BOTW: Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck

Recommended Read

When was the last time you felt truly energized and vivacious?

Are you one of the grey people? Do you slog your way through life? Not happy with your spouse, your family, your home, your job, your geographic location. Maybe not sad, but not happy either.

Just numb.

If this is you, if it sounds familiar, then you must read this book. Please.

Let Martha Beck Lead You to Happiness

My biggest recommendation for this book (as always):

Do the exercises!

Beck starts us off with a quiz to evaluate how often we are in harmony with our essential self (our ‘true’ self, as compared to the social self).

I have to say, I didn’t do too badly but there were several areas, for example, “I do things I loved when I was a kid”, where I did not do as well as I would like.

If you get 100% on the quiz, Martha tells you to stop reading and go out and live your fabulous life because there is nothing she can do for you. If you are like most of us, you will want to keep reading.

She then has us analyze people, situations and memories that bring us discomfort and then another group that bring us joy. Working vividly with these memories is a way to get in touch with how our bodies feel when we are moving towards or away from our True North.

Then we start to engage with out Inner Critic, the voice or voices used by our Mind (our Social Self) to keep us in line, to keep us safe, and to keep us consistent. Of course, these are also the voices that keep us stagnant and miserable. But, at least we are safe.

Another fantastic exercise later, I realized that I base my actions almost entirely on the anticipated judgments of my family of origin, a ludicrous decision considering how dysfunctional they are.

As she writes, “If upon impartial inspection, you decide to continue thinking of your family as Everybody in the Entire Universe, that’s fine. Personally, I wouldn’t advise it… If you’re planning to wait for them to locate your true path, draw you a careful map, pack you a lunch, and drive you to your North Star, you might want to take up needlework. I hear it passes the time” (70).

Laugh Your Way Through the Discomfort

This book will help you clarify what truly makes you happy, what makes you sad or numb and why you often choose numbness, if not outright sadness, over happiness.

There is no doubt that working with your memories can be downright uncomfortable but Beck makes it as pleasant a journey as possible. When you can actually feel the heaviness and hurt that comes from moving away from your North Star then, hopefully, your motivation to move towards it will grow stronger and stronger.

The best part about this book is that Martha is neither preachy nor boring. She is right in there with us, sharing stories from her own life, her own clients and empathizing in a very direct way with the struggles we have.

And she is funny. Laugh out loud, giggle ridiculously, FUNNY!

I would add the adjectives inappropriately and embarrassingly but the whole point of this book is to get in touch with your essential self. And the essential self does not ‘do’ embarrassment or care about being appropriate.

Which is very liberating.

Anyone who can make me laugh while I am dealing with issues around my family of origin is definitely worth reading. And Martha definitely is.

I highly recommend Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live (2002) by Martha Beck. (Canada)