Monday, June 5, 2017

'When Changing Nothing Changes Everything' by Laurie Polich Short


Reframing your perspective can transform your life.

We often face circumstances that we cannot change—a job we are forced to keep, a relationship that did not work out, a decision we cannot take back. Life can overwhelm us, and we may not be able to see past the obstacles in our path.

Laurie Short offers a simple but revolutionary idea: change nothing that is around you yet still change everything about your life. With the help of four different lenses, Laurie shows how the way you see can have an impact on how you live. If you put on the right lenses, you can reframe whatever comes your way and embrace both the good and the bad, recognizing that every detail of your life is fully in God's sovereign hands. Your perspective has more power than you think to determine the course of your life.

I love the implications of this title. Instead of changing our behaviour and circumstances with the advice of yet another self help book, we could simply try tweaking our attitudes and the way we view our lives. It may take a pivotal turn, but could be well worth it in the long run.

I like the author's friendly and warm approach, and the way she sprinkles each chapter with stories and examples. Laurie Polich Short has come up with four possible ways we can view our personal worlds, which she likens to telescopes or magnifying glasses. There's the Big Lens view, which helps us see the broader perspective; the Present View Lens, which alerts us to what we might be missing; the Rear View Lens, which gives us insight in retrospect; and finally the Higher View, which focuses on hidden things which God might want to show us. Although none of these actually change what's in front of us, they enable us to see expanded versions.

Although it's a cool concept, the lens analogy has the potential to get a bit confusing at times, simply because the lenses tend to contradict each other. With just one set of spiritual eyes, we're being told to simultaneously look forward, back and stay where we are. In each section, we've instructed to focus on either our past, present or future, and take the spotlight off each of the others. That sounds bewildering, but I guess it's up to each reader to figure out which 'lens' to employ for each new circumstance. It's got the potential to tie our brains in knots.

The stories were interesting, although I thought a few were stretched a bit far. She mentions how Ben Carson's mother's strict discipline helped give him the outlook to become a successful surgeon. Yes, that's all good. But then she goes on to mention another, more permissive mother whose son grew up to become Adolf Hitler. Whoa, with one simple paragraph, Short seemed to pin the blame for the way he turned out on his mother's shoulders. She probably didn't mean it to sound like such an indictment or broad generalisation, but I thought it was a fairly harsh call just the same.

On the whole, it's an easy read with some good material, but you might have to sift through to find what gels with you, and ignore the rest of it. Hey, maybe in that way, it may appeal to a wide audience.

Thanks to NetGalley and Inter Varsity Press for my review copy.
3 stars

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