Before I turn off my Kindle for the night and lay it on my nightstand, something in the book catches my attention.
Ah. There is it. The secret nugget. Sometimes even bad books have one.
Not that I label this book “bad.” It just isn’t for me. I don’t enjoy non-fiction books that ramble a bit much. Or that give too many irrelevant details. Or that don’t offer first-hand experience with the topic.
I’d already decided I wouldn’t recommend it in my monthly post of 5 Books I Recommend for April.
But when I come across this important bit of advice halfway in, I keep the light on a few minutes longer.
What’s the Book?
The book I’m talking about is The Art of Taking It Easy: How to Cope with Bears, Traffic, and the Rest of Life’s Stressors by Brian King.
It was the book pick for OverDrive’s #BigLibraryRead for April 2021. That set my expectations high.
Every few months, Big Library Read (BLR) participates in a global ebook club, lending the same ebook at the same time around the world. No wait lists from your library. No holds. Everybody can borrow a copy that wants one.
The Art of Taking it Easy appealed to me because its author Dr. Brian King, both a psychologist and a stand-up comedian, writes about reducing stress.
Who doesn’t want less stress? Sign me up.
What’s the Big Advice?
And now for his advice. In the chapter I was reading that night, Dr. King gives three things to focus on, three things we already know.
1. Be more optimistic
2. Be more appreciative of what you have
3. Increase your appreciation of humor
But the way he frames them is what makes all the difference for me.
For optimism, he suggests keeping a journal of imagination (my wording, not his). Write about an aspect of your life using the most optimistic words possible. Regularly.
This isn’t something I typically do. I label myself a realist, not an optimist (nor a pessimist).
But for a few weeks now, I’ve begun devoting my Monday journaling to this exercise of predicting the best possible outcome for something ahead. (And it was another book that had recently motivated me to begin journaling again, The Power of Writing it Down.)
So for 20 minutes once a week I write about the best possible scenario for any upcoming stressful event.
Do I think life will turn out this perfect way? Of course not. But it exercises an optimistic muscle I don’t always give myself permission to use so forcefully. And it actually shifts my thinking enough to relieve some of the stress of the event.
In other words, it helps.
We all have heard (and likely experienced) the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. Telling God “Thanks!” for the good things in our life is a win-win.
But the advice King gives tweaks it a little: Only focus on the current day.
And give an explanation of why you’re grateful for each item. I’m doing this in my journal on Wednesdays.
As a comedian, Dr. King of course recommends laughter as good medicine. Again, we’re all familiar with how good we feel after a full-on belly laugh.
But being intentional about seeking out humor is different than just passively awaiting it.
Having just finished reading Humor, Seriously a couple months ago, I’ve been on the look-out for more reasons to laugh. The Art of Taking It Easy confirms it.
I’m still not going to be the person who seeks out funny YouTube videos, but if someone sends me one, I’ll make more of an effort to watch. I’ll also not feel guilty about watching a Netflix comedy that always makes me laugh before I go to sleep.
So My Advice?
What makes a book worth recommending? Maybe it’s not as clear-cut as I once thought.
Perhaps I should reconsider my initial judgment of this book. Maybe I should recommend The Art of Taking It Easy to you after all.
- It’s prompted new behaviors in me.
- It’s reducing my stress.
- It’s doing what it promises to do.
For you to read or not to read?
I’ll just leave it up to you.
[Public service announcement:
The next Big Library Read will be available June 28 – July 12.
Stay tuned for details at their website or your local library.]
This week’s featured post also offers us advice. Specifically, marriage advice. But we can use it for any close relationship. You’ll discover lots of nuggets in this post.
Of the 8 pitfalls, #5 was particularly slippery for me during the pandemic.
Read all 8 pitfalls from our blogging friend Linda Stoll. You can trust Linda to always give you solid advice.
What book has prompted you to take action? Have you recommended it to others? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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- 5 Books I Recommend—April 2021
- On the Blog—April 2021