A fun, successful collection of concepts, thoughts, and strategies about maintaining joy and living creatively.

Expanded Joy

52 PROJECTS TO INCREASE THE PURPOSE, PASSION AND PLAYFULNESS IN YOUR LIFE

Debut author and educational administrator Popish offers innovative springboards, exercises, and tools for a more inspired life.

The author writes that she set out to find a book that could guide her to a passion-filled existence. Her failure to find it served as a catalyst toward success, however, as she began to pen this book. The result is a vibrant collection of strategies that can be used personally, as part of a group, or shared with family in order to set a daily tone. Within these pages, Popish offers fresh ideas about writing, practicing gratitude, and going on adventures to spice up one’s daily life and imbue one’s free time with meaning. The book starts out with practical habits that promise to lead to calmness and more fulfillment. For instance, the author begins by asserting the importance of sleep, explaining the science behind REM cycles and the regeneration that happens overnight. She then offers a list of strategies to make one’s sleep deeper and more meaningful, such as darkening a room, changing bedding or pillows, taking “cleansing breaths,” and listening to soothing music. Although these tips may seem obvious, they’re often forgotten in busy lifestyles. Next, she covers personal relationships, suggesting ways to find joy by focusing on strong social connections. Indeed, much of the book focuses on methods for creating joyful environments, such as by making inspiration boards using fabric samples, quotes, and photographs or undertaking creative collage. Popish also calls upon positive psychology concepts, pointing to data-backed studies on the importance of planned “spontaneity,” savoring experiences, and varying one’s joys to avoid “habituation” and a decline of stimulation. The book is well-crafted, freshly written, and explains its ideas in a logical, straightforward way, even when tackling complex psychology concepts. Along the way, the author covers a broad landscape of wellness strategies. She encourages solitude and social connection, planning and spontaneity, laughter and spirituality—all culminating in a dialectical approach that’s easy to follow.

A fun, successful collection of concepts, thoughts, and strategies about maintaining joy and living creatively.  

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-937498-82-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Elevate

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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