Martha Beck – Life Coach, Columnist, Author & Mother

1.What are your three words to live by? Why do these words guide your life?

Funny you should ask that, because I think about this every day. I’m a big fan of an ancient Chinese philosophy called “taoism.” The word TAO in Chinese means “way,” and it refers to following the way of peace, harmony, life, soul. I think of TAO as an acronym for the three words Transparent, Authentic, and Open. I try to live my life by these three words, because if I am completely myself and have no secrets, I can live without fear of being “exposed” (I already am), receive love that’s truly meant for me (not a false self I project), and stay available for feedback through which others can teach me to be a better person.

2. What does being an “architect of change” mean to you?

As Gandhi said, we must be the change we wish to see in the world, so by changing what is not useful in myself, I can’t help but have some small positive impact. Anything in me that is at war contributes to war in the world, so I’m morally obligated to find inner peace. Any misery in me adds to the misery in the world, so it’s my duty to find ways of being genuinely happy. I write “self-help,” but I truly believe that helping one’s self become clearer and more illuminated will ultimately light the world.

3. Who do you consider to be an Architect of Change in your life? Why?

The most powerful architect of change in my life has been my son Adam, who has Down syndrome. He has taught me the shallowness of what we usually call “intellect,” and ushered me into a much deeper perception of the world that is based on compassion, not competition.

4. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?

The most important lesson I’ve ever learned is that my thoughts are not reality–they are only my story of reality–and that any thought that causes suffering is a lie. That may sound simplistic, but I believe the truth sets us free, and that when our mind-stories coincide with truth, the feeling we have, even in times of sorrow or fear, is one of liberation, deep meaning, and peace.

5. What is one thing you are working on right now that you feel especially passionate about?

I’m obsessed with a group of people in Africa who are “restoring Eden,” healing whole ecosystems that have been destroyed by human activity. The idea is to take barren land, restore the natural plants and animals, then give the human populations ways of thriving that work in harmony with nature, so the ecosystem remains healthy. The idea is to heal everything from the soil to the plants to the animals to the people. It’s succeeded already in parts of Africa that seemed to be hopeless cases and are now flourishing. We want it to become a global phenomenon. Plus, this project lets me go out and play with lions and leopards and elephants, and isn’t that what all self-help authors love most?

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