Monday, 15 October 2012

Book Review

Personal Development Book Review

Recently I published an article on the importance of listening to what your life is telling you and following the path that inner voice suggests.  So my book review this month focuses on three books that go into this topic a little more deeply.

Click on the title of any book that particularly interests you and you can buy it right away from Amazon.

For my UK readers, or anyone who wants to pay in pounds sterling or have the booked shipped from the UK, click on the "UK Link" right at the end of each review.

Following the Path: The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy


Sister Joan Chittister

The author of this book is a Catholic nun.  But don't let that put you off if you are not a Christian.  This book is all about finding happiness by doing what your inner voice is telling you to do, whatever that may be.  Sister Joan does not preach her religion here, and even quotes from a Sufi mystic, although she is clearly devout and certainly not ashamed of her love of God.

"While this could easily be called an informal guide to what it takes to be happy, that would be too simple a description for such a wise book. As the popular author and lecturer Chittister notes, most of us seldom have the economic or social freedom to find that something that fulfills us. 'So how can we know what we’re meant to do with our lives?' That is the core question, and Chittister spends the bulk of the book sharing stories from those folk brave enough to change course, sometimes relatively late in their lives, while offering her own insight on the meanings of happiness and purpose. She has her own definition of happiness, of course ('Happiness,' she writes, 'comes from the inside'), as well as what it means to be successful; but the essence of the book concerns itself with the fundamental concept of call, that is, of discovering where we do—and do not—fit in. Essentially, Chittister’s slim volume deals with how to lead a meaningful life at any age (whether early adulthood, middle age, or later on); 'No one else can answer for us,' she observes, since finding our own way is a unique journey. Sure to be a modern classic of its genre."

-    June Sawyers

"Sister Joan provides a framework for charting a life that is deeply lived and deeply invested. By recognizing with gratitude the opportunities that show themselves to us, we can live lives that are incredibly fulfilling and also make a great contribution to the world. But it means taking risks!"

-    James Andrews

"An excellent book to review your life and encourage you to be assured that you are following the right path, and maybe consider areas in your life to improve or completely change."

-    Pat

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life


Thich Nhat Hanh

"This book was written by a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk. But don't let that fool you, this book is for everyone. The author doesn't try to convert you to his religion, the only Buddhist principles in this book go hand in hand with many Christian beliefs. The author shows how easy it is to live a fulfilling life in harmony with yourself and the world around you.

Read this book if you ever feel depressed or if you feel you are getting lost in the modern age. This book will not tell you who you are, but it will help to show you how you can discover what it is you really want and find happiness.

Thich Nan Haht was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by none other than Martin Luther King Jr.

Highly recommended."

-    W Fleming

"Peace is not external, so we do not need to chase it. Peace is already present but we have to get in touch with it. This is attained through mindfulness: living in the present moment, in the here and now. Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen master and spiritual leader teaches mindfulness through conscious breathing and smiling. Connecting the body and mind, to find peace and happiness even in the most unlikely situations. Breathing and smiling! Is that it? You may be as skeptical as I was before practicing this exercise: breathe in, while reciting 'breathing in I calm my body' then breathe out while smiling and reciting 'breathing out I smile' do this three times! This is a very easy yet very effective exercise, do this often enough, in any position at any time (sitting, lying, driving, walking, before you eat, before you wash the dishes, when you hear the phone ring....) and enjoy being calm, relaxed and peaceful.

This book is written clearly and beautifully. Full of inspiring stories and parables, meditations and practices, reflecting the author's wisdom and experience. Terrific and extremely effective, will make you calm and happy just reading it, then breathe, smile and be peaceful!"

-    W. Rashed (Jabriya, KUWAIT)

"I love this book. It's short, easy and delightful to read, and full of practical wisdom. More so than any other Zen Master whose writings I have encountered, Thich Nhat Hanh knows how to teach Westerners in a way that is straightforward, practical for everyday problems, and fun to read (rather than an intellectual puzzle). I cannot recommend this book more highly. A wealth of wisdom presented in a unique and immensely practical way. Thich Nhat Hanh's writing embodies peace and mindfulness at their highest - one could almost learn all he has to teach simply by reading his writings for their style and attitude, without hardly paying attention to the message or content per se.

Please do yourself a favor: buy this book, read it at your leisure, reread it if you feel so compelled, keep it on a shelf or pass it on as a gift. I almost never review books, but when I finished this one I knew I had to recommend it, and I do so with no reservation whatsoever."

-    Marcus Macauley

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead


Brene Brown

"I deeply trust Brené Brown - her research, her intelligence, her integrity, and her personhood. So when she definitively lands on the one most important value we can cultivate for professional success, relationship health, parental joy, and courageous, passionate living...well, I sit up and take notice . . . even when that one most critical value turns out to be the risky act of being vulnerable. She dared greatly to write this book, and you will benefit greatly to read it and to put its razor-sharp wisdom into action in your own life and work."

-    Elizabeth Lesser, Cofounder, Omega Institute, author of Broken Open

"One of the tragic ironies of modern life is that so many people feel isolated from each other by the very feelings they have in common: including a fear of failure and a sense of not being enough. Brené Brown shines a bright light into these dark recesses of human emotion and reveals how these feelings can gnaw at fulfillment in education, at work and in the home. She shows too how they can be transformed to help us live more wholehearted lives of courage, engagement and purpose. Brené Brown writes as she speaks, with wisdom, wit, candor and a deep sense of humanity. If you're a student, teacher, parent, employer, employee or just alive and wanting to live more fully, you should read this book. I double dare you."

-    Sir Ken Robinson

"I am a recovering perfectionist. I have learned, since a child, to receive validation and my worth based on how others perceived me. I've always made excuses for it throughout my life, but Brene Brown slapped me in the face with this book and makes me want to be a more authentic and honest person. She gives you the understanding of how to develop your own self-worth and how important it is in order to live a beautiful life, and have beautiful relationships. She is inspiring because she struggles with the same thing, and that makes me feel understood. My favorite part of this book is how she defines so many of our emotions. This helps me understand mine and helps me walk my children through understanding their emotions. One of the greatest self-help books I've ever read!!!"

-    Holly (Brunswick, OH)

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