From time immemorial we have revered the heavens as the realm of the gods. Throughout the ages the stars provoked adoration and awe. They inspired poetry and music, prayer and magic.
We have been ever starstruck.
Before modern times the stars were our faithful guides and companions - not only for travel at night, but for the whole of life's great journey.
For the stars were held to control our fate, in this life and beyond. From ancient times, civilizations believed that our destiny is written in the stars.
From a historical perspective, it is only recently that the common people - the vast majority of mankind - could even imagine having any real control over their own futures.
Throughout most of human history, ordinary people's lives were ruled by superstition and the sword.
They believed themselves bound by the chains of fate.
Each person was predestined to a station in life, be it serf or slave, peasant or pauper. No paths existed to self-improvement, nor were there avenues for advancement in social standing. You lived out your days as they were preordained, accepting your lot in life without complaint or challenge, for such was the natural and inescapable order of things.
Only a prince could aspire to succeed his father and be king.
None but a Noble could enjoy privilege or power.
Then slowly, but surely, came extraordinary change.
Now, anyone can be president or prime minister. We can all dream to be leaders in our chosen fields.
A new age had created the conditions for equality and social mobility: universal education, widespread opportunity and self-belief.
A new breed of 'motivational' and inspirational writers conveyed new messages to the masses; those who listened, who had the talent and who did the work, could prosper in ways undreamed of by their parents.
The very idea that we could reach for the stars took on a new meaning. No longer was it simply a prayerful approach to the heavens, a powerless plea to the gods of religion or destiny.
The stars became symbols of greatness, standing for the very success to which we all had a right to aspire.
Entertainers, performers and sporting idols who 'outshone' the rest, actually became stars.
They glowed with greater brightness than kings or queens ever could, because they embodied a bold new belief: that talent, hard work, self-reliance and determination could create recognition and prosperity for 'ordinary' people. You did not have to be born into privilege. With perseverance, you could sprinkle yourself with the magic stardust of success.
Fate and family circumstance no longer controlled our lives.
We became the co-creators of our own destiny.Partners with the stars.
The sky became the new limit, paradoxically meaning the 'limitless' heavens. For we saw that truly, our limit lies within. We were bound more by the confines of our imagination and our dreams, than by supposed external 'realities'.
The English Magna Carta, the French Revolution and the American Declaration of Independence became the great symbols of a New Age.
They stood for powerful new ideas that had changed the world - democracy, capitalism and the rights of the common people. These concepts, imperfect in practice as yet they are, provided springboards for millions of people who launched their lives to places infinitely beyond the dreams and poverty of their parents. Anyone, now, could reach for the stars.
The 'New World' itself became a symbol of the overturning of the old European order of inherited privilege and social rigidity.
In describing the achievements of the modern era, great emphasis has been placed on the emergence of human rights and equal opportunity. This is rightly so. These gains have been crucial.
But it was the mass awakening to the personal power of individual effort, that was central to our advancement. The grand achievement of our current age has been the slow but steady spread of the belief that we must take personal responsibility for our lives.
Yes, there important preconditions were essential to the development of our modern world: property rights, scientific rationalism, advanced capital markets and incredible advances in transport and communications.
But these underlying advances were possible on a great scale only because significant numbers of people had begun to believe in themselves, and in the power of accepting personal responsibility for their lives. The idea slowly gained ground that success was possible if you dreamed big - dreams that might seem impossible - and chased after them with determination. You had to reach for the stars.
It was the power unleashed by this idea that created the scientific, social and economic progress that brought prosperity to millions. The benefits continue to spread (although many would say, not quickly enough).
More recent historical times have seen further gains across frontiers such as human rights and racial, social and gender equality. Much remains to be done, though there is much to celebrate. The defining work of our current Age may be unfinished, but it is well advanced.
Even as this work continues however, forces gather to foretell the awakening of a new age. We stand at the threshold of a great historical turning point.
A collective consciousness is beginning to form around the world. It is happening initially among many 'thinking people' in advanced societies and represents a key new layer of evolution in the development of humanity.
'Global concerns' have been erupting simultaneously among peoples all around the world. People worry about the environment, biodiversity and the health of our planet, and over issues like globalization and fair trade.
The new collective consciousness is seen in movements like our growing consumer awareness, health consciousness, the wellness revolution and the green movement.
We are transcending our concerns for self, family, village, nation and species. We are beginning to understand that all our fates are intertwined and interdependent.
Many seek 'answers' through ancient and traditional sources of wisdom. We are becoming more conscious that we are all one with nature. Everything in the universe, including ourselves, is made of the same stuff: only some details of chemistry differ. As has been pointed out, we are all made of 'starstuff.'
More than ever, it will be crucial each of us to accept personal responsibility for the conduct of our lives.
We will choose and act with new, ever widening perspectives; the collective consequences of our individual choices will profoundly impact our world as a whole.
The defining feature of the new age will be the gradual unfolding of a deeper, richer insight into the unity of everything and our place in the whole.
There will be vast accompanying changes in human beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.
At the forefront of these changes lies a dramatic reassessment of our attitude towards human health.
We already have much of the knowledge and resources we need to enable the vast majority of us to achieve and maintain outstanding lifelong health. New discoveries emerge every day.
What is needed is a massive shift in the beliefs, values, priorities and behaviors that impact on our individual and collective health. This shift is coming.
An enlightened new age of transformation is emerging. It is a legacy of the accumulated achievements of our ancestors.
We are privileged to be alive at this time. Responsibility for what happens next, has passed to us.
You often hear people expressing sentiments like, "Things have gone from bad to worse. Living now is not as good as it was in the old days."
The fact is, there has never been a better time than now to be alive.
New knowledge and resources are becoming available to us every day.
From a health perspective, if you take the trouble to explore possibilities, and to act on what you learn, you'll find you can become healthier and live longer than has ever before been possible in the whole history of humanity.
There has never been a better time to Reach for the Stars
It's the responsibility of our time to nourish and promote the evolution in collective human consciousness needed to guide the future health and evolution of our species and our world.
One of the great ongoing debates of our time is a dispute between those who see meaning, or purpose, in the universe, and those who believe it to be the result of meaningless, random chance.
Many believe there is a creative power or intelligence controlling the universe, and guiding our fate. God or Something.
To some, this entails faith in a traditional God of Religion, in one of His many Flavors. For others, It is an unknowable Force, a Mystery. This Power has many names and shapes according to individual beliefs. It is the Universe, the Tao, Nature, the Light. The structure of our beliefs is very personal.
And absolutely imprecise! But if we believe there is purpose in the universe, we believe there is something out there. How often do we say of an occurrence, "It was meant to be."
Yet to our contemporary minds, fate alone is insufficient.
We may believe in God or Something, and therefore in some form of guided unfolding of the universe, and yet have no trouble reconciling this with the principle that we should accept personal responsibility for our choices in life, and for choosing the overall direction of our life.
The idea that personal responsibility (and not fate or God alone) is critical to determining the outline of our lives, is fundamental to the character of our modern age.
At the dawn of this era Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar, has Cassius saying,
No longer did we believe that the stars alone ruled our lives. We were not mere victims of the whims of fate. We were each co-creators of our own destiny.
Once we could believe in the power of personal responsibility, we could truly reach for the stars.
We dream and we love and we ponder life's mysteries in the soft glow of starlight.
Our dreams may be small or big. Whatever they
are, our goals reflect our vision
for what we may become.
They echo our belief in our personal potential.
If we are confident, we may dream of great accomplishments, the stars themselves becoming symbols of our goals.
And so to achieve our great goals, we will reach for the stars.
We associate the words Reach For The Stars with dreams that seem to be out of reach, but inspire extraordinary effort.
The song Reach, popularised by S Club 7 and The C.R.S. Players, is an example:
Reach for the stars
Climb every mountain higher
Reach for the stars
Follow your hearts desire
Reach for the stars
In popular culture, to reach for the stars often meant striving for romantic love against the odds. Shirley Bassey's 1961 hit song Reach For The Stars says it beautifully:
I reach for the stars
When I reach for your love
For so far above me you always will be
Like a clown longs to be a king in a play
I long for the things that are so far away
And there's that delightful sequence from the Mary Poppins song Anything can Happen (if you let it) that, for emphasis, takes the idea a step further.
If you reach for the stars
All you get are the stars
But we've found a whole new spin
If you reach for the heavens
You get the stars thrown in.
Reach for the Stars was also the name of an early computer game and a TV quiz show, both requiring contestants to pitch their skills against great odds. And in 2002 a remarkable image titled Reach for the Stars, designed by Gilles Tran and Jaime Vives Piqueres, became the first digital artwork to be digitally rendered in space. Completed by astronaut Mark Shuttleworth in a Soyuz TM-34 capsule orbiting the earth at 17,000 miles per hour, this was a case of man's reach for the stars culminating up there, amongst the stars.
To reach for the stars means
In short, it means to demand the highest standards of yourself.
And to not settle for less!
This advice for those who would strive for excellence, comes from coaches, counselors and consultants everywhere.
It's the advice followed by all who pursue their full personal potential in any field of endeavour - be it study, sport, sales or sculpture.
Or the best of health!
You will stumble. Everyone does.
It's a natural hazard, a normal part of trying something new. Something big.
Something worthwhile, like outstanding health for a lifetime!
When you do fall, just 'pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.' ( Pick Yourself Up, song lyric by Dorothy Fields, 1936.)
To fall is not really to fail. Failure is simply a state of mind.
So you tripped! So what? Just look at it as a temporary setback, a needed lesson, a valuable learning experience.
Sir Winston Churchill, who steadfastly maintained the resolve of the British Empire during their darkest hour, when early in World War 2 they stood alone in Europe against Nazi Germany and the axis powers, once said: "Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."
And the great British experimental chemist and inventor Sir Humphrey Davey remarked, "I have learned more from my mistakes than from my successes."
It was said that Thomas Edison failed a thousand times before he succeeded in inventing the light bulb. When asked about it, Edison allegedly said, "I have not failed a thousand times - I have successfully discovered a thousand ways to NOT make a light bulb." Edison knew how to reach for the stars.
'Failure' is not personal.
Your attempt at something may have failed, this time. That doesn't make you a failure.
It just makes you someone with the initiative to try something, and it happened to not work! So try again. Or try something different. Take a break, figure what's needed, then keep trying.
The man who never made a mistake never made anything.
Remember: there's no greater prize than a lifetime supply of outstanding health. With such a reward, the risk of a few stumbles along the way seems trivial. There can be no greater reason to reach for the stars.
Perhaps you can you hear yourself saying, "This is not me. I really can't see me 'demanding the highest standards of myself,' I just wouldn't keep it up. I don't have the willpower. Or the time. I'd probably just make a fool of myself!"
Actually, did you know that the reason most of us don't achieve greatness in our lives has nothing to do with failing to meet goals that are too challenging.
In fact, we usually set goals that are way too small for ourselves, because we fear failure. We are driven to avoid disappointment, embarrassment or disapproval.
We could do so much better with the courage to reach for the stars.
We should fear small goals, not big ones.
The truth is, most of us are what we are, doing ordinary jobs and leading ordinary lives, not because we set big goals and failed to reach them,
but because our goals were too small, and we've succeeded perfectly well in meeting them.
The truth about fate is this:
Our destiny is to fulfill our promise.
To do so is to reach our full potential. For that we must accept personal responsibility for the choices and actions that will make it possible.
We are each born with the gifts, the talents, and the capacities we need to fulfill our destiny.
It is up to us to use them.
We are the co-creators of our destiny.
You can climb any mountain on the path to becoming what you're capable of being.
The seed within you carries far greater potential than exists in the seed of the mightiest oak.
You are not destined to be rooted to the ground of your past.
You have the power to launch yourself from it into the fullness of life, and reach for the stars.
Once you start to grow, you'll discover an overwhelming advantage, which at this stage you just can't imagine.
You'll start to build new physical, mental and spiritual strengths.
It will happen slowly at first, and in fits and starts. You'll probably be unaware of it. Rather, there will be 'humps' to get over and 'endless' plateaus to endure. You 'll often feel like giving up.
As you reach higher levels of self improvement, you'll find more strength, greater personal resources. Whatever your goals - be they ideal health, achieving weight loss, or securing a healthy old age or whatever, 'Don't Quit!'
As the saying goes, "Winners are not quitters, quitters are not winners."
You can reach for the stars, but actually achieving great goals does require steadfast resolution and tenacity.
Napoleon Hill, in his classic book Think and Grow Rich, tells a delightful story about a gold miner, that illustrates the importance of perseverance.
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