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Mastering Life's Energies
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Summary

Everyone has had luminous moments — those instances when we experience the beauty and grace of life, whether we’re looking into the eyes of a newborn or watching the sun set over the ocean. But those moments are usually brief and difficult to consciously create.

Many of us have been successful in attaining personal and professional goals, but we’re too exhausted to enjoy what we’ve accomplished. Or we might walk around in a fog, feeling vaguely frustrated, resigned, or cynical and asking all the wrong questions about how to make our lives better. In either case, we miss the purpose of being alive: to wake up and fully become ourselves, to allow others to contribute to us and, in turn, to contribute our gifts to the world — fully savoring the journey along the way. This fascinating new book gives us specific methods for bringing luminosity into our lives on a consistent basis, allowing us to view the world with much younger, more vibrant eyes.

Mastering Life’s Energies shows us how to use all the energies of our lives — physical vitality, creativity, time, money, enjoyment, and relationship — to realize our goals and dreams and, even more important, live a luminous life, filled with possibility and promise.
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ISBN: 9781577313533
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Mastering Life’s

ENERGIES

Also by Maria Nemeth

The Energy of Money:

A Spiritual Guide to Financial and Personal Fulfillment

Mastering Life’s

ENERGIES

Simple Steps to a Luminous Life

at Work and Play

Maria Nemeth, PhD

NEW WORLD LIBRARY

NOVATO, CALIFORNIA

Copyright © 2007 by Maria Nemeth, PhD

All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, or other — without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.

Edited by Yvette Bozzini

Text design and typography by Tona Pearce Myers

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Nemeth, Maria.

Mastering life’s energies : simple steps to a luminous life at work and play /

Maria Nemeth.

   p.    cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-1-57731-531-5 (pbk. : alk. paper)

I.Self-actualization (Psychology) I. Title.

BF637.S4N453 2007

158.1 — dc22

2006038279

First printing, March 2007

ISBN-10: 1-57731-531-6

ISBN-13: 978-1-57731-531-5

Printed in the United States on acid-free, partially recycled paper

  New World Library is a proud member of the Green Press Initiative.

Distributed by Publishers Group West

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Dedicated to Aunt Gloria, Uncle Arnold, and my sister, Lisa.

Contents

INTRODUCTION

What is the question to which your life is the answer?

Step 1: Achieving Clarity

CHAPTER 1. Being Luminous

Are you willing to live your life with clarity,

focus, ease, and grace?

CHAPTER 2. Driving in the Fog

To have clarity in your life, you must first see

where clarity has been lacking.

CHAPTER 3. A Game Worth Playing

Life is luminous when we create games worth playing

and goals worth playing for.

CHAPTER 4. Trouble at the Border

Realizing your dreams and ideas

in the physical world entails a border crossing.

Step 2: Strengthening Focus

CHAPTER 5. You Already Are Who You Are Willing to Be

Your Life’s Intentions are your blueprint for focused,

luminous action.

CHAPTER 6. Your Standards of Integrity

It’s not just what you do but how you do it.

CHAPTER 7. Draw Your Own Conclusions

Gathering evidence for the conclusions you care

about makes your actions effective.

Step 3: Enjoying Ease

CHAPTER 8. What Are You Looking At?

Shifting your attention focuses your efforts with ease,

not struggle.

CHAPTER 9. Energy Efficiency

You can direct the energies of money, time, physical vitality,

creativity, enjoyment, and relationship.

CHAPTER 10. It’s How You Play the Game

Every successful game has five stages.

CHAPTER 11. The Sum of Your Parts

Maintain coherence by bringing everyday actions

into alignment with what is most important to you.

Step 4: Cultivating Grace

CHAPTER 12. The Spirituality of Luminosity

Honor your spirit by being willing and giving thanks.

Acknowledgments

Notes

Index

About the Author

Introduction

What is the question to which your life is the answer?

I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.

— Joseph Campbell

We all yearn to take ideas that excite us and accomplish them through action. We know, on some level, that the ideas we find the most exhilarating are an essential part of us; in a very real way, they are us.

The ideas, dreams, and goals that inspire us speak clearly of the contributions we are here to make — that only we can make. Tuning in to them, we experience clarity and energy. Listening to them, we see inside us that which is already whole and complete, just waiting to be expressed.

Many times we lose sight of our goals and dreams. Or we spend years analyzing why things didn’t turn out as planned or why our vision seems obscured. Some of us discovered that success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We may have accomplished plenty, but we’re too exhausted or distracted to enjoy our lives.

I have experienced each of these things. I have also worked for more than twenty-five years with thousands of other people who have had similar experiences — leaders, teachers, ministers, entrepreneurs, physicians, coaches, therapists, students, moms, dads, and friends. Every one of them wanted to know: What is the question to which my life is the answer?

Our lives are shaped by the questions that interest us. In this book we will explore these questions and ease our way into some answers. You will hear voices of those who have already begun applying the principles you are about to discover. But what you will mainly learn to hear is your own clear, brilliant, wise voice. As you do, you will connect — or reconnect — with the energy to live the life you were meant to live. You will gain the tools to bring the energies of money, time, physical vitality, creativity, enjoyment, and relationship to bear on what you truly want. You will learn to create miracles every day, at work and play.

Willa Cather, in her novel Death Comes for the Archbishop, speaks to this: Miracles . . . rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always. ¹

As you discover these methods and tools, you will learn to achieve clarity, strengthen focus, enjoy ease, and cultivate grace. You need only bring with you a desire to identify and attain your dreams and goals — along with pen, paper, and a few three-by-five cards!

If you receive catalogs in the mail, as I do, you may have seen an advertisement for an unusual wake-up system. It’s a globe sitting on a pedestal, and rather than giving forth an irritating buzz or the sound of music, it wakes you up with light. This light begins dim and then increases until it approximates the brightness — the luminosity — of sunlight. It is my hope that what you read here does the same for you. May you awaken to luminosity by mastering life’s energies, and may your eyes see and your ears hear what has been around you — and within you — always.

STEP ONE

Achieving Clarity

CHAPTER ONE

Being Luminous

Are you willing to live your life with clarity, focus, ease, and grace?

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

— Mark Twain

The Encarta Dictionary defines luminous as emitting or reflecting light, startlingly bright, inspiring, radiant, resplendent, stunning, splendid.

Our experience is luminous not when we are thinking about living our lives, but when we are fully engaged physically in reality. The experiences that reflect luminosity are those based on actions taken with clarity, focus, ease, and grace. By clarity, I mean seeing what is truly important and creating a game worth playing and goals worth playing for. By focus, I mean directing our energies and attention toward accomplishing what calls to our hearts. By ease, I mean venturing farther than we normally would in going for our dreams — with a bit of elegance instead of struggle. Finally, grace means being consistently grateful and using spiritual principles so that we are ever aware that all is well.

Luminosity — it’s worth emphasizing — is clarity, focus, ease, and grace in action. It can’t be invoked by psychological insight or analysis. It’s fresh. Luminosity doesn’t comb its hair but rather lets the winds of life blow freely through it.

My friend Aimee had a luminosity wake-up call while sitting over cappuccino and croissants with orange marmalade on her fortieth birthday.

I was in a local coffeehouse, sitting alone at my favorite table, reading one of those books that help you take stock of your life. One question stuck out: ‘What do you want people to remember you for?’ Suddenly it dawned on me that I didn’t know what people would say about me. And then I saw something I didn’t like. Given what I focused on when I talk to my friends, they’d probably put the following on my tombstone: ‘Here lies Aimee. She had issues.’ That definitely wasn’t what I wanted to be there. I wanted something more.

Luminosity is about that something more. It is about taking a deep breath and knowing that all is well. It is about being successful without being exhausted. It is about locating your natural heart of compassion and seeing what you really want to be doing with your life — not what you should do, not even what you ought to do, but what you really want to do.

I know about the issues Aimee referred to. As a clinical psychologist, I’ve been trained in different psychotherapy approaches. I was in psychoanalysis myself as part of my training — three times a week for ten years. Lying on a couch, I talked (and talked) about my issues. To be fair, much of what I discovered helped me become less anxious and more centered. But my problems and dilemmas consumed my attention. They took center stage when I talked with friends about what I wanted to do with my life. It never occurred to me that continually analyzing my problems was not the key.

Then, as I approached my own fortieth birthday, I got restless. I was bored with how I thought and talked about my life. In the early eighties I went to a series of seminars on self-transformation. A light suddenly turned on. I glimpsed a new way of thinking that wasn’t based on diagnosing and treating what was wrong. In those seminars we looked not so much at why we thought the way we did but at what we were doing with our lives. I saw that everyone wants to know that his or her life makes a difference — that we all count for something.

Still, I didn’t attain luminosity. I took what I learned and single-mindedly pursued my goals and dreams. But it went too far. After a while I saw that I had become, as my friend Ellie put it, a success object. I was a walking, talking success machine. I was doing a lot — driven to raise the bar, go farther and faster, to prove myself. I compared myself with every other person who was successful and always came out on the bottom. You’ve probably never done this yourself ...or have you?

As a result of all this activity, I achieved goals but was often too exhausted to enjoy what I had done. I looked for what was next, never what was right in front of me. It was no fun.

We really do teach what we need to learn. For example, I wrote The Energy of Money to help people use money in accord with spiritual principles so that they can be prosperous from the inside out.¹ The book came about because of a bad business investment I had made, and so I spent years teaching these principles to others so that they wouldn’t make similar mistakes in their own lives.

Now I’m learning about luminosity, even as I write this book. Luminosity is about living the life you were meant to live, without running yourself into the ground and driving those around you crazy. I have been privileged to learn about luminosity in the presence of about fifty thousand others — ministers, millionaires, mentors, students, health-care professionals, grandparents, in short, people of all ages and interests — who have taken seminars from me over the past twenty years. What you will find here is their stories, along with the principles that emerged for living the luminous life.

The luminous life isn’t predictable. It isn’t tied up in a neat package. In the now-famous series of interviews Bill Moyers conducted with Joseph Campbell about the hero’s journey, Campbell talked about how unpredictable life is and how difficult it is to see what may happen in the future.² In fact, life is confusing, and things don’t always make sense. Campbell told a story about King Arthur’s knights searching for the Holy Grail, which was hidden in the middle of a dark forest. Each knight had to enter the forest in the darkest place for him, where there was no path. The reason for this was simple, Campbell said, because if you could actually see a path in front of you, it wasn’t your path but that of someone who had gone before you.

Later in that interview series Campbell talked about what happens when we look back on our life. That’s where we begin to see how everything fits, and we make sense of the decisions we made.³ We say to ourselves, Oh, that’s why it was important to move to Seattle, or, Now I see how lucky I was to meet Tom just when I did. Looking back, we get a sense of continuity.

Imagine you’re stopping for a moment and turning around to look back on your own hero’s path. You see that all along it are strung beautiful round paper lanterns, the kind that people hang on trees during the summer. Each one casts a golden glow that illuminates a part of your trail. As you continue to look back, you see that whether the sky was a royal blue or gray and overcast, these lanterns shone nevertheless. Sometimes fog settled in, but you could still see the warm light from each globe. Now consider that each lantern represents a luminous moment that you designed and put in place. Wouldn’t that be great to look back on? You could see without a doubt that indeed yours was a good life.

The Call to Luminosity

You deserve to live the life you were meant to live, and you have the energy to do it. It’s time to focus that energy instead of wasting it. And by energy I mean your money, time, physical vitality, creativity, enjoyment, and relationships. All these are forms of energy that you and I can learn to focus toward what we truly want in life. We can master this energy or remain frustrated and in a perpetual bad mood.

Luminosity summons images of light and radiance. All of us want moments in which there’s enough light that we can see clearly all the possibilities open before us. We want our eyes to see and our ears to hear what has always been there.

Luminosity is also about going toward the light, being in love with the light and not even worrying about getting away from the darkness. I’ve learned that whatever I try to get away from only follows me, nipping at my heels. Going toward the light gives more hope. It takes less energy than trying to get away from something — and it’s much more fun.

There, I’ve said it. Fun: the f-word. A friend once told me something like this: I want to get enlightenment, but I don’t want to be so heavy about it. This enlightenment stuff sounds so serious. Can’t I just have a little fun? (The answer is yes.)

It takes guts to turn your attention away from what you think is wrong with you, others, or your work environment — to turn from complaints to contribution. It takes daring to become focused on dreams instead of dilemmas. You could get worried that if you don’t look at your shortcomings — or those of others — something bad will happen. You may be so used to looking at your problems and concerns that the thought of leaving them behind sends chills through you. Later on we’ll see why this is so and give you a way to go beyond your worries as you travel on the road to luminosity.

But right now, just to begin, ask yourself, Would it be all right with me if life got easier? More fun? We might get suspicious of a question like that, wondering, What’s the catch? or How does this apply to my work? Get used to it. I’m going to ask you that same question a few times in this book.

The Difference between Happy Moments

and Luminous Moments

Luminous moments are different from happy moments. Yes, luminosity includes happiness. But as we define them here, luminous moments involve focused action.

Happy times look like this: I was eight, and my mom owned a bakery. On this particular day the bakers had made a three-foot tub full of dark bittersweet chocolate icing. They used about ten pounds of pure sweet butter and real vanilla. You could smell it all through the bakery. The trouble was, this batch was overcooked and too dark to use. There it sat on the kitchen floor, a tub of lukewarm dark chocolate icing with just the slightest pool of melted butter on top. It called to me as I stood over it. I looked up. Mom was watching, a smile twinkling in her eyes. As though she had read my mind, she said four words: Go ahead, do it! And I did. I plunged my arm down into the warm, dark, sweet chocolate. The icing oozed between my fingers. I drew my arm out of the soft icing and started to lick it off. My arm smelled like butter for two days.

But a luminous moment looks more like this: I was twelve. I had worked at the bakery and saved up $20. I caught the bus and went to a department store to buy my mom a Mother’s Day gift. I saw a gold-plated pin in the shape of a sheaf of wheat. It was $19.95. I plunked the money down, bought it, and gave it to my mom the next day. I was nervous because it was the first time I had ever gone out on my own to buy her something. What if she didn’t like it? She opened the package, looked at the pin, and burst into a big smile. She told me it was perfect and how creative it was of me to give her something that reminded her of baking. My heart soared! I felt so proud.

It’s now almost half a century later, and my mom has long since passed away. Burglars broke into my home many years ago and took almost everything my mother left me,