The old adage “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it” is perhaps the most accurate way to describe the theme of You’re Stronger Than You Think, The Power To Do What You feel You Can’t. It is an interesting blend of research studies from the medical community, social scientists, and others in support of the influential power of the mind, heart, and spirit. The authors’ premise is that when harnessed, these components within an individual can overcome human suffering.
Simply phrased by Dr. Parrot and Bill Dallas, “Your life story does not have to be dictated by your hardship. Take the energy it takes to stay stuck in your suffering, and use it to write a new chapter in your life.” The authors’ belief is clearly communicated that one does not have to stay in a state of inertia; each of us can create a new and exhilarating path for our lives. It is Dr. Parrot’s and Bill Dallas’s contention that many people give up on their dreams due to the inevitable disappointments in life, whether it be an illness, job loss, etc. Further, they suggest that a person can either get stuck in anger or resentment or use the tools presented in this book.
Among their practical suggestions are:
1) Starting a gratitude journal to become more conscious of one’s blessings.
2) Answering the questions in the “For Reflection” section at the end of each chapter. These invite the reader to contemplate the material at a deeper level, which also makes the content more personal.
3) Completing self-assessment questionnaires that also analyze the reader’s responses, with the goals of increasing one’s self-awareness and maximizing the effectiveness of the practical tools provided.
Inspirational and motivational quotes from scholars, artists, and philosophers are strategically placed throughout the book and add authenticity to the overall theme of the book. For example, in a section that discusses living a life of passion, the quote used is “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced”—Vincent Van Gogh.
The authors challenge readers to live a life that focuses on love and giving, learn the lessons that hardships have to teach us, and to take bold steps to risk change by rising from our comfort zones. To bolster this challenge, they cite a motivational quote from Andre Gide that states, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to leave the shore.” You’re Stronger Than You Think: The Power To Do What You Feel You Can’t asks readers to reflect more deeply into their own lives to examine what they might do differently to forge a more fulfilling journey for themselves.
The most compelling parts of the book are the personal stories of both authors that add credence to the fact that though we all have serious life challenges, almost any life issue can be overcome. Co-author Bill Dallas’s crisis, for example, was truly one of dashed dreams, loss, and redemption. As a high-rolling entrepreneur he was convicted of embezzlement and served time in San Quentin. After losing friends, family, and nearly his spirit as well, he ultimately came to believe that the real walls were in his mind. Through his newfound faith, he was able to rise again and build a life of integrity.
While You’re Stronger Than You Think: The Power To Do What You Feel You Can’t is valuable for people in transition or in turmoil, there are some caveats that may distract readers from what is otherwise a well-researched and well-meaning book. For instance, prior to the Introduction of the book in a section entitled “How to Get the Most from This Book” the mention of the website and reference to an optional workbook could be construed as self-promotional. It would seem more appropriate to place this portion at the end of the book. Additionally, the workbook exercises are mentioned in almost every chapter, which make it an essential companion to the book. It felt as if some intrinsic value was lost without it.
The repetitive use of parenthesis to distinguish which author is speaking as in I, (Les) or I (Bill) detracts from the flow of the book and can be distracting to the reader. Lastly, the use of absolutes such as “We need God” and “We need God’s power” can be off-putting to some readers who are not “God Followers,” as the phrase is coined. These terms may limit the audience for the book in this regard.
Despite these minor concerns, You’re Stronger Than You Think is a worthwhile book for many readers and a welcome addition to the self-help genre.