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Simple to Read, But Difficult to Shift Through
on February 23, 2011
A few years ago one of the most tossed around phrases in psychological, religious, and educational circles was "paradigm shift". There were hundreds of books and articles about paradigm shifts. Our culture was going through a paradigm shift. If you really wanted to understand the world or if you wanted to understand what God was doing in the world or if you wanted people to like you better than they did, your paradigm needed to shift. The phrase remains, but like most buzzwords, it doesn't mean much anymore. Takumi Yamazaki's SHIFT is kind of like that buzzword: it sounds impressive and there is a grain of truth in the emphasis, but it isn't very grounded and won't stand the test of time.
SHIFT: 13 EXERCISES TO MAKE YOU WHO YOU WANT TO BE is a self improvement book. It provides 13 exercises a person can do to help a person's image of themselves "shift" so that they will have a better self image and accomplish whatever it is they want. Yamazaki talks about perception and how a person sees the world. He discusses the conscious, subconscious, and the unconscious. He also talks about homeostasis, or the status quo, and scotoma, or blind spots, and how a person can break homeostasis and overcome scotoma or use scotoma to improve one's self. These chapters are followed by a chapter on perseverance that includes 17 techniques. The book concludes with an epilogue that includes a few recollections from the author's own life.
I usually don't read many self-improvement books like SHIFT. They are usually filled with a bunch of psycho babble that sounds nice, but really doesn't have much substance. I tried to put my prejudice aside when I started reading SHIFT. I wanted to give the book a fair chance. The first part of the book was fine. Other than the constant comparisons between the ideas discussed and love, I had no issues with the book. It wasn't until the chapter about Scotoma that the flaws started to show. The second page of this section starts talking about avatars. According to the book, when people talk and communicate they rarely actually communicate with each other. Instead, they communicate with the avatars they have of each other. Not only that, but you rarely communicate as yourself, but usually have the avatar of how you see yourself communicate for you. In addition to this avatar business, there's an illustration to a game of children playing sharks in a sandbox, some more bashing on love, and a comparison of how we tend to think of our lives like tv shows. I sort of understand what the author is trying to get at with each of these concepts. However, there is no cohesion to them.
The author, Takumi Yamazaki, is from Japan and SHIFT: 13 EXERCISES TO MAKE YOU WHO YOU WANT TO BE is the English translation of the book he originally wrote and published in Japan. I can't speak or read Japanese, but I'd like to think that much of the cohesion of the author's intention has been lost in translation because if the translation is an accurate one, SHIFT is some crazy psychobabble to shift through.