A wide-ranging motivational guide urges readers to embrace change in order to grow.
Rosenau opens her nonfiction debut with clear intent: Her book is for people who feel trapped in counterproductive routines and want to get “unstuck” from patterns of behavior that no longer (and perhaps never did) satisfy them. Sometimes, she observes, people get ensnared in how they see their own stories and how they view themselves in those narratives. “Doing that,” she writes, “can end up creating entrenched patterns that limit the ways we interact and the possibilities we strive to manifest.” In a series of fast-paced chapters that are written in an enormously engaging voice, the author attempts to look deep into the souls of her readers, seeking to know their real selves—how, as the old saying goes, they treat stray dogs and shopping carts. She professes to want to concentrate on how people deal with sorrow and joy, how they respond to the happiness of their friends even when they are in low spirits. “We’re all a little bit light,” Rosenau writes. “But we’re also murky.” She wishes to empower her readers to seize this dichotomy and begin a personal transformation that will be at various times fun and a tough slog. The author mixes her motivational insights with personal anecdotes and a heavy sprinkling of concepts from Jewish culture like yetzer hatov, an inclination toward the good (or bad, in the case of yetzer hara). But the book’s strongest running thread is its rich and warmhearted human empathy. “Understanding why we’re suffering doesn’t make it any easier or make what’s hurting hurt any less,” Rosenau reminds her readers while reassuring them: “You will have a solid sense of trust in yourself and your decision-making. You will feel your Yes in every part of you: body, mind and soul.” Readers feeling a lack of that self-trust will find a great burst of Yes in these pages.
A wise and uplifting manual of encouragement for readers seeking to take stock of their lives and shelve their bad habits.
What Publisher’s Weekly says:
Rosenau, a writer and visual artist, passionately advocates for readers to do the deep reflective work she feels is necessary to live joyful lives. She divides her lessons into five sections: “Getting to Know Us,” which helps readers assess their present situations and reflect on hopes for the future; “Our Messy Joys,” which encourages readers to reexamine limiting beliefs; “Risking Change,” which advises on how to makes changes intelligently and with intention; “Learning to Fly,” which counsels readers to stay on the self-growth road and not succumb to worries; and “You, Me, Us,” which exhorts the virtues of living a life full of love. Along the way, Rosenau shares her own insecurities and past missteps, such as her dedication to a “visioning collage” filled with “worldly aspirations” like writing a New York Timesbestseller. She also provides helpful instructions for readers to dig deeper with writing prompts at the end of each chapter. “Chances to grow are rarely easy or fun,” she writes, advising readers not shy away from hard introspection. Though she provides no easy answers, Rosenau’s set of practices, inspiring prose, and questions for contemplation will be of use to readers looking for guidance without demanding strictures.
You know that old saying: Don’t judge a book by its cover? Well, I have a really hard time in that department when it comes to actual books. While pursuing the bookstore or library, I am way more likely to pick up a book whose cover speaks to me. I have to admit, when I first came across The Messy Joys of Being Human by Eugene-based author Helen Rosenau I didn’t think it would be a book for me. I was proven wrong, however, as I read the first page and found myself screaming, “Yes!” to the questions posed by the author right out of the gate. Apparently, to my own surprise, I did require a Jewish fairy godmother — Rosenau’s self-professed title — this whole time without being aware of it. It’s a book of questions, of sharing, of enlightening self-awareness, and most of all some of the best advice I have been given in a long time. While devouring the pages with a pencil and notebook in hand, I felt like I was having a conversation with an old friend. The Messy Joys of Being Human challenged me to embrace my struggles and guided me on a journey of both change and discovery. Unlike other self-help books I have read in the past, Helen’s writing is warm and compassionate, and sprinkled with a type of wit and humor that could only be delivered by the Jewish fairy godmother that you never knew you needed. — Elisha Young, Eugene Weekly
“The Messy Joys of Being Human: A Guide to Risking Change and Becoming Happier reads like having a conversation with an old friend. The writing prompts are evocative and inspiring; you could come back again and again as life evolves. Read certain parts or the whole book. A book that you will find yourself reading again and again. The Messy Joys of Being Human is an insightful and meaningful read that is full of humor and life lessons for living in the present. A book that many will relate to and enjoy reading.”
“The thing about self-help books is that they do not offer the quick fix. Some readers take it to be instant redemption, but rather, they are just a nudge in a direction that when pursued could bring about change.
I highlighted this book so much that I believe it’s got to be the most highlighted book in my Kindle Library.
The author looks at why we worry, how we feel, how negative perceptions can cause us to think and feel less about ourselves. She also explores faith drawing from experience and literature to share insights.
The writing is simple and makes for easy reading.
I loved the take-away questions at the end of every chapter that make you pause to reflect on your life in relation to the chapter you’ve read.” –Nilichosoma