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In your life right now, there may be lots of people who believe in and encourage you. Your "supporting cast" may number in the hundreds, yet I'd be willing to bet that if you have even one or two critics--one or two naysayers--those "noisy" few can command your full attention, often drowning out the effects of all of the positive input. Why? Because it hurts to be rejected, criticized, and attacked and we pay attention to pain. As with the robber's pistol, your filters are sensitized to painful threats and you see those threats to your self-concept more vividly and memorably than you see anything else. Just as importantly, they linger: Those negatives tend to stay with you for years. Think about an actor on the stage: hundreds of adoring fans can be respectfully and adoringly rapt in their attention, yet one heckler can dominate the performer's entire experience and memory of the night. Experiencing the food we eat with gratitude and pleasure is a joy. William Shakespeare wrote `'Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers'! Getting messy in the kitchen, touching, feeling, creating with natural whole foods is an immersive, creative pleasure. The vast array of colourful fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grasses and whole grains available to us provide limitless inspiration for creativity and indulgence. The natural colours in our foods convey their healing, fortifying and medicinal qualities. The more colourfully we eat, the greater variety of vitamins and minerals we take in to refresh our sparkles. Growing herbs in our gardens or on our windowsills, sprouting tiny seeds on our bench-tops, soaking nuts and whole grains and pickling delicious jars of vegetables are simple and joyous activities to explore and enjoy. If we can grow fruits and vegetables ourselves, or source them at a farm gate or farmers' market, we are blessed. Clear, bright, sparkling eyes, luminous skin and a bountiful life force are outer markers of our inner sparkles, our bodies and spirits illuminated with sacred nourishment. Clear thinking, a joyous personal energy, peace of mind and a sense of connection, compassion and harmony with Mother Earth are sparkling, spiritual markers of true nourishment. When we embrace the magic of life and of our very own bodies we are naturally, inevitably compelled to make healthy choices in support of our wellness. We see no other alternative; it simply feels right to nourish ourselves in harmony with nature. We also see that delighting in food is nothing less than a spiritual experience.

Gender differences can play a role in emotional acuity. According to conventional wisdom, women are better at experiencing, handling, and processing emotions than men. However, there is a substantial body of research indicating that women have the social freedom to be expressive, whereas men are conditioned from a young age to be as emotionless as possible. Some people are more innately inclined toward emotional intelligence than others. Cultural norms surrounding how emotions are used in modern culture can be quite influential. A final factor in the potential success of emotional intelligence involves personality differences. Some people are born nurturing and compassionate, and others are not. Some people are even conditioned to develop harmful traits like aggression, suspicion, and jealousy. It is important to realize that each of us is distinctive and inimitable. We have our own unique feelings, experiences, emotions, and personalities. These differences make our communities vibrant, our cultures rich, and our lives beautiful. Some people are more disposed toward positive thinking, more adept at managing emotions, and keener at harnessing their passions. Nevertheless, we all have the ability to learn and develop these skills over time. Pragmatism means that one must look at the practical value of ideas. James believed scientists wasted their time on abstract ideas and theories that had no impact on people's lives. Would you change the way you lived if a scientist proved how the earth was created? Louis Menand, author of Pragmatism: A Reader, says of the principle of pragmatism that, "We can never hope for absolute proof of anything. All our decisions are bets on what the universe is today, and what it will do tomorrow." Regardless of what people think of pragmatism, one thing is sure: William James did a favor to Peirce by crediting the philosophy to him. And that is exactly what makes James great. He didn't strive to take credit for something that he created.

Because without James' actions and promotion of pragmatism, the philosophy wouldn't exist and Peirce would be forgotten. Pragmatists like William James, Charles Sanders Peirce, and John Dewey didn't view themselves as philosophers. In fact, they believed that most of philosophy was useless. Even though we might call them philosophers today, they had other professions. Throughout history, pragmatic thinkers had occupations like judges, educators, politicians, and poets. Instead of talking endlessly about which philosophy is best, they used the ideas of pragmatism to live a better life. And to live a good life, you don't need endless study of philosophy. Instead, we must act! That's why I've kept the further reading of this books short. If you want to read more about pragmatic thinking, I recommend reading William James' work. He is by far my favorite pragmatic thinker. The biography of James by Ralph Barton is also a great view inside his practical mind, and contains his journal entries. If you just want to read one book on pragmatism in general, I recommend Louis Menand's book, which contains several important texts from the most important pragmatist philosophers. In his book, Menand also shares an insightful introduction that reveals more about the core ideas of pragmatism. The ancient Greeks immortalized the story of a man who was perpetually distracted. We call something that is desirable but just out of reach "tantalizing" after his name. The story goes that Tantalus was banished to the underworld by his father, Zeus, as a punishment. There he found himself wading in a pool of water while a tree dangled ripe fruit above his head. The curse seems benign, but when Tantalus tried to pluck the fruit, the branch moved away from him, always just out of reach. When he bent down to drink the cool water, it receded so that he could never quench his thirst.

Tantalus's punishment was to yearn for things he desired but could never grasp. You have to hand it to the ancient Greeks for their allegories. It's hard to portray a better representation of the human condition. We are constantly reaching for something: more money, more experiences, more knowledge, more status, more stuff. The ancient Greeks thought this was just part of the curse of being a fallible mortal and used the story to portray the power of our incessant desires. A few of you may have taken the bull by the horns and forged ahead. If so, that's wonderful and I hope you've experienced the benefits of deepening that relationship. But for many of you, these relationship changes may have remained in your imagination. Why? Because they can definitely be the scariest to make. When you start to let go and open up, you're inviting someone else into what has been your very private world. You can feel anxious and exposed. Even though you're sharing with people you love, or people who've been close to you (or as close as you've let anyone become), you can still be hesitant. Because while you're describing your own fresh revelations, you're also inviting change in the relationship. You may be quite nervous but also eager to see if your relationships can travel in a similar direction as you--becoming more open, more spontaneous, and more accepting of imperfection. Especially with your partner, you may hope that they're able to meet you somewhere in the middle and communicate in a more real way. You want to create a kind of intimacy that you've never enjoyed. You want to be loved and accepted the way you are. You want true happiness. No secrets.

No hiding. In other words, your filters are largely a product of your past experience, yet you drag them with you, every second of every day, as you travel through your current life. Maybe the filters were, in fact, accurate in some past situation, but do they still fit? Or are you judging the present based on some event that is over and done with? Are you judging the people you meet today based on what they do or who they are or are you instead judging them based on what others have done in your past? As any of those college students could have told you, a distorted life feels more and more natural the longer you live it. Put another way, a lie unchallenged soon becomes the truth. And we, of course, live consistently with the "truth." The fact is that, unlike those students in the experiment, you've been interpreting the world, and your place in it, for a lot longer than a month. Your filters almost certainly feel "normal" to you. But what if, just like a prisoner of war or a cult member, you have been bombarded with false information about you for so long that you finally just started believing it and living as though it were real? Things may look perfectly normal by now, but are they? Or do they only look that way because it's been so long since you had an unobstructed view of who you are and what you really care about that you don't even recognize what's real anymore? Have you simply forgotten? Maybe your life has seemingly become such a struggle of daily "survival," what with bills, kids, marriage, job and family, guilt and turmoil, that your filter is so contaminated with problems that nothing else gets through. Maybe you tell your self that there is just no use in trying to get what you really want. The foods we eat can either grow or slow us. The food we eat not only fuels us for life and builds our bodies, it affects our moods, stress and energy levels, contributes to the balance or imbalance of our hormones, and shapes our gut and mental health. The quality of our food and the way we eat affects all aspects of our worlds, including our ability to concentrate and nurture relationships. It can determine our experiences of either deep healing or debilitating disease. Given that food is such a vital aspect of our wellbeing and moment-to-moment lives, we are wise to attend to the foods we choose to eat.