I was in my late teens. I was going through a growth spurt and my off-balance chemistry gave me a different personality for a short time. And now here was a friend responding to me being unreasonable by asking me if I’d eaten. Food relates to body chemistry. Can you see if you’re more aware that the truth becomes obvious? The question was, how did it happen?

972 Relax and Succeed - Never regret anythingSometimes the big challenges in life are so obvious and huge in our lives that they cause us to miss some of the smaller implications. A few years ago I underwent my life’s most difficult period where rather than an 8 hour day and a 40 hour week I needed a 40 hour day and a 280 hour work week just to avoid disasters, but that in turn lead to a series of sub-decisions that were far less conscious. Life can deliver us more than we can handle. That happens.

There is no good way to prioritise the very serious and absolute demands presented by very elderly and sick parents, a book deadline, your life’s work, the needs of clients and the business that pays your equally important mortgage, or even your basic life obligations like the fact that you need to eat, drink, sleep, grocery shop, and personally groom, plus you’ll have needs relating to everything from house and yard work to necessary car repairs or maintenance and of course there’s the never-ending administration that life requires.

I knew during that time that I would be letting friends down and I accepted there would be a price. I worked with my doctor on a plan for so little sleep and so much work and I developed a special diet, but even then I accepted there would be both a price and a limit. I worked off an insanely inhuman schedule that I still can’t believe I maintained.

972 Relax and Succeed - A friend is someone who understandsDespite all that effort I was still constantly letting everyone down, including myself. I never had enough sleep and I had quietly developed terrible eating habits over time. I was still eating healthy, but I would often go to bed at 2am realising I hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 5am the previous day. And there in my mediation was my answer: In my busy-ness I had accidentally learned not to eat.

Because historically we can be chased by wild animals the desires to eat and to pee can be deferred to later. Pain stays, the desire to eat comes and goes. I got so used to dealing with not being able to eat that it became an unconscious habit to just immediately dismiss the desire. I needed to get conscious about food again.

For the next several weeks I watched myself closely. Sure enough, once I was watching I caught myself tons of times deferring the desire to eat. As often as possible I would remember to respond to it and I’m currently about half way to re-teaching myself to eat when I’m hungry. That’s how busy-minded we can get: we can forget something as basic as eating.

972 Relax and Succeed - Don't deny what's occurringSo can you see that I’m now glad the friends reactions were pain because I care about them? And I’m glad one defended herself by asking me if I’d eaten? Without those signs that I was off the path how could I have rediscovered the path? I needed those ditches to help me find the road. Of course we always want to treat loved ones well, but part of love is that they can help us make it through tough times like that and then we can do the same for them. That’s how love serves.

So now I’m grateful that the universe has taught me to appropriately value food and that my friends were patient and now that I do have the time to eat I’m getting conscious enough to actually do it. So this can help you too if you remember that if you have a problem don’t focus on the problem itself, ask yourself what its source is.

Believe you are a good person that is lost not a bad person that needs changing because that is the greater truth. If you approach your mistakes that way you can see your innocence and then make the change without guilt. Speaking of not feeling guilty, another great truth is that I’m hungry right now so, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to get something to eat. In the meantime, you have yourself a stellar day. Bon appetite.

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.

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 whether they could play the piano or not.

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 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, 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.

Wiser Than You Think

970 Relax and Succeed - Walking I am listening in a deeper wayYou’re not on your own you know. Not only would more people help you than you realise (if only you’d ask), but you also have the benefit of all of our ancestors. For millions of years each being has marched in a slightly different direction that gained them unique knowledge and you are no different.

A lot of people remember that we’re 99.9% the same as a Chimp or Bonobo but, as I’ve noted in the past, we’re about 50% the same as a banana! And within us is stored historical information. Wisdom, guidance, instinct. Instincts are just abilities that we have had for so long that we actually feel them without thinking at all. When it comes to basic instincts we’re all born as Bruce Lee.

The difference between people who are comfortable or uncomfortable is simply ego: if they’re using their ability to create words to build an ego then they are focused on that and not on accessing all of their wisdom though nature. They want to find knowledge through the symbolism of words but that’s other people’s wisdom. You’ve got your own wisdom, but you have to quiet that uncertain voice and act instead. You won’t always be right but at least you’ll be in service to your own life a lot more than you are now.

Even if you don’t feel separated from your wisdom right now just remember that it’s always there whether you notice it or not. When it’s there it feels like comfort more than confidence. Other people would just it as confident but when there’s no voice between you and your greater self then you feel that as an internal sense of contentedness.

As an example, we’ve been approaching, greeting and getting to know others ever since nature got mobile and yet a shy person can interrupt all of that wisdom by simply wondering to themselves what the right thing to do might be. Even a banana has a seed and can make another banana and yet despite all of that knowledge a modern new Mom isn’t excited to bring life into the world like she would be in the jungle or the high north. In the city the woman thinks she won’t know what to do and she’s afraid of the pain as though she’s the first person to ever experience it. She does not trust herself that the biggest aspects of her being has been there before.

We all do this all day long. We think uncertain thoughts and we mistake that layer of thought as intelligence and planning when that’s just what we’ve been brainwashed to think it is. In turn that means that when things go wrong we don’t think we over-thought it or that our plan was futile with so many unknown variables–no, when things go wrong you’ll think you didn’t think it through enough.

970 Relax and Succeed - Don't believe everything you thinkThought is a disease. The only reason it has any validity is because we all keep referencing the same symbols as though they are things. The Gross Domestic Product of a nation or your productivity numbers at work are not your life, they are measurements of a few of the results that stem from you living. But those are only in exist in relation to themselves. If your productivity at work is 4.8 but you have no idea what anyone else’s is, then you’re just working however hard you’re working that day. You need to compare scores before you can describe yourself as successful whereas with direct, non-thought-based living you live the success. It’s what you do.

If you’re feeling lost or unwise you’re just putting a lot of thinking between you and your wisdom. Over time and no matter what, pure living will help you hone this skill. As you age you will increasingly see through the smoke and mirrors that make up modern life. What will bother you won’t be that you were tricked–it’ll be all the living you surrendered for a mirage. There is no way to get the time back.

Forget worry. There’s no prize for being timid. You snooze you lose. Life is there for any who choose to live it fearlessly but that effort requires you to act. If you do that without reservation you will have access to the collective knowledge of the billions that live within you. That still might not be enough if you’re adding to our collective wisdom by forging new territory, but it’s still a lot better than sitting all alone talking to yourself.

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.