Initially, I felt put off by this book's "self-help" label because it seems most books in that genre simply repackage stuff your mom told you for free. What changed my mind were reviews on Goodreads and audible.com where readers tend to be a tough crowd and a book generally has to be very, very good to rate a 4 or 5-star rating. So, I figured why not, and picked up the audio version. As I began listening, I found the author (who also narrates the story) to be funny in a self-deprecating way and disarmingly honest -- I also realized this isn't really a self-help book.
The author describes what contributed to his on-air panic attack on "Good Morning America" and the details of his subsequent journey of self-discovery. He describes interviewing self-help authors like Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and others... and rather than revering them as gurus, is skeptical about the uniqueness of their insights and approach. He decides the "voice in my head is an a--hole" and seeks actionable ways to cultivate a more effective coping mechanism. He ultimately tries meditation and finds it to be a useful way to cope with stress and cultivate compassion. This book has something for everyone:
- For folks who meditate, this story is a nice reminder of the benefits of meditation.
- For those not into meditation, it feels like listening an old friend tell his story of moving beyond a life altering event by "upping his game and becoming a leading man."
This is one of those books that would be good read on a Kindle or paperback, but is an absolutely great audiobook. Highly recommended.
I used to journal every day as a way to savor the good and to transform the not so good. I picked up the audible.com version of Writing Down Your Soul to help remind me of the value of journaling, and found it very effective. There are some elements of the book that didn't resonate for me but like other reviewers, I recommend ignoring the elements that don't work for you and mining the gems that are useful. About halfway through the book, the author provides a long list of questions one can ask him/herself to trigger writing during a journaling session -- this list of questions is comprehensive and worth the price of the book alone.
"Making Habits, Breaking Habits" describes what it takes to form new habits and how to optimize success along the way. The book takes on the 21 day "rule of thumb" that is so often referred to (hint: while it varies based on the habit type, the 21-day parameter generally isn't correct). What I found especially useful is how Dr. Dean describes actionable ways one can increase the likelihood of successful habit forming, by habit type. He also reinforces the concept that multiple small changes can add up to big benefits. This book is a worthwhile listen for anyone trying to develop or reinforce habits, whether it's stopping smoking, eating healthier, exercising more routinely, etc.