Tag Archives: change

Shift Happens! by Robert Holden

Shift Happens: How to Live an Inspired Life...Starting Right Now!Shift Happens: How to Live an Inspired Life…Starting Right Now! by Robert Holden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I seem to be in a Robert Holden kick these days, and for good reason I think: this guy obviously knows what he’s talking about. He practices what he preaches, and it seeps through every word, every sentence he writes. He is honest and transparent, and doesn’t hide potential challenges to his philosophy.

Because, let’s get this straight: Holden’s work presents a philosophy of life. It may be wrapped in self-help paper, but dig a little and you have a fascinating, and eminently positive, conception of human beings and human life.

I think that Shift Happens is a great place to start if you’re new to Holden. It is comprised of short, punchy essays that develop an idea or a topic, such as feeling stuck, relationships, and struggling. It is filled with inspirational quotes and stories of transformation, of people who were just a miserable as you feel and discovered that there was a better way.

However, I’m starting to hit a wall with Holden: as much as I am inspired by his writing, I’m having a hard time finding ways to do what he suggests: letting go of guilt, fear and expectations. He routinely suggests to release control and give it up to God (not the Christian God but rather a general idea of divinity). Not being especially religious, I sometimes have trouble relating to this advice, but I admit that everyone needs some spiritual nourishing in their life. So here I am, trying to understand this concept of God and trying to give my struggles up.

There’s also a lot of talk about mediation, but little instruction on how to do it. In Holden’s world, it seems to be simply a matter of sitting down somewhere and being still. And it might just be as simple as that, but a single paragraph giving basic instructions would be appreciated, if only in appendix.

If you want a quick inspirational read, I strongly suggest this volume. However, if you want to delve deeper into Holden’s philosophy and approach, you can get Happiness Now!: Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good FAST, which I have reviewed earlier.

This book matters because it is filled with wisdom that we simply have forgotten and need to relearn. If you even only read one chapter a day, you’ll feel more inspired, more positive and definitely more hopeful. The secret? Live in the present.


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Reverb11 Day 13: Facing the Real World

What scared you this year more than anything else? Did you learn anything new about yourself?

Leaving school was the scariest thing for me this year–probably in my entire adult life.

Let’s look back:

2004: I leave CEGEP to start a social sciences certificate at UQAM. I do very well in my first semester and I am surprisingly pleased by both my performance and how well I seem to be integrating.

2005: I start my English and Liberals Arts BA at Concordia. These three years will remain probably the best of my life. I met a lot of good, life-long friends. I had fun. I studied hard. I learned so many things, became perfectly bilingual, and made a choice to pursue the academic path.

2008: I move to Victoria to pursue my master’s degree at UVic. My boyfriend of only two years follows, leaving his family behind. Again, I meet great friends who I am glad to still call so. I also do well, meet interesting people and pursue interesting research.

2010: I move to Edmonton to start my PhD. I leave my boyfriend behind in Victoria (one of the worst mistakes of my life). I meet great people, especially Leanne.

April 2011: I’m starting to have doubts about my place in the PhD. My project doesn’t excite me, I’m not making efforts to publish and I feel generally frustrated about my chances of finding a job after I graduate. I feel like all of this will amount to nothing and I will have toiled away at a dissertation for a life of stress and near-poverty.

July 2011: I officially withdraw from my PhD and move to Vancouver, on a hopefully temporary basis.

Leaving academia after so long has been the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Academia is safe and cozy; there’s a structure, a system that I have come to know and can navigate well. No one is really ever ready to face the real world after years of being in an institution, of whatever kind.

The real world is scary. Not everyone loves books as much as I do. I can’t relate to everyone I meet at least on that basis. Not only is it hard to relate to people in general, but it’s also hard to relate to the world. How do people manage without semesters? How do they separate their year? This daily, non-stop grind without any boundaries is awfully terrifying.

I moved from a relatively homogenous environment to something that is scarily diverse. I can’t deal with all the stuff there is out there. My life was simple, clear, focused. Now I’m pulled in four different directions just to survive: writing, grading, community management and translation. There’s no clarity, no simplicity, no focus. I’m lost.

I hope that a job will help me regain this focus, but for now, I have to play with the cards I am dealt. The challenge is teaching me a lot about myself and my resilience. If I can get through this, I can get through anything. I am staying hopeful for the future because I am smart, talented and motivated. And I’ll make work for myself if that’s what it takes.

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