Book review: “Stop Thinking, Start Living” by Richard Carlson

Is it me or are self help book titles becoming ruder? I saw my brother in law yesterday, and told him about this book I’m reading; “Stop Thinking, Start Living.” He enjoys the self help genre too, and his current tome is called “How to get your shit together.”

“That’s a bit harsh Dave” I said. He says it’s one in a series of three books, the other two presumably called “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” And “Why are you so fucking shit?”

It’s not about procrastination

With a title like “Stop Thinking, Start Living” I was expecting a meditation on procrastination, the art of overthinking being the enemy to action, à la Hamlet. But it isn’t. It’s about positive thinking and it has a handful of key points that it repeats to hammer home the message.

It’s all about how to achieve happiness in the present moment, because the present is all we have. Here are the techniques Richard Carlson prescribes:

-live in the present moment, allow thoughts of the past to come and go without attachment

-don’t analyse bad experiences 

-catch your negative thoughts and dismiss or change them

-stop believing you would be happier if certain extraneous circumstances were met e.g. “I’d be happier if I got that dream job”, “I’d be happy if I had loadsa money” , “I’d be happy if I had bigger tits”, etc

-forgive the bad stuff that’s happened.

-gratitude, gratitude and more gratitude. For everything.

Oh brother

Discussing the finer points of self help with my brother in law, I told him I still felt bad my effort to start a business last year belly flopped and landed embarrassingly in the shallow end in front of all the cool kids.

His sage words were that at least I had the balls to try. That life is about failure and about how you pick yourself up and dust yourself down, and try again. With my nephews in earshot, I know he’s right, and I want them to see that too. 

Then we had a chat about David Bowie, we’re both fans. I mean, self help books are great and everything, but have you ever spent an afternoon listening to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, man?

Whiling away an afternoon

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From tiny acorns mighty oaks grow.

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