Book Review: Purposely Positive

Purposely Positive: How to Live an Intentional and Inspired Life, by Joel Lindeman

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Reedsy Discovery.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  The original copy of this review can be found here:  https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/purposely-positive-how-to-live-an-intentional-and-inspired-life-joel-lindeman.%5D

One as a graduate student in Engineering Management I took an entire class on resistance to change, and why it is that so many change efforts on a corporate level fail the way that they do.  At first I thought it was pretty ridiculous that an entire class would be devoted to this subject, but having read many books on motivation in the field of self-help, it is clear that resistance to change is one of the most notable aspects of life as it refers to personal and institutional improvement.  It is therefore little surprise that there should be many thousands of books like this one that seek to inspire someone to change and that give out a healthy dollop of flattering comments about people being the guides to their own lives and having a beautiful true soul that needs to be freed of the burden of guilt and shame and timidity and perfectionism and so on and so forth.  Aside from the author’s personal touches, this book could literally be any hundreds of books that I have read, some of which the author includes as suggestions for further reading [1].

In terms of its contents, this book is a bit shorter than 200 pages and features a variety of short chapters with odd titles.  Each of the chapters begins with one or more quotes that introduce the subject at hand, then proceed to be full of explanation points and words in all caps (because the author thinks that such a style is inspirational) and closes with a set of Purposely Positive Exercises (PPE) that encourage the reader to act on the subject matter of the chapter.   Although the author includes a great deal of cringy personal oversharing as a way of seeking to build intimacy with the reader, there is very little of substance in this book that does not closely follow the general consensus of New Age self-help with a strong degree of Buddhist influence and a huge degree of focus on positive psychology as being the road to happiness for individuals burdened by worry, anxiety, guilt, and shame.  Helpfully, the book closes with a set of recommended books and movies that demonstrates the author’s familiarity with inspirational and self-help material as a whole, much of it of similar approach to this volume.

While in general I think it is important to recognize the sort of book that one is reading rather than the one that one would prefer to read, there are at least a few obvious comments about this book and its approach that are worth making.  The author seems to promote a dualistic mindset that points to the superiority of the spirit over the defects of the brain and its bias towards negativity.  There are also plenty of ways that the book demonstrates a certain contradictory approach, such as the way that the author cautions against a reliance on the dopamine and cortisol hormone systems that lead to self-absorption and isolation even as the author promotes a self-absorbed view of the reader as his (or her) own moral guide a la Invictus, ignoring the fallen nature of mankind that makes it impossible for people to serve as their own moral guides and the absolute necessity of external moral judgement as well as external help and encouragement (like books like this) when it comes to making important changes in life.  Although this is by no means a bad book, it doesn’t say anything that hasn’t been said many times before by other writers with the same kind of worldview that the author has, or that won’t be said many times more by similar writers in the months and years to come, given the immense popularity of New Age self-help thinking.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/06/28/book-review-the-go-giver/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/11/16/book-review-theres-a-spiritual-solution-to-every-problem/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/01/16/book-review-7-strategies-of-success/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/09/17/book-review-the-potential-principle/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/12/12/book-review-jump-start-your-priorities/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/02/19/book-review-how-to-have-a-good-day/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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