Stefanie’s Answer

March 25, 2012

A few days ago I wrote about “Stefanie’s question,” which drives the new book, Code to Joy, and promised to tell you what became of Stephanie. To do that, we need to take a quick detour back to the age of dinosaurs.

In the beginning of the book, we talk about the “fog of distress” and compare it to the asteroid strike that killed off the dinosaurs millions of years ago:

Scientists tell us it was an asteroid striking Earth millions of years ago that caused the death of the dinosaurs. The impact threw so much debris into the atmosphere, they say, that it darkened the skies and transformed the climate into what is sometimes termed nuclear winter, so named because a similar effect would result from the explosion of a series of nuclear bombs.

The impact of traumatic personal events can have the same kind of effect, darkening the skies of our own outlook and causing a chilling effect that permeates every aspect of our lives.

That was exactly the kind of darkened atmosphere that had pervaded Stefanie’s life for years, when she first came to see my coauthors, Drs. Pratt and Lambrou.

How Stefanie’s fog of distress lifted, and how she came to answer her question — “Why aren’t I happy?” — are revealed in the very last few paragraphs of the book’s final chapter:

# # #

Remember Stefanie, the client whom we met in the introduction? She visited our offices recently to update us on the events of her life. In the several years since we had first met, she has gone on to create a new business that she recently sold for a substantial sum and is now busily engaged in starting yet another business. Things in her life, on every level from business to family to her personal health, are going very well. When we told her we were writing a book about the Four-Step Process and wondered if we might use her story, she immediately agreed.

“People need this,” she said. “If you two can find a way to put what you’ve done for me between the covers of a book, then by all means, use my story!”

She paused for a moment, then said, “You remember the question I asked, that first day I came to see you? I asked you, Why aren’t I happy? And you know, I think I found an answer to that question. I think the truth is, I already was happy, at least on some level that I couldn’t feel. I mean, there was a happy Stefanie in there . . . somewhere. I just couldn’t find my way there. Does that make sense?”

It sure does.

When that asteroid struck 65 million years ago, the sun may have been blotted out, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still there. The dinosaurs just couldn’t see it or feel it. The same is true of whatever cataclysmic or seismic tremors have happened in your life to create the clouds of dust and debris that may have obscured your path up to this point. They may have covered up the road to genuine joy, but that doesn’t mean that road wasn’t still there.

We were designed and created to be happy. It’s our nature. It just gets covered up by the fog of distress. And once we’re able to clear away that dark cloud of debris left by the asteroids, earthquakes, and volcanoes of our past, we can see the clear blue skies above and feel the bright, warming sun that never really left us.

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