Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Good Person Guidebook by Richard Bayer, Ph.D.

The Good Person Guidebook: Transforming Your Personal Life by Richard Bayer, Ph.D.

I'm not a huge follower of self-help books or anything too preachy/teachy. I know there are lots of great books out there that fall in to the category, but for me there's something about them that normally makes the info go in one ear and right out the other. What I mean to say is, I'll read them, and at the time the info seems good and dandy. Later, however, the info is gone. C'est la vie.

So, ordinarily, I probably wouldn't have walked in to a store, seen Bayer's book on the shelf, and immediately thought "I have to read this!" But when the opportunity came up to review the book, I decided I'd give it a go. Admittedly, I wasn't sure what I was going to be getting myself in to, but I thought the title was interesting. And I found myself wondering what, if anything, I might learn from reading The Good Person Guidebook. As it turns out, I didn't necessarily learn a lot from the book, but I did pick up a couple of new things and got a good refresher course in a few others.

Many of the points touched on were what I'd refer to as self explanatory or even basic common sense. Do unto others as you'd have done unto you. This should, in theory, be a basic thought process and belief in everyone's mentality. Sadly, though, I understand that is not the case. All too often there are more people than not who don't seem to grow up with the proper upbringing, and with it all the morals- those basic and more deep -that the rest of us have been blessed to learn at a young and early age.

I will say that I found the layout and styling of the book to be enjoyable. Broken down in to three main sections, the author shows readers how to determine their perspective on ethics (What makes a good person good.), how said ethics apply to their character, and how to apply the ethical principals to life as a whole. From there the author breaks things down further yet, and really shows a good overview of how the world as a whole- not just the Western nations - views and deals with ethical issues. For example, Christianity is a religion that puts a lot of stock in good ethics. Christians believe you must strive to be like God (ie good in all ways), do unto others as you'd have them do unto you, and live a righteous life. (That's not to say, by the way, that Christians are trying to be God. Not at all. I'm just saying that we strive to be as God created us to be- perfect. None of us ever will be perfect, but following the right paths through life will help us to come as close as possible.) But did you know that for all the badmouthing Islam gets, it's got a lot of the same principals at heart as Christianity? As a people, Islams are not the extremeists with a total disregard for life that many people in today's society take them to be. Quite the opposite according to Bayer. According to the information included in his book, Bayer shows how Islam is actually a religion based on ethical treatment of people, their lives, and their beliefs. Christianity and Islam were not the only two religious thoughts mentioned in The Good Person Guidebook either. And while this text is not written from any particular religious vantage point, it was very interesting to see how each religion mentioned brings so many of the same things to the table wherein ethics is concerned.

There were loads of practical tips and pieces of advice incorporated in to this book, and plenty to do with transforming your personal life- as indicated by the title. However, I think the book might have been more aptly titled The Good Person Guidebook: Transforming Your Personal and Professional Life. By this I mean that there was an awful lot that had to deal with employee/employer relationships and ethics within a company. This information is undoubtedly very helpful in the right circles. Though as a person who picked this book up based on the claim of transforming the personal life, I found a lot of the business approach to be completely unapplicable to me and my situation. In fact, I understand why maybe the author chose not to incorporate the business side of things in to his title because if he had it might deter the common person, such as myself, from reading his book. And really there is a lot of great information in it that can be applicable to all parts of life, even for those of us that don't quite have the lifeline to the business issues it touches on.

To summarize, The Good Person Guidebook: Transforming Your Personal Life is definitely a book worth reading if you're looking to even just reaffirm your own moral standing on goodness. The author included lots of great quotes, charts, thought provoking personal and discussion questions, as well some exercises the reader can do to help determine where he/she is in life now and where he/she would like to be in life further down the road. I, myself, have not done the two exercises at the end of the book (a Seven Stories exercise and the 15 or 40 year Vision plan), yet I think I will probably go back to them later on. They look quite interesting, and I'm curious to see what their end results would show in regards to my own personal life.

-Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC

P.S. Thanks to online publicist, Lisa Roe, for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

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