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100 Things Guys Need to Know1001 Solution-Focused Questions101 Ways to Meditate17 Lies That Are Holding You Back29 Gifts8 Keys to Stress ManagementA Layman's Guide to Managing FearA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your LifeAddiction and ChangeAddiction Recovery ToolsADHD Grown UpAdolescent DepressionAdvanced Sexual TechniquesAfter SuicideAfter the Ecstasy, the LaundryAge-Proof Your MindAnswers for AristotleAnxiety, Phobias, and PanicAre You Fully Charged?Authentic HappinessAwakening Self-EsteemBe Honest--You're Not That Into Him EitherBeating the BluesBecoming OrgasmicBeen There, Done That? 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NaaahTen Minutes to RelaxThank You for Being Such a PainThe 10 Best Anxiety BustersThe 5 Reasons Why We OvereatThe 7 Secrets of the ProlificThe Anger WorkbookThe Antidepressant Survival ProgramThe Art of Becoming HumanThe Art of Exceptional LivingThe Beginner's Guide to Healthy EatingThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Betty Ford Center Book of AnswersThe Bipolar Disorder Survival GuideThe Breakout PrincipleThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Chronic Pain SolutionThe Complete Vegetarian HandbookThe Consolations of PhilosophyThe Core Question: Who Am I?The Crowdsourced Performance ReviewThe Emotional Eater's Repair ManualThe Emotional RevolutionThe End-of-Life HandbookThe Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2005The Essential KamasutraThe Feeling Good HandbookThe Five Things We Cannot Change ...The Game of TruthThe Gift of FearThe Gift of ShynessThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Guide for International Intercultural Couples and Families Intercultural MarriageThe Happy Hook-UpThe Healing JourneyThe Healing Journey for CouplesThe Healing Journey Through GriefThe Healing Power of PetsThe Identity CodeThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Introvert AdvantageThe Intuitive WriterThe Irritable Male SyndromeThe Jewel Tree of TibetThe Joy of MeditatingThe Last Self-Help Book You'll Ever NeedThe Light of DiscoveryThe Little Book of Healthy TeasThe Little Yoga BookThe Magic of Thinking BigThe Making of Dr. PhilThe Male Stress Survival GuideThe Money WorkbookThe Mood CureThe Mozart EffectThe Myth of Self-EsteemThe New Cancer SurvivorsThe New Rational TherapyThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe OCD WorkbookThe Passion PlanThe Pilates Workout JournalThe Pill Book Guide to Natural MedicinesThe Places That Scare YouThe Pocket Life CoachThe Porn TrapThe Power of FocusThe Power of Full EngagementThe Power of Negative ThinkingThe Power of PlayThe Power of Self-CoachingThe Pursuit of PerfectThe Quest for Peace, Love, and a 24'' WaistThe Real Rules for GirlsThe Secret of LifeThe Secret Strength of DepressionThe Self ImprovedThe Self-Compassion Skills WorkbookThe Self-Help SourcebookThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Spa DeckThe Stoic Art of LivingThe Stress CureThe Stress Less WorkbookThe Stress Owner's ManualThe Stress Reduction Workbook for TeensThe SuperStress SolutionThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Therapy for the SaneThe Truth About Chronic PainThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Van Gogh BluesThe Way of StretchingThe Way of the JournalThe Way of TransitionThe Weblog HandbookThe Why CaféThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival HandbookThere's a Spiritual Solution to Every ProblemThings Might Go Terribly, Horribly WrongThink Confident, Be ConfidentThink NakedThink SmartThinking for a ChangeThis Is HowTotal PilatesTrain Your Brain to Get HappyTrain Your Brain to Get RichTransformation Trauma in the Lives of ChildrenUltimate SexUnderstanding the Borderline MotherUndoing DepressionUnhappy TeenagersUnlock the Genius WithinUntangling the WebVirtual AddictionWaking Up to What You DoWay to Be!What We Say MattersWhat Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Holding You Back? When a Family Member Has DementiaWhen a Parent is DepressedWhen in Doubt, Make BeliefWhen Perfect Isn't Good EnoughWhen Someone You Love Is DepressedWhen Things Fall ApartWhen Words Are Not EnoughWhen Your Body Gets the BluesWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWherever You Go, There You AreWhy Can't I Change?Why Is It Always About You?Why Smart Executives FailWorried All the TimeWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaWriting as a Sacred PathWriting in FlowWriting to HealYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!Yoga 4 TeensYoga as MedicineYoga for EveryoneYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Regular Guys DVDYoga for the Young at HeartYoga on DemandYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYou Are Not AloneYou Are Not Your IllnessYou Can Think Yourself ThinYou'll See It When You Believe ItYour Body Speaks Your MindYour Brain on FoodYour Child, Bully or Victim?Zen Sex
The word "managing" in the title of this book is well chosen. The book is all about what you can do to manage your mental and emotional life effectively. The book doesn't try to explain in depth how the mind works or go into psychological theories (e.g., for why past events influence current behavior), but rather to provide concrete steps for analyzing and improving the way you live your life. Reading the book without following its advice would be like reading the instructions for operating your digital video recorder without actually pushing any buttons: expect results only if you actively engage the ideas and suggestions the authors present.
The authors, both mental health clinicians, seem to be guided by the assumption that you'll be happiest if you treat yourself and others compassionately and fairly, and if you focus on changing yourself rather than others, and beyond that it's up to you to set your priorities (e.g., better communication with your spouse, promotion at work, or learning effectively, either class material or a new hobby). The book gently and clearly describes the tools you can use to reach your goals.
The authors generally avoid jargon, and base their suggestions on the latest research about what is helpful. In most cases they're not dogmatic; they recommend that their readers select the techniques that seem most useful to them, and to check their progress and try other approaches as needed. (The exception is the material on breaking a bad habit, where a certain amount of rigor is needed.) Much of the information may seem like little more than common sense. The book is still useful, however, because for one thing, applied common sense is not all that common, and for another, some of the advice--e.g., about effective study habits and how to take notes and review material--is widely needed but probably not as widely known as it could be.
The book contains seven sections. The first two provide a foundation for any project you'd like to undertake to improve your life, describing the basic skills and attitudes necessary for change. The remaining five sections each deal with a particular set of situations or challenges (relationships, anxiety and depression, traumatic experiences, physical well-being, and enhancing memory and learning). Probably the best way to approach the book is to read the first two sections and then refer to the other sections in greater or lesser detail depending on your interests. However, the sections are nicely cross-referenced, so if you turn directly to a topic that grabs you, you will be referred to related material.
The book is structured for browsing and selective reading; each section and even each chapter is fairly self-contained, with a chapter summaries to capture the key points. Points to remember and steps to follow are frequently repeated in boxes set within the text for easy reference. It's more of a handbook or instruction manual than a book for reading straight through.
The book provides the basics on a number of techniques, such as breaking a bad habit, behaving assertively, or using the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy to examine your habits of thought. Of necessity, the information about any one topic is limited. However, the emphasis is on applying the information to individual circumstances and needs, and the book gives enough detail to allow you to proceed. If you do want to read more about something, an appendix lists useful books and web sites.
If you're looking for clearly presented, basic information on managing a number of important areas of your life, this book could be the "missing manual" that makes being human an easier job.
© 2008 Mary Hrovat
Mary Hrovat is a freelance science writer; she has written about science and information technology for Indiana University's Research & Creative Activity magazine, Indiana Alumni Magazine, and Discovery Online. She also posts news items, book reviews, and articles on the Thinking Meat Project, which deals with brain science, psychology, human evolution, and related topics.
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