How to be Sane written by Philippa Perry is a short, and surprisingly a good book to read. This book is a part of The School of Life series which takes a different approach to introduce self-help genre, in an intelligent way. For more information on The School of Life, please refer to my previous post.
Philippa Perry is psychotherapist and in this book she offers some pragmatic insight on observing one’s attitude, reactions or thought process. She argues that there are four cornerstones to being sane, to being conscious. Self-observation is one, other being your relationship with others (Man is a social being ~ Seneca), the Good Stress & our own perspective.
She starts with a short introduction to how a human being’s mind work, and then takes a reader to a number of pragmatic approaches through exercises that are designed to strength our capacity to recover from adversities. She clearly warns each reader that some of these approaches or exercises may work for some and may not work. It is similar to what is our perspective to the situation or adversity and the approach we take to overcome it.
Sometimes , I get carried away under stress and stop observing my surroundings which results in a sequence of thoughts that conquer my mind and are unrelated to my feeling of that particular situation. This is not a good approach, instead I should stay focused. Well, this book suggest an exercise to stay focus, in general. She calls it, the Grounding Exercise:
To begin with Self-Observing, ask yourself:
What am I feeling?
What am I thinking now?
What am I doing at this moment?
How am I breathing?
Philippa Perry suggests some more exercises which we should consider in forming a habit of. Such as physical exercise, keeping a diary, practising investing in relationships, being keen on to differentiate between Good Stress and bad one, giving attention to our thoughts while doing automated or monotonous work like washing dishes or making coffee, and learning new things. Learning new things is important and useful for the mind.
The last chapter of the book, “What’s the story?” concerns with the patterns we develop to deal with a variety of situations. Sometimes, these patterns might serve us well but other times, they may not work at all. In those times, when these design patterns don’t work out for us, she suggests that we should edit these patterns, bend them in a way that they work.
I enjoyed reading this book and I think you will too. This book is of the length of a novella and you will comfortably finish it in one sitting or two.
Have a good read.
4 out of 5!