on March 27, 2003
By the time I had finished reading Chapter 1 of Susan's wonderful book, I had made a life-changing decision. The large house my husband and I loved had become a burden in this wretched economy, and we were agonizing over whether to downsize or struggle to hang on. "What if we'll never be able to own such a fabulous house again?" we thought. "Are we failures because we haven't been able to keep up with the Joneses?" "What will happen to us now?" The fear, longing, and possible disgrace were eating us alive. Then I found Susan's book. Stop hoping and start wondering, she counsels. Look at life not with fear, hope, and expectations, but with curiosity, she says. "I wonder how this will turn out" is the attitude to take. Turn your life into a story, one in which you can't wait to get to the next episode to see what will happen. Boom! Her advice knocked my socks off. I've never been able to resist seeing what's around the next corner. I decided to let the house go, and my husband agreed. Let the adventure begin!
I once knew a woman who claimed that she was so optimistic that she could even look on the bright side when someone was dying of cancer. I never understood what she meant, but I've kept her mysterious statement in the back of my mind all these years. Susan's book made my friend's statement clear at last. When you can infuse your life with meaning and purpose, find the positive in both good and bad experiences, and use everything you've been through as an opportunity for learning, you can be optimistic in the face of hardship. Susan tells of a holocaust survivor who found fulfillment in helping other concentration camp inmates; a stroke victim and a quadriplegic who lived full, meaningful lives by focusing on helping others. It can all be done by letting go of expectations and making the most of what we have here and now. After all, as John Lennon said, life is what happens while you're making other plans.
It takes courage and ingenuity to follow Susan's advice, but I promise that if you do, you will be transformed. I know this from my own experience, not just with the house, but from thinking back over my life. Think of it this way: You can continue to suffer, or you can embrace uncertainty and find golden nuggets all around you.
on October 17, 2003
I have read Embracing Uncertainty by Dr. Susan Jeffers a couple of times and I find it the most comforting self-help book that I have ever read. Seldom is one provided with so many wonderful tools to overcome the stress and anxiety caused by the troubled world around us. Against the background of the current world crisis, a lousy economy and the constant threat of terrorist attacks, we all need help to keep calm and balanced, and I found Dr. Jeffers's advice to be ideal in terms of leveling my personal equilibrium. Now, I can approach each day with much more confidence and handle the uncertainty in the world without feeling fearful and stressed. Further, the book is filled with such common sense advice that's so clearly stated, it is accessible to everyone. I can't recommend this highly enough! A great gift for loved ones...
on July 2, 2003
One wishes for a thorough and effective treatment of worry, probably based on CBT. For instance, Basco's book "Never Good Enough" on perfectionism. Unfortunately, this isn't that.
In the interests of motivating and directing improvement, I will don the critic's cap.
The book begins with an effective practice, which is reframing expectations as "wonder". So instead of obsessing over hopes and fears, adopt a sense of "wondering" what will happen. Rewrite your messages to yourself from "I hope things work out like so" to "I wonder how things will work out."
One wonders, indeed, how the passivity from this verbal tranquilizer would play out across society, with people not whipping themselves into improvement. Obviously there would be plenty of happier more peaceful people, but perhaps all would wonder when the trains would arrive, if ever.
With that auspicious start one wonders through the rest of the book if anything else of applicability will be presented, but it devolves into a slightly new-age, feel-good fluff fest with a somewhat feminine targeting. The only scraps worth keeping come from a handful of recycled quotes of others, like Feynman's satisfaction with ignorance, Ziglar's postulate that "every obnoxious act is a cry for help," and a poet's observation that we enjoy games because they "make things hard for the fun of it."
on March 16, 2003
Dr. Susan Jeffers suggests a methodology for people to attain mental equilibrium and serenity in an uncertain world that seems increasingly unpredictable since 9/11. The author feels that too many people waste time, energy, and money trying to control what the future will bring to them. Instead, Dr. Jeffers advocates acceptance of three prime "realities" before one can learn to live life to the fullest.
In other words, Dr. J encourages readers to "live for today and don't worry about tomorrow". Though nothing innovative (Grass Roots offered the same advice thirty-five years ago) to embrace in this self-help book, Dr. Jeffers provides a timely tranquil message in a world that seems as if stress is the solo measure.