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Something severely lacking in depression and anxiety is the access to energy. The biggest benefit I want you to focus upon now is the fact that your body will become flooded with oxygen and endorphins. I do not wish to make this book a technical explanation about the chemicals in the body. I am interested here in sharing my experience in working with clients - what worked, and not wasting time discussing what did not. One common excuse used in discussing why exercise is not relevant to depression is that when depressed, you have a severe lack of energy. Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard expressed it beautifully when he described human beings as syntheses of the infinite and finite, temporal and eternal, freedom and necessity. Indeed, delighting, comforting and expressing our timeless free spirits in the context of a physical world of day-to-day responsibilities, activities and relationships is a conscious form of art. When we take the time to listen lovingly to the calls of our spirits and embrace the magic all around us, we cultivate truly fulfilling lives. Buddha says that if our compassion does not include ourselves, it is incomplete. Indeed, caring for our minds, bodies and spirits with loving compassion and tenderness is not selfish or indulgent; it is simply essential. When we support ourselves to truly enjoy our lives, we sparkle from deep within. We possess energy with which to be kind towards others, to explore our dreams, and to contribute meaningfully while here on earth. There are countless ways to stimulate the brain's pleasure centers. That's a good enough reason as any to go out and try something new. Leaving your comfort zone can be exciting and joyful, and it's also a great way to meet new people, which can further increase happiness. Of course, you don't have to do something new or different--you could always return to activities you haven't tried in a while. Figure out what pleasures and passions you want to pursue using the questions below. It was once believed--not too long ago, in fact--that the brain developed throughout childhood and then became immutable. With the recent advances of neuroimaging techniques such as MRI and PET scans, we now know that this is not true. Scientists have discovered that the brain has dynamic properties throughout life; that is, nerve cells (neurons) are able to form new connections, stimulate new pathways through the brain, and assume new roles and functions.

In other words, our brains are evolving all the time. Through purposeful attention, mental training, and practice, we can change our brains and change ourselves. The more you practice a new behavior, the more integrated or groomed the pathway becomes. For example, research shows that meditation alters the physical structure of the brain. Brain scans reveal that experienced meditators show increased thickness in parts of the brain related to attention and sensory input. These findings are consistent with other studies that demonstrate increased thickness of music areas in the brains of musicians, and visual and motor areas in the brains of jugglers. We all need help. You're not here to do it on your own. The experiences of others who have identified with perfectly hidden depression are More generally, how good are you at asking for help? Maybe you can, maybe not. Try to think and write about several times when, in hindsight, you could've asked for help and didn't. What stopped you? What would you like to believe about asking for help now? Asking for what you need is one thing. But what would it be like to share your healing journey with one trusted person? Having someone to talk with, to bounce ideas off of, to seek reassurance from, and to ask help from can be vital for your commitment and intention to thrive. You may not be ready. That's okay if you're not, but I want you to gently consider its importance. Going it alone is definitely something you'll want to change. And if you begin to practice, a little at a time, you'll learn how to engage more fully and feel more connected with others.

It's not important with whom you begin your journey but that, at your own pace, you begin. You can start by looking at someone in your inner circle. Or you may decide to start with someone who you know is a confidential source of guidance and support, such as a therapist. In thinking about your most important external experiences, I want you to be especially sensitive to and on the lookout for a particular kind of life experience and associated consequence that may have had a hugely powerful impact on your life and your self-concept. I am talking about what I call psychic disfigurement. Psychic disfigurement explains how something that happened to you in the fifth grade, for example, can affect you when you are forty-two years old. If there is some possibility that it plays a part in your self-concept, now is the time to begin thinking about that possibility. Psychic disfigurement can best be understood through the analogy of a burn to the skin. When people are traumatically burned, often the incident itself is over almost as soon as it began. There may be only milliseconds between the skin's first contact with the flame, acid, or other agent, and the time when both layers of skin, as well as the underlying tissue, are completely destroyed. Considered in one way, the injury is "over." The burning has stopped. Yet we know that the injury is far from over. For instance, a person who has been unfortunate enough to suffer a burn on his or her face, and who is noticeably scarred as a result, will tell you that it changes how they feel about their adequacy. They become far more uncertain about going out into the world. In other words, the same disfigurement they have suffered physically has also affected their psyche. If there is a visible scar on their face, they say, "I cannot and will not go out there and present myself." Now suppose that a person has suffered some traumatic injury that leaves no physical scars. Perhaps a trusted relative molested them. Maybe they were verbally assaulted by a parent or betrayed by a person they had come to rely on as a friend. Perhaps, as a young child, they watched helplessly as some horrible tragedy unfolded before their eyes. Again, the incident itself may have ended in a flash.

From the moment the injury began until it ended may have taken less time than it takes to snap your fingers. Yet what happens to that person's self-concept, their psyche? It is wounded, scarred, disfigured. Clearly, your pain of staying the same is not as much as the pain of facing change. Offended? I'm glad you were. Truth hurts, as has been said many times before. The good news is that after denial comes realisation. In the process of death (letting go of something), you are at stage two, which means you have made progress. You can now move on leaps and bounds by going back and completing the exercises. When should you do the exercises? Now is as good a time as any. If you are more serious about being better than you were yesterday. Is all this doing leading you to your desired outcome? It is a very good idea to measure the effect of our doing. There are various models to use to monitor how you are doing. In Neuro-Linguistic Programming, the T.O.T.E. (Test Operate Test Exit) 20 strategy is applied. I find the Deming Cycle of P.D.C.A. (Plan Do Check Act) just as useful, though maybe that's because Dr Edwards Deming was such an influence on me in the business world.

Am I feeling better than I did yesterday? Of course each day will have ups and downs. It is a bit like weighing your body. Not every day and then make sure it is the same time every day. We will explore this in the next chapter. At this point, it would be safe to say that a healthy way of keeping track of how you are doing, feedback of changes to make or repeat, are a good thing. Our thoughts are choices that we make, moment to moment, and they shape our actions and experiences. Regardless of how we might have thought up until this moment, magical thinking is available to each and every one of us, right now. Awareness of our present moment is mindfulness, and mindfulness is essential to our personal and collective sparkling on earth. Buddha reminds us that what we do today matters most. We must know that it is truly possible for us to embrace ourselves and the magic of life, right now. Just as we have chosen so many things in our lives, we can choose to think kinder, more patient and generous thoughts and, in doing so, become kinder, more patient and giving human beings. We can choose to nurture our spiritual wellness by championing joy, wonder and playfulness, and by practising gratitude rather than taking things for granted. We can choose compassionate listening and full presence over quick judgement and distraction. We can choose to support, uplift and inspire one another rather than compare and compete with each other. Positive thoughts empower us to act in ways that bring real joy to ourselves and others. Like our thoughts, our words are made of energy and possess great power. If we wish to sparkle, we must speak in ways that elevate and inspire ourselves and those with whom we share our world. Our words can be hurtful or healing, limiting or radically empowering. I want to impart one important lesson: You may have been taught that you can't engage in activities you love until you finish your obligations.