Friday, September 24, 2010

Four Word Self Help

"Is life really all that complicated? Do we need seminars, self-help books, more therapy? What if we could solve all our problems with just four simple words?" In her new book Four Word Self Help, author Patti Digh ( explores the possibilities raised by this question. She points out that we often confuse the complicated (sending astronauts to the moon, doing our income tax returns) with the complex (raising a child, finding meaning in our lives) and, as a result, seek complicated solutions for things that are actually complex. As she explains, "No amount of of math or newfangled formulas will help you raise a child. Simple wisdom might." Based on this premise, she addresses twelve areas - community, love, stress, travel, soul, wellness, success, green, activism, children, generosity and endings - and summarizes them with 101 concise pieces of advice, each exactly four words long. They are expressed positively - no "don'ts" here - and as actions you can take to make your life richer, simpler, more full.

Here are some of my favorites:
Give up toxic people.
Say what you can't.
Do less, be more.
Live like you're dying.

The words are simple but they speak volumes. The entire book can be read in one short sitting, although there is rich food for thought, and one could spend hours studying the beautiful original artwork sprinkled throughout, all contributed by readers of Patti's blog. I know, because the night I received my copy, I was up for hours, taking notes and accepting Patti's challenge to write my own four word phrases. Two weeks later, I did the same thing, and found that different areas struck me, inspiring me to write different bits of advice to myself. Both times, I took away from the experience exactly what I needed.

Here are a few thoughts I came up with:
Take time to play.
Open up to wonder.
Be kind to yourself.
Tell yourself the truth.

It's one of those books that meets you where you are, lifts you up, and makes you believe that it is truly possible to create a better life. I can't recommend it highly enough.


julee johnson-tate said...

Love it--thanks! I'll keep an eye out for it. What a great reminder. Sometimes we need to have someone smack us up side of the head with simplicity.

Tami Brothers said...

Sounds good! Thanks for the recommendation. I'll look for it.

Love your 4 word phrases. I'm thinking of a few of my own.


Pam said...

Thanks for reading, Julee and Tami! It is a wonderful little book; it would make a good Christmas gift for someone special, too!