I’m reading Think and Make It Happen, by Augustus Cury. Cury’s premise is that we mostly live in our minds, and that our quality of life depends on whether we are in the audience, watching ourselves have thoughts which may be unpleasant or destructive, or become the authors of our own stories. I suppose the stories are being played out on the stage of our minds regardless of whether we are the helpless actors running through lines determined by our histories, or boldly declaiming things we decided to write.
This is a well organized book. There are twelve principles, and each one gets a chapter, from “Be the Author of Your Own Story” to “Turn Life into a Celebration.” Each chapter begins with a list of the characteristics associated with the principle. For example, “Direct Your Thoughts” includes “decides to become the lead actor…is free to think but not a slave to thoughts…governs thoughts… has a relaxed, tranquil mind” and so on. There is a discussion of the problems created by failing to live out the principles, and instruction in a technique or strategy (in this chapter, the key strategy for the book, which is “DCD”: Doubt, Criticize, Determine). Next comes a passage showing how Jesus embodied the principles, a case study of someone who used the techniques to overcome the problems, questions for discussion, and exercises. For example, in the chapter on directing your thoughts, there is the exercise, “Practice not clinging to problems that haven’t happened yet.” The book concludes with a discussion of ways to use the book in therapeutic groups or classrooms.
Cury has a lot of useful suggestions. I’m generally a happy and indeed disgustingly mentally healthy person, but I recognized some incorrect thinking in myself from Cury’s descriptions. For example, I’ve been sort of clinging to the possibility that I met end up starving in a gutter ever since I lost my job last April, but it hasn’t happened yet by any means. I’m also subject to a bit of a phobia, so I read his suggestions about that with interest. He recommends an internal “roundtable discussion” involving things like, “What is the logic behind this? I demand to be free.”
I have shared with you the kind of internal discussion I have when dealing with my own phobia, and I have to say that mine never get as far as “I demand to be free.”
Cury’s principles and characteristics embrace joyful attitudes toward life as well as what we might think of as remedial or therapeutic ones. His exercises include greeting people in ways that show how important they are, surprising people, paying attention to the beauty in small things, spending less than you earn, loving your school or work.
So there’s a lot of good in this book. And yet, I can’t claim to be enjoying it or finding it life-changing. I think it’s the language. “Here’s a tip that will greatly improve your ability to dialogue: never critique people until you’ve affirmed them.” I don’t disagree with that advice. But reading a sentence filled with words like “dialogue” used as a verb, “critique” and “affirm” — and such a stilted sentence, too — well, I find myself turned away from the wisdom of this book by the difficulty of slogging through it. The case studies never become interesting enough to read like stories instead of case studies, the advice feels like Polonius, and overall it’s just a boring book.
Perhaps it belongs in a classroom.
In spite of that, I can see this being a very useful book. If you’re comfortable with therapist jargon, it might be completely enjoyable. And if you can struggle through it, it has some good lessons.