Written in unfailingly clear and concise prose, this challenge to basic assumptions about human nature points the way toward...

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POSITIVE HARMLESSNESS IN PRACTICE

ENOUGH FOR US ALL

This second book in a three-part series sets forth the premise that human beings are naturally social and cooperative, and that they can take practical steps each day to ground their thoughts, feelings and actions in an ethic that promotes well-being for all.

In a world seemingly overrun with violence and based on a Darwinian principle of survival of the fittest, how can one possibly operate from a standpoint of not only causing no harm but of actively encouraging beneficial outcomes for others? Riddle never claims it will be easy. She acknowledges that we live in a universe that “encourages us to focus on self-interest and to live from a fear-based myth of scarcity” that makes it difficult to even imagine a world where causing harm is no longer the norm. But as much as the author is an idealist dedicated to the betterment of humankind, she is equally pragmatic and dedicates most of her book to offering numerous exercises and daily practices that people can follow as they seek to consistently develop a habit of harmlessness. The one downside to Riddle’s work appears in “Part Two, Immersion in Harmlessness—The Butterfly Shift,” where Riddle’s fondness for minutia becomes overwhelming. Her step-by-step instructions take up a third of the book and seem excessively scripted. It seems unlikely that, in our daily interactions with others, we can realistically be expected to assess the difference between a compassionate shift, a grateful shift or a joyous shift while we simultaneously choose the best recipient of our attention, leverage our emotions and review our action options, all with an aim of creating an optimal mini-immersion experience in harmlessness. Riddle is at her most accessible when she reveals how fully awash we are in a culture that values the individual over the group to the point where we have come to conceive of human development as a solitary experience rather than a lifetime of interactions with others.

Written in unfailingly clear and concise prose, this challenge to basic assumptions about human nature points the way toward a kinder, gentler world.

Pub Date: June 24, 2010

ISBN: 978-1452036328

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2010

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Rhimes said “yes” to sharing her insights. Following her may not land you on the cover of a magazine, but you’ll be glad you...

YEAR OF YES

HOW TO DANCE IT OUT, STAND IN THE SUN AND BE YOUR OWN PERSON

The queen of Thursday night TV delivers a sincere and inspiring account of saying yes to life.

Rhimes, the brain behind hits like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, is an introvert. She describes herself as a young girl, playing alone in the pantry, making up soap-opera script stories to act out with the canned goods. Speaking in public terrified her; going to events exhausted her. She was always busy, and she didn’t have enough time for her daughters. One Thanksgiving changed it all: when her sister observed that she never said “yes” to anything, Rhimes took it as a challenge. She started, among other things, accepting invitations, facing unpleasant conversations, and playing with her children whenever they asked. The result was a year of challenges and self-discovery that led to a fundamental shift in how she lives her life. Rhimes tells us all about it in the speedy, smart style of her much-loved TV shows. She’s warm, eminently relatable, and funny. We get an idea of what it’s like to be a successful TV writer and producer, to be the ruler of Shondaland, but the focus is squarely on the lessons one can learn from saying yes rather than shying away. Saying no was easy, Rhimes writes. It was comfortable, “a way to disappear.” But after her year, no matter how tempting it is, “I can no longer allow myself to say no. No is no longer in my vocabulary.” The book is a fast read—readers could finish it in the time it takes to watch a full lineup of her Thursday night programing—but it’s not insubstantial. Like a cashmere shawl you pack just in case, Year of Yes is well worth the purse space, and it would make an equally great gift.

Rhimes said “yes” to sharing her insights. Following her may not land you on the cover of a magazine, but you’ll be glad you did. 

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-7709-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2015

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Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better...

EVERYTHING IS F*CKED

A BOOK ABOUT HOPE

The popular blogger and author delivers an entertaining and thought-provoking third book about the importance of being hopeful in terrible times.

“We are a culture and a people in need of hope,” writes Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, 2016, etc.). With an appealing combination of gritty humor and straightforward prose, the author floats the idea of drawing strength and hope from a myriad of sources in order to tolerate the “incomprehensibility of your existence.” He broadens and illuminates his concepts through a series of hypothetical scenarios based in contemporary reality. At the dark heart of Manson’s guide is the “Uncomfortable Truth,” which reiterates our cosmic insignificance and the inevitability of death, whether we blindly ignore or blissfully embrace it. The author establishes this harsh sentiment early on, creating a firm foundation for examining the current crisis of hope, how we got here, and what it means on a larger scale. Manson’s referential text probes the heroism of Auschwitz infiltrator Witold Pilecki and the work of Isaac Newton, Nietzsche, Einstein, and Immanuel Kant, as the author explores the mechanics of how hope is created and maintained through self-control and community. Though Manson takes many serpentine intellectual detours, his dark-humored wit and blunt prose are both informative and engaging. He is at his most convincing in his discussions about the fallibility of religious beliefs, the modern world’s numerous shortcomings, deliberations over the “Feeling Brain” versus the “Thinking Brain,” and the importance of striking a happy medium between overindulging in and repressing emotions. Although we live in a “couch-potato-pundit era of tweetstorms and outrage porn,” writes Manson, hope springs eternal through the magic salves of self-awareness, rational thinking, and even pain, which is “at the heart of all emotion.”

Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better world alive.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288843-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2019

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