Why did you write this book?
I wanted to prompt discussion and offer some practical ways to process and engage what I have long-felt has been one of the “missing links” in the personal development discussion.
So many of our self-improvement efforts seem to neglect the effects and influence of our perspective, our levels of self-awareness and the multitude of assumptions we have deeply embedded and installed within our perceptions – our basic
How did you choose your title? How did you choose your genre?
Well, the genre pretty much chose itself. I tend to be a fairly philosophical person by nature – kind of a personal development junkie. Even before I had the words with which to describe this innate tendency, I've always been one who likes to question the questions. I've always felt that living with a better-serving question is far more valuable than having answers. And, as you can probably imagine, this can steer any unsuspecting conversation into some fairly unusual territories. But that's a “whole 'nother Oprah.”
The title came from a long, honest look at the chapters and list of subjects I wished to cover. Wisdom, choices, simplicity, communication, forgiveness, attention, inner-peace etc. – these are all pretty elusive topics. Yet to me, they represent the heart of everything we mean when we think about improving our lives. So, as I questioned the questions, the idea of owning our part of our making and the word “better” kept popping up. Of course the word “better” is also fairly elusive. And, rightfully so. “Better” is definitely in the eye of the beholder and can only derive its meaning from each person's unique sense of purpose, meaning and direction.
The subtitle, “... from someone who chooses to...” just comes from my own desires – how I hope I am understood. It can be pretty presumptuous to write a book of this nature. As I say in the first chapter, “Making Life Better does not come from some high and lofty place, but from a fellow learner who's still learning.”
What inspired you to be a writer?
I don't think it's so much that I was inspired to be a writer and then set out to write a book. For me, it's much more that, over the years, I have found myself continually in the role of counselor, confidant, consultant, coach and the ever-ready “go-to” guy for help and advice – regardless of my job description or title. It seems to be just a part my nature – an important part of who I am. And, over countless thousands of conversations, I slowly began to recognize some patterns in both the issues being raised, and my own thinking – my own brand of help. I noticed that what each and every one of these conversations had in common were some very specific, “common to all of us” concepts and ideas that eventually came to be expressed in “Making Life Better.”
Although I've always been an avid reader, I'd never before really considered myself a true writer. In Making Life Better, I just tried to find ways to give full voice to some ideas with which I have lived for a long time and about which I am passionate. But I sincerely do hope that I have written well, communicated clearly and that I am understood.
Are you writing another book?
Yes. Slowly, but yes. I don't even have a “working title” as yet to share (Although I've toyed with ideas ranging from “Kicking and Screaming” to to “Help Unwanted”). This work is shaping up to revolve around, as you might expect, learning and growing – only this time, the focus is on some of the most unlikely, unwanted, and most strongly resisted teachers: fear, worry, regret, pain, failure etc... It's about understanding that avoiding, ignoring or resisting those experiences that we find ourselves unable to interpret as anything but negative, is not the same thing as over-coming them. Over-coming and moving beyond them depends entirely on our ability to engage the lessons that they alone can teach us; to understand them – or, more accurately, to understand what they have to say to us, about us.
It's still very much in a concept development stage. But I'm slowly wrapping my brain around it little by little.
What do you feel is unique about “Making Life Better” that might set it apart from other books within this vast genre?
The first thing that comes to mind is humor. It's very “me” and I'm kind of funny – both “ha-ha” funny and just plain odd. Or, so I've been told.
Beyond that, I think my approach to the subject matter is fairly uncommon, unconventional even. In fact, one of the reasons I wrote this book was the sheer number of times someone has commented on the uniqueness of my way of thinking, or my approach to one or more of these subjects, and said “You really need to write this stuff down” or, “Everyone needs to hear this.”
The concepts are really quite simple (in a “well duh” kind of way), just not simplistic. They're complex, but not really all that complicated.
I think Making Life Better prompts new trains of thought, changes the questions and offers its most valuable help in that it challenges the reader to constantly be willing to trade-up for better-serving questions. (Again, “better” being defined through one's own sense of purpose and meaning.)
What is it you hope readers will be able to take away and add to their lives from their reading of “Making Life Better” ?
I really hope to foster within each reader the kind of thoughts that create choices where auto-pilot reactions used to be (and of course, I hope I have provided lots of tools to be able to engage those choices).
From my perspective, the ability to bring ourselves back into a position of being “at choice” and “at cause” for our own lives really is the only way, with our honesty and integrity intact, we can truly make our lives better.
Any final words you'd like our readers to know?
Only that if anyone is interested in finding out more, there are now several ways to preview the book. You can read through the Table of Contents, find excerpts and quotes, read the entire first chapter or even watch the wonderful video book trailer created by the talented Ann Patterson. All of the previews are available instantly (and free) on my website. Thanks so much for reading.