For many of us, the start of a new year brings the desire to engage in a little self-reflection, to change for the better, and to be the person we all believe we can be when we look deep down inside. Whether we’re vowing to finally get control of our eating and exercise habits or to make our family and friends a bigger priority in the year ahead, anything seems possible at the outset of a fresh new 12-month period.
Yet, as I’m sure just about all of us can attest, things can so quickly revert back to our old ways and practices of years gone by. Creating lasting and effective change isn’t easy, no matter what the calendar says. Psychology and the role of ingrained habits in our lives loom perhaps larger than we’d like to admit.
Psychiatrist Gordon Livingston’s Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now, would be helpful for nearly everyone in one way or another just about any time of the year. But read now, in the glow of hoped-for new approaches to life in the coming year, it’s an honest look at the challenges we all face.
Livingston’s book combines his many hours as a professional listening to people’s troubles with his own very human heartaches to create 168 pages of straight talk with a compassionate bend. His life, like everyone’s, has not been without struggle. For instance, he served in Vietnam where he was awarded the Bronze Star for valor, but became disenchanted with America’s goals there. He discovered as an adult that he was adopted. And in one 13-month period, his oldest son and his youngest son both died, leaving him with unimaginable grief.
Livingston writes about the many common problems he sees people having in their relationships with their spouses, their children, and their parents. He also addresses, for example, the ways in which some of us abdicate responsibility for ourselves and our actions, either by blaming traumas from long ago or by believing that fate is somehow against us.
Reading his book feels a bit like listening to an opinionated, well-educated friend as he passes along wisdom he’s gathered. His comments never feel like platitudes. He doesn’t offer or tolerate excuses. Further, when he uses experiences from his own life to illustrate his points, you can trust that he’s being just as hard on himself as on you. If you’re hoping to truly change in 2016, this book offers lots to think about.
(Originally published here: http://msbusiness.com/2016/01/bookbiz-a-seasoned-therapists-advice-for-a-meaningful-life/)