Book Review: Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth
Some books draw you in with mystery and suspense. Others keep you hooked with drama or intrigue. And then there are some that just manage to really hit home and make you say "Ah-ha!"
Such is the case with Personal Development for Smart People by Steve Pavlina. Using what Steve calls "personal growth from high-level concepts to practical actions", Personal Development for Smart People goes beyond just setting goals and takes us much deeper into the human psyche.
Now, for those of you who may not be a fan of concepts such as the Law of Attraction, keep reading because this isn't your everyday "think it and you'll receive it" kind of book.
Instead, Steve approaches some of the tougher questions that deal not only with our own individual satisfaction but also how we connect to the Universe around us. And interestingly, this approach takes away our ability for self-denial and puts us back into the driver's seat of our own lives.
Using seven fundamental principles - truth, love, power, oneness, authority, courage and intelligence - Steve encourages us to approach life by asking the question "where is the path with a heart?". This enables us to stay focused on the things that really matter and steer clear of mindless preoccupation for the sake of avoiding the things we're not ready to deal with yet.
And perhaps that's one of the reasons I liked this book so much.
Its not that you have to change everything in your life right now. In fact, its quite okay if you aren't yet ready or equipped to change those things that aren't in-line with your dreams and ideals. But you do at least, need to acknowledge that the conflict exists and more importantly, that you'd like the changes to occur.
"Whenever you're faced with a part of reality you don't like, and you feel powerless to change it, the first step is to accept the truth of your situation. Say to yourself: This situation is wrong for me, yet I lack the strength to change it right now."
And in case you're wondering, this was just the first of many "Ah-ha!" moments for me. How many times do we continue going through the motions, knowing somewhere deep down inside that it isn't really what we want but because we feel unable to change it, we just pretend it doesn't exist?
Does acknowledging this kind of "Truth" make things better? Oddly enough, I think it does. I think when we stop lying to ourselves about who we are versus who we'd really like to be, it makes it much easier to see where we need to adjust our course.
Its so easy to fall into the many traps of our modern-day society. There's peer pressure to keep up with those darned Joneses all the time and we're constantly being told by our political and religious leaders what's right and what's wrong without any real thought being given to whether or not those opinions mesh with our own. Instead, we often follow along, trying to fit in with a particular party, clique or class.
But in doing so, we've agreed to let someone else do the driving on our behalf and then when things don't turn out the way we like, we feel surprised and certainly betrayed that our driver didn't get us to the destination that we wanted.
But Personal Development for Smart People puts all of this right back at our own doorstep which, I'll admit, can be a scary concept but its definitely one worth examining.
The book is divided into two parts, the first dealing with the seven principles and what they mean. The second part delves into actual application and gives you ideas for applying these universal principles to all areas of your life, whether its bad habits you'd like to break, health you'd like to improve or money you'd like to make.
When I finished reading, I felt a little less stressed and certainly much more focused and "in control" of where I'd like to go next. My problems and concerns hadn't magically disappeared but I felt like I was much more equipped to tackle them head on.
And that's really the whole point.
In the introduction, Steve says that the
"goal of this book is to teach you how to bring all areas of your life into alignment with these universal principles [the seven mentioned above]. This requires injecting truth into your relationships, aligning your career with love, and bringing power to your spiritual practice. This is what it means to live as a conscious, intelligent human being."
After reading Personal Development for Smart People, I'd say he met that goal and then some.