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Kudos to Pearsall (The Pleasure Prescription) for arguing against the "platitudes of self-empowerment" that dominate the self-help bookshelves. Their relentlessly upbeat tone and unrealistic idea of happiness will only make you feel worse, he says. Using research studies to bolster his points, Pearsall takes on the "McMorals, tenets about life that go down easily but aren't good for our long-term well being," as well as popular practitioners, such as Dr. Phil. Pearsall, an adjunct clinical professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, wants readers to stop being so self-centered. It's more important, he says, to love others before oneself, and appropriate guilt and anxiety are essential to learning to live a better life. "Stop expressing yourself," he says. "Shut up and listen." And don't avoid blaming: "Finding the right person to blame is essential for mental health." He explains cogently why such statements make more sense than the usual self-help shibboleths. Sometimes, particularly in chapters that tackle diet and aging, Pearsall sounds preachy and falls into the self-help trap of making generalizations without backup. But this contrarian volume gives readers plenty to consider and offers a hopeful and helpful approach to being mindful and fully engaged in each moment—good or bad. (May)
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