The Thing You Think You Cannot Do: Thirty Truths about Fear and Courage

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Overview


What are we afraid of and what can we do about it?

Fear--of change, of intimacy, of loss, of the unknown--has become a corrosive influence in modern life, eroding our ability to think clearly. Exploited for power by politicians and for money by the media, it has become embedded in the way we think about our lives. Overcoming our fear, says Gordon Livingston, constitutes the most difficult struggle we face.

Dr. Livingston, a psychiatrist, has ...

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The Thing You Think You Cannot Do: Thirty Truths about Fear and Courage

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Overview


What are we afraid of and what can we do about it?

Fear--of change, of intimacy, of loss, of the unknown--has become a corrosive influence in modern life, eroding our ability to think clearly. Exploited for power by politicians and for money by the media, it has become embedded in the way we think about our lives. Overcoming our fear, says Gordon Livingston, constitutes the most difficult struggle we face.

Dr. Livingston, a psychiatrist, has increasingly found himself prescribing virtues like courage to his patients instead of tranquilizers or antidepressants. Now he tells us all what we need to do to develop personal virtues in the face of societal fear—and our own individual fears. And he does this with the crystalline prose and leavening wit that have made him an internationally bestselling author.

As the celebrated novelist Mark Helprin has said of Dr. Livingston: “To read him is to trust him and to learn, for his life has been touched by fire, and his motives are absolutely pure.”

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Spirituality & Practice, “A Best Spiritual Book of the Year,” 2012

PhiladelphiaTribune, 4/27/12|
“[An] unflinching look at fear.” 

Spirituality and Practice
“A hard-hitting and timely collection of essays by a passionate elder whose criticism of our culture is right on target.”
 
InfoDad.com, 5/17/12
“[A] study of fear and courage, whose chapters are headed with particularly intriguing quotations.”
 
“The Bookworm Sez” column, 6/25/12
“Dr. Livingston writes with conviction and a no-nonsense manner. His thoughts are well-conceived, they make sense and they’re empowering. His words offer the hope about which he writes, and that’s very comforting…The Thing You Cannot Do takes no prisoners, accepts no whining, and it won’t make friends. But if you’re stuck in life and need a nudge, reading it may be the best thing you can do.”

BP Magazine
, Summer 2012

“Stresses the importance of facing the boundaries fear imposes by following clear-cut steps to cultivate courage.”

Bookviews.com, August 2012

“There is an antidote to fear. It is courage. It’s there inside of you and this book will help you tap into it.”

San Francisco Book Review / Sacramento Book Review
, 8/9/12

“If you are serious about wanting to overcome a fear of something that is hampering your current situation—your life, your love-life, your family-life, whatever—and you have good comprehension of what you read, then you could reasonably expect to improve some part of yourself, if you read one chapter a day…This book is full of wisdom in small, easily absorbed chunks, on a variety of topics…Dr. Livingston is not a stranger to the frailties of the rest of us, and thus his words carry more weight than most such compilations.”


Midwest Book Review
, August 2012

“Shows how fear can become debilitating—and what to do about it.”

Metapsychology Online Reviews,10/9/12“Livingston has something worth saying…[He] communicates plainly and with ease…This is a book of trenchant observation, with some arresting insights by a thoughtful and humane observer…Livingston has a lot to teach us.”

PortlandBook Review, 6/20/12“Challenges readers to analyze and contemplate their lives…This book will appeal to the readers who wish to reflect upon personal beliefs and actions in order to gain greater inner strength.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738215525
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 4/10/2012
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Gordon Livingston, MD, a graduate of West Point who was awarded the Bronze Star for valor in Vietnam, is a psychiatrist and writer who contributes frequently to the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Baltimore Sun. He lives and works in Columbia, Maryland.
 
 
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Table of Contents

Introduction xi

1 It is dying that makes life important 1

2 Fear is the death of reason 15

3 Matters of the heart (or of state) that begin with a lie rarely end well 21

4 You have never suffered enough 30

5 Sometimes courage is hoping against hope 38

6 Old age is the revenge of the ugly 48

7 In life beyond high school, no one gives you credit for effort 54

8 Fear lurks behind perfectionism 61

9 Courage is not a feeling; it is habit 68

10 Beware of ideas on which we all agree 74

11 There is no humor in heaven 81

12 Determination in the pursuit of folly is the indulgence of fools 87

13 Courage can be taught only by example 95

14 Nothing prepares us for the terrible risk of intimacy 101

15 Life is not a rehearsal 108

16 Courage is like love; it must have hope to nourish it 115

17 Punishment and revenge are the favored responses of fearful people 121

18 Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage 125

19 Cowardice is the incapacity to love anything but oneself 131

20 Honesty is a prerequisite for courage 136

21 Fear springs from ignorance 142

22 It is pointless to fear the past 149

23 There are wounds that doctors cannot reach, that gratitude cannot heal 155

24 Courage is required to bear the unbearable 159

25 Ignorance can be remedied; stupidity has no cure 163

26 Heroism is sometimes stubbornness in the face of adversity 167

27 Life is not a spectator sport 173

28 One of the greatest risks is to be honest with ourselves 178

29 At the heart of anger is sadness 183

30 The quest for courage is a journey within 190

Acknowledgments 199

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2013

    Not what I expected

    This book was a disappointment compared to his other books. I thought there would be pearls of wisdom and inspiration. What I found was an angry man's opinion on the government, Viet Nam, the military, wars, religion, the death of his six year old... I finished reading the book and felt empathy for Dr. Livingston and the difficulties he, or anyone for that matter, faces in life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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