|Basic InformationLatest NewsLinksBook Reviews|10 Minute Solution: Butt Lift10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training101 Ways to Meditate29 Gifts3-In-1 Total Body Fitness with Desi Bartlett30 Minute Ab & Butt Blaster5 Day Fit Yoga5 Mega Miles with Toning Band7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups8 Keys to Body Brain Balance8 Keys to Practicing MindfulnessA.M. EnergyAccessible Yoga for Every Body DVDAfter the Ecstasy, the LaundryAge-Proof Your MindAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAlmost MeatlessAM/PM YogaAnswers for AristotleAnywhere, Anytime, Any Body YogaAthlete's Guide to YogaAuthentic HappinessAwakening Self-EsteemBack in Action: Yoga for a Healthy BackBack To Basics: Fitness with Charlotte OrdBalanced AssetsBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Meditation & Mindful StretchingBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBetter Sex Through YogaBody By BethennyBorn to Balance - Balance BasicsBreath-Centered YogaBreathingBrightening Our Inner SkiesBuddhist Boot CampCalm Body Clear MindCalm EnergyCalm Focus JoyChakra MeditationsChoosing CivilityClassical Pilates Technique DVDComplementary and Alternative Therapies ResearchCore Fusion - Pilates PlusCore Fusion - Pure Abs & ArmsCore Fusion - Thighs & GlutesCore Fusion Body SculptCore Fusion Lean & TonedCore Fusion Power SculptCore Strength PilatesCore Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour with Sadie NardiniCore YogaCreative Core AbsCreative Writing In Health And Social CareDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDance the Chakras Yoga WorkoutDeep ListeningDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDetox YogaDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Optimum HealthDr. Andrew Weil's Mindbody ToolkitEastern Body, Western MindEasy YogaElement: Barre ConditioningElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEmotional Chaos to ClarityEmotions, Stress, and HealthEvamarie Pilipuf's Yoga Express DVDEvery Day Yoga for Every Body DVDEveryday GreensEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEveryday Yoga for Stress Release Everything VeganExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptFamily YogaFast Food for the SoulFat and FuriousFear and Other Uninvited GuestsFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow and YinFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFully PresentGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Ripped & ChiseledGood MedicineGoodbye, ThingsHandbook of MindfulnessHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealthy AgingHealthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHemalayaa's Yoga for Young Bodies DVDHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHot Body Cool Mind - Level 1Hot Body Cool Mind: Waking Energy How to Cook Everything VegetarianHow Would Buddha Act?I Contain MultitudesI'd Rather LaughIn Defense of FoodInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangInsight Yoga with Sarah PowersIntegrated YogaIntegrative MedicineIntroduction to Ashtanga Yoga DVDIntroduction to Qi YogaIntroduction to Yoga DVDIt's Up to YouJanis Saffell Beverly Hills YogaKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKnowing the Nature of FearKripalu YogaKripalu Yoga Dynamic DVDKripalu Yoga Gentle DVDKundalini Yoga : DVDKundalini Yoga for Beginners & BeyondKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - MONDAYKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - TUESDAY - CoreKundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga Meditation for Complex Psychiatric DisordersKundalini Yoga on the BallKundalini Yoga Solar Power All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDKundalini Yoga Transformer All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga: Green Energy of the HeartLife MakeoversLifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Living BeautifullyLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLiving Your Best LifeLiving Your DreamLunar Flow YogaMadhur Jaffrey's World VegetarianMake It Fast, Cook It SlowManage Your Depression Through ExerciseMaui PilatesMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back PainMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for IBSMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for InsomniaMean GenesMeditation in a New York MinuteMeditations for BeginnersMindful AmericaMindful AngerMindfulnessMindfulness for BeginnersMindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and ApplicationsMisadventures of a Garden State YogiMozart's Brain and the Fighter PilotNamaste Yoga: Season 3 Part 1NeuroLogicNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesNutrition Essentials for Mental HealthPassionate VegetarianPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPilates AnatomyPilates for BeginnersPilates for MenPositivityPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower YogaPower Yoga for HappinessPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPrenatal FlowPrescriptive StretchingPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPsychology Moment by MomentPure and Simple YogaPure SculptPure Yoga Pilates with Kerry BestwickQi Gong Fire & Water With Matthew CohenQi Gong Flow for BeginnersQi Gong for Low Back PainQi Gong for Upper Back and Neck PainQi Gong for Weight LossQi Workout AM/PMQiGong for Healthy Joints & BonesQiGong IllustratedQuick Blast MethodReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRed Lotus YogaResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDSaving NormalSelf-CompassionSeven Challenges To Change Your Life DVDSleep BetterSolar Flow Yoga DVDSoupsSparkSpontaneous HappinessSports Hypnosis in PracticeStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStrength & SpiritStrength, Grace, HealingStress ReliefStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySun SalutationsSuper Natural CookingSuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift SupersurvivorsSurf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2Tai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTaming Your Inner BratTeach Yourself MeditationTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTen Minutes to RelaxThe Accidental VeganThe Angelica Home KitchenThe Art and Science of MindfulnessThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Beginner's Guide to Healthy EatingThe Best Things You Can EatThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Breathing FieldThe Cafe Brenda CookbookThe Complete Book of Raw FoodThe Complete Vegetarian HandbookThe Easy Yoga WorkbookThe Feeling Good HandbookThe Five Things We Cannot Change ...The Good LifeThe Happiness of PursuitThe Harvard Medical School Guide to YogaThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Health Psychology HandbookThe Healthy KitchenThe Heart of YogaThe Indian VegetarianThe Jewel Tree of TibetThe Joy of MeditatingThe Kettlebell BoomerThe Little Book of Healthy TeasThe Little Soy BookThe Little Yoga BookThe Mood CureThe Mozart EffectThe Myth of Freedom and the Way of MeditationThe Nature FixThe Perfect ExerciseThe Pilates Workout JournalThe Playful BrainThe Quest for Peace, Love, and a 24'' WaistThe Road to Calm WorkbookThe Self-Compassion Skills WorkbookThe Spa DeckThe Spirit of Buddhist MeditationThe Stoic Art of LivingThe Ultimate BALLET YOGAThe Ultra MindsetThe Way of StretchingThe Weight of the NationThe Well-Tuned BrainThe Will to Live and Other MysteriesThe Yin Yoga KitThink SmartTotal AstangaTotal Health the Chinese WayTotal PilatesTotal-Body ToningTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTransformative YogaTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaV-Core WorkoutVegan ExpressVegan for LifeVegetarian Turkish CookingViva Vegan!Walk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWalkingWalking a Literary LabyrinthWatch Me Do YogaWeight Loss Cardio KickWellbeingWhat We Say MattersWhen Things Fall ApartWriting in FlowYin and Yang YogaYin Yoga DVDYogaYogaYogaYoga & Pilates Workouts for DummiesYoga 4 TeensYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga AnatomyYoga and PsychologyYoga as MedicineYoga Beauty BodyYoga Bliss HipsYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Flow DVDYoga for AnxietyYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for EveryoneYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Regular GuysYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for the Young at HeartYoga for Your WeekYoga In BedYoga in BedYoga Inside Out: Go DeeperYoga Inside Out: The Healing WayYoga Journal's Yoga for StressYoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning DVDYoga Link: Core IntegrationYoga Link: Hip HelpersYoga Link: Shoulder Shape-UpYoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress ReliefYoga on DemandYoga Quick FixesYoga SanctuaryYoga SculptYoga ShaktiYoga TherapyYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga To Go's Yoga Quick Fixes DVDYoga to the Rescue - Feel Good from Head to ToeYoga to the Rescue for Back PainYoga to the Rescue for Neck & ShouldersYoga to the Rescue for Pain-Free Back, Neck & ShouldersYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogabodyYogawomanYou Can Think Yourself ThinYou'll See It When You Believe ItYour Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVDYour Brain on FoodYour Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings,Your Miracle BrainZen Encounters with Loneliness
by Cheryl Richardson
Broadway Books, 2000
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Jun 30th 2001
Here's a best-selling book full of advice I would be well advised to take, yet I find it nauseating. But then, that's to be expected -- I and the people I like cannot take self-help books seriously. Is it just intellectual snobbishness, or maybe a matter of personal taste, or is there some reason for the people who want to buy this book to think twice?
First, what's good about Life Makeovers?
Most importantly, it encourages people to interrupt their lives and think about how they are living. It encourages self-awareness and questioning. Here's a typical passage.
"At the risk of sounding dramatic, it's important to remember that when we put the needs of our business or company before our personal lives, we put our lives at risk. Not only do we put our emotional and physical health in jeopardy, we put our relationships with loved ones at risk as well. And of course, we damage the most important relationship of all -- our relationship to ourselves." (p. 50)
Richardson can't be accused of telling people to just accept the world as it is. She focuses on making life more meaningful. She highlights the importance of spontaneity. She calls her approach, "extreme self-care." The fundamental idea is that "in order to be there for others in a healthy way, you must first be there for yourself." (p. 87). She argues that far from being selfish, this approach will in the end enable one to help others more. She suggests that most of us, most of the time, engage in inefficient ways of working and living with confused priorities. By self-examination, we will be able to sort out our priorities and live far more efficiently.
Furthermore, Richardson is not snobbish. She writes very clearly, without jargon, for a wide readership. She has appeared on Oprah, and so has influenced millions of people. Her approach is simple: the book is set out into 52 chapters, one for each week, although most people will read the whole book in a few days or less. Each chapter ends with a "Take Action Challenge" and a list of resources that may help the reader to start working on the advice Richardson gives. She talks about problems that most people will have experienced: fear of the challenges we face at work and home, a sense of isolation and the need to connect with others, clutter in one's home and office, lack of exercise, sleeping badly, and so on. She has many helpful hints about how to deal with those problems.
What is problematic about this approach?
Richardson makes awfully big promises in the Introduction--that one's life will start to unfold in wonderful ways and become "pretty amazing." It's possible that some readers will benefit profoundly from reading the book, but I imagine that most readers will end up taking just one or two ideas from the book. That might be enough to make it worthwhile, but it will hardly be a radical transformation of one's life.
Some of the advice is banal and annoying. It's a great idea for people to have fun, but to advise making a sign that says "AM I HAVING FUN YET?" and hang it in your home or office smacks almost of self-parody. My wife says if I did that, she would wonder who had given me a lobotomy. Some of the suggestions for resources at the end of each chapter are useful, but many of them are all-too-revealing of new age sensibilities: New Age Magazine, the music of Kenny G and Yanni, Hallmark cards, and Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work. This fuels my suspicion that this approach is for people without any edge or taste, too ready to immerse themselves in warm fuzzy feelings and nonsense about spirituality.
Another aspect of Richardson's approach that I find off-putting is her apparent assumption in her suggestions that she is talking to successful, affluent people. She herself, as well as being a successful writer and speaker, is a personal coach. I don't know how much personal coaches charge, but I don't think I could afford one, and I don't know anybody who could. Since this book draws from her own experience and her experience with clients who can afford her services, it may be more specialized than readers expect. And although this is obvious, Life Makeovers is not for people starting out in their jobs and careers: it is for people who are some way into their lives and who have started to get stuck.
Richardson would probably say that her central idea of extreme self-care is potentially useful to everyone. Most of the resources she suggests are not very expensive, it's true. Maybe we can't afford a weekly massage or maid service, but often the reason for this is that we spend money on other things which are equally expensive, and we could afford to pamper ourselves if we changed our priorities. I like that Richardson suggests that people spend less at Christmas in order to focus on what is important. Nevertheless, she assumes that her readers have their own offices and that they have control over their office space, so she doesn't seem to be writing for people who work in office cubicles or who work in factories, prisons, garages, department stores, malls, and restaurants.
Richardson is a religious person and includes both the general idea of living a spiritual life and the more specific idea of praying in her advice. The seeming minority of people who, like myself, are impatient with talk of spirituality will find this off-putting (Oprah's daily section Remembering Your Spirit always has me shouting at the TV when I catch her show), but I suppose the majority will have no objection.
There's less to this book than it might seem. It contains some good advice, most of which is pretty obvious. If you are the kind of person who finds self-help books useful, and you are among the target readership, it might well be worth reading. It is thoroughly shallow, never discussing any issue for more than a few pages. Ultimately I suspect it will encourage people to adjust their lives rather than to make their lives over, as the title, Life Makeovers, seems to suggest. But then a makeover is really just a improvement in appearance, and so maybe the title is actually being honest about what the book is promising. The best I can say is that Richardson could be helping the reader take a step in the right direction. Ultimately, I would hope that readers could undertake systematic and profound reflections on how they are living their lives, but Life Makeovers does not have enough substance to enable them to do this.
A note on the audiobook:
The audiobook of Life Makeovers is available unabridged on a 4-CD set, read by the author. Richardson reads her own work well, in a calm and friendly voice. The track division on the CDs is a little strange: one would expect to have one track per chapter, but in fact there are fewer tracks than chapters, so some tracks have more than one chapter on them. The tracks start and end at unexpected points, including in the middle of chapters, which seems ill-planned. There is no listing of which chapters are on which tracks, and there is no accompanying booklet or insert. The audiobook also does not include the epigrams that begin each chapter and the list of resources that end each chapter.
© 2001 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.