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The Pathway: Follow the Road to Health and Happinessby Laurel Mellin
Synopses & Reviews
Chapter One What Do You Most Want?
Now, more than four decades later, my memory is still vivid of picking that sweetest of fruits, biting into its sun-warmed flesh, and letting its honey slip down my throat. There at the top of the tree, I remember glancing around to discover not just one plump apricot on the branches, but a whole bushel of them — and they were all mine. Sure, it was good to have apricots, and certainly I felt the immense pride and deep delight of knowing what I most wanted, and then getting it. But what so electrified the moment was the sheer unexpected abundance of what I was receiving, something I never could have even imagined when I started the climb.
The purpose of this book is to introduce a new method that offers us a simple, effective way to experience knowing what we most want in life and getting it. And when we do, finding that life is far different and much better than we have ever known before. This method is called The Solution.
It's really about fruit. What you most want in life, we call our sweetest fruit. It may be to end an excess that has troubled us or simply to have more of life's richest rewards. Either way, our sweetest fruit is something that has stubbornly eluded us over theyears. No matter what we have done and no matter how hard we have tried, we haven't been able to get it. Other things we can do with ease, but not this!
That yearning is perfect for it motivates us to pop the hood of our inner lives and go inside often enough and well enough, making the small but important adjustments within, to reap what we most want in this world. When we do, more often than not, we experience a true Solution, that is, a life in which we are free from common excesses and have an abundance of life's sweetest rewards: integration, balance, sanctuary, intimacy, vibrancy, and spirituality. Life is still difficult, but having a Solution is about as good as it gets.
In nature, the sweetest fruit is invariably at the top of the tree. So, too, in human nature what we most yearn for, the one thing that has so maddeningly eluded us, is invariably furthest from our reach. For what we most want turns out to be the touchstone of our development so if we make the subtle shifts within that enable us to reach it, we will have the full abundance of health and happiness that our particular life can bring.
Which is perfect! Our yearning for that goal motivates us to take ourselves by the hand and guide, nudge, and cajole ourselves until we have mastered the powerful inner skills often missed in childhood that complete our development. What seemed to be a curse — that we couldn't turn off our deepest cravings or get the rewards all the other people seemed to obtain so effortlessly — turns out to be a blessing. The design of human development is that elegant, for getting what we most want brings us precisely what we most need. It is almost like a fairy tale, except this storyis true.
The Solution is to master the two simple skills — self-nurturing and effective limits — that, other than genetics, form the bedrock for human health and happiness. These skills are not genetic. They are learned, and you can learn them. Yes, even you. Self-nurturing is the skill of checking our feelings and needs throughout the day, so we know and honor ourselves and meet our needs more often.
Effective limits is the skill of having reasonable expectations and following through with them, so we can take action and have more power and greater safety in our lives. When the two skills are woven together, it is much like implanting within ourselves a good parent who never leaves us. As a result, those who have mastered these two skills, more often than not, have a life of health and happiness. Unfortunately, those who have not mastered them, more often than not, do not.
The basics of these skills can be learned rather rapidly. In fact, most people can learn them just by reading this book, and by doing so, they will catch a glimpse of the effects they can have on their lives. However, it is only when these two skills are used over and over again and integrated into the belly of our brains that a myriad of seemingly magical changes begin to occur. At that point, many people notice that the whole range of common excesses starts to fade and the full spectrum of life's sweetest rewards appears.
The most basic ideas of this method, that people should do a better job of nurturing themselves and setting limits with themselves and others, has been in the scientific literature since at least 1940. These ideas are consistent with current understandings of developmentalpsychology, family systems theory, medical science, and brain research. The trouble is that current methods to help us accomplish these goals aren't very effective. Try as we might, we simply can't seem to nurture ourselves better or set more effective limits in our lives.
The reason is no mystery, for our patterns of nurturing and limits were implanted in us early in life and are so deep that various healing methods, particularly those that focus on insight, knowledge, or analysis, do little to change them. The Solution molds nurturing and limits into skills that can be learned much as one would learn to type or speak a new language — by practice. Using the skills in the moment makes people feel better, but using them repeatedly over time adds up so that self-nurturing and effective limits begin to penetrate the very core of their being and become automatic and spontaneous. When they are, what often follows is nothing less than a personal transformation.
This method began with support from a federal grant on adolescent health in 1979. Still, until recently most people were not aware of the method, and those few who used it would often say, "This really works! Why doesn't everyone know about this?"
In a sense, the relative obscurity of the method has been a blessing. It has given us time to learn. Hundreds of people from diverse walks of life have been trained in the method at the university, and health professionals from around the country who are certified in the method have trained far more. Some research has been conducted, which has given us additional insights as well. We know more — and will continue to learn more — about how to make mastering the skill to nurture andset limits from within easier, quicker, and safer. I will do my best to share these understandings with you, and to make your journey with this method as easy, quick, and safe as possible, even though it is not always easy, rarely quick, and not completely without risk.
What I ask of you is to be as persistent as you are able to be and to draw upon your courage — particularly the courage to begin, to stand at the base of the tree and look straight up until you spot your sweetest of fruits, then to put one foot in front of the other, sometimes climbing by taking baby steps and sometimes long strides, using the skills over and over again. At some point, you will find yourself at the top of the tree where, to the extent that genetics, circumstance, and grace allow, you can pluck from the branch what you most want in this lifetime.
It is as simple as that. There are two worlds . . .
As people use this method, they typically become acutely aware that there are two
Includes bibliographical references (p. -408).
A revolutionary program that goes to the roots of not just one common excess, but all of them, turning off our emotional appetites and offering us a pathway to better health and greater happiness
If we have not mastered two simple skills — self-nurturing and effective limit setting-we cannot soothe and comfort ourselves from within. So it is only natural that we soothe and comfort ourselves by overeating, drinking, spending, overworking, and smoking or by finding our way into the softer excesses-people pleasing, putting up walls, rescuing others, or thinking too much. When we master these two skills, we experience a Solution-that is, freedom from the whole range of common excesses and a life abundant in life's rewards: integration, balance, sanctuary, intimacy, vibrancy, and spirituality.
The Solution was developed over the last twenty years at one of the nation's most prestigious medical schools and may be one of the world's best-kept secrets — until now. Health magazine recognized the research on The Solution as one of the top ten medical advances of 2000. Emerging understandings of neurobiology suggest that using the skills over the long term may retrain the elusive feeling brain to spontaneously favor a life of emotional balance, relationship intimacy, spiritual connection, and freedom from excessive appetites.
The Pathway shows you how to use the method and why it works, while sharing the stories of Tom, Emily, and Drew, who mastered the skills and reached their Solution. You can use this book to begin to reach your own Solution, and if you want more support, there are more than one hundred Solution Groups nationwide led by health professionals, as well as self-help Solution Circles and an active Internet community.
The Solution is very simple but so powerful that many psych psychotherapists who use it believe it will supersede all current healing methods for one reason: it works.
About the Author
Laurel Mellin, M.A., R.D., is an associate clinical professor of family and community medicine and pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine. She is the director of the Institute for Health Solutions, and is the author of The Solution: 6 Winning Ways to Permanent Weight Loss and The Shapedown Program. Mellin lectures extensively to health professionals and self-help groups and has appeared on Oprah, Today, Good Morning America, and the CBS Evening News. Her work has been featured in Time, Life, Newsweek, Fortune, Health, Shape, and U.S. News &World Report. She lives with her three children in Marin County, California.
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