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Jennifer Cohen

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Julia Stoel-Legro

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Dr. Martha Beck on Pursuing Your Dreams

Dr. Martha Beck on Pursuing Your Dreams

New York Times best-selling author Martha Beck, Ph.D., is a “life design” coach and monthly columnist for O: The Oprah Magazine. She has written several books, including Finding Your Own North Star, The Joy Diet and Expecting Adam. Named by National Public Radio as “the best-known life coach in America,” Beck has coached hundreds of individuals as well as Fortune 500 companies. She has taught career development at the American Graduate School of International Management and performed research at Harvard Business School. Here, Beck shares her tips for dreamers.

Do dreamers share a similar set of beliefs and obstacles?

Yes. They’re committed to a belief in not judging themselves or others in the way they approach things. A common obstacle is the inability to see through your own thoughts. For example, a belief that work is good and fun is foolish can be a huge obstacle. You may never have stated it, but if you believe it, it will make you miserable. Social pressures can be another big obstacle. The group that socialized you in the first place is likely to disagree with you.

What do people most need to hear about giving up the social self?

Goethe’s quote, “When you trust yourself you will know how to live.” Ram Dass’s quote, “What other people think of you is none of your business.” When you lose yourself to buy approval, you don’t enjoy the fruits because you are no longer there. You’ve sold yourself away. Jesus said, “What profit is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Every mystic and sage has spoken to this issue. Even Sufi said, “The soul loves to hear what it already knows.”

How can parents help their kids get in touch with their dreams?

Psychologist Alice Miller did research on what a healthy person was like. When asked about their parents, healthy people said, “My mother loved life!” Miller had never heard this before. All the sick people had said, “My mother loved me.” The best advice for parents is to learn to love your own life. That’s the only way you can teach your kids to love theirs.

Can people later in life pursue their dreams?

A writer came up with the 20-40-60 rule: When you’re 20, you’re obsessed with what people think about you. When you’re 40, you stop caring so much about it. When you’re 60, you realize no one was thinking about you ever. You have the freedom to chart your own course.

What books or resources do you recommend for people pursuing their dreams?

My all-time favorite book is Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao Te Ching. It’s the wisest book ever written, 2,500 years old. It’s a tiny book that totally changed my life. It’s the one book to take with me—it’s concise, poetic and turns the social self and conventional wisdom upside down.

For more information on Martha Beck, visit www.marthabeck.com or www.oprah.com.

Posted: 12/26/07
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