By the time we become adults, most of us have joined the religion of suffering, which preaches that unless circumstances are controlled, life will be a mess. We compare ourselves to others and speculate about an impossible-to-know future, holding out hope for an improved life through getting ahead, fulfilling passion, or finding true love. But the idea that happiness comes from putting effort toward altering one’s circumstances is harmful and backward. What if we instead learned to understand that circumstances can rarely be controlled, and that life is, and always will be, messy?
From that starting point, we could learn to use our minds to create happiness despite life’s ever-changing circumstances and events. Life’s Messy, Live Happy by Cy Wakeman is about dramatically changing the level of happiness you feel in your daily life, by learning to disconnect happiness from external forces, stop worrying about the future, and realize that most of your negative feelings are about things that never even happened.
Wakeman is a credible, relatable teacher—a business owner, mother, and community member who has lived her philosophy and achieved profound happiness and success in a crazy, messy life. Filled with concrete daily practices and true stories that are hilarious, painful, and poignant, this book will change everything: your perspective, your focus, and your energy level for everyday life.
You can read an excerpt here.
This is a bit different self-help book and I like it. Rather than trying to make life less messy, Wakeman offers strategies to help us walk through the messiness of life more skillfully. She shares ideas and strategies she has developed through her own deeply personal work and her work with clients. She says the most important life lesson she has discovered is that you can be happy even when your life is a mess. (119/2702)
Some of Wakeman's ideas will be familiar to those who have read other self-help books. Keeping a gratitude journal, for example, is a well known beneficial habit. But Wakeman adds her unconventional wisdom to the practice. She writes about transcending duality, refusing to label experiences good or bad. She suggests rejoicing in all of each day and she provides thought provoking questions to go deep into reflection on daily events and actions.
I like her teaching on the philosophy of “and” rather than “or.” I really appreciate her teaching on fear (false events appear real) and reality. Her distinction between self-soothing and self-care is insightful. She gives us questions to ask about our motives for forgiveness, taking us through her own process. And that is just some of the wisdom she shares.
The second half of the book is more personal reflection, exploring thoughts and sharing her experiences on forgiveness, apology, making amends, death, self advocacy, wading into a mess deeply enough to get answers, and more.
This is a good self-help book, born out of Wakeman's experiences. She provides good teaching and practical suggestions for carrying out that teaching. This is a good book to read when life is a mess. You won't be given any promises that this book will cure the mess. Rather, you'll receive teaching born from experience on how to live best in that mess.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
About the Author:
CY WAKEMAN is a drama researcher, international leadership speaker, and consultant. In 2001 she founded Reality-Based Leadership. She is the author of Reality-Based Leadership, No Ego, and the New York Times bestseller The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace. In 2017, she was named as one of the Top 30 Global Leadership Gurus by Global Gurus, a Top 100 Leadership Expert to Follow on Twitter, and was deemed "the secret weapon to restoring sanity to the workplace." She lives in Omaha, Nebraska.
St. Martin's, 256 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review. The text about the book and about the author are from publisher information.
(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)