A debut book repackages common self-improvement themes into a useful manual for reducing stress and achieving goals.
Psychologist D’Agostino believes emotions can get in the way of thinking. That’s why he employs the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy to help clients overcome problems through “naked thinking,” which he describes as “thinking with the suffocating cloak of emotions stripped away.” Dividing the book into two sections, the author first explores different aspects of naked thinking and then, through anecdotes, demonstrates how it can be applied to various situations. The material is not unique: topics such as managing emotions, decreasing stress, improving self-confidence, and setting goals are well-trodden in self-help volumes. Still, D’Agostino writes with a breezy, down-to-earth style that, while authoritative, feels informal and friendly. He also has a way of crystallizing ideas and conjuring up just the right definition for concepts that could be amorphous. He defines courage, for example, as “the ability to face any strong emotion that leads us in a different direction from our intended goal, and still do the right thing regardless of how we feel.” It is the second section of the book in which the concept of naked thinking comes to fruition. Here, D’Agostino deftly delivers numerous stories that appropriately make certain points, sometimes in dramatic fashion. Often, the moral of each tale is different than what one might expect. For example, a story about a man who unfailingly does the right thing, even though it costs him his job and marriage, seems to illustrate the fact that “virtue is its own reward”; in reality, the tale is meant to suggest that “anything, including pursuing a supposed virtue, can be destructive when it’s made to be the entire focus of a person’s life.” The outcome of each episode, coupled with the author’s keen observations and insights, creates vivid life lessons that should resonate with any reader. Another nice touch are the sidebar boxes that encourage the reader to write down thoughts related to the content, thus “personalizing” the work.
A helpful handbook for those who sometimes let their emotions rule.