book review: F*ck Feelings 

  
<em> F*ck Feelings: One shrink’s practical advice for managing all life’s impossible problems</em> By Michael I. Bennett, MD and Sarah Bennett. Simon & Schuster| September 2015| 370 pages | $19.99| ISBN: 978-1-47679-0015

It is what it is. Don’t worry, be happy. Go with the flow. Life sucks and then you die. You can’t always get what you want (but if you try sometimes you might get what you need). Let it go. These might be cliches but they’re all truisms about how challenging, unpredictable and unjust life can be and that sometimes we need to just accept the bad to be able to conserve energy  to embrace the good.

“F*ck Feekings explains that, in most cases, you have not failed and do not need to try harder or wait longer for improvement to begin; instead, you need to accept that life is hard and your frustrated efforts are a valuable guide to identifying what you can’t change.”

Turns out that emotions are just that. Mindfulness is a good thing. You can only tweak and improve yourself and what makes you happy. You can’t change or influence those around you. Shit happens and the best you can do is keep your mind and body healthy and sometimes just stay quiet when you don’t want to or just go with something as uncomfortable as it may be at that moment. 

Through chapters on self-improvement, self-esteem, fairness, helpfulness, serenity, love, communication, parenthood, assholes and treatment, Dr. Michael Bennett and his comedy writer daughter Sarah Bennett approach these topics using honesty, humor and sensible solutions. They provide examples. They list what you want and can’t have, what you can actually aim to achieve and how to get it done. Quite useful tips. This is the most refreshing and useful self-help book I’ve read in some time. 

on self-improvement:

“Instead of trying to figure out your problem, use your best tools for managing it, be they finding a rehab program, an organizational coach, or a group of girlfriends whose opinions on jerks you trust.”

on self-esteem:

“So while it’s certainly worthwhile to try to develop your talents and seek fulfillment, it’s dangerous to say you should be able to make it happen and thus make yourself responsible for producing a solution you don’t control. 

“Instead accept the fact that sometimes you can’t and won’t feel good about yourself. That’s no reason, however, for stopping yourself from doing good things and writing off your feelings of low self-esteem as an unimportant by-product of a hard life, perfectionism, or subpar personal equipment.”

on serenity:

“Unfortunately, some people don’t recover from loss, even when they get lots of support and work hard to move on. It may be that loss triggers an innate vulnerability to depression, their personalities are unusually loss-sensitive, or they lack the ability to control destructive impulses. Again, it sounds sappy, but not every broken bone or heart is guaranteed to mend.”

on love:

“Again and again, you have to face the fact that someone you love can’t love you back, or you can’t find someone to love when that’s what you want and need. Failed love almost always feels like a personal failure… If you’re extra careful and selective about loving and being loved, you’ll probably find yourself spending more time feeling lonely.”

on communication:

“Unfortunately, however, many problems do not, in actuality, represent a failure to communicate. Rather, they arise from differences in character, culture, or values, and communicating these differences is a bad way to bridge gaps and a good way to cause disagreements.”

Michael Bennett, MD and Sarah Bennett will be at Brookline Booksmith on Tuesday, September 29 at 7pm.

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