Book Overviews, Great Advice, Self Improvement, Social Issues

A Path Appears

The title of the book “A Path Appears” really got my attention. Maybe because I find myself at times lost and confused and with little hope for the future.

It used to be when I grew up that I could always look forward to the next phase in my life. — Childhood–School–Training for a chosen profession–Marriage — raising children in a predictable and safe environment. I grew up being able to trust adults.

Today’s environment is a far cry from this world. It pains me to see this. As Parents and Grandparents we want to leave a better world behind for our children. Yet the opposite is happening.

That is why I cling to anything that gives me even a remote sense of hope. Of course I realize I was fortunate to be born in a period right after the second world war when there was a great sense of relief, gratitude and determination to rebuild and build something better. 

I had a great time at school; later at work – everything was great and one could always look forward to the next phase in life. There was a certain predictability. 

This is very different now. I could experience with our children how this is no longer the case. Since the 1990’s changes have taken place at a rapid pace. Therefore it is even more important to seek out  sources of inspiration and encouragement and engage at least in one or more of such organizations. It is important to carve out an area where we know we as individuals can make a difference. This will give us a sense of purpose and empowerment. We will encounter many people besides us who are doing the same and that will in turn reinforce our sense of hope and courage. 

No matter what type of career or profession we choose — it is essential  to have at least one hobby and a cause we care about. This will keep us in balance and with a sense of purpose.

One time something Oprah Winfrey said on her show caught my attention. She was talking about herself  growing up rather poor–when one year on Christmas Eve suddenly there was a knock on the door–nuns bringing christmas presents. Oprah said the impact it made on her was not receiving gifts but “that they-her family–mattered enough for these nuns to show up at their doorstep in the middle of the night at Christmas.”

This remark by Oprah stayed with me and I determined that at least I can do that and instead of rushing around and always be in a hurry–I could simply slow down and pay attention to people around me–letting them know that they matter–that I appreciate what they do. I honestly thought until I heard Oprah tell that story, that such small things don’t really make any difference– so why bother. Now I do my best to remember and it makes a big difference in how my day goes. 

There is a lot of great material available to show us ways to deal with the challenges in life and the old saying “What does not kill you, makes you stronger.” comes to mind. We can learn so much from others how they have overcome trials. I always get inspiration and encouragement when I read or hear about how other people have overcome or dealt with very difficult situations. 

I have a few books which I pick up when I need a “Pick Me Up”. That strategy is very effective. It does not cost anything and is readily available to us at any time or place. — I have my books on the phone. 

One of my favorite books is:

A Path appears by Nicholas D.Kristof and Sheryl W Dunn

Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity

How to survive and prosper in a fast changing, challenging world (“Hope is like a path in the countryside. Originally, there is nothing–but as people walk this way again and again, a path appears.  

Lu Xun, Chinese Essayist, 1921

Maybe we are just bored of a meaningless existence. Just a small step in the right direction will make a difference. The book “A Path Appears” is full of practical examples from real life and proven steps anyone can take. I guarantee it will have a positive effect on anyone who tries to get out of the doldrums.

I am very selective about what I read and what I listen to– I am on a news diet so to speak. I refuse to take painkillers prescribed by doctors — only if they are really necessary and then sparingly. It is appalling to see how doctors are so quick to prescribe very strong painkillers.

We have to take our welfare physically and mentally into our own hands. It was always very important to me to keep my mind (brain) free from anything that could alter my perceptions or numb my emotions. I rather endure some pain. 

We have to develop endurance, resilience and resourcefulness — nothing feels better than to know that we can deal or cope with anything that comes our way. 

It is easy to feel hopeless — thinking that there is nothing I as an individual can do that would make any difference. But the book “A Path appears” shows how anyone in any situation can find a way to contribute in some meaningful way. And I guarantee once we have found something we can do –many of our problems suddenly either disappear or become much smaller and easier to deal with, because our perception and perspective changes.

Another excerpt from the book “A Path Appears” which I find uplifting:

“Witnessing the world’s troubles isn’t depressing but inspiring— because crises bring out the innate helpfulness in people, and because side by side with the worst of humanity, you see the best.”

Indeed this has been my experience as well. 

When we first moved to Miami years ago we faced a challenging situation. We had no money–I was pregnant with our first child. No friends or family–we were new to the city. I decided to donate a small amount of money every month to an organization since I felt *giving* to others  was the only way to avoid drowning in a well of self pity and hopelessness when we had nothing. 

And it worked–things gradually improved  and today I look back to that period in my life with fondness.

Then many years later  – I experienced what it is like to lose all hope. I was shocked– this I had never experienced before.– I had no idea what that felt like. I realized if we lose hope we lose everything. The only thing I could do was to put one foot in front of the other. I could not see the future! It was dark. It seemed like my usual source–books–had disappeared. I had only the physical books–not internet at that time; I get could not get anything from these books to encourage me–everything had changed.

I was then that I learned how to deal with emotional pain– which can feel more acute than physical pain– rather than to numb myself. 

How do we deal with emotional pain? I like to compare it with the weather: Sunshine – beautiful blue sky — everything is great. Thunderstorms; Hurricanes; Tornedos–like chaos and not knowing from minute to minute what will be next.  Dark clouds — raining (tears won’t stop —the problems of the world weigh unbearably heavy on our soul. But just like the clouds and the rain– it will pass!  Afterwards we feel cleansed, refreshed and energized — hopeful and with new ideas to get on with our lives! 

My biggest take away from this book is —helping others by simply giving money is not enough — we have to do it right. We have to find ways to give people hope, dignity, self respect. There are a few great examples in that book to that effect. I know I will come back to different chapters of this book again and again to draw inspiration and encouragement.

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