In 2003, author Tom Butler-Bowdon of New Zealand analyzed some of the best "self improvement" literature of the ages. His work ended up in book form as 50 Self-Help Classics. Here's one underlying current he noticed in nearly all the material he
analyzed: Most self-help classics deal less with "fixing what's wrong" and more with
defining and achieving our possibilities. That's where we're going to put our focus, which in itself is a stress-busting stance and can begin to put a stranglehold upon that demon known as worry.

Said John Whitmore in
Coaching for Performance (1992): "Stress is a symptom of a lack of meaning and purpose." (I say they go hand in hand, like bookends.) Stress is a symptom of the reactive stance, defined in terms of the past, which too many people see as their only available course of action in life.

Needs Cool Whip

So if we have things "wrong" in our life, we're going to leave them be, or at least allow them minimal space on our pie graphs as we focus on what's right and how we're going to expand upon it.

Pie chart

Top Performers
There's a school of thought in psychology that says if we're to learn more about
optimal performance, there's less of a payoff if we study people who are
dysfunctional, an approach that had been at the core of psychological analysis for decades. On the forefront of studying highly functional people was Abraham Maslow, who has gone down in history for studying the attributes of those who were fortunate enough to undergo what he termed "peak experiences."

In his classic Toward a Psychology of Being (1968), Maslow describes some elements of a peak
experience: ". . . a complete, though momentary, loss of fear, anxiety, inhibition, defense and control . . . a giving up of renunciation, delay and restraint." (We're more able and willing to give of ourselves to a situation rather than "hold back," a common complaint of coaches in most all sports.) Continues Maslow, during a peak experience we drop the fear of disintegration and dissolution, the fear of being overwhelmed by the 'instincts,' the fear of death and insanity, the fear of giving in to unbridled pleasure and emotion . . . they all tend to disappear or go into abeyance for the time
being." Maslow might also be describing a state in which
ki is now flowing briskly, free of obstructions.

Abraham Maslow, 1908-1970

In describing peak experiences, Dr. Maslow noted that people undergo pleasurable distortions of time and space. (While I was having my "peaky," as I call it, a friend asked, "Mike, in two weeks we're doing such-and-such." I forget exactly what was on the calendar, but I responded with a laugh, "Two weeks, there's no such thing!") In other words, peakies are now, totally in this moment. (My personal peakie occurred in the rather unglamorous location of a deli in the Bronx. It was so intense I could
virtually SEE the cocoon surrounding it, and most of the physical reality we call the "real world" momentarily took on a washed-out look, as if we suddenly shifted from this typeface
to this one.)

For another description of a peak experience, let's turn to Richard Maurice Burke (1837-1901) a Canadian psychiatrist. During a visit to England he received a "flash of awareness" that the universe is not dead matter but fully alive, that all things work
toward an eventual good, and that the
basic principle of the universe is love.

As an aside, Jacob Boehme was a mystic (someone who directly experiences
higher reality) who wrote
The Way of Christ in 1623. He regarded his work as being dictated by the Holy Spirit; he also described the Holy Spirit as the principle of life. Because mystical episodes lead to unfiltered access into the
nature of truth, it's possible to see a close
connection here between love itself (Burke's interpretation; the only difference is the words Boehme and Burke chose) and the Holy Spirit. Personally, though I can't verify this, I've sometimes suspected that my own mystical
experiences were also "visits" from the Holy Spirit.

The sky literally came alive

Artistic depiction of the Holy Spirit, not unlike the sky I saw during one of my
mystical experiences.

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