Friday, May 08, 2009

Peaks and Valleys

I picked up Peaks and Valleys, Making Good and Bad Times Work For You - At Work And In Life by Spencer Johnson because it was a lean-looking book. You know - one I could read through quickly to glean something from without taxing brain cells too much. (I needed a break from another very in-depth book I'm reading - more on that one in another post.)

I was right. The book is short, and easy to read. Plus, I gleaned quite a bit from it. In fact, it helped me earlier this week.

Spencer Johnson also wrote Who Moved My Cheese? which I've not read, but probably should. Peaks and Valleys is written as a parable - the story of one man's journey. It is a story of what he learns from an older gentleman, what he learns from his own journey, and how he passes that wisdom on to another person.

Scattered throughout the book (and quite helpfully, compiled in a 'cheat sheet' on page 90) are short proverbs that bring home the points of the parable. For example, "You can have fewer bad times when you appreciate and manage your good times wisely" is one I've been pondering on lately.

The one that really helped me this past week was "Make Reality Your Friend." Wednesday I was feeling really down - the rain and some other circumstances made me feel badly about myself. But as I reflected on my day, I asked myself, "What is reality? Was today as bad as I feel it was?" Then, I realized many good things had happened that day. To shake off the 'ucky' feelings, I sat down and practiced piano for a few minutes. That helped my attitude tremendously, and I was able to have a productive evening.

I find that most of the books I've read with really helpful ideas or proverbs are basically restating Biblical truths. The Bible is full of references to the battle we fight in our minds, renewing our thinking, and looking at the world & circumstances from God's perspective. Biblically speaking, I could have started with Philippians 4:4-9 "Rejoice in the Lord always. ... Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, ... with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ... Whatever is true, whatever is noble, ... think about such things." Once you start doing that, then reality smacks you in the face (so to speak).

While Peaks and Valleys isn't necessarily new thinking, it's certainly helpful in evaluating our reactions, attitudes and thinking about the valleys - and the peaks - in our lives.

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