THE BLOG
10/21/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Beware of Quick Fixes

My husband used to tell me all the time that I have no patience.  He always said: “you just did such and such, give it time.”

I’m always in a hurry.  I do something and I want to see results.  Maybe that’s why when I first landed in NYC at age 18, I felt like I was home.  Everything moved fast and I liked it.

Years later I realize that life is not about 10 minutes to a better body or 10 ways to feel happier.  Even though I still want things to happen fast I know there is no constant happiness or sadness, no absolute anything and the world has its own clock.

The reason I started to think about all of this was a friend of mine asking me about a specific self-help book.  My answer was I haven’t read it but read it with caution.

There are so many self-help books and doctrines that tell us if we think positive thoughts all the time we will get everything that we want.  What a disservice to mankind!

I know most of these authors are after big sales of books, DVDs, etc. and they understand the American psyche – get it done and get it done fast – but the truth is no matter how many stickers you place on your bathroom mirror or on your closet door saying how wonderful you are, stuff happens.  The reason is simple: everything and everyone in this planet has a goal and a mission and sometimes we are not all in sync. People die, markets crash, and poverty exists.  It’s out of our control. 

What we do have control over is how we handle and appreciate life.  There are many gifts and opportunities that present themselves to us every day that if we weren’t so busy going after our lofty goals we might just draw and receive a lot of satisfaction out of them.

So while I don’t believe in 10 steps to anything, I do believe in the small gifts.  I believe in slowing down and appreciating a friend’s phone call, a beautiful sky, a smiling face, a dog or a cat giving a loving lick. Silly? Don’t mock it till you try it.

I believe in picking goals that I’m passionate about so that when the obstacles come, and they will, I’ll have enough passion to keep going. 

I also believe in looking at a situation from different perspectives and choosing the most positive angle to move forward.

And I believe in honesty.  What a relief to be able to share how I truly think and feel without being worried how others will think and see me.

A friend, whose husband passed away from cancer, made a documentary about her husband and a number of other people going through the process of being diagnosed, treated and eventually dying of cancer.

Of all the people she followed a particular woman’s story stuck in my head because she said she felt she had failed, because there were so many books about positive thinking and the connection between sickness and frame of mind that she felt that she was responsible for her own cancer and her own inability to cure herself.  So in essence she was guilty of her death and the pain it brought to her family.  Her testimony broke my heart.  I wished I could have reached out to her through my TV set, where I was watching the documentary, to cradle this woman and to tell her it was not her fault. That the world was a noisy and complicated place where her positive thinking had only domain and control over how she felt and dealt with things but not how they eventually turned out.

I have done a lot of “soul searching” in the last few years of my life.  Not because I chose to but because I had to and I concluded that McDonald’s does not work as a meal and it does not work as a lifestyle.  Slowing down and appreciating the daily things is what gives us power and strength to move forward, because the small, everyday things are beautiful.

I have also concluded that again stuff happens and after stuff happens something else will happen.  It is up to us to navigate the ups and downs in the best way we can.

So I don’t look for the 10 days for a better me and I don’t think you should feel discourage if after following 10 days to a better you, you still feel the same, because the truth is there is no 100% happiness every day and you and I will have plenty of crying to do before our time is up.  But we’ll also have plenty of laughter.  So I’m shifting my focus and I hope you’ll as well, to the laughing periods and when the crying periods come we will have our laughter stored up to help us navigate the difficult times.