Sunday, April 09, 2006

My Own Personal Life Coach

On the topic of Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck, I can say many things. I could wonder over the idea that everyone will be rich if they find what they were meant to do (the way I figure it, in her ideal world there are a lot of people who get real personal satisfaction and pleasure from janitorial work), but I'll move beyond that.

I'll point out the most interesting bit, which is the last five chapters, where she describes the process of going through a major life change. It starts with a catalytic event, good or bad, possibly something that happens to you (e.g. your spouse dies) or something you do (like deciding to move for a year to a foriegn country). This destroys your sense of identity, on some level, and you begin to proceed through her little diagram. Square one: mourning the old you and making through one day at a time. Square two: dreaming and idealizing whatever your new life is going to look like. Square three: the long hard climb of turning your new circumstances into a life--learning to do and be what you need in your new life. And finally Square four: your new and happy life is settled and yours to live. What I like about this is not that it's profound, but that it allows you to look at those feelings and realize that they're normal--when you have big dreams that don't materialize into anything, that's because you're in stage 2, which is not the right place for that.

Before you think I've gone all self-helpy, I'd like to point out that the whole reason for the preceding thumbs-up type analysis is because I'm about to get to the Crazy, and I don't want you to think this was an awful book. It was amusingly written and had some useful bits. It wasn't for me, because it really wasn't for someone whose only problem in reaching her goals is laziness and/or procrastination. But I know people this book is written for.

Except, of course, for the Crazy. Martha Beck is a Believer. She's not Christian (anymore--try Leaving the Saints for accounts of her being Touched by an Angel and falling out with the Mormons), but she Belives in a Higher Power that Speaks to her through her Intuition and also Fortuitous Circumstances. She belives, for example, that generosity is important in a happy life, and that good things come to people who are generous. I agree with this. I believe that generosity connects you to the world around you in positive ways, and that those connections are likely to yield good things. But what Martha Beck believes goes along with her list of anecdotes: after giving money to a good cause, a large and unexpected check will ARRIVE IN YOUR MAIL. Seriously. A paycheck for a job you don't remember doing. An inheritance from someone you don't know and won't miss. A lottery you didn't know you entered. Something.

I can't go on. Just, be aware that this book is not terribly practical. It's very much for people who don't feel happy feeling happy, or who can't get in touch with their feelings. I am very much in touch with my inner child. She spent a lot of time trying to convince me to be more open about my emotions. I think I speak for all my coworkers when I say: that would be a very, very bad idea.

No comments: