The Friday Dose #119: The New Brain

963 FD Relax and Succeed - A beautiful lifeIn general people inside and outside of the sciences will tend to overestimate what is known versus what it is still unknown. It makes sense that brain researchers would feel they were studying a relatively well-known organ and yet earlier this year an entirely new, large and significant brain structure was discovered. Earlier this month they found out what it’s for.

Obviously if you’re social you will be in contact with more germs. So if you’re going to be near a lot of bacteria and viruses then it’s logical that your body would want you to have greater protection. It’s just that previously no one knew about the relationship between how you feel and how your immune system will work.

If you’re alone all the time there is little reason for you to need a robust immune system, much like someone who never lifts anything will have little reason to build up a robust set of muscles. Likewise, if you’re near people and you’re immune system is depressed, then it makes sense that your brain would encourage emotions that would make you less social. I’ve noted it in previous blogs, but until the last decade or so almost no one realised that being sad would lead to being sick. Now we know those observations were well-founded: being sad usually means being isolated and it’s likely the isolation that will lead to the health issues.

There is still much to be learned. Are your moods dictated more by your health or is your health dictated more by your moods? What we do know is they’re interconnected, so in the meantime the best thing you can go by is your own direct experience in life. Unless you’re somehow prevented from participating in your society, it’s a good sign if you’re mixing with others a lot, because now we know with even greater certainty that you will literally build the body that suits the life you live.

Decide who you want to be and the universe will do its best to cooperate with that. It all starts with you. Have a great weekend everyone.

peace. s

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

Owning Happiness

962 Relax and Succeed - Trying to be happyLife is living. It’s a verb. An action. A motion that appears to move us through time. Possessions are inert. They are inactive. They are still. They are not life. Where it gets confusing is that adults will invest living into working, and then using their thoughts they will apply the value of the relevant work to the actual possession. So an expensive thing is worth something.

The problem is, parents live with kids and kids don’t do that addition of value until they start working. In a way this is one of the most important designations of adulthood that a person will experience. It’s why kids are often seen to be unappreciative. They don’t mean to be. They just can’t do the math yet.

How this difference in perspective leads to suffering is quite simple: a parent or parents works hard at their job(s), they contribute to their society through their taxes so that they have roads to drive on, airports and ports, food inspection, police, ambulance and fire services, public universities etc. etc., and in most countries, free hospitals and medical care as well. Part of what’s left goes towards necessities: food, shelter etc,–and then there’s the stuff we notice.

962 Relax and Succeed - I want to rememberIt’s easy to forget that we helped build a road, it’s a little easier to remember that we’ve paid our mortgage but we really remember buying that new car, or our nice new clothes or our new electronics. Those are the things that most commonly have our work-soul invested in them. These are the things that are choices. These are often given the most value via our thoughts.

Because kids don’t have any way of comprehending this relationship they live in an entirely separate reality from their parents. They can know their parents work and that they get pay that gets spent on things, but those are all abstract ideas until you’re actually at work, getting paid, and having to buy stuff. So to kids life is life and to their parents life has often been translated into their possessions.

Having a reality that is too possession-focused means that breakage, damage and devaluation become reasons to suffer. Someone broke a vase so you’re angry; someone left a mess in the kitchen and made it look less beautiful than in magazines so you’re frustrated; the car is damaged in a minor accident that could have been much worse and you’re scared about the costs.

962 Relax and Succeed - Good moms have sticky floorsIt is a reasonable stumble into ego for us to suddenly think a flurry of frustrated thoughts when something we have valued has its value reduced or lost. But that fact is why it’s so important to not immediately react whenever possible. Let the chemical storm pass, breathe and then respond from a larger context: is this something you’ll still be mad at a day from now? A week? A year?

Find the living in your life. As much as possible invest in the living; in the motion. By thinking less and being more you will find the world will help expose just what possessions will truly bring you the most value as well as how to understand that value in a larger context. More importantly, that internal quietness will also clearly expose the connections with others that truly give life its greatest value.

Have a wonderful day everyone.

peace. s

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

Conscious Creation

961 Relax and Succeed - You don't change your lifeYou can actually build a body that is good at being sad. You can also build one that is good at being angry, or good at being a victim or even good at being happy. Each of those emotions are created by chemical signals from your brain to your body and your personality is defined by which chemicals your body is most addicted to.

When a cell splits it’s paying attention. Each cell makes this little contribution to your consciousness. They’re awake and alive and they’re doing their best to create the reality you are asking for. So if you’re angry a lot then your cells are most likely to split when you’re angry and so that’s what the daughter / sister cell will be tuned to. Over time you end up with a body made of so many cells made in angry that you have literally become an angry person.

My clients are generally addicted to sadness or anger although occasionally I get one addicted to happiness. They’re never seeing me for relief though–they want to go higher. They want to feel exalted. They’re hunting enlightenment and you can’t do that until you are experienced at being in a conscious state, so the first step is to consciously build a healthy mind-body connection.

961 Relax and Succeed - If you knew how powerful your thoughts wereIt’s like you’re a clear plastic container shaped like you. Every moment a grain drops out of your food and each moment you have to add a new grain to the head of your container. Each grain is a different chemical. At the end of about eight years you will have traded almost all of your grains of identity and, if you’ve changed your thought patterns, you will look entirely different to everyone. People would say you have changed.

You must take ownership of this process in order to guide it. You cannot just surrender to what the world wants to throw in your head. You can be lucky you got home from war or happy you survived; both grains will be thrown toward your head but you’ll decide which one gets inside. You’ll think the thought. Someone else’s actions are just the toss, you are the catch. You decide what you allow to enter you. You can either make excuses for ugly chemistry or you can collect the qualities that make you beautiful.

No one is pure, not even an enlightened being. Without unenlightenment there can be no enlightenment. It’s like heaven. It lasts for eternity, which is means it’s also now, and every moment has the potential to create many different identities. You decide if you which ones you include within you with your attention. What you focus on is what you get.

961 Relax and Succeed - I have chosen to be happyYour thoughts are powerful things. With them you literally shape who you are. Do not allow this process to be habitual. Don’t just throw in whatever your childhood taught you to throw in because most people’s parents weren’t conscious and so you got a happenstance identity not a conscious one. This is the next stage for humanity. We get the material world pretty well. It’s time we took on the world of consciousness and energy.

Be aware. Be conscious. And if you catch yourself adding negative chemistry, don’t attack yourself for failing or that will just be more negative chemistry. You must love yourself before you can love others. This is an important mission. You cannot tell the world a story about how you don’t deserve it. There is no such thing as deserve. We are all one. You will be who you ask to be. So start today and ask to be who you really would like to be. Because if you can think like your hero for a few years, you will literally become your own hero.

You’re human, I know you can do this. The only question is, when will you start? Me? I try to do this every day. So let me start off my own day be choosing to love you, because in the future I would like to be even more loving than I already am. That is my goal, that is my aim and that is what keeps me conscious. I love you.

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 Porsches.

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 and if they were not paid 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 remains 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 dayhome 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.

Inspired Living

959 Relax and Succeed - Our culture has bred consumersNarcissism, at least in the psycho-spiritual realm, is not about beauty or appearance, it’s about immobility. When we imagine someone thinking about themselves too much we imagine someone losing weight or wearing pretty things or someone staring at themselves in a mirror thinking, look at me, look at me, but the damaging part of self-centeredness isn’t the part that says look at me, it’s that by doing so it says: do not pay attention to others. What’s painful in the life of the narcissist is their lack of true connection to others.

I met a nice young woman a few years back. Smart, funny, very creative. She wanted to talk to me about feeling fulfilled. She had a tremendous amount of trouble motivating herself and she wondered how that could be improved. She had way above-average skills and the time to use them, but she was stuck in her home office endlessly wondering why more wasn’t happening. She had been immobile for a few years trying to figure it out.

959 Relax and Succeed - That horrifying momentSo what was she doing? She was spending her time thinking about how to make her own life great. That was her version of Narcissus and the reflecting pool; she sat and stared all day at her own life and wondered why she couldn’t figure out how to make it more impressive. That was the action of her life, that was its verb: wondering. Instead of doing things, she wondered. She was trying to wonder her way to a better life.

Meanwhile everyone has Maslow’s Pyramid to deal with. We need food and shelter before we can do anything else. So does someone like me want to take a hard-won client and lose them by telling them something I know they really don’t want to hear? No, but I always do anyway. I do pay for it in lost clients, but that’s still an easy trade compared to my success rate. Because if people make it through the responsibility part, they do fine every single time. And if they bailed they weren’t ready yet anyway and they need to go suffer some more.

In a healthy person the inspiration isn’t some magical bolt of lightning that tells someone how they’ll feel fulfilled. Inspiration is created when we feel connected to others, just as narcissism is thinking about ourselves instead of others. So she was thinking about herself, endlessly looking for some motivation that was truly hers, and I was suggesting she think of her spouse and that her motivation could be how she could make his life easier. If she loved him didn’t she want him to have a good life? Wasn’t he missing out on holidays and things for himself if he was paying her to be idle?

959 Relax and Succeed - Me weIn short, instead of wanting even more for herself she could appreciate what she was already getting from her spouse. That gratitude could then be the valuable inspiration she needed to change that situation. But she couldn’t see that because she was too busy thinking about herself and her troubles all the time even though those troubles were all brought on by her lack of action and contribution.

Once she realised that her spouse was actually struggling and sacrificing his life for hers to be idle, she suddenly found motivation. His life could be improved significantly with her help. Suddenly she was motivated to get any job that would take that pressure off him. She no longer needed the job to be fulfilling to her soul in some abstract way, what was fulfilling to her soul was that she was actually contributing to improving the life of someone she loved.

There’s plenty of spouses running hobbies as businesses with little effort toward profitability, even though their entire life is being supported by a hard-working partner. There are plenty of children idly dreaming while their hard-working parents pay their bills because to the child, just earning a living seems unspiritual and uninspiring. But that’s only because the child has turned the work into money, instead of into a mechanism for benefiting a loved one.

959 Relax and Succeed - Dreams require actionThe money isn’t what counts, it’s the respect. Respect is a kind of connection. It says, I care about what you go through every day. So sitting around idly while someone else works for you ends up as a lack of respect, which is a breaking of the bond between one person and another; a spiritual bond. We’re all in this together. They’re there for you, but you’re not there for them.

If you spend all your time thinking, I don’t know what to do, then I would suggest looking around to see what others around you are doing for you and start with that. If your life seems bogged down then someone somewhere is making up for your inactivity because we all need food and shelter as our spirits take our bodies along this journey called life. So who’s doing what and how can you help?

A spouse or child could gain great personal satisfaction by simply caring more actively about the people supporting them. The same goes for any other scenario where someone isn’t carrying their own weight, from benefits from relatives, to friends to even our societies. Everyone has empathy for those in genuine need, but if someone can recover from a spinal injury in a year or two and go on to a fulfilling life in a wheelchair, then surely an able-bodied person can do it in the same amount of time if they care enough. The question is, who are you caring about?

959 Relax and Succeed - Integrity is doing the right thingStop living for yourself and start living for others. What’s wrong with society is the same thing that’s wrong with individuals: a lack of cohesion, a lack of attraction, a lack of responsibility to one another. You don’t need inspiration you need connection. Respect and awareness is all the inspiration and motivation a healthy soul needs.

Whether you’re a street person or a wealthy idle spouse, you will be in pain if you do not connect to and contribute meaningfully to the lives of others. Love is what love does. So you are never far from salvation no matter how bad it seems. All you need to do is stop thinking so much about yourself and start to think more about others.

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 #118: Yes You Can!

958 FD Relax and Succeed - You're awesomeLast week I gave you a hamster slowly eating a carrot. That’s quite a contrast to this one!

The Olympics are only two weeks away. I live across from a large grass schoolyard and after every Olympics or World Cup I will see a massive rise in the number of kids practising athletics outdoors in that field. That’s one of those invisible but wonderful benefits to being inspired.

I am currently at work on a film about an incredibly inspiring person and it lead me to do some hunting and sure enough, someone has done a fantastic job of inspiring us all. So sit back and prepare to be motivated, enthused and filled with all that is great about humanity.

You can too.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone.

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 Right Time

957 Relax and Succeed - Some pursue happinessWhen considering financial decisions, jobs, education, relationships, hobbies, friends, etc. etc., if you have a lot invested, when do you bail on something? When do you surrender, give up, change direction or grab something new? Your mind can whirl for aeons on a question like that and get nowhere because you don’t solve a thinking problem with more thinking.

Do you see how your rational ego searches for a rational solution? You want a pro and con column to add up to a negative number so you can tell yourself a story later about how careful you were before you made the decision. You want to be sure. You want to be confident. You’re a good person and you don’t want to do the wrong thing. Your problem is that confidence does not come from knowing you’re right and the idea of being wrong lives only within your thinking.

Confidence is a natural state. A little kid will swing a bat or kick a ball or any other thing quite poorly and yet still feel confident because that just means that they’re doing what they’re doing without self-talk interference. Insecurity is a thought-induced state. Confident people aren’t saying anything to themselves. They’re just being in the moment. I can assure you, we’re not internally going, “Oh yeah, I know what I’m doing, I’ve got this. I am totally good enough to pull this off easily,” Those are the words of someone insecure trying to bolster themselves with words. Confident people aren’t certain about success, they’re just ready to proceed.

957 Relax and Succeed - Only the truth that is your ownRight and wrong are also value judgments. If a little kid does something and a parent notices the difference between how the kid did it and how a pro would do it, then they’ll teach them the language of wrongness and that’s how they’ll talk to themselves in their heads even after their parents are long gone. They’ll always notice what’s missing.

A parent that notices what the kid did well, or if they just show enthusiasm without specifics, then that child can develop securely, certain that the parent’s support isn’t connected to external achievements but rather to the actual child. You shouldn’t love what your kid does, you should love your kid.

So how’s this help with decisions? Do we really think humans never made a decision prior to language? We needed language to turn right or left on a path? No, you could just have a sense of knowing and then go. We do it all the time but we never give it value because we can’t turn it into words and share it with others. It is an entirely personal, internal experience. So it absolutely is possible to know things without being able to explain how. Explain how you love seafood. Explain your love for your pet. Explain red.

957 Relax and Succeed - Don't cling to a mistakeJust live. Trust yourself. When it’s time for you to stay or go, trust me you’ll know. Because all the words do is define a range of time. You’re thinking about leaving your job for a year and then suddenly you leave. It’s not like you finished thinking. It’s not like you came to a conclusion to some calculation and then told them immediately. You still had to feel the time was right. So why do all the thinking if you’re just going to get that feeling and act on that anyway?

Even if we later feel we left early or late, that’s just another person’s judgment in another time. That’s literally the person that benefited from the wisdom of the decision looking back and wondering why the person who didn’t have that wisdom didn’t make that decision. It’s crazy. You weren’t that person yet. The decision is what created that person. So that decision wasn’t right or wrong, it was just appropriate for who you were at the time.

If you want to hold on to something too long or let it go too soon, just overthink it. That’s the only way to screw that up. Because right and wrong, good and bad and should or shouldn’t all live in thought but not in reality. Reality has actions and consequences and that’s it. You’re always fine. The rest is just a story you tell about yourself, to yourself.

957 Relax and Succeed - Your journey has molded youGo quieter. Look less for answers and instead wait for spontaneous insights. You get them all the time, but the thinking of science has convinced you that spontaneous insights have no current scientific explanation, so they–you–must not be trusted. Better to trust an abstract scale outside of yourself that is not built for you, but for your entire society. You are you. You will know what’s right for you personally if you just stay quiet inside and wait.

The issue is, we’re not good at being internally quiet and waiting. And so people think. And they get impatient for answers. And so the suffering goes. In the end you’re still not lost. At any time you can reconnect to your wisdom and access that higher knowing, and those connections will come from simply being quiet enough for long enough that you’ll actually be able to hear the voice coming from the confident soul you always were as a very little kid.

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 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.

Getting Out Of Line

If we’re lost in ego there’s only two directions we can go: forward and back. That’s the problem with ego–it’s a simplistic personal view and it sees very limited possible directions to travel in. Our egos can live in our past and egos can live in our futures but living in the present moment is so fully involving that it simply does not leave us any consciousness left to use words to build illusions like time. Our soul is always Now.

The ego is an action a lost soul will take. Rather than being present and aware in the moment, a spirit will create an ego that can leave the body where it is and then take the mind on a word-based journey forward or backward in time. For example, we can be in a lineup for something. There’s maybe tea to taste, maybe some flowers to smell and maybe there’s some music to listen to. Children don’t yet know words so they can experience those things as a soul. They perceive but do not judge.

955 Relax and Succeed - These mountains that you are carryingAs an adult we can be standing with the child in a lineup, tea in hand, flowers nearby and music audible and yet we will ignore all of that and it will begin talking to ourselves about something we’ve judged as embarrassing from a week ago, or a month ago, or years ago. So that’s where the ego is–back on its past, dealing with something it’s already done. It’s like watching a movie over and over because we don’t like the ending and we’re hoping if we keep watching it that one day it’ll have changed. And if it’s a terrible story then you’ll get the same chemistry now that you got then.

Meanwhile, there’s the kid that’s with us in line and they’re living in spirit. The song’s nice, the people around us are smiling, maybe someone’s holding a puppy that we haven’t even noticed is in someone’s arms. The kid is happy and in pursuing that happiness in that moment they move toward the puppy.

Meanwhile we’re the adult lost in our thoughts about a past event. The chemistry we’re asking for by reliving it is painful. That pain leads us to be sensitive and easily upset. And because we’re lost in our thoughts we haven’t noticed the puppy so, from our perspective, when the child takes off it’s for no apparent reason. We then take our anger from our past and use it to scold the child in the present using words our parents taught us years ago, and all while we truly don’t even know what’s going on in the present moment. This is why children often think their parents are unfair and it’s also how children learn to stay in line.

955 Relax and Succeed - Pause for a few secondsAs children our parents constantly and unknowingly invited us out of the present moment and instead encouraged us to stitch together our egos. We were told puppy’s don’t belong in banks and we were taught to pay attention to abstract ideas like obedience. Eventually we do this so much that we also don’t notice the puppies because we’re we too busy with our own painful thoughts; wondering if we’re out of line, regretting that we’ve ever been out of line and hoping we’re never out of line again.

Our past is our past and has little to no bearing on the quality of our future. Moreover, hopes and fears about what might be can cripple that future by preventing us from attending to the present moment from which it will be built.

You think all the time and you’re reading this because you want something better. Better is easy. Better is quiet inside. Better is to simply be. Because you never could go back and fix the past or guarantee your future. But if you’re present you might actually find a few more puppies.

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.

Reasons for Optimism

954 Relax and Succeed - Be the lightBecause the news trades in fear, anger, sympathy and titillation you have been innocently lead to believe that the world is much, much worse than it really is. The news is one hour long: a couple minutes for the intro intro, a few minutes of flashy graphics interspersed, a few minutes for what’s going on in your city, a few for your country and then huge chunks for what is essentially entertainment: weather and sports. Over a quarter of it is advertising, which means you see almost nothing about what’s actually going on around you. That’s hardly enough time to encapsulate even a tiny fraction of humanity’s achievements each day.

Every single day a huge number of friendships get made, degrees are earned, citizenship is obtained, freedoms are gained, and things are learned. Much joy is felt and there are many very good reasons to be optimistic. Everyone imagines everything growing worse and there’s many signs that won’t happen the way people are imagining.

We invented terrible bombs in the 40’s and put treaties on them and started dismantling them within 50 years. Pollution was a byproduct of the work-saving era of the Industrial Revolution. The point was to save people from backbreaking work, not to create pollution. So that was generally our first big worldwide issue but there was no internet so the world couldn’t get organised as quick as it can now. By the time we hit acid rain we got on it and fixed it pretty quickly. We tackled the ozone layer, CFC’s and now we’re on carbon. We’re doing pretty good. We actually fix things faster than we break them, not to mention that disease treatments make important advances every day.

954 Relax and Succeed - Everyone thinks of changing the worldThe news makes its money selling fear and uncertainty, not confidence. What’s wrong with our world isn’t that big stuff because that’s clearly going better than the news will ever give it credit for. What’s wrong with our world is that we talk to ourselves and others about what we don’t like but we don’t actually do the things we claim we like.

Politeness isn’t something for chumps or losers. Maybe a gangster would say that but gangsters live to about 25 so…. Politeness is simply the acknowledgement of the presence and value of another human being. It’s odd that politeness ever got perverted into being something we shouldn’t prioritise for our own sake. We win in that exchange.

How many calories or milliseconds does it take to hold a door for someone? And yet how nice is it when someone takes the time to hold it for you? It’s not like you needed to use a lot of calories on the door either, but this way you both acknowledged each other in a society whose primary sickness is its self-centred focus. Despite the fact that the connections consistently feel good you often choose to do things that then prevent you from making more of them.

954 Relax and Succeed - Today will never come againYou do a lot of very active things to cut yourself off from other humans. Have you looked at those things to see if you want to keep all of them? Yes, you need down time and alone time, but most people are starved for more contact. Stop making that a problem of the world’s and start creating your own personal solutions by actually taking opportunities to make just the simplest of connections; smiling as you walk by on the street, saying good morning to co-workers, buying the person behind you a coffee, holding a door.

The world does not get better because we’re smart and know what other people should do. The world and our own lives get better because we’re just plain nicer, more patient, more tolerant and more loving than we’ve ever been.

peace and 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.