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Secrets of People With Extraordinary Willpower: a novel Kindle Edition
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There were several things I wrote down while reading that really resonated with me. One example is:
"What matters, and what shapes your destiny, is what you pay attention to. You go where you're looking. You get proof of what you think."
I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy fiction, the pace and storytelling, and also want to get nuggets of wisdom to use in their own life, after reading how someone else implemented them in their fictional one.
But the author's bio had something in it that made me choose to read this book: "I climbed out of the hole of bad habits I’d dug for myself. I lost weight in the most mindless, healthy, and enjoyable way. I’d discovered a formula for beating cravings and elevating mood. "
"Then a novel came to me—the ideas, the characters, the plot, in great, clear rushes of insight and inspiration."
I felt that if this story was at all entertaining, if the author was able to weave her newfound self-help insights cleverly into the story, that there could be true value for the reader. Turns out the self-help was skillfully sprinkled throughout the story, coming from several different characters. But at the same time this quirky, over-the-top set of characters was entertaining.
Again, this is NOT my genre. But having gone through a transformative time in my own life in the past 12-15 months, I wanted to see how the author put this onto her pages. The answer - job well done.
This may not be the best to start with, but it speaks to me:
“Nutella.” (For me, it’s peanut butter.) “I would stand in the pantry with a spoon and eat it straight out of the jar. I'd keep telling myself, 'One spoonful. Okay, just one more. All right, one more. Last one!' But I would keep eating it.”
The science is what got me hooked on “Secrets of People With Extaordinary Willpower.” Katie Morton has researched the neuroscience and psychology of habit formation and willpower. She uses the form of a novel (“If you market it as a romance, they will come,” to paraphrase Field of Dreams) to draw readers of the best-selling of all genres, women’s fiction. It’s a risk. As a How to Succeed manual, it’s great! As a novel, it delivers some believable, but sad, insights on women and the bad relationships so many endure.
Normally I avoid fictional heroines who are overweight, stressed out, self-conscious, and prone to relationships as unhealthy as their diet and mental outlook. This one, however, has the bribe of taking readers along on a Life Coaching course, and her transformation is not just inspirational, it’s a fun, escapist read, as well. We wince and cringe as Kelly falls for the handsome life coach, Earnest, who talks the talk, but what a slimeball, what a predator! Kelly’s revenge, however, is perfect. For her, and for women who are victimized by those who pretend to be listening, helping, and sympathizing. This applies not just to the womanizing life coach, but to some of the women “friends” as well.
No belief in angels is necessary for this to resonate:
“The angels never rest. They are busy placing clues and omens at your feet every moment, a path of breadcrumbs for you to follow in order to reach the highest incarnation of your being.”
We see what we want to see, or what we’ve been conditioned to see, or what our beliefs allow us to see. But wait! That’s not the kind of novel this is. Jane Austen, it isn’t, but it *is* way better than Self Help manuals or paying to hear Life Coaches exhort us to give us to give up sugar, alcohol and caffeine; exercise more; stop making excuses, and start making better decisions.
Just when the pragmatic thinking in the novel started reminding me of Paul Coelho, the characters themselves confirmed it:
“Kelly. Becoming the Witness of our own minds gives us insight into God consciousness. When you can step outside of your mind's chatter, you can see your thoughts how God sees them, and you can hear the wisdom he has for you. We can see into the Soul of the World, as Paulo Coelho so eloquently calls it in The Alchemist. We can read the omens."
Lines like this are guaranteed to grab me:
“When something traumatic happens to us, whether it's an accident, physical violence, or mental or emotional abuse, our lizard brains replay these stories in our minds. We stay fearful for years after the threat of danger has passed.”
So true. When humans evolved, the cerebral cortex did not replace the reptilian brain, which is primitive and driven by instinct, and often violent, and self-serving. Instead, the mammalian brain got layered over top of the lizard’s. I think of it as a nice house built on the foundation of a cold, dark, outdated basement. Then again, I do more rationalizing than Kelly, the heroine of this novel.
This is intriguing:
"When you succeed in changing one habit, you strengthen the processing capacity of your prefrontal cortex--the part of your brain associated with restraint and higher thought processes."
I’ll put that to the test. (After I stop buying peanut butter.) Another perk of reading this novel: You don’t have to do the journals reporting what you ate or how you felt each day.
Best of all, you don’t have to fork over thousands of dollars for the coaching.
Other reviewers have found fault with the characters, the fictional story “interrupting” the inspirational quotes, but I found this to be a story I can recommend with a clean conscience.