The beloved bestselling collection of common sense wisdom from a celebrated psychologist and military veteran who proves it's never too late to move beyond the deepest of personal losses
After service in Vietnam, as a surgeon for the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in 1968-69, at the height of the war, Dr. Gordon Livingston returned to the U.S. and began work as a psychiatrist. In that capacity, he has listened to people talk about their lives--what works, what doesn't, and the limitless ways (many of them self-inflicted) that people find to be unhappy.
He is also a parent twice bereaved; in one thirteen-month period he lost his eldest son to suicide, his youngest to leukemia. Out of a lifetime of experience, Gordon Livingston has extracted thirty bedrock truths, including:
We are what we do.Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least.The perfect is the enemy of the good.Only bad things happen quickly.Forgiveness is a form of letting go, but they are not the same thing.The statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas.
Livingston illuminates these and twenty-four other truths in a series of carefully hewn, perfectly calibrated essays, many of which focus on our closest relationships and the things that we do to impede or, less frequently, enhance them. Again and again, these essays underscore that "we are what we do," and that while there may be no escaping who we are, we have the capacity to face loss, misfortune, and regret and to move beyond them--that it is not too late.
Full of things we may know but have not articulated to ourselves, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart offers solace, guidance, and hope to everyone ready to become the person they'd most like to be.
The gentle, even-keeled warmth of Livingston's prose distinguishes this slim book of 30 inspirational "truths." A psychiatrist familiar with trauma from both his practice and his life (in one 13-month period, he lost one son to leukemia and another to suicide), Livingston offers the kind of wisdom that feels simultaneously commonsensical and revelatory: "We are what we do," "The perfect is the enemy of the good," "The major advantage of illness is relief from responsibility." He intersperses counsel with personal experience, and tackles topics both joyful and deeply painful. In the chapter focusing on "We are what we do," he notes that the "three components of happiness are something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to," and he reminds us that "love is demonstrated behaviorally"-that is, actions count more than words. In his discussion of "Happiness is the greatest risk," he considers how our fear of losing happiness is often a roadblock to our experiencing it. For those contemplating suicide, he writes that "it is reasonable to confront them with the selfishness and anger implied in any act of self-destruction." Livingston's words feel true, and his wisdom hard-earned. Among the many blithe and hollow self-help books available everywhere, this book stands out as a jewel.