Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live Paperback – Jan 29 2002
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Put the telescope away; the North Star mentioned here is a human body, not a heavenly one. And like Polaris, which has guided sailors for centuries, the human body's gut feelings and emotions can help guide a wayward soul back to his or her "essential self." In this absorbing combination of detailed self-awareness exercises and true stories from her own counseling experience (equal parts sobering and hysterically entertaining), Harvard-trained sociologist Martha Beck invites readers to explore their heart's desires and the vast social webs that keep such desires in check. The goal is not to forsake the "social self" and indulge every emotional impulse of the "essential self." Rather, Beck gives readers the tools and the encouragement to achieve maximum happiness by harmonizing these typically divergent voices.
Beck (author of Expecting Adam) admits that repairing a damaged emotional compass and setting out on such a vital journey--which often involves painful realizations and changes--"has all the combined attractions of suicide and childbirth." But the payoff, she concludes, is a love affair with real life. To that end, she walks readers through a lengthy exercise to evaluate their current lifestyle's pleasures and pains, teaches the process of listening to the body for directional cues, describes how to extract "soul shrapnel" (healing all those nasty, self-defeating emotional wounds), and provides an intriguing "Map of Change" to achieve an authentic life. Beck's impressive knowledge, her engaging (if somewhat irreverent) voice, and her ability to parse this scary process into achievable steps make her a new champion in the self-help arena. --Liane Thomas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
A fixed point in the sky that helps mariners stay on course, the North Star emerges as a symbol for realizing one's true potential in this cheerful and perceptive but too-long book. Though her navigational metaphors lose force with repetition, Beck's voice is light, down-to-earth and refreshing. Having found her way on her own journey from academia (she was a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School) to becoming an author (of Expecting Adam, a warmly received memoir about the birth of her Down's syndrome baby), Beck currently consults with clients on redirecting their lives. She teaches that each individual has a core personality that encompasses one's desires, emotions and preferences, which is sometimes blocked by a social self that responds to external influences and cultivates survival skills. By far the most fascinating material is on how to read warnings from the essential self: low energy, lapses into illness, forgetfulness, addictions, Freudian slips and mood swings. She advises steering toward the correct path by eliminating negative influences and practicing elaborate self-esteem exercises. A section on navigating change weighs the book down while suggestions for dealing with serious emotions like grief and anger are somewhat breezy. In the end, however, the numerous self-quizzes, exercises and chances to laugh will allow many readers to overlook these weaknesses. (Mar.)Forecast: Given the success of Expecting Adam and Beck's freelance contributions to Mademoiselle, Real Simple and Redbook, the author is likely to shine in a constellation of media venues and has a solid shot at capturing the imaginations of self-help seekers.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the ONE book to buy -- and I mean buy, not borrow! --
if you are undergoing a life transition.
Actually, despite the title, Martha Beck is a career counselor and the book focuses on career change. However, as Beck points out, relationships and personal questions can influence career change. Wisely she encourages readers to seek help from qualified therapists if personal issues cloud their careers -- but she is not afraid to tackle the tough emotional questions.
And her analysis of emotions would do credit to any personality or social psychologist. Fear, for instance, may not be fear at all.
Perhaps the best parts of the book are the chapter on intuition (a gem) and the five chapters that address the four stages of career change. Beck's view of intuition is sensible -- not New Age woo-woo but a way to gain deeper insight into our own motives. And describing the stages of transition, Beck gives us realistic indicators (those in phase 2 typically change their appearance!) as well as warnings about what to expect.
It's easy to miss the message between the lines, but Beck does hint that the path of change will not be an easy one. Unlike many authors, she dispenses with false cheer and hints of pain and sacrifice along the way. Change isn't magical. It can happen -- but you have to be realistic about yourself and your objectives.
That's a message I try to share with all my clients -- and I've sold so many copies of this book by word of mouth, I've been tempted to claim a share of the royalties. Don't miss it.
The book is great in that it not only provides a solid foundation and methods for helping this discovery, it also goes into the psychology that may hinder one's ability to do this, and offers real suggestions on what to do.
So many times I read what another reviewer calls "feel good books". I hate them too. They are a waste of time. This is the only book I've found that really offers something useful.
I read Po Bronson's "What Should I Do With My Life?", and loved it, because I saw how so many others also struggle with this issue, but was very disappointed that it didn't provide any thoughts or guidance to answer that question.
Until I read this book, I was coming to the conclusion that all of these self-help books are so much BS; now I have the atlas for my journey.
Thank you Martha Beck!
It's probably a good read as well for those who are happy with their work, but not with other aspects of their lives since many of the suggestions and exercises have nothing to do with career.
There is something about the exercises in Beck's book that makes me WANT to do them; many self-help books make me feel abandoned as if the teacher has left the classroom and has handed out a not-too-meaningful quiz for the students to complete during his/her absence. In Beck's book, the exercises are just so relevant-- and she helps you weave your answers into something meaningful that will help you gain more insight into yourself.
This is a book to keep close at hand, and refer to often. I'm planning to reread it continually. Thanks to Martha Beck!
Most recent customer reviews
I little too hippie dippie for me. I didn't manage finishing this book.Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
Fascinating reading. Causes much reflection. Explains difference in generationsPublished 14 months ago by GARY COLGAN
Martha Beck is a MUST-read, brilliant, uplifting, inspiring, funny........Published 15 months ago by Peggy Adams
Brilliant book, like taking a course in what to do with your life during a career transition!Published on Aug. 4 2014 by Carol Throop
The book arrived really fast! This is an amazing, life changing book. I would recommend it to anyone... especially if you're coming close to being 40Published on Dec 14 2011 by Tasreen
I tend to stay away from these books. But the reviews convinced me to take a look. I thought I was holding everything together and doing pretty well until I read "Finding... Read morePublished on Oct. 30 2004 by Bronx Mother
Of all the books I have read on the subject (dozens and dozens, Kate White, SWZ, Ban Breathnach, I could do anything if only.., do what you love and... Read morePublished on March 4 2004 by American Bookworm
Martha Beck is a great writer to start with - on top of that, her insights and ideas are enlightening. The book has short exercises (e.g. list three things that.... Read morePublished on Aug. 30 2003 by merrymousies