The Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu once said: “Care about other people’s approval and you become their prisoner.”
This has been one of the toughest lessons I’ve had to learn in life.
The quote suggests that what you make of your life is up to you.
You need to take responsibility for your life. You need to do this for yourself. When you care about people’s approval, you give away your power.
It’s hard to take responsibility for your own life. The way to do this is to recognize that the answers lie within you.
Rezzan Hussey has written a brilliant book explaining exactly how you can take responsibility for your own life. In My Own Guru Hussey provides a universal process for anyone who wants to live a better life through self-knowledge.
This book is a unique contribution to the self-development genre. Most self-books claim to have the perfect solution for whatever challenges you face. All you have to do is believe what they’re telling you and you’ll soon see massive changes in your life.
But the problem I find is that these books inadvertently ask us to find the solution outside ourselves. Hussey, on the other hand, focuses her book entirely on helping the reader to find the answers within. As Hussey says:
“Personally, I have found it challenging to avoid using personal growth material like I’ve used other things: as a way to stay fascinated rather than to implement. There is a gulf between knowing and being, and in that gap lies our freedom.”
The rewards of knowing yourself better are immense, according to Hussey:
“Knowing yourself better really does bear remarkable fruits. For instance, now I know the true meaning of emotional self-reliance; not the kind where you’re avoiding people for fear of being hurt. I can create my own happiness and contentment on demand. I’ve basically reclaimed my power – the power I did not know I had given away. I have become my own guru, and I believe that anyone can by changing the way they pay attention.”
My Own Guru distils complex ideas into accessible takeaways. Although Rezzan goes into impressive detail about human psychology, everything she writes has a practical element to it. Not only will you learn why understanding yourself is so important, but also exactly how to do it. It’s also fascinating and at times humorous read about how the ideas in the book have personally helped in her life.
One chapter I particularly liked was on responsibility, one of three “reality red pills” (along with mindfulness and acceptance). She outlines the ability we all have to adjust our perceptions of important events in our lives. I think we can all relate to having had ‘negative’ experiences, but how negative these really are is just a matter of perspective. Re-framing these events, as Hussey suggests, is a pretty powerful thing to do.
I also liked where Hussey touched on a few benefits of “knowing yourself” that are less apparent (at least they were for me). One that stands out was how self knowledge can make us more compassionate and better placed to benefit those we care about. In other words, becoming self-aware isn’t just an exercise in self development, it helps us help others too. I like the sound of that.
My Own Guru provides a peek into the author herself. You’ll discover that Rezzan’s a mid-30s, yoga loving, blogger and writer. She’s been on a decade long and multi-country journey to understand herself better.
This book is a delightful culmination of her (brief) lifetime of learning and caring.
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