Chapter One

This book was written for you. Point to yourself. Where are you pointing? I have spoken with people all over the world, from many walks of life, in all age groups. No one ever points to their big toe, their belly button, or their brain. Wherever I go it is the same- from kindergarten classrooms to nursing homes- from cabinet rooms with heads of state to green rooms where rock stars wait- from the sidelines at Olympic trials to side streets where street kids live without parents or shoes. When I invite people to point to themselves across timelines and borderlines, people point to the heart. That is the “you” that this book was written for. It is the “you” at the center of your chest, your… treasure chest. We need not look further than our own hearts to discover the beauty, bounty, abundant value and success that we seek.

A friend of mine defines abundance as access to resources, but prosperity as the appreciation of the resources we have access to. One of the reasons I love working with street children is that they are the most prosperous people I know, because they appreciate everything so much. Most people reading this book will be abundant without knowing it, and so lack prosperity. Most of you will have education, clothing, and enough money for meals if not a home. It takes heart- who you really are- to be prosperous. It takes your heart’s awareness to recognize what you have and make use of it with joy. It is you that counts, in other words. In the midst of it all, in both the rise and the fall, through wins and losses, it is you that matters; you are the value. Not the stuff around you.

I remember sitting at the dining room table when I was six years old with a legal pad in front of me, and the Sears Catalogue to my right. I was going through the toy section, one page at a time. Circling what I wanted for my birthday and Christmas (my birthday is the day before Christmas), the list on the legal pad grew, and next to each item, a page number and catalog id code to make sure Santa Claus knew where to get me what I wanted.

The conditioning starts early on to make life for getting what we want- which leads to forgetting what we really want. As we become enticed with things, relationships, career identities, goals, it is easy to forget why we wanted those things in the first place. The reason we want anything is the hope of the great feeling we think it will give us. Most of us think that feelings, good or bad, happen to us as a result of our circumstances. If I get what I want, then I will be happy, or at peace, or content. If I don’t get what I want, then I won’t. And we play out this script as if it were true, when at some fundamental level we know we are betraying more than ourselves with this charade. We are creating a lot of stress for ourselves and others, too.

All you have to do is have one bad hair day for no reason and one good hair day for no reason with the exact same hair, to realize that emotions don’t happen to us as a result of circumstances. Nor do they happen as a result of what we have and don’t have. We are, in…

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