Do you think that the doctor's perception can affect the patients?
Sure, the doctor's consciousness and attitude literally affect you. Consciousness is not local. If I walk in and I'm thinking they're gonna be dead or I don't like taking care of them, or I'm tired and I wish I could get out of here and eat something, I affect the patient. But if I walk in with hope-and hope isn't about statistics, it's about individuals-and I treat them, yes, they will do better. A simple example: Years ago a doctor wrote an article about four cancer drugs, chemotherapeutic agents, that came out. They began with the letters EPOH, so they were called the EPOH protocol. He looked at the letters and thought, Why don't I turn it around and make it HOPE? He noticed that more patients in his program responded to this treatment than to the doctors who were giving it as EPOH. What was the difference? Hope.

When you talk to people about alternative treatment, like meditation and having a positive attitude, how are you received?
I don't try to sell it to people. If people come to me for help sometimes I'll say, are you trying not to die, or do what's right for you? It's not just the things you mentioned-it could be nutrition or exercise, it could be changing your marriage, your relationships, your job. If they say I'm trying not to die, I say do what everyone tells you so you're not mad at yourself. But if they say, yes, I'm trying to do what is right for me, then we sit down and look at all these things. I do a lot of work with drawings-you'll say to someone draw yourself in the operating room and one picture looks like hell and one looks like heaven-and they do very differently.

I'm not there to judge them-like `you're bad, you didn't meditate four times a day.' You can't imagine the guilt and shame people feel-I have letters from people saying, "I feel awful, I've only been meditating twice a day. I'm guilty and I'm not helping myself." I try to change the terminology to say, Take some healing intervals and if you have a wonderful day, don't worry that you forgot to do something. If you have a wonderful day, that's what I want for you. That gets back to the heart, what feels right for you to do.

When you accept your mortality and that you have a limited amount of time here, don't give your power away. If somebody upsets me I don't spend three months being upset because then I'm still giving them the ability to upset me. Don't be so busy making everybody else happy that you forget to speak up for yourself.

Don't some people feel guilty if they haven't been healed of cancer?
I've written about someone who was a landscaper who had cancer surgery but I couldn't cure him. He went home to make the world beautiful before he died. Over 20 years later he died with no sign of cancer. If you say, Wow, why can't I do that-well maybe you can. I look at myself as a coach and if you come to me with inspiration I know you'll be a star. You'll exceed expectations.

Whether you have a so-called miracle or spontaneous remission or self-induced healing, I can't promise you-it's reaching out for it that's important. Look at a Lance Armstrong. Part of why he's alive is because as an athlete he understood that you put in the effort. You may not always win the race and you're not immortal, but you may do things a doctor may not expect.

That's why when I send out an invitation to people, I know the ones who show up are going to do better. They have the passion and determination, and that's what makes the difference.

You talk a lot the healing effects of humor. Can you laugh yourself into wellness?
My definition is what I call childlike humor. It is not offensive, it is not critical of others, you're not putting people down, you're enjoying life. For example, when I go to the doctor's office and they say sign in, I write "in." I get a form that says sign here, I write "here." People start to learn that this guy is like a little kid, and it brings out the kid in them. I always tell people that if you go to a hospital and there's a sign "wet floor," go ahead and do it.

What one thought would you leave us with for the New Year?
The age-old message, the son of man comes not to be served but to serve. I think when you see your life as "How can I contribute love to the world?" you will live a longer healthier life.