Most of the self-help books I read have a similar underlying vein -- our thoughts, or our thinking, create the stress and suffering in our life, and not actual reality. You only have to look at my resource page to find out I am a big fan of this philosophy, with favorite authors including Richard Carlson and Eckhardt Tolle. And I'm sure there are others out there I am waiting to find. But the most recent is Byron Katie -- and what I love about her book, Loving What Is (by her and Stephen Mitchell) is that she gives you a simple yet very powerful tool to investigate your thinking.
In some ways it seems too simple. The method is called inquiry and you can do it on any troubling thought at all. In fact, the process is supposed to bear striking similarities to the Zen koan and the Socratic dialogue, although it has come from an ordinary woman who one day woke up to the fact that she was creating her own suffering through her thinking.
Using a pen and paper you write down your worst, most stressful, troubling thoughts, then ask yourself four questions. Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it's true? How do you react when you think that thought? Who would you be without that thought? And then you turn it around (by changing the wording of the original thought).
I loved the fact that the book itself contained many real-life example inquiries facilitated by Katie. Because our thoughts can so easily trick us, it was helpful to see how she rephrased some of the questions to allow those inquiring to get at the truth.
I also liked Katie's own stories about her life and how she developed inquiry. I felt that her world view was very insightful. The way she meets reality instead of trying to alter it -- thinking things 'should' be different -- is really at the crux of her method.
I think that no self-help book can challenge your thinking as much as engaging with a good real life therapist, but if cost is a problem or you are still not ready to take the plunge, then using a technique like Katie's is a good Do-It-Yourself place to start.
© 2015 Mind, Body & Scroll.