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Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live Paperback – January 29, 2002
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Put the telescope away; the North Star mentioned here is a human body, not a heavenly one. And like Polaris, which has guided sailors for centuries, the human body's gut feelings and emotions can help guide a wayward soul back to his or her "essential self." In this absorbing combination of detailed self-awareness exercises and true stories from her own counseling experience (equal parts sobering and hysterically entertaining), Harvard-trained sociologist Martha Beck invites readers to explore their heart's desires and the vast social webs that keep such desires in check. The goal is not to forsake the "social self" and indulge every emotional impulse of the "essential self." Rather, Beck gives readers the tools and the encouragement to achieve maximum happiness by harmonizing these typically divergent voices.
Beck (author of Expecting Adam) admits that repairing a damaged emotional compass and setting out on such a vital journey--which often involves painful realizations and changes--"has all the combined attractions of suicide and childbirth." But the payoff, she concludes, is a love affair with real life. To that end, she walks readers through a lengthy exercise to evaluate their current lifestyle's pleasures and pains, teaches the process of listening to the body for directional cues, describes how to extract "soul shrapnel" (healing all those nasty, self-defeating emotional wounds), and provides an intriguing "Map of Change" to achieve an authentic life. Beck's impressive knowledge, her engaging (if somewhat irreverent) voice, and her ability to parse this scary process into achievable steps make her a new champion in the self-help arena. --Liane Thomas --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
From Publishers Weekly
A fixed point in the sky that helps mariners stay on course, the North Star emerges as a symbol for realizing one's true potential in this cheerful and perceptive but too-long book. Though her navigational metaphors lose force with repetition, Beck's voice is light, down-to-earth and refreshing. Having found her way on her own journey from academia (she was a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School) to becoming an author (of Expecting Adam, a warmly received memoir about the birth of her Down's syndrome baby), Beck currently consults with clients on redirecting their lives. She teaches that each individual has a core personality that encompasses one's desires, emotions and preferences, which is sometimes blocked by a social self that responds to external influences and cultivates survival skills. By far the most fascinating material is on how to read warnings from the essential self: low energy, lapses into illness, forgetfulness, addictions, Freudian slips and mood swings. She advises steering toward the correct path by eliminating negative influences and practicing elaborate self-esteem exercises. A section on navigating change weighs the book down while suggestions for dealing with serious emotions like grief and anger are somewhat breezy. In the end, however, the numerous self-quizzes, exercises and chances to laugh will allow many readers to overlook these weaknesses. (Mar.)Forecast: Given the success of Expecting Adam and Beck's freelance contributions to Mademoiselle, Real Simple and Redbook, the author is likely to shine in a constellation of media venues and has a solid shot at capturing the imaginations of self-help seekers.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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I've read a lot of self-help/personal growth books over the years. Many have been helpful. Many...tried, but not so much. THIS BOOK, however, blows them all away and leaves them in the dust.
I'm literally, verbally recommending this to all my friends. And when they drag their feet to buy it, I remind and enthusiastically encourage them again. I owned this book in paperback several years ago. I loaned that to a friend. I bought it again, for my Kindle, and am re-reading it from the start. I've grown and changed a lot over the years since I last went through it. And it's tremendously helpful all over again, in new and powerful ways.
Five stars isn't enough. I wish I could give more.
Why does this book excel so much? The author speaks candidly and from the heart. Even throws in a little humor now and then. But above all, she speaks with unconditional love, compassion, support, belief, and encouragement.
The book is also loaded with "exercises" and self-reflection questions. You can write directly in the book (blank spaces are provided). So it does more than give you general stuff to think about and remember (like most self-help books); it actually walks you through the process, helping you find YOUR OWN ANSWERS for SPECIFIC AREAS of your life, by the end of each chapter.
I'm not even a third into the book yet (the second time around), and already my life is transforming in positive ways.
Get this book. Even if you're not sure if it's for you. Even if your life is pretty good overall. Get it. It's worth it. You will still get SOMETHING valuable out of it, each time you read it.
At least, I have.
I think this is an essential part of realizing your potential and living a peaceful life. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a life's journey full of passion, enthusiasm and, ultimately, triumph. Martha Beck's lessons will inspire you to reach for the stars. Good luck.