Weekend Reads: “Why Smart People Hurt”
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have to be honest; I nearly abandoned this book. Then, about halfway through, it was as though I suddenly grasped what the author had been getting at the entire time.
Author Eric Maisel, whose brilliant The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person’s Path Through Depression was a life changer for me, posits a concept he calls natural psychology. Through this framework, he explains that intelligent, creative people often have crises of meaning. Because their available personality (the one that has developed over time) may cause these crises as a perfectly normal response to awful situations, Maisel has ideas for how to find meaning … or even to choose to be what he calls “meaning neutral” for a time to recharge one’s batteries.
Maisel maintains that the concepts he describes will help people get through challenges by choosing their intent in a given situation. One example he cited hit home; one may develop meaning from a sometimes dreadful job because of the relationship one has with a supervisor. If that supervisor moves on, finding a new way to have meaning — perhaps through volunteerism — will help. I have had enough meaningless jobs with meaningful managers that it made sense.
I have to say that it seems like it would be worth trying, if I’m perfectly honest. I only took off a star because it seemed like the book took a while to make its point.