Review: How To Save Your Own Life by Michael Gates Gill

I’m a sucker for lists. “Best of” lists are big this time of year and I love looking at them, but I also enjoy any type of round up. Boil something down to a few essential elements and give me the bullet points! “5 Easy Ways to Get Organized” or “8 Steps to a Better Sex Life” on a magazine cover immediately gets my attention. So when How To Save Your Own Life, with the subtitle 15 Lessons on Finding Hope in Unexpected Places, came up on tour over at TLC, I was all over it, even though it didn’t promise to get me organized or teach me how to be sexy(er). <— Those who know me can now stop laughing.

Author Michael Gates Gill writes about what it was like to go from being a high powered, highly paid advertising executive with a privileged lifestyle to a guy who lost everything later in life; the job he’d held for 25 years, his decades-long marriage, and his health. His world was in turmoil and seemed to be crashing down around his ears. Change was forced upon him yet that turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to him. At his lowest point, he walked into a Starbucks on a day they were recruiting new employees and met a young woman named Crystal who turned his life around by offering him a job (even though he wasn’t there looking for one); a job in which serving others is priority #1. He surprised himself by accepting the offer. Learning to serve others was pivotal in fundamentally changing who he was on the inside, and now he is a much better and happier human being for it.

This is a short little memoir-ish book (about 200 pages), yet it took me more than two weeks to read it. I kept it on my nightstand and read one “lesson” per day, savoring the lessons and ‘saving my life’ in bite sized chunks. Gill writes plainly and simply about his experiences and what he learned from them, and offers others ways in which they can apply these lessons to their own lives.

None of this is rocket science and I didn’t encounter any earth shattering new ideas or experience any Aha! moments. However.. this book came at a good time for me. Basic ideas like being grateful, simplifying and letting go of material things, unplugging (from cell phones, pda’s, watches, computers, etc.), laughing more, leaping with faith (rather than over-thinking everything), following your heart, etc. are things I’ve been giving quite a lot of thought to lately as I do my annual resolution making for the incoming year and reflection on the outgoing one.

Leaping with faith and not over-thinking is something I’ve always struggled with. I tend to over-analyze and worry things to death. However, leaping with faith was one of the best things I ever did when, in 2008, I asked someone I trust and consider a friend to start a business with me, even though we’d never actually met in person (we’ve since remedied that). Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first!) but sometimes you just have to go with your gut. I’m so glad I did.

This charming book full of inspiring thoughts and good reminders will have a permanent spot in my nightstand. I’ll take it out whenever I need a pick-me-up of positivity or a little nudge of courage because let’s face it, change can be scary. It can also be great.

Here are the rest of the stops on this TLC Book Tour:

Monday, January 4th: MidLifeBloggers

Tuesday, January 5th: Life and Times of a “New” New Yorker

Wednesday, January 6th: Books on the Brain

Thursday, January 7th: The Written World

Tuesday, January 12th: TexasRed’s Books

Wednesday, January 13th: It’s All A Matter of Perspective

Thursday, January 14th: A Novel Menagerie

Tuesday, January 19th: Confessions of a Book a Holic

Wednesday, January 20th: Thoughts of an Evil Overlord

Monday, January 25th: Silver and Grace

Tuesday, January 26th: Inventing My Life

Wednesday, January 27th: Write for a Reader

A big “Thank You” to Anne at Penguin for sending me this book to review.

17 Responses

  1. I am a worrier and a risk-adverse person. I like my comfort zones, and I analyze everything to death (curse of being an accountant). This book would probably be good for me. I’ve got another book I just bought on Kindle called “The Happiness Project”. Obviously I have some underlying issues trying to reach the surface!!! haha

  2. Thanks for the comment on my review. Yours is wonderful too! I love books that make you think about where you area and where you are going. It took me a little while to finish the book too because it’s a lot to ponder! Leap with faith…that was my favorite. Thanks again!

    • Hi Amanda, I was surprised at what good timing it was for you to read the book. All the changes coming down the pike for you have got to be a little frightening. Leap! Be happy!

  3. I admire people who can take the positive out of every situation. I’m sure I would have been having a pity party if I’d been the author.

  4. Sometimes I think books come to us at just the right time. A book that makes you stop and think is not a bad thing at all.

    I don’t care for those overly perky, upbeat folks that let stress glide off of them like water but it’s a special talent to take a hardship and turn it around.

    • I completely agree, Ti! There’s a commercial promoting the show Cougar Town with Lisa Kudrow saying to Courtney Cox, ‘You need to turn your perky dial down about a thousand notches!” that just cracks me up.

      Michael Gates Gill isn’t perky. He’s just a guy who’s had a comeuppance by life and he learned from it.

  5. This would probably make me cry. I’m such a sap like that. I think you read it in the perfect way too…you didn’t rush through it and you got the most out of it. I’ll have to remember that if I ever get my hands on this.

  6. Even if there was nothing new here, there are certainly some things of which we constantly need to be reminded.

  7. Wow, this sounds like the perfect book for a few friends of mine that have been struggling with unemployment out here in Silicon Valley after having six figure incomes! Thanks for the great review and recommendation!

  8. I love reading books like this. It’s going on my reding list.

  9. I enjoyed reading your review, Lisa. We all could use a bit of inspiration every now and then and reading this book sounds like a great way to get your fill.

  10. I’m still reading it. It’s an easy read. I, overall, agree with you.

  11. I’m half-way through the book and like it, too!

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