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We are also wise to explore food as medicine. Healing foods are powerful elixirs for preventing and treating illness. Indeed, Mother Nature has a perfectly adequate, magical medicine cabinet fit to treat us all. Strengthening, cleansing and adaptogenic foods, herbs and natural remedies have been prescribed and taken since the dawn of time. A healthy, happy and grateful spirit is the greatest tonic for our bodies and minds. It is a great tragedy when we associate edible nourishment with shame and guilt, expending our precious energy for life counting calories, worrying about what we eat, punishing, controlling and depriving ourselves through food. We cannot sparkle when we live this way. Common approaches to dieting and punishing exercise see many people regain the weight they once lost and feel deeply disappointed, disillusioned and unhappy. We need to listen in and nourish our sparkles on a deeper, more mindful level if we wish to experience truly radiant, sustainable wellbeing. At a young age, people are taught about intellectual prowess. From achievement tests to academic successes, social norms continually reinforce the notion that intellectual intelligence is among the most desirable traits to possess if one wants to succeed in life. Many people still believe that intellectual intelligence is more important than emotional intelligence when it comes to success; some doubt the power of positive expectations. This is not entirely surprising. After all, to a large extent, our lives are influenced by academic performance. However, as psychologists like Daniel Goleman argue, a high IQ is only a small part of the true range of human intelligence. Further, there is an abundance of evidence to suggest that grit, character, and creativity matter more than IQ when it comes to overall success in life. No one should underestimate the decisive role that emotional intelligence and positive expectations play in achievement. Imagine a line that represents the value of everything you do throughout your day. To the right, the actions are positive; to the left, they are negative. On the right side of the continuum is traction, which comes from the Latin trahere, meaning "to draw or pull." We can think of traction as the actions that draw us toward what we want in life.

On the left side is distraction, the opposite of traction. Derived from the same Latin root, the word means the "drawing away of the mind." Distractions impede us from making progress toward the life we envision. All behaviors, whether they tend toward traction or distraction, are prompted by triggers, internal or external. Internal triggers cue us from within. When we feel our belly growl, we look for a snack. When we're cold, we find a coat to warm up. And when we're sad, lonely, or stressed, we might call a friend or loved one for support. External triggers, on the other hand, are cues in our environment that tell us what to do next, like the pings, dings, and rings that prompt us to check our emails, open a news alert, or answer a phone call. External triggers can also take the form of other people, such as a coworker who stops by our desk. They can also be objects, like a television set whose mere presence urges us to turn it on. Start shopping the outer sections of your supermarket. Processed foods are generally contained in the center aisles. Be wary of foods that make a lot of health claims. Added nutrients don't work in our bodies the way they do when they come from their natural source. Check labels carefully and try to buy foods with less than five ingredients. A good rule of thumb is this: If your grandparents wouldn't recognize it, then you probably shouldn't be eating it. Discontinue the thinking that causes you emotional heartaches and mental back-ups. Have a positive outlook on everything you experience. Take that emotional and mental laxative so you can flush the crap from your life! This will purify your spirit and empower you to experience life the way the Universe intended, by design!

To create the new you, you must re-examine and re-synthesize the ingredients (attributes) that comprise your make-up. You must become a culinary master, so to speak; but instead of honing your skills in a cooking class or a baker's shop, you will register in a class called "Kitchen of the Universe" at the famous "School of Life." This school is more popular than all other academic institutions put together. Everyone who comes to Earth goes through this school, no exceptions! Once you are here, you must remain until your graduation. You graduate on the day you depart this planet under any circumstances" except suicide. Committing suicide is an automatic failure and requires that you must repeat this school. Please keep that in mind, students. Remember, you will always win the game as long as you continue to play. The moment where the feelings and thoughts of suicide win your mind and heart and you succeed in the permanent disruption of your life, you lose. Mindfulness is something you already have, at least as a potential. When you are mindful, you're aware of what is happening now, in this very moment, without judging or getting lost in the thoughts and plans about fixing or changing anything. Mindfulness does not do anything! It simply notices, without judgment. You can think of mindfulness as a mirror that accurately reflects what appears before it. Mindfulness sees clearly what is present. That is what makes being mindful so important if you want to know what is happening inside your mind and body as well as in the world around you. You can also think of mindfulness as a talent like musical ability. Your ability is innateit is already therebut for the talent to bloom fully, you have to develop certain skills with your instrument, and you have to practice. Ease fake food out of your diet by simply eating more real food. Progress, not perfection, is the key to a sustainable and healthy diet.

Many people live healthier lives by adopting what they call a 70/30 diet at least seventy percent of the food they eat is of a healthy, natural nature. Educate yourself on the processed food industry. A good place to start is with the movies Fed Up, Supersize Me, Food Inc., Vegucated, and Forks Over Knives. Michael Pollen's books, Food Rules and In Defense of Food, are two of my favorite books on the subject. There is no defeat or condemnation in having problems, issues, and even chaos in your life. Everything and anything is workable as long as you are here to work it! You cannot even attempt to fix the problem if you are not here to fix the problem. Oh, incidentally, I already know what you are now thinking. If I am no longer here because I decided to end my life, then my problems, issues, and chaos magically and quietly disappear and I will spend my eternity in serenity! Wrong! That concept is all wrong! Know this: "What you get here, you take there." Nothing mysteriously and magically disappears. You must work through everything; you must figure everything out through experiences. Besides, if you are not present to win, how can you win? You must physically be present in the game of life! If you commit suicide, you just forfeited the game and you automatically lose. This is why suicide is automatic failure! The only element you accomplish by killing yourself is just delaying the inevitable. If the only thing we had to do were just end our lives when things seem intolerable, what would be the point in even having a life? If this were true, all of us would be dead!

In fact, none of us would even be born. The problems you thought you were eradicating by killing yourself are now magnified! The only difference between happiness and sorrow is your perception and acceptance of it. Know this: If you are reading this sentence, then you are alive and I declare that you are a winner no matter what is going on in your life! You are victorious even if nothing is working out in your life and all hell seems to be breaking loose. There is a winner in you even if you feel as though you are losing every battle. Stay alive and you become the hero. Everything can work out to your benefit as long as you stay alive, my friends! Human beings have literally been practicing mindfulness for thousands of years and have amassed an enormous amount of wisdom about meditation practice and mindfulness. You will be able to draw on this wisdom as you take up the meditations and reflective practices in this book. You will join an ancient tradition of those who seek to cultivate and nurture awareness centered in the present moment. And, as you practice mindfulness, you will also become a scientist because the ancient traditions of mindfulness and meditation are now being embraced and explored by modern science in fascinating and almost unimaginable ways. Let's take a brief look at what science is learning about the brain, stress, and health and their relationship to anger. Yet here can come that shameful voice, screaming at you that you don't have the right to ask others for anything, let alone that they consider a change in the relationship they have with you. How will they respond? What is the actual potential within the relationship for change? What if it can't occur? If you listen to that shame, it can keep you in fear. There's also another problem. What if some of the people in your circles were an unintentional or, even worse, intentional part of a painful past that led you to create the facade of perfectionism?