4 out of 4 stars
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In this self-help book, Mark Wdowiak does not set out to redefine the genre, and that's okay. What he does, he does well. Written in a light tone with positive daily reminders that you are not lost, nearly wandering to the next life event when you could be running, he sets the book up through easy to navigate chapters. They read well back to back, but also read well individually for when you need a pick me up (or just a reminder that it's going to be alright in stressful times) and don't want to muscle your way through a full book. Now, I will be frank. Self-help is not my genre and I actually had to remind myself to not roll my eyes a few times. But, all that said, it really wasn't very cringe or too sugar-coated "world is incredible if you follow my formula".
Now, I will be very honest, I have gone to counseling before and I went to about 15 before I found one I liked. I hate the mushy gushy. I hate feelings and talking about them or dealing with the fact that my Facebook feed is full of perfect stories while mine is somewhere between a bad soap opera and a horror anthology. Still, I found myself enjoying this book. Much of the advice that Wdowiak provides if very similar to my final counselor. Instead of musing on what worked for him, he instead focuses on asking the right questions to trigger the reader to do the hard part themselves. Between these questions, he mixes in affirmations of self-worth telling the reader to not worry about what others are doing and instead focus on why they are allowing others joy to make their own misery (for example).
The book has a lot of great advice, however I think the major con of it is that it is so easy to not listen to advice. People can hear advice every day of their life but not listen to it. This book runs the risk of having many great things to say, but not being engaging ENOUGH for people to actually hear the message. I'm not sure how one would go about writing a book as engaging and productive as a real life counseling session, but this one falls short. It says the right things, is structured very well with small breaks of affirmations to help throughout the reading and ruminating process, yet it doesn't feel as real, as gripping as it could be.
To flip back to the positive, the book is excessively well-written and designed. I've mentioned throughout the past few paragraphs that the breaks in the text of reminders and affirmations are something I really enjoyed, but the amount of details that went into the text and design goes beyond just that. Wdowiak really commands an active voice throughout the entire book, sounding firm, excited, and encouraging without ever bubbling over into cheesy territory. Several times he could have, and almost did (but I admire the self-constraint), but he always is cognizant of his reader. People who are at a low place in life do not want to be preached to, they don't want to hear about how great it is now that they are over their slump, they just want to get better. He gets that and goes about structuring each chapter with a stern control over the words he chooses (never too bleak, never too positive) and bullet points of clear defined actions in order to get to the final outcome.
Overall, I rate Life Stinks, Get Your Head Outta Your But's: A No-Nonsense Guide to Happiness and Success by Mark Wdowiak 4 out of 4 stars. The only real downside I found with the book was that it didn't jump out and engage with readers like a counselor would. But, not every person who reads a self-help book is needing a mental health provider, some people just need guidance until they back onto their otherwise stable feet. Also, even if someone does have mental health problems, this can't really hurt. In fact, I would highly recommend this to someone looking for help between sessions or someone who has gone through counseling and just needs a reminder of one or two of the lessons provided. I have already recommended it to a recent college grad who did not get hired right after college and whose High School friends are all getting married and having children. The only people who I would caution against the book would be people who are too cynical for something like this to have any effect on.
If life stinks get your head outta your buts
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