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The Alchemist: Achieve Your Personal Legend

Sometimes you need the right story to teach you that it’s all the worth in the world to never give up on your dreams. The book I am referring to is The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. The first time I was introduced to it, was when Heather read it to me at night. Reading is one of the things she does to put me to sleep. The second time I experienced it, was today when I read it, and how glad I am to say I was immersed in it again. Framed in a most beautiful and accessible prose, The Alchemist teaches you about life, love, religion, spirituality and your soul.

It is the story of a boy who had a dream and he dared to pursue it. Santiago was his name. In pursuing his dream he went out to find a treasure that he himself did not know what it was. Life is non-scripted. He met people along the way who helped him achieve it. These people were his guides, his signals. He listened to the signals and he followed their advice. Even when he himself questioned whether he should follow his journey, because he was in tune with what he calls the “language of the world,” he was able to find his treasure. And how fortunate was he, when he found his treasure was always his all along.

I won’t give away the plot details or the actual ending because just as Santiago did, you have to achieve your own Personal Legend. Besides, I bet a lot of you have already read this book – it’s the best selling novel in Brazilian literary history and has been translated into 67 languages, and according to Wikipedia, it has won the Guinness World Records for most translated book by a living author, so with 65 million copies in more than 150 countries, this is but a tiny review and just another crystal wave in the sea of Alchemist lovers…

I will, however, give you some quotations from the story, which cause one to ponder:

“It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise [people] are able to understand them.” (pg. 16)

“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” (pg. 17)

About the Personal Legend: “It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.” (pg. 22) – Do not give up on your dreams!

“Never stop dreaming…follow the omens.” (pg. 63)

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” (pg. 24) – I find the best way to let this happen is to not doubt the possibilities of your dream, to be open-minded, so that you can listen to the signals and make the right decisions that will get you to where you want to be, what you want to do, achieve your Personal Legend.

If you haven’t read this book, I am glad because now you have something really exciting to look forward to. Go out and get it. It must surely be at your library, or you may order it from the link on the left or here. If you have already read it, experience it again – I found more meaning the second time around.

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Book Reviews

Psycho-Cybernetics: A Personal Review

I have just finished reading The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, as updated by Dan S. Kennedy and The Psycho-Cybernetics Foundation. I must say this book brings all of the self help books together to a fruitful conclusion. Psycho-Cybernetics summarizes self improvement teachings in the most effective manner because it gives a practical course of action in so few words: “Change your self image to attain your desired results.”

Sheer will and that “no pain, no gain” attitude is not enough to conquer obstacles. You have to be able to see yourself as the conqueror, the winner, the victor, before you can tackle anything. This is not just true of the champion but also of the person who is in a slump. You may be depressed. You may not have any passion. You may think you are a failure. You may hate your job and your spouse and your kids and your mediocre middle class life. You may be getting there. I could be considered in a slump. I am on crutches because of a stress fracture. I am a soul who thrives on physical activity. I have run three marathons and several triathlons. And now, I’m stuck at home; I cannot even move one city block without some pain. I cannot carry my own glass of water because I can drop the water all over the apartment I live in. I could be depressed. I could go “stir-crazy” in this little space, which while comforting, is still a small space. I could continuously listen to the negative messages coming from others, that I should no longer run because look at what has happened to me. Or, I could choose to listen to the positive messages. Either of these messages does not matter as much as the course of action I take, but ultimately how I imagine my situation to change. If I see myself as being healed, that is half the battle. The body itself will begin to heal.

In Psycho-Cybernetics, according to Maltz and Kennedy (M&K), when we imagine what we would most likely want to be, the mind and body begin to follow. The important thing is we can change our self-image. Once we start changing our image, our mind and body, which M&K call the “servo-mechanism,” will take over the details. They will guide you to your desired results, but you must “see” yourself win. We do not know the hows; we start changing our situations by letting the process take over. It may be you getting that new job or asking out a new sexual partner. We will not attain desired results unless we first erase the doubt of achieving our goals and imagine that it is more than possible. And we can do this consciously: As M&K write, “Conscious rational thought selects the goal, gathers information, concludes, evaluates, estimates and starts the wheels in motion.” We need to let go of some control here. This can be problematic if you are used to worrying. It is easier said than done, but worrying about how you are going to get out of your slump is useless, futile, and only gets you deeper in the hole of your depression. In order for you to really dig yourself out, you need to replace your current gloomy picture of yourself with a picture of yourself that has riches and happiness, whatever a picture of happiness seems to you, whether that means being in a yacht with beautiful people, writing the great American novel, being a successful minister, having a great relationship with your son, etc.

Consider these inspirational quotes:
Page 160: “Thoughts and feelings grow together. Feelings are the soil that thoughts and ideas grow in.”  -- You can reason as much as you want that it is your right that you should get over a divorce, for instance, but until you actually feel yourself ready, you’ll be stuck in a rut and not be able to find someone new.

Page 78: “The truth about you is this: You are not inferior. You are not superior. You are simply you. You as a personality are not in competition with any other personality simply because there is not another person on the face of the earth like you or in your particular class. You are an individual. You are unique.” – It sounds like something you would find in a fortune cookie, but the truth is we fall into the trap of competition against others. Our mentality delves into keeping up with the Joneses or even with a friend, and we may not even know we are doing it. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others and become our own beings. Only each of us knows what happiness is to each of us.

Page 198: “You cannot see your future with optimistic eyes if you cannot view your present and past with kind eyes.” We cannot go forward if we are always stifling ourselves with regret and guilt. We make mistakes. Life goes on. Life is long. But when you beat yourself over the errors you have committed, you cut your present and future possibilities. So you failed at your job. Forget about the failure. Use the lessons to get you over the hump to get a better job. So the object of your affection rejected you. Get over it. Dwelling on the past keeps you fatally stuck loveless. 

I cannot recommend this book enough. I don’t think you have to be depressed or have reached a low point in order to find it useful. In fact, because of the very nature that life is about ups and downs, happy individuals can certainly find it formidable when the tough times come, as they do. There is plenty of usage for everybody. As the authors put it succinctly, “I believe that there is one life, one ultimate source, but that this one life has many channels of expression and manifests itself in many forms. If we are to get more living out of life, we should not limit the channels through which Life may come to us. We must accept it, whether it comes in the form of science, religion, psychology, or what not.” (p. 295). As a believer of a faith who believes in pluralistic religious expression, this statement could not touch me more. I believe there are many pathways to goodness. Whatever your path may be, make it true for yourself; let it give you meaning and be happy.

Here is the citation: Kennedy, Dan S. and Psycho-Cybernetics Foundation, Inc. Ed. Maxwell Maltz. The New Psycho-cybernetics. New York: Prentice Hall, 2001.
So go to your local library or you can also order it through the link on the left.

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Book Reviews