Why Every (Happy) Person Needs a Greek Mom
3. Change the channel.
We all feel hopeless sometimes, especially when we're not getting the things we most want—whether that's in our love life or in our careers. But my mother used to say to me: "Change the channel! You've been on the Disappointment Channel for too long. And before that, it was the Blame Yourself Channel! Switch to the I Love Myself Channel or the Golf Channel or Any Channel at All." What she meant was redirect your thoughts. Focus on what you want to see happen, not on what is discouraging—and blocking—from happening.
4. Invite everybody to the picnic.
My mother was an incredibly open person who did not see people in a hierarchical way. She had no problem having a dinner and seating the plumber next to the prime minister. She also loved how food brought people together. Eating dissolves the separation between strangers. That's the Greek way, and that was our family way also—to feed people, to show love and attention through dishes like spanakopita. At the table, my mother mended old wounds and made new friends. She reminded us that excluding anyone is simply denying yourself an opportunity to grow—and live.
5. Be your giant self.
My mother didn't give into her fears. When she was in the Second World War working as a nurse for the Red Cross, the Germans burst into the cabin where they were hiding Jewish people and caring for the wounded. The soldiers started to shoot. Without hesitating, my mother stood up and in perfect German said, "Put the machine guns down! We are the Red Cross!" The Germans followed her command and immediately put their weapons down. She would refer to that moment as finding her "giant self." No matter who you are, you have a giant self, you can get the machine guns to drop! The spirit is a mighty thing. And my mother tapped into that all her life. Whenever she was shaken by my father, for example, who really betrayed her by having affairs (ultimately, she stood up to him and left him), she would think back on that moment in the cabin and say, "I'm the woman who made that happen." We all have a moment like that this, maybe not one with Nazis and bullets, but one where our bigger self steps forward to act with courage and total belief.
Next: "You are your only capital"