Add More -ing to Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness by Gabrielle Bernstein
When presented with a book featuring a leggy blonde wearing angel wings on a skateboard and bearing the title of Add More -ing to Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness, most peoples preconceptions about self-help chick-lit would go into overdrive.
The first sentence doesn’t help much either: “Hello, my new friend. I’m super-psyched that you dug the cover of my book enough to pick it up!” Yikes.
Gabrielle Bernstein is a former self-saboteur, drug addict and slave to the rat race turned self-styled life guru. With best-selling books, a radio show and countless lecture and TV appearances under her belt, Bernstein is hailed by many as the Dalai Lama of the post-modern, female world.
Add More -ing to Your Life is a self-help guide for those suffering with a very modern psychological condition: wanting it all and enduring all of the frustration that comes with it.
Using the formula Rethink-ing + Mov-ing + Receiv-ing x 30 days = Chang-ing, Bernstein challenges the reader to adopt a thirty-day programme of physical activity, positive affirmations and creative thinking designed to throw you out of your comfort zone and re-focus your desires into realistic goals.
The twelve chapters introduce familiar characters like Hanna who feels that all of her problems in adult life stem from her restrictive upbringing, Lauren who is terrified of losing her job in a difficult economic climate or Michelle, the woman who becomes so absorbed in her love life that she loses her grip on everything else. It would be impossible to read about these women without identifying some of your own personality traits in them and, in doing so, unconsciously invest emotionally in a book that you may have initially dismissed as new-age psycho-babble.
If you get past the jarring colloquialisms and the buzz words – chilling, rockin’ and F-bomb (forgiveness for those unfamiliar with the way of –ing) – what you’re left with is a simple guide to being happier by analysing the darker parts of your life and making them more bearable. It was French philosopher Descartes who came up with the mantra “I think, therefore I am” and Bernstein is quick to point out the fact that if you feel like rubbish then it’s more than likely that’s what you’ll become. In short, take away the pseudo-psychoanalytic approach and you’re left with a stark message: positivity breeds more positivity.
While Bernstein’s lessons in refocusing and meditating to destroy previously negative thought patterns are interesting, other suggestions will encourage derision from the naturally cynical, such as her story about Louise Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life. Bernstein’s affirmations that disease can come from a buildup of negative feelings and can be cured accordingly is ridiculous: “Louise cured her cervical cancer through releasing fear, saying positive affirmations and practising creative visualization. She knew that her cancer was a direct result of unhealed anger over being raped and battered as a child. With a past like that, it came as no surprise to her that she manifested cancer in her cervix.”
If books about tapping into your inner reserves of self-belief and inspiration aren’t your bag then you’re unlikely to find Add More -ing to Your Life life-changing. However, the message of beliv-ing, encourag-ing and think-ing your way to a more positive outlook is, if anything, undeniably uplift-ing.
Add More -ing to Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness is available in stores worldwide at the price of £10.99.