Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stop Whining, Start Living by Dr. Laura

Schlessinger, LauraStop Whining, Start LivingNew York: HarperCollins, 2008.

We make ourselves crazy.  We can stop doing it.  That is the message Laura Schlessinger, popularly known as Dr. Laura, present in her book Stop Whining, Start Living.

So much of how we make ourselves miserable is how we look at things.  Life is difficult, for some people more than others.  If we focus on difficulties, problems, and situations we don’t like, we’ll feel the weight of them.  If instead we focus on the things in life we enjoy, that encourage us, and the people we love and who love use, we’ll feel the lightness of it.  Perspective doesn’t make problems go away, but a good point of view can keep us from ignoring the good things in our lives.

Relating to this is the need for action.  Our complaints don’t change the situations we complain about.  Action, especially acts that help others, make the world better and help us feel better.  As Schlessinger puts it, “ultimate meaning fullness in our lives comes from fulfilling our obligations to others.”

Stop Whining, Start Living presents variations on these two themes, focusing on different areas of life, especially relationships.  She devotes a chapter to marriage.  Even here, a happy marriage is largely a matter of looking at the things you love about your spouse and not accentuating the negative.  Act lovingly toward your spouse.

As the title “doctor” implies, Schlessinger has academic training and is licensed in marriage and family therapy.  Her book is not academic or professional in tone.  She is conversational.

Schlessinger draws many examples from communication she had with listeners of her radio program.  Sometimes she refers to difficult and emotionally charged situations.  These examples make her advice more powerful and approachable.

On that radio program, Schlessinger developed a reputation for being confrontational.  It comes through in this book, too.  I don’t think this comes from meanness.  She’s out to expose the thinking that underlays complaining and present an alternative.  Even in the nicest exchange, that is a little confrontational.

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