McKenney blends memoir with self-help advice in this nonfiction work.
After graduating from the College of William and Mary, the author practiced law in Norfolk, Virginia, before beginning a successful career in business that included co-founding a hotel chain and a boat parts company. With his personal wealth and loving wife, children, and grandchildren, his life seemed to be the realization of the American dream. However, on the inside, he spent much of his time in “hell,” with a mind “flooded with a torrent of distracting, unwanted fears and speculations and burdened by an inner inertia that kept me from doing the things I knew were good for me.” Following emergency heart surgery in 2019 at the age of 78, McKenney experienced a “liberating” epiphany and began to focus on “cleaning up the garbage” that filled his brain with negativity. In this book, he aims to provide readers with an approach to peace of mind that is centered around three fundamental paradigms: “Live in the present”; “See the glass as half full, not half empty”; and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” While admitting that these may sound like “platitudes,” the author leavens his self-help counseling with personal anecdotes from his own life’s failures and successes. McKenney recalls childhood stories of his skepticism toward religion as an 8-year-old in Sunday school (“What I saw in church seemed remote”) and the paralyzing thrill of a game of spin the bottle. Most of these reminiscences are connected to a broader message of living in the moment or bettering oneself and others. As an octogenarian, McKenney writes with wisdom gleaned over a lifetime, and his writing style effectively blends humor with poignancy. Many of the book’s life lessons include references to religion, philosophy, and science, reflecting an intellectual curiosity that informs the author’s sharp commentary and storytelling dexterity.
A witty, insightful reflection on living a happy life.