13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, written and read by Amy Morin
I’m not sure that in retrospect it was a good idea for the author to read her own book. One of the things that one gets out of having a professional reader is someone who is able to master the sort of tone that makes a book like this appealing, and the author does not quite do a good enough job at making this sort of book appealing enough. She is undoubtedly a tough-minded person, but viewing her as strong-minded or an authority on the subject, especially given the way that she pontificates on matters of divine providence and proper expectations that people are to have, is a bit of a stretch. The author also seems to think of herself as far more unique than she actually is, which is problematic in that the author claims to be the only person working on mental strength on a global level while she offers techniques like mindfulness and meditation that are so routine as to be cliche within the Eastern religion-pushing priests of contemporary psychology. There is a lot to enjoy and appreciate in this book, but that is because of the general soundness of principles and not on the winsome ways of the author.
The book as a whole, which took about six and a half hours for the author to read out, discusses thirteen things that people should avoid doing when facing adversity. Here are the things. They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves. They don’t give away their power. They don’t shy away from change. They don’t focus on what they cannot control. They don’t worry about pleasing everyone. They don’t fear talking calculated risks. They don’t make the same mistakes over and over. They don’t resent others’ success. They don’t give up after their first failure. They don’t fear time alone. They don’t feel the world owes them anything. They don’t expect immediate results. The author took the material for a viral post of hers that prompted a book franchise (this is the first of three related books on the subject the author has written, apparently) from her own life–where she talks about the adversity she and other members of her personal circle have faced, and also adds examples from her practice as well as from popular culture, where she shows that overnight successes generally took a long time.
In writing a book like this, the author has a tough approach to make. For one, she wants to encourage the reader (or listener) to take her list of activities to avoid seriously–and to recognize that there are probably some aspects of those activities that are present in our lives and need to be rooted out. For another, though, the author clearly has some agendas that make this book less appealing than it could have been, namely her agenda to support popular Eastern religious practices (rather than, say, Judeo-Christian religious practices) and her agenda to support psychiatry as an effective means of personal improvement. These agendas are not in any way surprising as they are pretty common ones within the world of self-help writers, but their presence here, along with the author’s general lack of graciousness in dealing with the people she talks about that were from her own practice means that the author comes off as being a bit more of a jerk than she intended to be. It is perhaps for that reason that although the author was living and working in Maine at the time she wrote this book, she has since moved to Florida because the harshness of this book meant that a lot of people probably didn’t want to work with her again after this book came out.