This is How: Help for the Self: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude, & More. For Young and Old Alike.”is one of those books that you read while underlining and turning down the corners of most pages. I couldn’t do this when I read it because I read a library copy.
I have read a lot of self-help books over the years, including Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, one of my absolute favorites, but This Is How delivers its universally applicable messages in a compelling way. The advice is straight forward, clear, useful and rings of the truth, so much so that I wrote a few passages down when I was reading it in the lull between workshops at a conference booth I staffed in early December.
I have bought a copy for my daughter, gave another copy to my best friend, and am going to buy two more copies of – one for my son and one for me soon.
The following passages are some of the ones that particularly resonated with me and I hope they prompt you to go buy the book which Mr. Burroughs feels he was born to write. I agree.
“You cannot be a prisoner of your past against your will. Because you can only live in the past inside your mind.” (107)
“And loss is not a subtraction. As an experience, it is an addition. Even when we lose a leg or an arm there’s not less of us but more. Human experience weighs more than human tissue.” (114)
“The past does not haunt us. We haunt the past. We allow our minds to focus in that direction. We open memories & examine them.” (122)
“It is through work that challenged me and required continuous freshness that I began to occupy not the past but this, right now…Being busy is not the same as being focused. Being focused means being here. (123)
“Sometimes a particular trauma may be the largest thing we have ever experienced. So we kind of move into, make it our home. Because there’s nothing in our lives on the scale of that loss or that trauma. So you need a larger life. Something that can successfully compete with your past.” (125)
“It does not matter whether or not those responsible for haring you ever understand what they did, care about what they did, or apologize for it. It does not matter. All that matters is your ability to stop fondling the experience with your brain. Which you can do right now.” (131)
“Letting go of a dream because it cannot be yours is not failing!” (150)
“Pissed-off people need back rubs and they also need gym memberships.” (183)
One of the most potent chapters is “How to End Your Life” – where Augusten shares his suicide attempts and the blessing he had when he realized he wanted to end his life but not die. And so he did end, that is, change the life he was living including changing his birth name.
I could go on and on but I think I’ve made my point. This is a useful book.
Note: I read the first of Mr. Burrough’s three memoirs, the best-selling Running with Scissors before I bought This Is How. Running with Scissors was harrowing – he had a childhood filled with neglect, inappropriateness and abuse by his parents and neglect and sexual abuse by other adults. Still he survived and has moved beyond this. I haven’t been able to get to the subsequent memoirs yet but probably will.