Beliefnet
Iris Krasnow is known for chronicling the spiritual journey of the Baby Boom generation. Her first two books examined how women reared on feminism could find happiness in marriage and motherhood. Her new book, "Surrendering to Yourself," looks at finding fulfillment in the next stage of life.

This is the third book you've written with 'surrendering' in the title. What does surrendering mean to you?

Many people look at the word surrendering and think of defeat. When I think of surrendering I think of total victory. You're letting go of something beyond your control and you're yielding to the higher power of something else-with motherhood you're yielding to the higher power of your children, with surrendering to your marriage you're yielding to your sacred promise to stay married come heaven, hell, or high water.

Surrendering to yourself is the really ultimate victory. You embrace who you wholly and truly are, you excavate your shadows, as Carl Jung called them, you dare to be outrageous, you rid yourself of unhealthy relationships and careers that are eating at your soul and chewing out the heart of your family life. You surrender to the higher power of yourself. And you don't have to wait 'til you're 84 to do it.

Doesn't surrendering to yourself sound a little selfish?

When you become a whole person and know who you are, it's totally selfless, because you can become a person with more compassion, who can love others more fully. It's a highly unselfish transformation.

You're not navel-gazing and saying, "I'm going into a corner alone." What I'm talking about is really integrating your whole life into your heart. It's very powerful. All you have is yourself. You can't count on your external universe to make you happy. You can have the best kids, you can have the best marriage, but ultimately they don't make you happy. Because kids grow up, a spouse can leave. Ultimately all you have is your inner life. You'd better know that self-and during hard times you have the rock of self to fall back on.

My mother is a Holocaust survivor. My mom has always had herself to fall back on. She lost her parents, she lost her brothers and sisters. Seven nieces and nephews. She had herself. My father died unexpectedly and horrifically 17 years ago, but my 65-year-old mother didn't fall apart. She put one foot in front of the other. She had inner resources. She went to a psychologist because my sister said, Oh mom, you really should go talk about your grief, and the psychologist said, Mrs. Krasnow, you're OK. You don't need to be here. Goodbye and good luck. My mom was back to work in a week. She'd seen death, she'd seen destruction. All of us have seen death and destruction. We all saw September 11. We need to count on ourselves.

Wouldn't a lot of people say that that's putting the self ahead of God?That you should actually surrender to God to help you with these things?

I'm talking to you very much as a believer. I believe in God-however I don't pray to God to make me happy, or to get me this book contract, or turn this book into a movie. My God fills me with hope and light and strength. The God I believe in isn't the God who you pray to that some bomb isn't going to go off, I don't believe God takes airplanes that are spiraling out of the sky and puts them back. The Abraham Heschl quote at the beginning of my book says it all: "Pray as if the whole world depended upon God. Act as if the whole world depended on you."

I think spirituality is everything, and materialism is nothing. It doesn't make you happy. And I'm glad the `80s and `90s are over. I'm an old hippie and proud of it. We're seeing a renaissance of people who are trying to build a better world. And we are seeing soul seeds of a movement that is reminiscent of the sixties.

So how do you surrender to yourself? What's the process?

I can put it into real prescriptive terms: In order to surrender to yourself, to feel whole and happy for the rest of your life, you have to connect with the passion of your soul.

How do you do that if you're working 90 hours a week as a lawyer and you don't particularly love your job, but you have a family and you've got to do it. I always use an example of a lawyer because there are so many disgruntled lawyers.

I ask them, what did you love to do as a child? What passion, hobby or activity did you abandon because you became a grownup? Every single time I ask that question, people's eyes light up with a fire that you can't believe, and they catch their breath and say, "I used to play basketball," "I was in my fifth-grade play and people thought I was going to be Sarah Bernhardt, and instead I'm a lawyer."

As for me, I rode on horseback, I'm a good horseback rider. I didn't ride for 24 years and I've started riding again once a week. It's brought back myself. Some people say, "I don't have once a week." You used to be a great artist in high school? Go buy some charcoal and a pad and keep it by your bed, and instead of reading the Wall Street Journal at night, draw something. Reconnect with some creative act that made you happy in your youth, and I can guarantee you will live a fuller, happier life.

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