How to Make Yourself Feel Small

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Review of Making Healthy Choices for Senior Living,by Dr. Kenneth D. Barringer, (www.xlibris.com, 2014)

Some books are read, reread and treasured, and other books are read or skimmed and then left alone. Dr. Barringer’s book is an “other” book.

The book is available on the Amazon and Barns and Noble web sites in paperback and as an e-book ($3.49 at Barnes and Noble or $3.99 at Amazon).

If you like self-help books and want one man’s interpretation of a good life, I would buy the e-book and read it quickly.

Dr. Barrringer lives in Florida, and he writes about senior living from experience and education as a Methodist pastor, college teacher, and clinical psychologist.

Naturally, his treatments of psychological and spiritual topics are strongest. His discussions of physical health and money and investing are his most vague and trite.

Dr. Barringer’s main point, as I see it, is to recommend an intentional, planned, goal-oriented life that is balanced around:

  • Physical and mental health
  • Religious and spiritual practice
  • Social life, friends
  • Financial and estate planning
  • Lifelong learning
  • Ability to resolve persistent worries like alienations within families

He nests these topics in decision-making, or as the title says, making healthy choices.

He offers many words, and he organizes them into nearly countless lists. For example, in the last chapter on making responsible choices, Dr. Barringer starts with a seven-item list for a “wellness way of life.”

  1. You should take charge and rid ourselves of bad habits.
  2. Even if you’re disabled or emotionally unstable, you can achieve a wellness way of life.
  3. You should choose lifelong learning, including new crafts and ideas.
  4. You must adapt to change—travel, learn computers and adopt the latest cell phones.
  5. You must make necessary changes which include accepting alternative life styles among younger members of our extended families (including cohabiting before marriage).
  6. You must face other complex changes in the environment, legal system, and market places.
  7. You must organize your life and have a sense of direction, including adopting an efficient household management system.

Next he offers a 10-point list of suggestions for a concrete plan for healthy living. Then he gives a 17-point list to summarize the rich values that come to those who reach out to others. Finally, he concludes the chapter with an “insightful comment:” we must take advantage of our now longer lives.

When reading the book, I often compared myself to Dr. Barrringer’s perfect person, and I felt small, as if I lived far below my potential. I grew embarrassed about my faults, and my wife said I should be. We laughed and fixed dinner.