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August 10, 2015

On and off the couch

As someone who’s often on the run (well, on the power walk), I often “read” books by listening to them via audio book. So it’s always a treat to find time to sit down and read a “real” book (even if I’m not actually turning pages since they’re usually on an e-reader… Ah, technology). Recently, I went “old school” and read a book that required me to actually turn the pages (how many calories did I burn per page, I wonder…). Lucky for me, this tome was a real page turner and, in fact, had all the qualities of an actual audio book since even though reading, I felt like the author was speaking directly to me.

Wisdom From The Couch (2014, Central Recovery Press) was written by clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst Jennifer Kunst, who also writes an online column for Psychology Today. Her approach to the often tricky subject of finding inner peace is tackling it from the inside-out. In other words, she examines why we’re constantly plagued by various mental maladies and does so with entertaining examples that include references to pop culture and even children’s stories.

Only an author with Ms. Kunst’s talents could write about these subjects with a refreshing “Tell it like it is” take — without ever being too in your face or too morose. She fully acknowledges that life is full of challenges (and that it always will be). But her terrific approach offers humor, solace and (ultimately) a quiet understanding that let’s us know it’s okay to not be okay. Or, more accurately, to not be our perceived definition of “okay.” As I read the various chapters, which cover everything from thinking we should be living an entitled life to the old adage that slow and steady wins the race, I found myself nodding, laughing and being overcome by a tranquil state.

Suddenly, while reading, I felt less like a patient on this doctor’s couch and more like I was dishing with a friend about the human psyche (my own human psyche as it were). Could it be I’d found a salve for my worrisome thoughts that didn’t come in the form of some high calorie treat? (Heck yeah, I did — which begs for a heartfelt thanks to Ms. Kunst.)

This is the fun, whimsy and major innovation offered in Wisdom From The Couch – Ms. Kunst entertains with her expert take on the human mind, which in turn helps one to gain a greater understanding of their own thought patterns and why we sometimes become our own worst enemy (whether when trying to lose weight, achieve career success, find love, strengthen relationships or whatever we might be facing). Ms. Kunst’s overall message is that we’re okay even with our so-called foibles. In other words, we are made up of all of these challenges and can actually turn the table and view them as gifts that have come to us as a result of experiencing life at many different levels.

The message might sounds simplistic, but that’s only because Ms. Kunst delivers her prose in a way that soothes and nurtures. We’re not only left knowing ourselves (and even others) better, but also loving ourselves in this moment for being the human creatures that we are. With this renewed insight to the human condition, we can face everything (even life’s next round of challenges) with gratitude. And this is true wisdom that one can carry into every situation life has to offer (whether on or off the couch).

As someone who is often wanting to be reminded that “everything’s okay,” I found a real sense of peace and solace in this book’s pages. Thus, I wanted to share my find with other Just Stoppers. After all, if I’m okay, you’re okay… And with this book, Ms. Kunst offers us a sure footed path to not only know that, but to embrace it.

Have you read this book? What’s your take? Or do you have another recent book that you’ve read that you want to comment about? If so, all comments are welcome, below. (Thank you!)

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