Trainer, Facilitator and Coach
I'm a happy believer in the scientific ideas of positive psychology, I have sometimes been called a motivational speaker, and decided to listen to this book to get the view from the 'other side' and negative thinking. I expected each element of positive thinking to be examined and taken apart in detail with counter evidence yet this was not the case. I did find one extremely useful example of the use of negative visualisation, an excellent counterweight to excessive positive thinking and goal fixation.
Other than that I found a book that mirrored my own path of discovery and search for the truth about happiness albeit with the positive as my starting point. I agree with Oliver's concerns about the worst excesses of positive thinking but then I tend to believe that the truth in life is usually somewhere in between any two schools of thought.
This book is a delight, so well balanced and inquisitive rather than dismissive or defensive as I feared it might be. The ideas covered from Buddhist meditation, Eckhart Tolle, to Alan Watts ideas on the true nature of the self, to Carol Dweck's work on Mindset and Keats negative capability are all ideas I personally associate with the positive path in life - to find them here examined from another perspective was enlightening. I see nothing here that conflicts with the ideas of positive psychology, I'd go so far as to say they align completely.
Albert Ellis's idea of 'musterbation' is brilliant, we 'must' on ourselves all the time and get in all kinds of self defeating behaviour. This idea that stands out most for me along with the courageous examination of death.
So the book is really only an antidote to the smiley yellow face and painted on smile of superficial positive thinking. I'm still a little more generous towards the 'positive thinkers' as I have seen them set many people on the path to searching out their own deeper truth. That aside I agreed and found a great deal of well written and entertaining wisdom her
This book was recommended to me by a friend and I'm glad I acted on their prompt. In turn I highly recommend this book to anyone who works in the area of helping people change. It's also a must read for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of their own complexities. As I listened I felt this book was a true meditation on life and all it's uncertainties. I felt a great connection to the often painful stories of the people involved. Stephen Grosz conveys a deep sense of respect and compassion for these people and their stories. I truly felt I had walked a mile in there moccasins after listening to each story. This is aided by narration that is ideally matched to the material, perfectly paced and paused at reflective spaces. Each story contains an underlying piece of advice that will resonate with many people, I will leave you the joy of finding these rather than list them here. I was left with a much deeper and warmer understanding that each of us has our very own view of the world and a set of hopes and wishes we want to be fulfilled. Stephen Grosz's own uncertainty and realisation that there may not always be an answer or a fix is the main learning I took from this book.
The passion of the author brings this audiobook to life in your head and makes the concepts stick, he's a remarkable narrator. For me the sign of a good book in this category is just how practical it is to apply and that's the frame of my review.
As a corporate trainer and facilitator I found the practical tips in this book, and demonstrated throughout by the author in the way to book is written, powerful and easy to apply. For me the most useful ideas that I now apply daily are:
- People don’t pay attention to boring things. You have to grab attention, this gives you 10 minutes to get your point across and at ten minutes grab their attention again but how...
- With something emotional and relevant! The idea is to use emotionally competent stimulus every 10 minutes to grab the attention. The author does this in, often funny, visual descriptions of the scientists he references and the stories he tells. See if you can forget the story about the burglary, the trainee surgeon or the walk to nursery after listening to this book. These simple stories are burned on my memory.
I'm in the process of looking at all the training presentations I write and deliver. I was still working under the notion of 20 minute attention span and now I can see why some of my sessions are successful - those with a big enough hook and relevant stories within - and the others well they were less effective.
There is so much more goodness in this book, for example the exercise chapter provides so much motivation to get moving. I liked being able to see the author in the follow up videos (which confirmed his genuine passion and belief in his message) and the chapter summaries at brainrules.com are an excellent reminder of the main points.
Now I wonder if I can incorporate the 26 minute afternoon nap (for a 34% performance gain) into what we do?