This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.

This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.

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by Augusten Burroughs

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Running With Scissors comes a groundbreaking book that explores how to survive the "un-survivable" and will challenge your notion of self-help books


To say that Augusten Burroughs has lived an unusual life is an understatement.  From having no formal education past third grade and

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Running With Scissors comes a groundbreaking book that explores how to survive the "un-survivable" and will challenge your notion of self-help books


To say that Augusten Burroughs has lived an unusual life is an understatement.  From having no formal education past third grade and being raised by his mother’s psychiatrist in the seventies to enjoying one of the most successful advertising careers of the eighties to experiencing a spectacular downfall and rehab stint in the nineties to having a number one bestselling writing career in the new millennium, Burroughs has faced humiliation, transformation and everything in between.  This Is How is his no-holds-barred book of advice on topics as varied as:

·         How to feel like crap

·         How to ride an elevator

·         How to be thin

·         How to be fat

·         How to find love

·         How to feel sorry for yourself

·         How to get the job

·         How to end your life

·         How to remain unhealed

·         How to finish your drink

·         How to regret as little as possible

·         And much more

Told with Burroughs's unique voice, black humor, and in-your-face advice, This is How is Running With Scissors—with recipes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this hilarious and searingly straightforward memoir, Burroughs (Running with Scissors) turns the self-help genre upside down with his advice on matters ranging broadly from “how to be fat” and “how to lose someone you love” to “how to hold onto your dream or maybe not” and “how to finish your drink.” On “how to find love,” for example, he counsels, “be the person you are, not the person you think you should be… if you want to have a chance at meeting somebody with whom you are genuinely compatible, never put your best foot forward… be exactly the person you would be if you were alone or with somebody it was safe to fart around.” On “Why Having It All Is Not,” Burroughs commends the virtues of limits and the ways that such limits force improvisation; he doesn’t believe “you can feel deep satisfaction in your life unless your life contains restless areas, holes, and imperfections.” In “How to End Your Life,” Burroughs, recalling his own teenage experience, distinguishes between suicide and ending life. After his brush with suicide, he realizes that he really didn’t want to kill himself; what he really wanted was to end his life, which he accomplishes simply by changing his name and walking out the door and starting a new life. As always, Burroughs is smart and energetically forthright about living and loving. (May)
Library Journal
Burroughs (Running with Scissors) playfully shares his hard-won insights in a book that is the antidote to the "just be positive" approach to life. Not a memoir, it reads more like a conversation with a close friend about truthfulness and authenticity, figuring things out and being hopeful, starting from where one is and learning to listen to oneself. Each short chapter explores a different topic: shame, despair, loss, body issues, hardship. Grounded in the understanding that life is a messy business, the book overflows with moments both wonderful and difficult. It is hard to know what to do with anger, pain, and obsession, Burroughs acknowledges, but he offers a kind of remedy: learn to live with it, to transform it, to move forward. This is about how to create a life from the circumstances of the present moment. The book has a soft ending, but readers won't mind because it's been a great ride. VERDICT There will be lots of attention and interest in this book: definitely order. Recommended for readers of popular culture, self-help, and psychology. [See Prepub Alert, 11/14/11.]—Nancy Almand, Fresno City Coll. Lib., CA
Kirkus Reviews
Acclaimed memoirist Burroughs (You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas, 2009, etc.) charts new territory, offering his readers advice on life. With a cinematic novel and a series of bestselling memoirs under his belt, the author now presents life advice that's as unconventionally scattered as one would expect. His tongue-in-cheek guidance, predictably couched in personal anecdotes, opens with a chapter on rejecting the "superupbeat umbrella" of positive affirmations, and proceeds to deliver the straight, though clichéd, dope on bad love ("Abusive people never change"), the search for romantic connections ("get out of your own way"), weight loss ("real beauty comes from the inside") and guilt-free self-pity ("sometimes you just feel like shit"). Most sections straddle the line between supportive empowerment and tough love and are written with the author's characteristic dark humor, which consistently entertains and, as the pages turn, earnestly educates. Burroughs offers smart counsel on keeping communication honest (with yourself and others), the right to personal freedoms and the best mindset for a job interview; he also gives personal perspectives on his suicide attempt and how he conquered alcoholism. Some chapters focus constructively on self-esteem and positive affirmations, while others meander, as in a heartfelt piece on love that veers off to describe the benefits of residing on the southern tip of Manhattan. Both introspective and uneven, the outspoken author wraps everything up with an ethereal final chapter draped in the kind of mawkish Zen goodness that will work wonders for those in need of a morale booster. Despite pages of platitudes, Burroughs provides plenty of worthy material on the absurdity of the human condition and the unpredictability of contemporary life.
From the Publisher

“Burroughs's voice is persuasive and humble, and he sounds like he genuinely wants to give good advice.” —AudioFile Magazine

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Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

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This Is How

Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.
By Augusten Burroughs

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2012 Augusten Burroughs
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312563554


SEVERAL YEARS AGO WHEN the relationship I assumed was both nearly perfect and my last turned out to be neither and ended car-off-cliff style, I experienced an unexpected and profound personal awakening.
This awakening arrived convincingly disguised as the most miserable and debilitating period of my life—a life that would now be trimmed short from the disease of ruination.
So complete was this state of psychological collapse, it even followed me into elevators.
As I stood in a hotel elevator one afternoon on my way back to my room, it stopped on that floor with all the conference rooms, where they keep the people with name tags.
One such person stepped into the lift, pushed the button for her floor, then took a step back and angled her body so that she was not quite facing me, but neither was she looking straight ahead at the seam where the doors meet, as common American Elevator Etiquette dictates.
Even out of the corner of my now suspicious eye I was able to register the “I’m a people person” body language such a stance suggested.
No sooner had I formed the silent thought, “God, a people person. She better not speak to—” I heard this: “It’s not that bad.”
I’d been scrupulously careful to keep my thought about her to myself; she had not done the same.
What’s more, she’d spoken these words much louder and with more conviction than you would think necessary for a space roughly the size of four caskets standing on end.
“I’m sorry?” I said.
She was looking at me with an expression of incredulity mixed with boldness. The highlights in her spiky hair had a greenish cast in the unflattering elevator lighting and her lipstick provided her with an upper lip that I saw she did not actually possess.
“I said, it’s not that bad,” and she gave me that frank, eyebrows up, let’s-be-real-here, look. “Whatever it is that happened, it can’t possibly be as bad as it looks on your face. How ’bout trying on a smile for size. And if you’re all out, I’ve got one you can borrow.”
My first thought was, “It’s leaking out of me? People can see it?”
My second thought was, “Die, bitch.”
But I am much too polite to say something like that so I said, “I’ll try.”
Encouraged, she continued. “It’ll lift your spirits. The first thing I do every morning is smile at myself in the mirror and say, ‘You are a powerful, positive person and nothing can get you down today.’”
Thank God the elevator doors were already open and she was on her way out as she finished yammering at me, but just to be on the safe side I reached forward and began stabbing the Door Close button.
Now, I have an uncommonly high threshold for most any category of stimulation you can think of, but especially when it comes to being shocked, horrified, or enraged.
I was all of these things now. After a mere elevator ride that could not possibly have lasted longer than thirty-five seconds. Maybe forty seconds, if we passed through some sort of time-expanding warp.
Once in my room I had to think, what the hell just happened there? Why do I hate Lipstickmouth so much?
I am not a spiritual person, as I was in childhood. But occasionally, one event in my life will so quickly be followed by a second event that so perfectly replies to the first, it gives me pause and makes me wonder if I still have my St. Christopher medal somewhere.
Glancing down at my laptop, I noticed the following bold headline in my news feed:
SELF-HELP ‘MAKES YOU FEEL WORSE.’ Bridget Jones is not alone in turning to self-help mantras to boost her spirits, but a study warns they may have the opposite effect.
I immediately clicked on the link and was taken to the BBC’s website, where I read the article.
Canadian researchers found those with low self-esteem actually felt worse after repeating positive statements about themselves.
They said phrases such as “I am a lovable person” only helped people with high self-esteem.
The study appeared in the journal Psychological Science.… They found that, paradoxically, those with low self-esteem were in a better mood when they were allowed to have negative thoughts than when they were asked to focus exclusively on affirmative thoughts.… Repeating positive self-statements may benefit certain people, such as individuals with high self-esteem, but backfire for the very people who need them the most.
No wonder I had found that woman so offensive. Sometimes things feel that bad.
Sometimes you just feel like shit.
Telling yourself you feel terrific and wearing a brave smile and refusing to give in to “negative thinking” is not only inaccurate—dishonest—but it can make you feel worse.
Which makes perfect sense. If you want to feel better, you need to pause and ask yourself, better than what?
Better than how you feel at this moment, perhaps.
But in order to feel better than you feel at this moment, you need to identify how you feel, exactly.
It’s like this: if California represents your desire to “feel better,” you won’t be able to get there—no matter how many maps you have—unless you know where you are starting from.
Finally, trained researchers in white lab coats with clipboards and cages filled with monkeys had demonstrated in a proper clinical setting what I myself had learned several years earlier in a rehab setting: affirmations are bullshit.
Affirmations are dishonest. They are a form of self-betrayal based on bogus, side-of-the-cereal-box psychology.
The truth is, it is not going to help to stand in front of the mirror, look into your own eyes, and lie to yourself. Especially when you are the one person you are supposed to believe you can count on.
Affirmations are the psychological equivalent of sprinkling baby powder on top of the turd your puppy has left on the carpet. This does not result in a cleaner carpet. It coats the underlying issue with futility.
If affirmations were effective, a rape victim should be able to walk in her front door following the attack, go into the bathroom, and, with her silk blouse hanging in shredded strips from her collarbones, scratch marks bleeding on her breasts—one nipple missing—and her bangs pasted to her filthy forehead with dirt and dried semen, say to her reflection, “I am too strong and independent to be hurt by negativity. I feel unafraid and powerful. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had tonight to experience something new, learn a little more about myself, and triumph in the face of adversity,” and then feel perfectly okay, maybe even a little bit rushy on those feel-good endorphins runners are always going on and on about.
When in fact, what does help the person who has been raped is to chew it up and then spit it the hell out. And by chew it up I mean talk about it, write about it, paint it, make a movie about it, and then be done with it and move on. Because here’s the truth about rape: you do not have to be victimized by it forever. You can take this awful, bottomless horror the rapist has inflicted on you, and you can seize it and recycle it into something wonderful and helpful and useful. You can, in this way, transform what was “done” to you into something that was “given” to you in the form of brutally raw material. You can, in other words, accept this hideous thing and embrace it and take complete control of the experience and reshape it as you please. This is not to deny the experience and how devastating it is; it is to accept the experience on the deepest level as your own possession now. An experience that is now part of you. Instead of allowing it to be a tap that drains you, you can force it into duty in service to your creative or intellectual goals.
Many people do not want to admit to themselves or others when they are feeling distressed, anxious, insecure, lonely, or any of the other emotions people feel that exist uncomfortably outside the superupbeat umbrella. So it’s chin up and sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle.
Should I have smiled when that woman stepped on to the elevator?
“Good afternoon. You must be here for a conference. I hope you’re enjoying it.”
“Good afternoon to you, too. And I am enjoying the conference very much. Always nice to be out of the office for a change of scenery.”
“I hear you. Well, this is my floor. You have a terrific day.”
“I will. You do the same.”
Is that the scene as it ought to have played? Would an exchange of greasy, zero-calorie pleasantries improve the world?
Is the act of making an effort to remain positive and speak in familiar, nonthreatening clichés better, healthier for us, emotionally?
I don’t think so.
Why couldn’t that woman just speak the plain truth and say something like, “I don’t know what’s wrong, but I do know that I’ve looked into the mirror and seen your expression on my face. And I don’t really have a point, I just wanted to say that.”
Now, there’s nothing nasty in what she said; she wasn’t crazy or rude.
It’s just that, there was nothing useful in what she said, either. No nutrition at all. Truthfulness itself is almost medicinal, even when it’s served without advice or insight. Just hearing true words spoken out loud provides relief.
It’s not that I wanted her to say something helpful; I hadn’t needed her to say a word. What was offensive and kind of vile was that she obviously saw on my face a mood dark and powerful enough to warrant an intrusion.
She then proceeded to both express her disapproval of my mood and suggest I wear a mask that projected the opposite of how I felt.
It was just disappointing that dishonesty was her automatic response to my obvious unhappiness.
In our superpositive society, we have an unspoken zero-tolerance policy for negativity.
Beneath the catchall of negativity is basically everything that isn’t superpositive.
Seriously, who among us is having a Great! day every day? Who feels Terrific, thanks! all the time?
Nobody, but everybody. Because this is how we say hello to one another.
“Hey, Karen. How are you?”
“Hi, Jim. I’m great, thanks!”
It doesn’t matter if what we say isn’t really the truth because they’re not really asking how things are in our life and we’re not really telling them.
Just like when somebody sneezes, we don’t say “Bless you” because we’re worried a demon may seize this open-mouthed, closed-eyed moment and take possession of the person; we say “Bless you” because that’s the thing to say.
If you said to a person, “Hi, how are you?” and they told you they were very anxious because they suspected their teenage daughter might be sexually active and this was just not okay, you would probably feel extremely awkward, try to look concerned and empathetic, but also get away as soon as possible by explaining you were late for a meeting.
If you’re at all like me, you would suspect the person had some sort of mental illness and from that moment on, you would do your best to avoid them.
Because they answered truthfully the question that you, yourself, asked them.
Please believe me when I tell you that I am not suggesting you suddenly start yammering on about all your problems next time somebody asks, “How’s it going?”
I’m saying, wait. Look at this thing we all do without even thinking about it.
I’m also saying, look at this little lie we tell. Do you think there might be others we aren’t even aware of?
I’ll go ahead and tell you right now, yes, there are others. Some not so much lies as misunderstandings. Or inaccuracies.
In fact, you can be a very honest person and yet not be living a truthful life.
And not even realize it.
This matters because stripping away all the inaccuracies, misunderstandings, and untruths that surround you is exactly how you can overcome anything at all.
Truth is accuracy.
Without accuracy, you can’t expect to manifest large, specific changes in your life.
It’s not enough to believe something is true.
Knowing in your heart of hearts that the world is flat has absolutely no relationship to the actual shape of the planet, which will continue to spin on its spherical ass despite your belief in its flatness.
Because we only rarely have the opportunity to know the full truth about something, we have to try for as much accuracy as possible. Accuracy can be thought of as an incremental percentage of the truth.
Once again, by “truth” I don’t mean “your truth” or “my truth” or some stretchy, pliable, and fully customizable definition of Truth that suits our ever-changing needs.
I mean only the in-your-face, ignore-at-your-peril, star-sapphire-bright, no-wonder-therapy-failed, singular, shackle-cracking, like-it-or-not, rock-bottom, buck-stopping, mind-reeling, complete-transformation factual truth that resides at the center of every one of your issues and dreams and roadblocks and tragedies and miracles.
This is not the truth you tell yourself in order to not rock the boat, or to smooth things over or keep everyone comfortable.
The truth is humbling, terrifying, and often exhilarating. It blows the doors off the hinges and fills the world with fresh air.
This is why your search for the solution to the problems, issues, and obstacles you’re dealing with in your own life must begin with your mouth.
Specifically, the lies that come out of it.

Copyright © 2012 by Augusten Inc.


Excerpted from This Is How by Augusten Burroughs Copyright © 2012 by Augusten Burroughs. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS is the number one New York Times bestselling author of A Wolf At The Table, Possible Side Effects, Magical Thinking, Dry, Running with Scissors, and Sellevision. He lives in Manhattan.

Brief Biography

New York, New York and western Massachusetts
Date of Birth:
October 23, 1965
Place of Birth:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
No formal education beyond elementary school

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