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But you have to treat finding pleasure like you would any other must on your to-do list. If you didn't do this, it's likely that you'd never have a chance to play with your kids, read a great novel, or engage in any leisurely activities. You may even be depriving yourself of perfectly good pleasures like companionship because of this mind-set. You may be creating a state of reward deficiency, which leaves you feeling dissatisfied and anxious. To escape these feelings, you may find yourself obsessed with overindulging in delicious foods, and eventually gaining unwanted weight. That's why I encourage you to be deliberate about engaging in activities that make you feel good and bring you joy, and expanding your pleasure file to create a more meaningful and happy life. Make time each day to take short breaks to refresh and boost your energy. Take a walk outside, get some sun, walk up and down the stairs for ten minutes at work, stretch, find a funny clip on YouTube, or use music to trigger those feel-good chemicals in your brain. These practices aren't limited to temporary well-being; they have been shown to decrease symptoms of depression and are necessary for long-term health and happiness. During the entire process of challenging and changing the familiar patterns of perfectionism and perfectly hidden depression, you have to discover a safe balance between desired change and a need for stability. Think about the old game of pick-up sticks, or the more recent one, Jenga. The strategy to win involves a careful assessment of what stick or what Jenga piece you can remove without the entire thing crashing down. Someone with perfectly hidden depression faces this very challenge. You decide where to begin the change and, slowly and with compassion for yourself, take down the persona, piece by piece, and replace it with a healthier, more open, and more vulnerable self. You don't want to go too fast: again, these behaviors have served a purpose. And when you begin to alter them, you're likely to feel the emotions or remember the painful memories they've been covering up. These kinds of connections are highly likely to happen as you continue this journey. We'll talk later about how to build those new revelations and connections, and cope with the pain of them. For now, let's talk about a couple of possible "hitches" along the way as you balance your desire to change with the need to remain stable. First, we'll touch on your tendency to discount small but highly significant steps.

Second, we'll look at how you may feel worse before you feel better--a common process in any change. I've said this before, and I'll say it again: you're a perfectionist, and small changes can easily be demeaned as not a big deal. This only leads to shame, which is likely to stop you in your tracks. Please don't minimize the work you're doing. Instead, acknowledge the changes you're making as significant, no matter how "small" they seem to you. If a traumatic event of this kind has happened in your life, you may be living just as if your skin had been burned. Unlike a physical scar, psychic disfigurement is visible only to a public of one, and that is you. You may be responding to the invisible scar just as you would to a visible one: by avoiding the world, by shying away from competition and participation, by withdrawing into the shadows of reticence and self-consciousness. You may be living a life that is dispirited and passive. The point is that psychic disfigurement may be just as crippling and debilitating to your self-concept as physical disfigurement would be. If your own self-concept is in disrepair, it may be time for you to consider whether a psychic disfigurement has occurred in your life. The upcoming chapters on external factors will help you to make that determination. Doing the exercises there will help you address that part of your history, and will help you to begin taking steps out of the shadows and back toward the authentic self. Admittedly, there are other factors that influence your self-concept, particularly the internal factors that we will address in the next section of the book. You must know, however, that every chain has a first link. And in the chain of an evolving self-concept, that first link is almost assuredly an external/interactive one. Prepare to be enlightened by examining the first links in your life chain. If by now you are reacting by getting angry with me, filling your head with excuses as to why you haven't done the exercises, justifying yourself to me or yourself, depressed about not having done them, apathy, beating yourself up, swearing internally or vocally... No need to worry. That is a natural reaction.

It is resistance to change. Everyone does it, and it is a powerful survival habit! The parts you will capture and use to great effect will be your emotions. Emotion. You feel it, and then create action. All doing, all action, begins with an internal feeling. Anger, for instance, if used in the right way, can be a very positive, powerful emotion when it comes to getting things done. Anger is a positive step forward from the feeling of being powerless. If you haven't done those exercises yet, have another concerted effort. Use the anger or whatever emotion you're experiencing as a driving force to back up a bit and do the exercises. They are highlighted to make them easy to find. Only, of course, if you intend to better yourself. Otherwise, why bother reading this book? The fact that you bought or borrowed it and have committed the time to read it indicates you want to change. Now,trust me and trust yourself - you can take command of your breathing, your thoughts, what and how you believe, your emotions; to deliver and see your desires manifest. We can all too easily forget that our everyday actions become our life stories. Indeed, practising kindness, gratitude and compassion, exploring our creativity and doing things we love in ways we love with people we love are all ways to sparkle. Learning new things, changing scenery, exploring our earth, looking up at the stars, taking a different path and, indeed, choosing to see the `pixie dust' in our daily lives are all ways we can refresh our spirits. It is exciting to realise that the many actions that can nourish our sparkle are undeniably joyous, life affirming and, more often than not, absolutely free. We are called to look at the actions we take in all our relationships, in the work we choose to pursue, and in the ways we choose to rest, relax and move our bodies.

The thoughtful actions we take enable us to lead truly nourishing and meaningful lives. The way we move our bodies is an expression of our sparkle. The body language with which we communicate including our gestures, posture and the way we move through space indicates how we feel inside and expresses the way we see the world. Crossing our arms, hunching our shoulders and keeping our heads and eyes cast down are just some examples of body language that can diminish our sparkle. Just as choosing written or spoken language to nurture our spirits in daily life, choosing positive body language and carrying ourselves gracefully can go a great way towards sparkling. Simply putting our shoulders back and lifting our heads can be transformative and empowering, from one moment to the next. Try it now! Our minds, bodies and spirits are in constant conversation. Connecting the energy of our inner sparkle with our physical bodies is fortifying, healing magic. The explosion of research in the field of positive psychology over the last two decades has debunked many myths about happiness. For example, we now know that the notion that people are born either happy or not happy is false. We've also learned that happiness cannot be gained through circumstantial changes, such as winning the lottery or getting married. Instead research shows that a large part of happiness is determined by what people do and how they think. This means that you're in the driver's seat. The goal is not to be happy once you drop a specific number of pounds or maintain a weight for a certain time, but in pursuing these goals. Once you make the pursuit of happiness your primary goal, all of these other things will fall into place. And, hopefully, you'll soon find that with minimal effort, you can live an inspired, motivated, happy, and fulfilled life--the life you were meant to live. It's fairly common in therapy for me to hear, "I feel worse than when I walked through your door." While this doesn't sound like a resounding endorsement of therapy or my own services, it reflects how change occurs. When you're stirring the emotional pot and gently challenging familiar belief systems, it's stressful. You're choosing to give up tight control over yourself.

You can experience discomfort, agitation, and confusion. What you thought you knew, you don't know. What you felt about your life and your choices, you now question. It can all be disturbing for a while. Some people quit therapy at this juncture, because the stress is simply too much. That's where they are in their lives, and I try to honor and support that when it occurs. But feeling worse before you feel better is a normal part of the process. Since this is your own journey, since you're trying to read and journal your way to a new way of being, feeling worse may seem very disappointing. Your partner or spouse might notice, "You don't seem like your chipper self. What's going on?" The tendency at this point may be to pull out of the ring and return to what you know. Hopefully, this reflection will help steady your resolve and keep you moving forward, even if you feel crummy. Remember Haw from the beginning quote of this chapter? "So he did what he would do if he wasn't afraid. He moved in a new direction." It's okay to be afraid, but you don't want your fear to govern you. Since I'm about to ask you to write down the defining moments in your life, I might as well give you a head start. One of the most powerful, outcome-determinative circumstances that you will ever experience in your life has already happened, and you inherited it. You were not consulted, and you had no choice in the matter, yet it was a huge deal, I guarantee it. Before you rack your brain too hard trying to figure out what could be so important, just think about the fortuitous nature of where you were born, what family you were born into, and who you grew up around. In other words, without question, a defining moment of overwhelming significance for you was the moment of your birth. You didn't get a vote; it just happened.