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Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now

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Overview


After service in Vietnam, as a surgeon for the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in 1968-69, at the height of the war, Dr. Gordon Livingston returned to the U.S. and began work as a psychiatrist. In that capacity, he has listened to people talk about their lives-what works, what doesn’t, and the limitless ways (many of them self-inflicted) that people find to be unhappy. He is also a parent twice bereaved; in one thirteen-month period, he lost his eldest son to suicide, his youngest to leukemia. Out of a lifetime of...
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Too Soon Old Too Late Smart

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Overview


After service in Vietnam, as a surgeon for the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in 1968-69, at the height of the war, Dr. Gordon Livingston returned to the U.S. and began work as a psychiatrist. In that capacity, he has listened to people talk about their lives-what works, what doesn’t, and the limitless ways (many of them self-inflicted) that people find to be unhappy. He is also a parent twice bereaved; in one thirteen-month period, he lost his eldest son to suicide, his youngest to leukemia. Out of a lifetime of experience, Gordon Livingston has extracted thirty bedrock truths: We are what we do. Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Only bad things happen quickly. Forgiveness is a form of letting go, but they are not the same thing. The statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas. Livingston illuminates these and twenty-four others in a series of carefully hewn, perfectly calibrated essays, many of which focus on our closest relationships and the things that we do to impede or, less frequently, enhance them. Again and again, these essays underscore that “we are what we do,” and that while there may be no escaping who we are, we have the capacity to face loss, misfortune, and regret and to move beyond them-that it is not too late. Full of things we may know but have not articulated to ourselves, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart offers solace, guidance, and hope to everyone ready to become the person they’d most like to be.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
For Dr. Gordon Livingston, personal tragedy has been a stellar teacher. As a young man, he witnessed life at the edge as an army physician during the Vietnam War. Since then, as a career psychiatrist, he has not only counseled his patients on their deepest problems; he has suffered great losses himself, losing two of his sons: one to leukemia, another to suicide. In Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart, Dr. Livingston distills 30 bedrock life lessons that have strengthened him and his clients.
From the Publisher

Baltimore Sun 4/13/08
“The slim book by Columbia-based psychiatrist Gordon Livingston has been a source of inspiration for many.”

“The author creates an aura of wisdom about a great many things.”

Quincy Jones, Details Online
“I'm just a musician and a record producer. I'm not a psychiatrist. I don't understand all that stuff. We all got problems. But there's a great book out called Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart. Did you see that? That book says the statute of limitations has expired on all childhood traumas. Get your stuff together and get on with your life, man.”

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 1/20/2010
“Delightful.”

Palm Beach Post, 11/28/10
“A book I not only like but respect.”

Palm BeachPost, 12/9/10
“[An] excellent self-help book.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569243732
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 3/3/2008
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 71,187
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Gordon Livingston, M.D., a graduate of West Point and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, has been a physician since 1967. He is a psychiatrist and writer who contributes frequently to the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Baltimore Sun, and Reader’s Digest. Awarded the Bronze Star for valor in Vietnam, he is the author of two other books, And Never Stop Dancing and Only Spring: On Mourning the Death of My Son. He lives and works in Columbia, Maryland.
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Table of Contents

Foreword xv
1 If the map doesn't agree with the ground, the map is wrong 1
2 We are what we do 6
3 It is difficult to remove by logic an idea not placed there by logic in the first place 12
4 The statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas 18
5 Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least 24
6 Feelings follow behavior 28
7 Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid 36
8 The perfect is the enemy of the good 41
9 Life's two most important questions are "Why?" and "Why not?" The trick is knowing which one to ask 45
10 Our greatest strengths are our greatest weaknesses 50
11 The most secure prisons are those we construct for ourselves 55
12 The problems of the elderly are frequently serious but seldom interesting 61
13 Happiness is the ultimate risk 68
14 True love is the apple of Eden 75
15 Only bad things happen quickly 80
16 Not all who wander are lost 87
17 Unrequited love is painful but not romantic 91
18 There is nothing more pointless, or common, than doing the same things and expecting different results 95
19 We flee from the truth in vain 101
20 It's a poor idea to lie to oneself 107
21 We are all prone to the myth of the perfect stranger 111
22 Love is never lost, not even in death 115
23 Nobody likes to be told what to do 119
24 The major advantage of illness is that it provides relief from responsibility 125
25 We are afraid of the wrong things 129
26 Parents have a limited ability to shape children's behavior, except for the worse 136
27 The only real paradises are those we have lost 144
28 Of all the forms of courage, the ability to laugh is the most profoundly therapeutic 152
29 Mental health requires freedom of choice 158
30 Forgiveness is a form of letting go, but they are not the same thing 162
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 20 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2005

    Help for the Struggle We Call Life

    Though the 'things' presented in this book may sound familiar to someone in his/her later life, they have the ring of many discussions I have had with my angst-ridden 17-year-old daughter. The book is affirming to a parent trying to raise a healthy-minded child while still going through his own challenges! I love the affirming quality of the writing, not preachy, not patronizing, but very objective.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    LISTEN!

    Makes you look at your life and how you have and are living it. Very worthwhile.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Observationally based book

    with some thoughts that are hard to replicate

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2006

    A materpiece of Wisdom and Knowing where the Buck stops

    This book is a wonderful, insightful report of a journey of a therapist's life and his conclusions about our choices and reactions to them. I so applaud his 'the buck stops here' attitude in taking responsibility for our own actions. A total must read--please bring kleenex, you will need it time and time again as this books jogs your own reflections of life!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2005

    Taking Responsibility

    Each chapter of this book talks about about a different area of hardship we all encounter throughout our lives. Taking responsibility for your actions is a theme throughout. I like the writing as it makes you think about causes and effect of choices in life, which is something many of us do not think enough about.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2005

    The Examined Life

    TOO SOON OLD, TOO LATE SMART is a brief compendium of an experienced therapist¿s accumulated wisdom, honed both by his work with his patients and by his own experiences with extraordinary personal loss. Each short chapter discusses a truth about how to negotiate the emotional and interpersonal dilemmas with which we all must deal in our journey through life. A common thread throughout the book is the author¿s belief in our responsibility for our choices and their consequences. Within this context, he debunks the validity of widely accepted clinical entities such as Dissociative Identity Disorder and Adult Attention Deficit Disorder that he believes are often used as excuses to mitigate responsibility for behavior. While at times opinionated, Dr. Livington¿s work contains enough pearls of wisdom to instruct the lives of any reader willing to undertake the self-examination and self-discipline essential to living a full and satisfying life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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