Amanda Ripley

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The Little Book that Could

22nd Nov 2010 posted in Disaster Behavior

Between recessions, war and regular life, it’s been a vivid 12 months. We probably all know someone who has lived through some kind of ordeal or another. So if you’re looking for a Christmas gift for someone who is in search of peace this year, I want to recommend a new book called, Your Life on Purpose.

This book was written by three authors, each of whom had recently experienced some kind of personal crisis—and all of whom happen to know an exceptional amount about anxiety and the mind. One of the authors is John Forsyth, a psychologist and professor whom I have interviewed several times over the years. First, for The Unthinkable, he helped me understand the freezing response to a life-or-death situation, which he has studied in rape victims. For Time Magazine, he helped me understand how the brain responds to financial uncertainty. His new book broadens some of that wisdom down into a kind of pocket manual for living.

In general, I am not a big fan of self-help books, but this book is different. I don’t think anyone has ever made as much sense out of the conflicts embedded in the human condition in as few words. The main idea is that pain and fear are necessary experiences if we are to build lives we care about. It is a surprisingly freeing notion, and I find myself thinking of it often. Then the book tackles the next natural question: what do we care most about? It helps us answer this question for ourselves—and turn intentions into action, step by careful step.

I just bought 4 off of Amazon. My congratulations to John and his co-authors, Matthew McKay and Georg Eifert.