“The Five Things We Cannot Change…and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them” written by David Richo outlines the givens in life and how to live more with an “unconditional yes.” His 5 givens are:
Everything Changes and Ends
Things Do Not Always Go According to Plan
Life is Not Always Fair
Pain is a Part of Life
People are not Loving and Loyal All of the Time
Reread that list. Wow. Seems like a glass of cold water was thrown in your face huh? We all know these things and have experienced them but for someone reason they are hard to accept. We want the good experiences to last forever, we like to plan and know what is going to happen next, we want fairness, pain hurts, and we expect people to treat us well. When these things happen, we suffer. We will suffer less when we accept that these conditions are a part of life and happen to everyone. No adult or any person of significant age is immune.Richo spends a chapter on each unpacking them. He then moves into the refuges and gifts from the givens.
“Positive resourceful refuges are relationships, friendships, art, nature, music, creativity, career, entertainment, meditation, and the variety of non-hurtful ways we have of fulfilling our own deepest needs and wishes.”
The last section of the book focuses on the “unconditional yes;” how to become yes, yes to feelings, and a yes to who I am. He does use spiritual references with a heavy emphasis on nature and Buddhism.Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and appreciated the simplicity of the givens of life he outlined as well as how to accept them with the least amount of suffering.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is one of those books that everyone needs to read in their lifetime. Frankl was imprisoned in 4 different concentration camps during the Holocaust. He survived and not only continued his work on helping people find meaning in their lives but exploded in this area, eventually creating Logotherapy. He chooses in the book to not recount his time in the camps in graphic detail but rather showcases what helped him survive and find the will to continue living. The second part of the book goes into more detail of his logotherapy which is comprised of 3 parts; “creating a work or deed, experiencing something or encountering someone; in other words, meaning can be found not only in work but also in love, and lastly even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation, facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow beyond himself, and by so doing, change himself.” Frankl writes that suffering is unavoidable in life and that there is meaning in it.
I found this book very interesting and a good reminder that if Frankl can find meaning in his time in a concentration camp, anybody can find the meaning in what they are going through. Frankl is also an example of post-traumatic growth which is a term that was coined long after his passing. Post-traumatic growth is seen in individuals who have been through a traumatic stress and come out on the other side even better than they were before. It’s as if the trauma created something wonderful and beautiful. Frankl, a psychiatrist, had begun his work on existentialism before the Holocaust but exploded with it afterwards and could use his own story with others.
I’ve heard from non-therapist readers that Part II is a bit heavy and uninteresting to those not in the field.
Read this book if:
You are a human being
Going through or have gone through a difficult time