Review: Stop Avoiding Stuff by Matthew Boone, et.al.

This is a recent book based on ACT theory (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy).  While I still like the gold standard ACT book “The Happiness Trap” by Russ Harris, this book has some really nice features that might be worth the purchase.  I will say that I do not particularly like the title of this book – I can see people thinking “well I’m not really an avoider” and therefore not thinking this book is for them.  But it’s not really about avoiding per se; it’s about not living a vibrant life because of fear (which is avoiding I guess, but I still don’t love the choice of words). What I’m saying is that I can’t think of anyone this book wouldn’t apply to and I think they have unnecessarily narrowed their audience. 

One thing I love about this book is that it breaks all the concepts down into “microskills”, which means that if you are too busy to sit and read this book cover to cover, no problem! You can simply open up, read “microskill 1” (or whatever skill you think you need) and then get to work putting it into practice.  

The skills are bunched together in categories, like working with thoughts, working with emotions, figuring out your values, working on willingness and so on.  The last three skills are kind of a summary, so if all you have is a little time, start there.

This would be a great copy to own if you are a therapist and a good suggestion for just about any client.  As a client or regular person it’s a good book if you ever feel you are not living your best life. Link for purchase is below.  Also, if you do not have time to read this book but want the information, try my new summary download for $3 in the shop!

 

Review: Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson

I can just imagine giving this book to my clients; it seems too simple to be true. People want to think it’s more complicated than this. But it really is this simple. The way you allow yourself to think really does change your life. Think differently and your life will change. We have an incredible lack of discipline over our thoughts. This book will teach you some really simple ways to think differently and change your brain structure. Over time, this will create more happiness, more peace, more contentment. It really does work. But it really IS work; it is so easy to be lazy with our thoughts.

Rick Hanson is the guy who came up with the phrase I love, “the brain is Teflon for the good and Velcro for the bad”.  This book, similar to his other books, helps us come up with strategies to increase the good so our brain doesn’t just “Teflon” it away.  Specifically in this book, he works through an acronym, HEAL. H stands for “have a positive experience”; E is “enrich it”; A is “absorb it” and L is “link it to a negative experience”.  Again, you can just dismiss this as positive nonsense.  BUT, I believe if you actually practice it, you’ll see the results.  Neuroscience is behind this, not just wishful thinking.

 

Review: State of Affairs by Esther Perel

I love Esther Perel, her first book was “Mating in Captivity”.   Although she can be cheeky about infidelity, in truth she is very respectful of our relationships, but she does like to challenge some of our thinking about how we think about monogamy. These are real life stories, but also analysis about affairs and why we understand them so poorly even though they are so common. This is not an affair recovery book; more, it’s a book that will help you have a little compassion for the human experience and why it’s so hard to have faithful longterm partnerships.

 

Review: Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness by David Treleaven

I do a lot of mindfulness work with clients and groups, and it’s common to hear the adage that mindfulness is good for everyone – but that’s not always the case.  Trauma causes an internal dysregulation, and dropping in to pay attention to your inner experience is a land mine sometimes. Often if a person is having trouble in meditation, meditation teachers will say something like “just stick with it” – which is ok advice if you are not in a traumatic state, but if you are it’s doing some damage.  Treleaven is THE person to learn from if you want to become more trauma informed and trauma sensitive.  This book is great for anyone leading or teaching any kind of mindfulness, but I also think it would be helpful if you are a person who has suffered trauma and tries to engage in mindfulness.  It is a textbook-style book, but written in an engaging enough manner that anyone could glean helpful ideas from reading it.