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4 Star Review on Amazon

20-Apr-2012

This excellent 4 Star Review has just been posted on Amazon:

4.0 out of 5 stars Learning how to be true to ourselvesApril 6, 2012
This review is from: Being You: How To Live Authentically: Unlocking the Power of the Freedom Code and Incorporating the Philosophy of Adaptive Freedom (Paperback)
From Seneca to Sartre, Deepak Chopra to Oprah, this Irish-based consultant brings a career of management experience to this encouraging guide. Mixing inspiration with intellect, Doyle crafts his philosophy of "adaptive freedom." Drawing upon the self-actualization of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, Jung's individuation, and many other psychologists and thinkers, Doyle sets out a seven-pillared structure for a practitioner.

This comprises the "Freedom Code," a way to live authentically. Within the parameters of our attitudes, our responsibilities, our family, nature vs. nurture, and cultural outlook, Doyle seeks to show us how we may open up our defenses, the barriers which we often place via our non-conscious mental reactions, to letting our potential for natural expression and mental wholeness free themselves. He integrates scientific evidence attesting to the rapid processing by our minds of deeply placed defenses; the seven pillars of his framework set up ways to heighten awareness, to align with energy as it flows into useful information, and to pursue "purposeful action." Then, connections grow with family and the larger world; acceptance of our wavering but improving selves, adaptability to change, and animation to keep alert and alive propel this strategy into reality.

The transformational program has no selling point, no get-rich scheme, but Doyle instead presents an insistent, reasoned argument for self-improvement which may align with one's own spiritual or religious tradition, as well as suiting those apart from such orientations. Setting goals, making priorities, ending procrastination, and reframing memories establish steps along this journey of making a story that makes sense as we tell ourselves a narrative that will inspire change and renewal. It's flexible enough to fit the pressures of a demanding schedule, but as with meditation and commitment to betterment, it relies on one's steady focus on change, starting moment by moment.

It spans quite a vista. "Quintessence" reminds me of alchemy, but Doyle, gravitating towards information theory and quantum physics, applies this ancient term to an endless field, "an energy force for reality," a "superabundance" akin to Teilhard de Chardin's flow of essential, free power--and chaos theory. Such comparisons often go by swiftly, but they also leave room within one's self for contemplation.

This book of advice is best taken in slowly. Perhaps a chapter a day might be wise. For this review, I took more of it in more rapidly, and as every page features quotes from cognitive scientists, psychiatrists, religious and spiritual teachers, or analysts of financial or technological theory, it can pack a lot into a small portion. Some paragraphs are very short, some elaborate. Following along, I found it illustrative of one man's reasoned response to life's unpredictability, favoring reason and considered action rather than intuition and certainly (refreshingly for the genre) neither blind faith nor platitudes. It reminded me of the old practice of making a "commonplace book," where one stitches apt citations into one's personally patterned tapestry of words over one's lifetime.

Introducing each "expert" with a phrase, Doyle takes care not to talk over the heads of his disparate audience. I confess that this book emanates in part from a New Age perspective that is slightly apart from my own patterns, but as I followed Doyle's explanations, I found research infusing this content with depth. His style reveals that this text emerges from many years pondering this material. About masks and shadows as part of our personality: "When the activity ceases the role disappears. Masks on their own can slip just as easily since they are held on by the flimsiest elastic." (98)

I wished for more coverage of the workplace, and how one might learn better to adapt to a situation that in our straitened times and increased competition requires many of us to remain with ways of making a living which may discourage freedom. This may, however, reflect my own needs at this time. This is precisely the type of title that when one reads it a year later will mirror back one's ever-changing moods and needs. This constant updating of one's self and one's awareness proves the author's point, come to think of it. Doyle may advise such a work-pressured reader to enhance the inner response and to diminish the outer tension. Perhaps I'm learning from his process already: the brief sections on acceptance of life, death, fear, and suffering I found particularly insightful.

He motivates without pretense and his notes guide readers to the original sources. While my analysis found a few misspelled names and one erratic identifier in his works cited, these are small flaws. A spot-check revealed a typically apt remark from Ben Franklin without a reference, but these minor matters detracted little from the book's overall value. This will reward readers seeking a handbook on how one may deal with an increasingly hurried and networked world, by balance and equanimity. (My copy was provided by the author, whom I do not know, as he requested a fair review.) 

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