I don’t read many self-help books, but the distinctive factor that makes the difference between the ones I read and all the rest is that the few I have read, all come across as conversations. They all feel like a friend giving you some advice… And Out of My Mind…and Intending to Stay There: A Battleplan for Life by Kurt Sussman is one such example…
It is an easy read because it is conversational, but don’t assume it’s also a quick read, as it will make you think… In fact, that’s the goal… Truth be told, the synopsis is pretty much one of the better and most accurate synopses I have read, especially for a self-help book.
“Irreverent in voice and delivery and lacking the ‘pious pomposity’ of most spiritual self-help methods and guides, ‘Out of My Mind’ shoots straight at the heart of the human condition to provide effective strategies to combat the tragedies and hardships that befall most of us at one time or another… with mathematical precision. ‘Out of My Mind’, born out of the wisdom of the ancient Martial Arts traditions and fused with global philosophical teachings and scientific principles, reveals a strategy designed to produce the perfect weapon for the task of attaining balance and personal happiness by training, revealing, and setting free the modern Warrior…you.”
This is a book written to be consumed, and at the same time, it is meant to poke and prod at your synapses to get the engine firing… How is the machine working? Are you out of your mind yet, because that’s where this book intends to take you, and for all of the right reasons.
Sussman’s voice isn’t unlike that of an extended TED Talk, in that there’s a repetition to some of the platitudes, reminiscent of those talks, because you know that the redundancy isn’t just for show, it’s for effect and poignancy. Also, like a TED Talk, Sussman isn’t afraid to break down that fourth wall.
I said this was conversational, but perhaps I wasn’t being direct enough… Kurt is talking (writing) TO YOU! To that extent he’s using direct and indirect methods to reach you… “If nothing else, I have to be consistent with restating things, because ideas and the adoption of them work like osmosis; it takes time for an idea (or water) to soak through a semi-permeable membrane (your awareness).”
He doesn’t sugar coat things, his “irreverent in voice and delivery” isn’t just for show to be edgy on the back cover of his book, it’s how he writes, and it’s not just a section, it’s how he maintains his voice. This is a book that’s not a soft friend, let’s have some tea and talk about your feelings… This is a sit down, let’s take an honest look at your life, and see what is going on in that head of yours, but let’s do it from the inside… I’m not going to tell you what’s wrong, you’re going to tell me what’s wrong.
This book is specific and yet general enough that when he is hinting at specifics, you can fill in your own life experiences easily enough. It’s not a stretch, it’s not an exercise, it just happens the way, I’m sure, he intended.
But most important, Sussman acknowledges the thing most self-help authors don’t… And he does it countless times, he is trying to help you, but if it works on page 7 or 47, then put down the book and go with what works!
“It is a bit of a conundrum…I am writing down words and plans and practices, telling you that words and thinking and language are the problem. Try to always remember that they are pointers– a call to action– and when you see the message, see the strategy, you won’t need to read this book any longer.”
He repeats that sentiment a few times… “If we all use the right tool everytime, I wouldn’t be writing this book, and you would not be reading it.” And I enjoy that honestly.
In the interest of keeping myself on track, here are ten quotes from this book that I thoroughly enjoyed.
- …let’s start accepting that the output from this little computer on our shoulders might be flawed…just because you think it, doesn’t make it Truth.
- Our vocation or station in life doesn’t have to be seen as work, or as a job; it’s the creative process of being alive.
- Action, born out of silent awareness in the NOW moment, is the most effective tool.
- If you spend your time and don’t buy happiness, you’re getting ripped off.
- If you live too much in the past or future, you will rob yourself of the Now, the only time that IS real.
- Chaos and struggle are a necessary part of our world and not an indicator that something is wrong or that we are tragically flawed.
- conditions are however we perceive them to be…and that’s important; it’s the meaning we give to the event that matters…and that is always our choice.
- Thought, emotion, and action are a trident that makes your soul resonate to a compatible frequency.
- I have to admit that a new idea can open up new fields for growth, but it is an action that does the planting.
- With all of us, to a greater or lesser degree, we have an inability in discerning if a challenge is real or simply the mind’s maladjusted interpretation of events.
Now you may notice a good chunk of these can be parsed back through certain religions, philosophies, or beliefs, but they are all still shaped by the experiences we have, and Sussman isn’t shy in sharing his.
In the end, this was actually a fun read, which makes it rare among self-help books… The only other book that was as conversational and entertaining was Chris Hardwick’s The Nerdist Way, but the two books diverge after calling them conversational self-help books… Still. A good read is a good read, whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, or even self-help.
So maybe take some time to check out Out of My Mind…and Intending to Stay There: A Battleplan for Life by Kurt Sussman. Because who among us couldn’t use a helping hand?