Saturday, June 19, 2010

Book 34: Lose Weight, Find Love, De-Clutter and Save Money: Essays on Happiness

In U2's Mofo, Bono sings about "...looking for to fill that God-shaped hole..." That phrase kept running through my head when I read back through the list of selections I've blogged this year. I noticed I have a few books around turning away from traditional religion, and books on personal growth and finding happiness.  I think these things are all related. When you've learned that what you're looking to fill isn't a God-shaped hole after all, you have to face that fact that you just aren't happy.  You can decide to accept that and go on, living a grey and bland life, or you can ask and answer the hard questions and figure out how to be happy.

The last few years brought me to that point. I had read a couple of good books about taking the next steps ( and and I decided it was time to take action.  I began working with a wonderful Life Coach, Carrie Tallman ( and I learned so much from her that within three weeks of us working together, I began to see changes in my life.

At the end of our coaching, Carrie recommended I check out Michele Woodward's website ( for a couple of reasons. First, Michele previously worked in politics, something in which I am avidly interested. Second, Carrie thought I would like Michele's website and newsletter styles.  Carrie was right.

After reading several of Michele's newsletters, I decided to check out her book of essays, Lose Weight, Find Love, De-Clutter and Save Money. This book is not a quick fix solution to anything. Instead, this compilation of essays offers insightful ways into taking charge of our thoughts and actions, to affect the change that we want. While it is easy to be cynical about how thoughts can affect change, it is really so simple that it is profound.  In an essay on "Clarity of Purpose" Woodward documents a decision tree of an typical client: 'If I acknowledge what I feel, people will be mad --> they will leave me -->I will be all by myself -->I will die alone --> I am not good enough for anyone to love --> I do not matter (p98)'.  When you feel like this,  and this is how I felt when I started working with Carrie, coaching can  and does help, but equally as important, understanding and focusing on what is really important can help you be happier. 

In other essays, Woodward offers thoughts on the art of being lazy, on being able to disconnect, on how we disengage and multiply our own stress by continually feeling compelled to multitask.  She talks about how to say no when you really want to say no- really, following the things that make you feel you are your most authentic and genuine person.  Not surprisingly, some of the Zen Buddhist things I liked learning in my previous post are recounted here as well.

Woodward's style is conversational, not condescending.  I could picture us sitting across a table from each other just chatting about these topics over a cup of tea or a glass of wine.  She doesn't come across as intimidatingly enlightened-instead, as someone who you can look to and say, she's got a way to figuring things out that just might benefit me.  

For anyone who is contemplating how to find more balance, learning to be your true self, learning to be happier, I'd recommend both Michele's site and this book.


  1. I am so glad you liked the book, Ashley! What a nice review - remind me to send you my new book - I Am Not Superwoman - when it comes out next month. :-)

    I'm bookmarking your site, too, since I'm a reader and plan to follow your guidance on What To Read.

    Many, many thanks,

  2. Michele,

    Thank you for reading and commenting. I really did enjoy the book. Nearly everything I read, I was thinking, "she's talking directly to me!"

    I'd love copy of the new book, because the title certainly sounds true!