You Don't Need More Willpower...

By Holly Brubach Oprah.com | From the January 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

Not being able to change doesn't mean we're lazy, stubborn, or weak. A pair of Harvard educators argue that our best-laid plans often fall through for smart, self-protective (and ingeniously hidden) reasons.
This past fall, 24 people gathered for a workshop at Harvard University, among them members of the university's human resources department, executives from nonprofit institutions, one labor union official, members of a prominent international consulting firm, a high school principal, a teacher—and me. We had signed up for the session to better understand why people struggle to make significant changes—why, for instance, their vows to improve their lives (go to the gym, be nicer, lose 10 pounds, drink less, clean up more, save money) are so often followed, sometimes in a matter of weeks or even days, by utter failure. The workshop is led by clinical psychologist Robert Kegan, PhD, and Lisa Lahey, EdD, experts in adult learning at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. They've spent more than 20 years wondering why it is that people

don't change, studying those—the few—who have successfully broken a habit and the many who, despite repeated attempts, can't. Eventually, they arrived at a theory, the premise of which became the title for their new book, Immunity to Change. Their metaphor, invoking the body's exquisite ability to ward off disease and invasion, is apt: Our best efforts to change, the researchers claim, are routinely overwhelmed by forces within us. Kegan and Lahey have spent decades working with small groups of educators who wanted to improve their skills as teachers and administrators. They now shepherd several thousand people a year through the process they've developed. Like their book, these sessions tend to be skewed toward organizations and their leaders, but their method works as well for individuals looking to make changes as it does for executives looking to tweak their management style. Today, under Kegan and Lahey's guidance, our group begins to engage in some supervised soul-searching. They hand us a four-column worksheet that Kegan describes as "a mental map that functions as an X-ray." For the first column, Kegan and Lahey tell us, pick a goal, one that would make a significant difference in our lives. A New Year's resolution, maybe. Or the promise we've been making (and breaking) for years. In the second column, they ask us to list all the ways that we routinely kneecap ourselves. As an example, they bring up a former workshop participant—a superstar CEO they call Peter. Focused, disciplined, the co-founder of a multibillion-dollar company, he's the kind of person who decides to lose 10 pounds, does it in a few months, and keeps the weight off for years. But he's been less successful in softening his top-down management approach. In column one of the worksheet, Peter wrote that his goals were to delegate more and become more open to his staff's ideas. In column two, he easily identified how he sabotaged himself: by not seeking out other opinions, cutting off staffers midthought, and not empowering them to make their own decisions. What's striking about Kegan and Lahey's approach is that it recognizes the often good, if poorly understood, reasons for Peter's behavior (and, by extension, our own). Our flat-out failure to bring about the change we desire is not for lack of good intentions. Whatever it is that we resolved to do or to stop doing in the past, they don't doubt that we meant it. While we beat ourselves up over our lack of willpower, our laziness, our weakness, our dark side that wins out time and again—Kegan and Lahey say those change-resistant behaviors have a very good reason for being.

"What you see as demonic is actually in some ways a very tender expression," says Lahey, "a protection of something you feel vulnerable about." Kegan adds: "The behavior you're trying to extinguish or diminish, let's say, the way you're eating or overeating—you're only looking at it as bad." But, he says, it's just the tip of the iceberg. "And until you can get below the waterline, you can't see why this behavior is brilliant." What lies underneath the surface is anxiety, which, Kegan and Lahey explain, they have come to appreciate as "the most important—and least understood— private emotion in public life." Most of us think of anxiety as panic attacks or stage fright, acute episodes brought on by a big presentation to the boss or some other high-stakes occasion. Or a condition specific to people who were traumatized as children or survived some harrowing event. But Kegan and Lahey see anxiety as our brain's background noise, revving up when we're confronted with something new, unfamiliar, or threatening, and operating most of the time at such a low volume that we don't even hear it. "We all have anxiety, just by virtue of being human," Lahey says. We don't think of ourselves as continually fearful, Kegan says, because we've figured out how to manage this undercurrent of anxiety—whether it's our discomfort at meeting new people, our worry when talking to the boss, or our indecision in the jam aisle of the supermarket. "For instance, I may have a deep-running anxiety that you don't think well enough of me," says Kegan. "But I don't live my life every day like I'm walking on eggshells, because I'm very tuned in to what you want or need in order to continue to have a high opinion of me. I use my energy to make sure that I keep delivering what I believe it is that

you want. As a result, I don't feel the anxiety because I'm handling it." At this point in our session, Kegan and Lahey turn the discussion to column three to identify our own buried anxiety. They ask us: What would happen if we stopped the behavior that gets in the way of achieving the goals we've set for ourselves? The room goes quiet. That simple question triggers a litany of potential catastrophes—which turn out to be surprisingly personal. As Kegan and Lahey explain in their book, this is the moment Peter the CEO realized that if he did delegate, he would lose the sense of himself as "the super problem solver, the one who knows best, the one who is in control—yesterday, today, and tomorrow." Peter's mind was in the grip of equal and opposite impulses, prompting him to describe himself as having "one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake." No wonder our attempts to change grind to a halt. Kegan and Lahey give examples of other clients who resort to the same problem behavior, each of them in response to different obscured anxieties. One woman eats too much because she doesn't like the overtly sexual way men respond to her when she's thin. One man binges as a way of accepting the love of his big Italian-American family. Kegan and Lahey are in awe of the ingenuity with which we—all of us—keep our lives under control, to make sure that our anxiety is kept at bay and our fears never come true. "And life could just go on that way," Kegan says, "except that the system, this anxiety management system you've built, charges rent. It's costing you something. And what does it cost you? It costs you your goal."

It takes a little time for our group to get to the bottom of the anxiety that motivates each of us. Then Kegan and Lahey lead us through the last step. They urge us to reframe our fears in the context of the "big assumptions" that underlie them—ideas we take for granted about the way the world works and our place in it. Our parents convey to us their understanding of life, Kegan and Lahey explain, and we often take their opinions as fact. For Peter, the belief that needed to be challenged was: "If I want something done right, I have to do it myself." Kegan and Lahey throw out other examples to our group, assumptions like "If I say no, I'll lose people's friendship and respect" or "If I paid attention to my appetite, I'd never stop eating." We find this section easy to complete. Within ten minutes, each of us lists a number of things we believe to be The Way Things Are. In some instances, Kegan and Lahey say, these fears may prove to be justified. But they usually aren't. For all its intelligence, our psychological immune system is not infallible. Like our physical immune system, it sometimes sounds the alarm in situations when it shouldn't. "When it rejects new material, internal or external to the body, that the body needs to heal itself or to thrive, the immune system can put us in danger," Kegan and Lahey write. "It does not understand that it must alter its code. It does not understand that, ironically, in working to protect us, it is actually putting us at serious risk." Traditional psychotherapy trusts that the truth will set the patient free, that the power of insight will overhaul the behavior you're looking to change. But as any disillusioned analysand can tell you, arriving at some deeper awareness of how you're screwed up doesn't necessarily make you less screwed up. That's why this final step of the process is a little demoralizing. Confronted with the evidence of why our past attempts to change had been doomed to failure, we sit, staring glumly at our X-rays. "This is a perfect system you've created," Kegan tells us, and we have to admit he's right. As much as we want to finally make that New Year's resolution stick, it turns out we are equally committed to another, previously hidden, agenda. So Kegan and Lahey ask us to devise "experiments," starting out small, to test our assumptions. Someone like Peter, who is trying to break a lifelong control habit, might choose to delegate a task that isn't life-or-death to the most capable member of his staff and see what happens. Someone else might decide to say no to a dear friend and see how he or she responds. The man who struggles with his Italian family might commit to 24 hours of eating only when he's hungry and see how it goes. Surviving tests like these, Kegan and Lahey tell us, puts you in a position to question ideas you've understood as universal truths, and with those changes in your mind-set come changes in your behavior. In their years of experience, Kegan and Lahey have seen people make enormous shifts—they've lost the weight, stuck to the fitness program, learned how to manage their temper, finally cleaned up their office. To our group, this kind of transformation feels daunting, but more promising than another round of New Year's resolutions, that's for sure. For the first time, we understand what we are up against—not the evil within us but our own

ingenuity, well-meaning but misguided. What a relief that turns out to be. Not a solution but a place to start.

11 Doctor's Appointments to Make in Your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and Beyond
By Liz Brody Oprah.com | From the January 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

Schedule the checkups you know you need— plus a few you might not expect.

"The best way to reduce stress is advance planning," says Alice Domar, PhD, director of the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health at Boston IVF and the author of, among other books, Self-Nurture. The LLuminari expertsrecommend scheduling the following appointments for optimal preventive care—with a few caveats: There's disagreement among organizations and doctors (including our own group) about which screenings you should get when. If you have a medical condition or a family history of certain diseases, talk to your doctor about what's right for you.

MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS In your 20s and older: 1. Primary care physician, trained in either family or internal medicine: Once a year (at minimum every other year). Checkup should include reading and fecal occult blood test to screen for problems including gastritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and colon cancer. You should also get a fasting blood sugar test every two years or so to screen for diabetes. 2. Gynecologist: Once a year. Includes Pap smear, pelvic exam, clinical breast exam, and, if you have a new sex partner, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases. If you have more than one sexual partner, you should have a Pap smear and STD tests every six months. 3. Dentist: Every six months for teeth cleaning and oral exam. 4. Dermatologist: If you're fair-skinned or have a family history of skin cancer, you'll want an annual appointment. Otherwise, go if you have any suspicious moles or skin problems. 5. Vaccinations: Make an appointment if: (a) it's time for your tetanus booster (required every ten years); (b) you're not immune to chickenpox (you need the shot if you've never had the disease or the vaccine); you're not immune to measles, mumps, or rubella (if you were born after 1956, you may need to be inoculated for all three, usually in one shot).

In your 30s, add: 6. Cholesterol screening: You need one every five years if your last test was normal. (These tests are often available at health fairs or through your internist.) Some experts say you can wait until your 40s to start unless you're at increased risk for heart disease because of smoking, family history, obesity, high blood pressure, ordiabetes.

In your 40s, add: 7. Mammogram: The rigorous and evidence-based U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended starting annual screenings at 40; other guidelines suggest beginning at 50. Use your intuition and common sense based on your health and family history, and discuss your decision with your doctor. 8. Stress echocardiogram: Get a baseline analysis of how your heart is holding up. 9. Ophthalmologist: Many doctors advise going annually, although others recommend every two to four years until age 65, then annually. The visit should

include an intraocular pressure measurement for glaucoma.

In your 50s and above, add: 10. Colonoscopy: Every five years. 11. Bone density scan: Start routine testing at menopause—earlier if you're small-framed, your weight is very low, you have a mother with osteoporosis, or you've had fractures (other than in a freak accident) after age 45. Some experts recommend waiting until you are 65, unless there are risk factors. And don't forget the men in your life... If he's in his 30s, he should have a cholesterol screening every five years. He should also be getting an annual fecal occult blood test. If he's in his 40s or older, he needs an annual rectal exam and PSA blood test to screen for prostate cancer, and a colonoscopy every five years.

Other important dates:
October 9—National Depression Screening Day: If you feel drained and unable to enjoy life, log on to MentalHealth.org to find a local screening site. Third Thursday in November—the Great American Smokeout: Make a big X on that date if you smoke (call 800-ACS-2345 for information). Vacation: Block it out now and start thinking about what you want to do. Hang a photo on your bulletin board of the beach you'll be visiting, get the maps out, do some preparatory reading. The planning and anticipation will prolong your fun. Trouble spots: Circle times you know will be tough (the anniversary of a death, Valentine's Day) and start thinking about how to make these days easier. Look-forward-tos: Make six dates you can't wait for—a girls' night out, tickets to a concert series, a romantic getaway. Do-it days: Make six dates when you will spend the day crossing off all the things on your to-do list that never seem to get done. Major occasions: Write down the date when you should start preparing for a big event, not just the date of the event itself (your parents' 50th anniversary, your turn to host Thanksgiving).

Traditions: If there are rituals you loved as a child—apple picking in September, caroling in December—add them to your adult life. Plus, find a half hour every day to read a novel or meditate or have sex.

5 Easy Ways to Cut Your Calories in Half
By Liz Brody Oprah.com | From the January 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

The road to a healthy body means sacrificing some deliciousness (but not all).

Getting Started: For one week, keep a food diary: Every time you put something in your mouth, record the time, the food, how much you ate, and how you felt afterward (still hungry, full, satisfied, etc.). Most people don't realize how much they're eating until they write it down.

In an ideal world: A woman eats only when she's hungry. She has no obsessive tendencies toward food. And her diet is 15 to 25 percent protein; 20 to 30 percent fat, of which no more than 10 percent is saturated fat; and 45 to

60 percent vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, with small amounts of white starches like pasta and sugar. Let's get real: That woman is a rare species. So if you're not hitting all the marks, don't beat yourself up; at least you've got a lot of dinner companions. If you tend to feel really guilty when you eat a "bad" food (ice cream, chocolate) and maybe even punish yourself by doubling your workout or skipping dinner that night, Alice Domar, PhD, director of the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health at Boston IVF, suggests trying to develop a kinder attitude toward food— for the sake of your mind as well as your body. One strategy is to follow an 80/20 plan of eating. "If 80 percent of what you eat is the really good stuff— fruits, whole grains—the other 20 percent can be the foods you really want," Domar says. "In other words, one Krispy Kreme is nothing to feel guilty about. It's in your 20 percent." Take a step: Domar suggests trying to make one change in your diet this month. That's one—not two or three. The idea is to make that change in increments, each week building on the last, so it's as painless as possible. Pick from the following: If you take cream in your coffee: Week one, switch to whole milk; week two, use 2 percent fat milk; week three, 1 percent; week four, nonfat. To increase your grains: Go from white bread to sourdough or Italian bread, then to fortified bread, then to whole grain bread. If you cook a lot with hamburger, switch from full-fat meat to lower fat, then lean, then mix in some ground turkey, and finally use the turkey with very little or no beef. For ice cream addicts: Switch from your premium scoop to a supermarket brand, then low-fat ice cream or yogurt, then sorbet. Instead of drinking soda: Fill a glass three-quarters full with your favorite juice and the rest seltzer; then mix them half and half, then onequarter juice and three-quarters seltzer, and finally try no-calorie flavored bubbly water.

Last week at a breakfast meeting with three healthy women friends who are each more than 20 years younger than I am. take a handful of pills with their breakfast coffee. megaminerals. soy concentrate. Yet everyone at that breakfast table takes more pills every morning than I do. and the diet supplement Metabolife. "Health is everything. multivitamins. I have a chronic disease as a lifetime companion. MD Oprah. ginkgo. I have survived eight major surgeries and several minor ones. I was stunned to watch one of them take a box out of her purse and swallow 10 or 12 capsules and pills of various sizes and colors. But perhaps not. and somewhere there is a stack of medical charts with my name on them that is by now taller than I am.Finding Your Way to the Place Where Health Meets Happiness By Rachel Naomi Remen. The Oprah Magazine A doctor's take: Here's how to develop a sense of peace when you're facing uncertain times.com | From the January 2003 issue of O. I wonder how we have become so worried about our health and so dependent . CoQ10. hormones. Seeing my surprise." one of them told me. too. the others laughed and told me that they. among them ginseng.

Eat a good and balanced diet as a source of the vitamins and minerals you really need. power. to know what will fulfill us and to pursue that in large and small ways no matter what others think. Living a full and rich life may require us to focus beyond our physical health and learn the direction in which our wholeness lies—to take risks and let go of what we have outgrown. Their work actually violated their personal values. And no matter if we are sick or well. kindness. A few years ago. we can all choose to live closer to our true selves than we do. The stress of living divided like this has a far greater impact on our lives and even on our health than not taking the right pill. security. None of them comes in a pill. I can now say that perfect health is not the sine qua non of a good life. Avoid foods that have chemicals in them or on them. 5. wisdom. Pay more attention to your environment. Then I asked these women to prioritize the list of goals according to what was most important to them personally. Read before you eat. Don't be the first on the block to take a new medication. Most were stunned to discover that they believed one way and lived in quite another. love. comfort. friendship. Listen to yourself more closely and to the life experience of other women. After 50 years of Crohn's disease. Wait and see.. 3. meaning. only 10 came up with the same list. The vitamins in food may be far more useful to your body than those you presently buy in bottles. Our health is important but not as a major focus of our lives. The list included such things as approval. I asked a group of women to prioritize a list of goals according to what was most important to them in their professional lives. fame. in the neighborhood of our true selves. There are many things we can control that make us less vulnerable to illness. over and over again. Of the 300 women who did this. When did life become a disease that we need to prevent? . We may just need to care for our physical well-being in 5 simple and commonsense ways: 1. The wisdom to live well is not about holding on to everything you have at all costs. respect. Respect the wisdom that has helped others to live well. until all we are following is our own dream of ourselves. . While we may not know the longterm effects of many of our medical choices. We can learn to understand ourselves better.. and money. 2. Most of us live homeless. We can reach within to find a place of personal truth and live from there.on medication to support ourselves. adventure. 4. to what you put on your lawn and paint on your walls. influence. we can learn to live passionately.

quit smoking for a nagging mother. letting your body adjust to the bracing temperature. compiled by Legato and her LLuminari colleagues. a leg. The Oprah Magazine Discover the key advice that will get you where you want to go. Then dunk a foot.com | From the January 2003 issue of O. If a question seems particularly intimidating. You may want to write down thoughts or just roll them . These questions. whose latest book is Why Men Die First: How to Lengthen Your Lifespan." says Marianne Legato. but why? What's our real purpose? Even the strongest resolve can collapse if you're trying to change for someone else—get thinner for a spouse. We all want to be healthier. but the point is to get you digging down to a place where your intentions become clear. think of it as a lake whose waters are deep and cold. start by asking yourself a series of questions. exercise because you're supposed to. Dip your toe in. until you're all the way in. may seem difficult to answer at first. MD. founder of the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University. "To get motivated in a healthy way.What's Your Real Motivation? By Liz Brody Oprah.

Who do I want to be? 3. Part of this exercise is to remind yourself about what you—as opposed to everyone else around you—need in order to feel happy and fulfilled. what could I say to myself. How can I build in support for myself? Ask a friend to be a health buddy? Join a walking club? 10. What has stopped me from keeping resolutions in the past? Is the obstacle (or obstacles) still present in my life? If so. getting out of a bad relationship)? Do I fear failure or the responsibility that could come with success? Could I embrace change instead as an adventure? 7. What are the sources of joy I need to feel whole? 12. What am I doing in my life that's hurting me? Smoking? Drinking too much? Letting work interfere with relationships? 11. to stick with the original plan? 9. What's my motivation for wanting to improve my food and exercise habits? If it's to look better.over in your mind. What am I missing? The time to read a book? A close friendship? 5. If you don't make time for what matters to you. Why am I here? Why am I important? What is my mission? 4. or do. Who am I? How do I think of myself? What are my strengths and weaknesses? 2. When I'm tempted to wander off track. how will I navigate it this time? 8. how can others value your importance? 1. Am I afraid of making changes or of taking risks (quitting a boring job. Am I happy? . do I expect favorable results to bring love? 6.

Nancy Snyderman's Guide to Good Health for Women over Forty. ask yourself these questions again in a month or two." 12 Simple Ways to Have Better Sex By Liz Brody Oprah. "So many of us are in jobs we hate or relationships that are stagnant. MD. And consider that in order to part with what has become habit or routine. The Oprah Magazine Who says good sex requires a push-up bra and candlelight? We've got a few new ideas. whose books include Dr. Old joke: Having nearly finished creating the universe.If you don't have the energy to make changes now.com | From the February 2003 issue of O. "As we age." says surgeon Nancy Snyderman. you may simply need to take a leap of faith. God says to Adam and . but we're too paralyzed to change. we stop taking risks.

Eve, "I have two gifts left. The first is the ability to urinate standing up." "Oh, God! Can I have that one?" Adam pleads. Eve just smiles. "Fine," God says, rooting through his bag. "What's left here?... Oh, yes, multiple orgasms." Some women are still thanking their lucky fig leaves. Others, however, may be wishing Eve had gone for the pee advantage. Because, somewhere between Eden and eBay, multiple orgasms have been replaced by multitasking, and amid the dishes, diapers, and company reports, all too many of us look up one day to realize our sexuality has been stuffed into the back of a sock drawer. Sexuality may not be the first thing you think of when tending to your health. But what a great natural source of energy. It's more powerful and lasting than any smoothie or protein bar, not to mention calorie-free. "Sex doesn't always have to be an act of love—it can be a kind of play, a celebration," says LLuminari's Pepper Schwartz, PhD, professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle and the author, most recently, of The Lifetime Love & Sex Quiz Book. Whether you have sex or simply a healthy appetite for it, when that drive is activated, no matter what your age, you feel resilient, vibrant, ready for the rush of life. How to spice it up:

Think like a man for an afternoon: Every time you see a half-decent guy on the street, in an elevator, in a Gap ad, mentally undress him and imagine how great he looks naked. Assume for a day—radical as this thought might be—that your partner is not as critical of your body as you are. "For men there's one goal besides eating: sex," says Mehmet Oz, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. "We're very focused. Whether or not you have an extra pound or two, whether or not a nose is crooked, these issues are not first on our minds." Unplug the TV for a week (just do it and see what happens).

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work all day, cook, do homework with the children, straighten up, and then feel like having sex. Suggest that if he'd take the kids out for dinner or ice cream one night, you'd probably be more in the mood.
Try this on your partner: Tell him it's really hard to For Valentine's Day, buy yourself a new vibrator (see GoodVibes.com).

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Take a shower or bath with your partner. See where it leads. Think back to your courting days. Did you neck during concerts? Talk forever in coffeehouses? Go Rollerblading? Do one of those things again together. Pick a day of the week for you and your partner to come home from work early, and don't use the time to do chores. Call at least once during that same day and flirt. Go away one weekend without the kids. If you can't afford a hotel and a babysitter, switch houses with another couple and take turns caring for each other's children. Try a little change of pace, something sensual: Wear a different color than you normally do, put on cashmere instead of flannel, listen to music instead of the news, burn a scented candle, get a luscious massage. Masturbate at least once this month. If there's any one thing you can do to enjoy sex (aside from getting shipwrecked with an absolute heartthrob), this is it. "Have a glass of wine if you need help getting in the mood," suggests Alice Domar, PhD, director of the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health at Boston IVF and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

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Foods to Get In the Mood
Since good nutrition feeds into healthy sexuality, try eating more unprocessed whole grains—brown rice, oats, barley, bulgur, kasha, quinoa. These oftenignored complex carbohydrates contain B vitamins and minerals and are high in fiber, which means you digest them slowly and feel satisfied for a long time. Have oatmeal for breakfast (top it with dried cranberries or raisins and a handful of nuts to make it tastier).  Add barley or brown rice to soups.  Instead of white rice or potatoes, try cooking up bulgur or couscous.  When baking, use whole wheat flour for at least half the flour amount. But if what you're really craving is chocolate... It's an aphrodisiac. It has antioxidants. Who's got the chocolate? Then again, how do we avoid consuming the whole box? A few ways to get your fix without all the fat and sugar usually in attendance:  Choose recipes with cocoa powder instead of bars or chips.  Try chocolate-covered raisins or coffee beans instead of Kisses or M&M's.  Low-fat, low-calorie hot chocolate can pinch-hit for the real thing.  Instead of premium chocolate ice cream, have low-fat frozen yogurt or sorbet—or mix half and half.

Buy some really good, expensive chocolates and have just one (go on, close the box) after dinner. See if you can make that piece last 15 minutes. If the taste turns into a binge, you may want to stick with nonchocolate candy.

Fourteen Really Good Sex Questions
By Carol Mithers Oprah.com | From the October 2004 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

You'll be glad someone else asked. O finds really good answers.
Can you learn to be passionate about someone if there's no chemistry at first?

If a couple like each other, have fun together, and basically have a good relationship, they shouldn't call it quits if everything is there but the sex. Chemistry can grow if you give yourself permission to learn about yourself as a sexual human being and to communicate your desires. That's probably better than falling for someone in a mad, passionate heat. Because when you realize you don't actually like each other, sex is the first thing to go. And then you have nothing. —Sue Johanson, RN, host of Oxygen's Talk Sex with Sue Johanson and author of Sex, Sex, and More Sex(Regan) Can you have a great, long-lasting sex life with the same partner? Absolutely—but you're not going to be having movie-style sex. Movie sex is romantic and passionate: You idealize your partner, you're turned on even before you begin, and you make love every time you're together. In an ongoing relationship, sex is more about intimacy and security, and it's integrated with who you really are. It also doesn't happen as often. Couples who keep their sex lives going develop a style early on—who initiates, how much foreplay is included, do they like taking turns, do they or don't they appreciate quickies. They also consciously make time for sex. The idea that the best sex is spontaneous is a myth. Most long-term couples plan their sexual experiences; it's like going to a show—part of the pleasure is looking forward to it. Sexually satisfied couples also know that sometimes the "show" will be great, and other times it'll be mediocre or worse. You have to be realistic and not panic, thinking this means you're falling out of love or failing as a lover. Healthy, mutually pleasuring sex really helps strengthen the bond between couples. The more you avoid having sex, and the more self-conscious you become about it, the harder it is to get back on track. —Barry W. McCarthy, Ph.D., professor of psychology at American University in Washington, D.C., and coauthor of Getting It Right the First Time (Routledge) Are there any taboos left? Talking about sex! Americans probably watch more porn than any nation in the world, but they don't talk about it with their own partners. It's too personal, too private. They're afraid that if they reveal anything about themselves, it will be used against them as a weapon in an argument: "You're a slut, just like your mother." —Sue Johanson, RN What's the latest on sex toys? So many people are using them. Vibrators have helped some women have orgasms for the first time, and since women now expect sexual pleasure, it makes sense they would buy sex toys. The Rabbit Habit is the most famous— there's a shaft to penetrate, with vibrating pearls that stimulate the opening of the vagina, and two ears that tickle the clitoris. Vibrators also are getting smaller. There's one that slides over a fingertip, so it's easy to incorporate into sex with a partner, and less like having a third party there. Some are stealth

toys, like the Vibra Pen—a ballpoint with a vibrator on the tip. There's the Stowaway, which comes in a plastic case that makes it look like makeup, to avoid embarrassment with airport security. Every woman should own at least one sex toy. It's like buying a tennis racket—you may not end up playing tennis, but why not try it? —Rachel Venning and Claire Cavanah, cofounders of the Toys in Babeland store How do I buy sex products online without anyone finding out? Some Web businesses sell, rent, and exchange customer information. (Toys in Babeland doesn't.) If you want to protect yourself, look for that assurance, and make sure you're dealing with a real business—one that has a phone number, address, and contact information. Our merchandise comes in a plain brown wrapper that says only TIB. But it's probably better not to order from work. If someone checked your Internet history or used spyware, our real name would come up. —Rachel Venning and Claire Cavanah What about erotic literature? Until about 20 years ago, there wasn't the kind of female erotica that we have now. The first editor in the Herotica series, Susie Bright, says that in the beginning, getting writers to submit stories was like pulling teeth. It's not like that anymore. I receive huge numbers of submissions every year, from both professional and amateur writers. The books I edit sell really well. I think women read erotica to get in a sexy mood, but they don't get so excited that they masturbate. Erotic literature isn't like male porn. What I pick are stories—there are characters, purpose. The sex isn't the point. I think that's what women want, the context. I hate to admit it, but I guess we want the love. —Marcy Sheiner, editor of the Herotica (Plume; Down There Press) and Best Women's Erotica series (Cleiss) Is there a typical erotic-lit fantasy? In my experience, there are two. One is the multiple partner scenario, in a variety of configurations—especially introducing a stranger into the mix. The whole idea of bringing someone new and anonymous into your lovemaking, and the urgency of an encounter like that, is really appealing. The other involves dominance and submission. —Violet Blue, editor of Taboo and the erotic literature series Sweet Life (both Cleis) Is it true that women are now selling sex aids the way they used to sell Tupperware? At least 10,000 Passion Parties are held each month in private homes. We sell toys and lingerie, but the products that encourage foreplay are the most

popular. These include edible lotion, apple-cinnamon-flavored body powder, and white-chocolate-flavored body pudding. You don't say, "I haven't been satisfied." You say, "How about trying some chocolate pudding?" You communicate in a way that won't hurt his fragile ego. I'm 60, and when I started at this company, I didn't have any idea that these types of products existed. Women are amazed to find out what's available. Right now we do most of our business in California, but we're growing in Wisconsin and parts of the Midwest, and we're very strong across the Bible Belt. I think all women want the same thing—love and romance. —Pat Davis, president of Passion Parties With so much information and so many products on the market, are there areas of sexuality that we still don't know about? There's a lot about the chemistry, physiology, and neurology of female sexual response that we still don't understand very well. It's kind of shocking. All our attention has focused on women who manifest too little libido, but I've identified a condition I call persistent sexual arousal syndrome: A woman experiences constant arousal without conscious feelings of desire, which can go on for days, weeks, even months, despite orgasms. We don't know what causes this, and isolated women who've complained about it to doctors have been made fun of or told, "You think that's a problem?" Doctors don't realize that these ongoing sensations are distracting and intrusive. We also haven't paid much attention to the fact that "normal" women's sexual responses differ enormously. Some can have an orgasm simply through fantasy, no touch involved. Others require half an hour of vibratory stimulation, and even then they say their orgasm is muted. We don't know what to attribute these differences to, and until we have an approach that involves physicians, sex therapists, psychologists, and anthropologists who explore cultural differences in sexual expectation, we won't. —Sandra Leiblum, Ph.D., director of the Center for Sexual and Relationship Health at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, New Jersey, and coauthor of Getting the Sex You Want (Crown) What's the best time to raise delicate sexual issues with a new partner? If it's something like "I have herpes," you tell the person even before you become intimate. When you're alone together, and in a nonsexual moment— though preferably not when you're driving—you say something like "I enjoy being with you, and I have the feeling that this has the makings of a relationship. But before we go any further, there's something I need to tell you, although I'm scared it might affect the way you feel about me." But let's face it, a lot of partners hear herpes and they're out the door. If what you want to talk about is that you most enjoy sex swinging from the chandelier, wait until you've made love a few times. Then you don't say, "I want this because it always works for me." You say, "I have a fantasy that might be fun. Why don't we try it?"

—Sue Johanson, RN Do men compare us to the women in porn movies? Most men aren't wishing their partners look like these women. They just wish they were as comfortable with their bodies and with sex. We're a lot harder on ourselves than men. All you need is a body that's soft and smells and tastes good. Keep the lighting low if you like. Find a flowing elegant gown or outfit you feel comfortable in, and forget the elaborate bustier. Not all men are into lingerie, and there's nothing worse than squeezing into some skimpy thing you're bulging out of. —Candida Royalle, former adult film star, president of Femme Productions, and author of How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do (Fireside) Is there anything women still don't get about masturbation? There's still the perception that it's "lesser"—what you do if you can't get a date. But masturbation is a sexual relationship you have forever. Lovers come and go, but you always have yourself. Masturbation is also a wonderful way to explore your responses. There's no performance anxiety. Nobody else to please. You can let your mind wander, try things out in fantasy, and see what works. It's a way of staying in touch with what makes you hot, and a great way to pass the time. —Rachel Venning and Claire Cavanah Can you be happy without sex? As a sex therapist, I can tell you that when a couple who haven't been sexually active suddenly have a good experience, you can see the difference. They come in laughing and talking; there's more physical affection between them. It's better than any therapy session. It would be great if we could package the feeling, although it usually lasts only 24 hours, and you have to do it again. On the other hand, there are women out there who simply don't care very much about sex. And there are more sexless marriages than you'd think— relationships that can be bonded, loving, companionable, and devoted. Single women may find that what they most miss is a close relationship, not sex, and they can often find that closeness with friends. That's why women do so well alone.

What's Timing Got to Do with It?
By Amanda Robb Oprah.com | From the February 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

There's a way to pace a relationship so it lasts. We have the step-by-steps.
Once upon a time, falling in love was a remarkably straightforward process. A young man asked a young woman out. If he wanted to date her exclusively, he asked her to go steady. If he was in college and the steady thing was going well, he gave her his fraternity pin—a symbol, if she chose to wear it, to all the world that they cared very much about each other. Then engagement and marriage. It's not that romance didn't involve moments of heartache and anxiety, but it proceeded along a recognized, accepted, and very clear trajectory that had a powerful momentum toward commitment. One of the problems with contemporary romance, says psychologist Scott Stanley, PhD, cofounder of the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement

Program (PREP) and author of The Power of Commitment, is the absence of those instantly recognizable and often public markers of commitment. It's not that he thinks women today should get pinned, exactly, but without the traditional signposts, couples tend to slide into relationships they haven't thought much about and they each value differently. For instance, you're very touched when he invites you to spend the night. He thinks it's just easier than taking you home. Pretty soon your lease is up and since you're at his place most of the time anyway, you give up your apartment. You think you're preengaged. He thinks you two are saving money. Stanley says he's seen some version of that story countless times during the 25 years he's spent studying relationships. Both men and women can be commitment-phobes, but Stanley believes that contemporary culture makes men especially disinclined to marry. One reason is the soul mate myth. A 2001 study found that 94 percent of young adults expect a soul mate for a life partner. In his experience, women tend to outgrow this fantasy, but a significant number of men say the reason they're not marrying their live-in girlfriend is that they're not sure she's "the one." His research also indicates that men worry that marriage will make women want children sooner and that men associate the institution with a risk of financial loss. So cohabitation gives a man all the benefits of companionship without the risks of marriage. Stanley admits that each partner in a relationship falls in love at a different pace (the premise, in fact, of every romantic movie ever made). So how can couples know if they're doing that inevitable waltz to marriage or if they're in separate romantic universes? Stanley says that the only way to figure it out is to pose a lot of questions. The partner who doesn't want to become more committed should examine her motives. Is she trying to gather more information about the relationship and her partner? Or is it that she knows this isn't "the one" and she's just afraid to be alone? A woman who wants more commitment needs to ask her partner direct questions: "Do you ever want to get married?" "Am I the kind of person you think you want to marry?" "Why not now?" "When?" Protect Yourself by Asking Questions The point isn't to analyze a relationship to death but to get an idea of each person's current feelings, intentions, and plans for the future. "If someone says, 'Yes, I want to be married and I can imagine marrying you, but I don't feel I know you well enough right now' or 'I don't feel like we have the skills to be married yet'—those are good answers," says Stanley. "But if he says, 'I don't think I'm the marrying kind' or 'I like you but I can't marry someone who has children/a dog/isn't my religion', she might want to think about protecting herself." It's a lesson that a woman we'll call Ella Jamison learned the hard way. Jamison, 29, a divinity student in Virginia, met Mark Lewis (not his real name) while visiting friends in Seattle in the summer of 2003. They drove to a concert together. "We liked the same music; we shared a similar faith." And they found each other attractive. A few days later, she had to fly home to Virginia. "Mark wasn't into e-mail, so we wrote letters," she says. "It seemed a very cool way to get to know each other, and it was very romantic"—so romantic that she invited

Lewis to come live with her family after he finished his bachelor's degree that May. "We'd talked about commitment before he came." Two months later, Lewis asked permission of Jamison's parents to propose to her. They gave him their blessing and her grandmother's engagement ring. "But at the end of the summer, Mark went back to Seattle without asking me to marry him—and he kept my grandmother's ring." Clearly, Lewis would be considered a jerk in any epoch, but the romantic cataclysm he and Jamison experienced is especially common in ours, says clinical counselor John Van Epp, PhD, who created the PICK a Partner (Premarital Interpersonal Choices and Knowledge) relationship education program when he saw his single clients repeat the same disastrous mistakes over and over. "They were smart people who were making a lot of progress in therapy," he says, "but when it came to dating, it was as if they had a toolbox full of bad tools." Van Epp realized that his clients were moving through the stages of romantic love in the wrong order. "A woman would come in and gush that she'd been at a party and met the love of her life, or a man would tell me that he was at a bar and found a woman who completes him," Van Epp says. "What they found were people they were very attracted to but who they don't know at all. That's why I developed the RAM." The RAM is Van Epp's Relationship Attachment Model, which includes a diagram that looks like a stereo equalizer and shows you how to tune a relationship by moving the levers up in a specific order—Knowing, Trusting, Relying, Committing, then Touching. Tune Your Relationship "We all have stereotypes and we project them onto people—for instance, policemen are responsible," says Van Epp. "But that's not always true. " Van Epp tells his clients that before they get involved emotionally or physically with a man, they need to look past his surface attributes. Does he practice what he preaches in the world? Is he a caring friend? What's his family like? If his relatives are nuts, does he know they're nuts? Once you've got answers to some of those questions, you might trust him with a confidence or opinion or special item. (Though at first, it shouldn't be something too important—like a grandmother's ring.) As the Trust lever moves up, the Rely lever can inch up, too. Again, Van Epp counsels gradual steps. "Ask someone to water plants before you ask him to feed the dog. And do that before relying on him to pick up your kids," he says. Once someone's proven dependable, Van Epp says it's time to start upping the Touch lever. "Obviously, some people have sex very early in relationships—that's a personal decision," says Van Epp. "But the fact is, we're all on our best behavior when we're trying to woo someone. I just advise caution, because sex creates intense feelings of attachment, and real behavior patterns don't start to emerge until after about three months." That's why he recommends the three-month rule instead of the three-date rule. He's not saying you have to wait 90 days before

necessarily—Van Epp isn't entirely out of touch with the 21stcentury dating world. "A few months ago." Not that Lewis ever said he couldn't handle it. These days Jamison handles that crushy feeling a lot better. My skin changed color. I guess Mark couldn't handle my illness and new appearance. she met someone she's interested in. Turns out he'd been with every woman in that bar. But he does think couples should wait about that long before having serious conversations about commitment. But I thought. The class helped her look at how Lewis might realistically behave in a marriage and to determine that it wasn't the kind of relationship she wanted. she confronted Lewis about how badly he was treating her. "Mark and I hadn't even spent two weeks in the same city before I was planning my future around him. She says he seems nice. As Jamison's relationship with Lewis deteriorated.having sex. Jamison thinks her big mistake was trusting and relying on Lewis before she really knew him. her parents suggested she take Van Epp's PICK Program. He was a total player. She called. Let me get through this hormonal haze and figure out who he is. "I could tell he wanted to hook up. "I lost a lot of weight." The Only Sex Guide You'll Ever Need? . He just hung out with friends instead of her. Six months after they broke up. Jamison became very ill from infectious diseases she'd picked up while doing humanitarian aid in Kyrgyzstan. After the course. his sister finally sent it back to Jamison. While they were corresponding. I looked terrible—not at all like the woman he met. I met a really cute guy at a bar and he seemed so sweet." Learning that fact before she got involved with him felt like progress to Jamison. Recently. "but I'm taking it one slow step at a time." she says. and they ended it. e-mailed. On the phone she asked. and even consulted a lawyer about getting her grandmother's ring back." she says. By the time he came to live with me. "Do you want to stay in this or not?" He didn't.

The Oprah Magazine O talks to the author of the most helpful and not-embarrassing book on the topic. and potentially sex-life-changing as the Guide to Getting It On! O's Liz Brody has a frank conversation with author Paul Joannides. "So what do you do?" Paul: I usually say I'm a publisher or an author—"psychoanalyst" tends to make people just as uncomfortable as telling them you're a sex book writer. O: What do you say when you're at a cocktail party and someone asks. God. she'll say. friendly. If anyone pries. We've been married—oh.By Liz Brody Oprah. I'm very adept at changing the subject. thorough (846 pages). "It's just what . O: And your wife—how does she take being married to Mr. When people ask her about the guide.com | From the July 2007 issue of O. don't you dare say I don't know—I think nine years. and she helps me with the editing. liberating. You've never read a manual as warm. Sex Guide? Paul: Toni is a criminal defense attorney.

um. butt—panic! Paul: In all the sex surveys we've done on our website. My parents were both from San Francisco. Understand that sometimes the penis does what a man wants it to. I don't remember any guys complaining about the size of their partner's rear end—or cellulite. Like much of medicine today.] It's frightening how boring researchers can make an exciting subject.. and sometimes it just doesn't. you'll enjoy many more good times ahead. O: What about... By the time a man wants to sleep with you. There are a lot of other ways to please each other. It really takes time to learn what makes another person feel good. O: What drives one to get into this line of work? Paul: Revenge. and the two of you can have a fabulous sex life perfecting those. Paul: I don't have a magic answer for opening up in the bedroom. Revenge for eight years of strict religious schooling in California's San Joaquin Valley. one doesn't become a psychoanalyst from the happiest of upbringings. sex research is highly dominated by the pharmaceutical industry.. O: Cellulite.. Period. If there's any way to free your energy from that anxiety and put it into having fun with him. But couples should give themselves permission to admit that they don't have a clue what they're doing. Also. and the latest effort is testosterone—the same hormone they used to give the Olympic athletes from the Soviet bloc. O: What's new in sex research? Paul: I read enough scholarly sex articles to euthanize an elephant. he finds you attractive. "He's not aroused.er. [Joannides is on the editorial board of theAmerican Journal of Sexuality Education." O: Best home-tested technique in the book? Paul: I would be a dead man if I went there.Paul wishes sex could be. But you wouldn't believe how many women who report low sexual desire are suddenly cured— without pills or patches—when they find a new partner who wants to talk to them about sex. believe me. and tons of others I've seen. One of the great tragedies of our time is that now they're trying to find a Viagra for women. It probably has a lot more to do with what happened at work. . thighs. O: How do you start talking about. no matter how experienced anyone is." Paul: Get rid of that idea! Women do all sorts of numbers on themselves—and on him—if his penis doesn't rise to the occasion. He's just not that into me..

I haven't seen . probably about when the Jurassic phase was coming to a close [early '80s]. I give it to a friend. Right now this is my full-time gig. "Wow. She reads it and hands it back to me. I was going to do a whole series. O: Ten years! You must have a PhD. but instead of writing a dissertation on some hideous psychoanalytic concept such as "An Epistemological Comparison of Projective Identification in the Semiotic Narratives and Intersubjectivity of the Pretraumatized Borderline Patient"—seriously—I wanted to practice and do other things. which means I can be the training psychoanalyst for psychoanalytic candidates. credentials. she's only highlighted about three sentences in the whole thing. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. This is. Paul: You would think. Finally. skateboard wheels. Now the guide." O: Dr. O: Credentials. it's even in some medical schools. one company was interested. is doing really well. And I looked at their catalog and the list included The Anarchist Cookbook. O: What other things? Paul: I was in Los Angeles and involved in some of the first research on PCP babies.. Drew? Paul: After working on it for months and months. so I guess she really liked it"—"as women.and my father moved them to this farm town.. Paul: When I got to Berkeley in the 1970s. I ended up going for ten years. "You know. Barnes & Noble is probably our biggest customer. but I just couldn't be with the same publisher that put out books on how to make bombs. a playwright. in its fifth edition. including a textbook down the line on sex. I've supervised doctoral students and I'm a graduate psychoanalyst." O: So how long did it take to finish the book? Paul: Seven years. I was also working with teenage prostitutes and gang members. Ruth meets Dr. Those three sentences I highlighted? That's the tone you need to have. So I borrowed money and started my own publishing company. and it's assigned reading in a bunch of college courses. But I vowed that hell would freeze over before I ever went to graduate school. and surfboards"—that was the title—thinking it was a good way to get them excited about science. But then I was suddenly so broke. we're really sick and tired of the great white doctor telling us what does and doesn't work for us. I thought. oh." she says—and I'm sitting there thinking. To say that my mother was angry at him for the next 50 years is to put it mildly. And then no publisher would touch it. My poor agent was bleeding from the ears. And that's the tone you've got in this dog. I'd started writing a textbook for kids on the "chemistry of bikinis. It was hard. Nobody. "I'll go ahead and knock out the sex guide.

"The exquisite brush-off: Have your man spread his legs. and abdomen with a soft makeup brush. "Couples don't hesitate to get books and magazines on travel. and hands. feet. The sensation can be relaxing and titillating at the same time. Making circles around the scrotum can feel especially nice. Brush his face." 3. Some couples enjoy taking each other's clothes off. and gently brush his inner thighs." 2. Occasionally. "Some people struggle to get fully into their bodies. O: Got to ask: What's the best sex tip ever? Paul: It's such a horrible cliché. Some have trouble relaxing enough to enjoy what is being shared with them sexually. That's not always true with sex. 4 Tips from the Guide to Getting It On 1. Or pick up an anthology of erotic literature and read parts of it to each other. but the best sex tip in the world is to listen to each other. testicles. Just getting your fears out in the open usually helps you feel more comfortable. "You might consider planning a time and place to get naked together when the sole purpose is not just to have intercourse. It helps any discussion that might otherwise be filled with anxiety.patients in three or four years. You don't need to look at hard-core magazines—consider something more classy. he'll grab the brush and return the favor. Learning to massage and be massaged might help your body put down its armor. If you're lucky." . like a book by a good erotic photographer. business. go slowly and try to enjoy the gains you are able to make. Do what you can to find humor. back." 4. people find it helpful to tell each other some of the things they do and don't like about their bodies. and gardening—and they spend time discussing these subjects. If it's anxiety-producing at the beginning. others have fun playing strip poker or using a blindfold on the partner being undressed. A lot of honesty and trust can be generated that way. penis.

the places where it's dry or moist. Larry is a gregarious man who works for the U. Her husband.com | From the July 2009 issue of O. is an athletic woman. The teacher. Judith. curly gray hair is piled into a messy halo atop her head. begins class. Eugene. and her long. efficient in her movements. was raised in Spain and has handsome features and courtly manners. "Touch one of your hands with the other. the oldest. "Feel the smoothness and roughness of all the various parts. The Oprah Magazine It's not what you remember: The lessons are intimate.S. government.Adventures in Adult Sex Education By Amanda Robb Oprah. Nine middle-aged men and women are sitting in a circle in a cluttered. Elizabeth. colorful classroom in a church annex in Austin. is an artist." Some of the students close their eyes as . Barbara Tuttle." she says. sitting nearby. the homework electrifying. an information technology manager at a local government agency.

" says Janet Hayes. an economic development project manager in the Texas A&M University system. illness." she says. are in their late 40s to mid-60s. And in public!" Next Tuttle.600 U. a retired sex therapist. Your sexuality doesn't end after you stop having babies or get divorced or after you turn 60. "That's why we named our program Our Whole Lives. "Congratulations. for instance. the churches—which together have about 6. So begins the fifth session of Our Whole Lives (OWL): Sexuality Education for Adults. After wrapping up the discussion about self-touch. It is who we are in our core. Tuttle's birdlike mouth breaks into a huge grin. usually by a . parenthood. young adults." Although the courses the churches prepared were aimed at adults in their 20s to early 30s. as church leadership reexamined the curricula. explain the next exercise: a sexuality timeline. to the organizers' surprise. which is the result of an initiative of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the United Church of Christ (UCC). "We see sexuality as a very important part of the human experience that is lifelong." says Judith. at the First Unitarian Church of Austin. more than 40.4 million members—introduced classes for adults 18 to 35. (OWL facilitators are trained over three days. (In the past ten years. middle-aged parishioners have stampeded the discussion-based program. cowrote the young adult OWL curriculum and understands why the adult classes have proved popular. for us." he says. during which Tuttle encourages students to "think about sensuality broadly and not shut off the pleasure of getting to know the whole body. "Teenagers don't have them yet. they noticed a need for age-appropriate material for grown-ups.they follow her instructions." So in 2008.S. We feel it has to be integrated into our spirituality because.) Michael Tino. it's estimated." she and her coteacher. "You all just masturbated. and the program is typically team taught. asks the students about the experience of mindfully touching themselves: "How did it feel? Was that pleasant?" "It made me wish someone else were touching me. Tino says. Tonight's class is one of 14 in the seven-month course. public relations director for the UUA. sheer exhaustion from managing life. Since 1998 the institutions have coproduced sex education materials for children ages 5 to 18. Students in tonight's class. "You can have the best high school sexuality curriculum in the world. "but a lot of critical issues are not going to be addressed in those classes: How do I enjoy my sexuality if I've lost a breast to cancer? How do I manage being a parent and a sexual person? Can I feel sexually satisfied if I don't have a life partner?" There's one simple reason those questions aren't tackled. and adults have taken at least one OWL class.000 children. "It was just nice to be touched at all." Elizabeth says. congregations and 1. Most of what affects our sexuality happens in adulthood—long-term relationships. Small smiles play on their lips. Michael West. breakups. spirituality is about wholeness. a Unitarian Universalist minister with a PhD in cell biology.

" The other men slowly begin to join in. "I didn't get any mileage out of being cute when I was young. Judith admits that she can think of a few good things that result from getting older. "I love being middle-aged." "had an abortion. 25. "What comes up?" she asks." "masturbated. Together they manage to write: "accidentally masturbated. "Especially for young men. the women. first love. One says men don't think about sex in those terms. Red and black pens are placed on each table. "It's nice to see that all the women were a little out of order." The women marvel that virtually all of them have had distressful sexual experiences. 20. "After we split up. Finally." "How?" asks Judith." she says." A few of the other women agree. "Like. I'm still looking at 40-year-old men." she says. Judith says the exercise made her realize that one huge thing she can't control about her sexuality is her fading looks." "lost my virginity. you haven't lost anything. Eugene picks up a pen and writes down "first time had sex. "but they're not looking back. using the black pen for those that were in their control (such as a first kiss) and the red pen for those that were not (such as getting their first period). practically tripping over each other to scribble—"played doctor. Elizabeth thinks for a minute." and "Viagra." "fell in love." she says. Which was fun. first sex. I'd see these older women and they just seemed as if they had confidence and were wise—and more comfortable in their skin. "I was always a little ashamed because I didn't do the perfect progression of first kiss. so she explains: "When I was young. The men are assigned one sheet. I'm much more comfortable in my skin today than I was at 30." "first time had sex. The students are asked to write down sexual experiences in chronological order." "discovered sex without love." explaining that she means nonlinear." "breasts sagging. I definitely learned I wasn't frigid." "menopause." Judith says." "found a pubic hair. Which was a relief. sex is very goal . Elizabeth stares at them as if they're insane. "My husband of 13 years always accused me of being frigid because I never had an orgasm with him." "touched by a cousin." "kissed a boy." "had a baby." A little later." "menstruation. The women are a flurry of activity." She turns to the men and asks if they ever felt that way." Tuttle calls time and invites the students to look at the timelines." "prostate." "kissed a girl. the other." The men look on and appear intimidated.woman and a man. go steady. One says her sex life was "messy.) Thirty feet of newsprint is rolled out across two long tables. Maybe that's the positive side of not being cute or flirty at 20—when you don't get that attention at 45. The women return her you're-out-of-your-mind look. and definitely 15.

get laid. and her cofacilitator led the group through "anatomy of pleasure" and "understanding sexual response" exercises. But in 2005. a certified sexuality educator. nipples. and she has discovered that loads of women worry that theirs are abnormal or ugly. vagina. Her students also discussed the parts of the body besides the genitals that are wired for sexual response—skin. "You want to—you need to—broaden the definition of sex. Sylvie and her husband began struggling with infertility. signed up for the class after seeing it advertised in the church bulletin. and resolution—to a circular model of mutual pleasure. In fact. In Sylvie's class. lips. As students moved through the lesson. "We're past the Kama Sutra part of life. talking." She says that despite the sexualization of our culture. Sylvie*.'" One of the first pilot classes for the OWL program took place in Boston three years ago." she says. and they were very open with my brother and me growing up. but others said they could imagine times in their lives when those . "We were always trying to get pregnant." Sylvie says now. of course. fun activities and list them around the circle. kiss. she explains that she'd always felt fortunate to have what she considered healthy feelings about her sexuality. many of her students don't know what normal genitals look like. Next. The students came up with "caress. that's why he signed up for the course with his wife of 15 years." Larry says. Several of the participants say that the course lessons were not only useful but surprising. Detwiler used diagrams and photographs to explain that the truth is. you're making love to me. breasts. massage. plateau. and kept books like Our Bodies. brain. oral sex. Contacted recently at her office. Jane Detwiler. "My dad was a general practitioner and my mom was a counselor.oriented." So she signed up. To explain the idea. kiss again. get a girlfriend. perineum. fondling. "Get a kiss." he says. with the hope of refiling sex under "pleasure" instead of "work" in her brain. a 35-year-old medical counselor. the instructors asked the students to compare the Masters and Johnson linear model of sexual response—excitement. Ourselves and The Joy of Sex in the house. that there's a variety of "normal." In a circular model. orgasm. Speaking from her home near Boston. lubrication. but not the "pleasure capacity. snuggle. and the activities don't necessarily lead to orgasm. Sylvie says that some students thought that type of sex would be an exercise in frustration. they talked about how the different parts contribute to pleasure. phone sex. "It took all the joy out of sex." Larry agrees. Like the other night. and I said. tongue. PC muscle) and asked volunteers to place them correctly. Detwiler pointed out. Detwiler says many people learn about the reproductive capacity of sexual organs in traditional sex ed. Then Detwiler pulled out a model of a penis and the "Wondrous Vulva Puppet." She had labels ready (clitoris. partners can start or stop sensual activity anytime they want. glans. Detwiler drew a large circle on newsprint and asked students to think of all sorts of sexy. my wife was singing to me. The first few workshops turned out to be exactly what Sylvie was looking for. he later explains." as wide ranging as human faces. Her parents didn't shy away from explaining things. hands. 'Oh.

" Sylvie says." he said." she'd say at the end of each night's summary. During this exercise." Sylvie did not boycott newsstands that carried Playboy or refuse to stay in hotels that offer adult pay-per-view. with one end representing "I strongly agree" and the opposite end signaling "I strongly disagree. that doesn't involve porn. Sylvie says. "that reminds me. After most classes. when they were too tired to have intercourse with their current partner. 'Well. "I thought married men who look at pornography must be unhappy with their spouses. sometimes when I feel like being sexual I just feel like being alone. 'No. pornography could be exploitative. so she figured she'd have plenty of company at her spot. "I'd gone to very progressive summer camps when I was a teenager. I would stick to them no matter what. and a lot of my counselors were strong feminists. For the second time that evening. "The porn I have is on my computer. About midway through the game. but it could also be a safe form of fantasy." she says. The "sort of agree" spot on the line. Sylvie went home and told her husband the news." Then a few sessions later came the "values voting" game. so be it. but if it does for him. too. Detwiler called out things like "It is more fulfilling to be free of commitment than committed" and "If I made vows to my partner during a marriage or commitment ceremony. Sylvie came home and described what she had learned to her husband (who did not attend. "My parents had told us that smoking . For me. sometimes when I want to be sexual I want to be alone. She was amazed to see that most of her classmates—each a very likable. Detwiler said: "Viewing pornography is not healthy. she was shocked. you know. And I thought. He did. "I guess I'd just gotten the message that pornography was exploitative of women. her opinion changed." Then Detwiler read statements.'" Over the next few weeks. in Sylvie's opinion—were in the "sort of disagree" to "strongly disagree" part of the line. the instructors asked the class to envision a line on the floor. when they were trying to liven things up with a longtime lover." Sylvie stepped to a place she considered completely noncontroversial." Each person explained why they stood where they did and moved if someone said something to change their mind. Her husband said that he looked at it every few weeks. as she discussed the subject more with her husband and her classmates. Let's have sex just for fun. notperverse-seeming person.' And I thought about that. Sylvie was surprised to find some of it turned her on. They explained that yes. because the course was something she wanted to do on her own). She didn't consider herself an extremist. directing students to stand on the line in a position that represented their values. "But my husband said. "Oh. she asked if he could show it to her.options would work—when they were not ready to have sex with a new partner.

'Mom.E. which is given in hospitals and community centers. a 17-year-old Colorado-based nonprofit founded by Joneen Mackenzie. and [my classmates] are okay about my wanting to have sex more often than my spouse.000 Americans on the how-tos of building and maintaining relationships. I'd say. Kim. which was stronger than her husband's. I still had some weird. mixed-up feelings about sex left over from my childhood. So far the government has paid to educate more than 290. The U. I'm okay. The students have one minute to give their answer to the person facing them." she says. peers. they aren't alone. and the sounds scared and confused me. In the same workshop that featured the "anatomy of pleasure" exercise (identifying body parts). "I would hear a lot. happier.was bad. to keep getting better.'" Kim says. (Marriage Education)." Her parents had divorced when she was 3. One of the instructors asks questions regarding the messages students have received about sexual pleasure from their parents. RN. "But gradually.S. healthier. over 14 sessions." Another member of this pilot class. what are you doing?' She'd say." she says. talking and talking and talking about how weird and wildly varied sexuality is for people. I signed up for the adult OWL course to keep peeling back the layers. By the end of the exercise. In 2005 Congress passed an act that provides $150 million annually for healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood initiatives. I did a similar thing with pornography. with each person in the inner ring facing a partner in the outer ring. 'Kissing." "Often the question behind a question in sexuality education. 'Wow. "There wasn't one moment in the class when I said. "Afterward my mother was very free with her sexuality. I still don't think pornography is a great thing for women. North Carolina. . the instructors led them through the "pleasure pinwheel" game. had been happily married for more than a decade." Detwiler says. amazing. Massachusetts. too. Kim had a better sense of the messages she'd received throughout her life—many dating to childhood—and she began to see that the ones that made her feel the worst related to her libido." Kim remembers. you get to feeling more and more normal yourself. "But deep down. then the outer circle shifts one place. "is 'Am I normal?'" Although the unitarian universalist and UCC churches are among the leading organizations promoting adult sex education. she had even taught the OWL classes to middle school students for three years. schools. and lovers. but now I don't think people who look at it necessarily want to exploit them.' Well. as well as at the army base at Fort Bragg. The eight-hour curriculum was a product of WAIT Training. In this lesson. "So my brother came to think that people who smoked were bad. then 35. I knew that wasn't it. on the phone from Framingham." The early sessions confirmed for her that she needed to deal with free-floating shame around her sexuality. government is in the field. students arrange themselves in two concentric circles. One popular program that receives federal funding is a course called It's All About M. "I was functioning well.

It's been nice to talk about my needs and have them taken seriously. says Elizabeth." she says. a group of students settle in at a nearby diner to discuss the value of the course. What feels good and what doesn't. the lone single student. you're talking about adult relationships. less likely to hurt feelings." The other women at the . the happy-to-be-middleaged student. take it slow.E.E. The idea is to make a potentially fraught conversation less emotional. courses encourage young adults to wait until marriage to have sex. and choose a partner who makes you feel affirmed.—from the least to the most intimate. but she agrees with the UUA and UCC churches that sexuality education—especially for adults—is generally less about plumbing than about emotional issues." she says. instructors ask students to reflect on what has influenced their view of sexuality and then offer exercises to help the students imagine alternative ways of being intimate. But they do discuss sexual relationships. Mackenzie says the All About M. she volunteered to attend the group's pilot program for marriage education. She says it gave them the tools for a happy sex life (both had chosen to be abstinent until marriage). "How often we want to have sex. who works for a nonprofit in Denver. face-to-face. Because It's All About M.E. hand-to-hand. Jessica and her husband have these talks anywhere but the bedroom. "There's those almost pornographic women in Sex and the City." This is why the courses are so popular. They discuss the physical. healthier marriages. engage in healthy responses to conflict. much of the training is focused on relationship skills. etc." says Judith." Jessica. curriculum includes sex education because couples who have satisfying sex lives have stronger. "It hasn't solved all my sex problems. One hugely important concept they took from the course was discussing sexual issues in nonsexual moments. When she and her boyfriend got engaged last year. Back in Austin after the OWL class. set clear boundaries. and challenged to be a better person). as well as a means to explore their sexual desires in a way that felt comfortable. had attended WAIT Training abstinence workshops in college.Mackenzie believes that the best and healthiest place for sex is a committed. But it's been nice to have a place to talk honestly about things that are never talked about. inspired. Certainly not lovingly. "Knowing how to communicate is empowering. "you're talking about sexuality. in a lesson called Steps of (Physical) Intimacy. For instance. and when you're talking about sexuality. social. There's a Victoria's Secret in nearly every mall. French kissing." Jessica thinks the class gave them the skills to deal with conflict before they found themselves tangled up in an argument. It's just 'Excuse me' if someone bumps into you at the grocery store. spiritual. and financial consequences of doing the steps too quickly or out of order. long-term monogamous relationship. Like how after a certain age you're not touched anymore." she says. For example. hand-to-waist. students arrange types of contact—eye-to-eye. It's All About M. 23. What time of day. "When you're talking about adult relationships. intellectual. "We talk about what we're comfortable doing or not. participants learn the program's ten keys to successful dating (such as get a life of your own. touching above the waist. "It's still very hard to find older guys who don't have a truck full of baggage with them.

"People—especially grown-ups—are sick of it. Eugene. gives her a smile. "So many TV shows revolve around some sex problem—someone cheats. . trivial way. But no one ever talks about sex in a meaningful way. I'm Hot: Instructions on Seduction By Martha Beck Oprah. The Oprah Magazine Feeling wallflowerish? Martha Beck has strategies to help you strut your stuff." Elizabeth says. It's always innuendo." she says." Her husband. but our culture likes to talk about it in this really silly.com | From the September 2007 issue of O. Now the men are nodding. someone wants someone he can't have. "Sexuality is this thing you carry around all the time. Damn.table nod in commiseration. It is always pretending to be about something else. then raises his hand to the waiter and orders another round of drinks. We want adult conversation about an adult subject. It grows and changes—it's part of your health and relationships and your age and your selfimage.

And yet even I have stumbled upon a set of seductive behaviors that work surprisingly well for me. The bottom line (pardon the pun) is that buttock tilting and back swaying come about as naturally to me as spaceflight. she went from being simply beautiful to what is referred to in the vernacular as "like. But I could never use feminine wiles the way Cathy can. giggled. Sure enough. It's not that I totally lack skills like Cathy's. Flirtation 101: What to do if it doesn't come naturally Scientists tell us that females of all cultures make sexual connections through sequences of specific flirting behaviors. I think I ruptured something. Almost magically. The ethologist Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt captured this on film some 30 years ago. "Watch this. please turn directly to an underwear ad and enjoy the company of other genetically blessed people like you. The answer was yes. While shortchanging me compared with Cathy. Then she tugged the clip from her hair. I attracted immediate male attention: An elderly gentleman asked me if I needed medical help. I recently tried enacting these behaviors in a local Starbucks. Now. swayed. Step 1: Identify a specific person with whom you really. Cathy fluttered her lashes at one. AsPsychology Today's contributor Joann Ellison Rodgers described the flirtation ritual: "Women smiled. If you share my chronic back spasms and total lack of sexual self-confidence. gazed. For me. could we order now?" It was a virtuoso performance of attraction in action. they swayed their backs. watching couples hook up." Three waiters rushed our table like linebackers. totally hot. I'm not sure I've ever had a single wile. this was like watching documentary footage about something ("Mating Behavior Among Bipedal Primates of the American Southwest") that I've never personally experienced. forcing their buttocks to tilt out and up and their chests to thrust forward. She can toss her head and attract men. cooing. Though flirting is supposedly wired into our brains. Mother Nature still provided me with the instinctive ability to make the connections I really wanted. opened a collar button." In researching this article. my brain appears to have shorted out in regard to giggling and licking my lips. licked their lips and aided and abetted by the wearing of high heels. This was further documented by psychologists who spent months scientifically lurking around in lounges. and tossed her head like a frolicking foal. This column contains instructions on seduction for the rest of us.We'd been waiting 30 minutes for someone to take our order in a busy Mexican restaurant when my friend Cathy decided to take extreme measures. I can—to cite just one example—toss fried chicken and attract cats. truly want to have sex . if you have Gisele Bündchen problems (your Manolo Blahniks keep skidding in puddles of drool left by lustful admirers). I used to enjoy pitying myself for this. with a camera that appeared to point in one direction while actually shooting in another. "Hon. until one day I realized that everyone for whom I've felt genuine sexual interest eventually expressed reciprocal interest in me. you too might find them useful. classes and religious backgrounds attracted men through the same gestures. He found that women of all languages." she whispered.

every life is a fascinating novel. so I always follow the suggestion from Proverbs 4:7. "It's not that great." Now. The advantage of this approach is that what you miss in casual thrills. That initial spark of interest leads not to the nearest motel room but to the prolonged scrutiny you would give an unrecognizable substance before deciding to include it in a cake. Beneath the small-talk surface. it can get lonely. If you do this. they're the opposite of pornographic. humor. and let whomever we're trying to understand occupy the high ground of teacher.) Superimpose this image over the dashing smile of that cute guy at the bar.After our waiter spilled all over himself serving Cathy her enchiladas. they'd run screaming from the room. I must be not only in love but also in full legal possession of the other party's medical records. The reason I've managed to make the connections I desired is that I'm fascinated by people's stories. because as Rodgers puts it. "With all thy getting get understanding. "In fact." We communicate this with "submissive displays. If you consistently wake up next to people you no longer respect. they'll decide to have meaningful sex with you based on how you see. not carnal pants. This isn't true for most people: Sexual signals usually zip right past the rational brain." she said with a sigh. Step 2: Lust for the other person's subjective experience Here is the secret of sexual success for the confidence impaired: While people will decide to have casual sex with you based on how you look. sustained attention can be more powerfully seductive than all the eyelashfluttering. Why? Because for some reason. and I am here to tell you. She might as well have asked me how you get past calculus to create a mud pie." I stared at her. (The Internet provides plenty. author of the book Love Signals: A Practical Field Guide to the Body Language of Courtship." . and other qualities you probably want in a mate. And—this is key—the body language we use to do this overlaps significantly with the biology of flirting. that I can understand." This directive means stand under. I associate the word casual with khaki pants. This should give you pause—a pause you can use to investigate whether the dashing smile is backed up by kindness. honesty. Anthropologist David Givens. try doing deliberately what I do involuntarily: Hold in your mind a vivid picture of a genital wart. you gain in long-term compatibility. To actually have sex. in the relatively lowly position of student. You have to learn to get past casual sex and create lasting relationships. if two people "immediately considered all the possible risks and vulnerabilities they might face if they mated or had children. and that isn't easy. tongue-flicking. says that a crucial sexual-attraction message is "I am harmless. I just can't help indulging in forethought before getting to foreplay. you're on the verge of discovering something amazing: Simple. back-swaying displays that make men want to fondle the likes of Cathy and prescribe seizure medication for the likes of me. I asked her what it felt like to exercise such awesome sexual control.

such as turning our hands palm up. the harder the participants have to work. wellmeaning boys who interpreted my intense curiosity as sexual interest. and take risks. talent. You can do the dance of seduction without even meaning to—simply by letting yourself be openly drawn to people. clothing design. you might want to call Cathy. In that case. exposing our vulnerable necks. Best Practices: The one-two-three-punch combination If you use the three steps above in quick succession. I find them marginally less interesting than having my teeth cleaned. their stories. The popularity of these shows suggests I'm not the only person tuning in. Latin dance. That's all you'll ever need to get what you desire. Pow. I suspect this is a major reason so many clients fall in love with their therapists: The counselor who tilts her head while gazing quizzically at a patient. may unwittingly be signaling that she'd also like to see into his pants. The more you get lost in what you're doing. the more interesting you'll become. tilting our heads. the more interesting the process. people love to watch others work hard. alarming world of sexual tension and attraction among normal people. like The Bachelor. I favor reality shows in which people do things that require skill. reality television provides an interesting barometer to indicate which behaviors humans find most fascinating. It's like a trick move in martial arts: Target your person of interest. more seductive than the hair flips I will never master. despite my obvious flaws. Personally. In this way I learned that detached. Some programs. pow. Generally. Step 3: Get a Life Speaking of watching people. If you want to capture people's attention. have no real point except to show gorgeous individuals attracting or rejecting one another. . Even when cameras aren't rolling. I had terrifying encounters with innocent. then abruptly divert your attention. Unless what you desire is quick Mexican food. wildlife rescue. you'll become an attention magnet. focus entirely on them. It's also a posture you'll unconsciously assume when you're trying to understand another person's experience. trying to see into his soul. learn skills. singing. they had decided to accept me as a mate. A tilted-head half-shrug is typical of sexually attracted people having their first conversation. if anything. A handful told me in so many words that. Remember the old Peanuts cartoons in which Lucy mooned endlessly over Schroeder. Throughout my adolescence. put your own attention on something that has nothing to do with them: oil painting. or daring: crab fishing. and your own deepest fascinations. This realization was almost worth the time I spent hiding behind trees and under staircases to avoid those poor misguided fellows. cooking. pow! These steps allow any flirtatiously challenged person to bypass the whole complicated. whose only interest was the piano? That stereotype is based in truth: People who are mastering something that fascinates them become fascinating to others. genuine interest in another person's inner experience is.

com | From the February 2003 issue of O. I like sex. But I would never say that to your face. My own sexuality embarrasses me. a kiss was still a kiss rather than an IOU. That wouldn't have seemed so strange 50 years ago. and I'm actually cringing here at my computer at the thought that somebody could walk in. I'm the only person I know who can imagine adding a burqa to my wardrobe. he once asked if I'd consider holding up a sign. . and holding back was still a viable sexual strategy. when Victoria still had secrets. holding off.. you see where I'm heading. Or pleased. indirection. my mother used to tell me that the world was divided into breast men and leg men. A shy girl gets hot and heavy about her sex life. ("Excuse me. The Oprah Magazine It's not that she doesn't like sex.A Shy Girl's Guide to Sex By Anonymous Oprah. and that I would attract the leg men. so when I'm feeling sexy I try to hide it— to the point where my husband can't always tell that I'm turned on. I remember thinking. it's just that she prefers subtlety. In college I wore flowing. long pants. Well. Okay. Today you're supposed to tell your partner exactly what will satisfy you. When I was a young teenager. so I'm a little shy. ankle-length skirts and beginning in my 30s. Well. could you pass the multiple orgasms?") The very thought of it makes me blush.. that's it for shorts. I don't remember being upset. I am not a prude. I never want to be obvious.

"When was the last time you took a good look at your vulva?" Um. but it works. Sex toys—always gifts from men who wanted to make me less inhibited—went to a top shelf and stayed there. revealing to her suitor a seductive white arm. and if you tell me it's as lovely as a lotus flower. When a shy girl and a shy guy get together. Of course I got bored as soon as the lady became a libertine. If you show up in four-inch heels and a see-through dress. it would say: GIVE ME TIME. I put them aside in favor of A Man with a Maid. Only last week my husband reached for something on the top of a wardrobe and came back with an ancient vibrator. though. I don't mind being secretly sensuous. exotic. I won't believe you. I don't want to turn myself on.Please don't get me wrong: I admire a woman who is sexually confident. to tell you the truth. Sometimes the sun shines in Seattle. I love it when movie stars strut and preen—not Gwyneth Paltrow bending like a willow. in which the innocent virgin is outraged by her captor's lewd behavior. words like penis and vagina were clinical. and inspecting myself through a hand mirror has always seemed ludicrous to me. But I'll be more intrigued by the woman next to you who smolders quietly. either. In grad school my Victorian literature professor read us a scene in which a woman rolled up her sleeve. I liked the Kama Sutra because it made sex seem ornate. you asked). And if I'm buttoned up in bed. MAKE ME GO AFTER YOU.) To quote the old Volkswagen ads. (I wouldn't enter the penis in a beauty contest. If I did hold up a sign (well. anything can happen. I accept the way I am and work around it because. . "It's ugly. I'll think you're hot. spreading my legs like a frog. AND SPACE. I really don't want to change. But I'm in no hurry. and who could blame him? When the boy I was dating brought over his favorite hard-core porno books for me to learn from. Pick up any sex manual (something I'd never do in public—what would the bookstore clerk think?) and you'll find instructions on learning to love your own body. but lingam and yoni came (so to speak) with a little mystery. I don't have to look to know what's there. Did I want to dust it off and try it? What do you think? Sometimes I break through my shyness. I don't want to be more aggressive. dear." I guess getting naked can be fun. the woman who lets down her hair when she wants to and afterward pins it right back up again. never? The idea of lying on my back. HOLD BACK A LITTLE. but Catherine Zeta-Jones leading with her chest. but I'd rather keep my body under wraps. Asks one guide. More often. that's not indifference: That's being so turned on that I don't know what to do—yet. I thought the professor would faint.

Halle Berry's everything. grab some chocolate.Sexual Energy: Feel the Heat By Amy Bloom Oprah. Please don't. Please consider that being irresistible is more a matter of interest and appetite than of anything else. It transcends the physical (not that the physical ever hurts—and your mother didn't lie. George Clooney's let's-do-it eyes. and that might not be so much fun. it plays fast and loose with the psychological. Forget about Are You Hot? and Lil' Kim and cleavage-to-there magazine covers. only if you have all the equipment.irresistible is something else.. . multimagnified sex appeal. more filled-with-possibilities place. And if you do. you will of course wind up spending time with a guy who prefers the all-you-can-eat buffet to the great gourmet meal. There's nothing you can do about that. more entertaining. that stuff works only if you have all the equipment and not too much self-respect. The Oprah Magazine Catherine Zeta-Jones's take-no-prisoners oomph. Everyone has their preferences. You can forget about becoming everyone's physical ideal. And forget about miniskirts (unless they look not only good but effortless on you). good posture is a plus). so expensive (what. and really. and even their hang-ups (even this author). Hugh Grant's crooked smile. and it makes the world a bigger. But.com | From the July 2003 issue of O. and give up the idea of anybody ever finding you irresistible. no stylist? no trainer? no designer?). and so frankly impossible. n It's exhausting to think that we have to measure up to all that exceptional. don't rush out for Clairol and three-inch heels. their weaknesses. All of it so inaccessible. There's a better way. If he's mad for tall blondes and you're a short brunette.. Any sensible woman would conclude that you might as well pull up your faded comforter.

I can't count the number of times I had to push past attractive women of all ages to get to him. when flirting.I have had two irresistible friends. she flirted from a happy abundance of love and lust. gay and straight. he made married women feel that he envied their husbands and that only magnificent self-restraint kept him from throwing himself at their feet. he would make a fool of himself..willing. favors the bold.sex. One was a fat old man with plenty of minor illnesses. our irresistible force. and so she was our Lady Bountiful.. . objects of her flirtatious affection and staunch friendship. he managed to suggest. She made men. She not only understood it.. and even more. And then there's appetite: The thing women are not supposed to have (except in music videos. feel that her presence was a joy. bought it for her and. after spending $30. however they chose to respond. this moment. insurmountable impediments to true happiness for him and his current dinner partner/companion on the plane/ chance encounter in the bookstore. would always be one of the great pleasures of his life. nothing to declare but his genius for making every woman feel she was a hidden treasure. the easy warmth of someone who wants a little sugar in her bowl and who is prepared. You can't fake that Bessie Smith growl. And women—she made every woman she liked. to paraphrase Oscar Wilde. he flirted. he was willing to show desire. but where would that have left me?). My other friend was only slightly more likely a player: a stocky. he wasn't powerful. He was unafraid to show interest. a brightening of the world. as Ovid wrote. it was a beautiful. and that radiance made her beautiful. It was not a power struggle or a game or any kind of exploitation. she understood that Venus. at the end of a day. He listened. under the right circumstances. and at her funeral beautiful women. You can fake tan. she was never desperate or needy. to have and give a very good time. He wasn't rich. he responded openly. He was willing to reveal that he was. What you can't fake is the real and unmistakable scent and feel of someone who actually likes. And how did she come to own that bar? A devoted husband and wife. still felt they got the better end of the bargain because they had a great place to hang out and plenty of time to spend with her. handsome men. You can fake blonde. that although there were some obvious. gay and straight. to move at a slower pace. but he had. feel that the only time she ever regretted being a lesbian was in their presence. she never shied away from attraction or the vulnerability that sometimes comes with it. She made old folks know she valued their wisdom and that it was a joy. she had it made into a sampler hung above her enormously successful bar.000. charming dance.. not a lack of either. this hour or two. Her face lit up when she saw you. she made young people feel they were the flowers of the world and she was delighted to admire them. singularly unglamorous lesbian bartender. She never hesitated to say that she found someone irresistible. he made single women feel that if he didn't so love his wife. You can even fake sexy— for a while. and then it's so clearly on display for the benefit of the viewer that I don't get any idea what Madonna or Christina Aguilera or Eve really wants for herself). and it made his partners (whether for the evening or a long friendship) feel that they had been given a gift. Like my older friend (and I'm sorry they didn't meet. Even when he was single. famous poets—and her devoted companion—all wept as if their hearts would break. and despite qualities one and two.

wanted. do. Our intrepid columnist gets the buzz. our strong points. Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex Toys Oprah. the lucky objects of our desire. It is embracing the world and the people in it. People who know that and show that they do are simply irresistible.com | From the June 2006 issue of O. it is embracing desire and attraction as sources of pleasure rather than shame. It isn't the tenacious. It isn't breaking up marriages or insulting one's spouse.Who would you rather have dinner with: the flour-fearing vegan or the happy omnivore who looks on dessert as a special occasion. Shame. . guilt. pink light of our unembarrassed attention and allowing some of the flattering light to fall on ourselves. MD. and aversion are not attractive to most people. approach of the lonely man or woman who is only a step away from turning on us if we disappoint. which despite imperfections and wear and tear. The heart of sexual energy is making others feel beautiful. making them see themselves in the warm. and our frank interest. Confidence and an adult appreciation of pleasure—and of the amazing human machine. The Oprah Magazine Everything she always wanted to know about sex toys and wasn't afraid to ask Hilda Hutcherson. and appreciating what we have to offer as well as what they. clever. can do such a glorious job of delivering it—is appealing. almost hostile. not a torment? So it is with sex. charming.

"while this cylinder vibrates. you could really have them on your coffee table without anybody realizing they're vibrators. . who needs sales help? I call my fearless pal and offer to buy her lunch in exchange for a guided tour of the best sex toys currently on the market. "See how pretty. This piece suctions the clitoris. and Deserve. Hilda is zeroing in on an odd contraption." she says matter-of-factly.4 million women ready to hit the stores. as it dawns on me that Hilda's idea of a bit more phallic is my definition of the Washington Monument. Need. "Smoothies are a bit more phallic. it's not the feet that need to get—" But before I can finish. My education begins in the personal massagers section of a discreet midtown Manhattan shop called Eve's Garden. and one retired stockbroker from the suburbs of Detroit who'd be ever so grateful if I'd start writing for BusinessWeek. May I see a show of hands? Okay. "Here's one based on a medical device for women with arousal disorder. Sorry. Doctor." But before I can lay out what I feel is a rather cogent argument for not displaying an assortment of pastel sex toys in the middle of my living room. "Ooh." As the smoothie buzzes away. "They're so sculptural. my go-to sexpert and the author of Pleasure: A Woman's Guide to Getting the Sex You Want. With friends like Hilda Hutcherson. holding up a rubbery thimble.This month I'm giving readers a choice: We can either (a) discuss the possible privatization of Social Security and its impact on 21st-century macroeconomics or (b) go shopping for sex toys." she says. so that would be 2. grouping it with the chartreuse and salmon ones. I start to offer her a little free advice: "Technically. "These are terrific for women who are just trying to get their feet wet. I write lots of prescriptions for these. Hilda has moved on. Dad—the people have spoken." she says. I check out a shelf of architecturally unobtrusive little gadgets as Hilda heads straight for a periwinkle blue confection. look." she says. MD. Lisa—it's the smoothie!" She picks up an ultrasleek tiger-stripe number and turns it to low.

but for my friends with a healthy curiosity—here goes nothing: "Hilda. "Aren't sex toys more about leisure activity than medical need?" I can't help picturing an operating room in which a dedicated young surgeon calls for his instruments: "Scalpel! Sutures! Box of remote-control panties!" Hilda puts down the sample of edible Kama Sutra Honey Dust she's been enjoying.M. Lisa. bright.."But isn't everything here over-the-counter?" I ask. "That's ridiculous." "They've yet to come up with a lot of men who do that. and in-yourface. "But. if you're using it five or six times a day." Hilda spears a cherry tomato. "And if you don't have a steady partner. Babeland. If Eve's Garden is demure. "When I write a prescription." she says.. it's dishwasher safe!" And there you go.. How could this tiny toy make a man think he's being replaced?" She pauses a beat. it'll be hard to go back—" "Or hold a job or raise a family or." "True. life as I understand it officially ends.walk. I see the make-your-owndildo kit containing special molding powder. cousin Myrna) would just as soon have me cut to waves crashing against the shore. I mean. and God knows how many women have trouble climaxing with a partner. I prescribe a vibrator for use during intercourse. Ten percent of the sexually active female population have never had an orgasm. and still gets the job done. they help your body remember how to respond. I ask Hilda if there's any truth to the rumor that vibrators are addictive.." Now." I chime in. Or if you're menopausal—and not sexually active or taking estrogen—they keep the blood flowing through those vessels. "you don't think most men would find this a touch daunting?" "Well. Toys give you control and provide extra stimulation. but toys tend to put the oomph back into long-term relationships. You've got to prevent your vagina from shrinking and getting dry—a dildo is fantastic for that. is big.and then some. Over Cobb salads. handing me the Fukuoku 9000. patented "liquid skin. for one thing. I note the sign that informs customers of a 10 percent discount on floor models. our next stop. At exactly 12:39 Eastern standard time. I'm aware that at this point certain readers (and you know who you are." stir stick. shifting into pleasure-activist mode. pointing to a gigantic vibrating penis that looks and feels just like the real thing. that other one is definitely worth a try. "But I'm telling you." she says as I watch the busboy who's refilling our iced teas go pale and back into a waiter. I'm giving a woman permission from a doctor. "Granted. "Taste this." I say. so you start releasing those hormones that actually do keep couples close. you can always start small. Here." Hilda says as she squeezes a drop of "strawberry ." Hilda says. "This finger-puppet-y vibrator slips over any digit. vibrating unit. easy-to-follow instructions." she says. "the thing most of us love junkies ache for can't be found in a toy." Hilda goes on. and I suggest we break for lunch. They've yet to come up with a vibrator that whispers in your ear or holds you tight at 3 A. "And some of us need that. looks totally nonthreatening.

Or maybe I'll just send her to lunch with Auntie Hilda. the Rolls-Royce of sex toys. and who knows what she'll come across. my boyfriend. Mom. from Dr. This bunny does it all! "It's a brave new world.com | January 01. fluttering ears. it'll be a girls' night in—just me. I'm onto you—a diaphragm is not a kitty cat's bathing cap). Someday Julia will go through my drawers just the way I did my mother's (and by the way. but that's between me. swiveling head. I collect my purchases (yes. Before I can mention that this lubricant tastes an awful lot like Robitussin. 15 Ways to Remember Anything. gathers her three shopping bags worth of erotica. Drumroll. and how you have to care for yourself. With Johannes in Europe.cheesecake lube" on the back of my hand. I managed to find a few things. my friend. and the nice woman in accounting who signs off on expense reports) and grab a cab. 2006 . After checking out the vibrating bullet. my 3-year-old. and heads home to celebrate her husband's 50th birthday. my eyes light on the holy grail. Dora the Explorer. complete with strategically placed rotating pleasure pearls. and Angelina Ballerina. the Pocket Rocket—which Hilda swears by—and the G-spot vibrator. Maybe I'll take that moment to tell her how you have to work at relationships. and how—unless you want to be surrounded by a SWAT team and two dozen bomb-sniffing beagles—you have to take the batteries out of toys when you travel. I give you the Rabbit Habit." Hilda says as she gives me a hug. Oz Oprah. please: Ladies and gentlemen. and varying speeds for both rotation and vibration.

thinking is as natural as an ocean's ecosystem—stuff kind of floats around and goes where it wants to go. try this when you're doing a simple activity. and you'll power up your own generator. That means your brain has a fighting chance—if you keep it active and engaged. Teach the next generation. strengthen your brain. and it will reward you. Ha! The only thing you can think of right now is that darn banana. thinking is designed to be an automatic process. or inviting the neighborhood teens over to teach them how to change a tire or make a soufflé. one baby blue ocean. Don't picture it.How to sharpen your mind. if you learn a new game or new hobby or new vocation. Stop and Think About Thinking Like breathing. if you keep challenging it with new lessons. When you increase your learning during life. Be a Lifelong Learner Yeah. biology teachers. we have all kinds of teachers: first-grade teachers. splashing water on your face. sure. meeting. Like a clutch athlete. you decrease the risk of developing memory-related problems. You have to challenge your mind—even making it a little uncomfortable by pushing yourself to learn tasks that may not come naturally. Doing tough tasks reinforces the neural connections that are important to preserving memory. You're far more likely to retain information if you have to explain it to somebody else. we know what your ideal picture of retirement looks like: One hammock. Challenge it. It doesn't take any more time. your mind has a way of rising to the occasion. Instead of just rolling out of bed. it . but one of the best ways to ensure that your mind doesn't liquidate into the consistency of a piña colada is to continue to give it a reason to function. Don't think of a bruised banana. Don't believe us? Then do this. while you can often control what you think about. While they may have been responsible for teaching us how to read. think about your surroundings: Listen for birds. notice the drips of water beading down your leg in the shower. Work it. and keep your thoughts in order. Now. The lesson: Take advantage of mentoring opportunities—whether it's instructing a class in your favorite hobby at a community college. Thinking is an involuntary reflex. think about every tooth you're brushing. savor the sips from your orange juice. ballet teachers. Teach it new things. That's great and all. how to dissect a frog or how to do the perfect plié. Teach a Lesson In life. Challenge it. and dreading your 8 a. they also taught us perhaps one of the most important lessons about aging: Teaching can save your brain. The point here is that you can't do anything but think when you're thinking. four naps a day. like waking up. Don't let the image cross your mind. The degree to which you can effectively explain information indicates how well you've actually learned it.m.

com. Live in the Moment When it comes to your brain. Try Chi-Gong .com. You can find out more about the test on ARUPLab. Is living in the moment hard to do? Of course it can be. No matter what your result. which have been shown to slow cognitive decline in people who are at risk. These healthy fats. you can have your level of Apo E4 protein checked. One of the best nutrients to help keep your cerebral power lines strong are omega-3 fatty acids.com or RealAge. or if you prefer supplements. We're not trying to go all philosophic on you. Example: When you're playing with your kids and letting tomorrow's work day weigh on you. force yourself to concentrate on Candy Land—making it a great experience for your kids rather than a distant one for you. a certain amount travels up to your brain (via arteries after it's been through the digestive process. and that's been shown to contribute to a shrinking of the prefrontal cortex. but also the people around you. similar to our previous strategy of thinking about thinking. thinking about what you're doing right now. but also improve the function of your message-sending neurotransmitters. It takes some time and effort.just helps train your brain. while exercise decreases the amount of Apo E4 in the blood. bills and fights about who's going to which family's house for the holidays. but it's a behavior you can learn with practice. thinking about the thought process is really about awareness and is one of the tools you can use tostrengthen your neural connections. the kinds of fat found in fish like salmon and mahimahi. know that obesity and alcohol increase expression of the gene. job dissatisfaction. stress acts as noise in your system—only it comes in the form of nagging tasks. Feed on Brain Food While physics would dictate that your food would travel down after you eat it. More stress means the inability to concentrate. of course). See If Your Genes Fit If you have a family history of memory-related problems and are comfortable with genetic testing. take 2 grams of fish oil a day. but in the end. the act of living in the moment rewards not only you. not worrying about the mistakes you made yesterday or the headaches that await you tomorrow. One of the keys to having a healthy mind is to live as much as you can in the moment—that is.AthenaDiagnostics. That will help you determine whether you're more or less predisposed to clearing that gunky beta-amyloid from your neural wiring. Aim for 13 ounces of fish a week. not only help keep your arteries clear.

A variety of flavonoids found in dark chocolate made with at least 70 percent pure cocoa (just don't overdo it. Oz and resveratrol Go with the Flow Your blood feeds your brain nutrients. no brain. not the fat-laden dressing. Not essential for life. No brain. If you have elevated blood pressure.   Resveratrol. an activity that looks like slow-mo martial arts. cranberries and blueberries. So one of your big goals should be to keep your arteries clear and flowing. Eating two or more servings a day (just two!) decreases the decline in thinking by 35 percent over six years. pink grapefruit.  Turmeric and curcumin. which are vitamin-like substances that can act as antioxidants. watermelon. spices found in Indian and curried foods. If you have a diastolic blood pressure of more than 90 (that's the bottom number). they tend to give color to fruits and vegetables. Lycopene and quercitin. Mustard also contains turmeric and can reduce Apo E4 levels. This slow. any place—slow cognitive decline even more than fruits. Learn the truth about Oprah. and limiting the amount of  . Pass the sprouts. often as a result of cholesterol plaques. No nutrients. can not only help improve your physical well-being.Chi-Gong. because chocolate is high in calories). please. leafy green vegetables. Dr. Load Up on Salad With the veggies. but it can also serve as a mind-clearing exercise. Reducing high blood pressure to normalimproves cognitive function and slows Alzheimer's progression substantially. These are the ones we recommend:  Carotenoids and flavonoids. onions. red apples. so also consider a high-dose purified product as a supplement. gentle series of movements can help reduce the noise (and is especially great if you have aches and pains that hold you back from your normal routine). it may be because your arteries are constricted. Add a Dash of This and That Several substances have been shown to help cognitive function. although the high doses that have been researched might require too much alcohol. then you have a five-times greater risk of getting dementia two decades down the line than if it's below 90. found in red wine. It's been shown that vegetables— any kind. no Super Bowl party this year. Good sources include tomatoes.

Detox Your Life If you're experiencing memory problems that are causing you alarm.e. isn't it?). You have to be able to play mental hopscotch from one word to another to make sure that the story. Learn to Tell a Joke There's lots of evidence that a good laugh can help improve your immune system. or pun combines a set of expected circumstances and unexpected ones (i. The sports or exercises that engage you in the moment can really help clear your mind at the same time. despite their life-saving benefits. Humor requires what the laugh doctors call conceptual blending—that is. Telling a joke. Just 30 minutes of walking a day plus our YOU2 Workout a couple times a week will help you burn 2. Finally. in fact. if you tell it right. we laugh when something surprising happens. and humor can also have a valuable effect on your memory. So try this trick from our friend . Consider Your Hormonal Options Early research on menopausal women showed that boosting estrogen levels delays Alzheimer's. statin drugs can uncommonly cause reversible memory loss. Get in the Game Our suggestion for a brain-boosting workout: Once or twice a week. Having a sense of humor is a sign of intelligence. you have to have a fair amount of social intelligence as well—the ability to maximize the tension and mystery of the joke until the very last second. not having sufficient blood supplied to that watershed area between the two main arteries is what elevates the risk of stroke. but also your mind. before adding anything new. joke. so we don't believe that's reason enough to start taking estrogen. You don't need to overdo it. MSG. choose an exercise that requires not only your body to work. is another way to challenge your brain.000 to 3. In the case of the brain. injecting lab animals with the active ingredient in Benadryl (diphen hydramine) is a research model for memory loss that immediately simulates Alzheimer's. such as Bikram yoga or a game of singles tennis. Newer research is less clear. Surprising tidbit: Even over-the-counter cold and allergy medications can contribute to memory problems. And ultimately. That includes such things as artificial foods (like sweeteners). Map Your Mind One way to strengthen your mind is by flexing parts that you don't use often— like perhaps those associated with imagination. a discussion that you should pursue with your doctor if you are more concerned about your memory than your heart. like being a teacher. it could be one additional positive factor. But if you're considering taking it for other reasons. eliminate some key chemicals from your lifestyle first.500 calories a week—the amount shown to increase telomere length. the ability to relate the expected to the unexpected. what happens once the guy walks into the bar?). and even shampoo (better to make sure the inside of your head is clean.blood and nutrients that reach a particular area. riddle..

" "Eat five small meals a day. it can also grow stronger. a picture flexes your imagination muscles and also keeps you focused and able to concentrate better. remember. But here's some good news for your 100 billion neurons: Just as the brain can get weaker. next time you're feeling overwhelmed with a task. Scientists are finding more and more things you can do to invigorate your noggin. and other broad categories that will help you. and you will understand. for another. And the branches work because your brain works by association—connect the branches." and "No more doughnuts"). and act on the problem much more easily. exercise. The Oprah Magazine You know that startling moment when you can't for the life of you recall why you walked into a room? As we get older. then branch out from that centerpiece with smaller subsections and keywords related to that issue. starting in the center gives your brain freedom to spread out in different directions. rather than actually listing it. 11 Empowering Ways to Strengthen Your Brain By Paige Greenfield Oprah. draw a picture of your issue in the middle of a piece of paper. Start with this lineup of smart tricks. . That is. Map out your todo list. For example. pitfalls. our minds seem less like steel traps and more like sieves. draw a picture of yourself on a scale in the middle. Instead of making a list of how to do it. Then branch out from there with subcategories (food may include such branches as "Eat breakfast. draw lines from the center with subcategories of things like food.com | From the September 2010 issue of O. Why is this helpful? For one thing. if you want to lose 25 pounds.Tony Buzan. supports.

Any novel activity that is practiced intently.1. Kramer prescribes one-hour sweat sessions three times a week. a researcher at the University of Illinois. The social and mental activity required for teaching sends blood rushing to this part of the brain. used MRIs to show that exercise actually makes your hippocampus bigger. will likely have this effect. http://www. says study author Heidi Johansen-Berg. Volunteer Stimulates: The prefrontal cortex. plans. Work out Stimulates: The hippocampus. which forms memories Why: Arthur Kramer. 3. Physical activity may increase the number of capillaries in the region. and problem-solves Why: A Johns Hopkins study found that older women who tutored kids for six months developed sharper cognitive skills. Learn a skill Stimulates: The intraparietal sulcus.html This article is part of Oprah. Join now— and move closer to the life you want! 2.com's 2011 Feel Good Challenge. researchers taught 24 people to juggle and found that after six weeks this region had a higher density of white matter (the fibers that let neurons communicate).oprah.com/packages/feel-good-health-challenge. which directs hand-eye coordination Why: At Oxford University. which in turn helps new cells grow. which analyzes. such as tennis or guitar playing. . PhD.

Though the first priority is getting down to a healthier weight. which in turn causes brain cells to wither.4. Take a snooze . And in obese people the loss of tissue was so significant that their brains appeared 16 years older than those of thinner people. "By eating more calories." says study author Paul Thompson. PhD. explains memory researcher Andrew Parker. Aerobic activity will not only help you shed pounds but increase the amount of blood. but extra pounds can actually shrink your brain. a neurology professor at UCLA School of Medicine. you're also consuming more fat. And more nourishment means a faster processor. it's hard to imagine that anything's getting smaller." That loss can impair memory. movement. oxygen. Keep the weight off As the number on the scale creeps upward. In moments of temporary amnesia. speech. 5. 6. Wiggle your eyes Can't remember where you stashed your glasses? Try looking from side to side. Rapid horizontal eye movements cause the brain's two hemispheres to interact with each other more efficiently. "The fat clogs arteries that feed the brain. that action may help you pull up information. and more. PhD. you can also focus on strengthening the brain cells you've got. brain scans of older adults revealed that overweight individuals had an average of 4 percent less brain tissue than normal-weight folks. mood. and nutrients flowing north to your neurons. In a 2009 study.

Tomatoes and Thyme) Blueberries (Get 8 blueberry recipes) Swiss cheese (Get the recipe for a classic Muffuletta sandwich) Chocolate (Get the recipe for double chocolate loaf and more decadent retro desserts) Salmon (Get the recipe for healthy Lemon Salmon with Garlic Spinach) Brussels sprouts (Get the recipe for Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Bread Crumbs) Apples (Get the recipe for Maine Crab.In a University of California. from entrées to dessert) . 7. (Nonnappers saw a 10 percent decline in their scores the second time they took the quiz. And as your in-box can overflow over the course of a day. your brain shuffles recently received data into storage. creating space for fresh info. antioxidants.) Here's why: New facts enter your brain like e-mails arriving in your in-box. During sleep. or essential fatty acid             Bananas (Get the recipe for Banana Cinnamon Smoothies) Kale (Get the recipe for Spicy Parmesan Green Beans and Kale) Tomatoes (Get the recipe for Grilled Pizza with Goat Cheese. so can your brain. study. Green Apple and Avocado Salad with Parmesan Tuiles) Olive oil (Get the recipe for Olive Oil Vinaigrette) Coffee beans (Get 8 caffeine infused coffee recipes) Oranges (Get 8 citrus recipes. Eat brain foods—rich in B12. Berkeley. participants improved their scores on a memory test by 10 percent when they repeated the test after catching some z's.

Watch Out for These Memory Stealers How to avoid health problems that can hurt your brain. which can cause brain cells to starve. And your doctor may recommend using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine while you sleep. 11. your airway spontaneously closes or becomes blocked for several seconds at a time. which leads to fatigue. It fits over your nose and mouth and generates a steady flow of air to keep the airway open. is difficulty committing new info to long-term memory. it can cause a "silent" stroke (the kind you don't even know you've had). which leads to a foggy brain. Thief: Chronic Stress The Damage: Prolonged exposure to the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol and other brain chemicals can actually kill neurons by exciting them to death. 8. The type of nut doesn't seem to matter. go nuts for nuts. 9. The result—a dip in the oxygen level in your blood. such as seafood and dairy products. Thief: Sleep Apnea The Damage: In this disorder (marked by loud snoring and exhaustion upon waking). The Fix: A common cause of the problem is insufficient levels of iodine.com | From the March 2008 issue of O. The Oprah Magazine . Family and friends can mute the intensity of stress—and the brain's chemical response. One of the symptoms of this disorder. The Fix: Studies show that losing 10 percent of your body weight is enough to improve symptoms. The Fix: Stay connected. The harm this can do to your brain tissue could slow the speed at which you absorb new information. Smart and Smarter By Tim Jarvis Oprah. The Fix: In addition to eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise.638 people found that those with the largest social networks had the slowest rate of memory decline. Thief: Hypothyroidism The Damage: An underactive thyroid slows metabolism. Thief: Cholesterol The Damage: If plaque gets lodged inside one of the tiny blood vessels in your brain. though raw nuts are healthiest. A six-year Harvard University study of 16. affecting about 17 percent of women 60 and over. 10. Eating about 2. which the body needs in order to produce thyroid hormones.4 ounces a day can lower bad cholesterol by ten points. so seek out lots of iodine-rich foods.

according to a Harvard study in which subjects who took a 90-minute snooze after learning a task performed 50 percent better over a 24-hour period than the napless group. According to animal studies. but how do you keep it from slipping out the back door of your brain? Four ways to make the information stick. associate professor of psychology at the University of South Florida. professional certifications." When you space out learning like this. he says. Even naps are beneficial. rather than studying in a nose-to-the-grindstone marathon. Cramming for exams in a haze of No-Doz is the kind of activity one can only hope to outgrow. PhD. always try to break up learning into separate sessions. boards and bars to pass. if you want to know French in the long run." Sleep On It Hit the books. when you perform a task. the best way to hang on to what you learn. who has conducted several experiments in this area. according to Doug Rohrer. That will help the brain lock in what you learned. Space Out If possible. If you then fall . PhD. the brain cells fire in a certain sequence. then hit the pillow. However. "you can have up to 100 percent more retention. But demands for retaining new information hardly ended with graduation—there are speeches to be delivered." says Susumu Tonegawa. a Nobel Prize-winning professor of biology and neuroscience at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT. Should you pull all-nighters? Study till you drop? Now.Anyone can learn something new. "Sleep after learning helps solidify memory. you're much better off spending that same amount of time distributed across a semester or a year. "Say you take French eight hours a day for two weeks—language immersion courses yield excellent performance right after the class.

my brain's falling apart. That. Tonegawa says." The magic memory pill has yet to be found. The Oprah Magazine .asleep.com | From the June 2008 issue of O. says Rohrer. rather than a little bit of material for a lot of time." says Michela Gallagher. and education all help keep the brain sharp as you age—"not just in terms of current memory. "but also in reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease. which in turn helps to strengthen the information as a memory. PhD. professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University." Head Trip: Why Your Memory May Be Slipping By Tim Jarvis Oprah. 'Oh my God. "Study a lot of material for a little bit of time in one session.' But if you've still got all your neurons. the likelihood that you can prevent memory loss is much greater than if your brain had substantially deteriorated." Keep Your Brain Fit The long-held assumption that we lose about 10 percent of our neurons per decade is not true." says Gallagher. but science does know that regular exercise. there are as many neurons in a healthy 80year-old brain as there are in a young adult's. "When you're 50 or 60 and forget something. "solidifies the synapses. continuing to practice does very little for long-term retention. social engagement." Don't Overlearn Once you've remembered the Spanish word for house or done a math problem correctly. you think. "Remarkably. the same cells automatically fire in an identical sequence without being distracted or disrupted by incoming visual stimuli.

are attributed to other causes.. frustrating. which can include both cognitive and behavioral problems. suggests Wayne A. like balancing a checkbook. without making elementary mistakes? Are you able to keep track of information? If you answer no to any of these. think back to whether you've ever had a hard knock to your head that left you disoriented. panicky question." says Jonathan Canick. PhD. Do you remember? If that's starting to be a touchy. I find they have a history of head injuries. It's time for a brain check.Mild brain injuries from an old fall may show up years later. dementia is not necessarily nipping at your heels. Red Flags Are you easily able to multitask? Can you cope with everyday chores. researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City have been investigating the effects of unidentified traumatic brain injuries (TBI)—long-forgotten falls. professor of rehabilitation medicine at Mount . sports injuries. Canick stresses. or any accident that resulted in a blow to the head—since the early 1990s. PhD.. Even mild TBIs cause noticeable brain tissue loss. according to a study in Neurology. One of their recent studies referred to TBI as a hidden epidemic. a neuropsychologist and the codirector of the Memory Clinic at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Gordon. is not a process of mental decline. Normal aging. In fact. "Many times when I'm dealing with patients who fear they have Alzheimer's. but changes in the brain can unmask the effects of prior injuries. because often the symptoms.

one snowcapped mountain meditation at a time. dementia drugs (Aricept. and savor life's breezes? With mindfulness. Exelon). Forget that my hips are too tight for even a quarter of a lotus.nanonline. it seemed so easy—slip on a pair of yoga pants. None of these treatments are cure-alls. "they can either significantly improve a person's cognition or increase mental functioning in general. says Canick. and cognitive rehabilitation programs. prescription drugs were involved. force your legs into half lotus.com | From the September 2010 issue of O. Diagnosis "Patients go misdiagnosed because their practitioners often rely on a test like the Mini Mental State Exam that may miss more subtle and vexing problems. quiet the mental chatter.Sinai School of Medicine." What Would It Take for You to Be Still? By Catherine Price Oprah. I had to try it—I needed . and "om" your way to serenity and bliss. But with a proper diagnosis. The Oprah Magazine How can you learn to slow down time. or that the last time I felt truly serene. The best specialists are neuropsychologists (the National Academy of Neuropsychologists at www. he says.org has a directory)." Canick says. When I decided to take up meditation. Treatment Options include stimulants (such as Ritalin and Provigil). nor do they work for everyone.

Rather. close your eyes. you're trying to coax your mind into what Kabat-Zinn calls a state of nondoing. That's not the same as doing nothing. Lately it's felt like my life is on warp speed. Kabat-Zinn is the creator of an eight-week course calledMindfulnessBased Stress Reduction (MBSR). Weekends blur into months. After we talked about my reason for wanting to meditate—Kabat-Zinn says it's important to identify your motivation before you begin. We've all had the experience of sensing time decelerate naturally when we're not so thrilled about what we're doing (think torturous spinning class or hourlong "synergy workshop" at the office). (Meditation teachers love metaphors. even though it's based on some core principles of Buddhism. months blur into seasons. feeling its strength and solidity and noticing that even when it's battered by the wind or drenched with rain. I loaded my iPod with the 20-minute exercise. PhD. I may get a lot done. even meditators need a day off). I talk fast. All that research showing that fidgeting burns tons of calories is good news for me. and observe your breathing as you imagine a mountain. I didn't need any background knowledge to begin. but smell the roses? I'm not even getting a passing whiff. your breath. or sensations in your body.) Kabat-Zinn suggested I start at home by practicing one or two guided 20. I liked that it's taught in a secular context. As my dear grandmother would have said. First. the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. (Kabat-Zinn's program is taught at the University of Massachusetts. which he began teaching in 1979 and which is now the largest and oldest meditation-based clinical program in the world. (Because its curriculum is so consistent. Ready to begin. but you can find other MBSR courses around the country. you notice small details—the trees that cover its slopes. I walk fast—I swear I even sleep fast. I went straight to the source: Jon Kabat-Zinn.) The goal of the mountain meditation is the same as with every other mindfulness technique—whether you're focusing on an image. perhaps a dollop of snow at the peak—and eventually you try to imagine becoming the mountain itself.) There are many types of meditation. I eat fast. First.to find a way to slow things down. But what about the more enjoyable times in life? I hoped that practicing the popular and proven type of meditation called mindfulness—which focuses on bringing awareness to the present moment—might help me slow those times down as well. it means you're not thinking about your grocery list or the conversation you had . as someone who wants to understand why I'm doing something— especially when that thing is challenging—I liked the idea that there was scientific proof of its effectiveness.to 45minute exercises six days a week (yes. Second. so why did I opt for MBSR? Two reasons. or you'll be tempted to give up—he recommended that I kick off my practice with what he thought would be an easy starting point: a visualization called the mountain meditation. which requires you to sit erect on the floor or a chair. it's one of the most studied forms of meditation in the world. its rock-hard interior remains stable and calm. it takes only one colonoscopy to prove that time is relative. And I find it almost impossible to sit still.

It won't be long before your mountain—which in my case was less Mount Everest and more like the label on an Evian bottle—drifts away and is replaced by a game of free association: A mountain reminds you of skiing. I stuck with it. and trying to be—if I might quote Van Halen—right here.) Kabat-Zinn didn't say this explicitly. And then—bam. which makes you mad at yourself for letting your mind wander. which reminds you that a friend invited you to dinner on Saturday. you're gaining the focus necessary to stay present when you're not actively meditating. Unable to picture a mountain in the first place. trying to home in on the sensations in each isolated part. unfortunately in my case. it's 45 minutes of carefully guiding your attention up and down your body. take 20 minutes and try the mountain exercise yourself. I liked the challenge of trying to harness my mind. which reminds you of the weekend. and found that when they received flu shots. you're committing one of mindfulness's biggest faux pas: beating yourself up for getting distracted. In a 1998 University of Massachusetts study.with a friend last night or the unfinished report sitting on your desk at work. while it's very difficult to learn to "fall awake" (become connected to the present moment). it often ends there—as Kabat-Zinn likes to point out. So with Kabat-Zinn's blessing. which reminds you of a family vacation. in a different exercise. Not only are you no longer cultivating intimacy with the present moment. By learning to quiet your mind's chatter and concentrate solely on your mental Rockies. After a few days pretending to be a mountain (and. "Mindfulness is about living your life as if it really mattered. you're out of the moment. when meditating. You're concentrating on just one thing. to fall asleep. so wrapped up in your daily routine that you don't notice the world around you. scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison examined a group that included alumni of Kabat-Zinn's eight-week course. I compensated by imagining my breath flowing up my body and rushing out the top of my head—which worked better. and I was intrigued by studies showing that MBSR does even more than that. I moved on to a meditation that I hoped might come more naturally to me: the body scan. until I realized I'd turned my calm snowy peak into a volcano. Nor are you trying to force your mind to go blank or conjure up any special feelings. the meditators' immune systems produced more antibodies in response to the vaccine than did the nonmeditators'. (As soon as you start making judgments. One of the key exercises in the MBSR course. Still. The exercise begins with your left big toe and. let alone concentrate on it for 20 minutes." says Kabat-Zinn. right now. "If you're not mentally present in the small moments. In 2003. experiencing each moment as it happens. patients with psoriasis who meditated while . it became clear that I am not a visual person. but I'm pretty sure that mindfulness exercises should not include obscenities. you could be missing half your life. which reminds you that you never got back to her and that maybe you should be writing her an e-mail instead of sitting on the floor pretending you're a mountain—which reminds you that you're supposed to be sitting on the floor pretending you're a mountain. The point is to avoid cruising through life on autopilot. What does experiencing the moment have to do with imagining yourself as a mountain? Think of it as strength training. a lake). for example." If this nondoing sounds easy. it's quite easy.

but one possible explanation is that this type of meditation reduces stress and helps people develop a more positive outlook. In other words. are able to activate an entirely different part of the brain—the insula. Does the sight of bumper-to-bumper traffic mean you have to get stressed-out? Or could you think of those extra 20 minutes as a chance to listen to a favorite CD? (Judging from the increase in my heart rate just from typing "bumper-to-bumper. based on how we think they'll affect us. it's a problem that will make us late for dinner—so when we see a red wall of taillights in front of us. it's simply a bunch of cars on the road. Located deep inside your gray matter. we become stressed-out. Researchers don't yet understand all the details of why changes like these occur. an area of the brain behind the center of your forehead that coordinates complex behaviors and thoughts. if you think about it." I've got work to do. a traffic jam doesn't seem like a problem. for example—you can use mindfulness to savor the moment more fully. they're an annoying obstacle. When you're thinking this way. most of the time. Typically this type of narrative processing takes place in the medial prefrontal cortex. (It's also the part of the brain that's being used when your mind starts to wander. A pair of sneakers strewn in the doorway aren't just discarded shoes. on the other hand. such mindfulnessbased meditation can actually change the way you use your brain.receiving ultraviolet treatments for their skin healed four times faster than the control group—regardless of whether they had any previous meditation training. both of which have been shown to strengthen the body's immune system. trying to do so is like forcing yourself to go to the gym after years of inactivity—sure. mindfulness reminds you that when it comes to your reactions. who studies meditation and experimental psychology at the University of Toronto. you're the one in charge.) Is it really worth getting angry at my husband over those misplaced sneakers? Or would I rather be thankful for the fact that he folded the laundry? On the flip side. but wouldn't it be nicer to just eat Doritos on the couch? Farb has found that people who have completed the eight-week MBSR training. As Farb explains it.) While it's possible to stifle this default way of thinking. we evaluate—and then respond without thinking (clogged highway = extra minutes stuck in the car = misery). we don't just experience. So when we trip over them. Every situation. according to researcher Norman Farb. It doesn't matter whether the experience is good or bad. we (by which I mean your average nonmeditating American) respond to new stimuli and experiences automatically. What's more. you could fight your way through a step aerobics class if you had to. we (by which I mean your average nonmeditating Catherine) get irritated with our husbands. A traffic jam isn't just cars. is an invitation for you to react in a certain way. the insula informs you of what's happening in the present moment without connecting the experience to a specific emotion. but being mindful gives you the chance to decide how to RSVP. . if it turns out you do want to say yes to the invitation—by feeling happy about a new promotion. The point of meditation is not to stop you from having an emotional response to what's happening in your life—it's to avoid responding purely out of habit.

I developed some tricks for everyday life. I've also gotten better at staying present when I'm not actively meditating. Loss. To buy Jon Kabat-Zinn's series of practice CDs. Love. the sound of my husband's laugh—and if I want to stretch out time. download these meditation exercises. I was happy to find that they did become easier. I remember another of Kabat-Zinn's sayings that affirms why this is an experiment I want to continue: Both figuratively and literally. He also pointed out that meditation is not a quick fix. conscious breaths to bring my attention back to the present moment. or choosing a particular sense to focus on. As a result. becoming—and staying—mindful is a lifelong process. or even that it would always feel enjoyable—a caveat that I appreciated whenever I grew irritable or uncomfortable. It's more productive to simply observe the thoughts without getting carried away by them—and try to tap into the calm that exists beneath the surface. For a guide on how to cultivate mindfulness and suggestions for daily practice. go to umassmed. When I find my mind racing ahead or am tempted to skip my daily practice. too—like taking a few slow. But as I continued experimenting each day with the guided exercises. the play of light on the grass. As Kabat-Zinn says. go to JonKabat-Zinn. By training myself to stay focused during the exercises.com. all I need to do is notice them.Still. Kabat-Zinn had warned me not to expect that anything magical would happen while I was meditating. we only have moments to live. stopping your brain from thinking would be like stopping the ocean's waves.edu/cfm/mbsr. I've discovered that each day is dense with experiences—the breeze against my skin. or found myself counting down the seconds during my daily practice. and What I Ate . And I tried not to get annoyed when my mind wandered. To find a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program near you.

were I feeling really charitable. so here is all I can report from the fashion front: When I was 5. but clothes have never really been my thing. was adorable. Unfortunately. And that pretty much sums up the last 48 years of my life in clothes. Judy Glassman got the same perfect dress and Judy Glassman was adorable..Oprah. too. my parents took me to see Snow White and I have a clear memory of wearing a sleeveless orange sundress dotted with little white flowers and thinking that when I grew up I would do whatever it took to avoid a gig where I had to be the cleaning lady for a houseful of diamond-mining dwarfs or. Believe me. Beckerman did it better—my story just doesn't quite work when filtered . I also have a clear memory of being 13 and getting the perfect dress for Michael Lasky's Bar Mitzvah. It's a quirky little autobiography in which the utterly charming Ilene Beckerman recalls her life's defining moments through the wardrobe choices she's made—from Brownie uniform to bridal veil. could best be described as a staggeringly festive sombrero. Loss. The Oprah Magazine Memories. misty water-colored memories of the way she ate. and something that. I just finished reading Love. the pizza.with antlers. I recently unearthed an old photo—proof positive that I. a pair of pink pleather hot pants. I will admit that somewhere between 1961 and this morning there appears to have been a fake fur vest.. but not even Paul McCartney himself could've convinced me of that back in the day. Finally. The book got me digging through my own closet full of milestones. and the people from her past.com | From the July 2009 issue of O. and What I Wore for the 219th time. for that matter. any man who goes by the name of Sneezy. Our taste-starved columnist hungers for the potatoes.

well.through the prism of ball gowns and bathing suits because frankly. Love. but let the record show that it was I who brought the world the dessert potato. Yes. You may be wondering if in fact I have a pilot's license. it isn't the stuff I wore that stays with me. the hint of garlic and oregano. even if I were the Belle of the Ball or the Bunny of the Beach. I do not." I invented the ultimate myboyfriend-has-just-dumped-me food. Michigan. *** I like my pizza like I like my men: hot. and What I Ate The first time I visited France. Dozens. And though I've never been especially religious (this despite the fact that I once saw a yam that was an absolute dead ringer for Golda Meir). Detroit goes straight to bed with the flu." Want to know what you get when you combine a distinct lack of foreign language skills with a limited knowledge of haute cuisine and a dash of sleep deprivation? You get a plate of scandalously rare meat with a raw egg perched on top. You may be wondering how many other delusions of grandeur I currently suffer from. no-nonsense. a delightful young gentleman whom I still affectionately refer to as "evil incarnate. You also get me screeching across the rather sedate bistro. I don't know. because nothing says "I'm hurting" quite like a woman who hasn't showered in nine days chowing down on a Yukon Gold that's been slathered in sprinkles and marshmallow fluff while the greatest hits of Janis Ian play on in an endless loop of sheer misery. suffice it to say that I once walked into a small pharmacy outside Lyon and tried to buy a tube of "KY marmalade. the touch of provolone. and covered in melted mozzarella and fresh mushrooms. I could gush endlessly over the harmonic convergence of sauce and cheese. that it's got the highest unemployment rate. there's an oeuf on myboeuf!" Upon breaking up with my first true love. that the last one out should be sure to turn off the lights. I wanted to be preternaturally alert in case the pilot suddenly needed me to land the plane. I did not sleep on the eight-hour flight for a perfectly reasonable reason. Here's everything I know about French cooking: (1) Julia Child was a genius and (2) those little rodents in thatRatatouille movie couldn't have been more darling. it was through profoundly jet-lagged eyes. You may be wondering why he wouldn't simply turn to his or her copilot for assistance. "Holy mother of God. but for reasons that will never be entirely clear my editor has refused to provide the 33 extra pages I requested. I still . Loss. I could rhapsodize about the pure perfection that is Buddy's pillowy yet crackly crust with its ever so slightly fried edges and almost golden center. it's pretty hard to beat Buddy's Pizza in Detroit. Steve Jobs created the iPod. My point is that the first time I saw Paris. I'm telling you that as transcendent experiences go. Just know this: Despite everybody saying that when the country gets a cold. Prehistoric man came up with the wheel. the dessert potato. the most messed-up housing market. As for what I know of the French language.

Next my grandmother takes hold of the chopper that her mother and very possibly her mother's mother once used.believe in the Red Wings. We made this soup a hundred times but I can't recall a single conversation we had while we did it. No. and she is 70. I am 5. tomatoes. But it seldom sees the light of day. and I can assure you that where there is Buddy's Pizza. earthy fragrance. I had it at my sweet 16. We are both a little eccentric. a little complicated—my grandmother and me. I know she believed it was sinful to waste even a scrap of food. potatoes. I know she missed her mother till the day she died. shreds and minces like nobody's business. I know she taught me to clean up as I go along. And I know one day my daughter will learn to make soup with an old-fashioned handheld chopper that's missing just a little bit of paint on its antique handle. I had Buddy's on my first date. but the blades are as sharp as ever. or I am 31 and she is 96. because I have this other gadget. there is hope. Carrots and parsnips are peeled and tossed in. can be found in the fridge. and begins the serious work of bouncing the blades up and down till the bowl is filled with chunks and cubes and a green. too. the auto workers. I have it every time I come home. I rock them back and forth until a bright confetti of fresh vegetables is ready to be added to the beef bones simmering on the stove. We are standing in my mother's kitchen. it doesn't matter. an ancient hand chopper consisting of two curved metal blades attached to an ordinary handle. I had it the night before I moved to New York City. Now it's my turn. onions. The paint on the handle may be chipped. the ritual remains unchanged: Into the biggest wooden bowl I've ever seen go whatever peppers. Read It! . red and green. *** I own a food processor that slices and dices. along with celery stalks. and the odd bulb of fennel. also attached are some of the loveliest memories I own. Watch This. and Smokey Robinson.

to produce narrative. "parts of the brain that have evolved for other functions—such as vision. why bother working through the 371-page novel? For that matter. As you're absorbing. president and director of research of Haskins Laboratories. When you can see Atonement in two hours and 10 minutes (enacted by the very appealing James McAvoy. to imagine. according to neuroscience—your mind will most definitely thank you. no less) or listen to it on audiotape.com | From the June 2008 issue of O." says Ken Pugh. which is devoted to the science of language and affiliated with Yale. PhD. why bother to read when you can get it all electronically? We make the case for not closing the book. and associative learning—connect in a specific neural circuit for reading. director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University and author . say. "A sentence is shorthand for a lot of information that must be inferred by the brain. Just like muscles. the brain benefits from a good workout. The Oprah Magazine In our high-speed-connection world.By Lauren Duzbow Oprah. but is there any real advantage to getting your information by reading it? Yes. why trudge through the newspaper when you can turn on CNN? Why puzzle over a manual when you can YouTube the instructions? Everyone knows the book is always better than the movie." In general. as is greater concentration." says Maryanne Wolf. And reading is more neurobiologically demanding than processing images or speech. language. "We are forced to construct. your intelligence is called to action. which is very challenging. this article.

with oral language—when you watch a film or listen to a tape—you don't press pause. Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension and insight. Pugh says. The Oprah Magazine Some people can't finish a newspaper story before their mind takes flight. "Typically.com | From the May 2007 issue of O." Wolf says. while others easily concentrate on a single activity for hours. In fact. Reading is about not being content with the surface. when you read." Hope for the Scatterbrain By Thea Singer Oprah." Even when it is superficial (what's a plane ride without a little celebrity gossip?). and your mind basically hardier as you age. By and large.of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. by using advances in fMRIs (functional magnetic resonance imaging) that enable people to ―see‖ segments of their . "an opportunity to probe more than any other medium I know of. indulging in a tabloid beats watching TV—just processing the words boosts the brain. A literate mind is a more complex one. "you'd rather be reading." Pugh says. which. "If you had your druthers. provide more work for your brain than seeing a movie—but print should take up part of your life too." The benefits of all this mental activity include keeping your memory sharp. your learning capacity nimble. No one's advising that you toss the DVD player—or books on tape. If only the hyperfocused would pass along their secrets. you have more time to think. "There's a richness that reading gives you.

Meanwhile.. scientists are working on training the brain to increase its attention span. ―Paying attention is a very abstract phrase.O. wandering minds want to know. associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School.S. To help subjects improve their selective auditory attention—the ability to zero in on. The little book bristles with . one conversation amid the din of a cocktail party—Seung-Schik Yoo. This research is still in the earliest stages.if you can. The Oprah Magazine S. put subjects in MRI machines and had them listen to a baseline sound (something like a dial tone). Wait! Stop! It's All Too Much! Oprah. scientists say.com | From the November 2007 issue of O. other investigators are exploring using the fMRI feedback technique to help manage ADHD and control pain.! How to unclutter. ―Participants were able to crystallize [the experience] with a concrete number showing how well they were doing it. While the subjects were doing the exercise. When the tone morphed into woo woo.‖ How soon can we sign up. PhD. they were instructed to concentrate harder by imagining it was coming from farther away..‖ he says. Yoo zapped back a number on a screen indicating how active their brain region for selective auditory attention was. Sonya opens her calendar to schedule a meeting. unclog. and keep your head above water.gray matter in real time and do something to change it. Stay tuned. say.

I went online to verify a fact for this article. You've almost certainly experienced this. like Dorothy in the poppy fields of Oz. The result? Overwhelm—on an unprecedented scale. strong women. This put me in range of 150 e-mails. Instead of answering. (Google it. life expectancy in the United States was approximately 49 years). were just overwhelmed. they sink into a kind of muddled netherworld. hundreds of millions of us now face the bizarre problem of surfeit. Their intentions grow fuzzy. too. "I sprint from one obligation to another. then closes the calendar—without adding the new meeting. Sonya. "Overwhelm" is increasingly common as demands on human attention increase exponentially. Yet when Paula walks into her guest bedroom and Sonya tries to reorganize her time. But in the developed world. and it was hard to come by." which I felt morally compelled to share with everyone I've ever met. Understanding it can help you manage it. "I hate my house. too. Even people were scarce: Friends and relatives died young (as late as 1900. and socialized behavior are still geared to an environment of lack. It's a symptom of overwhelm called attentional blindness." she says. As Paula closes her eyes and tries to focus. clothing. Is this dementia? Alzheimer's? Sheer cussed laziness? None of the above. many news stories." Both Paula and Sonya are bright. but she has no idea why. "I feel as if I'm drowning. books had to be copied by hand and were rare and precious." Sonya feels the same way about her schedule. You probably are. Yet our brains. "It's so overstuffed. Food. They forget what they're doing. Seriously.) Now I can't even remember the fact I was checking. human life—both culture and biology— was shaped by scarcity." Paula tells me. and a video clip labeled "Very Excited Pug. for centuries. at a very high cost in time and energy. her landline and cell phones ring almost simultaneously. instincts. Knowledge was power. tools. Two hours ago. shelter. This kind of scarcity still rules the world's poorest regions. and I aren't crazy or brain damaged. the refrigerator papered with reminder notes. Paula.appointments. she begins to fret about the thousand things she should do right away. she puts her hands over her ears and lets out a strangled yell. For the vast majority of world history. I can't even connect with the people I love. The countertop is stacked with mail. I feel like I'm suffocating. Paula stands in the kitchen. . and pretty much everything else had to be farmed or fabricated. Distracted. more than capable of straightforward tasks like clearing out a room or schedule. The human brain just wasn't designed to handle the environment we inhabit.

geared to outcompete all other attention demands. Because of this. screening out extraneous information. You use search images. It can be merely annoying. sex. being used by more humans than ever before. When you and a friend become separated in the mall." a narrow aperture that allows only certain information into conscious awareness. You're creating an "attention bottleneck. paralyzed feeling Sonya and Paula experience when they try to clear their space or time. . Our brains evolved to pay close attention to unusually bright colors. and going attentionally blind to anything that doesn't make it through the bottleneck. too short. not scrutinizing every face but quickly filtering out everyone who's too tall. the problem is that your brain is already trying too hard to focus on too much. When your brain assigns equal importance to several things at once.The Attention Funnel For animals to survive in nature—for predators to spot prey. louder. or catastrophic—for example. So marketers bombard us with such images. food. wearing the wrong color of clothing. then. but the time has come to reprogram it yourself. too. Now consider the flood of information from new communication technology. Take advertising (please). It's unnerving. watching TV. Nature has programmed certain settings into the attention function of your brain. that humans have created an environment unnaturally jammed with attention-grabbing information. The result is rampant attentional blindness. You go attentionally blind to everything. your attention bottleneck jams. try simultaneously talking on the phone. and other information salient to survival. but as soon as you hear something particularly attention grabbing—"What? He locked his wife in a freezer?"—you'll lose the thread of the other two information streams. It'll overwhelm pretty much all of us until we learn to outmaneuver our instincts. babies. You may be able to shuttle between these three stimuli. or prey to avoid predators—they must be able to focus intently on well-camouflaged targets. gorier. This is like cramming sand into a clogged drainpipe. Was Blind But Now I See Sonya and Paula react to overwhelm by telling themselves to Focus. a driver engrossed in a cell phone conversation may go mind-blind to an obstacle right in front of his eyes. To test your attentional targeting abilities. you scan the crowd. This is the fuzzy. physical danger. and conversing with someone standing next to you. making them ever brighter." brain templates that help them zoom in on crucial survival information and ignore everything else. dammit! You may do the same. animal brains automatically develop "search images.

" Repeat the wordblue as you open your eyes. Relax your senses. her schedule. slow breaths. a carnival. sound. STEP ONE: Unclog your overwhelmed brain. STEP TWO: Choose a search image. think softer. locate three books I haven't touched for years. For Paula. STEP THREE: Switch images. That's why each exercise should be small—to give you minimal time for becoming distracted." "round things. repeat the search-image phrase. STEP SIX: Tackle the hard stuff. such as "round things" (or tall women. STEP FIVE: Bring focus to a familiar activity.The best way to learn this process is away from the demands of your life— someplace that isn't home or work. This happens because you're not used to setting your own attention focus. take your attention-directing skills into a situation that usually overwhelms you. Times Square. Finally. Pick an arbitrary category of items as your search image—for example. for Sonya. breathing in and out until you feel relaxed. practice the same exercise during an ordinary activity like driving or jogging. and donate them to the library. As you cruise along." "green car"). you'll begin to feel a new sense of control over your life. or green cars." Sonya might attack her planner with the mission "I'll cancel one commitment that isn't totally necessary." This will make you more alert to things that will keep you safe. STEP FOUR: Relax to focus. weeding out everything you don't absolutely need. taste." "tall women. "anything that moves. colors. Think of this as a mission statement—a carefully defined surgical strike. and choose a new category. you'll find that your eyes locate the image on their own. "things that are blue. and smell of the air going into and out of your lungs. free your attention bottleneck by closing your eyes and taking deep. Instead of diving in. rather than a vague plan to do better. To begin. . You may find that you can't visualize your selected search images. and that other items become blurred. By making a series of attacks on things like clutter or obligations. or whatever). mentally repeat your search phrase ("blue. it's her cluttered house. Once you can target your attention while holding still. Notice that blue things appear. and using only one search image per attack. Try a shopping center." It's crucial to keep repeating your mission statement throughout the attempt. Concentrate only on the feeling. activity. This is normal. Instead of concentrating harder. Don't let your attention bottleneck widen to include any other factors. a useful goal might be "I'll go into the home office. For Paula. Close your eyes again. or any other environment filled with competing attention demands. that you're distracted by noises. they need to set their attention focus prior to entering the danger zone. Gradually.

even when it strains a relationship." We evolved to live in relatively small groups of. As soon as I remember what it was. The Focus Test For a dramatic demonstration of attentional blindness. watch the video on this website. You'll see a brief clip of students playing basketball. to eat only until you're satisfied. through e-mail alone. How to Relax Now (Damn It!) . now overabundant items from your life. For Sonya to feel less swamped by obligations. Use it to toss clothing you haven't worn for years. For Paula to clear her office. The reality of the 21st century is that you simply can't fit in every social obligation you think you "absolutely have to. I'll use it right now. attention-grabbing. utterly unnecessary object. Use the strategy in restaurants. she must learn to say no. Several seconds into the film. Don't come back to read the next page until you've finished counting. It means resisting deep instinctive and cultural tendencies. First. say. every single day.Directing All Your Attention Handling overwhelm this way is not for the fainthearted. Don't believe me? Try it on a friend. rather than stuffing in extra calories. or to pass a sale rack without buying some shiny. to verify that fact I was checking when interrupted by the Very Excited Pug. Use it to prevent overwhelm in any of the countless situations that make you go mind-blind. Guarding against surfeit is as essential for us as guarding against scarcity was for our ancestors. watch the film and (this is crucial) count the number of times the white-shirt team passes the basketball. you probably have three times that many contacts. I'm now going to ruin the surprise. The vast majority of people who are busy counting the white-shirt passes simply don't see the gorilla. and saunters off. she must reject the idea that every book is an irreplaceable treasure. as any primitive human would rightly do. 50 individuals. a person in a gorilla suit walks into the frame. Spoiler alert: If you haven't finished the video. You can use attention-focused missions to trim all sorts of once rare. thumps his chest.

I hate my towels. I hate my hair. just like Doris Day in Pillow Talk. The Oprah Magazine Lisa Kogan on why taking it easy is so hard. and here is what I'm thinking: How did my medicine cabinet get chipped? What exactly is a loofah and why in God's name do I own two of them? Have I only been in here three minutes? What time is tomorrow's ideas meeting? How does a woman live more than 40 years without having one idea for tomorrow's ideas meeting? My life is ridiculous. I play soothing music over high-quality headphones. But why stop there? I place thin discs of fresh cucumber over exhausted eyes just like Maggie Smith in Gosford Park. people have been urging me to relax. The water is warm. I fill my bathtub with bubbles. I hate my ability to eat more than one hamburger in a sitting.com | From the October 2002 issue of O. And in no time at all. Is that my doorbell? Is that my phone? Why is there war? How do I get candle wax off the side of my tub? Have I only been in here three minutes and 26 seconds? Shouldn't my fingers be pruney by now? I hate my clothes. I let my mind begin to wander. just like Jessica Lange right before they institutionalized her in Frances. just like Barbra Streisand in A Star Is Born. the music is enchanting. the lights are low. They take me to the cockpit and introduce me to the .Oprah. What if I never come up with another idea and I lose my job and I'm forced to live on the street without a place to recharge my electric toothbrush and my eyes go bad and I can't see that single white hair growing out of my chin and I start scaring little kids who refer to me as Old Bloody Gums Kogan and I die alone clutching my two unused loofahs and how the hell can I have only been in here for three minutes and 57 frigging seconds??? All my life. I light a zillion cream-colored candles. just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I need a new bath mat. They put a hand on my knee to steady my shaking leg.

it's that I have the power to help myself feel better. stretched. and a topnotch shrink in Murray Hill. I am massaged with hot stones. I promise to treat myself to one massage a month and an occasional facial to boot. There's a pretty decent chance that I won't be coming home to a large. sip mango iced tea. my jaw unclenches. nutritionists. So the question is this: How much bubble wrap must I be encased in to maintain this newfound tranquillity? After one month back in the big city. a spa that seems to want nothing more than to see me unwind. lathered. Rumor has it that another spa in the area searches your luggage for hidden Pringles and peanut butter cups. peeled. my mood gets lifted. pedicured with hibiscus. stroll. my fingers stop curling into fists. and any form of media in which I'm likely to encounter a warning from John Ashcroft. and massaged some more. The sky is falling? You don't say. grand canyons and lonesome doves. and nap some more. and aestheticians to help. cups of chamomile. therapists. sunshined. swim. There's prickly-pear marmalade and men in white Stetsons. It makes me very. e-mails. Arizona is crazy beautiful. very tense. I toss my Chinese take-out menus (hailed as one of the largest collections in North America) and invest in a copy of Conscious Cuisine: A Harmony of Flavors for a Life in Balance. They offer glasses of merlot. the mesas are dusted with pale cocoa earth. I develop an involuntary smile that borders on the idiotic. sticks of gum. Nor will there be a chef preparing insanely delicious low-calorie desserts. polished. Miraval asks only that you be aware of what you're eating and make a point of savoring it. chat. The air is perfumed with rosemary and purple sage. the frantic ticking of my biological clock. the miracles of meditation. traffic jams. They tell me about the wonders of yoga. and if I can't completely eradicate stress. like swimming and walks in Central Park. read. exfoliated with sea salt. my chi gets released. They make me skip the nightly news and the daily paper. Nothing can faze me. prescriptions for Ativan. The relaxation techniques that felt like a tedious waste of time in Manhattan feel like manna from heaven in Tucson. cheerful staff waiting to unblock my chakras and release my pent-up chi. I find myself on the vacation I didn't think I could afford to take. that people who are getting all the tender loving care they need will want to be good to themselves. lotioned. anointed with oils. conditioned. fed. sauna'd. I avoid cell phones. and they provide the trainers. and before I can protest that I'm much too busy. I believe I have the answer: All the bubble wrap and mango tea in the world won't make the chi flow after I receive a few jolts of the same stress that caused me to flee in the first place. and at sunset the sky turns to mother-of-pearl. I learn to unplug my . They believe in living mindfully. I don't want to leave. I become a wet fettuccine noodle in a white terry cloth robe. steamed. I cook and freeze on Saturdays and come home to healthy meals all week long. my lower back unknots. But if Miraval has taught me anything. I return to the little things that used to make me happy. breathe deeply.pilot. I can at least get to a place where missing a green light doesn't make me homicidal. The world is hurtling out of control? Praise the Lord and pass the sunblock. my chakras get unblocked. My elusive search for serenity has brought me to Miraval. I nap. by Cary Neff. An intervention is staged—friends invite me to five days at a spa. faxes. My neck slowly reappears as my shoulders slide down. Miraval's brilliant executive chef.

one woman committed a radical act: She rested. . Without phone calls. I could read the books I'd been longing to read.com | From the July 2003 issue of O. and the responsibilities of family life. I managed to stagger off to morning. other interruptions. To my dismay. relaxing (four-minute) bubble bath. I could sit and think and write. I swear never to let a year go by without building in some sort of vacation. I am a high-energy person. and evening prayers with the monks and go to meals but often napped afterward. and the first time I went on a spiritual retreat I assumed I would be able to accomplish many things that were difficult to do in my everyday life. The Oprah Magazine In the face of fatigue. The Weary Woman's Manifesto By Kathleen Norris Oprah. noon. I reasoned.phone for 20 minutes or so every night and curl up with a good book. I meet old friends for Sunday brunch. And every now and then—after a particularly harrowing day—I settle into a warm. I found that for the first two days I did little but sleep. I buy the new Tom Waits CD and play it in place of the latest in reality television.

quickly learned that if I slept in the daytime." He added casually. I lose out. In a way. we can give in and rest without feeling guilty. I have since learned that this is a common experience among retreatants. Even as a toddler. indignant. I feel that it's important to keep going. take on the next task. workaday lives. The last time it was because she had a head cold. On the rare occasions when she has no energy. ready to face the next demand. If we're lucky. she still didn't have the energy to exercise. I'm tired. I hope that I will have something of her outlook at the age of 86. in fact. I had just been given permission to rest." she replied. If I lack energy because I haven't slept well. who must have longed for some free time. It was permission I seldom granted myself." we say. experiencing silence and solitude for the first time in weeks. I need to listen to my body when it tries to call a halt. When I complained to an elderly monk about having no energy." I said.M. we hear that all the time from our guests. "But I did that yesterday. my mother complains. and I'll be able to do it right. Why surrender to my lack of energy when I could reinvigorate myself any number of ways: take a brisk walk. even—and here I do battle with my most basic instincts—to put off until tomorrow something I could do today. a movie. "Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is sleep. she stayed in bed most of the day. We push ourselves so hard in our ordinary. "Oh. and above all I need to remember that I am not so important in the scheme of things that I can't give up control (or the illusion of control) long enough to take time out. If I can't reschedule. My poor mother. In this I take after my mother. I resisted taking naps because I didn't want to miss out on anything. being told that sleep was good for my soul. so many legitimate demands to meet. drink a glass of orange juice or a cup of coffee. Today I would do it badly. I had no idea I was so tired. it felt like liberation. It's hard for me not to feel guilty when my energy isn't up to the tasks at hand." I was shocked. I was ready for bed. I'll be more rested and alert. But it's not easy. in my mid-30s. The trade-off is that sometimes I have to give up events I would love: a concert. he responded. to reschedule a meeting. "My God. God willing. Isn't it just laziness on my part if I give in and do nothing? Normally. We can stop doing and concentrate on being. my eyes kept closing.When I tried to read in the evening. Until I was in my room at the retreat house. as our house of cards collapses. But just a few moments spent alone in quiet reflection are enough to reveal our true condition. I was free to say yes to the weariness that had seeped into my bones. To my amazement. I might change my habits in the evening so that I am more ready for . There's so much to do. it was a sure sign I was ill. Tomorrow. a dinner with friends. who at 86 is in the gym of her condominium every morning at 5:30 and attends a tai chi class three times a week. and we become very good at pretending we're just fine. I have also had to set some ground rules. The next morning she phoned to say that although she did feel better. And here I was. "Stay in bed. But sometimes I have to admit that I simply need to rest. and by 8 P. But I've found it is surprisingly easy to alter my plans. and I advised her to take it easy.

. the fertile ground between waking and sleeping. or a door. I might turn to the Book of Common Prayer and try to adopt the bravado of one of my favorite morning prayers: "This is another day." When I can truly accept being drained of energy. "I will bless you.com | From the November 2004 issue of O.sleep. O Lord. I see it not as an opportunity. when I am stripped of energy and feel too stupid even to think.. I might pray for those whose energy is sapped by serious illness or the depredations of old age. all I can do is pray. help me to sit quietly. And if I am to do nothing. But on my off days. Lord. It is liminal (literally. If I am to stand up. and not so full of ourselves and the noise of our lives. In Psalm 16 we read. but as an opening. that my best ideas come. It's as if a window has opened.. I now understand that the old monk's wisdom was grounded in that of the Psalms he'd recited every day for more than 60 years. The Oprah Magazine . help me to stand bravely. if I find myself disconnecting from the world in an unhealthy way because of emotional exhaustion or depression. If I am to lie low. It is when I am half awake. because that implies too much control on my part. between doing and being. and even at night direct my heart. If I am to sit still. "threshold") time. we are in God's presence. If I've worn myself down with too much activity." The Way to Deal Coolly With Everyday Disasters By Betsy Carter Oprah. inviting me to listen. that we are best able to hear God speak to us. You give me counsel. I seek help. I try to pace myself. The Psalms remind us that whether we are full of energy or drained of it. help me to do it patiently. And if I sense that my weariness is more than physical. let me do it gallantly. before my listmaking brain takes over and pretends it's in charge. Several Psalms imply that it's when we are asleep.

This trafficking back and forth has stayed with me through adulthood. and simmering. A few weeks ago. These days I'm not as easily flummoxed. a technological screwup such as deleting a file by mistake on my computer can rock my equilibrium.Stay calm in any situation by learning the lifealtering secrets of equilibrium. wiping the tears from my face. equilibrium meant exactly what the dictionary said it meant: a state of balance or equality between opposing forces. Rootie Kazootie. so much so that the word equilibrium has taken on a physical presence in my imagination. What she had witnessed was her daughter hijacked from her normal domain of good cheer and delivered to a cave of bats and dark crevices. As I went to pour the concoction into the frying pan—you guessed it—the bottom of the blender fell . I was watching my favorite television show. It's up and down and up again. One afternoon when I was barely 6. as many foreigners do. the show had been canceled. she learned to speak it with a studied precision. "Honey." she said. I cried and carried on until my mother finally coaxed me out. "you've lost your equilibrium. I see it as a seesaw. I locked myself in the closet where I had spent many happy hours with my glow-in-the-dark Rootie Kazootie button. depending on which side of the I my fortunes unfold. As the credits rolled at the end of the half hour. Then I poured the ingredients into a blender. To her. I spent two hours chopping. sautéing. I was preparing tomato sauce as a treat for my husband. but every now and again. weighted on one side by e-q-u-i-l and the other by b-r-i-u-m. I blended. both teetering on the pivot of the slender I in the middle. Devastated." Because English was not my mother's native language. an adult voice came on and said that we had just seen the end of poor Rootie.

ignore them. It was as if the person on the e-q-u-i-l side of the seesaw had jumped off and catapulted the poor sucker on the b-r-i-u-m side into a gloppy sea of tomatoes and onions. Is equilibrium like a feathered hat or a woolen glove. To adjust is to change. we do possess the opposite response. he got down on his hands and knees and. "Prayers. exercise—anything that involves repetition. and the two of us scraped up the remains between tears of laughter. is the Bill Gates of the equilibrium world: His is the first name mentioned when the subject comes up. I called Benson to ask how a person can locate this response. Suddenly. started scooping up salvaged bits from the floor and plopping them back into a bowl." It reminds me of the way cranky children are given a time-out and removed from the context of what is causing their irascibility. something you can misplace in the blink of an eye? Where does it go. According to Benson. As I went berserk. even when we burden it with worry and agitation. MD. you can say it's derived from evolution. I got down on the floor with him. "The break allows the body to rebound and return to its innate sense of quiet. My equilibrium wasn't just lost. which has sold more than four million copies. Ever since the Rootie Kazootie incident.out. what had seemed so overwhelming became hysterically funny. our hearts pound. it was hopelessly drowning. and that's just the beginning." (The techniques are also on his website: massgeneral. that creates the stress state. Often we feel hostile. you can say that sense is God-given. "If you're religious. and I can feel my heart pound and my guy on the seesaw getting ready to bolt. Break the train of everyday thought. After I get off the phone with Benson." says Benson. our blood pressure rises. Imagining a Where's Waldo? solution. he wrote a book in 1975 called The Relaxation Response. my dog hid under the desk in the living room. crocheting. In response to stress. and change is always difficult. If you're not. In a way. I'd figure a way around the problem. Then my husband came into the kitchen to see what the ruckus was all about. so does the body naturally want to return to a quiet state. and how can you get it back? Herbert Benson. "When other thoughts come to mind while you're doing the repetitions. swimming. Massachusetts. My equilibrium had resurfaced. I desert the printer and . it doesn't matter. songs. He explains loss of equilibrium like this: "When things are bothersome or unstable. But today I am on a deadline. the relaxation response." he says. The founding president of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine in Chestnut Hill. mantras.org/bhi). I've wondered what it is that gets lost when you lose your equilibrium. Any other day. with a soupspoon. Just as it is the body's inclination to heal itself when it is hurt. A large man. I spend a couple of irritating hours trying to fix my failing printer. The capability is within us. which corrects the harmful effects of stress. words." He defines stress as any situation that requires you to adjust. even though there is no drug that can immediately get us back on even keel. Taking Benson's advice. angry.

grateful to Benson that I hadn't acted on my earlier impulse to bang on the printer with my fists. filled with tourists and day campers. went dark and the air-conditioning shut down. Realizing you have that choice can be enough to effect a shift.go to the pool at my gym. is at the heart of his teaching and his practice. the Pali word for "equanimity. "It's not about getting to one place where things are just fine and there are no mess-ups. We were coming up to the Museum of Natural History when the train shrieked to a halt. ought to know something about equilibrium. I figure that Baraz. exasperated way. and print out a copy before e-mailing it off. But I think of the last time I was stuck on the subway on a hot afternoon in July. the tiny daily adjustments and the bigger swings—become part of the whole experience of equilibrium. The car. In Buddhism. and what only moments ago had felt like banging on the gates of hell had now turned into a sweet recital of children's voices. I could see people start to fidget and wipe their brows in a nervous. We were in on it. we weren't the butt of a joke played by the gods of municipal transit. who has been teaching meditation for 25 years and does a lot of counseling with teenagers and families." he says." he says. a friend recommends that I speak to James Baraz. "In an instant. A few days later. occasionally bounces out of control. When I return home. but all of a sudden one of the counselors started to sing "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" The kids joined in. the situation can change." He says that if we expand our definition of equilibrium. who is one of the founders of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County. Phillip Moffitt writes a provocative column for Yoga Journal and is the coauthor of The Power to Heal. "Life is more dynamic than always having calm and peace. I braced for another collective meltdown. the best places for your heart and mind to find a resting place (the others are loving-kindness. no noise in my head. equilibrium is one of what they call the four divine abodes." I live in a city where people screaming and freaking out are regular public occurrences. compassion. As I swim my laps. California. the thoughts of printers and deadlines get lost in the ripples of water. The tenseness drained from people's faces." or keeping a well-balanced mind. Just like that. "You're in on the joke. as Baraz had said. I tell Baraz about my image of the seesaw: how it dips to one side or the other in response to life's little surprises and. or you can laugh at the absurdity. He is also the founder and president of the Life Balance . You can scream and freak out. finish the assignment. much to my own frustration. not the butt of it. he explains. He tells me that upekkha. I sit down. Baraz gets the image immediately but says that the goal isn't to keep the seesaw level at all times. "There can be something healthy about going crazy. I take out the instruction manual and nail down the problem. and joy in the happiness of others). then dropping pots and collapsing in a heap of laughter on the floor—that is." he says.

I must act as best I can. where he counsels people who have reached a high level of success yet are still searching for a deeper meaning in life. At another time I might have lost my you-know-what. I was back in the kitchen.com | From the April 2003 issue of O. How to Find Your Emotional Balance By Liz Brody Oprah. There I was with a bowl full of basil. but nothing happened." says Moffitt. California." Anyone who's ever fought with a sibling knows how an instant response (or instant overresponse) can happen. Pizza would have to do. The trick is to try to react in ways that dampen—rather than exacerbate—the extreme movements of the seesaw. But I didn't. "Equilibrium is being in disequilibrium but trusting yourself to come back to balance.' then you're okay. your stomach clenches. 'I'm in this state now. and then I started to sing along with the CD that was playing. pignoli nuts. "If someone says something to you that makes you angry and insecure. as Moffitt says. "If you're comfortable thinking. I pressed the button on the Cuisinart to blend the ingredients. It was dead.'" ***** Just a few days ago. When I track him down. The Oprah Magazine ." he says. This time it was pesto. you're in disequilibrium. things can rapidly escalate. I told myself it was okay to feel a small clutch of panic in my throat. Or. and garlic. Your cheeks flush. 'I'm really upset. and three people expecting dinner in about 30 minutes. he elaborates on Baraz's point.Institute in Tiburon. I watched the moment pass and could feel my equilibrium glow inside me as bright and shiny as a Rootie Kazootie button. As soon as you let those feelings take over and you react from the hurt or anger those words have caused you. "Equilibrium is thinking.

Forty to 55 percent of a happy disposition is genetic.6° of the mind. No energy to care about anyone else's difficulties. life delivers different ups and downs. says LLuminari. what it feels like to be emotionally out of whack. . which details the latest science of emotions and argues that they profoundly affect your health and survival. It doesn't take decoding the genome to prove that when you're feeling good about yourself." says Norman Rosenthal. It may be helpful to think of emotional balance as mastering a surfboard—honing the ability to take life's gnarliest waves without wiping out. inwardly.. "The people who age best are those who have positive things happening in their lives and positive feelings.We all seek emotional balance. What it takes to stay on the board will vary for each of us.). so far no one has come up with a cocktail for happiness. leaving you increasingly closed to both pleasure and possibility. your body stays in better shape and your general condition is more resilient. two of dopamine. although the popularity of drugs likeProzac and Zoloft might lead us to believe that brain neurotransmitters can be mixed like a smart martini (one jigger of serotonin. Patience rubbed bald. studies suggest. Now is the time to attend to your inner fitness. no 130 over 85 for mood pressure. but the rest can be learned. making the slightest irritation unbearable. a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine and the author of The Emotional Revolution. there are many styles of maintaining equilibrium. enjoying every last splash. MD. O's team of 15 doctors and wellness expertswho are coaching us toward greater health.. Outwardly. however. while catching the good ones and riding them all the way to shore. but what exactly does that mean? There's no 98. Most of us know. A shuttered outlook. And.

Nancy Snyderman's Guide to Good Health. I think. "Dip into some fiction and let your mind go there. "but if you generally love waking up in the morning. If you're not." Step 1: Emotional Checkup Sit down with a calendar and ask yourself how you've been feeling over the past couple of weeks—depressed. director of the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health at Boston IVF and the author ofSelfNurture. pretend you're Serena Williams after winning the Grand Slam." suggests Byllye Avery. MD." Next check your expectations. founder of the National Black Women's Health Project. and finally determining. Mind Rx: Taking a break—imaginary or real—can help settle emotions on a bumpy day. says Alice Domar. Rosenthal says. 4. then practicing a few basic mood-stabilizing techniques.director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Hold your head high." says Mehmet Oz. The big mistake people make is confusing emotional balance with happiness. 2. can you see a good reason for it? The questions may seem obvious. "A normal life means feeling pretty satisfied with the way things are. Daydream: "When you think about pleasurable things like sex or food. even a forced one.To dive in." Next: 6 ways to find the keys to balance Step 2: The Keys to Balance No matter where you are on your emotional surfboard (even if you're off it). PET scans show different patterns lighting up in your brain than when you think about work or something unpleasant. Listen to music: Put on a pair of headphones and let yourself get carried away. the LLuminari experts suggest first giving yourself an emotional checkup. "The huge number of people on Prozac in this country includes many. anxious. 1. 3. if appropriate. who were experiencing life's ups and downs normally but had an expectation of constant happiness." says surgeon Nancy Snyderman. 5. you're in a good spot. these mood-steadying strategies make for easier riding. having some moments of joy and some moments of sadness and anxiety. MD." she says. "Some days are tougher than others. Fake it: Research shows that when you put on a smile. Go to a bookstore and just browse. walk confidently. "it's easy to shove the problem out of your mind. photography books. joyful. your mood often follows. the author of Dr. but if you don't ask them. PhD. angry? Do you seem uncharacteristically blue and lethargic? If yes. "Look at travel books. when it's time to get help. challenge what's amiss and see how you can fix it." .

show that the herb helps alleviate mild depression. you might get your work done and perform all your other duties but have trouble mustering enthusiasm for any of it. including some types of chemotherapy and possibly birth control pills. to a lesser extent. or take a day to be a tourist in your own town. get in the car and just drive. Getting ready to go to a party often requires a gargantuan effort (although if you can manage that hurdle. a friend cancels—you can be totally knocked off course. Yoga: The mental focus. "it lowers blood pressure and heart rate and counteracts the secretion of stress hormones like cortisol. you may want . a clinical herbalist and consultant to the herb industry who has written 22 books. she tells her kids to "call only in an emergency—and homework doesn't count")." 2. says the optimal dosage is 300 milligrams three times a day (of a formula with 0. may be pulling you offkilter. Then think of every way possible to remove the latter from your life. 3. With mild anxiety. you'll stay up all night thinking about it while everyone else waits for more information before getting worked up. and limbering postures combined into one activity work like a multivitamin for inner stability. Meditation: A proven treatment for anxiety. He also says it may take four to six weeks to notice any effects. you're capable of having a good time). With mild depression.3 percent hypericin). Christopher Hobbs. Saint-John's-Wort: Although a large study funded by the National Institutes of Health recently suggested that this herb has no effect on severely depressed people. And when little things go wrong— a train is late. perhaps. depression. and. "We use it in the hospital for anxious heart surgery patients and for post-op depression. Next: When nothing else works: Knowing when to seek help Step 3: Do You Need Help? Depression and anxiety. If none of these strategies make you feel better after six weeks. In both cases. Reorganization: Look at your daily schedule and sort out what gives you pleasure and what stresses you out. which often occur together. including Herbal Remedies for Dummies. although a small person might try twice a day." Oz says. consult your doctor before trying Saint-John's-Wort. the LLuminari experts recommend the following: 1. breathing. Caution: If you're on any medication.6. and subtle symptoms can creep up on you without your realizing it. 4. mostly in Europe. because it has been shown to interfere with a number of drugs. that you were more easygoing—sometimes your fears keep you from trying things. Snyderman says (when she books herself for a quick getaway. you worry about things that most people don't: If there are rumors of a management change at the office. You wish. But you can also escape to a friend's house for the weekend. Run away: Spas are ideal. more than 20 studies.

and how much? It's time to let it go. now is the time to do something radical: Get over it. Especially if there's a daughter in the house. . Call it tough love. if you're having trouble functioning—work is suffering. Make Peace With Your Body: O's Foolproof 3-Step Guide to Self-Confidence By Liz Brody Oprah.to consult a mental health professional.com | From the May 2003 issue of O. But if you hate your body. your mind is racing. you've stopped seeing friends. nothing excites you. The Oprah Magazine You know that tape of self-criticism that loops in your head—about your weight. what you eat. Certainly. you can't even get out of bed—you should go straight for help.

sexual promiscuity. many of us are in abusive relationships with our bodies. For example. internally beating ourselves up every time we gain a few pounds. Does the thought contribute to your stress? (Surely the ones above do. PhD. (Do we really need a movie to remind people that real women have curves?) But Madison Avenue isn't going to fix the warp. The whole media machine is not going to change course: When magazines use plus-size fashion models with some meat on them. Our mothers. even serious surgeries. "I'm so fat. then by their own grapefruit-and-cottage-cheese diets or anxieties about physical inadequacies. you can break free and retrain yourself to have a more positive body image.) . Our culture. Men don't seem headed for sudden indifference to Gisele and Maxim covers. O's team of 15 doctors and health experts (most of them female. its disadvantages well documented: low self-esteem. most women turn the page." says Nancy Snyderman. have driven these messages home—if not by harping on our weight or looks. The diet industry will no doubt keep us jonesing for ultralean as long as Americans spend more on weight-loss products than some countries' entire gross national products. No one's saying it's easy. many with daughters and body issues of their own). urges you to break the cycle. It's up to us to escape with our self-esteem intact. Step 1: Think Twice Pick a day and write down all the negative things you say to yourself about your body. pouty lips). insists that. Poor body image is passed on like a computer virus from mother to daughter." or "Why can't I look like I did ten years ago?" Then challenge each thought with three questions: 1. director of the Mind/ Body Center for Women's Health at Boston IVF. Alice Domar. externally jeopardizing our health with crash diets.The truth is. I'm disgusting. clearly belongs to the young and the fleshless. despite the strong cultural craving for thinness (not to mention big breasts. "A daughter sees that her mother is beautiful and doesn't like herself. "Kids are sponges." Virginia Woolf once wrote. long legs. their thoughts our cages. LLuminari. we and our daughters will remain hostage to our culture's belittling messages. and eating disorders—which can kill. small waists. If we don't. MD. 'What does that mean for me?'" "The eyes of others our prisons. with its fixation on subzero supermodels and the invasion of Botox. author of Girl in the Mirror: Mothers and Daughters in the Years of Adolescence. often unwittingly. and thinks. binge eating. smoking (weight control being a major factor in the rise of smoking among teenage girls).

Where does it come from? When you were young. perhaps. But how about the emotional tags— disgusting. yours included: 1. Is your thought a logical one? Okay. it may be accurate to say that you weigh more than is healthy for you. Step 2: Make New Rules Try writing out this list and taping it somewhere you'll see it all the time—your full-length mirror." Has insecurity held you back from enjoying sex? Stopped you from attending a beach party or wearing shorts? "If you let your looks inhibit you.") 3. professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle and the author of The Lifetime Love & Sex Quiz Book. Whether or not that's the case for you." says Marianne Legato. would you feel ill or think she should look the way she did ten years ago? "We don't use the same kind of language about ourselves that we do about others." Write a list of what you're missing out on. ("I can't believe I ate all that. old? "Some people concentrate on hating their bodies because they can't bear to deal with the real issues that are troubling them. or more than you'd like. I will avoid making negative remarks about the appearance of others. "We're much kinder to others." "She's porked out lately.2. unlovable. "Aren't you getting a little pudgy?" Was your mother obese. You may want to declare in writing what you won't say and won't hear about the female body. I will refrain from speaking disparagingly about my own body and weight. If you saw a woman your size. even during female-bonding moments. Domar points out that there's a huge leap of logic between overweight and disgusting." she says. or your refrigerator or desk. it's helpful to define some guidelines. a professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the author ofEve's Rib." "I look like a pig. PhD. "And so you—not nature or happenstance—are costing yourself a great deal. ("She shouldn't be wearing those pants. and did that embarrass you? Was she hyper about her weight and self-critical when it crept up? Are you bombarded with images of women on TV and in movies who never seem to age? 3. did your father say. I will consider ending a relationship with any man or woman who causes me . your body can't do as much." says Pepper Schwartz.") 2. MD. Several of the LLuminari experts agree that to cultivate self-respect.

" urges M. "When I was young. I'm trying to do something about it—and your comment isn't helping. "And pass that gift on to your daughter. It's a state of mind. "Dainty. Other tactics to try: Arm yourself with comebacks to negative remarks about your weight. Step 3: Start Moving and Make Peace with Food If you want a shortcut to positive body image. 52 percent of girls with a poor body image almost always compared their appearance to others. But all I could think was. Identify them by something they do. only 4 percent of girls with a healthy body image did." says nutrition and metabolism expert Pamela Peeke. But inside she's still that fierce athlete. In a study by the Melpomene Institute. "Experience the absolute joy of trusting your body and the knowledge that it works beautifully with all your muscles fully developed." Domar says. 'Why couldn't I have been born delicate?' Audrey Hepburn? She was my birthweight. "Today I'm a crooked little dumpling. Domar suggests. California." she says. a self-image. my mother would point to Audrey Hepburn and say how delicate and gorgeous she was. MD. Petite." Mahoney excelled at sports until a questionable spinal operation after high school stopped her in her tracks. like: "Why do you feel it's necessary to say that? Is it your business?" Or "How would you feel if somebody said that to you?" Or "I'm very aware of that fact. which has gotten her through years of chronic pain and disability." For one week. it's more than keeping a body healthy. Did she love to eat and cook? Or was she counting every calorie? Were meals . especially in front of girls.to feel terrible about my body or tries to control me with comments about my looks. which does research on women and physical activity. "When you have athleticism. a breast cancer surgeon in Palo Alto. I was tall and athletic—throw me a ball and I'd shoot hoops. try to change your relationship with food. Watch the adjectives you use when describing women you admire. a way to overcome the inevitable things that happen with aging and the extraordinary things that come with bad luck. "Think about some of the messages you got from your mother. MD. Delicate. try not to mention appearance at all when you greet or refer to other women. Ellen Mahoney. Those were the deadly words for me." Focus on developing and celebrating your own unique style." Rather than changing what you eat. Elegant. start moving.

record what you were doing before that moment and how you were feeling both physically and psychologically." 15 Healthy Habits for Today. or jumping into a hot shower. This Week and This Month Good music every day. Oz started practicing yoga when he was in medical school.a way to share affection? Or times of tension and arguments? Try to separate your mother's issues and hang-ups from yours. Try to remember that food is what fuels your body. And the more you can stop beating yourself up for eating. Oz says. Keeping a diary may help: Every time you put something in your mouth. a partner—no TV. "Eating may be your way of rebelling. Food is not the enemy. Take the following steps: 1. a friend. . 3. "There are no bad foods. After a week or two. this is nonnegotiable. Can you determine the triggers. Sharing a good. and your dreams. Once you recognize what pushes your emotional hunger buttons. and trains us to loosen muscles and joints that are ignored in our day-to-day lives. look for patterns. the easier time you'll have controlling your weight. "Many women are afraid of 'bad' foods. other than hunger. Sit down to dinner with family.He was also working in a high-traffic clinic. it's also about community." Snyderman says. Get hooked on a few simple-sounding but always powerful new routines." 4. start devising alternate responses. He still kick-starts every day with a seven-minute sun salutation. Make meals more social. bringing people to the table. that prompt you to eat? 2. squelching anger. healthy meal is nourishing both physically and emotionally. no reading material.For people like me. "Yoga helps clean blood of waste material (through lymphatic stimulation).. and discovered that a daily practice helped him cope with stress." Domar says. leaving you fully satisfied— and it sets a good example for children. handling stress. . Making time for good friends every month. "It's not just about the food. "Routines like sun salutation get the blood flowing as we warm up and free our body to experience the new stresses we will face. meditation proves difficult because our mind wonders. like taking a walk around the block. listening to a relaxation tape. Today: Rejuvenate Your Mornings (in Just 7 to 10 Minutes) Dr.. "In our house. finding comfort." Dr." Domar says.

Daily flossing and brushing not only remove the unsightly broccoli florets stuck in your teeth. says that research suggests that the simple act of singing can be good medicine—especially as we age. don't read or listen to the news. alleviate arthritis pain and reduce your risk of cancer. Make the Most of Your Commute—with Music On your commute home. Dr. even cognitive function once created by music can sometimes persist for hours or even days. especially in people with type 2 diabetes. There is no better beverage than water to help you stay hydrated. Katz says that if diet soda (better) is your vice. but they reduce the risk to your heart as well." Spend More Time on Your Teeth Even if you already spend too much time in the bathroom. he says. . Even ginger can decrease blood pressure. Green. eating rosemary has been shown to improve learning rates in rats—data that has been reproduced in humans. The every day superstars? Dr. Add More Flavor to Your Food Your spice rack is full of beneficial. then we are well on the way. MD. Also. Oliver Sacks. but opt for listening to your favorite tunes instead. get a professional cleaning every six months to have your gums checked and protected. anti-aging powers. which leads to more sugar intake and the overall deterioration of the diet. David Katz says that a cup of tea can infuse you with antioxidants instead of the wallop of sugar you get in a can of soda. Research has shown that improvements of mood. Dr. Diet soda quenches thirst. In lab studies. behavior.But if we can concentrate on the tension in our hips as we empty our mind. Break Your Daily Soda Habit Dr. Gingivitis and periodontal disease cause inflammation in your body and aging of your immune and arterial systems. which is important in keeping body systems running well. the noted neurologist and author. Katz's main concern with them is that they propagate a sweet tooth. Oz says research shows that cinnamon can decrease blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol. but some experts still worry that its artificial sweeteners may be linked to cancer. you've got to make sure you get in about two minutes of brush and floss time. Paprika and cayenne pepper can help fight high blood pressure and improve circulation. opt for water (best) as your thirst quencher of choice. black and especially white—drink it hot or iced: all offer the powerful nutrients and a boost of caffeine.

Create a Nighttime Ritual for Better Sleep It's your greatest energy source—and most of us are deprived." he says. stabilize the heartbeat (reducing irregular rhythms). Look for wild. catfish." Dr. Have More Sex According to a Duke University study. Katz says we could all improve our health on a weekly basis if we remember a few key strategies when we shop for food. computer. if you have more than 200 orgasms a year (that's 2 to 3 times a week). Also. prepare your room for your body's rest.washing your face and so on) and five minutes of relaxing into your sleep state through things like meditation. which have several powerful benefits. make platelets less sticky (reducing clotting) and may bring down blood pressure as well. And fiber is your fulfilling friend. Some studies have suggested that eating fish once a week cuts your risk of a heart attack in half. Among the benefits of having sex often." . never trust the packaging. followed by five minutes of hygiene stuff (flossing. Dr. and white fish like cod and bass—is high in omega-3 fatty acids. make sure to scan the ingredients. Dim your lights several hours if possible to avoid artificial light pollution—TV. stroke and diabetes risk..seems to offer some survival benefit. flounder or sole. Firstly. is that it can prove that your body is functioning as it is supposed to. Decide when you want to wake up and count backward about seven hours. tilapia and whitefish. They appear to reduce triglyceride levels in the blood (high levels cause plaque buildup in the arteries). For any type of carbohydrate.. "But in addition. "It's really a spiritual event for folks when they're with someone they love and they can consummate it with sexual activity . Now take about a 15-minute period before that to start your slowdown process. Try to stick to 3 grams of fat per serving (or per 100 calories). This Week: Shop Smarter at the Grocery Store Dr. Firstly. you want to see at least 2 grams of fiber per serving. Oz says. so steer clear of partially hydrogenated oils to avoid an increase in heart disease. Oz says. etc—the less stimuli the better. having sex with someone that you care for deeply is one of the ways we achieve that Zen experience that we all crave as human beings. The first few listed are the most abundant. "Just because it says 'reduced fat' or 'smart choice' doesn't mean it's good for you. That means taking five minutes to finish up must-do chores. and ideally 3 or more. Eat Healthy Fish Fish—especially fatty fish like salmon. The best fish are those with the least mercury and PCBs. line-caught salmon (almost all canned salmon is wild salmon) mahi mahi. you can reduce your physiological age by six years.

Boost Your Mood with Home Improvement Do you smile when you walk in the door? Research shows that factors like light.Watch Out for Weekends Too We can stick to a routine during the week. This Month: Schedule Your Doctor Appointments "The best way to reduce stress is advance planning. in the car one afternoon. you won't spend the beginning of your week making up for bad choices. talk to your doctor about what's right for you. starting with Friday night. but on weekends. floss. PhD. she found some major payoffs by week three. "My exercise routine was getting easier (and if the music was particularly raucous. Stretch! Post-workout stretching is critical to ensure healthy joints and muscles. it's easy let loose. The experts of LLuminari. Whether it's spending time with dog lovers. and my neck didn't hurt. Just 10 minutes of stretching afterward was loosening me up dramatically. even enjoyable). Make a plan for your weekend eating. What are you going to eat for meals? What are you going to snack on? How will you make healthy choices at a restaurant or dinner party? If you maintain healthy habits over the weekend." Enjoy Your Friends Socializing releases oxytocin. exercise." says Alice Domar. What I'd thought was arthritis and something I had to accept as part of getting older had simply been unstretched muscles. a chemical that can help combat stress hormones and lower your blood pressure. co-author of Be Happy Without Being Perfect and executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health. space and room layout affect physical and psychological wellbeing. Writer Carol Mithers attempted to do all the basics that require taking better care of yourself: consistently eat right. get enough sleep. etc. Pick a home project to get those endorphins pumping. . If you have a medical condition or a family history of certain diseases. I looked over my shoulder to change lanes. and is creating a buzz around this new intersection of art and science. Although challenging. a group of doctors. book club buddies or siblings—whatever group you like—just knowing you're not alone can go a long way toward coping with stress. recommend very specific appointments for optimal preventive care based on your age. researchers and women's health advocates.

I finally sat down at my computer around midnight—and looked up just now to see the sun rising. do the deed. seeing clients. having struggled vainly to fit in writing between yesterday's tasks: getting the car fixed. and 2) Does this task buoy me up emotionally? If the answer to either of these questions is yes. grocery shopping. That said. . she was a new (and much improved) woman. Balance? Schmalance! Oprah. Martha Beck suggests staying afloat the flood of texts. taking the dog to the vet. picking up deli sandwiches for dinner. and cuddling a 12-year old through some of the horrors of puberty. I've been awake for about 23 hours. writer Katie Goodman did what the rest of us only dream of: She quit email cold turkey for 30 days. tweets and emails by first examining every item with two questions: 1) Is this task absolutely necessary to keep my life afloat. If not.com | From the April 2003 issue of O. do nothing. answering email. we know work emails can be inescapable. driving my kids to music lessons. Weeks later.Manage Your Tech Life Stressed-out from too much sending and replying. The Oprah Magazine It's five o'clock in the morning.

I decide to set a historic precedent by preparing breakfast. Three Ways to Lose Your Balance I spent the last decade of the 20th century interviewing American women and .Since I'm up. (2) my children are not young. diagnose their own viruses. Plus. his mother and sisters helped care for his needs. All goes well as I awaken my children and head to the kitchen. as an exhausted working mother. I learned something Thoreau failed to mention in his journal: The entire time he was roughing it." My children roll their eyes. I've never seen cocaine. I think for a minute. irreconcilably unbalanced. yawning. Okay. he saw "women's work" as a product of natural female instinct: Birds fly south for the winter. as Thoreau did. I didn't say such balance is difficult to attain. As a teenager. Isn't that how Sigmund Freud got so much done? Understand three things: (1) I don't have a job. and I have the colorful medical history to prove it. while simultaneously performing jobs traditionally reserved for men. much less tried it—although frankly it's beginning to sound like a good idea. The kids arrive. It's impossible. I conducted years of sociological research on the topic. The book's premise is that all humans could live simply and naturally. so I'm a little bitter—but only because this attitude pervaded American culture well into my own lifetime. You'd think I could live a balanced life as a 21st century American woman. "We have cocaine. "These women talked about sleep the way a starving person talks about food"). Like most thinker's of his generation. The reason Thoreau didn't write about this is that he took it for granted. and women show up to wash men's underwear. hauling in food and hauling out laundry. I'm a life coach. "We have Oreos. In fact. I even hate to toast. I'm pretty sure they know this is a joke. but without support from Houston. I love Walden. then say. Women of my generation thought we could have everything. and (3) I'm kind of supposed to be an expert at combining career and family. bathe." I venture. That's the bad news. The good news is that the very imbalance of our culture is forcing women to find equilibrium in an entirely new way. I can tell you with absolute assurance that it is impossible for women to achieve the kind of balance recommended by many well-meaning self-help counselors. experience taught us we could have everything but sleep (one sociologist who studied an early cohort of working mother's wrote. They walk. Our culture's definition of what women should be is fundamentally. Henry David Thoreau's classic book Walden recounts two years the author spent living in solitary harmony with the wilderness. Years later. Bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan while never letting hubby forget he's a man turned out to be a logistical challenge to rival the moon landing. Ha. Early American feminists fought for the right to participate in the workforce by assuring everyone that it was easy to do women's work—perhaps with one's toes. having done all that research. wrote a big fat book about it. I once believed this. I didn't say it's rare. at which point I remember how much I hate to cook. and ask what I'm planning to serve them. talk. I freelance. which means I procrastinate and get away with it.

Laura discovered a passion for gardening that led her to quit her corporate job and start a floral nursery business. Stephanie got a new job by developing a proposal that showed how she could add value to a company while working from home. That's what happened to Meg. married people dumped extra work on her. The Joy of Being Unbalanced If someone condemned you because. Stephanie finally realized she was trying to do the impossible the day her mother-in-law scolded her for working too much and she was fired for being too concerned with her personal life. For years Stephanie's boss complained that her work was inadequate because of the time she devoted to her family. But there is hope. All of these women were haunted by the fear that others were judging them negatively. because it meant relinquishing the goal of total social acceptance. only to feel devalued by a society that equates professional achievement with fundamental worth. figuring she had no life. two children. Our culture does belittle women who cannot be both professional high-achievers and traditional moms. rather than outward to social prescriptions. . hopes. Laura's turning point was an emergency hysterectomy that meant she would never have the baby shower of her dreams. schmalance.found that no matter how they sought balance. virtually none of them attained it in their culturally prescribed role. You'll stop living life from the outside in and begin living it from the inside out. This epiphany was terrible. hit the end of her rope when her husband left her for a "more accomplished" coworker. You'd probably conclude that your critic was nuts. Some of these women were like Meg. You free yourself to ignore social pressures and begin creating a life that comes from your own deepest desires. Laura. They were right. who had a good job. while Stephanie (and her relatives) worried that her children were suffering because of the energy required by her work. say. a stayat-home mother who sacrificed her career to care for her children. My conclusion? Balance. Others resembled Laura. then simply dismiss the whole issue. Meg spends her time contributing to the local schools and developing relationships that help her see her own value. After her crisis. It questions the devotion of women who attempt to combine the two roles. These women described moments when they really "got" that the expectations they'd been trying to fulfill were unfulfillable. a 43-year-old lawyer who never got the marriage or children she'd always expected. and chronic fatigue. the stay-at-home mom. But it was also the beginning of freedom. you failed to prevent Hurricane Andrew. Meg. and Stephanie when each lost her balance in a dramatic way. Laura's heart ached every time she attended yet another baby shower. But most of the women I spoke to were like Stephanie. and dreams. you wouldn't dissolve in shame or work to overcome your inadequacy. of learning to seek guidance by turning inward to the heart. Trying to establish a harmonious equilibrium between our society's definition of What a Woman Should Be is like trying to resolve the tension between two hostile enemies by locking them in a room together. At work. That's the wonderful thing about seeing that our society makes impossible demands on all women.

incurable. Miserable. You can help create a new cultural paradigm. convention with creativity. responds by triggering the release of chemicals including histamines (the source of watery eyes. They kick in when the immune system. On the bright side. spring allergies are fast approaching. one that replaces conformity with honesty. If you feel trapped by contradictory demands. and afflicting at least 35 million of us. stumbling days feel less and less like disaster and more and more like a joyful dance—the dance of a wildly. here's my advice. Still. you may want to join this gentle rebellion.On the surface. and runny noses). and research has found that allergy sufferers have lower rates of many types of cancers. That.com | February 14. . in the end. But they filled each woman's life with authenticity and satisfaction. an allergic response is the sign of an active immune system. simple ways to lessen your sniffles and sneezes this spring. we can make our unsteady. wonderfully. Dr Oz's 5 Simple Ways to Fight Seasonal Allergies Oprah. these aren't revolutionary acts. mistaking pollens for harmful substances. sneezing fits. allergies should be managed—they can lead to sinusitis if left unchecked—so with spring upon us. is the gift of the disequilibrium that society has bequeathed to all of us. Being forced to seek balance within ourselves. perfectly unbalanced life. and judgment with kindness. 2011 Smart.

Pollen can collect on your clothes.M. where it mixes with household dust. slowing the flow of mucus. talk to your doctor before taking them. (As with most supplements. making eyes swollen and watery. . Ideally you should begin taking these supplements (both available as capsules) before symptoms develop. or at least take allergy medicine before heading outside. try to stay indoors between typical peak pollen hours of 5 A. Perk up puffy eyes.M. cold and caffeine both reduce swelling and help you look and feel better. Antihistamines. minus the drowsiness. Watch the weather.. try cold compresses or eye creams whose ingredients include caffeine. there are a number of natural supplements that may be effective in quelling symptoms— potentially with fewer side effects. and hair. work throughout the body to block the effects of histamines in the first place (which is why they work best when taken before symptoms occur). and 10 A. For quick relief. Understand your meds. which research indicates can work like an antihistamine. The histamines released during an allergy attack cause blood vessels to dilate. Another herb that may help is stinging nettle. skin. and be tracked into your home. however. they work by contracting the small blood vessels in the membranes of your nose. High winds and low humidity allow more pollen to become airborne. Decongestants are for immediate relief. Go natural. Under these conditions. Many people confuse antihistamines and decongestants—the go-to treatments for allergy sufferers—but these two medications affect the body in very different ways.Keep allergens out. try to start several weeks prior to allergy season. A shower and change of clothes will cut down on the irritants you inhale.) The herb butterbur has been found in some studies to work as well as antihistamines do. In addition to the raft of prescription and OTC allergy medications. Keeping windows closed and turning on the air-conditioning can also reduce allergy symptoms by filtering out pollen (just be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning the filter).

For example. or before going full force on a stationary bike. In other words. may actually boost your energy output: "Using music is the most efficient way to keep up intensity. God knows the machines are boring. fitness expert and cofounder of Aerospace High Performance Center in New York City. A fast beat motivates us to sweat off a few more calories. . says Michael Olajide Jr. which is why you're there. "The best type of warm-up is one in which you emulate your exercise but to a lighter degree. especially if you can program your own.4 Workout Mistakes and How to Fix Them By Bonnie Tsui Oprah. says Alan Russell. Here.com | From the December 2006 issue of O. One form of entertainment. if you're going on a jog. director of the Health Sciences Institute at the National Academy of Sports Medicine. however." says Olijade. Extended Warm-up There's nothing wrong with stretching. The Oprah Magazine The gym is one place you should curb your instinct to multitask. the most common calorie-wasting habits and how to rehab them. but it can eat up precious calorie-burning time if you take forever." says Olajide. but using the time to read the newspaper or catch up on work really cuts down on calorie burn.. do the same move but without the intensity. slow down for three to five minutes before you stop and stretch. do a couple of minutes with minimum resistance. Reading or Watching TV While on a Cardio Machine Diverting your mind from your workout generally slows physical activity. At the end of the workout. walk briskly for two minutes first.

which helps boost your metabolism. The Oprah Magazine . Jump rope while you're waiting for someone else to finishe up on the machine you want. do calf raises and squats." Using Weights That Are Too Light Rushing through a lot of reps with a comfortable resistance may feel like exercise. Choose a weight or resistance strong enough so that the last couple of repetitions are challenging but not so difficult that you can't complete them or that you lose control of the movement. says Russell.Standing Around Between Exercises Too much of a break reduces the effectiveness and intensity of your workout because you're giving your muscles a chance to rest. Or prework the muscles you'll be using: "If you're on line for the treadmill or stairstepper. Smart Moves: O's Foolproof 4-Month Fitness Plan By Liz Brody Oprah. Three sets of 10 to 12 reps per body part with a heavier weight will give you better results than will three easy sets of 20.com | From the March 2003 issue of O. but many fitness experts say it's a waste of time. Olijade suggests. You not only up your calorie burn but also build lean body mass.

Place your hands behind your ears at the base of your skull. counting to three. Slowly and simultaneously. palm faceup. Week 5: Do two sets of ten squats and sit-ups. Month 1: Five Minutes of Chair Squats Stand in front of a chair with your back to it. Week 1: Do two sets of five chair squats every other day. feet slightly farther than hip width apart. use your stomach to slowly lift your shoulders. Stay up there on the balls of your feet for another count of three. feet about 12 inches apart. keeping the same posture. raise your heels off the floor as high as you can. toes pointed out slightly.Miriam Nelson. neck. Slowly. knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Pause for a breath. Focusing on the ceiling. Extend your left arm straight over your head with your palm on the floor. stand a foot away from a wall or behind a sturdy chair. lifting your right arm and left leg. Month 2: Back Extensions Lie facedown on the floor. The tip of your nose should touch the floor so your neck and spine form a straight line. Stand back up into your original position. Toe Stands In sneakers. Slowly lower back to the starting position. Cross your arms over your chest and lean forward a bit from the hips. lower your butt onto the chair. and head one to three inches off the floor. Week 4: Do two sets of ten squats and sit-ups every other day. Do five reps and switch sides. Five Minutes of Sit-Ups Lie on your back. Week 6: Add two sets of five toe stands. Slowly lower to starting position. one of our Lluminari experts. lift your left arm. Pause. Week 3: Do two sets of ten squats and two sets of five sit-ups every other day. keep your right arm down along the side of your body. Pulling your stomach in and keeping your back straight. and right leg off the floor about four or five inches (keep your chin slightly tucked and look at the floor). PhD. . chest. Week 2: Do two sets of five chair squats and sit-ups every other day. Rest your fingertips lightly on the wall or chair for balance. plus two sets of five back extensions on each side (20 all together). suggests a few minutes of strengthbuilding exercises every other day.

back extensions. and push-ups. palms facing in toward your legs. away from your body. Add two moves with three. and two sets of five reps of step-ups. bring your right foot up to the step.Week 7: Do two sets of ten reps of the squats. Now slowly press the dumbbells up until your arms are straight.to fivepound dumbbells (use more weight if this is easy) for your arms. Week 10: Do the above plus two sets of five step-ups on each leg (20 reps altogether). Week 9: Do your established routine—two sets of ten reps of squats. parallel to the floor (the inner ends should be just in front of your shoulders). palms facing forward. Keeping your elbows gently pressed against your sides. Week 11: Do two sets of ten reps each of squats. Lower back down. Next: You're halfway there! Only two more months to go Month 3: Modified Push-Ups We're talking your basic push-up but—not to worry—with knees on the floor. Week 8: Do two sets of ten reps of all four moves. the strength routine includes six moves every other day. Keep your left foot on the step until you complete all reps." says Miriam Nelson. Month 4: So far. bring your forearms forward and up until the weights are at shoulder height with palms facing in toward your body. pause for a second. tap the toes of your right foot on the stair. Add two sets of five push-ups. hands down at your sides holding the dumbbells. then switch sides. bend your arms so the weights are in front of you at shoulder height. back extensions. plus two sets of five reps of toe stands. "Now it's time for some weights. Overhead Presses Sitting in a chair while holding the dumbbells. sit-ups. and don't aim for exactly above your head. then step back down. Don't lock your elbows. sit-ups. sit-ups. leaning slightly forward from the hips (don't bend at the waist). Step-Ups Stand facing a staircase with your left foot on the first step. and toe stands. director of the Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Tufts University. and back extensions on each side. Week 12: Do two sets of ten reps of all six moves. toe stands. Biceps Curls Stand with your feet hip-width apart. the weights should end up . PhD. Pulling up and forward with your left leg.

plus two sets of five overhead presses. Happier—and Oh-SoFulfilling By Liz Brody Oprah. Week 14: To the above. keying in those same 26 letters over and over again in endless variations. Week 13: Do your established routine—two sets of ten reps of squats. toe stands. 16 Ways to Make Your Workday Healthier. seems to whip up a rabid . Add two sets of five biceps curls. Week 16: Do two sets of ten reps of all eight moves. Week 15: Do two sets of ten reps of the first seven moves. sit-ups. Pause. and step-ups. push-ups.com | From the March 2003 issue of O. add two sets of five overhead presses. then lower. The Oprah Magazine Isn't it odd how the mere action of finger tapping.slightly forward. back extensions.

reading. according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. or just focus . imagine you're lying in a field.M. And what's with modern desk-chair design? Sit in one at the beginning of the day and you're down for the duration. because of factors such as continuing discrimination. others live off airplane trays. suggests Alice Domar. Slipping a little exercise into the day. friends. 5. Pick a special day to celebrate yourself. and musculoskeletal problems. according to the LLuminari group's 15 doctors and women's wellness experts. drumming up varicose veins. furnace repairman. is like spraying oneself with stress repellent. culture. Sit on a big exercise ball instead of a chair. If you stay late Monday nights.appetite by 11 A. sexual harassment. Find out what kind of flexibility you have at your job. PhD. Don't wait to inhale. deep breath. depression. 3. 2. Most important: To make a good living." To-Do: Stay Healthy! 1. Some of us work on our feet all day. Many do. Ask whether your company will do an ergonomic assessment of your workspace. leisure). Look away from the computer screen every 45 minutes to relieve eyestrain. you can't always change jobs. the emphasis should be on the "living. Simply buying a flower every Monday morning—one lily or narcissus—will make your cubicle smell nice for the whole week. and the burden of home demands. And busting up the sugar-caffeine cartel helps prevent those short-lived spikes in productivity that are followed by the decline of civilization as you and your coworkers know it. If your boss or a deadline sends you into a panic. afraid that if we slow down anywhere we'll skid out of control. do a mini-meditation. Even those of us in dream jobs find ourselves hydroplaning between career and Other Life (family. 4. Having grappled with weighty careers themselves. Not all of us spend more than half our waking hours (count them) rooted to office furniture. Have a picnic lunch with a coworker. to make your work environment a lot healthier. some of them quite easy. could you take Friday afternoons off? Maybe one day a month you can work from home—and that's the day to schedule the plumber. Job stress alone is known to cause heart disease. cultivating obesity. for example. But there are many ways. grabbing sleep between time zones—none of it exactly health promoting. sex. skip out for a quick shopping spree. And stand up for a minute every hour to avoid low-back pain. And levels of stress-related illnesses are nearly twice as high for working women as for men. schedule a mammogram. electrician. director of the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health at Boston IVF and the author of Self-Nurture: Close your eyes and take a slow. Admittedly. You'll save your back and feel more energetic.? No wonder offices are stocked with more candy than pencils. the LLuminari experts here offer their best work-improvement ideas.

"Feel the freedom of walking away and going to another area of life." Browning says. MD. can you take more pleasure and pride in your job. Love says. or to a therapist to address the problems that are driving you to live at the office. "No one's going to die. see if a coworker will pitch in for you with the promise that you'll cover for her the next time she's in a crisis. Susan Love." Then ask again. "Michelangelo didn't paint the Sistine Chapel between nine and five. Try a desk lamp designed for SAD sufferers (you can find them for $225 to $250 at SunBox. medical director of her eponymous Breast Cancer Foundation and the author of Dr. if you drive. depressed. "The boss will yell at me.com). you may want to talk to your boss about delegating some of your responsibilities. 9. and if possible avoid reading them as they pop into your box. What's the worst that could happen? You yell back? You apologize? The point is. If that doesn't work to dispel the anxiety and help you deal with the crisis. says Norman Rosenthal. an expert on SAD at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and the author of The Emotional Revolution. Wash your hands every time you pass a sink—it's the best way to avoid catching the current office bug. and make it a point to get outside for lunch. some of whom have trouble figuring it out for themselves. poor office lighting may be giving you mild symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). suggests an alternative approach: Ask yourself. Block off five or ten minutes a few times a day to open and answer messages. are you using work to avoid being at home? Is your job the only thing that gives you a sense of selfworth? Depending on your answers. and carb crazy at work. "What's the worst that could happen?" You might say. This can be tricky. 8. Susan Love's Menopause & Hormone Book. See the light. When you head home for the day. Ask for help. Make sure you're not working too hard. MD. walk or commute without mulling over work (we dare you!). "Maybe this is a time in your life to pull out all the stops. Schedule a 30-minute break into your workday—for tomorrow. tack it up on your bulletin board next to what to . Ask yourself once this month what you want to be when you grow up. Control your e-mail time. 12. 11." says LLuminari CEO Elizabeth Browning." Are you comfortable with the effort you're putting in? Or—and here's where the long hours get unhealthy—do you have such a heavy workload you practically need to sleep at the office to get your job done? Then again. Leave it behind. according to LLuminari experts. 10. If you feel lethargic. listen to music. Is it what you're doing now? If not." 6.com and Amazon. encourage her to go home. even if it's only helping you pay the bills for the moment? Is it time to reinvent yourself? 13. If you're in a bind. Write it down in your calendar or PalmPilot.on your breathing. 7. If a coworker comes in coughing or feverish.

Doctors' orders. 14. I go to my left. The Oprah Magazine Weights schmeits. start with ten minutes. take the stairs every time you have to go up or down five flights. You can reenergize your workday (or a trip to the . 16.do in case of fire. Take a friend with you for extra stress-busting. If you work in a high-rise. "I balance on my right foot for as long as I can. 15. 10 Invisible Fitness Moves (No Gym Required!) Oprah. Hurry there and back (you'll have more time to eat). no one even needs to see you sweat!). the author of Girl in the Mirror. At lunch choose a restaurant that's a 15-minute walk away. Get up and walk around the block once a day to break the routine and clear your mind. When you make a phone call. If a half hour is tough to swallow. take that break. And when I get fatigued. It strengthens your legs and keeps your balance sharp.com | From the July 2010 issue of O." says surgeon Nancy Snyderman. But tomorrow. and you can get one and a half or even two miles under your belt. stand on one leg. You don't need equipment to tone up with these moves (and better yet. MD.

Los Angeles-based trainer and costar of the video Breakthru Pilates Plus." For Your Balance and Posture . do 10 to 15 biceps curls with one half-full bag in each hand. "If you sit up straight. or after you've schlepped the bags into your kitchen). 3." suggests Tracy York. For Your Arms 1. hold for a few seconds. try this while sitting at your desk: Grasp a heavy dictionary or laptop in front of you with straight arms (don't lock your elbows). elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. 2. and push yourself up. Dictionary Lifts To strengthen your shoulders (and give them that nice "cap" that goes so well with sleeveless tops). Chair Push-Ups David Kirsch. and do two or three sets. owner of the Madison Square Club in New York City and author of Sound Mind. Do three sets of 15 to 20 reps two or three times a day. it's possible to shop your way to fitness. "Do this for 12 to 15 reps per set. straightening your arms to do minilifts (your butt raises off the seat). and you'll soon notice a difference. Sound Body(Rodale). Grocery Bicep Curls If only you could get to the gym as often as you find yourself at the supermarket! Happily. then lift it from the desk to shoulder height. hassle-free exercises below. you'll also engage your abdominal muscles.supermarket!) with the simple. three to four times a week. and lower. says you can tone your upper arms (known unaffectionately as bat wings) without leaving your desk: Grab the armrests of your chair. Reebok master trainer Petra Kolber suggests this simple strategy to strengthen biceps: As you load your groceries into the car (or as you unload. so your back is unsupported by the chair.

try this tai chi move to improve your balance. Conrad Earnest. no one said "sit-ups. Tummy Tuck Who better than a professional belly dancer to tell us how to get those abs ready for midriff baring? Rania. 6. release. The horse stance: Stand erect with feet parallel and shoulder-distance apart. suggests standing up. and your back will be stronger and healthier for the long term. 5. It really works the muscles. Years of bad posture can lead to an aching back. and settle down into your body. and relax into your breathing for a few minutes. an unflattering silhouette. creator of the video Cardio Shimmy. then exhale and pull them in as hard as you can. PhD. director of the Center for Human Performance at the Cooper Institute in Dallas. nastier problems like compressed disks. says Earnest: You'll feel better. try this glute . Try this every few hours. and you will not only feel more balanced during other activities but also stave off joint problems and arthritis that may come with aging. suggests wellness expert Scott Cole. "This is something bodybuilders do to give their abs more definition." says Rania. and in time. Glute Squeeze If fanny spread has begun to seem like an occupational hazard. Hold five seconds. says Cole." For Your Butt and Legs 7. or in front of the TV. and then arching back just two inches or so (stretching any farther hyperextends your back. holding for several seconds." Aim for three sets of eight squeezes a day and you'll soon see results—and notice. Focus your attention on a point two inches below your navel.4. "Try to feel every muscle squeezing. and repeat two more times. says you can do the "belly squeeze" at your desk. Do this on a daily basis. exhale. To reverse the curve. slightly bend your knees. not a good thing). Bend and Snap Your spine gets very unhappy slumping forward all day. Take a deep breath and relax all your abdominal muscles. placing your hands on your buttocks as if putting them in your back pockets (thumbs facing out). in the car. Instant Stabilizer Next time you're waiting in line at the bank or grocery store. then breathe in.

the outer thighs: Start in the same position. PhD. Natural Stairmaster Walk on your tiptoes when you take the stairs. then repeat 15 to 20 times for a set. Hold for 15 to 20 breaths." says Barrett. Do two sets of ten repetitions (each rep should last three to five seconds). . featured in the Crunch: Fat Burning Pilates workout video. two to three inches off the ground. then do 20 to 30 tiny lifts. double the number of reps. suggests Lydia Bach. Leg Resistors Here's a bargain—three body parts worked out for the price of one exercise. grab on to something solid (sink. According to Los Angeles-based trainer Ellen Barrett. pausing at the top of each lift for a couple of seconds. Then slowly try to bring your knees together. and you can reap the rewards without ever leaving your chair (or airplane seat). suggested by Nancy Kennedy of Kennedy & Strom Fitness in Los Angeles: Sit straight in your chair. it's a good investment. professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut. you'll tone your calves ("They'll look lifted. resulting in "high.squeeze. higher tushie" in a month or so. round assets. Repeat at least three times a week (preferably daily) to help develop and tone your thigh and arm muscles. 10." says Barrett) and coach your body to maintain good posture. founder of the Lotte Berk Method and creator of its video series. abdominal muscles tight. Kraemer. Mini Leg Lifts The next time you're just standing around. Do two sets of ten reps as before. providing resistance with your arm muscles (body part number two). table) and tone your butt. If you don't feel sore the next day. foot flexed. desk. "This works both the standing and lifting sides. Repeated over time. Stand straight with one leg slightly in back of you. To tone your inner thighs (body part number one)." says Bach. and you'll definitely feel a "tighter. Repeat on the other side. 8. Try to work in three or four sets a day. but place your hands on the outsides of your knees and try to push your thighs outward against the resistance of your arm muscles. says Kennedy. and put your hands on the insides of your knees." 9. palms pushing out. then go for number three. and squeeze your buttocks together for three to five counts. according to William J. sit with your feet about shoulder-width apart. release for two. "You can't be on your toes and slump forward at the same time.

fad diets. nor should you if you want to keep it in working-out order. you can't push it the same way you once did. 'Forget looking like Jessica Simpson or Halle Berry. Experts tell Carol Mithers how to find the perfect fit at any age. The bad thing is that you often do. Daily doses have been proven to thwart a number of aging factors— stress. The catch is that a 50-year-old's body is not the same as a 20-year-old's. and . The great thing about being in your 20s is that your body is so strong.com | From the October 2006 issue of O.. and proud of it. The fitness challenge of these years: Get over it. heart disease. diabetes—and the longer you're physically active. it may be one that's hard to swallow: exercise. through the decades. This is the decade of anxiety—frantic exercise. "I tell my young clients. obesity.The Decade-by-Decade Guide to Exercise By Carol Mithers Oprah. the less you'll notice getting older.. And you routinely fail to appreciate what you've got. The Oprah Magazine There's a big difference between how we should work out in our 20s and how we should work out when. If there's a magic pill for staying youthful. punishing it with late nights and bad eating habits. the mad pursuit of pinup perfection and self-hatred when you fail to meet it. you can get away with abusing it. In Your 20s: 30 minutes of weight training followed by 30 minutes of cardio 3x a week. So listen to these coaches—they're talking not just professionally but also firsthand—on how to remain fit.we're no longer 20. plus 45 to 60 minutes of straight cardio 3x a week. One day of rest.

The mistake many 20-somethings make is simply opting for "endless cardio and crunches. One day of rest a week is crucial. she says." adds Vanessa Carver. and as lean muscle decreases and body fat increases. keeping fit means working harder. whose clients include professional ice-skaters and dancers." In this decade. But it's weight training that builds muscle definition." And put your mind into it. Don't stick with heavy weights/low reps or low weight/many reps." In a push-up position. "it's about subcutaneous fat. Change Your Life. Jenkins favors circuit training—a series of resistance and cardio exercises done swiftly and back-to-back. which strengthens not only the abs but also stabilization muscles and lower back. This is because after age 20.'" says Jeanette Jenkins. she says." She suggests forgoing thousands of bouncy. "Exercise is the number one form of preventive medicine. switch it around to keep your body from getting used to the routine. The last 4 or 5 reps should be challenging enough that you feel your muscles getting fatigued. and fruits." Your 30s and 40s: Exercise is the #1 form of preventative medicine In Your 30s: One hour of circuit training (cardio and resistance) 4x a week. experts agree.forget weight. "You won't see that big a difference between 31 and 39 if you've been living a healthy lifestyle. One great exercise is the "plank. With the 30s. Lots of cardio is great. "You've got to lift more than just three or five pounds. Michaels advises strength training each muscle group twice a week with two days of rest between sessions. your basal metabolism drops by 1 to 2 percent every decade. Jenkins also pushes yoga. "There's no secret here: Eat lean meat. "which women this age are usually not very attracted to. a personal trainer at Pillar Performance in Encinitas. and shape. keeping your back flat enough for someone to eat off of. but if not. plus at least one day of cardio for 45 to 60 minutes at a high intensity. not to mention bone density. lean fish. which will be crucial for staying active later on and preventing osteoporosis. especially if you mix it up so you're really pushing the body. I want them to learn to be still and to look at themselves from the inside out rather than the outside in. vegetables." says Jillian Michaels. a Los Angeles–based private trainer who has worked with rapper Queen Latifah and actress Taryn Manning. After pregnancy a program like Pilates can be invaluable in "pulling everything . she says." As for killer abs. weight. But however you do it." says Carver. "If you can do 10 to 15 repetitions of a weight with no real effort. you don't need as many calories to sustain yourself. not how many crunches you do. Work up to staying there for a full minute. who is in her 9th season of NBC's The Biggest Loser and is the author of Winning by Losing: Drop the Weight." she says. you'll see a huge difference in muscle tone. you start noticing that weight doesn't come off quite as easily as it used to. quick sit-ups for focused core work. think health. pull your belly button toward your spine and hold it tight. it's too light. balancing on your forearms and toes with legs stretched straight back. "Lifting weights while chatting on the cell phone is a joke. Take one day off.

and Liv Tyler. Exercise is different at this age. because they teach you to fight what nature wants you to do. Drawing your lower abs and inner thighs in and up. "I'm constantly aware of how I sit and stand and walk down the street." Then there's the butt." says Siler. Take one day off. who teaches and writes a workout column for the Los Angeles Times. plus 45 minutes of cardio five days a week (it's more than in the 20s and 30s but with less impact and intensity)." Certain body parts may call out for extra attention. which works the muscle but avoids strain on the joints. This is the decade of the triple whammy: gravity. who is in her 40s. "Pilates can help some with the midsection. Madonna. MD. the author of The Pilates Body." says Voight. drawing together your inner thighs and pulling up deeper into your abdominals. "You have to find the time to do it consistently and train hard. Do five reps. she instructs. Now is the time to make good fitness habits a part of everyday life. and lower only halfway. rise onto the balls of your feet. Lower your heels to the floor and slowly straighten legs. "Women should be doing more weight training—and really going for it. "You're not doing anything wrong. according to Pamela Peeke. because everyone has some aches or pains." Cardio work at least three days a week is still important for keeping weight under control. taking stairs instead of elevators. "I'd try squats with weights or stair-climbing. "I especially like exercises that involve standing." says fitness veteran Karen Voight. It's how you start preparing your body for what's to come. making sure the heels stay glued together. One of the best antigravity moves. and in the belly. your body composition is changing. "get on all fours in a bent-knee push-up position. she says." says Brooke Siler. on the back. but resistance training is crucial now. is to stand with heels together.back in and up. tense the biceps—squeeze them—as you lift. "You always want to be standing instead of sitting. through the triceps area. push another 10 degrees. big toes two to three inches apart. I'm forever pulling in and up. who is in her 40s." says New York City–based celebrity trainer Kacy Duke. "After 40 and certainly after 50. says Peeke. with fingers facing forward and hands directly under your shoulders. I hold . keeping the tailbone straight. virtually all women find that they gain fat more easily in the torso— below the bra. then reverse the sequence for five more. hormones. To tone the back of the upper arm." she says. And add intensity. Even women who don't put on a pound may expand. Now slowly bend the knees into a plié. Make sure your elbows point backward when they bend. "you must learn proper form—take a class. These invisible workouts are really important for a woman in her 30s." says Siler. make sure someone is there to correct you so you don't get hurt. whose re:AB studio in New York City has attracted famous figures like Amber Valletta." In Your 40s: One hour of weight training 3 days a week if you do your whole body at once (4 days for half an hour if you split it up). "For that. Just when you think you're all the way up." If you're just starting. author of Body for Life for Women. which is slump. get a trainer. and yet more slowing of metabolism as lean muscle mass continues to decrease and body fat increases. If you're doing a biceps curl.

"Sure. You want to hit all the major muscle groups. with walking or light yoga stretches) before exercise and more intense stretches (such as sitting spread-eagle and bending forward) after. Regular cardio sessions are important. what Peeke calls the menopot. it's not in your mind." It's also about enjoyment. to stretch your fingertips toward the floor until you notice a tug between your ears and shoulders. loss of muscle mass and tone really shows." says Smith. Always stretch afterward." Peeke says you should be thinking of adding activity to your life in general. If you feel intimidated going to a gym. you must. But can I do the same run again the next day? No way.000 steps a day. creator of the video Sweating in the Spirit and a recent appointee to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. "It can actually start to change your posture. "Many yoga classes have a heavy stretch component." says longtime fitness expert Kathy Smith. "although if you're a beginner. "I find exercise that's satisfying on a deeper level." says Donna Richardson Joyner. then lift your hands as high as you can. with an intensity that lets you answer a simple question but not chat." says Smith.positions longer and do things more slowly and with more control. feeling the stretch in your chest. about five miles of walking. with straight arms. Try. Kilimanjaro in her 50s. Programs like Shape Up America aim for 10. Women in their 70s have doubled their strength in nine weeks." Other additions to your program should include warming up (for instance. "At this point." says Smith. not quantity. 20 to 40 minutes each. who climbed Mt. you can rent videos to do at home. "Can I run like I used to?" asks Smith. I really recommend guidance. too. And other places begin to droop noticeably. 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise. who suggests this stretch: Clasp your hands behind your back at the level of your butt and squeeze your shoulder blades together. We also tend to gain a little potbelly. "If you haven't started weight training. and you can do the whole cycle in 15 minutes if you keep some dumbbells around. plus half an hour of weight training twice a week." The classic shoulder slump from years of hunching over a desk or computer "will really age you. pinching your spine. It's about precision and form. ." Your 50s and 60s: Aches and pains shouldn't be an excuse for giving up on exercise In Your 50s: 4 to 6 cardio sessions a week. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh studying 541 midlife women found an average gain of 12 pounds eight years after menopause. or 15 to 20 using lighter weights. but expect a change in recovery time. "It's not just about moving my body—it's about strengthening my mind and my spirit. making them perfect for the body that needs to maintain its flexibility. If your metabolism feels like it's slowing to a crawl.

You can do this while brushing your teeth. which will become an increasingly important issue. It's a gentler way. You change what you can. she walks three to five miles a day because it offers both cardio and bone-strengthening benefits. another (if you don't have osteoporosis) is sitting on the floor with legs straight out in front of you." In fact. your joints will have lost their flexibility. she suggests "rising up on the toes of one foot and trying to hold the position for a minute." One of Moffat's favorite stretches is holding the head tilted earlobe to shoulder for 60 seconds. If you don't stretch now. and the Bosu ball (a soft half-dome used for standing and sitting exercises)—is also great for balance. and spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spaces between bones that can put painful pressure on the spinal cord) become common. While the physical changes this decade brings may be hard to take at first. replacing long runs with jogging one or two miles. For balance. a professor of physical therapy at New York University and coauthor of Age-Defying Fitness. In the 60s." Moffat says. swimming. or riding a stationary bicycle. "But aches and pains shouldn't be an excuse for giving up on exercise. on average. jogging in a pool. dance. We need to push ourselves physically no matter how old we are—we just may need to alter the activity.) Moffat. says Smith. that's a good image for any age—the sooner exercise becomes like brushing your teeth." In Your 60s: 3 days a week of challenging but not exhausting cardio. And stretching and balance are absolute musts. plus 3 days of weight training. more controlled movements combined with slow. such as a slow jog. using lighter weights and slower. who is in her 60s. "but I would not advise anyone to lift heavy weights if it aggravates your joints. ultimately. and lowering your head toward your knees. and live with what you can't. feet flexed.Yoga—along with tai chi." Adapting a workout routine for the 60s sometimes means giving up aerobic exercise that jars and stresses the joints—for example. PhD. Walk whenever possible. bad knees. the longer you'll feel younger than your years. (Women with bad backs may need to use a recumbent bicycle. "We now know that a decline in strength and fitness isn't entirely a natural consequence of the aging process but is also due to lack of use. sustained stretching. "by the time you're in your 80s. problems like arthritis. and do daily balance exercises. ." says Marilyn Moffat. says that. Resistance training is still important. "you shift into an acceptance mode.

Peru.Into Thin Air By Cara Birnbaum Oprah. throwing her arms up for effect. I am not an athlete. was my mother's stock answer when strangers inevitably asked if her gangly-limbed. Which is why the last thing she expected was a glimpse of the divine. . She'd feign exasperation. and already I'm exhausted. This is a place where otherwise sane people start and end a massive 55-mile hike around a skyscraping mountain called Ausangate. a strangely ghost-townish village in the Andes. it occurs to me that I am one of these people.com | From the April 2007 issue of O. This. They smell like acrid sweat and describe their experience only as "very cold at night. Three sinewy French trekkers who have just returned from the peak stand next to me peeling off layers of Polartec fleece. but I always sensed her relief. five-foot-eight daughter played basketball. in fact. I have signed on—along with eight other women and two men—to do this climb. Against my better judgment. athletic. And as I squint through the morning sunlight at the horseman loading my red pack onto a pony. I'm sitting on a concrete slab in Tinqui. The Oprah Magazine A six-day Peruvian trek? Cara Birnbaum wasn't the type–gung ho." All I've done today is step off a bus.

like two other women on the trip. We didn't do softball. They had sleek ponytails that bounced when they walked. PhD. Or climb mountain passes at almost 17. they blossomed into warriors with powerful bodies and lips that curled ruthlessly into fierce shapes when they cracked their bats across softballs. exactly. the director of the John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Tufts University. So when Miriam Nelson. an amorphous clique of girls in Reeboks and oversize sports jerseys. fascinated by the girls who did. Together with Lluminari. I was. blonde bolt of muscle who calls herself Mim. my first thought was. The fact that I actually came to believe this proves how persuasively Mim preaches the gospel of athleticism. she and my father.Thanks to my congenital klutziness and fear of flying round objects.000 feet. among other places. When she isn't giving college lectures or appearing on PBS specials. Never once fractured a bone or bruised my shins or crossed a finish line. Possibly for the . just in case. But with each Nike billboard I pass on the highway. I came of age during the mid-eighties. a brain trust of the kinds of charismatic health experts you see on Good Morning America. But at 13. invited me to cover a trek she was leading through Peru's rugged Cordillera Vilcanota mountain range. France. she produces weekend wellness retreats and more formidable small-group excursions to. however. would probably do this stuff every day if she could. or running up steep hills for fun. enduring bad acoustics and the tedium of watching me dribble an orange ball up and down the court. with their graduate degrees and New York Times–smudged fingers. In high school they grew into the Jockettes. I was wholly uninterested in chasing a ball. your chances of ever doing it are pretty slim. a decade and a half after the 1972 passage of Title IX. And if you reach your 30s without doing any of that. I'm reminded that I've never once tested my body's limits. every blurb I read about the growing legions of women surfers. Meanwhile my crowd passed the time at thrift stores or in dimly lit rooms listening to the Sex Pistols. Nelson." I'm not a marathon runner or a worldclass ice climber. I can't say why. this remote mountain in South America where she's convinced my inner jock is hiding. which essentially brought competitive high school and college sports for girls into the mainstream. Or lacrosse. and I know how many calories are burned every minute on the treadmill. During what was for me the single most awkward year of a pretty awkward life. I write fitness stories for a living. I'd turned into the kind of adult who dutifully drags her ass to the gym and slogs through the same 25-minute jog three times a week. I suddenly felt the burning need to climb so high that I might require supplemental oxygen—and keep climbing for six days. Or field hockey. every once-mortal friend who is suddenly hauling off to triathlon practice (triathlon practice!) five nights a week after work. she's skiing in Chamonix. I've never felt a burning desire to sleep—and pee—close to nature. True. Or breathe air so thin that I'd have men with horses and tanks of oxygen at my disposal. a lean. would never have to spend an evening in the high school gym bleachers. "I am not that kind of girl. My aversion to all things sports related became etched into the loops and whorls of my social fingerprint.

At this point. The hike is under way. I believe it. Tinqui vanishes behind us and Ausangate's snowy peaks emerge against a canvas of blue sky. a roll of toilet paper. alongside the thin tent I'll be sleeping in tonight. Or because of what drew in Lilian and Carola. yet somehow. And pretty soon. and maps showing that." Mim tells us. as we plod toward a 15. and tetanus. to return home with calluses. my muscles straining against my skin. I'd been vaccinated against hepatitis A. and a small bottle of Purell. They'd think we were nuts. which is winter in Peru—I remember that my down jacket is packed away on one of our horses. sunglasses. the notion that my body might crap out halfway up the mountain— that I might succumb to altitude sickness or fall off some rocky precipice—didn't seem to cross Mim's mind. I've fallen to the back of the line.same reason Mim's 50-something sister-in-law. I write this in my journal: "This instinct to crawl outside our comfort zones and do things that seem beyond our ability just to . despite my altitude-induced migraines and roiling nausea. North Face fleece. Beneath my fleece and down and silk long underwear. I'd tapped my local camping store for deep pink Duofold hiking tops. I feel my heart pounding against my rib cage.000 to 4. both breast cancer survivors. along with some energy bars. signed up despite her crippling arthritis. yellow fever. the fastest. eating quickly and desperately. I refuse to do the same. If anything. Occasionally we see Peruvian women. the strongest. as if a one-gigabyte chip has the power to preserve the fleeting moment when ten mortal bodies become divine. squinting at us through lined skin. after climbing and descending for miles and miles. Then I'd stuffed it all into my pack.000 calories a day in the mountains. and left for the other end of the earth. rock-hard calves. "smart wool" socks. and war stories of being the first. Liz. I'm too busy trolling for oxygen molecules—which are few and far between up here—to care. we'll wind up back where we started. there's much hugging and a frantic snapping of digital cameras. both in their 50s. I eventually watch others assume the saddle. When we reach the top. In what will become a nightly ritual. our bodies reeling from the day's climb. And frankly. Because what's the sense in traveling to a mountain on the other end of the earth to go for a trail ride? By the time we approach the last pass of the trek. and khaki everything. we all wriggle into every goose down item available and huddle around a table. it stopped crossing mine. Back at our campsite on that final night. I wonder what they think of us. Especially if they knew I could hop onto a horse anytime—but I won't. "You burn 3. prickly moss. By noon the next day. with our hiking poles. (Why are outdoor enthusiasts so okay with this noncolor?) I'd rented a subzero sleeping bag. As the days pass. When the late-day sunlight finally gives way to bracing winds—it's July. our brains anticipating what's coming next. its moonlike landscape of coffee-colored earth dotted with the odd tuft of pale. my symptoms harden my determination to push on.580-foot pass.

there's no telling what heights her gangly legs will scale. have always known that the body is an exquisitely designed machine created for higher things than riding in cars. What else accounts for marathon runners. and Venus Williams? These people. It wasn't until I stood on top of the world and crossed a finish line that I figured it out. I suppose. astronauts. The Oprah Magazine Feeling older than your years? Younger than your years? Martha Beck has a bit of agedefying wizardry to help you rise (even soar) above time. and running in place. They say people experience life-changing epiphanies in sacred. Here is mine—and I think I've shown I'm an unlikely person to make it: We are all athletes. Anyone who has breath in her lungs and muscles stretched over her bones longs—sometimes consciously. too.prove that we can—is it a human drive?" I'd say so—it's a drive to feel that humanness in every cell of our hearts and bones. slumping in office chairs. sometimes not—to find out what her body is truly capable of. If It's Tuesday. And once that happens. The Jockettes knew it. I Must Be 25 Oprah.com | From the October 2005 issue of O. windswept places. .

my first dose of iron supplements took 20 years off my felt age. that face is getting older. I've never met anyone whose "felt age" followed the same steady progression as her calendar age. a number of great 20th-century American authors who had problems with alcohol flamed out early not because they were getting older but because they were getting progressively more pickled. I don't want to sound cruel. as Joan Acocella noted in a New Yorker article on writer's block." In other words. In cultures without the medical and labor-saving technologies we enjoy. but thinking that we should can lead to disaster. unable to exercise as hard as usual. in which case we feel 107. as calendar age plods inexorably forward. starting in middle age. and people who are trying not to be as old as they are." a plastic surgeon friend recently told me. There's no sight more terrifying than a woman who has recovered from a dozen or so plastic surgeries by tanning in the desert sun. material wealth. many 35-year-olds look as withered as most North Americans do at 70. many people report feeling about 15 years younger than they are. Children who assume adult responsibilities (worrying about money. we've added 28 years to our average life span—a change so rapid that our brains couldn't possibly have evolved to accommodate it. protecting siblings) feel old when they're young. The difference between calendar age and felt age is particularly drastic for us First World. accepting a felt age that's decades ahead of your calendar age can keep you from fixing something that's broken by factors other than time. "Even while I'm lifting a face. I live in the Southwest. Similarly. I figured I was simply decrepit. Whatever the cause. but picture a Komodo dragon in spandex. so our awareness always lags behind our actual history. Then again. For instance.I feel about aging the way William Saroyan said he felt about death: Everybody has to do it. I suspect you and I are alike that way. In one century. a year ago I found myself perpetually tired and breathless. hovering around certain time periods. Perhaps the saddest (and most common) instance of felt age leaping ahead of . 21st-century folk. but I always believed an exception would be made in my case. On the other hand. maybe we feel younger because we're so well preserved—maybe 50 really is the new 40 and 40 is the new 30. Or it may be that we require 15 years to adequately internalize any age. felt age zips around like a hummingbird. changing direction just when we get a bead on it. Calendar Age and Felt Age: Chronological Versus Illogical There are several ways to mess up your life by fighting to make your calendar age match your felt age. zooming right past others. unless we haven't had our coffee. We virtually never feel our age. including me. however annoying it is to hear people announce it. the eternally 25-year-old person who lives in your body is going to see a reflection in the bathroom mirror that is a little older every day of her life. but blood tests showed anemia. Almost all my middle-aged and elderly acquaintances. Adults under threat feel like children. "People don't understand that aging never stops. Perhaps this is why. a part of the country with more than its share of fair skies. feel about 25.

we often assume that sorrow. though this is what most of us unconsciously expect when we're in the throes of emotional age regression. I find one of the best ways to visit my own child self is through laughter. though. enraged. Instead.  Exercise one: Get past the pain. relates to the accumulation of emotional pain. and joy. It's important not to demand that others coddle you like a 2-year-old. use the resources you have now (friends. culling what is best from each. It is reported that the average adult laughs 15 times a day. This is the felt age of your suffering self. Then you'll find that feeling young can be an absolute delight. and the child you were will tell you what she needs. the average child. curiosity. Living Through the Ages A corollary to the idea that your felt age might not match up with your calendar age is that you aren't confined to one chronological designation. or if you've resigned yourself to a miserable accumulation of physiological and psychological pain. By performing a few wizardlike quantum leaps—pretending that your felt age is years or even decades older or younger—you can visit different life stages. Since our society equates happiness with youth.  Exercise two: Go back for the good stuff. I suggest trying a particular kind of manipulation: felt age time travel. your felt age is probably that of a child. Become very young for a few minutes. not a long life.calendar age. Emotional pain or numbness are symptoms of living the wrong life. and hopelessness go hand in hand with getting older. The thing I love most about my job is watching people age backward. Mind you. or terrified. becoming more lively and energetic as they free themselves from situations that are toxic to their essential selves. Hint from Sigmund: Whenever you're overwhelmed by a strong negative emotion. ask yourself. physically or mentally. quiet desperation. If your everyoung psyche refuses to accept the fact of physical aging. The next time you're anguished. How old do I feel? Let a number pop up. I think the felt age of someone who's laughing out loud is always brand-new. Caring for your inner child has a powerful and surprisingly quick result: Do it and the child heals. literacy. I mean the irrepressible hilarity that arises when we're genuinely tickled. a driver's license) to comfort the hurting kid inside you. Here are some of my most useful era-hopping practices. full of wonder. They don't. The answer could be anything from curling up with an inspiring book to running out the door to catch a matinee. more than 400 times. Scout your environment for things that . I'm not talking about the nasty Styrofoam laughter people produce at business meetings.

Score one for my toddler self. Then ask about the situation that's currently worrying you. without any fear. but it amused me to write that down. sex is to adolescence. This much older You remembers everything about your history. it's often why my single clients finally hook up with the man or woman of their dreams. books. Here's an exercise that reaches forward in time.) Watch the future You for a while. Say. Web sites. Again. Just play it as a game. I've found. (By the way. What laughter is to childhood. but your consciousness is still intact. you may be thinking. Whatever your calendar age. When will I be happy again? . without the acne. But. replacing them with the elixir of love. not medication.spark this kind of spontaneous mirth. we think that attracting the right person will make us feel young. rather than backward. cards. a problem you're not sure you can solve. Right now I'm within spitting distance of countless things that tickle me: people. how free from stress or anxiety. All right. I probably won't live to see 150. Notice how your breathing deepens and your muscles begin to relax. Don't worry about whatever happened afterward—you had twins. by recalling a passionate encounter. Fill your home with them. You may start to feel a delicious melting sensation as your body shuts off stress hormones.  Exercise three: Tap teenage torridness. photographs. Notice how relaxed this self is. silly newspaper clippings. What did you do when you were in my shoes? Say. you reawaken the vitality of adolescence. radiantly alive. dogs. medication.  Exercise four: Discover the wisdom of the ages. "The sweeter rest was mine"). and. he got a sexchange operation—just recall the physical details of that fabulously unforgettable encounter. but really it's feeling young that helps us attract the right person. How on earth did you handle this situation? Ask. of course. Collect them. you don't have to believe in life after death for this to work. we get it backward. The visitor is you. Congratulations: You've just retrofitted your body to operate more like it did when you were a teenager! This kind of time travel helps you understand why your mom's best friend lost 20 pounds doing the tango when she had her affair. The visiting You has already died physically. It will remind you why luring your sweetheart into a midnight rendezvous is well worth the lost sleep (as Romeo put it after his all-nighter with Juliet. Now take three deep breaths while vividly remembering the best sexual experience you ever had. Precisely. And. songs. age 150. Think about the worst aspect of your present life situation. Now invite a visitor into your presence.

survive the loss of friends and family members. it's not happening.com | From the July 2007 issue of O. even when I have none (and she never gets tired—I'm telling you. and sideways at will. the woman is spry). instead of trying to force it backward into youth. or the wisdom of an elder self. The Oprah Magazine . 'If it's not happening now. you can jump to any phase of the life cycle. Extend that invitation by letting your felt age zoom into the future. I've learned from my 150-year-old self how to write a book.' Learn to Love Your (Naked!) Self By Amy Bloom Oprah. you bring the best aspects of that experience into the present. you'll define yourself in a way the calendar never can. Each time you heal a childhood wound. able to age backward. feel a toddler's boundless hilarity. You become a wizard.This exercise has gotten me through more tough times than I can count. By gathering all ages together. There are infinite variations of these exercises. earn a living. Armed with imagination and desire. Your future self is waiting for an invitation to visit you with similar advice. an adolescent's passion. forward. She always has an answer and a little courage or comfort to give me. free to enjoy every stage of life but trapped by none.

I did the breaststroke for one lap and my own myopic. let a smile be your sarong. I still tend to think. After my Saturday of Nakedness.If you feel self-conscious without clothes. if they don't make you feel beautiful. Wodehouse and Dorothy Parker in nothing but my socks. I was in my neighbor's swimming pool. I'd lie under our willow tree. Can't beat it. Middle age has not improved my appearance (I know there are women who turn 50 and become superbly fit. Of course he's only kidding. I was around 8 and the older kids had gone to get snacks and dry towels. In fact. you might think there'd have been no stopping me. in our bedroom. cold weather. but it hasn't cost me much. At this stage. both of whom appeared. There was plenty stopping me: my parents. No one had mentioned this world to me. shielded by its long green curtain. He puts his black fedora on his head and models the whole look for me. and necessary mesh-and-Velcro lumbar support wrap. I was the only person in a 50-foot-long blue basin filled with 80-degree water. had Neil Armstrong been given to giggling. she's just making an observation. The adults were doing adult things. school. fully clothed. And I would say to any man or woman. lifted-head crawl for another. No and no. Naked and laughing. boys. he's actually more than naked: He's wearing an undershirt. . I was in a new world. as a friend of mine once said. Naked and laughing. put on your clothes. I am not one of them). even in my dreams. if you find yourself getting naked with someone who says anything uncomplimentary (or even neutral— who the hell wants neutral at a time like this?) about you and your parts. get up. He looks at himself in the mirror and laughs out loud. He's not naked. white. The first time I really thought about nakedness. I went from pajamas to underwear to clothes every morning and back the other way every night. a very wide. Best Naked Saturday Since I Was 8: The man I love is standing in front of me. caught it with my toe and flipped it onto the cement edge of the pool. I figure he's a lucky man. His boxers are off because he's coming to bed. either. And somehow no one had said anything to me about what a good time was to be had between pajamas and underwear. For however long it takes three kids to make bologna sandwiches and find beach towels. entering marathons and climbing Mount McKinley.G. sure. and read P. about my own naked body in particular. the body's like a face: It tells the story of who you are and how you feel about it. and people almost never were. go home. and go home. I slipped off my shoulder straps and suddenly rolled down my suit. like the first man on the moon. and the navy blue socks that are usually hidden by his suit trousers. his undershirt and socks are on because his terrible back pain makes both the reaching up and the bending over difficult. about the fact that animals were always naked. if I'm naked and smiling. But when I could.

com | From the October 2005 issue of O. perspective. Hard.What Scares Women About Getting Older? Everything! By Michelle Burford Oprah. your marbles? Michelle Burford gets solace. Because I come from a long line of women whose financial dependence rendered them voiceless in their relationships with men. your money. and a few laughs from 10 voices of experience. The Oprah Magazine Worried about losing your looks. wisdom. I decided early in my life that I would always work. Enough so I'd never have to beg any man .

the space between episodes of intimacy? What if I haven't squirreled away enough cash to buoy me through retirement? What if I never have a partner. Declining sexual interest and attractiveness. Caring for sick parents. "How will I survive alone if my husband has a stroke?" e-mailed another." I am evermore conscious—fearful—of how life as a single woman might feel at 35. I know that life is ultimately uncertain. Time and again. Sixty-nine. clinical professor of family and community medicine at the University of California. too senile to care for myself? How will I handle the ache.for a dime. When we asked on oprah. At 33 I find this pocketbook-for-one existence exhilarating—as in taking a trip to Tuscany on a whim. "What if I never marry or have children?" Rachel Naomi Remen. no husband to consult. or grandchildren to share my days with? What if I end up utterly alone? Intellectually. This article is part of Oprah. San Francisco School of Medicine and author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather's Blessings: "I have . Join now— and move closer to the life you want! As the footlooseness of my 20s has given way to the start of an era my ob-gyn labels "advanced maternal age. Turns out I have company. the same fears popped up.com. "What scares you about aging?" the dozens of women who responded—from ages 13 to 77— revealed similar anxieties. And I'm afraid. children. I invited some of the wisest women I know to get real about aging—to talk honestly about how they've dealt with their own fears and what they've learned by living through them. What I hadn't counted on was no husband—period. and more wrinkles. wrinkles. Fifty-three. MD. Dementia. This is how they reassured me. because a world that worships youth and dismisses the elderly will ultimately throw me away. So why do my insides long for a policy—a backup plan? Because I know this is a society that prefers the taut glutei of a 20-year-old to the sagging chin line of an AARP member. Loneliness. 67. too. Wrinkles. Zip-o money at retirement. "I can handle anything but Alzheimer's!" wrote one.com's 2011 Feel Good Challenge. Forty-eight. Menopause. What if I turn out to be a penniless spinster.

and my whole family of origin was so fractured—my mother died when I was young. Then as the clock ticked down toward 40. and I needed someone to take care of me. I always wanted to be a mother. life-altering experience to have your own biological children. We need to learn . I've seen people transformed by this profound experience. even if they don't come from your own body. it was even more clear I probably wasn't going to be a mother. it was very difficult for me to maintain a relationship. the uncertainty of life. They're often alone in the same way that women who are married might still feel alone. My life experience is that people with children are often alone in old age. There are so many who haven't had parenting. Having a family was a major life dream. None of it is in our control. it became clear that dream might not play out.encountered two of women's greatest fears: I've been single all my life. and my father was gone. So I've re-created a sense of family among my friends. "I hear women say. You have to have a sense of possibility. As a former pediatrician. who will care for me when I'm old?" Sharon Salzberg. what then?' Life is basically full of broken eggs. Because of the way my life unfolded when I was young. You can be a mother to them. I think the people who have connected only to their families may be more vulnerable than those who connect more broadly. These friends end up with a couple of phone calls a week. I have done that. Massachusetts.' How do we live so that at the end of our lives we can say those words? I have done that. I have friends with three or four kids who live around the country. I had the names of all my children picked out. My meditation practice has helped me peel away my assumptions about how much control I have. Others don't. I learned the truth about change. Creating these kinds of connections is something we all have to do. But you can still grow people. Of course it's a remarkable. 'If it doesn't turn out the way I planned. The whole art of this thing is finding your own recipe for making sponge cake. some parents have close relationships with their children." Rachel Naomi Remen: "I have to laugh. Having children is not a safety hedge. Yes. I have learned that I can be a mother in many different ways. and author of Lovingkindness and Faith: "I don't have children. Because of my illness. whether we have children or not. Men of my generation were looking for someone to take care of them. When I was diagnosed at age 15. I was one of the girls who played with dolls until I was 12 or 13 years old. The people who are unhappy are the people who get stuck in one way of doing it. An adult child might get a job and move to the other side of the world. 52. and I've had Crohn's disease [a chronic inflammatory bowel disease] for the past 51 years. cofounder of the Insight Meditation Center in Barre. For the thousands of medical students I've worked with. My mother's final words were 'I am satisfied." "But if I don't have children. if that. The fact is that everything is impermanent.

and that makes life on earth less fearful. but that's okay with me. Look at these women—they're all sucked and pulled and tucked." Elizabeth Lesser. This is good. I was with my mother as she was dying last year." "I'm worried about losing my looks and feeling the pressure to have plastic surgery. and I became aware that yes. In my head. The wrinkles and the double chin are smoke screens for what we're really afraid of—mortality. and I said to my husband. the way one looks has become valued too highly in our society. We're here for a reason. When I get up in the morning. acclaimed poet and author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: "The surface. indeed. You do that by developing depth within yourself. radio host of The Joan Hamburg Show. 64. interests that are yours. But once I began. 52. a connection to something larger than yourself. 'My God. cofounder and senior adviser of the Omega Institute: "I've realized that aging is the younger cousin of dying. I just came back from a 60th-birthday party. Why on earth would you let somebody stick a needle in your face just to get rid of a wrinkle? Here's the real question: What do we have to do to place more value on age? We have to value ourselves not for what we look like or the things we possess but for the women we are. I happen to believe that our souls continue after we're gone. I'm sure I'd be the one whose nose would end up on my boobs! I might be the only person in America who feels that way. political essayist. 77. "The most important thing I can tell you about aging is this: If you really feel that you want to have an off-the-shoulder blouse and some big beads and thong sandals and a dirndl skirt and a magnolia in your hair. I thought.' But you can tell. You develop your own sense of the meaning of life. Maya Angelou. So a friend dragged me to a gym—I had always disdained fitness as a yuppie obsession. and challenges are handed to us so we can grow and become more of who we're meant to be. I'm still 20. coasting toward our final days. the superficial. I'm actually much stronger and more fit now than I was 20 years ago. do it. Is my face sagging? Is my body creaking? These questions just bring up the ultimate one: How much time do I have left? We become aware that we're on the downside of the mountain. Not turning away from it. many women go for Botox. This is great. my body could use a zipper. I look at all my parts and I think. When the skin begins to sag. I thought. I developed terrible back problems." Barbara Ehrenreich. and author of Nickel and Dimed: "I've had fears about my body changing. During my early 40s. it's true: Each one of us does have a short time on earth.how to be alone. I'm going to be the oldest living human being. social critic. not pretending . This is just a completely downward trajectory unless I change my life. Having children is no insurance policy. and I've dealt with that by becoming kind of a jock. So I deal with my fear of aging and death by making it my spiritual practice." Dr. WOR Radio in New York: "Would I have a facelift? No. This is good. Yes. Even if you're wrinkled." Joan Hamburg.

I began to write. psychotherapist and author of On My Own: The Art of Being a Woman Alone: "Historically and prehistorically. PhD. my power. That's what I called sexual power. Being this age is completely freeing." Florence Falk. One day in my 50s. The heat was gone. they stayed together while the men were out hunting. 63. This is where many women get caught: wanting to be in connection but at the same time resenting it. I just woke up and realized I really didn't care about any of the rest of it and hadn't for quite a while.it doesn't exist. because they bore children." "What if I leave my jerk husband but find myself too broke to survive on my own?" . For a long time. exactly what I'd feared came to be: My 'sexual power' changed. So in terms of our collective unconscious." "I'm terrified of ending up alone. But by taking on a more fearless attitude toward what really is happening to my body and my life. For so long. What if I never have sex again?" Abigail Thomas. We've been nurturers in an earthbound role. we expect the connection to make us feel more realized. I discovered so many other things. whole. and what I'm interested in is what I'm interested in." Maya Angelou: "At 50 I began to know who I was. how I looked represented everything to me: who I was as a woman. It was like waking up to myself. how I could engage. so it's difficult for our psyches to contemplate anything else. But for women. Of course." "I dread the feeling of becoming invisible. I started to see that I wasn't at the world's disposal—I call the shots. alive. What's it like not to be tethered with the responsibility of a mate and children? We haven't had a template for that. all I thought about was. About ten years ago. it's a human reflex to want to be connected to others. women have existed in a context in which. and what replaced it was an avid desire for life. we have a history of being in some kind of connection with other people. To walk out of the house without wondering who's looking back at you makes it possible to focus on what you really want to focus on. Who's looking at me? Who's interested? I didn't even really look at what I felt like looking at on the street. When it was over. fiction and autobiographical writer and author of Safekeeping: "I wouldn't even go back to as young as I was yesterday. not slapping on a cosmetic Band-Aid. It makes it possible to get your work done.

It was about going for quality of life as opposed to security. Helen Keller has become one of my heroes. actress. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. That's over. despite the fact that you feel. my father. For women.. PhD. nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. choosing security isn't a good idea. It's time for us to step right up to the plate and learn. deaf. The truth is that we're very complacent when it comes to seizing control of our finances. The world doesn't work that way anymore. where you live. If she could live life as a daring adventure. starring in the upcoming screen version of The Help: "I've cared for my mother. and you'd think she'd sit cowering in a corner. She was blind. I never anticipated that I'd be the sole surviving member of my family. I once talked to a bunch of women at a bank in Staten Island. God. Much of the time. and here's what I've learned: If you cannot support yourself.' I often think. cofounder of the Mind-Body clinical programs at two Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals and author of Minding the Body." "I'm scared about not being able to work as I get older—and about society's ultimately throwing me away. And when you're faced with those situations. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. And I found that when the time came. you don't know how you'll actually respond until you're in the circumstance. then any of us can. especially financially. how you relate to people. if it ever happens to me. and mute. Many see it as sort of embarrassing to know about money. Oh. dealing with money doesn't seem graceful. to stay because you're afraid of what's on the other side. Yet this is what she once said: 'Security.does not exist in nature. I won't be able to handle it.Elizabeth Lesser: "I've gone through a divorce and the terror of leaving a marriage. It's part of that old syndrome: Be the best girl possible." . make people happy." "I'm anxious about the burden of caring for aging relatives. It's in everything—your job. One reason women are so totally unprepared for the financial devastation that can come after a divorce is that they have no clue how to handle their money. Mending the Mind and Inner Peace for Busy People: "I've left a couple of husbands.. and Daddy's going to take care of you. and I asked. you set yourself up to be a prisoner. I know what it's like to feel stuck in something that is draining your life force. my brother." Cicely Tyson. I've lost everyone in my immediate family. 'Do you know what's in your husband's will? Do you know where his papers are? Do you even know what you're worth?' Not one woman knew. We can't stay home like June Cleaver and expect a man to take care of us financially. I used that when I finally made the decision as a 32-year-old mother to become a single parent and to leave a marriage that had been difficult for 14 years. 59." Joan Hamburg: "Even some of the smartest married women don't know their financial standing. my sister. I did what I had to do. It's not just in marriages that this decision is required. I think all human beings would do the same thing." Joan Borysenko.

For some. "Women have skills that we don't even know we have. others were still going to work every day. I read a fascinating study about people 90 and over." Joan Borysenko: "I never plan to retire. people of various races and family backgrounds—was a sense of optimism. All of them had a sense of hope and purpose. grasping opportunity. we're all sunk—we're just consumers who go out and buy another toaster. despite the fact that many had suffered illnesses or eaten fast food night and day. And since I write. You throw your own self away. So there's something to be said for having a financial plan that allows you to retire when you want." "What if I end up a bag lady?" Florence Falk: "The fear of becoming a bag lady represents the fear of becoming marginalized. To be a bag lady is a metaphor for being cast out—and women have always been cast out of society unless they've made it a point not . I want to get better at that. 'I'm waiting. There's still too much stimulation and joy in my life to sit around and wait for the end. Italians. I don't want to be forced to work 60 hours a week because I can't afford my mortgage payment. that meant having to babysit a daughter's child. I threw it in the garbage. The trick about getting older is to find something you don't know how to do—something you want to improve on. The commonality among those studied—Jews. We've got to recognize that the old model of staying with a job till you're 65 is dead. Never be complacent. your passion. age sits and looks at you and says.Abigail Thomas: "Society has little to do with it. Think the way Americans thought in the early days of our nation: We are entrepreneurs. Write 'new' on the box. It looked at how they'd survived to this age. Prepare to be your fullest self at every step of the way—to do the things that are most resonant with your deepest inner values. On the other hand." Joan Hamburg: "A few years ago.' I just about fainted the day. We've got to get into the habit of constantly learning something new. something that comes out of yourself. even if you don't make as much money as you did in your younger years. If you don't have that. It has to become about the next thing to do. Without passion. It's over. at age 50. unafraid of rejection. Stay ready to go to the next step. Poles. You decide that you're irrelevant. You've got to learn to reinvent yourself. a sense of being needed. That's not me. when I received information from AARP.

The ones that aren't real fall away. That's why it's terrifying to think that you might not be able to take care of yourself. What things do I want to get done while I can? I think that's an important question. 'How do we live to our fullest potential and have a lot of fun as we get older together?' That's what I'm planning for. All of these concerns speak to a fear not of aging but of living. We've all agreed we don't want to be old bag ladies. Your relationships can become far more genuine. When you become ill. both to cut expenses and to stay connected. it'll automatically electrocute me. so the fear of losing my mind haunts me. I've seen people discover that they can endure things they never thought possible." Joan Borysenko: "I've already had many conversations with friends about living in a group. "I'm worried that I'll get to the end of my life and realize I haven't even used a fraction of my potential. Then. How do I handle the fear? I just have to live with it. So I haven't figured out what to do with my fear—but it does make me ask myself. Women don't realize how bound they are to these cultural ideas. So how can we devise a lifestyle that makes this possible? It's not about surviving on cat food. but many people talk about a sense of gratitude for the deeper. Losing who you are is different from having a physical illness." "What if I become ill or incapacitated?" Rachel Naomi Remen: "Having worked almost half my lifetime with cancer patients. of course. It awakens me to the richness of my life now. It's a discovery process.to be." Barbara Ehrenreich: "My father died of Alzheimer's when he was 72. Yet the fear gives me an appreciation for my capacities today. It's who I am. What if I can't depend on myself? The sense of dependency is deeply conditioned in us culturally. but it's a very slow turnaround. Alzheimer's is a whole other thing. I identify with my mind. you discover a lot about yourself. How do I handle it? I want to wire my computer up so that when I start making too many mistakes. No. It may sound strange. Others can look at you and think. That's changing. fuller life they lead. That's something I worry about. The reason I went on hormone replacement therapy is that ten years ago. probably with some help from the HRT. I got breast cancer at 58. The question is. The world beckons men to be independent. really: I read little health tips all the time about how to keep from getting Alzheimer's. I had this fear. Getting Alzheimer's." Maya Angelou: "Becoming a bag lady. What is a fear of . Not true for women. Ending up alone. doctors thought it would prevent Alzheimer's. Why is she still single? And men might feel threatened by a woman who's comfortable in herself.

I thought that if I didn't 'make it' by the time I was 35. If you don't know what you're here to do. it's never too late to do some good. "To have a fear. I had a whole other career as a physician. For a change. Has that always been true? God. the whole thing is heartbreaking. 76 was the hardest year. you have to be able to imagine the future. Ever. I have so much less of it than I used to. I never think about the future. Everything was just about to happen for better or for worse. At 35 I would have been stunned to know the way things would come out for me. I am a woman I love. out of timidity and spinelessness. So my life circumstances make it easy for me to focus on where I am right this minute. "Here's what I want to say: Your life can change and deepen and become profoundly satisfying in middle age. And so I can simply be here now. Right this minute." Joan Borysenko: "At age 59. He has only the moment available to him. The work that you do in your lifetime—accepting yourself and forgiving your parents—all comes together. For much of my life. I'm not interested in the future. But the advantage is that I've learned how a moment can extend itself. I see that impermanence is not just some concept that the Buddhists developed. and I travel all over the United States—a very good life. "Bad things have happened to me—five years ago. It's agony. The present. There are many people who have made my life deeply meaningful—and I hadn't met one of them by the time I was 42. I got my first book contract when I was 56. this is the fruit." Maya Angelou: "For me. can contain so much. As long as you're breathing. I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. That's where the joy's at. I became involved with people who have cancer. I can't control it. and to enjoy the hell out of it. start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they're stones that don't matter. I worry less than I once did. he has no thought of the future.living? It's being preeminently afraid of dying. I became involved with their psychological and spiritual growth. Now it's all about what I'm doing now." "I don't know how I'll be able to handle the pain and regret of losing those closest to me. no. It is not doing what you came here to do. He has no short-term memory. I lost friends.'" Rachel Naomi Remen: "I'm a successful author. 'Aha. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself—for the time you take up and the space you occupy. Then at 42. my husband was hit by a car and suffered traumatic brain injury. and it became a New York Times best-seller. You just get up and you say. Yes. then just do some good. Everything is going to change anyhow. I had absolutely no awareness of what I was doing at the moment. it was all over. everything was in the future." Abigail Thomas: "You're worried about how you're going to feel at the end of your life? What about right now? Live. I try to .

Most people in the United States are not aware of the power that you get simply from life experience. And through my eyes. I think of my mom and my brother and people I love who would love to see this. they're seeing it as well. With that behind us. The person who's going to deal with Alzheimer's is not the 33-year-old you. Like the death of a friend. There's a saying. The only way that I am weak is in my body.remember all the good times.and usually bland. your years. It used to be that when you reached a certain age you were destined for your mother's haircut. Something short. And I speak to my friends and family who have gone on. They also tell our age. We build strength. So women cut it off! That's not the case anymore due to styling techniques. hairstyles for longer lengths tended to elongate the face or make it look drawn—which is the last thing that maturing women need. Softening or hiding some of these "beauty marks" is sure to keep people guessing. I was afraid she'd have a heart attack at the news of her brother's death. It takes a lifetime of experience to learn to deal with trauma like this.' At 67 I can deal with things that would have completely devastated me at 33. It's a burnished purple against a background of honeysuckle that reaches up into the oak tree. 2005 Make any hairstyle age defying with Ken Paves Lines on the face tell a wonderful story about our journey through life." Rachel Naomi Remen: "When my mom faced the death of her last surviving sibling. easy. That's one result of aging: Nobody recalls your family nickname. disappointment by disappointment. But now that I'm 80.com | July 15. but feeling young. your stories.." Keys to Looking as Young as You Feel Oprah.. we realize the true key to looking young isn't just a short hairstyle. I keep photographs around.' I was blown away by my mother's words. I'm strong enough. Because my mom had a heart condition. When I look out my window—everything is so lush in North Carolina—I see a Japanese maple tree. I'm seeing it. she was left alone—she had a lifetime of memories and nobody to share them with. The person who's going to deal with Alzheimer's is a person who has built courage and tenacity. I couldn't have dealt with this when I was 40. . Back in the day. That's when she told me the most interesting thing: 'Rachel. 'Life makes you ready to meet with the things you met with.

Layering: It's anytime that the hair is not one length. let's focus on the positive.. distracting from wrinkles and fine lines. feel youthful. Focus on the Positive Now that we've hidden all of our secrets. the new bang is versatile but will definitely turn back the clock. If a soft jawline bothers you. my mom has face-framing layers with a side bang. Crows Feet: Incorporate face-framing layers and a side fringe into your current style to hide these lines. You don't have to commit to bangs of yesteryear! Whether you go á la "Bardot" or elongated to either side. then long it is! If you like a bob. My mom definitely looks young for her age. take it a couple inches shorter in the back. Let's get creative. This shape pulls the eye upward and away from the face.This is a photo of me and my mom. so it needs less cleansing and more conditioning! Soft and shiny hair will definitely make you look and feel younger. Bobs: Here's a trick. but it's her young spirit that is ultimately age defying! Put Your Stylist to the Test Its time to break the rules ladies and put your stylist to the test. To help her look younger. If you have a bob. This puts the emphasis on her beautiful eyes. A Forehead Filled with Expression: If your forehead is wrinkly. making it look fresh and uplifted. This will give your profile an instant lift. If short makes you feel sassy. Mature hair has fewer natural oils. then opt for a style that is just long enough to layer around your neck to take the focus away from this area. then it should be layered. so be it! Long Hair: If you're going to have long hair. The key with layering is to focus on what you think makes you look more youthful and. and layering around the face will open and broaden the face. then let's see them—layer around and open up the face! Healthy hair is also a sign of youth. go for a great short cut! If your eyes are your best feature then cut some bangs and give them all the attention! If you have great cheekbones. As we age our hair becomes dry and brittle. Embrace your spirit and live in the moment! What do you feel are your most beautiful features? If you have a graceful neck.. losing its shine. most importantly. then short it is! If long makes you feel lovely. Softened Jawline: As we age our jawline softens and our neck begins to wrinkle. . Layering creates softness. cover it up. The layers will take off a significant amount of the weight. leaving the front longer. My mom just turned 60 years old. If You Have. Her hairstyle also has a lot of movement and soft highlights that help her to look the way she feels—playful and young! I can happily say that these tips truly work.

applying what appeared to be perfectly appropriate makeup in your bathroom and. Chances are. choosing a hairstyle with movement will show that you can still be playful. Be sexy! Remember. a few minutes later.Soft and airy hairstyles: They appear light and tend to open and lift the face. . Also. catching a glimpse of yourself in another mirror. lighting is everything. never lose "sexy" in your hair vocabulary! The Secret to a Flawless Face By Paula Chin Oprah. Suddenly. your carefully blended undereye concealer looked spackled instead of subtle. And your cool peach lipstick took on the four-alarm heat of Tabasco sauce. When it comes to makeup. another place. Four makeup artists help you create a lasting glow. The foundation that was supposed to even out your complexion now manifested a mean streak. you learned this lesson the hard way.com | From the November 2001 issue of O. The Oprah Magazine The right light is critical to looking your best.

and dark reds. violetpink." She advocates exercising caution when using light-reflecting foundations and powders. "Use a gray shadow if you want to accentuate your eyes. These formulations have tiny particles that can irritate sensitive skin or settle in pores and make them look larger. "You have to calculate where you want the light—the high point of the cheekbones." The experts cringe before magnifying mirrors. the shimmer that dazzles at night might be overkill by day. but when it comes to makeup. most makeup artists recommend warm colors like taupe and brown on the eyes and a light-colored blush and lipstick. "They create or exaggerate undereye circles. "And black eyeliner will make them stand out more. Michael says. At night. which also emit white light." Mercier says." says makeup artist Bobbi Brown. but they might make you look shiny. Once you're working with the right light." says makeup artist Laura Mercier. "They can brighten the face." Even so.There's an easy antidote to such scenarios: sunlight. too little is definitely better than too much. purple. there's room to play with cooler shades like blue. "but it's best to capture the light streaming through a window so it's hitting your face indirectly. "Any time between dawn and dusk is fine. "make sure you have even light on the right and left sides of the mirror." Michael says. gray. so avoid shading and contouring to make your nose smaller or your cheeks thinner. the center of the lips—so that it reflects there and nowhere else. Makeup artist François Nars favors long-lasting halogen lights. "You don't want a heavy texture. don't use them. Restraint may be a debatable virtue. color issues resolve themselves. New York City makeup artist Liz Michael prefers Chromalux bulbs." she says." Mercier says. and you'll overcompensate with concealer." After the sun. . which can make pores look the size of footballs and emphasize other minor imperfections. which are made of a special glass that cuts down on the distorting yellow tones cast by fluorescents. "Unless you're blind. the next best source of light is a full-spectrum lamp that closely mimics natural daylight. For daytime. Ideally. when the light is more forgiving. rendering colors and skin tone with absolute accuracy. Applying makeup in natural light preps your face for fluorescent tubes and candles alike. Overhead lights are the absolute worst. 40 to 75 watts work fine. Both come in ordinary A-line household bulbs and can be found at most hardware and lighting stores.

For you. really great. You can move on. a scar—there's a way of making it appear to disappear. Print out these pages and save them for the day or evening you find yourself facing a spot you'd rather not. you're fine as you are. annoyances.What Have You Got to Hide? By Jenny Bailly Oprah. this is just a little surface polishing). Is your skin luminous and even-toned.com | From the June 2006 issue of O. we'll see you later. really. who are looking for quick fixes to camouflage problems (from breakouts to spider veins). cellulite. clarified by monthly facials and a multipart skincare regimen? Do you head to the salon every six weeks to cover your gray with the perfect honey highlights? Yes? That's great. we canvassed beauty experts to come up with the best advice for concealing imperfections (or. The Oprah Magazine Whatever it is—dark undereye circles. as we prefer to think of them. who know that there's probably a laser or acid or suction machine out there that offers a solution but aren't ready or willing (or flush) enough to try it. This story is for those who don't always have the time or the money to keep up a maintenance program. . Because.

Even after you've put away your tweezers. it will leave a heavy line. Dark Undereye Circles The Tool Kit: Eye cream. apricot) cast. So use a very creamy concealer. and a dual-ended brush. . Work your way out. so look for one with a drier texture (like Paul & Joe Eyebrow Pencil) and always use short. with short strokes). says brow expert Sania Vucetaj. drying out concealer). while blending in with the rest of the brow. small. ever the whole brow") with a pencil. The Technique: Overzealous plucking (or age) can leave brows patchy. which both include creamy concealer. fill in only bare spots ("never. (We like Clinique CX Soothing Concealer Duo SPF 15 and Mally Beauty Cancellation Concealer System.Sparse Brows The Tool Kit: Pencil (one shade lighter than your brows). creamy concealer (one shade lighter than your skin tone) with a slight golden (or. powder (that matches your brows). then begin applying the concealer with a brush at the inner corner of the eye. Gently pat in the concealer (use your ring finger so you don't tug at the delicate skin). ever. take a brow powder (like Becca Brow Powder) to fill in the length of the arch (again. Always start with an eye moisturizer (Vital Radiance HydraSmooth Under Eye Concealer includes one in half of its dualended wand). but "use it only on dark areas. Once the holes are filled. The powder will adhere more to the penciled-in areas and help bulk them up a bit. it can take anywhere from three months to a couple of years for brows to grow back." says makeup artist Laura Mercier. says makeup artist Susan Giordano. for darker skin. translucent loose powder. highlighting pen. feathery strokes. Let it absorb for five minutes. If the pencil is too waxy. slightly tapered brush with synthetic bristles (animal hair absorbs too much moisture. small angled brush. suddenly every crease under your eyes is brought into high definition. The Technique: When you lighten dark circles. then dab on the slightest hint of translucent powder with a tiny velvet puff or eyeshadow brush. In the meantime.) Puffy Eyes The Tool Kit: Eye gel. sheer powder.

The Technique: To downplay overly rosy cheeks. full-coverage foundation. Boehmer prefers to use powder foundations (try Max Factor Powdered Foundation or Cover FX Mineral Powder Foundation) on skin with more noticeable pores. it sticks to that smooth surface. The sun aggravates redness. so use it only on the inner corners of the eyes. which is prescription only) help hide more serious redness (while also soothing irritation). (We also like Per-fékt Skin Perfection Gel. Choose warm lipcolors. slightly shimmery cream through a firm brush. makeup artists preach moderation—especially with puffiness. which can draw attention to pore size. but makeup primers that contain silicone (like Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch) make them appear smaller by laying down a thin film on the skin. anything bright or blue-based will bring out pink tones in the skin. a silky primer with oil absorbers and a slight tint that can double as a sheer foundation. powder foundation. When you apply foundation. Blush-prone skin tends to be dry. use a foundation with gold or yellow undertones. Ruddiness/Rosacea The Tool Kit: Creamy. so always wear sunscreen (or choose a foundation that includes it). and then run a highlighting pen (it delivers a sheer. The light reflectors will make that area appear less depressed. clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine. and when they're finely ground in a sunscreen or foundation. which tends to be oily. so look for a very emollient formula (ignore anything labeled matte. says Nars senior makeup stylist James Boehmer) and moisturize before smoothing it on with a sponge. but always apply a foundation on top to ensure a natural finish. store it in the fridge for a little extra tightening power. . especially if it's caused by rosacea.) Avoid light-reflecting foundations. Minimize swelling with a firming eye gel (like Christine Chin Hydra-Lift Eye Gel. the beauty equivalent of icing a sprain).The Technique: When it comes to concealing. Products with green tints (like Murad Correcting Moisturizer SPF 15 or Avar Green. often a result of broken capillaries or rosacea. The Technique: No product can tighten pores. Concealer accentuates bags. MD. we like Elizabeth Arden Sheer Lights) along the indentation below the puffiness. rather than settling into (and accentuating) pores. Large Pores The Tool Kit: Makeup primer. tinted redness neutralizers. "Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the least irritating UV blockers." says Mary Lupo. which help counteract the pink. they can help camouflage redness as well.

Q-tips. concealer. The Technique: Before you cover the sore. use a Q-tip (makeup artist Mally Roncal . (The very dry skinned should choose a liquid or cream foundation instead.) Age Spots The Tool Kit: Concealer (a touch lighter than your skin tone. (Benefit Bluff Dust. and then blending a heavier cream foundation over darker areas. The Technique: For isolated dark spots. brush. dab on a concealer that matches the skin around your lips. try to disguise the bump itself. firm tip (slightly larger than an eyeliner brush). like Valtrex. can do that. comes with a velour puff. sheer loose powder. sheer lip gloss. with peach or gold tones to brighten darkness). just dot the concealer on top with a thin brush and pat with your finger to blend the edges. This will help set the concealed patches and even out your complexion.) If you have more significant sun damage and need to cover larger patches. No topical treatment has been shown to significantly shorten the life span of a cold sore (only a prescription oral medication. Next. Cold Sores The Tool Kit: Soothing ointment. To avoid contaminating your makeup. powder and/or cream foundation (that matches your skin). Use a brush to dot the concealer (we like Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage) directly on top of the blemish. if you pop a pill at the first tingle).Breakouts The Tool Kit: Thick concealer (the kind in a pot or compact) that matches your skin and has yellow undertones to counteract redness. dab on an ointment like Aquaphor to protect it. and you'll end up with a mound of noticeable concealer. Then use a large brush to apply a fine layer of powder foundation over the whole face. a yellow-tinged sheer powder. The Technique: Before you begin. accept your limits: You can only camouflage the redness of a pimple. then dip a small puff or another brush in translucent powder and pat it over the spot to set the concealer and leave a smooth finish. small brush with a straight. but it's important to keep it moist while it heals. Boehmer recommends starting with a sheer liquid foundation all over the face.

The Technique: Nothing makes hair grow faster. how not to plump up your lips: by drawing on new ones. (She uses her own peachy pink Enhancer Baby Eyes to define the lip line. though. they look even darker). hot rollers or curling iron. lipstick. The results are temporary. Your only recourse after an unfortunate cut is to wait for it to grow out (at a rate of about an eighth to a half inch every month). If the problem is heavy bangs or harsh layers around the face. The Technique: When a dye job's overdue. Until then. Have fun with color on your eyes instead—which can draw attention away from that sore spot. "Awkward layers are more apparent on straight hair. experiment with new textures. or try Cargo The Reverse Lipliner. confine conditioner to your ends. or Goody's linen version—more city sleek than Sandra Dee.coats it with a little Vaseline first so it glides more easily over the inflamed area)—and don't double-dip. A dab of glimmery gloss on the center of the lips (both top and bottom) will also have a mild pout-enhancing effect.) Stick to pale lipstick colors as well. Anything too dark makes the mouth look smaller. invest in a few headbands. And a note on lip plumpers: Most use irritating agents like cinnamon to increase blood flow to the lips. A Bad Haircut The Tool Kit: Headband. says makeup artist Paula Dorf. who recommends using hot rollers or a large barrel curling iron to create waves. The Technique: First. Thin Lips The Tool Kit:Light lip liner. and far from beestung. sheer gloss. patience. baby powder. you wouldn't put a big bow on it? Skip the bright lipstick and go for a sheer rosy gloss (again. like the ones by hairstylist Eva Scrivo that come in suede and cotton faille. It's okay to trace slightly above the lip line. extra body at the roots can hide the evidence. slick them on before you apply any color. comb." says hairstylist Gretchen Monahan. And you know how if you don't want people staring at your butt. Use a volumizing shampoo (and use it often—when roots are oily.) Visible Roots The Tool Kit: Volumizing shampoo and mousse. but only with a very light pencil. If you can bear the "tingling" (we prefer the more accurate term: "burning"). (We like wide stretch designs. using a clean Q-tip). and work a volumizing .

are easier to control than lotions). While you're waiting it out: Makeup artist Scott Barnes recommends dabbing a bit of red-tone concealer (or even just red lipstick) on top of the bruise to cancel out the purple.) Bruises The Tool Kit: Red-based concealer (or lipstick). which can help blur bumps and lumps. Powder (regular white talc works if you're blonde. who recommends self-tanner instead. Roncal finishes with a layer of shimmer cream (like Smashbox Body Lights Glowing Lotion). To keep the color in place." says Lupo. thick concealer and/or powder foundation that matches your skin tone. let it dry for about 15 minutes. setting that with translucent powder. bronzed dimpled thighs are less conspicuous than pasty whites ones—"but the last thing you want to do is get a tan and break down collagen. such as ModelCo Tan Airbrush in a Can. softening the edges so it disappears into the surrounding skin. Roncal swirls a large brush into powder foundation and then presses it over the area before swiping it back and forth to remove the excess. smooth a bit of Vaseline over it to block the color. translucent loose powder. making the problem even worse. Be sure to pat the concealer around the bruise. it darkens a bruise. Coat them with self-tanner first (spray formulas. Leg Veins . Monahan recommends shaking or spraying a bit along your part. Zigzagging your part also keeps hair from lying too flat against the head and accentuating a line of demarcation. and then smoothing on a concealer or heavier foundation that matches your skin tone (try MAC Face and Body). Clairol Nice 'n Easy Root Touch-up kit now comes in 16 shades. For an added slimming effect. Bumble and Bumble makes aerosol tinted versions for brunettes and redheads) can help blend roots as well. it'll take at least a week for the violet-blue souvenir to fade away. and then go over the whole leg.mousse through damp hair. The Technique: For some reason. then using your fingertips to work it in. all calibrated to match faded haircolor. And a self-tanner warning: While it works camouflaging magic on many other imperfections. self-tanner. (For a more lasting at-home root fix. Barnes makes the outer and inner thighs a bit darker. more self-tanner. Cellulite The Tool Kit: Self-tanner. So before bronzing. The Technique: Once you've banged into that coffee table (again).

body concealer. try Vaseline Intensive Care Healthy Body Glow Lotion. pearly cream.) A few pats of translucent powder will set the color. but you'll still want to avoid water sports and games of footsie for the rest of the day.) A leg bronzer will also mask veins or broken capillaries—and wash off at the end of the day. If a scar is depressed. It'll reflect light off the area and make it appear less noticeable. try dabbing a pearly cream (like Nars the Multiple in Copacabana) on top. (For a slow—and streakproof—buildup. translucent loose powder. Roncal recommends blending a concealer on top of veins. The Technique: Stretch marks and scars are usually very smooth in texture. when concealing anything off your face. The Technique: If the squiggles are relatively light. (Yves Saint Laurent Make-Up Leg Mousse imparts both a veil of color and a cooling sensation. like Dermablend Leg & Body Cover Crème. and set it with loose powder. (Choose something pretty heavy. a coat of self-tanner will be enough to camouflage them. painting the makeup on with a brush. . anything too light will just make it look worse. Use a brush to pat the makeup over the mark in thin layers. Match the concealer to the darker color around the scar or stretch mark. says Dorf.) When you want more serious coverage. full-coverage concealer (like water-resistant CoverBlend by Exuviance Corrective Leg & Body Makeup SPF 18) that won't slide away—and don't moisturize the area beforehand. and then distributing it evenly with your fingers. Stretch Marks and Scars The Tool Kit: Thick concealer.The Tool Kit: Self-tanner or body bronzer. sheer loose powder. so look for a heavy.

intoxicatingly warm and languorous days of summer with getting gorgeous. and go barelegged and sometimes barefoot. .com | From the August 2005 issue of O. Here are seven ways to keep yourself resplendent throughout this season and beyond.Your Head-to-Toe Guide to Looking Great This Summer—and Beyond By Jolene Edgar Oprah. So it's with great delight that we report that the job of getting gorgeous (and staying that way) has just gotten a whole lot easier. exuding a light. exposing a glimpse of neck or shoulder and maybe. The Oprah Magazine Seven ways to keep yourself resplendent all season long. That's when we can let down our hair (or casually pin it up. luscious burst of scent). We've always associated the glorious. savoring the delicious freedom of naked skin against the soft air. strip off the layers of cotton or wool. too.

it's even more likely that dyes will escape. but in independent testing. McDaniel found it to be reparative as well. The fix: Our heroes-antioxidants. has been shown to bolster the natural photoprotective effects of topically applied vitamins C and E. The antioxidant idebenone. triggering enzymes to break down collagen and elastin. Green tea also prevents inflammation and photoaging when ingested or applied topically in very high concentrations.) Nourish Your Neck . MD. The antagonists of any skincare story. "It penetrates the hair and dissolves the dye. since it decreased collagendegrading enzymes in the body. (Redken UV Rescue Brunette Guard or Blonde Guard color-saving swim creams. "Water is the principal cause of fading. "They're like fire extinguishers for free radicals. block UVA/UVB rays and prevent hair from absorbing drying chlorine and salt. contains 90 percent. or UV-shielding cream will protect hair from the sun.) But what to do about water? A shower cap is a wise idea on days you don't shampoo. cap. assistant professor of clinical dermatology and plastic surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School. a derivative of coenzyme Q10 (and the active ingredient in the doctor-dispensed wrinkle cream Prevage). "The coloring process first lifts melanin from hair. exposing the brassy tones. "It then deposits cool dyes on top. Baumann adds." says Hall. They wipe out rogue molecules and reduce inflammation." says Christine Hall. pollution. color-protecting shampoos and conditioners can help stop fading by laying down silicones to seal the hair shaft. Come October. is regarded as a "star chemical" by some doctors. $13.Protect Your Haircolor Why it fades faster in summer: Swimmers. which contains a fern extract that protects skin from UVA damage." And if hair is sun damaged or overprocessed. Women who lighten their hair with permanent color have been known to struggle with another fade-related problem: brassiness. idebenone is primarily preventive." The fix: A scarf. but they fade quickly. $44. these unstable molecules-produced by sun. research and development director at John Frieda." says David McDaniel. Another superantioxidant. MD. stress-attack healthy cells and cause inflammation. associate professor of clinical dermatology at the University of Miami. look for the oral antioxidant Heliocare. says Leslie Baumann. Pamper Your Face Why skin suffers: Free radicals. take note. (Topix Replenix Serum. causing it to rinse right out. plant-derived ferulic acid. Like most antioxidants. and an orange-yellow shade results. When you do.

director of facial plastic surgery at the Laser Skin & Vein Center of Virginia." says Howard Murad. David Canestrari. MD. which. more delicate and thinner than facial skin. and. loses elasticity faster.000 to $9.) . MD. The only surefire fix for more general sagging is a neck lift. The real trick for scientists was getting the stuff to stay on when you rinse. One of the more common: two defined folds that run from under the chin to the lower neck.. Tightening lasers and infrared devices such as Fraxel and Titan are showing encouraging early results.. They also make it easy to moisturize (or remember) hardto-reach places like our back and stomach. forgetfulness? It's true: Eighty percent of us claim to have dry skin. The fix: "Moisturizer draws water into the epidermis and prevents it from escaping. Leslie Baumann.Why: The skin on our necks. says that their in-shower lotion (Suave Skin Therapy Skin Conditioner. new in-shower body lotionswhich you use after cleansing. typically involves lifting both the neck and lower face to create a distinct jawline and taut neck-at $7. The fix: There are a few ways to reshape sagging on the neck. Most formulas contain a humectant. MD. so it adheres well to skin. hot showers. "They're simply an alternative for people who don't want a lift or aren't ready for one. associate clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine. like a conditioner. and retinoids. but treatment can be expensive. It works. to hydrate and soften skinmake a lot of sense. the global skincare brand. MD." Because sagging is difficult to improve. Moisturize Your Body-All of It Why you're dry: Dry heat. senior research and development manager for Unilever Skin Global Innovation Center. harsh detergents. You do the math. $3) has a slight positive charge. all depend on the type of sagging you have. according to Olay. says Mary Lupo. such as glycerin.000 plus ten days' downtime. MD. which naturally has a slight negative charge. such as Differin or Retin A. "But they're not a substitute for surgery." says David McDaniel. but only 43 percent moisturize daily. Relaxing those bands with Botox can make the neck look softer and firmer for about six months. preaches daily prevention: Use a moisturizer with SPF. to attract water and a concentrated dose of ultraemollient petrolatum to lock it in. And because they work best on wet skin. associate clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA. according to Kyle Choe. (Whatever.

The fix: "You can't 'cure' a woman of cellulite. MD." says Robert Weiss.) Lasers. uses radio frequency. infrared light. "We insert a catheter. and suction massage to stimulate collagen. San Diego. then thread a radio frequency or laser fiber into the vein. Another procedure. is performed twice a week for eight weeks ($80 to $120 per session). a combination of suction and deep massage with rollers. is the newest and most effective treatment for varicose veins. fat is stored in honeycomb-like sacks. the TriActive System. and apply energy to heat the vein wall. and study results seem promising. is known to have fewer side effects than others. When these sacks expand. VelaSmooth. the newest cellulite machine.e." says Mitchel Goldman. (Glycerin. 50 percent of women will have spider and/or varicose veins by age 50. The fix: You can help strengthen veins by exercising your calf muscles often. You can temporarily smooth lumps by stimulating blood flow to help eliminate fluids and by strengthening the walls of the "honeycomb" compartments.Smooth the Cellulite Why you've got it: In women. female—your vein walls tend to be weak and prone to leaking. it can reduce the appearance of cellulite for up to six months. A recent French study proved that when Endermologie. which use heat to collapse veins. says Goldman. compressing connective tissue and creating visible dimples in the skin. Endovenous closure. Both treatments require only one or two sessions at $250 to $350 each. But the reality is. under ultrasound guidance. associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California. Swelling is relieved immediately . nonirritating sclerosing agent. causing it to shrink or collapse. Both VelaSmooth and TriActive can reduce cellulite by 40 to 60 percent after 12 to 16 sessions (at about $200 each). where they won't show through the skin." says Weiss. "If you're genetically susceptible—i. circulation. Sclerotherapy-injecting a solution to dissolve the vein-is still the gold standard for spider vein treatment because the solution treats a large area in a small amount of time. a one-puncture procedure performed under local anesthesia. Zap Spider and Varicose Veins Why you've got them: Both result from damaged valves. a relatively new. incorporates a low-energy laser. and lymphatic drainage. and massage to increase blood flow and push fat cells back into the fat layer. associate professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. no matter what you do. suction. MD. they push up into the dermis. It's painless. a skin-cooling mechanism.. says Weiss. because she needs this stored fat for pregnancy and lactation. work best when targeting just a few isolated spider veins.

I've seen a major increase in foot fungus. why not give yourself the pretty punctuation of a bright polish with a pedicure? (To be safe.com | From the May 2010 issue of O. it has to be introduced from an outside source. who constantly feel like their feet are swimming in their shoes.000 cost. says Levine. are more prone to fungus. The fix: If you've already contracted a fungus. she says. But you left your flip-flops at home. "People with hyperhidrosis [excessive sweating]. The best part: Many insurance companies cover most of the $2.) 10 Secrets Every Beauty Editor Knows That You Should." says Suzanne Levine. Over-the-counter products are rarely strong enough. ask your doctor for prescriptionstrength antifungal topicals. And in the warm weather.000 to $3. Treat Your Feet Why: You've been good about going to the gym. The Oprah Magazine . "In the last two years. You don't just develop fungus. bring your own tools. such as contaminated nail clippers or a dirty shower floor." says Levine. such as Lamisil or Penlac. Too By Valerie Monroe Oprah. a podiatric surgeon in New York City who attributes the rise to the increased popularity of spas and health clubs.and vein size is reduced by at least 50 percent.

We never met an antioxidant we didn't like.with the magic of retinoids. You can conjure up a prettier complexion while you sleep. clinical assistant professor in the division of facial plastic surgery at the University of Illinois. too. Same goes for the hands. MD. all in one place for the first time. 7. and treatments that work just as well as (or better than) luxury brands. 1. vitamin-A derivative prescription retinoids (like Retin-A. but luminosity is free. UV radiation is the major source of skin cancer and accelerated aging of the skin. clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane Medical School. 8. when I'm parched. Facials can be expensive. There's gold in them thar drugstores. moisturizers. Also: If you drink a glass of water before each meal. Free radicals—certain kinds of . The fastest way to better skin tone doesn't cost a dime. rub it on your neck and the backs of your hands. The large cosmetic companies that produce drugstore products want you to be loyal to them. says Steven Dayan. 3.All secret societies accumulate a treasury of their own uncommon wisdom. The result? That healthy glow everyone's aiming for. MD. both of which can occur without tanning or other visible signs of damage. says Steven Wang.. rain or shine. 2. Lupo. and encourage cell turnover. so they don't skimp on their research and development. Use at least SPF 15 every day. Here. you can look as if you spent a month on the Riviera. New Jersey. Still the gold standard of topical skincare ingredients. is the best insider intelligence. Tazorac) stimulate new collagen. For the price of a tube of self-tanner. Add a retinoid to your nighttime beauty routine. 4. Renova. you'll be less inclined to overeat. and the league of beauty editors is no exception. MD. Sunscreen is the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth. director of dermatologic surgery and dermatology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center at Basking Ridge. exfoliate your pores. my complexion looks flaky and dry. 6. Always treat your hands and neck the way you treat your face. Exercising gives you improved circulation and oxygen capacity. After you apply a treatment (like a retinoid or antioxidant serum) to your face. yet most women don't care for it as well. which causes the blood vessels in the skin to dilate. But forget the rule about eight glasses a day—just drink enough so that you're not thirsty. The one thing we always drink to: water. The skin on the neck is thinner than the skin on the face. Take advantage of the bounty of inexpensive cleansers. says Mary P. 5. Apply a moisturizing body lotion that includes a selftanner to hide spider veins on your legs and to get a slimming effect all over. Though there's no link between how much water you consume and how hydrated your skin is..

C.com | March 23. for Pete's sake. my eyelids are oily—what's up with that?). A haircut is a little like a dress: If you start out with terrific tailoring. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants like coenzyme Q10. Applying antioxidants topically can also help. While you're at it. 2011 You've consistently honored Ask Val with your most pressing beauty questions. Good deeds = good looks. And studies have shown that a person who looks happy is perceived as more attractive than the same person who looks sad. classic haircut is worth more than all the styling products in the world. One impeccable. and E can help reverse some of that damage. And. be sure you're wearing sunscreen. So do something kind for someone.molecules that can build up in your body and damage proteins and DNA— hasten the aging process. . from the straightforward (do I really need an SPF if I'm inside all day?) to the strange (though my skin is dry. 9. says Dayan. smile. Here are some of our favorite skincare dilemmas along with their bottom-line solutions. you're more likely to wear a happy expression. accessorizing is unnecessary (but still can be lots of fun). 10. says Dayan. and vitamins A. Val Answers Your Top 20 Skincare Questions Oprah. If you do something that makes you feel great about yourself.

But don't give up on your perfume just yet. I like PCA Skin Protecting Hydrator SPF 30 ( $34. (Unless you count the spaghetti sauce I discovered on my chin after dinner the other night. Decrease your exposure to all scented products.com) Keep reading: What's the best moisturizer for you? Q. my favorite fragrance seems to be giving me hives. A very small amount of Botox. Keep in mind: If you choose to go this three-pronged route. can prevent the kind of puckering that helps to cause them. unless your skin is very dry. injected into the sides of the mouth. California. a dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente in Vallejo. MD. MD. which works by interacting with your skin to absorb the sun's rays. One of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is fragrance ingredients. So it's smart to apply this type before anything else. must penetrate whatever is already on your face in order to be effective. though often less serious. Keep in mind: In summer. says Heidi Waldorf. even years after exposure.Q: Suddenly. months. can also cause a rash. yestocarrots. it's critical that you . Injections of a filler like Juvéderm or Restylane can fill them in. which. which can react to an allergen days. you can probably use just one product: a moisturizing sunscreen. says Paradi Mirmirani. sunscreen of moisturizer? A: What you apply first depends on the kind of sunscreen you use. But a chemical sunscreen (avobenzone or oxybenzone). Q: Which do I put on my face first. pcaskin. clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center. MD.) A three-step approach works well to eliminate the lines. What's up with that? A: What's probably up are your memory T cells. associate professor of dermatology at Howard University. Then apply your fragrance on the inside of your arm to see if that's what's causing your reaction. associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.500). either. I didn't much like that. one treatment with a fractional CO2 laser can get rid of them for more than ten years (with three days to a week of redness and swelling and a cost of $1. says Deborah Sarnoff. Keep in mind: A doctor can give you a patch test to determine if you have ACD. How can I get rid of the deep vertical lines on my upper lip? A: Those lines are really the only thing I don't like on my face. A physical block (containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) can be applied over your moisturizer.500 to $4. some of these ingredients are also found in skincare and haircare products and laundry detergents. you may have irritant contact dermatitis. MD. says Valerie Callender. Finally. if you don't.com for stores) and Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Daily Calming Moisturizer with SPF 30 ($15.

Wash your face with a cleanser designed for normal skin. you've got combination skin. how hard can it be to get rid of acne? Actually. and if you're undistracted you can probably finish it in about an hour—exactly when your skin will be ready to evaluate. MD. MD. Keep reading: What are your skin treatment options? Q: How can I figure out my skin type? A: It's easy. and the oral prescription medicine isotretinoin can give long-lasting results with cystic or severe acne. If you're oily only across the forehead. shoot people into space (and even bring them back). because acne results from a complicated process involving a plugged pore. says Susan Taylor. clinical associate professor emeritus of dermatology at Stanford University School of Medicine. repeat the test four times a year.see a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon experienced in the treatments (too much filler can look unnatural—as I'm sure you've observed— and too much Botox around the mouth can affect your shpeesh). ashy or flaky. down the nose and on the chin. but because acne involves genetics. including salicylic acid to disrupt the plug. and if you need to blot your whole face with a tissue. How does it feel? If it's tight. so it might be wise to avoid them. Keep reading: Val's adult acne cures Q: Do more-expensive skincare products have some kind of "professional strength"? . the only permanent solution will involve gene therapy—and we're not there yet. Keep reading: Top 10 skin myths—a dermatologist tells all Q: Why isn't there a way to get rid of acne immediately and permanently? A: Hear. Bottom line: You can treat the superficial causes topically. oil. prevent wrinkles. Recent research shows that milk and milk products may aggravate acne. you're oily. benzoyl peroxide for protection from bacteria and sulfur for its anti-inflammatory effect. It's a short. bacteria and inflammation. Now pick up a copy of Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader. your complexion is dry. but the best way to prevent acne is by using a combination of ingredients that address each step in the breakout process. and it's also influenced by genetics and hormones. rinse well. Bottom line: Once you've established your skin type. you likely have sensitive skin. says Katie Rodan. and pat dry with a soft towel. hear! We've pretty much figured out how to dissolve fat. harder than you'd think. If your face feels irritated or slightly itchy. A shot of cortisone directly into a pimple reduces inflammation in a day or two. because your skin probably changes seasonally. assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University. funny book.

but it makes them appear smaller—which is a fine enough trick. medical director at the Center for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery in Washington. Bottom line: If you're old enough to ask the question. A prescription product will likely contain a higher concentration of active ingredients than an OTC formula. oil or lotion? A: The best way to treat dry skin is to seal in moisture by forming a protective . When should I start using anti-aging products? A: The day before yesterday (and I wish I'd followed my own advice). I'm 26. you're old enough to be using anti-aging products. A drugstore mask or moisturizer can have the same concentrations of active ingredients as one from a department store or spa. Which is a better body moisturizer: cream. Leslie Baumann. making it appear less noticeable. Does pore-minimizing makeup shrink your pores? A: No. Baumann suggests using a prescription retinoid product like Retin-A. so it's important to conserve collagen. coenzyme Q10. She points out that the best anti-aging product is sunscreen. When it comes to wrinkles. prevention is key. says Burgess. which are very good at blurring the look of the pore.C. MD. Bottom line: The price and strength of a product do not necessarily correlate. director of the Baumann Cosmetic and Research Institute in Miami Beach and author of The Skin Type Solution. Some formulas incorporate optical diffusers.A: Price alone has nothing to do with the strength and effectiveness of skincare products. even indoors (where UVA rays can work their bad chemistry through windows). lycopene. Keep reading: The easy guide to flawless skin Q. vitamin E and ferulic acid. Keep reading: The facts about cosmetic procedures Q. Differin or Renova—in conjunction with a daily moisturizer containing antioxidants like idebenone. vitamin C. Tazorac. MD. hyaluronic acid and elastin. For nighttime. all of which keep skin looking plump and firm. But there is a correlation between the strength of a product and whether it's prescription or over-the-counter. Bottom line: Pore minimizers containing silicone can make your skin look flawless. says Cheryl Burgess. so cleanse with makeup remover. if you ask me. D. says she tells patients as young as 18 to use ingredients that have been shown to slow the effects of aging. Keep reading: Get Val's skincare regimen Q. used every day. Retinoids and antioxidants help preserve all three. but their residue is resistant to soap and water.

Next. if the color decreases. says Heidi Waldorf." says Jeannette Graf. you might consider treatment with the V-beam laser. alpha hydroxy acids. kinetin and azelaic acid. say). The cause of the darkness could be eczema. and following it with a lotion containing oil-absorbing microsponges. use a brush to apply a veil of loose powder (don't use your fingers. use eye creams containing glycerin. try applying a foundation primer—the silicone in it gives your skin a matte finish— wherever you get shiny (on your forehead. Keeping the area well hydrated can improve the appearance of either kind of undereye shadow and make it easier to apply concealer. and hydroquinone. Gels containing caffeine will temporarily tighten the skin. Other helpful ingredients to look for are kojic acid. Help! A: "This can be a challenging problem. assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. MD. a bleaching ingredient. The difference is the oil-to-water ratio. and press on the skin. Keep reading: 4 steps to conceal undereye circles Q. your (red or purplish) dark circles are probably caused by blood vessels just below the skin. petrolatum. they can transmit oil). over an oil-free foundation or tinted moisturizer. Then. Look closely in a mirror. Keep in mind: Avoid drying out your skin. Waldorf typically starts with creams containing retinoids (prescription tretinoin or tazarotene or over-the-counter retinols). co-director of laser surgery at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery. For pigment-related shadows. and lotions have less. My face is always shiny even though I use blotting papers and powder. too. creams can reduce only the pigment-related type. Tanzi says: Creams have more oil than water. MD. since that can cause oil glands to go . How do I know which one to buy? A: If your complexion is fair. In this case.layer over it. to reduce pigmentation and increase cell turnover. itching or scaling. So many products claim to get rid of undereye circles. your (brown) circles are probably caused by pigmentation. or if the skin is burning. Graf suggests using a cleanser with witch hazel. Keep in mind: First figure out what's causing your undereye shadows. MD. see a dermatologist. But you already know that. which zaps the vessels. If topical creams seem to irritate the area or make the circles worse. your circles are more likely from blood vessels. Keep reading: When does a skincare product expire? Q. for which you may need a prescription topical anti-inflammatory cream. In order of effectiveness: oils. If you're olive or darker. Waldorf says. associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. causing them to disappear. dimethicone or kinetin. says Elizabeth Tanzi. creams and lotions.

into overdrive. do I really need an SPF if I'm inside all day? A: Say you're in your office. Bottom line: You probably get more sun exposure than you think. but you won't be doing your jacket any favors. because they're often exposed. your Achilles tendon and anything else that happens to stick out. Getting to work. Keep reading: Why would you want an SPF 100+? Q. founder of SkinCareLab in New York City. Now. And UVA rays. All over. if you think of your skin as a commodity at least as valuable as a vintage bolero— and I know you do—you'll apply a similar kind of reasoning to your face. says Brad Katchen. Use a broad-spectrum product—one that blocks UVA (more deeply penetrating) and UVB (burning) rays. Look for one containing either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (physical sunblocks) and/or Parsol 1789 (a chemical ingredient also called avobenzone). Also on your ears. It starts to rain. My moisturizer has an SPF 20. Keep reading: Val's basics for a fresh and flawless look Q: Come on. MD. If I had the time. no. MD. on a Florida beach. but. I realized I hadn't applied sunscreen on my toes. Will it kill you to go out without an umbrella? Of course not. Wear it. Remember to use an SPF of at least 15 on your lips. 3. I'd research everything about sun protection. so if you're lucky enough to have an office with a window. assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. too. My foundation has an SPF 15. A shot glass full should be enough to cover you. sporting a vintage midnight blue Yves Saint Laurent velvet jacket with silk lapels. Even if the residue from the creamy base of the product remains on . are transmitted through glass. or Mexoryl. Zorched. which had been peeking innocently out of the umbrella shade. But why should I? That's your job. Am I getting a combined protection of SPF 35? A: I understand your thinking on this. 2. which cause premature aging of the skin. dashing out for a salad midday and going home all expose your skin to damaging UVA/UVB light. Using a moisturizer with SPF is an easy way to apply protection. You're getting only the highest SPF protection you wear. Keep reading: 7 never-fail sunscreens Q. Recently. Reapply. says Debra Jaliman. so use an SPF 15 lotion even if you spend most of the day inside. all of which provide considerable UVA protection. you may be getting a daily sunbath at your desk. What must I absolutely know about sunscreen? 1.

But in the sometimes dark and often skeptical world of Ask Val. Bottom line: Though firming lotions can plump up your skin with moisture. 4. Q: Do creams and lotions containing collagen deliver it into the skin? A: "There has been no scientific evidence to suggest that there is enough penetration of collagen transepidermally to be deposited in the dermis. Keep reading: Tips for different skin types Q: How do firming body lotions work? A: A colleague here in the office claims that she gets a tighter bottom when she applies firming body lotion. clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York Presbyterian Hospital–Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. says Arielle N. One of the reasons I'm fond of her is that. I'm suspicious of marketers. Liquids and gels are better suited to oilier skin. Bottom line: The doctor said no. but the radiation from UVA rays can still cause wrinkles and even skin cancer. Herschthal. says David H. Kauvar. Kauvar says. If you have dry skin." says Neil Sadick.your skin. a water-resistant product may not wash off but may rub off after you towel yourself dry. and the melanin in your skin will protect you longer. the block or screen may not. Keep using the stuff. Keep reading: Readers share their sunscreen stories Q. so you'll still need to reapply. clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center. MD. there's no evidence that the ingredients produce long-term effects. firming lotions are good for one thing only: moisturizing.B. says Herschthal. MD. among her many other lovely qualities. if you think your bottom looks better and that makes you happy (and why wouldn't it?). I say. Coat yourself every two hours. At the beach or pool. look for an emollient cream and avoid products with an alcohol base. Do people like me with very dark skin really need sunscreen? A: You may not get sunburned. professor of dermatology at the University of Miami School of Medicine. The antioxidants added to some formulas may help reduce collagen breakdown but will not stimulate new collagen and skin thickening. MD. more power to you. Choose a sunscreen suitable for your skin type. Keep reading: What women doctors know about skincare (that you should too) . That will improve the appearance of the skin temporarily. she is a terrific optimist.

Keep reading: 15 treatments for more beautiful skin Q: Help! I have turkey neck! Short of surgery. The solution irritates the vein's lining. Keep reading: Should you apply sunscreen before or after moisturizer? Q: How can I get rid of spider veins on my legs? A: Among the many useless. for example). D. But if you're trying to target specific skin conditions.C. the skin can become overstimulated if these ingredients are used simultaneously. Alster says. San Francisco. Most people experience temporary mild redness and swelling along the course of the treated veins. depending on the number of veins. says Tina Alster. is there anything I can do? . assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California.000 for either procedure. you can mix brands with abandon. if they're large enough to be threaded with a tiny needle. Typically the ingredients and products in a skincare line are formulated to work synergistically to maximize results and minimize side effects. says Alster. now that there are better ones. says Jennifer Linder. MD. it's better to stick with only one line. when your legs are covered and more easily protected from the sun. Bottom line: The best time to treat spider veins is in winter.) Avoid sclerotherapy immediately before or during menstruation because of heightened sensitivity. though they're a little more uncomfortable because they zap the veins with heat. The treatment takes 10 to 30 minutes. It's especially important to be careful with retinoids. If you hate needles. MD.Q: Is it more effective to use products from only one skincare line than to mix different brands? A: If you're like most women. often both legs can be done in a single session. clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington. alpha hydroxy acids. But many of Linder's patients make the mistake of mixing the strongest products from several lines. hydroquinone and salicylic acid. tissue inflammation results. which causes the blood vessel to collapse and fade. you probably use products that contain active ingredients (alpha hydroxy acids to treat aging skin. (Tanned skin reduces visibility of the veins during the procedures and increases the risk of posttreatment hyperpigmentation. inane things I've often wondered about: Wouldn't those intricate patterns of blood vessels be more appropriately called spiderweb veins? Anyway. The procedure used to sting because of the nature of the solutions. Bottom line: If you use only a gentle nonsoap cleanser. which irritates their skin. you could try vascular laser treatments instead. sclerotherapy—the injection of various chemical solutions into the blood vessels—is the best option. moisturizer and sunscreen. it's nearly painless. You can expect to pay $350 to $1.

You can iron the skirt (meaning treat it with various lasers. we seem to be having a moment of poultry-related beauty issues. because if the technician isn't changing the pot of wax for each new client (ask her. MD. Think of your neck as a skirt that needs hemming. and a small scar from behind the ears into the hairline. suggests (the metaphorically gifted) Alan Matarasso. take your waxable parts elsewhere. says Jennifer Linder. the technician dips the wooden applicator into the pot of wax repeatedly. If you're concerned about the cleanliness of a facility. making cross-contamination from client to client more likely. Hyperpigmentation (brown spots) can be eradicated with one treatment of a pigment-specific laser.A: Another reader recently wrote to me complaining of chicken legs. or an over-the-counter . suctioned fat. lifted and tightened muscles. Waxing induces areas of microtrauma to the skin. MD. you could catch a lot of stuff you'd be a whole lot better off without. Keep reading: How to prevent breakouts when waxing Q: How can I keep my hands looking youthful? A: I love the look of mature hands. apply a vitamin A prescription cream like Renova. The problem with turkey neck is that you can't get dramatic results without taking dramatic action. You follow? And what does "hemming" entail? An incision behind the earlobes. Keep reading: What products to use on your neck Q: When I get a bikini wax. she may not be). (Not to mention a recovery time of 10 to 14 days. human papillomavirus and herpes. clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center. you won't lose the excess fabric. she should wear gloves during the treatment and use new paper or sheets for each client. Your magnificent eyes and delicious smile may render your neck way less noticeable than you think. assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California. (A bleaching cream takes longer to work but will fade spots in about six weeks. MD. and a cost of about $10. like the Q-switched ruby or alexandrite.000. Infection in the vaginal area can be quite severe. But before you send your neck to the tailor. they seem to have earned the right to wear good jewelry. but unless you hem the skirt. clinical professor of plastic surgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York City. she says.) At night. Bottom line: The technician should never double-dip the application stick. staph. But there's lots you can do if you want youthful hands. says Deborah Sarnoff. neither lasers nor creams will make an appreciable difference. which can help smooth the skin) and reinforce the fabric of the skirt (meaning apply creams like retinoids that will encourage production of collagen and elastin). San Francisco.) Bottom line: If your turkey neck is in full swing. you could be exposed to group A strep. think long and hard about what people see when they look at you. Could I catch anything? A: How are you feeling right now—good? I hope so.

Keep in mind: Wear cotton-lined or rubber gloves when you're working around the house and leather gloves when you're outside. Bottom line: Hormonal fluctuations can cause various changes in your skin. If you're finding it hard to wear eyeshadow or liner because it migrates off your lids. in some women hormonal fluctuations can cause overactivity of those glands. . they can be diminished by injections of a filler like Radiesse or Sculptra. would terrify a lesser woman. you should consult a doctor to rule out a couple of conditions that might cause oil on the lids. oily eyelids is one of them. Always remember to use an SPF 30 sunscreen on your hands to prevent new spots. if you have blurry vision. says Sapna Westley. my friends.) As for oily lids: First. which can lead to oily skin around the eyes and nose.retinol cream. my eyelids have gotten oily. I've noticed that though my skin is dry. What's up with that? A: Some of the things you write to me about. which lays down a base that keeps your eye makeup in place. And moisturize like crazy. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center in New York City. line-free hands Q: Since I turned 40. (Or maybe just a younger woman. If veins are your bugaboo. Though oil glands usually become less active during perimenopause and menopause. MD. Keep reading: The secret to beautiful. Or—I'm sure you've thought of this—you may be using too much eye cream. try an eyeshadow primer. clinical instructor in dermatology at St. she says.

they could be navy blue. Why? She hates them. and bumps stand in the way of summer's fluttery little skirts. cool shorts. "They're pale.Betty (as in Grable). her graceful neck.. She's smart. Sleeveless. The funny thing is: We've never seen her legs. "You don't want to see my legs. The Oprah Magazine If you're letting a few veins.5 Steps to Getting Gorgeous Legs Oprah. No matter what season.. her legs are sheathed in pants or concealed in tights. Or covered in silvery scales. Oh. let's call her. For all we know. Bruised. blotches. When the weather turns warm. Even the long dog days of a New York City summer don't motivate her to liberate them. she throws off her cashmere cardigan and happily exposes her lovely arms.. She's gorgeously statuesque." she says ruefully. and she does. her splendid cleavage in gossamery. We know a woman. Veiny. deep-cut blouses. and my knees? Heading south. stop right now and read this. Dimpled. She's stylish. she strides briskly through the world like a woman who knows where she's going." ..com | From the May 2008 issue of O. and the deliciousness of warm breezes on bare skin.

" says Kara Peterson. making veins look less conspicuous—they topped our list of solutions.We love tough cases. In other words. apply a generous dose to your palms. do the job standing up. like Betty. can hardly remember the feeling of a deliciously warm summer breeze brushing against your calves. like your knees and feet. and in the process figured out the best way to apply them. Use a light lotion. 3. extra attention. The directions on the bottle might tell you to start from your feet and work up—but don't. It dilutes the self-tanner a bit—but what you lose in intensity you make up for in uniformity. fading scars. A thin coating of moisturizer smooths the surface of your legs and prevents streaks. So we took this one on. you'll be splotchy. After your self-tanner has done its work. and shore up saggy knees? And finally. Four-Step Perfect Self-Tan After plenty of experience with dark patches and strange stripes. Give scalier areas. gifted at bending the truth. who trains aestheticians in the art of fake tanning at Clarins spas. we asked O's fashion team for clothes and strategies that will make anyone's legs look longer and leaner. Exfoliate. 4. $10) evens the tanning field. 1. Also. fade bruises. Buffing your skin with a scrub (look for one that's not too oily. The No-Fail. like Nivea Smooth Sensation ($6). blend a slightly iridescent . Since self-tanners can serve as a soft-focus light on your legs—blurring dimples. Apply. making it our mission to free our friend from the shackles of her leg shame. Then we asked doctors what they can do to make all the Bettys of the world feel better about their legs: What options are available to eliminate veins. Problem 1: Ghostly Pallor The obvious (and best) solution: self-tanners—master dissemblers. we think you might be persuaded to reveal them after you read our Complete Guide to Legs You're Proud to Bare. 2. We tested dozens of them to come up with our favorites. Shimmer. Moisturize. if certain areas have thicker skin than others. we've finally found a method that works every time. like Neutrogena Energizing Sugar Body Scrub. "Start off in the middle of your thighs and the middle of your calves and blend out. So if you. your "tan" will be more concentrated there. See the best self-tanning products. too—it'll keep the tanner from tinting them. you might apply too much to the stretched skin." Your feet and knees should get only whatever's left over. Are you more likely to follow directions when you know why you're doing something? Here you go: Since self-tanners react with the upper layers of your skin. "Think about where the sun hits. says Peterson—when your knees are bent.

such as aspirin. director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Sit at the edge of a chair and extend each leg until it's parallel to the floor. head makeup artist for Victoria's Secret Beauty. Problem 3: Saggy Knees We think it's a fine idea that our knees are located smack in the middle of our legs: Without knees. If you have olive or dark skin. the lotus position—would be a challenge. but you can cut down on medications and supplements that make you more prone to bruising. and down to your feet. As we age. which contains lactic acid to slough away flakes as it softens. though. says Heidi Waldorf. line-dancing. bromelain supplements may help the discolored areas heal more quickly. "As we age. we lose the fat just beneath our skin that protects our blood vessels from trauma.lotion over the front and back of your thighs. so many delightful things—walking. professor of dermatology at the University of Miami School of Medicine. along your shins. MD. A rich lotion smooths roughness and improves luminosity. their prominent placement began to seem unfortunate. take 500 milligrams twice a day. MD. a trainer at Equinox Fitness. MD. says Leslie Baumann. Fusco also recommends taking 250 to 500 milligrams of vitamin C. You can't do anything about the fat loss. you're lucky—just do step four. and vitamin E. assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. to boost quadriceps strength. and legs start to get scaly. "Tightening the muscles above the knees helps lift them.50). If you have dark skin. ibuprofen. "The strategically placed shine has a slimming effect.) Problem 2: Scary Bruises Do your legs often look as if you just played a game of one-on-one with David Beckham? You probably haven't gotten clumsier—but you may have lost some padding. every day. cell turnover slows down. ." says Linda Hay. this dryness may manifest as an ashy cast. Firming the quadriceps may improve things. Once the damage is done." says Francesca Fusco. But when we recently noticed that our knees weren't looking as taut as they once did. $6) speed healing. there's one thing that makes legs look better in a flash: lotion. use an acid-free lotion to avoid irritation. while your skin is damp. Waldorf likes Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Body Creme ($8." says Johanna Subotovsky. (After you shave. The 10-second leg beautifier: If self-tanning sounds too involved. Slather one on postshower. which can strengthen collagen in the blood vessel walls. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that topical arnica creams (try Boiron Arnicare Cream.

Treatments cost $300 to $500. Glycerin works for smaller veins. and the veins look worse before they get better (in about a month). the body then reabsorbs them over the following weeks. YAG. assistant clinical professor of surgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. MD. but as the technology evolves. A less-invasive option could be coming soon. all require a doctor's appointment. Problem 4: Visible Veins Maybe you noticed a couple of faint squiggles around your ankles a few years back. .The only way to fully restore knees to their former glory involves surgery: No thanks. The injected sites may sting slightly for about five minutes. causing it to contract and tighten skin over time. MD. causing them to disappear within about two weeks. energy is applied to heat the vein's walls. for a day or so. causing it to collapse. one treatment (about $3. Doctors are investigating laser and radiofrequency treatments (brands include Titan and Thermage) as potential knee lifters. depending on the type of veins you're dealing with. The beam destroys the walls of the veins (it will feel like a few quick rubber-band snaps). Itsy-Bitsy Spiders: The tiniest veins can be zapped with a Vbeam. but can cost from $3." says Ranella Hirsch.000 for both knees) is supposed to yield results over six months.500 to $6. president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology & Aesthetic Surgery. and the effects can last up to two years. Smooth Squiggles: When a vein is large enough to be threaded with a small needle. like kudzu gone wild. doctors recommend "endovenous closure. A solution is injected into individual veins to irritate and collapse them. or diode laser. over your thighs. Now you see blue lines. One treatment is sufficient. Ropy Bulges: When veins protrude. Afterward you have to wear compression stockings and endure some discomfort (mild enough to be treated with Advil) for several days. are necessary. creeping behind your knees. clinical professor of dermatology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. at $300 to $400 each. says Heidi Waldorf. says Neil Sadick. Most patients experience pressure and burning for about five minutes of the 30minute procedure. the knees will be an area that could be treated successfully. sclerotherapy is the most effective option. they sometimes feel slightly sore. These procedures heat collagen. MD. "I'm not confident in these treatments yet. says vascular surgeon Norman Chideckel.000 per leg (doctors usually treat one leg at a time). About three treatments. Two or three treatments are usually necessary." a procedure performed under local anesthesia in which a radiofrequency or laser fiber is inserted into the vein. like a muscle ache. and saline or Sotradecol (a sodium sulfate compound) is most effective on larger ones. When larger veins are treated. You have several options to get rid of them.

Over time retinol improves the texture of your skin (but not your cellulite). with no end in sight.Problem 5: Lumps & Bumps Some dimpled thighs can be adorable. which helps refine the surface of the skin and can boost collagen production.) For the time being. "It's promising. VelaShape requires a touch-up every three to six months. sometimes it doesn't. and as of yet. "There have been reports of some very scary side effects. though." says Ranella Hirsch.400. and sometimes it makes cellulite worse. a package of eight SmoothShapes treatments—the company recommends two a week for one month—runs $2. Bottom line: Practice acceptance—and find a great pair of shorts.000." (Four weekly VelaShape sessions cost about $2. light. Most doctors say a series of treatments will noticeably smooth bumps—but consistent maintenance is necessary. which makes it firmer for a few hours.400 to $3. women have fibrous strips of tissue under the surface of the skin that create a sort of tic-tac-toe pattern.) Liposuction is a one-shot deal. The most promising at the moment are the VelaShape (which combines radiofrequency and infrared light energy. who doesn't offer the treatments in her practice for this reason. removing moisture from the skin." A few high-tech machines are approved by the FDA for a temporary reduction in the appearance of cellulite (there is no indication how long results might last). and you have endless time and money. . and suction). but you can't do anything about the fibrous bands that create dimpling. doctors advise staying away from any cellulite treatment that involves a needle. Any fat is pushed up against this grid. suction. but even this invasive procedure won't necessarily improve cellulite. which is what causes dimpling.. but I wouldn't recommend it anytime soon. get to the beach. Lipodissolve involves injecting a specific ingredient that has been shown to dissolve fat (in test tubes). "Sometimes it helps." says Francesca Fusco. there's not a lot we can do about it. lunges. and get back fast?) Some of these creams also contain retinol. You can suck out some of the fat. massage.." Topical cellulite creams contain ingredients (usually caffeine or a derivative) that act as diuretics. "But if your cellulite really bothers you. and some very respected doctors are conducting studies. Mesotherapy is a catchall term for injecting who-knows-what into cellulite in an effort to liquidate it. "You definitely have to keep going back. "In the thigh area. "Cellulite isn't just regular shapeless fat like you might find on your stomach." says Heidi Waldorf. and leg lifts in the world won't help cellulite. "It's not regulated." says Fusco." says Waldorf. (So: Rub it in. SmoothShapes at least once a year. and mechanical massage) and SmoothShapes (a hybrid of laser. (This is also why all the squats. But you probably don't find yourself cooing over yours. Cellulite is a fact of life for about 90 percent of us.

may improve the quality of your skin. That's how much Americans spent last year on "nutricosmetics"—drinks. but there's no FDA oversight of them." says Mary Lupo. however. even candies that claim to clear breakouts. Nuts and Fish "Research suggests that their high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids can hydrate the skin and lessen the appearance of deep wrinkles. pills. but research shows it will improve the tone and texture of your skin." says Jessica Wu. and fruits and vegetables." says nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner. like fish oil. You should notice a . assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California. A diet packed with lean proteins. is likely to have a positive effect on your face. who recommends eating 12 ounces of fish (such as salmon or cod) every week. cooked tomatoes (in juice or sauce) can protect skin against sunburn.com | From the December 2008 issue of O. or 1 ounce of walnuts a day. or fade blotches.O Investigates: Can You Nourish Your Skin from the Inside Out? By Jenny Bailly Oprah. But dermatologists and nutritionists aren't convinced that these increasingly popular products are wise investments. clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine. MD. which will help your body absorb the lycopene. so it's hard to know how much of the nutrient is actually being absorbed by your body and is affecting your complexion. smooth wrinkles. "Certain supplements. The Oprah Magazine Fifty million dollars. Try to consume about one cup a week. "Improving your eating habits isn't going to eliminate wrinkles or sagging. paired with a healthy fat (like olive oil or avocado). whole grains. Tomatoes Loaded with lycopene.

which is essential for collagen formation. and Oysters They're all high in zinc. when taken orally. for example. or just one incredibly zinc-heavy oyster. and half a cup of white kidney beans. Red Meat. Yogurt.5 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables every day. Kiwis. Researchers credit the vegetables' high concentration of the organic pigments lutein and zeaxanthin. A study published last year found that a diet high in vitamin C was associated with less skin dryness and wrinkling. daily. which has been shown to strengthen blood vessels and may help prevent varicose veins. . Sweet Potatoes These are just a few of the brightly colored foods that are rich in antioxidant vitamins C and E. Such as Spinach and Swiss Chard A recent study found that people with a history of squamous cell carcinoma who ate about two servings of these greens weekly reduced their risk of subsequent skin cancers. Blueberries. Green Leafy Vegetables. White Kidney Beans. author of The Beauty Diet. three ounces of beef. They also contain vitamin K.change in your skin in about six weeks. You need. says nutritionist Lisa Drayer. Blatner recommends eating 2. they can help protect against UV damage. one cup of yogurt.

clinical professor of dermatology . like Retin-A. (Cost: Around $1. The Oprah Magazine Trust us: It's way too hot to wear pants.com | From the July 2011 issue of O. like the Fraxel Dual. A Spotless Décolletage A retinoid cream—either prescription. says Tina Alster. You'll probably need at least two treatments. and chest) ready for the season's skin-baring outfits. (Cost: At least $500 per session. After three monthly sessions.) A fractional nonablative laser. MD. $7) are all you need to get smooth legs for at least a day or two. greatly improves not just the color but also the texture of the skin. Laser treatments can drastically reduce the amount of hair on your legs (or bikini line or underarms) for good. Here's how to get your legs (and arms. most patients have 50 to 80 percent less hair in the treated area. or over-the-counter (look for retinol in the ingredient list)—will lighten discoloration and soften rough patches caused by sun damage.6 Quick Beauty Fixes for All Your Summer Skin Issues By Jenny Bailly Oprah.) Silky Legs A rich shaving cream and a four-blade razor (try Bic Soleil Bella. Two to four treatments with a KTP laser or intense pulsed light (IPL) can more dramatically minimize both the brown spots and redness caused by UV exposure.000 each.

A Slimmer Silhouette Even sylphlike models slip into shapewear to minimize bulges around the hips and waist.) Once the mark has turned white. (Cost: Around $350 per treatment. but most have no side effects. three or four treatments with a Vbeam pulsed-dye laser will improve its appearance considerably. clinical professor of dermatology at NYU Medical Center. MD. most doctors used saline. fullcoverage concealer (like Dermablend Quick-Fix Concealer. some patients experience aching in the treated area for a few days afterward. Sclerotherapy—in which a solution is injected into individual veins—will get rid of those blue squiggles permanently.) Firm Knees A long skirt can still allow for a sexy flash of your knees. which uses radiofrequency energy to grow new collagen. match it to the darker skin around the mark. When temperatures are high. which could sting. (Cost: $400 to $1.) Both techniques are most effective in the early stages of sagging. MD. use a heavy. but many have now switched to the painless Asclera. uses intense cold to destroy fat cells." says Jeffrey Dover.50) for natural color and nonstreaky finish. like Valium.600 each. If yours look more droopy than you'd like. Looking for a longer-term solution? A new device. Until recently. (Cost for either: At least $600. (Cost: About $1. made with a detergent solution called polidocanol (approved by the FDA last year). "It's fantastic for getting rid of pockets of localized fat. (Cost: About $350 for each laser session. Are you convinced you want to tighten the skin around your knees? Then you'll have to visit a dermatologist. $22). and the veins look worse before they get better in about a month.at Georgetown University Medical Center. like Percocet. Zeltiq's CoolSculpting.400 per treatment. You'll see the maximum results after four months.) For an immediate fix. . more than one treatment may be necessary. Thermage. a new device that heats the lower layers of the skin with ultrasound to spur collagen growth. One treatment should do.) Veinless Legs Self-tanner works like magic to make leg veins less noticeable. Some have seen noticeable results from Ulthera. associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. Four or five sessions can improve the mark's color and texture from 50 to 90 percent. can also tighten loose skin on the knees and is less painful than Ulthera. Two or three treatments are usually necessary. Try L'Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Clear Self-Tanning Gel ($10. (Cost: At least $300 per session. and doctors are excited about the results. The procedure is virtually painless. try Jockey's lightweight Shaper Brief ($19). the best treatment option is a nonablative fractional laser. tightening your quadriceps with squats might help. but it hurts—most patients take a prescription pain medication. says Arielle Kauvar. and an antianxiety pill. CoolSculpting was approved by the FDA last fall for body contouring.) Scar-Free Skin While a stretch mark or scar is still red (which can last from months to years). like love handles or muffin top.

and it picks up carbon dioxide and other waste. Consider these differences between women and men. 2008 The line in the Joe Jackson song. ―Don’t you know that it’s different for girls?‖ refers to the way emotions play out differently in women’s hearts than in men’s. The blood drops off oxygen and nutrients to all of the body’s cells.000 miles of blood vessels in your body— enough to circle the earth four times. And your heart pumps about 4. But inside a woman. But women’s hearts themselves are different. you have about 100. .Men vs. a heart has a distinctly feminine touch. Nelson.300 gallons of blood through those vessels each day to every single organ and other tissues in your body. Women: Matters of the Heart By Miriam E.com | July 09. MD Oprah. No matter what your gender.

We women need each other to keep our hearts in good shape. change sheets. and impatience— are more likely than other men to die after a heart attack. such as play tennis. or walk up two flights of stairs. run to catch a train. Small vessels are harder to work worth. Women: Women’s first warning signs are much more subtle and often hard to pinpoint. Women: Women seem more likely to die after a heart attack if they repress anger and react without agitation to stressful events. Women: Women’s smaller arteries make procedures like bypass surgery trickier.Warning Signs Men: Often the first sign of heart disease is a heart attack itself. Women: Research on non-human primates suggests that social isolation and limited freedom of movement boosts heart disease among females. They may feel fatigue when doing something that they used to do easily. Our Arteries Men: Men’s arteries are large compared to women’s. A bypass is a rerouting of blood from a blocked or nearly blocked blood vessel to a healthy one. cynicism.000 people undergoing bypass surgery. which may be part of the reason that. in a review of some 300. Taking Women More Seriously . a feeling like the chest is being run over by a Mack truck. Social Behavior Men: Research has not generally linked social isolation to heart attacks in males. Our Emotions Men: Preliminary research suggests that men with type A personalities— which go hand in hand with hostility. Often there’s no chest pain whatsoever. female monkeys housed alone have more extensive hardening of the arteries than female monkeys housed in social groups. Furthermore. Sometimes heart disease registers in women as a feeling of mild indigestion. the death rate was higher in women than in men.

which analyzes blood flow in the arteries leading to the heart to assess the exact location and degree of damage. and the like. Women are much less likely than men to undergo a standard treadmill test. Women’s more vague heart disease symptoms continue to be overlooked. If you’re not feeling yourself.   Women wait longer than men to get to the hospital when they’re having a heart attack.  Tending to Our Hearts  Women often downplay red flags such as persistent fatigue. Women often have a month or more between not feeling up-to-snuff and the onset of a heart attack. They misinterpret their own vague symptoms. Men typically don’t have that window of opportunity. assuming that their hearts are immune to trouble. women under 55 were seven times more likely than any other group not to be hospitalized from the emergency room when they were suffering from a type of heart problem called acute angina. That’s true even though it has been found that a woman’s results on a standardized treadmill test might be more predictive of whether she’ll die than a man.  Women who have had a heart attack are less likely than male heart attack patients to undergo a procedure known as cardiac catheterization.  Women undergo intensive treatment for heart disease much less often than men with symptoms that are just as severe. More muscle has died by the time they receive treatment. get to the doctor’s office. which helps pinpoint heart disease risk. . In one study. ongoing indigestion.

including:      Reproductive Hormonal Genetic or other biological factors Abuse and oppression Interpersonal factors . This two-to-one ratio exists regardless of racial and ethnic background or economic status. Gail Saltz. it's important to note that the signs of depression in women and men can be very different. Research is focused on understanding these factors. 2006 According to psychiatrist Dr.Men. author of Anatomy of a Secret Life: Are the People in Your Life Hiding Something You Should Know.com | January 01. major depression and dysthymia affect twice as many women as men. Women and Depression A variety of factors that are unique to women's lives are suspected to play a role in developing depression. Women and Depression Oprah. Although it's the same condition.

Dr. Saltz says women are more socialized to be passive and tend to blame themselves when something doesn't go right. Although modern society has a number of conveniences. "There's always been a lot of depression. the specific causes of depression in women remain unclear. Is depression becoming more prevalent in our society? It's hard to say. Millions more will go undiagnosed. It's the 'bad boss' or the 'bad wife. 'He's a mean drunk. Saltz says. Eventually. Saltz says. because Dr.' In fact. when you go on to have severe. "They are less likely to think it is depression because they will externalize. Dr. you can have delusions that. Men are more likely to be overlooked because they appear to be a 'jerk. 'I am so bad that my insides are rotting. because men do not generally display the more outward signs of depression. not depression.'" Dr. From bad humors in the body and melancholia. 'You know what? I need help. Dr. Saltz says. severe. I'm not doing so hot. people may just assume a man suffers from alcoholism. Saltz notes that today's sense of competition can prevent people from asking for help. "And frankly. It just hadn't been recognized. Instead.'" Dr. 6 million men will be diagnosed with depression this year alone. Saltz says. My brain is rotting. "Men exhibit through anger or irritability. that really prevents people from seeking help and saying things are not okay by me. Dr.'" In addition to being less likely to see a doctor or a health professional who might notice signs of depression. Saltz says men are more prone to using alcohol or drug abuse as an outlet. severe depression. it's been talked about in history but never understood as a medical illness. Certain psychological and personality characteristics Still. In particular. Women are more likely to suffer guilt and appear genuinely hopeless and genuinely feel bad about themselves.'" she says. You don't take pleasure in anything.'" Men and Depression According to a February 2007 Newsweek cover story. "Women particularly feel tremendous overwhelming guilt. Saltz says. "[They feel] guilt about everything and anything and things that are irrational—'I'm a bad person. making it more difficult for others to see the signs of depression. "Which doesn't jibe so well with reaching out to others and saying. Dr." . such as crying or expressing a sense of hopelessness. which can become psychotic. societal factors may contribute to a woman's depression. Saltz says men tend to shift the blame for how they are feeling from what they feel on the inside to outside things." she says." Dr. and many women exposed to these factors never develop depression. "People may think.

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4 Checklists for Your FirstAid Emergencies Oprah. The Oprah Magazine Aches. To treat diarrhea: Imodium. Medicine Chest:  To treat a fever or pain from headaches to minor sprains: acetaminophen (like Tylenol). Especially for children and the elderly. Gashes. who can easily become dehydrated (but should not be given to children under 6 without a doctor's approval). Are you ready for anything? Here are four checklists to help you equip every corner of the house.   . Sprains. a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Motrin). people with severe allergic reactions should keep EpiPen (an auto injector that administers epinephrine) and antihistamines. such as ibuprofen (Advil.com | From the January 2003 issue of O. Asthmatics should keep extra metered-dose inhalers. A backup supply of routine medication. Pains. Avoid giving aspirin to children. and aspirin.

like Neosporin. which slows the absorption of any chemicals or medications that may have been swallowed. which may damage tissue in a wound. (Do not administer unless instructed by your local poison control center). Tweezers. For treating small wounds: an antibacterial ointment that contains bacitracin. but not hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. Thermometer. Band-Aids.First-Aid Kit:  For poisoning: activated charcoal.      . gauze. sterile bandages and adhesive tape. An ACE bandage to provide compression and reduce swelling of a sprained ankle or knee.

There is no need to stock up on decongestants or cough syrup. and replace any old drugs. For diabetics.Kitchen:  Ice packs. Most people buy medication when they're sick. it may have expired. prescription medications and prior conditions or surgeries.  . by the next time you fall ill. Keep the numbers of your family doctors. the local poison control center and emergency room near the phone. vomiting or excessive perspiration. strains or sprains. you will be able to tell medical staff relevant information about allergies. An electrolyte solution like Gatorade or other sports drink to replenish fluids lost through diarrhea. to reduce swelling from stings.   Important Reminders:    Check expiration dates on medication twice a year. Write a short medical history of each family member and keep it accessible. like fruit juice or sugar packets. in case blood sugar levels dip below normal. some form of sugar that can be rapidly absorbed. So in an emergency situation. (Buy reusable or chemically activated cold packs from the drugstore or fill plastic bags with ice. or other traumas.

The Oprah Magazine O's health expert turns vinegar. Here are five summer woes and their unexpected antidotes. and many can be found right in your kitchen cupboards. toothpaste and tea into brilliant first-aid fixes. You might also look for a brand that has the antibacterial ingredient triclosan (an anti-inflammatory that may reduce the size of welts). Fight this reaction by rubbing toothpaste into the bite: Mint varieties generally contain menthol (which calms temperature-sensitive nerves. and sharp branches lurking along every hiking path—summer days are booby-trapped with minor health miseries. But there are more ways to fight back than you might think. stinging jellyfish. prompting your body to release histamine as part of an inflammatory response that causes itching and swelling. Tame Bug Bites With Toothpaste A biting mosquito injects saliva into your skin. producing a cooling sensation that helps relieve itching). Blistering Heat. kamikaze mosquitoes. Oz's Surprising First-Aid Fixes for Summer Woes Oprah. .com | From the June 2011 issue of O.Dr.

the acetic acid in the vinegar stops the nematocysts from releasing more venom (if you don't have vinegar. called nematocysts. Heal Cuts With Honey To minimize the risk of infection and scarring. which contain the antioxidant lycopene (the highest concentrations are found in tomato paste. clean around the wound with soap and flush with warm water.Soothe Sunburn With Tea If you get scorched. into your skin. As with bee stings. Coca-Cola is a slightly less effective substitute by virtue of its phosphoric acid). which you can both drink and dab onto the rash. some people are allergic to jellyfish. Calm Jellyfish With Vinegar When a jellyfish attacks. try iced peppermint tea. sponge the burn with cooled chamomile tea. If you're stung. then coat it with honey and cover with a bandage. fill a bucket with vinegar and soak the affected area for 15 to 30 minutes. red bumps. so seek emergency help if you experience hives or wheezing. Research has found that lycopene helps the body protect itself against UV rays. peppermint contains cooling menthol. Next. For a two-in-one remedy. To minimize peeling. the fruit contains an enzyme called papain that helps speed the healing process by breaking down dead skin and allowing new tissue to grow. and apply it to the affected area. Pat the affected area dry and dust on some cornstarch or baby powder. trapping perspiration under the skin and causing a breakout of itchy. Cool "Prickly Heat" With Peppermint Heat rashes happen when sweat ducts become blocked. using a blender. it implants thousands of tiny darts. which reduces irritation. You can also help prevent burns in the first place by eating tomatoes. this sticky fluid contains antimicrobials and has been found to reduce inflammation. make a paste of papaya. which has anti-inflammatory properties. sauce. possibly by neutralizing harmful free radicals. . scrape the area with a credit card or knife edge to remove any clinging nematocysts. and juice).

Even if no one's coming over. Don't wait for special occasions to try a new ice cream recipe.. but mostly to make my standbys. and isn't that going to be great? I'm going to drink iced tea and eat fruit from the farmers' market and make lots of ice cream and. 2. It's here.. a piece of cheese and a few things from a local specialty food shop's salad bar. cold roasted chicken. I've drawn up a list of summer food resolutions." Reality check: That holiday weekend over a week ago heralded the start of summer. I have 13 weeks until Labor Day. "How did I let this happen?" To avoid that. such as vanilla. I'm going to attempt some new combinations. Cut down on my caffeine intake by mixing regular iced coffee with decaf. Go to the greenmarket at least once a week for fruit (strawberries now. when I woke up thinking. Though. a hacked meal or a big salad. butterscotch pecan and toasted almond gelato. summer's coming. I'm going to be whining. peaches in August) and vegetables (especially arugula and corn). you can get fancy. Even if it's Tuesday. and if September 5 rolls around and I have yet to drink an Arnold Palmer. My machine gets a lot of action in the summertime. cherries in July. Picnics on the weekends! Yes. . whether it's a chilled soup. "Well. 6..A 6-Step Plan for a Fantastic. though I usually stick to a loaf of bread.. Always have home-brewed iced tea in the fridge. Eat more no-cook dinners. This year.. 4.. 1. 3. Food-Centric Summer You know how sometimes you keep daydreaming of something. if only you'd open your eyes and see it? That's how I felt this morning.at least not too often. 5. I refuse to fall for those pricey zucchini flowers. only to realize it's here right now.

which. sorts through a slow-moving glacier of bills. permission slips. despite ample natural light. His goal: to make the space bright and airy—not to mention usable—for summer. Tobin runs her family's lives with impressive efficiency but is less exacting about their home. A former financial analyst. much to Chicagoans' discontent. But now it's spring at Cynthia Tobin's home in a leafy suburb north of the city. heavy coats dominate the closets well into August. You could say he's helping Tobin thaw out her kitchen.Summer Organizing . star of the Oprah Winfrey Network's Enough Already!. The Oprah Magazine The winter was brutal. By Meredith Bryan O. As the flowers bud outside.Organize Your Home for Summer . spends much of the year darkened by an intractable layer of clutter. and grade school artwork threatening to take over the kitchen side counter. but too often this means shuffling papers from one counter to another before collapsing on the couch to watch whatever she's DVR'd— . The Oprah Magazine | From the June 2011 issue of O. and the mood here is warm and hopeful.Peter Walsh The design expert shows a Midwestern family how to lighten up and enjoy the season. Tobin lets the seasons pass without strategic purging. As she multitasks to stay on top of her son's Mandarin lessons and her daughter's ballet commitments. She tries to straighten up each night. organizing whizPeter Walsh.

the floor). add storage for winter items. Bills go unpaid. "Organic makes me think of things that are fresh. "The wordsorganic and organize have the same root. and outerwear "gives your closets and garage a lighter feel. Walsh says.. where Tobin mans her laptop and prepares meals. neither does it encourage the singular pleasures of summer—an afternoon spent absorbed in a book (the house needs tidying!)." A Chaotic Catchall.Modern Family. and incorporate a few key brightening accents." Add Winter Storage Tobin's house has closets and a garage. skates. kicking a ball around in the backyard with the kids (who can find the ball?). "When the house is clean.. to de-clutter. jury summonses ignored. Walsh has been enlisted to help "summerize" Tobin's house—in other words. a spontaneous barbecue with friends (ditto). is the family's hub. She is perpetually behind and overwhelmed. meaning she can get by without storing seasonal stuff in the basement." she admits. The kitchen. If none of this suggests hoarding tendencies. To Walsh. Invitations to upcoming social events." He helps Tobin corral the family's heavy coats and hang them on a canvas-covered garment rack he's set up next to industrial plastic shelving in the basement. . One tray is for open bills and other matters needing attention. "You can't always let the urgent take precedence over the important. "and lets your space breathe.. When Tobin explains that she often abandons new mail to make lunch or grab a phone that's ringing off the hook. she feels panicked. one is for things requiring Corey's input. As Walsh sees it." In other words. whole. But creating a designated space for sleds.30 Rock—with her husband. meanwhile. but when Tobin enters it each morning. it spreads across all available real estate (the coffee table. Since no one knows where to put anything. and one (the top and most easily accessible) is for notes and reminders from the kids' school. I have this feeling of freedom. organization means more time to spend with family and enjoy the extra daylight." Walsh explains. and healthy—and organization brings the same mood into a space.. the problem is that much of the family's stuff has no permanent home. get an upright magazine file. the counters. on the shelves he places Corey's ." he says. Corey.Becomes a Bright and Serviceable Mail Center Walsh designs a "mail center": three stacked letter trays on the counter into which mail will be sorted immediately upon entering the house. natural. "Later is the best friend of clutter.

to spend a summer evening outside. meanwhile— pushed aside to make room for the toys—returns to its rightful place in front of the couch. who is thrilled to have her family's entire stash in one place.. anxiety-free.snowboard boots and helmets—which were crowding the gardening equipment in the garage—and boxes of scarves. "Without exception." says Walsh. as well as extra space in the garage. bewildered by the lack of storage. DVDs. and hats. What's important is that your space works for your family. "But—" protests Tobin. the house feels—well. Create a Lighter Ambience By now. gloves. . reaching for a 2007 issue of Elegant Homes. Tobin's new magazine rack and an additional standing lamp form the perfect reading nook. whatever doesn't fit has to go. tossing dolls and beeping trains toward several canvas folding bins he's provided. set with a vase of fresh flowers (the quickest way to bring "clarity" to a room. relaxing with a glass of wine... a thin curtain blowing in the breeze. when you throw away 90 percent of the toys you think your kids need." he says." says Tobin. all clearly labeled. Which means Tobin's taupe throw pillows are taken to be cleaned. "Back in the day. I'm in a mad dash trying to find mittens." Now it's time to "bring that sense of light into the space. replaced by a cheerier set in oranges and whites. "Nor should it. like it's taking a deep breath. stakes out a space in the corner. you got a stick and you were happy!" he trills. they come into the room and start dancing." Walsh says. long banished to the basement. The room is now a refuge for the whole family: perfect for games." On to the toys. Then he instructs her to keep only three back issues of any title. He produces a clear acrylic rack for Tobin's magazines. watching a DVD—or leaving." This inspires Tobin to part with a few plastic teacups. The coffee table. "When the first snow comes. it's an open door. and issues of Architectural Digest proliferate unchecked. "For me. Clear Your Surfaces In the living room toys. Walsh tells Tobin to be ruthless. Next to it. says Walsh). Corey's guitar. a blue sky. "Think of your fondest images of summer. "Your house will never look like that. "Where does it all belong?" asks Walsh.

for example. if you tend to hit a slump around 4 p. When you have a regular fitness appointment." Read Kennedy's advice to find out what time works best for you: Are you a night person who just signed up for sunrise cycling sessions? If you can never seem to get going until after lunch. you schedule the rest of your life around . to answer this question. then pick an evening time slot or class.m. I believe that you should make every effort to schedule your workout for the time of day when you feel in your physical prime. we'll be asking one of the Best Life experts for advice on diet and exercise. spin class. should try to avoid intense physical activity close to bedtime (especially since you're already sleeping at odd times). "It depends on your moods.. you'll feel like you just blew the whole day. it's going to be hard to get yourself to do anything at that time. your work schedule might force you to override your natural rhythms. Those on the night shift. If you're a morning person but you've got a lot of breakfast meetings.m. work schedule. Of course. and family and personal obligations.. ways to get better rest and strategies to live a little younger.S. and stick to it.Ask Bob Greene's Team: What's the Best Time of Day to Work Out? Every week or so. energy level. The first time you miss that morning workout. Likewise. never mind something challenging that will get your heart rate up. Best Life fitness expert. M. Here are more success strategies for making healthy living compatible with unconventional schedules. Q: What's the best time of day to work out? A: We asked Michelle Kennedy. it's probably not a good idea to commit to a 6 a. and it will sap your motivation.

and how his advice could work for you. there are good reasons why many of my clients prefer to work out first thing:    They get it done before life gets in the way -. on the other hand. If you're training for a competition or want to consistently improve your fitness level. Find more ways to schedule fitness into a busy day. Even if you're not a morning person. a big lunch. might want to save your hard training for the afternoon. a looming deadline. Bob Greene is also a fan of morning workouts.  Are you focused on weight loss--or are you aiming for a personal best? If your main goal is weight loss. it should be easier for you to figure out the change that's affecting your performance: Are you tired? Hungry? Emotionally exhausted from work? From a late night? . Another bonus: they carry that feeling of accomplishment with them throughout the day. whether in the form of a stomachache. and your endurance capacity for tough workouts may be higher. you'll feel slightly stronger and more flexible.and life always seems to have a way of interfering with exercise. a bad day--or a celebratory one--or a family situation. your energy level and general preparedness should be the same from day to day. Read how Bob has converted night-owls into early birds. which means your muscles will be better warmed up. research has shown that any amount of movement you can do is better than nothing--even accomplishing 10. Because you're starting from the same baseline. and others during which you feel like you're dragging through quicksand? If you work out at the same time of day.your workout instead of trying to fit your workout into your life. One more thing for those who want to pump up their fitness level: Ever notice how there are sessions when everything just seems to click. too. I've seen research that says that our body temperature peaks in the late afternoon/early evening.000 steps a day has led to weight loss for people without structured exercise programs.

Now take about a 15-minute period before that to start your slowdown process. . shut eyes. and make healthy sleep your reality. washing your face and so on) and five minutes of relaxing into your sleep state. followed by five minutes of hygiene stuff (flossing. That means taking five minutes to finish up must-do chores. 2006 Sleep seems like it should be easy and not given much thought— change into pj's. see you in the morning. Michael Roizen Oprah. hit the sheets with our better-sleep guide. If only! Get your room ready.Deep Sleep Now By Dr.  Dim your lights several hours before bed to avoid the stimulation caused by artificial light pollution—which is all around us through TV. Then. computers and indoor lighting—and serves to stimulate us. crawl into bed. Oz and Dr. First. brush teeth. make slight changes in your rituals to prepare your body for rest. through things like meditation and saying "I love you" as you lie in bed.com | January 15. Make a Plan for Sleep Decide when you want to wake up and count backward about seven hours. stop doing things at night that are counter-productive to actually sleeping. Instead.

. If you have any other type of stimulus like work. Get the Best Mattress We believe there are four things in life you should overpay for. and get the zzz's you deserve. Dark Room Everyone. prayer and deep breathing are all good methods. 2. The fourth thing? A good kitchen knife (not to be used in the bed). Need more incentive to kick those late-night hosts to the living room? People who don't have a TV in the bedroom have 50 percent more sex than those who do. from the rainforest to the ocean. Add White Noise Use a fan for background noise. well almost everyone. The temperature and darkness is a signal to the pineal gland to kick up melatonin production and knock you out. so you'll make it easier on yourself the fewer and looser clothes you wear. the bed is used for two things and two things only. 4. like during traveling. you're not sending your body the right message that it's time for sleep. A Cool. Meditation. Dress Appropriately The best clothing should be nonrestricting and nonallergenic (both the fabric and how it's washed). No Laptops. Come up with a regular. Surrender to sleep. rhythmic evening ritual that allows you to embrace anxieties that get released when you slow down. Establish a Standard Wake-up Time This includes weekends! This helps reset your circadian rhythm and trains you to stay on schedule if your rhythms happen to wander. 3. Practice "dying" into sleep—rather than forcing yourself to sleep—and cultivate awareness of your personal twilight zone. There is nothing you have to do to sleep—except let go of waking. you go to the movies. No TV Ideally. or a TV. The first three: Pillows. or get one of those machines that lets you pick sounds. 5. mattresses and their coverings. After all. you shouldn't go to sleep. Your body is better at keeping itself hot than keeping itself cool. is aware of personal hygiene—but most people don't think about sleep hygiene! Create the perfect sleep environment. 5 Ways to Set the Mood for Sleep 1. This drowns out the couple fighting next door and the drag races outside so your subconscious stays pristine as you count sheep.

not sleep problems. Don't force yourself to stay in bed. the answer is not to keep trying. Fight Insomnia and Get Your Mind Off Sleep Tossing and turning works for salads. but a mattress pad may help). Generally. slurping trans fats or spending 16 hours in front of the tube.5 hours before bed No exercise that makes you sweat for 1. because the wait will be interminable. Some are caused because your back hurts like stink. And get a 1 micron cover that blocks allergens from floating from the pillow or mattress to your nose and body. But for optimum sleep preparation. Instead. we don't like telling you not to do something—unless it's smoking. get out of bed and do some light activity. so you can avoid reflux issues that can disturb sleep Find Your Pain and Treat Allergies Some sleep problems don't arise because of worry or melatonin problems. music and meditation seem to work best. If you can't fall asleep within 15 minutes. Instead. Truth is. Tell the salesperson to back off and give you 15 minutes to get the feel for a mattress before you pick it.      No alcohol or nicotine for 1. some people get through general back pain or knee pain during the day because they're so .While there's no one standard mattress that works for everyone. But you can't judge that in 30 seconds in a store. However. there are a few things you should avoid to increase your chance of falling—and staying—asleep. Judge it for comfort. One good option: A memory foam mattress. Try a yoga pose. meditation or a short walk. Getting your mind off sleep resets and reboots your system.500. To get back to sleep. support and heat (you don't want heat dissipated too quickly. which bounces back to the original flat plane after you get out of bed (rather than forming an indentation). you can take a standard mattress and flip it every couple months to avoid body indentations that will disrupt your sleep.5 hours before bed (doing things that make you sweat in bed are okay) No caffeine. they can be costly—up to $2. caffeinated beverages or food or caffeine in pills for as long as you need to avoid (we recommend three hours) before bed No eating three hours before bed. you have to pick what feels right for you—and try it out with your partner if you sleep with one.

New Approaches to Lack of Sleep You'd think that the way to treat a lack of sleep is to get more of it.focused on other things. Another option to consider is herbal remedies. But when trying to get to sleep. One note: Decongestant nasal sprays are addictive and raise your blood pressure. runny nose or new-onset snoring. For instance. watery eyes. barley. and then gradually increase for 10 or 15 minutes a night once a week. as can allergies to detergents and the cleaning products you use on your clothes or sheets. . which can lead to congestion and increase insomnia. Some have allergies to gluten (wheat. search for the source in unexpected places. oats). A simple over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can help—not specifically to get you to sleep. Several supplements have been shown to decrease sleep problems. Saline or antihistamine sprays (or a prescription steroid spray) are better options. Over-the-counter nasal strips and sprays help open up everything and clear up symptoms like headaches. Valerian root (at a recommended dose of 300 milligrams) contains ingredients with sedative properties and is generally considered one of the more effective herbal therapies for sleep. Allergies can make sleeping trouble worse because of the congestion they cause. but to help alleviate the pain that's preventing you from sleeping. The sleep-deprivation approach can work as a way to force your body to reset back into a regular sleeping pattern. And studies have shown that the ingredients in ginseng (at a recommended dose of 200 to 600 milligrams of the extract) help decrease the amount of wakefulness in a 12-hour period and increase the amount of slow-wave sleep. If you experience those symptoms and aren't aware of any allergies. About 40 percent of people with allergic rhinitis have trouble sleeping. they feel the pain—and focus on it. they'll take a patient getting five hours a night and force them to get only four a night. but one way that sleep docs treat insomnia is by making their patients sleep less. Take aspirin with a glass of water at least one hour before bedtime so that the acid doesn't have as much chance of refluxing up from your stomach to your esophagus.

I just want women to feel good about their bodies so they can feel good about themselves—because when a woman feels good naked.The Nude Attitude By Deborah Way Oprah. too lumpy. it shows. Her goal for them is summed up in the title of her 2001 book: Feel Good Naked. we promise.) For years Laure Redmond hated her body: too fat. she says—it's about the amazing confidence that comes with being at ease in your own skin. Her confidence isn't rooted in her clothing size or facial features but in her . The Oprah Magazine Laure Redmond tells Deborah Way why life is so much better for women who feel good naked—and how you can join their ranks. too freckled. correct? Laure: (Laughs) No. Redmond has made a career of helping women and teenage girls get over what she calls their body demons. streaking is not going to make a comeback as a result of my message. too stumpy. Now a self-esteem coach who specializes in mind/body issues. And that hatred was like a set of shackles holding her back from life. (No weight loss necessary. O: Let's be clear here: You're not advocating some kind of nudist revolution. She has an allure that comes through in the way she moves or talks or laughs. It's not about naked for naked's sake.com | From the July 2007 issue of O.

free. even the word "naked" brings huge discomfort. no. I was volunteering at my child's school once when another mother. And if you've suffered from body hatred your whole life. O: In other words. I love flabby old me? Laure: Change is always possible.attitude—fun. O: Where do you start? Laure: Often. in the sense of your pure. The feel-good-naked attitude comes from a sense of the wholeness of life. raw self. Laure: Oh. you have the sense of feeling good naked even when you're not literally unclothed. Being comfortable naked is the ultimate expression of selfconfidence. O: That sounds fabulous. I call it naked fear. We can't be free with our forms. We button up. O: But if you've spent years hating your body and despising yourself because of what you perceive as its inadequacies. For lots of women. It involves a holistic change in the way you relate to yourself and the world. is it really possible to suddenly decide. We shut ourselves down. What's sexy in the bedroom is when you love your stuff. O: Did that surprise you? Laure: Unfortunately. If you're okay with being nude. I don't mean that facetiously. so we have to come to terms with the shape we take and the skin we're in. I'm no longer shocked by negative reactions to the idea of nakedness. asked me the title of my book. delightful. But that's really just a bonus—it's much broader than that. she set down the envelopes she'd been stuffing. And when we do. and left the building without saying another word. the decision simplyto change is the first step. at the beginning. who had heard I was an author. . Laure: Yes. Hey. it's very powerful. Laure: Yes. I mean that it can be really helpful to reconnect to a time when you weren't always blaming yourself—when you believed in and loved yourself. You're comfortable in the raw. It's about knowing and accepting yourself at your core. grabbed her purse. And for many women. yes. We have an overwhelming paranoia about fat. O: Getting over our horror of our bodies must make things better in the bedroom. When I told her. you can take yourself anywhere in the world. when you want to share it with your partner. We don't get to choose Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as our parents. that time will turn out to be back in childhood. but it's not easy.

I saw her perform in New York City in the late 1980s. Yet I look self-possessed. turn off the TV—especially if you find yourself biting your nails or eating a pint of ice cream while watching. but we're resolutely blind to it in ourselves. Our society is driven by an unrealistic ideal of physical beauty: More than 60 percent of American women are a size 12 or larger. O: What about someone who had an abusive or otherwise truly horrible childhood? Laure: Even if your childhood was a total nightmare. where I grew up and where thin. who rarely comments on other women's looks. I was a chubby. O: How do you get away from those standards? Laure: For one thing. blonde cheerleaders ruled. without depending on the affirmations of others. I agreed with him. Women from other countries have far healthier attitudes about the female form. But I had spirit—I was a firecracker—and a photograph I keep on my desk reminds me of that. Many women accept the opinions and judgments of others too quickly. I'm sitting cross-legged in our front yard. I was beautiful—a femme fatale at the tender age of 6. O: No doubt a lot of women would agree with that—so long as you weren't talking about them. Men are rewarded for their bottom line. O: Why Tina Turner? Laure: She was the source of my greatest body epiphany. for their visuals. which can fuel a barrage of insecurity and self-doubt. which undermines selfesteem and personal power. A woman who feels good naked is a woman who's discovered her own definition of beauty. and he was marveling at the number of beautiful Puerto Rican women on the beach—women who by American standards would have been considered fat. She wore a black leather minidress and four- . yet we're bombarded by images of size 0's. even somewhat certain that on that particular day at least. sit down with a good book. women. She knows that it's ultimately about personal attitude. even when not much else around her supported such a healthy vision of herself. freckle-faced little girl with frizzy auburn hair—far from the visual ideal of 1970s New Orleans. I was in Puerto Rico recently with my husband. The picture reminds me of the little girl who could. But women who feel good naked have the ability to tap into their own source of self-love. in shorts and a cropped top that were surely not a chubby girl's best outfit. Why spend the evening with actresses who remind you of what you visually aren't? Better to take a yoga class. Laure: That's because of our punishing culture. the fact is you were a creature with enough gusto to get where you are today.O: You're speaking from experience? Laure: Yes. or—and this is my personal favorite—watch a video of Tina Turner. We can see beauty in others who aren't gorgeous in the conventional sense.

he told me that sex with a woman over 40 is way more pleasurable and satisfying than sex with a younger woman— because a woman with the joie de vivre that comes from having a bank of life experiences is a much bigger turn-on than a youthful body. I can't tell you how many of my former beets. since in addition to carrying your mental pain. I know a professor in his 50s who's been single much of his adult life and who's had relationships—or at least relations—with many women. and she's turned them into art. don't. They are bold and glorious." It doesn't have to be anything earth-shattering. It's about breaking out of the fear zone. and I realized how substantial her legs were. O: So women who feel good naked are adventurous eaters? Laure: Adventurous. and watching her dance. At a dinner party recently. that same use-it-or-lose-it zest. O: We can't all move like Tina. that spirit is very sexy. they tend to believe in the magical thinking of random restriction. And then she stopped her electric gyrations. But this means their lives are directed by deprivation. though… Laure: No.or Brussels sprouts–hating friends have become converts in their 40s. And by the way. and the way we do it inevitably carries over into other parts of our lives. O: And what has that done for them beyond broadening their options in the produce section? Laure: Eating is the most primal thing we do. but women who feel good naked approach life with that same spirit of boldness. won't. You're training yourself to move away from the world of can't. Eleanor Roosevelt was onto something when she said.inch platform shoes. If you're going to try Brussels sprouts. Women try to avoid accountability with eating. O: That's good to know. Yet mindless eating will not eliminate these feelings. you won't be able to manage your weight effectively. It's the great metaphor. purposeful. In fact. sensible approach to eating that can become permanent because it's satisfying and sustainable. No wonder we're . Changing this destructive pattern means finding a balanced. I'm still amazed by how many women let themselves be ruled by eating disorders—not anorexia or bulimia. Laure: Yes. "Do one thing every day that scares you. but things like cutting out whole food groups or routinely skipping entire meals. Laure: I was delighted—especially because part of my message is that the feelgood-naked lifestyle involves living with a sense of adventure. I was transfixed. some in their early 20s. you might be more likely to climb a mountain the next time you're on vacation. O: The holy grail. I often hear women say they eat with blind abandon in an effort to avoid unpleasant feelings. it compounds them. and aware.

. On the other hand. and extra weight as girls are. you've doomed yourself to "compare and despair. when you eat with purpose and awareness. It doesn't stop when they leave adolescence. When my sister and her husband were in the process of separating. and I'm here to tell you that teenage boys might just be the vainest creatures on earth. Suddenly you can enjoy social outings more. remember that he has insecurities of his own. in disbelief. They're every bit as freaked out by their pimples. as well: I grew up in a houseful of women and now I'm growing older in a houseful of men. because it brings up another characteristic of women who feel good naked: They're kind to other women. bad hair. Just the other night I was eating dinner with a group of women who were speaking about another woman in our community. happiness—and beauty. Laure: Absolutely. and new research from Harvard University's McLean Hospital reports that up to 25 percent of adults with eating disorders are male. not constantly bitchy or tense. If it's mostly stress. either. O: When it comes to food. If you have friends who base everything on their own and other people's appearances. And women who view each other this way do a disservice to us all. So the next time you start worrying that the man in your life is going to judge you. O: Have you found that women are judged more harshly by each other than they are by men? Laure: Yes. at least two acquaintances reacted by telling her. Be a little kinder to ourselves. O: In what way? Laure: They can genuinely take pleasure in other women's success. an attractive woman. The source of that mean-spiritedness was clearly the woman's physical appearance. We all know what bald men go through. then. you can be more conscious of your interactions with other people. we need to back off the crazy rules we make for ourselves." Laure: It's the distorted sense that looks are everything. ask yourself what you're getting out of the relationship. And there's this. And kindness is a good word. too. You're happier. it's such a relief. "But you're skinny!"—as if her physique should have cushioned her from heartache. in such a mean-spirited way that I had to excuse myself from the table. it's time to find different friends.obsessive and compulsive about food. calmer. O: Because when you're miserable with your own body. And he'd probably love to feel good naked.

The Mother's Story "I wanted to spare her pain. on stage and off. Jess was 28 at the time. Yet everything I did to spare her insecurity about her weight turned out to be a source of pain for her—and a thorn at the heart of our relationship that we're still trying delicately to extract. She wore a costume of bright blue and a gold hip scarf with jiggling coins. I loved watching her. was the fact that she felt bad about being fat. and she was splendid. She was graceful in her shimmies. I had thought that at the heart of Jess's discomfort.com | From the December 2009 issue of O.The Fat Fight By Robin Marantz Henig and Jess Zimmerman Oprah. The Oprah Magazine What's the most treacherous ground for a mother and daughter to navigate? Robin Marantz Henig and daughter Jess Zimmerman weigh in. plays in which she spoke her lines in a sweet. All the years of sitting through the plays of Jess's childhood came back to me. . graceful with her arms. Her midriff—also jiggling—was bare." Watching my daughter belly dance last year brought tears to my eyes. graceful when she flicked her naked feet. clear voice but could never get over the awkwardness of being herself.

I'd say. and my postpregnancy weight was stubbornly hanging on. I hid the cookies I bought for Sam. had just been born. Not fat. "I'm trying very hard to ignore it. The owner's wife was fussing over Jessie. and the misery that came with that awareness had never quite left me. Which is why I was so surprised by an offhand comment made one evening at a local restaurant. she was perfect. I see now how harsh it was." Fat babies? What baby was she talking about? My baby? I had a fat baby? I was 26 at the time. Meals soon became a battleground. Jeff. who was about 9 months old. I woke up in a panic. In the grip of this self-disgust. I was always aware of being chunkier than other girls. If she asked for the food. "I love fat babies. . Samantha. just chubby—and I knew I shouldn't overreact. I packed abstemious school lunches—half a sandwich. And when Jessie asked for seconds. I turned to my beautiful Jessie and decided I had to fix her. that's exactly what I did: create a problem where there was none. Jessie was spectacular. I should at least have trusted her to know her own body's cues. Jessie weighed ten pounds more than the charts said she should." the woman said happily. Growing up. To us. Huge blue-gray eyes.As a baby. I was on the heavy end of my own lifelong weight-seesaw then. Maybe—smarter in 1980 than my mother had been in 1953—there was something I could do to spare her that psychic pain. a corona of golden curls—my husband." Of course. I didn't want my little girl to grow up with that kind of unhappiness. the way she smelled. and I had body issues of my own. our second daughter. By the age of 4." I wrote in my journal. "Ooooh. "so I don't make her self-conscious and create a problem where there is none. and I were delighted with the way she looked. and wouldn't tell Jessie where they were. a fruit. "Are you really hungry?" I thought that sounded supportive. When I dreamed one night that I was shopping at a plus-size store. she was hungry. no junk—and used smaller plates at dinner to limit her portion size. the way she laughed.

I didn't see that this doctor visit was. a house with lots of windows—is the single thing I thought would make the rest of my life fall into place: thin thighs. But when I look in the mirror.I should pause here to point out that despite my body-loathing. But I held my tongue and listened as she told me that it was my fault. Things were tough for us when Jessie was in her early teens—tougher than they were for the typical mother and teenage daughter. my obvious disappointment in her body. my embarrassing comments about food in front of her friends. a loving family. "I think you're beautiful. what I see is not a small waist but massive thighs. She was bulimic. When she was 16. she had a tantrum in the waiting room. When I was 21. I was mystified. crinkled with age. I'm not fat. she said. number one—ahead of a rewarding career. or she wouldn't be so fat." Years later I found it again." Jess looked . My first thought was she couldn't be." I said. She thought I loved her only when she was clear-skinned and slim. I still don't have thin thighs. yet another indication that my love was conditional. I still want them. Jess—she had by then put a stop to "Jessie"—sat me down one night and told me she'd been bulimic for years. I am 56 years old. because of my emphasis on being thin. and. At the top of the list. I wrote a list on yellow legal paper: "What I need to be happy. I wrote that list a long time ago. When I took her to a dermatologist to be treated for acne. My BMI is at the low end of the "healthy" range. dammit. I wear a size 8. "I'm not disappointed in your body. and because I'm flat-chested I give off a pretty slim vibe. to Jessie.

Jess and Dan. This emerging attitude was about to transform not only her relationship with herself but our fractious mother-daughter relationship. We seemed to have crossed some significant barrier. she was finally learning to love her body. it's scary. Shortly after her 27th birthday. no. her fiancé. Jess decided she also needed a new bra and jeans. Her weight was no longer the first thing I saw. I'm just not there yet. your manner. by Joy Nash. I'd steeped myself in fat acceptance blogs and had finally become able to accept that Jess was not only fat but beautiful. How many mothers and their daughters can go jeans shopping together without a dressing room meltdown? Amazingly. But by Thanksgiving Jess had regained every pound. we could. came for a visit. Jess and I went shopping at a plus-size store in Brooklyn— so much hipper than the store of my nightmare—to look for a wedding dress." because to say I found it beautiful would have been a lie. we were discussing the prejudice fat people deal with every day and how a person's weight is nobody's business but her own. but Jess—she's there. funny. each losing about 20 pounds. "I do. I failed to see what was really happening: that by eating normally instead of dieting. A few months later. she had sent me a link to a video called A Fat Rant. It felt surreal to be able to talk to Jess about weight this way. Jess thought about it. essentially. your hair. The thought of letting go and just weighing whatever I'm destined to. or fretted about. and before I knew it. when I was with my brilliant. A few days earlier. self-confident shimmy I watched at her belly dance recital did not come easily. Dan thought about it. sure that this time I had really gone too far. emphatically so. I mentioned having watched the video. everything about who you are—it's all beautiful. But there's a catch: As much as I can embrace fat acceptance for Jess and Dan and their friends. Oh. I leaped at the chance. After seeing the Fat Rant video. too. I still can't embrace it for myself. but come it did. As we sat around the coffee table with wine and hummus. I think it interferes with our ability to be completely candid when talking about weight—but I can't help it. and we bonded over food restriction. sexy. however fat or lumpy. I think this bothers Jess. and it . no matter how much—well.at me skeptically. "Would you rather weigh less than you do?" I finally dared to ask. a proponent of the fat acceptance movement. or even thought about. The summer after her freshman year in college." But my perceptive daughter heard the roar of words unsaid. Jess suggested we try Weight Watchers together. I saw this as a setback. And their answer was. sensitive daughter. and to hear her and Dan call themselves fat without flinching. I never said "your body." I insisted. That skilled. "Your eyes. After trying on a few. when she was 18. My husband stared at me wide-eyed.

The diets never worked for long. gazing joyfully out onto a slimmer future. When Mom wrote about children and health. wrote an article for Woman's Day called "Kids Get Fat Because They Eat Too Much…and Other Myths About Overweight Children. The reality might have been that I ate no more than other kids. so my permanent role in real life became Fat Kid Who's Also a Failure. eating yogurt for lunch. with a grace and a beauty I had never seen before. a journalist. That's the image that comes to me when I think about Jess's weight: her body in motion that evening. and was terrified that her mother . that I read a lot but also played a lot outside." Under the main article was a sidebar about how she'd turned me from a slightly chubby 4-year-old into a slightly less chubby 6-yearold…by feeding me less. It didn't bother me because it so clearly didn't bother her. This was typical. The 6-year-old in that first article is shown dancing ballet. It didn't bother me that the midriff she exposed was fat. In fact she couldn't bear to look at herself in a leotard. and unfixable.was a lovely thing to behold. I was an object lesson—proof that even fat kids could be salvaged. But such complexities weren't part of my role in my mother's narrative. Robin Marantz Henig is a freelance science writer based in New York. I appeared in the role of Fat Kid Saved by Diet or Exercise. The Daughter's Story "I was gross. that I wasn't even particularly fat." When I was 6 my mother. lazy.

monstrous—like a different species—though pictures from my preteen years show that the biggest thing about me was actually my prescription glasses. I was oversize. I fantasized about sloughing it off. On average. desirable and dangerous. At a sleepover in fifth grade. and I didn't even get dessert for dessert. If you think you don't deserve food. But when I still stayed fat. lord. something I'd never eaten before.would catch her using her milk money for chocolate milk instead of skim. And there was no question in my mind that I didn't deserve food. But this isn't only about the harm my mother unwittingly did me. unworthy of love. I could have an ice cream sundae. When I was 9 I bargained with myself that if I went a month without sugar. or the worst food issues. all food became suspect. It's not that I had the world's biggest complex. everything starts to look like a binge. I was served sweetened cereal and was simultaneously repulsed and fascinated—it tasted awful. clumsy. ugly. I did). Food took on a mystical but terrifying appeal. I didn't eat more or worse than other kids. but it looked like dessert for breakfast. Mom didn't allow me to eat fast food (which I've never missed) or dessert (which. but I didn't have to. or the most poisonous self-image. and safe only when nobody was looking—and I resorted to sneaking and hoarding it. like the boy in the Narnia book who turns into a dragon and doesn't become human again until he painfully sheds . And I'm not the most textbook illustration of how fixation on a daughter's body can destroy her self-esteem. it's about the harm the weight loss fantasy does to everyone. My body was an albatross that marked me as slovenly.

The eating disorder stories tended to harp on the fact that girls who couldn't control their eating couldn't control anything in their lives. and I would be allowed to wear tank tops and eat. and then I'd be vivacious and graceful and sought after. and my life could begin. which I suspected was the only way I'd become as gaunt as I wanted to be. I doubted not only my attractiveness and right to exist in the world as a fat person but also my intelligence and talent and general worth. I was still on a semipermanent diet punctuated by furtive eating. He named six items and got it basically right. Sometime around the age of 13 I started to read first-person stories about anorexia for ideas on how to control my food intake. I had turned to another twisted weight loss strategy: disordered eating. One praised me for recognizing that my weight was "a problem"—he didn't care so much whether I was fat. as long as I knew I wasn't okay. or red meat. I didn't binge. When I started getting brutal stomach pains in high school. "is so deeply wrong with me that my mom. I'd diet myself thin at last. and still looking for people to tell me how lousy I was. who only wants to love me. My mother never intended this—she only wanted a happy ending for me. I hid behind fussiness—suddenly I didn't like anything with more than three ingredients. But the ending she envisioned was the same one that played out in every kid's book with a fat character I had ever read: the one where the troubled chubster solves her inner turmoil and ends up svelte. I caromed from asceticism to sugar overdose. or because I'd scarfed a contraband late-night bowl of ice cream. a friend bet me that he could recite my entire grocery list. Once I started dating. and gained weight despite spending eight hours a week at . or cheese. (As late as college. or fish.his skin. I sought out boys and men who shared my low opinion of myself." I wondered. Mom never envisioned an ending where the fat kid discovers that there was nothing wrong with her in the first place. skinny ending and get to start on the sequel. Why would she? Nobody ever wrote that story. my heart leapt—maybe this was it! It wasn't. The stomach pains happened because when the life-threatening disease failed to materialize. It's difficult for a child to differentiate between someone who wants to armor her against an unjust world and someone who thinks that she's damaged. When I went away to college. but I would throw up because I'd had a full meal. these scenarios became more drastic: They now involved wasting away from a serious illness. still pretending to be picky to hide my food restriction. or anything strongly spiced. As I ate less and got fatter. can't bring herself to love me how I am? And why can't I fix it?" I kept waiting for the day when I'd reach the happy.) My teen magazines were full of tips on how to throw up without attracting notice. or just because it was the end of the day. Though I often exuded a toughness that was mistaken for confidence. and as I got older I started to believe that everything about me was wrong. "What.

Mom wrote an article tut-tutting about how the people on campus who told me to "honor my hunger" were only ruining my diet.fencing practice. and when I rediscovered these ideas in the blogosphere. it was significantly slower than average. with an unpredictable plot—good days. a pervasive sense of shame that's hard to shake. But in the tiny empowerment bubble of a women's college. lazy. (Around this time. It's possible that this was always the case. too. By my mid-20s. In communicating with others. I ran a campuswide campaign for Love Your Body Day and asked Mom to quit writing about me. yoga. That the desire to eat food was sometimes just the body's way of taking care of itself. if there's nothing inherently shameful in fatness. A better goal is to exercise for fun and truly eat well—not less. and literature on campus had planted the suspicion that there was a less painful way to live. articles. I found myself repeating and reformulating them. that beauty ideals controlled women by making them waste their energy on hating themselves. . magazines. cautiously. that we weren't necessarily damaged. denial. My weight stayed the same. The old narrative—in which I would remain trapped in a loathsome body until I earned love and happiness through slimness—started to fade. It's a complicated story. and shame. I started convincing myself. but I started to really live in the body I was now feeding and taking out to play. and worthwhile than I'd ever known. let my mother write about it—because I've jettisoned the old narratives and started to scratch out a new one. I realized I wasn't trapped in the old cycle of failure. stable. Fat. Based on my height and weight. there's no reason to hide behind euphemisms. I know from Mom's own articles that restrictive eating can do a number on a person's metabolism. the word I'd scrawled accusingly in marker on my offending thighs in high school. unfixable kid. Books. needed redefining. I also had my metabolic rate tested. bad days. And eventually I started to write. hula hooping. was just a neutral way of describing a body. and indie zines offering strange new ideas: that fat people could be happy and healthy and even loved. so often used as a club to beat fat people with. I was not only eating more normally—I had added new kinds of exercise to my routine for the sheer fun of it: belly dance. I retooled my vocabulary. And the word health. Along the way. not using different rules. There's nothing healthy about fearing food and using exercise as a whip. But I'm finding that the main character is much more healthy. On the other hand. but in a way that's more nourishing and more conscious. there were a host of new narratives I hadn't considered. Sophomore year. I discovered books. These days I can write about my body—and even.) In my mind I was still the gross.

wardrobe and snack choices. True. and the wind outside only tousled your hair a little. you wobble off your high heels and sprain an ankle. Then. All eyes are glued on you. baby. it happens: You pass a mirror and glimpse your reflection—your horrifying. but it's still elegant. One team of researchers has dubbed this phenomenon the . Your hair looks as though a crazed weasel nested. In your dreams. But even in waking life. The Oprah Magazine It's one word—one little word—but it has revelatory power.com | From the July 2007 issue of O. All conversation focuses on your disgrace. horrifying reflection. You step into the party feeling reasonably confident. Aghast. and died there. bore young. The dress isn't just tight. Everyone begins texting hilarious descriptions of you from their cell phones. I mean this both literally and figuratively. many of us operate as if Simon Cowell is doing a play-by-play of our work. Most of us occasionally dream about being embarrassed in social settings.The Cure for SelfConsciousness By Martha Beck Oprah. just as you're preparing to mingle. it fits like Luciano Pavarotti's diving suit. your favorite little black dress feels somewhat tight.

they had college students enter a room with other students while wearing an "embarrassing" T-shirt. they gave a number about twice as high as the number of students who actually remembered the shirt. PhD."spotlight effect. appalled if they don't. if you are not president." he was wrong—but only because he was president of the United States. the critics might sneer. I will say that for days after reading this study. In one experiment. For example:  You modestly mumble an idea in a meeting. PhD. and Kenneth Savitsky. many of us suffer untold shame and create smaller. Terrified that the neighbors might gossip. rest assured that millions will note and long remember if. and gets all the glory. weaker. "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here. When Lincoln said. we need to develop a mental dimmer switch. whom I won't identify here. say. However. the measure of our destiny. Net effect: Nobody really hears the idea—until the annoying extrovert across the table repeats it more loudly. These judgments aren't limited just to times when we mess up. less zestful lives than we deserve. To claim it. Victoria Husted Medvec. let alone fulfilling. you're probably pointlessly blinded by the glare of imaginary social judgments. These efforts to avoid embarrassment often keep us from imagining. Our distorted perceptions mean we not only exaggerate the impact of our errors but also undersell our inspirations and contributions. I was medically unable to stop humming "Copacabana. (The shirt bore the likeness of a certain singer. If you are currently president. . PhD.") When the mortified students were asked to guess how many people in the room would remember the face on their T-shirt. you barf on the prime minister of Japan." In the beam of imaginary spotlights. Other studies support what this one suggested: The spotlight effect makes most of us assume we're getting about twice as much attention as we actually are. we never even allow our minds to explore what our hearts may be calling us to do. the psychologists who coined the term spotlight effect. the love letter might fall into the hands of evil bloggers. also devised numerous ways to measure it. assuming that co-workers will be awestruck if they like it. Turning the Lights Down Low Thomas Gilovich.

"Small gestures look embarrassed. eating two servings of a fabulous dessert at a literary club luncheon. The first time I actually stood under a spotlight. in the long run. Medvec and Savitsky. so they're embarrassing. you're beautiful even if you're not beautiful. Trying yields either success or an opportunity to learn." you miss the joy of sharing silly or sultry abandon with the people you love—and the people you may never get to love because inhibition robs you of the confidence needed to form a bond. rather than the things they bombed at. Gilovich and Medvec have found in other studies that. and you don't want to look foolish. "I would eat everything in the whole world— twice!" That one word—"twice!"—struck a chord with me." Now. I find it very comforting to have an actual number associated with my shame-based illusions: Spotlight effect studies suggest that people typically pay about 50 percent as much attention to me as I think they are. The result? I do seem to have attracted more attention. pausing twice as long for dramatic effect while telling a story to some friends. the audience and the judges. Repressing the urge to sing "Copacabana.  How to Free Yourself from the Glare 1. they rarely save us from doing things we'll later regret. If you're going to do something. swing. I know how big to make my actions—about twice as big as I think they should be. contrary to what many assume. These self-limiting behaviors have no positive side. Just knowing that the spotlight effect is real and ubiquitous can begin to liberate us from its inhibiting clutches.") You sing. I've been experimenting with this in many different circumstances: raising both my hands. instead of one. thanks to Gilovich. "If she only realized that at her age. I believe this reaction is a major reason a lovely lady from Hawaii named Brook Lee once won the Miss Universe pageant. Lee squarely beneath the spotlight she actually wanted. made safer in their own skin by my willingness to live large in mine. . only to look back years later and wish you'd bared and dared more in your youth. landing Ms. but rather than the disapproving judgment I expected. do it BIG. in a high school play. Double everything. to ask a question of a lecturer I much admire. people most often regret the things they failed to try. most people seem to feel pleased and liberated. (As one of my friends sighed about her self-conscious daughter. never with other people. the director told me. not trying has no positive result besides avoiding mockery or envy that (research shows) wouldn't be nearly as big or bad as we fear. You wear clothes a bit duller and more concealing than the ones you love. and mamba only in the privacy of your home. When asked what she'd do if she had no rules to follow. she replied. In fact.

remember that the negative attention you fear does not exist except in your mind—if this works with the hard." At this point." Mentally noting that this man had been hit in the head many. I whispered. the number of times you laugh. I've gained . You may think this will attract massive disapproval from others. It will be scary at first." You get the metaphor: We smash into barriers of shame. you'll be lucky to attract more than a passing glance." I pointed out. we let others claim the credit." said my sensei. When every knuckle was swollen. I had an intense. Ask yourself the Universal Question. the board doesn't even exist. and my experience (not to mention Ms. that I memorized it on the spot. "What's wrong with you?" my friend asked." "Yes. emotional cell phone discussion with a friend while riding in a taxi. Stopping at what we think is the limit of embarrassing behavior.Why not join her by doubling the social behaviors you usually limit: the energy with which you communicate. so simultaneously Socratic and Zenlike. but if you persist. Once. trying to break that unbreakable board. "Your mind is really damaging them. The next time you feel performance anxiety in any form." (I am a trained observer. 3. even if there is one. "My hands hurt. the person we love from afar. cold reality of my ice block. Say. "The driver can hear me. "Why aren't you talking?" Covering my mouth with one hand. At a certain point I fell into a strangled silence. I guarantee it will work with something as vaporous as other people's opinions. do. there will come that liberating moment when you'll feel yourself sailing straight through your life's most inhibiting barriers without even feeling a bump. Actually. the clarity of the opinions you voice. 2. "You can't break that board by hitting it. Think through your limits—not to them. and be what you would if no one else were looking. "That's what you think. the intensity of the colors you wear. tender and bleeding. embarrassment. "it does exist. many times. Lee's) suggests it will be more approving than not. the job. As far as you're concerned.) My sensei shrugged. the opportunity. "Hit something 10 inches behind it. I proceeded to batter my hands to smithereens. so mind expanding." "But." my karate teacher told me. and regret because we pull our punches in myriad social situations. I said. my friend said something so lucid. Act as if there is no spotlight on you.

The answer to the question "So?" is almost always "Well. too. More often than not. when you put it that way…" It pushes us into the spotlight. this will work out well. people will see my cellulite. It reminded me that failing to act almost always leaves me with more regret than taking embarrassing action.comfort by repeating it to myself in many other situations. . you wouldn't attract a shred more social pressure than you already think you're getting. Here are a few instances where the Universal Question might help a person break through imprisoning inhibitions: "If I say what I really think. If it doesn't. I suggest using it every time you feel yourself hesitating to do something that might deepen or broaden your life. My friend said—and I quote: "So?" This brilliant interrogatory challenged me to consider the long-term consequences of being embarrassed (really. twice as boldly. I encourage you." So? "If I go windsurfing. twice as openly. who cares?). you'll feel and see that the worst consequences of living in the light are less oppressive than the best advantages of hiding in the shadows." So? There are endless applications for the Universal Question. who will only be inspired by your daring as we sit." So? "If I leave my drunken abusive husband. his crazy family will call me a bitch. Plus. remember that what you perceive as prudent social caution is probably limiting your life to about half its natural capacity. showing us we can survive there and freeing us to act on our best instincts. that if you did everything you long to do twice as often. to memorize this question and use it when you find yourself shrinking back from an imaginary spotlight. blinking and bedazzled. And you'll have little to fear from the rest of us. I'll look like a klutz. Today. in the private spotlights of our own attention. Consider that vaulting well past the limits of your inhibitions will probably earn you more positive attention than negative judgment. remember the most enlightening of questions: "So?" Little by little. people might disagree with me.

But I have a secret: I won't dance. revealing my underwear as if behind a pale violet scrim. I could walk down the street in a bra and panties and feel pretty comfortable (if I didn't think I'd be arrested). except that I want to dance.Baby Steps. The Oprah Magazine How our dance-phobic beauty director went from I'll-lookridiculous to "Ay. I wrote a story here examining how it felt to go out in public wearing the kind of extremely revealing clothing that was being touted as the height of fashion (and why a woman might choose to expose herself in it). transparent. I didn't feel courageous at all." Valerie Monroe sheds her last inhibition. I wore a lot of almost nothing: a scrap of black fabric only very generously called a dress. Nude beaches? Hand me the sunscreen and point the way. After the story came out. necessarily. a number of people congratulated me on my courage. another dress. a pair of bloomers—yes. Don't ask me.com | From the July 2007 issue of O. bloomers—so abbreviated they were interrupted almost before they bloomed. For a week. Olé By Valerie Monroe Oprah. Just over a year ago. The thing is. chica!" Rule # 1: Don't "think. I'm just not very inhibited about my body. Especially . That wouldn't be a problem.

I won't know what to do. It's completely fascinating. talking at warp speed and with a kind of hip-hop inflection I have to squint to understand. . forward. we both hold our heads up uncomfortably because we don't want to mess up our hair. which she then demonstrates with a move. (Another bad sign. We're late to the first class. we'd have preferred that. I get a terrific cramp in my side. ever curious and friendly." She does indeed look as if she could use a top hat and a cane. asks Butt Jiggler for advice about how to do the moves. The class is led by Tweetie.at parties and weddings and bar mitzvahs and anywhere else I hear music that beats out a deep.) Neither Gayle nor I can do most of the stretches. Now imagine her trying to do the chicken noodle. and another. step. Gayle and I rush to a corner in the back of the class. I'll be able to get it. I have learned a helpful lesson. That's me. Despite having failed utterly at hip-hop. and I'm thinking that if I have enough practice. We decided on one of the Ailey Extension dance and fitness classes at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Manhattan. At that moment. fast-talking young woman. to admit this—afraid to try. step. Funky step. I'm afraid the moment I get out there. on a Monday evening after work. "I don't know. But this is the best we can do. But we keep at it. but not one I will ever enter. a state of being for which I have enormous respect and admiration. O editor at large. And who wanted to join me but Gayle King. tells us we need some attitude. slide. I can't take my eyes off it. Like salsa. especially. As I'm tying my shoe. I'm even—and I hate. BJ doesn't waste a second: "Get grimy. It's called Hip-Hop for the Absolute Beginner. I'm just too inhibited to take the floor. (Imagine the Queen Mother at her 100th birthday party. and another. muscular.) Tweetie starts the class by showing us in slow motion a simple kind of shuffle-off-to-Buffalo routine. wildly energetic. where Gayle drops her stuff (she came in sweats) and I change from my heels into sneakers. More than 20 people of all shapes and sizes are doing stretching exercises in a large room with a wall of mirrors and a cement floor. Things are looking up. (Not a good sign." says Gayle as she shuffles and hops along beside me. There's a person in the class—gender unclear to me—who is doing a butt jiggling move in such a way that everything seems to be going in a different direction at once. It's a state of being.) Gayle. What I need is a dance that can be done with or without griminess. Though I think I know what grimy is—it's the hip-hop equivalent of dirty dancing—I have no idea how to get there. I know I'm never going to succeed at hip-hop. and I notice that when we're asked to lie down on the floor. A private class is more my style. for someone as hopelessly self-conscious as I. as Tweetie." he/she says. If there were a class called Not Even Anywhere NearApproaching Absolute Beginner. That's why I decided to take a hip-hop class. till it's obvious the hiphop train has left the station while I'm still standing on the platform awkwardly juggling my bags. a small. slide. "this seems very vaudeville…. hop. pulsing rhythm that gets into the blood. I don't have the constitution for it. Which might be why I keep losing my balance and can't keep up. who claimed that she'd been using the same dance moves since seventh grade and desperately needed an upgrade. hop.

Even with the endless repetitions. One Saturday morning before I start cleaning my apartment. indulgent laugh a parent has for his child when she does something adorably wrong. "You'll lose your focus and your place. "Bup. Keep dancing.learning to dance in a room full of strangers is just too hard. all the lucky grimy people in the class burst out laughing and nodded at one another." he says. compassionately." It makes me feel as if he understands my shyness." But later that evening. Trying to keep to a salsa rhythm isn't easy." which I could probably use. He's tightly wound. going over and over them till I can master them. baby lover. I immediately assume the correct stance. I just couldn't handle the humiliation. He shows me how to do a turn. kicking and scooping thing all around me. they're so magnetic. I add a couple of Jose's moves. (Every single time Tweetie had said. the way I had done it. he . he guides me. but a few good moves. with his right arm around my back and his left hand holding my right—and. "Should I practice at home?" A cloud passes over his face. when the music changes. I realize that I trust him.mamasita. We practice the old steps and then we start on some turns. we take up our positions—Jose. and." and then demonstrated with great flair a move exactly. Now it's a tango." he says. and he is.) So I sign up for a lesson at Dance New York with Jose. Why? For one thing. "I'm trying not to get bored. if I make a really egregious move. "Okay." He gives no indication of how bored he is till the end of the first lesson. do it this way!" he says as he shows me a new step. I ask Jose brightly. "Don't look at them. Finally he says. There is a waltz playing in the background: Other couples are swirling gracefully around the dance floor to the three-quarter beat. "Whatever you do. So I'm pretty fine with egregious. bup. A minute later. a sleek young Latin cat. again and again. even after only two lessons. and I abruptly stop my back-and-forth to ask him what he's doing. with the kind of loving. catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I make lots of mistakes. "No. like he's street fighting with a little person. With his hand lightly touching my back. "I don't think so. He introduces me to the basic steps." says Jose. I see that it is very ridiculous—is also a breakthrough. bup. not quite pushing me along but suggesting. trying to follow the hip swiveling and grinding. This scene. baby. I've never been able to dance. even alone. She said he'd be great. surprising myself. I'm about to give up. don't do this. And someone at the office has given me a salsa exercise DVD. as if he were visualizing something. lover. ridiculous as it is—and. At my second class. let's go!" says Jose. and then I'll have to teach it out of you. he murmurs. but with some urgency. tells me it's okay. a competitive Latin dancer recommended by a friend. Jose. I can't resist trying out the steps. when he starts a crazy. fondly." Why not? He stares off into the distance behind me. graceful. "Gorgeous. Because whenever I mess up. loose. and when I finally get it right. and I mean exactly. in the privacy of my home. I'm standing in front of my computer. and remarkably patient. and we're off. which promises not only a tighter "core. As I'm slipping on my jacket after the lesson. Something unpleasant. lover. I notice a couple to my right: I can't tear my eyes away. Really. "You might do something wrong." And I do. "Don't mind me. But I hardly mind at all. I remember the DVD and put down the vacuum. He calls me lover and mamasita and baby.

I notice that whenever I lose focus on what Jose and I are doing. finally.hasn't once asked me to do something I couldn't do. Every time I become less a spectator and more engaged. and I might as well just take a chair. (This would have been excruciating a month ago. I even look in the mirror while I do it. he seems to want to share his skill with me. it's smooth sailing: He navigates me breezily through turns we haven't even practiced yet. keeping the upper body still while moving the hips and legs and feet. . can be kind of low-key if she chooses. and by writing myself. Though he's obviously a very skilled and talented dancer.) I start thinking about parallels to my work: How did I learn to write? By reading other writers. You might have thought I knew this before I tried it. I guess I'm more comfortable sharing responsibility on the dance floor. The more I wrote. Jose tells me. I'm so jazzed that I search for some salsa sites on the Net. by looking at other (far more experienced and graceful) dancers in the room. returning in full force. but still. and watch a few competitions on YouTube. the more comfortable it feels. Today it makes me laugh. and when I do. to simply follow his lead. trying to figure out how they did it. It requires trust (in my teacher) and focus. letting her partner show off all around her. I find. but step-by-step. I hope I can learn to do some showing off myself. my dancing improves. while salsa— though it can also be about performance—thrives on the connection between the partners. Jose keeps telling me to stop thinking. rather than use it to show me how good he is. Then my inhibition. The more I do it. Very small. and reflecting on my progress gives me a small sense of accomplishment. not only do I forget my place but my self-esteem slips and falters. I know I'm comfortable when I'm relating to a guy (even. gives it a nasty shove. Then I find myself trying to imitate the salsa stance. When I get home. the more comfortable at it I became. Dancing isn't very different. There is magic to the letting go. A woman dancing salsa. but I discovered that hip-hop is more about performance. a sleek Latin cat a couple of decades younger than I). I'm happy to let Jose do that (as I'm still more Queen Mother than Rita Moreno). too. My engagement with Jose helps.

The Brain My favorite body part is the brain.11 Reasons to Worship Your Body (and His) Oprah. that fickle pleasure dome. The Oprah Magazine Gloria Naylor. valleys. that dream factory. and folds because . that shiny mound of being. Nikki Giovanni. The neocortex has ridges. that petit tyrant inside a ball of bone. 1. and eight more of our favorite writers dish on their favorite body parts.com | From the August 2002 issue of O. that wrinkled wardrobe of selves stuffed into the skull like too many clothes into a gym bag. Lisa Kogan. that huddle of neurons calling all the plays. that mouse gray parliament of cells. that little everywhere.

we'd be swamped by formed and forming memories. On a recent trip to Morocco. For reasons I don't know. The ventral side exposed bulging blue veins and slick flaps. The Tongue Gray's Anatomy calls the tongue "an organ of special sense. And asparagus." I'll say. It's where catchy tunes snag and cravings keep tugging. It looked rough. flick a vexing shred of corn caught between your teeth. a selftormentor." I said. For all those reasons. But it also likes kisses. insult just by sticking it out. it can contemplate existentialism. It had cracks and bumps and wavy eminences called papillae. "But you should see what comes off. roll it up on the sides and fill it like a bathtub with spit. A hall of mirrors. And biking. Uglier than feet. thoughts. while agitating on many levels. at times. (A one-pound bag of M&M's is still no trouble. "I don't want that in my house. I can no longer scarf a one-pound bag of candy corn. I thought about my friend Marjie. If we needed to remember how to work the bellows of the lungs or the writhing python of digestion. My brain likes cute socks. It's also an impersonal landscape where minute bolts of lightning prowl and strike. "No way. Tzeghret is the famous wild call from The Battle of Algiers. And drinking Japanese green tea in a rose garden. and there'd be no time left for buying cute socks. talk with it. it's my favorite companion. the delicate hooves of a goat. who recently tried to talk me into buying a tongue scraper. it was ugly. They mix privately. The only bad moment my tongue ever gave me was when I was tweezing my eyebrows with a 6X mirror. You can taste with it. but also voluptuous. "Whatever's on my tongue's supposed to be there. clever. And watching boat-tailed grackles. But I think it's changing." she said. and desires stream. —Diane Ackerman 2. Lord. A hand-medown miracle is that we are living things made of nonliving parts. and figs.the brain kept remodeling itself though space was tight. please. kiss with it. and forgiving. playful. megamagnification that makes a pore look like Mount Vesuvius. We take for granted the ridiculous-sounding-yet-undeniable fact that each person carries around atop her body a complete universe in which billions of sensations. Now stick your tongue out and whip it side to side .Ready? Make a highpitched wooooooooo sound. and if you're genetically positive.) And suddenly I find myself loving the taste of beets. or whistle without my tongue. There's the nub of it—the brain is personality's whereabouts. Is my tongue growing up with me? Not too much. and because it's shaped a little like a loaf of French country bread. bustling with nonstop neural conversations. and its own birth and death in a matter of seconds." I couldn't sing. It's blunt as a skunk and a real gossip hound. It's also a stern warden and. swallow. spinach." I told her. thank heavens. I learned something new to do with it. I stuck my tongue out and suffered a seismic shock. yodel. lick and suck. some of which we're not aware of. a favorite childhood pastime. Our brain is a crowded chemistry lab. Toward the back it turned scuzzy. silently.

Giving and receiving love. other tautnesses. Bravo.superfast. Hands that free and hands that imprison. we are able to experience the world around us and learn that it is full of other softnesses. Feet It is appropriate that I sing The song of the feet The weight of the body And what the body chooses to bear Fall on me I trampled the American wilderness Forged frontier trail Out ran the mob in Tulsa Got caught in Philadelphia And am still unreparated I soldiered on in Korea Jungled through Vietnam sweated out Desert Storm Caved my way through Afghanistan Tunneled in the World Trade Center And on the worst day of my life Walked behind JFK Shouldered MLK Stood embracing Sister Betty . Hands can build a better world or they can destroy the one that already exists: The choice is up to each of us. and that of the planet and the universe. other depths. Creating or destroying peace and well-being. The love and the world are in our hands. that of my family and my country. and also of free will. There are people who like to tie the hands of others. aim machine guns. build cathedrals. Hands that caress and hands that murder. What makes these hands different is the intention behind each act carried out by them. how they should hold their fork. To tell them what they should do. and destroy entire civilizations. Hands that pray and hands that sin. The same hands we use to create works of art. how they should behave. or clothe our children can be used to throw bombs. Among myriad opportunities. Our hands are the center of productivity. Hands We have infinite possibilities for using our hands. —Patricia Volk 3. how they should bring food to their mouth. or how they should make policy—but it is up to us to decide whether or not to give them this power. Hands that bless and hands that corrupt. There are hands that love and hands that fight. Hands that heal and hands that torture. our hands are capable of giving and receiving cosmic energy. What is it that makes us choose one option or the other? It is our level of consciousness and free will. —Laura Esquivel (Translated by Stephen Lytle) 4. other dampnesses. Thanks to our sense of touch. What I decide to do with my hands determines my future.

I wiggle my toes In the sands of time Trusting the touch that controls my motion Basking in the warmth of the embrace Day's end offers with warm salty water It is appropriate I sing The praise of the feet I am a Black woman —Nikki Giovanni 5. We wuz robbed: Healthy bellies are beautiful. pooching out suggestively on ladies high and low. Lately. including the Virgin herself. I've become an unwilling player in the game of cholesterol roulette. my doctor wants me to lose some. They swell and cramp and make weird noises. the Rock. women have simultaneously been thrown a curve and lost one. This is that holy of holies. a long horizontal of the actress Nastassja Kinski stretched out on her side and wearing nothing but a really big snake. I look at pictures of models in the latest low-slung. like most American women. Five hundred years later. (Ever see a skinny belly dancer? Who'd want to?) But there's nothing delicate about them. And we all have basically the same stuff. Just about every man I know has seen that poster. hiphugging styles. Yasir Arafat. —Karen Durbin 6. Ja Rule. Touch a pregnant woman's belly and feel the power—it's as taut and unyielding as a medicine ball. Chaucer would empathize. Saul Bellow. and what catches my eye is the forlorn concavity where a belly used to be. The Belly A famous Richard Avedon poster from the early eighties still has the power to shock. no poet could celebrate a woman's beauty without a rapturous reference to "her small round belly. I obsess about my weight. Thanks to the culture's runaway obsession with female thinness. It's a cliché—go poke Britney Spears. and so. and they all mention the same thing—that impudent little tummy—with wistful delight. Medieval gowns made the most of it with softly fitted bodices that stroked the body like a lover's hands and ended in a decorative. set off by the python coiling tumescently around her crotch and the curve of her back. there's a banality to blood. Blood True. The semiotics here aren't exactly subtle. They're real and visceral and impossible to control. which they teem with. especially for women. like life. protective housing for the occupied womb within. I want to lose some. a flat stomach. and essentially the same . It's undeniably cheesy but erotic nonetheless. We've all got it—about ten pints each. But I'll never want to lose what a friend once called my magic belly: emblem of fecundity and needful desire. Yshaped sash slung low around the hips and pointing discreetly downward to the source of life itself. sunk between hip bones sharp enough to wound. whomever." It's there in paintings of the time. In the Middle Ages. but what transfixes the eye is: Kinski's forward-tilting belly.

the strange history of . Blood is more of a revelation to men. three distinct layers—a clear golden plasma on top. mosquitoes. a solid band of white blood cells in the middle. with perfect bilateral symmetry.) Those of us who have actually seen injured people covered in their own blood will never forget the visceral sensation of it. an ER physician at Bellevue. white cells. or so hideous. That sudden hemispheric drop—lustrous and opaquely scarlet.suspension of red cells. I will remain unaccustomed to blood and endlessly fascinated. And I have long thought the menstrual cycle enables women to accommodate flux and impermanence infinitely better than men. and a thick band of crimson red blood cells on the bottom. Women immediately went about their work. Women bleed every month. his white cook's uniform now suffused with crimson. never uttering a word or a sound. You'd think its ubiquity and undifferentiation would make us indifferent. Certainly when men are confronted with their own blood. No pestilence had ever been so fatal. And perhaps this routine bleeding makes women somehow more psychologically permeable. fetishizing vampires. A Chinese man was brought in with a meat cleaver in his head (apparently the end result of a rather heated Chinatown restaurant kitchen dispute between cooks). terrified by the unexpected sight of red and what it might augur. every single day of our lives. As for me. whether on a strand of dental floss or a kid's scraped knee. That color! A royal dye brewed within our bodies. I was doing research for a television show I was writing at the time. Talk to any man who has ever seen blood in his urine. I think. rare meat. (Centrifuging produces a pousse-café. It was a broad wood-handled instrument embedded in the middle of his forehead in classic splatter-flick style. more accustomed to exchanges between their inner and outer worlds. and he'll tell you how he immediately broke out in a cold sweat. bats. But the shock of blood! Even the finger-stick rivets us. Yet Poe can write with indelibly chilling effect: "The 'Red Death' had long devastated the country. Is there another aspect of our bodies with this dual nature—that signifies vitality and morbidity at once? We probably see blood. There's the sense that an inviolable vessel has been riven and the very spirit of that person—his or her life and lifetime—is seeping away. derived from the metabolism of life itself. Blood was its Avatar and its seal—the redness and the horror of blood. He sat upright on a gurney with imperturbable equanimity." I accompanied a friend of mine. sometimes actually tasting the blood and becoming infuriated and galvanized with aggression. on his eight-hour shift one night. and platelets will ooze out. as rivulets of blood coursed down his face. The men all stood there for moment—hardened ER veterans among us— dumbfounded. their reaction is often extremely dramatic. Think of boxers realizing they've been cut in the ring.

And I know I will continue to fight its susceptibility to harsh weather and hard times. beneath it. With science on my side. it's the first place on myself I look for potential problems. around it. Rosacea. —Mark Leyner 7. and most of all prejudicial: I witnessed how one shade of skin could inspire fear. Skinflint. and selfcleaning home for us to live inside. and that color—that stunning color—at once the most mundane. And a man who has grooves and weight to the skin of his face is someone who has thought and felt deeply. according to my hippie teachers. from my face to my toes. Skin seemed the source of all that was stingy. It was the barrier that kept all of our other organs safe and in place. the vast and multifarious terrain we stroked and kissed and tasted. Eczema. reddish brown to high yellow. . I learned to associate skin with all that was negative. I failed out of biology and switched my major to English. But skin itself was always innocent. Skin. but strangely unable to tear my eyes away. shallow.hemophilia. Skin-deep. I am awed by skin's endless gorgeous varieties—from rosebud pink to coffee black. depending on the neighborhood. Shingles. to express love and desire. A rash here. Impetigo. even bit. a visible sign of where I have been in this world—like faith itself. A pregnant woman glows with the life growing inside of her. A baby's skin is like the skin of an angel. At night. porous. the gruesome effects of hemorrhagic viruses like Ebola and Marburg. I developed a fascination with skin diseases. Thin-skinned. It was also a source of much pleasure. loathing. sacramental tincture in the world. I saw skin finally for what it was: a magically recuperative. The lines on an older woman's face give comforting evidence of a life fully lived. the other envy. was something best ignored. adoration. numinous. and I don't look at photographs of acne and cold sores anymore. they preached. Skin When I was just a kid. to the content of your character. I hope I can stay true to the revealing nature of my skin. There may come a day when I resort to heavy coats of foundation and layers of powder and ingenious medical procedures that will freeze my face in an expressionless mask of youth. Look beyond it. I stared wide-eyed at the glossy color photographs of "skin conditions" in my family's huge medical guide. The names sounded to me like superheroes. Leprosy. protected from the elements of rain and wind and sleet and snow. I didn't learn this until my freshman year in college. Sure. but the photographs themselves revealed something sadly human: the flesh erupting in sudden ugly ways. trust. while teenage boys all over town perused skin magazines. the evidence of things unseen. I was horrified by what I saw. the blood-quaffing Masai and Turkana tribesmen of Kenya. Over the years. But I hope not. suspicion. when I was studying to be a doctor. Instead I like to study the simple beauty of our biggest and most visible organ for all that it can reveal. A bump there. elastic.

had no contours to hug. the vamp of Savannah. Breasts As feats of design. but I notice that he somehow managed to do very well without it. The eyes can cry goodbye and ask why. Glancing at my sophomore yearbook. It didn't matter that I was the slowest member of the team. Meager yet defiant. Breasts are not standard issue. Form follows function when it comes to nursing infants. and I agree. an inept plodder in the water. Breasts are also team players. Eyes have no voice but can speak of love or grief when our hearts are dumb. as part of the package that for better or worse seals the end of childhood for girls. The Heart The record industry and the greeting card business would go bankrupt without the hundreds of metaphorical uses for the heart. This maternal act. And they don't arrive until they're needed—at puberty. droopy. breasts are elegant: firm enough to nuzzle. I was indeed a woman. have blackhole. like constellations speckled brown or blue or hazel. My swimsuit. Then there's the clever elixir that breasts produce: It not only nourishes but confers immunities. iris-centered pupils that contract and expand. however. and stigmatized. These orbs. and so did hard-hearted Hannah. They have launched a thousand ships—not to mention ad campaigns. The tragic man is he who can but does not. they are a source of awe and wonder. I was on a swim team in Southern California. not so firm as to stab out tiny eyes. Do you see it? —Duane Michals 10. commodified. They come in rights and lefts. like shoes. Eyes The eyes—those twin translucent mirrors that reflect the universe upside down in our brains—refract the kaleidoscope of light in our mind's black night as sight. Round. I can still feel the anguish. assertive. which on my teammates plunged in graceful curves from shoulder to hip. eroticized. I stood proud and tall. The tragic man is not he who cannot see. my breasts. My lazy hormones had kicked in. absorbing galaxies of light. my fortune changed— along with. Someone must have surely . The following year. oval. and colors. however. shapes. Throughout history they have been symbolized. these two new badges gave me confidence. They come in all sizes. mocking my flatness. How well I know. So burdened are they with cultural projections that it's not surprising they occasionally need a little underwire for support. who was evil enough to pour water on a drowning man. Tony Bennett sang that he left his heart in San Francisco. transforming the invisible into our reality. appropriately. Lord 9. Its stripes were ramrod straight. We wore green-andgoldstriped Speedos. —M. is not all that breasts are called upon to do.G.—Danzy Senna 8. reticent. Which is to say: I had them. Look! How amazing it is that you are reading this. And I had the evidence to prove it. Some say sight is the great glory of our senses' wondrous mysteries.

have a heart. It is. Hannah. Steinem politicized it. Wahlberg displayed it. The Penis Michaelangelo sculpted it. in short. Stiller zipped it. Sex and the City demystified it. it's certainly handy to have around the house. the heart is inextricably tied to our emotions: It beats faster when we're excited or in danger." But perhaps Hannah was recovering from having her own heart "broken. pay close attention to the World Wrestling Federation. While it's true that having one enables a person to earn more money and avoid long lines at the ladies' room. The heart is one of the first organs to develop in a fetus. Viagra energized it. Mapplethorpe shot it. the rhythm of life. —Gloria Naylor 11. it's even the rhythm that calms us while we lie in bed. it also looks fabulous in a pair of jeans. let's not forget that it can also get you impeached. "Come on. there are worse problems facing humanity. however. And when it's too large.. blood vessels. admire it. exquisitely sensitive. Freud analyzed it. well. Bobbit detached it. trying to unwind from a hectic day and fall asleep.told her at one time or another. and muscle tissue. a delightfully spontaneous. They say size doesn't matter. the penis is not only an intricate network of neurotransmitters. in the grand scheme of things. This can probably be tied to the actual function of the heart in our bodies. Is there a closer relationship between the heart and the brain than we think? The verdict is still out on that one. and it's the one organ whose expiration spells immediate death.. In between the beginning of life and its end. It's more than just a pump that circulates blood through our bodies by contraction and dilation—it's the center of our being. but when it's too small it has a nasty tendency to cause grown men to buy ridiculously expensive sports cars. Behold the penis." That's what can happen if you "wear your heart on your sleeve" and then "give away your heart" to some worthless suitor. . And though these days it's frequently a step or two removed from the whole babyproduction process. The heart is also tied to our character: There are stories that people who undergo heart transplants experience personality changes and mood swings. intermittently rigid (though not altogether inflexible) little critter both reviled and revered since time began. Do I envy the penis? Nah. A marvel of technical engineering. and start wars. and when we see the object of our desire. It's amazing how many references there are to the heart in literature and in popular culture. But what we do know is that it's the rhythm of the heart that calms a fretting baby when held against its mother's chest. I do.

but you can break up those six hours however you like. Strength Training Strength training will increase your muscle tone. Although you may not be ready for six hours right off the bat. 2010 To achieve true fitness. and "functional fitness" exercises. 1. 2. This may sound like a lot. If you're very overweight or have any medical conditions.3 Types of Exercise You Need to Stay Fit Oprah. depending on your goal.com | December 22. Make your first goal 90 to 150 minutes per week. which I define as vigorous activity with very deep breathing. or you could exercise on an elliptical trainer or swim for 75 minutes five days a week. Cardio In order to lose weight and keep it off. your body will burn a greater number of calories as part of its daily upkeep—even when you're sleeping. helping to stem bone loss. aim as high as you can when you begin. I recommend exercising aerobically for six hours a week at a moderately high intensity. Cycling or walking for an hour six days a week would do it. strength training. the minimum amount for disease protection. therefore. Here's how much of each type to aim for. check with your doctor before increasing activity. You'll want to start with a . Strength training also reinforces the skeleton. you need a strategy that includes cardio (aerobic) exercise. which requires more calories to maintain than fat.

you should really do them every day. The Oprah Magazine .shoulders.) What I Know for Sure About Making Peace With My Body By Oprah Winfrey Oprah. They take so little time. balance. Functional fitness also makes other types of exercise easier and helps protect you against injury. they increase your core strength. as well as improve your posture and help you move more gracefully. do what you can. The exercises that improve functional fitness are primarilystretches. crunches. using either free weights or machines. (Find sample exercises in The Life You Want and here. that work the major muscle groups: abdomen. Ideally. and coordination. and other resistance exercises that you do with or without weights. and legs. As a group. arms. Functional Fitness Being "functionally fit" means having the strength and agility to get through daily life with ease—from toting an armload of groceries to reaching for a coat in the back of a closet. And you'll want to begin with weights that are challenging but not so heavy that they force you to compromise your form.variety of exercises. (Find sample exercises in The Life You Want and here.) 3.com | From the August 2002 issue of O. flexibility. work up to doing strength-training exercises two to three times a week. back. but if that's impossible.

I didn't begin my critical speech. is the nose I've grown into. if we're willing to hear it.). but they're my lines." I stopped taking my heart for granted and began thanking it for every beat it had ever given me. after years of yo-yoing.. and in less than two weeks I had lost ten pounds (there's nothing like the first time. Overstressing. whatever shape it was in. including the cellulite. after six months of unexplained heart palpitations. one beat at a time. For so many years. alive.. On December 19. 2001. liver. One night when I was getting out of the tub. My eyes bright. Scarsdale. I finally got it. feeding oxygen to my lungs. Every part of me thankful to be here. I had let my heart down by not giving it the support it needed.I still have the check I wrote to my first diet doctor—Baltimore. Around 1995. I actually felt a warming sense of gratitude for what I saw. face clean. Taking care of my heart. Two months later. To work it out and then let it rest. I glanced in the full-length mirror. 1977. For the first time. To treat it with respect. I sat up in bed one crisp. even my brain. Overdoing. 148 pounds. I did a head-to-toe assessment. The doctor put me on a 1. Then around last Christmas. living through this body. I joined the dieting brigade—signing on for the Beverly Hills. I believe everything that happens in our lives has meaning. Hot Dog. My hair braided. I marveled at the wonder of it: In 47 years. by sleeping with a clothespin and two cotton balls on the sides. I'd regained 12. Although I'd made the connection intellectually. Thus began the cycle of discontent. pancreas. No wonder when I lay down at night it couldn't stop racing. I finally realized that being grateful to my body.200-calorie regimen. Atkins. more grateful for each day. Overeating. had never been my priority. was key to giving more love to myself. and though there was plenty of room for improvement. How every diet I had ever been on was to fit into something—or just to fit in. In that . not a stitch of makeup on. The full lips I used to pull in when smiling are now the lips I use to speak to millions of people every day—my lips need to be full. and setting myself up to gain even more weight in the end. a size 8. I was 23 years old. and my body has started to redefine itself. So what was my speeding heart trying to tell me? I still didn't know the answer. This is the face I was born with—the same lines I had under my eyes at age 2 have gotten deeper. I was starving my muscles. and even the Banana. and Egg diets. that each experience brings a message. To feed and nurture it. The same broad nose I tried to heighten when I was 8. I'd never consciously given a thought to what my heart does. My shoulders and neck strong and firm. Yet simply asking the question caused me to look at my body and how I had failed to honor it. living it was a different story. sunny morning and made a vow to love my heart. the struggle with my body. I wrote in my journal: "One thing is for sure—having palpitations at night makes me more aware of being happy to awaken in the morning. I no longer hated any part of myself. the life force of my body. Since December I've kept that vow. This is the body you've been given—love what you've got. With myself. Cabbage Soup. and I thought I was fat. What I didn't know is that with each diet. slowing down my metabolism. I thought.

Rodgers writes of in one of my favorite poems." which Carolyn M. Hey. But Lila Keary is still amazed by her body's fantastic capabilities." What I know for sure is that the struggle is over. No Body's Perfect By Lila Keary Oprah.moment. I laugh and dive and let the sun wash over my face. The Oprah Magazine She's been through more than a decade of brutal medical procedures and ferocious drugs. its crush on life. "Some Me of Beauty. I've finally made peace with my body. And then I wake up. as I stood before the mirror. . I sprint and swoop and ride the waves. I swim lean.com | From the August 2002 issue of O. its nervy strength. vigorous strokes through an alexandrite blue ocean. I had my own "spiritual transformation / a root revival of love.

my instincts. The drops of rain pelting against tin flowerpots sounded like bacon frying. I can listen closely to my friends. On my better days. I've become severely anemic. There's no vision in my left eye.M. There on the night table are nine different pills and a syringe I've set out for the morning." I'd love to say that you've caught me at an off moment. The time will come when I can't do all these things. dishes. What's that old joke about the ad for a lost dog? "Blind. but the fact is I whine a lot. (A fellow patient once told me he'd never heard anyone complain so much— and he'd spent 19 months in the Hanoi Hilton. I've watched people get well and I've watched people die while I scramble from standard drug to new procedure to experimental protocol. Beside them are the sterile gauze and Betadine I use to clean the catheter that's sewn into my chest. it also serves as a paperweight for the dozen insurance forms that need to be filled out and mailed before the weekend. The bottle of Betadine not only disinfects. missing right leg. utterly ridiculous 41-year-old body can do. My body has betrayed me and I'm mad as hell.) It seems one of the unspoken side effects of cancer (at least for me) is extreme crankiness. though word on the street is that I throw like a girl—or worse. and Glenn Gould playing the "Goldberg Variations"—which I'm told Bach wrote for a Russian count with severe insomnia. it was pouring.My bedroom develops like a Polaroid. and shop with the kind of abandon seldom seen outside of Times Square on New Year's Eve. The air smelled like geraniums and lasagna—the old Italian restaurant on the ground floor was already prepping for the lunch crowd. They've screwed up both of my kidneys and damaged my heart. I can pitch a baseball. I've had cancer for a third of my life. Furthermore. but feeling and imagination and a touch of transcendence are. slightly used. What doesn't kill me sure does keep me from riding many waves. incontinent. They've made the soles of my feet burn and my fingertips numb with neuropathy. buying time till the next big breakthrough. This body. Answers to the name Lucky. which is still rooted in my body— imperfect though it may be. getting sharper as it comes slowly into focus. but what I know for certain is that I will maintain my identity. like Chuck Knoblauch. my hair was . These treatments chip at my body bit by bit. I can cook a chicken Marbella that makes people from Marbella (okay. I've taken to grabbing a cup of tea and heading for the roof of my Lower East Side apartment building on mornings when sleep doesn't seem to be an option. I can hold down a full-time job. and all things sexual. is me. hold up my end of the conversation. I have what can only be described as a superhuman gift for picking ripe pineapples. Brooklyn) beg for the recipe. Control isn't always possible. after all. tail. But wallowing in righteous indignation only gets a girl so far. my digestive system is shot. and part of an ear.. no teeth. On the other side of my bed hangs an IV drip for nutrition and hydration. And what I can do is make the best kid I know laugh hysterically simply by feigning shock and revulsion at the sight of a plastic tarantula. So these days I'm focusing on what this decidedly soft. prone to depression. My sweatpants were soaked. unable to have a baby or a frozen margarita or any long-range plans. Last Thursday at 6:40 A. I can do laundry.

and I got to experience every deliciously drenched inch of it.dripping. Oyster-colored trench coats and black umbrellas were beginning to make their way down Second Avenue. The Oprah Magazine . Life Isn't a Beauty Contest: How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Women Oprah. Here were people and puddles and pigeons and trees and taxis. I have cancer but I also have windy summer mornings in the rain and an active sense of awe at all that I can still touch and taste and see and hear and breathe in at any given moment. one of my slippers was floating away. but lights were starting to switch on all over the neighborhood. I have the crystal-clear understanding that recovery is worth only as much as the life you're recovering.com | From the August 2002 issue of O.

After years of passively accepting a definition of beauty other than my own. refused to stick to me. But my comparing mind has not. an anonymous. my mother had an extensive wardrobe. a fullblown goddess. and then smiles her wide (magnificent) smile. Mine was straight and fine. the power I have today is irrevocable. a voluptuous Renoir. "Why. I would feel once again like a tadpole among women. Were they fetching? I don't remember. Here's what I mean: As I'm walking down a crowded city street. me. elastic waistbands were sewn into my skirts to keep them from falling down." I say. I do remember gazing at the two of us dressed alike: one. I was undefined except in relation to another woman. sleek and glossy as a black cat. me. but there they were. sees none apparent. the other. with unrealistically perfect proportions. "You. green-eyed. always perfectly coiffed." I say. and then quiet it. "You'll never look like that again! You're old and invisible!" The woman and I are stopped at a curb. angular. It's stubbornly stuck at 6. I listen as I would to a recalcitrant child. and if I were to follow its voice. momentarily scrutinizes me for motive.After years of judging her looks. a skinny. Because I not only remember how happy I have felt as the recipient of an authentic compliment. unfinished pencil sketch. larger-than-life. Mom—that my comparing mind was born. So when it clamors to be heard. I was thin. inchoate. my bangs always uneven. Though I'm full-grown. of striving to be a noticeable object. too: Appreciator of All Things Beautiful. I grew up with a Barbie doll. ravenhaired. Though my comparing mind wants to nullify my power and kick me off the playing field because I can no longer compete. and it is. Valerie Monroe finally figures out a way to end the competition. I've now assumed an active role. She's a bit taken aback. "Bad luck for you!" cries my comparing mind. Whereas my mother was full and round and complete." she says. In a regal kind of way. Like the doll. My mother's hair was wavy and thick. I catch her eye. statuesque. It was in the shifting of that gaze—Mom. she turns her head in my direction. like wornout Colorforms. Clothes clung languidly to my mother's curves like an exhausted lover. crosses my path. Her beauty imbues her with a mild haughtiness. As far as my appearance was concerned. I've finally matured. She was a model. freckle-faced tadpole. ." The haughtiness vanishes instantly. but now I have enjoyed the additional gratification of being able to give one. Not a toy—a mother. neither do I have trouble keeping my skirts up: It's a 51-year-old body I live in. "It's my pleasure to tell you. a gorgeous young creature in her thirties. Mom's even included a couple of mother-daughter outfits. My clothes. in my comparing mind I almost always come up short. "are simply magnificent. Though today I'm no Renoir. thank you.

But maybe most important as an appreciator. What's Holding You Back from Making Your Dream a Reality? By Barbara Sher Oprah. I won't compare you—or myself—to anything. You know that feeling you get when you see a lush summer garden.com | From the November 2011 issue of O. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? No. abundantly green and fragrant and riotous with blossoms? Does it bother you that you're not as beautiful as it is? No. It's easy to be very happy. not the weather. only an eye to behold it. more precious yourself. marveling at your own ability to perceive it all. as there are women. you might feel more beautiful. takes nothing away from yours. inhaling the odors. I've discovered what the smartest men have always known: that women can be lovely in many ways—as many ways. It's easy to be very busy—at least as busy as one can be striving to be among the appreciated. Its beauty has nothing to do with you. That's the way I feel about those women I used to think of as competitors: Their beauty is one more avenue for a rich enjoyment of the world. it seems. standing in the middle of a flourishing garden. In fact. I won't. sweet and complex. noticing things to admire rather than looking only for ways to be admired. not our mothers. not that gorgeous creature crossing our paths. it's a garden. of course not.There are several things that recommend the role of appreciator. The Oprah Magazine . filling your eyes with the deep and impossibly delicate colors. I'm setting my own standards. Because a thing of beauty needs no comparison.

one by one. I suggest inviting some friends to what I call an idea party. Maybe it's "Train guide dogs for the blind. your neighbor knows a workaround for what's tripping you up—and suddenly. so don't worry about crafting a perfectly calibrated guest list or balancing out the lawyers and artists." Or "Set up an art studio in the garage. Now what? Barbara Sher explains why it's time to throw an idea party. Invite four or five friends and ask each of them to bring someone. something amazing happens: A friend of a friend has a contact who can help. Go Broad Ideas flow from unexpected places. you're in action. you first need to know exactly what's holding you back. Someone who couldn't afford to quit her corporate job but dreamed of working with primates met a zoo liaison who invited her to volunteer with spider monkeys on the weekends. A woman interested in fashion got instructions on how to work backstage at Fashion Week—and an introduction to a local designer. Keep it simple: "I'm having an idea party next week. When you gather people at a party where the goal is making your dream a reality. These are the obstacles standing between you and your dream—and an idea party will help you knock them down. .Your passion—bolstered by strengths. "But I have no idea where to train dogs! But the garage gets terrible light! But I don't know anyone who's ever been to India!" Write these excuses outside the circle." Now consider your goal and listen to all the "but" excuses your brain frantically lobs in your path." Or "Study yoga in India. I've seen so many fantastic plans get traction at idea parties. Sitting alone for too long with an idea is more likely to breed self-doubt than spark an action plan. Here's how: 1. Isolation is a dream killer. fueled by motivation—is crystallizing into a plan. Print this exercise and write your goal in the center of the circle. Want to come?" They'll press for an explanation. To get started with your own idea party. So before your goal succumbs to inertia. A woodcarver who designed harps out of rare wood was upset that her usual supplier in England had run out—until another woman at the party exclaimed that her brother had a stand of the same trees in Australia. Intrigue is part of the fun. but resist.

. "I eat pixie dust for dinner") and then explains what they like most about the lie they've told ("Alligators are suspicious. Let the Ideas Fly When you're ready to get down to business. to process later. have everyone sit in a circle. And as the game continues. people will build on one another's suggestions—exactly the interaction you're trying to cultivate. "I'm the prima diva of the Metropolitan Opera". It's important that your guests feel loose and comfortable before they start brainstorming—you don't want anyone holding back. even if they can't articulate why. I use an exercise called the Lying Game to help people think creatively. Don't be surprised if guests ping-pong ideas at one another—or call or e-mail days later with new insights. 3. All of it becomes ammunition for you to break down barriers and start living your life to its fullest. For instance. I don't know a good travel agent. tells the biggest lie they can conjure about themselves ("I'm an alligator psychologist". but they'll be revealing something through the lies they share." Then pick up a pen and get ready to write—you're about to be flooded with ideas. and it warms my heart when they trust me"). in 15 seconds or less. but don't skip this step. Your guests might not realize it. This will help others feel more trusting around them. Explain your goal and the obstacles. If you think you'll have a hard time with this.2. "I want to go to India. I don't speak the language. ask a friend to be the note-taker. It's simple: Each person. Start by Lying I know ice-breaking games aren't everyone's cup of tea. It's important that you not filter responses or discount suggestions—write everything down. but I'd like to talk to someone who's been there first.

playing and creating a lot more. Sandra Magsamen shares daily activities that will help you live life with laughter and joy. Laughter is an instant vacation. Right now! To that end. the numbers fade to two creative tasks a day. So laugh at nothing. hearts and actions. 2010 Week 15 As a part of her I'm Making It program. a memory. this week we are bringing laughter—and therefore play—to the forefront of our minds. a mishap. This week. By age 44. you must increase the number of times you laugh. laugh 113 times and ask 65 questions. This study is shocking! What are we thinking? We can't go on like this—we need to rearrange those numbers and start laughing. a joke. 11 laughs and six questions. a mistake.com | July 19. It's no surprise that a UCLA study documented what we already knew to be true: On average. we engage in creative tasks 98 times a day. at age 5. a play or . at an old funny movie.I'm Making It: Activities for Weeks 15 and 16 By Sandra Magsamen Oprah.

creative self. play and fun back into your life." I have to say there is real truth in that. it always makes me happy (and soulful) when I watch Ellen DeGeneres dance at the start of her show. invites laughter and renews your ability to be flexible and resilient. to heal and to uplift. It rekindles your optimism. Today I waved at 30 people and 30 waved back and smiled. "The last time we went to the store. She dances for the sheer fun of it.. I witnessed her smiling and I witnessed the people in the cars around us smiling and waving as well. "We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do. what makes you giggle and. Remember. I waved at 25 people and 20 waved back. of course. My daughter and I were driving to the store when she was 11 or 12 years old. no one gets out alive. For example. Playing isn't just for kids anymore. As Mother Theresa said. Sure. Kindness is magical. and I noticed she was waving to every car around us." reminding us that a smile has great power to connect. Play and laughter can help you make meaningful connections as you adapt to this changing world. Each day fans cheer for the ritual to continue. smile and laugh. Pay attention to what makes you smile. Ellen is just being herself—her playful. and then the audience starts standing up and dancing with her. she replied. Her carefree individual style of play has given others the permission to do the same. a day without laughter is a day wasted. Laugh with a friend and/or by yourself. A single smile brings on another smile. Find out how you can put more laughter and play into your life I heard an old saying that goes something like this: "Don't take life so seriously. her success was measured in smiles and greetings. and it is contagious.a comedian. but also make sure you put lots of laughter. Week 16: Kindness Matters Individual acts of kindness and generosity of spirit change the world. So play. You don't have to look far to see examples of play at work in the world. get your work done and be serious when called for. When I asked her what she was doing. Write in your journal each day and share the details of what makes you laugh. Aren't smiles and greetings the measurement for joy and success for all of our lives? Playfulness such as this rejuvenates and revitalizes you. Dancing at the start of the show has become her signature—a way for Ellen the host to connect with her audience." For my daughter on this day. Look for role models who are successful at bringing play and laughter into their lives. It helps you to see the world from different points of view.. what makes you fall down in torrents of uncontrollable laughter. a good- . encourages experimentation.

Your positive. by the author Henry James. Look around you this week and recognize friends. someone holds a door open. creative responses to social issues matter and can change the world for the better. so she called the county aging services and asked them to help her reach out to other seniors who might want to chat on the phone." When we are shown kindness. "I learned long ago. towns. and then out of the blue. Utah. with the goal of celebrating and helping one another. yet they touch our lives deeply and have a huge impact. yields their car so you can pull out on a busy street or says. Kindness gives us hope. that we are connected and that we matter. empty and negative. it connects us to each other and it reminds us of the beauty that lives within us all. she felt lonely and in need of someone to talk with. the world can quickly turn cold. Celebrate the purposeful actions you take as you expand meaningful participation in your homes. the second is to be kind and the third is to be kind. Explore five stories of kindness. Thoughtfulness. A gentle approach to living. states. communities. consideration and care enhance our well-being and that of those around us. we feel like we belong. compassion and care. says much about kindness: "Three things in human life are important: One is to be kind. have someone check up on them or . Being kind requires nothing but a desire to contribute to the world in a positive way. schools. She reasoned that there must also be other people who are alone and stuck inside without companionship. The smallest of efforts can yield positive results. kind. family members and neighbors who transform the world by their acts of thoughtfulness. Washington Story 1: Community companionship I recently read about a wonderful woman who lives in Salt Lake City. "You look pretty today!" These simple actions turn a negative moment into a positive one. countries and the world. There is great power in living consciously. Having been homebound while battling lymphoma. Without kindness in our lives.morning greeting ushers in another greeting." — Booker T. Simple acts of kindness and generosity of spirit require little effort. One of my favorite quotes. is the foundation for any relationship to begin and grow. that those who are the happiest are those who do the most for others. where civility and respect are honored. We have all had days when nothing seems to be going right.

I saw footage of a human chain made up of 30 people who were rescuing five beachgoers from a riptide in Bloomington Point Beach. Story 3: A treasured memento I heard of a woman whose friend lost everything in the storm. Her gift is an act of kindness that will help to soothe an aching heart. when bystanders linked their arms. women are making them at book clubs and families are making them at home. The Blanket Project reminds us that the making of blankets and quilts is a time-honored tradition in which love and care are stitched into an object that gives warmth. Shortly after her inquiry. saved her family. thankfully. love and the support of the American people. a treasured memento to share. Children are making them in schools. they gave her the name and number of a woman who needed just that. job and lifestyle—had vanished. and found the strength among themselves to rescue these people in need. What began as a single call and a lone volunteer has now grown into a program with 350 volunteer callers and even more people at the other end of the line. There is a national program called Project Linus. finding many pictures of the woman and her family that had been taken over the years. and thousands more are still being made. a friend went through all her own photographs. The Blanket Project envisions every survivor of Katrina enveloped in blankets sewn with wishes. Strangers and friends pulled together. formed a long line and. Without this human chain. gloves and scarves that are then donated to local hospitals and schools to be given to children in need.simply just get a call to say hello. These ladies and this group provide love. The five swimmers had been enjoying the afternoon in the water when suddenly a tide yanked their footing out from under them and pulled them without warning into deep water. Wanting to help her. prayers. The swimmers were in danger of drowning. blankets. Though she. Anyone can make a blanket—even you. Prince Edward Island. hats. warmth and comfort to children of all ages who are very ill or otherwise in need of a "heart-made" gift lovingly created by a volunteer "Blanketeer. everything else—her house. connected arm by arm. comfort and shelter. Story 4: Project Linus Covering someone in love is prevalent all over our country. through which women lovingly craft handmade mittens. She gathered them in a book. Hundreds of blankets have been made and shipped to the Gulf Coast. a sense of security. the chain of events probably would have ." Story 5: Human-chain beach rescue A story of the power we possess when people work together in kindness recently brought me to tears. after nearly an hour. As I watched the CBS Evening News. Story 2: The Blanket Project Following the devastation of hurricane Katrina—one of the worst natural disasters in our country's history—a group of people in San Francisco began something called The Blanket Project. This grassroots effort invites each of us to make a quilt or blanket to cover someone in kindness and care. Their mission is very simple: to let those directly affected know that we Americans across the country care and are concerned about them. managed to pull every one of them to safety.

Each day this week. delivery person. Do what you can. Share the bounty of your garden.had a very different outcome. Think about this as an opportunity to be kind to all the people who touch your life in some way or another: your family. kind. Do something because you know you can. Imagine a world where this loving. coworkers. Call your mother. Your act of kindness doesn't have to be a big something—it can be small. One for helping yourself. intuitive. Do what looks like it needs doing. neighbor and even the lady at the checkout counter at the grocery store. you'll find one at the end of your arm. Do it your own way. thoughtful. Pick a few flowers and leave them on the windshield of your neighbor's car. We can all do something. the other for helping others. we choose to bring positive experiences into our lives and those of others. if you ever need a helping hand. friends. Email a friend with some photos you took. Get some ideas for how you can make a difference through kindness "Remember. As you grow older. innovative and powerful force was used to solve all of our problems. mail person. Through our intentions and actions. bus driver. Be polite to solicitors on the phone. Do it because you want to." — Audrey Hepburn We all have the power to make a difference in the lives of others. Help a young mom manage with small kids in the grocery store. . you will discover that you have two hands. Smile and say thank you at a check-out counter. decide to extend a gesture of kindness to someone in your life. but it will have a huge impact. Here are some ideas to get you started:         Bake your favorite cookies and give them out.

What Really Makes People Happy .   Send a thank-you note. Have the kind of week where kindness flourishes. Water a friend's garden while he or she is away. Offer to help someone.

com | From the May 2009 issue of O. Sitting at my desk. I felt borne aloft on a wave of happy pandemonium. hoping my friends would feel what I felt: awe. teary joy. I'm crying at work!" .By Jessica Winter Oprah. surprised delight. tears sprang to my eyes. As I watched the elated home crowd rushing the court after Jason's final three-pointer. one of those days when the sunlight is wan and somehow sooty. I quit staring at my cuticles long enough to open a YouTube link from a friend—a newsclip about Jason McElwain. It was a dreary afternoon not long ago. flattening everything into a halfhearted pencil sketch. the coach gets choked up retelling Jason's story. Within a few minutes. too." "Oh no. In the clip. You might remember Jason. who scored 20 points in four minutes during his one-and-only stint in a game with his school's basketball team. the replies started coming in: "Crying. The Oprah Magazine How are you feeling these days? Like hiding your head under the pillows (and your money under the mattress) and saying "wake me when it's over"? We've got something a lot better for you than escape. I started forwarding the video. the autistic high school student from Rochester. New York.

stories like Jason McElwain's seem like just what the doctor ordered. Amazing."I'm Facebooking this now. a little magic to open the pressure valve of everyday life—the sublime thrill of transcendence to be found in a Mendelssohn symphony or a Turner landscape. and communicates with the muscles that control respiration and digestion. the all-important hormone of human trust and devotion. and gut. lungs. researchers Jonathan Haidt and Jennifer A. cried through) the elevating Oprah clip were more likely to nurse . or the amazing woman who runs your local soup kitchen). calms the immune response (by controlling the release of proteins called cytokines). and connection. the vagus nerve slows the heart rate (through the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine). For a study published last year. with that serene warm-chest feeling that washes over us when we're moved by an extraordinary act or by a person of great virtue (whether it's Nelson Mandela. euphorically human. The moms who watched (and. But to reach the physiological root of those sensations. "reducing our heart rate to a more peaceful pace [and] enhancing the likelihood of gentle contact in close proximity with others. Thanks!" And then I wondered: Does this feeling come in prescription form? Especially in our current moment of doom and gloom. our country. And luckily. we hunger for uplift. We can start in the general vicinity of our cleavage. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. And then we want to hit Forward on that feeling: because the more we share it. in a perfect kiss or perfect morning jog. we need to take a close look at the vagus nerve—actually a bundle of nerves that starts at the base of the brain and branches out through the body. The physiology that makes McElwain-brand exhilaration possible is also the bedrock of our instincts for compassion. The capacity for uplift is part of what makes us essentially. stick with us!). Acting as a messenger between the central nervous system and the major organs.) For the most part." "Wow—just what I needed. When we give a reassuring smile or sigh in sympathy with another person. The mellowing vagus is also closely associated with oxytocin. in time spent with our families and friends. We want a nudge toward happiness. our homes. According to a growing body of scientific research. sometimes. it's up to us. linking up with the facial and vocal muscles and the heart. lifting our spirits doesn't depend on finding YouTube miracles in our in-box." social psychologist Dacher Keltner writes in his recent book. But a yen for uplift isn't just a sentimental reflex (grumps and pessimists. it's critical to our health and well-being. caretaking. not entirely. Born to Be Good. Silvers invited nursing mothers to bring their babies and watch a clip from The Oprah Winfrey Show in which a musician paid moving tribute to his former teacher for steering him away from a life of crime and gangs. (Well. our future) and a drizzle of apprehension settles over us. the vagus nerve is quietly at work behind the scenes. the stronger it grows. When forces beyond our control have upended what we thought we knew for sure (about our savings.

"We haven't seen a spike like this since just after September 11. whose $5 community yoga classes are always packed. Groups of people sun saluting through hard times together is an indicator of what Haidt calls our "hive psychology. with locations nationwide. fuchsia-colored vibrators. David Sunshine.and hug their babies—suggesting heightened levels of oxytocin. Invoke. which has locations in 18 states. they want vibrators. during Valentine's Day weekend. is pronounced "height. deep connections with others.000 to 20. They want to be comforted. evidently. Match's competitor PlentyofFish. a sex toys retailer with four outlets in New York City and Seattle. They're looking for a stress reliever." Even if we don't know Oxytocin from OxyContin or our vagus from Las Vegas." he says. For one thing. according to owner Amy Peddycord. Memberships at Life Time Fitness. has seen higher revenues and attendance since last fall. in February. aptly. and "something larger than yourself"—whether it's a religious group.) We're sweating out stress at the gym. The Equinox fitness club chain. which also hits the V-spot: Aerobic exercise and yoga enhance vagus nerve output—as does meditation." Haidt says. a yoga and Pilates studio in Indianapolis. It's the catalyst that helps bond people together. but from "between": through the relationships created by love.000 years involves a lot of synchronous movement. attendance at Curves. "It's a way of . sales were up 26 percent over the previous year. many of us are investing in the most private form of "between" there is: the oxytocin factory known as romantic intimacy. Memberships at the online-dating site Match. reports an 18 percent increase in usage of its gyms since last autumn. a volunteer organization." (And. (His name. "If happiness comes from between. And yoga teachers appear to be the new first responders to (economic) emergency." "Evolutionary history over the past 15. often released along the smooth and orderly Route Vagus. chanting. laments that he has to keep turning people away from his new yoga-for-stress classes.com were up 16 percent in January compared with the same period in 2008. we seem to know intuitively how to prepare our spirits for takeoff—even when the forecast calls for grounding all flights. is essential to uplift. Sleek. "People are nesting. has seen double-digit increases in sales. Oxytocin. we're yearning to discover new. a women's-only national chain. "then oxytocin is the hormone of between. too. human happiness derives neither from external validation nor solely from within.") In his view. or a political campaign. owner of Dallas Yoga Center. Babeland. dancing—the temporary creation of larger groups. In fact.com saw a whopping 94 percent rise in traffic over the previous year. according to Haidt. an associate professor in social psychology at the University of Virginia. work. was up 22 percent in January 2009 compared with the previous year. are up 14 percent. which cues lactation—than another group who laughed along with a video of Jerry Seinfeld telling jokes. And despite the sharp contraction in most consumer spending since the economic crisis blew up last fall." says cofounder Claire Cavanah.

has consistently found that performing acts of kindness is highly correlated with increased happiness. a visiting associate professor of dance at the University of Maryland. and service (other than.) Bradley also loves "the 20-minute 'Google Earth vacation. reports a 30 percent increase in prospective volunteers attending orientation sessions in January compared with the same period in 2008. and a monumental 75 percent increase from February 2008 to February 2009. One beneficiary of the service surge. you will start to breathe more deeply.ramping up the 'between' to make people feel part of something greater than themselves. which forges yet another kind of nourishing "between. or count your teeth with your tongue." Sonya Lyubomirsky. volunteers report that they always feel better after taking a few hours to do something positive for their community along with a bunch of like-minded strangers. It has the effect of putting their own lives and problems into perspective. No matter how busy or stressed they are right now." Evolutionary anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy likewise looks outward to find "momentary joys. "Take a minute to write your name in cursive with your eyeballs. "Even if you're just sitting in a chair." predicts trend analyst Kiwa Iyobe. of the New York City–based marketing consultancy Suite 2046. the basic. "Recently.8 million of your fellow Americans at the National Mall on Inauguration Day. choose your resort hotel." Joining a hive could be as simple as laughing or gasping along with an audience at a comedy or thriller (movie attendance is up 17. over . The muscles around your eyes will relax. But for those times when your sweetheart and your running shoes are out of reach and your next volunteering gig is a few days off. It reminds you that you're not the center of the universe—it opens your mind and gives you perspective." says Karen Bradley.' You pick an exotic location.. uplift is also available in instant fun-size packets. or just hum along with some music." So. I've gone everywhere: New Zealand. decide which restaurants to visit and what you'll eat. Machu Picchu." (Caution: All that droning and eye-rolling may not have the same calming effect on observers.. the Galápagos Islands. President Obama's call to service has given a big boost to one of the most reliable vehicles for uplift: volunteer work. "A lot of people seem to have learned through their experiences during the presidential campaign that being part of a community and making a difference—even a small one—is deeply satisfying. I watched my dog leap through the air." she says. exercise (other than sex). Or as profound as huddling in freezing temperatures with 1. a professor of psychology at the University of California.5 percent this year). your jaw will relax. scientifically proven recipe for raising our spirits appears to be deliciously straightforward: sex. "People will increasingly turn to volunteer work to lift their spirits during the economic crisis." "I'll take a walk and wait for little flashes of discovery in the natural world. Riverside.never mind). the volunteer organization New York Cares. there are things you can do to change the pace of the day in a way that's recuperative and uplifting. improving both our selfimage and—oxytocin alert!—our sense of community.

Make the novel distinction. so I enjoyed being part of her abandon!" Any minor shift in outlook—including a little vicarious creek jumping—can make a dismal picture less dispiriting." says NolenHoeksema. A friend tells a story about going to see an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. is that "when times are tough. too. She found that a simple. Report for duty. obviously mesmerized. "The quality of your problem-solving markedly improves. those thoughts aren't activated anymore. tenminute imagery task (such as picturing clouds in a bright blue sky or a cheery stack of watermelons in a pickup truck) can turn brooding into focused action. but how you're thinking about it. Start the conversation. And." Langer explains) enjoyed themselves significantly more than the group that had to take notice of just three things. "When you're ruminating. to chase a wild turkey—something I'd never seen her do before. So send the link. But even after a moment of distraction. she felt gathered up into their shared. the group assigned to make six "novel distinctions" about the game ("It didn't matter if it was about the players' rear ends—anything. "We are incomplete creatures. to lighten it—however we please. She was drawn to a room where a crowd had gathered in a semicircle before a canvas. we cannot find our own meaning alone. only when we find the 'between. Grab somebody's hand. we can try to seize and shape it." Remember. that crafty reprogramming of the mind doesn't necessarily depend on what you're thinking about." In other words.'" Chances are. or nothing at all." says Jonathan Haidt. the way out is in actively noticing new things. the between is closer than you think. Yale psychology professor Susan NolenHoeksema. had found her between. instead of waiting for this daunting moment to pass. Tears welled in her eyes: For one transcendent instant. Roll your eyeballs around. Go to the game. yes—if you do just one thing—only connect. awestruck stillness. It's like pressing the restart button when your computer is acting up. We realize our potential. What we can learn from the mindful Super Bowl party. Langer says. the negative thoughts are so strong that it's hard to inhibit them. Harvard psychology professor Ellen Langer once assembled three groups of footballaverse women to watch the Super Bowl. she'd found her hive. "We cannot live alone. It could be waiting for you in . Move. I can't jump creeks anymore. has studied our penchant for selfpunishing rumination when we face a problem—a tendency that many of us have indulged during the past eight months. we become alive. an expert on depression.a creek. As she approached the painting—Vincent van Gogh's breathtaking Starry Night—and joined the group. The essence of happiness is that feeling of engagement with the world and with other people.

in a starry night. You can find it. Just keep looking up.someone's eyes. in a phrase of music. Awakening Joy .

a meditation instructor and founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre. or something that can be created at will? Meditation instructor James Baraz attempted an experiment with a smile. but that's what initially helped me the most.'" How about singing every day." So she started trilling along with the Hairspray soundtrack while driving." "The course uses practices that lead the mind toward states of happiness and well-being. she and her husband started discussing the possibility of divorce. and meditations stretched over ten months.com | From the January 2008 issue of O. PhD. California. and the . "In other words. a fleeting feeling. Awakening Joy is designed to bring more happiness to people's lives. It came as no surprise to a woman we'll call Joan when. after 16 years of marriage. Robert Holden. For centuries. or any marriage. lectures." she says. Still. author of Happiness Now! Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good Fast and director of the Happiness Project in the United Kingdom. making lists of things that made her happy. "I was desperate." says Baraz. "'Intention' is another word for 'focus. Joan. "I thought. 'I'd do anything to feel better. could be genuinely happy. optimists and pessimists have argued over who's right. initially balked at the idea of singing. it teaches you to focus on how it feels to feel good.' Whatever you focus on will become more apparent and will grow. and getting a "joy buddy"? Those are among the suggestions given in Awakening Joy. he says.By Suzan Colon Oprah. a class taught by James Baraz. "It seemed ridiculous. A series of exercises. the reality was crushing. "I thought James wanted me to join a choir. who heard about the program while attending a meditation retreat at Spirit Rock. Like some participants. is intention: making the decision to be happy. The Oprah Magazine Is joy the privilege of naturally happy people." she says. Deep down she'd never believed that her marriage." The first and most important step. "but I took it on faith that the singing was going to work. agrees that this is key.

But by accepting those painful feelings." (Baraz points out that one needn't be a Buddhist. celebratory kind of person." Baraz says. "That's important." a kind of running partner in the pursuit of happiness. Baraz gives them the tools. by Rick Foster and Greg Hicks. or walking. When my husband said we should contact a mediator. such as yoga." Rather than assuming divorce was inevitable. gave him a book called How We Choose to Be Happy. "Awakening Joy isn't about being a happy little do bee. and secular experts have successfully used these basic principles. Joan started to see other possibilities. "So I added that and presented it as a series of talks . If you're alive. he admits that he himself wouldn't be the best case study. "The instructions made a lot of sense. "One of the major blocks to happiness is a sense of isolation. If you focus on happiness. I cried years of tears." he says. you need help." she says. that's what you become more aware of. including instructions on how to be mindful—being present for whatever you're doing and. to reap the benefits of Awakening Joy. "From that day to this. you stay with them. that turned out to be a bigger challenge than singing—especially when her husband suggested that they begin the separation process. and he said. delivered in lectures to the live class he teaches in Berkeley and in twice-monthly e-mails sent to participants in other areas. rabbis." There are also guided meditations." For Baraz. no matter what they are. "Then I realized that the Buddha was called the Happy One. checking off those you do regularly and circling the ones that could be done more often checking in with your "joy buddy." says Holden. each sees what they're looking for. "simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different. Among them:     writing what the word "joy" means to you doing some form of physical movement." he says. dance. the best testimonials come from former skeptics.' That became the focus of my teaching." Once participants have made up their minds to be happier. "You're taught that when feelings arise. when Baraz's wife. that teach them how to cultivate a positive state of mind. but they didn't have a spiritual dimension. "My husband and I are still together. so did he.) The idea for the course began eight years ago. it's been a whole different experience. but when his studies became very serious. He found his spiritual path in Buddhism." she says.answer is they both are. I had a watershed moment: I realized that I really wanted this marriage. and in a way that I honestly didn't think was possible. 'Go for the highest happiness." For Joan. or of any particular faith. "I've always been a relatively joyful. "Ministers. a few times a week making a "nourishment list" of activities you enjoy. as Baraz says. Jane.

" The results: "We got happier and happier!" Baraz then turned Awakening Joy into a six-month class and found that participants maintained a positive attitude even after it ended (as long as they practiced the exercises." she says. "I have a lighter heart. 200.000 people have tested it. "I've learned that it's possible to change. and I thought people were judging me. you didn't have to be there to get the joy. "I'm the person who walks into a nicely designed room and notices only that the painting was hung too high. "It works!" they wrote. "It was horrible. Gretchen also found herself in chronic pain after sustaining a back injury. Nor do you have to be the type who can deftly turn a frown upside down. Apparently. lose weight. It went international when its members began e-mailing their monthly homework assignments from the lectures to friends. In addition to being a "serious" woman from a depressive family. So. no matter what your history or the limiting beliefs you've held on to. if you give it your best shot and are very patient. She heard about Awakening Joy after taking Baraz's meditation classes at Spirit Rock." says Holden. "More than 2. you can either chase happiness or you can choose to be happy." she recalls. Word of mouth about the course that could make people happier began to spread: The first round of Awakening Joy meetings consisted of about 40 members. The next numbered 100. Is it really possible to become happier just by deciding you can? "We use the language of having. it's more about having a healthy mental attitude toward whatever you're experiencing. It really is that simple. getting." Baraz is writing a book about Awakening Joy and the people who now routinely roll up the windows in their cars so they can sing as loudly as they want to. and New Zealand. Baraz was thrilled to receive messages from strangers in Europe. the next. but before." We're all so used to thinking that we'll finally be content when we find the perfect partner." Writing lists of things she's grateful for was also a big help." she says.with my weekly meditation group for about three months to see what would happen. age 56. and then 500. "The first thing I was hit by was the instruction to notice what it feels like when you're happy." Though a specialist was able to alleviate some of her physical discomfort. rather than being. and chasing to describe happiness. If you have the intention to be happy and you do the practices. Gretchen fell into a deep depression. Research has proven that there is no one set of circumstances that makes someone happy. but I know there's a lot to feel good about. it works. I felt guilty about not being able to work. which enhances my enjoyment." he says." says Gretchen." . Africa. I just plodded down the street. "I loved the walks I took to help my back. continuity is essential). "What we've learned about happiness is that it isn't an it or a thing. as with diets or working out. or get our dream job. "Medication made me sick. "A lot of my seriousness has lifted. Now I'm aware of how I feel when I'm walking. so it's not some airy-fairy idea. not noticing anything. I still have chronic pain.

5 Things Happy People Do .

controlled research. Picture happiness. In his time. and it engages different parts of the brain. eudaimonia means striving toward excellence based on one's unique talents and potential— Aristotle considered it to be the noblest goal in life. One way they envisioned the daimon was as a golden figurine that would be revealed by cracking away an outer layer of cheap pottery (the person's baser exterior). pleasure-oriented—hedonic— contentment is definitely a component of overall happiness. of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. but only now are scientists beginning to address this question with systematic. which has also come to include continually taking on new challenges and fulfilling one's sense of purpose in life." "To thine own self be true"). We canvassed the leading experts on what happy people have in common—and why it's worth trying to become one of them. Davidson. But researchers now believe that eudaimonic well-being may be more important. "Eudaimonic well-being is much more robust and satisfying than hedonic happiness. 1. PhD.com | From the March 2008 issue of O. Cobbled from the Greek eu ("good") and daimon ("spirit" or "deity"). What do you see? A peaceful soul sitting in a field of daisies appreciating the moment? That kind of passive. they also add a number of fresh twists and insights. The effort to know and realize one's most golden self—"personal growth. the Greeks believed that each child was blessed at birth with a personal daimon embodying the highest possible expression of his or her nature. The Oprah Magazine Sages going back to Socrates have offered advice on how to be happy. "The positive emotion ." says Richard J. Although many of the new studies reaffirm time-honored wisdom ("Do what you love.By Gabrielle LeBlanc Oprah." in today's lingo—is now the central concept of eudaimonia. They find their most golden self.

Dreams can be hard to abandon.. their romantic life weighed more heavily into how they rated their overall happiness than when the questions were reversed. compared college students who made intentional changes (joining a club.. they reviewed their diaries and evaluated how they felt at each point. you should see a significant improvement in your overall happiness." Analyzing one's life isn't necessarily easy and may require questioning longheld assumptions. They avoid "if only" fantasies. being relieved of a bad roommate). at the University of Missouri. "How happy are you with your life in general?" and "How many dates did you have last month?" When the dating question was asked first.lose the weight.. Schkade says that if you transfer even an hour of your day from an activity you hate (commuting. Schkade and colleagues asked more than 900 working women to write down everything they'd done the day before. PhD. Taking action is key. upgrading their study habits) with others who passively experienced positive turns in their circumstances (receiving a scholarship. "some people had tears in their eyes. but "people don't devote enough time to thinking seriously about how they spend their life and how much of it they actually enjoy. If only I get a better job. pursued self-development) weighed less." Eudaimonia is also good for the body. scrubbing the bathroom) to one you like (reading. All the students were happier in the short term. Fortunately. a psychologist and professor of management at the University of California San Diego. Afterward. It may seem obvious. When the women saw how much time they spent on activities they didn't like.. a professor of psychology at the University of WisconsinMadison. 2." Schkade says. The latest research shows that we're surprisingly bad at predicting what will make us happy.. in fact. slept better. spending time with friends). and had fewer stress hormones and markers for heart disease than others—including those reporting hedonic happiness—according to a study led by Carol Ryff. a committed relationship once longed for could end up being irritating with all the compromising that comes with having a partner.life will be perfect. They design their lives to bring in joy. 3." says David Schkade. "They didn't realize their happiness was something they could design and have control over. single subjects were asked. even when they've turned sour. In one study. turn out to be unfulfilling. PhD. Happy people don't buy into this kind of thinking. but only the group who made deliberate changes stayed that way. In a recent study. Women who scored high on psychological tests for it (they were purposefully engaged in life..find a man. People also tend to misjudge their contentment when zeroing in on a single aspect of their life—it's called the focusing illusion. changes don't have to be big ones to tip the joy in your favor. .accompanying thoughts that are directed toward meaningful goals is one of the most enduring components of well-being. A high-powered career might. Another recent study.

4. many of us are convinced. which is why they keep their lives full of novelty. They put best friends first. Demir found. 5. They also make better spouses and parents. is simple companionship. "The Dalai Lama believes you should pursue both simultaneously. for any die-hard pessimist who still needs persuading. which guarantees that a new house won't generate the same pleasure a year after its purchase and the thrill of having a boyfriend will ebb as you get used to being part of a couple. It's no surprise that social engagement is one of the most important contributors to happiness.The other argument against "if only" fantasies has to do with "hedonic adaptation"—the brain's natural dimming effect. there is clear research showing that happy people tend to be more open to helping others. PhD. "Some people would say you shouldn't strive for personal happiness until you've taken care of everyone in the world who is starving or doesn't have adequate medical care. And the best-friend benefit doesn't necessarily come from delving into heavy discussions. that it's wrong to be happy (or too happy). or the family you were raised in. For one thing." says Howard Cutler. Happy people are wise to this. They allow themselves to be happy. Whether the belief comes from religion. hitting the mall or going to the movies together and eating popcorn in the dark. according to research by Meliksah Demir. coauthor with the Dalai Lama of The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World. it usually leaves you feeling guilty if you're having fun. As much as we all think we want it. So. Compared with dashing around chatting with acquaintances. even if it's just trying a new activity (diving. nuns whose autobiographies expressed positive emotions (such as gratitude and optimism) lived seven to 10-and-a-half years longer than other nuns. One of the most essential pleasures of close friendship. yoga) or putting a new spin on an old favorite (kundalini instead of vinyasa). culture. What's news is that the nature of the relationship counts. . just think of how much more you can help the world if you allow a little happiness into your life. MD." And in one famous study." as he says. deep down. assistant professor of psychology at Northern Arizona University. "just hanging out. you get more joy from spending longer periods of time with a close friend.

25 Ways to Beat the Blues .

proves anything is possible.com | From the January 2001 issue of O. This has nothing to do with academic drudgery and everything to do with the fact that mastering a technique. . 3... Enroll in a bookbinding course. Memorize one good joke. Read everything by a single author whom you've been meaning to get to for years. Faulkner? Melville? Auden? Colette? 9.is to learn something.. German. Pig Latin.) 5. 1. 4. Master Italian (or American Sign Language. Have a kid show you one foolproof magic trick. French.. 7. doing something you didn't know how to do before. Teach yourself not to take the bait the next time a loved one starts pestering you..or maybe just how to skate backward. Spanish. Knit yourself or someone you love a sweater—or perhaps just a scarf. "The best thing for being sad. 6. 2.." said T.H. Perfect your margarita-making technique. 8. knowledge is fun—and it can help send your sadness away for good.Oprah. Learn how to land a triple lutz. The Oprah Magazine Knowledge is power. sharpening a skill. Here are 25 ways to brighten up those little gray cells. White in The Once and Future King.

Start writing a short story. You'll never know when Meredith Viera will call and you'll have to be a lifeline. 17. Learn to be alone (turn off your TV and your phone. Come up with one can't-miss-meal—and serve it to six friends. Blackberry. 19. 23. 16. Buy an atlas. 12. Learn to juggle. Tivo or iPad that you're not using and isn't all that necessary to your actual life but is rather cool. 13. shut down your computer. Create your own blog.it only takes one to practice. 11. . We mean oranges. 14. Learn how to make your grandmother's piecrust. 24.. Conquer your revulsion at putting the worm on the hook. 15. Tango. Tennis. and enjoy a little solitude). Polish your inner Joni Mitchell: Pick up the guitar you put down in tenth grade. Join a boxing class. not responsibilities. 22. 25. Figure out how to operate at least one feature of your cell phone. Try a new kind of yoga class. Sign up for piano lessons. 20. anyone? 21. Find a kind of meditation that feels right.. 18.10. spend some time with it.

was a sunny optimist—except when her . 2011 The world is full of people hoping to rob you of your good mood. Selma. like offer to check his e-mail for him.com | April 12. My client Francine's husband had started behaving oddly.6 Types of Emotional Muggers—and How to Defend Yourself Against Them Oprah. Here's how to perfect the fine art of psychological self-defense. "I'll do something ordinary. Another client." she said. and he'll react as if I've killed a child.

Third. count on being mugged frequently. those who follow emo-do create an inner space of clean. To cultivate such an environment. By contrast. (If you can't do this." This is also true of emotional attackers. you must keep three brave commitments. "and then this other woman got up and spent her whole speech mocking everything I'd done wrong. when you least expect it. The best way to become a victim is to turn your own mind into such a place—a place filled with self-hatred. emo-do will help you launch a powerful defense. Jay Cool (yes! really!). forgive yourself when your best isn't good enough. Like all opportunistic criminals. karate-do ("the way of the empty hand") and bushido("the way of the warrior") have a psychological equivalent I call emodo (pronounced "ee-moh-doh"): the way of the emotional master. Here are six types of emotional mugger—and. my friend Pamela was getting blindsided at a public-speaking workshop." Let's call it emotional mugging: You're going along minding your own business." she told me. but because the damage is so often invisible.) Second. And should some misguided thug ambush you anyway. emotional muggers target people who wander around bad neighborhoods. you're faced with a shocking attack on your mood or peace of mind. and gloomy predictions. used to study muggers' patterns to help develop counterattack strategies for the Phoenix police. "I gave a speech that went really well.sister Eve called to complain about life. This kind of setting not only attracts muggers but can leave you so emotionally tapped out that you turn to psychological crime yourself. the commensurate emo-do response. If You Are Attacked My former karate teacher. and knowing their strategy helps you thwart them. Being emotionally mugged can be crippling. with their deft approach to handling attack. vow never to deliberately create suffering for yourself or others. always own your mistakes and do your best to correct them. and suddenly. First. . Selma was always exhausted and depressed. You're probably aware that the Asian martial arts.. few of us are ever taught selfdefense. Time to change that. for each.. An Ounce of Prevention. Keeping these commitments creates deep strength that scares off most emotional muggers. There's no honor among thieves. clear selfconfidence. Meanwhile. "Every mugger uses some version of a few basic approaches. unfair criticism. are popular practices for warding off physical muggers. "There are only so many ways to assault someone. Well." Jay says. by the time they hung up.

It feels. in which she is not remotely fluent. which is all that's necessary to keep doormats from . as Anne Lamott writes. Exploding doormats are more harmful than puppy kickers because they harbor festering hostility toward their targets. Emo-Do Defense: Start by recognizing that the mugging isn't about you. 2. After five minutes of unintelligible babble. had been glum all day. but most of us can understand it—because most of us have been perpetrators ourselves. But seeing it from the mugger's perspective helps you mount an effective defense when you're the kickee. Puppy Kickers The term sounds brutal. Emo-Do Defense: Cora's attempt to soothe Angie's anger by being extra nice was manipulative. she switched to open. "For God's sake. or (if the mugger is a loved one) offer kindness. "You should leave early—there's traffic. Angie. Can I help?" This can actually turn puppy kicking into gratitude. you didn't sleep all night. you hear yourself shout. wagging your tail. "That would mean I have to do everything in even less time!" Then she stormed out. you just happened to be standing there. I'm not saying puppy kicking is okay because it's common. Say. Picture: The cat's sick.1. Try puppyish responses: Trot off and find another friend. The next day. Angie is an exploding doormat. she tries to tell you something about her imaginary koala using whispered pig Latin. Trying to lighten the mood. and as you rush to get your 6-year-old ready for school. Exploding Doormats Cora's assistant. so it made things worse. when someone went temporarily insane. "You seem really stressed. slamming the door behind her. your husband's away. She doesn't stand up for herself until her emotions reach a critical limit—at which point she goes postal with virtually no provocation. Cora said. like bitch-slapping ET. talk like a normal person!" You've just emotionally mugged your own offspring. frank discussion." "Leave early?" Angie shouted.

3. I won't. No wonder he freaked when she tried to check his messages. Cannibals To be happy. she can let the air out of any good time." she said." Cora said. 5. such beings are called . whose husband blew up over ordinary behavior? She later learned that he was having not one but several online affairs. each of us must create meaning and joy from the raw material of everyday life. by going into denial. If you're questioning your sanity after a surprise argument. the equivalent of a rapist: someone who gets off on causing pain. Selma's sister Eve is an example. cheaters. and make a bad time feel even worse. Cora realized she'd been taking the young woman's quiet diligence for granted. sorrowful consolation they expect. In Harry Potter's world. Secret Keepers Remember Francine. This isn't easy. so some people become cannibals. This kind of mugging feels crazy and surreal. Emo-Do Defense: Don't feed cannibals the patient. a person who sees virtue in pessimism. (An emo-do master never keeps secrets from herself—for example." Her mother had no choice but to slouch off with her dagger. Emo-Do Defense: A secret keeper's mugging leaves you with an icky sense that something's wrong. Emo-Do Defense: Deflators almost always have a history of feeling crushed. Don't jump to conclusions. Unlike puppy kickers or exploding doormats. "you're going to have to work harder to prove you're worth it. Together they came up with ways for Angie to let Cora know her limits. Ask questions. "What's really on your mind?" When Angie admitted she felt overworked. simply and cheerfully reject their pessimism. they rarely respond well to discussion." Kimberly's mother is a deflator. If more violent attacks ensue. the older woman sighed. Kimberly calmly responded. 6. devouring the positive energy of others. Selma eventually redefined her responsibilities as a supportive sister and began answering Eve's complaints by saying. She made a habit of calling Selma whenever she was miserable. they're simply upholding tradition. so don't bother. "Well. As such. "You're so resourceful—I know you can solve that problem!" Eve gagged on this response and went off to hunt tastier snacks. "No. but don't ignore your instincts. Conflict solved. Instead. revise your trust levels and watch for more evidence. and liars attack people who threaten to stumble onto their misdeeds. "You seem so angry. 4. Deflators When Kimberly told her mother she'd been promoted. With one well-placed jab.) Hold firm to your reality. addicts.detonating. To the prediction that she'd have to work harder. off-loading her misery and draining Selma's joy. you may be dealing with a secret keeper. Dementors The woman who publicly shamed Pamela after her speech was the most destructive kind of emotional mugger.

the more muggers will avoid you. Instead of a target. Staying away from dementors allows them to socially self-destruct—and they always do. most people are appalled by dementors' behavior. . This is why cruel conversationalists ultimately end up friendless. not you. eat some chocolate (any Harry Potter fan can tell you that). This wasn't a problem for Pamela—she was easily able to avoid her attacker—but may be daunting if you've got a dementor in the family or at work. an emotional mugger may still catch you before you can defend yourself. a place where emotional criminals rarely strike—and if they do. or you're operating under the misconception that you deserved it. you can use the experience to become a stronger emo-do practitioner. Though onlookers may at first be too horror-stricken to come to your rescue. The way of emo-do is rigorous—and hugely rewarding. there are two possibilities: Either you really did provoke the attack. finally. The more you follow it. Return immediately to basic emodo code: Stop causing suffering for yourself by thinking you deserved victimization. forgive yourself for the whole misadventure. dispense with any lingering nasty energy by recognizing that it probably belongs to the mugger. and—on a much larger scale— why evils like prejudice and discrimination have slowly but surely become less acceptable in almost every human society. Then distance yourself in any way you can. If the negativity won't dissipate. After an Assault No matter how well prepared you are. at least keep your emotional distance. First. They are endlessly unhappy. are swiftly rendered harmless. addicted to the sense of control they get from violating others. Emo-Do Defense: If someone attacks with no provocation and seems intent on inflicting maximum harm. They don't care whom they hurt. because that's just the kind of neighborhood where most people want to live. as long as they hurt someone. you may be dealing with a truly disturbed person. Plan to welcome many of us to walk with you. you'll feel violated. In the short run. In the long run. correct any behaviors that might have triggered the mugging. and. you'll become a walking haven. To start.dementors. If you can't remove yourself from the relationship. Don't trust a dementor with your private thoughts.

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embarrassingly. I'm dreaming of cobalt blue and cadmium yellow. On a high school class trip I talked. and my right index finger is callused where the brush has been. What she found was her own piece of sky. and Feel Like a Kid Again By Katherine Weissman Oprah. I've just spent five days at a watercolor class in the Berkshire hills of Massachusetts—a little like camp. Draw. in my sleep: "I want to be a writer—a good writer.com | From the November 2001 issue of O. It was group ecstasy without an illegal .Paint. though. a little like doing finger paints or drugs. At 10 my idea of fun was browsing through Roget's Thesaurus and typing nature poems on my grandmother's pale green Smith-Corona manual. I've been a word person my whole life. The Oprah Magazine Katherine Weissman had no idea what to expect when she began taking a watercolor class. I won spelling bees in grade school." Right now.

located in the left hemisphere. Whatever awful daubs I produced. analytical mode. like a train. according to Lindsay—but. crazy about red and blue. None of this 'no copying' stuff. to gain access to right-brain mode. like an overprotective parent. survival driven. Notice how I slam myself in that last sentence." Lindsay said. This is not to say that all fear and judgment instantly fled. try it. hypercritical—is the boss. experimenting with wet paper (the paint blossoms and/or runs) and dry (more control). and. Interestingly. unworried. messy part—was precisely what the teacher. nobody would call me a washout. "You'll grow in your own way. Technical perfection and aesthetic judgments were not what this course was about. Lindsay. yellow) at a time." it muttered. Saying that something is bad ("awful daubs") is the left brain's way of protecting and defending us. Years of museumgoing and exposure to unnaturally perfect computer-generated graphics have made our artistic expectations cruelly high. this concept implies a mental shift that's liberating. impatient. "How much paint should I start with?" I asked as we began. Letting another part of my psyche come out to play—the intuitive. gulp." . There I was on the first day. She urged us to splash and spatter. Ann K." She is the grade-school teacher we all should have had. "Let yourselves be little kids here. Lindsay begins by encouraging her students to trust their instincts and have fun. pristine paper.substance in sight: all 15 of us high on shapes and colors and lines and designs. and the visual. She urged us to stop calling ourselves names.") Painting was my way of sneaking into the right brain through a side door. literally to color outside the lines. it can be inhibiting. Many art classes start with rules and how-tos. had suddenly switched tracks. had intended. It was as if my brain. blue. The left hemisphere—rational. especially at first. Applied to art education. First we just wallowed in color. ("Fuzzy. and go ahead. I also found myself in a kind of ecstasy. it is also blessedly low-tech. there is a physiological basis for this approach: The 1960s research of Nobel Prize– winning psychobiologist Roger W. you have to be cagey. rounded forms. a medium of drips and bleeds and happy accidents. exhilarating. perceptual mode in the right. doing free-form paintings that used only two of the three primaries (red. Sperry established that the human brain has a dual nature—the verbal. The literary persona that patrols my psyche hadn't exactly put out the welcome mat for a different way of thinking. But watercolor is forgiving. I found myself weirdly averse to red and yellow. seriously awkward. "No standards. facing a rectangle of thick. my body in fight-or-flight mode—and she yelled out: "Remember. armed with an unclouded water bottle and fresh paint. think kindergarten! Maybe preschool!" I could only laugh. "First one to use up a whole tube gets a prize! And if you like something your neighbor is doing. my brush poised. fond of swooping. "A lot!" said Lindsay.

Lindsay reminded us. analytic elements back into the process ("But no right or wrong. we need both modes to function fully and well." It was more like the awakening of a part of me that . is not some evil dictator. with each succeeding attempt (four in all). So after the initial play period." I stared at my pear. she brought orderly. Once I got past the urge to peek. were pure invention. soul-satisfying sort. In the next phase we confronted an object—a piece of fruit. it was about honesty—painting from the inside out. as Lindsay put it. Mixing colors is power of a deep. while not a faithful rendition of the foxglove. was strangely beautiful and pure. Lindsay told us. It got the essence of the flower. The same thing happens when I see a rainbow: I know the event is scientifically explicable. but I was unprepared for the infinite and gorgeous variety I could produce with merely three primaries. was an audacious yellow-orange. the more I felt this stillness. Even more interesting was an exercise called blind contour drawing: For five minutes we gazed at an object—I did a stalk of foxglove—and drew without looking at what we were doing. this out-of-timeness.The left brain. and the fear that the drawing would be a big mess (these messages courtesy of the left side of the brain—thanks a lot!). The more I drew and painted. sitting innocently on the table. the paper. Other people faded and so did noises—it was just me. Don't get hung up on details. It's odd that such a mental state is described as a "trance" or "reverie.) Why did this stir me so? Probably because left-brain logic (the charts) was converging with right-brain joy (the colors). the need to rush. My first effort was a conventional brownish yellow. Something emerging out of nothing might be as close to a definition of creativity as we're going to get. a flower—and reached the scary and electric point at which. I had to remind myself that this class wasn't about being gifted or trained. truly an altered state. knocked out in a speedy 15 minutes. And my sketch. yet it is still magical—an arc of light and color appearing out of nowhere. the moving pencil. I got more daring. The last. the ever mutating colors. squint at those pears so that you see the underlying form. where it's light and where it's dark. "outer and inner worlds come together. (Maybe the urge to make pictures is equally primal: Think of cave paintings. good or bad!") through charts that let us explore the gradations from one color to the next. ***** So far the class had remained in the sphere of the private self: Our pictures. and felt sick at the prospect of trying—and failing—to reproduce it. the process was mesmerizing and meditative. I'd known forever that blue + yellow = green. botanically incorrect but full of gusto. in the best tradition of abstract expressionism.

I was aching to take my art outside. "It's bland. slobbering dog joined me for a while. I hated it. Our class sat (damply) on the grass. not product" is a creativity cliché that can be blamed for a lot of macramé plant holders and bad pottery. You know the line from "Amazing Grace"—"Was blind. In my mind I painted and repainted everything from a pinecone to a cloud. We were on our own. yes. A friendly. "More definition?" she said.had been dozing for years. Lindsay hadn't demonstrated anything about landscapes. to get somewhere—you have to keep going back to intuition. but it is also a great truth. You have to go through the dark wood. Lindsay: "You think a painting is awful when it's simply not finished yet. By the next-to-last day. It was surprising how little I panicked. Now what? "Process. But I also saw that my sky was good and my greens were deep. I looked at things around me not only with greater attention but also with a sense of being able to reflect and refract the natural world through my own lens. greens. laid out our things. but now I see?" That's how I felt as the days went by. I wasn't lost. It had rained in the morning. And then I stopped and looked at my picture. I could see that the trees on the near side of the lake could be delineated more sharply. . the hills were green—or rather. how quickly I became absorbed." When I showed Lindsay the landscape. and. she asked what I thought it needed. I was found. the mucky place." I said. a million of them—and the lake brimmed with bright ripples and mirrored trees. You're in the middle. I stopped hating the picture and went to work. and squinted at the horizon. trying my hardest not to be negative. adding serendipitous water spots. This was the Outward Bound of painting. but now the sky was hot and blue. and I realized that I was happy wandering in the dark wood. Then it struck me: Beyond a few ideas about doing a sky.

idea-wise. and one memoir of motherhood. one novel about India. listening en route to a stand-up comic. and an Eckhart Tolle lecture. a mystery novel. I read bits of eight books: four accounts of brain research. one biography of Theodore Roosevelt.Creativity Boost: How to Tap into Right-Brain Thinking Oprah. . This morning I sat down to write about how we can all learn to better use the right hemispheres of our brains. squinting slack-jawed into the middle distance. The Oprah Magazine We've all heard that we need to tap into our creative right brains. "Well. After a while. For 30 minutes. I yanked on my Rollerblades and skated around. But how? Martha Beck offers a few fruitful ways to branch out. Flat beer. Nothing much happened." Duh. a tiny lightbulb went on. "I could write about this. Next I drove to my favorite Rollerblading location. one study of bat behavior. I tapped restlessly at a laptop.com | From the November 2009 issue of O." I thought. Finally I resorted to a strategy I call the Kitchen Sink.

and your lace-tatting days were over.. For instance: Michaela develops financial-planning strategies for stayat-home moms. But still. while looking for a hat to put on. "Well. wait a while. we all need to get back into our right minds. green and prickly below. These days. . we now know we can effect this change deliberately. Interestingly. most brain science came from studying people whose brains had been damaged. TV producers—all "content creators" who regularly face the terrifying thought. as do Web designers. Or perhaps illness is trying to nudge us back to the mysteries and gifts of the right brain. Fortunately. The 21st century is to content creators what the Industrial Revolution was to factory workers: In a world where information is superabundant. If you showed him a rose.The Kitchen Sink.. it's the size of a small house and it needs cleaning." Only in recent years have experts begun to laud the creative. recession or no recession. People with left-hemisphere brain injuries may have trouble thinking analytically or making rational decisions. find friends. unique and creative ideas are hot-ticket advantages both personally and professionally..Is it my garage?"). on the other hand." If you're not a content creator. cartoonists. The famous Phineas Gage had an iron rod rammed all the way through his head. Depending on the injury's location. When Right Was Wrong Historically. left-hemisphere strokes appear to be more common than right-hemisphere strokes. Many with damage to the right hemisphere. More and more people are finding more and more ways to parent. and it goes with me everywhere.. Oliver Sacks wrote about such a patient in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. This gentleman saw perfectly but could identify what he saw only by guessing. though it could have been worse ("Well. you see. Perhaps we're overusing our left hemispheres to the point of blowout. it's red on top.. One can hardly blame him. he might say. I've gotta come up with something.. "Well.. Is it my hat?" I'm sure this was awful for his poor wife. and it smells nice. permanently losing the ability to be nice. Is it a flower?" One day. is one way to activate your brain's creative right hemisphere. It requires us to use more than the logical left-brain skills we learned in school. and generally live well by relying on creativity. without having to survive neurological disaster. I've seen this shift among my life-coaching clients. Every writer I've ever met uses some version of it. perhaps thinking: "It's familiar. Alyssa's innovative T-shirt designs keep selling. The demand for creative thinking is both a challenge and an opportunity. holistic right hemisphere. can still pass their SATs but become unable to connect parts into a meaningful whole. he reached for his wife instead. For most of Western history the right side of the brain was short-shrifted by neurologists intent on helping people think "rationally. Mary runs a long-distance mother's support group via Skype. these patients had varying disabilities: If you lost one brain section. you might be unable to do long division.. wipe out another patch. make money.

Have a bilateral conversation. You were prepared for predictability and order. Here are some tricks you can deep practice to buff up your right hemisphere. That's why she won the Nobel Prize. you'll fail. you need something Coyle calls deep practice. Initially. located in your right hemisphere. take a pencil in your right . you myelinated the left-brain pathways for thinking logically. Morrison became slightly distracted. Then try to replicate that behavior. now things get gnarly.In his fascinating book The Talent Code. running critical eyes across the page. There were many squinty eyes in Reimann's studio. Here's one of his exercises: Sign your name. or Tiger Woods perfecting his golf swing. dropping you into rapt concentration. Good luck. yielding quick improvement. To do this. Repeat this until you can sign in all directions. that's a good thing). How to Wake Up Your Right Mind Deep practice is hard. Heavily myelinated pathways equal mad skills. 1. but this time. Sign your name every which way. wanting to make changes. analyze your errors. My favorite teacher and artist. each time this happens. Then backward and upside down. Next." Examples of people engaged in deep practice are everywhere. The thicker the myelin sheath around a neural pathway. and (if you're lucky) producing good work. painting like Grandma Moses. Daniel Coyle describes how the brain reacts when a person develops a new skill. Sign again. the more easily and effectively we use it. handling iron rods like Uncle Phineas. I once saw a television interviewer present Toni Morrison with the original manuscript of one of her masterpieces. it thickens the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve fibers like the rubber coating on electrical wires. Will Reimann. First visualize an ability you'd like to acquire—swimming like Dara Torres. Now try again. Deep practice is the same no matter what the skill. you'll "fail better. That's good. failure is an essential element of deep practice. Done? Okay. Performing an action involves firing an electrical signal through a neural pathway. was brilliant at getting his students to use the right side of their brains. She clearly can't stop deep practicing. It's also weirdly rewarding. rather than left to right (just moving your hand backward fires the right brain hemisphere). Got that? Now sign upside down. not today's constant flood of innovation and change. Now you need to build up myelin sheaths around new skill circuits. but in Samuel Beckett's words. For this exercise. You'll still probably fail (remember. Throughout your education. It makes your brain feel like a piece of raw hamburger. Think of American Idol contestants improving their singing. 2. much neural myelination. noting exactly where your performance didn't match your ideal. do it in mirror writing— right to left.

One day when she had trouble hearing a flight attendant—ping!—she realized she could train Buster as a hearing service dog. Your first few ideas may not be perfect—many will be awful—but there are more where they came from. Time to push your newly awakened right hemisphere into useful service. and isolated. The right side of the brain. Now Betsy has her ideal body and an Internet community. Think of a problem that's had you stumped for a while: Your preschooler won't nap. Now they fly the skies in style together. Think of the problem periodically. sure. you'll build your overall right-brain facility. This process encourages eureka epiphanies. don't—I speak from experience). "Take a nap." your right hemisphere might say. Now walk with your right arm and right foot going forward simultaneously." You'll find there's a little Zen master in that left hand of yours (not surprisingly. and write whatever pops up.hand (even if you're left-handed) and write the question: "How's it going?" Then switch to your left hand. we'll be fine. which controls the left hand. Laura wanted to travel but hated kenneling her yellow Lab. wash the dishes. Or cutting your own hair (actually. Toss in the kitchen sink. 3. whether you're learning a complicated dance step or holding a new yoga posture. watch the neighbors through binoculars. Then she realized—ping!—that his very paranoia could shut him down. She and her friend Janet began e-mailing each other for support. noticing how your arms swing opposite your legs. you need to cut expenses without sacrificing quality of life. left-handed people are disproportionately represented in creative professions). it will do so more and more abundantly. It specializes in assessing your physical and mental feelings. Brenda was unnerved by an ex-boyfriend's increasingly paranoid. She also had partial hearing loss due to meningitis. bored. with your eyes closed—any variation that's initially hard but ultimately learnable. Your nondominant hand's writing will be shaky—that's okay. The important thing isn't tidiness. Buster. For example. and it often offers solutions. will say things you don't know that you know. or "Just do what feels right. like those moments in TV dramas where the brilliant doctor or sleuth gets the "ping" of insight that solves the case. Is this difficult? No? Then do it backward. then drop it again. Try this: Walk a few steps. You'll master a new skill. read a few paragraphs in several totally unrelated books.com) where dieters could gather to share food fantasies and grumpy harangues. She had three private detectives ask him about his phone messages. Once you begin encouraging the right brain to churn out solutions. he . Play with your cat. Dieting made Betsy feel grumpy. With this challenge in your mind. 4. it's noticing that your twin hemispheres have different personalities. more important. then the left hand and left foot. angry phone messages. then—ping!—decided to create a blog (bitchyourselfthin. you can't make yourself exercise. You need your right hemisphere to move in an unfamiliar way. Then relax. Learn new moves.

became convinced she was having him followed. eyes locked in a vacant yet squinty stare. I'll know you're getting the hang of it. When I see you out Rollerblading. let the problem go. you'll move more confidently and productively through an increasingly complex world. . and got a brilliant response from their own creativity. They couldn't force that to happen. All of these women puzzled about a difficult situation. feed challenges and stray information into your right brain's database. one that grows steadily stronger the more you work at it. As they do. but they made it highly likely with Kitchen Sink thinking. Turning on your right brain is a skill. and he disappeared. and see new ideas begin to emerge. Trigger the sensation of deep practice by mastering any unfamiliar task. tried many solutions that didn't work.

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fantastic. 2002 Why do some of us put off the most creative. moodenhancing thing in our lives? Martha Beck makes the case for having a really good time. I am dead serious about fun. What they don't realize is that people who achieve such things are the ones who have fun doing them. it is the pathway to it. They see fun as trivial. I'm often surprised by how vehemently some of them reject this idea.Why You Need More Fun in Your Life By Martha Beck OWN TV | May 15. As a life coach I an determined to help all my clients have as much fun as they possibly can. but not until they've made a huge fortune or a scientific breakthrough or an artistic masterpiece. disreputable. they tell me. unworthy. Each of us is born with a propensity to have fun doing certain types of . Maybe they'll have fun someday. Having fun is not a diversion from a successful life.

Your funprint isn't a frivolous indulgence. It seems obvious to me (and research backs me up) that we are most productive. Bullies may torment others for "fun". It isn't difficult to tell faux and real fun apart once you've learned to recognize the manic giddiness of the former and the nourishing pleasure of the latter. the more they pursued "fun" that helped them ignore their anxiety and its underlying causes. and they lead straight to misery. and flexible when we're engaged in precisely the combination of activities that brings us maximum fun.activities. I'm using quotation marks because these forms of fun aren't really fun. with breaks in between spent talking and joking. I call the pattern of activities you most enjoy your "funprint. an instruction manual for your essential purpose. Fun is sometimes used to describe both the best and worst of human behavior." and like your thumbprint it's unique. but I found it more fun than the thinly veiled distress of my pothead buddies. written in the language of joy. The companionship of these friends may not sound very hip. They're faux fun. the following factors can help you spot a fake: 1. The more stress they felt at school. persistent. creative. addicts may have "fun" that destroys their health and relationships. Learning to read and respond to it is one of the most crucial things you'll ever do. In high school I had a group of talented friends who defined fun as playing fantasy games and smoking pot. Faux fun helps you ignore problems. It is the map of your true life. in certain proportions—you may love doing something I hate and vice versa. . If you're not clear which is which. My views on fun rely on a rather narrow definition of the word. Another group of friends tackled school stress by scheduling study sessions during which everyone would work in silence for periods of half an hour. real fun helps you face them.

If you're having real fun. I recently read an interview with a radio shock jock who spends virtually all his on-air time humiliating people. Guzzling a gallon of tequila may be fun for a while. .2. Real sources of fun are what psychologists call renewable pleasures. prestigious awards. Real fun makes everyone feel better. Often I didn't see the problem until a disturbance in the Fun Force prompted me to identify and change my behavior. but eventually. or passive. I've experienced this after interactions where either I or some other person was dishonest. "I'm sad." he answered with admirable candor. But if you're devouring more than your body needs. and so on. mean-spirited. The same is true of all faux-fun pursuits: You can identify them by their wretched aftermath. The discomforts of alcohol abuse are obvious. At one point the reporter asked the shock jock how he was feeling at the moment. kinky sex. faux fun makes everyone feel worse." Apparently. you'll never regret it. 4. enjoyable no matter how many times you do them. Have you ever had a conversation that seemed enjoyable but left you feeling wary or uneasy? Your instincts are telling you that at least part of the fun was false. as are his guests. but an inner void. without fail). Faux fun gets boring. 3. you'll need more and more exotic treats to make food interesting (I indulge in this form of faux fun every December. but all faux fun creates a hangover. the root of your craving probably isn't the sparkle of real fun. it's going to make you feel like hell. "I'm always sad. eating will be fun for you at every meal. For example. though many of them later seem traumatized (one committed suicide after appearing on the show). if you're getting just enough food. real fun never does. This man is constantly smiling and laughing. If you have a voracious need for more and more expensive toys.

I've learned to trust this response as a powerful clue from the true self. illness. you might have unhealed emotional wounds. The only thing that can successfully replace faux fun is real fun. As you write down each item. in which case you need treatment. especially if we're dysfunctional enough to call it fun. and you should consult one. like a beach ball popping out of water. or office overtime. For less severe cases. A therapist can make worlds of difference. We can't do deliberate harm without damaging our own psyches. Whenever my clients realize that they're wasting time on faux fun. such as exercise.this man isn't really "making fun" at all. You don't feel that you're smiling so much as being smiled. I've seen this happen to people—and felt it happen to me—while contemplating very small pleasures. If you have no idea what you like doing—if you've never had fun in your life and don't know how to figure out what you enjoy—get help. such as a trauma or loss you've never processed. You'll have different emotional reactions to each idea. Your whole body may relax. He's making sadness. housecleaning. This is a smile that bubbles up almost irrepressibly. these techniques can reconnect you with your sense of fun: Technique 1: Fishing for smiles. seriously consider doing that very thing later today or this week or this year. such as getting married. Get a medical checkup. or chemical imbalance. This does not work. not only for the people he mocks but for himself. they always make the same mistake: They try to replace their bad habits with some strenuously virtuous activity. say. something I call the Spontaneous Smile. or very large ones. Total funlessness is as serious as a heart attack and deserves the same kind of respect. If you don't. a signal that one's innate sense of fun . tickling a cat. We're looking for one in particular. Sit down with a notebook and list things you enjoy—anything from picking your teeth to touring Nepal. the problem may be exhaustion.

Choosing careers. you'll begin to see which activities and people yield the most fun—and you'll be surprised. education. Genetic research suggests that our fun preferences are largely inborn and remain consistent throughout life." so that hours seemed to disappear in seconds. look for patterns in this childhood fun. so that's another great place to look for your funprint. In your trusty notebook. What absorbed you that completely? Telling stories? Climbing trees? Playing dress-up? You may want to ask family members. begin listing things you remember enjoying as a child. My clients almost always find that the activities they think will be supremely fun (eating dinner at the Ritz) consistently rank lower than things they've been taking for granted (eating Ritz crackers for dinner). and personal activities that fit this code will make you happier and more purposeful across the board. This technique requires that you keep a cursory "fun journal" on a calendar. No socialization is so complete that it can override the funprint buried in our genes. Almost all of us can have wonderful fun without nearly as much money. Pay particular attention to things that made you "lose time. avocations. even after all your years in prep school or prison or wherever. whose recollections can jog your memory. objects. . Every day jot down a brief list of your major activities. As the days go by. and power as we think we need. meaningful life. Next. Did you like playing alone or with others? Inside or outside? Calmly or roughly? With words. or actions? Almost certainly those preferences still exist in you. The time when we're free to act on them is usually childhood. beauty." with zero meaning no fun and ten meaning funtabulous. Technique 2: Childhood revisited. Technique 3: Real-time research. Give each experience a fun "score.has been awakened and is pointing the way to a joyful.

She enrolled in college. no social life. It may be the biggest. but I am pretty sure that along the way you'll be challenged. I've never had so much fun in my life!" Today. and she is following it onward. six years later. . This is as far from trivial and self-indulgent as you can get. planning to do volunteer pediatrics in the Third World. she'd call me every so often to say. "I have no money. Gloria is taking the board exams to become an MD. and gratified almost beyond belief. For example. Although most people don't stray as far from their purpose as Gloria did. Once you've learned to do that." but I think maybe it should. it's time to align your actual behavior with your funprint. But we'll never know unless you try. she discovered that her perpetual nicotine high had masked a profound lack of joy in her perfect-looking life. I don't know where your funprint might take you should you decide to find and follow it.These methods are just training wheels designed to get you to the real goal of continuously feeling and responding to your sense of fun. we all tend to take unexpected and interesting turns when we do what thrills us most. bravest thing you'll ever do. scared. when my friend Gloria gave up the faux fun of chainsmoking. You'll probably make this world a much. Her funprint led her right through med school. no time to do anything but study. stretched to your limits. and overnight Gloria went from country club socialite to starving student–single mother. This isn't the sort of life that pops into our minds when we hear the phrase "Girls just wanna have fun. Her funless marriage couldn't stand the strain. much better place.

just in case she started channeling Zelda Fitzgerald and ended up using them. Getting them out of sight shattered our unspoken assumption that we were only tidying and triggered a frenzy of home improvement. "What's wrong?" I asked. ten picture-hangings. patting her arm. and an hour of furniture-arranging later.com | From the September 2007 issue of O. an accordion. We began by organizing and filing papers that. and now Judy was crying about it. Hence. "There. Judy's home was dazzling." I said. a unicycle—to which Judy had clung for years. "This place looks fabulous!" It really did. to my best recollection. "I'm selling this place because I wanted to live somewhere more beautiful and inspiring. What was supposed to be a normal dust-and-straighten routine turned into a manic redecorating sprint. Two accent walls. "but now this is it! This is my dream house—and someone else gets it!" Weakened by paint fumes. "Maybe no one will make an offer." But as I surveyed the newly gorgeous house. . the tears. she began to cry even harder. so we visited the neighborhood florist for luscious tulip bouquets and then purchased paint to match the flowers.Getting In Touch With Your Inner Spiffer By Martha Beck Oprah. had been on Judy's desk since the Reagan administration." Judy quavered. The Oprah Magazine Judy and I had just spent five hours spiffing up her townhouse so that her realestate agent could show it to a potential buyer. We Goodwilled items—snowshoes. I knew that someone would. The newly spacious rooms begged for color. there.

her blue-collar parents immediately voiced their disdain. If something sits in your space for more than a day. affects our homes.Judy isn't the first person to create her perfect home just in time to sell it. "Well. it deserves a place of its own. Using a highly unscientific survey of friends. the stepladder there. . Something about staging a space for sale—it could be simple avarice. Any neurosis we have about our own value." No wonder my friend still doesn't have cable. the more our possessions tend to be in limbo—out in the open and ready for action. For example. the exercise equipment in between. Reasons We Don't Spiff Up for Ourselves  Chez Moi. acquaintances. extra pillows) you'd provide for a guest. or you might tolerate more clutter than you'd impose on a visitor. you may fail to indulge yourself with the touches of comfort (fresh flowers. or lack thereof. When she finally got one. I know a self-made millionaire who resisted buying a dryer for what seemed an absurd length of time. we leave them out of the spaces we inhabit. I investigated the reasons we don't decorate for self the way we decorate for sale and came up with ideas you can use to instigate your own "sales spiff-up"—long before you plan to sell your home. I wondered how homeowners could tap sellers' instincts while living in a place rather than when leaving it. "I guess you think you're all high-society now." sniffed her mother. or that we can't motivate ourselves without a goal—makes us capable of decorating much more effectively for prospective buyers than for ourselves. Unless we're willing to lavish good things on ourselves. We think of our homes as extensions of ourselves and tend to value ourselves less than we would a potential buyer. Watching Judy weep. It's like dressing your child for a school recital: You adore your beloved no matter how unkempt the kid is but do everything you can to make her look her best when someone else is about to inspect her.  The Parent Trap We often unthinkingly reproduce the spaces where we grew up and create homes just like mom and dad's. C'est Moi. real-estate agents and the occasional bewildered stranger.  Object Limbo The busier we are. Objects left in place "until I get to them" can become permanent fixtures: the stack of catalogs here.

as soon as possible. and you'll soon create a space that's yours. and study the reflected image as you would a framed photograph or painting. we become blind to unfinished areas in our home that we intend to fix someday. then spring for a towel warmer to go with it. then hang nude figure drawings. the Buddha. imagine that one of your heroes is about to move in to your space. and greenhouse clippings stolen from neighbors' gardens.  Send Items from Limbo to Their Own Little Paradise. then.  Shock the 'Rents. walk through your home and notice what you would change if your hero moved in. Instead. If an object you use sits in an awkward space for more than a day or two. It could be anyone—Nelson Mandela. then opt for homespun country comfort. incomplete scrapbooks. introduce decorative statements into your home that would astonish or appall them. and problems that are so familiar they're invisible suddenly become eyesores. . Organization stores offer containers that are perfect for unanswered mail.  Decorate for Someone You Respect. If buying a dryer would make them think you're hoity-toity. Then make those changes. It would be terrific if we overcame all our neuroses and began to esteem ourselves as much as we do random home buyers. but in many cases (no offense) that's just not realistic.  Flip the Image. Keep finding things you love that your parents hate. half-read books. try an old trick used by artists: Bring a mirror into a room. Sales Spiff Your Home for Yourself Once we're aware of the different mind-sets of decorating-for-self versus decorating-for-sale. Only when we imagine what those spots will look like to a buyer do we notice what isn't there now. here's a corresponding action you can take today. gratifying space. Today. For each of the points above. The reversed image reveals a space unfamiliar to the eye and brain. If mom's a chic modern artist. then it's time to give it a home that allows easy access and a tidy look. Blind Spots Because we already see them complete in our mind's eye. Cher. If dad's a preacher. perhaps we can switch on the "seller" mentality before we're ready to part with a space. If your parents unfairly dominate your personal style. not theirs. set it up so that it reflects the whole space. To get past decorating blind spots. or all three—as long as the person would inspire you to create a welcoming.

"I'm so sorry. .Move Without Moving Judy's beautiful townhouse sold the very day we spiffed it up. Judy's heart sank even lower. "but the buyer's funding fell through. We're right back where we started. The search for another home was devastating because nothing seemed half as lovely as the space she'd created." the agent said. When her real-estate agent called to say she had some bad news." Knowing that the agent had just lost a nice fat commission—one she would never receive—Judy feigned dismay. Then she hung up. whooped with joy. and invited me over for a housewarming in her brand-new. same old home.

one of the most psychologically debilitating conditions human beings can experience." said Denise. If we . As hemmed in as you may feel. and she just yells at me. but they are. The Oprah Magazine If you think you have no control over your life. "but I've asked her to get help. another client." You probably hear statements like these all the time. I'm terrified about my daughter's drinking. Martha Beck shows you how to break out of that helpless place. "but that's the way things work." Paula. If I complain." Mindy told me during our first session.How to Tap Into Your True Power By Martha Beck Oprah." she admitted. a third client. They're declarations of powerlessness.com | From the August 2009 issue of O. "but someone has to be there for my husband and children. my job is history. is perpetually exhausted: "I know I should take better care of myself. If you're anything like me." "My boss can be really unethical. think again. you may make plenty of them yourself. They may not sound dangerous.

They were seeking evidence of antiapartheid activity—and it was there. "though I wasn't thrilled when they encouraged me to picture being raped in prison. Besides. such statements can get us stuck in emotional tar pits ranging from frustration to rage to utter despair. taking her to the infamous headquarters at John Vorster Square. Denise's fear of being fired overrode her ethics. For example. I've met too many people who have faced far more daunting circumstances yet refused to be disempowered. And Paula anxiously predicted that her family would disintegrate if she focused less care on them and more on herself. where many activists were held for long periods of time. I felt relatively safe. But as a white university student. For hours. was resisting an immoral system. and by doing so. But that was enough. They were waiting for other people and the arrival of circumstances to give them explicit permission to do what felt right. Weirdly. my hair would look so. they were rendering themselves powerless. I sympathize with my clients' plight. They failed. . my friend and fellow life coach Judy Klipin is a polite little slip of a thing. but I wasn't impressed by their claims of powerlessness. The good news? They're never true. so different—but I am saying that there's no circumstance in which we are completely powerless. the police tried to break her. All three felt stymied. and Paula— are all being challenged to find their power in a disempowering environment. "Didn't you feel awfully powerless?" I asked Judy when she told me the story." she replied. "No. And whatever your circumstance. I'm not saying we have power over everything in our lives—if that were true. My clients—Mindy. I'd known Judy for months before she told me about a morning years ago when several police officers barged into her bedroom at 5 A. hardly someone you'd expect to challenge an evil empire. but they detained Judy anyway." What was important.believe them. Mindy was terrified of her daughter's angry resistance. so are you. Never. Denise. The only person in police headquarters interested in allowing Judy to follow her moral compass was Judy. the South African police missed this damning document. at least to Judy. that's not what was important. Sitting in plain sight on Judy's nightstand lay a map to the antiapartheid meeting she'd helped organize. but actually they were just "allower-less" (say it out loud: it rhymes). Allow the Power The most common reason we stumble into the delusion of powerlessness is that we're afraid of what other people would do or say or feel if we were to act as we wanted.M.

Eventually. Is the Good Samaritan a wealthy philanthropist? A priest? A doctor? Nope. here's a quick guide: FEAR Always feels bad Motivates grasping . Annie. 'How would I know? I've never been given an opportunity to hear anything the man has to say!'" "Had you always stood up for yourself?" I asked. I said. and watch "Linda Hamilton . And because I felt so grounded in that basic sanity. "Actually. she persuades people to offer assistance.What Would You Do?" You'll see an experiment created by a TV news team to test whether ordinary citizens will come to the aid of a needy individual. no matter what. shot in Newark. So I'd been raised by three people who were walking testaments that apartheid was insanely wrong. I suppose that gave me permission to stand up for what I believed. humanizing him for others. there is a reason that reason does not know. She gets creative. I suppose I felt I was protected—not physically. as was my childminder. If you need to distinguish between acts of fear and the power of love. more than 80 people ignore the "injured" actor before someone stops to help. and Judy had tapped into that. and she is powerful. The way we can allow ourselves to do what we need to."I was quite cheeky with them. An actor pretends to faint on a city street while a hidden camera films the scene. It's a homeless woman with a gimpy leg. Her name is Linda Hamilton. The fears that drove Paula's "loving" acts for her family stemmed from fear of being an imperfect homemaker. New Jersey. My parents had always been such strong advocates of equality. calling the unconscious man Billy. This has been said so often that I wouldn't even bother mentioning it. you can practically see this "powerless" person connecting with innate compassion. but in a spiritual sense. My first memories are of falling asleep on Annie's back while she sang to me in Setswana." she remembered. Compare Linda to Mindy. no. Want evidence? Go to YouTube. who almost gave up on her belligerent alcoholic daughter—not out of love but because she feared her daughter's anger." This statement defies all reason—one 95-pound teenage girl more powerful than armed agents of a violent racist regime? But to paraphrase Pascal. no matter what others may say or do. "When they asked if I supported Nelson Mandela. In one case. Denise said she loved her job. I actually knew that the police were more frightened and powerless than I. but she had become a lawyer to avoid looking like a "nobody" and supported her unethical boss due to the same fear. On the video. except that most of us still don't do it. I don't know where that behavior came from. and refusing to give up even when dozens of people ignore her requests to call 911 on their cell phones. deciding to act. is to choose love and defy fear.

Both present us with infinite opportunities to either love or fear. the only thing that seemed to make him comfortable. That's power. Cookie set his sweet. and both ultimately prevailed. Each of their mothers took vitamins. Both were bucking social trends. It's my son Adam's 21st birthday. We found that our power didn't amount to much. We did everything in our power to have "perfect" babies. had good prenatal care. They were all born with serious birth defects. the puniness of our material power is replaced by a power that comes not from us but through us. ate right. with no fear and great love. Birthdays and death days. and he never really recovered. The vet removed various tumors from his chubby old body. soft head on my hand and died as he lived. Both remind us how little power we have. When a follow-up examination made it clear that Cookie had nothing in his future except suffering. joyously celebrating legal adulthood—except that none of them will ever quite be a legal adult. Linda did it by choosing behavior most passersby saw as foolishly virtuous. To the extent that we choose love. The Radical Power of Pure Love This seems a fitting day for me to be writing about powerlessness. Judy did this by choosing beliefs her government called wrong. my dog had surgery this week. Judy and Linda accessed that power against . At the other end of the spectrum. His best friends are here. both refused to be scared out of love.Seizes control Insists on certainty Needs everything LOVE Always feels good Motivates liberation Relaxes control Accepts uncertainty Needs nothing The process of spotting fear and refusing to obey it is the source of all true empowerment. I spent the past few days sitting with his head on my lap. I signed a form and put my arms around him as the vet added one more ingredient to his IV drip.

then returned to her family with the determination that her own needs counted as much as anyone else's. pay close attention: Are you following the gripping energy of fear or the liberating energy of love? My own to-do list includes writing this column.977 e-mails. Linda Hamilton became a hero by doing the same thing on an American sidewalk. Denise used her power to leave her hated job. by choosing love over fear in any situation whatsoever. Adam and his friends access it every day to live cheerfully with "disempowering" conditions. But it changes everything. ***** Those who mistake violence for power are often surprised by this. "For many white South Africans who were raised by black 'mothers. I baked a cake for five "handicapped" young people. a simple setting aside of fear that allows the free flow of love. and I felt it in my own decision to let him go. . And you can become a hero today. Apartheid's architects didn't think twice about all the black women like Annie who were paid meager wages to "mind" white babies. Instead. choosing to see the infants of their oppressors not through the eyes of fear. answering approximately 4. but through the eyes of love. I allowed myself to choose what my heart dictated.' there was no way on earth that apartheid could seem right to us. Power comes from actions like these. and preparing a speech. as future enemies. Paula checked into a hotel for three days of rest. calling clients. It might not look like much from the outside. even in today's scary economy. but I know power when I feel it.687. and held on to a very old beagle while I let him go." Judy told me. and people like Judy. These women. Today. Real power is usually unspectacular. empowerment took the form of staging an intervention for her daughter. They didn't realize that these women would do something revolutionary. I felt it coursing through Cookie even as his body powered down. Each of them felt the power of compassion flowing through them as they aligned themselves with love. became heroes by insisting that love prevail in South Africa. simply as babies.the tide of social conditioning. and the infinite small choices between love and fear. Each of my clients eventually made the shift: In Mindy's case.

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com | From the February 2011 issue of O. smooth slices of agate—some as small as coins. sewing. "They're at the whim of the current. rust. and olive—mingle with wrist-thick hunks of faceted crystal." She imitates the meshlike creature's undulations with her hand. sculpting) design virtuoso Anna Rabinowicz. and a dried version of Anna's latest muse. "A neat thing about sea fans. others as big as dinner plates. At the small worktable in Anna Rabinowicz's sunny Manhattan office. ." says Anna.A Day in the Life of a Creative Renaissance Woman By Katie Arnold-Ratliff Oprah. in swirling shades of sapphire. 39. its sides veined with silver tendrils. this would be the result. three knobby yellow gourds. The Oprah Magazine What it's like to spend a day with (crafting. who is wearing silver sea-fanshaped earrings." She lifts the stainless steel colander/fruit bowl she recently designed based on her sea fan research. they get their nutrients from whatever happens to pass through. If a sea fan mated with a Rolex. "is how they move.

sequined fabric] is fascinating. arrives to take Talia to baby dance class just as Anna is describing her collaborations with New York's Hospital for Special Surgery. sews. For her company. who teaches product design at Parsons The New School for Design. She must bite! So I give her these. "My dad made surgical instruments. who ever said innovating was a cakewalk? "I tell my students. Even Anna's home is an Anna original: Three years ago. sculpts. When I arrived this morning at Anna's apartment. RabLabs." Anna says. Izzy. along with handblown-glass napkin rings. I'll discover that her default thought process works like this: That [sea fan. bought it at an antiques market. kangaroo. "Work through the setbacks. and finally. and picture frames from those pieces of agate.") The little cloth squares she sewed for Talia and her 3-year-old brother. she and Aden bought a dim studio in a former sewing factory. her creative juices just keep on flowing. The light fixture that resembles an upside-down red umbrella.I'm spending today dipping a toe into the ocean of Anna's creative output—and the colander is just one of the creatures in a vast and lively sea." says Anna. and hand-embroidered with trees and abstract whorls and the babies' initials. someone has probably already created it. ("Her body is telling her to bite. looking moved. clocks. who died in 2001." Lisa chimes in. Lisa. and we'd get our hands really dirty. The woman draws." "She has her father's hand-eye coordination. 'If it's easy to create." Like the unique items in Anna's home. then gut-renovated the space into a snug two-bedroom nest." says Anna. I must learn all about it and then make something! Next comes studying. model-making. to teethe on. who has helped create an artificial knee and an assistive device for people recovering from elbow surgery. Talia." "Thank you. "Look at . "He was a pediatric ophthalmologist and surgeon. He taught me how to sew and solder. sketching. we'd have searching discussions about creativity. and you can make things no one else has. with floor-to-ceiling windows and a kitchen bedecked in vintage red tiles. "And such finemotor control. is a lawyer for the ACLU. The key ring of plastic doodads she assembled for her 1-year-old. and dreams things up as naturally as the rest of us breathe. Over eight hours with Anna. she told me that a full day lay ahead: We'd go shopping for supplies to create a prototype of a new RabLabs bowl (a mission that would require walking about 40 city blocks). whose husband. Hey. the finished product—which might be anything from a letter opener to a medical device to a fetching new cape. hunk of quartz. and lacquered wooden boxes—and at home. she designs coasters. She pulls out her sewing kit from the 1890s—her father. Aden Fine. amethyst bottle stoppers. "I cut them from my husband's old T-shirts. for example.'" says Anna. to sleep with—they're soft and worn. Anna's mother. to keep her from biting me.

For her thesis. When you sit in her kangaroo chair. Kids have to follow so many rules. is 50 pounds of Brazilian crystal waiting for its shot at glory. She'll make the mock-up with real crystal. enticed kangaroos to bounce on treadmills while she tracked their motion using high-speed video. needles that look like fish hooks. On the way out. "so the project will be imbued with my love. then create a mold of the whole piece. After Lisa and Talia depart. but I need this"). which she'll use to cast the ceramic version. "There's this book called I Stink!" "I stink?" "It's about a garbage truck that adores gross stuff. using clay to affix the stones to a steel mixing bowl. but a book like I Stink! lets them be vicariously rascally without breaking the rules." We nod. "A kangaroo uses its tail like a third leg. The rule is that the object has to perform its function. and yellow goo—pastry filling. Beneath her desk. But within that rule. considering this.all these crazy needles. There are thick needles. brown. "I sew by hand. While I'm still processing the concept of marsupial furniture. it turns out—and decides it's lunchtime. she traveled to Australia. cardboard cake bases laminated in gold paper ("We'll use this as a work surface—the gold feels auspicious"). . sewing. wrapped in Portuguese newspaper. and an accordion squeeze bottle ("I don't know why. because it's a bit mischievous. and created chairs that mimic their movements. To find the right steel bowl. Designing is like that. The place is packed ceilinghigh with little objects that light up all kinds of circuits in Anna's mind: shiny pastry tips ("These could be molds for crystal-covered salt and pepper shakers")." Anna explains. As she eats her chicken-chermoula sandwich. it reclines on its curved tail and gently bounces forward—like a movie theater seat only much more fun. Anna says." she says. leaning on it to push off for the next hop." she tells me." What it's like to spend a day with (crafting. sculpting) design virtuoso Anna Rabinowicz. teeny needles. "like dog poop and fish heads. Anna is already onto the business at hand: buying materials for the RabLabs bowl prototype." she says. you can do anything—the object can be witty or silly or weird. I ask her about Stanford's Joint Program in Design—where she was the third-ever person to graduate with both an MFA in design and an MS in engineering. Anna and I go on a coffee run. we visit a baking shop. bought from a food truck on Fifth Avenue. Anna marvels at pouches of red. Izzy laughed and laughed when my husband read it to him. She's envisioning a ceramic vessel encrusted with crystal-like formations—sort of an inside-out geode.

has been unavailable for the past year. Anna likes to say that a designer must understand human need: Check. She's edging the place where the clay meets the rock into a kind of cuticle to the crystal's nail. seeming to sense my hunger for praise. gray felt-tip to a sheet of paper. open to the myriad unknown things riding the current. Anna turns the cardboard and considers my work. "I stink!" After lunch." I say. Think of her as a human sea fan. and carves where I've over-clayed. Anna has anchored two eight-inch columns of quartz in the clay surrounding the bowl and is now accentuating them with smaller satellite crystals." Looking at the prototype. Then she draws a guy with big curly hair. and Anna does—in bouncing kangaroos and ratty T-shirts and charmless studio apartments. "This is really interesting work!" she says. we head downtown to buy clay from the art supply store—though Anna beelines for the gift wrap and letterpress stationery ("This is paper geek heaven!"). moving her arm as decisively as a symphony conductor. the gray clay. . "I'm always rushing to finish. Anna smiles."You stink. Anna's ascending swoop reads joie de vivre. the Pilot Razor Point II." she says. she laments that her favorite model. precious thing. She adds more cuticles. and reinforced clay base—remains. and a little more Anna. "I don't have it in me to keep refining until it's perfect. Back at the office. plucked from the Earth and yet made by a human hand. which she uses to make the world a little more fascinating. you can envision the final product: an improbable. than it would otherwise be. In the way a jagged line might suggest turmoil and a squiggle could evoke confusion. A designer must also find creative potential in what's around her. she puts on Hall & Oates's "Kiss on My List" and lays out the gold work surface. "That's what's called an emotive line. In the pen aisle. If you squint. She puts a squat. and the other side is mine. what I've contributed—my inter-crystal spacing. It's just been gently Anna-fied. But for all her refining. tweaks the angles of the crystals. it seems I've proven myself right: One side is stunning. and translucent columns of crystal in sizes ranging from raspberry to cucumber. rim-smoothing." I tell her. We begin cocooning the bowl with clay for the crystals to smoosh into. In its place she's been using pens her Korean students brought her from their visits home. as I explain that I'm much too impatient to be good at making things.

in the sense that if you wondered aloud which of us could most quickly remove her own gall . The Oprah Magazine Want to be one of life's winners? Stop trying! You'll be a lot healthier. and second.com | From the January 2008 issue of O. because anything she tries. because she's one of the best-beloved people in my life. The one thing that occasionally ruffles our mutual affection is that we're both rather competitive. she does better than anyone else in the world. maybe wealthier. I call my friend Betsy "Best-y" for two reasons: first. and altogether happier if you learn the glory in giving up.Know When to Fold 'Em Oprah.

Anyway. saying. "Oh. Instead. "I'm in!" Dammit! The next day was a blur of sweaty. Besty walked faster than I did on the hike. "There's a morning hike at 5 a.. Fields's profound statement "If at first you don't succeed. She looked really pert. like a train with no brakes. After seven straight hours of strenuous exercise. "There's still an advanced yoga class before dinner. recondite competition. I would definitely win. Contrary to conventional wisdom. dammit.." Besty said. prove that when the going gets tough. Kickboxing was a draw—her kicks were higher. Then I heard my own voice. because I'm less competitive than Besty. Quitters Win and Winners Quit After settling in at the spa. Then quit. because I'm not a morning person." . Besty and I would be fighting for steak knives before the words left your mouth. Besty still looked fresh. Besty and I considered the activities being offered the following day.!" "Great!" I said. This'll be so fun!" "Fun!" I echoed.m. that week taught me to honor W. No use being a damn fool about it. That doesn't bother me. gotta-shed-holiday-weight time—Besty and I joined some pals at a spa. get in shape. If Besty could haul herself out of bed and frolic athletically in the middle of the night. "We'll be back in time for water aerobics. Then I edged her out in weight training. but she's tall. Pert. exhausting. "And after that. so could I. If someone were to rank us on noncompetitiveness. "Ready to call it a day?" I asked. Besty got more praise from the Pilates coach. science supports this. then. one January—resolution time. trying not to show horror. the tough get going. goal time. weight training and then kickboxing. scoured. but I got more in Jazzercise." said Besty.bladder with kitchen implements. I felt as though my muscles had been taken apart. the ability to quit easily makes us healthier—and wealthier—than does leechlike tenacity. which must be considered. "Well." The thing is. "How about Pilates and Jazzercise after that?" "Cool!" said Besty. planning to refocus. look!" said Besty. try again.C. then badly reassembled by a team of evil student nurses. though.

and I hear again the yoga instructor's comment. and altogether happier if you learn the glory in giving up. and those who respond to this depression by quitting when it first appears enjoy all kinds of benefits. was not wisdom but dejection. "The key to success is persistence. though. and showed fewer signs of psychological stress. Recently. The second group—the quitters—were healthier than their persistent peers on almost every variable. despite heavy medication. Dammit! Dammit! Dammit! "Shall we?" asked Besty. Miller and Wrosch discovered. subjects who quit easily had much lower levels of a protein linked to inflammation than did their more tenacious peers. Gentle reader. Quitting is failure. The mechanism that helps people quit appropriately. . "Not always!" Turns out my body was right. "Wouldn't miss it!" That class lasted approximately as long as the Pleistocene epoch. maybe wealthier. They suffered fewer health problems. psychologists Gregory Miller and Carsten Wrosch set out to investigate the mental and physical health of people who resist quitting. In another study. like a kid on Christmas morning. from digestive trouble to rashes. Sometimes. But my body silently screamed. People who are trying in vain eventually get depressed about their ongoing failure. Want to be one of life's winners? Stop trying! You'll be a lot healthier.I looked at my schedule. This made them less likely to develop many debilitating illnesses later in life. after all. I didn't think about this scientifically during that yoga class—though I experienced it subjectively when the teacher guided us into a shoulder stand. "Absolutely!" I gagged. The pose caused my body to quake violently with exhaustion as my workout shorts fell back around my pelvis and my gaze was forced upward. and of those who throw in the towel when facing unattainable goals. you cannot imagine a ghastlier view: The depression evoked by the gelatinous consistency of my thighs beggars description. which followed a group of teenagers for a year. the memory returns unbidden." My mind reacted to this with numb acquiescence—I'd heard it so often. I try never to think of it.

" the thinking goes. "I'm down $10. A gambler is no more likely to win on the 500th roulette spin than on any of the previous 499. It refers to our tendency to throw good money after bad. But a huge amount of effort goes into attempts at redeeming things—lemon cars. I was hit by two things: a back spasm and the realization that though I was ready to quit." though virtually no one remembers it when making spending choices. is one of the best financial and life skills you can master. and inflammatory illnesses. I'd never practiced quitting. But even after a thousand failed attempts—and even though I once actually taught at a business school—I forged on.I should've quit right then. That's right—quitters prosper not only physically but financially. This should have occurred to me well before Besty and I hit that yoga studio. The Quitting Bonus The fact that I continued with the class exemplifies my approach to life and no doubt explains my digestive troubles. wars—that just aren't working. I didn't know how. when I first realized that she was simply better than I was at everything. money–pit houses. if Besty weren't so competitive. Every first-year economics student learns about the "sunk-cost fallacy. It is not how reality works. I would have. Learning to quit while you're not ahead. "I have to keep playing until I get it back—this rotten luck can't go on forever. It should have occurred to me several years earlier. the right ." This is how human psychology works. trying to justify our mistakes by devoting more resources to them. when the dull ooze of depression tells you things are not going to get any better. For example. horrible relationships. a gambler who's lost a small fortune is likely to stay and keep hemorrhaging cash precisely because he's losing. I didn't know the right path out of the room. But the implications don't stop there: Not quitting may be at the root of fiscal problems as well as physical ones. How to Quit Moving from shoulder stand to triangle pose.000. The sunk-cost fallacy is a universal human error. rashes.

"What we resist. It's a counterintuitive method. As therapists like to say. "Well. I'm not advocating this. I'm just pointing out that you always have the power to quit something at a physical level. "What if I refuse?" That. maybe wealthier. but if the "I will abstain from. they often experience such a sense of relief and ." I told her that was wonderful.. Imagine trying not to eat one sinfully delicious chocolate truffle. frankly. now imagine trying to eat 10. and financial disaster loom? If worst comes to worst. including (stay with me here) the process of quitting itself. inflammation. trying to touch my right foot with my right hand while bending sideways. She seemed too tired to speak. when my daughter Katie was 3." Katie thought for a minute and asked. Want to be one of life's winners? Stop trying! You'll be a lot healthier. For most of us." resolutions you make each year are utter. when I heard a complicated thumping from the other side of the studio. honey. Besty had toppled from triangle pose directly into corpse pose. We can always just go limp. If you refuse to act married. This applies to everything. like overspending or smoking or macramé. I had no real way to force my daughter—or anyone else—to continue doing something she simply refused to do. So. For instance. you might quit quitting and see what happens. depressing failures. she said she'd just met "that fat lady next door. I saw what had made the sound. The formalities will take care of themselves. Ellis. she might have been trying to signal something—perhaps that she wished to be rinsed. your spouse will eventually drift away or file for divorce. but from her feeble movements. persists. So there I stood. the thought of not-quitting in this enormous way—indulging ourselves beyond desire—actually dampens the appetite." and this is especially true of bad habits. In that moment. just stop. In other words: Corpse pose is always an option. By rolling my eyes far back into my skull.facial expression. I saw with great clarity that (to paraphrase poet Elizabeth Bishop) the art of quitting isn't hard to master.000 truffles at one sitting.. and altogether happier if you learn the glory in giving up. When my clients stop unsuccessful efforts to quit. That's something any toddler intuitively knows. If you're trying in vain to quit something you do compulsively. the right way to give up. how do you quit doing something when depression. except that it was better to refer to "the fat lady" as Mrs. was a stumper. But I took my own message from her example. Got it? Okay. befuddled. then I'll remind you. try quitting the effort to quit. they'll fire you. It's far better karma to be up-front and honorable about quitting. "What if I forget?" Katie asked. but if you stop showing up at work.

Dammit. I assumed she'd simply misplaced her center of gravity. I found myself shuffling toward the door. . She was fitter and more determined than I was. and even when it came to quitting. my friend had done the job first. (Try it before you dismiss it. But I was wrong. and as I did. my depression lightened.) I didn't know what made Besty hit the floor of the yoga studio. due to having lost so much weight in one day. without shame or self-recrimination. and best. I'd stumbled across a transformative resolution I'd keep all that year: to quit when I was behind. She'd had enough—and her giving in to the force of gravity had a liberating effect on me. It was a watershed moment in my life and in my friendship with Besty.empowerment that quitting becomes easier—it's paradoxical but true.

The first group found the cartoons funnier. O finds out why they actually work. even a forced one.com | From the March 2004 issue of O.Tricks of the Happiness Trade By Lauren Gravitz Oprah. I discovered that many of them had stumbled upon the same techniques. supporting the theory of "facial feedback"—the idea that facial expressions can stimulate emotion. helpful ways to pull myself back from the edge. PhD. (Don't like stand-up? Here are 5 movies that will lift your spirits) Trick #2: "I go for a run. psychologist Fritz Strack. Trick #1: "I rent a bunch of stand-up comedy DVDs. too. After polling friends and colleagues." The Science: A smile. which means that these days I don't feel completely ridiculous when I'm in my car and someone catches me belting out a Beatles song. I've succumbed to full-blown depression just once. The Oprah Magazine We've all got little homegrown tricks for cheering ourselves up. A Fairleigh Dickinson University study showed that laughing brightens mood even more than smiling. can improve your mood." The Science: Research has consistently shown that exercise can significantly . Science is beginning to explain why they actually work. In a widely confirmed study. and the only good that came of it was learning that I never wanted to experience anything like it again. and they gave me a few new ones. and his colleagues at the University of Mannheim in Germany had participants view a cartoon while gripping a pen either between their teeth (to simulate a smile) or between puckered lips. So I started collecting little mood-boosting tricks—not cure-alls for clinical depression but small.

" The benefits of altruism are most apparent when there's person-to-person contact. those with animals were less likely to suffer from depression than those without. acts as a distraction. curl up. Trick #3: "I try to commit acts of kindness. has found that simply recalling a charitable act brings back the same. An earlier study showed that pet owners were also at decreased risk of heart disease. In a separate study. and fall asleep in the warmth." The Science: Two studies published in 1999 showed that both AIDS patients and senior citizens benefit from having pets. albeit less intense. author of The Healing Power of Doing Good. Trick #6: "I hang out with friends. and dance around the living room. A 1999 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that exercise could be as effective as medication. good mood." The Science: A 2001 Rutgers University study on the mood-lifting effect of flowers showed that 72 percent of seniors who received one or two bouquets over a six-month period were happier than they had been. sing loudly. Trick #8: "I make like a cat—I find a patch of sunlight streaming through the window. and even donating clothes to Goodwill facilitate a "helper's high. According to a study at the University of Michigan. flowers evoked a stronger response than other gifts. while others have shown that isolation can lead to depression. which is connected to an area of the brain responsible for drives like hunger. and pleasure seeking. Scientists aren't exactly sure why it works so well: because it relieves stress. even more important than social support is a sense of belonging: Connecting with and confiding in close friends can allay despair.impact depression and improve overall mood. Trick #7: "I snuggle the dog. Recent research at the University of Manchester in England showed that listening to loud music activates a part of the inner ear called the saccule. or all of the above. sex." The Science: A common cause of depression is seasonal affective disorder . Allan Luks. stimulates production of neurotransmitters (including endorphins—which have painkilling properties and can bring feelings of euphoria—as well as serotonin and dopamine)." The Science:: Volunteering at a hospital or shelter. tutoring a budding reader. Tirck #5: "I buy bright red tulips." The Science: A number of studies suggest that listening to music stimulates the brain to release endorphins. Trick #4: "I listen to Madonna." The Science:: Numerous studies have documented the benefits of social support.

Trick #9: "I change the landscape. especially one that gets you back to nature. Some therapists believe that even people not affected by SAD can reap the rewards of sunshine—one study of depressed pregnant women showed that a daily dose of bright light for three weeks had a beneficial effect. a hormone that affects sleep patterns and mood. a good number of people mentioned that a change of scenery.(SAD)." The Science: Perhaps it's the calming properties of the ocean or a starry sky. or the way a new setting can take you out of yourself and provide a sense of perspective. in which lack of sunlight increases the production of melatonin. Although scientific research is scarce. . is an instant head clearer.

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Choosing Happiness By Mark Matousek Oprah. a windmill to tilt toward but truly an impossible dream.. in the hundred years since Freud helped erase the prospect of happiness from our Western horizon—famously declaring that the most we could hope for was the transformation of hysterical misery into common unhappiness—many of us have been brainwashed into concluding that happiness is somehow beyond our reach. We also want to know how it eludes . writes in Destructive Emotions.. when "the dogma in neuroscience was that the brain. This may take learning some new techniques and unlearning some old mental habits—but the joyful news from the frontiers of science and psychology is that mood is malleable and happiness is yours for the choosing. we know now that the brain can change. neurology. Scientists call this discovery neuroplasticity. Recent breakthroughs in psychology.to what goes right"—Goleman's words—has brought happiness to the cultural table at last.was unchanged by life experiences. And yet. The recent shift in emphasis from "what goes wrong with us. Being happy. and chemistry—supported by Eastern practices such as meditation—have revealed that happiness is attainable.. PhD. Just a decade ago. Daniel Goleman. a naive conjecture. No longer psychology's doomed neurotics. a revolutionary idea that has helped to promote— along with the positive psychology movement—a burgeoning science of happiness. The Oprah Magazine Some of us are born smiling.com | From the March 2004 issue of O. is one way of being wise. most of us have to work at it. We want to know how happiness works.." scientific research focused mainly on negative emotional states. It turns out that Freud was wrong. said Collette.

you have to learn the kinds of things you can do. Each of us. it seems. says David Myers." There are as many SWB-raising tools as there are people in need of a lift. someone . to experience simple pleasures" The Set Point of Happiness Subjective well-being (SWB) is the nickname experts in this field give to happiness. in retraining the mind toward well-being. struggle. we wonder where we're supposed to pursue it. is born with a happiness "set point. Since your hell may be my paradise. to bounce your set point up and avoid the things that bounce it down. though churning butter might not be everybody's idea of a party. a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. we have a right to. Why does happiness seem so out of reach sometimes. absurd? Given the inalienable. When does my happiness become your pain? Is happiness a fate or a choice. who is coeditor of the Journal of Happiness Studies. day by day. like grabbing at water. PhD. A now famous study of identical twins reared in different environments suggests that the set point determines about 50 percent of our disposition to happiness. over time. and what. Homeless people in Calcutta have been found to be less unhappy than those in California (because they have a stronger sense of community). "If you really want to be happier than your grandparents provided for in your genes. reports Ed Diener. regardless of what happens to us. taking control of your own time." says University of Minnesota professor emeritus of psychology David Lykken. PhD. and what makes us happy. using your best skills in work and play—to attitude shifts and inner work that might not spring immediately to mind. according to Diener. even "acting happy" to raise SWB (since there seems to be a direct link between facial expression and emotion). futile. and injustice.us. in a world with so much upheaval." a genetic level—from giddy to grumpy—around which SWB tends to settle. subjectivity is the single greatest variable in the happiness equation. maintaining an optimistic outlook. He also recommends keeping a gratitude journal. a professor of psychology at Hope College in Michigan. "The brain's structure can be modified through practice. how can we be deeply happy? What definition of happiness is large enough to contain all that? "It's possible." Lykken says. nurturing close relationships. Such tools can range from commonsensical—getting sufficient sleep and exercise. "Happiness is genetically influenced but not genetically fixed. precisely. while the Amish appear to be rarely bored. they are extraordinarily effective. Diener suggests that happy people rely on familiar shortcuts rather than overthink every little situation. uncertainty. In writing about SWB. PhD. if we're honest? Finally. While such tools seem almost too simple to be true. (For example. even in the midst of hardship. constitutional right to pursue our own happiness. Using a number of tools at once appears to be most effective.

we develop a keel-like ballast that helps us to remain stable even under extreme conditions. PhD. "To know delight. It's hard to find someone in this country who has devoted more time to exploring this relationship between the mind and happiness than Jon Kabat-Zinn. the happier you are. Not only did subjects report significantly lowered anxiety levels and negative emotions immediately afterward. compared to the control group. In that study. one group met for a two. Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert." A daily moment of forgiveness.who feels down in rainy weather but gets an emotional boost from the movies would automatically beat her way to the nearest multiplex the next time there's a big storm." Kabat-Zinn says. Meditation appears to be one way of redistributing the balance. anxiety. and alertness. according to a survey out of the National Opinion Research Center. 2005)." says Kabat-Zinn. even in the midst of hardship. joy. At the University of Wisconsin. is "a trait strongly linked to happiness. to experience simple pleasures. PhD." "We're better off aiming for happiness moment to moment than trying to engineer happiness through long-term planning" I Got What I Wanted. the more friends you have. founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and author of Coming to Our Senses (Hyperion. activity on the right frontal area corresponded to feelings of sadness. Regardless of which particular tools we choose to help lift our own set point. one thing appears to be certain: We're better off aiming for happiness moment to moment than trying to engineer happiness through long-term planning. high energy. what's right and beautiful with the world. professor of psychology and psychiatry Richard Davidson found in his research that high levels of activity at the left frontal area of the cerebral cortex coincided with feelings of happiness. says. but four months later they continued to show a distinctive prefrontal shift in brain activity associated with positive emotions. With mental balance. sparking more left-brain activity and thus positive emotion. "It's possible. spends his days exploring the riddle of human self-delusion. enthusiasm. He's a pioneer in the field known as affective . This is because—as science now shows us—human beings are fairly hopeless at predicting what will make us happy or how long that happiness will last. then. and worry. PhD. "We have a sort of autoimmune disease—chronic stress and discontent—caused by not looking deeply enough into this question of genuine happiness.) On average. Still Not Happy.to-three-hour mindfulness meditation class each week for eight weeks—plus a one-day retreat—in addition to being asked to practice 45 minutes a day. They also had significantly higher levels of antibodies in response to a flu shot. The practice of forgiveness. Perhaps the most exciting news is that science has compelling evidence that mental practices like meditation promote SWB. who is a coauthor on one of Richard Davidson's studies. University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson. might be one way to raise your SWB.

there's too much pain to be satisfied with a naive idea of what it means to be happy—and to be human. in which researchers measure the distressing gap between what we believe will make us happy and how wrong we tend to be.forecasting. while less happy. To accommodate a larger vision. the link between the two "is surprisingly weak (indeed. and forgiveness to ingenuity and love of learning. one study revealed that major events. The paraplegics. only to find ourselves then more isolated from our neighbors or too exhausted from overwork to enjoy the new swimming pool. kindness. Beyond the first tier. cites research by Ronald Inglehart. What's more." For example. both groups adjusted to their respective circumstances with surprising results: The lottery winners settled back to levels of happiness that did not differ significantly from a control group." he tells me. In fact. In a 1978 study of SWB among lottery winners and paraplegics. the godfather of the positive psychology movement. "nowhere more than in our pursuit of the holy grail of happiness. happy or not. Money and Happiness: We Do the Math Experts agree that a lifetime spent chasing the almighty dollar rarely raises SWB. Adam Engle. PhD. PhD." "Working beyond our own limits. lose their impact on happiness levels in less than three months." says R. In fact.. virtually negligible). the results of our choices are not nearly as life-changing as we think they'll be. "We can't hang on to the idea that if we get more stuff we'll be happier. we need more colors for happiness." (I tell him that I'll be the judge of that. we scrimp and save for the bigger house. We usually overestimate how things will affect us and rarely underestimate them. who found that once middle-class comforts are in place.. whose Mind and Life Institute sponsored the recent conference between the Dalai Lama and a group of top scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the subject of Buddhism and its relation to how the mind works. what he calls the Hollywood view of happiness ("getting as much positive emotion as possible"). Martin Seligman. the next 10 million does almost nothing. we might invest our hopes in things that could actually help us feel better. Myers. but after basic needs are met. a second kind of happiness arises from discovering our "signature strengths. we know too much." Gilbert agrees: "The first 40 grand makes a dramatic difference. life is too complex. were not as unhappy as was expected." which range (in Seligman's list of 24) from honesty. Seligman's third zone consists of using your strengths in the service of . we often compromise our own happiness" What Color Is Your Happiness? Just as Italians have eight words for for love." This discrepancy—known as the impact bias— causes a great deal of "miswanting. who has reviewed many studies on the correlation between income and personal happiness.) "The jury's been in for a while. The simple-minded version will not do. If we understood how quickly this normalizing process worked. has created a three-zone model of happiness.not leaving enough for ourselves on the side. "We're such strangers to ourselves.

went beyond the call of duty. "People tend to see work as a job. a place to practice being happy. by becoming more active participants in the design of our work lives. Those who deemed themselves unskilled and did what was asked of them—and no more—were far less happy (and effective) than those who reinvented the job for themselves. PhD. and so on) cannot be denied. for instance. So it seems that transcending our own needs. This would seem. Finally. how what they do affects the world—as on monetary gain. believing that what they were doing— however outwardly mundane—mattered nevertheless. In the job approach. instead of comparing ours to the next guy's. MD. Career-minded folk have a deeper personal investment in their profession. a New York psychoanalyst. offering no other reward. but it does appear that plowing our own field well." Indeed. there is an undeniable link between SWB and how we perceive . coauthored with the Dalai Lama. But volunteering each and every week at your local soup kitchen might not leave you blissed-out if you haven't taken care of your personal issues.something larger than yourself." urges Michael Eigen. psychiatrist Howard Cutler. and learning to sacrifice what we want for the greater good could boost our happiness to another level. We can learn to "craft" our jobs into a calling. we need to look at the nuts and bolts of everyday life—beginning with the question of work. a career. or a calling. who is now an assistant professor of management and organizational behavior at New York University's Stern School of Business. from so-called menial to high-level professional. coauthored an important study of people in various occupations." focusing as much on fulfillment—human relationships. internecine politics. she and her colleagues found overwhelming evidence of a disparity among people doing the same job. or the seventh circle of hell. whatever the profession. now and then. In 1997 Amy Wrzesniewski. Naturally. some days a job is just a job and professional discrepancies (income. The Art of Happiness at Work. In a study involving a group of hospital maintenance workers.) Before attempting to leapfrog our problems. "To covet is the gateway to pain. The reported levels of SWB were consistent with the approach each individual took toward his or her work. makes us happier. (We've all known grim-faced do-gooders who tried to save the world while ignoring their own unhappy selves." he tells me from his Phoenix office. Wrzesniewski says. reports three basic approaches to work. work is seen as a means to an end (money). In his recent book. at first glance. Those subjects who felt it was a calling had "significantly higher" SWB than those who saw it as a job or a career. to surgically remove our bitching rights about how we earn a living. Work—whether inside or outside the home—can be a place to express ourselves. marking achievements not only through monetary gain but through advancement within their chosen field. those who view their work as a calling show passionate commitment to "work for its own sake. "Just look at the Ten Commandments.

alcoholism. as Layard suggests." It's a contagion of envy and striving that keeps us consuming without feeling better. "I badly want to reinstate the Enlightenment belief that the moral act is always the one that produces the greatest overall happiness. unfortunately. the deeper embrace of love. possess less than people around us. physical touch." while only 22 percent of those never married. "When everyone is striving. Professor Lord Richard Layard. Feeling that we fall short. but family's better." says University of Southern California professor of economics Richard Easterlin. In his lectures. director of the Well-Being Programme at the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics. In a National Opinion Research Center survey of 23. this competitive spirit frequently spirals out of control. as nations grow wealthier. we often compromise our own happiness as well as the greater good. This raises an interesting question. and crime have all increased in the post–World War II era despite periods of economic growth. invites a sense of discontent. but it must be shared. not leaving enough for ourselves on the side. "We find. or widowed could say the same thing." says Layard. happiness is a choice" So That's What Friends Are For A single consistent factor in many studies of SWB is the critical necessity for close connection. divorced. It is intriguing to note that a 2003 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that happy individuals appear more likely to get and stay married. Working beyond our own limits. it's like a football game where everyone stands up: You still have the same view only now you're less comfortable because you're standing.000 Americans over the past two decades. "The last two decades have seen a serious assault on the communitarian ethic. Are married people happier because they're married—or were they happier in the first place? In other words. "There is such a thing as objective happiness. wealth makes little difference to citizens' well-being. 41 percent of those who were married described themselves as "very happy." he tells me from a phone booth in the House of Lords. then perhaps we can turn outward. that once we're above abject poverty. With workaholism now at a peak. separated. PhD. the comfort of friendship. "Friends are good. Layard points to evidence that rates of clinical depression. which may help explain why SWB has been found to be higher among . are people with higher SWB more likely to find a partner? Researchers are attempting to answer this. calls such "fruitless work"—more than is necessary to do the job—a source of "social pollution." "In the end. depriving families of time together and fragmenting communities." With upward mobility comes other unfortunate side effects as well." If we stop focusing on personal gain as the only path to happiness. meaning that the SWB levels of married people are nearly double the levels of those who aren't.ourselves in relation to the norm.

then declining in terms of intimacy (and SWB). pay emotional dividends. But couples have new opportunities to craft their marriages just as they can shift their jobs into a calling. find the space to pursue the things that will keep you as focused on the relationship as on the phone bill or car pool." he reports. Colette had disasters in her life but was also one of the most joyful people ever to walk the streets of Paris. If you and your partner find more joy doing charity work than pigging out at Club Med (or the reverse). offering spouses—along with additional stresses—new roles and rewards. Dual careers. "Intimacy. psychologist David Myers cites in his research a 1995 study that reveals it's the benefits of marriage that help make married people happier. . and support do. *** In the end. by all means follow your unique desires. The more we remember that life is a gift—that everything changes. the more vivid the picture. happiness is a choice—the frame through which we choose to see. we're not in control—the stronger our sense of well-being becomes. it would seem. pose special challenges. Happiness can withstand all that—all it takes is wisdom. for most people. commitment. Contrary to pessimistic predictions of marriage starting out with a honeymoon bang. The larger the frame.married people.

and gazed at photos of loved ones. Ask an office mate how she's doing. Pull out a photo album. But scientists and economists have begun to study happiness in a rigorous way. according to research from University College. . Be affectionate with your partner. Seriously: Hearing someone else laugh triggers a response in areas of your brain related to smiling.Love Your Life in 30 Seconds Oprah. All's right with the world in 30 seconds? Even drugs don't work that fast. A recent study from Spain found that professional support—including a good relationship with coworkers—will help make your job far more satisfying and absorbing. drank wine. A study from the University of North Carolina found that women who got several hugs a day from their husbands had significantly lower blood pressure than those embraced less often. listened to music. London. sure. and they're learning a few things about emotional elevation—including several proven ways to give yourself an instant mood lift without the guilt of a Godiva binge or shopping spree: Tell a good joke. Another study using fMRIs showed women's brains to be far less reactive to the threat of mild electrical shock when holding a loved one's hand versus a stranger's. A survey conducted by a British psychologist queried subjects about their mood before and after they ate chocolate. Only the photos gave a noticeable lift—an 11 percent improvement.com | From the May 2007 issue of O. The Oprah Magazine Yeah.

. The Oprah Magazine I walked into San Francisco's Grace Cathedral on edge. and to dust you shall return. in my mid-20s. totally trivial. full of worry. a way to create the stability I still craved two decades after my father's sudden death. As far as I could see. and then Easter came and they ate Godiva and drank Pinot and went on with their lives as before.com | From the October 2008 issue of O. a priest drawing a smudgy black cross upon my forehead with his thumb and half whispering. now it filled me with vague reverence—and befuddlement. and it had gotten me through hard times. Then would come the 40 days of penitence leading up to Easter. Fasting confused me because it seemed in theory dark and serious—selfdenial.The Love Fast: Giving Up Neediness and Finding True Love By Rachel Howard Oprah. and with them a perplexing practice: 40 days of fasting. self-punishment—and in action. It was Ash Wednesday. I hadn't even heard of the holy season of Lent. One sign of how I'd moved on: I'd met a smart. finding my own footing. Church was my ritual. Remember you are dust. A year and a half earlier I'd split from my husband. most churchgoers gave up something easy like chocolate or red wine. I wanted my life to be different. kind man and fallen in love. the first day of Lent. congratulated themselves for going without whatever they didn't really need anyway. Before I chose to be baptized into the Episcopal Church. In a few minutes I'd kneel at the altar rail. and now I was rebuilding.

Daily I felt the tingling temptation to devise some new way of forcing the question. It was hopeless. Fasting. or giving up some trifle just to feel self-righteous. For 40 days.. What did I think I needed that I could do with less of? What could I give instead? Love. sitting in the pew and worrying about Joe. His resistance made me apply more pressure. even as I watched him flinch. and me reassuring him that he could. I had a hunch. That part of the discipline came fairly easily. didn't have to be about self-denial for its own sake. it came to me. Right away I needed him to tell me that he loved me. I wrote cards to my grandfather. that he did love me. As the bishop's closing words echoed and I knelt and prayed. So for 40 days. Bishop Marc continued. And the idea was not merely to punish themselves. I cleared from my mind the impulse to try to take love. those fasting could give the extra food to other people who needed it more. My mood brightened. "But I'm not sure how you feel about me. I listened to the long story of my hairdresser's harrowing childhood and encouraged him to pursue his dream of going back to college. I kissed him out of spontaneous affection . I was given a new idea of what it means to fast. But my need made him resist. I returned to my fast. "do you really love me" talks my ex once endured—I still clung to pressure as my only tactic for reassurance. I devoted a week to helping my brother adjust to civilian life after serving in Iraq. The parts involving Joe did not. One night I gazed up at Joe expectantly. . I couldn't get myself to back off." Silence. or fall into a dark mood. On our third date he professed "commitment issues. But every time I slipped. from the way he lit up when I arrived at his house. And over the weeks that followed. I called friends and fielded their worries. I could focus on giving love instead of worrying about how to take it.But Joe squirmed at the slightest emotional pressure." I blurted out. Fasting could be about taking less— in order to give more. the thing people fasted from was food. I focused on giving love to others. Bishop Marc Andrus was saying." Our early courtship became an unlikely dance of Joe showering me with affection before fretting that he couldn't start a relationship. The idea was that by eating less. And though I thought I'd grown so much since leaving my ex—and though I didn't want to torture Joe with the 2 a. I fasted from the need for love. "I think you know how I feel about you.. (Aloud: "Don't you think we're wonderful together?" Implied: Then why can't you say you love me?) I found myself refusing to offer my love because of fears that he wouldn't return it. I smiled more warmly than usual at strangers.m. Then that Ash Wednesday. I'd withhold a kiss. Whatever patience and selfsecurity I thought I'd gained through this delicate process flew out the window the moment Joe decided he was fully onboard. Joe's face furrowed as my unstated question dawned on him. Traditionally. from the little cakes Joe kept for me in his refrigerator.

instead of the hope that he'd utter the magic words. One morning in the middle of my 40-day love fast, I awoke with a realization: I already had all the love that I needed. I had it from my mother and brother, from my friends, even from the memory of the love that my father had given me before his death. Consciously giving love to others—and seeing them spontaneously give it back—had made me recognize the love in my life more clearly. Most important, I had all the love I needed from God, or whatever you want to call that larger reality of the universe. I didn't need Joe's love. And yet, I still wanted it. Near the end of the 40 days of Lent, Joe suddenly said, "Perhaps I'm not giving you everything you deserve." We both knew the three unuttered words we were really talking about. He asked to come over, his voice resigned over the crackle of our bad cell phone connection. I had the sad expectation that we would be saying goodbye. When Joe rang my apartment door, my impulse was to hold myself aloof, to welcome him politely but coolly in case he wasn't, in fact, going to say that he loved me. But then, my arms around him, I thought, "What would happen if I stuck to my fast even now? What if instead of pulling away because I'm afraid he won't give me love, I stay here holding him, I keep kissing him and letting him feel my love?" Joe drew back. He said, "I feel overcome by love for you and it feels...amazing." And then he said it. "I love you." It could have gone the other way, of course. Joe could have balked; our relationship could have ended there. My fast from love had prepared me for that possibility—and my acceptance of it made Joe's love possible. The fast continues. As Bishop Marc said at the end of his sermon that Ash Wednesday, if your Lenten fast is a good one, it's not one you ought to give up once the 40 days are over. Joe still squirms over commitment. I still fight the urge to pressure him. I'm still tempted, every day, to think I need more love than I already have. And I still feel a strange new peace every time I say "I love you" first.

How to Tune In to the Voice Within
Oprah.com | July 12, 2011

Martha Beck explains how to ignore the racket and understand how you really feel.
This very day, two individuals are vying to be your personal adviser. The first, whose name is Fang, dresses in immaculate business attire, carries a briefcase full of neatly organized folders, and answers all e-mails instantly, via BlackBerry. In a loud, clear, authoritative voice, Fang delivers strong opinions about how you should manage your time. Fang's résumé is impressive: fantastic education, experience to burn. The other candidate, Buddy, wears shorts, a tank top, and a rose tattoo. If you question the professionalism of this attire, Buddy just smiles. When you ask advice on a pressing matter, Buddy hugs you. There are almost no words on Buddy's résumé (the few that do appear are jokes and song lyrics), and in the margins, Buddy has doodled pictures of chipmunks. Who will you hire to advise you? Yeah, that's what I used to think, too.

Long, long ago, as a teenager, I gave the name Fang to my socially conscious, verbal, educated mind. Buddy was what I called a perverse, disobedient aspect of my being, who apparently never evolved logical semantics and simply does not understand How Things Are Done Around Here. Fang is wary and suspicious, while Buddy ignores all caution in the pursuit of appealing experiences, like a puppy on LSD. In high school, I vowed to let only Fang run my life. A couple of decades later, I noticed something surprising: Though I generally did listen to Fang, it was Buddy who was always right. When clients tell me they need to find their "inner voice," I suspect they're already listening to one: a loud, logical, convincing Fang-voice that echoes parents, teachers, priests, and angry personal trainers. You have no problem hearing this voice; the problem is, its counsel rarely leads to fulfillment. Yet you sense there's someone else knocking around in your psyche: someone whose counsel might make you happy—the kind of wise, primordial self I named Buddy. Unfortunately, Buddy is almost nonverbal, initially unimposing, and, from Fang's point of view, way too weird to trust. I believe one of the primary tasks of your life is to trust Buddy anyway. That means first learning to recognize true inner wisdom, and then opening yourself to its peculiar counsel. Next: Noticing what your inner wisdom is and is not

Noticing What Your Inner Wisdom Is and Is Not
Real wisdom is so different from what's drilled into us by most authority figures that we tend to go functionally blind to it. But even if you can't recognize your own wisdom, you can notice what it isn't. Compare this list of Buddy traits with their Fang opposites. Wisdom Is Sensory, Not Verbal "It's not as though I hear a voice," says a friend of mine who's famous for her wisdom. "It's more like a little kid tapping me on the shoulder. It's something I feel."

In other words, while the voice of social conditioning manifests itself as a stream of thoughts in the head, wisdom often appears as emotions or physical sensations in the body. Brain-damaged patients who lose function in parts of the brain that register emotion may still understand the logic of a problem, but can no longer reason effectively or make advantageous decisions for themselves. The emotional centers of the brain, along with the elaborate bundle of nerves in your belly (the so-called gut brain), have been evolving far longer than language. And that system, more than logic, is exquisitely attuned to helping you navigate your way through life. So if you're wondering whether a choice is wise or not, don't search your mind for a rational argument. Instead, hold each option in your attention, then feel its effect on your body and emotions. When something's wrong for you, you'll feel constriction and tightness. The wise choice leads to feelings of liberation, even exhilaration. Wisdom Is Calm, Not Fearful The inner voice of social conditioning—that would be Fang—doesn't just speak in words; it shouts them. "Do it my way!" Fang shrieks. "Do not screw this up!" By contrast, inner wisdom is stillness itself. If you're waiting for wisdom to outscream paranoia, get comfortable. It's gonna be a long wait. Instead, you might want to regard the thought stream in your brain as an annoying TV talk show playing in an upstairs apartment. Send your attention downstairs, to a place in the center of your chest where Buddy is smiling in the stillness. It helps to take some deep breaths. You may have to lie down. But as you feel for that stillness, the yawping from your brain will seem less important. As you begin to relax, you'll find yourself guided to do unexpected things. These may include just resting, often the single wisest choice. Wisdom Is Chosen, Not Forced From infancy we're trained by adults who can force us to cooperate. Sometimes, indeed, we're trained so well that we begin to expect all instructions to come through coercion. "You're crazy to want that!" Fang shouts as you try to grow or enjoy life. "You don't deserve it!" "You'll fail!" Meanwhile, your inner Buddy knocks gently, then waits to be invited in. Wisdom is far, far stronger than fear, but while fear gladly forces itself upon you, wisdom will do nothing of the kind. We can't be victims of wisdom: It must be chosen. Stop and examine any frightening, ugly, or painful thought that customarily drives you. Ask yourself: Really? Is this really the kind of energy you want blaring through your inner space? If not, calmly state a truer thought: "You're wrong, Fang. I do deserve this, and even if I do fail, the world won't end." Fang will not appreciate this. There will be shouting. But you'll gain wisdom every time you choose to believe the peaceful thoughts again—and again, and again, and again. Ultimately, this practice will enable you to take Fang less

seriously. Then you can go out to play with Buddy, who's much more interesting. Next: Exercises to help follow your inner buddy

Following Your Inner Buddy
Exercise 1: WWBD? Think of a challenging circumstance or difficult decision you happen to be facing right now—something that's been keeping you up at night. With this situation in mind, write the first answer that comes up when you ask yourself the following questions. Don't overthink the answers. In fact, don't think about the answers at all—just blurt. With regard to your difficult situation...  What would calm do now?
 

What would peace do now?

What would relaxation do now? (Note: I don't include "What would love do now?" because so many people have such misguided interpretations of love. They think love would sacrifice its own happiness, or throw a tantrum, or hide in an ex-boyfriend's garage wearing nothing but night-vision goggles and a leopard-print thong.) The more often you ask yourself these strange questions, the more open you become to the gentle energy of your own inner wisdom. When you feel your body begin to let go of tension, you know you're headed in a wise direction. And that's what Buddy would do. Exercise 2: Nightmare Board, Wisdom Board Perhaps you've heard of vision boards: collages you assemble from pictures of things that appeal to you. Most of us go through life carrying something similar in our minds—except that instead of pictures that appeal to us, they're crowded with pictures that torment and terrify us. I call these nightmare boards. Your nightmare board, curated, assembled, and prominently displayed by your inner Fang, contains images of everything that frightens and upsets you, including all your most hideously painful experiences. Fang is continuously adding new pictures to the board and lovingly retouching the old ones. Here's a radical assignment: Make your nightmare board real. Glue up some actual images of every frightening thought that haunts you. But don't stop there. When you're finished, you're going to make another board. This new board must contain three or more images that contradict every picture on the nightmare board. For example, if your nightmare board shows a devastating oil

spill, your vision board might feature three photographs of people tenderly swabbing oil-coated ducks. For every image of violence, come up with three examples of loving kindness; for every crisis, find three beautiful, ordinary moments of calm. When you're finished, ceremoniously shred, burn, or otherwise trash Fang's nightmare board. Then put your wisdom board where you can see it. Focusing on hope in a world of fear isn't naive. It's the irrational essence of wisdom. Exercise 3: Vocab Rehab Take ten minutes and write a description of your life—stream of consciousness, no self-judgment, no editing. Then go over your description, looking for every word that carries frightening or painful associations. These words have more power than you might think. Studies show that after focusing on words having to do with aging, people walk more slowly; when they see words associated with anger, they're more likely to be rude. This phenomenon is called affective priming, but it works both ways. You can use it to connect with your inner wisdom by changing every stressful word in your self-description to something more freeing, relaxing, or exhilarating. If you wrote "I'm nervous," see whether "I'm excited" may also fit. The word unsure could be replaced by open. As you change your story, Fang's voice will begin to soften, and the peace that comes from your wiser inner voice will begin to arise. Practice Makes Permanent All these exercises can divert your attention from bossy, self-righteous Fang and help you appreciate the brilliance of your inner Buddy. Wisdom will never be the loud, obvious one in this odd couple. It will never shout down its opposition or barge in uninvited. But each time you choose wisdom as your adviser, you come closer to making the choice a way of life. Trust me, that's advice you want to take.

Escape Your Rat Race
By Martha Beck Oprah.com | From the January 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

Feeling trapped by a job, relationship, or routine, but terrified of making a change? Martha Beck shows you how to feel your way to freedom.
Sheila and I are conversing at a drug treatment center, where she's been remanded. Counselors are listening, so we can't plan a way to break her out. As it happens, escape is the last thing on Sheila's mind. I'm not coaching her through the woes of being institutionalized for drug use but prepping her for her upcoming release. "In here everything's simple," Sheila says. "Outside I'll have to deal with my crazy mom, get a job, pay the bills. I don't know how to handle that without drugs." When I ask her to picture a peaceful, happy life, Sheila draws a blank. "I can't imagine anything except what I've already seen," she says. The despair in her voice is so heavy it makes me want to huff a little glue

myself, but two things give me hope: a fabled land known in the annals of psychology as Rat Park, and a montage of other clients, once as hopeless as Sheila, who went on to live happy, meaningful lives. The concepts I learned from Rat Park, channeled through the behaviors I've seen in those courageous clients, just may transform Sheila's future. But first, what is this mythic Rat Park? And how might it relate to you? The term comes from a study conducted in 1981 by psychologist Bruce Alexander and colleagues. He noted that many addiction studies had something in common: The lab rats they used were locked in uncomfortable, isolating cages. Testing a hunch, Alexander gathered two groups of rats. For the first, he built a 200square-foot rodent paradise called Rat Park. There a colony of white Wister rats found luxurious accommodations for all their favorite pastimes—mingling, mating, raising pups, writing articles for newspaper tabloids. The second group was housed in the traditional cages. Alexander offered both groups a choice of plain water or sugar water laced with morphine. Like rats in other studies, the traditionally caged animals became instant addicts. However, the residents of Rat Park tended to "just say no," avoiding the drug-treated sugar water. Even rats that were already addicted to morphine tended to lay off the hard stuff when in Rat Park. Put them back in their cages, however, and they'd stay stoned as Deadheads. Alexander saw many parallels between these junkie rats and human addicts. He has talked of one patient who worked as a shopping mall Santa. "He couldn't do his job unless he was high on heroin," Alexander remembered. "He would shoot up, climb into that red Santa Claus costume, put on those black plastic boots, and smile for six hours straight." This story jingles bells for many of my clients. Like Smack Santa, they spend many hours playing roles that don't match their innate personalities and preferences, dulling the pain with mood-altering substances. Miserable with their jobs, relationships, or daily routines, they gulp down a fifth of Scotch, buy 46 commemorative Elvis plates on QVC, superglue phony smiles to their faces, and head on out to whatever rat race is gradually destroying them. Sheila was actually a step ahead of most of my clients, in that she knew she was locked up. Most people are trapped in prisons made of mind stuff— attitudes and beliefs such as "I have to look successful" or "I can't disappoint my dad." Ideas like these—being deeply entrenched and invisible—are often more powerful than physical prisons. When we're trapped in mind cages, gulping happy pills by the handful and fantasizing about lethally stapling coworkers, we rarely even consider that our unhappiness comes from living in captivity. And if we ever come close to recognizing the truth, we're stopped by a barrage of terrifying questions: "What if there's nothing better than this?" "What if I quit my job, lose my seniority, and end up somewhere even worse?" "What if I break off this relationship and end up alone forever?" "What if I get my hopes up and the big break never comes?" When the alternatives are staying in the familiar cage or facing the unknown,

Guided by the words warmer and colder." Sheila frets. (Not that I would have done this with someone locked up. or the rest of us humans. Lucky critters. paint the room. brew the coffee. If you suspect that you might need to engineer your own prison break. I don't answer him." Would you walk into your kitchen hoping to find the right fried egg. more than any other species. Absolutely not." Eventually clients will start moving. can shape our environment right back. but we. We can cook the egg. "Of course you won't!" I say. you can hire a chef and place your order. "How strange to think you would!" It amazes me how often people use that phrase: "Find the right life. especially knowing that liberation is only a few simple steps away. if we want them built to spec. and I hide a simple object— say. . he almost invariably stands still. The only feedback I'll give is "You're getting warmer" or "You're getting colder. You Don't Have to Know What Rat Park Looks Like "I just don't think I'll ever find the right life for me. (If you're rich. All animals are shaped by their environment. and make what you want. "How can I create something when I don't have a clue what it looks like?" Time for commonsense suggestion number two. You Don't Need a Map to Find Your Rat Park I often invite clients to play the dead-simple game You're Getting Warmer. We can fabricate our Rat Parks. who have the astonishing ability to envision and build Rat Parks. they arrive because you rummage around. It's painful to watch. such as the inside of a cake. "What am I looking for?" Obviously. a key—in a tricky place. most people choose the cage—over and over and over again. the right cup of coffee. they quickly identify the general hiding area. change the space.trust me. The client leaves the room.) Bruce Alexander's rats were hand-delivered into paradise. but you're still creating the result. You're Getting Colder. the following pieces of commonsense advice can set you free forever. and asks. indeed—but not nearly as lucky as Alexander himself.) When the client returns to the room. "But I don't know what I'm trying to build. Like Sheila." Sheila protests when I tell her this. and we must. the right toast? Such things don't simply appear before you. figure out what's available.

The time she had to serve was "warmer". even officials at the treatment center. anxiety. Trim tabs are tiny rudders attached to the back of larger rudders that steer huge ships. "Where is it?" Again. break it down into its components to see which are warm. It's the process of feeling our way toward happiness. as his friends knew him. fueled by assumptions like "Well. "My life is so far from perfect. chose for his epitaph just three words: call me trimtab. her tension. "colder. Not one. The big rudders would snap off if turned directly. If something feels both good and bad. you only have to know what feels better and what feels worse." . I've never had a client who didn't ultimately succeed.Then there's a period of confusion. not the realization of some Platonic ideal. which cold. When Sheila thought of leaving the treatment center. all she had to do was play her life as a game of You're Getting Warmer. Living within her economic means felt "warmer" than credit card shopping sprees she couldn't afford. Bucky. True. they revert to following the "warmer/colder" feedback until they arrive at the object. felt "warmer" than Sheila's crazy dope-dealing mother. as Fuller famously said. that creates our best lives. You Don't Have to Make Big Changes to Get There This step is something I stole from philosopher and engineer Buckminster Fuller. but. we found that her guidance system was giving her beautifully clear messages. For instance." They go back and forth for a bit. and drug cravings soared. where she'd flashed her flesh to elicit unpredictable tips from drunken customers. Peeved. rather than how you think an ideal life should look. So. getting colder" signals.you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. this gets them nothing. was "warmer" than her old cocktail waitress job.. Takes almost no effort at all. Begin making choices based on what makes you feel freer and happier. then stop and demand. Sheila was a long way from her own Rat Park. her outside life. paying bills." She's ready to hear my third and last piece of commonsense advice." Certain activities were freezing cold—dealing with her mother. It isn't necessary to know exactly how your ideal life will look. "I don't know if it's fixable. As we examined each of these.. You're Getting Colder. working. with its institutional predictability. Working in the cafeteria. My point: Life has installed within you powerful "getting warmer. But with the knowledge that her navigation system was functioning perfectly." Sheila says as we end our session. being around sane noncriminals. The same is true for you. "just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. she certainly wouldn't hide it in the cake.

Self-help or thriller? Choose what feels warmer. who aren't nearly as clear-sighted and authentic as rats. and then some. If you make mistakes. Making consistent trim-tab choices toward happiness is what steers the mighty ship of your life into exotic ports. our desire to be happy. I say goodbye to Sheila not knowing whether she'll set her trim tabs toward happiness or back to her drug-abusing cage of a life. our amazing human capacity for invention. or you—I'll choose to trust our powerful instincts. I've learned not to get my hopes up with humans. You may choose cynical despair instead—it's all the rage in intellectual circles—but if you care to join me. I think you'll find it's a whole lot warmer over here in Rat Park. into every Rat Park you can imagine. So instead of worrying about Sheila—or me. Should you read tonight or watch TV? Choose what feels warmer. Cuddle with the dog or banish him from the bed? Choose what feels (psychologically) warmer. no problem. . safe havens—in short. you'll soon feel colder and correct your course. But our session reminds me to keep following my own tiny feelings and impulses to their distant and amazing destinations.Every life is a series of trim-tab decisions.

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I've felt helpless. demoralized by my inability to keep weight off. maybe it could be my ticket out of yo-yo hell. The Oprah Magazine Resist cravings? No problem. sooner or later I get blindsided by stress and start to eat wantonly again. and Beverly Hills. It's not that these diets don't work—they do. I'm no stranger to dieting: I've been to South Beach. Scarsdale. the famed psychiatrist who pioneered cognitive therapy. Needless to say. Set realistic weight goals? Piece of cake. Judy is the psychologist daughter of Aaron Beck. self-sabotaging fear of hunger. Judith Beck's The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person landed on my doorstep last fall. which helps people overcome self-defeating thoughts and is now a gold standard of treatment for depression. If cognitive therapy could change Natalie's life. But what if your diet coach challenged you to go eight hours without eating a single bite? Barbara Graham reports on getting over her deep. I knew about the approach from a friend whose depression was cured by working with Beck père at the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research—now run by Judy—near Philadelphia. But each time I shed some weight. My favorite fat joke is that I'm still trying to lose my pregnancy weight—only my son just turned 35.Think Like a Thin Person By Barbara Graham Oprah.com | From the April 2007 issue of O. . I rang up Judy and arranged to get together. So when an advance copy of Dr. Like most chronic dieters. with too-many-to-count excursions to Weight Watchers. dark. anxiety. I took it as a sign. and other psychological disorders. out of control.

I realized that the program isn't just a six-week commitment—it's for life! "Almost everybody has the idea that once they stop dieting. When the going gets tough. she planned to use our lunch to help me handcraft such cards. cutting to the chase as we waited for our grilled salmon. I'll live longer"—I added. I'll be able to wear a smaller size. It's really hard for me to lose weight. I would have to eat differently from how I used to eat. "Uh. but I don't see any point in losing weight if you're just going to gain it back. give yourself credit for resisting cravings or dropping even half a pound. "hypoglycemic moi?" My blood sugar is prone to plummeting. but it's my birthday/Thanksgiving/Groundhog Day/fillin-the-blank day" hit me squarely in my size 12 gut.) Along the way. they'll be able to eat whatever they want." she replied brightly. We all need to learn to do that. Beck guides the reader through a six-week. she outlines a comprehensive regimen based on her own experience and 20 years of counseling dieters. "I blame my metabolism. "So I can put on a little black dress." What's more. we have to keep reminding ourselves of the advantages of maintaining a healthy weight." I thought." In fact. leaving me feeling as if I'm on the brink of starvation at least three times a day! And the kicker: As I read on. On the flip side. and incredibly empathetic even when making toughlove pronouncements. To the predictable examples listed—"I'll look better.The day before we met." Judy told me when we met over lunch. she added. while seated. energetic. I'm guessing you can lose weight—you just haven't learned the skills to keep it off. "We'll find out if they're true. I stress this from the first day." "Those are just thoughts. "I've discovered that to some degree almost every thin person restricts what she eats." . the very first exercise in The Beck Diet Solution asks readers to pinpoint the reasons they want to lose weight. Would I really be required to plan every meal in advance? Account for every last morsel to my diet coach—Judy herself!—and allow myself "no choice" about sticking to my plan? Scariest of all was the "hunger experiment. As my coach. Slim. but that is absolutely false." during which I was to go eight hours without eating in order to learn that "hunger is not an emergency." Judy urges dieters to review their reasons at least twice daily. Some of the strategies—eat slowly." I stammered. (Thoughts such as "I can't diet when I'm stressed" or "I know I shouldn't eat this. I boned up on the book. It's not a popular message. but others provoked anxiety. "When I work with people. "I had to accept that for the rest of my life." she said. she asks them to unearth the sabotaging thoughts that keep them from dieting success—and then create written response cards that will act as a reality check to each thought. she was a veteran yo-yo dieter who lost 15 pounds ten years ago and has kept it off ever since. br> "What are some of the self-defeating ideas that stop you from losing weight?" she asked me. especially with so many fad diets around. set realistic weight loss goals—seemed manageable. Instead of presenting a specific diet (any reasonable eating plan—I chose Weight Watchers again—will do)." "Moi. step-by-step process designed to eliminate every self-sabotaging thought that makes dieters throw up their hands and open their mouths.

which is fairly often. There was something humbling. I was feeling proud of myself—"giving myself credit" in Judyspeak. you have to go by a plan. I always worried about being hungry. a desire to eat. I can't tell you how wonderful it was to figure out that I can stand being hungry no matter what. But I didn't get the You go. "You probably do overeat. Thin people know this and don't worry about being hungry. "Almost every dieter has difficulty distinguishing between true hunger. I'll keep a record of every microbite." I pleaded. so we have to figure out how we can get you to eat less and still feel satisfied." "But mostly I eat only when I'm hungry. "And most people who struggle with weight loss tend to feel hunger pangs intensely and often eat to avoid those feelings. "I'll go on Weight Watchers and stick to it. you can't go by hunger." she said. My homework was to read the cards before each meal. "If you're trying to lose weight. "We have to get you over the fear of being hungry if you want to keep weight off for the rest of your life. then fax it to her." I said. the existence of which." "Uh-oh. girl reaction I was expecting." Judy wasn't buying it. Doesn't Judy herself advise dieters to choose an eating plan that works for them—the operative word being eating? "What's so great about going hungry?" I asked. hunger comes and goes. beaming. I believe I'd have to starve myself in order to be thin. "Here it comes. Just please. But the point is." "Purposely skipping a meal is the only way to prove to yourself that you can withstand hunger." she explained. I have to do things I don't want to do"— that were supposed to counter my negative thoughts. as well as commit to a food plan every night for the following day. and cravings. because of my hypoglycemia. When I called at the appointed time. But she graciously turned her attention to writing the response cards—such as "If I want to lose weight. I'd dropped a pound and a half and had been fanatical about staying within the points allotted me by Weight Watchers. even humiliating." Maybe I'm dense."Maybe." she said. leaning closer. I'm sure I'd drop dead." "I'll do anything. about voicing the machinations of my weightobsessed mind out loud." I could tell that Judy harbored serious doubts about the severity of my hypoglycemia." I thought. I was forced to admit. We agreed to touch base by phone in one week. Basically. "Before I was able to keep weight off. had never been clinically proved. . but I was having trouble connecting the dots here. feeling suddenly sheepish. not that. but I don't think I overeat.

The proof showed up on the scale. You have to take the long view." I felt deflated." Judy conceded. I had dropped seven pounds. but the feelings were more or less tolerable and I agreed to press on.' so that in the future when you start to slide. "But 90 percent of people who lose weight gain it back. Judy warmly congratulated me on my progress and my shift in attitude." I said. For insurance that morning. I ate a super-high-protein breakfast. She even told me I could be more flexible in my eating and stop planning every meal—something I was not yet ready to do. "Still here. but for now I'd like you to master the skill of 'no choice. otherwise you could become demoralized and abandon your diet the way you did in the past. "It's a fallacy to think you'll continue losing weight at this rate. which is what happened to you."Eventually." The Dread Hunger Experiment was back on the table." "I get it. referring to the fact that I'd eaten broccoli instead of the artichoke I'd committed to in writing. "but I don't like it. I was able to . a true symptom of hypoglycemia—the very next day. in subsequent weeks something strange occurred: My inner rebel put down her dukes. "But for now I'd like you to follow your plan exactly. By the time I went to see Judy a month after our initial meeting.." I reported at 2. when I telephoned Judy at 1 P. And at 4." Though I felt like a chastened schoolgirl when I hung up the phone. That's normal. I buckled and agreed to eat nothing between breakfast and dinner—unless I started shaking uncontrollably. when not only was I still alive but my hunger had diminished significantly. By then I was feeling light-headed and cranky as well as famished. and I grew to enjoy planning my meals. Thanksgiving. I'll be at risk for regaining the weight I lose. Even though it still terrified me. "It would be good—in fact it's 100 percent necessary—for you not to be afraid of hunger so you can maintain your weight loss your whole life. The real shock came at 3." "I know I'm being a hard-ass." Then she leaned back in her chair and smiled. What was the big deal? Wasn't one green vegetable as good as the next? "You won't have to plan every meal for the rest of your life." Then she had me write out a new response card: "Unless I get really good at following my plan. There'll be weeks when you won't lose anything and other weeks when the scale will go up a pound or two. I was able to say I wasn't dead yet.M." Judy told me. you'll know how to get back on track. and at several holiday parties. It made me feel safe and in control—and saved me on my birthday. but it's only temporary. Rigidity is essential right now. it will be fine to substitute foods as long as they're the same number of points or calories. though I was starving again. She also issued a sober warning. Judy promised to be available by phone every hour after noon.

" "You mean I can stop? Now? And eat?" I couldn't believe I'd passed the test. But if it's all the same to you. "that's amazing. When Judy picked up the phone at 4:15 and heard that the experiment was still in full swing." "Wow. "Absolutely. I think I'm going to try to hold out until 5. "Now that you've experienced for yourself that hunger comes and goes. you never have to worry about feeling hungry again.distract myself by combing the Internet for cheap flights to visit my baby granddaughter in Paris." ." I said. she was elated. You've proved yourself.

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not jettison—our possessions. If you're one of us. and you get an epidemic of clogged living spaces. My point is not that I come from people obsessed with footwear but that just a few generations back. I'm sort of a doctor (I have a PhD)." "Someone could use that. One of my great-grandfathers supported 13 children on a wooden shoemaker's income. hesitate before discarding things. and set discouragingly ambitious rules about how de-cluttering should happen. but something in us always protests. perhaps you should consult a doctor. I've arrived at a simple. Your inner pack rat won't stand for it. effective clutter cure I call "Walk-Out Therapy.Clutter Control By Martha Beck Oprah. It makes us cling to possessions we don't need." It will help you make your home a peaceful space where you can thrive. My clients' top three are: "I have to go through those. The obvious de-cluttering solution is to throw out things the moment you no longer need them. most folks had almost nothing." and "But I need it!" Unless you use the object in question at least once a . "But I can still wear that!" it squeals as you consider discarding a 20-year-old jacket with shoulder pads. Add to that the unprecedented wealth of modern society. a great-grandmother on my father's side of the family survived by gleaning wool left on thorn trees by passing sheep and knitting it into socks for cowboys. The Oprah Magazine I'm one of those people who gradually accumulate possessions until their living spaces begin to feel stuffed up.com | From the Summer 2006 issue of O. Diagnosis: Domestic Stuffiness The tendency to overstuff our homes is an inherited condition that evolved when living circumstances were harsh. and through extensive experimentation (cleaning my own house). Folks like me sustain an ongoing attempt to spring clean. Happily. You feel an intensely visceral clutching anxiety that won't abate until you hang the unsightly garment back in your overstuffed closet. We're programmed to be pack rats—to hoard. right? Wrong. Easy. the first step to a clutter cure is to write down your favorite pack-rat phrases. So.

Instead. Start with objects that will cause you the least objection (your cat's disintegrating catnip mouse. proceed straight to the cure." Or. followed by the delicious sensation of my space—and my life—opening up. find a waste receptacle at your destination). use your powers of analysis to outwit the primitive logic of these phrases. After your 10-item evaluation. then move on to more challenging items: the unreadable book." and "freedom." Clutter keeps us from achieving these goals. A walk-out can begin the minute you realize that certain possessions aren't worth your space. grab. The idea is to get items out of your house irrevocably. As you consider each. ask yourself (1) Do I truly need it? (2) Do I truly adore it? (3) Would I trade inner peace for this? The answers can help curb your pack-rat impulses. and repeat. Walking out your junk is habit-forming. It never loses its power to please. Obeying these protests will keep you overstuffed and off balance forever. Hold garage sales only if you love them. discard. the never-used salad spinner. and we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars buying larger homes. put two unnecessary objects near your door each day." Do not wait to de-clutter in one big fell swoop.) This month." Believing you must donate or sell your clutter is another relic of the days when people suffered from scarcity. commit to walking out at least two items a day. Empty space is more valuable—psychologically and physically—than almost any object. allowing you to clear out and move on. preventing "trasher's remorse. "I need to hold a garage sale but can't find the energy. the nearly dead houseplant). walk out. Very soon. It eventually becomes quite intoxicating." they'll say. With this in mind. which is more than you can say for most physical possessions. Every time you leave your home. Instead. I love the slightly naughty thrill that comes from tossing an object. I've tried to donate broken or ugly castoffs. pick up one item. the expensive but atrocious jacket. When I ask clients what they long for. Give away items only if they are in good condition. "I'm trying to get bags ready for Goodwill.year. your inner pack rat will resist. Drop them into the first public trash can you pass (if you're driving. finally. "but I get distracted. . And stop waiting for that unscheduled weekend to declutter your home—it ain't coming." "space. like any good medicine. Evaluate. such righteous exclamations are actually symptoms of dysfunction. walk into any room of your home and focus on 10 random objects. money. the walk-out will make you feel better. Treatment: Walk Away Clutter Many of my clients have grandiose delusions about how to dispose of their excess stuff. At first. Do not ponder or pause. the most common responses are "peace. and. The poor aren't a junkyard substitute. preferably two. (Although you should avoid walking out someone's personal possessions without asking first. or inner peace. only to have Goodwill—quite rightly—reject them.

breathe. and breathe. breathe. will let go of excess stuff more easily when the removal is slow and steady. Walk out your clutter. So reclaim your home. Your loved ones. pushing through resistance and inviting the rush. too. they'll notice your home's increasing spaciousness without missing the chipped mug or the ancient bowling trophy. feel the openness.The final benefit of Walk-Out Therapy is its low level of side effects. Then sit back. The packrat part of you will tolerate gradual de-cluttering much better than major surgery. .

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trust that you'll find exactly what you need. just when those parts were needed. we all can benefit. just in case you need it. executives at Japan's Toyota Motor Company made a decision from which. which bought and stored massive stockpiles of supplies.com | From the April 2009 issue of O. Guess which one lets you really stop and smell the roses? Shortly after World War II. I believe. My students and I had some rousing discussions about just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing. Toyota began ordering just enough parts to keep their lines moving.When and How to Say "Enough!" By Martha Beck Oprah. Unlike most manufacturers. just in time. I know of the Toyota case because in my former life as an academic. I taught international business management. Or. These students were the first people who hired me as a life coach (perhaps because I could never resist . sushi. which is known as just-in-case (JIC) inventory. say. This made them spectacularly productive. They decided to make cars the way they'd make. and turned the phrase "just in time" into business legend. as well as its alternative. The Oprah Magazine There are two ways of going through life: Gather everything in sight.

like food. eat too much. police reported having to "climb over [clutter] on their hands and knees. whether by poverty or by dieting. Most of us are living in some kind of excess. it made sense. If you feel overburdened. and things can go wildly off kilter. There have been several cases like the one in Shelton.applying business theory to everyday life). and anxious. fat supplies being just one example." we just keep doing and accumulating more. When we discussed JIT versus JIC management as a lifestyle strategy. clothing." Well. In some areas. I'm betting the same is true for you. To recover her body. But most magazine readers like you live in settings where basic necessities. driven by the unconscious. even though they dieted assiduously. until quite recently. the former claim was true for most humans—it's still true for many. rack up debt buying too much stuff. Yet. and other humans." . their heads were touching the ceiling while they were standing on top of piles of debris. are plentiful. we concluded that Toyota's business innovation could positively impact all of our lives. Step 1: Why Just-in-Case Is Just Crazy Step 2: Why Just-in-Time Just Makes Sense Step 3: Making the Switch Why Just-in-Case Is Just Crazy Most people live with a just-in-case mind-set because for most of human history. Washington. it activates automatic just-in-case mechanisms that store fat on the body to get through the next "famine. just-in-time systems rely on the assumption "Everything good is readily available. We've all seen some of the unfortunate results. unconscious impulses to hoard good stuff. and I've found that most fall into the following four categories: Starving off the Fat of the Land For years I noticed that my clients who lived in a mind-set of scarcity had trouble controlling their weight. The primary fact of life for just-in-case processes is: "Everything good is scarce!" By contrast. Combine JIC attitudes with a superabundant culture. Living in an abundant environment but operating on the assumption that good things are scarce leads to a host of dysfunctions that can be summed up in one word: excess. just-in-case assumption that "everything good is scarce. this biological just-in-case mechanism puts fat on precisely the people with the discipline to starve themselves. where a woman recently suffocated under a pile of her own possessions. Stuff Tsunamis Just-in-case thinking triggers primal." Ironically. I also read studies showing that poor women—particularly those who periodically starved themselves to feed their children—were particularly plagued by obesity. overstressed. we work too much. Researchers hypothesize that when the body knows it may be starved.

So anxious lovers have their partners followed. People-pleasers try to manipulate everyone into liking them. it also triggers excessive attempts to control our supply of love—that is. This is essentially a leap from fear to faith. Love's Labor's Lost Just-in-case thinking destroys relationships faster than—and sometimes with the assistance of—a speeding bullet. Part of our coaching work helped her develop just-in-time confidence about money (which allowed her to leave the financial security of her emotionally dead marriage). my focus is on helping people go from fear and suffering to relaxation and happiness. Stuff Sufficiency Dianne is 50-ish and newly divorced. So I was baffled when many of my clients told me. fat-storing mode and into a state that helps it shed excess fat. Why Just-in-Time Just Makes Sense As Toyota execs and my graduate students concluded so many years ago. "I'm finally losing weight—and I'm not even trying. I'm convinced that the thought "Everything good is readily available" kicks the body out of its panicky. When the issues above are considered through abundance-based. But to a just-in-case thinker who's used to billions. it's a fear-based outcome of believing love is scarce. just-in-time thinking. During our final session. switching to a just-in-time mind-set ("Everything good is readily available") restores health and balance to our lives. This behavior isn't love. it wasn't enough to keep him from throwing himself in front of a train. not bond. . other people. this poor guy wasn't literally a poor guy. After reading thousands of studies and interviewing dozens of experts. hanging on to a just-in-case worldview in abundant environments is plain bad business. Parents micromanage children. Along with the impulse to hoard objects. it's not religious faith but the simple belief that we'll probably be able to get what we need when we need it. JIC anxiety. Now. The great news is that just one mental shift—focusing on the abundance of your environment—switches your psychological settings so that your life automatically improves in many areas you may think are unrelated. He still had a personal fortune. And as I've seen in countless coaching scenarios since.Money Madness My wealthiest clients have taught me that having lots of money doesn't quiet scarcity-based. If you've ever been on the receiving end of such anxious machinations. This point was reinforced for me when I heard about the suicide of the German billionaire who lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the recent financial crisis. it's a whole different ball game: Food Fulfillment I've never been a weight loss coach." This intrigued me so much that I spent years researching and writing a book about it [The Four-Day Win]. you know they make you want to run.

and her behavior changed almost on its own. miraculous as it seems." says Jackie. "All my business dried up. Making the Switch When I meet someone who's a mess of excess. Here's the closest thing I know to a genuine love spell: "I'll always love you. It's a wonderful. All of a sudden. their lives would improve almost effortlessly. The Israelite story-keepers wanted to remind readers that. "Something weird is happening. We'd just throw the neurological toggle switch that exchanges fight-or-flight mode (the sympathetic nervous system) for rest-and-relaxation mode (the parasympathetic nervous system). it often seems nothing short of miraculous. we don't need to control any individual. Happily. Knowing that love (like all good things) is readily available. I just itch to coach them. That means you can respond to someone as he or she really is. spacious feeling. how people love being loved without a care. and I was really scared. Perhaps this is why the authors of the Bible included the story of the wandering Israelites who were given manna from heaven. and I really don't care what you do. just-in-time confidence keeps supply lines clear and prosperity flowing. one of my fellow coaches. And oh." This. Why? I believe it's to counteract the just-in-case anxiety that makes billionaires keep hoarding more money. But I hate feeling scared. I've learned that setting people free. Most animals experience this switch in response to environmental . I felt better immediately. I know that if they'd reroute a few simple brain habits. I had to start a waiting list. I'm tidy." This is not a promise to stay in a relationship with someone whose behavior is destructive. ensures a lifetime supply of love. is what happens to people who have enough confidence to run a just-in-time operation. instead of trying to force a fallible person to be infallible. I can't quite explain this. as any Toyota alum will tell you. Mellow Money Management "I got really panicky when the economy went south. so one day I coached myself back to trusting life. not trying to control them. but now I don't add clutter. Lasting Love I've done my share of just-in-case controlling when it comes to love (I'd like to apologize to anyone who once wandered into my danger zone). this tale was considered important enough to become holy writ. She simply developed the confidence of a just-in-time manager. and I'm a coach. but what's strange is that clients started coming out of the woodwork. The transformation wouldn't take much work—no need to exhume childhood traumas or hook up an antidepressant IV.she said. It's a simple statement that you aren't dependent on the other person's choices. I've always been a stuff person. but only permitted to gather enough to supply their needs until the next manna-festation." Dianne didn't achieve this by forcing herself to clean up. Whether you take it literally or metaphorically.

. List 10 areas where you have too much. and I still haven't finished my list. 3. not too little. you can go back to fearful. you can replace the nervous. my business school students. just-in-case mind-set that kept our ancient forebears alive but is killing many of us. List 10 times you thought that there wouldn't be enough of something and you survived. Relax. I promise. If this seems too easy. a housekeeper. It's almost too easy: Simply by taking your attention off thoughts of scarcity and persistently focusing on observations of abundance.000—wonderful things that entered your life just at the right time. You may kick yourself for not discovering this sooner. Most of my clients realize that the most important things in their lives showed up this way. and a financial planner. a song on the radio). We humans possess an unparalleled ability to create it with our thoughts. 2. Start with the little things (oxygen. But if. The best way to effect this shift is to use these simple exercises: 1. and my clients. You'll soon think of bigger ones. Once you deliberately focus on abundance.conditions. like me. sunlight. but that's okay—they can substitute for friends). you're just in time. List 20—or 50. I started doing excercise 3 several years ago. you'll be overwhelmed by all the good things that show up like manna in the desert. without much effort on your part. you decide to try just-in-time thinking. just-in-case thinking (you'll need a diet counselor. you'll find yourself struggling less and accomplishing more in ways you'd never expect. or 1. with no effort on your part.

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bought their first house.com | From the May 2006 issue of O. a wicked sense of humor.Help! The Best Way to Ask for What You Want by Martha Beck Oprah. it's criminally stupid. and a fairly involved case of cerebral palsy. The Oprah Magazine Having trouble with your computer? Your pile of bills? Your life? Help is out there if you know how—and how often—to ask. "No. Sue. their failing to reach for aid isn't noble. Like him. most of us resist asking for something even when we need it. I'll get hungry. . I need to be able to make dinner for myself without asking you for help. and on that day." he told her firmly. When a tired driver causes an accident or a lonely teen becomes homicidal or a depressed mom neglects her children. Wes insisted it be as thoroughly modified for special needs as was his bachelor apartment. When he and his wife. Sue argued that she could always do things for Wes that he couldn't do for himself. "One day we're going to have an argument. My friend Wes has a brilliant mind. So how do we walk the tightrope between self-sufficiency and need? When and how should we ask for help? I'd argue that the solution is to follow Wes's example and answer such questions before the need arises. We have our pride." Wes's physical constraints have made him highly sensitive to the way helping and being helped shapes relationships.

If we abuse the privilege. or grace: When humans see true need. For example. since this drove them deeper into the position of weakness (hence Wes's remodeling project). call the number on its ID tag. It felt fabulous to do a favor when it was really needed. last week I stopped on a busy freeway to catch a very scared Boston terrier. so society gives parents near-total control over them. Powerful people often infantilized. unlike dogs. I'll typically surrender in power and control. and the norm of reciprocity inspired me to drop that potential friendship like a bad habit. repressed. I sort of lost touch with her after that. Children need constant attention and support from their parents. I think she felt genuinely incapable of saving the file—but my gut told me it was learned helplessness. Now. my phone rang. Otherwise we won't sustain an amicable bond for long.Asking for help is psychologically risky because it triggers a mechanism in the human psyche called the norm of reciprocity. the powerless struggled like hell not to ask for anything. showed her how to save a file (point this. not real need. I mean seconds after. went to Gloria's house. click that). we frequently offer help without expectation of repayment. The same used to be true for wives and husbands. but even generous people get uneasy when one party in a relationship takes and takes and takes without giving anything in return. codependency. There's one type of situation where the norm of reciprocity breaks down. the more everyone will expect me to repay you—and what I can't repay in goods and services. capable of being poured into the shifting crevices of social structures. and return it to its owner. Sociologist Alvin Gouldner called the norm of reciprocity a "plastic filler. slaves and masters. Thinking this was a lostpuppy situation. and deliberately enfeebled those they were "helping" in order to maintain dominance. My point: We should ask for help guilelessly. we risk becoming pariahs. The problem with the purely helpful side of human nature is that people. of course. where some even deeper instinct kicks in. I don't think Gloria was an evil manipulator. I think I got more unalloyed pleasure from this simple event than from my own wedding. I once met an aspiring writer—a doll-faced woman I'll call Gloria—who had lost whole chapters of her half-finished novel because she didn't know how to back up her computer files." This means that the more I ask of you. For their part. no strings attached. take advantage of it. Call it empathy. Early the next morning. serfs and lords. advice. and sat beside her while she repeated the procedure for each of 20 chapters. If you give me something— money. and serving as a kind of all-purpose moral cement. So how do I make this crucial judgment under . I hired a babysitter. confident in human graciousness—but only if it's absolutely necessary. Only the churlish keep score overtly. "I wrote a new chapter!" Gloria chirruped. time—I must give something to you that we tacitly agree is of roughly equal value. "Come over and show me how to back up the file!" I'm not sure what became of Gloria.

Instead." I say. attesting to human determination to help the truly helpless." "Would you mind. "How. At this point. "They're exhausted. this is a minor epiphany.. Get Help (A Primer) 1. "Well." I tell her that I'm not quite following. It's an active term. or become ditched by people who are sick of my manipulative begging? For answers. The phrases I've always associated with asking for help are passwords of pathos: "Please. 'How do I comfort my newborn?' 'How do I talk to my relatives?' 'How will we pay for this?' The more they ask how. they have to take care of other kids and jobs and mortgages. "do I help people ask for help?" And just like that." Dorothy says. The word how is different.." says Dorothy. For me.. sir. you might do better to phrase all your problems as "how" questions: "How do I break through the glass ceiling in this company?" "How should I go about changing this flat tire?" "How can I help cure AIDS?" Whether your problem is tiny or . most of whom weigh less than my mocha Frappuccino. the more they need help. Here's the strategy that emerges from her kind assistance. I want some more. one of her coworkers says. I'm moved to tears." These supplications ooze helplessness and mark the moment we turn over control to someone else. I know it's time to help when they start asking how. Simply begging for aid when you feel overwhelmed is likely to make honest folks back away. "Oh. "It's the parents I focus on. It's hard to imagine a more vulnerable population than the residents of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. I'm visiting the NICU with parent liaison Dorothy Williams. "they always tell you—even when they won't tell you. one that bridges the gap from powerless to empowered. I turned to someone whose job it is to stay in the sweet spot of need.." Dorothy nods. who introduces me to the patients. while exploiters smell blood in the water. and the more able they are to receive it.pressure? How do I know if I am about to get smushed on the freeway of life because I failed to seek aid. partly by their fragility and partly by the complicated machines and devoted professionals around each tiny person. No chubby cherubs here: These babies combine the heartbreaking scrawniness of the extremely old with the total inexperience of the extremely young. Frame all your problems as how-to questions. I use it right away. Dorothy helps me figure it out. they're in shock.?" "If it's not too much trouble." I ask her if most parents tell her when they need help.

"Please give me money" is a self-disempowering request. or you at your very worst—is always well within the reach of grace. not a handout. the accessibility of information has exploded so dramatically over the past few decades that humble individuals can now solve problems and perform feats once reserved for a few elite experts. struggling novelist. lost pet. The more actively you pursue the knowledge and skills to extricate yourself from a mess. The key here is that you're soliciting help that won't diminish the resources of the other person. the more quickly they'll lead to useful strategies or solutions from individuals. Pay it forward. Web sites. if you wheedle advice from a great fisherman.. Each person's supply of "fish" (funding. Locate sources of information and insight. grieving parent. 2. you'll get the most helpful thing of all: the realization that anyone— angry spouse. you'll find that many people like Dorothy Williams at the NICU are actually out there looking for you. asking "How. and a thousand sources you won't even notice until your attention is primed. as well as potential assistance. .?" means you're a capable person in the process of becoming even more capable—not a charity case or a manipulator's mark. You'll come to understand that asking for aid doesn't need to be dangerous. the more new sources you'll locate. 3. energy. tiny newborn. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (among others) has pointed out. ask for education. time) is limited. If you honestly set out to learn how to untangle your own snafus. And what I mean by gratitude is not "Thanks. Once you start pushing the limitations of your own abilities and learning to solve your own dilemmas. you'll eat for a lifetime. The more specific your how-to questions. much of which you couldn't repay if you wanted to (who could pay back the gifts of a great teacher?). 5. By playing an active part in your own deliverance. not grasping.. Whether you've asked for it or not.. even if Uncle Buckmeister also pitches in with a cash donation (which he's much more likely to do for a determined problem-solver than a simple beggar). wanting to be of use to you.and what else can you do for me?" Grasping at help like a drowning swimmer tends to scare away the resources you've already got. meaning that the only response necessary to satisfy the norm of reciprocity is gratitude. you'll find that even people who shy away from raw neediness start offering advice. Even if you're going with a money problem to your filthy-rich uncle. help that's given freely is part of grace. You're going to end up receiving support both material and intangible. books. 4. you'll eat for a day. at negligible cost. Receive with gratitude.monumental. Take fishing lessons. At this point. To paraphrase the adage: If you wheedle a fish from someone. "Please show me how to resolve this financial muddle" is a self-empowering one. but fishing know-how can be replicated infinitely. the norm of reciprocity will express itself in you as a spontaneous desire (not obligation) to help others. TV shows..

So when someone suggested I put together a list of the 20 most important questions we should all be asking ourselves. If you're like most people. and scientists now know that continuing to ask them can help keep your mind nimble however old you eventually become. Initially.20 Questions That Could Change Your Life By Martha Beck Oprah. context is . Then I became confused about which questions to ask. because of course. as I soon realized.com | From the February 2011 issue of O. I was thrilled. The Oprah Magazine Finding the answers starts with posing the right questions—and Martha Beck has 20 to get you started. you became obsessed with questions around the age of 2 or 3.

every woman has something she likes more than the somethings she's supposed to like. It creates an alert. Next: What questions should you be asking yourself? Finding the answers starts with posing the right questions—and Martha Beck has 20 to get you started. The questions included here are composites of those that were suggested most often. Asking them today could redirect your life. The 20 questions that follow are based on "crowdsourcing. always. What questions should I be asking myself? At first I thought asking yourself what you should be asking yourself was redundant. Because I'm far too psychologically fragile to make sense of this subjective morass. it's just painful. "Did I remember to fasten my seat belt?" In terms of saving money. Knowing which changes are best for you comes. Why worry? These two words. which scuttles happiness rather than ensuring it. though I've mushed them together and rephrased some for brevity. Is this what I want to be doing? This very moment is. so it gets top billing. "To be or not to be?" really is the question. 3. the only moment in which you can make changes. Stop trying to like the things you don't like. start noticing what you'd prefer. or burglary more than reading. thoughtful mind state. the key question is. "How much do I need to retire before I'm 90?" is a strong contender. Worry rarely leads to positive action. from assessing what you feel. Without this question. Answering them every day will transform it. and many vices will disappear on their own. always. How do I want the world to be different because I lived in it? . we can shut down the part of the brain that worries. Ask yourself many times every day if you like what you're doing. or bad boys more than nice guys. Thanks to all of you who sent in entries via social media. considered sincerely. "What'll I wear?" and "What should I eat first?" might lead the list. freerange women what they thought every woman should ask herself. 1. In terms of saving your life. Whatever the particulars." meaning I asked a whole mess of actual. If the answer is no. you wouldn't ask any others. It actually works! 4. 2. If daily usefulness is the point. Why do I like {cupcakes} more than I like {people}? Feel free to switch out the words in brackets: You may like TV more than exercise.everything. I made the bold decision to pass the buck. Some psychologists say that by focusing on gratitude. useless fear about hypothetical events. Thus begins the revolution. can radically reconfigure the landscape of your mind. It isn't. But forcing "virtues"—trying to like people more than cupcakes—drives us to vices that offer false freedom from oppression. Ask it frequently. ideal for ferreting out the information you most need in every situation. And for the philosophically minded. 5.

or one really excellent bagel. What experiences do you want to have during your brief sojourn here? Make a list. many of your possessions. 7. chic chick. Make a vision board. Are {vegans} better people? Again. tell us what's funny—about everyday life. Eventually you'll glimpse clearer outlines of your destiny. Enlightenment awaits. please. will happily absorb beliefs based on biases. . 9. 8. but it will shape it. It recoils from what's bad for us. 6. Let it. the brackets are for you to fill in." Face it: You'd be better off without some of your relationships. To become enlightened. Next: 10 more questions to think about. what sort of factor do you want it to be? Maybe you know you're here to create worldwide prosperity. magical thinking. keep asking this question. and leans into what's good. which is probably why as you grew up. Regain your youth by laughing at every possible situation. your laughter rate dropped from 400 times a day (for toddlers) to the grown-up daily average of 15. and most of your thoughts. How much junk could a chic chick chuck if a chic chick could chuck junk? I believe this question was originally posed by Lao Tzu. If your impressions are more vague. about human nature. each day drop something. or just plain error. What is my body telling me? As I often say. the world will change you. What's so funny? Adults tend to put this question to children in a homicidal-sounding snarl. like any self-justifying brain. Substitute the virtue squad that makes you feel worst about yourself. whether it's ultra-marathoners or mothers who never raise their voices. the one you'll never have the discipline to join. it doesn't have to be vegans. who also wrote. It's a wise. The body knows better. This won't control your future. "To become learned.Your existence is already a factor in world history—now. We'll pay you anything. capable creature. even about pain and fear. the answer to this question is no. How do I want to be different because I lived in this world? In small ways or large. 10. my mind is a two-bit whore—by which I mean that my selfjustifying brain. Whatever group you're asking about. Then. a beautiful family. not by accident. each day add something. Live by design. ego gratification. Make a promise. your life will change the world—and in small ways or large. Chuck your chic-chick junk.

Accepting this is a bold step toward mental health and a just society. What potential memories am I bartering. 14. His addiction won. What do I love to practice? Some psychologists believe that no one is born with any particular talent and that all skill is gained through practice. or financial gain over ethics. Every time you choose social acceptance over your heart's desires. But you'll gain far more capability and respect by asking where you're wrong than by insisting you're right. we gain our first measure of intelligence when we first admit our own ignorance. Studies have shown that masters are . Substitute your greatest shame-fear: crying at work. maybe not the throwing up on PMs). but SNL reminded me that everyone dreads committing some sort of gaffe. you're making a similar deal. 12. 11. But for the reader. Where am I wrong? This might well be the most powerful question on our list—as Socrates believed. The protagonist was an addict who'd pawned many memories for drugs but had sworn never to sell his memory of falling in love. belching in church. 13.Finding the answers starts with posing the right questions—and Martha Beck has 20 to get you started." Not everyone does yoga. or your comfort zone over the adventure you were born to experience. Afterward he was unaware of his loss. lacking the memory he'd sold. and many have committed them (well. Don't. the trade-off was ghastly to contemplate. throwing up on the prime minister of Japan. and is the profit worth the price? I once read a story about a world where people sold memories the way we can sell plasma. Am I the only one struggling not to {fart} during {yoga}? I felt profoundly liberated when this issue was raised on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update. Your ego wants you to avoid noticing where you may have bad information or unworkable ideas. Then know you aren't alone. Everyone worries about such faux pas.

simply people who've practiced a skill intensely for 10. whatever you're doing. The way humans become humane is by assessing from the heart. . Wherever you are. that would make your present experience more delightful. minimize everything else. Really truly: Is this what I want to be doing? It's been several seconds since you asked this. hired an assistant in the Philippines who flawlessly tracks her schedule and her investments. and public hangings. Ask it again. When my clients ask themselves this question. 18. will accomplish this. Thus continues the revolution.. with untold wealth. Sharing joy with loved ones. where the justice of a situation lies. they almost always discover that their "perfect life" pastimes are already available. increases happiness." My client Cindy has an e-mail ghostwriter. go where you're passionate enough to practice. we'd still be practicing cherished traditions like child marriage. but only your thoughts can endanger your happiness. 17. Are my thoughts hurting or healing? Your situation may endanger your life and limbs. adoring mate. a gorgeous. Where could I work less and achieve more? To maximize time spent practicing your passions. 20. Where should I break the rules? If everyone kept all the rules. and I mean any little thing. Not to make yourself petulant or frustrated—just to see if it's possible to choose anything.then what? We can get so obsessed with acquiring fabulous lives that we forget to live. These days you can find machines or human helpers to assist with almost anything. rather than the rule book. but to develop courage. slavery. rather than tear it apart. finding inner peace. and a full staff of servants. Another client. If you really want to excel. Telling yourself a more positive and grateful story. How can I keep myself absolutely safe? Ask this question just to remind yourself of the answer: You can't. 16. Telling yourself a miserable mental story about your circumstances creates suffering. Angela. despite fear. writing your novel. studies show.000 hours or more. spending time in nature. The way to cope with that reality is not to control and avoid your way into a rigid little demi-life. So say I lived in that fabulous house in Tuscany.. Doing what you long to do. 15. Begin! 19. loving—what you do. Get creative with available resources to find more time in your life and life in your time. Sometimes you have to break the rules around you to keep the rules within you. choose thoughts that knit your heart together. Author Timothy Ferriss "batches" job tasks into his famous "four-hour workweek. Life is inherently uncertain. plotting revenge—you can do all these things right now. That requires loving—not liking.

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The kinds of things that couldn't possibly happen on this planet. etc. ordinary-looking person comes to me and . but the reality is that sometimes we run aground. The show's premise is that people all over the world begin discovering that they have superpowers—they can hear thoughts. become strong enough to break through steel bonds. Martha Beck helps three women find the power (they had it all along!) to discover what really floats their boats. pretty much everyone I know became a huge fan of the television series Heroes. 2008 The dream is a lifetime of smooth sailing. Except they do.Are You On the Right Career Path? By Martha Beck OWN TV | August 12. I watch regular people make these kinds of discoveries just about every other Thursday. Some nice. manipulate the time-space continuum. A couple of years ago. Here's a metaphorical but only slightly exaggerated version of my typical coaching process.

'Is this really what I'm supposed to be doing with my life?'" "The problem isn't your situation." Sometimes they say that perhaps in childhood or perhaps at work they zigged when they should have zagged. or whatever." they say. When this finally happens. I was born with just one superpower: the ability to see other people's superpowers. my God!" says Superman or Wonder Woman. But it usually shocks the hell out of the client." I say. So I can tell you that pretty much everyone (including you) is a superhero. and that every superhero (including you) has an incredibly important life mission. pow. flexing steely muscles under neon-colored outfits. "Who am I? What am I doing? Holy transfiguration. I'm Diana Prince—and somehow my life got off course." "My lenses?" the person says. which disguised his real identity." I explain. "Oh. "I mean the way you see. or the Forecast Phenom. sailed south when they should have sailed north. "The problem is your lenses. Batman. "I'm Clark Kent. And at that point.says. shazam!—I'll see them levitate right off the floor. looking at me as though the bloom is definitely leaving the rose." I always tell them (because it's always true). or the Psychedelic Psychic. "Your psychological perspective. . what should I do next?" "I have no idea. I know that whenever I can help an "ordinary person" remove a set of distorting perceptual lenses—zap. "One morning. it doesn't surprise me." I don't mention (yet) that I'm also alluding to Clark Kent's eyeglasses. "I woke up thinking. Figuring out what that mission is? That's up to every individual hero (including you). Because I'm not Batman. we're finished.

the fuzziness wasn't in the surroundings but in the way they saw. too. Their path forward looked fuzzy. however. While we're following their stories. They thought this was because they were in confusing situations... But I saw each woman looking through her own particular sort of distorting lenses. parkas. and goggles to his nerdy suit and specs. superhero self. Most people try to think their way out of these kinds of problems. adding more ideas to these three women's heads would be like forcing Clark Kent to add assorted sweaters. the same thing is almost certainly happening to you. My job with the three women I'd be coaching was to help them peel away illusions until their superhero identities emerged.Too Small . take off your "normal" disguise and liberate your true. I'll throw in some hints that may help you.I'm telling you all this because my assignment for this month was to lifecoach three women who were unsure where they were supposed to be in life. At moments when your life appears bleak and the way forward indistinct. From my perspective. Ordinary Person #1: The Self-Deprecator Ordinary Person #2: Stymied Ordinary Person #3: Thinking Small. Finding your purpose and power requires stripping certain thoughts away like street clothes until you hit Lycra.

48. she wrote. Jane never counted as a real accomplishment anything she was able to accomplish. lack of purpose. "Lots of times. With Larry supporting me. Jane hadn't stopped achieving—if anything. "We weren't a couple. Right away." Since Larry's departure. from Elmwood Park." Like Groucho Marx swearing he'd never join a club that would accept him as a member. Now she was worried that she hadn't climbed high enough. Haven't there been times you've done well at something important?" "Oh." "Such as?" . "I'd like to hear the other side of your story. clustered around "the loss of my own independent identity. but we were incredibly close. I never doubted myself. she'd become even more impressive. of course.The Self-Deprecator Ordinary Person 1 Jane Kropiewnicki." Jane said. "It was when my friend Larry moved out of the country. having plateaued and/or not having accomplished what I believe I should have for my age. squandering valuable and irreplaceable relationships. This thought pattern was the set of distorting lenses through which Jane saw herself. "Jane. her personality sterling. Jane Kropiewnicki had spent many years climbing the corporate ladder in a large metropolitan firm in the New York area. Her concerns. New Jersey At 48." said Jane." Jane's self-description as a low achiever mystified me. I asked her when she'd started feeling anxious about underperforming. Yet she focused almost obsessively on her "underachievement." I said. Her résumé was impressive.

.. when he approved of you. You're so used to downplaying your accomplishments that being proud of yourself is like remembering calculus. that allowed you to believe you'd done well.' Larry used to dominate your generalized other."Such as. Long pause." Then I took a deep breath because I had an Important Concept to convey. "We all have unconscious assumptions about how other people judge us." Jane sounded startled." "Huh. "Psychologists call it the 'generalized other. Just Jane. not anyone else. "Um. . Jane laughed again. Your problem isn't lack of achievement." I told Jane. "Here's your homework. It's waiting for someone else to convince you that your achievements are worthwhile. this time sounding embarrassed.. Not Larry." Jane stopped. "List 100 things you've accomplished that are clearly valuable to you. "For starters." I said." Very long pause." "A hundred things?" Jane repeated. "This is so weird! Why can't I think of anything?" "Because you've never practiced." I told her.. as though I'd asked her to locate a new planet.

" "Are you kidding?" I cried. You took up figure skating. I know it's crazy.The next time we spoke. it makes no sense. Then we had a breakthrough.. R2-D2 was the normally obedient little robot in Star Wars who suddenly "malfunctioned" to deliver a secret message. but—" "Wait a minute." Jane said. but it's strange. Jane had come up with a list of times she'd been praised by others in her company—a small step toward removing her mental distortions. "Like skating. because articulating it might help you discover your own superpowers. "Jane. a few years ago I decided to start taking skating lessons. and you have no idea why?" "I know. "I do stuff outside of work. It may . Jane's skating was a perfect example of something I call the R2-D2 effect. but not enough to reveal Jane's superhero. and a waste of time. This is how our superpowers often show up... this is fabulous!" I should explain why I was so excited." "Skating?" "Yeah.

"how does skating make you feel?" "Well. you're just puttering along. "But I'm no good.) Focusing on such events will help trigger your superpowers. Sure. sometimes awful—it's really hard. Try making a list of times you had the R2-D2 impulses. then unexpectedly find yourself studying Turkish or buying jodhpurs or moving onto a houseboat.. writing my first book. "So. Our minds fix on socially defined "achievements. Skating. it'll . I was done discussing Jane's aspirations for "achievement.. I'm too old." She was achieving beautifully at work and in her relationships. (My list includes majoring in Chinese." I said." but our real triumphs often happen when an R2-D2 impulse yanks us right off our rails and into rapture. It's like my mind disappears.happen to you in large ways or small. and beginning to coach." At this point." "What could be more important than learning to fly?" I'm continually amazed by the fact that people trash their treasures this way. "Really?" Jane sounded confused. but they weren't the crucial elements of her life right now. and I can fly. But sometimes I get into this zone.. That's what happened to Jane. "This is wonderful!" I exulted. the way your heart beats and later your mind notices. It's ridiculous. was. It just seems to happen. which liberated her body and soul. I don't know exactly what role skating will play in Jane's life.

Texas You don't need X-ray vision to see that Maida Barbour is brilliant. Maida's sister wrote that when she was younger. you won't fix the problem by doing more. She'd speak so confidently about her . Your path to it is through anything that replaces thinking with pure flight." A joyful life isn't about others. skating happens to be the trigger that sets Jane's superself loose. But more important. become enough. "Impressing others will make me happy. pure joy. which she'll then learn to find in many other ways. and hilarious. from Austin. like Jane. following the R2-D2 response will put you into position to do mighty deeds. You'll need to drop the perceptual lens that says. 41. Articulate. quilting. If you. whether it comes from skating. Stymied Ordinary Person 2 Maida Barbour. But that's a byproduct of embracing joy. When she skates. she becomes a conduit from the realm of pure joy into the realm of human experience. True. perceptive. "sometimes Maida scared me. achieved enough. she's the kind of person you'd imagine would have an Oscar® stuffed somewhere in an artfully cluttered home office.keep her fit and produce neurochemicals that will continue to make her happy. That's why it's so valuable—not to land Jane a part in the Ice Capades but to open the door to rapture. it's about the brightness that is associated with being alive. or pickle-making. feel you haven't done enough.

" This self-defeating logic is typical of an alter ego I call the Clever Critic.aesthetic vision and philosophy. you need to do something unprecedented. She'd spent the past few years in Austin." ..how she'd take on the world. and I still haven't figured out what I'm meant to be. Religiously. . I want to make a living doing a job that fits me. Daily. Creative work can be incredibly hard.. if there's no precedence for your work. many geniuses think themselves into paralysis." I recognized Maida's combination of giftedness and aimlessness. "So what should I do?" she said.. Immediately. When I presented this theory. let alone what credentials to get." But something went awry. most creative field possible. the odds of failure astronomical. acerbic description of her own career struggles. Maida's Clark Kent specs were wraparound sunglasses that looked oh so hip but kept her groping around in a very dark world. To avoid this grueling. she tended to talk in circles. while I loved Maida's witty. but I don't even know what my job title is. organizer of fairs for inventors—trying to find one that felt right. "But of course. As Maida wrote: "I'm 41.. But I never really found my niche." she said." Maida said. I spent parts of the past 20 years working in film because it seemed like the richest. no one accepts it. "Start working. she agreed with me. "I have some ideas. limping along from job to job—office manager at an IT firm. some of my favorite people wear similar disguises. Texas. finding reasons to abort their ideas almost before conceiving them." "I guess I could write a book. scary road. I also noticed that. "If you're going to be creative.

" I said." "That's a really lame image. "Fabulous." she said. The voice of a working artist. she sounded different: wearier. "And do you see that stopping me?" For the rest of that hour." said Maida. "My dear. warier." mumbled Maida. "but it's all garbage.." "But I don't have the right credentials. Start now. No excuses. "I know. "I'm writing." .. I could afford enough gum to last me a month." I growled. ingenious ideas for Maida's future books.." The next time we talked. we discussed several sophisticated." I told her. "Start writing three pages a day. going into her Clever Critic."Brilliant! Grab a pen. slightly on edge. like a Chihuahua in cold weather. "if I had a dime for every time I've heard someone claim to need credentials that definitely aren't necessary and probably don't even exist.

"has stymied my enthusiasm. Two weeks into her daily writing regimen." The hair stood up on my neck. all those moments in every day when we need a moment of clarity or meditation." she said. filled with emotional energy. had a new book about quitting cigarettes." I crowed. her message came from the paralyzing Clever Critic. Raw. "This would be a lot easier if I hadn't just quit smoking. For the first time. this is it. it worked." Maida wrote. cork the dithering in your brain. Keep working. Whether or not she knew it. are all now as empty and open as promise itself. ." The email I sent back wasn't gentle: "As your coach (and I mean this lovingly). soldier!" And by golly. "All I want to do is write is a love letter to cigarettes. it sounded real. "Do you know how many people are trying to quit smoking? Do you know how much they need someone who's been there to talk them through it? Forget your other books! Write your love letter to cigarettes!" When an e-mail arrived that very day. I am ordering you to cut the crap. alive. Another author. it appeared." I knew that the longer Maida focused on her creative vision. and write what you were planning to write. all those times we need so desperately just to fill. "Maida. instead of her visions of failure. But no. the sooner she'd drop those ridiculous sunglasses and free her superpowers. which explained the difficulty of quitting in terms more vivid than I'd ever heard. Maida's Clever Critic glasses suddenly cracked."Stop criticizing. Now. I thought Maida's superhero was unleashed. Maida's voice didn't sound clever. "This announcement. she'd written not only about smoking but about hiding her creative superpowers behind infinite distractions: "All those times we don't know what to do. I wish I could include the full text of Maida's "No Smoking" essay.

" Susan said. as "a spunky lady—really smart. Instead.. Every day. Thinking Small. Some days the work will go well. So I knew that Susan's superhero was a Soother. stop thinking and start creating. Her daughter had described Susan. It's a hellish schedule—and it's heaven.. between a late-night book signing and an early morning workshop in a foreign country. 56. paint the picture. Susan knew it too. Maybe you feel as if you've been wandering in circles forever. No matter. Maryland Susan Greenwood's superpower was evident to me within minutes of calling her at home in Silver Spring. The. if you bubble with great ideas that never quite solidify—and always find a good reason they can't happen—you're probably wearing blindingly dark lenses. she was so calm that my breathing relaxed at the sound of her voice. dizzy with jet lag." You may be like Maida—who didn't feel as if she'd gone off course so much as missed finding a course at all.. So I expected Susan to sound frazzled. If you wear a Clever Critic outfit over your spandex capes and bulletproof sequins. from Silver Spring. you can open to a promising future by dropping all excuses and putting your hopes and talents on the line. "and I'm so disappointed. I'm writing this. powerful" but drowning in the demands of overly dependent relatives and a work situation that had become problematic. Maryland. Hooray. unhappy. You will find your heroic mission eventually. Work. optimistic. As Maida wrote in her smoking piece. 56.. I'll cut you no slack. She said so as we discussed the problem that had thrown her career off track. because I'm one of you. I've always been . other days badly. choreograph the dance. if you Do. write the music.Too Small Ordinary Person 3 Susan Greenwood.. "It's upsetting. starting today. To remove them.

because she used the nword. radios. communicating kindly. "Susan. when I was expecting my daughter. and harmony ruled. were like backward binoculars: She saw things accurately but thought they were much smaller than they actually were. A lawyer. And yet she still felt stuck. whether dealing with family conflicts or the adversarial legal system. It's kind of. she'd also found herself in countless situations where racial conflict seemed inevitable. I experienced a strange sense of déjà vu. I agreed emphatically that calming troubled waters was. "Once. Always. and she obviously didn't know my ethnic background. her thing. and not another person of color. or she might've run into a buzz saw. my ability to ease people past racial conflict has felt almost like a calling. my thing. I told her very politely that she was lucky to be talking to me. It was like remembering dozens of inspiring speeches I'd already heard. you know." I said. minimizing an awesome superself. I recall her saying. I met a white woman who was dealing with an unexpected pregnancy. As an African-American. clearly." . warm voice coming not only through the phone but through microphones. Her glasses. she'd handled herself with such grace that the fight went out of everyone. "say more about that. however. I was so relaxed I'd stopped taking notes. I don't remember exactly what caused Susan to take off her metaphorical eyeglasses." That was Susan.able to solve differences peacefully. she'd brought peace to warlike situations all her life. I'm fair-skinned. Say a lot more. televisions. Her distorted lenses were similar to Jane's. "My whole life. and drolly about something that would have made anyone else's blood boil. indeed." As I got to know Susan better and heard more of her life story." Suddenly. I could hear Susan's rich.

bureaucrat." and adds. and superhero healer of conflicts." Susan taped this quotation above her desk. when her heart knew it was meant to be large. But she'd been imagining it as a small thing.As she did. Susan had to admit that her destiny will necessitate standing in the . She's using it as the basis for a new life plan— a plan that will require all Susan's skill as an attorney. from Marianne Williamson.." the legacy of racism. with their shrinking effect. the one that begins. make that knowledge—that she was meant to be a participant in the healing of what she called "America's great birth defect. "Your playing small doesn't serve the world. She'd known this for a while. Your superhero self will feel confined and restless. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. like midlife figure skating. could be more powerful than capturing lots of attention at work. and her superhero self began stretching its powerful limbs. a speaker. we explored her lifelong suspicion—no. slipped off. Instead. like Susan.. Where Jane had to accept that something unorthodox. But humility or worry may cause you to push the truth away. feel in your bones that you have a big role to play in the world. her prim normal-persona glasses. I read Susan one of my all-time favorite quotations. Susan's problems with work or relatives faded from our conversation— these were flyspeck issues compared with the Super Susan's future adventures. and this may come out in dozens of small complaints or repeated dissatisfaction. had imagined becoming a social activist. Perhaps you. a changer of lives and groups.

it's her own R2-D2 effect. they almost immediately abandoned. and opposition—will serve the world more than you can imagine. All three started with firm objectives. it may help save it. And saving the world. fatigue. and Susan for only a month—just enough time to adjust their focus. do the work. but because of my own superpower. You and I might not have met. Then you'll be free to embrace the rapture. Maida. which. on the other hand—your being your true self despite fear. . Freeing Your Inner Superhero So there you have it: My actual life-coaching process. She's not doing this for the social cachet. Your living large. Although these were very different people.spotlight. something you can easily do for yourself. Find the places where your beliefs are distorting your vision. I can tell you this: Your life is not little. with dissimilar superpowers. and peel away those thoughts like the ill-fitting Clark Kent eyewear they are. I did the same thing with all of them. accept the hero's quest. doubt. In fact. as I hoped. I worked with Jane. which fits better on the pages of a comic book than a self-help treatise. and your playing small doesn't serve the world. after all. is what all heroes (including you) are here to do. an impulse that comes from every cell of her body—and always has—when she drops her "humble" lenses and sees things as they are.

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but its rapid growth . You see. "Being a mom would make me happier than anything in the world.How Three Simple (But Powerful) Words Can Put You On the Path to Happiness Oprah.com | From the January 2011 issue of O. Instead. my boosterism had some significant blowback." said Ilsa." she told me. Like any codependent life coach." Another client. a fledgling entrepreneur. "Life would be so great. Martha Beck on a goal-setting strategy that will get you where you want to go. The Oprah Magazine What do you need to make your dreams come true? Three wishes? Think again. I wanted everything for Ilsa and Sue that they wanted for themselves. I did the next best thing: I worked with them as they made to-do lists and financial plans and stocked up on computer software and folic acid. fairy godmother–style. Ilsa's business did succeed. Sue. "if I could just start a business to pay all my bills. I longed for a magic wand that would let me bippityboppity-boo their dreams into reality. wanted to have a baby. Although it seemed like a good idea at the time.

By using adjectives. I learned how to help people set goals to get what they want without unintended consequences. Think of a typical noun-verb goal. Both women were in more distress after achieving their goals than they'd ever been before. I mean goal—and a safe. Step One: Pick a goal. most ambitious one." as opposed to "imagined experiences. I should've paid less attention to logistics and probed deeper into the reasons Ilsa and Sue had focused on those particular ambitions. because stated goals are quite magical. Neither fully anticipated what would happen after they achieved their goals. This process is harder than "normal" goal setting—it requires some serious soul-searching and perhaps a good thesaurus—but it does pay off. This frequently leads to either outright failure or the kind of success that doesn't make people nearly as happy as they expect. What I want you to do is fess up to your real desires. I've come to depend on adjectives because goals made of nouns and verbs are risky: They bring to mind "imagined situations. not situations. In my fairy godmother role. You don't need a crystal ball to see what's up ahead. I dunno. are always what we really want. you can avoid this trap by focusing all your efforts on the quality of the experience you want to create. Sue thought a baby would make her feel loved. But using magic inexpertly. Create a . Ilsa expected business success to produce feelings of contentment. Step Two: Gaze into the future." "I want to have a baby"). Use your brainpower right now to imagine what your life would be like if you realized the goal you just identified. They dictate our attitudes and behavior and where we put our energy. as most fables (and almost every Harry Potter movie) can attest. Sue eventually had a baby. who filled her heart with love—and her ears with colicky shrieking that nearly unhinged her. reaching your target weight. I blame myself. the three pounds of gray matter between your ears will do fine. and end poverty. they've all reached their target weight).required her to work like a pack mule. stop global warming. Some people may have deep desires to establish world peace. Most goal setters use mainly nouns and verbs ("I want my business to succeed. Words of Power The difference between a dangerous spell—um. any goal. After years of helping clients like Sue and Ilsa. But there's another class of words that work much better—adjectives. is a bad idea." The two are subtly but crucially different. Now pick the biggest. but maybe you actually think more about. Be honest rather than politically correct. effective one has everything to do with parts of speech. and experiences. This is not a beauty pageant (those contestants can afford to wish for world peace. And that's okay. something for which you frequently hanker.

you can fine-tune your strategy: Swap a fad diet for a meeting with a nutritionist. use simple words like energetic. I don't know. Step Three: Generate adjectives. For instance. you may imagine your Oscar acceptance speech.e. and if you keep trying. scouting out accurate adjectives. and healthy. you can too describe it. Time to rethink that original target. satisfied. andfine.____________________ 3. Three of 'em. ignoring everyone and everything except your ambition. you might realize that your actual aim is to get fit.____________________ Step Four: Focus on anything that can be described with your adjectives. This is the heart of a really effective goal-spell..detailed fantasy about it. But you owe it to yourself to persevere until you've found some reasonably descriptive words. Your adjective goal might utterly contradict your stated goal. Odds are you still wouldn't win an Oscar. Begin listing adjectives that describe how you feel in your dream-come-true scenario. if you think you want to win an Academy Award. and unstoppable. observing your dream-come-true with your mind's eyes. Author Craig Childs compares this to "trying to build the sky out of sticks. and feel "valued. you do know." Spend enough time in your imagined situation to let your brain leaf through its vocabulary. ears. For example. Sometimes tweaking isn't enough. My clients frequently try to squirm out of the process by muttering. of course it's hard to explain. Loiter there awhile. This is a simple task. right-brain sensations into specific. It requires that you translate holistic. In goal setting as in fairy tales. but not an easy one." or "Oh. confident. "It's hard to explain. skin.____________________ 2. focused. You would see that the strategy you came up with to diet (i." or "I can't describe it. eating your weight in hydroponic cabbage) might leave you thinner but also recumbent on a couch without the energy to leave the house—which isn't what you really want. but you'd probably get a rapacious ego that could inhale all manner of rewards without even noticing . delighted. Don't stop until you have at least that many ways to describe those lovely feelings. yes. You might notice that these three words bring your stated goal into sharper focus." If you think that only a night at the Kodak Theatre will lead to those feelings. nose. Your adjectives don't have to be eloquent. Drop the fantasy situation you imagined in step two and concentrate on those adjectives. and sign up for weight training classes at the gym. Thanks to adjectives." Well. you might spend years obsessively pursuing movie stardom. if your New Year's resolution is to lose ten pounds—a noun-verb goal—but your adjectives are strong. the minimum magic number is three. left-brain words. Write them down and then share them below in the comments: 1. Then. clear your mind and your throat: It's time for the magic words.

For example. and emotionally replenished. Both Ilsa and Sue managed to give more attention and time to the things that evoked the feelings they really wanted. playing with her niece. or unstoppable. rejuvenated. remembering how she'd expected motherhood to make her feel yielded the adjectives loved. joyless. if you immediately begin focusing on aspects of your present life that make you feel valued. focusing on experiences you truly want in your life) increases life satisfaction. take a moment to go fishing for adjectives. you might win an Oscar. She realized that her noun-verb goal (having a baby who's beautiful and also colicky) actually created the opposite of her adjective goal—she felt unappreciated.. So if you find yourself longing for some idealized goal. haggard. improves health. we lived happily ever after. and allows us to live longer. joyful. you'll be left with. you've tripped into an entirely different career.. "I'd already succeeded before I succeeded!" Indeed. My clients form my own database of sorts. and insecure). possessions—don't reliably lead to an experience of well-being. survey your life for anything (I mean anything) that can be described with any of those three words. she described herself with the adjectives relaxed. Putting all your attention on those aspects of your life will make you happier right now and help you create future situations that fulfill your true desires. So starting now. The Science of Good Magic I realize that all this sounds a little woo-woo. and handle the difficulties conjured by their original goals. when I asked Ilsa to go back in time and imagine what she once thought she'd get from a successful business. satisfied. learning to find joy in the present moment (a. Over and over. all of which eased my fairy godmother guilt.a pretty good life. It turned out that her magical adjectives described the way she felt when connecting with old friends. Sue put the baby in the bouncy seat and caught up with friends on Facebook. When she scanned her life for activities and relationships that made her feel aligned with those adjectives. In Sue's case. more fulfilling lives. the demands of her wildfire success made her feel tense. Then use them to identify the aspects of your life that are already drawing you toward your . In other words. "Damn!" she told me. You might even find that as you follow the things that make you feel appreciated. blurting out that the statue sure is heavy. andsecure (ironically. and drained. But if you don't find yourself onstage. reading novels. (That's the beauty of adjective-based goals: They can work even when you're already suffering the consequences of unwise noun-verb spells. Sure. social status. All sorts of things may happen. but psychological research on happiness backs up my strategy. she found them everywhere: in gardening. convincing me that good goal-setting magic is (to use the social science terms) robust and valid.) Ilsa carved out time for reading and gardening. researchers studying happiness have found that the situational elements people crave—money. These efforts helped Ilsa and Sue work and parent better. you'll feel an instant lift.k.a.them. By contrast. On the other hand.

Bippity-boppity-boo. Focusing on these people and activities will lead you gently toward even more fulfilling experiences. One day you may find yourself in a situation more interesting and delightful than anything you ever imagined.heart's desires. whispering. Listen closely and you'll hear my annoying little voice in your head. .

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like Martha Beck.How To (Finally!) Keep Your New Year's Resolutions By Martha Beck Oprah. don't blame your weak will. these people had never met. DNA-smeared doughnut boxes).com | From the January 2010 issue of O. Karla. Last year four of my friends—Marlene. we must assume they exist only in hallucinations of ordinary people who've been weakened by months and months of dieting. Something similar may happen to you this year. often. but until scientists discover concrete evidence (hair. by last February all my friends had fallen off the resolution wagon and were munching their way to larger clothing sizes and a profound sense of failure.If it does. most want to throttle). has she got a way for you to succeed this year: by joining forces with the people you least resemble (and. whatever your resolutions. blame isolation. Now. since pretty much everybody puts fitness on their New Year's resolutions list. Research shows that humans tend to do difficult things much better in teams and groups . Ellie. you've failed to keep your resolutions. and Chip—all resolved to get in shape and lose weight. so the odds of their making exactly the same resolution were…actually quite predictable. The Oprah Magazine If. At any rate. There are rumors of humans who've never resolved to eat less and move more. fibers.

caves only a dwarf could spelunk. the key to success is teaming up with people who are emphatically not on your wavelength. But it's not enough to enlist your longtime BFFs—the buddies you've known forever. How You Do That Thing You Do When people talk about change. paralyzing the beasts with acute awareness of their inferior looks. The Virtue of Motley Crews If you loved J. and cognitive differences. need a Fellowship. "Fact finders" need information. I suggest that this year you seek a specific type of goaloriented companionship I call the Fellowship of the Resolution. The Fellowship met monsters only a hobbit could trick. too. "Follow through" people naturally use methodical systems: They set up files for every receipt and alphabetize their refrigerator contents. If necessary most of us can tap into and use all four conative styles. who think and act just like you. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (or hated it but absorbed the plot because of peer pressure). her hunger and . Although these species usually avoided one another. For instance. consider the "failure modes" of the four dieters I mentioned earlier:  Marlene. which influence thinking. As Tolkien's story suggests. and orcs whose strength could be overcome only by Viggo Mortensen's flexing of his facial muscles. humans. When it comes to New Year's resolutions.than on their own. which shape our feelings. a wizard. their disparities turned out to be essential for saving Middle Earth.R. and an elf. spells only an elf could counter. conation is the aspect of human consciousness that determines how we tackle any task. This is especially true in behavioral patterns called conative styles. "Implementers" focus on physical objects and environments.R. but we tend to favor one or two of these behaviors. they figure out things by building models or grabbing the appropriate tools. They respond better to bricks and mortar than castles in the air. you'll recall that the Fellowship of the Ring was a team consisting of hobbits. According to Kathy Kolbe. They overlook patterns that relate to doing. as in every other area of life. too much of one style can be a weakness. leaped straight into an organic raw-food diet. who favors quick-start action. She has identified four conative styles:     "Quick start" adherents swing directly into action. Two weeks into her regimen. Yet conatively. making creative discoveries—and mistakes—through trial and error. a dwarf. you. they often emphasize affective factors. a specialist in learning strategies. they're the friends who'll research every relevant factoid about any task they're preparing to undertake.

 Ellie. as a follow-through. using a process so detailed she'll finish her analysis next July (at the earliest). but you get the idea. But if these four very different people linked up as a Fellowship. and away from the weekend warrior syndrome. And Chip's enthusiasm for three-dimensional places and processes could have inspired the women to hit the gym more often. But we both know that our very differences make us a damn fine Fellowship. Her meticulous system maintenance makes me want to drive cactus spines into my skull. where he began inhaling polymer-based foodlike products from the minimart to ease his frustration. Karla.  Chip. so she joined a reputable weight loss program. which Marlene maintains today. she began sleepeating peanut butter. I know that I mostly prefer quick-start action and hands-on implementer creativity. Marlene's dynamic quick-start energy could have pushed Ellie past her analysis paralysis. The weekly weigh-ins terrified her. They each failed because their closest friends share their conative preferences. with his love of the concrete implementer strategy. Ellie could have researched a weight loss system more suited to Karla's taste. Karla's methodical approach could have pointed Chip toward a sustainable exercise program. So when I started my own business.disgruntlement triggered a backslide to a menu of cupcakes and beer. Back spasms soon landed him in bed. things might have turned out differently. I hired my friend Yvonne. has a zest for systems. which means they had no one to help them in the areas where they were weak. Yvonne and I knew from the outset that we'd butt heads. I never set out toward a difficult goal without a team of opposites. After a month. (There are many more benefits this Fellowship might have discovered. who prefers the fact-finder conative style. while my frequent leaps into the unknown give Yvonne nightmares. never actually began dieting or exercising. She's still researching and evaluating fitness programs. to run it. drastically cut his food intake while quadrupling his level of exercise. and the prescribed food had all the epicurean appeal of bat guano.)  Forming Your Fellowship Because I'm aware of conative styles. which was perfect—except that she hated it. With me spewing ideas like the chocolate assembly line in I Love Lucy and Yvonne insisting that . who's high in both follow-through and fact finder. and I feel about strict systems the way tigers feel about vegetarianism ("Are you fricking kidding me?").

while taking the fastand-loose approach suggests you have quick-start tendencies). Remember.com . but virtually no one is high in all four. color. add a follow-through to your Fellowship. we've created things neither of us could have managed on our own. First. you need to find yourself a fact finder—the kind of person who won't so much as wash her hair without first googling every ingredient in her shampoo. Next. never reading the entire recipe or instruction manual before starting to cook or assemble furniture.everything get properly packaged and inventoried. . Since we now understand that I personally am a hip-shooter. hobbits and elves and dwarfs and men were uneasy with each other. look for a quickstart companion— the person who shocks you by getting married. date purchased. too—but just think what would have happened to Middle Earth if any of them had been omitted from the mix! We'd all be slaves in Mordor right now! As you assemble your Fellowship. moving house. This will be the friend whose closets are organized by clothing style. identify your own behavior style. though teaming up with them will feel a little weird.  If you absolutely hate doing research. and price (adjusted regularly to account for market fluctuation).  If you love creative chaos and can't stand systematic repetition. Meeting people with your conative complements isn't hard. or you can figure it out yourself using the loose descriptions in this column (if you go the former route. $50). or you can shoot from the hip. you're probably high in follow-through or fact finder. or adopting a pack of dogs mere hours after coming up with the idea. Please remember that you may enjoy one or two action styles. I've assembled some guidelines for targeting people you might want in your Fellowship. You can achieve similar success this New Year by forming your own Fellowship of the Resolution. you want to find people who prefer action styles you avoid. You can do this for a moderate fee on Kathy Kolbe's Web site ( kolbe. rather than running away from them:  If you have trouble getting started on difficult projects. you can once again refer to Kathy Kolbe's Web-based evaluation (having your collaborators take the official conation test). This involves knowing your own conative dislikes and going directly toward them.

Do the same with your Fellowship. . If you'd rather not grapple with the actual objects involved in your resolution (reorganizing your office. I point out that my quick-start enthusiasm gives her a whole lot of things to organize. your Fellowship could be formed with just one companion—if that person is strong in the one or two areas in which you are weak." Because it does. or slog to Mordor carrying the Ring of Doom. woman! You hired me to be a follow-through!" When she yearns for a coworker who doesn't think quite so much like a Labrador retriever. A general rule is that your best partner will be the person who makes you shake your head in disbelief and mutter. "Settle down. cut back on Internet poker. Ellie.) One more hint: Because most people are moderately or very strong in more than one conative area. This year I'm going to urge Marlene. Whether your resolution is to lose weight. and you'll remind yourself that everyone benefits when all four conative styles are covered. Once you've got your group in place. getting and using a yoga mat. "I guess it takes all kinds. budget better. devising an ingenious machine that gives you a powerful electric shock each time you reach for the potato chips). you should team up with an implementer. Karla. she reminds me. Especially if it includes Viggo Mortensen. I believe. and Chip to join forces. Once people assemble in such unlikely Fellowships. When I hanker to move faster than Yvonne. She'll be the one who raves about the joy of installing her own bathroom tiles or taking trapeze lessons from circus acrobats. I recommend that you take a little bit of time to discuss your opposites-attract strategy with your Fellowship. Yvonne and I work together successfully because we've always acknowledged our conative differences. will bring great joy. finding your motley crew of opposites will help you make it all the way to your goals— and the Fellowship itself. they realize an equally unlikely result: success. (And it may help to remember that your conative compadres will be looking at you the same way.

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Each day when Emma's alarm clock rings. The shower. The Oprah Magazine You're so absorbed in the moment that you don't realize it's passed. when she finally gets there.com | From the August 2007 issue of O. And yet you keep hanging on. she drowsily hits the snooze button several times. Martha Beck explains how to get unstuck.Transition Anxiety Oprah. she just keeps doing it until acted upon by some external force. Emma is a poster girl for Newton's first law of motion: Once she starts doing something. is so steamy and .

car key searching. ensuring that in the morning. There's a key difference between people who become irritated with Emma and those who share Emma's inability to segue from one thing to the next.. View time commitments as objectives. and judge her based on anything but punctuality. . Do many things at once and are highly distractible. She dresses hurriedly. or take the quiz! Monochrones.. Emma often arrives at the office late—but that's okay.fragrant. to a polychrone. when the alarm clock rings. Polychrones. Hall) fits you best? See below. until an external force in the form of her frustrated husband calls to see if she's alive. give her lavish time cushions. rigid and absolute. another 10. View time commitments as critical. Are accustomed to short-term relationships. People either think Emma is an inconsiderate laggard or they shrug off her chronic difficulty making transitions. Are committed to jobs (projects and tasks). always. five minutes. she works into the night. On the other side of the spectrum.. is capable of holding many things. she lingers twice as long as strictly necessary. Base promptness on the significance of the relationship. Change plans often. The first group has what is known as a monochronic time sense. Adhere religiously to plans. Have a strong tendency to build lifelong relationships. Any moment. because once there. Which of these descriptions (borrowed from anthropologist Edward T. Emma stays up late to offer compensatory companionship. she'll be too tired to get up. folks who are polychronic see time as loose and elastic. only to check the mirror and change. Are committed to people and relationships.             Do one thing at a time.. Emphasize promptness. They see time as fixed. And so it goes: Coffee savoring takes 15 minutes. lipstick experimentation.

say. The slamming thud of the seconds passing on the TV series 24 could be our anthem of angst. life in America feels like perpetually rushing to five-alarm emergencies in an ambulance pulled by stoned cats. Our high-tech society requires human synchronization on a massive scale: Huge numbers of us must show up at precisely agreed upon places. the IRS. I personally . at precisely agreed upon times. The solution to this problem isn't to do away with polychronic tendencies altogether. we're reaching extremes that test the mettle of even thoroughbred monochrones. and claiming "not guilty by reason of polychronicity" just doesn't wash with. And for people like Emma. and appointment times are suggestions. In a polychronic country. or that we focus on interesting sensations to the point of total amnesia and blithely forget birthdays and deadlines. dinner may continue throughout the night. And yet you keep hanging on. We get into every known species of trouble: Colleagues bristle when they're kept waiting. a Polynesian working on Wall Street must adapt to strict timing. family members wonder if we're lying dead in a ditch. in thrall to rigid scheduling. not to mention poets and snowboarders. not space-launch absolutes. Entire cultures can be polychronic or monochronic. But First World cultures (except maybe Mediterranean ones) are extremely monochronic. shaving away ever-slimmer time margins. We polychrones can't help that our attention wanders off in random directions. It's gone so far that one expert calls First World countries chronocracies. Each of us is capable of functioning in either a polychronic or monochronic way. By the same token. Martha Beck explains how to get unstuck. but even for me. A New Yorker in the South Seas might gradually slow down and learn to enjoy telling time by the position of the sun. this can be disastrous.You're so absorbed in the moment that you don't realize it's passed. That would leave the world a poor place indeed—we'd have to eliminate all 2-year-olds. Losing awareness of time seems bizarre to more formally structured minds. As we've used technology to cram our schedules with more things to do. I'm not quite as polychronic as Emma.

The moral: If you can't stand making the little transitions. By choreographing and practicing the skill of ending. then thinking through her morning in reverse. 8 a. "that I shall say good night till it be morrow. Decide right now to accept the sweet sorrow of parting. Accept Transition Trauma "Parting is such sweet sorrow. so we polychrones have to find some way to be ourselves without losing our jobs. rather than the bitterness of being fired." said Juliet to Romeo. locate her keys. hopeful estimates about the speed at which we can get things done. Backward planning with worst-case scenarios can solve this problem. but I've got to run. but a massive cultural shift doesn't appear to be imminent. Say Goodbye Before You Say Hello If solitary activities are hard for polychrones to end. adding up the maximum time it might take her to ride the elevator. etc. you may end up making big ones you don't like. We fail to plan for mistakes. this has been terrific. transition trauma is brief (it goes away as soon as you're engaged with the next activity)." and rehearse it. even polychrones can stay (roughly) on schedule." "I'll give you a buzz . distractions. Although disengaging feels to us polychrones like having our molars pulled. Writing down this schedule and posting it somewhere visible will annoy Emma intensely but will help her stay on track in the morning. offending our associates and yammering a constant stream of half-baked apologies.). I've found the following steps essential to a successful dismount. bask in the shower. The Art of the Dismount Emma has spent most of her life trying to force herself to be on time. I suggest that you write yourself a little "dismount script. because it addresses the wrong aspect of the problem. Before you enter social situations. Disengaging from a given activity is the key to living on schedule. Emma isn't reluctant to start Thing #2 but to stop Thing #1. Emma might plan her morning transition from home to work by beginning with the time she plans to walk into her office (say. no matter how much we want to linger. traffic jams. dumped or wage garnished. Remember that you may have to say goodbye in several different ways before the tentacles of connection actually break: "Listen. tinker with her makeup. Plan Your Dismount Backward Polychrones make vague. yes—but please recall that both star-crossed lovers bought the farm before reaching legal drinking age.m. Thinking you'll figure out how to disengage from a gathering when it's already in progress is like a gymnast planning to come up with the idea for her dismount halfway through an Olympic routine on the uneven bars. How? We must learn something I call the art of the dismount. This rarely works. For example." Romantic. Like most polychrones.think our whole society could use a more laid-back approach. negotiate traffic. and it's much better than most alternatives. social events can be absolute nightmares.

and begin moving toward closure. people will remember your performance fondly if the dismount has lots of energy. "What does that thingwant?"). I explain to everyone I deal with—coworkers. letting everyone know I need to leave (although one polychrone friend. get backup support from human beings to supplement mechanical reminders. Say. Such calls often come in when I'm happily writing or rearranging the furniture. it hurt. even other polychrones will have resigned themselves to the fact that you're leaving. children. You're so absorbed in the moment that you don't realize it's passed. they have no trouble remembering to remind me to show up. perhaps. see you then!" "Take care!" Practice standing up and walking away as you recite these farewells. believe me. putting things away. Setting up your dismount means that you stop beginning new tasks or raising another idea. Emma and the rest of us can start improving our lives simply by recognizing that we were born with looser internal clocks. And yet you keep hanging on. burst out. "So. The monochrones in my life are so organized. organizing your documents. Set Up Redundant Reminders Polychrones need redundant "Stop!" reminders the way airplanes need multiple engines. Just as judges are impressed by a double-twisting forward layout finale. friends—that I'm transitionally challenged and they should call me on my cell phone if I'm even a few minutes late. tidying the kitchen. Martha Beck explains how to get unstuck. (That's what I did here. what do you plan to do next?" or "Let's summarize our ideas for finishing this job. If you're a true polychrone. right?" "Okay. Give the Dismount Half the Energy Gymnasts who fail to "stick the dismount" get lower scores than those who muff a move earlier in their routines." At the halfway point of writing an article. hearing the beep-beep for the third time. By the time you reach the door. from a chat to a championship. which is a little like being left-handed .) I need to repeat: Wrapping up an event and getting comfortable closure requires about 50 percent of the time and energy you'll put into any given project. stop describing the problem and start herding up solutions. and. Start winding up your conversation. they deserve about half the total energy you spend on any given activity—that's right.next week. The alarm sounds every five minutes until I deactivate it. Because endings are so memorable. each of which can fly the plane solo should the others fail. I set my alarm-clock watch to go off 15 minutes before I need to stop doing something. half. This doesn't mean someone with transition anxiety should sprint off midway through lunch or a business meeting.

Then we can add our polychronic charm to the manic madness of modern society. many Post-its. a marker that shows up well on skin. and.in a world of right-handed can openers—not a huge disability but one that requires a little forethought. I have to scoot. or I'll be late for a meeting. without missing any crucial appointments. rehearse. and enlist help to master the art of the dismount. was it? . That wasn't so hard. for key appointments. Which reminds me. This acceptance allows us to begin dealing effectively with life in our local chrono-cracy. We can design.

sadness. I thought I knew why. "I don't think you're neurotic. she was flooded with anxiety." I explained that . "I think you're spongy. but therapy hadn't fixed the problem. The Oprah Magazine Martha Beck explains how to protect yourself from inadvertently taking in other people's stress. Virginia was sure those reactions came from her own neuroses. indignation and other inexplicable feelings. After talking to her for half an hour.The Sponge People Oprah. Virginia is a medical researcher who came to see me in a last-ditch attempt to deal with overwhelming negative emotions that tended to beset her at work. but when she interacted with certain colleagues. She liked her job.com | From the June 2006 issue of O." I told her.

" Virginia plays along. How unbelievable that my son. biologist Rupert Sheldrake. financial strategies. parallel to the floor. walk away from interpersonal interactions flooded with whatever emotions happen to ride in on the coattails of their associates. For example. Behaviors. even when I haven't said a word out loud. I was stunned at how noodle-like my arm became when my friends thought . Virginia's arm feels much stronger when I'm thinking positive thoughts about her. I think. So can panic. though. You resist me. She stared at me as though she'd just noticed crunchy granola spilling from my ears. I'm going to push down on your hand. Hold out your arm. When subjects were asked to guess which friend or relative was calling them. sociologists have accepted the possibility that self-slaughter can be communicable. Just as I expect. She frowns and demands many repeats. Not everyone is spongy like Virginia. their guesses were statistically random. In her orthodox science worldview. like Virginia. You're fabulous! I try to keep the pressure consistent and my face expressionless. Virginia doesn't like this. moods. that so many of us have had the experience of knowing who's calling the second the phone rings. and the urge to solve Rubik's Cubes. hope. and fads seem to infect people just like germs. Sometimes as I push. and I give several experimental pushes. my Theory of Emotional Sponginess was definitely not kosher. just as I did when I learned this homespun experiment from two social-scientist friends. When my thoughts are negative. PhD. then. But I've seen so many people struggling with the effects of this mysterious phenomenon that I now take it for granted. even at great distances. "Let's try something. Keep your arm stuck out straight. regularly talks to me about things I'm thinking. We all know this is irrational." I tell Virginia. When the callers were strangers. How embarrassing. like Virginia.some people put out a lot of emotional energy—her noxious coworkers. violence. laughter. How ridiculous that so many of my clients. for example—and others pick up a lot of it. spreading through populations in epidemic waves. You're a terrible person! Sometimes I think. Ever since Emile Durkheim's landmark work Suicide appeared in 1897. A few researchers have tried to pinpoint the mechanism of contagious psychological phenomena. Sheldrake concluded that we can sense when people we care about are thinking about us. or even a few seconds before. she's as weak as a kitten. but those who are can learn to protect themselves from inadvertently taking in other people's stress. "Humor me. studies the experience of "telephone telepathy"—knowing who's calling on the phone before you answer it. they were far more accurate than would be expected by chance. Martha Beck explains how to protect yourself from inadvertently taking in other people's stress. who has Down syndrome.

If this experiment doesn't affect you—if your arm strength doesn't vary depending on what other people are thinking—feel free to become a repossession officer or divorce lawyer. The group's thoughts should not affect the subject's strength. can do this simply by visualizing a situation in which they feel deeply calm. run for president. keep holding different positive images in your mind's eye until you find that your arm is able to retain its muscle strength no matter what ugly thoughts others are sending your way. But they almost always do. If your group is anything like the ones I've worked with. Extremely spongy people may have to try a number of visualizations before finding the right defense. the wave of emotion is the beginning of the healing process.negative things about me. one pushee). Most of my clients. Shielding yourself from a coworker's or family member's stress or high-pitch negativity requires constructing a suit of psychological armor. but it won't bother you a bit. You'll continually interact with people who dislike you. body language. Could be true. What the heck. Check for effectiveness with the arm test: Ask your friends to come back over. but a better idea is to let those emotions loose. Like a spiking fever in an ill patient. When speaking to groups. Virginia included. I wrote a checklist on the back of a business card so that Virginia could read over it in emergency situations and learn to "armor up. thumbs down for mean ones—that can't be seen by the volunteers. Perhaps one of you will insist that this shift happens because you were communicating subtle cues through facial expression. I give the crowd random hand signals—thumbs up for nice vibes. Grab some friends and try this experiment yourself. Since then I've repeated this process with dozens of clients. Martha Beck explains how to protect yourself from inadvertently taking in other people's stress." A is for Acknowledge Spongy people who start to feel uneasy in company will often dismiss or tamp down their feelings. I often choose two volunteers (one pusher. R is for Recognize . or some other physical action. you or your compadres will find your arm strength varying in response to one another's thoughts. but whatever the mechanism—telephone telepathy or imperceptible physical signs—the fact is that many people are sitting ducks for social contagion. The delightful thing about this kind of safeguard is that it allows nourishing energy to reach you but deflects the stuff that's poisonous. who test their strength as everyone else in the room thinks critical or supportive thoughts about the person being pushed. Picturing the best day you spent with your funniest friend or remembering a day at the beach with your dog might be enough protection for you.

vulnerable to the unsettling energy of others. R is for Relax If simply noticing the extra sensations rattling around your consciousness isn't enough of a remedy. take a deep breath and exhale completely while relaxing all your muscles. P is for Protect The last step in the "armor up" process is to return to the mental image (or images) that connects you to the peaceful balance of your core self. count yourself lucky. and relaxing physically. The mismatch is evidence that a feeling is contagion based. while you're driving or washing dishes. during. If you're a bit spongy. to consciously screen out the ubiquitous stresses that afflict humanity. The idea is to make the image easily accessible. Negative energy will lessen. M is for Monitor Sometimes the difference between your feelings and the other's is hard to describe—a bit like the difference between nutmeg and cinnamon—but you might be able to discern which is which if you track what happens in your psyche before. Space is for Space The gap between the words armor and up is a reminder to get real physical distance from emotionally contagious people. anxious when they're stressed out). a way of keeping your armor at the ready. If only for a minute. You've been given an incentive to armor up. and especially after you've been around specific people.What. breathing deeply. If a stressed-out person wants to inflict her anxiety on you—and she's successful at it—simply realizing that you have methods to block social contagion can help you feel far less susceptible to it. O is for Observe The most powerful tool for emotional detachment is observation. Maintain your psychological shield by spending a few minutes a day visualizing this image. Create your shining suit. You'll begin to notice patterns—that you're always angry after dinner with one friend or nervous after a day with your high-strung aunt. Take a potty break. watch the interaction and resulting emotions as if you were a third party—something like "Huh. say. find a little private turf to continue watching your mind. does the emotion feel like? You may realize that the feeling fits the person next to you better than it does you (you're angry when they've been wronged. As a highly contagious person gets closer to you. U is for Understand Few contagious people are deliberately trying to upset others. Walk into the next room. most are unaware that their anger or frustration or post-work venting can affect more yielding friends and family. Understanding that this is simply the way they're built frees you to tap into your compassion for them. exactly." Active observation can help the spongiest person detach. there's that surge of envy I always get around jealous Marcella. .

Tweets. "You betcha. We all chugged along like Thomas the Tank Engine.keep your checklist on hand. or job loss constituted catastrophic derailment. corporations. Everyone's goal was to claim. and E-Mails By Martha Beck Oprah. Because. children).com | From the March 2010 issue of O. and e-mails that could improve your life or waste your time—Martha Beck has strategies that will help you float effortlessly above it all. honey. banks) to pick up the usual cargo (education. spouses. The Information Superflood: Stay Afloat In A Sea of Texts. there is no track. Not . my life's on track!" Today that answer makes no sense. knowing that the power to keep yourself safe from social contagion is one thing you'll always find within. move further down the track. The Oprah Magazine If you find it hard to manage the flood of information out there— news alerts. A divorce. house) and passengers (friends. stay on track. and head out into battle. tweets. this question seemed eminently sensible. Is your life on track? Not so long ago. illness. Everyone was trying to get on track. job. making scheduled station stops (schools.

Kayaking. To negotiate this new normal. The way we interact and build relationships has been turned upside down. to know. but these days. they'll make me laugh. paper. We're living through the most dramatic era of change in human history. to learn. I've found that important messages tend to bob along beside me. Let that problem or opportunity float past you. I'll get to those 17 messages today. do the deed. It's not just that we're on the receiving end of a torrent of messages. This new approach allows you to go with the flow of change. There's so much to do. You just can't do everything. letting go of the chugga-chugga. Once you've learned a few paddling skills. after all. A couple more are from funny friends. and electronic—contain about 120 messages waiting to be answered. that's a huge advantage. if you like. . Right now my various mailboxes—voice. If you overlook something important. or snag something similar floating by. Maybe. Each day. Now. accessing all sorts of interesting places and things no train could ever reach. to master—and the floodwaters are rising. you can always paddle over to it later. Wave and smile. ask those two river-runner's questions about every request or assignment you encounter. iron-engine mind-set. You shouldn't try. We need kayaks. it's not easy. unpleasant things on board. The others. Today. A flood of new technologies and accompanying social transitions has altered everything. about 15 of those messages— ten from work. bonking against my kayak. Let everything else drift away. That's like trying to drink the Nile. examine every item on it while asking two questions: 1. Is this task absolutely necessary to keep my life afloat? 2. Paddling Skill #1: Don't Swallow the River I've noticed that people who are still in train-track mode try to handle every demand or request that reaches them. Do the things that are absolutely necessary or make you happy. Your kayak isn't big enough. Anything unnecessary could sink you. you'll find that your nimble craft can ride the tide of change. but don't bring inessential. we don't need locomotives. five from loved ones—are essential to keep my professional and personal life from sinking. pop upright again after you've gone under entirely (try doing that on a train). until I get to them. texts. turn quickly in any direction to avoid danger or pursue opportunity.anymore. whole careers and industries have been swept away. and e-mails. Does this task buoy me up emotionally? If the answer to either of these questions is yes. When your to-do list threatens to spill over. do nothing. later. If not. is much less stable than riding a train.

when many diverse people answer a question (say. advice. Today's information flood can be very kind. If you need to know which of the 12. If you're looking for the best place to meet people who share your love of nude pot-throwing." Celebration! How different my life would've been if Google had existed on the day Adam was diagnosed. consult the crowds. "Advice for women whose baby will be born with Down syndrome often comes from a perspective of misinformation and discouragement rather than celebration. Fortunately. So in 2006. your neighborhood. This was before Google. I should mention I have the computer skills of a hamster. the algorithm that makes Google work is also what makes it a good indicator of crowd wisdom. You'll gather not just the facts you need but the support and advice you never knew was out there. Paddling Skill #3: Make Computers Your BFFs or FOFs At this point.That's one of the joys of the crazy. and knowledge that's crucial to your life. The third article on the screen said. I googled "prenatal diagnosis Down syndrome" for the very first time. A wise. modern communication technology greatly facilitates something called the wisdom of crowds. knowledgeable crowd would've been there—right there!—to counsel and support me better than my friends possibly could. The question is how to find it without getting carried out to sea. diverse. You see. start typing. I asked a computer scientist client to teach me to build a Web site. but what about the oceans of data beyond your in-box? Somewhere out there is the specific help. was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome more than 20 years ago. your cable TV system. Same goes for when you have to figure out what's happening in your industry. Simply put. fluid world we've created. Just now. When my son. the mathematical average of all the responses is more likely to be accurate than any single response. Paddling skill #2: Find your water tribe Paddling Skill #2: Find Your Water Tribe So that addresses the incoming flood. and feared without much social support. During . no one around me knew what to say. grieved. I agonized.000 recipes for healthful but tasty chicken are actually nutritious and delicious. guessing the number of jelly beans in a jar). We're able to access this knowledge better than any other group of humans in history. Adam.

If your head exploded at the idea of stapling yourself to a chair for months on end. JavaScript. Try steering toward that. It said. Learn to use computers." The obsession vanished as inexplicably as it . In the quiet. Adults rely on the "crystallized intelligence" stored in memory." In that moment." absorbing new skills fast. I'll wait. "I hate PTA meetings. my kids mastered this technology effortlessly. I was fleeing a PTA meeting in my minivan when I drove into a puddle that turned out to be four feet deep. your minister) and exploit them ruthlessly. Children love Water World. and I hate this %@&ing minivan. I spent nightmare months achieving minimal computer competency.. losing all muscle tone except in my mouse-clicking finger. Paddling skill #4: Site your purpose Paddling Skill #4: Site Your Purpose One rainy night long ago. They're at the bottom of Davy Jones's locker. It was so worth it. finding information. Get their help sending e-mail. Which. I felt very much "in the flow.the following months. It was like learning Swahili. Seriously. A life where adults would pay me to say. your sister. See? It really is worth making friends with computers. or at the very least making friends with their friends.in Turkish. Maddeningly. watching "stupid pet tricks playing dead. Find computer lovers (your son. do that last one right now. you may never have a BFF in your computer." In fact. I dish this out because I can take it. I did. You'll find this is your basic paddling technique." It's advice I've taken myself: During the months I was obsessed with computers. Okay. I began articulating what I loved—not the train-station life of a PTA mom but a kayaking life where I kept my kids home from school to watch YouTube. which has been perfectly useful in the past—hey. encryption software. The motor went eerily silent just as the vehicle became waterborne and began floating sideways. developing acne and insomnia. God help me. I was steering my life.. At one point I became so deeply geeky that I completely broke my eyeglasses. setting up a blog. "Your true purpose is whatever makes you feel most joyful. By articulating what I hated. why reinvent the wheel every day? Ha ha! Except now the wheels have come off. small voice within me. and the only way to use them was to packing-tape the lenses to my face. my brain felt like a raisin on fire as I tried to fathom HTML. make computers your FOFs—friends of friends. Here's the hard truth: Suck it up and deal. I heard a still. and so on. Their brains are almost 100 percent "fluid intelligence. Now you just have to learn how to steer your kayak.

This column can't begin to describe the infinite opportunities you'll find as you navigate today's vast seas of possibility. who's recovering from knee surgery." Your purpose statement can be grand or silly. too. A ridiculous luxury? I thought so. or do something no one's even named yet. so I can pay BFFs to run my Web site (I'm now the site's FOF). Maybe you'll meet your soul mate online. until I learned that a massaged dog heals faster. start a virtual business. my purpose statement today (I revise it often) is "To remain in continuous conscious awareness of the one Life in which all singular lives exist. I'm sure your minister will be glad to help you find them. Right now. as long as it rings true. write a statement of purpose for your life. but it left me tech savvy enough to do research that informs my work— and manage a team that trains life coaches all over the world. Gina saves money I'd otherwise spend on more vet appointments. on a cell phone that can play a thousand songs and show me satellite photos of almost anyplace on Earth. there are Web sites created specifically to guide you through the process. My own little kayak of a life can take me anywhere I need to go. earn a degree at a distance. If this feels impossible. I'm content to ride the tide. smell the aromatic ointments that have put Bjorn into a bliss-coma. you'll have a joyful voyage." Yesterday it was "To survive until bedtime. I'm paddling by downloading instructions to help me call my daughter in Japan. If you need an example. I'm not trying to read the future. These days. thought she'd never get to travel—until she did a deep dive online and discovered something called "location independent lifestyle. a teacher. Where will this white-water change take us next? My imagination doesn't stretch that far. But I must say: Mama like. I'm thrilled she paddled her kayak toward what gives her joy (though not as thrilled as Bjorn). I'm just paddling along my own trajectory as a coach. I can hear the strains of Enya from Gina's portable CD player.arrived. If you learn basic paddling skills and steer by your inner purpose instead of predetermined social tracks. Paula. . It is to your kayak life what tracks were to trains: It determines your direction. as best you can." She's found jobs all over the world doing teacher-training workshops. Bjorn. I know this because (a) it says so on her Web site and (b) she's currently in my living room with our golden retriever. I've just come across another interesting story: Gina is—I kid you not—a massage therapist for dogs. I'm certainly not the only middle-aged mom to use current innovations for career development. Who knew the current would carry me there? I didn't.

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His victory was remarkable because beagles are so. or licking a reporter—Uno the beagle embodies pure charisma. I became a die-hard fan. fluff. You could pass someone like him on the street without even noticing. I've never really followed popular culture.basic. But the instant I saw a photo of one particular newly minted celebrity. or style—but when Uno took Best in Show. Nor does he possess any special talents. and she's got a four-step plan to prove it. Uno was the first of his breed to win the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. It's not that his looks are especially unusual. greeting a cheering crowd. Martha Beck. They're the white cotton T-shirts of dogdom—they've got nothing to brush. And yet. The Oprah Magazine O's resident life coach. my finger is on the pulse of things like 19th-century literature (which no longer has one). Whatever he's doing—striding past paparazzi. believes anyone (wallflowers included) can cultivate that intangible It factor. the crowd leaped up in a wild ovation.How to Get the World to See the Real You: Martha Beck's 4-Step Plan Oprah. he's got that It factor... .com | From the October 2010 issue of O.

physical movement influences moods. right now. This was probably a necessary move way back when. by age 5 Melanie had learned to shrink and disappear when her mother went into drunken tantrums at home or. Being placed in show posture. Strike Some Poses We often use the word pose to imply fakery. Ellyn slumped to avoid seeming proud.Newscasters announced his victory with goofy smiles." Step 1. The question isn't to pose or not to pose. Lisette spent three decades with her arms clamped against her ribs. They were all posing. InMarianne Williamson's immortal words. If you read them and think. scratch that. you see. head high—may be long forgotten. For example. many children mask their real selves." When her mother drank. Below you'll find four steps to help you reveal your own charisma. chest out. Ellyn was bullied by schoolmates who envied the way she drew her teachers' focus. But within a few months. affection. and attention can be a problem. Melanie literally curled inward. I believe every human being is innately charismatic. I've always learned from beagles: Charles Schulz's cartoon character Snoopy sweetened my childhood. Try it . far from constraining Uno. Everyone loved Uno's extraordinary brand of ordinariness. You may realize you spend a lot of the day in a charisma-crushing position. Babies squint out from their unfathomably open minds with a fierce. or a few years. But I've discovered new lessons by studying Uno's personal magnetism. sending his charisma into overdrive. "Oh. Actually. but to live fully now. then mistaken those veils for your real personality. This is why soldiers stand at attention (basically Uno's "show pose"). any more than you need to learn laughter. "Your playing small doesn't serve the world. spine rounding. the word means "the position of our bodies. and my dear departed Cookie taught me worlds about my core values of peace. shoulders hunching. This is why a number of us reach adolescence behaving more like whipped puppies than Westminster champions. shoulders back. I could never!". you must drop your disguise. draws attention. eyes down. The posture you had as a toddler—spine straight. but how to know which body language reflects your true self. and I've come to believe that there's no better way to amp up your charisma than to follow his example. For humans. You don't really need to learn charisma. so she taught herself not to. as for dogs. but more simply. Charisma. in public. Watch Uno the wonder beagle on YouTube as his handler positions him like a toy. but repositioning yourself as nature intended is essential to unveiling your innate charisma. ravenous wonder that makes it impossible not to stare back. So are you. and gluttony. worse. you've likely veiled your natural magnetism. seems to fill him with confidence. Perfectionistic Lisette deflected attention because she feared that anyone who noticed her would notice her shortcomings.

don't revert to slumping). because any pose that elicits confidence. smile over your shoulder to feel seductive. This conviction commands attention and respect. dropping the fear of offending or outshining others. exaggerate this pose until you do. Those are the times when you have forgotten who you are. set sail for the unknown. performance anxiety be damned. Cultivating charisma is one of the few areas where I recommend adopting a "fake it till you make it" strategy. Don't let this affect your new behavior (in other words. imitate Michelangelo's David and find the courage to fight Goliath. sit.keep going Step 2. walk out onto a stage.. this meant arranging an intervention for her mother. even if it feels phony. find a littoral zone in your life and step beyond it as if you had no doubt. or not. True charismatics. you must become confident enough to drop your pose of unimportance for good. As your physical bearing becomes more aligned with your real self. and walk like the most charismatic person you know. let me take this moment to clarify what I mean: Narcissists can appear charismatic for a while. Experiment with other postures. And when you get to the brink. walking tall and radiating authority.yourself: Stand up straight. by contrast. including the judges. broaden and drop your shoulders. Lisette joined Toastmasters.. No one was born beaten. drop your . when you can give yourself to a lover. a dip in the sea of adventure washes away more of the layers encrusting your charisma. at least until they turn out to be hopelessly wrong. give in to self-doubt. Notice the moments when you feel foolish or embarrassed about projecting charisma. he never seemed to worry that he might not be a champion (even though no beagle had ever won much of anything). They release doubt simply because doubt isn't useful when they're on the brink. Now. A defining characteristic of charismatic people is that they choose to walk through littoral moments as if they had no doubt. because they never doubt they're right. or not. For these women. His certainty eventually converted everyone.Keep Going Diane Ackerman writes that "there are moments on the brink. stand. or not. To follow this example. acknowledge and learn from their mistakes. Find your littoral moment. and. Here's a challenge: For the rest of today. once Uno was onstage. faking confidence (which eventually became real) as she spoke the truth and asked her mother to enter rehab.. uncertainty. where she learned to stand and deliver. For instance.there is only what might have been. or not. Hook your thumbs through your belt loops and become a cowboy.." Ackerman calls these moments "littoral.. Ellyn's first charismatic adventure was attending her high school reunion.." like the borders where dry land meets the ocean. noting how each affects your sense of self. bring your clavicles up and your chin down.. Persist for a few more days and you'll discover that charismatic body language is a self-reinforcing cycle. and admonishment. For Melanie. Ultimately.. When You Get to the Brink. and each of us. dive into a different culture. Resist then. other people will begin noticing you more. If you don't feel a little like General Patton. or not. is actually a return to authenticity..

Instead of just rehearsing and delivering an impassioned speech. aggressive boundary setting born of low confidence." Yes. upbeat "No. Both Ellyn (at her high school reunion) and Lisette (in exercises with her Toastmaster cronies) learned that groups also have personalities. with friendly curiosity. inimitable . You can't strip the veils that cover your real nature without illuminating the world in a new. golly shucks. and walk into the waves. Melanie held this effective. Uno unapologetically crunched it with his teeth before moving on to more courteous admirers. When he howls to the judges. Why? People pay attention to people who are paying attention to them. When they cheer. Her polite disinterest was a powerful version of the cheerful chomp. and your charismatic energy will touch every individual. except Uno. "Yo! How you doin'?. a cheerful chomp. Charisma is the light that shines from the core of all ordinary beings. or give in to. respectful attention. neutral energy at her mother's intervention. Step 4: Take Space and Make Space Just because charismatic people focus intensely on others doesn't mean they forget themselves. His eyes are on the crowd. Like any true charismatic. "Oh. and beagles are just ordinary dogs. Step 3. Quite the contrary. That's what Melanie did during her mother's intervention. "I'm not charismatic. If you play around with the steps above—and I certainly hope you do—you'll find that some bold poses feel more right than others. stating her position while refusing to either rail at. that is. When an aggressive reporter pushed a microphone into Uno's face. that particular people and groups genuinely respond to your attention. Ellyn found that when she let herself shine.doubts on the shore. her mother's drunken pleas. The purpose of exploring these general elements of charisma is to find your unique style. she paid close. I'm just an ordinary person. The very essence of charisma is projecting unbounded awareness of others while setting rock-solid boundaries. that life calls you to dive past specific littoral lines. Uno is making the single most charismatic move possible: He's shining his attention upon the beings around him. Focus Outward The Westminster Dog Show is a multibreed festival of self-consciousness. thanks" got the job done. Lisette discovered that she could take the spotlight when she wanted it—and back away from it when she needed space. he had mastered the art of the clean response—in his case. He showed none of the angry. On videos of the event you can see everyone. he cheers back. human and animal. "Are they watching me? Can they see my hindquarters? How's my haircut?" Everyone. she had to rebuff sycophants and unwanted suitors but that a firm." you may be thinking at this point. thinking." the normally staid officials grin like kids. which her mother (for once) returned. and that you have your own way of administering cheerful chomps. Focus on any person or crowd the way Uno focused on the spectators at Westminster.

the GPS abandoned all pretense of helpfulness and began directing me southward in any and all circumstances. with concrete barriers to my left.com | From the November 2010 issue of O. listening to my clients talk about their careers reminds me how bewildered I was by my demon guidance machine. "Turn left now. The Oprah Magazine If you're trying to figure out what to do with your one and only life. The 4-Step Plan to Get Your Life on Track Oprah. the Uno—that everyone wants to see. Presumably it was heading for Mexico to escape fraud charges. You'll become the singular you—the one. "You have reached your destination.way. Martha Beck offers a powerful technique for discovering your next move. the only." the GPS would command as I drove along a freeway. These days. At first I trusted my car's global positioning system—why not?—but soon its smooth voice began sounding like the homicidal computer HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey." it would assure me after leading me to a warehouse full of prostitutes and crack dealers. People wander aimlessly because the well-worn paths of yesteryear—and by that I mean 2009—are . you need to stop thinking rationally—and go a little wild. Once my kids programmed it to speak French.

as Jonathan Haidt writes in The Happiness Hypothesis. endlessly debating logical pros and cons. and I'm afraid I'm being left behind. but I don't really understand them. like my rogue GPS. I didn't think of it as a career path. while strange new career options pop up before our frazzled brains can map them. don't bother with classic career guides. contradictory. like my GPS.. and I loved helping them . this!" that takes a migrating goose a thousand miles to its perfect nesting ground. they long for a voice of authority. Quite the opposite. overstimulated 21st-century lives." "I'd be happy to follow my passion. we haven't realized that there might be another—decidedly low-tech—way to get onto the right path. researching their options and seeking the advice of people with hot new ideas for them ("Use this careerfinder app!" "What you need is a website!" "Blog. unable to choose any path. To find—or rather. stumped at dead ends. Their brains send out random. finding themselves facing a dead end. or a whale to its calving waters an ocean away. Like most of us who have no clue about how to get to where we want. any animal with a brain has the automatic capacity to form preferences." "I keep reading about all these new opportunities. you have to let your animal self lead you through a wilderness of choices. as we've become accustomed to our overmanaged." "I worry that if I commit to one career. They tell me things like:     "There's so much going on. The fact is. presumably free from the distractions of emotions. That would be a big mistake. blog. design—your perfect career. I suspect you've been advised to think rationally about your career decisions. such patients are tragically indecisive. and it sounds exciting to me. It's an irrational sense of "Yes. began offering to pay me for advice." Although humans are the only beings on Earth with advanced linguistic skills. Tracking Your Inner Animal I was trudging down the traditional career path of academia when my students. The way to do that is to make your rational mind not the master but the tracker of your own irrational instincts.if only I knew what it was." and if I had. a career GPS. I'd have gagged like a sommelier drinking Kool-Aid." If any of these sound like you. people end up in my office more muddled than ever. Though they retain full use of their rational faculties. and confusing directions. to be brilliant decision makers. but I feel paralyzed about which new thing to follow up on.. I'd never heard the phrase "life coach. the more my clients tend to become confused and overwhelmed. or just profoundly lost. that will spell out the exact route to a thrilling and fulfilling position. It turns out that. But I loved my students. I'll lose out on something better. weirdly. they'll have you meandering in circles. You might expect people with damage to the emotional parts of the brain. The more new technologies and job descriptions have entered everyday life. "it is only because our emotional brains work so well that our reasoning can work at all. Although they keep beavering away at a solution.disappearing. blog!").

assisting her husband as he built his business. If you were tracking bison in the wild. evidence that your animal self was here. Discover your hot tracks. For example. and working at a large marketing firm. . Make an educated guess. you can follow your wild self as it instinctively migrates toward your perfect career: Step 1. Step 2. If you find no tracks—if the trail runs cold—return to the last hot track. going to parties. Proceed to that spot. scan your environment for conditions that seem likely to foster that happy state of absorption. happily absorbed in an activity. by contrast. no matter how odd. and repeat. follow a route from one marshy area to another. To predict the next likely step for your inner animal. playing doubles tennis. dammit! This process continues even now. Geese. with my animal self migrating through unknown territory as my logical mind struggles to make sense of where in God's name I'm going. Look for more tracks. Grab a pen and make a list of every time you remember being utterly. It's helped me calm my nerves and follow my animal into a thousand joyful and productive career events I never dreamed possible. volunteering for political candidates. How grateful I am to be familiar with what one expert describes to me as deductive/predictive animal tracking. My emotional self trotted cheerfully forward. Dora was happiest while shopping. enjoying the scenery. about where the animal would probably have gone next. verbal GPS argued. my client Adeline loved helping her mother bake. This focused attention is the hot track you're looking for. Try an activity within that sphere to see if it's a hot track. Predict the next track. puzzled. and worried: Animal brain: Me like this! Rational brain: But what are you doing? Animal brain: Me like this! Rational brain: Is it secure? Is it respectable? Animal brain: Me like this! Rational brain: Get a job. while my rational. but are just outside your regular routine. Lily loved singing in her church choir. based on the animal's previous behavior. and gardening. Write your own list of hot tracks from the past. Deductive/predictive tracking goes like this: Locate a clear footprint left by an animal you're trailing—a so-called hot track. Using these steps. and raising money for AIDS research. make another educated guess. throwing ceramic pots. you might notice they migrate along predictable grassy routes.build happy lives.

was her bliss. Dora's shopping passion convinced her she should work as a retail buyer. You have to commit to following your animal—even if it seems to have the directional ability of my poltergeisted GPS. Others gallop along any path. Once Adeline realized her strongpartner theme. but technology was not the track. teamwork. not politics.Warning: Many people assume that a hot track is leading them toward a job directly related to that track. or any heartfelt desire (apart from the wish to bang one's head against a wall). Dora discovered that computer graphics let her assemble gorgeous color combinations with a few clicks. As you track your career." For example. Lily agreed to organize a conference for an ex-coworker's business and enjoyed it so much. Lily's hot tracks led to large. Many of my clients continue endlessly on cold trails. Adeline found culinary school boring. she began freelancing as an event planner. Lily hated computers but loved using social networking to connect with people. She loved working with strong. Some cling to established career paths. is what technology is meant to do. Adeline went looking for a business partner and just happened to find one with a "virtual" shop. Step 4. they start heading to the nearest "logical career. Dora's hot tracks always related to arranging colorful objects. New technologies simply facilitated their passions. . despite the obvious lack of clear hot tracks such as enjoyment. active groups. She's now a website designer. Note that all these careers use new technologies. imagining that the next promotion will bring happiness. and Lily became exhausted and disillusioned running for city council. Perfectly reasonable predictions—but all these trails froze. return to your last hot track and test a new prediction. she teamed up with a friend running online boutiques for custom-designed clothing. Dora was surfing websites when she noticed that the colors of the sites themselves attracted her. All began with "What do I enjoy?" and proceeded to beat the bushes for their best-loved activities. decisive partners. Still other clients give up hope and plod along in so-so jobs. without pausing to check whether it's one their animal prefers. as I used to tell my GPS. Return to the last hot track and repeat step 2. or anxiety mean the trail's gone cold. which. I can't say it enough: If your trail runs cold. anger. remember that your inner animal is following primal instincts. Lily decided to run for office. Unwittingly. Dora loathed working with retailers. Trust me. not established paths that will necessarily impress your parents. The lesson: Even if you're pursuing a course that's perfectly rational—a job that makes total sense on paper—emotions like boredom. Step 3. fascination. Follow your tracks wherever they lead. your animal will eventually bring you to the job you were meant to do. she noticed her animal had left a trail of relationships. Adeline's love of baking initially led her to train as a pastry chef. hopelessness. When Adeline went back to her hot tracks and focused on the elements that connected them.

Of course. calls to you like the wild geese. Their expectations—and yours—are an outdated guidance system that will only send you sideways and. and your inner tracking system will take you to exactly the terrain that's right for you.. But as the poet Mary Oliver puts it. rational-minded. and friends. harsh and exciting—over and over announcing your place in the family of things.the world offers itself to your imagination. We live in an increasingly civilized. "meanwhile. following your instinct through the wilderness of career options. in my experience. if this makes you nervous.. you can always go grovel for a low-paying version of that civilized job you loathed. tech-obsessed world. It's time to break out: Let your wild self explore wild career ideas. due south. Me like that! ." Answer that call.spouse.

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researcher. Get away from the grind: Studies show that leisure time can mitigate jobrelated stress. a "staycation" can provide a much-needed respite. is one of the happiest places on Earth. The first rule: Never leave vacation days on the table. as opposed to one big one. that Denmark. Contrast that with the United States. where the average American worker receives only about 16 paid vacation days each year—and more than a third of us don't even take them all. according to a 2010 study . where employers are required to give five to six weeks of paid time off each year. reduce the risk ofdepression. Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way. That's because the happiness bump we get from a vacation may come from the planning and anticipation. But he knows that loving what you do isn't enough if your work environment doesn't love you back. and explorer—loves his work. you can increase the pleasure you get from vacation days by dividing them among several shorter trips. and improve self-esteem.Make Any Job Better! By Dan Buettner Oprah.com | From the November 2010 issue of O. athlete. For the past two years. Buettner has teamed with psychologists and scientists to seek out the world's happiest people for his new book. The Oprah Magazine Dan Buettner—best-selling author. We asked him to apply the lessons he's learned to the search for workaday bliss—whether you've already found yourdream job or you're still dreaming: 1. then. No wonder. not the trip itself. Second: No matter how much time off your company provides. Even if you don't have the money to splurge on an exotic trip.

with longer hours and more stress—leaving you less time and energy to put toward the things that do buy happiness. Think twice before applying for a promotion: It sounds counterintuitive. Putnam. a study from the Scandinavian Journal of Economics found that workers who commute 22 minutes each way would need to earn an additional 35 percent of their monthly wage to be as satisfied with their life as those who don't commute. and faith-based groups. Shorten your commute: Commuting is people's least favorite daily activity (even housecleaning ranked higher). a massive nationwide daily survey of Americans. Become a mentor: There's strong data showing that volunteering your time can bump up your happiness. Higher-paying jobs tend to be more demanding. 6.000 a year. Becoming part of a group at work—whether it's a small contingent of working moms in your company. Consider Monterrey. it pays to stick around to socialize with your coworkers. according to the Gallup-Healthways Happiness Stress Index. One good way to start is to become a mentor at work. At work. extended family. Don't miss happy hour: As tempting as it is to skip out at 5 o'clock on the dot. according to research from Princeton University. we tend to be happier when we're interacting with other people.000-ayear threshold. chatting around the watercooler. author of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. 2. The best deal of all: Walk or bike to work. increases in personal income fail to provide much of a boost once household income rises above the $50. yet residents rank high on the happiness scale. 4. in part because they spend several hours a week interacting with neighbors. according to a Princeton study. Join the club: According to research by Robert D. that can mean going out for lunch or a cocktail. 5. where the average family makes only about $16. joining a group that meets even once a month can produce the same happiness gain as more than doubling your income. . Why? The happiest people spend about seven hours a day socializing with family and friends. Humans evolved to be social creatures: Cooperation enabled us to outcompete other species for resources. plus you'll get your blood pumping and be more alert when you start your day. Helping someone else achieve their goals emphasizes your strengths and takes your focus off your own problems. and as a result. In fact. Mexico. 3. or a larger industry-wide organization—will not only enhance your interests and talents but also give you the opportunity to build happiness-boosting social connections with your peers. or even trading e-mails about a movie you saw last weekend. The negative stats about commuting apply largely to car-based commutes. but when it comes to long-term happiness.from the Netherlands.

She swears by the One Page Business Plan model designed by Jim Horan.Your Great Idea. Whose Time Has Come By Polly Brewster Oprah.com | From the September 2007 issue of O..but now what? Follow the six-part guide below to go from concept to reality.. Get the one-page business plans for.. author of Secrets of Millionaire Moms. And when you're ready. download easy-to-use sample business plans right here! Note: We have updated our business plan thanks to Tamara Monosoff. A small consulting business . The Oprah Magazine You have a brainstorm..

founder of Make Mine a Million $ Business. "It's okay to hate your idea. says Victoria Colligan. "make a necklace. put it back in the microwave. If your first try doesn't pan out. (VolunteerMatch.com. where you'll find profiles of women entrepreneurs. who's sold thousands of her . or art buyer. do an Internet search in your zip code. author of Secrets of Millionaire Moms." says Nell Merlino. If there's competition. are meant to be an alpaca farmer or coffeehouse owner (starting at $549). a founder of Ladies Who Launch. co-author of Steps to Small Business Start-Up. The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that 55 percent of women business owners are in a service profession. It costs very little to do that.org. If a story strikes a chord. "because you don't need a lot of start-up cash and your customers pay right away. send the owner an e-mail. leave your dog at one of the places and see what it's not offering.and 20-ounce jars of plastic pellets that you can heat in the microwave and form into the shape of a gadget. like interior decorator. "I've found that people are happy to tell you how they did whatever they did.m." Apprentice yourself: For dreams that can't be tried out on a small scale. These industries are appealing. Volunteering is another option—and free. like a doggy daycare. _ STEP 2: Identify the Next Steps Do your homework: "With the Web. If you think you want to be an event planner. "It means you've ruled something out." One choker may be fun. "If you're starting a service." says Beth Schoenfeldt." Test-drive your idea: If you want to open a jewelry store." Develop a prototype: ShapeLock.org lists opportunities by zip code. look for a machinist in the Yellow Pages. too. you might investigate aVocationVacation." says Mary Cantando.) Find a mentor: Log on to networking sites like LadiesWhoLaunch. For more complicated designs. says Tamara Monosoff. for instance.A boutique clothing company A nonprofit organization STEP 1: Find Your Inspiration Create your own service department: You don't need a billion-dollar idea— like sneakers with wheels—to start a company. would require a Zoloft prescription. author of The Woman's Advantage. but tying 500 knots by hand at 3 a. no one has an excuse for not doing research. which matches you with someone who's happy to help you determine if you. personal chef.com orMakeMineaMillion. co-founder of Ladies Who Launch. help organize your local March of Dimes Walk. says Linda Pinson.com sells 10. MomInventors.

"A business plan forced me to figure out exactly what I would have to charge to make money.) _ _ STEP 3: Create an A-1 Business Plan Writing a business plan will force you to consider the what-ifs (what if you get sick." (To find one. compare what actually happened to what you projected. executive director of the National Association of Women Business Owners. then an incubator is not a place for you." Get professional help: Two groups operating under the umbrella of the Small Business Administration can provide guidance. where you enter the materials you need for your product and it provides a list of factories that work with those components. co-owner of Cocoa Bar in Brooklyn. They try to match their members' specialties with the needs of a new entrepreneur—like pairing an artist who wanted to open her own gallery with a finance executive. the stirrer.com or CitySearch. if you don't like to take advice. If you can't get to a SCORE chapter. have a friend post a review of your business on Yelp. for $15. SCORE (SCORE. Review the plan: "A few months down the road. Then turn to organizations you're already involved with. need a trademark. one of their members will work with you via e-mail. usually at very low fees (or free)." says Liat Cohen. encouraging them to forward it. "so.org) is a network of working and retired executives who freely share their expertise. Advertise without breaking the bank: You can put up flyers at the grocery store." says Adele Foster of the . the Central Alabama Women's Business Center offers a course. from fax machines to industrial mixers. the lid.com. which holds toilet paper in place so toddlers can't pull the roll off the rack.com. "Most entrepreneurs tell us.org. "A woman in our program wanted to do event planning for dogs. at a low cost. Neighborhood Watch.gov/content/womens-business-centers) provides training and counseling. need worker's comp insurance) and the tiny costs that you might overlook: "Like the cost of a cup of coffee—the cup.invention. so start by sending a short e-mail about your new business to friends and family. For example. etc. They usually require tenants to attend mentoring sessions. TP Saver. go to NBIA. says Dinah Adkins. Writing Your Business Plan: Your Business Roadmap. or place a free online classified. the sugar. your over-30 soccer league.'" says Erin Fuller. Use this time to modify your forecasts and tweak your strategy. _ STEP 4: Market Like a Genius Tap into your networks: You want to get the word out. Find a workspace: Incubators let you rent space and equipment. The Women's Business Center program (SBA." says Pinson. president of the National Business Incubation Association. 'That first client came in because I knew so-and-so. including the PTA. the java jacket. She also suggests logging on to ThomasNet. the napkin.

" Hand out free samples: "Instead of spending money on fancy advertising. of Ladies Who Launch. You can rent a booth at a local greenmarket. "She needed to buy a freeze-drying machine so she could ship her product. should bring samples to a local gourmet store. and that was her first client.and middleincome areas. your company may appear in sponsored links." says Ann Marshall." Buy Google Adwords: You choose words—say. Someone immediately responded. For instance. owner of Mi Kitchen Es Su Kitchen.com.org. attend an industry trade show." If you aren't sure how big a loan is necessary. a small cookie company in Flat Rock. Immaculate Baking. which develops entrepreneurs from low. which is more open to entrepreneurs. staged a free art workshop for local kids and served their baked goods.Plan Fund in Dallas. The ads we researched ranged from 30 cents to $1 per click (though the cost per click can be as little as one cent). if you make one-of-a-kind lingerie that's popular among honeymoon-bound brides." says Stephen Hall. Google will also help you set up a webpage free of charge and can help local businesses zero in on clients by having ads appear strictly to people searching in a certain area." she says. and a cash flow (no matter how small). Accion USA gives $500 credit-builder loans to people with no . Anyone trying to launch a food product.000: Contact a microfinance institution. But once you have your product (or service). North Carolina. As your company grows. "We just lent to a woman who makes organic pet food. a food industry incubator in New York City. _ _ _ STEP 5: Secure Funding It's almost impossible to get a loan based solely on an idea." says Schoenfeldt." says Merlino. you can contact an SBA Women's Business Center or SCORE counselor. "She posted an ad on Craigslist. "Flatter the buyer by asking for their opinion. says Kathrine Gregory. Immaculate Baking's director of marketing. put the product in your trunk and get it out there. "But call in advance to busy stores—they usually have specific times set aside to review new products. Then seek funding at the following places: For amounts under $500: "Put it on a credit card or borrow from friends and family. you might place ads on websites that are already attracting your customer base. you might contact the advertising sales department of TheKnot. author of From Kitchen to Market. flowers and Cincinnati—and every time someone enters those search terms. a business plan. For $500 to $45. "The workshop got our name out there. or host a special event in your community. You'll need to be clear about exactly how much money you need and what specifically you'll use the loan for. you can start to look for funds to expand your business.

and if there really is enough work (and revenue) coming in to support a full-time employee. The following are national organizations. _ STEP 6: Staff Up Like a Pro Know what you need: Is it someone with a highly developed skill.000 strictly to women business owners. of Make Mine a Million $ Business.500 in your business.000. go to MicroEnterpriseWorks. Start with temps: "I always suggest hiring on a part-time or project basis. "I can teach someone how to make a great latte. like website design? Or are you looking to train your employees from scratch? "I don't care about experience. and Make Mine a Million $ Business lends up to $45." says Cohen. post a HELP WANTED sign at the local dog run. You can apply for loans from these organizations online:  Accion USA (AccionUSA. META in Boise. then you must have invested about $2. Idaho (a local group). From there you can search by state to find a microfinance institution near you. _ Related Resources Microfinance Institutions: For local or state microfinance institutions.000 to firsttime business owners. lends up to $2. For amounts up to $1. If you need $10. Under Members Only—scroll down to Member Directory.credit history." Identify atypical hiring pools: If you're opening a doggy daycare.org) . You can see if their skills match what you need.000: You can apply for an SBA-backed loan— where the SBA acts as a guarantor for small-business owners—available through a commercial lender.000.org. the SBA expects entrepreneurs to have enough equity to cover 25 percent of a start-up loan." says Merlino. I can't teach someone to be proactive or friendly. co-owner of the Cocoa Bar. Want a professional voice for your answering machine's outgoing message? Contact a local acting school or high school drama teacher to see if they can recommend a student who might want to earn extra money.

com. go to Business-Plan. .org) For more information on business plans.  Make Mine a Million (MakeMineaMillion.

an expert in what works at work.Your Brilliant (Next) Career…and How to Find It By Susan Choi Oprah. In . The tech support people. Kylie's colleagues wouldn't get off her back—they were literally hanging over her shoulders. five states away in Virginia. believes that the power to transform your life is much closer than anyone realizes. wouldn't pick up the phone. demanding to receive what she had no way to give them until the system started up again. O reports on a surprising (and profound) lesson in getting unstuck and on track. the computer system Kylie (not her real name) depends on to get her job done collapsed in a total meltdown.com | From the September 2007 issue of O. precisely? The answer: Marcus Buckingham. The Oprah Magazine The puzzle: a successful woman who felt that something in her life was missing—but what. One day at work.

when asked what she likes. Absorbed. she felt as if she'd been beaten up. I don't knooow." he confided to me. Even the person who. the job Kylie had worked at for more than a decade had become not just unsatisfying but intolerable. Kylie realized. so time flies.' What interests you? 'Ooooh. he's devoted his life to helping other people decide what to devote their lives to. For Kylie. even glamorous. those other moments—perhaps less numerous. He recently completed a 26-city tour. this six-hour imprisonment in her chair was the worst thing of all. But what? Kylie was well into an online master's degree in psychology because she'd always loved helping others through transitions in their lives. At some point in the past two or three years. . then to New York City again. She'd been married and divorced. like Kylie. wails "I don't knooow!" does know. Something had to change. A former Gallup Organization researcher. "I looked ahead at the next 20 years and thought. Kylie's life looked pretty great. At home that night. Marcus Buckingham could not have disagreed more. Excited. miserable hours. "I guess that might sound kind of flaky. so focused. She owned her own apartment in Manhattan. "that I was going to be working with one of those people who. Marcus is a management consultant and the bestselling author of Go Put Your Strengths to Work (a handbook for improving performance to achieve maximum success in the workplace). not long after O magazine brought him and Kylie together to try to figure out what she should do. but far more significant—when she feels good. Yet the course wasn't helping her transition at all. I don't knooow. amid all the dispiriting moments when she feels overwhelmed or unsatisfied or bored. in her gut. but he was also making a point. It was "geared toward research and academia. most important. "I was so afraid. the most crucial materials he uses—the clues for solving the mystery of anyone's unhappiness—are never furnished by Marcus but by the people themselves. One of his fundamental beliefs is that all of us. She wasn't one of those women who are afraid of change: She'd had success singing jazz and the blues before switching to news. "She's so specific. For all his success helping people refocus their lives. even at our most confused and unhappy. she was glued to her chair for six unbroken. 'If it's more of this. She'd moved from her native Midwest to California." she says. On the surface. then to California again. working in design. She's just not noticing. Kylie did know what she wanted and needed." Marcus added.'" More alarming was that lots of days felt like this." she worried. say 'Ooooh. and that wasn't her style. who grew up in Midwestern farm country. have very good instincts about what we should be doing.' What do you wish you were doing? 'Ooooh. where he spoke with hundreds of executives and human resource professionals about what he's learned from years of researching people who've excelled at their careers. There hadn't been a single last straw. when you ask them what they like.the end. who loves to hike and ride horses and work with her hands. then to New York City. I'll slit my wrists. I don't knooow!'" Marcus was making me laugh. it's great. there were haystacks of them. She had a job at a newspaper. an activity she'd loved ever since she was a teenager making her own jewelry.

six were things that other people did to her. Most people. make the mistake of speaking of their passions in overly general. She was to be as detailed as possible.when given the opportunity. are those situations in which we are intensely. Marcus maintains. He calls this kind of vague talk "skywriting"—it's way up there. Her instincts had led her to the ballpark. I feel strong when my explanation makes my students' faces light up with understanding. She could only come up with eight "loves. satisfied? When was she miserable? Kylie's list was disheartening. she was to write a list of things she loved and things she loathed about her job.when my contributions were acknowledged. In other words. I feel strong when I close the deal and shake the buyer's hand. had always thought of herself as the opposite of a . the former singer. Marcus says.. When Marcus works with people like Kylie. Marcus says." and "I felt strong when I developed a good working relationship with a colleague that turned into a friendship. What was keeping her there was that she'd forgotten.. And because he believes our instincts are good—because they've gotten us into the ballpark—the place to look for clues to our strengths isn't way up in the sky but right where we're sitting. Kylie had written." But Marcus noticed right away that six of Kylie's "loves" were in the passive voice." "Well.when I was given the go-ahead.. I feel strong when I've hit "print" and I see my own words in black ink on the page. even during the worst sort of week. She was wandering around in the stands. Our strengths. or stuck in line for the restroom... miles off course from where she was supposed to be.when I was included in the planning stages. right in that office chair Kylie hated so much. but that doesn't mean I like doing it. or maybe she'd failed to discern from the start. Marcus prefers a more concrete. We're also nourished by them as by nothing else. to pay exquisitely close attention to her own frame of mind in the course of a typical week: When did she feel energized.. grandiose terms. far from the specific conditions of our lives. muscular way of discussing our passions: in terms of strengths. what she was passionate about. but she wasn't hitting homers. We're not just good at our strengths—I'm good at paying bills. and it tends to melt away.. Marcus asked Kylie to start generating raw material—to pile up clues to her strengths." and she had more than twice as many "loathes. completely engaged..when allowed to assume..Everyone.. "I felt strong when people sought my advice. who isn't?" Marcus would say. Her hatred of that chair was real.. Our strengths are the actions that make us feel energized and optimistic. has such experiences." Only two were things Kylie did: "I felt strong when interacting with my colleagues one-on-one rather than through e-mail. For one week. but something important—some glimmering of passion—had led her to be sitting there in the first place. "I'm passionate about making the world a better place. the first thing he wants them to do is the most basic: He wants them to define their strengths. eager for the chance to do them again. happily. as narrowly and concretely as they possibly can. Kylie felt completely out of her element.. if unsurprising. but Marcus believed that she was actually in the vicinity of real happiness." Kylie.

and there was no one better to bestow it than herself. she and Marcus concluded. when she took an idea of her own and made it tangible— whether laying out a page or crafting a necklace. It was up to her to give them the chance to use her even more effectively by telling them what her strengths were. Her managers had given her outstanding performance reviews. The sheer size of the newspaper meant that many of the people she most needed to talk to communicated everything via e-mail—a medium she found draining. Our real moral duty is to offer our greatest strength to the team—to give it the opportunity to use us where we're at our strongest. She had given away all her power. and take a walk. she responded to with a flood of recognition. but it misunderstands our moral duty. It's a moral myth. she was going to stop letting herself be at the mercy of her co-workers when it came to being gainfully occupied. Together they worked out a list of things she would do to make the best of this job. She needed to find a way to act instead of being acted upon. she and Marcus hammered out descriptions of her strengths that. Instead of waiting for the next cataclysm." says Marcus. Even if Kylie found that she wanted to do something radically different with her life. And she felt strong when she forged a trusting relationship with a co-worker. Kylie felt strong. Kylie would go find herself something to do. Marcus asked Kylie to go back to her list of loves and loathes and cast them in more active terms. All these changes might have seemed minor. She craved movement and freedom. But her job at the paper didn't afford her as much opportunity to do it as she craved." she later told me. she realized she could respond in person. she needed to start taking it back. no matter what crisis had erupted around her. and though Kylie had assumed she should give it in writing. with little in between. now she saw how simple—and welcome—it might be if she offered her opinion at appropriate moments. The more clues to her strengths that Kylie and Marcus gathered. "is this idea that we should all be team players and do what the team asks of us. Often she was executing someone else's vision—just inputting.wallflower. But now she and Marcus saw that there was something not just wallflowerish but positively wilted about her professional self. One of Kylie's "loathes" about her job was the downtime—it was either crisis central or the doldrums. Second. Third. Now Marcus gave Kylie another assignment: to list 10 things she could do over the next five weeks to gain more opportunities to do the work she loved best. "One of the most insidious myths people suffer under in the workplace. She loved to design. Right away. "Marcus turned a light on. yet each one put a little more control back in Kylie's hands and even helped her perceive that in some ways she did like her job. Kylie vowed never to let that chair claim her for six hours again: She was going to get up every hour and a half. the more Marcus' early suspicion was borne out. she had to sort out the problems in her current situation. she was going to start connecting face-to-face." . But her supervisor had recently asked for her feedback on something. Slowly. They clearly had no idea she was unhappy. Marcus told her. or she'd find herself passive and likely unhappy in the next job. She'd felt strong when her advice was "sought". when Marcus read them back to her. Miserable as she was. Kylie really was in the ballpark.

It's the failure to have asked. in theory. or if we do see them. like tying a knot badly. Kylie wouldn't necessarily label her love for engagement with others as a strength to be utilized in the workplace. ("I have a passion for helping people. We don't patiently tease apart the many strands of our daily existence. and what: Why will I be doing these things?—the job's broader purpose.Who will I be working with? And finally. she'd be more likely to assume everyone felt that way. Or we should stay at our job because it's irresponsible not to. But thewhat was all wrong—the degree wasn't preparing Kylie for actual human engagement. Such near misses." would be skywriting to Marcus: very noble and surely true." Marcus had noticed that this same intense dislike of things falling apart at the last minute came up when they spoke of her job at the paper. What precise activities will I be performing every day? Often people who seem to be doing something suited to their needs—who. no matter how much we think it should. Kylie had been on the right track when she'd embarked on her online psychology degree. how would she know where to go? How could she both follow her instincts and avoid the mistakes that her instincts had made the last time? At this juncture. and news is important and exciting. we don't see them. Yet the world is full of people who do their best work in isolation. It was preparing her to write papers on psychological theory. It also wasn't likely that e-mail culture would ever reverse. Second. First. but there were still all those "loathes" to confront. Marcus sees people fall prey to the same four pitfalls again and again. Kylie had told Marcus that she'd always loved jewelry making—except for one part at the very end. we tend to pile our work misery into a big. And this wasn't unexpected—news has a way of changing all the time. Kylie's beautiful layouts were forever being messed up at the very last minute by events she couldn't control. should be happy—have nailed one or even two of the three answers through instinct alone. are particularly baffling. when the slightest of goofs. who. even with substantial reengineering. of any current or possible job. Marcus says. mushy lump that we then allow to crush us. could "make the beads fall all over the floor. That made no sense to her—she was doing what she'd . We don't ask ourselves the questions that Marcus was asking Kylie. we're so close to our own strengths. returning Kylie to the face-to-face collaborative atmosphere that she craved. but way too vague to be of any real use. the three questions of why. The why of that degree resonated. distinguishing those that actually make us happy—the lump has made us forget there were any of these—from those that we have to eliminate as soon as we can. we suffer from "should" syndrome: We should love doing layouts at a newspaper because we love design. Third. The list of "loves" had offered crucial information. yet addressing it can tell us not only what's wrong with our current job but how to avoid falling into the same trap again. But such a partial fit will never feel right. If Kylie really did need to start fresh in another job.But Marcus also could see that Kylie's current job. The last pitfall is perhaps the most complex. we don't value them. He once worked with a woman who had always longed to work in healthcare. might never make her happy.) She became an ER nurse and was incredibly unhappy. she knew in her gut that she loved engaging with people.

But after working with Marcus she was able to look at this interest in a new way: as a unique strength that she could and should offer the world. but we can also find them through the subjects that interest us. in turn. She would find herself thinking about them—the wives and husbands. if any.always longed to do. "The activities that make us feel strong express these. it turned out that what she really loved was seeing people get better. when she was alone? What stories did she find herself always reading in the newspaper—the ones about rescues? About making money? About big fancy parties? What were the last two books she'd read. How had she ended up there? Her list of strengths yielded clues. she learned what . and doing more of the same. living it. Once she finished volunteering at a hospice. But when Marcus pressed her to detail her passion." The saleswoman. every day. The thing that made this woman feel strong—the thing she was passionate for—was missing. played to these passions. who had lost someone. She found it as soon as she transferred to one of the hospital's pediatric wards. This had been the case with a copy machine saleswoman Marcus worked with. The questions of why. She was right. she had her what nailed. they see patients at their most dire moments. She loved the why of healthcare. and why had she chosen them? What prizes. the eureka moment didn't come when she realized she was drawn to stories of grieving. She felt strong when sensing another person's emotions. The copy machine saleswoman. and then the patients are whisked away." Marcus says. They can also rescue that rare person who really is lost. For the saleswoman. and what don't work just in these situations. And an ER nurse rarely gets to do that. Unlike the ER nurse. in fact. and here she was. We get better and better. she was especially drawn to the part at the end. knew that the grieving are often overwhelmed with decisions to make. Now she knew she might love guiding them through those circumstances. always read the obituaries in the paper. we don't just stay good. but with the same basic principle in mind—that we have good instincts about our needs and wants. and for which the world. making her a very good saleswoman. What were her hobbies and special interests? What did she think about early in the morning and late at night. And she felt strong when she told another person what to do—and they did it! The what of selling copy machines had. and for what? "What you're getting at is yearnings. This was when Marcus began casting his net beyond the workplace. had she won in her life. it turned out. the parents and children. but she didn't have the ghost of a why. might pay her. She was quite successful— always in the top 10 percent of the sales force—but at some point she couldn't bear the idea of getting up every morning. He began asking the saleswoman a series of questions. where those left behind by the deceased were listed. That strength summed her up at her most valuable. a naturally empathetic person who liked telling people what to do. who. not just because she was good at it but because she enjoyed it—and when we enjoy doing something. she'd always known this of herself.

But she needed passion in her off-hours as well. "I feel strong when I accurately express an emotion through song." she told me. "Why will I be designing?" Now that she knew how important thewhat of any future job was—this was where her passion lay—the why seemed far more flexible. squeezing the things she most loved to the margins. Kylie had to ask. She was hiking as much as she could. Incremental changes like these. don't leap. Singing was one of her passions—one of the new strengths she'd defined was. she had loved gardening. she had to ask. Wherever Kylie wound up professionally. there are things they look forward to. she said. or will I be lost in an impersonal hive?" Finally. "Build a bridge and walk over. "You have the wisdom within you to find the place where you can be your best self." Marcus says. "I've been finding my way back to the person I was a long time ago. Marcus feels. Kylie needed to be designing in a peaceful environment. When she was living in rural Michigan. like nothing more than scattered planks and nails. But the why of her job. Next she had to ask. are far from small. because they're deliberate and insightful and true to ourselves. Build it out of today. "it's like a meditation. and she was going to plant flowers in them. Marcus and Kylie subjected other potential jobs in the design industry to the three questions. "Even if things seem like a disaster.credentials were required to be a grief counselor. obtained them. "Who will I be doing it with? Will I be on a small team of collaborators who talk to each other. "What will I be doing? Will I be taking an idea of my own and bringing it to fruition—in an atmosphere free of the sort of constant flux that messes things up?" Kylie had told Marcus that she felt strongest when deeply immersed in the work of design. if not out of existence completely. a decision she didn't regret. After the strengths exercise. Kylie was in a job that somewhat let her do what she wanted: bring an idea of her own into tangible form. Kylie might find greater happiness designing a gorgeously produced jewelry catalog than pages of a hectic daily newspaper. And she learned that the who—the presence of people with whom she could speak face-to-face and form bonds— was just as indispensable." Clearly. she needed to get music back into her life." Marcus says. The big lump of Kylie's professional unhappiness had expanded well outside the workplace." Long ago Kylie's desire for order and stability had led her to leave music as a profession. Of any potential new job. and in so doing found real fulfillment for the first time in her life. But start hammering them . at those times. In everybody's week. she also had to remember that life is not work alone. which she'd initially thought was important to her— she'd found working in news exciting at the start—turned out not to be as crucial as the what (the ability to control and complete her own designs without unforeseen circumstances disrupting them). she would take advantage of the company's resources while still there and post on a message board for fellow musicians. now she noticed there were untended plots by her Manhattan building." Our unhappiness might make those things seem insignificant. That wisdom isn't out there—it's in there. Even if she did end up leaving the paper. They're powerful. Kylie was a step ahead of where the copy machine saleswoman had been at the same point in the process.

together. with just the bridge to transport you from a place that you loathed to a place you can't wait to return to. as Marcus says. and you'll find yourself. .

and confused. from the hairdresser who became a millionaire with an invention that came to her in a dream to the stay-at-home mom who catapulted to CEO of an Internet company five years after going back to work. "and it's been a steady climb from there. when we got to chatting about work. Why are co-workers ascending to the next rung of the career ladder while you're stuck in the same spot? Suzy Welch helps you get back on track. I've heard many unusual "How I Found My Career" stories. "I started with my company right out of grad school. A promotion every ." she told me.com | From the October 2008 issue of O. Over the years. But none surprised me more than the account offered by a 45-ish finance manager I once sat next to on a plane.Going Nowhere Fast? How to Get Ahead at Work By Suzy Welch Oprah. The Oprah Magazine The job started out so well—but now you're frustrated. floundering.

"I know I'm kind of unusual. at which point you're overcome with the dizzying. as a logistics supervisor at a trucking company. I curtailed my travel and cut back on my client load for several years. A classmate of mine from business school has held the same middle management job in the automotive industry for the past seven years. Once. Very linear. . a woman in the audience asked me why newer employees in her company kept moving up the ladder before she'd had her turn. when I was giving a speech about career management. "I don't expect a promotion and I don't want one. stomach-churning insight. It wasn't fair. you may not be able to avoid the fact that pay raises and promotions are passing you by. You might hit a plateau as you wait (patiently or not) for a promotion to open up at your company. At a reunion not long ago. especially one covering 20 years in duration. and my career trajectory (eventually) followed. because the longer you deny a career stall. "Are they passing me by because new hires are cheaper for the company?" she wanted to know. it was.four to five years. is usually denial. "Given how companies usually work. reading my reaction. when we spoke after my speech. How about extremely? Don't get me wrong. not all career stalls are bad. and after a few years. I was able to crank up my performance again. I had literally never heard a career narrative. When my kids were toddlers and I was a management consultant. she'd been working in the same position. But most stalls aren't normal or intentional. That gives you the shakes. they tend to creep up on you like a bad cold. telling my boss. but she cut me off to say that." She could see the astonishment on my face. Later. and I cringed. "it's better than the scrap heap. My intention had not been to hurt her feelings but to snap her into reality. Then you may begin to sense that your boss and teammates aren't talking to you as often. "Oh my God. Finally. the more likely it will turn into a nosedive. she described herself as "stuck in the breakdown lane" but noted. Or your career may stall if your company hits a tough economic stretch. I began to explain as much. she already knew she was in trouble. deep in her gut." Fortunately. At first you may notice you're not being included in meetings the way you used to be. a realization that comes on like a dull headache. if that's okay." I said. for five years. I'm dead in the water around here. that didn't include a period of lull—a stall—or some measure of disappointment along the way." she said. I told her it was possible but unlikely. "it's probably because their performance is better. she lamented—after all." Sometimes women will design plateaus into their careers for personal reasons." She winced." Yet the first reaction to a career stall. Instead. when my kids were in school for longer hours. in Chicago. I've observed.

especially if it has to do with writing." she wrote. "Too fragile." Such disengagement often leads to the second common reason for a career stall. because he was so closely associated with an online start-up project that had failed. "they see the big L stamped on his forehead. Another journalist I know was never moved into management." she said. a dynamic that ultimately blocks you from moving up in an organization because the powers that be will always see you as the lowly executive assistant they hired right out of college. her days spent deflecting memos and preparing reports no one would read." she said. "I've missed more deadlines in the past six months than in my entire career." Her disillusionment reminded me of a letter I'd just received from a woman who worked at a national child welfare agency." she said. Her job. Unfortunately. unable to keep up with the pace that one advancement in technology after another has brought to my profession. but I certainly won't be sent to the usual medical conferences this year. "I loved it when I started. coordinating the movement of her company's Midwestern fleet of 200 trucks. over time. But now I could do it in my sleep. "I work slowly. First of all." a colleague told me. "And I've lost all interest in trying. Instead. I probably won't be fired. "Count me among the old dogs who cannot learn new tricks. she found herself paralyzed within an organization riddled with bureaucracy and internecine warfare. Other embedded reputations come not from your past job but from your past errors. I received an e-mail from an architect who was practically in despair. it turned out that this woman's story embodied all three of the most common reasons careers stall. She could barely drag herself to work every day. even if it was just to run a small team. "I made mistakes. "But here I am at a certain age.As we started talking about why." she told me. "Every time people look at Carl." they said every time her name came up for a promotion." The final common reason for career stall is something I call embedded reputation. Who shines on the job when she's bored? But boredom isn't the only reason performance suffers. which is underperformance. I once worked with an editor who got stuck in a career rut because our company's executives could not forget how emotionally fraught she'd been during the year of her divorce. describing how hard her job had become. a medical researcher. it's a rare organization that dares to break someone out of its own typecasting." Another woman I know." she wrote. she was dying of boredom. "My former boss thought I walked on water. despite his strong desire. "Nothing I do makes a difference. The new boss exposed her professional weaknesses. started to stall when a new boss in her department at a Boston hospital tried to impress his new bosses by demanding more reports in shorter time frames. "I passed up a six-figure offer at a consulting firm to take this job because I believed I would help change the world. I was learning something. Not long ago." . had become rote and lost any meaning it once held for her.

But it requires nothing short of a personal reinvention. and take action. upbeat attitude. Sure. not callousness—reality.Which brings me back to the trucking logistics supervisor in Chicago. So what did I tell her? I gave her the same advice I'd give almost anyone with a stalled career. Sound hard? It is. An old colleague of mine. it's possible to pull out of a stall. a new job in New York totally reenergized her. So leave you must. especially since you've probably worked at your company for years. But just as I have never met a person who didn't initially deny her career had come to a standstill. Even fewer have the political capital to change an employee's embedded reputation. she was smiling with a look of optimism and self-confidence I did not recognize. and within two years she was promoted to a key role as an editor. I didn't realize I was dead. . difficult as that surely sounds. And given the competitive pressures of work today. she was part of a team that was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize." Although she started out at a lower level. she had an embedded reputation as a whiner. She was performing poorly. Again. delivering outsize results with an unrelenting. who toiled in a career plateau at our Miami newspaper for six years. I saw her picture in the paper. with time you'll fly high again. You must take full responsibility for what has happened to your career. for whatever reason it is happening. few bosses have the time or energy to work on an employee's boredom or underperformance. She had moved on indeed. Your teammates won't want to be associated with a person whose star is falling. And at the same time. And so will you. if you recognize your career stall. later said to me. and it's made harder by the fact that the organization will likely not support you. "I see that time now as if I were in a velvet coffin. Get out. Start over. I was so comfortable. Once you plant your feet in new territory. relieving all others of blame. Two years after that. And. She was bored. having more than once complained about her stagnation. you must push your performance to new heights. I have yet to meet one who didn't eventually come to wonder why she didn't get out sooner.

At the moment (though not. any other human endeavor. as Lamott puts it in her book Bird by Bird. I owe this graceful phrase to writer-teacher Anne Lamott. haphazardly punctuated drivel.." he cautioned. I hope. is the working title I use for all new projects: shitty first draft. you have to think of it as perfect. "You manifest what you project. Humans goof.Oh. We end up getting perfectionistic about our attempts to stop being perfectionists.Ready. Even trying scares me so much that the first time I did it. when I was assigned to write a poem for a middle school assignment. I began finding ." But seriously unwell people such as me run into trouble when we try to let go of perfectionism.. A New Age-y friend of mine was once horrified to see my production title... At the top. this article is a mess of redundant.Aim. "is the voice of the oppressor. So why does she get her knickers in a twist about being flawless 24/7? A reformed perfectionist tells how she silenced the barking mosquito in her head. the enemy of the people.. my doctor—my pediatrician. "If you want your writing to be perfect. Not me.. mind you—had to put me on Valium. poorly phrased. who recommends the shitty first draft as an indispensable phase of literary creation—and. Well. written in bold capital letters. Most people realize that perfectionism. I've never written anything within shrieking distance of perfect.com | From the July 2003 issue of O. by the time you read it). It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life. The Oprah Magazine Martha Beck is human. By Martha Beck Oprah. for that matter." Maybe that works for him.

stiffens you until you screw up. including my imperfection at ridding myself of perfectionism. I'm still a perfectionist. relinquishing the delusional hope that we can or must be flawless—allows us to seek happiness in the only place it can be found: our real. made famous by our good friend Dr. Let the voice of the oppressor berate you ("You dumb. your one chance at a flawless existence. Actually. you may well lose all fear of it. how's it working for you? . It does not work. To that end. Listen: Does that voice sound familiar? Does it belong to your wicked stepmother. Your perfectionism will tell you that it is your ticket to perfection. I've found some reliable ways to reduce my anxiety about my imperfections. and do something insulting to this picture whenever your perfectionist acts up." etc. carry on. everything will go right and everyone will love me and I'll feel good all the time.. Embracing this hopelessness—in this case. fat. Exercise Two: Embrace creative hopelessness. your ex-spouse. Scribble a picture of it." Years after adopting this perspective. It's time to wake up and smell this dark-roasted little truth: Perfectionism never delivers on its promise of perfection. Separating your innate personality from your perfectionsim frees you to confront it. But if you're anything like me. your boss. Exercise One: Personify your inner perfectionist. This may be true for you. boring. I think it's something people have. as you neutralize the destructive power inherent in this aspect of yourself. rather than get lost in it. write down your reason for maintaining your perfectionism. I've been using the term perfectionist as though it's something you can be. Some psychologists use the phrase "creative hopelessness" to describe the moments when we realize that our psychological strategies are useless or counterproductive. but here's the thing: I don't care. I encourage you to try doing the following exercises—imperfectly. you can decrease your anxiety considerably. clumsy. If your brand of perfectionism has created a life free of mistakes or shortcomings. Now ask yourself the following question. I recommend giving your perfectionism its own name and face. and sends shame howling through your consciousness even if you do well. like brain damage.my way out of this psychological morass when I heard the Buddhist saying "To be enlightened is to be without anxiety over imperfection. an amalgam of your leastfavorite movie critics? Try to summon a visual image of the tyrant. To arrive at creative hopelessness.. It'll probably be something like this: PERFECTIONIST CREDO If I try hard enough and I'm very careful and I follow all the rules. perfectionism usually paralyzes you before you begin.). By just externalizing and rejecting your inner critic. Can't picture this inner critic? Start by thinking about a mistake you've made recently. messy. In time. Phil: So. by all means. imperfect experience.

and all the confidence of a snowball headed for hell. An even better option is the buddy system: Commit with a friend that you'll both do something really terribly. or even a good one. Thank her for sharing. Now set out to do this thingreally badly. Successful writers show up at the blank page. to practice their instruments." I've heard high-achieving people say the same thing about pretty much every human enterprise: Successful musicians just show up. Gradual. . is laughter. a task I approached with little preparation. they come nowhere near perfection." says one of my professional-athlete clients. then praise each other for following through. you just have to show up. I learned so much from the students that my teaching improved rapidly. or your beloved. The same is true of the even more significant task of sustaining human relationships. day after day. consistently there for you? You don't have to be perfect for your friends." in which my students could deposit anonymous suggestions about how I might improve my teaching. This is what happens whenever we free ourselves to grow by letting ourselves do something badly. Take shitty first drafts— please. people love you when you're openly imperfect. Exercise Three: Do something badly. less talent. you'll find that contrary to conventional wisdom. What makes them winners is not instant excellence but the sheer dumb repetition of showing up. but seek it. whatever.The most common response I get when I ask this question. I kept a box labeled "Criticisms and Recommendations. and you may even turn it into Something Good. The first step tward achieving excellence is imperfection. Adopting this objective gives me permission to do the lousy job I'm sure to do on any initial attempt. It gets me through the excruciating process of going from Nothing to Something. If you have the guts to do this. My goal is always to create something readers wouldn't even want to scrape off their shoes. your children. On my desk. then reward yourself for daring to do a terrible job. Ask any of them and they'll tell you that most days. "is getting to the gym. safe exposure to whatever makes us anxious is always the most powerful way of eliminating anxiety. I discovered this when teaching business school. anxious hope for perfection opens us to the joy available in our actual lives—especially if we move on to the next exercise. I never sit down to write an excellent first draft. Successful businessmen show up for their customers. Releasing our doomed. whether I'm addressing myself or a client. "Ninety percent of staying in shape. In order not to be cowed by imperfection. Your inner perfectionist may erupt in violent protest. Try this: Choose something you've always wanted to do—paint. turning it into Something Better is usually less work. jog. you must not only accept the imperfect. Consider the people who have most blessed your life—are they the folks you remember as perfect or those who were simply. no matter how odious it may be. Exercise Four: Just keep showing up.

a flamethrower. It gives us our best performance. Do I wish this were not the case? You bet your ass I do. though edited since its initial shitty-firstdraft incarnation.You may have noticed that this article. . and a bad case of rabies) is outraged by my literary shortcomings. is still far from perfect. But I have learned to let her fuss without succumbing to the anxiety she encourages. and genuine acceptance in the family of human—and by that I mean imperfect—beings. Long experience as a profoundly flawed person has taught me this unexpected truth: that welcoming imperfection is the way to accomplish what perfectionism promises but never delivers. My inner perfectionist (an immaculately dressed socialite who carries an arrest warrant.

Solving a knotty problem can help us be happy. Job burnout? It's steering you toward your perfect career. so you can focus on more interesting tasks.com | From the May 2010 issue of O. The Oprah Magazine In the past 10 years. but we don't have to be happy to feel good.10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn By Martha Beck Oprah. An awful relationship? It's teaching you what love means. such as flossing. Confusing tax forms? They're suggesting you hire an accountant. try this: Focus on something that makes you miserable. Problems are bad. If that sounds crazy. "It's okay to be as sad as I need to be. . 2. I've realized that our culture is rife with ideas that actually inhibit joy. Real problems are wonderful. isn't it? Now say. Then think. each carrying the seeds of its own solution." This kind of permission to feel as we feel—not continuous happiness—is the foundation of well-being. Finding the solution to each problem is what gives life its gusto. It's important to stay happy. Here are some of the things I'm most grateful to have unlearned: 1. You learned that problems—comment se dit?—suck. But people without real problems go mad and invent things like base jumping and wedding planning. "I must stay happy!" Stressful. You spent your school years solving arbitrary problems imposed by boring authority figures.

described the event as losing "37 years of emotional baggage. my anguish came from my hypothesis that other people's hypothetical hypotheses about me mattered. notice your physical response to each option. take an issue that's been worrying you ("I've got to work harder!") and think of three reasons that belief may be wrong. virtually no one sees them. "Wow. too. suicide. So play as you did in childhood. she said. but it turns out they're largely erasable. without having to endure a brain hemorrhage. Success is the opposite of failure. Ridiculous! Right now. Never go back. the neuroanatomist who had a stroke that obliterated her memory. The pretty girls get all the good stuff. minus the drama. Painful events leave scars. I unlearned this after years of coaching beautiful clients.3. imagine what you'd do if it absolutely didn't matter what people thought of you." Boys who'd spent years strategizing for fun gained instinctive skills to handle real-world situations. The very thing you're doing at this moment—questioning habitual thoughts—is enough to begin off-loading old patterns. 9. We should think rationally about our decisions. Taylor found this thought-loss euphoric." you may protest. Working hard leads to success. Oh. Often complex problems are best solved by thinking like an animal. but there's a catch: While everyone's looking at them. 5. I'm irreparably damaged by my past. Instead of weighing pros and cons intellectually. homicide. is the key to success. When I bewailed this to a friend. And speaking of bodies. including humans.. life would be perfect" 6. divorce courts. but those who are relaxed about doing badly soon learn to do well. learn by playing. For example. true. "But if I fail. Now it appears we can all effect a similar shift. God. 4. So not true.. "If all my wishes came true. Yes. While we're on the subject. If all my wishes came true right now. these lovelies get preferential treatment in most life scenarios. Consider a choice you have to make—anything from which movie to see to which house to buy. Watch for ways your childhood playing skills can solve a problem (see #1)." Taylor rebuilt her own brain. It matters what people think of me. Check it out: People who have what you want are all over rehab clinics. 7. "animal" brain. you have some painful fantasies about other people's fantasies about you. Your rational capacities are far newer and more error-prone than your deeper. we succeed to the degree we try. and learn. 8. and .. Pay attention to when your body tenses or relaxes. with all-out absorption. You will. Studies show that people who worry about mistakes shut down. Jill Bolte Taylor.. Baby mammals. life would be perfect. right now. not work. I realized this when I read blatant lies about myself on the Internet. fail. which is why "the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton." Yup. Success is built on failure. "people will think badly of me!" This dreaded fate causes despair. Your brain will begin to let it go. Got it? Good. Fact: From quitting smoking to skiing. Play. Almost every gorgeous client had a husband who'd married her breasts and jawline without ever noticing her soul.

when you've stopped depending on tangible rewards. Weirdly. 10. Ten years ago I still feared loss enough to abandon myself in order to keep things stable. become as joyful as you think that thing would make you. just like medications advertised on TV. Basically. That's because good fortune has side effects.jails. If you've abandoned yourself in the effort to keep anyone or anything else. not the thing. they often materialize. Just like that. your heart and soul will return home. losses be damned. Loss is terrible. Live your truth. is the point. any external thing we depend on to make us feel good has the power to make us feel bad. unlearn that pattern. To attract something you want. pretend to like people who appalled me. . The joy. A real tragedy? That's the loss of the heart and soul themselves. What I now know is that losses aren't cataclysmic if they teach the heart and soul their natural cycle of breaking and healing. I'd smile when I was sad.

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Walsh: My clients say things like. The Oprah Magazine Organizational expert Peter Walsh helps tidy up our cluttered thinking. he makes the link between a disorganized home and the untidy thoughts that can muddle our relationships and well-being.Peter Walsh's Surprising Way to Clean Up Clutter By Jessica Winter Oprah. As leader of Oprah's Clean Up Your Messy House Tour on The Oprah Winfrey Show. "I was buried under all that stuff. Enough Already! Clearing Mental Clutter to Become the Best You." "I was . O: Enough Already! treats clutter not just as the physical stuff in our homes but as a metaphor for our lives. In his latest book. Peter Walsh is carving order out of chaos in scores of domestic disaster areas.com | From the March 2009 issue of O.

what is it doing in your life? O: So your house could be neat as a pin and you could still be in a badly cluttered relationship. Maybe someone has kept all her college English papers because she wanted to be a writer. If you put a load of clothes in the wash. by stealing our ability to feel motivated in our space. Walsh: Ah. It could be a pile of inherited furniture or a jumble of kids' toys all over the living room. you have to ask yourself. Whatever the case. You have to finish the cycle. You have to remove the clutter of competing egos and miscommunication. yes. great. and you don't know how it happened. anger about how you're treated at work. O:One of the unnerving things about physical clutter is that it's stealthy. If it doesn't. And it robs us psychologically. but she never put in the time and energy to make it happen." We use those metaphors because clutter robs us of life. Walsh: Maybe your partner says something you don't like and your immediate reaction is to attack. shame about your weight or looks. "Does this item or thought or response move me closer to my vision for my best life?" If it does. It robs us socially. the clutter of assuming your partner might want to hurt you deliberately.drowning. does the box go back in the cupboard? When . when we're too embarrassed to have people over. When you have a bowl of cereal. because we can't be at peace in a cluttered home." "I feel like I'm suffocating. But if you insert a question—"Will my response help create the relationship I want or damage it?"—that's a transformational moment. You clean the house. A lot of clutter is a lack of acceptance that a moment has passed. O: But what is the difference between a vision for your best life and an unattainable fantasy? Walsh: We have an infinite capacity for self-deception. A decluttered relationship is one in which you trust that you and your partner want each other to live your best lives. that's the cycle problem. or a tendency to respond defensively and critically when your spouse challenges you. It robs us spiritually. Walsh: It means anything that stands between you and the vision you have for your best life. and halfway through you turn the machine off and leave it for a few days. but two days later it's a wreck again. you will come back to a mound of smelly laundry. But it could also be the constant self-doubt that creeps into your decisionmaking. O: And the term "clutter" is all-encompassing.

com | From the September 2008 issue of O. He's Andrew Mellen. drawers. and your sanity. basement. Inside we're all 8-year-olds expecting someone to pick up after us.k. what else would you want to save? Probably not the blender that only works on one speed. Which . and purse were already out of harm's way. do your clothes go in the hamper or on the floor? We have a choice: to be mindful and complete the cycle. or to end up with a stinky load of washing in the metaphorical machine. VirgoMan. Those days are gone. Think of this scenario: If your house were burning and your family.you bring in the mail. 12 Ways to Unclutter Your Life By Andrew Mellen Oprah. a. pets. The Oprah Magazine He's got organizational superpowers! He can bring order to your kitchen and demystify the reasons you're hanging on to things you don't need (and don't even like) in your closets.a. or the photo in which you're not exactly looking your best. He's here to help get your house. the china you inherited but never use. back. do you immediately open and sort it? At night.

If your Crock-Pot has a missing lid that you say you're going to replace someday. Knives: If you're short on counter space. either because it's functional or beautiful or you just love it. or that you don't even like. The idea here is to weed out what you're not using. then we figure out how to make what they have work for them. Focus on one thing at a time. 3. If you don't have one or the other. Keep canvas shopping totes in the car so you don't accumulate more plastic bags. If you have the space. then put similar items together and in the best places. that's your baseline for determining an object's worth. but when you try to do 19 things at once. Multitasking is supposed to help you get more things done quickly." Setting things down on the coffee table or kitchen counter creates piles and confusion. 2. why are they in your home in the first place? There's no reason to be surrounded by things that don't work. or you're keeping the bread maker just because it was a gift. it's a recycling item.Remember the question of what you'd grab if your house were on fire. Pots and pans: If there isn't a lot of space in your kitchen. Food containers: All your plastic storage items should have corresponding lids. Mesh shopping bags roll up small enough to be kept in your . get rid of it.begs the question: If those things aren't worth taking. so simplify your approach to getting organized. Use the ones you have for trash can liners. that you don't need. Plastic bags: Everybody has a plastic bag full of other plastic bags. or take them back to the supermarket for recycling. hang them along the wall for fast access. consider the type of knife block that fits in a drawer. Appliances: Machines that are broken or aren't used are just taking up space. The Crammed Kitchen Your kitchen is a food preparation area. You can do it yourself by following the steps I've outlined: The Ground Rules 1. everything ends up incomplete. You're trying to simplify your life. My clients mock me when I say. "Where do your keys live? They live in a bowl or on a hook by the front door"—but you never lose anything when you put it where it lives. Every item needs a place where it "lives. not a storage space. use a pot rack. I help my clients figure out what they should keep and what they should kiss goodbye. As a professional organizer. Now let's get started. Everything you own should have value.

Here's what to do with what's being worn only by your hangers. You don't have such a container? No wonder there are so many piles of mail around your house. "someday" doesn't exist. The new catalog replaces the old one. donate it.) The Overstuffed Closet My clients have a lot of "someday" best. you'll either clip the coupons or put them in the recycling bin—later. Or get those back pages you ripped out. requests for charitable donations. You can't slice chicken for dinner and sort your bills at the same time. pull off the pages with the mailing label and put them aside. there's only today. which gets recycled. All the stuffing that says "You've been selected to receive these free gifts" goes into the recycling bin.) If you're getting catalogs you never wanted in the first place. . new credit card offers. you have to pay. When you're done sorting. personal correspondence. When you're ready. Open the bills first because they represent a relationship that must be honored. How to go from swamped to sane—now! The Pile of Mail If you can't finish the mail. if you want the services. The problem is. or whatever container you have handy for this purpose. (You can also log on to Catalogchoice. Put any invitations aside. Then separate the rest: bills. a free service that will stop these unwanted mailings from being sent to you. take your mail basket to wherever you deal with paperwork. If there's room in your home office. time-sensitive invitations.org. Also set aside the catalogs. Someday I'm going to wear this.handbag for unexpected trips to the market. then you can read your magazines. invitations. How often do you use the cookbook? If you've had it for years but it's never gotten a single stain or burn from use. Someday I'm going to fit into these again. don't start the mail. edit them. put it in the basket. so when you come in the front door with a stack of mail. save them. First. you'll transfer those into your calendar and send your response. pull out the circulars and flyers and set them aside. call the companies that sent them. Cookbooks: Unless you're a collector or you have a lot of room. that's an action item for later. membership renewals. have small bins in which to stack bills. and so forth. All you want is the bill and the return envelope. Someday this trend might return. If you're shopping for something specific. and the correspondence you're keeping. later on. box. (Caveat: no multiples. and tell them what you don't want—their catalogs.

organize them—all the short-sleeved shirts together. give it to a thrift store or DonateMyDress." The New Things That Haven't Been Used Do you buy things because they're on sale? If you didn't need them. If you're saving your wedding dress. and any in which you can't stand the sight of yourself. Do the same with your shoes. If you have the space. Decide how long you have and set the timer. which provides formal wear to girls who can't afford prom or special occasion dresses. label the boxes accordingly: "Family Reunion. it's time for it to go away. it's okay to stop pretending you're going to do it. Trend items: If you're waiting for something to come back in style. Group the photos by subject—the family reunion. Get clear shoe boxes to store them in instead. When you're done. and suddenly it's three hours later. Even if it does return. If you're short on storage space. you're also sorting: Is it a clear picture? Do you even know who those people are? Throw away any that don't measure up.Clothes that don't fit: If you've gained weight. But you're not looking at photos now—you're organizing them so that looking at them later will be more fun. But if you haven't worn it in ages and it doesn't work with your other clothes. etc. don't keep a whole closetful of big clothes as though one day you're going to suddenly be struck fat. they can be kept on shelves so you can see them immediately. don't. donate it" is a fine guide for when to say goodbye. donate them. and buttons up the arms because you did a kind of Linda Ronstadt circa 1974 thing. keep the smaller-sized clothes that you'll get the most use from and work on fitting into them again. Why? Because sorting through photos leads to reminiscing. Now that you have a closetful of clothes that you actually wear. it will look dated—and so will you. try stacking shelves or hanging shoe racks. Special occasion outfits: The rule that says "If you haven't worn it in a year." I know you did. "I really loved this jacket. The Drawer Full of Photos If you don't have time to put your photos in an album or scrapbook. February 2008. or your dress has puffy sleeves. and is it a timeless classic she won't roll her eyes at? If the answers are yes. Sentimental pieces: You say. While you're grouping. your trip to Istanbul. all the jeans together.org. be honest—do you have the space to store it? Do you have a daughter you're saving it for. If you've already lost weight. Then get a kitchen timer. lace. If not. you have only sons. they . keep it.

document what it's worth. But be prepared to get rid of the old item when you get home. toys. What is it replacing? When something is broken or you don't like the old version as much as the new one. charge away. you relive the story: To you. just because she used them. even if you don't like them. Things don't have to become yours simply because they belonged to a relative.weren't a bargain. let it go. it's just an old sweater full of holes. and take it off your taxes. But maybe your great-aunt never liked them either and also felt too guilty to let them go. Mementos from your own life are harder to part with because when you see them. What shouldn't be in the car: old food wrappers. but donate the one you already have. you can remove the ice scraper from the trunk). there's a problem. Rule of thumb: If it serves no purpose. "The Storage Space on Wheels") If you have to clear off the backseat for company. Where would this live? A very practical consideration. especially if you're trying to declutter. and you're not a bad person for giving inherited items away. . and see what you're really holding on to—a sweater that's seen better days." Yes. Here are the three questions to ask before you buy anything: 1. If the acquired stuff is worth money. come back in. Many people subscribe to the unwritten rule that you're obligated to keep your great-aunt's dishes. you may feel bound to it financially: "It's real silver—I can't give it away. the dry cleaning or recycling you've been meaning to drop off for a week (just take it out of the car until you're ready to make the trip). out-of-season tools (if it's June. The key to parting with items suspended in time is not to replay that story. fine. 2. not an addition—keep Grandma's reading lamp. What am I going to do with it? If it has a purpose or fills a need. consider it a replacement. Donate it. 3. The Inherited Items and Mementos Your home is not a museum. you can. not fine. And if you like something enough to keep it. If you already have four of them. then by all means. it's the cashmere V-neck you wore on your first date with the man who would become your husband. Leave the room. to anyone else. Or give it to another family member who would really like it. The Car (Or. You're not living her life. Or sell it on eBay.

scary corner. see you at 12 on Thursday!" and save the one with information about what you discussed. If the basement flooded and a whole bunch of stuff got waterlogged. Label each one clearly. "Great. If you can't see the pretty picture on your computer screen because it's full of icons for documents. Like goes with like—all your résumés in one folder. spread everything out to take stock of it all. Try checking it hourly. Color-code them: The folder for your financial documents can be green. but discard the one that says. the journals you've been keeping for years. start making folders. The (Shudder) Basement or Garage Where do you start? With the bad. What should be in the trunk: tool kit. but if you are. You can save e-mail correspondence. It doesn't serve you to come . insurance certificate. containerize what's left. add ice scraper. By the way. flashlight. but don't buy storage bins until you have an understanding of what you're putting into them. The Chaotic Computer You don't want to spend an hour looking for a scone recipe—or your résumé—because you're searching through all the stuff on your desktop. bag of kitty litter (for traction in snow). First. owner's manual. In winter. Tackle one category at a time—the holiday decorations. headset for your cell phone (preferably you're not talking while driving. the one for your job search can be blue. When everything has been sorted. working spare tire. Once you've gotten rid of the garbage. maps and/or GPS. start grouping similar items. Then put all your folders in "My Documents. all photos in another. If you have enough room. which makes it easy to see what there's too much of and what's broken. Next. and photos. small folding umbrella. if you're constantly responding to e-mail. get rid of unsalvageables. the seasonal clothing. you're being pulled away from the things that you need or want to do. downloads. these are no longer your possessions. please be hands-free).What should be in the car: registration. a small blanket. prune: Is this important enough to save? Is it useful? Discard what isn't. they're a mildewfest. envelope with supermarket and drivethrough restaurant coupons and any gift certificates you've received (it's pointless for them to be in the drawer at home). Just say goodbye. extra pair of sunglasses in case of glare." a master folder that you have whether you're on a Mac or a PC.

Being organized isn't about getting rid of everything you own or trying to become a different person. you'll have accomplished three goals: There will be less stuff. but why not be able to see the contents immediately? And if you also use your basement as a play space for your kids or to entertain. I'm all about clear plastic storage. . There are enough things in the world that you can't control—but you can bring some order into your home and your life. it's about living the way you want to live. sure. you can label boxes. get rolling shelves that can be moved to one side of the room and perhaps even covered with drapes. but better. what's left will be in order.home with two 40-gallon tubs if what you need is 19 shoe boxes. and everything will be in containers that work with your space. At the end of this project.

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PhD. The Oprah Magazine If you're spending all your time putting out fires—and never getting to the things that really matter—STOP! Martha Beck shows you the chart that draws a line between must-do-this-minute time killers and "I've always wanted to. a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. to spend time on activities that are deeply important.. Choose instead. .. That was an excellent speech.com | From the October 2008 issue of O. Pausch suggested. when the then 45-year-old Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I watched a speech online about time management given in 1998 by Randy Pausch. It would become extremely poignant in 2006. About a year ago. Pausch cautioned listeners not to waste energy on activities that seem urgent but aren't important. even if they don't seem critical." soul satisfiers.Urgent! Urgent! (Or Is It?) By Martha Beck Oprah.

and the rest of us debaters thought Steve was hilarious. The good news is that we can develop the habit of choosing what's really important over everything else." so that it came out "I'm now open for raw sex. Stephen Covey will always be the smart. when it was time to be cross-examined by an opponent. Pausch's work and his personal story drive home a lesson we all know but frequently forget: To live richly and avoid regret. and you'll notice that even when you're under "urgent" pressure to do something unimportant. funny guy on my high school debate team who. that he'd spend less time on earth than anyone wished. Life seems designed to teach us how to do this. Pay attention." The judges never noticed. in which he teaches his three young children how to make their dreams come true—I wondered if this time management expert sensed. But in a world where everything from your BlackBerry to your car's oil filter to your grandmother is competing for your limited time. Randy Pausch was quoting Steve's dad when he proposed categorizing all activities on a matrix of apparent urgency and ultimate importance.. we must give priority to things of real importance. Don't believe me? Apply the concepts that follow. like this: . was a renowned management guru. consistent choice. First (and Second) Things First To me. Do what really matters. and your life comes into harmonious alignment. Stephen Covey Sr. even back in 1998. it feels discordant and wrong. and call me in the morning. this requires deliberate.Watching another of his speeches online—the famous "Last Lecture" (now a best-selling book). would drop the "c" from the traditional phrase "I'm now open for cross-ex. We also sort of knew that his dad.

like feeding the kids and paying the rent). and ideas. even those that are urgent. 2.As Covey observed. Covey proposed devoting less time to the dinky tasks. Here's an exercise he proposed: 1. plans. and almost never get to Quadrant IV (like reading junk mail). and more time to those things that are really important. . When you've written down all your goals. Get 20 or 30 notecards. write down one thing you should do. However. Keep this up until your brain runs dry. like talking to a demanding co-worker about her rotten boyfriend) to the detriment of Quadrant II (no-deadline pastimes like writing a book. That's good. we tend to focus on Quadrant III (urgent but not important things. basking in nature's beauty. plan to do. Include everything. separate the cards into two piles: things that have to be done right this minute (or feel like it) and those that don't. On each card. or taking time to be still). want to do. we almost always do the things in Quadrant I (stuff that's both important and urgent. or dream of doing. no matter how large or small. hope to do.

separating each into "important" and "not important" stacks. Blew off e-mail to exercise. If you do happen to stumble across them at any time in the future. o o o o o o o Canceled client meeting to bake my daughter's birthday cake.3. just don't do it. Carefully place both your "not important" card stacks in a safe spot. 4. The four resulting stacks correlate with the Covey Quadrants. Blew off e-mail to sense a theme developing here. Congratulate yourself every time you drop a Quadrant III activity and replace it with something from Quadrant II. From Theory to Practice: Living a Quadrant II Life Planning to live this way is one thing. if it's not important. Blew off e-mail to volunteer at local methadone clinic. At this point. You're subjected to daily pressure to do things that. if my experience is any indication. Blew off e-mail to bathe. I'd like to apologize to all of you who didn't receive an e-mail . Commit to eliminating from your schedule all the activities that didn't make it into the "important" stacks. while unimportant in the long run. Here are some substitutions I made after doing this exercise: o Postponed promoting new book to raise money for research on Down syndrome. use it on important but not urgent activities. 5. No matter how pressing something may seem to be. changing habits of thought and action is another. Now go through both of these piles. Blew off e-mail to sleep. will ensure that you'll never find them again. may seem unavoidable in the middle of a PTA meeting. Blew off e-mail to chat on the phone with dear friend. If you have time after doing your important and urgent things. This. burn them.

but Cookie clearly thinks it's both.response from me this month. even when other people (and the occasional beagle) are telling you that their own code-red desires should . it posed a few vexing questions. can't you see that's urgent. tend to include other people's priorities in your decision-making. thanks. or being with friends and family. If you. the Covey Quadrant exercise requires you to break that pattern. but it's not important? And cancel my 5 o'clock. and every volume is both urgent and important to its author. You can't differentiate between "this is due today" and "this is important" when you are (to quote the 15th-century mystic Kabir) "tangled up in others. say. how many of my urgent-seeming emails felt less important than working for people in need. my prioritization is plagued with ambiguity. in which case it should get your consistent attention." You must untangle yourself. no. Blame Covey and Pausch. Mabel. caring for my health. I realized that I could easily spend all my time shoveling out the electronic Augean stables. when I did the Quadrant exercise. But it amazed me. Highly effective people seem to cut through life's complexities in bold. still all other voices. This can be difficult at first. like me. missing countless small experiences that add up to my life's purpose. How to Determine What's Important As powerful as this exercise was for me. reading their books or watching their lectures. the authors who'd like me to promote their books? The stack of manuscripts in my office is taller than I am. clean strokes. Covey and Pausch!) E-mail may be crucially important to you. and who am I to say he's wrong? I might dismiss Cookie's opinion on the grounds that he's small and furry. Is chasing my beagle round and round the sofa important? Urgent? Many would say it's neither. and go to the deepest place within to know what's important and urgent in your unique and singular life. but what about." By contrast. I'll be meeting with His Holiness the Pope instead. you'll discover a beautiful surprise: Your life has been waiting for just this opportunity to help you choose what's right for you. (Actually. you can practically hear them telling their secretaries: "No. but as you focus on it.

take priority. It does this like a good psychological behaviorist, by making things difficult and taxing when they're not important, delicious and relatively effortless when they are. When I say this to new clients, they look at me cynically, as if I've promised them a unicorn. But when they begin paying attention, they soon notice how good life feels when they're doing what thrills them, and how bad it feels when they're not. The bad feeling is most noticeable at first; a sense of awkwardness, like petting a cat from back to front. Tasks go badly. My clients forget things: their keys, their wallets, the way to the office. Conversations are stilted. Energy ebbs without ever flowing. If these clients don't change course, unease may grow into anger, depression, health problems, or total burnout. This feels awful, but the uncomfortableness is a wonderful incentive to begin finding out how good a life of real significance can feel. Drop what's unimportant and replace it with activities from Covey Quadrant II—things that replenish your physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing—and suddenly, everything becomes much easier. Energy returns, anger disappears, you begin smiling spontaneously. The cat stops generating static electricity, and starts to purr. To follow your life's guidance, you may have to reassign some seemingly important things to "unimportant." If you believe that pleasing your horrible boss or having a spotless house is a higher priority than playing with your children or sleeping off the flu, be prepared for a long and strenuous battle against destiny. Also, be prepared to lose. And after you've lost, go online and watch Randy Pausch's last lecture. In Pausch, who died on July 25, you'll see the clarity and joy of a man who chose all along to do what really mattered. That's no consolation prize; that's true victory.

As you focus more on what's important to your soul, filling your schedule with the kinds of things that are vital though maybe not due this minute, every day will bring more enjoyment and refreshment. You'll be fascinated and invigorated, open to everything from artistic creativity to (in the legendary words of Stephen Covey Jr.) "raw sex."

"This is the true joy in life," wrote George Bernard Shaw, "the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. ... Life is no 'brief candle' for me. It is a sort of splendid torch, which I have got hold of for the moment; and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations." This is the credo of Quadrant II. Abide by it, and you'll find a path that illuminates the world for you and others, even after you're gone. No matter what others may think, say, or do, your whole life will become a blaze of glory.

Dream Big: Why You Need Wildly Improbable Goals
Oprah.com | From the September 2002 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

They began as signals, tugs. And with careful tending her most unlikely dreams came true. Martha Beck helps you set the stage for your next great thing.
I was 13, doing my homework in front of my family's broken-down television, when I felt strangely compelled to look up at the screen. It showed an athlete running around an indoor track. I heard myself say out loud, "That's where I'm going to college." A split second later the TV narrator's voice came on: "Here at Harvard University's athletic center..." My heart stopped. Not in my most fevered dreams had I ever considered applying to an Ivy League school. Such behavior would be unusual, if not downright bizarre, for a girl from my deeply conservative Utah town. Besides, going to Harvard required several thousand times more brains, talent, and money than I would ever have. On the other hand, I felt the truth of my own strange words in the marrow of my bones. Okay, I thought nervously, maybe going to Harvard isn't utterly unthinkable. Maybe it's just barely, barely possible. Right there, in front of the TV, I surrendered to the first of what I would one day call my Wildly Improbable Goals (WIGs, for short).

Decades later I have a couple of Harvard diplomas stuck in a closet, and a happy expectation that sometime soon another WIG is going to pop, unbidden, into my consciousness. I've watched this happen repeatedly, not only to me but to loved ones and clients. I suspect it may have happened to you, too. Perhaps it was just a flicker of thought that transported you for a moment, before you dismissed it as nonsense. Maybe it's a dream that simply will not let go of you, no matter how often you tell yourself not to hope for anything so big, so unlikely. Or it may be an ambition you've already embraced, even though everyone else thinks you need serious medication. In any case, learning to invite and accept your own WIG can awaken you to a kind of ubiquitous, benevolent magic, a river of enchantment that perpetually flows toward your destiny. Time travel I might as well admit what I believe about these minor prophecies I call WIGs. I suspect they're not so much mental constructs as literal glimpses of the future. I stand behind Albert Einstein's comment that "people like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." Physics tells us that time can be stretched or compressed like Silly Putty, and I am just woo-woo enough to believe that we humans might sometimes sense truths that are ordinarily veiled by our assumptions or self-imposed rules. Prescience—knowing about events that haven't yet occurred—is not altogether foreign to behavioral science. In one study, experimenters showed test subjects a series of images, including both pleasant pictures and violent or otherwise emotional ones. The researchers were not surprised to find that the subjects' blood pressure and heart rate increased in response to the upsetting images. They had not anticipated, however, that this reaction would occur seconds before the subjects saw the violent pictures—a result that has been replicated in other studies but never satisfactorily explained. What occurs infinitesimally in laboratory experiments takes on huge dimensions in the lives of some extraordinary people. Joan of Arc had goals so wildly improbable that she was burned as a witch for achieving them. A young Winston Churchill once said to a friend, "I tell you I shall be in command of the defenses of London... In the high position I shall occupy, it will fall to me to save the Capital and save the Empire." Do such people accomplish great things because they dreamed near impossible dreams, or were their dreams previews of what they were destined to achieve? I'm open to either explanation. To me, one seems as mysterious as the other. Whether our WIGs are the cause or effect of our actions, they have a peculiar power to lift us beyond what we thought to be our limitations. Next: "You must befriend, protect, and nurture your own spirit" Wild Kingdom At this point, I hope you're wondering how you can set your own Wildly Improbable Goals. The problem is, you can't. WIGs are to normal thoughts what Siberian tigers are to house cats, and your "right mind" doesn't have the hunting skills to find them. Fortunately, your WIGs can find you. The knowledge of your

destiny may stalk you for years, undetected except for occasional moments of longing or hope that glint like eyeshine in your darkest hours. Then when you least expect it, a WIG will leap out of nowhere and overwhelm you in one breathtaking burst. I've had the privilege of watching many clients recognize WIGs. It's thrilling to see people who thought they were directionless realize they're about to run for office or buy a house or publish a novel or have a baby. If these moments were broadcast on cable—the Wildly Improbable Discovery Channel—I'd watch it all day long. Speaking of having babies, that process is somewhat similar to the procedure for inviting WIGs into your life. You can't force a WIG to happen, but you can create conditions that will either prevent it or invite it. One precondition is absolutely necessary: You must befriend, protect, and nurture your own spirit. This means paying attention to your real needs, treating yourself not just fairly but kindly, and standing up for yourself even if that displeases people around you. Just as a run-down body may be unable to conceive a healthy new life, a run-down soul can't support the healthy development of the life you were meant to have. Helping it Happen Once you've met the basic condition of self-care, there are several strategies you might use to lure your WIGs out of hiding. One is to take a pencil in your dominant hand (right for right- handers, left for lefties) and write down a few pointed questions, such as "What are you feeling?" "What do you need?" and "What do you want?" As soon as you've finished writing a question, switch the pencil to your other hand and write whatever words bubble up. You may be surprised. When your problem-solving mind is fully engaged, trying to master the task of writing with the "wrong" hand, hidden aspects of the self often surface. I've seen people encounter full-fledged WIGs in the shaky words written by their own nondominant hand. If you think more visually than verbally, you may want to try another exercise: time travel. Take a few quiet minutes, relax in a comfortable place, close your eyes, and imagine that the date has changed. It's the same day of the same month, but the year is 2005, 2012, or 2020. Figure out how old you are in the year you've chosen. How old is your best friend? Your children? Your spouse? Let yourself inhabit this time. Now with your eyes still closed, simply describe your circumstances. Where are you? What are you wearing? What is the weather like? Now describe your life. What is most important to you on this date? What projects occupy you? Who hangs out with you? Try to simply observe rather than make things up. If no images appear, don't worry. Your WIGs are still hiding, but you've called them and they are listening. They may show up after you've finished the exercise, when you're brushing your teeth or making your bed. A third WIG-baiting exercise also involves time travel, but for this one you don't project yourself into the future. Instead your future self comes back to visit you. Imagine meeting a wise, happy person who just happens to be your best self ten years from now. Ask this person for advice. If you're facing a problem, ask your mentor how she got through it ten years back. Ask her what mistakes

you're making and how you might correct them. As with the previous exercise, you may initially get no answer. Nevertheless, your true self, that wise being who exists outside of time, has registered the questions. The answers will come. When it Hits Being struck by a WIG is nothing like setting an ordinary goal. First of all, you'll notice that it is not something you thought up; it seems to come from somewhere beyond thought. Second, you'll feel an almost physical jolt of yearning, as though your heart is straining toward its destiny. Third, you'll have the vertiginous sensation of your mind boggling. If you haven't experienced this before, you'll probably feel overwhelmed, the way I felt at 13, watching that runner circle the Harvard track. You won't even be able to imagine the mess of work and luck necessary to make it happen. The very idea will seem impossible...almost. That "almost" will tickle the edges of your consciousness, tempting you to believe that somehow, someway, your dream may fall just inside the realm of probability. How can you be sure? You can't. Fortunately, your first step is simple: Write down your WIG. In detail. Immediately, before you regain your sanity and lose your nerve. Next: "Once you've written your WIG, the real work begins" Experts say that simply writing down goals greatly increases your chance of actually achieving them. Perhaps it's because the act of writing primes your brain to scan the environment, looking for opportunities that will take you toward your objectives. Many choices you make en route to realizing your WIG will be so inconspicuous that you won't even notice them, but over time they'll add up to huge changes in direction. Once you've written your WIG, the real work begins. I've had many clients who, impressed by the strange electricity of their WIGs, assume that this intense feeling alone will magically create the desired reward. Yeah, right. I think the reason WIGs have so much mojo is that we need a huge reservoir of desire to keep us slogging through the hard work needed to realize them. Almost invariably, the effort necessary to achieve a WIG is not less than we expect but more. That said, the process of working toward a WIG does seem to land us in extraordinary territory. Creativity coach Julia Cameron comments that her clients reap the fruit of their labors only if they are willing to go out and "shake the trees," but weirdly, the fruit that falls almost never comes from the tree the person is shaking. This has been my experience as well. By the time I was 15, I'd developed a shortlist of WIGs that included three rather childish goals: I wanted to learn to ski, own a ten-speed bicycle, and visit Europe. Once programmed, my brain began noticing job opportunities and sporting-goods sales, and I slowly earned enough money to buy a bike and some used ski equipment. I was also working on selling enough French-club perfume to win a trip to Europe. I'd sold three whole ounces and had only a couple of gallons to go, when a Yugoslavian friend sent my family two round-trip tickets to Europe that he was too busy to use. Days later I was standing on European soil, dizzy with jet lag and euphoria.

That pattern—the recognition of a WIG, followed by enormous amounts of work, followed by a miracle—has happened to me so many times that it's almost stopped surprising me. I see it strike my clients as well, when they prepare a safe space for their true selves, ask a few questions, and accept the answers. You already know your own WIGs, though you may not yet realize it. The part of you that is unhampered by illusion—the illusion of time, the illusion of powerlessness, the illusion of impossibility—is waiting for you to slow down and open up so that it can speak to your consciousness. In some unguarded moment, you will hear its wildly improbable words and know that they are guiding you home.

Do You Know Your Emotional Blind Spots?
Oprah.com | From the July 2002 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

You keep dating the same jerks. You think you're fat and you're not. You have—ta-da—a blind spot. Martha Beck leads you on a vision quest.
"Oh, my gosh," I said, "I'm huge!" I was looking at an image of myself, though not in a mirror or photograph. I'd just finished running a computer graph that summarized input from a class of psychology students. Each person was represented as a circle, with the size of the circle showing how dominant the group perceived that individual to be. I was, indubitably, immense. Although I was only the teaching assistant, my circle was at least four times bigger than anyone else's—including the professor's. It took me several minutes to start raking up the shambles of my preconceptions. Apparently, the way others saw me was nothing like the way I saw myself. Growing up as the seventh of eight opinionated, vociferous siblings, and spending my adult life in academic settings where wordplay was sharper and more aggressive than swordplay, I'd always felt timid and inconspicuous. To compensate, I put all the energy I could into everything I said. The resulting impression was that, as one student put it, "if someone asked you to light a cigarette, you'd haul out a flamethrower."

Most of us have such psychological "blind spots," aspects of our personalities that are obvious to everyone but ourselves. There's the mother who complains, "I don't know why little Horace is so violent—I've smacked him for it a thousand times." Or your gorgeous friend who believes she has all the seductive allure of a dung beetle. Or the coworker who complains that, mysteriously, every single person he's ever worked for develops the identical delusion that he's shiftless and incompetent. As we roll our eyes at such obliviousness, some of us might think, What about me? Do I have blind spots, and if so, what are they? You can find the answers if you care to—or more accurately, if you dare to. This is the roughest mission you can undertake: a direct seek-and-destroy attack on your own pockets of denial. Denial is far trickier than simple ignorance. It isn't the inability to perceive information but the astonishing ability to perceive information while automatically refusing to allow it into consciousness. Our minds don't perform this magical trick without reason. We only "go blind" to information that is so troubling, so frightening, or so opposed to what we believe that to absorb it would shatter our view of ourselves and the world. On the other hand, becoming fully conscious of our perceptions—simply feeling what we feel and knowing what we know—is the very definition of awakening. It creates a virtually indestructible foundation for lasting relationships, successful endeavors, and inner peace. Hunting down your blind spots is a bumpy adventure, but it can lead to sublime destinations. Identifying your own blind spots is an exercise in paradox, because if you're aware of a problem, it doesn't count. It's like tracking the wind: You can't observe the thing itself, only its effects. The tracks that a blind spot leaves are repetitive experiences that seem inexplicable, the things that make you exclaim, Why does this always happen to me? For example: 1. You keep having the same relationship with different people. All of Macy's friends are "takers," emotional parasites who drain her and give nothing back. Steve's three ex-wives all had extramarital affairs. No one in Corrine's life—her children, her coworkers, her mother—ever responds to her feelings. These people don't know that they carefully choose friends and lovers who match certain psychological profiles or that their behavior elicits similar

reactions from almost everyone they encounter. It would take you about five minutes with Macy to see that she's so self-effacing she actually resists normal friendships, gravitating only toward takers. Steve's friends will tell you he falls for women who remind him of his mother, an enthusiastic practitioner of promiscuous sex. Corrine is so reserved that even the most intuitive people can't read her moods. All three have gone through life blaming their relationship patterns on other people's shortcomings. 2. Your luck never changes. Over years of life-coaching, I've become more and more convinced that we create our own "luck." I'm not saying that there's no such thing as blind fate, but I am saying that choice is far more powerful than chance in determining the pattern of our failures and successes over time. Many of my clients have lost jobs in the economic downturn that followed 9/11, but those who were previously doing well in their careers are finding ways to learn from their experience and bounce back. Those who complained of relentless bad luck before being laid off have slid further downhill. A client I'll call Shirley recently complained, "When my sister was fired, I thought we'd bond because we both had the same bad luck. But then she started her own business, so it turns out that for her getting fired was good luck. Just like always, she gets all the breaks." As I punted Shirley to a psychotherapist, I wondered if they train Seeing Eye dogs for people with her kind of blindness. If so, Shirley will almost certainly develop a dog allergy. 3. People consistently describe you in a way that doesn't fit your selfimage. If tracking patterns in love and luck isn't enough to reveal your blind spots, there's another way to go after them. You just have to notice what people tell you about yourself—the things you have always cleverly ignored or routinely discounted. Complete the following sentences as accurately as you can, and you might be closing in on a truth you haven't fully acknowledged.
   

"People are always telling me that I'm..." "I get a lot of compliments about..." "When my friends or family members are angry with me, they say that..." "People often thank me for..."

If you heartily agree with all the information that pops up in response to these phrases, you've simply reinforced an accurate self-concept by recalling times

when others have validated your perceptions. But if any of the descriptions seem strange, incongruous, or flat-out false, consider the possibility that your image of yourself may not be accurate—and almost certainly doesn't correspond to what other people perceive. By the way, you may well discover that you're blind to your positive characteristics as well as negative ones. Some people (especially women) may be so biased against being arrogant that they overlook or dismiss their own best qualities. Next: How to get rid of your blind spots If the evidence suggests that you have blind spots, you can try to eliminate them with a simple mindfulness exercise. You already know what's in your blind spot; it's just that looking at it makes you extremely uncomfortable. Only by being very gentle with yourself will you become able to tolerate more awareness. So as kindly as you can, ask yourself the following questions: 1. What am I afraid to know? 2. What's the one thing I least want to accept? 3. What do I sense without knowing? Whatever comes into your mind, do nothing about it. Not yet. If you feel even a hint of some new realization, you've taken a huge step. More insights will arrive soon, and the kinder you are to yourself over time, the more likely you are to experience major breakthroughs. A friend I'll call Laura had struggled for years with persistent anxiety caused, she said, by something she felt was "poking at" her consciousness. After she took up meditation, Laura gradually became more self-aware until one day the Big One finally hit her like an earthquake on the San Andreas Fault. "I was feeling very peaceful, and suddenly I noticed that I was gay. I truly hadn't thought this before, which is odd when you consider that I was in a relationship with a woman. I assumed that if you were a lesbian, you knew it from the getgo. I knew I loved her—I'd simply never let myself think about what that implied. I called my girlfriend and said, 'Julie, I'm gay!' She paused, then said, 'Well, now you tell me.'" Laura is an intelligent woman, and her experience shows just how slowly and tentatively the mind accepts frightening knowledge, no matter how obvious. Hunting for your own blind spots, like trying to examine the back of your own head, is much less efficient than soliciting feedback from others. This process combines the attractions of strip-dancing and skydiving, making you feel

completely exposed yet energized by the sense that you could be catastrophically injured. Ever since I saw that first printout from my group psychology class, I've known how valuable honest feedback can be, how much precious time it can save in my struggle to awaken. I still have to force myself to go looking for it, but when I do I almost always benefit. Try this: For a week, ask for blind-spot feedback from one person a day, never asking the same person twice. Just say it: "Is there anything about me that I don't seem to see but is obvious to you?" You'll probably want to start with your nearest and dearest, but don't stop there. Surprisingly, a group of relative strangers is often the best mirror you can find. I've worked with many groups of people who, just minutes after meeting, could offer one another powerful insights. Like the emperor in his new clothes, we often believe that our illusions are confirmed by the silence of people who are simply too polite to mention the obvious. Breaking the courtesy barrier by asking for the truth can change your life faster than anything else I've ever experienced.

Handling Feedback
Any feedback is scary. The kind that addresses topics so uncomfortable you've stuffed them into a blind spot can be almost intolerable. That's why, before you even ask for an honest appraisal, you have to have a strategy in place for processing it. 1. Just say thanks. When others discuss your blind spots, you may have a violent emotional reaction. Remember: All of the upheaval is a product of your own mind. You do not have to dissuade or contradict the other person in order to feel calm. Instead of launching into an argument, just say thanks. Then imagine yourself tucking away the other person's comments in a box. You can take them out later, examine them, decide whether or not they're useful. 2. Dismiss useless feedback. There's real feedback, and then there's the slop that's merely a reflection of the speaker's dysfunction. Fortunately, you can tell these things apart because they feel very different. Useless feedback is nonspecific and vague, and has no action implication. It demotivates, locking us in confusion and shame. Useful feedback is specific and focused. It can sting like the dickens, but it leads to a clear course of action; when you hear it you feel a tiny lightbulb going on upstairs. "No one could ever love you" is useless feedback. "You project a lot of hostility, and it scares people" gives you information that you need to make healthy changes. It's safe to assume that useless feedback is coming from people who are themselves shame-bound and blind. The best thing to do with it is dismiss it

and focus on the information your gut tells you is valuable. 3. Absorb the truth. Neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote about a man who, virtually blind from early childhood, had an operation that restored his sight when he was middle-aged. Though the man's eyes now took in visual information, his brain wasn't used to making sense of it. He couldn't differentiate between a man and a gorilla until he touched a nearby statue of a gorilla; then the difference became immediately clear. This confused state is similar to what you'll feel when you've accepted feedback about what lies in your blind spots. You're not used to this new set of eyes, this novel image of self. I remember feeling incredibly clumsy just after the revelation that I can be very dominant. I felt a little as if I were talking while listening to headphones: I couldn't correctly gauge how I was coming across to others. Slowly, asking repeatedly for feedback, I began to see my own behavior more clearly. My false image of self gave way to a more accurate model, and I learned to avoid accidentally stomping on people with my conversational style. Deliberately, methodically eliminating your blind spots simply intensifies the natural process we all endure as life teaches us its rough-and-tumble lessons. If you undertake this accelerated journey, you will learn much more in much less time (albeit with a few more scrapes and bruises) and achieve a deeper level of self-knowledge than you otherwise would have. Just observing the truth about yourself without judgment or spin will begin to change you. It's well-nigh impossible to see yourself more and more clearly while continuing to act without integrity, or in contradiction to your life's real purpose. Eventually you may come to see what Marianne Williamson meant when she said, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us." To see your truest nature is to recognize that you have a capacity for goodness far greater than you ever dreamed, with all the awesome responsibility that entails. It's a difficult proposition, but in the end the view makes it all worthwhile.

Your Guide to Confessing Your Deep Dark Secrets
By Martha Beck OWN TV | June 15, 2002

Who to turn to, when to tell—and when to zip it up. Martha Beck on letting some of it hang out.
The problem with keeping secrets is that they're alive. We like to think that our secrets can lie quietly in our minds, as inert as dirt, but we're wrong. Secrets aren't just our creations...they're our creatures, beings with wills of their own. They grow. They reproduce, as we form new secrets to support the old ones. They even migrate, colonizing the people closest to us (ask anyone from a secretive family). But the scariest thing about secrets is what they want: They want out. The truth constantly tries to escape into the open, and keeping any of it buried invites isolation, obsession, addiction, even complete psychological destruction. On the other hand, random or ill-advised confessions can be disastrous. The only way to find harmony and balance is to learn when, where, why and to whom you should confess your secrets. Theodor Reik uses a term called "the compulsion to confess." This urge is part of every normal person (and some abnormal people as well—ever notice how many criminals get caught because they blab about their

crimes?). The confession compulsion makes sense when you consider that our secrets are simply parts of our life stories, our selves, that have been forced into hiding. We all have a deep psychological need to be accepted as we really are, but that can never happen as long as there are parts of us that no one sees or knows. We conceal aspects of ourselves that we think invite rejection, but ironically, the very act of secrecy makes us inaccessible to love. We think we're hiding our secrets, but really, our secrets are hiding us. Perhaps that's why when we lie or hide the truth, our very physiology rebels: Stress indicators like blood pressure, perspiration, blinking rates and breathing all increase, while immune function declines. Our subconscious mind joins the battle against secrecy; we find ourselves telling the truth in dreams, Freudian slips and the occasional drunken blurt. The more secretive we are, the more separate we feel from our own bodies, our own lives. When I did research on addiction, I found that most of the addicts I interviewed were trying to ease the pain of psychological isolation caused by dark secrets, and that telling their secrets was the single most powerful step that allowed them to connect with others, experience loving acceptance, and ultimately heal. Next: What should you confess? There are many things that don't need revealing; things that are simply private, rather than secret. You only need to confess secrets that diminish your ability to live an authentic life. You may have inherited these dark secrets from a dysfunctional family, broken a moral code, or fallen victim to something—rape, financial fraud, AIDS—that triggered shame and concealment. If any of the following statements describe you, confession is a must

1.

I am keeping a secret to protect someone—possibly myself—from the natural consequences of ongoing destructive behavior (alcoholism, violence or sexual abuse, for example). 2. My secret makes me feel constantly ashamed. 3. I conceal the truth because telling it might make someone angry. 4. I would not want to associate with anyone who has the same secret I do. 5. I'm sure I'll be rejected by anyone who learns this secret. 6. My secret is so awful, I can't stand to think about it, let alone talk about it. 7. This secret makes me pull away from people I want to trust and love. 8. I'd rather end a relationship than tell another person my secret. 9. I'm doing something that violates my own moral code. Conveniently enough, the first person to whom you absolutely must confess is you. Why not try it right now? Admit to yourself the secret things you have done or that have been done to you. Reject euphemisms and use the real words: adultery, stealing, bulimia, child abuse, whatever. Traditional cultures teach that calling something by its real name is the only way to gain power over it. Naming your dark secret in your own mind is the first step in reclaiming the power it has leeched from your life. The next step is one of the hardest but most liberating things you'll ever

a religious advisor or a 12step group.. Finding just one person who doesn't run away screaming when you tell your secret will move you a long way toward feeling whole.. you must be comfortable with the idea of any person or group knowing the whole truth about your life. but that sense of being really connected to my wife hasn't come back. your heart fluttering like a nervous moth as the yearning to create a truthful connection battles your fear of exposure. That's good." You may feel ambivalent. You're more likely to get a calm reaction from these people than from folks who are directly influenced by your actions. Next: When is the right time to confess? Pay attention if you ever find yourself thinking.maybe I will. You must tell your whole truth to at least one other human being... "I've confessed to our priest. I know dozens of people whose romantic relationships have failed because the parties involved kept secrets from each other. You must confess your dark secrets to anyone with whom you wish to have an intimate emotional bond.. but you must be able to handle the thought of their knowing your secret. Otherwise you'll be haunted by doubt. an extra-credit question: Is it still possible for you to be blackmailed? In other words. because the next step is even scarier. Next. brave and strong. "I could tell my secret right now. Secrets kill intimacy. you're not finished confessing. At such times. That doesn't mean you have to confess everything to everyone.I really could. "My feelings for my wife have faded over time. is there any person or group you're still terrified might learn your secret? If so. To be really free. You might want to start by confiding in a therapist. after you've admitted the truth to yourself and your loved ones.." said a friend who had just ended an affair. and I feel good about myself. trust yearning .do." News flash: You can never feel really connected to anyone from whom you are keeping important information. controlled by your attempts to control what others know.

5. all the time denying that he or she has a drinking problem). Some people really may reject you if you claim your . which is far wiser than any set of rules I could devise. hideously embarrassing at worst. 6. You find yourself confessing to random people (bartenders. new acquaintances. 2.over fear. who chat tipsily at cocktail parties about their marital woes. You're approaching this point when: 1. is telling you to take the risk. dragging you downward. Your intuition. If you're experiencing these symptoms. Confession is risky. 3. Telling when your heart tells you to is the way to avoid this dysfunctional pattern. Your feelings for significant others have flattened as you disengaged to avoid telling the truth. you'll experience the psychological equivalent of long-term nausea. 8. colleagues) while lying to your loved ones. You sense a deep chasm between you and people you love. If you resist it. intruding on your thoughts and poisoning pleasure. which are unfulfilling at best. You feel your secret as a literal weight. Fighting to keep secrets that wish to be told often leads to such badly timed revelations. 4. We've all met members of the Too Much Information Club. their potty-training memories or their habit of excessive masturbation. You argue about almost anything. becoming more and more miserable until the pain of hiding the truth finally becomes worse than the pain of barfing it up. you may find yourself confessing inappropriate things to inappropriate people at inappropriate times. You're filled with anger and/or hopelessness when you think about your secret. creating conflicts that are never resolved (because you aren't discussing the real issue). You compulsively talk around the subject that's bothering you. The secret haunts you. 7. without confessing (an alcoholic may talk endlessly about drinking.

Contrary to popular belief. It can turn our worst mistakes or tragedies into beacons of hope for others. You want someone who has been where you are and made it back alive. What's Really Going On in Your Life? By Martha Beck Oprah. and become frustrated by their inability to connect.com | From the October 2009 issue of O. It has very sharp eyesight indeed. love is not blind. They sense when you hide things from them. But explicitly losing these people is no more horrible than keeping them—sort of—at the cost of your integrity. Besides. By giving the people you care about the chance to love you as you are. That's why a confession you make merely to illuminate the murky corners of your little life may end up lighting the path to freedom for a thousand other hearts. Perhaps our secrets struggle to be revealed because they know that confession can perform a miracle: It can make dark secrets bright. and most of the people who love you aren't fooled by whatever masks you wear. there are probably far fewer of them than you think. you don't want the advice of people who have never been touched by evil. despair or confusion.whole identity and tell your whole story. The Oprah Magazine . everyone will benefit. Think about it: When you're most trapped by secrecy.

But their problems stubbornly resist fixing. I know what these ladies think: If they could only fix this problem. a discussion of Tricia's "spells" devolved into a verbal brawl. Tricia's depression was not her only problem. You probably have a designated issue. Instead. allowing everyone else to feel healthy by comparison. O's life coach goes deep. Loving mother Kristen worries constantly about her children's safety (I'm three for three). who'd been drinking. parents. As a designated-issue connoisseur. says Martha Beck—unless it's distracting you from an even more alarming issue. bickered about their mutual infidelity. and sister for a family session. (And I myself have had several. done that)." the one person in a family or group who's singled out as sick or abnormal. Tricia was depressed. Her parents. it was what I call her designated issue. Almost all my clients do. Tricia herself would be recognized by systems therapists as a "designated patient. When her therapist invited her husband. Why? Because designated . decent job. close-knit family—Tricia felt so low that she sometimes threatened suicide. dominating our psyches so that other troubles can go unnoticed. A designated issue performs the same service for an individual. Fabulous. life would be a bowl of pitted Maraschino cherries. Although her life had all the right ingredients—successful husband. Libbie pines for a soul mate (been there.) Annabeth obsesses endlessly about her weight (once upon a time. That was her only problem. In short. A designated patient "carries" the group's dysfunction.You're certain you know what your problem is. I did. too). Her sister wept like a fire hydrant. Tricia's husband shouted that they were ruining his life.

When Tricia's therapist threw a wrench into this system. From the outside. suffering many woes and imagining infinite others. buzzing confusion. and church. "Okay. Focusing on one mildly disturbing. And then you can get rid of it—though not quite in the way you might expect. If she'd been any less stoned. I might've lost a finger. Here are some more true stories: "I'm sick of thinking about my weight. "If I could only fix this one thing. and Kristen's children (like all children) were genuinely vulnerable to life's dangers. Life. Libbie's quest for the perfect relationship was a 24/7 occupation. it's obvious these women were using their "worst" problems as distractions from much worse ones. This is the real reason Tricia developed the moody blues. Her depression let everyone in her family worry just enough to avoid facing 50-some years of truly spectacular dysfunction. I'd be so happy!" I'll be the first to admit. but Kristen's finances were in shambles—a problem she'd pushed aside to focus on protecting her young. designated issues are troubling. as psychologist William James famously said. Tricia was depressed. Like Annabeth's weight problems. Earth's climate is changing. Yes. his designated patient's designated issue coughed up secrets everyone had been hiding. Kristen's crisis hit when she bounced a check to the private investigator she'd hired to make sure her grown children were living safely while at college." We stumble through it. You can thank it for that." I replied. haul them to yoga." "Sure. I've put together a quiz to help you tell . wars and genocides rage—and wouldn't you rather think about your cholesterol level? Me.issues aren't just problems. Your so-called worst problem may be sparing you even greater distress. semi-controllable issue allows the mind to stuff much greater terrors in relatively tidy packages. Libbie's loneliness was undeniable. too. bird flu seems imminent. Like toxic-waste receptacles. with all the confident self-assurance of squirrels trying to teach dog obedience classes." said Annabeth. "let's talk about your marriage. but getting her off the topic of romance was like taking beefsteak from a pit bull. Just a second. therapy. She yanked a king-size candy bar from her purse and attacked it like a starving lumberjack—something she did whenever the topic of marriage arose. The kids were fine. Yet each claimed. To calm ourselves." moaned chubby Annabeth. we may pickle our fears in alcohol. they serve the useful function of containing some nasty. Annabeth's weight threatened her health. scary material. they're also solutions. I thought it might be useful to discuss her avocation of selling marijuana. But certain characteristics distinguish these issues from everyday problems. is "one great blooming. scorch them with nicotine.

which is why. This gratitude for your most maddening chronic problem will likely arise spontaneously. and stopped thinking about it. the ants would have absorbed much more mental focus. even hundreds of efforts that should rightfully demolish them. Tricia's therapist eventually noticed that Tricia's spells coincided with disagreements between her relatives. Here's the basic process: 1. at this moment. 2. resist dozens. though she's lost it over and over. either alone or with someone who's willing to . Does your grudge toward politicians become fury en route to your office? Do you schedule more plastic surgery whenever you think about decluttering your house? If so. When Tricia became depressed. you've probably got a designated issue on your hands—or. it's that Annabeth sabotages all her own weight loss strategies because her overeating helps her avoid noticing that she and her husband are miserable together. 3. booked an eco-friendly exterminator. Tricia fell apart. you want more than anything to be rid of this dilemma. But her mood fluctuated even on antidepressants. Designated issues command inordinate mindshare. Spendaholic Kristen grew panicky about her kids right around tax time. Consciously. I swept them up.the difference. This united the family as if she'd torched her house. If you ruminate this way about a single subject. I am incredibly worried about my gums. The issue isn't genetics. rather. I recently discovered ants in my guest bedroom—more of a scouting party than an infestation. Subconsciously. This is how we react to ordinary challenges: After taking reasonable action. but still. Similarly. When we solve a problem. And you? If you have a persistent worry. stayed up late researching pesticides. and sincerely thank them for containing your other worries. Sit down in a peaceful space. Ick. filled my consciousness with anti-ant antics. but only after some heavy psychological lifting. Everyone forgot their differences and formed an emotional bucket line to "fix" her. If insect pests were my designated issue. despite the fact that your exertions aren't helping. Each time the family brewed up a brouhaha. things go according to plan. Designated issues. and the following are also useful guidelines: 1. Annabeth's weight keeps popping back up. Libbie's loneliness waxed and waned not according to her relationship status but to her marijuana supply (more weed = less loneliness). you can stamp those preoccupations designated issues. Designated issues dodge permanent solutions. I'd have called dozens of exterminators. you depend on it. Designated issues synchronize with seemingly unrelated events. her doctor prescribed a little something to cheer her up. My own designated issues spike in response to writing deadlines. we relax our attention. on your mind. notice correlations between it and unrelated activities. on the other hand.

transmogrifying her designated issue from a torture chamber to a study. 4. and thus my life. After taking this one step. ungodly mess. go right back to obsessing about your designated issue. and you'll find your designated issue getting smaller. Vanished. and take at least one step toward solving it. Ask yourself. 5. Join a support group for people whose relatives have Alzheimer's. but it works for me. buzzing confusion of your life ever require one. her depression eased. got divorced. 2. but its calming effect lingers. The process also helped Tricia: As she therapized about her nutty family. Pick one of these unpleasant problems. . but I still find it deeply soothing to write down everything I've eaten during the day. It's been years since I was driven by food obsession. Imagine as vividly as you can that your designated issue is gone. she still obsesses about Prince Charming. Bring Snowball to the vet. Repeat the process outlined above. weirdly. This last step may surprise you—isn't the goal to destroy the designated issue once and for all? Not necessarily. If you have a designated issue.act as a friend and adviser. say. Not even a memory. Libbie never dealt with her dealing. I no longer believe that. I used to think this process would help me control my weight. You need your obsession to hold your inner turmoil. But Kristen's fear for her children abated as she learned money management. Negotiate with your landlord. Doesn't that feel great? 3. what problems do I still have to face?" The answer will be sobering. Your unpaid rent. your cat's mange. gratitude that your brain has the capacity to create another designated issue. you wouldn't have created it. Sadly. frightening realities of your life will spill from the lead-lined box of your designated issue in a big. your beloved aunt's dementia—all the unglamorous. less compulsive. should the blooming. otherwise. and lost 50 pounds. "Now that I've fixed that. Annabeth faced her marital dissatisfaction. addressing other problems will (eventually) make it dry up and blow away. speeding tickets. lighter. In its place you'll find self-empowerment and gratitude—even. Calorie counting may seem like a strange response to.

an elderly monk became abbot of his monastery. Realizing that for centuries his order had been making copies of copies. however. There are at least two time zones where you can choose to make regret's powerful energy healing rather than destructive: the past and the future. or a kindness so deep it heals every wound it touches. and it changes you. whether your toughness will look like unreachable bitterness or unstoppable resilience. the other monks found him in the cellar. regret. Regret can be your worst enemy or your best friend. if not your conjoined twin.com | From the July 2008 issue of O. the woeful fuel of country ballads. Days later. prone to accusatory comments and dark moods. If you've ever made a bad decision or suffered an accident. the self-recrimination I feel for eating a quart of pudding in a crafty but unsuccessful attempt to avoid writing this column. leaving you both tougher and more tender. weeping over a crumbling manuscript and moaning. Both . You get to decide which. regret has been your roommate. You get to decide.' not 'celibate!'" Ah. "It says 'celebrate. The Oprah Magazine So here's the story: After a lifetime of handcopying ancient texts.Who's Sorry Now? Six steps to regret-proof your life By Martha Beck Oprah. It's a difficult companion. The forehead-slap of hindsight. your tenderness the raw vulnerability of a never-healing wound. he decided to examine some of the monastery's original documents.

instead of telling the story of the past in a useful way. Literally. It. Let's start by changing the past. 2. Try these steps. If you think that can't be done." When you've fully itemized your sadness. or gotten that promotion. But." "I'm angry at God for creating ticks. really. ultimately making it a stalwart protector of your future. If you enjoy being miserable." If only they'd married Sebastian. by all means. you might say. Did. beginning each sentence with the phrase." Repeat until you run out of sad things related to that particular regret. unproductive regret.can be transformed by what you decide to do right now. Denying either component will get you stuck in bitter." The angry ones endlessly repeat that their ex-spouses shouldn't have left them. more or less in order. in this moment. or their bosses shouldn't have made them wear uncomfortable chipmunk costumes in 90-degree heat. I call this unproductive regret. "I'm sad that I feel awful. they use it as their excuse for staying wretched. Separate regret's basic ingredients. please hear this: Everyone agrees with you. glad.. Right now. For example." "I'm angry at the entire town of Lyme. if your regret is contracting Lyme disease. and scared—regret is a mixture of the first two." "I'm sad that the woods don't feel safe to me anymore. Even drearier are the sad ones. finish this sentence: "I'm sad that __________. mad. or heeded the label's advice not to operate heavy machinery. "That shouldn't have happened or I shouldn't have done that. and though past events aren't changeable. Considering anger and sadness separately makes both more useful. You can act now to transform the way you tell the story of your past. why did I get a haircut from a stylist who was actively smoking a bong?").. That thing you regret? It really. As long as you're thinking. People use it to avoid scary or difficult action. who forever drone some version of "If only. continue to rail against this fact. think of something you regret. Your particular situation may involve enormous sadness and a little anger ("My father died before I ever met him." Write down all the causes for your rage. Whatever the proportions. Of the four basic emotions—sad. Damn cruel fate!") or enormous anger with a side of sadness ("Why. prune the "shouldn't haves" from your mental story. for which this $#@* disease was named. If you'd rather be happy." "I'm sad I can no longer ride my pogo stick. make another list. and move on to. some regretters feel sadness but resist feeling anger. Many people pour years of energy into useless "shouldn't haves." For example." you're locked in a struggle against reality. others acknowledge outrage but not sorrow. With that something in mind. think again. . If you're prone to unproductive regret. Get beyond denial. even if they're irrational. Connecticut. 1. a mental story. "I'm angry at my body for being sick. your stories about them are. they would be happy campers instead of les misérables. The past doesn't exist except as a memory. really shouldn't have happened. their parents shouldn't have overfed them. why. "I'm angry at ________.

Once you have a clear list of your sorrows and outrages. I've been coaching long enough to brazenly promise that if you decide to reclaim the essence of anything you regret losing. Instead of sidelining her. she said. but which steadily erode your sadness. Sorrow is a natural reaction to losing anything significant: a dream. you'll hear it roaring useful instructions about how you should steer your future. You can't change the fact that you binged your way up to 300 pounds. then a pebble in your shoe. simply grieving may not be enough. regret became just one more springboard. This is extraordinarily useful but also profoundly uncomfortable because the only way out of painful emotion is through. a possession. in ways you would never have expected. she says. then a rock in your pocket. which feel horrific. attention. Grieve what is irrevocably lost. 4. which provided all of them. Analyze your anger. or lost a winning lottery ticket. When I asked her what she would've gotten from the Olympics." Once she'd articulated these essentials. If your sadness stops evaporating. an opportunity. or spent decades in celibacy rather than celebration. Jenny's big regret was that one disastrous gymnastics meet had tanked her chances to make the Olympic team. resolve that you'll find ways to reclaim the essence of anything you can't stop grieving. Just leave the kids with a sitter. and let your angry animal self . or journal. you'll find it—often sooner than you think. if a certain amount of it just isn't budging. The anger component of regret is every bit as important and useful as your sadness. where you'll work both angles to transform unproductive regret into the productive kind. excitement. 5. 3. Regret is telling you to seek out a part of whatever you've lost. run from it. world-class competition. tranquilize it. You're finished grieving when you see someone gaining what you regret losing and feel only joy for them—maybe even secret gratitude that circumstances forced you to enlarge your own capacity for joy (this is how I feel about people who don't have a kid with Down syndrome). Don't fear it. her life is so exciting that she virtually never thinks about the Olympics. Anger is a bear. team up with a sympathetic friend. But you can reclaim the essential experiences you missed: loving your own healthy body. you can move on to step 3. "Pride. try to kill it. Reclaim the essence of your dreams. The crushing mountain of sorrow eventually becomes a boulder on your back. Now. Jenny found herself gravitating toward a job in television. enjoying abundance. spouse. then nothing at all—not because circumstances change but because you become strong enough to handle reality with ease. Productive grief passes through you in waves. therapist. In this moment. but if you pay attention. feeling glorious passion.

your anger will roar out this next instruction. in fact. Your impulse to champion the oppressed might compete with panic for your own sorry hide. I wondered if it's literally true that "I can't regret what I did for love. Love steers you forward. The pound dog will tug at your heart. which is a species of fear. a song that catchy just can't be all wrong. . and things I fear—at bay?" Sometimes the choice will be utterly clear. Do your own thought experiment." So I did a little thought experiment. soft of heart. That's when you can call on regret—not as a burden that you still have to bear but as a motivator that can forcefully remind you not to make choices that will feel awful in retrospect. from the tiniest to the most immense. But on many occasions. and sure enough. it was always the fear-based component that left me fretful and regretful. rocking sick babies. outright terror. reclaimed your dreams. go toward love. And I really can't regret any choice that brought me one moment of love. people. The path toward what you love may be fraught with uneasiness. regret will have made you the right kind of toughand-tender: dauntless of spirit. There will be a lot of meaningless sound and fury. and no fear arises. it will probably take you on a wondrously wild ride.. When I saw A Chorus Line.) So the ultimate lesson of regret. But I promise. anxiety. having spent the daylight hours eating pudding in reaction to writer's block. But I've also lost a lot of sleep for love. If you've grieved your losses. is this: Every time life brings you to a crossroads. the one that will help guide you into a rich and satisfying future. Living this way doesn't guarantee an easy life. avoiding celibacy. and no good ever came of it. you won't regret it. In the cases where my motivations were a mix of love and fear. convinced by experience that nothing based on fear—but everything based on love—is worth doing. (Let's face it. but there will also be information about exactly what needs to change in your present and future so that you'll stop suffering from old regrets and create new ones. I've stayed up communing with friends. I'll be up most of tonight.. and articulated your anger. 6.bellow its messages. You'll long for success but dread the risks necessary to earn it. I predict that tomorrow I'll regret this—I've spent many. Think of every choice in terms of "What would thrill and delight me?" rather than "What will keep my fear—or the events. but worry about upkeep will push away the first sparks of love and leave you without a four-footed friend. things will seem trickier. For example. I recalled all my significant regrets. Learn to lean loveward. not away from fear. many sleepless nights fearing this or that. I found that none of them followed a choice based purely on love. and I suspect you'll come to similar conclusions. Basically. All were the consequence of fear-based decisions.

My neck pain. Though this was a new experience. The Oprah Magazine It's been tailing you for years—depression. . on the other hand. It started when my horse jumped a little.com | From the February 2009 issue of O. Right now I have two cliché pains: one in my neck and one in my butt. which I'm sure they carry at Victoria's Extremely Dark Secret. brand-named Comfy Rump. and vanquish it forever. making the injury debilitating. My neck may heal normally. Both are the result of my learning to ride—and I use that term loosely—a horse. and she's developed an easy way you can track it. an irresistible urge for cupcakes—appearing here and there. just chafed skin. I have fibromyalgia. with no rhyme or reason. could mean trouble.8 Steps to Conquer the Beast Within By Martha Beck Oprah. the afterpain is all too familiar. Martha Beck calls this a bête noire. Or so it seems. I'm told it can be avoided by wearing a padded undergarment. or "fibro" may be triggered by the bruised tissue. causing my head to lash around on my vertebral column like a bowling ball on a Slinky. a chronic pain syndrome no one really understands. tame it. You see. a hot temper. The butt pain is no big deal.

For example. If you want to be the handler of your beast. a tendency to lurk in the shrubbery near former lovers' homes holding a machete in one hand and The Complete Works of Keats in the other. "I'm lonely. Many magical traditions hold that you control a monster by speaking its name. the second-to-the-top. if it rates a 9." The moment you call the problem by its real name." "My marriage isn't working. I beg to differ. The numbers on the left axis indicate the intensity of your problem. addiction. at whatever level feels appropriate (if your suffering is at 10. The power of naming is why so many lives have changed with the first utterance of words like "I'm an alcoholic" or "I'm over my head in debt" or. Knowing my condition's name allowed me to track. and so on). So be brave: Say the words. most nicotine-addicted. a French term for "black beast" that has come to mean something to be avoided because it frightens us or can cause us harm. "I'm unhappy." Actually. that was the year I [got pregnant/bought a Yugo/tried to learn pole-vaulting]. it isn't real and it can't hurt me. Step 3: Remember (and record) the worst of times. If you don't remember your age back then. Download the Lifeline graph here Step 1: Learn to call your bête noire by its real name. avoiding a scary topic means your subconscious mind is riveted on it. Now recall when your bête noire was its very worst—the time you were fattest. my pain rated a 10 when I first developed symptoms. "If I talk about diabetes. To let go of something." These events will help you place your worst bête noire periods in the correct year on your Lifeline. most socially incompetent. think of other things that happened around the same time: "Oh. My whole world changed the day a doctor flipped through his medical school textbook and found the label for my illness. instead of its prey. with 0 indicating "no problem at all" and 10 "the worst I've ever experienced.Fibromyalgia is my bête noire. Begin filling in the Lifeline by answering this question: On a scale of 0 to 10. you first have to admit you're holding it. you may think it will ruin your life. Whatever yourbête noire might be. yes. and manage it. told me. your bête can be studied. grab a pencil and prepare to learn a bête noire tracking exercise that I call the Lifeline. Mark the "level 10" box above each of the years when your problem hit its maximum. Like other wild animals. Many of us have bêtes noires: dark moods (Winston Churchill called depression his "black dog"). which had been misdiagnosed for years. I'll attract it. True freedom starts with absolute honesty. It came on strong again . understand. On the Lifeline graph you downloaded. a diabetic." how bad is your problem today? Put an X in the column above your current age." "I have an eating disorder. the numbers across the bottom reflect your age. or whatever. simply." One of my clients. understood—even tamed. self-loathing. mark the topmost box. you're already learning how to make it less harmful. Step 2: Start filling in your lifeline by rating your bête noire at this moment. at age 18. If I never say it.

. When your bête noire was at its worst. fill in the gaps. Step 4: Remember (and record) the best of times. my pain levels dropped from a 10 to a 4 when I was 31. "I eat more when I'm tired" or "I feel wonderful near the ocean. after I quit my academic job and started writing books.. my pain dropped to near 0. Now it's time to look on the bright side. answer the questions below on another sheet of paper. When was your beast at its least? Give it a score for each year that applies.during each of my pregnancies. You won't have total recall. What did you do on a typical day? 4. But social scientists know that charts like the Lifeline can be extremely useful—and as you fill in the boxes. They rose a little the next year. but others are invisible. Where were you working? (Note: Raising kids at home is work. To begin noticing connections between your bête noire and other life experiences. Once you've marked the best and worst of times. Recall occasions when your problem eased up or temporarily disappeared. That means that on my Lifeline. C. What did your best times have in common? . Now answer the five questions above in regard to the times your bête noire was least bothersome. and stayed at maximum force when all three of my kids were tiny.) 3. For example. 25. Remember what was going on in your life. 23. A." Many of the causal links in your life are obvious to you. 1. Mark your Lifeline to represent your personal Dark Ages. What did your worst times have in common? D. You describe correlations and causalities every time you observe. The Lifeline exercise helps you see these. you'll automatically start thinking like a social scientist. What did you believe? B. and 27 through 30. fibromyalgia pain scored a 10 at ages 18. but at 33. Which brings us to the most powerful Lifeline step. when I began life-coaching former students. Where were you living? 2. Step 6: Take note of correlations and casual links. and above each year of low beast activity. The numbers will be too fuzzy for physics. With whom did you spend time? 5. mark the box that shows the level of intensity back then. Step 5: Fill in the gaps. scoring your bête noire levels at every age.

If you think you've spotted a causal link in your Lifeline. These clients couldn't believe such factors were really aggravating their bêtes noires —until we tested them. I learned to change course when I felt the first twinge. I realized that my body uses "fibro" to send messages from my soul to my brain. I now believe that bêtes noires usually attack because we're thwarting our own destinies.E. But as I kept studying the correlations in my life. worsened when I tried to be my idea of a "perfect mother. As a result. experiment. Which brings us to. "Look over there!" It used to take incapacitating agony to make me pay attention. The pain attacked when I tried to write academic journal articles. This may seem strange. I've seen this exercise work with all kinds of black beasts. the less compelled she was to drink. Step 8: Tame the beast. I was doing something that I later realized was steering me away from my life's purpose.. receded when I wrote books for a popular audience. spiked when I taught college. his business sense surged. you. and her self-esteem blossomed. using a Lifeline.. Create the life conditions that correlate with a calm bête noire —and see if that's what happens. you will . were there any factors that were present at the worst times but not at the best times? This exercise has sparked thousands of lightbulb moments for me and my clients. Colleen's self-esteem dropped like an anvil whenever she stopped doing yoga." lessened when I was simply myself around my children. If you mull over your Lifeline. I rarely have symptoms. "Your destiny's not here!" the pain tells me. But creating a Lifeline revealed something surprising: Each and every time my pain flared. Benjamin spent less time with intellectuals and more with his blue-collar employees. my pain has diminished. she realized that what she really wanted was to use her innate creativity. Colleen made time for yoga every day. and sure enough. Though I still have fibromyalgia. vanished when I started life-coaching. too. her whiskeythirst actually did diminish. My client Janice realized that her beast—alcoholism—was less severe when she spent lots of time knitting. as time passes. Step 7: Test your discoveries. Colleen found that down dog really did make her buck up. So. (Yes! Knitting!) Benjamin realized that he made disastrous business decisions around intellectual snobs. Calming the beast turns us toward our best lives. not advanced. Benjamin became so comfortable working with blue-collar employees that he outperformed the MBAs at his company. when Janice replaced whiskey with yarn handicrafts. If you begin using Lifeline exercises to track your various bêtes noires. Other than the bête noire itself. always focusing on things like diet or medication. The more she created beautiful things. will find unexpected correlations and causalities. but the proof of the pudding is in the eating: When Janice hauled out her yarn and started clicking needles. improving every relationship in her life. I spent years trying to figure out what triggered my fibromyalgia pain. That's because.

only occasionally causing a slight pain in the neck. One day your bête noire will be just a frisky dog or a flighty horse. . I've learned from hundreds of clients that your very worst issues can be tamed into helpful friends.discover what aggravates them and how to quiet them. an enjoyable and loyal companion.

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Whitney came to see me. sleep past her alarm. The Oprah Magazine Are you driving yourself crazy with dumb mistakes. but after the downsizing." said Whitney.When Your Biggest Problem Is. her performance nose-dived. As Whitney cut redundant prose from ad copy. On the day she absentmindedly shredded a presentation she was about to deliver. With guns in both hands. and other lunkheaded moves? Martha Beck offers a no-fail strategy to get you back on the right track. "Do I have early-onset Alzheimer's?" she asked desperately.You By Martha Beck Oprah." Whitney's problems began when economic chaos hit the advertising company where she was an editor. She began to forget meetings. accidentally forward highly personal e-mails to her boss." . "Maybe ADD? A brain tumor? It's got to be something medical. her company cut redundant workers all around her..com | From the July 2009 issue of O. Whitney herself had always been a perfectionist who loved her work.. "It's more like I'm using my entire body for target practice. It's not like I'm shooting myself in the foot. "what was I thinking?" comments.

chained next to the Machine. "One of my theories. You'll thank me. What's wrong with me?" Maybe you've had an experience akin to these." Only Westley's superhuman fortitude keeps him from accepting." he says in a moment of compassion. not away from. it behooves us all to be aware of them and use them consciously and skillfully. In the midst of such madness. Denial Strategy #1: "Fear? Ha! What Fear?" When I suggested to Whitney that she might be courting job loss precisely because it was her worst fear." says the evil Count in William Goldman's classic story The Princess Bride. In these officially Troubled Times. "I couldn't go on without him." she told me. I shut down. I swear. she laughed. And self-sabotage is the mind's way of accepting the albino's offer. absolutely not. An albino dungeon-keeper offers Westley a way out. a torture device the Count has promised to use on Westley later. As counterintuitive as it might seem. these subconscious reflexes can be helpful.. "You deserve better than what's coming.Meanwhile. it can help immensely to know that there's a name for your pain. Anticipation. not realizing that we're subconsciously trying to force a resolution. "I forget I've promised to pick him up after work. I follow him around begging him to talk. something you fear. The Count's theory about anticipation is right on the money.. Anticipation Is Making Me Late. And that means punching through denial." she told me. "is that pain involves anticipation. we may screw up in precisely the places we want most to succeed." Yet Olga made as many stupid mistakes at home as Whitney did at work. and when he wants to be close. Westley. another client of mine—I'll call her Olga—was going through something similar in her relationship with her husband." He then leaves the captive hero. To resolve the situation. a truck-with-no-brakes run of errors and foul-ups that wreak destruction in your life despite frantic efforts to regain control. "Fear? Me? No. Those of us who use plain English might call it selfsabotage—and it can ruin your life. a tendency to slide toward." This struck me as an odd choice of idiom in an era when demented mortgage . to stop the anxious feeling that's hanging over our heads. "Please let me kill you. we must first recognize that we're using counterphobic mechanisms. "When he says he needs space. I'm sorry so many people are getting laid off. You may be using something psychologists call a counterphobic mechanism. but my job is safe as houses. to lose the job rather than continue to worry about a pink slip." she said. "Jack is my life. "I mean. Like Whitney or Olga.

What would you do?" "That won't happen." "I don't want to!" "Seriously. of course I'm nervous!" Whitney snapped. "suppose your company folds." she muttered." I said. "I've worked my whole adult life for this job!" Whitney cried. watching her thumbs go to work. what will you do if you lose your job?" The dam burst. Like so many people right now. I also noticed a crimson blush creeping up Whitney's neck. Freud to the floor." So that cat was out of the bag." her inner albino was saying. "You'll thank me. "And it's not like I can get another one these days. Whitney was stuck contemplating the Machine of unemployment. "What if you keep shredding presentations and sending your boss e-mails about yeast infections?" I said. please. so her subconscious mind had built a counterphobic mechanism to kill the job and end the agony. "You seem nervous. Have you seen the news? Every day it's worse—more unemployment. She couldn't answer a telemarketer's call without blurting out her dread of losing Jack." Denial Strategy #2: "But That's the Last Thing I'd Want. Quite the contrary. "I swear." she whispered. "Well." For Olga. "Honestly." Whitney began trembling. I don't see how that's possible. "I can't lose my job. "The whole damn country's falling apart—who isn't nervous?" "So. She discussed it endlessly with Jack himself." I commented. But she'd shoved this intense fear out of her conscious awareness. . "Um. now Whitney looked pale. more foreclosures." "I'm not saying it will. People just like me are living in tents! My stocks are practically worthless. "It'd be the end of the world. Paging Dr.practices have triggered worldwide economic catastrophe. the problem wasn't that she was unaware of her biggest fear. Freud: Dr. I'm just asking you to imagine it. could you excuse me for a second?" She pulled out her BlackBerry and peered at it anxiously. "What if these screwups keep getting worse?" The blush faded abruptly.

"I'd have to learn to live for myself. "I'd be free. or all of the above. Olga's real fear wasn't that Jack wanted to leave her." she sniffed." she said. your more objective advisers can help you do some contingency planning. this bizarre practice ensured that Olga's marriage was focused entirely on negative energy (our lives tend to revolve around the things we're trying not to do). One is to let the albino dungeon-keeper of your subconscious kill the very thing you fear losing. It also meant Jack had no way of processing the countless indignities Olga kept inflicting on him. Nelly! The fear she'd been hiding was an even bigger surprise to Olga than Whitney's was to her. you're going to have to live through it. you have only two options. sobbing." Of course. family members." Her voice trailed off. with my patented anti-tact." . I suggest doing this in the company of friends. "I know!" Olga said. waiting for God knows what. bad experiences in the past. When you're chained to a Machine. even movies he doesn't like. push yourself to contemplate your worst-case scenario. They're making more money now than before they were laid off. I know people who've started Internet-based companies for freelance work. to be. but I am not the evil Count.. and her mascara-smeared eyes opened wide. "I love him so much. The other is what brave Westley chose: Face and embrace your fear. "It's another thing I've done to drive him away. "You do understand you're making Jack's life completely impossible?" I said." "If you don't think about it. though. but I can't live without him!" "So what'll you do if he leaves?" More sobs." she said. Whoa. While you're gaping and reeling like a stunned mullet. It was that she wanted to leave Jack. That is what I did with Whitney.. "I don't know. therapists. You may find my treatment of Whitney and Olga rather brutal." I told her. If you're repeatedly making dreadful mistakes and finding yourself in embarrassing snafus in an important area of life. "So start thinking." "Well. I've never dared think about it. I guess." I said. I can't let negative energy into our relationship. "But it wouldn't be."I won't let him talk about anything negative—negative feelings. coaches. "I know losing your job sounds like the end of the world. I'd have to be independent.

reasoned. she bagged her old stereotype of married life and realized she was free to plot her own course. But she did sound a tiny bit hopeful. unconscious. But by going straight into the fear. and nuts. like Whitney and Olga. Her definition of "perfect wife" had meant someone who relinquished all personal interests except her husband. As we discussed what Olga might do if she were single. and wise." said Whitney. any chronic blundering on your part is likely a counterphobic mechanism: a brave. rather than unconscious." I said. can save you no end of self-sabotage. you can save yourself a crazy go-round with unconscious self-sabotage. not by any means. Although Olga loved Jack. are probably of sound mind. that image of wifehood (hers. but how would I—" "You'd figure it out."Really?" Whitney blinked. facing and embracing her worst-case scenario was even more liberating. With Jack's help. The more we examined ways Whitney could survive being unemployed. You deserve better than that. I knew. hoping like hell I was right. She had felt stifled in her relationship. she began redefining herself as an individual. totally knob-brained attempt to end the torture of anticipating further torture. and her marriage-torpedoing behaviors stopped. You'll thank me. would end her unconsciously driven train wrecks at the office. Embracing her worst-case scenario took the kill me now sign off her relationship. is a counterphobic mechanism. "You know. I swear. Once Olga copped to her real fears. Her grip on the BlackBerry loosened. too. more than ever. I would. the less likely she was to cause that very fate. not his) was so noxious that subconsciously she knew she couldn't sustain it. It may not be fun to contemplate everything that could go wrong in your life. not an appendage. facing and embracing your worstcase scenarios. So she'd begun doing things to end the marriage—and thus her terrible anticipation of its end. These days. . Ironically. The difference is that it's conscious. especially in a time of massive economic upheaval and uncertainty. of course. Her fear of the Machine was already waning—and that. she realized. Some part of her worried that it would eventually implode. seeing them as problems to be solved rather than torments to suffer helplessly. "And you'd finally have time to write your own book—haven't you always wanted that?" "Yes. this. irrational. She didn't sound totally convinced. Since you.

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" Hey.How to Find Your Passion By Martha Beck OWN TV | September 15. Just for a moment. They talk as if their passion were a lost item they could find by digging around in their psyches. like beachcombers with bad shorts and metal detectors searching for coins in the sand. wild. but I just can't. Look at the ocean. people. 2003 "I'm too worn out." "I'm too scared. dangerous fertility? Good. I need to find a passion." About half of my clients say this as soon as we meet. Can you sense its inconceivable power. Now we've got us a metaphor. stop digging. its vast. "I feel so stuck." "It's not allowed. the stuck stops here! Martha Beck shows you how to un-dam your go-with-the-flow. .

If not. We turn away from the ocean. Write that novel. forbidden or fearful. "I'm too worn out." "I'm too scared. the "but" stops us dead in our tracks. but. you may need to address the factors that trigger Yeah-buts in the first place. Finding it isn't like bagging an expensive trinket." ask yourself if you're describing a genuine obstacle that cannot be circumnavigated.. familiar terrain behind us and throwing ourselves into the sea. you're probably feeling one of the Three Fs: fatigued. Yeah-but prefaces infinite justifications for avoiding the things our hearts find compelling." The Island of Yeah-but The "yeah" pushes us toward our passion. Try this: The next time you hear yourself say "Yeah. . refusing to notice how our hair prickles when we smell the salt water. the way still unclear. In the areas where you're stuck." Hey.. Then we spend years looking for our "lost" passion in the sand of a grotesquely overpopulated place I call the "Isle of Yeah-but. it's like leaving comfortable. the stuck stops here! Martha Beck shows you how to un-dam your go-with-the-flow. people." If this feels overwhelming.Passion—including the manifestations of passion we feel within ourselves and therefore call "ours"—is not something we can grasp or own but a force of nature." "It's not allowed. do exactly what your Yeah-but says you shouldn't.. Keep the "yeah" and kick the "but. Resist oppression. connected to and influenced by things that extend far beyond any puny human self. Adopt a puppy from the pound. Many of us avoid taking the plunge. ignoring the roar of breakers.

One important caveat: If you aren't feeling refreshed after a couple of weeks' rest. and said she was depressed—only she said it so slowly that I thought she said "deep rest. Forbidden Often stuck people have learned through experience.. that can be alleviated only through professional care." you're probably too tired to embark on the sea of passion. I would. At times. or if you know what you love but find yourself stuck in Yeah-but excuses. a loss of mental acuity. meant to turn us toward healing. example. care for yourself. You may feel stuck if your fundamentalist parents railed against sin or if your suave intellectual friends mock anyone who seems enthusiastic. sleep. "How old do I feel?" If the answer is "Really. or explicit instruction that passion is bad. A tired body. this may reach the level of depression. If I didn't care what anyone thought.. So if you're exhausted. We'll do almost anything to avoid shame or. One day a client oozed into my office. Curl up with the cat and watch TV. you'll wake up feeling like it's time to go for a swim. 2. a tired heart can't—and shouldn't—be passionate about anything but rest. slumped into a chair. and/or a flat emotional profile.. it's time to see a doctor. a tired mind.. Eventually. complete the following sentences with whatever comes to mind. . You may have a condition. read. Fatigue can cause an absence of physical desire (an exhausted body isn't programmed to win races or make babies). sleep some more.1. such as a chemical imbalance. really old. Depression can be part of a general shutdown. this was accurate." In a way. Fatigue If your inner life is so blah that you don't enjoy anything. ask yourself. To see whether you have been disimpassioned by social judgment.

" "It's not allowed.. If you thought of things you've never actually done. things that make you giggle with embarrassment. Fearful . I would. You've learned to expect negative judgments...." Hey. They confide in their militantly atheistic friends about their call to the ministry. so (consciously or unconsciously) you avoid intense feeling and anything that causes it." "I'm too scared. accepting. the stuck stops here! Martha Beck shows you how to un-dam your go-with-the-flow.. dance. Instead share your passion with folks who are likely to support you. The tragic thing is that many people never realize there are places where they can swim with confidence. If they don't violate your own moral code. You'd think this would be obvious. puritanical mother that they want to dance.. It's true that some social environments are vicious. loving. start doing them—without telling the people who would judge you.. people. Think of the things that you'd do if they weren't forbidden. If I could be sure I'd do it right. but it isn't. and the places they lurk. you're probably forbidding yourself to follow your passion.If I knew my parents would never find out. dance! Don't make this mistake. you'll add social approval to the inherent joy of following your passions—and it will feel fabulous. I'd. 3. or tell their pessimistic. In doing so.. but others are warm. You know what sharks look like. "I'm too worn out. Avoid them. I've watched incredulously as dozens of clients who are just getting unstuck seek support from the very people who got them stuck in the first place.

By feeling the fear and doing something anyway. and act in spite of fear. once you feel what it is to ride that wild. This lessened her fear.‖ If you never leave the Isle of Yeah-but. but follow your dreams even when you're scared. if you don’t attend to your fatigue. hard-ass approach. this meant doing two things every day: nurturing the scared little girl inside her. If you're stuck. I'd advise you to adopt it. and she started gaining weight while losing strength and speed. The pressure triggered a host of fears Paige had suffered since childhood. but didn't eliminate it entirely. The only way to develop courage is to act brave until you feel brave. that you're breaking out of your comfort zone. gorgeous. making the team wasn't her only way forward. you do risk failure—but you will still get unstuck. gorgeous ocean. ―To sail is necessary. Suddenly. Why? Because Paige really cared about making that particular team. embrace forbidden hopes. Once she adopted this new approach. We called it the soft-heart. Paige realized that it was getting her in good enough shape to be a model as well as an athlete. But once you have come unstuck and begun to live passionately. we have to take this kind of risk. We spent some time discussing Paige's history of physical and sexual abuse.One of my clients—I'll call her Paige—was a tall. Waiting to feel brave so that you can act brave? Sorry. and there was a good chance she'd fail. to live is not. intelligent athlete preparing to try out for a professional team. In Paige's case. and getting that scared little girl to the damn gym. Care for your heart by soothing it. the captain would shout to his crew. fear or no fear. In the ancient classical world when mariners launched a ship in rough weather. often in ways you never expected. Period. Make friends with the fear that tells you you're doing something real and important. the cry of the seafarer will come to make perfect sense. . She began to replace training with eating binges. this statement will always be Greek to you. and that was scary to her. To get unstuck.

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com | From the December 2000 issue of O. The Oprah Magazine .A Simple Yet Powerful Way to Open the Heart and Connect with Others Sharon Salzberg Oprah.

it could be totally false. Rachel. she laughed. Like Rachel. a Buddhist term for boundless friendship toward oneself and others. and we don't feel so alone. Something happens to our world. A capacity for friendship and kindness exists within each of us. "No. My dry cleaner was the person I chose to focus on at the lovingkindness retreat. cuddly feeling. The key to uncovering this potential is paying attention in a positive way. I haven't fallen in love with him romantically. It may be—and often is—obscured. surprised me with her enthusiastic greeting. and to direct wishes for wellbeing toward that person. The lovingkindness we cultivate breaks thorugh the habit of indifference or judgment that keeps us feeling separate from others. Just see what emerges from this particular way of paying attention. or metta. his challenges or his sorrows." Rachel said." Rachel hadn't deepened her relationship with this man because she owed him something. Noticing how puzzled I looked at her sudden confession. at school. we find that the people we relate to at work. she awakened to the humanity of someone who'd barely registered before. By doing so. who is one of my meditation students. If you try to force a warm. while doing errands no longer seem so much like strangers. someone they normally might hardly notice. "I find that I'm eager to go into the store to see him. I'd last seen her six months earlier at a retreat I'd taught on the power of lovingkindness. You are going to recite silently certain phrases that express your heart's intention to connect more deeply with yourself and others. She didn't know the particulars of his life. So often we don't have the time or the patience to take an interest in people.Lovingkindness meditation gives you a new way to connect with everyone—even the difficult people in your life. or felt obliged by a favor he'd done. You can try it this way: Sit comfortably and close your eyes. We begin with ourselves because truly caring for ourselves is the foundation for . without exception." Say the words without anticipating any particular response. No matter what pain we might have gone through in our lives. Some examples are "May I be happy" or "May you be peaceful" or "May you find contentment. Start practicing lovingkindness meditation The practice of lovingkindness meditation is simple and pragmatic." I had instructed the participants to focus on someone they didn't have strong feelings about. "I've fallen in love with my dry cleaner!" she said. The practice of lovingkindness meditation brings to life our innate capacity for connecting to ourselves and others. but it's there. I hold this man in my heart and consciously wish him well. I really care about him. that capacity is never destroyed. Rachel came to care genuinely for the dry cleaner simply because she'd begun including him in the attentiveness of her heart. "Now every day when I meditate. Being attentive to someone opens the door to discovering who she or he actually is. instead we look around them or right through them.

we see how much love we have within.com | From the December 2000 issue of O. Say "Good morning" to a person standing next to you in the elevator. there are no strangers. This part of the meditation can be hard. Rather than giving up. May all beings live with ease. "May I be happy. Repeat silently. Finally. but it's the place where we deeply contact our innate capacity for lovingkindess. May you be safe. May all beings be safe. choose someone you feel fairly neutral toward. "May you be happy. thoughtful gesture can make someone else's day. May I live with ease." Following that. May I be peaceful. offer the phrases to everyone. Over time our anger begins to subside as we care for ourselves and again practice opening our attention to those from whom we're estranged.being able to care for others. those you have hurt. we feel toward everyone. impatience and distress. 2. over and over.. go back to offering lovingkindness to yourself in the face of your anger. those who have hurt you. "Under the cherry blossoms' shade. Pay the toll for the driver behind you. begin silently offering the phrases to someone you respect and love. Then make a bold shift and call to mind people you don