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Posted January 28, 2013
How should we live, and who says? Everybody wants to be happy a
How should we live, and who says?
Everybody wants to be happy and successful, but what do these words really mean? There is no shortage of people to tell you: your parents, your siblings, school mates, teachers, work mates, boss; not to mention TV, films, novels, the Internet, society in general. In the rush to ‘get through’ life we are endlessly pressured by others and can end up asking ourselves, “”Who am I, and how did I get here?” These are questions that are central to Huljich’s book, and it is his belief that by ignoring the answers we end up in physical and emotional stress, and that this, at best, reduces the quality of our life, and, at worst, ends in psychological conditions like depression and bi-polar disease.
This is a book written by a layman for the layman, though it would be wrong to think that it is therefore not scholarly. Huljich was intelligent enough to be enrolled at university and he has written a well-researched book. There are pertinent references and an extensive bibliography for those who want to dig deeper, reading about particular experiments and epidemiological/sociological surveys. But the real strength of this book is that it comes out of Huljich’s own struggle with mental illness, and out of his determination not to be dominated by this condition forever. Huljich overcame his illness to a degree that is quite rare, and has spent a further 10 year researching the subject. As a result the book is immensely practical, full of common sense, balanced and written in such a way that the ‘ordinary person’ can understand it. Even more those suffering from stress will immediately relate to this book because it has an ‘insiders’ view.
The book revolves around 9 steps to cope with stress. Steps 1, 2, and 3 deal with helpful mental attitudes and are foundational to the whole approach. Steps 4, 5, 6 and 7 are practical tools that can be carried out each day. Steps 8 and 9 encourage continued personal assessment and improvement.
The chapter of the book which will most come under criticism is: “Step4 : Affirmations”. Many people reading this will immediately dismiss it as new age hokum: totally ineffective. Huljich, however, points out that it is our thoughts that drive our behaviour, and that these thoughts are often automatic, and the result of repartition over many years. We need to interrupt old thoughts and build new thought patterns. This may sound hokum to you, but it is the foundation of cognitive psychology, the most researched and proven school of psychology today.
The section on titled “Survival, My Story” of course narrates Huljich’s own battle with bi-polar disease. It adds considerable authenticity to the book, telling us clearly that that Paul has been there, suffering severely, and is not an armchair commentator. Also, those who suffer will immediately feel solidarity. Most of all this section shows that serious, chronic mental illness can be gradually and carefully overcome to the point of virtually total success.
Huljich has written a most practical, helpful, sensible and well researched book. This is in fact the best book on stress I have ever read. I studied psychology as a part of my Bachelor of Arts degree.
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