The Gift of Maybe: Finding Hope and Possibility in Uncertain Times

The Gift of Maybe: Finding Hope and Possibility in Uncertain Times

by Allison Carmen


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Maybe: A simple yet powerful mindset for coping with stress and worry
Allison Carmen spent many years fighting a powerful addiction. It wasn’t drugs, alcohol or fame. It was an addiction to certainty. If she didn’t know what the future would bring – and who does? – she felt anxious and afraid. This decades-long struggle followed her through college, marriage, parenthood, and a successful law career. While everything seemed fine from the outside, Allison was in a constant battle that was unwinnable, sapping her energy, attention, and spirit. Until the day she discovered The Gift of Maybe.
Maybe is a simple yet powerful philosophy that has transformed Allison’s life, and the life of her many clients (now that she has ditched her legal career and has become a successful life coach). The message is this: In the face of uncertainty, Maybe opens your mind and heart. It creates a little space for hope. It allows you to take a deep breath, stay in the present, and forge your own path.
Many things in life are beyond our control, but the mindset of Maybe presents a simple, powerful way to stay connected to what’s possible, and work to make it happen.  It is just one change of perspective, but Maybe it changes everything!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399169533
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/04/2014
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 826,349
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

After fifteen years of working as an attorney overwhelmed with anxiety about the future, Allison Carmen found hope and freedom when she discovered the Philosophy of Maybe. Today, Allison works as a life coach and business consultant with a vast array of people, from entrepreneurs and owners of multi-million dollar companies to artists, actors, writers, fashion designers, attorneys, medical workers, nannies, parents and the homeless. Over and over again, Allison has witnessed people find the courage, regardless of present circumstances, to step into the realm of Maybe and improve their lives. An active blogger and speaker, she lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

Read an Excerpt


•  •  •  •  •

The future ain’t what it used to be.


For most of my life, I had an addiction that no doctor could cure. This addiction caused me anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and sometimes such hopelessness that my next breath itself seemed a burden. My addiction wasn’t to alcohol or drugs. I wasn’t a shopaholic or a compulsive gambler. Yet this addiction almost destroyed me, and it afflicts millions of people around the world.

My addiction was to certainty. At every moment in my life, I desperately sought to know what was going to happen next. My need for certainty caused me to believe that the unexpected was always negative. I became devastated whenever things took an unexpected turn because I believed it meant the life I had envisioned for myself was no longer possible. I continually sacrificed my goals and desires in an effort to feel safe and secure. Yet no matter what I did I could not escape uncertainty, and the choices I made in an effort to attain certainty always led to compromise and disappointment.

The symptoms of addiction to certainty are peculiar and particular to each person, but the common denominator is unnecessary suffering. In my case, I would lie awake at night in fear of what might be, unable to catch my breath and unable to control my mind’s chatter. Was my livelihood secure? Would my husband always love me? Could I afford my life? Were the stocks I invested in safe? Would my parents, children, and other family members stay well? Would there be a large-scale disaster in my city? Would I or would I not get a raise this quarter? What would the results of my annual checkup be? This onslaught of sleeplessness and anxiety began taking a toll on my immune system and I actually started getting sick.

The need to know the future had gripped me as a teenager, and most of my twenties were spent in stress. In my thirties, though I was at the top of my career as an attorney, I was deeply unhappy and suffering physically. No doctor could identify my illness, but my symptoms included an array of infections, allergies, anxiety, and depression. So I turned to alternative medicine, meditation, acupuncture, and any other practice I thought might relieve my physical and emotional pain. I found some tools to ease my mind, but when a big issue or conflict infiltrated my life, I still spun out of control. I even went so far as to become best friends with a woman with psychic abilities in hopes she could lift the veil of uncertainty and tell me what the future had in store for me.

One day, still in the midst of pressing anxiety about the future, I went to see my Qigong teacher for a lesson. I related to him my tale of woe, and he responded with a simple story that, for me, changed everything.

Here is the story.

One day, a farmer’s horse ran away. His neighbor came by and said, “You have the worst luck.” The farmer replied to the neighbor, “Maybe.” The next day, the horse returned with five mares, and the neighbor came by and said, “You have the best luck.” The farmer replied, “Maybe.” The day after that, the farmer’s son was riding the horse and fell off and broke his leg, and the neighbor came by and said to the farmer, “You have the worst luck.” The farmer replied, “Maybe.” The next day, the army came looking to draft the boy for combat but he could not go because his leg was broken. The neighbor came by and said, “You have the best luck.” Again the farmer said, “Maybe.”

I will remember the moment I heard this simple story for the rest of my life. It was in this moment that I was able to feel space in my breath. It was in this moment that, for the first time, I had a place to park my thoughts and just sit in a place called Maybe. In this place, it felt all right not to know the future, and suddenly I was filled with an inexplicable hope.

As time passed, I learned that this world of Maybe created hope because it allowed me to see the infinite ways that every situation could unfold. I realized that things might not always go as planned, but that in the next moment things would change and Maybe for the better. I had been so busy in my life worrying that the horse could run away that it never occurred to me that he could also come back.

Over time I have come to realize that Maybe is a place, a philosophy, a seed, and a magic elixir all at once. Maybe is the part of uncertainty where endless possibilities live and breathe. Maybe is not a matter of probability, as in “There is an 80 percent chance a situation could be bad and a 20 percent chance it could work out well.” Instead, it is a space within the uncertainty of life, a mind-set that suggests that for every situation we experience, there are numerous ways it may resolve. Within these many possibilities, maybe there is a chance a situation that I am facing will work out well, or maybe the answer will come to me, or maybe I will be all right no matter what happens. The essence of “Maybe” or “what may be” contains the hope within uncertainty.

Some people might disagree with my interpretation of the farmer story, but I cannot deny the life-changing experience I had when I heard it for the first time. For me, Maybe became a window through which to view all that can be. Within that open space exists so many wonderful possibilities that give me hope and strength to endure uncertainty. As I began to live in the realm of Maybe, my fears of the unknown dissolved, and I established a new future filled with opportunities, a future that has me realizing many of the hopes and dreams I thought I’d sacrificed to worry long ago.

Maybe allowed me to successfully venture into a business I love, a lifelong dream. Maybe transformed many other aspects of my life, too, from my health to my relationships with the people I love. In short, Maybe changed—and saved—my life.

Today, as a life coach and business consultant, I work with a vast array of people, from entrepreneurs and owners of multimillion-dollar companies to artists, actors, writers, fashion designers, attorneys, medical workers, parents, and the homeless. I have witnessed people who, regardless of present circumstances, found the courage to step into the realm of Maybe to improve their lives. A nanny goes back to school and becomes a nurse. A costume designer lands her first blockbuster film. A garage attendant finds more joy in everyday living. An investment banker quits his Wall Street job to pursue his passion at a private company. A screenwriter has some of the biggest names in Hollywood perform in her play. A fitness trainer makes a great living selling his photographs. An unemployed marketing executive starts her own catering business. A little boy who made a devastating, game-losing shot becomes the most valuable player on his team for the season. A divorced mother of two creates a wonderful new life for herself and her kids. A woman on the verge of business bankruptcy turns her business into a multimillion-dollar international company. An attorney finds less stress at work and wins more cases. A grandmother cares for her grandson and successfully grows her cake business at the same time. And the list goes on and on.

The results that my clients and I achieved when we changed our perceptions of the various challenges that confronted us sometimes amaze even me. Whoever we are, whenever we embrace Maybe and move beyond what we thought was possible, we open ourselves to more success and happiness in our lives.

The possibilities are endless. I now have tens of thousands of international followers who are embracing the mind-set of Maybe through my blog, interviews, and YouTube videos. Given the fast-paced, changing economic and political landscape around the world, Maybe has become a constant for many and a refuge of hope. In writing this book, it’s my hope that Maybe will transform and improve your life and help you find comfort in the unknown.

How Can Maybe Help You?


Excerpted from "The Gift of Maybe"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Allison Carmen.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

1 The Philosophy of Maybe 1

2 Keep Hope Alive 17

3 Maybe There Is Another Way 29

4 Let Go of the Past (But Hold on to the Wisdom) 51

5 The Present Is the True Gift 71

6 Maybe Is Always at Play 91

7 The Internal Maybe: Finding a New Strength 113

8 Adopting Maybe as a Life Philosophy 131

Acknowledgments 139

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“A little gem of a book with a positive and powerful message.”
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