A Houston-based cardiologist shares reflections on how relationships help individuals find meaning and purpose in life in this first of a planned self-help series.
“Are you ready to stop living like a vertical coffin just taking space?” This is one of several provocative queries that Chang uses to introduce his debut book, a roundup of “strategies and ideas,” drawn from personal experience and extensive reading in his quest in “answering the question, ‘How can I be a better me?’ ” His chapters consist of kick-starter statements or questions (“Kindness and love are your most powerful weapons to conquer worries, frustrations, injustices, and loneliness”; “Wanting to stay sane and happy? Then be more loving! A loving incident a day keeps insanity away”). These are followed by a series of “practical strategies” (such as “When talking, be mindful of your words and the tone of your voice and whether you are saying what you really want to say. Remind yourself, ‘I am calm. I am at peace. I am loving.’ Use CAL as mnemonic”). Chang’s main theme is what he terms a “conscious relationship,” including handling its thornier aspects, such as forgiveness, noting: “When someone has harmed or killed a loved one, forgiveness can seem like a mighty challenge. And yet it’s a challenge that needs to be met if we are to find any peace or happiness at all.” Overall, the author, who ends his useful book with his “top forty most impactful strategies,” emphasizes that relationships “help us find meaning and purpose” and “offer us the opportunity to connect to the divine in ourselves and in others.” Chang is a sincere, impassioned advocate of adopting positive, mindful life practices. Although his statements, questions, and even strategies are similar in nature, they also serve as an arsenal of like-minded tools to guide ongoing behavior and thought. Additionally, while the author’s frequent references to death can be seen as ghoulish, they provide helpful reminders to be present in one’s current dealings, including his exhortation to “Give flowers to the living! Don’t wait until their funerals.”
A thought-provoking mix of pithy meditations and tips.