Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Peaks and Valleys by Spencer Johnson, M.D.

Peaks and Valleys: Making Good and Bad Times Work for You—At Work and In Life by Spencer Johnson, M.D. is a slender volume, a narrative told in the form of a parable meant to teach valuable life lessons. To be honest, I approached this book with extremely low expectations. I had read, and loathed, his best-selling Who Moved My Cheese? I did not anticipate enjoying this book at all. So it is with some pleasant surprise that I say I liked this book enough to not hate it. Admittedly, nothing Johnson shares is new and the parable makes the profundity of the lessons come off as almost trite. Anyone with a modicum of familiarity with Greek philosophy (Aristotle, Plato, and Epictetus in particular) and/or Buddhist teachings will not find anything new within these pages. What Johnson manages to do is take great ideas and synthesize them for the masses, rather like pop music. If you prefer classical, avoid this book. You won’t enjoy it. But if you are not likely to ever curl yourself up with the classics then you’ll probably find this book interesting and maybe even enlightening as it addresses how our perceptions define our circumstances, driving home the simple truth that our circumstances do not define us so much as how we respond to them. All in all, not a bad book but not brilliant. For brilliance, I’ll stick with what’s been said before by far superior teachers.

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