Inner180

Inner180 header image 1

Can You Love All of You?

December 2nd, 2008 · 2 Comments

pink-flower_000005420955xsmallIn our Joy Diet class today, I mentioned Evy McDonald, who suffered from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), an incurable, usually fatal, neuromuscular disease where the body’s motor neurons, which control voluntary movement, degenerate.  Sitting in her wheelchair, Evy chose to literally face her disease, and sat before a mirror looking at her deteriorating body.  In the beginning, she was revolted by herself.  Gradually, she became able to find aspects of herself to admire.  In time, she made peace with herself, both her healthy as well as her weakened body.  And then a miracle occurred.

Evy wrote about it in a newsletter of the Canadian Holistic Healing Association: “I couldn’t pinpoint just when the shift occurred, but one day I noticed that I had no negative thoughts about my body. I could look in the mirror at my naked reflection and be honestly awed by its beauty. I was totally at peace, with a complete, unalterable acceptance of the way my body was – a bowl of jello in a wheelchair.”

Although she had been given only a year to live, Evy ultimately made a full recovery from the disease.  In writing about her process, which you can read more about here, Evy stresses a point we have discussed at length in our Joy Diet class: she let go of outcome in her quest to accept herself.

She suggests this as a step in the healing journey, a step we can all wisely follow, no matter what kind of healing we are doing:  “Release all expectations of how it will turn out. Your body may heal completely – or not at all. You may find that a wheelchair, cane, walker or crutches becomes an integral part of your daily life. That does not determine whether or not you live in a state of wellness.”

Our wellness, indeed our wholeness, then, does not depend so much on whether we lose the weight, heal our knee, or find the perfect career.  We become well and whole when we make peace with all of us.

Our jobs then, as joy seekers, is to make peace with our overweight bodies, our strained backs, the times we yelled at our kids when we were tired and angry, the unkind things we said to ourselves, marrying the wrong person, failing the test, and on and on.  When we can accept all that we are, all that we’ve done, all the decisions we’ve made, all with an open and loving heart, we become whole.

The only thing that’s stopping us is the our failure to see the truth about our beauty and our magnificence.  Luckily, as joy dieters, we know the steps to get there.  And we’ll keep taking them.

Tags: joy diet · truth

It’s Not Whether You Win or Lose . . .

November 16th, 2008 · 5 Comments

softballcarry_080501300w2Last April, the women on the Central Washington University softball team lost a game to Western Oregon University and forfeited their chance to go to the playoffs.  They did it in a spectacularly unusual way.

An opposing player hit a home run over the center-field fence, but she injured her knee, and fell to the ground, unable to run the bases.  The umpire ruled that she would forfeit her run, and that her own teammates couldn’t help her.  So the Central Washington first baseman and shortstop picked her up, and carried her around the field.  She scored, and their team lost.

“In the end, it is not about winning and losing so much,” the first baseman said. “It was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain, and she deserved a home run.”  The three players laughed their way around the field, wondering what the spectators were thinking.  You can read the whole story here.

By losing the softball game, these amazing young women won something so much richer.  They’ve won a round in finding the real work of life—that of living it to our fullest, finest potential.

Tags: joy diet · play

Can You Work Like a Child Does?

November 16th, 2008 · 1 Comment

boy-irons_000005521272xsmallToday, I randomly opened the Tao te Ching to this:

“The best athlete wants his opponent at his best.
The best general enters the mind of his enemy.
The best businessman serves the communal good.
The best leader follows the will of the people.

All of them embody the virtue of non-competition.
Not that they don’t love to compete, but they do it in the spirit of play
In this they are like children and in harmony with the Tao.”

The task itself, the way it is approached and performed, is more important than the outcome.  This is the spirit of play we bring to our work, our careers, as joy dieters.  Living to our fullest potential is not an impossibly tall order when we let go of outcome and just do our best.

Tags: joy diet · play

Rejecting Others While on Mental Autopilot

November 2nd, 2008 · No Comments

In this charged atmosphere four days before the elections, it’s really easy to judge and criticize those who disagree with us.  We build walls of safety around the rejection of large groups of other people, and seek companionship and comfort with those who believe as we do. Those with other viewpoints become strange and clueless.

For the last few days I’ve been trying to fully accept the other side.  Not to adopt their beliefs or positions or candidates as mine, but to let go of my judgment about what it means to believe differently than me.  It hasn’t been easy. I’m struggling with years of habitual thinking. But it does feel lighter and freer.

Going off of mental autopilot feels risky because it shifts our identity in a dramatic way.  But the joy diet requires it, at least my joy diet does.  Carrying my habitual judgments around feels like a heavy burden, draining my attention and compromising my joy.

Are you flying on mental autopilot?  Is it a burden?  How would it feel to let it go?

Tags: joy diet · risk

What Are You Doing “Just in Case”?

October 29th, 2008 · No Comments

I knew what I had to do today.  The thought was scary.  I was really, really hesitant.  Is this the right decision? Can I be sure?  What if I make a mistake?

I’ve held a license as an educational therapist for about 10 years.   I thought, “Well even though I don’t want to do this work anymore, I should maintain this license, just in case….”

Just in case what?  I’ve spent so much of my life doing things just in case.  Now that I’m on the Joy Diet, just in case is not a sufficient reason to do something.  Just in case does not come from desire, it comes from fear.  Just in case is, in this situation, a joy killer.

So I just sent an email notifying my certifying company that I would not be renewing.  Simple.  Straightforward.  Direct.  It was scary to push the send button on my email.  My hands trembled a bit and I caught my breath.  And it feels fantastic.  Clean, honest, clear.

What are you doing just in case?

Tags: joy diet · risk

Can You Be Smart AND Happy?

September 18th, 2008 · No Comments

This morning, I was coaching very smart client.  She’s an academic at a renowned university, and feeling a little sheepish about the possibility that she could actually be happy.  She has a brilliant, highly-trained mind, and like so many in academia, tends to be suspicious of mooshy concepts like joy and happiness.  Especially her personal joy and happiness.

Another client, a genius with two PhDs, spent years as an academic.  For a while, he resisted some of the more imaginative exercises I gave him.  Even when they helped him stop procrastinating, the issue he’d been paralyzed by and sought coaching for, he feared that, without empirical proof that the techniques worked, he was somehow being stupid for relying on them.   It seemed better to hang onto his dysfunction than to risk doing something that was potentially hocus-pocus. Better to be a brilliant procrastinator than a productive dupe, I guess.

I’ve done my own time in academia, as a law professor, which carries not only the general fear of academia (the worst fate in life is that others will find out I’m not smart), but also the pessimism of legal thinking (if something can go wrong, it probably will, so I have to be prepared for every possible negative contingency).  I spent a long time rejecting the possibility that I could be happy, even when I began to feel happy. I felt sheepish about it.  It seemed so, well, unlikely and foolish.

Ultimately, I got over it.  With practice and a bit of self-compassion my client can, too.

With The Joy Diet Group Dieting Adventure telecourse coming up, I’m thinking a lot about happiness and our resistance to it.  Isn’t is crazy?  A smart person can  justify staying miserable or dysfunctional, because if others find out we’re happy, they might think we’re not so smart.  Sometimes the smartest people do the silliest things, in the name of intelligence.

Tags: happiness · joy diet