I always say, keep a diary and someday it'll keep you.
Whenever something good happens, write it down. Buy a special notebook--perhaps one of those cloth-covered, fancy, hard-cover ones--and use it to list all the good in your life.
Include the good that happens to you and the good you do for yourself and for others. Spend ten minutes a day--or longer--remembering and writing the good.
The entries don't have to be long. They don't have to make sense to anyone but you. "Watched beautiful sunrise," "Talked to Grandma," "Saw great TV show," "Pain in left arm is less," "Got letter from Chris."
Begin your notebook with the entry, "Bought myself the most wonderful book," followed by, "Am writing the most wonderful book"--because you will be.
We tend to forget the good and remember the bad. We seem to be programmed that way. Writing down the good helps reprogram us. We retrain ourselves to focus on the positive and then to work with that positivity in a physical, material way (writing).
Use the book whenever you're feeling low. Read through it. Remember the good. It will lift your spirits and help reestablish your self-esteem.
If you want more joy in your life, do whatever you're doing with more joy.
There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.
How? Just do it. How do you behave when you're joyful? Behave that way. What do you think when you're joyful? Think that way. How do you feel when you're joyful? Feel that way.
The joy begins a cycle of joy, which produces more joy, which produces even more joy.
You don't have to do anything special or different--just do whatever you're doing with joy.
The same is true of loving, happiness, compassion--all the good attitudes of life. Doing with loving produces more loving. Doing with happiness produces more happiness. Doing with compassion produces more compassion.
It's a wonderful, upward spiral that starts whenever you decide to start it. How about now?
I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure which is: Try to please everybody.
HERBERT BAYARD SWOPE
No matter how powerful we are, we have a few fairly significant limitations:
Given all this, it's obvious that we can't--contrary to the claims of some positive thinkers, self-help books, and TV commercials--"Have it all." There's just too much "all" and not enough time.
You can, however--contrary to the claims of negative thinkers, third-grade teachers, and those who always listen to reason--have anything you want. The only limitations on "anything" are, "Can it be gotten by anyone?" and "Is it available?" If the answer to those two questions is yes, it's there for you as well.
One must not lose desires. They are mighty stimulants to creativeness, to love and to long life.
Don't get lost in "possible" or "impossible." If you have no money and say, "I want ten million dollars," some might think it's impossible. But it's not. Lots of people have started out with no money and made ten million dollars.
Just concern yourself with "workable" and "not-workable." Not-workable might be, "I want to be the first man on the moon." That's not workable. It's already been done. But to be the first woman on the moon--that's workable. It hasn't been done yet.
To get what you want takes ten simple steps. Simple, but if your desire is gargantuan, not necessarily easy. These ten steps also work for less-than-gargantuan desires, in which case fulfillment will be easier.
If you keep in mind that you can't have everything you want, here's how to get anything you want:
There. That's it. How to get anything you want.
If you have a life-threatening illness, these steps can be the blueprint for your recovery. As long as one other person has survived the illness you currently have, you can be number two. And if no one has survived the illness, you can be number one.
We lived for days on nothing but food and water.
W. C. FIELDS
Frankly, however, the stickler in there--"the fine print," if you will--is number five: Desire it above all else. Some people wonder if there is something beyond this physical world. They start to desire--above all else--an answer to the question, "What happens after death?"
If they believe in God, they often--above all else--want to know God, to feel God's presence more abundantly, to prepare, as they say, "to meet their maker."
Even W. C. Fields, shortly before his death (Christmas Day, 1945), was discovered by a friend propped up in bed reading a Bible. "Bill!" his friend said. "You don't believe in God. What are you doing reading the Bible?"
"Looking for loopholes," Fields replied. I like to think he found his loophole.
The struggle is not just between the habit of negative thinking and the positive focus required to heal your body; the struggle is also between staying here--in this body, on this planet--or going on to someplace many people have described as far greater than here.
As the king in The King and I said, "Is a puzzlement."
As the bumper sticker reads: "Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die."
Or, as I say, "You can have anything you want; you just can't have everything you want."
(Lots more on choosing and obtaining what you want is in my book DO IT! Let's Get Off Our Buts. Available at bookstores, or call 1-800-LIFE-101.)
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Everyone has a purpose. Very few people know what theirs is. What's yours?
A purpose can be summed up in just a few words. It usually begins, "I am . . . ." It's a simple but powerful statement about why you're here and what you are here to do.
In fact, it's what you've already been doing all along. You have been fulfilling your purpose your whole life, even if you don't consciously know what your purpose is.
A purpose is not a goal. A purpose can never be obtained, reached, or checked off. A purpose is fulfilled, continuously, in every moment. Goals that can be defined, achieved, and noted are but way stations along life's purpose.
Some examples of purposes: "I am a joyful explorer," "I am a lover of life," "I am a servant of spirit," "I am a giver of happiness," "I am a willing student of life," "I am a scout," "I am a servant of humanity," "I am a joyful giver," "I learn and I teach," "I know and I grow," "I am a silent contributor," "I am a cheerful disciple," "I am an intense appreciator," "I am a lighthearted creator." Get the idea?
A purpose is general enough to fit many situations, but specific enough to fit you perfectly. "I am a student of life" might fit almost anyone. "I am a festive student of life" might be you.
You may want your life to go in a certain way. That's not necessarily your purpose. Statements about what you want are called affirmations. We'll talk about those later. Your purpose is what you are already doing. You can look back on your life and say, "Yes, I've been doing that all along," and you can look ahead and say, "Yes, that's what I'll be doing from now on."
Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose-- a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.
MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT SHELLEY
The purpose also implies directed action and movement. "I'm here" or "I'm a human" or "I am a child of God" may be accurate, but they don't indicate movement. A purpose indicates both movement and direction.
To discover your purpose, begin by telling yourself, "I want to know my purpose." It may be immediately evident, or it may take a while to reveal itself.
Look back on your life. Write down the words (uplifting ones, please) that describe the activities and general thrust of your life thus far. As you write, a few may hit you as "right." You can also ask the people who know you well to suggest words (uplifting ones, please) that apply to you.
Write the words that seem right on another piece of paper. Experiment with them. Eventually the two or three that describe the thrust of your life will reveal themselves.
A purpose is not something you create; it's something you discover.
Once you know your purpose, it becomes a golden divining rod. When you're wondering, "Should I do this or should I do that?" look to your purpose. If one action is in line with your purpose and the other is not, the choice of which way to move becomes clear. If neither is in line with your purpose, look for more options. If both are in line with your purpose, it's dealer's choice.
The secret of success is constancy to purpose.
It's a good idea to keep your purpose to yourself. This keeps it powerful and prevents comments such as, "You don't seem much like a joyful giver to me!" Keeping your purpose private also removes the temptation to choose a purpose that will impress others. ("Let's see, what would sound real good?")
Once you discover your purpose, you have answered the time-honored question, "Why am I here?"
If you know your purpose, but haven't been fulfilling it as completely as you might, this could be contributing to your discontent.
A man needs a purpose for real health.
If you know your purpose is "I am a joyful giver," but you've been more of a begrudging giver or a joyful hoarder, that can cause dis-ease: blockages of energy, a sense of not belonging here, a feeling "something's not right" (and all the negative thoughts that accompany that feeling).
When you bring yourself more in line with your purpose--in an involved, active way--you may notice your energy flows more freely, the blocks and the tensions in your body release, you become more active, vibrant, and alive--healthier.
I want death to find me planting my cabbages.
MICHEL EYQUEM DE MONTAIGNE
Most people don't know what they want. They think they know, but they really don't. An interview might sound something like this:
- "What do you want?"
- "I want a million dollars."
- "What would you do with it?"
- "I'd quit my job."
- "Then what?"
- "I'd buy things."
- "Like what?"
- "A car. A house. Furniture."
- "Then what?"
- "I'd travel."
- "Uh, Europe, Hawaii."
- "Then what?"
- "I'd lie back and enjoy my life."
- "Doing what?"
- "Driving my car. Living in my house. Swimming in my pool. Watching TV."
- "All the time?"
- "Well, no. I'd travel some more."
- "Uh, I don't know. What does it matter where? Would you get off my back!?"
Most people could not make a list--one through ten, in order of importance--of what they want to have, do, or be.
It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is.
Having such a list is invaluable. It helps us sort the opportunities that come our way. (Contrary to the popular belief, opportunity doesn't knock just once--it will knock you down.) It helps us set goals. It assists us in making plans. It answers that burning question, "What am I going to do for the rest of my life?"
Avoid the inaccurate statement people in loss situations tend to make. Don't say, "If I only had my health (or whatever was recently lost), I wouldn't ask for anything ever again!" Don't kid yourself. If you had your health back, you'd soon want other things. So, find out what those other things are. Sometimes by finding out what those things are and by doing them, you can have your health "miraculously" return.
To make your list, get a few hundred 3 x 5 cards and begin by writing down everything you want to have, do, or be--one per card. Free-associate. The sky's the limit. Write down all your desires, goals, wants, and needs. Spend some time with it. Include material, mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual goals. Make a complete list.
Now review the list. How many of the things do you really want, and how many did you write down because you think you should want them? Do you really want, say, a Rolls Royce, or is that just a symbol of something else? (Have you ever driven a Rolls Royce?) Remove from the list the things you don't really want.
Go through the list again and, with the ten steps from the chapter "You Can Have Anything You Want--You Just Can't Have Everything You Want" in mind (page 191), ask yourself about each item, "Am I willing to do the work required?" "Am I willing to make a plan and follow all ten steps to get this?" If you've discovered your purpose, ask yourself, "Is this in line with my purpose?" If the answer to any of those questions is no, remove the card from the pile, say good-bye to that goal, and let it go. The next time you think about this goal, tell yourself, "I thought about this one and decided not to do it."
Now see if any items on your list are in conflict with any others. "I want to be a concert pianist" may conflict with "I want to be an Olympic medalist." (Each requires a lot of daily practice.) "I want to party every night" and "I want a quiet home life" seem to conflict. (If you go out partying every night you might have a quiet home life--you won't be there, but your home will be quiet.) Between the two conflicting desires, choose the one you want more and cross the other off your list.
Then do a first-pass prioritization. Sort the cards into three piles: "A" (I want this very, very much), "B" (I want this a lot), or "C" (I want this).
When you're done, count the number of A's, B's, and C's. If you have more than ten A's, eliminate all the B's and C's. if you have ten A's and B's, eliminate all the C's. (people seldom get to the C's anyway, so why pretend?) Keep eliminating until you have ten.
Go through the cards and pick the one that's most important. Then go through the remaining nine and select the most important. Continue until all ten are prioritized.
On each card, answer one important question: "How will I know when I've reached this goal?" Be specific. Then you'll know when to cross it off your list to make room for another.
Behold--Your Life Plan.
Given that we only have twenty-four hours in the day, 365 (or 366) days in the year, and only so many more years on this planet, achieving this list may be all you'll have time for. Certain material items will be obtained and replaced by others, but some goals, such as being healthy and feeling happy, may take the rest of your life--even if that's another ninety-nine years.
We must cultivate our garden.
Copyright © 1988-1996 Peter McWilliams & Prelude Press, Inc.
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