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We've discussed the hurdles you might encounter. Now you'll be reassessing the beliefs and rules that have protected you and have been your reality. Changing that now can feel risky and even frightening. Your mind may go blank when you try to come up with ideas. I want to start providing you with that help by looking at how the world gets inside your head and changes your self-concept from a solid, authentic self-regard to a less confident, less focused image and belief about you. Let's look at how you conspire with the world to create changes in how you see your self at your most core level. Let's also take a hard look at what links are in your existing life chain. Once you've done those things, once you've found your way back to the you that has been buried under a mound of world experiences and self-pounding, hang on. Hang on, because you aren't going to believe what is about to happen in your life as you claim the power of refining your personal truth, knowledge, and personal power. I'm not going to give you a "new" personal truth or a new "authentic" self-concept, because I don't have to. What you need is there! It has always been there; it has just been buried so deep you didn't know how to access it. Your personal truth, your self-concept, just needs to be "cleaned up" and rid of all the junk and misinformation that you have internalized for so many years. You soon will know exactly how to do just that. I have often said, "You either get it or you don't!" It's time for you to get it. Part of "getting it" is coming to realize that if you are currently deciding who and what you are, based on where you have been and what messages and results you have accumulated, you are always living with a backward focus. Language, like life, is read in many different ways. It depends on our point of view, perspective, and attitude. Life is aptly described by the metaphor of Snakes and Ladders. Everything is just going great, then Boom!

Into our lives steps a hefty snake' to set us back a few moves. <a href=''>Crap</a> happens. <a href=''>In</a> thisboard game of life' it may appear safe to stay where you are, but in your heart you know that is not possible. To stay depressed or anxious. Whatever emotion it is. We need the contrast of both happy and not. Otherwise, how do we know we are happy? Throw your dice and make a move. When we delight our senses, we awaken our spirits. Think of the tenderness and connection of touch, the inspiration and enchantment of music, the sublime deliciousness of real food, the freedom and ecstasy of movement, the gravitas of beautiful words, the dreamy colours in a rainbow, or the bliss and peace of unhurried, mindful walks amongst nature. Indeed, when we are mindful and grateful on our paths each day, we can feel our spirits brimming with fresh energy and aliveness. Choosing joy every day is a simple but truly transformative way of nurturing our spirits. Committing to smiling and laughing more is a gift for our sparkle, even if such a practice feels unnatural to begin with! On average, children smile over two hundred times a day - while grown-ups are apparently hard pressed to smile just twenty times. Smiling relaxes all the muscles in our faces that can become terribly tense, and sends signals to our brains that we can relax. That all is well. Laughing, especially belly laughing, is so enriching that it is used therapeutically to reduce stress and anxiety while boosting mood, immunity and vitality. Laughter therapy sessions, which participants attend simply to laugh raucously together, happen worldwide week to week. In the 1970s American journalist Norman Cousins famously attributed laughter to relieving himself of the debilitating symptoms of chronic illness. He watched back-to-back comedies, discovering laughter as an effective form of pain relief.

Becoming fascinated with the biochemistry of human emotions, he went on to write articles identifying and exploring human emotions as keys to our sickness and health. In my eyes, this is subject matter well worth our further investigation! Smiling and laughing are sparkle-nurturing techniques that take instantaneous effect and are free for all of us to explore. Because exercise is an imperative in our society--everyone from the surgeon general on down recommends it--there is probably a side of you that wants to comply, to do the right thing. But you may also feel ambivalent. You don't like exercise, so deep down you don't really want to do it. Be up front about your ambivalence. If you don't admit it to yourself, you're going to repeatedly start and stop exercising, always wondering why it doesn't work out. You shouldn't start an exercise program unless you're deeply committed to it. And what does it mean to be ready to exercise? It means more than just wanting it to happen. It means that you are ready to take the time to sit down with a calendar and map out an exercise schedule. Or ready to inform your family that you are setting aside time for activity and that it's nonnegotiable. Or ready to study up on a way to properly build up your workouts so that you don't exercise so hard in the beginning that you feel terrible and quit. Be enthusiastic; yes, that's half the battle. But being ready also means being prepared to deal with the practicalities of becoming an active person. There are plenty of books written by experts about cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that outline the distinct irrational beliefs of depression. CBT, in its simplest version, states that emotions arise from what you tell yourself or what you believe about something. Change your negative or irrational self-talk--what you believe--and you'll change the emotions connected with those thoughts. A change in how you feel will then greatly influence your behavior and lead to healthier well-being.

The classic CBT guidebook is The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns. Another is Breaking the Patterns of Depression by Michael Yapko. Both identify common distortions that lead to depression and recommend replacing them with what CBT terms "rational" thoughts and beliefs. This book doesn't need to re-create what's already been expertly researched and eloquently discussed. I recommend that you pick up a copy of either of these books and see what specific distortions might be occurring in your own thinking. For our purposes, we'll combine concepts and techniques from CBT and family systems therapy. Family systems therapy, again very simply put, focuses on how your family of origin, the family you grew up in, affected you in the past and influences you in the present. Let's see what happens when we hold these mirrors up to perfectly hidden depression. It is the forward-looking view that affords you great power, because that is where you can create so much more, so much that is authentically you. Right now I will guarantee you that you are spending too much life energy worrying over and being controlled by what has already happened in your life. Why? Because the links in your existing chain are events that are over and done with. Those events have gone by; they are of little consequence at this point. As with a rocket taking off from Cape Canaveral, everything you see trailing behind--the flame, the smoke, the steam--everything that is behind the rocket is "spent" energy. Spent energy has no value. It got you where you are, but it's of absolutely no value in the here and now. It's over; it's done. It got you where you are, good or bad, but where you go from here is up to you. It doesn't matter what the links in your chain have been.

It doesn't matter what the tail on the rocket was or wasn't. The only time is now and the choice is yours. I'm not just going to tell you to "be free" of your past. That's no big news flash. What I am going to do is help you identify, exactly, precisely, what specific past experiences have had what effect. I am then going to show you precisely how you can deal with those experiences in the here and now, in such a way as to take your power back. Then and only then will you be able to stop being a passenger in life and start driving--and driving with passion. Mindfulness is talked about a lot; it has its place. It is one tool advocated to address stress and mental illness. As I write this my mother is in perfect mindfulness. Medically known as dementia. She only lives in the now. Is she happy? Yes. Most of the time. She is free of her past and has no concept of the future to worry about. If something stressful does happen she forgets about it immediately, or almost. Is that Nirvana? I will let you decide. Your viewpoint.