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Exciting new directions cannot help but emerge when we come together in creative spirit. Immersed in creative endeavours, we dip into flow states that, like meditation, expand our awareness and awaken our spirits. Inviting more delightful moments of creative bliss and flow into all our days is a sure way to awaken our inner worlds. Indeed, the more we explore our creativity, the more we sparkle. Being happy might seem like a bonus or side effect of losing weight--the end result of all your hard work. Many people mistakenly believe that they'll be happier once they've shed pounds. But being happy--or, more specifically, finding sources of happiness in your life on a daily basis--is more like a prerequisite for taking off the weight. In fact, you could even say that the essence of motivation is in finding happiness in moving toward your goals, or in the pursuit of happiness. For instance, taking even small steps, such as going for a ten-minute walk or packing a healthy snack so that you don't raid the vending machine at work, can be very satisfying. But many people simply aren't able to find joy in these types of accomplishments because they're too busy obsessing about something else: often the fact that they're not burning enough calories or losing weight quickly enough. Sure, that short walk or healthy snack choice is probably just a drop in the bucket, but the act itself reinforces the belief that you're worth it, that you deserve to be nurtured. These little acts, which can bring small hits of happiness, are the fuel for motivation. Unfortunately, sometimes the weight loss process itself can be detrimental to long-term weight loss success and, ultimately, your happiness, particularly if you do focus too much on losing weight and ignore other important areas of your life. Bob has often said that people mistakenly put all their emotional eggs in the weight-loss basket, so inevitably, when weight loss slows or stops, they fail to get the emotional high that they used to get from seeing the numbers on the scale drop. They may then look to other areas of their life for this sense of satisfaction, but because they've ignored these areas, they're left frustrated. As a result, they often return to their old habits. It's a must in any therapeutic change. You must identify a problem as a problem before you can change it. You've begun to understand that perfectly hidden depression exists and has had a painful impact on you and your relationships. Simply after reading the first few chapters of this book, you're realizing how you've kept secret your true experience of life for years, creating instead a persona that looks good to others and has served to help you feel safe.

But right now, you're like a turtle when it senses danger. Your automatic strategy is to hide any vulnerability within a shell of perfectionism. You abruptly pull any sign of it in and hold on like your life depends on it. So how do you begin to change what may seem automatic? The first step is to become more conscious of yourself and your reactions. And it takes lots of practice--I'll say this frequently. These are huge mental and emotional shifts. What is truly amazing is that this fundamental and outcome-determinative element of our life experience so often develops and then occurs both passively and unconsciously. The shaping of your self-concept, and many of the choices you have made in life that contributed to that concept and then how it gets expressed, may very well have happened with little or no appreciation of the gravity of what was going on. You may have sent messages that said you would passively allow the world and all the people in it to assign you roles that you wouldn't have chosen in a million years--and so they did. With enough time and repetition, those roles, inherited because of the statement you made that invited their assignment, ultimately become so embedded in the fiber of your being and personality that they seemingly consume you. We all recognize, for example, how acute the sting of rejection can be. Not getting picked for the team; not being asked to the dance; being turned down for a date; being turned down for a job you really wanted; having a marriage that ends with rejection and failure; getting fired. Those moments of rejection are naturally painful. What happens is that, for most people, that rejection is treated as "data." It's a piece of information that gets incorporated into your deepest understanding of who you are. No matter what the factual circumstances of the event were, or what the facts are now, the pain of the rejection overwhelms and distorts the facts. If this is true in your life, it means you may have developed a self-concept that is based almost entirely upon how you feel or imagine other people see you, and we're back to opinion again. It's true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Why in the world would you give your power away to some random "beholder"? So some boy or girl in school did not think you were cute and funny and worthy of dating, so what!

As the old saying goes, "Nobody died and left them in charge." Yet you may have dragged that experience, or some other just like it, around with you for many, many years and not even been aware of how it was affecting you. In the United Kingdom, motor vehicles legally have to have what is commonly known as an MOT (other countries have their own regulations). This is an acronym for the Ministry of Transport, which enforces legal checks required for all vehicles to ensure they are roadworthy. Not so for the person behind the wheel! I use the example to highlight the value you place on a vehicle and not on yourself. Undoubtedly, the legislation saves many lives in the UK and worldwide with roadworthy motor vehicles being maintained to an accepted standard. Again in the UK there is a test of the driver that takes place starting at 17 years of age. Most take their test and then that is it. The only time this would require a further test would be through a major health scare like a heart attack or other notifiable health problem. In choosing what to do with our time and our lives, we are wise to chase our bliss and pursue the things that ignite our spirits. Indeed, exploring our inner sparkle is a wonderful way to realise our purpose and calling in life. It has been said that if we love what we do, we need never work a day in our lives. It is not selfish - it is in fact extremely important that we follow our bliss. In doing so, we are able to make a real difference in this world with our passion, creativity and expression, whatever it is that we are doing. We might be making art or teaching children, building or growing things, perhaps caring for others. In any case, following our bliss with effort and integrity, it is natural that the material aspects of our lives will be divinely looked after for us. That we will never be short of riches, nor wanting of anything. While this sort of magical thinking might take an enormous and courageous leap of faith, in my eyes, I have only ever seen purpose-driven living rewarded beyond measure. Happiness involves recognizing all the areas of your life that are important to you--not just your eating or fitness routine--and actively working on improving them to the best of your ability each day. If it helps, you can write down all the factors that are essential to a happy, fulfilled life, and then mark down those that are doing well and those that may be falling short of your expectations, so you know what you need to work on.

The simple act of paying attention to your needs and nurturing yourself (and others) is a powerful source of joy, fulfillment, and happiness. And when you're able to derive a sense of pleasure from caring for yourself and taking small steps toward improving your life, you'll find that good health and happiness come more easily. Another mistake people can make when it comes to happiness is thinking of it as a black-or-white issue. It's not like you're going to reach a point in your life where suddenly you think, Wow, I'm happy! Rather, as you work toward achieving goals in life--whether they're losing weight, exercising, eating healthfully, or developing positive relationships with others--you have to be able to take pleasure from the process. If you don't find sources of pleasure and joy along the way, one of two things typically happen. Either you'll lose the motivation to continue on your healthier path or you'll achieve your goals but struggle to maintain them. And of course, when you're feeling happy, satisfied, and fulfilled as you work toward any type of goal, you'll have more energy and motivation, which makes continuing to make these lifestyle changes easier. On the other hand, nothing can drain your energy and kill motivation like feeling down or blue, being in a persistent funk, or experiencing clinical depression. Prolonged feelings of sadness, depression, and/or lethargy can also lead to a relapse in people who have successfully maintained significant weight loss for years. That's why in this chapter, I'll be sharing information taken from research studies and from my experience working with clients on how to live a happy, more satisfying life. The first level is total awareness. Hiding behaviors may have been intentional for quite some time. You may know when they started, how they started, or why they started. And you made a conscious choice every day to keep your own troubles invisible. This may sound similar to popular literature's "smiling depression" or "high-functioning depression." Yet people who identify with these two terms talk about being depressed. They've admitted it freely. They may have sought treatment for it. Even on this level of awareness of perfectly hidden depression, you've likely not recognized yourself as depressed. Something caused you to need to protect yourself.

And a perfect-looking facade became the way you accomplished that feat. The second level is lack of awareness. Your hiding became so entrenched that it became unconscious. It became your identity. Let's talk for a minute about what is meant by "unconscious." A traumatic memory, emotion, idea, or extremely painful experience can be stored in the part of the mind that is unknown to you. It's not as if you knew it existed but weren't thinking about it. That's what "subconscious" is--like forgetting today is your birthday. Your mind has the power to place something extremely far away from your awareness in order to protect you. And it becomes unconscious. The characteristics of perfectly hidden depression, as well as what originated them, then cannot easily be recognized. Some say that therapy itself is creating an environment where what is unconscious can become conscious. I will give you a clue as to my thinking: I think there's a high likelihood that there has been a whole lot less conscious self-determination in defining who you are and a whole lot more input that you have automatically adopted. It's as if you've got this vessel called "self" that people can come by and throw things in. Suppose I asked you to evaluate each item and decide whether to keep it or pitch it out. You might pick up each thing, look at it, and say something like, "Okay. This part of me is where I really worked hard and did well in school, and I'm proud of that. That stays. Okay, now this piece right here is where my dad, who never had a happy, peaceful day in his life, constantly criticized me and told me what a piece of scum I was--well, I'm throwing that out. I'm not going to keep that." But people don't do that. They don't say, "How did I get where I am?" Those things inside the self are just there.