Today may seem like any other day. You’ve gone about your regular routine working, playing, stressing, relaxing, worrying, dreaming, thinking, feeling, taking care of everyone else – you know the drill. However, I believe today will prove to be very different. What you’ll read in this book is not only for the mind to understand, it will also serve as nourishment for the soul. Since the soul likes to have fun and play, let’s start off with a game my friends and I used to play as children. "It is a happy talent to know how to play."-Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
It’s called "One Wish". Here's how it works: you get one wish for anything you want. But there is one limitation, you can’t wish for more wishes. Other than that, the sky's the limit. Go ahead and take a minute to think about it. Choose carefully, because you only get one.
So, what did you wish for? Success? Money? Millions? Billions? A mansion? Your dream car? A luxury vacation? The opportunity to travel around the world? A new wardrobe? Something to make your family’s life easier? Maybe you wished for some change to your physical appearance. Maybe you just want everyone to think you're hot! Maybe you think material things are superficial. Did you wish for that special someone, your soul mate? Someone who will love and accept you exactly as you are? Maybe you wished for good health or eternal health for someone you love. Did you wish for a child? Maybe you just want to be respected or revered by others. Or are you more spiritual? Did you wish for enlightenment? Maybe you want to experience some of the inexplicable magic the universe holds. How about an out-of-body experience? Maybe you wished to be free of the ego altogether. Would you like to read minds? Maybe you want to be the best version of you that you can possibly be. Maybe you have desires that go beyond you. Did you wish for world peace? Maybe you wished to leave your mark. You know, change the world for the better. Did you wish to save man from himself? You may have wished for something I haven’t even mentioned. Whatever you wished for, take a moment to think about why you would use your one and only wish on that. Deep down inside, why do you want that one thing above all others? What will it give you? When you get down to the very core of it, I'll bet you wished that wish because you think it will make you happy. That’s the one wish we all have in common. While we may have different ideas about what it is that will make us happy, every human being is hungry to be happy. Background doesn’t matter. Education, status, age, looks, achievements, experience – none of these things matter. We all just want to be happy. Being happy will make us feel full. Doesn’t seem like a tall order does it? Yet here we are in the twenty-first century, and this is the one thing that still seems to elude mankind. We have made amazing advancements in so many areas. Technology allows us to accomplish feats that are Jetson-like. Our cars can give us directions. The internet gives us instant access to answers for any question we may have, wirelessly. Advancements in biotechnology have many experts predicting we’ll be able to buy an artificial version of any body part, except the brain and central nervous system, by the 2020's. We have more entertainment options than ever. We have billions of things, all designed to make our lives easier – to make us happy. Despite all our achievements, why are there so many people who are still unhappy? We seem to be starving for happiness. It seems the more things, choices, achievements and opportunities, we have, the hungrier we’ve become. Please consider the following information that demonstrates the impact of our nation’s stress and unhappiness. A June, 2012, article published by the American Psychological Association stated: The use of psychotropic drugs by adult Americans increased 22 percent from 2001 to 2010, with one in five adults now taking at least one psychotropic medication. In 2010, Americans spent more than $16 billion on antipsychotics, $11 billion on antidepressants and $7 billion for drugs to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. According to a 2011 study in the PloS ONE journal: Tweets steadily trended towards unhappiness over a three year period. From Gallup’s 2013 State of the Workplace Report: The vast majority of U.S. workers are actively disengaged and not reaching their full potential – a problem that has significant implications for the economy and the individual performance of American companies. Gallup estimates that active disengagement costs the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion per year. To put this in perspective, $550 billion is sixty-seven percent of the net profits from all Fortune 500 companies combined. In a 2010 blog, Robert Leahy, Ph.D., Director, American Institute for Cognitive Therapy in New York City wrote: Depression is widespread and it is getting worse. Sadly, it hits the young and old alike. Depression has human costs that we all know of: sadness, sense of isolation, feeling like a burden, inability to enjoy life and suicide. There are also economic costs that are also significant – indeed, alarming. Depressed individuals are five times more likely to abuse drugs. Depression is the leading cause of medical disability for people aged 14 to 44. People with symptoms of depression are 2.17 times more likely to take sick days. And when they are at work their productivity is impaired – less ability to concentrate, lower efficiency, and less ability to organize work. In one study the costs of absenteeism were directly related to actually taking antidepressant medication. I did not include numbers related to addiction – injuries, health implications, productivity loss or workplace violence (which is on the rise). But I’m sure I’ve made the point: unhappiness is costing us a fortune! Considering these costs, it sounds like starvation to me. And the problem is not limited to the United States. Back in 1992, a United Nations report labeled stress "The 20th Century Disease" and a few years later the World Health Organization said it had become a "World Wide Epidemic." What could we accomplish with improved health and vitality that may come from happiness and reduced stress? How might we relate with the rest of the world if we were happier? What good could we do with those hundreds of billions of dollars we'd be saving? Less staggering, yet still impactful, let's take a look at the costs on an individual level. What is the lack of ultimate happiness costing you? Please pause for a moment to really answer that question. What is unhappiness costing you? Where do you spend money or time, in pursuit of happiness? Do you have addictions? How is unhappiness affecting your relationships? Your energy? Your health? Your outlook on life? Your future? This is why our paths have crossed. I am here to share a meal that will nourish you. It will give your life the full feeling that only ultimate happiness can give. I am here to serve as your maître d’ and my goal is to translate the menu for you – a menu consisting of seven courses that will nourish the soul. This meal has been prepared for you over thousands of years by some of the world’s greatest chefs (leaders, teachers, philosophers, gurus, scientists, inventors and masters). Please join me, as I take you to your table. "When one reaches happiness, one is close to perfection." -Chuang Tzu (396 BC-286 BC)