3 out of 4 stars
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As you may have guessed by the title, If Life Stinks, Get Your Head Outta Your But’s: A No-Nonsense Guide to Happiness and Success by Mark L. Wdowiak is not your average self-help book. Though the overarching message is a positive one that inspires readers to find meaning and success in life, the author uses tough-love and brutal honesty to deliver this motivation. His philosophy is that each of us already carries the potential for success and prosperity within us. It is our responsibility to unlock this potential, take control, and move our lives in the direction that we desire. Regardless of what success might look like for you, Mark Wdowiak is sure that you can achieve it and he breaks down exactly how to do so without tip-toeing around your feelings.
After a few introductory chapters that give the reader an overview of the author’s philosophy, the “Three Areas of Critical Consideration” are presented. These are a natural progression of steps that must be taken in order for you to reach your desired goals. For the sake of representation, Wdoqiak defines them as crawling, walking, and running. As he says, “if you never learn to crawl, you won’t get very far. If you never learn to walk, you will be unstable. And if you never learn to run, you will fall flat on your face if you try.”
Crawling signifies taking full responsibility for yourself. Among other noble virtues, this requires confidence, determination, and self-motivation. It means recognizing that you always have choices, that doing nothing is also a choice, accepting both credit and blame for the outcomes of your actions, and finding motivation within yourself rather than doing things based on others’ expectations. Walking represents taking control over your thinking. The author reminds his readers that “what you think creates what you believe, and what you believe becomes your reality.” Negative self-talk, believing you are helpless, telling yourself that you are not good enough, and other self-defeating thoughts all hinder your ability to live a fulfilling life. Gaining control over how you think about yourself, other people, specific situations, and the world around you is crucial for success. Running is the last step, and it represents combining the first two steps to take action. Acting on your own behalf requires a willingness to put in the required effort, overcome fears, and commit to your aspirations. You need to decide what your goal is, prepare for it properly, commit to it, and take the necessary steps to achieve it. One way that the author describes this is “living with intention, and not by accident.”
These three areas were explained in greater detail through thirty-two chapters. While I found value in each chapter, I felt that the author tended to ramble, repeat himself, and jump around from one idea to another. This made it easy to lose track of his original point. On several occasions, I had to go back to remind myself which of the three main areas I was reading about. The author also used a lot of cliché sayings and metaphors, which was a turn-off to me.
Despite these complaints, there were far more things that I enjoyed about this book. I liked how the author included many of his own personal stories to illustrate different points. He made several references to his father who, judging by his stories, was also a believer in tough-love. The author also included a space at the end of each chapter for the reader to sign his or her initials, verifying that the commitment to self-improvement has been made. I thought this was a great idea because it provided a unique element of accountability.
I also liked that the author left the definition of success up to each reader to decide. He gave examples of what success might look like to certain people, such as wealth, fame, or meaningful relationships. But, he never identified one definition as more valid than another because success is subjective. This is partially due to the fact that each of us lives in a unique reality based on our own experiences and beliefs. Therefore, things like success, failure, right, wrong, good and bad are all subjective and we should decide for ourselves what these mean to us. It is also because our ideas of success can change over time.
This was a comforting reminder to me because I tend to judge my own perception of success based on what other people think, or what I think the future should look like. Like most things in life, our priorities, goals, and definition of success may ebb and flow with time. However, the author also reiterated that once you set and commit to a goal, it is important to follow through. One of my favorite quotes from this book is “motivation is just like bathing: the effects fade over time, so that’s why you’re recommended to do it on a daily basis.” This clever phrase is a reminder that it is natural to lose motivation to work toward your goals when you feel frustrated, tired or bored. However, it is also your responsibility to reestablish that motivation and remain diligent.
A question that the author poses numerous times is, “What do you want, and what are you willing to do to get it?” This serves as an important reminder that you should not just expect the things you want in life to be handed to you. You need to do what it takes to acquire them. This may not be what everyone wants to hear because it requires hard work. If you are looking for someone to sugarcoat your path to success, this book is not for you. This author is open about his belief that pity only encourages one not to change.
I do not disagree with this belief and I thought the honest, tough-love approach used in this book was refreshing. I have read many self-help books that are filled with compassion, but evade the hard truths in fear of being insensitive. Instead, Wdowiak says things like “if you want your life to smell better, to be better, than you must remove your head out of your butt.”
I rate this book a 3 out of 4. I came across very few obvious typos, but the author’s conversational tone made it difficult for me to tell whether the book was professionally edited or not. The overuse of clichés and the author’s tendency to go off topic were frustrating at times. However, I really enjoyed the overall message of this book. Regardless of what goal you are after, this book will motivate you to achieve it. If you want to improve your life in any way, try reading If Life Stinks, Get Your Head Outta Your But’s: A No-Nonsense Guide to Happiness and Success.
If life stinks get your head outta your buts
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