The Nerd Journals

Filling up journals as proof of my meager existence.

Tag: self help

The Gratitude Diaries

3/5 stars

I was skeptical about reading a book about gratitude from a woman who seems like she has it all, but after reading it I felt judgemental for going in thinking that Janice Kaplan had nothing to offer me. As it turns out, we all have our moments and we can all improve by practicing gratitude. Since reading the book I have brought daily gratitude into my life and I can feel a small positive impact already. Yeah, it’s all in my head, but where else would I want it to be?

Spark Joy

4/5 stars

I like this book much more than The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It was about the same length (from what I remember), but it was packed with more directive information, adorable illustrations and it was a little less oddball. I would say Skip The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up and just enjoy Spark Joy instead. You won’t miss out on anything important, I promise.

Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual

3/5 stars

I kinda feel like a red-headed stepchild after reading this book, but I know my drill-sergeant stepdad only wants what’s best for me. I think it’s fair to note that this book is roughly 1/3 exercise plans which I had no interest in since I already have my fitness plans under control. Not an overly deep book but several little nuggets of “get up and go”.

The Easy Way To Mindfulness

2/5 stars

This is one of the few, maybe even the first, book I’ve read on mindfulness. I’ve been intrigued by the topic for quite a while but I’ve only done some light research on the Internet. When The Easy Way to Mindfulness became available on NetGalley I was very excited to give it a try, however, after finishing it I think I am more disappointed in this book despite it’s few nuggets of wisdom and exercises it offers. I feel this way because the book was mostly aimed at heavy addictions. Despite this, there was some information that I can still use and implement in my life.

More than anything this book felt like an advertisement for Allen Carr and The Easyway to Stop Smoking. While how to quit smoking mindfully sounds like it may help some people with the mental part of their addiction, there is still a physical aspect to their addiction (nicotine, sugar, booze) that needs to be overcome. I think that needs to be acknowledged more in the book.

Also, even though I don’t have an addiction I do consider Carr referring to addictions as “little crutches”. I found it offensive and I don’t even have a “little crutch”. Methinks Carr should rethink how he speaks to people.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

3/5 stars

I think this book had a lot of good ideas for decluttering but it was awfully fluffy and repetitive at points. Also possibly a bit crazy. I think a lot of the bad reviews for this book are from people who didn’t understand that this book was about decluttering unnecessary items (you don’t have to ask yourself if your medication sparks joy) and I think a lot of the really great people are from people who didn’t actually use this method for dealing with their extras.

I’m somewhere in the middle and I would have rated this book 2.5 stars if that had been an option, but I decided to round up since overall the KonMari method has definitely been helping me deal with the excess in my life. But honestly, some advice in this book is a bit insane. The author tells us that she washes her dishes and puts them on the veranda to dry in the sun so she doesn’t have to keep a dish rack in her home. I mean, that’s nuts, right? Who does that?

I also found a bit more of what I consider bad advice, as someone who is financially strapped. The author recommends getting rid of excess (of what I call “overstock”) of things like toilet paper, shampoo, etc. That’s crazy! It’s stuff that is definitely going to be used and in the not-too-distant future. My recommendation would be to keep the overstock that you buy for cheap with coupons (just don’t go overboard) in a container in the bathroom closet or under the sink.; somewhere you don’t forget about it. And use it! Don’t buy excess when you have a few bottles already (good sale prices always come again and coupons go in cycles in your weekend newspapers).

People are shitting all over Marie Kondo for her thoughts about speaking to objects and thanking them for their service. I think this is one of the lesser crazy ideas in the book because I think the brain is very powerful and cues such as thanking an object before discarding it is a great mental cue to move on from something you may have been hoarding. Not to be in a battle of theologies, but what’s the difference between thanking god and thanking a book for entertaining you? It’s a nice way for closure and to remind yourself that you probably wouldn’t read it again anyway. Just last night I discarded a beautiful Roots team Canada hockey jersey that I was given for Christmas about 15 years ago. It was still in impeccable shape, but I haven’t worn it for more than a decade. It was time to let go so I thanked my jersey before putting it in the donate pile. It feels like saying goodbye to an old friend.

In the end, I’m glad I didn’t buy a copy of this book because it didn’t spark joy and I would end up having to discard it.

Reasons To Stay Alive

4/5 stars

This book is so simple and honest. Not only did it help (okay, help is a bit of a stretch. Maybe the word I am looking for is normalize) my own depression but it also helped me understand my husband’s issues, which are worse than my own. He has battled life-long depression and anxiety. I thought hypochondria was a quirk of his, I didn’t realize it was a symptom of a much larger problem until reading this book by Matt Haig.

Reasons To Stay Alive book is no cure, of course, but I can’t imagine any book being a cure for depression. However, this book does offer a ray of hope that things will get better. And they may get bad again someday but you know they can always get better again. As long as it’s not your worse day when you’re standing at the edge of a cliff you know the day is at least bit better than it has been before. And you survived.

I don’t feel this book is for everyone who suffers from depression. Matt talks a lot about having the support of his then-girlfriend and his family for help with daily functions like going to the store. Not everyone has that support system and I worry that this book might make people feel worse in this instance.

I also feel that the need some people have for medications to help with their depression was downplayed quite a bit in this book, and it might sway people who need help chemically from getting the medication that they desperately need. Personally, I think I’m more like Mr. Haig in that I don’t need the help of prescription drugs but my husband definitely does; he couldn’t even get to baseline without the help of a duo of medicine for mental illness.

Reasons To Stay Alive reminded me to use words to save both my husband and myself from the darkness: write, talk, listen. I found myself writing passages in my journal to keep close to me forever; things I should not forget. By the end of the book, the last two sections I found myself weeping; some things hit so close to home. Some parts were just so overwhelmingly bright when I’ve been so close to darkness recently.

So I guess my final thoughts on this book would be to tread lightly. It might not be the book for you. While is was helpful for me in a similar fashion that a good friend and a cup of coffee might be, it’s definitely not a cure-all book that will help everyone. I can definitely understand why this book might make some people feel worse.

Journals Have Feelings, Too

1/5 stars

If the fat was trimmed from this book and the remainder was better organized, “Journals Have Feelings Too” would make an excellent series of blog posts. This is more of a wishy washy self help book than a book about journaling. Too much of the book was about the author’s struggles in life, I was put off before I even got to the part about journaling. I really wanted to like it but I didn’t.

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