My guest Book Reviewer this week is the lovely Karo Caran, Author and Holistic Life Coach. I think you’re really enjoy her review!
There are probably millions of books written about happiness. They are usually available in the self-help or the psychology sections of bookstores. However, when I want to learn about happiness–what is and how to achieve it–I avoid these two sections and head straight to biographies and memoirs. I believe that no theory can truly make us happy and that we learn from stories, not theories. As doctoral students, my classmate and I reveled in critiquing all sorts of theories and could find fault with all of them. They are not universal and not applicable to the beautiful and superbly unique beings that we are. Theories always include caveats and exclude context-specific circumstances and unforeseen events. So reading a book about someone who reveals their life story of overcoming adverse circumstances, of personal growth, and achieving their full potential is what makes me happy and inspired.
One of such books is Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “The Infidel.” Ayaan tells us her story of growing up in Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Kenya where she was emotionally and physically abused by her family and teachers/preachers. She was powerlessness when she was forced to undergo the female genital mutilation (FGM), enter into a loveless, arranged marriage, and endure the abuse of people who were physically stronger or who were authority figures. With nowhere to report the abuses (because they were accepted as cultural norms or family secrets), it would seem that Ayaan’s life would be a string of injuries inflicted on her body, mind, and heart.
There came a moment, however, when she rebelled: escaped, and built a new life for herself. This was the life in which she was in positions of power, the life in which her knowledge was respected, the life that she chose for herself and submitted to her wishes and desires alone. She had become a popular politician in the Netherlands and then joined a think tank in Washington D.C. Her books, speeches and interviews have educated the Western audiences about the influence of Islam on women’s lives and the socio-cultural expectations and pressures that women in many Muslim countries have to endure.
The story fascinates me because Ayaan raises from the position of utter powerlessness to that of respect, the respect of her body and for her knowledge. Naturally, I am happy for Ayaan’s current circumstances, but I’m also inspired by her story. I find happiness in believing that if Ayaan changed her life around, so too can we, anyone who goes through hardship. I’m in awe of the circumstances that lead us to fulfilling our full potential. Our path of growth often seems serendipitous and laden with insurmountable obstacles. And yet, we manage to meander through them and one day find ourselves smiling for having stepped on it in the first place.
I’d like to end with Ayaan’s beautiful description of what led to her life transformation. Please don’t take this as the recipe for finding happiness, but a window into one of the many incredible ways in which it is possible to break free from people/traditions that hold us back and to create our own happiness:
“I read novels and lived in the world of my imagination, filled with daring. As a reader, I could put on someone else’s shoes and live through his adventures, borrow his individuality and make choices that I didn’t have at home” (p 118).
Karo is a fairy coach, a holistic life coach whose mission is to empower you to rewrite your life’s fairytale & to introduce you to a healthier lifestyle. Make sure you pop over and see her delightful blog! http://lifeinjoy.net
If you’d like to write a guest blog post, I’d love to hear from you! Please email me: email@example.com