In today’s world there are so many wonderful and inspirational books. There are books filled with stories of Divine intervention, miracles happening, special positive moments never to be forgotten and stories of incredible coincidences. They help make us feel in harmony with the universe. They help us fall asleep and have pleasant dreams. They often bring tears to our eyes, reinforcing an inner sense of wisdom that all is right with the world even when appearances say that is not so.
But there is one thing often missing from these books. It is the mental and emotional perspiration that we need to go through as we struggle to live a life of meaning and joy. The inspiration is there but it’s the perspiration that most of us need to put into our daily lives to create for ourselves lives of enchantment. Because, enchantment for most of us, i.e., living a life of joy, a life that reflects many states of well being, again and again, is hard work.
Certainly we yearn for moments when the right thing happens at exactly the right time and the world opens up for us, whether it’s a lucky break, meeting the right life partner or winning the lottery. And we all need at least some of those moments. But life, in reality, is filled with hundreds and thousands and probably millions of minutes that are repetitive, boring or simply ordinary. They involve getting up, brushing our teeth, driving to work safely, keeping a job, raising children, fighting off a cold, etc. It is all these times that THE ENCHANTED SELF focuses on.
These are the moments that can be mundane, depressing, dull or can be captivating, enlivening and filled with joy.
What is the difference? The difference is usually the perspiration. I mean the mental and emotional perspiration that is involved in what I call the three R’s of enchantment. Let’s look at the first of the three R’s.
The first is REMEMBERING THE BEST AND LETTING GO OF THE REST. This is a critical component to general well being and a sense of happiness on a daily basis. Most of us have sustained loss and experienced pain. Yes, we’ve been hurt. We’ve been short-changed by opportunities or other people. Sometimes we’ve been stepped upon, left or forgotten.
If we spend our daily life focusing on these disappointments then we cannot release the positive energies we need to make the most of the present moment and to plan for the future. Grudges, negative thinking, disappointments, and not forgiving all get in the way of what can be done with the present. We need our psyche energies to seize opportunities we can take advantage of. This can’t happen, if our energies are used up ruminating.
Besides, there is beauty in our own story and most, if not all disappointments we’ve experienced have strengthened us. Often, we have even developed talents in coping with hard times that can reemerge in ways to enhance pleasure and/or help us be of service to the world. For example, the child that was neglected or yelled at has an opportunity to be particularly kind to others as he or she gets older, maybe to teach others certain parenting skills having known first hand how it feels on the other side.
How do we take all the moments of life that are often repetitive and ordinary, and turn them into captivating personal times? One way is through optimizing our own sense of well being. This internal state is particularly reactive to our emotional and physical states of health. For instance, I remember occasions when good things were about to happen, but I was so overtired or anxious that I could not appreciate a special day. I also remember occasions when nothing happened, but because I felt well rested and truly at peace with myself I enjoyed every moment.
How do we work on restoring ourselves? How do we gather our positive energies to be in our own best interest? Certainly one of the most critical factors is seeing yourself in a positive light. If I don’t truly value myself, I am certainly not going to take good care of myself. I am more responsive to the criticism from a negative spouse or parent than my own inner feelings of self worth. I may not take good care of myself and the results can be devastating. Over the years I have seen so many clients who were not thriving because they had internalized negative comments, criticism and opinions from others. The end result was that they began to believe the negative perceptions of themselves and ultimately saw themselves in a poor light.
It is very important to see yourself in a positive light. This means not putting yourself down and not criticizing yourself. It means becoming your own best friend. Often taking better care of yourself becomes essential. For all of us, it is important to get enough rest, eat well, learn how to sort through the negative remarks that hurt, not get caught up and lost in the feelings those remarks engendered, and to value who we really are and what each of us has to offer the world.
This “R” is extremely difficult and involves a lot of mental and emotional perspiration. We are vulnerable to absorbing criticism and negative remarks about ourselves and actually internalizing them, making them ours. So there is much work to be done when we start to sift through feelings that we are less rather than more. We need to think of ourselves as more, not less.
I remember one client who had struggled to begin think of herself as more, not less. Her husband was often critical of her and constantly interruptive. For example when eating out he would often criticize her and spoil her pleasure by suggesting she had put on some pounds and might not want to order a particular item. Around the house he would barge into a room and interrupt her telephone conversation or television show. He would then bring up a subject in which she was presented as the culprit.
It was a wonderful day in her life when she was simply able to say when her husband interrupted her, “I am leaving the house for a few hours. I hope upon my return your mood will be better and you will be treating me more appropriately.” She then took the car keys and went to visit a friend. When she came back he was pleasant and in a totally different state. Although this was only part of the correction between them, it was a momentous moment in giving her a sense that not only must she think of herself as more, not less, but she also must have the courage to take positive appropriate action.
Rapture is a strong, full word that incorporates a capacity for joy that affects us in our own mind, body and spirit. It is a feeling of being in harmony in a euphoric or an ecstatic way with others or the universe at large. Obviously, we don’t go around in a state of rapture all the time. To experience even states of well being on a regular basis involves tremendous daily practice. Yet, if we work and we perspire, mentally, emotionally, socially we will be rewarded. How? For one thing, the positive actions we take in our lives are pleasing to us and good for us.
In my new book RECIPES FOR ENCHANTMENT, The Secret Ingredient is YOU!, I talk about so many occasions when people took positive actions and then had the pleasant rewarding experience of positive feelings. These positive feelings varied from person to person yet included the whole spectrum of well being, including joyousness, contentment, satisfaction, pleasure and on occasion, rapture.
In my book I share a reverie that I had one night. I imagined all of my friends and loved ones and then strangers from around the world coming together in big circles dancing in the moonlight. We danced until dawn in my reverie. There was a sense of euphoria that built leading to me to experiencing great joy and even rapture as I indulged in my visualization. I share this one with you because it points out that positive actions can take the form of positive thoughts! Often we dismiss our inner life. I think it’s important to document that our inner life is a very real place where we practice many of the states of well being that ultimately take shape through expression in the real world.
Although I have not danced through the night in the moonlight with hundreds of thousands of people, the feelings I had in that reverie certainly translate into many of the positive actions that I take in sharing THE ENCHANTED SELF message. As a matter of fact, without my inner life, I doubt there would be the energy to bring these teachings to others.
Yes, obviously in this discussion we are moving toward the spiritual. Ultimately, the positive energies that we have to give the world require mind, body and spirit. And so you see that enchantment is all about putting the meat in your soul’s soup. It is about the muscle that goes with living a life of joy. Perspiration, daily practice, and daily routines that enhance the possibilities of living a life of enchantment, are all of hard work.
Just remember though, before you get discouraged, it is even harder to live a miserable life. We pay for misery in so many ways. We pay for it in feeling fatigued and feeling that we don’t have real purpose. We feel inside that there’s a hole in our hearts or that we have missed the boat. We can feel aggravated, tense, fed up. We can feel that the future will be as miserable as the past. We can feel that we are ordinary rather than extraordinary. We can pay for a negative attitude with more physical and emotional illness so that the perspiration pours off of us in a different way.
I think it’s smarter, since life is a struggle and designed so that we work at whatever we’re doing, that we practice enchantment and enjoy the perspiration and inspiration that goes with the practice. So promise yourself to take the JOY RIDE OF YOUR LIFE!
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, originator of THE ENCHANTED SELF®, a method of bringing delight and meaning into everyday living, invites you to view her new line of ENCHANTED WOMAN products, downloadable e-books, and free gifts at http://www.enchantedself.com. Chat with others in Dr. Holstein’s e-group, http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/enchantedself/. Order her book, Enchanted Self: A Positive Therapy, and Recipes for Enchantment: The Secret Ingredient is You! at http://www.enchantedself.com.