Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Vicar's Study - The Art of Being Brilliant

When I bought this book from a charity shop the woman behind the till looked at me as if I was buying The Art of War or something equally sinister. Granted thinking about 'Being Brilliant' is a highly un-British thing to do. Being 'alright, thanks' is far more socially acceptable. Striving for 'brilliant' just seems, well, a bit much really doesn't it?

But that is the great thing about this little book. It is written by two British Andy's who cut through the sometimes slightly nauseating world of books that consider our approach to life to produce a book on Positive Psychology that is neither academic nor puke making. If you haven't encountered it before Positive Psychology is, in layman's terms, the ever growing branch of psychology that looks at what makes people happy, resilient and well rather than simply studying what happens when things go wrong.

What the Andy's suggest is that so much of our interior world is of our own creating. We are sort of set up that way. Our brains are made to analyse and make sense of the world around us and we do his all day long. We don't simply take in everything around us as it is, we screen, we filter, we judge everything around us and take in a fraction of what we sense and experience. We really do create our own world in so many ways.

A few years back when I read a book about our consumer culture in the West I started to get more suspicious of the news seeing that it was more about ratings and copies sold than about genuine communication of what is going on. The more I read about positive psychology, the more suspicious I get. Because the news acts as a good example of how our lens on the world completely affects what we believe about it. If we fill our minds with a litany of disaster, destruction and violence then that is how we will see the world.

These things exist, to be sure, and being aware and responsive to the needs of the world is so important, but does having a constant stream of disaster playing in our living rooms do much for us or does it simply skew our view of the world to the point where we barely notice the peace and joy that is to be had in our every day lives and the real goodness in the people we meet?

A truly brilliant contents page!
These is just one of the things that the Andy's challenge in their book as they ask the reader to look again at their lens on life, to reassess and to aim higher in terms of your own happiness and well being. They challenge many of the ideas that we simply accept in life, about how life is and how we ought to experience it and I find that exciting.

In a nutshell (does that make anyone else thing of Austin Powers or is it just me?!) it is about getting to grips with the fact that we have one life, one chance to ask the questions we have and explore the world with gusto. I'm half way through and already finding it to be an uplifting and funny read. So if you can bear the scorn of the shopkeeper then grab yourself a copy, it is well worth it!

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