Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fearless - A New Book by Brenda Shoshanna

If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you know that I consider courage to be one of the many personal strengths. At last, I've found my favorite book on this topic: Fearless: The 7 Principles of Peace of Mind, by Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.D. (Sterling, 2010).

Dr. Shoshanna has been a Zen practitioner for decades and blends this philosophy into her writing and counseling. Her previous book, The Anger Diet, was named a Best Spiritual Book of 2005 by Spirituality and Health. Founder of the Enlightened Living Institute, she appears frequently on major television networks and in national magazines.

Her Zen perspective leads her to a treatment of fear and courage that is broader and deeper than I expected. Her approach is to focus on seven types of courage; being yourself; welcoming change; being open to reality and learning from mistakes; rejecting falseness and negativity; trading anger and conflict for love; giving up the need to control; and building positive relationships.

Dr. Shoshanna makes her points while offering suggestions, encouragement and exercises. I'm not sure I've read a book that has so much grounded wisdom. This excerpt is a good example:

"A few years ago, at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, each physically or mentally challenged, assembled at the starting line for the hundred-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with excitement, to run the race to the finish and win.

"All, that is, except one boy, who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled a couple of times, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down and looked back. They all turned around then and went back. Each one of them.

"One girl with Down syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, 'This will make it better.' All nine linked arms and walked across the finish line together. Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes. People who were there are still telling the story. Why? Because deep down we know one thing: What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What truly matters is helping others win, even if it means slowing down and changing course."

I particularly liked the many stories from Zen and other Eastern traditions. Also, during the past 40 years, I've collected over 3,000 quotes related to personal strength, so I was surprised to see many relevant quotes I've never seen before. Needless to say, they now enrich my collection.

This isn't the kind of book you read in one sitting. You read it one section at a time, make notes in the margins, and allow plenty of time for reflection. The book has the effect of broadening one's understanding of courage, relating it to numerous personal strengths. It points the reader towards a more harmonious, serene way of living. 

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength. (Disclosure: Except for a review copy of the book, I have not received compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the books mentioned, and if you click on the link and purchase the book, I will receive no affiliate commission.)


Sarcastic Bastard said...

Thanks for the recommendation. It sounds great.

Kathleen Scott said...

Thanks, Honey, for the recommendation. We can all use more courage. I think I'm going to borrow your copy of the book.

Elizabeth (Beth) Westmark said...

Sounds like a book Buck and I would enjoy sharing, and then passing along to other younger members of the family. Thanks, Denny.