Read an Excerpt
PART 1: RAIN OUT OF BLUE SKIES
Self-Acceptance: We Are Worth What We Think We Are Worth
Sometimes it seems that there’s no escape from having one of those days again. We trip over our slippers trying to get out of bed. On the way to the bathroom, we drop our coffee cup. When we finally reach the bathroom, we take that horrendous, never-ending look in the mirror and our faces seem to have become longer, wider, and puffier (no wonder after all those heavy lunches and dinners and the occasional glasses of wine or beer).
Our look seems to pierce deeply, even beneath the skin. More fatty tissue and wrinkles seem to mark our faces, the eye, mouth, and forehead area. And the T-zone: Gosh!
The beautician must be right: After 25, women go downhill (and not only their skin). Our cheeks are less rosy than usual or too rosy all of a sudden. Our eyes are small, and our noses appear very wide. Is this the same woman we admired in the mirror yesterday? If so, what has changed?
What has changed is our mood and our attitudes toward life and toward ourselves. Remember, yesterday we were jumping out of bed like an excited puppy and within 10 minutes, we had our shower and makeup done. We were ready to face the world and, more important, we were ready to face ourselves. The seemingly small eyes we hate today had character yesterday, and the small lines on our foreheads were special marks of the serious businesswoman. We women let our attitudes and moods influence and change our points of view too easily. On those bad mornings, we put on a very dark pair of glasses through which we perceive the world and ourselves as hopeless, while if we had chosen the pink pair of glasses, our happy mood would have given vigor and beauty to the world. Looking through the dark glasses of our bad mood, we cannot value and love ourselves. We become unworthy, and our achievements and everything else is degraded. Our lives become ugly and dull. We feel totally out of rhythm, and we ask ourselves why we were even born.
Actually, taking one minute for ourselves before we even get up helps. Let us spend one minute and decide which of the two pairs of glasses we shall wear each and every day. If there really is no way around the dark pair, let us face it. We all have good days and not such good days. We all feel happy and not so happy. Let us try during those down days not to let our bad mood in the morning ruin the entire day.
We, not our moods, can take the lead in our lives. Let us surrender to the idea that it might not be our best day—but we had a lot of good days already, didn’t we? Doesn’t this hard moment remind us how beautiful life is on the good days? Let us surrender to the fact that today we might not have accomplished as many things as we would have wished, but let us remember that soon we will be wearing our bright glasses again. Then, as has been the case so many times before, we will excel. We will achieve more than we planned. Patience and self-love are the important assets that get us through our dark days.
Why do we push ourselves so hard? We have fallen over our slippers and spilled a cup of coffee, that’s all. We find ourselves less attractive today but, if we take a closer look beyond the dark glasses, we see that nothing has really changed. We are still ourselves, the loving partner, the caring friend, the attractive woman with all her positive qualities. We all look better on some days and less attractive on others—we do not have to let it get to us. We can accept it. Actually, we can be happy and grateful for those dark mornings. They help us live the happy days with more awareness and more gratefulness. They help us to embrace beautiful days as gifts.
We are worth what we think we are worth. We convey the impression of ourselves to others in how we act, talk, and behave. The real us will ultimately shine through.
In order to be patient and loving toward others, we must treasure ourselves first. The biggest favor we can do for ourselves and the most important gift we can give to ourselves is to learn to master our moods and to view them as temporary colorations, temporary perceptions of our lives.
PART 2: THE GUIDING MOON
Most of my Indian friends, independent of status and caste, reserve a small corner of their house or a small room for theirprayers and spiritual exercises. They withdraw from the busy world to their special place to find quietness and calmness throughprayer and reflection.In Western society, I have hardly ever come across similar arrangements for daily meditation. We seem to have no extra time for our beliefs,or quietness, or for our higher spirit and ourselves.
We see our loved ones while rushing off to work or getting home fromevening activities. How much do we really share? Or better yet, how much do we really want to share, to commit?
Often we do not know what another person means to us until it is too late;and we indefinitely delay important decisions that involve our private life. We are so busy running around that we neglect to reflect on what we are really about and what our life is really about.
Setting aside quiet time for ourselves every day helps us to become aware of what we are grateful for. Ultimately we will become more loving and gain deeper contentment that we can pass on to our families, friends, and even strangers.
Ten to 20 minutes each day spent engaged in reading and reflection—spent solely in discussion with our higher spirit—can change our lives forever.
We make time and spend money for many superficial things, things that don’t do us or others any good. As soon as we have bought some new item, we realize that it just takes up more space in our houses and our thoughts. Things merely cause us more worries because we have to keep paying for them.
I believe we all can make some special place for quiet time. First we make space in our mind, then in our day, and later maybe a special place in the outer world where we can sit on the floor and reflect and pray, where we can find ourselves. A harmonious atmosphere makes it easier to relax.
Most of us do not like looking into ourselves. Most of us seem to be afraid of extra time spent alone. Often we complain about boredom, but isn’t it that we are afraid of being left to our very own thoughts?
Make space today for yourself. Light a candle and think about the beauty of your life and of living. If you don’t see any beauty, imagine where you can find it and imagine it coming into your life. Enjoy your uniqueness in being human and reflect on the gift of life and the chances given to you—without expectations or strings attached. Nurture and love yourself. Treasure yourself by setting aside time every day to engage in reflection, meditation, and prayer.
What Money Cannot Buy
Have you realized that the most beautiful things in life are free? A perfect sunset on a late summer evening, a walk in the forest or at the seaside, a smile from someone in the crowd, devotion and love of the poor who ask for nothing but acceptance, a consoling word to a sick friend, a helping hand for someone who is struggling, and time for family conversation and togetherness: Each is absolutely free.
Imagine that all of the above were missing in our lives but that our bank accounts were full. Would it really matter? Why do we still ask for more material wealth when we can’t fulfill the purest of human endeavors: compassion?
PART 3: THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE STARS
I was bought up to believe that we are what other people think of us. Ironically,the more jealous other people were, the more loudly they would talk about us. In spite of their talk, our lives would get better, and in turn, we would be happier with our own lives. I have never quite understood the concept of perceiving ourselves through other people’s eyes.
However, I did my best to be comfortable in situations involving controversy. On one hand, I tried to obtain the respect and acceptance of the group, and on the other hand, I tried through overachievement and steady competition to be the fastest runner and the most intelligent person in school.
Only over time did I learn that no one else, apart from ourselves, determines what we are worth and whether or not we succeed in our lives. We do not need to excel to get the attention of others, nor do we have to be "yes women" to fit perfectly into society.
What we need is to discover our individuality and to trust ourselves. We do not have to live up to anyone’s values and standards except our own. Sometimes we need to forget about winning, about being faster and better, and we have to surrender and listen. True friends do not judge us according to superficial values, nor do they admire us for always being the best. They cherish us because we care and show compassion, because we understand and also need to be understood. Often we lose sight of the fact that life is very simple.
PART 5: COLORS OF THE RAINBOW
Happiness is in you—not in another relationship or another person. You will not find it by changing environments, jobs, apartments, or friends. Recognize that you have everything inside yourself that you need. Set your priorities:
What is important to you? Who are you really? Then you are on the right road.Along this road, you will find a healthy environment that’s best for you, the right understanding, intelligent friends, and the right place to live and to work. Give it time.