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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Read a Wonderful Book Over My Shoulder: One "Formula for Joy"


13 Tevet, 5777

I recently read several books that impressed me with the descriptions of profound improvements in the lives of their authors. Each had described how he or she had chosen to commit to specific healing and/or inspirational lines of thought and how that has had appealing impacts on their lives.

Today I want to begin sharing excerpts from Sheldon Rice's book, A Formula for Joy. Here's the first excerpt:

A Formula for Joy 

How fortunate I am! What gratitude I feel 
or the gifts the universe has provided me – 
consistent joy, devoted wife, perfect home, 
financial security and deep spiritual knowing 
that all is well. My three daughters and 
five grandchildren provide harmony, love 
and affection to us and to each other; they are 
strong anchor in our lives. We live without 
medicine or pain. What more can I ask 
in the 78th year of my life? 
I am blessed. 

Some people relate happiness and joy to 
material gains; others require spiritual 
connection to feel complete. For me joy is 
a sense of contentment that results in a 
deep sense of well being. Happiness for me 
is freedom from fear. It is made conscious 
when I appreciate all that I have, 
particularly when I can compare it to 
how my life used to be. This appreciation 
requires focusing on the now—how I feel now, 
not what I may feel in the future or felt in the 
past. When I am in a state of balanced mental, 
emotional, or physical health, my joy is peaked. 

What is the source of my incredible joy, and 
how did it come about? Luck alone 
cannot explain it. After extensively 
pondering the issue, I concluded that 
there exist universal truths that are 
easy to understand although they can be 
difficult to apply. Successfully realizing 
them has brought life changing rewards 
for me. 

The purpose of this book is to inspire 
through the examples of these 
simple concepts. Personal experience is 
the only real tool there is. Anyone 
can do what I did by applying effort, 
strong desire and deep self reflection. 

There is no need to accept everything I write 
immediately. It is meant as food for thought 
that sometimes makes sense long after 
the first time you read about the concepts I 
present here. On the other hand, something 
you read might answer an immediate 
personal issue. 

Balance According to Yin and Yang 

Applying universal truths helped me turn my 
life around. The first of these is the principle of 
yin yang balance. Intuitively the idea 
makes sense to me, but its application to
my lifestyle, particularly in my case 
my eating practices, proved to be quite 

Achieving balance requires significant habit 
changes, an elusive and often difficult initiative 
for many people. Why do some people make 
changes in their lives so easily once they are 
consciously stimulated to do so, while others 
find it so difficult? 

The ease of making changes is one of many 
personality traits illuminated through the 
esoteric science of numerology. We are all 
born with a personality planned for us 
by our soul, yet anything can be changed 
through our free will. At least half of the 
world population—the percentage varies 
from country to country—has difficulty 
making changes. Given sufficient incentive, 
anyone can make changes if they want to 
badly enough. For me, making changes 
is relatively easy. In fact, I changed to 
a macrobiotic diet literally overnight. 
I decided and did it. 

“Balance” always had been merely a 
buzz word for me, only translated into my 
day to day reality when I first undertook 
macrobiotic cooking 30 years ago. 
It was then that the terms yin and yang 
entered my vocabulary. Before that, 
I had had no way to measure 
or understand balance. 

Everything existent may be classified as 
either yin (expansive) or yang (contractive). 
Balance is possible when these
two universal forces are synchronized. 
For example, when Page 1 of 29 
A Formula for Joy we dress warmly
in winter we are comfortable because 
we are balancing expansive warmth (yin) 
with its natural complement, contractive 
cold (yang). On the other hand, when we
 eat ice cream in winter, the effect on the
body is discomfort, as the cold food (yin) 
and cold weather (yin) together 
create an imbalance of excessive yin. 
As a result we feel tired, lethargic, 
unfocused. These simple examples are 
easy to understand. 

Stress, on the other extreme, is a 
contracted (yang) state. A person who 
by nature is already relatively contractive–
uptight, driven, serious, intense–may find
temporary relief in eating rich foods, 
perhaps drinking alcohol to excess or taking 
drugs. In my case, stress relief was mainly 
through sugar. The problem with all these
solutions is that they don’t address the 
underlying cause of the imbalance. 
Addressing and relieving the stress itself 
neutralizes the need for destructive habits 
and restores personal control. Each person 
needs to balance his food intake with 
these natural considerations in mind. 

There is no single, universal formula for 
achieving balance. I know when I am 
relatively balanced in my daily life by 
the way I feel. It can be a long time in 
coming and yet happen in a moment. 
Even then it fades in and out. 
When I feel content, I am balanced. 
My mind is clear to pursue my chosen 

Imbalance for me means remaining hungry 
after I eat. I feel agitated and dissatisfied, 
and find it hard to relax. If I lose control, 
I find myself endlessly and restlessly 
snacking. With attention, I can examine 
the quality and quantities of what I ate to
find balance. I don’t believe that everyone 
has to follow a macrobiotic lifestyle 
to feel balanced. There are many healthy 
diets that leave people feeling good. 
The important thing is that balance 
requires good eating habits that leave us 
in a happy, good feeling place. 

My eating imbalance originated with 
early childhood training. My parents came 
from a Belarus village in the Pale of 
Settlement, perhaps similar to the one in 
Fiddler on the Roof without the sentiment. 
For them, low body weight meant that 
when the next famine comes there won’t be 
enough physical reserves to fall back on. 
My mother’s neurotic food obsession 
led her to insist that from an early age 
I eat more, regardless of my appetite. 

In order to be sure that I ate enough, 
my mother spoon fed me until I was six
years old. Not sure how to stop this 
insidious force feeding, she revealed the 
details to my school teacher in my
presence. I have never forgotten that 
shame. Even in my adult years she loved 
telling everyone how she had allowed me to 
break dishes while she fed me, just so
I would keep eating. 

These early obsessions around food 
inevitably led to patterns of overeating 
that continued for a good part of my life. 
I binged consistently with sweets and 
anything else in the house that was eatable. 
Though I was never obese, certainly had 
periods of being full-figured. The imbalance 
of alternately binging and dieting became
a way of life for me for decades. 

In my early 50s I adopted a macrobiotic 
lifestyle, seeking discipline in that
structured framework. At first I continued 
to overeat without control, until after a
year and a half I was diagnosed with 
a tumor somewhere between my 
bladder and spine. Only when I realized
that healing was contingent upon taking
control of my eating habits did I learn to
release my binging. The secret for me 
was in learning to chew, taking an hour 
to eat each meal.Chewing for such a long 
time left me balanced, satisfied with a 
relatively small quantity of food. 

This rigorous chewing regimen lasted over 
two years. For the first time I began to 
experience balance on a daily basis. 
It was an incredible relief as I could now 
focus my mind on activities other than food 
once I left the table. 

 After my tumor finally healed, my 
overeating habits resurfaced. 
I lost control once again, this time 
with nourishing food. Overeating was 
so deeply ingrained that I couldn’t sustain 
healthy eating patterns despite feeling 
so much better with them. Once again, the 
patterns of binging and dieting returned. 
About 18 years ago I had the good fortune 
of meeting with a superb hypnotherapist. 
My desire for change was so strong that
one session was enough for me to
kick the habit of overeating and this
time stick with it. What incredible good 
fortune! It has made such a big difference 
in my life, as my balance and good feeling 
have been restored. After a lifetime, 
binging is a problem I have put behind me.

Watch for a few more excerpts from A Formula for Joy when you visit this blog.

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