Martha Beck

Martha Beck
Finding Your Own North Star

When it comes to wizardry, Harry Potter has nothing on Martha Beck. Finding Your Own North Star is her hilarious, insightful take on the alchemy of turning what you may think of as faults, fails, and faux pas into the gold of a zestful, exuberant life.

Her premise is simple: Each of us has a highly individual internal compass that can point our way—if we know how to access it and listen to its guidance. Beck is wonderfully nondogmatic; she does not push, force, or insist. She eschews jargon in favor of direct, candid language—a huge plus in a field mired in gobbledygook.

According to Beck, your most reliable navigation tool is your body. “Whatever faults your body may have, you’ll have to admit that it’s one of the few things you never misplace. Mine is here with me right now, and by gum, yours is there with you.” Better still, it never lies: If your shoulders stiffen and your stomach ties in knots when you think of a particular situation, you can bet it’s not healthy for you. Gut reactions are more valid than anything the mind can invent. Illness and injury may—or may not—convey psychological messages. A sore thumb might represent a desire to hitchhike—or it could mean “You hit me with a hammer, you idiot.”

Beck’s caroming humor, liberally sprinkled throughout, keeps the book light as a soufflé, though it’s packed with suggestions and techniques. She also knows all about resistance and uses her own life to illustrate points—such as the first time she meditated, declaring “in a loud and convincing tone, ‘I will never do that again.’ ”

My favorite line of Beck’s comes from The Joy Diet: “Go where the love takes you, every day.”

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