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on 29 November 2014
What can I say about this book? It had so much promise - especially after reading the "Look Inside" - but I found the advice and observations inside to be, well, a bit trite. I gave up reading halfway. Perhaps I am simply not the target audience for this book, but I didn't find it particularly useful or helpful.
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on 4 June 2012
It's a heart sink moment for most psychotherapists when your client asks if you can recommend a good self-help book. How to say 'not likely!' without sounding like you take yourself way too seriously?

It's not that I disagree with the the self-help book in principle: I am not the hairdresser who gets cross when you cut your own fringe. It's just that the vast majority are too prescriptive, reductionist and fail to interrogate the fundamental philosophical presuppositions of our peculiarly Western obsession with self-gratification. Promises of snake-oil and change-your-life moments are seductive but the net result when the quick-fix stalls is that the individual feels even more of a failure.

Philippa Perry has come to our rescue with a smart, pithy, readable book that everyone with even a passing interest in their psychological health will find useful. It has a wealth of useful advice based on sound, psychological theories without making the mistake of assuming a one-size-fits-all road map.

The book treads a path towards self-knowledge and self-growth over the pursuit of happiness per se and so places itself firmly at the philosophical end of the the self-help market. She avoids the pitfall of most self-help books by acknowledging that absolute control over our conscious mind is a fallacy and uses the neuroscience of the unconscious to explain this. Nor are we a slave to our unconscious and the final section provides a range of brilliantly simple and easily do-able exercise to help us work mindfully with our unconscious aspects.

But the part that gives me most joy is that she fully embraces what Beisser called 'the paradoxical theory of change': Beisser tells us that 'change occurs when one becomes what he [sic] is, not when he tries to become what he is not'. Perry weaves this through the book as a fundamental assumption about the nature of the self, and it is precisely this, in my opinion, that sets her work head and shoulders above any other self-help book on the market. Most self-help books focus primarily on change so we can be 'more' something: more confident, more assertive, more likeable, more courageous. Perry holds firm to the principle that the most meaningful changes only occur when we stop trying and simply become more mindful of who we are.

I loved this book. It fills an important gap in the self-help market and is set to become a firm favourite in my practice library.
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on 13 October 2014
Quite basic, I was a bit disappointed.
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on 6 July 2017
Philippa Perry's just hits home with every sentence she writes. I just ove her calm, reassuring manner and style. Little exercises to apply what you have learned. A little life safer whenever the mental balance is at stake and whenever you feel life is getting ahead of you.
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on 5 December 2017
Love this book. Not really in to typical self help books but this is from a respected therapist and was a book I read with a pen as I underlined so many great nuggets. Ended up buying another copy for someone special.
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on 21 May 2012
Self-help books are often too long and sometimes patronising. This is short, informative, encouraging and practical. It focuses on the way the brain works, and how you can make changes to the way you think, offering a very manageable series of suggestions that you can implement almost immediately. The structure of the book is also clear and sensible: sections on self-observation, relating to others, stress and re-writing your own narratives are followed by a final section of exercises to help you develop in each of these areas. I like the way Philippa Perry has illustrated her ideas with information about research that illuminates human behaviour. She gets the balance right between explaining the theory behind her suggestions, and giving you practical advice about how to go about the pro-active business of living and reflecting on life.

Not only an interesting read, then, but the kind of book which could genuinely change your life.
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on 4 June 2012
Like the other reviewers, I thought this book was a helpful and practical guide to increasing happiness. It takes a very balanced and reasonable way of looking at people's lives and encourages the reader to look objectively at their life and improve it.

This is something I think I will return to as it does provide useful advice. I've bought a number of self help books over the years, and the only ones I've found at all useful are the books that give clear and reasonable advice, as this does. It also breaks things down into easily manageable areas, so clarity is a good feature here. My only criticism is that it wasn't very long and could have included more advice, in my view. But I would recommend it wholeheartedly.

The best book I've read recently isn't self help but a humour book that was a real surprise - Sherlock Holmes and the Flying Zombie Death Monkeys, which was hilarious, so if anyone wants to take a different approach to happiness, try a really funny book.
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on 19 April 2017
Perry explores a number of interesting facets of her profession, talking about externally and internally referenced people, grounding exercises, comfort zone exercises as well as Neuroplasticity amongst many other topics. She offers us a number of accessible and varied techniques that almost anyone can apply. Her prose and advice is stripped of all the pretentious waffle and self-important verbiage that so many other clunky books in the genre rely on.

“The richer and more stimulating our environment, the more encouraged we feel to learn new skills and expand our knowledge. Such learning seems to have the side benefit of boosting our immune system.” She says, going on to draw on further studies relating to the importance of physical activity and its importance in combating depression etc. The Nun study based on dementia and how constantly learning and expanding our mind can have a meaningful effect on mental deterioration was revealing. I was also interested to learn that left handed people apparently have a better chance of making a full recovery from a stroke.

This was a hugely inspiring guide, by an equally inspiring writer and reading this was a deceptively profound and immersive experience, that left me with a warm, fuzzy glow as if I had just finished an Ali Smith novel. I also look forward to trying out some of those exercises at the end, particularly the Genogram one.
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on 26 July 2012
I'm not one for reading 'self help books', but I bought this for my other half and read it when she was finished. It's only short, and I read it in a day. But that's because it's very readable and interesting. There are some good exercises to try in back too (I haven't done them all yet) to help you stay sane (become more self aware etc). It is well thought out and clearly explains how to get into good mental habits and why you should.

I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who is having a down period (it's not really aimed at those with serious depression etc) or who has been in the past or has a family member who can have blue periods.
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on 24 December 2014
Already have this on Kindle. Bought paperback to use as a workbook. Well written with worthwhile techniques to follow.
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