As we have already seen, if someone tries to persuade you that you are a thief, they can't get to you, because factually, you know you're not a thief. By contrast, if they challenge something more abstract and subjective--your intelligence, your likeability, your sensitivity, worth, talent, or character--your ears perk up. You may adopt that message into your internal dialogue unquestioningly, because you don't have facts to refute it. In fact, you may absorb that message with such intensity and emotion that, like a complete dummy, you start to repeat it every time you start talking to yourself about yourself, even though you originally knew better. Somebody can give you some unfounded and unthinking criticism, commit some selfish act, or make some offhand comment, and damned if you don't let it get to you; the next thing you know, you've started "reactively" including it in your internal dialogue. Like the child falling in with "bad company," you might never initiate such negative internal dialogue on your own, but because you don't really, really know who and what you are, you are vulnerable to its getting a foothold when it is started by someone else. That's why it is critical that you stay committed to living in accordance with your authentic self. If you love to be outdoors in the fresh air and upon the earth's surface, meditating in nature can be a truly satisfying and sparkle-nourishing experience. You may enjoy the sound of waves rolling in and out, the song of birds in the trees around you, or the rustling of wind through the grass and the leaves. Add the extra element of earthing to your meditations and you'll no doubt sense truly magical benefits. If you wish to be reminded to meditate and would like extra support structuring your meditation practice, you may like to download various apps to your smartphone: apps with timers, reminders, and smorgasbords of guided meditations and visualisations are available to soothe and uplift you at any moment. A list of my favourite apps can be found in the `Sparkling Resources' section of this book. You may also seek out meditation groups or classes in your local area for meeting like-minded people, learning new things and experiencing the tremendous energy of group meditation and collective consciousness. I'm constantly examining my expectations to make sure I'm realistic with them, to keep them in focus and in control, and to make sure that they are compatible with my circumstances. I consider myself a problem solver. It is natural for me to think about, re-evaluate, and adjust my expectations. My approach has led me to believe (and expect) that every problem can be solved. Indeed, I'd wager that we could fix any problem in this world with better communication and more imagination. Creative problem solving can be found in all aspects of life: educational, personal, and social. Teachers, politicians, physicians, and parents apply creativity to the challenges they face.

What is their method? They keep their end goals in mind and apply their imagination to the dilemma at hand. They brainstorm, seek outside advice, or think outside the box. They refuse to let obstacles deter them. They expect their creativity and grit will be more than equal to the problems they encounter. Expectations and success are more attainable when you keep goals realistic. Sometimes in order to build confidence, it helps to start with modest expectations. However, I also encourage people to dream big. Most important, remember that your most significant expectations belong to you. Yes, there are expectations that others put on you, and these external expectations have their place. But the most important expectations are those that come from deep within you. Those are the ones that you create for yourself. It's good to know that feeling bad isn't actually bad; it's exactly what survival of the fittest intended. From that place of acceptance, we stand a chance of avoiding the pitfalls of our psyches. We can recognize pain and rise above it, which is the first step on the road to becoming indistractable. Time management is pain management. Distractions cost us time, and like all actions, they are spurred by the desire to escape discomfort. Evolution favored dissatisfaction over contentment. Our tendencies toward boredom, negativity bias, rumination, and hedonic adaptation conspire to make sure we're never satisfied for long. Dissatisfaction is responsible for our species' advancements as much as its faults.

It is an innate power that can be channeled to help us make things better. If we want to master distraction, we must learn to deal with discomfort. Practice will make this way of being your new normal. Let's talk about one more hurdle. When someone is losing the battle with depression and cannot stay away from darker thoughts of self-harm, they can choose to go into residential treatment. There is often tremendous reticence and even fear of doing so. But they go, work very hard, and learn a new potential for living a more stable life. Then a realization emerges: going home and resuming normal life will be even more difficult than initially seeking treatment. That's where the hardest work can be. And it's what's in front of you. There are so many pulls and tugs from the old way of doing or thinking or feeling that holding on to a very fresh perspective and behavior can be challenging. Sometimes you have to end relationships that are too damaging, and you may need to set completely new boundaries in the ones that remain. This involves a healthy reappraisal of what you need now to stay stable. It can lead to short-term loss but also to long-term, huge gains. You're worth fighting for, not despite all your imperfections and vulnerabilities but because of them. You're worth loving, not because of what you can do but because of who you are. You're growing in true strength, not because you always seem in control but because you can connect with and accept all of your emotions and allow them to guide you. Although your internal dialogue is reactive, and therefore new in each and every situation, it will have certain predictable themes. Let's say you are convinced that you are just too heavy or that you just don't look good in your clothes. If that's the case, then your internal dialogue is likely to be pretty much the same whenever you enter a social environment, whether it's at work, the grocery store, a wedding, or (God forbid) the swimming pool down at the park, with that "skinny bitch" from next door "parading her narrow ass all over the place." You might be saying to yourself: I can't believe I am here.

I look like a cow. How can I get the hell out of here? I could stand over there where nobody can get behind me. If I could just pull this jacket down a little more. I swear I'm going on a diet if it kills me. I am not about to let anyone see me eat anything. There she is. God, I hate her. I have an ass like a forty-dollar mule and everybody knows it. At least I'm boring and no one is paying any attention to me! How can I get out of here? Please, God, don't let them come over here. Oh no, here they come. "Hi, how are you? It's so good to see you!" Just beam me up, Scotty--this is horrible. I have personally practised yoga in conjunction with meditation since my early teens, and have found it to offer me a deep sense of inner peace and calm along with vital energy and greater physical, mental and emotional flexibility. My favourite form of yoga is Kundalini yoga, in which breath is very central to all parts of practice and in which I relish the flow of movement along with the joy of mantra and song. I love to practise yoga at home, even taking little breaks in my workday to replenish and revitalise myself with a series of poses and breathing sequences. While I most love to practise yoga by myself, I also enjoy attending yoga classes now and again to learn new things and connect with like-spirited people. In the way of yoga, I recommend starting your day with sun salutations.

This special sequence of flowing movements honouring the sun engages and awakens the whole body, mind and spirit. Shoulder or head stands bring radiant beauty into our faces, helping to circulate blood and energy throughout our bodies, easing fatigue and anxiety, and supporting our immune systems. Holding bow pose in combination with the breath of fire, a light rhythmic breath that feels a little like sniffing, is a wonderfully strengthening, detoxifying combination that helps fortify our physical bodies while focusing our minds and cultivating mental and physical stamina. Cat and cow poses actively support the health of our glands. When practised one after the other in conjunction with the breath of fire, we help to nurture beautiful, happy and healthy bodies. It is both marvellous and miraculous how specific yoga poses can strengthen our external and internal physical bodies in various ways, from our muscles and joints to our bones and organs, while offering us the mental and emotional benefits of stress relief, deep relaxation and connection to our divine inner sparkles: the essence of sacred source energy within us. All things considered, yoga truly is a balm for lifelong radiance. Ability expectations are harmful because they depend on a child's aptitude, which they may have little or no control over, particularly during early stages of development. When the child does not succeed and meet the expectations, it can lead to feelings of failure even though the outcome was beyond her capacity. For example, imagine a child having to pass a standardized test on history when she is not a rote memorization type. If that child was only taught in one way---one that favors memorization---then the expectation is harmful because it does not match with her capability! An outcome expectation might be something as simple as a father telling his son, "Go out and win that football game!" In this instance, the parent puts a burden on that child with an unrealistic expectation. The problem with outcome expectations is that they are black-and-white--- either you win, or you don't. Therefore the chance of failure is high. Additionally, the son may have all the ability in the world to do just that and win the game, but because he is expected to, the parent has put an undue amount of stress on the child by desiring a certain outcome for him. The psychological literature is clear: outcome-based expectations can be demoralizing. Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote in 1863, "Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute." One hundred twenty-four years later, the social psychologist Daniel Wegner put Dostoevsky's claim to the test. In a study, participants who were told to avoid thinking of a white bear for five minutes did so on average once per minute, just as Dostoevsky predicted. But there was more to Wegner's study. When the same group was told to try and conjure the white bear, they did so much more often than a group who hadn't been asked to suppress the thought.