A quick read that provides tested techniques to reestablish equilibrium in one’s life.

READ REVIEW

IF YOU'RE FREAKING OUT, READ THIS

A COPING WORKBOOK FOR BUILDING GOOD HABITS, BEHAVIORS, AND HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

A guidebook to help you through the rough spots in life.

In an upbeat, lighthearted narrative that combines elements of memoir, guidebook, and workbook, DeAngelis interweaves her personal story with therapeutic practices and exercises to help readers regain balance when all seems hopeless. The author’s past was filled with depression, bouts in psychiatric hospitals, and thoughts of suicide until she began applying these coping skills: paying attention to one’s breath, integrating movement to ward off depression, experiencing forgiveness, addressing grief, and more. Each of the 10 sections, which feature frequent lists, sidebars, and font changes, is intimate and expressive, pushing readers to fully explore what they are feeling or thinking at the moment. For anyone who has read the work of SARK, the format will feel familiar, with its handwritten notes interwoven with typed sections and blank spaces left for the reader’s own thoughts to be included on the page. DeAngelis combines insight into the realities of deep depression with humor and encouragement. Certain exercises may strike some readers as overly saccharine—e.g., creating a happy jar filled with happy thoughts—but most will help readers seeking to cope with the difficult aspects of life. “This is not one of those books where I am promising that your life will change if you take these simple steps,” writes the author. “I have no idea what will happen in your life and you do not need to try anything that does not sound cool. I do not and cannot know what is best for you or what will work for you.” With that in mind, readers can pick and choose what most appeals to them, knowing that all the exercises have worked at one time or another for DeAngelis, which is a good testament to their efficacy.

A quick read that provides tested techniques to reestablish equilibrium in one’s life.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-62106-901-0

Page Count: 157

Publisher: Microcosm Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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