SMALL HABITS FOR A BIG LIFE is a classic self-help book for the general public. It is jargon-free and easy to read. She discusses habit transformation, trigger words, self-affirmation, self-defeating behaviours, goal setting, reward systems and self-trust. These are concepts that have been around for centuries, possibly millennia. Some classical scholars say Aristotle wrote the original self-help book, Nicomachean Ethics. There are hundreds of self-help books. Any bookstore has rows of them.
Dr Ray presents the material in an easy and non-threatening way. She doesn’t tell us about human behaviours so much as guide us to find out about our own behaviours. There are one-page case studies, diagrams of the behavioural changes process and many worksheets to help readers trace their own small habits, analyse them, and convert unhelpful habits to useful ones. Dr Ray believes it doesn’t take that long to change a defeating habit into constructive one. And, as the old saying goes, ‘If you think you can’t, you can’t. If you think you can, you can’.
The worksheets are helpful. They individualise the book in that each reader finds their own solutions to both everyday problems and larger dilemmas. Anyone can benefit from this book by using whatever parts of it they find helpful. Clearly no book can insure the Big Life, of the book’s title, but then it’s a good place to start changing habits that block creativity and happiness.
Psychologists may take issue with the book’s breezy style, but then people who use this self-help book carefully and seriously will benefit. Everyone will find something useful in it. Everyone will find something about themselves in it. Maybe someone will discover that a small life for them, IS the Big Life.
As Aristotle said “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”.
Dr Ray is an Australian clinical psychologist, in practice for twenty years. Her other books are Be Happy, The Universe Listens to the Brave, The Art of Self-Kindness,
Breakthrough and Setting Boundaries.
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia, July 2022