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Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now Paperback – March 4, 2008


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Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now + And Never Stop Dancing: Thirty More True Things You Need to Know Now + How to Love: Choosing Well at Every Stage of Life
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Da Capo Press Paperback Edition edition (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569243735
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569243732
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The gentle, even-keeled warmth of Livingston's prose distinguishes this slim book of 30 inspirational "truths." A psychiatrist familiar with trauma from both his practice and his life (in one 13-month period, he lost one son to leukemia and another to suicide), Livingston offers the kind of wisdom that feels simultaneously commonsensical and revelatory: "We are what we do," "The perfect is the enemy of the good," "The major advantage of illness is relief from responsibility." He intersperses counsel with personal experience, and tackles topics both joyful and deeply painful. In the chapter focusing on "We are what we do," he notes that the "three components of happiness are something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to," and he reminds us that "love is demonstrated behaviorally"-that is, actions count more than words. In his discussion of "Happiness is the greatest risk," he considers how our fear of losing happiness is often a roadblock to our experiencing it. For those contemplating suicide, he writes that "it is reasonable to confront them with the selfishness and anger implied in any act of self-destruction." Livingston's words feel true, and his wisdom hard-earned. Among the many blithe and hollow self-help books available everywhere, this book stands out as a jewel.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Baltimore Sun 4/13/08
“The slim book by Columbia-based psychiatrist Gordon Livingston has been a source of inspiration for many.”

“The author creates an aura of wisdom about a great many things.”

Quincy Jones, Details Online
“I'm just a musician and a record producer. I'm not a psychiatrist. I don't understand all that stuff. We all got problems. But there's a great book out called Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart. Did you see that? That book says the statute of limitations has expired on all childhood traumas. Get your stuff together and get on with your life, man.”

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 1/20/2010
“Delightful.”

Palm Beach Post, 11/28/10
“A book I not only like but respect.”

Palm Beach Post, 12/9/10
“[An] excellent self-help book.”


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Customer Reviews

This book reinforces things we know, but in a clear way to make us 'see it'.
donna
It's a very cool and accessible book about "30 True Things You Need To Know Now", written in short, several page essays.
theadman95
I really enjoyed the book, one of the best that I have read in a very long while - The author is very honest...
Kiwigirl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

203 of 222 people found the following review helpful By T. H. Snell on December 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The minute anyone realizes good intentions just don't cut it, that it's only actions that make me "me," life is immediately more fulfilling, more challenging, more fun. The difference between a person who becomes who they want to become, and a person who doesn't, can be found in their willingness to take real steps every day. Want to be someone who speaks another language? Get a book and teach yourself. Want to be the kind of person who is appreciated and valued at work? Review your work ethic and your interactions and make positive changes. Want to be healthier? Actually exercise every day instead of just planning to do so. The world can tell who you are by how you act, and if you don't like what it's seeing you're the only one who can fix it. In addition, realizing that the people around you aren't who they say they are, but who they act like they are, is a lesson I wish I'd been exposed to and had been able to comprehend in highschool.
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213 of 236 people found the following review helpful By Eugene A Jewett on September 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Gordon Livingston, a psychiatrist by way of West Point and Johns Hopkins, presents us with interesting combinations of truth telling. He gets immediate "street cred" due to his Bronze Star for valor in Viet Nam, and this after averring that he went to war to "find out if I was brave." Additionally, he plumbed the depths of his emotions after losing two sons, thirteen months apart, one to lukemia (at 6) and the other to suicide via his son's manic-depression.

Livingston's advice as promulgated in the subtitle, "30 true things you need to know now", is delivered with the softly directed assurance of a loving parent, one who has counseled and re-parented hundreds of adults. IMO, he's too the point and for the most part accurate. I'll spell out my disagreements in a moment, but In the meantime I'll describe each chapter in a layman's terms,... mine.

Chap 1 says that "if the map doesn't agree with the terrain, the map is wrong" - We all strive to keep our worldview's consistent even when they're contradicted by an inconvenient reality (which begs the value of education?) If people blinker themselves when they should be listening, they've closed their minds to critical analysis and aren't looking at all the facets of the problem in order to arrive at the best solution (witness what passes for today's political discourse?)

Chap 2 - "We are what we do" - Here he distills patterns of behavior which IMO are the best way to predict someone's future behavior, man or woman. He discusses self deception (the result of the "blinkering process") and the fear of risking feelings in personal relationships (one could call this a fear of intimacy, no?
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79 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Harriet L. Hamlin on December 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am not, in general, a fan of advice books, but Dr. Livingston is the "real deal." Having survived the suicide of his own son, he has great credibility in advising the rest of us about how to deal with disappointments and tragedy. But he also provides sage words about how to get on with living joyfully. If you've gone through some rough times--and who hasn't?--read this book for inspiration.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Paul Romejko on May 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I found this book in a bookstore at just the right time. I am up to only the ninth "thing" and I have already gotten so much out of it.

I've read the sixth chapter (Feelings Follow Behavior) about four times so far. I had been grappling with understanding what distinguishes "diseases" in mental health from what the author calls "certain patterns of behavior." The author's thoughts in chapter six greatly enhanced my understanding of that.

In beginning to deal with some of my childhood trauma, I am questioning what value there is in digging up all that stuff, how much to identify with it and what to do with it after it's dug up. The chapter, "The statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas" helped me understand more than anything else that acceptance is a prerequisite and powerful motivator for change and for dealing with "what's next."

Another chapter had some good thoughts on the limits of control and perfectionism. One sentence from that chapter would make a great bumper sticker: "Control is a popular illusion closely related to the pursuit of perfection" (a lesson the author no doubt learned from his losses in life). I don't think that I'm a perfectionist but I sure do like to control things. Hmmm.

This book is helping me stick with some positive changes I'm making in my life despite more than a little pain and uncomfortableness. That is one reason I consider this book and others like it to be more spiritual than self help or psychology. Considering the price of a therapy session it is a great investment.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By theadman95 on March 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For about 20 years now, I've had a cast iron trivet hanging on my wall that shows a Dutch couple winking at each other with the fake mangled English wording "We get too soon oldt undt too late schmart." I've always loved the sentiment that it expresses, the mangling of the English language, and the Dutch couple winking at each other.

So when I stumbled across a book recently entitled "Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart", by Dr Gordon Livingston (a psychiatrist), I had to check it out.

It's a very cool and accessible book about "30 True Things You Need To Know Now", written in short, several page essays. Read one or ten, skip around, read the whole book in a couple of hours. It's good information. Since he is a psychiatrist, a lot of it has to do with mental health, relationships, self-actualization, etc... but it it is very readable, and very good information.

Much of it has to do with the "I wish I knew then what I know now" sorts of things that we encounter in our lives. It's all based on him "working in the front line trenches" with those whose life problems have led them to seek therapy. Perhaps there are those who already know all of these things and don't need any additional information, but I'm not one of them!

All of the essays, I feel, will lead one in a direction towards more mature, fulfilled, and "wise" lives. The pursuit of wisdom is something, in my opinion, which is sorely neglected in our hyper, "I want it all and I want it right now" culture. It's fun to pursue a little insight and wisdom, and certainly makes me at least realize my own limitations in that search!

In fact, know up front that for EVERYONE who reads this book, there are probably one or more things that are going to make them uncomfortable.
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