These local authors focus on happiness, coming to Explore Booksellers in Aspen
Personal development authors speak at Explore Booksellers about following dreams and living with compassion
Special to The Aspen Times
Two local authors at upcoming Explore Booksellers events share backgrounds you wouldn’t immediately associate with spirituality and personal growth: Lexie Brockway Potamkin was Miss World USA, and Jeff Patterson was a Hollywood actor. Yet, both wrote books about compassion and following your dreams, respectively.
Of course, beauty, and wisdom, runs deeper than outer appearances — or former careers. That’s evident from their books, which guide readers on how to live happier, more authentic and aligned lives.
Though Potamkin spent years working in the business, entertainment and media worlds, her mission in life has always been to “support and empower others,” she said.
As Miss World USA, she traveled worldwide, making appearances with the pageant’s ambassador, Bob Hope, then launched her own talk show and became a public relations professional.
After selling her PR firm, she earned her master’s degree in applied psychology, studied at The Spiritual Paths Institute, became a counselor and minister and, eventually, addressed the United Nations as the vice president of the International League for Human Rights.
“I lived in New York and worked for women’s rights. It opened my eyes to the atrocities,” she said. “I wondered: ‘Why hadn’t we learned to be more loving and compassionate?’ It’s crazy that we haven’t learned that as a society. I believe it’s our natural, inherent being, but it’s our choice. We can choose love and compassion if we go back to the Golden Rule and treat each other with respect and actively listen to each other.”
She began interviewing figures like Jimmy Carter and Gloria Steinem and people in the human-rights movement for her first book, “What Is Spirit,” which came out in 1999. Just as she was approaching her deadline with Hay House, someone called to see if she wanted to talk to monks, some of whom fled Tibet with the Dalia Lama.
Her visit ended up stretching for 10 hours as she asked about their life philosophy, including how to respond with love to oppressors. The discussion began a long, 20-year relationship with the Buddhist monks, whose teachings play a predominant role in her sixth, and latest, book “Know Yourself: Develop a More Compassionate, Stronger, and Happier You.”
“Know Yourself” blends her own experiences with various spiritual traditions to help readers define their personal life philosophy, identify harmful and beneficial beliefs and revise their view on life to usher in more happiness, compassion and strength.
“Every day, we’re making choices on how to live based on our philosophy,” she said.
Her book reviews how personal philosophies develop (for example, through religion or parental influences) and talks about Buddhist, Greek, Hindu and Taoist philosophies. It includes meditations and exercises to promote relaxation, compassion and a sense of connection and ends with a final exercise to create a life philosophy to support joy.
Her personal philosophy revolves around the Golden Rule of treating others the way you want to be treated.
“My father used to say it’s more important to be loving than it is to be right. Being right is about the ego,” she said. “I believe we’re all tied together somehow. It’s important to realize that everyone’s doing their best. Forgiveness and treating each other with respect, even if you disagree, (is essential).”
She describes a personal life philosophy as the rudder of a sailboat that “helps you steer through life.”
“In the morning, I ask, ‘What is my intention today? I mediate (on) how I want to do life to make better decisions. It grounds me and helps me to stay focused,” she said.
Her book helps readers reflect deeply to discover their truest nature and express it with love and compassion.
“Lexie generously offers us a blueprint for discovering our gifts, treasures, meaning and purpose,” wrote integrative psychologist Marie S. Dezelic in the book’s forward. “’Know Yourself’ celebrates and welcomes ancient guidance with present-day techniques, all centered through and around compassion. Throughout the insightful storytelling, coupled with current scientific research, Lexie offers practical ways to learn how to mediate, relax our bodies, center our attention and energy and cultivate our own wisdom tool kit.”
‘The Big Thing Effect’
As a Hollywood actor in the 1990s, Patterson was always looking for ways to improve his effectiveness in what he described as a cutthroat business, so he began taking coaching classes. Now, he holds degrees in psychology and journalism and coaches high-level CEOs, celebrities, attorneys and elite athletes, including tennis champion Chris Evert, who endorsed his book, “The Big Thing Effect: How to Transform Your Life Forever.”
His goal: to help people “overthrow the tyranny of limiting patterns that keep people playing small.”
Patterson has been interested in understanding people’s dreams since he was a kid.
“It can be so potent and change people’s lives,” he said. “It’s a message that’s been in my heart.”
His book, which coaches readers to clarify their dreams, expand their vision of what’s possible and fully commit to their “big thing,” goes well beyond simply making external changes. It teaches readers, through stories and exercises, how to actually shift their internal way of being.
Of course, the big thing always feels “too big,” but moving through perceived blocks “is part of the transformative nature of a big thing,” he said. “If you say ‘Yes’ to it … it unlocks other areas of your life without you doing anything else.”
One of his big things involved climbing one of the Seven Summits — the highest mountains on each continent. When someone invited him to do so, he came up with all kinds of excuses — from the fact that he wasn’t a climber to not having enough money. But, saying no just didn’t sit well with him. So he found a way to generate income, which involved another goal he had been telling himself he wasn’t ready for: creating a group coaching program.
“(My big thing) represented the man I wanted to be. Up until that time, I was letting circumstances dictate what I was capable of,” he said. “The decision to climb that mountain was not about summitting. It was about changing how I saw myself and changing into that guy. … The message of this book is so important. It’s absolutely life changing. It is the simplest way to unlock you and unleash your life.”
In his book, he recounts the story of committing to climbing the mountain as chapters delve into the keys to attain a goal. He walks readers through: 1) realizing you’re more powerful than you think you are; 2) clarifying your goal and envisioning yourself succeeding; 3) fully committing to the goal; 4) taking small steps and dealing with discomfort; 5) shifting into who you need to be to realize your goal; 6) turning obstacles into opportunities and not letting an old story stop you; and 7) using a desire to serve others to motivate you.
“’The Big Thing Effect’ is like a personal conversation with Jeff — deeply inspiring and will ignite you to go all in for your best life,” Darin Olien, The New York Times bestselling author, wrote in an endorsement in the book. “It reads Iike an adventure thriller while teaching and inspiring you every step of the way. This is medicine for your soul.”
Just as Potamkin says everyone is innately compassionate — they just need to choose, or learn, to make it a way of life — Patterson says everyone has “a big thing calling us.”
He advocates “committing to be the person you need to be to realize the outcome,” while Potamkin asks people to decide how they want to go through this life journey. Both approaches aim to lead readers to a greater sense of joy, happiness and satisfaction.
“It all comes down to a choice,” Potamkin said.
As Patterson puts it: “If you say yes (to your big thing), it will bring you in directions you can’t even imagine.”
Who: Lexie Brockway Potamkin
Book: ‘Know Yourself: Develop a More Compassionate, Stronger, and Happier You’
When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15
Who: Jeff Patterson
Book: ‘The Big Thing Effect: How to Transform Your Life Forever’
When: 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20
Where: Explore Booksellers, 221 E. Main St., Aspen
More info: explorebooksellers.com