New York Times Bestseller
"Probably the best book on living with anxiety that I’ve ever read.” – Mark Manson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
The Chinese believe that before you can conquer a beast, you must first make it beautiful.
Sarah Wilson first came across this Chinese proverb in psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison's memoir An Unquiet Mind, and it became the key to understanding her own lifelong struggle with anxiety. Wilson, bestselling author, journalist, and entrepreneur has helped over 1.5 million people worldwide to live better, healthier lives through her I Quit Sugar books and program. And all along, she has been managing chronic anxiety.
In First, We Make the Beast Beautiful, Wilson directs her intense focus and fierce investigating skills onto her lifetime companion, looking at the triggers and treatments, the fashions and fads. She reads widely and interviews fellow sufferers, mental health experts, philosophers, and even the Dalai Lama, processing all she learns through the prism of her own experiences.
Wilson offers readers comfort, humor, companionship, and practical tips for living with the Beast:
Cultivate a "gratitude ritual." You can't be grateful and anxious at the same time.Eat to curb anxiety. Real food is your best friend.Just breathe. Embrace the healing power of meditation.Make your bed. Every day. Simple outer order creates inner calm.Study fellow fretters to know thyself. Emily Dickinson, Charles Darwin, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. all struggled with anxiety.Actively practice missing out. Forget FOMO, curl up on the couch, and order takeout.
Practical and poetic, wise and funny, First, We Make the Beast Beautiful is a small book with a big heart. It will encourage the myriad souls who dance with this condition to embrace it as a part of who they are, and to explore the possibilities it offers for a richer, fuller life.
Journalist Wilson (I Quit Sugar) borrows the title of this uplifting, earnest memoir from a Chinese proverb on the theme of acceptance: using one's anxiety to find purpose, she believes, can make life beautiful. Wilson, one of seven siblings who grew up poor in the Australian bush outside of Canberra, suffered from anxiety for years (as well as from OCD, bipolar disorder, and Hashimoto's, a disease of the thyroid) and here explores the condition from many angles, meandering, as she explains, "through disciplines and between polemic, didactic and memoir." In the opening chapter, Wilson asks the Dalai Lama how to stop the internal "fretty chatter that makes us so nervous" ("There's no use," he says. "Impossible"). Later, she observes that the "correlation between creative contribution... and anxiety is well documented." She offers simple tricks and practices throughout the book to reduce anxiety, including making one's bed every morning and learning to meditate. Wilson also points out that anxiety can have some benefits: anxious folks, for instance, tend to be good planners. Amusing, practical, and filled with delightful asides, this book will appeal to anxiety-prone readers, who will find much to calm them in these pages.
Sympathy in Suffering
We are all stressed an anxious at times, even overwhelmed and depressed. This author does her best to put all the tools of Western thought on a level playing field for those with resources to access them. Her honesty is at times uncomfortable, but a needed dose at some instances to get a grip on these social ills, which are only increasing as we become a more hyper, technology-driven society.