TM, or transcendental meditation, best describes this form of meditation in which mantra is often celebrated as a gateway to sublime and natural `out of body' experiences. The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, "A depressed man lives in a depressed world." Similarly, the way we view the world is critical to the lives we lead, and ultimately to the successes or failures we will experience. Negative emotions and poor self-esteem have a tendency to be self-reinforcing. On the other hand, positive emotions and a deeply rooted belief in yourself can help you overcome adversity and surmount all challenges and obstacles. You can harness the power of emotional intelligence. Observing, labeling, and channeling emotions can help you become the skillful, bright, and successful person you have always been meant to be. Exercising EQ will help you achieve even the loftiest goals. When you use the ability to understand, control, and express your emotions in appropriate and logical ways, then you can get the results you want each and every time. I know you harbor deeply meaningful goals. Setting high expectations and believing in yourself are the first steps in accomplishing your aims. Cultivating and applying emotional intelligence will help you along your path. Expect the best from yourself. With the right focus, motivation, and drive, you can build the foundations for success. I have confidence in you. Are you ready to believe in yourself and make your dreams come true? Another factor is rumination, our tendency to keep thinking about bad experiences. If you've ever chewed over something in your mind that you did, or that someone did to you, or over something that you don't have but wanted, over and over again, seemingly unable to stop thinking about it, you've experienced what psychologists call rumination. This "passive comparison of one's current situation with some unachieved standard" can manifest in self-critical thoughts such as, "Why can't I handle things better?" As one study notes, "By reflecting on what went wrong and how to rectify it, people may be able to discover sources of error or alternative strategies, ultimately leading to not repeating mistakes and possibly doing better in the future." Another potentially useful trait--but, boy, can it make us miserable. Boredom, negativity bias, and rumination can each prompt us to distraction. But a fourth factor may be the cruelest of all.

Hedonic adaptation, the tendency to quickly return to a baseline level of satisfaction, no matter what happens to us in life, is Mother Nature's bait and switch. All sorts of life events we think would make us happier actually don't, or at least they don't for long. For instance, people who have experienced extremely good fortune, such as winning the lottery, have reported that things they had previously enjoyed lost their luster, effectively returning them to their previous levels of satisfaction. As David Myers writes in The Pursuit of Happiness, "Every desirable experience--passionate love, a spiritual high, the pleasure of a new possession, the exhilaration of success--is transitory." Of course, as with the other three factors, there are evolutionary benefits to hedonic adaptation. The author of one study explains that as "new goals continually capture one's attention, one constantly strives to be happy without realizing that in the long run such efforts are futile." By considering their reaction as information, you can try to stay out of your own fearful or defensive reactions. You might have thoughts such as, What if they don't ever want to talk about it? Or, What if they expect me to be my old perfect-looking self? You can feel sad if it's going to be a harder journey than you expected. But your own alarm--your own fear--won't be helpful. Evaluating someone's response as information allows you to more objectively assess their capability to grow with you. If they can, then it's absolutely wonderful. If they cannot, then you have to process that as well. Anyone still following previous rules that you were following (that you now see as dysfunctional)--whether it's because of cultural or family beliefs--may not be capable of considering change. They may not understand how that belief system has been destructive for you. This becomes something you have to grieve. But it can be a relief as well. It's not your job to bring them along with you. It's your job to heal yourself. So, where does your internal dialogue get its information? What are its sources or its "inputs"?

Because we are a society of people who don't really know ourselves, we are highly vulnerable to input from all kinds of external sources: parents, peers, authority figures, newspapers, magazines, TV ads, Hollywood, and the Internet. If we really knew ourselves, who we were, what we believed, what we didn't believe, what we were all about, then we wouldn't be casting about allowing someone or something to define us from the outside in. My dad used to say: "Son, if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything!" As usual, he was right. If you don't know yourself and "stand up" for who and what you are, then the door is open for you to be influenced and dragged away from who you really are. We see and hear about this kind of input every day as it affects our children, when they get into drugs and other trouble because they let someone influence them to do things they would never initiate on their own. It happens because they aren't clear about who and what they are and, therefore, can't be sure that the proposed activity is not really "them." As applied to you, the input may consist of anything from a TV ad telling you to buy a new car so that you will be cool or sexy or successful, to the slick talk of some office "cool" jerk trying to get into your pants so that you can feel desired. All of these events trigger and then are interpreted by you through your internal dialogue. Dialogue A leads to one outcome, Dialogue B leads to a different outcome. The more those external people, TV ads, and other sources are able to influence us, the more our internal dialogue is reactive to outside influence, rather than reflective of who we know we are, the farther we stray from our authentic selves. While some of us may be drawn to a more formal practice of meditation, we might also find ourselves meditating in moving flow states while gardening, hand-crafting or performing any activity in which our mental attention is utterly focused while our minds and bodies are relaxed and at peace. We needn't be still, nor folded into a pretzel pose, to benefit from the art of meditation. The important thing to remember is that we simply cannot be bad at meditation; we can only be bad at finding time for it! Meditation is meant to be a joy, true nourishment for our sparkles. We can come to meditation with a sense of play or reverence, devotion or curiosity. However we come, we are called to open our hearts and minds. We are wise to remember that a tiny bit of meditation is better than none at all, and can even lead to a little bit more, and a little bit more beyond that! If you would like to explore meditation further I offer a few simple suggestions to bring comfort and happiness to your practice. You may like to find a string of prayer beads with which to meditate. Prayer beads help to keep our hands busy and assist us to focus our attention. We might like to repeat our affirmation or mantra one time per bead, moving around our circle until complete.

Prayer beads usually have a tassel along the line to mark our beginning and end point. If you like to meditate in a seated position, you might find yourself a beautiful, soft and comfortable cushion that supports you physically and allows you to feel as comfortable as possible throughout your meditation. Purpose-crafted meditation cushions can be found widely these days, or you may find the perfect cushion already existing somewhere around your home. I also highly recommend having a designated space in your home in which you can enjoy your meditations, imbuing this space with your special love and attention, and making it feel beautiful and sacred. You may like to bring a candle or some fresh flowers to this space, or any objects of beauty that enhance and elevate your meditation practice. Your expectations exert a gravitational pull on you. You are attracted to self-chosen goals because they come from deep within; they excite your passions in a way no externally imposed directive or aim can. By recognizing and cultivating your innate enthusiasm, you can harness an incredible wellspring of energy to your advantage. I've always approached expectations with a positive attitude. I have a passion for life, which I believe stems from my curiosity and my openness to new ideas and experiences. I realize expectations are ever changing, and accepting that is one of the keys to expectation therapy. Expectations are not something you simply understand intellectually---you must actively do something with them each and every day! Expectations involve a balancing act. You need to set ambitious goals, but you also have to set realistic expectations. You also have to adjust your expectations based on new information and circumstances. Choose worthy aims and be committed to them body, mind, and soul. But be prepared to adjust your expectations when the situation requires it. Can we cue the sad trombone music now? Is futility our fate? Absolutely not.

As we've learned, dissatisfaction is an innate power that can be channeled to help us make things better in the same way it served our prehistoric relatives. Dissatisfaction and discomfort dominate our brain's default state, but we can use them to motivate us instead of defeat us. Without our species' perpetual disquietude, we would be much worse off--and possibly extinct. It is our dissatisfaction that propels us to do everything we do, including to hunt, seek, create, and adapt. Even selfless acts, like helping someone, are motivated by our need to escape feelings of guilt and injustice. Our insatiable desire to reach for more is what drives us to overturn despots; it's what pushes the invention of world-changing and life-saving technologies; and it's the invisible fuel that drives our ambitions to travel beyond our planet and explore the cosmos. Dissatisfaction is responsible for our species' advancements and its faults. To harness its power, we must disavow the misguided idea that if we're not happy, we're not normal--exactly the opposite is true. While this shift in mind-set can be jarring, it can also be incredibly liberating. Let's talk a little more about capability. Incapability doesn't equate with withholding. You'd never go to a hardware store and expect to buy ice cream. Sometimes people aren't withholding something from you; they don't have it to give. Here's another example: If I'm thirsty and I know you have water (you are capable of giving it to me), but you don't offer me a drink, I can see clearly that you're withholding it from me. My reaction might vary from anger to desperation to sadness. But if I'm thirsty and I can see that you have no water to give, although I wish that you did, I'll have a different reaction. In the latter case, you eventually need to accept the fact that, at this moment, they aren't capable of giving you what you desire. Then you can decide where your boundaries are and act on them. If you hang in there, give your loved one time and space to consider what you're asking, then perhaps they'll also work toward a more intimate relationship--if they are capable--one that will support honesty, openness, and vulnerability. And please remember that when those external messages strike at our sense of value and worth, we tend to be especially vulnerable, much more so than when the subject matter is more concrete.