Attar’s essays on self-fulfillment and creative exploration blend lessons from pop-psychology and spirituality.
In her debut memoir/self-help guide, the author borrows from religious and spiritual customs from India, Syria, Mexico, and the U.S., incorporates the work of Freud and Jung and other self-help texts, and recommends the basics—a good diet, exercise, and proper sleep hygiene. Various types of meditation in the traditions of both Buddhism and Christianity are explored, and the author notes that prayer, with its ritualistic repetition, is remarkably similar to meditation in its practice. Like many self-help authors, she urges readers to stay positive; by revisiting good experiences, positive thoughts can be enhanced and even replace self-defeating ones. The concept of the personal myth, or the “stories that explain and give meaning to the unique, individual events of our lives,” is introduced late in the work and encapsulates the author’s approach: Attar cherry-picks aspects from her many, and sometimes disparate, areas of interest to create a guiding credo. Eastern and Western philosophies and religions, modern psychology, Greek mythology, even tarot and other forms of fortunetelling are used as examples not just to teach and challenge readers, but also to frame the author’s own experiences alongside the text’s lessons. This meandering guide is a grab bag of exercises for mindfulness and exploration of the self that offers scientific evidence for the benefits of such practices, drawing from Andrew Newberg’s work on the study of religious experiences and behavior on the brain. The text cites other self-help resources, such as Tom Rath’s Eat Move Sleep and Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages, giving interested readers further areas of study. The sheer breadth of influences is at times overwhelming. Taken individually, the essays are concise and offer useful questions that aid self-exploration and can be revisited in any order.
Self-help meets memoir in this mishmash of influences offering spiritual direction and practical habits for healthier living.