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Have you ever wondered what to make of all this talk about miracles and manifestation?

I’m as big a fan of magical stories as the next person, but there’s a dash of healthy skepticism in there, too.

I was watching the film Hook with my kiddo recently, and it got to the part where they’re having the “phantom” feast: all the Lost Boys are enjoying their “food,” and Peter is exhausted and starving because there’s nothing actually on the table to eat. The Lost Boys and Tink are fantastically pantomiming stuffing food into their mouths as Peter stares at them, dumbfounded.

Peter gets more and more “hangry” as the scene goes on, while the Lost Boys and Tink just keep chowing down on thin air.

Then Tink says to him, “If you can’t imagine yourself as Peter Pan you’ll never be Peter Pan, so eat up!”

Boom. It hit me.

This is the best metaphor ever for manifestation.

As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t — you’re right.”

Shortly after that, Peter and Rufio get into a mud-slinging match, hurling juvenile insults back and forth. At first, Peter totally sucks at it, being a grown-up and a lawyer to boot. (No offense to lawyers, but they’re just not held in very high regard in the Neverland pecking-order.)

Then Peter thinks up a few clever comebacks and before long, he’s kicking Rufio’s punk-ass — and suddenly, Rufio is the one who’s left frustrated and tongue-tied.

Peter has a big, gleeful smile on his face as he flings a big spoonful of nothing at Rufio, when suddenly a huge glob of rainbow-colored mousse hits Rufio square in the face.

[This is not to say that hurling juvenile insults back and forth or food fights will get you into your happy place, but for the sake of this story, that’s what did the trick for Peter.]

Peter stared in amazement at Rufio’s mousse-covered mug, and then at the glorious banquet that had magically appeared before him. And then everyone really did chow down.

You’ve got to think happy thoughts, not crappy thoughts.

Miracles happen from your happy place. Manifesting them just doesn’t work right if you’re cranky. Well, actually it does work, just not how you want it to.

When you’re thinking crappy thoughts, you manifest crappy things.

If you’re focused on all the reasons you can’t do something, then all those obstacles are going to show up.

Then shortly after that, Tink leads Peter to the burrow underneath Hangman’s Tree, where he and the Lost Boys used to live. That’s where Peter finds his Taddy, a well-worn teddy bear that reminds him suddenly of his mother — and he remembers how he first came to Neverland in the first place with Tink, after falling out of his pram (or as we say in the US, his stroller).

Then he says, “Not Taddy — daddy!” and alights upon his happiest memory: becoming a father. And Peter finds himself floating far above the floor of the burrow.

Flying, finally.

Later on, when Peter has fully embraced his Pan-status and spent the afternoon flying around Neverland and ringleading hijinks with the Lost Boys, he finds Tink crying in her clock-house.

She asks him why he’s in Neverland, and his reply surprisingly has nothing at all to do with rescuing his children.

So, Tink believes for a moment that Peter has truly crossed over to team Neverland again, and she leans in to give him a kiss, revealing that she’s loved him all along.

And that’s when Peter remembers where he’s truly from (not Neverland), and that he consciously chose to leave the Lost Boys and Neverland — and Tink — behind for his grown-up life with his wife and children.

There’s a folk legend that says before a baby is born, an angel presses their finger to the child’s lips and whispers, “Shh! Don’t tell what you know!” And that’s why we have that little indentation on our upper lip. (Which is called the philtrum, by the way, if you want to know that bit of trivia.)

What intrigues me most about that legend is this:

Finding your purpose in life all about remembering what you already know, and finding your good vibrations (happy thoughts) to help you fly.

Sometimes what was your driving purpose during one phase of your life will change as you transition into the next phase.

Once he had remembered why he was really there, Peter led the charge to rescue his kids from Captain Hook, and then passed the Pan-sword onto a new leader for the Lost Boys before he took his leave of Neverland for good.

He asks Tink to sprinkle his kids with pixie dust and asks them to think happy thoughts, and they all three fly back home together.

So you see, the magic element from Neverland (pixie dust) is not enough to make you fly. The happy thoughts have to be there, too.

Instead of just “faith, trust, and pixie dust,” they should have added “joy” into that mix somewhere.

But it sort of thwarts the rhyme, so as a writer, I can see why they left it out.

However, it is a most essential ingredient.

Knowing about Miracles, or the Law of Attraction, or whatever you choose to call this powerful and magical force — is not enough.

You have to find your own personal blend of joy to add to the mix.

You have to have something worth fighting for.

You have to believe.

Tink’s farewell to Peter at the end of the movie is one of my favorite wistful scenes of all time, where she says, “You know that place between asleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you, Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

There are parts of our lives — and sometimes people — that we must leave behind in pursuit of our destiny, bittersweet though they may be, in order to achieve what we were called here to do.

The hardest part of miracle-making is discerning what to hold on to, and what to release.

Sometimes you have to ask the simple question of, “Will this serve my purpose?” before deciding to keep or surrender it.

And then get really quiet to hear or feel the answer before making your choice.

The sad truth is this:

You can’t fly if you’re weighed down by too much from your past.

Caroline Myss once said it something like this: “The more weight you’re carrying around, the longer you have to wait for change to happen.” (And for the record, she’s talking about emotional weight, not physical weight.)

So how does this all tie in to thought leadership and careers?

Something I’ve noticed is that the most inspirational storytellers are anchored in the present, or are forward-facing — not mired in the past.

They may share stories about how they got here, but their aim is totally focused on today and tomorrow. Not just for themselves but also for you, the listener.

Their special sauce is a unique blend of inspiration and action-oriented steps you can take away and put into practice.

And most importantly: Their stories give hope and are infused with joy both in the content and in the telling.

They engage your imagination in a powerful and visceral way so that you feel the change deep in your body.

Half the magic of miracles is making it feel real — even if just for a second.

In Hook, Peter started to fall when he first realized he was flying. Dr. Brene Brown said during her interview on Super Soul Sunday and in her book Daring Greatly that joy is our most frightening emotion.

Peter fell until Tink said to him, “Just hold on to that happy thought, Peter!” Immediately, he was buoyed up again.

It’s all about learning to hold on to that feeling of joy, one second at a time, for longer and longer periods.