Help Yourself : How You Can Find Hope, Courage and Happiness

by Dave Pelzer | Other |
ISBN: 000711480x Global Overview for this book
Registered by footymadgill of Croydon, Surrey United Kingdom on 6/15/2010
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3 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by footymadgill from Croydon, Surrey United Kingdom on Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The conclusion to Dave Pelzer's autobiography

Journal Entry 2 by footymadgill at Camel & Artichoke in Waterloo, Greater London United Kingdom on Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Released 9 yrs ago (2/14/2012 UTC) at Camel & Artichoke in Waterloo, Greater London United Kingdom


Taking to tonights meet

Journal Entry 3 by erinacea at Friedrichshain, Berlin Germany on Friday, June 08, 2012
During my London trip, I had a look around a few of the OBCZ as listed by the OBCZ world map. The "Camel & Artichoke" was the only one I could actually reach (no long queues or tunnel floodings on the way!), that still existed (where art thou, Stamford Arms?) and that also had a dedicated book shelf (the "Roebuck" didn't), so this is where I left my two releases.

I took this book with me in return. It's probably good I didn't find any more that interested me, as my luggage bag was already much heavier on my return flight than on arrival, as it was. Thanks, looking forward to reading this!

Journal Entry 4 by erinacea at Friedrichshain, Berlin Germany on Sunday, January 31, 2016
I am currently challenging myself to read one book per week (mostly in attempt to rekindle my old habit of reading for fun instead of wasting time on the internet), and for whatever reasons I picked this book for last week's week-end reading.

Note that I've never read anything else by the same author and though I had heard mention of "A Child Called 'It'", I had no idea what it was about until I picked up this book. Neither of this detracted in the least from enjoying and indeed drawing benefit from this book.

In the beginning I wondered what qualifications Pelzer might have to write a self-help book, but it appears his personal backstory more than makes up for his layman psychology. A lot of motivational books suffer from hubris: the writer cannot imagine that people might have issues that can not be solved by a simple "just get up and do it". (I haven't really read a lot of self-help books, but of the few I read I chucked a few for this very reason.)

Pelzer never pretends turning your life upside down would be easy. Here's where his tragic childhood stories help: "Look," he says, "how awful my life used to be. And yet here I am today. Not dragged down by my past but stronger because I overcame it." This is an immensely powerful message that suffuses the entire book.

I don't share his views on every distant goal being worth striving for. It's a very American ideal, and I've also got the feeling that romanticizing his childhood is his way of coping. Some of his anecdotes are really thought-provoking. On the other hand, a few of them backfired on this reader. I don't think living on cat food or one instand-soup per day for years is worth any amount of millionaire income in the future. If it's what you've got to do to survive, that's one thing, but it sounds like these people did so because they spent every waking moment training (or whatever) when they could have been working to be able to afford some modicum of income. He also appears to advocate sleeping 4 or less hours a day, which I consider to be extremely unhealthy.

I liked that he included the example of wanna-be Olympic ice skater Mary, who spent years training hours each day and still failed to reach her goal. She later stated she held no regrets precisely because she "gave her all", so there was never any question of what might have been "if only" she trained harder. (The latter part is not explicit in the anecdote, but it's what I took from it.) On the other hand, it's the only non-success example. A few times he praises someone for giving everything "for the mere chance" of their dream and completely fails to mention the downside of this strategy: that if this plan fails, they've lost everything else.

Each section closes with a summary of Pelzer's main points (which is a great strategy), and even the Chapter titles themselves serve the same purpose. These are:

Get Rid of the Garbage in Your Life

By "garbage", Pelzer refers to the festering thoughts, memories that haunt us, past events we can no longer change. He makes the clear-sighted observations that such clutter tends to draw our focus on the past and thereby prevents us from evaluating what we've got at present and to raise our aims to the future.

This chapter was the one that hit me in the guts. I don't have nearly as haunting memories as Pelzer (and I greatly appreciate that he never makes light of whatever issues his readers might have; it would have been easy to tell them to "suck it up" but he didn't) but I still carry some parts of my past around with me like dead weight. I've come to terms with some of it (and eventually managed to forgive the involved people) but there are other parts I still need to reprocess.

Know What You Want out of Your Life

This is where I'm probably not Pelzer's intended audience as I rather lack ambition. I was consequently relieved (and surprised) to learn that when he asked around, a lot of people appeared to have the same problem, and that "to be happy, healthy and have a good life" was an absolutely worthwhile goal to have. Since I'm already content with my overall life and feel happy with my job, I don't need anything more right now. Occasionally I feel like I should care more about a career, making lots of money and being a relationship, but I don't and I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that that's alright.

Celebrate Who You Are and What You Have

I take issue with the word "celebrate" as it has a preachly ring to it. Still, Pelzer's point stands that the very fact that you made it to this point shows that you must have done something right, and that it's absolutely worth patting yourself on the back for this. Compared to the worst moments in your life (and if you've got time to read this book, it's probably something in the past), there might be things in your life that you might take for granted and really should appreciate more. I feel like I'm already miles ahead of what Pelzer is trying to tell me, but it's still good to get a reminder that (apparently) I'm on the right track.

I don't know yet what I'll be doing to this book. I might take it along to my next meet-up but since I'm no longer a Bookcrossing regular that might take a while.

Journal Entry 5 by erinacea at Kreuzberg, Berlin Germany on Sunday, April 10, 2016

Released 5 yrs ago (4/10/2016 UTC) at Kreuzberg, Berlin Germany


Taken along to today's breakfast meet-up in the "Zitrone".

Journal Entry 6 by Cheetah20 at Berlin (irgendwo/somewhere), Berlin Germany on Wednesday, April 13, 2016
The book was left behind at the meetup so I took it.

Journal Entry 7 by Cheetah20 at Nachbarschaftsgalerie in Alt-Treptow, Berlin Germany on Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Released 5 yrs ago (4/13/2016 UTC) at Nachbarschaftsgalerie in Alt-Treptow, Berlin Germany


In the Nachbarschaftsgalerie der KungerKiezInitiative e.V. in Alt-Treptow there is a place where books have chance to live on: its book exchange shelf. I hope the book might find more interested readers.

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