Title: Appreciation and Meaning Journal
Author: Andrew Eltes
The world moves so fast, and us along with it, that people don’t always find the time to be mindful of the present and to be appreciative of the many things in their lives that are potential sources of happiness, growth, and meaning. This is the basic premise, and the ultimate goal, of Andrew Eltes’s Appreciation and Meaning Journal. It aims to ground people in the present and to make meditation and mindfulness a part of their daily routine.
This book kept the structure, organization, and the writing style as wonderfully simple as its overarching theme. It didn’t focus too much on overly long explanations about the benefits of meditation. Rather, there was a short discourse on how answering the ten questions presented here has personally helped the author, and how it has changed his life for the better. It then provides sample answers, again based on the author’s own experience, to guide the reader through how they might formulate their own answers.
Self-disclosure is a wonderful thing. It always helps, when writing a self-help book, for readers to be able to understand and relate to the author. What little nuggets of self-disclosure Andrew Eltes has sprinkled throughout the introduction leaves one wishing he could have given more, as this would have made more of an impact on potential readers, especially those who start this journal with a purpose, and who are probably feeling just a little bit lost and disenchanted with their lives.
Andrew Eltes focuses strongly on positive thinking and on ensuring that one is in the right headspace when writing in this journal. It is an active process, hence the reason why this book might not be everyone’s cup of tea. As previously mentioned, this is one of those things that people reach for when they’re good and ready. It’s not something that can be forced on anyone, especially in light of the fact that about 70% of the book requires the reader to actually engage in the process by completing a daily journal.
The questions themselves are fairly easy to answer and doesn’t require the reader to write an entire essay. Rather, they get right to the point and to the heart of the matter. They are also framed in such a way that reinforces positive thinking. For example, rather than asking about the things that didn’t work, the journal asks about the things that are working well. It then asks how a person feels they might grow today, the emphasis being on trying new things and not being afraid to make mistakes, because these things can only lead to growth.
The challenge here will be to keep a reader’s momentum going once they have started. It’s easy to start a journal, and it’s always exciting to take those first tentative steps on the road to self-improvement. However, most people will inevitably hit that hump, where they forget why they’re trying to make the change in the first place. A tiny interval, or words from the author in-between the daily journal sections might have been useful. However, there are quotes on the top of the daily journal page that a reader may draw inspiration from.
Ultimately, the reader will make of this book what he or she will. The Appreciation and Meaning Journal will not force readers to write on and complete its pages out of an obligation to simply finish. Rather, it issues a gentle invitation to take part in a process that will enable readers to choose to be happy, to choose to be content, and perhaps most importantly, to choose to be kind to themselves and others. Simple and inspiring, this is one of those works that you never know you needed to read until you’ve read it, and it’s surely a welcome addition to the self-help genre.
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