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Tag Archives: non-fiction

I actually finished this book (Spontaneous Happiness by Dr. Andrew Weil) awhile ago.

I’m not much for self-help books.  I generally find the boring and not terribly helpful.  To be vague about it, I think self-help books deal with symptoms and not the root cause.  But anyway, I picked up the book because I like reading the odd column I find written by Dr. Weil on the various news sites I visit and I was curious as to what he had to say about happiness and what he did about his depression (he suffered from dysthymia).

Dr. Weil promotes the idea of emotional well-being in his book as opposed to the very general term, “happiness.”  Happiness is hard to measure.  I mean, how happy are you supposed to be at any time to be considered healthy?  Also, being happy means different things to different people.  Thus, Dr. Weil does not consider “being happy” the neutral point of emotional well-being.

Dr. Weil puts forth the idea that we should reconsider happiness, which he associates as a response to outward things, as our emotional neutral zone to contentment, which he defines as something that is more enduring and something outside of satisfying needs and desires.  To this end, he speaks of his medical model of integrative medicine, in which you do not treat a person as a biological machine, in which some input gives you an output just through chemical means, but that emotional health and biological health are intricately tied together.  Thus, the book provides advice on biological means on which to help stabilize mood and also strategies from psychology, all toward the means of supporting emotional wellness.  Toward the end of the book, there is an 8-week program that can be tailored to the reader’s needs.

I like his effort in refreshing the medical model and what he says in this book about how integrative medicine is needed in treating what seems to be an epidemic of depression (as well as everything else).  If nothing else, this book gives some perspective on your well-being as a whole person.  Emotional health is just as important as biological health if YOU are going to be healthy.  I would recommend this book if you’d like some tips in maintaining your emotional wellness, or at least look at emotional health in a different way.

By the way, this book isn’t treatment for major depressive disorder.  You need to see your doctor about that.

I recently “read” Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan.  “Read” is in quotes because I ended up borrowing the illustrated version of the book from my local library (btw, libraries are a wonderful resource and you should definitely utilize them while you have the chance).  I hadn’t realized there was an illustrated version.  So, the whole book ended up reading a lot like a child’s picture book.  Not that I mind.  But I was expecting something more like one of his other books, like In Defense of Food or An Omnivore’s Dilemma, you know…actual books that you have to read.

Anyway, I picked up Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, illustrated edition, and it was rather interesting.  I didn’t particularly need a rulebook on how I’m supposed to eat.  I picked the book up because I like his writing and his take on food.  Have you realized that a lot of the things that we consider food today aren’t really?  They’re so processed that they’re more like the nutritional pellets of science fiction novels.  Also, I was curious what kind of rules he could possibly put down on how to eat.  What I found was basically, you should “[e]at food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  The “rules” that he has in the book aren’t really rules in a traditional sense.  They’re more like guidelines to help you rethink what food is and what your relationship is to it.

One rule that made me rethink my relationship with food was “stop eating before you’re full.”  That one is interesting.  But it seems to be true for a lot of cultures around the world.  They don’t eat until they’re stuffed and their belly feels like it’s going to explode.  They eat until they are no longer hungry, which is not the same as eating until they’re full.  I’m not sure how I’m supposed to apply this when I’m babysitting (zombie sitting?) the zombie stomach.

Here’s another rule, just because.  “Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism.”  Maybe you should treat them like how you would suspicious hot dogs.

Anyway, pick it up and give it a read.  If nothing else, it’s short (because it’s like a picture book).