Having done one interview with Shirley, together with Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins, and Debby Reynolds, for the TV film"These Old Broads," we spoke again, in a subsequent interview, about the secrets of Inner Harmony, an especially useful topic to anyone who experiences the vagaries of worry, stress, and fear.
Over lunch one spring day in Central Park, Shirley confided that whenever she feels angry, discouraged, or stressed out, she always does exactly the same thing:
"I go into a quiet room, close my eyes, and say, 'Thank you.'"
"Thank you for being stressed out," I joked?
"I'm thanking someone for making me clearly look at something and understand what brought up my anger. It turns out that the person or event that caused me to feel upset is really a teacher. When I probe the reasons behind it, the anger disappears. So what we're really talking about is a change in attitude toward everything that happens to you. I find that going inward through meditation is a panacea for healing depression, worry, fear--you name it. Reducing stress is really all about calming the spirit."
Shirley touched on these spiritual gifts in her book Out On A Leash, all about her relationship with her dog Terry and how effectively her terrier communicates, sensing her feelings in the unique way that dogs always do.
Katie Up And Down The Hall, there are countless examples of times when I was sick or depressed or worried or anxious--and no matter what the problem I faced, the mere presence of my dog--and MEDITATION--were both healing balms, better than Prozac, therapy, or a piece of chocolate cake.
When she finishes her spiritual routine each day, she has attained a state of inner harmony: "I don't ever feel depressed, and I don't ever feel ecstatic. I'm right in the middle--in a calm place. Maybe we have to redefine words likes 'happiness.' It isn't over-the-moon joy, necessarily. It's a humming feeling of real contentment."
In parting, Shirley shared with me her Daily Survival Kit, "necessary objects," she says "that you can keep in your purse or pocket--or in your imagnation--serving as reminders of spiritual principles." Thinking of them this way, as below, reduces stress every single time. Try it!
The Toothpick: is to remind you to pick out the good qualities in others.
The Rubber Band: is to remind you to be flexible; things may not always go the way you want but they always work out.
The Band Aid: is to remind you to heal hurt feelings, yours or someone else’s.
The Pencil: is to remind you to list your blessings every day.
The Eraser: is to remind you that everyone makes mistakes, and it’s okay.
The Glue: is to remind you to stick with it; if you do, you can accomplish anything.
The Mint: is to remind you that you are worth a mint.
The Candy Kiss: is to remind you that everyone needs a kiss or a hug every day, especially children.
The Tea Bag: is to remind you to relax and take some time for yourself; you’ve earned it.
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