Formula Overload

The Self-Help and Philosophy section overflows with a plethora of books to prescribe us out of our problems. Everyone exhaustively probes for perspective. I digress. Hopefully, this is funny to some of you.

Did you know I call my best friend “Perspective”?

You read that right. When we first met, I guessed his middle name as Patrick. After realizing he had many awe-inspiring notions about life, struggle, success, and failure, I began referring to him as Perspective. Years have gone and I’m still gathering insight. One thing he and I have discovered together is: “There is no one formula to solve life’s problems.

I’m reminded of the mnemonic for naming the notes on the treble clef:

Who remembers “Every Good Boy Does Fine”?

I’ll never forget it! I sing, I play, and I learn music. This easy shortcut has served me well for many years. But formulas can be too good! Here’s the problem: One gets so focused a finding less than discerning solutions to issues and then the motive becomes: If I just do this and this. I’ll achieve this.

I dove into countless books on happiness, joy, faith, addiction, and health. They all have great therapeutic value. While some make it into the pantheon of books I reference consistently, others leave me incredulous that I trusted the notion that I would be enlightened.

I have began Matthew Kelly’s “Resisting Happiness”. The first chapter’s lexicon is painstakingly simple. The book has a Christian leaning, and I’m a Christian but I hope the book is not terribly circular. When I say circular, I refer to an author’s tendency to use different words to regurgitate the same metaphor.

Many Christian books are initially loaded with scriptural reference. That is not to say that this practice is abhorrent. However, this practice can make the writer’s work very banal and almost maudlin. Sure, Christians who believe in God and authority of Jesus need to share experiences.

Some authors rely on weaving formulaic pathos to evoke influence. This method only works for a set number of people before it gets stale and utterly ineffective. I like the “Boundaries” series of books by doctors Henry Cloud and John Townsend. To their credit, they give character and relevance to their views on Christian life and substantiate how relationships harm or empower the human psyche.

I advocate reading as much as it takes to arrive at eureka moments along your life journey. For most, a variety of views, opinions, practices, and habits shape a better person. We cannot live in the world without having a balanced view of it. The balance burgeons a drive to examine perspectives even if these perspectives end up discarded. What will make one more discrete and utterly sanctified is: knowing unequivocally WHY we believe what we believe. It’s harder to fear attack when we have the tools to prove things without strawman arguments based on erroneous information.

That is the best solution for a “doubting Thomas”. That’s the guy who transcended a lion-share of fear before he believed in the Messiah.

I used to be afraid of understanding why some people have opinions that sidestep raw, prove-able facts. Now, I read, analyze, pray, and thoughtfully consider. No one formula will solve all issues.

As I retire, “Remember to test all things. Hold on to what is good.” But in your testing remember, every person’s product for “good” is not the same formula as yours. And that is OKAY.

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