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What do you love to do?  What takes you to that state of “flow” where time stands still and nothing else seems to matter?

When life seems chaotic, especially in the toughest times, it can be hard to even remember what actually brings us joy. Shouldn’t we be focusing on “fixing” the problem instead? Figuring out how to win whatever life battle is facing us? But turning away from a stressful situation to do something we love is one of the most powerful actions we can take.

There’s little that makes us stronger than choosing to focus on our passions and creativity instead of our travails. Happiness and tranquility is possible even in the midst of chaos and turmoil. I learned this from a powerful woman named Lori, and it’s a lesson and a true story I’ll never forget.

Tranquility in the Midst of Chaos

I met Lori at the John C. Campbell Folk School one summer. The school is on a magical piece of land deep in the Great Smoky Mountains and offers weeklong immersions in almost every art and craft imaginable in a community life that transforms people. Really. 

Lori was in the midst of a protracted, acrimonious divorce and had a six-month wait before her court date. She packed up a van, didn’t tell anyone where she was going—including her grown children—and drove to the Folk School. When she got there, she headed straight for the blacksmithing studio.

All week, most nights and more than a few weekends, you’d find Lori in the hot, sooty forge, hammering steel into gorgeous works of art. She’d done some smithing before, but nothing like this. But the idea of sitting around for six months worrying and waiting for her court date made those forty-plus hours a week in the forge look like a vacation. Lori made the choice to focus on her own creativity, and on making beautiful, handmade things.

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When I met her, she was about four months into her six-month escapade. We’d laugh and talk in the dining hall. She showed us the gorgeous metal art she created, then told us about the big project she was working on—a full-suit Wonder Woman outfit meticulously hammered out of metal. Fascinated, I asked what she was going to do with it. “Wear it to court!” she said. We all burst out laughing. 

Without missing a beat, Lori declared, “Life said, ‘I’m going to make you happy, but first, I’m going to make you strong.’” 

The Magic Formula for Happiness

Lori seems to have figured out the magic formula for happiness: 

  1. Do something you love. Every day. 

  2. Use your creative gifts to make beauty. 

  3. Use your hands. 

  4. Surround yourself with like-minded community. 

  5. Be in community. Laugh in community. 

  6. Step away, literally or metaphorically, enough to get a different perspective on your worry, enough that you can even get a sense of humor going about it. 

  7. Do some physical work every day. Be active. Move your body, ideally in different way. Build different muscles—in your body and in your brain. 

  8. Chase joy. And magic. And fun. 

When life inevitably deals one of her testing blows, few of us can immerse ourselves in the art studio for six months. But this refocus on creativity and beauty when the chips are down is a powerful antidote to fear and worry. 

Doing What We Love

I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to turn away from the problem when I’m stuck in the middle of it. My brain spins, trying to figure out ways to resolve it, as I simultaneously try not to think about it in the middle of the night. But it’s darn near impossible to worry about something when you’re tending a coal forge and hammering red-hot steel. Or sewing, or working with clay, or …  What is it that you love to do with your hands? 

I’ve experienced—and maybe you have, too—that what doesn’t kill us really does make us stronger. But we make ourselves the strongest when we can turn away from the problem, if just for a smidge, and focus our energy on doing what we love. 

What makes you strong? 

Copyright ©2023. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission.

Book by this Author: 

Be the Magic: Bite-Sized Nuggets of Wisdom to Feed your Joy, Nourish your Soul and Open your Heart
by Diane Pienta

book cover of: Be the Magic by Diane PientaThis world is constantly nudging us?pulling, pushing, cajoling us?toward our heart’s longing and our true expression of joy. Yet our stubborn and conditioned mindsets can resist these signals, too often dismissing synchronicity and serendipity (magic’s very language) as little more than accident or annoyance. Playful yet potent, BE THE MAGIC nudges us too, showing how to open ourselves to this ever-present guidance to live a more peaceful, passion-filled, and enthusiastic life.

Diane Pienta serves up personal stories and lessons learned, in a smorgasbord of actionable daily practices designed to train us?our minds, our bodies, and our hearts?to become joyfully tuned-in to the guidance presented to us at every turn. If you’ve been struggling to find your purpose, to bring more love, peace and play into your life, BE THE MAGIC may well become your most welcomed daily companion. Start reading and put a smile on your face! A renewed zest for life is right around the corner.

Click here for more info and/or to order this paperback book. Also available as a Kindle edition.

About the Author

photo of Diane PientaDiane Pienta is a creativity mentor, healer, forest therapy guide and author. A former businesswoman, she was sparked by a cancer diagnosis to transform her own life and explore alternative healing, herbalism, yoga and meditation, which led to a new career in nontraditional ways of finding joy, inner peace, and creativity.

She’s the author of Be the Magic: Bite-Sized Nuggets of Wisdom to Feed your Joy, Nourish your Soul and Open your Heart. 

Visit her website at DianePienta.com