John Sean Doyle is the Serenity Prayer personified. He amplifies what is beautiful, enlivening, and possible for all of us. He also diminishes the debilitating power negative events often have in our lives. Through smart, sensitive and honest essays, Doyle takes the findings from the research into happiness and well-being and makes them personal by applying them to the human struggles we all go through in life, such as loved ones becoming ill, wrestling with the complexities of being good parents, or navigating challenges in the workplace.
Each essay is grounded in science with references to further reading, and each is filled with poetry. Doyle helps us acknowledge where we are in the struggle, shines a light on the good things around us, and inspires hope and a sense of meaning through an emphasis on kindness, humility and our connections with one another.
“How are we to live in such a world? We leaf through the pages of sacred texts. We wring beautiful truths from antiquity’s scrolls. We plot what science has taught on distribution curves. However, sometimes what we want and need and long for is simple validation of where we are in the struggle. To be given hope and reasons to hope. To be assured that while the things in life can be hard, difficult, scary, irrational, unjust and unfair, that fundamentally there is no reason to fear or fret or fade. There is always, always just-cause to love life and to celebrate the tender, rapturous, beautiful intimacies that also are our inheritance. We are not the first ones in this world to suffer or struggle or doubt. We won’t be the last. And there is comfort in knowing we never need go it alone.” From the the first essay: Frequented by Longing: An Introduction
Subtitled “A love letter,” the reader walks away from Being Human with a deep sense of being in love with life, even with all life’s imperfections and hardships. The comment shared most often after reading Doyle’s essays is, “I needed this.”
Most books you read once and then set aside. Being Human is an exception because of the hope and meaning on every page. I also love it for its refreshingly slim size: It’s a book we can all read before the New Year.In Being Human, John Sean Doyle establishes himself as the poetic voice of positive psychology.
I have a prediction: You will not want this book to end.
Being Human is one of my favorite gifts to give this holiday season.
Thank you, John Sean Doyle, for showing us the way to a good and authentic life.
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Doyle, J. S. (2015). Being human: A chapbook of selected essays: A love letter. Rainstick Press.
John Sean Doyle has written several articles for Positive Psychology News. Here’s a link to his collection.