Sunday, November 30, 2008

Book Review Contest: Do Less, Achieve More - Discover the Hidden Power of Giving In (reviewed by Syarina Abdul Kadir)

“Life is meant to be easy.”

‘Do Less, Achieve More’ by Chin-Ning Chu is a self-help book on how to live your life with eases, how to simplify it and enjoy life to its fullest potentials. The stories and advices in this book revolve around the story of the ‘Rainmaker’ by Carl Jung, a premier student of psychoanalysis. The ‘Rainmaker’ is, to some, a miraculous man whose job is to bring rain from the heaven above down to the dry earth. But to him, it is a job that does not need any divine power but only requires the power from within himself. He is very well in-tuned with his actions; his mind is always at ease and has discovered the great power in him. These are the three major secrets discussed by Chu. Chu proved that by doing less work with less worry, you can still achieve greatness and take pleasure in it.

In this book, it is apparent that Chin-Ning Chu likes to convey her train of thoughts to her readers by using allusions. She uses this method through mentioning famous names, events in history and by referring or quoting to well-known books. To be precise, several names of prominent people of today and the past were brought up. Names from the past were mentioned in the topic of the role of friends in life such as Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds. Chu talked about the three phase that life follows; the ups and downs on achieving and revealing the destiny in this book of hers. She match up this context to the life of George Washington, from being a fraud to a great inspiring American icon and all the three stages he had to face through his life.

Furthermore, the oriental side of Chu was also put in. For example, quotes from Lao-tzu and Confucius. One of Confucius quotes that brought me thinking was “When you do not know how to live life, how can you ask about how to die?” page 138. Not to forget, “Every family has a sutra that is difficult to chant” meaning that we should not have envy in our heart because every one of us have our own problems in life that we cannot escape, are one of the several Chinese aphorisms that can be found in pages 52, 79 and 82.

Chin-Ning Chu not only involved histories and people from the west and the east but also from in-between. Hindu philosopher; Shankaracharya’s advised on how we should always be willing to face the worst outcomes and not run away from it, which was also included in ‘Do Less, Achieve More’. Hindu and Chinese wasn’t the only resource she used for this book, for example “Faith without work is dead” is acquired from the Bible, James 2:26 (page 43) and also a number of citations taken from the Gospel of Peace, William James and Meister Eckhart. Also several wise quotations from Sufis were put in. “My death is my wedding with eternity” (page 137) by a Sufi poet Rumi which means that we live our life to prepare ourselves for death. But one excerpt in this book made the most impression on me (page 127) which is actually taken from the Quraan (suroh Al-An’am, chapter 7, verse 59) and it quote “Not a leaf dare fall without Heaven’s permission”. It gives a meaning to us that nothing in this life happens by accident, everything happens for a reason.

In addition, metaphors like “spiritually bankrupt” and “ego’s balloon” are some of the ways Chu portrayed the natural attitude of a human being. To her, our life energy is like a bank account. There must be a constant deposit to ensure that we are able to make a withdrawal later on. When there is none, only emptiness inside our heart, we are then considered as “spiritually bankrupt” according to Chu. We are the “hostage of life”, we are tied to what destiny brings us, but that does not mean we should just surrender to destiny and sit back. Each of us has a choice in life that is able to twist and turn destiny to our desires. Moreover, on page 126, it is stated that “We are the audience as well as the actor”. Each actor has their own role to act out and each audience has their own opinion on the act. Signifying that whatever we perform in life, we must look back at what we did and should improve our actions to make a better ‘performance’.

Inserting quite a few of connotation in this book has made the words turned into an art piece. It strengthens the meaning of the words and shows the attitude a writer portrayed to her thoughts. Take for example the words “glorious perfection” on page 157. “Glorious” and “perfection” are already given a meaning of superb and flawless and could stand alone in a sentence as reader would already feel the positive emotions of the writer. But uniting these two words together brings a greater impact on the reader because you could feel how the object described before in that sentence is more than perfect.

To wrap this review up, her gift to present the most complicated ideas into everyday situation is incredibly impressive. As a reader, I am caught in her words and her book has caught my attention from the very first moment I saw the title ‘Do Less, Achieve More’. But I believed that this book might be quite difficult for some readers since just reading the book will not be enough without deep thoughts. Without thinking deeply, a reader will not be able to enjoy the contents of Chu’s ideas. I, for one, enjoyed it very much and I think that Chin-Ning Chu’s explanations and descriptions of her views and opinions on life are written very well in ‘Do Less, Achieve More’.

“Life is truly meant to be easy.”

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