That is a double bad deal. Left is taking you where you don't need to go, but just as importantly, it is also keeping you from going in the right direction. If you travel ten miles left when you should have gone ten miles right, you've made a thirty-mile mistake: the ten miles you went in the wrong direction, the ten miles you have to go back to get to where you started from, and then the ten miles you have to go to get to where you were going. That's the kind of compound error that characterizes life in the fictional self. It explains why you've got to call "time out," now, and determine where you are. Is the direction you are headed with your life in fact the way you want to go? It was imagined or created as an idea before physical action took place. Allegedly, you think 60,000 thoughts a day. (This is disputed and quoted a lot, but many have failed to find definitive scientific research to confirm it.) It is safe to define science as a process, not an ability to define facts! For our purpose, we will take this figure. Whatever the average person actually thinks, if the majority of those thoughts are comments from others on your inadequacies (perceived), criticisms from others and our internal voice, putdowns, limiting beliefs - what do you think will be the outcome? Research does back up that most of your thoughts are the same ones repeated over and over in the waking time you have available. We serve nobody, including ourselves, when we hide our light. We might think, Who am I to shine?' Yet who are we not to shine? <a href=''>As</a> Marianne Williamson teaches, it is not our darkness but our light that terrifies us. <a href=''>We</a> are terrified of the immensity of ourselves, our magic, our fullest, brightest potential; our oneness with everything; the grander, bigger picture of existence. <a href=''>While</a> all things in this life can be done and seen with sparkle, the hurried and agenda-driven way most of us experience life today can all too easily tarnish our vision. <a href=''>Without</a> due care, our days can begin to feel like endless series of tasks that steal from our time and energy rather than renew and replenish our spirits. <a href=''>We</a> can unintentionally let our busy lives diminish our radiance and limit our perspective, and find countless reasons why we can't and shouldn't sparkle. <a href=''>We</a> draw on our perceivedlack' as an excuse to hold back or deny ourselves the joy of sparkling.

We cite a lack of time, a lack of energy, a lack of knowledge or some other deficit that we are permitting to stifle us. Successful maintainers score high in what nutritionists and psychologists call "dietary restraint": behaviors such as doling out small portions of food, avoiding high-calorie foods, and counting calories or grams of fat. "The first thing I do when I pick up a food," says Shaun Tympanick, "is look at the nutrition label and check out the calories. That doesn't mean I'll eat only low-calorie foods--I'll still have chips or chocolate on occasion--but I know just how much I can eat." They eat a balanced diet. For the most part, the successful maintainers' diets follow the recommendations of the American Heart Association and other major health organizations. About 54 percent of calories come from carbohydrates (including five to six servings of fruits and vegetables daily), about 27 percent from fat, and about 19 percent from protein. You want to change your life. That's why you're reading this book. But it will be hard. Talking honestly about the underbellies of those blessings or how you barrage yourself with shame will feel strange and awkward. Talking and opening up in itself will feel vulnerable. Settling in once again into your calm space, jot down names of people with whom you might share that you're addressing your perfectly hidden depression. It may be someone in your inner circle, or it could very well be someone who's not so close, someone whose life isn't quite so intertwined with yours. You might be inclined to be more honest with someone who lives in another city--a longtime friend or someone from college. But it's ideal for that someone to be locally available to you. That said, if long-distance vulnerability is all you can do right now, then that will be great. You're taking small steps, and you want to go at your own pace. Choose someone who will be capable of listening about how your perfectionism has been a prison you've been living in. And about how scary it is to break out of that prison. Try to visualize what it would be like to let that someone in on your real self.

Write down what you might say. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes as you do so. Are there fears about what they'll do with the information or how it might change their thinking about you? Please try to decide if that's your own fear of talking or a rational thought. If it's true that there is more to you than you are living, you need to be asking yourself, Why aren't I living it?--and you need to be asking that right now. You need to be asking yourself how to take control right now. Maybe you're not requiring enough of yourself because you think you are in a trap. You think you have no choice. Maybe you're being held down by a lack of money or opportunity or by people in your life who would be threatened if you were more successful. Maybe you just don't know which way to push, or what to want or reach for. Whatever your circumstance, you cannot let those "reasons" become "excuses." Easy or hard, I'm telling you that you have the responsibility to be all that you can be, for your family, for the world. It's your life and the clock is ticking. If you remain imprisoned in self-denial, then days, weeks, months, and years will continue to be wasted: time that could and would have been amazing and significant in your life. Creating the space means letting something go. You may or may not have placed a value on what you decide to let go. It will help to do so. Letting go is part of the gratitude process. Gratitude for lessons learned. Especially the hard ones! For now, stick to the easy exercise of a practical.

If a room is full of items, then you let go of the ones with the least value. The items that serve no purpose for you anymore. Let go and create space. Old birthday cards, magazines, emails, expired food, I could go on; that is easy to relate to. It gets a little more difficult when you relate that to the thoughts you think and the beliefs you hold. That is, if you really want to make a change in your life. Yet, in any moment we can see our lives as magical adventures in which we are free to choose. If each and every one of us were to sparkle, to connect with the magic of life from moment to moment, the world as we know it would radically transform. We would look, feel and act very differently. We would craft lives to nourish and elevate ourselves, soothe and inspire each other, and deeply heal our earth. Adventure is not always about seeing new places; as Marcel Proust wrote, it is about seeing with new eyes. The moment we acknowledge that we only use such a tiny amount of our innate creativity and power, we are encouraged to think about the richness that could be available to us by expanding our state of awareness. By sharpening our wits. By opening our eyes and choosing to see with real love, curiosity and gratitude. Talk to a nutritionist, and sooner or later she'll say the word variety, as in: Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to get the most nutrients; eat various types of whole grains to get different types of fiber; vary your meals so you don't get bored. But if you want to take a page from people who keep weight off, maybe your diet shouldn't be too exciting. Dr.Phelan and her co-researchers compared the diets of NWCR members with those of people who recently lost weight but had no track record of maintaining. These newly minted "losers" were a good comparison group because they had to clean up their diets to lose the weight, eating more fruits and vegetables and less junky high-fat food. The striking difference between maintainers and those who'd recently slimmed down: The maintainers ate less variety. And they didn't just limit their picks of sweets (as well as oils, butter, and other fats); they also had a slightly downsized repertoire of foods in the vegetable, low-fat protein, and grain groups.

Considering opening up about your perfectly hidden depression may be even more frightening if you're a teenager or young adult and still dependent on your parents. If you're currently living in a situation where you feel the need to look perfect, you're likely to feel quite trapped. Parents may revel in your apparent success and happiness, or they count on you to be super responsible. They don't know what's underneath. How could you possibly tell them that so much of what they see is an illusion? It's vital that you realize they're likely living on automatic pilot. All seems to be going to plan. They see no warning signs. They're respecting your privacy and not reading any journal that you might be keeping about your actual feelings. If you're giving them hints, they may still see you as only mildly struggling. It can be true that they painted a world for you that needed to look perfect. But your honesty with them might lead them to look at the mistakes they've made as parents--at their own imperfection. Nothing is worth your depression and sense of being trapped getting worse. Nothing. Is today a perfect example? Think about it. Like so many other days, it is now over and lost forever. Whatever you did or didn't do, felt or didn't feel, suffered or reveled in, shared or didn't share, it's done. The difference is that, by reading this book, by opening your mind and heart to the possibility of a difference, you are making a difference with this very day. You have started a journey, a journey to dig through the clutter of life and the world, a journey back to you.