Monday, December 17, 2018
REVIEW of 7 Thoughts to Live Your Life By
author I.C. Robledo
This book deserves to be widely read. I’ll summarize it here, and I’ll recommend the author make it less expensive to get it a wider audience. As a Kindle ebook, it is convenient to read and inexpensive to reproduce. A lower price might even prove more profitable (depending on the elasticity of demand).
Engineer/author I.C. Robledo has already penned several helpful non-fiction books. This one may be closest to his heart, as it has come from his own struggle with depression, augmented with his deep reading of the relevant literature and serious thought about the issue of how we can have happy, worthwhile lives. Here are the 7 Thoughts, italicized, with his comments and mine.
Thought #1: Focus on what you can control, not on what you cannot control. Robledo identifies this as his most important point. We waste our energies if we focus on things over which we have no control. I think of the legendary King Canute of Britain who had his courtiers join him at seaside and observe the tide coming in, while he commended it to stop, as he demonstrated to them there are forces beyond his and theirs. Robledo includes other people among those entities beyond our control, though perhaps within our influence.
Thought #2: Focus on the positive, not on the negative. A fine old song told us, “You’ve got to accent the positive, eliminate the negative, and don’t mess with Mr. In-between.” Norman Vincent Peale’s classic book The Power of Positive Thinking taught that same lesson to millions. Robledo identifies as the most important thing for us to control, something we can control: the thoughts we harbor. The Old Testament Bible‘s Book of Proverbs says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he….” To inhabit a positive world, one must think positively. The New Testament advises we think and speak about “whatsoever things are true…honest…just…pure….” We are not what we eat, but what we think.
Thought #3: Focus on what you can do, not on what you cannot do. This chapter starts with a quotation from Martin Luther King, Jr., exhorting us that if we cannot fly, then run; cannot run, then walk; cannot walk, then crawl; “…keep moving forward.” Yoda of Star Wars urges, “Don’t try, do.” Positive thinking is a start, but actions trump thoughts and words. Our thoughts can help produce our results; “self-fulfilling prophecies” reflect this truth. The labels we affix to ourselves should be affirmative to harness this.
Thought #4: Focus on what you have, not on what you do not have. Count your blessings, we have been advised. Of the billions of people on this Earth, you are likely among the most fortunate if you can obtain and read this book. Appreciate that. Use what you have to make tomorrow better, for yourself and for others. Wanting more may inspire productive action, but it can also cause foolish regret. Robledo cites Buddha as identifying this desire for more with disappointment and unhappiness. Is there ever enough? You must learn that there is enough, and we almost certainly already have enough. We all have minds, life, possessions, loved ones, values…. “our task is to learn to want what we already have.” Practice gratitude as your attitude. Eschew envy!
Thought #5: Focus on the present, not the past and future. Another life counselor advises, “Be here now.” Be mindful of the present, paying little heed to the past and worrying little about the future. One is done, the other almost out of our control. While having goals is necessary to orient our actions, it is better to concentrate on having a system you use to pursue your goals; then, whether you get there or not, you can at least be pleased with how well you are carrying out your system, and you can enjoy the journey. I “enjoy” doing the exercise routine I schedule for even-numbered days: I am at least pleased to carry out my planned efforts, without worrying a lot about whether I am getting stronger or adding to my endurance…though I know I am. “The trick then is to focus on the enjoyment of a process.”
Thought #6: Focus on what you need, not on what you want. The more we seek, the more unhappy we will be if we do not get it. Fortunately, we can focus primarily on what we need, a much smaller set of things and conditions than the nearly infinite list of our possible “wants,” a list that advertisers and other influencers help lengthen daily. Remember that, in some ways, “less is more.” Our needs are crucial; our wants, optional. The advice, “know thyself” includes knowing what we need and what we can do without.
Thought #7: Focus on what you can give, not on what you can take or receive. Giving is noble and can be satisfying. When we think about our lives, we can be proud of what we have given, as well as happy about what we have received. To some extent, one must give to get, but giving is its own reward. Enlightened self-interest is defensible, but it is even more attractive when coupled with generosity. As you satisfy your needs and some of your wants, there will likely come a time when sharing with others will seem appropriate.
There you have the “7 Thoughts.” All good. All worthwhile. The author fills each chapter with stories and explanations that enhance these simple Thoughts. He is personal and profound. He writes well, and humbly. His book is a treasure.
As I started to write this review, I visited the Amazon page featuring this book. I was surprised no other reviews were yet posted. The book seems to be selling well in its categories, but I think the author should reduce the price from its current $7.99 for the Kindle to, perhaps, $2.99, not because the book is not worth the higher price, but because a lower price will get more people to read and profit from this fine work. I, myself, borrowed the book (legitimately), as I usually do not pay this much for the Kindle books I get. (I don’t bother to review the books I don’t like.)
I hope I have given the prospective reader the information needed to decide on buying 7 Thoughts, a book I strongly recommend.