Thursday, April 5, 2012

Creative Living for Today by Maxwell Maltz

Maltz, MaxwellCreative Living for Today1967New York: Pocket Books, 1973.

Maxwell Maltz is known for his self-help books, especially Psycho-Cybernetics.  He got into the field because of observations he made as a plastic surgeon.  He found that the change in appearance he created brought about a transformation in some, freeing them to be happy, engaged people.  Others were just as depressed and disappointed after the surgery as before.  The difference, he decided, was self-image.

In Creative Living for Today, Maltz encourage people to have a positive, realistic self-image.  He says life should be lively: creative, interesting, engaging, adventurous.  For too many, life is dull, disconnected, and fearful.  We can choose which kind of life we lead, and it is largely a matter of how we think about ourselves.

Maltz intends the book to be practical inspiration for living the good life.  In it, he offers advice on how to practically improve your self-image and your life.

Goals are very important to Maltz. Large and small, long-term and daily, goals give us something to move toward.  Goals and self-image have an effect on each other.  To pursue a goal, we must be able to image we can achieve it.  Achieving challenging, realistic goals strengthens our self-image as people who can succeed.  In addition, activity and productivity is pleasurable in itself.  Endeavor to enjoy what you do.

Engagement is another major issue for the author.  To withdraw from life, and especially to isolate yourself from other people, is to separate yourself from pleasure.  Relationships with people are some of the greatest things we can enjoy.  Admittedly, life and relationships can be difficult, but that is something we all face.  Maltz argues that engagement is good, even necessary, and if we see ourselves as capable of living well and having good relationships even in the face of difficulties, which he says is true, then our self-image will help us live it.

Maltz doesn’t present a world where we can have perfection if we just think right.  Everybody gets hurt; we all have emotional scars.  Maturity is learning to accept this imperfect world and living creatively in it.  We must occasionally create some mental space for ourselves to be refreshed so we can engage life with energy, learn to forgive ourselves and others, and constantly tend our self-image.

Maltz illustrates his points with many stories.  Most of these come from his own life, sometimes his dealings with patients, but often drawing on other experiences.

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