Sunday, January 24, 2010

this week's book

This week, I finished "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle. I hadn't read this book in the past simply because there was so much hype about it after Oprah picked it for her book club. But it was recommended to me by somebody whom I consider to be extremely intelligent and pragmatic with a healthy dose of skepticism thrown in. So I put my reservations aside and got the book from the library.

I am happy to say that this book was nothing like I had feared. I was under the impression that it was going to be one of those "think positively and the universe will realign itself to bring you everything you desire" books. I mean, I'm all about being positive and writing goals, but the idea that positive thinking and goal writing will guarantee success in whatever you do is just too simplistic.

I've worked in health care for 18 years...I can attest that sometimes the most wonderful, goal oriented, positive thinking individuals get the shit end of the stick while complete bad-asses who think and do really bad things recover completely. Randy Pausch, the author of "The Last Lecture"; well, he died in the end. As did Christopher Reeves and his wife. Gandhi was murdered. Yet meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh and Joe Francis are millionaires The bottom line is, shit happens. And a lot of times, there appears to be no rhyme nor reason.

This book didn't propose that all you need to do is think positively for everything to work out perfectly. On the contrary; it acknowledged that sometimes life doesn't work out the way we want it to. But we still need to live life, not mourn our lost dreams or drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out what we did wrong. Just live life with what we have in front of us.

This book wanders in the same general vicinity of Deepak Chopra, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and Harold Kushner -- everyday spirituality. Sometimes it does get a little psychology-heavy (breaking free of the ego and whatnot) but overall, I found it to be pretty down to earth and relatable.

The two greatest things I took away are (1) letting go of judgement and (2) focusing on the NOW. Which is a tough thing for a compulsive list maker, like myself. But there is a truth to the idea that the best you can do to reach your goals is not to have your mind always halfway focused on what you're eventually going to do, but fully focused on what you're doing now. (and doing it to the best of your ability)

Overall, I'd call it a good read. I got some good stuff out of it.

And it didn't piss me off. Which is always a good thing.

1 comment:

Diane said...

I tried to read one of his others and just couldn't get through it. I think I have this one but I'm not sure... I'll look. I'm reading 'Omnivore's Dilemma' by Michael Pollan right now... disturbing but I think it should be required reading for all Americans.