Or what if they've been a strong part of enabling you now? How are they going to respond to your new insights and real emotions? Changes in these relationships can run up against a lot of resistance or simply be impossible. On the other hand, it may not happen; you may fear it and it never occurs (as we saw in Spencer's story). But if it does, it can be very disappointing. You want and need to create relationships in which you can be real. Whether you're a teenager or a thirtysomething or a fiftysomething, if there's one point I've tried to make in this book, it's that this work might save your life--not simply emotionally but your very life. Reaching out, choosing who you can trust, and risking opening up to them is paramount to not only healing but also to moving away from the dark thoughts that can come to those lost in loneliness and hopelessness. And as you read earlier, if you're under eighteen and in these circumstances, if your fear of opening up to your parents is too great, please look for an adult you can trust--a relative, a friend's parent, a teacher, a counselor--who can listen and help. Bottom line: If it's one or all of the above, if you fail to test the perceptions that flow through and from these filters, you could make serious errors in judgment, because your perceptions, born from history and a fear of pain, may very well be flat wrong and you could be ignoring what is really out there for you. And when it's your life we're talking about, you don't have room to be flat wrong. With all of that in mind, let me state as clearly as I can the focus and challenge of this chapter. Your self-concept is at risk, because you are most likely misleading yourself with all kinds of misinformation that you currently accept as "true." You are probably wearing "upside-down glasses." When we see our food as sacred and our bodies as worthy of real, whole food, we eat just as much as we need to be fulfilled and satisfied. We become attuned to our bodies and have a clear sense of their needs, likes and dislikes. We develop rituals and routines around the times of day we like to eat and the types of foods that best feed our sparkles. When nourished we are energised to move and enjoy our bodies, exercising with pleasure. We can begin to heal our confusion, stress and tension, making way for the truly joyous, intuitive relationship with our food and earth we deserve to know. Such a relationship is essential for our health and happiness. Food is not only delicious and nourishing, it is a form of information for our bodies. The simpler and clearer the information, the easier it is for our bodies to understand and assimilate.

Our natural bodies recognise natural foods; foods that support and rebuild us daily for life; foods that create healthy blood and bones, happy, healthy organs and sparkling cells. Chemicals, artificial colours, sweeteners, flavour enhancers and additives of all kinds in the processed foods we eat deplete and sicken us. They affect our minds and bodies in profound, unwanted ways. So much unnecessary disease and suffering can be prevented simply by transforming our ways with food. This is why for sparkling health and happiness I always choose natural, uncomplicated, nutrient-rich whole foods. I joyously draw on ingredients my eyes and my body can recognise. I enjoy celebrating these ingredients through simple cooking, and by savouring my food with great delight. Unlike the standardized IQ measure, there is no test that can gauge a person's emotional abilities. Many organizations and businesses utilize personality surveys like the Myers-Briggs inventory to highlight psychological traits and make hiring decisions. However, there is no true measure of a mother's ability to love, a father's ability to forgive, or a business professional's intuitive ability to size up clients and seal deals. When you meet someone for the first time, what do you think about? Do you form an opinion of your new acquaintance based solely on the basis of his or her intelligence? What about job hunting? Is intellectual prowess the only trait worth considering? What about character, disposition, creativity, and reliability? IQ does matter, and high intelligence does create an impression, but they are hardly the only trait that makes a difference. Creative geniuses like Thomas Jefferson, Orson Welles, and Albert Einstein are estimated to have had above-average IQs, but not out-of-this-world scores. Their genius derived from the totality of their character---their passions, creativity, and intellect. Exceptionally smart people often make stupid decisions because they have emotional blind spots. In fact, the skills people use on a daily basis, such as making new friends, working at the office, eating meals, and interacting with family, are far more dependent on emotional intelligence.

Whether prompted by internal or external triggers, the resulting action is either aligned with our broader intention (traction) or misaligned (distraction). Traction helps us accomplish goals; distraction leads us away from them. The challenge, of course, is that our world has always been full of things designed to distract us. Today, people find themselves attached to their mobile phones, but they are only the latest potential hindrance. People complained about the brain-melting power of television since its inception. Before that, it was the telephone, comic books, and the radio. Even the written word was blamed for creating "forgetfulness in the learners' souls," according to Socrates. Though some of these things seem dull in comparison to today's enticements, distractions have and always will be facts of life. Today's distractions, however, feel different. The amount of information available, the speed at which it can be disseminated, and the ubiquity of access to new content on our devices has made for a trifecta of distraction. If it's a distraction you seek, it's easier than ever to find. Consider the quote at the beginning of this chapter. Don Miguel Ruiz points out that you have the right to be who you are and ask for what you need and want. Just because you're living by a certain agreement or understanding now doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't change. Yet, like watching a fireworks display, what can start out as a tiny burst of color can spread and fill the entire sky in a gorgeous array of light. Change in one relationship can bolster your realization of how powerful and joyful it can be to let go of shame and live in self-acceptance. That realization can lead to risking change in another relationship, then another, and then another. You may also find that as these changes take root, and you discover how much happier and more relaxed you feel while also being productive and competent, you'll attract more of that kind of energy into your life. More people will sense the changes in you and be ready and willing to share their inner vulnerabilities with you as well. Let's focus for a moment on the various responses you might receive from those you approach about your own change and healing.

Whether they are a spouse or partner, friend or colleague, parent or other family member, the transition can go smoothly. But not always. The analogy of filters is a helpful way of thinking about perception and about how you color your perceptions of self and the world. It's a useful concept, but it's also just that, a "concept." It gets us only part of the way to a working understanding of how the way you perceive things affects your self-concept and life. To demystify the process further, by clarifying what actually happens within you, we need to get real about your self-talk. That's because, as information flows through your filter, it takes the form of words. It becomes a dialogue, a conversation that you have with yourself. (By the way, it's not "crazy" to talk to yourself, unless you're doing it out loud while you're standing in line at the grocery store or, really, anytime if you're saying really stupid stuff!) The negatives that you fixate on and internalize; the self-criticism; the distorted views of yourself and the world: All of that is expressed in this internal dialogue. So if we're going to stop and take notice of your filters, we have to address what you talk about when you talk to yourself--which you do, every waking moment of your life. One of the most important lessons I have learned is to take care to eat light at night; it allows our bodies to detoxify overnight without the burden of digesting a heavy meal, is great for the management of our healthy weight, and allows us to wake up with far greater clarity and energy. I also activate all my nuts and seeds. This involves soaking them and slow-drying them in a very low-temperature oven; it makes them more digestible and removes any unwanted surface nasties. You can also buy them pre-activated at most good health food stores. Wherever possible I prefer to eat freshly prepared food rather tha packaged, defrosted or reheated food. Fresh food fills our bodies with energising nutrients uplifting us with rainbows of colour, and imbues us with real aliveness. Hippocrates taught that all disease begins in the gut. Understanding so much more about the connection between the gut and brain as we do now through modern science, we can see that a suffering digestive system can have far-reaching and profound consequences. Depression, anxiety, brain fog, low mood, skin conditions and systematic inflammation are just several examples of suffering that can be related to our compromised gut health. Choosing to eat fresh, natural, seasonal, nutrient-dense plant-based foods rich in pre- and pro-biotics, minimising or at best avoiding exposure to food chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides and pharmaceutical drugs, and drinking ample fresh water every day are simple, conscious approaches to supporting our lifelong wellness. Indeed, high energy, radiant, dewy skin, bright eyes and agile, active bodies are outer markers of deep nourishment.

Decades ago, success was entirely dependent on the traditional model of intelligence. Bright children succeeded in school. Smart young adults graduated from college. Successful adults become professionals in nice offices. The ability to thrive on an emotional playing field was all but ignored. Today, there has been much progress in the right direction. Children are pushed to be creative. College students no longer sit behind desks in tiny classrooms; they have classes outdoors, take art courses, and are encouraged to join and work on behalf of causes in which they believe. Companies are no longer focused exclusively on the Harvard grad with a 4.0 grade point average; instead, they want highly motivated, emotionally savvy, and socially well-adjusted individuals who can harness the power of positive expectations and make a difference in the world. A perfect GPA from an Ivy League school certainly won't hurt your chances of landing a great job, but emotional intelligence matters more than ever. "But wait," I can hear you thinking, "aren't highly intelligent people able to learn the skills they need to succeed rather than rely on the strength of emotional intelligence?" To a point, the answer is yes. Those who are mentally gifted can usually find a solution to a problem. However, that does not mean a decision or reaction made solely on the basis of intellectual intelligence is the best one. Emotions are like heuristics: they are intuitive shortcuts that can help you make quick decisions when time is of the essence. What is the cost of all that distraction? In 1971 the psychologist Herbert A. Simon presciently wrote, "The wealth of information means a dearth of something else . a poverty of attention." Researchers tell us attention and focus are the raw materials of human creativity and flourishing. In the age of increased automation, the most sought-after jobs are those that require creative problem-solving, novel solutions, and the kind of human ingenuity that comes from focusing deeply on the task at hand. Socially, we see that close friendships are the bedrock of our psychological and physical health.