The one given in life is that things will change. Constantly. You won't always be in control of these changes, but you can control how you respond to them. This book provides some insight on how to respond positively to change, turning potential stressors into opportunities for growth and greater success. I consider this book a must-read.
Changing Your Attitude About Change
The First 30 Days, by Ariane de Bonvoisin, is an excellent read for anyone undergoing change in their life. The main theme of this book is that change need not be stressful, that crisis need not be overwhelming. Bonvoisin carries a comforting message, a reminder throughout the book, that each loss brings some gain, that every change brings an opportunity. While this may already be old news, the book does an excellent job of driving this point home by using numerous interesting and relatable examples of different people facing a variety of changes -- some challenging, some crushing -- and surviving them, coming through the experience as stronger people in the end. These stories, which are interspersed throughout, are personable and engaging, and provide a more experiential read. Follow-up questions and exercises at the end of each chapter create an almost interactive experience for the reader to take things deeper and truly use the book as a tool for change.
Words of Wisdom
With a steady stream of quotes from sources ranging from Albert Einstein to The Bible, the book includes both age-old and new-age wisdom on the process of change and what it means to us as people. (If you only have a few minutes, it can be inspirational to just flip through the book, find some quotes that really speak to you, and meditate on how they apply to your current situation.)
Here are some of my favorite:
- "It's okay to have doubts, just don't feed and entertain them." --Bernie Siegel
- "You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it." --Albert Einstein
- "What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." --Henry David Thoreau
- "Hidden in any misfortune is good fortune." --Tao Te Ching
- "Your goal is not to rid yourself of fear, but to recognize its presence and to view it as a less powerful force than the wisdom and faith that reside inside of you. We fear because we have forgotten how strong we are." --Ariane de Bonvoisin
Some Notable Topics
Most importantly, the book covers some meaty topics, with themes that show real strength and wisdom that can be both comforting and inspirational to readers facing challenging changes. Here are a few I especially liked:
- There's a list of 'change demons' -- those feelings that make change more difficult, like fear and doubt -- and antidotes for them. For example, in dealing with fear, the readers is encouraged to be aware of fears, but also to be realistic; to feel the fear and do what needs to be done anyway; envision yourself years in the future and dwell on the positive future you will create from this experience. Similar suggestions are offered for dealing with doubt, shame, blame, guilt and impatience. The book also includes specific actions to take in order to deal with these stumbling blocks. While a few of the suggestions could be meatier (whole books have been filled on how to forgive or let go of shame, for example), Bonvoisin does an excellent job of providing you with a better understanding of how to navigate difficult change, what to work on, and how to start.
- The book includes a whole section on how to take a spiritual approach to accepting change and turning it to your advantage. Such sections are often neglected in books like this, and are indeed challenging to create. While readers may come from extremely diverse backgrounds and perspectives, the section manages to maintain a universal user-friendliness, and offers excellent perspectives that should be helpful to virtually all readers who are interested. The main idea -- to remember that you are connected to something larger than yourself, that the changes you face are part of an overall scheme that can always be used to your benefit -- is strong and comforting, regardless of whatever changes and challenges you face.
- Have you heard the popular Serenity Prayer, 'God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference'? A large portion of the book is devoted to building and deepening the truth of these words, which can be useful for those facing significant stress from change.