I didn’t plan to end the year with a bunch of self-help books, but because work took up so much of my time in the last third of the year I’m just now catching up on all the galleys I received.* That’s a sentence I never expected to write.
As someone who is incredibly skeptical of self-help books, religion, psychology, psychotherapy or really anything doing with the mind or the ethereal, I’m not only surprised at how many I’ve read this year, but I’m also surprised at how many I appreciated. I still think there is a time and place for all of the thing above, but I’ve found that when they are well written (which most of TarcherPerigee’s seem to be) they’re worth some time investment, but not too much!
I think where this one works and the previous three didn’t, and same with the next, is that the book is very easily divided into chapters and sections that make sense. Emet even says I’m going to tell you a story, dissect the story, and then give you actionable items to do.
Emet, like Ruiz in his Toltec Wisdom Series, pulls from major religions and cultures around the world, but he does it without being pedantic and without putting one above the other. He does use more examples of Buddhism, but that’s what he practices and it doesn’t come across as holier than though. Plus, Emet has a sense of humor:
“Compared to the communal way we humans have lived on this planet for most of our existence, boyfriends, girlfriends, and potted plants have now assumed an overwhelming importance. Take them away, and you haven’t got much left. Mostly just work, and the other potted plant lovers you meet in the elevator.
Our romantic partner has become the Most Important Person, and our relationship our anchor in the sea of life. This is a heavy burden to bear for a lover. It is a burden even for a potted plant.” (165-166)
I legit laughed out loud when I read this section and then when I read the following I actually stopped and read it about 10 times, it’s a good thing to remember.
“You never have ten things to do. You only have one thing to do. Always. Because you can only do one thing at a time.” (104)
I feel like if I took this mindset to work my stress would decrease because then I could say how I approach things in a more eloquent way than “Oi, you, leave me alone I’m doing 100 things and yours is 95 on the list.”
And Emet also reminded me that I have to find the good and the happy in things, I don’t want to become this person. (I’m usually not, so that’s a good thing already!)
“These people would be unhappy with a small, one percent change over a week. They might not even notice it. But do not underestimate one percent. One percent a week works out to a hundred percent over two years. This means a complete change can happen in a couple of years” (51)
Recommendation: I thoroughly enjoyed this one, it was an easy and understandable read. I can see why there seem to be more and more of these books every year, and in this case I can even appreciate why it was published. I’m not sure I will go back to it, but I think combined with all the other bits of wisdom I’ve collected over the past couple of years it can only make my unpracticed, unstructured and sporadic meditation a little stronger when I do it in the future.
Opening Line: “As he was taking his leave of the Zen master, the young student put his hands together and bowed.”
Closing Line: “There also, the challenge is to love the whole person, and not only parts o her personality or body, her taste in cars, or her way with food.” (Not whited out as this is a work of nonfiction.)
*I received a copy of this from the publisher in return for an honest response. No goods or money were exchanged.