Category Archives: Self-help

Scone Island – Frederick Ramsay The Happiness Advantage – Shawn Achor

Still reading and even more all over the map than during the challenge. In some ways I miss the discipline of one book and one blog post per day. But I would have to be an heiress to keep that up so it is something of a relief to let go of the deadlines. Oddly, though, I detest the daily grind of imposed work-for-hire that eats hours of time in research and writing to formula and for a pittance. It was slightly easier to face that when I wrote something just because I wanted to every day. That development could use more thought.

Scone Island was a pretty good adventure–political thriller, if you can imagine such a thing set on a sparsely inhabited tiny island off the coast of Maine with no electricity or phone service but plenty of spooks and bad guys out to get them. Frederick Ramsay writes convincingly about CIA operations and various National Security Agency type scenarios. His bio doesn’t list any insider experience though so I wondered for the whole book how much of it I could trust and how much wouldn’t pass scrutiny by a true intelligence agent.

The hero of the story is Ike Schwartz, a small-town sheriff now and a former undercover operative who is suddenly a target in a deadly web of assassinations. His serious heartthrob, Dr. Ruth Dennis, the president of a university, is recovering from a health trauma involving a broken leg as well as a brutal year managing a faculty mutiny and the two run away to Scone Island for some R&R. Ruth has inherited a cottage from her aunt and Ike slips a generator and a real coffee pot into their gear, not being much of a fan of roughing it. They arrive on Scone Island to hear about a fatal fall from a cliff that will affect, almost immediately, their own safety.

Lots happens. Some of it is very far out there. Good amount of tension and the requisite international issue at stake. Ruth’s mother Eden is a pistol. I liked it enough to read another one–it’s part of a series–but the location really did have its limits and the constant verbal sparring between Ruth and Ike was exhausting after a while.

The Happiness Advantage is Shawn Achor’s bible of how–and why–to be happy. It’s a positive psychology book that cites an impressive number of studies showing the effect optimism and a feeling of well-being can have on your health, career, productivity, longevity and other significant bits of your life. I really really liked the first half of the book in which Achor talks about the cult of the average, positive outliers, the power of your mindset, the tetris effect (getting stuck in a mind-loop), and, in general, how happiness precedes success and not the other way around. Lots of very good science in language a lay person can easily absorb. (Achor, like the Harvard grad student he was, footnotes his references copiously at the end of the book.)

The second half seemed to stretch on–and on. Achor is a corporate trainer and I think he just turned the advice too much into career and company success tips for me. I preferred the personal information and I’ve read (or been subjected to) most of the corporate remedy stuff before. Heavy social networking is one of Achor’s rules for achievement, for instance,  and that seemed tiresome, even though I know connection and community are mental health pluses. But Achor does have a fair amount to say about how your mind and attitude directly impact the minutest details of your existence so The Happiness Advantage holds up.  Stick with the early chapters unless you are a corporate manager trying to jazz your team out of a slump.

 The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work   Shawn Achor | Crown Business   2010

 Scone Island: An Ike Schwartz Mystery   Frederick Ramsay| Poisoned Pen Press  2012

The Great Work of Your Life – Stephen Cope

Stephen Cope, director of Kripalu Institute for extraordinary Living, undertakes the challenge of relating the teachings in the Bhagavad Gita to the tricky prospect of discovering–and embracing–your true dharma. The Great Work of Your Life is the result. It’s a very easy read, but a reflective one. Cope tells the tale of Arjuna the warrior at the moment of battle, collapsing to the floor of his chariot in despair. In front of him are lined up neighbors and kinsmen who will die at his hand or kill him. Yet it is his destiny as a great warrior to proceed. He is paralyzed and he begs his old friend and charioteer for advice. What he gets is full-bore Krishna (the charioteer) and a relentless instruction about surrender, action and detachment that Arjuna can’t quite grasp for a while.

Cope relates the Gita to the lives of celebrated and ordinary figures: Gandhi, Beethoven, Camille Corot, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, a priest caught in a mid-life identity crisis, a Jungian therapist facing her own mortality, a college friend who believed he was the reincarnation of John Keats, the poet Keats himself.  The stories illustrate the ways in which people encounter their dharma, deny it, accept it, live it. Jane Goodall was drawn to animals from the time she was a young child and had the good fortune to have a sympathetic and supportive mother. Thoreau tried his luck as a writer in greedy Gotham, was chewed up and spit out and repaired to light isolation at Walden Pond (his mother brought him sandwiches and cookies–not the wilds of Borneo) to figure out who he was and what he should do about that. Walt Whitman wrote and rewrote his genius work Leaves of Grass but was entering a period of serious aridity when the Civil War broke out and he found himself all over again caring for wounded soldiers. Robert Frost turned his back on the literary world and bought a farm so he could write poems after he repaired a few fences and gathered the apples.

They are wonderful teaching tales and Cope skillfully draws the heart of the message from each life. The task of discovering your dharma and turning it into the hours and days of your life is similar to Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, from the invitation to enter the unknown, through initial hesitations, eventual trust, the loss of all familiar, fear, epiphany, the forging of a new identity, a re-entry to the known world and the integration of this richer new self and all it implies. Embrace your dharma, Cope asserts, and things unfold without much prodding. You can’t evade loss and pain but you encounter ecstasy and calm assurance. It sounds like mindfulness to the nth degree–you live in the now, fulfilled and contented and very present, fully alive, even when facing death.

I liked the book a lot. I’m going to haul out my Mahabharata and re-read the Bhagavad Gita as soon as I have time to think about it and take it slow. Some things really can’t be rushed (another teaching in The Great Work...). This book didn’t fall into my lap–I was looking for it when I found it. But it arrived at a convenient moment, as I sunset a business and way of working that’s no longer working for me and attempt to create something new and exhilarating in the ruins. If I don’t have to return The Great Work of Your Life to the library before next week, I might just read it again.

The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling   Stephen Cope | Bantam Books  2012

The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin

Viktor Frankl wrote compelling prose about the humanistic and optimistic attitudes that spelled the difference between survival and destruction in Nazi death camps. He was a trained psychiatrist and neurologist and he lived through a traumatic, brutal and nearly unimaginable historic event. His insights, like his experience, are profound and worth pondering. I have honestly believed for several years that we are on the cusp of an evolutionary shift that has already obliterated life as we knew it and made some things about how the late twentieth and nascent twenty-first centuries operate starkly undeniable. We are cast into a sere landscape with no maps. I’ll read anything that seems like a good idea to pick up threads of direction about how to live now. But most of the current crop of “do this, don’t do that” books are insubstantial and, frankly, dated.

It isn’t entirely fair to take something slight and demand profundity from it and I won’t do that with Gretchen Rubin’s chronicle of her year-long quest, The Happiness Project. Rubin makes no claims that her book will inspire a Rilkean moment in a reader. She says she was happier at the end of her year but she admits to being essentially the same person she was when she began the project, only nicer.  That’s good but pop science and psychology are written to appeal to a wide audience and Rubin’s book is more banal than epiphanic or brilliant. I was counting on a  read closer to the brilliant end of the spectrum. (Brilliant truth from the Heart Sutra: no expectations. Haven’t mastered that yet.)  I am so not a fan of writing that constantly refers to “research” showing something without citing the research. How do I know? What research? Maybe the research was flawed or biased. Why should I take your word for it? So I remain curmudgeonly but unconvinced.

The Happiness Project was an attempt by a Yale-educated lawyer, former Supreme Court clerk and published author, married to a successful spouse, also a Yale law grad (I think), living on the Upper East Side with two small healthy children and apparent financial security as well as a close and congenial family, to make her life better. Her goals were to blunt an inconvenient short temper, lose a snarky, snappish demeanor and appreciate the many blessings she acknowledges are the substance of her life. Those are admirable goals. She created a bunch of resolutions and a blog, probably had a heart-to-heart with her literary agent, and set out to remake the tenor of her days.

It’s a well-done self help book. There are elements you can try to create your own happiness project and a month-by-month report on what she tried and how she did. I admit she started to lose me when she purchased a very pricey personal trainer-led weights program at her local gym as part of an effort to be healthier. And there is the writing studio on the roof top of her apartment building, child-free. Probably a nanny. Time to start several groups that meet for supper and conversation about books and personal projects and whatever. This is a happiness project for people in the 1% who are crazy-busy and stressed about it but still manage to have a significant amount of time on their hands and the resources to bankroll a personal quest.

The sages cited in the book–and Rubin reads all the change artists, from Frankl to St. Theresa to the Dalai Lama to Anne Lamott and Thoreau–have words of wisdom, and the bibliography is a useful reading guide for your own course of study. The suggestions that worked for Rubin would make a power-packed magazine article but I started checking where I was in the year at about May or June.

Once upon a time I might have aspired to the protected middle-class cocoon of Rubin’s life but in the abrupt evolutionary now I could not relate.  You might, though. Schedule a Pollyanna Week, make a Resolutions Chart and get a pedometer. Do not follow her advice about healthy eating–it is woefully unevolved.  Do try the get-enough-sleep tip. I keep meaning to do that. And clean out your closet. You’ll feel better. You’ll find the few things that still fit you. If you live in Manhattan, they will all be black so that everything matches. That is the magic key to simplifying your life. Move to Manhattan. Be rich, if you can. Buy only black clothes. Take lots of pictures of your kids. And stop gossiping. There. Don’t you feel happier already? Thought you would.

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun   Gretchen Rubin | HarperCollins  2009

The Little Money Bible – Stuart Wilde

Stuart Wilde spouts some pretty far out stuff on his blog these days but, after a day lost to minimum-wage online writing, a skinny book of his about getting rich seemed like a relief. Nothing the least bit woo-woo about The Little Money Bible, although I did read it from my jaundiced perch where the view is of unrestrained predation on the middle class and an infinitely collapsing economy. In my neighborhood, mom-&-pop stores are falling to bank branches faster than leaves in autumn. How many banks do people with no money need, anyway?

Wilde’s Bible is a compilation of fiscal wisdom from two earlier books, The Trick to Money is Having Some and Life Was Never Meant to Be a Struggle. Right on both counts, Stewie. You live in an alternative universe. (Well, actually, I think the man does now live in an alternative universe.)  In this universe, none of the old rules seem to apply but I decided to dig into Wilde’s Ten Laws of Abundance for either a good laugh or some inspiration. Rule #1 is: The Laws of Abundance are Natural and God-Given. IOW, “…there’s loads and loads of money around.” Uh oh, you are starting to lose me already, Stuart. In my world there are now loads and loads of banks. Maybe the money is in there. But it’s not out here. So, the takeaway could be: become a bank robber?  Too complicated.

Moving right along we come to #2 The Law of Flow and #3 The Law of Money and Distance. Flow means you aren’t struggling with abundance issues; you are in sync with your own emotions and tweaking your strategy to have it all. Or have some of it. Whatever. Distance means there shouldn’t be any between you and lots of money. Trickier. This gets very metaphysical and involves probing your subconscious beliefs and psyche and determining what level of Benjamins will give you a warm sense of security. Know who you are and what you want. Nurture yourself. OK. After the rent is in the bank, nurture it is.

To be fair, snarky brain-dead freelancer that I am, Wilde’s little bible is a good review of basic abundance principles and it was selling like fresh doughnuts before the bandwagon of manifestation gurus blew into town. If you don’t have time for four or five hundred pages about shifting your point of view to the positive side of the ledger, you could grab a pencil and a copy of The Little Money Bible and underline away. Or highlight it on your e-reader. Along with the imminent Biblical Day of Judgement, Wilde’s latest posts are trumpeting the release of a number of his earlier prosperity books on Kindle. Rule #11 The Internet is an Infinite Source of Abundance to Those with a Backlist of Edited, Ready-to-go Books.

The Little Money Bible   Stuart Wilde | Hay House  1998

Feel the Fear…and Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers

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The twentieth anniversary edition of Feel the Fear…and Do It Anyway that I picked up from the library was as ruffled and waffled as if it had fallen in the tub and redolent of someone’s heavy perfume. It was dog-eared, only slightly marked-up, but definitely well-read. Apparently there’s a lot of fear out there and this is a popular antidote. Once I dug into it, it was easy to see why the book showed signs of heavy use.

Susan Jeffers is lucid, logical and refreshing. She doesn’t waste a lot of time spouting wispy logic and buzz words at you–although her habit of attributing famous aphorisms to ordinary people is disconcerting. (Lao Tzu was the one who said “If you keep doing things the same way, expect the same result” not somebody-Janet, a student of Jeffers.) But that’s a quibble. For the most part, the observations and advice in Feel the Fear… are useful and intelligent. I particularly liked the 9-box Whole Life Grid that graphically portrays the elements of a balanced life so you aren’t lopsidedly putting all your emotional eggs in one basket. Fixated on career or relationship and forgetting to have friends, personal growth work, hobbies, leisure time, and solitude? Not too bright–you’re going to be awfully needy and unattractive with that approach. Fill in those boxes and expand your attention so the loss of one thing isn’t the loss of everything in your life.  

And more good advice–see everything as opportunity. If it’s an unwelcome thing, see it as opportunity to learn something new or prove to yourself that you can handle whatever comes along. You can make no wrong choices–just wrong suppositions in dealing with the consequences. Takes the charge out of tough decisions and some of the sting out of life’s little unpleasant surprises. I wasn’t wowed on every page, Jeffers recycles conventional wisdom as part of her system for shaking off paralysis and getting on with your day. But she does it with such rational good sense that you start mumbling cliches like “Why didn’t I see that?”

So, good book. Worth the read. High utility value. I am very very close to acquiring this one because I suspect it will be valuable to re-read it now and then. And it is in such heavy demand at our library that it will probably be confetti if I ever try to check it out again.

Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway   Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. | Ballantine Books   2007

Follow Your Passion, Find Your Power – Bob Doyle

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I pulled a novel from the stack of to-be-reads and opted for a self-help book about the Law of Attraction instead. I am really curious about the relationship of imagination and creativity to material things and manifestation. Science is still sorting out various iterations of physics–helpful but not the whole story–so I regard these alchemical efforts to merge magic and molecules as brave experiments that may reveal significant truths. Follow Your Passion, Find Your Power is an interesting take on creating the life you want in the middle of the muddle that is. I began it a bit tired and skeptical–Bob Doyle tells you what he is going to tell you and does that several times so I floundered for a while in repetitive. But I’m as guilty of resisting change as anyone and overcoming resistance is what this book is about so I read on.

It got better and better. There are no surprises here–I’ve learned and tried EFT (got rid of a headache with it while reading), understand and accept that everything is made of energy and that our attention impacts what we observe (science, not self-help theory! actual published studies in serious journals!), and I have digested a bookshelf of Law of Attraction books. Doyle was featured in “The Secret” so he contends with the negative reaction to that material, and even addresses it in this book. But the message floated in a bit deeper as I read Follow… The drama queen in me periodically gets all angsty and panicked about financial freefall in this wrecked economy. I stubbornly hang on and then watch a kind of hurricane beach erosion swallow chunk after chunk of my life. Yet, at the same time, I get it. I do understand that we can choose our reality–I’m just such a creature of conditioning that stepping into a different reality feels like a fatal heresy to me. Despite all evidence to the contrary.

And there is a lot of evidence; I am not insensitive to signs and portents. Doyle’s book is a big “Listen up” to how your inner chat controls your outer actions. A most excellent reminder. Words of wisdom about acting on intuition are also pragmatic and not the least woo-woo. It is, like all self-help books, equipped with the exercises and lined pages for you to write (again) your intentions, dreams, etc. But it also has an appendix full of useful resources for exploring the ideas he talks about in greater depth.

I intended to divert my attention from depressing reality but instead I reminded myself to get back in the game and stop buying into the brainwashing. We live in a mess but this is also a turning point. A new paradigm is pushing up from the muck and anyone who is serious about change can water it, clear away the weeds, give it some sun. Definitely a hopeful thing to grow that little weed into a beanstalk. Follow Your Passion is a nice idea but Find Your Power is even better. 

Follow Your Passion, Find Your Power: Everything You Need to Know about the Law of Attraction  
Bob Doyle | Hampton Roads Publishing   2011

The Magic – Rhonda Byrne

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I never read bazillion-seller The Secret, although I did see lengthy excerpts from the movie. It seemed like a very cleverly packaged version of the Law of Attraction and other manifestation practices based on older traditions of being in harmony with what surrounds you. Interesting enough. So, as I reluctantly returned A. N. Wilson’s The Elizabethans (great book) to the library half-read–can’t renew it if someone else is waiting for it–I picked up Rhonda Byrne’s The Magic which was sitting on the new-book shelf. I believe in magic–a deep, pagan, animistic, astrophysical, inspiriting force that is omnipresent, innate and infrangible–and I am always happy to explore theories and thinking about it. This was not that book.

What The Magic is is a book-length reminder to practice gratitude, not a bad thing to consider. Real gratitude, the understanding and appreciation for what exists in our lives, is more or less trained out of us in this consumer culture. Gratitude requires reflection, focus, savoring the moment, recognizing a true gift, seeing with the intelligence of the heart. It is very positive and very powerful and can shift your mood, your behavior, your relationships, and your beliefs almost instantly. For me, at least, it’s a lesson to learn over and over again and has more to do with stepping outside the facade of this illusory world and into clear, spare being. Needs more work.

Byrne has produced a workbook with essays in the popular self-help format that targets a general audience. Some of the logic is, um, forced. It’s predictable. You could find several suggestions silly. But beneath the packaged lessons are a few good ideas and a basic premise that can open your eyes. Think about what is good and delightful and valuable for you. Be glad you know it/have it/enjoy it. Say so, if only to yourself. Gratitude can push back the veil that obscures the light we really live in.

I won’t take up Byrne’s 28-day chapter-by-chapter program to change my life–there are stronger ways for me to tap into magic.  But I do like the advice about the magic rock that you hold every night before you go to sleep as you conjure up the best thing that happened in your day. That’s a great idea. So much negativity batters us from all sides, all the time, that it’s easy to forget what blessings we have. I have just the rock, a smooth, palm-size chunk of white quartz that was sitting on the kitchen counter next to a jade plant that has stubbornly survived every possible kind of neglect. Pure magic.

The Magic (The Secret)   Rhonda Byrne | Atria Books   2012

The Dancer’s Way – Linda H. Hamilton

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I borrowed a book from a dancer who lives in my house to use for research for an article I was writing and ended up reading the whole thing. The Dancer’s Way, subtitled The New York City Ballet Guide to Mind, Body and Nutrition, is written by a former NYCB dancer, now a clinical psychologist who consults with the company and writes frequent wellness columns. It’s a serious wellness guide and something of a bible for local (NYC) dancers–the information covers everything from cross-training to stress management with tons of suggestions, worksheets, resources, detailed descriptions of muscles you can pull or tear, and even cooking advice. Want to set up your kitchen like Wendy Whelan? Read this book. (Just kidding. There is a kitchen guide in the book but I have no idea whose culinary habitat it is modeled on.)

You might or might not be hungry for information on patellar malalignment but you could get some useful tips about dealing with hamstring tightness. How about exactly which carbs to eat for what activity level? (You did know fruits and veggies are carbs, didn’t you?)  Here’s insider knowledge that will depress you. Skinny ballerinas who are working members of a company often put in so many hours of rigorous physical exercise that they have to work to keep weight on.  Very, very tough. So sad. But dancers deal with flab like anyone else and they have fewer ways to hide it so the weight management advice is very thorough and sensible. I write about nutrition for a client fairly frequently and Hamilton’s advice follows most of the accepted guidelines but has the advantage of being sport-specific.

You can learn all about the best stretching and strengthening programs–Pilates gets a high-five–dancers love the way it lengthens and strengthens without bulking up muscles. Somewhere in the distant past I studied Pilates with a dancer who was a superb coach and I can say that was the best shape I have ever been in–not an ounce of fat anywhere and strong as steel. Do Pilates. (Note  to self: resume Pilates.) Cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, muscle strength–it’s all in here. So are cognitive-behavioral therapy, sleep deprivation and meditation.

There are many mini-stories scattered throughout the text with examples of real NYCB members and their fitness dilemmas and coping strategies. This is no lightweight tutu tutorial–it is a very readable fitness guide for anyone interested in healthy exercise, injury prevention, a Zen attitude and sensible nutrition.

The Dancer’s Way: The New York City Ballet Guide to Mind, Body, and Nutrition   Linda H. Hamilton | St. Martin’s Griffin   2008

Eat Mangoes Naked – SARK

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Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy is always good for a hit of colorful and uplifting. It’s 100 degrees in the shade. The hydrangeas in the garden are withered and brown. I just earned minimum wage for writing about why we need to train for endurance. Frankly, a week on a tropical island would help to put all of that in perspective. Eat Mangoes Naked will have to do. SARK dedicates this book to the exploration of pleasure, be it the pleasure of a deep bath that turns into a Caribbean lagoon or the pleasure of a quirky coffee bar where you throw ping pong balls at the kitchen door to attract service and the tables move almost imperceptibly as you sit at them.  Mostly pleasure, in SARK’s definition, involves the active use of the imagination and a healthy dose of whimsy to imbue the quotidian with a different flavor.

Try visiting your own home as a complete stranger. Sit in a different chair, pull a book off the shelf that you’ve never read and open it for a message, read poetry aloud in your pajamas, use the good dishes. She recommends stiffing your inner perfectionist and adopting a wobbly yoga practice, playing an instrument badly and composing music that speaks only to you, scheduling a completely unplanned picnic and not caring what you forget to bring. Have a massage, walk barefoot, ride a bike, read How to Draw a Clam by Joy Sikorski, volunteer to cuddle babies in a hospital, climb a big old tree in the moonlight and watch the moon through the branches.

The idea is to head back in time to the days when pleasure was just what you did for a living as a kid. Small, sensual things. Big daydreams. Eating a favorite food–plus seconds. SARK recounts a solo birthday on a romantic island when she impulsively introduced herself to a table full of party hats and shared a birthday party-in-progress with a group of fans of her work–birthday dinner saved from self pity, lots of laughter and new friends made.

I like her advice to write inspirational quotes on your walls in colored chalk. If it doesn’t wipe off, you can always re-paint. I loved her story about writing tiny notes–SARK is a scribbly artist so the notes were sure to be decorated–and handing them out at book readings with the instructions to pass them on. The inside held a message like: You are seen. You are known. You are loved. How simple is that? And how unexpected? She tells of a game in which you go to a bookstore with a friend–has to be a cool friend–and converse only in the titles of the books that you find.

Essentially, the trick to finding pleasure in whatever surrounds you at the moment is to savor the novel. If you can’t find something new about it then do something new with it. Mangoes are pretty messy, juicy, sticky and drippy. If you ate one naked and really, really got into the experience, you would probably need one of those Caribbean lagoon baths–and then you could pretend you were a mermaid, or listen to your entire collection of Leon Redbone albums until the water got cold, or make up mind-blowing aphorisms to chalk on your walls. It’s all good.

Eat Mangoes Naked: Finding Pleasure Everywhere (and dancing with the Pits)   SARK | Fireside   2001

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success – Deepak Chopra

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I needed a skinny book and Deepak Chopra’s distillation of his tome on Creating Abundance was sitting there just waiting to be read. Success and abundance are desirable commodities in the post-apocalyptic urban dystopia we inhabit so I settled in for a quick perusal of ancient teachings. Not that quick, actually. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success is a pocket-size fusion of Eastern wisdom and Western affirmation. Chopra’s laws have been around for a while but he does have a knack for explaining the esoteric in accessible language and this book has plenty of both. So I contemplated it rather than plowed through it and it took longer to read. Which was okay as it was as calming as a meditation on intention and manifestation — a written guided meditation.

Here are the laws:

1. Pure Potentiality – we are pure consciousness and when we recognize this we can tap into the universal energy field and create anything. But, to reach that state of awareness, we have to transcend the ego, leaving behind fear, the need for external approval and personal control, and our “social masks”.  

2. Giving – in order to receive, give what you want to get–affection, support, money–life is about a dynamic exchange, the free flow of energy. 

 3. Karma, or Cause and Effect – every action generates an energetic response. You create your reality and your past shapes your present, your present designs your future. Tricky. But an optimistic way to view this is to find the opportunity in each challenge and transform your old, crummy karma into choices for positive–and rewarding–activity going forward. 

 4. Least Effort – don’t push the river. Put your intention out there and turn your attention to getting on with your life. The good stuff bubbles up in its own time. Type-A Westerners have a lot of trouble with this one.

 5. Intention and Desire – the quantum energy field is influenced by intention and desire. Yours, actually. Lavish your intention on something and it becomes more important in your life. Neglect it and the thing withers. Intention is pure desire without attachment and you can activate it to manifest whatever you want by stating an intention clearly and then infusing it with the stillness and pure potential you experience in meditation. Guaranteed to remove struggle. Someone should bottle this.

 6. Detachment – let go of your insecure, fear-based need to see the result you imagine. Note to control freaks: you will not be good at this. Attachment is scarcity-consciousness, implying no real belief in your own infinite self and your limitless potential to create. Detachment celebrates ambiguity and can tolerate insecurity. Detachment delivers, oh ye of little faith. 

 7.  Dharma, or Purpose in Life  – your talent is unique in all the world and no one but you can express it. Your purpose in life is not to run out of milk and socks; it is to soar. When you share what is yours to give, you are richly rewarded. The catch is, you don’t do it for the rewards. You do it to do it. The material rewards are a bonus.

I like these ideas. I suck at many of them. Probably why I am putting in so many hours as a hack writer that I have to find skinny books to read. Chopra adds step-by-step applications to each of the seven laws and, at the risk of spoiling things, I’ll share an observation. Meditation figures prominently in many of them. Clearing your cluttered mind on a daily basis makes space for what you imagine to live and breathe.  However you define success, you may get within striking distance of it by following the formula of these seven timeless spiritual laws. So, off to the meditation cushion and the world of infinite possibility I have yet to conquer.

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams   Deepak Chopra | New World Library   1994