Philippa Perry on Self Observation


How to be Sane 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.

Philippa Perry is psychotherapist and in her 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. She suggests, we should start with:

The ability to observe and listen to feelings and bodily sensations is essential to staying sane.

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SENECA: On Shortness of Life

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.

– Seneca

Human beings are master of not thinking rationally over the time. We live in denial of recognition [of our conscious time] which then leads to us being unproductive procrastinators and our frequency of fantasizing about the outcome of a situation “in a perfect” manner turns into something we want to forgetfully avoid it and further leads to passivity.

Distracting ourselves, as we cruise through our daily lives, in this manner is strictly equal to being absent from our selves. Roman philosopher Seneca wrote in an essay about 2,000 years ago: On Shortness of Life.

He writes:

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REVIEW: How to be Sane by Philippa Perry

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.

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REVIEW: Seneca On Anger

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, or Seneca was a philosopher and is best known for his wisdom that may help one to rethink of his own perspectives on life. Seneca was a stoic and during his time embraced Stoicism. He was also an advisor to the Roman Emperor, Nero, in 54 AD. His essays such as On Shortness of Life, and On Anger clearly reflect his contribution to the Stoic philosophy.

Surprisingly, I was never introduced to the word Stoicism before. Not during my school years, nor my college years. I guess, it is my mistake that I was never curious enough to explore, open to ideas such as Stoicism posses, until recently when I first read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.

On Anger is a book which is further divided into three books in which Seneca reflects how this passion, this feeling can make us endure for the rest of our lives. He describes anger as an emotion, “and under its possession any human being does remain not humane.” We have all felt anger, on various points. Sometimes it us, many a times it because of the others, we may think. Some follow it is quite pragmatically causing terror that reflect up on the rest of the humanity. Some just want to avenge on the injury they have become a victim to:

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