An effective self-help memoir that successfully relates the power of gratitude.

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A MOMENT'S PAUSE FOR GRATITUDE

A debut memoir in short stories that explores the author’s ongoing journey to a more grateful existence.

In brief pieces, organized by topic, former educator Carroll explores the idea of being thankful for things large and small, and how this stance can enhance a person’s attitude and overall well-being. Along the way, the author delivers small bits of his personal experiences, expressing gratitude for such things as education, parenting, childhood innocence, and the many opportunities that each day presents. Even sadness and grief, the author emphasizes, can be tools for growth if one approaches them with an open mind in search of new experiences. Carroll reflects on specific lessons he’s learned as a parent, discussing how change inevitably occurs in all relationships over time. Coping with that variability, Carroll insists, is one of the most important skills that a human being can develop. The book’s loose structure allows readers to dip in and read any part at any time. Each piece begins with a quote from a famous writer or thinker, followed by a quick but powerful anecdote. In one compelling passage, the author discusses visualizing outcomes, starting with a famous quote from the late self-help author Robert Collier: “See things as you would have them be instead of as they are.” He then illustrates the power of visualization with a story about his son playing baseball; the child had been fearful of stepping up to the plate after being hit by a pitch, but practicing visualization helped him hit a game-winning double, Carroll writes. Overall, this book is a positive, motivational guide to setting one’s intentions each day.

An effective self-help memoir that successfully relates the power of gratitude.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5043-9009-5

Page Count: 190

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2018

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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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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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