Regular readers received a heads up that I would be reviewing 10 Steps; they probably knew the review would be favorable. After all, I did include all those quotes in my Monday prequel blog post.
So let’s cut to the chase. There is nothing about Galen Pearl’s gem (intentional pun) of a book that I dislike.
My preference for inspirational books is less emphasis on expertism and more on “been there, done that.”
That’s why Galen had me with her introduction. She writes, “I am no prophet or guru. I am no expert. I am a beginner. Always.”
With those simple words, I knew that whatever came next–all 10 steps plus one (The 11th Step: You Can Go Home Again)–would be gut-level honest and real-life understandable to me.
I love that kind of humility in a writer, in fact, in a person.
Like most people, I struggle with my spiritual lessons. As it turns out, so does Galen. But she is courageous enough to share her experience about the specific thing or things that moves her beyond the life problem and into a concrete solution.
She pours herself onto the page with great sensitivity and candor. “Later, when I became a mother, I felt responsible for my son’s autism. My failure to find a cure for him was a personal failure that caused more soul anguish than I have words to describe,” Galen writes. “In the part of my mind that does not listen to reason, not only was his autism my fault but so was my inability to cure him.”
She calls these kinds of thoughts “shadow beliefs” and says that they are rooted in us as fear, anxiety, an overdeveloped sense of responsibility (that’s me!) and ultimately, that it’s not okay to be happy.
Galen writes that her life-changing moment came when she realized shadow beliefs are little more than choices–decades old, but choices nonetheless–that can be countered with new beliefs.
I love these two sentences, “We choose the stories we tell ourselves. Even better, we can choose not to tell ourselves any stories at all and just pay attention to what is really happening.”
10 Steps is not a “how-to” book.
I’m a little slow sometimes. I’ve been reading Galen’s blog of the same name (http://10stepstofindingyourhappyplace.blogspot.com/) without giving much thought to the whole 10 steps thing.
When I learned the book would have the same title, I thought, well, that’s cool. I’ll learn the 10 ways to find my happy place.
I suppose Galen’s 10 steps will each take me to happiness, but I believe I stand a much better chance for ongoing happiness if I practice them wholly as a way of life. I think that’s what she has in mind.
I first realized the difference as I read Step 4: Feel Your Feelings.
When I turned the page, my first thought was, “Dear God, please not the feelings thing.” Then my eyes fell across these words, “This morning, I realized that all week I have been fighting my feelings instead of feeling my feelings. I relaxed my resistance and surrendered to my feelings, whispering, ‘This, too. This, too.’”
Immediately, Galen’s beautiful description spoke to the weeping in my soul. I knew then that the parenthetical part of the book’s title would mean the reversal of several long-standing operating guidelines. I also knew that all my poker chips were going to the middle of the table; I was all in this happiness game.
Hard to have a favorite step/chapter
Forced to pick, I’d probably choose the hardest one (at least to my over-achieving mind): Step 8: Forgive Everyone. Galen’s stories in this step took my breath away. She has a magical way of taking complex life concepts and weaving their components into an easy-to-wear garment.
Read it. You’ll see what I mean.
Galen and I have several things in common: we write and blog, we practice spiritual principles, we love our dogs unapologetically and our people both come from Missouri.
After reading her book, I now know that we’re also members of a sisterhood of imperfect seekers. As she writes, “If the present moment is my home, then I spend a lot of time on road trips.”
How’s that for permission to stumble along life’s byways? Join us, won’t you? Galen and I would love to traverse the trail with you.
Leave a comment below or send me an email about why you want to find your way to happiness and stay there. The best response will receive a free hard copy of Galen’s book.
If you’d like to order a copy, go to your local independent bookseller, or online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It’s also available as an ebook from Kindle and Nook.
Here’s the best part: All
proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to Edwards Center, a nonprofit organization providing residential and vocational services to adults with developmental disabilities. Galen’s two sons live at Edwards Center. www.edwardscenter.org
Galen Pearl’s stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul
and A Cup of Comfort
anthologies, and her popular blog, 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There),
attracts thousands of readers every month. Recently retired from teaching law, she regularly leads retreats and workshops on developing habits to grow a joyful spirit. A Southern girl transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys her five kids and two grandchildren, martial arts, her cabin in the mountains, and mahjong. http://10stepstofindingyourhappyplace.blogspot.com/