Enthusiastic, embracing guide to self-actualization.

Life Is Great, Even When It Sucks


A dairy farmer–turned–certified coach discusses how to realize your unique potential in this debut self-help guide.

Nyland, with her husband, owned and operated a dairy farm for more than 28 years, and they lived first in the Netherlands, now in Canada. She tees up her particular experience by noting that she has “lived with four generations on one farm” and that “Nothing fascinates me more than human interaction.” Now also a certified coach, having completed the “Co-Active” leadership program offered by California-based Coaches Training Institute, Nyland asserts that “we all are magnificent,” each with a special “toolbox/I am status,” yet “most of us don’t even know we have this great toolbox, let alone know that we need to cultivate it to experience a great life.” She believes that blockage occurs due to insecurities that arise from what she calls the five-point system “We have all been taught” via family, society, and media: “how to trust, how to handle conflict, how to be accountable, how to be committed, and what the results of these things are.” Nyland spends most of her book exploring these themes and offering several suggestions to help readers get a better picture of who they really are and what they really want in life. For instance, she says, journal and take her brief survey to assess your current views related to her five-point system. Nyland offers simple yet effective and thought-provoking tools to develop a cleareyed and affirmative approach to life. Her guide can get a bit off course, however, with too much discussion of autobiographical detail, including an odd aside about “stray voltage” causing problems on her farm. Still, Nyland generally presents a positive, uplifting tone in an encouraging guide. “You see, we all encounter difficult challenges in life, and yes, that sucks,” she says. “The thing is, though, with all those challenges we have the opportunity to cultivate and strengthen our toolbox, and how cool is that?”

Enthusiastic, embracing guide to self-actualization.

Pub Date: April 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-1503552678

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2015

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.


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



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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