In each of these instances, your fear-threat system -- the part of your brain that is supposed to help you respond to imminent threats to your health and safety -- is actually being hijacked by something that may be concerning but is certainly not an imminent threat. What difference does this make? It means that in each of these cases, you are not really experiencing fear. Rather, you feel fearful in these instances because the concerning event caused a misfiring of your fear-threat system. This is a small, but significant difference. It means that the answer to your problem -- despite how you might be feeling -- is not obsessively thinking about how you could apologize for an offense you're not even sure you committed, staying up all night trying to figure out how you are going to pay your bills and where you are going to live after your boss fires you for messing up the presentation, or obsessively looking around for something -- anything -- to blame for your looming sense of panic and dread. Instead, you must step back and help your insular cortex relabel your experience of anxiety, not as a reasonable reaction to an obviously threatening situation, but rather as a sign that your fear circuits in your brain are misfiring. Instead of running around trying to figure out how you can fix something going on around you, you must instead figure out how to control your brain and body. Then, and only then, will you be able to correctly assess what to do about the situation itself. If we have ADD, we often have trouble finding a direction in life. In high school I had no idea what I wanted to do. The guidance counselor said that since I was good in math and science I should go into engineering. So I started college majoring in engineering and soon saw that it wasn't my thing. The new discoveries about the internal structure of the atom were fascinating, so I changed to physics, but I couldn't do the math. And it was all math. So that wasn't my thing either. I never imagined that I'd go into medicine. My parents didn't believe in doctors, I got nauseated if anyone talked about their operation and I didn't like blood. But the summer after my sophomore year, I was working as an orderly. I found out that I wanted to be a doctor.

No, that I had to be a doctor. This was a shock. I had to take two summer courses in biology to apply to medical school. I feared that my college grades were too bad but I was accepted. This was a shock too. I planned to go into family practice, but I got fascinated by pediatrics and psychiatry. I never regretted finally choosing psychiatry and have never considered changing. I do see that I've changed jobs and locations about every ten years. So my occupational path was not a straight one. With ADD, we tend to flounder occupationally, not knowing what we want or what we can do. We also tend to change jobs frequently. In my case, I spent many years of my adult life working as a clinical education manager. At that time, I thought I had found my niche in my career, and that it was my purpose. I was ready to spend the rest of my career doing what I went to school for, and I worked my way up through promotions. Then my life shifted to a greater calling that swiftly changed every plan and direction I had ever taken in my life. That was when the divine presence of light took my life on a different path for me to discover my real purpose. My genuine purpose came from the deep pain I experienced on September 19, 2007, when my father was having a massive subdural hematoma--that is, bleeding inside his skull was putting pressure on his brain. That was the day when I knew I needed to make a difference in the world. Now it's your time to pause and answer these questions. Before you answer, go to that place of quiet we have just talked about.

Do you know what your divine purpose is? Write it down as clearly as you can. Have you ever had a deep sense about doing something great in your life, but you backed off? What was your reason? Do you have a talent that you would like to share but haven't taken the time to embrace yet? Why? Have you created a sacred place of silence in which to meditate? Where is it? If you have not, why not? Have you ever sabotaged your gifts by pretending they don't exist? Do you have any regrets for not following your heart? What is stopping you? Think about it. If you must be perfect, then you would be perfect because must implies necessity, which means it could not be any other way. But you are not perfect. Nobody is. Have you ever been jealous, gotten angry unnecessarily, believed falsely, misjudged something or someone, drew an illogical inference, forgotten something, or treated someone unfairly? If you are honest (and human), you will answer a resounding yes! And I suspect you can add many other things to the list to prove the point that you are not even near-perfect. This is nothing personal.

It's just the way human beings (including yours truly) are: imperfect. Therefore, your demand that you must be perfect or near-perfect is hereby refuted. It is contradicted by human nature itself. In other words, there is a contradiction in demanding that an imperfect being be perfect, or that a less-than-near-perfect being be near-perfect. Once you have determined (however tentatively) that the situation triggering your anxiety is not the source of any imminent, immediate danger, the second step is to relax your body. As I indicated above, instead of continuing to tell yourself that "I am anxious because X (non-life-threatening event) happened" you must reattribute the anxiety you feel to a "pinched nerve" in your brain that results in the misfiring of your fear-threat system. You can then intentionally shift your focus away from the concerning event for the time being (we'll come back to it in a minute) and refocus on relaxing your body and getting your fear-threat system back under control. I want to be clear. In stating this, I am not saying that your anxiety is not real. It is very real. Because anxiety hijacks the fear-threat system, you are feeling genuine fear, perhaps even a crushing amount. What you are reading here should not be interpreted to suggest that your anxiety isn't a serious problem. In fact, what I am asserting is that more than some figment of your imagination, problems with anxiety are always serious physiological events. The good news, however, is that rather than being made fearful because of some situation that is largely outside of your control, your anxiety is actually being caused by a process that, with practice, you can learn to control. There is a Chinese saying that goes, If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.1 I find true wisdom in these words. Helping others feeds the well of deep beauty and inner worth. Throughout my life, I have seen the transformation that occurs when people give back to others in both small and big ways.

They don't expect a building to be named after them. They don't expect their businesses to profit. They don't expect any kind of reward. They give back. Period. I have a dear friend named Maria who is one of the most beautiful and giving spirits I have ever known. A wife, mother of two, and grandmother, she also is the caregiver of her ninety-two-year-old mother, works full-time, and volunteers at our weekly meditation sessions. Maria always has a sweet smile on her face no matter what she is going through. One day I asked her how she manages her busy life and still finds time to serve others. Carolyn, she explained. When I share love, the love that I get back is far greater than I can ever give. It settles and soothes my soul. I give love because it makes me feel good. I don't need to be recognized for doing it. The only thing I want and need in my life is to live a life of purpose, peace, and thanksgiving. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be? Such a sweet and simple answer! Let's hear some more stories and thoughts on giving back. Here I once had Canute's story, illustrating the effects of ADD on our lives, the problems with finding a suitable occupation, and the potential benefits of therapy and medication. However, his story is amazingly similar to Bertie's, the poker player; you were going to read it and say, "Hey, what's this?