Monday, May 31, 2010

Self Help Paradise: A New Earth

Disclaimer: This is a longer post than usual.
I might as well get my fifty cents worth while I have you here, right?

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I am a happy person. It can drive people around me crazy, I know. I often am accused of having an easy outlook on life. The funny thing is that I work hard to be happy, it's not effortless. Every morning I wake up and make the decision to create happiness for myself.

Not long ago, I read the book A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. For those of you that don't know me personally, you may not know that I am addicted to self help books. It all started when I was on the heels of a nasty break up in my mid-twenties. I had moved to Atlanta to make a new life for myself. One sunny afternoon, as I sat in my living room and cried for the one hundred millionth time because I had a broken heart, I made the pivotal decision to read any self help book that Oprah told me too. It was the best decision that I could have made because it was so much cheaper than therapy.

I've grown so much through every single book she featured on her show over the years that I've decided to do a series of book reviews of all of the best self help books out there. I will call this series Self Help Paradise. Trust me, I've done all of the hard work in reading these books first and I promise you that if you have a restless soul that these books can be a roadmap to healing. I'm no Dr. Phil but I have read all of his books. (Ba-da-bump!) Oh I love that Dr. Phil and his crazy Texas sayings. Like the one time he was drilling into this young guy for ignoring his wife to watch sports. The poor fella looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Dr Phil jokingly said "I know what your thinkin'. You're thinkin that I'm about to have a donkey barbecue and you're supplying the ass." Genius...genius I tell you.

I digress, the point is, (focus Leigh) I read the book A New Earth. To say that it was life changing would be putting it lightly. "Eckhart Tolle provides practical teachings for waking up to a new, enlightened mind-set. If you're seeking a more loving self and a more loving planet, A New Earth has the tools to begin your transformation. Start reading today!" Okay, I just totally copied that from Oprah's website but her people said it much better than I ever could. One of the many perspectives that I took from it is that our ego can create drama in our lives to make us feel special. I learned this first hand one day in what I will call "The day I realized that I was an idiot."

I fear boredom. It's terrible, if life gets too calm then I start to feel complacent. At least, that's what I used to believe. One morning, life was calm all around me. It was a normal day and as I tooled around the house doing my daily chores, I started to get worried and I wondered...was my life special? It just seemed so normal, something had to be wrong for everything to seem so right. Crazy? Yes, I was.

So, I created drama for myself. On a subconscious level, of course. I stubbed my toe and I stubbed it BAD! You know, when you hop up and down, cuss like a sailor, and pray that you didn't just break your toe. Oh...I managed to feel good and sorry for myself for the duration of that day. I didn't stop there though, just after the sting had worn off I decided (subconsciously again) to splash boiling hot water all over my belly when I tossed some boiling noodles into the colander in the sink. I screamed and yelled. I was pregnant with Koen at the time and Roger totally fawned over me. As I lay on the couch crying with an icepack on my belly, Griffin came over to console me. Roger was very concerned about me and as the tears rolled down my face, I realized what I was doing, my ego had won. I had created a reason to cry. How absurd is that?

I made a choice that day. I decided that what would set my life apart from everyone else would be that I would make the healthiest choices for myself. That meant that I would accept my calm life that is essentially drama free and let the drama queen in me go. I released my need to create problems for myself. It was as if for the first time in my life, I allowed myself to be content just being me. No more crazy antics to make my life seem more interesting.

So, now, a year and a half later, I wake up every morning and decide to be happy. As I go through the day, I choose to make every possible turn to create peace for my family and my home. It takes work and it's not easy but I am getting better at it. I don't let the little girl in me that is scared of complacency have her temper tantrums any more. I let that girl go and found a joyful person living within me. I still have bad days and I'm not always happy but, for the most part, I love my calm and normal life. Okay, I admit that sometimes I pick a little fight with Roger just to keep things spicy.

Always read the fine print: I have never read any self help book in it's entirety because as I read the book, I start to feel better about my life and then I just kinda quit reading said book. So, if you read any book that I suggest and the ending sucks...sorry about that. Also, I received no compensation for writing this book review. I did it out of the kindness of my heart in hopes that you might find inspiration in reading at least three fourths of this book too.

Last thing, I swear
. Scroll on down to see the winner of Freakshow Friday!


Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

I've never read any of Eckheart Tolle's books..but I have heard people say that his writing is very perspective-filled.
I saw a movie last night (0n Demand) called Valentine's Day. I think it got bad reviews, but I loved it. In one scene, the main character (played by Ashton Kutcher) who is always happy and upbeat in the movie walks through the LA Flower Market (he's a florist). A woman says to him (I'll paraphrase), "You are always happy!" and he replies, "What's wrong with being happy?"

I agree with you, being happy is a choice. Our lives are as good as we allow them to be. said...

I tried reading that book ( a few times) but I just could not get into it. I'm glad it helped you!! I really wanted to see what all the Oprah buzz was about but I just couldn't get through it. I like most of her suggestions.

Enjoy!! :)


Tracie said...

I've always wondered about that book but never read it. Hmmm. I'll put it on the library list.

Have you read The Secret? (I haven't read that one either but I'm thinking about it.)

Sarah RDH said...

I've been thinking of reading this book, as well as The Secret, for a long time...But honestly, I'm almost scared to, if that makes any sense??

I totally relate to your journey though; my first brush with the self-help genre was in college, I also went through a really painful break-up of my first "real" love. I was just browsing around the college bookstore and I saw "The Between Boyfriends Book" by Cindy Chupack. (A writer for SATC.) So it seemed funny, so I bought it. This book WAS hilarious! It was awesome. It makes you laugh over what used to make you cry, but still in a light hearted kind of way. It's just awesome. And instead of using the term "single", I went to "between boyfriends." lol

Katherine said...

I've known so many people that I feel sabotage their happiness because when things are calm, it makes them anxious/nervous/lonely. I'm not sure why, but you see people do this. I'm with you, being happy can be a lot of work, but so worth it.

R Montalban said...

I too try to be positive each day I wake up (always have done in order to get through the tough things that have happened (and no doubt will continue to as life is like that ups and downs) which surprises people as they seem to think I have never had a tough time not that it is easy to do because it isn't). However, like you say, it can really drive people crazy/annoyed and generally it's the people who think "why is it that they are always so positive and happy and I am not". It is this negativity that can get me really down/pissed off as it leads to people starting to dislike you for no reason other than that they think you make them feel bad or that you have something that they want - crazy I know! Ironically, your writing this blog entry has happened just as I have had this negativity thrown at me for the reason mentioned. One of the mums at my son's school who I thought was ok has just swallowed a whole bunch of crazy and spat it out in my direction - really upsetting, frustrating and annoying, but then it is up to me to let this crazy stuff all come in and stick with me, or not. Not is the option I am going to try and take though and instead I will try and think of happy thoughts like Julie Andrews would sing in Sound of Music - not that I am going to burst into song, instead I am going to try and focus on things that make me happy - it is just so disappointing to know that being positive can be so threatening to others! Why, why, why (retorical question!) Just thought I would end this by saying, I think your blog is really lovely and uplifting and generally nice..... so thanks.

Holy Hannah said...

I too am addicted to self help books. Right now I am reading The Happiness Project and I really enjoy it. This one that you've suggested sounds good also, I think it is going on the list.

Kristy said...

I LOVE Oprah and all the books she suggests too. She has been my spiritual advisor basically and I don't know what I'll do without her! Love the post. And the drama thing makes sense. I hate boredom too, and happiness really is a decision to be happy with small contentments I think. This was a good reminder of that. Thanks!

Erin said...

I've never read any of his stuff, but this sounds inspiring. May have to add it to my Amazon wish list (with a zillion other books, lol!).

The Only Girl said...

Yes! I LOVED that book. But I've got away from practicing what it teaches. I was just thinking on the weekend that I should probably dust it off and pull it out for a re-read. I NEED to reinforce his messages!

Bossy Betty said...

WoW What a breakthrough for you! I love the way certain books come into our lives at just the right time!

Lisa said...

Glad to hear I'm not the only one who doesn't finish almost every book!

I keep hearing this book over and over - and actually even OWN it - but haven't gotten around to reading it. Soon...

I think the attitude is lovely, and it truly comes across in your blog. You provide a breath in the midst of challenge...even when you are facing them yourself. Thank you!

Sue said...

I think Oprah was really into this book a while ago. Haven't read it myself, but I've always believed that our attitude has a lot to do with the happiness we experience (or don't experience).


Caution Flag said...

Your disclaimer should be a post in itself! Self-help books for me are good for about 4 chapters.