Jo Cribb is a consultant and former director of the Women’s Ministry.
Self-help books are informative, but there is a lot of padding. Like life, these books are what you make them – you can have them for free, writes Jo Cribb.
Comments: You know the type. Self-help books.
The title of the book is usually a verb about something the author has read research on and thinks it can turn 300 pages. The subtitle always talks about how it will make an incomparable change in your life.
There seems to be a book about every aspect of human life. Sleep. Breathing. Thinking. To eat. Combining.
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I couldn’t help myself. In my annual New Year’s resolution to be a ‘good person,’ I researched two examples.
The first, The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again by Catherine Price, it seemed like a sure bet. The past few years have really sucked the fun out of life, haven’t they? The price promises to restore all that.
He provides interesting information. Our lives are ultimately made up of what we pay attention to. Care is our most valuable resource, and we all start with the same amount. Our care is irreplaceable – once we use it, we don’t get it back. Once we provide for our basic needs, Price argues, where we choose to focus our attention will affect the quality of our lives.
But most of us spend a lot of our free time on what he calls ‘false pleasure’ – doing things we think we should be doing, which aren’t really fun. Like hanging out with people we don’t like, out of self-respect.
In order to feel alive again, we need to abandon our perfectionism, try new things, do things we don’t like but enjoy, and change our habits.
This is very clever, except that the worst thing Mrs Price can think of to tell us has happened to her is getting out of the boat while learning to row. For many pages I just wanted to make dirty steps on him without doubting that the floors were perfectly clean and leaving messy prints of his glasses on the sliding doors.
Yes, he made me think I needed to make more time for myself, but I also had a lot of fun mocking how he presented his clean image while saying we should do something different. . Now that was fun.
My second game was there Work, Love and Play: Nobody Has Time by Brigid Schulte. In the first 256 pages, Schulte explains how burdened we all are, especially working mothers. By the end of reading that, I needed a stiff drink.
But now you’re trying to find a solution to that feeling that we’re never at the top of our to-do list.
She points out that stress is often caused by trying to live multiple lives at once (like trying to be the best engaged mom, the best housekeeper, the fastest very much, and a perfect worker at the same time). We need to clarify our priorities and allocate our time accordingly.
As our time shortens (which is a polite way of saying as we approach death), we become clearer about our priorities. He argues that we should engage in some of that thinking throughout our lives.
Then you leave me. She says women need to be more independent and better at negotiating flexible work. But what about their more engaged partners? Or workplaces that care so much about their employees and their families that women (and men) don’t need to cry?
My summary of both books: there are points, but they come with a lot of padding. There’s also some great stuff there if you make ‘Live, Love, Laugh’ signs and are looking for inspiration for other slogans.
But like life, these books are what you make them (you can have them for free).