I can't bring myself to put the picture of the book here on the blog, but this review is about Dr Phil McGraw's Life Strategies: Doing What Works/Doing What Matters.
If you can bear the scrolling banner and other disorienting features, here is his web page with the Ten Life Laws in brief. And there are other articles on the site, too. Everyone knows who Dr Phil is and what his style is like and whether you like his style or hate it. So I won't bother giving a real review; I'll just use the book as a starting point to ramble on about life in general.
This book was another library dime-rack find. I have an addiction to self-improvement books that cost no more than a dime.
Even though there are ten laws listed, it boils down basically to one, which would be Take Charge of Your Own Life. The idea is that when people are dealing with "issues" (doing what they don't want to, rather than what they would want to, as St Paul said), they are usually going for a hidden payoff. Sometimes they are letting other people or circumstances control their destiny... for example, when hatred and anger or fear due to what was done to you in the past keeps you tied up in knots in the present. Or sometimes there is a reward in what they are doing that keeps them doing what they don't want to do.... for example, when a woman can't lose weight effectively because of somehow wanting to keep a layer of fat between her and the world.
I think I kept the book around because the idea that you are responsible for your own life really resonates with me. Of course, you can't always choose the external circumstances or what was done to you. You can't change your basic temperament. But you can choose your response. You can choose whether to simply react, or whether to respond freely. I keep having to remind myself of that because when you're a melancholic-phlegmatic, it's easy to let discouragement, disappointment and passivity gang up together and become an obstacle to changing what you can change.
It's also something I tell my kids.
My daughter (rightly) points out that everything is ultimately in God's control. Which is true, of course. But the way He has set things up in His marvellous Providence, we have a distant reflection of His freedom within us. Anyway, the way our lives work, we choose our response by default if we don't do it by reason. So let's say I have a handicap. If I don't choose to cope with it, I choose NOT to cope, which is a coping mechanism too, just not a very effective one.
My daughter's point should not be forgotten, however. Sometimes when faced with "pray to God, and row for the shore" we focus on the rowing part as if that's our real job and the praying part becomes no more than a sort of good luck charm or token incense on the endeavor. Whereas, the rowing should be a prayer too. If it's not, it won't do much good because even on the shore there are probably tigers and snakes!
Anyway, I can probably let Dr Phil go now too, then at least my kids won't laugh at me.