A well-balanced guide to changing vital parts of one’s life for the better.

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REPROGRAM YOUR LIFE

Debut author Reynolds’ self-help book aims to motivate and educate readers on how to effect real, positive change in their lives.

The Australian author establishes himself as something of a Renaissance man who found million-dollar success in a variety of fields, including computer science, finance, and real estate. But he’s also had his fair share of struggles, including the tragic loss of dear friends, depression, and a financial crisis that bankrupted him. Now a motivational speaker, he shares what he’s learned throughout his life. First, he asserts that one must have the courage to change—to let go of negative emotions and perceptions, and commit oneself to personal growth using positive motivation. In terms of relationships, he says that one should strive to become mentally and emotionally independent, and to develop love for oneself; however, he also points out that “being independent doesn’t mean living like a hermit.” Finally, Reynolds shares his wisdom about maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle and becoming financially literate, as well as offering additional resources for further study. At first glance, this might seem like just another, generic self-help book, but one quickly finds that its quality is above and beyond other works of its type. The prose reads effortlessly, for one thing, and it’s organized in a way that smoothly and topically guides readers through its ideas. It also includes elements that some self-help books miss, such as specific, practical financial tips and the reasons behind them (“Pay off the high-interest debt first, so that you can actually keep any money you make by investing”); there’s even insightful instruction on how to best use other instructional books (“Information in self-help books cannot be digested like novels”). Reynolds promotes self-confidence, but not arrogance, and personal progress, but not at the expense of others. This is a book that will keep on giving, as long as readers are willing to study and apply it.

A well-balanced guide to changing vital parts of one’s life for the better.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5043-0596-9

Page Count: 92

Publisher: BalboaPressAU

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2017

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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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