Debut author Stimpson draws on years of his advice columns published in church and local newspapers in this collection of strategies for navigating common challenges.
Though he bases his writing on decades of experience as both a parish priest and a trained therapist, Stimpson states from the outset that he can offer “just the opinion of one man...continuing on the same journey as you are.” The chapters that follow cover a wide range of topics, including effective parenting, healthy relationships, and even the particulars of psychiatric disorders like depression and substance addictions. Each section begins with a set of questions from readers of the author’s columns and ends with a concise recap of key points and a list of recommended further reading. Stimpson also ties each portion of advice back to core principles that focus on individual worth, autonomy, and potential for growth. As the book’s subtitle indicates, its advice is rarely dramatic or complex. Rather, Stimpson returns frequently to simple themes of love and interpersonal connection, relying on a framework that, though explicitly Judeo-Christian, is inclusive enough to remain largely accessible to nonbelievers. Readers seeking in-depth guidance about any one of the subjects touched on here will need to delve into the author’s lists of external resources; two pages on becoming a stepparent, for example, can only begin to touch on such an enormous subject. Stimpson’s advice is often accordingly vague, with instructions such as be “accepting, nonjudgmental, and empathic” without much detail about how to do so. The author readily acknowledges the limitations of his own perspective throughout, however, and that humble, carefully reasoned tone is a refreshing antidote to the grand proclamations and oversimplifications that too often dominate the self-help genre. “We are each an explorer,” Stimpson writes, “peering through the trees at a beautiful valley that will take a lifetime to explore.” Though gentle, such clear-eyed guidance may be a potent inspiration for readers’ further personal growth.
A useful, no-nonsense primer on coping with everything from minor stresses to seismic life changes.