Monday, April 06, 2009

Tune In This Friday for a Discussion on Balance and Health in Life

Be sure to join the Writers in the Sky podcast this Friday when team member Sarah Moore sits down with author Jay Greenfeld to discuss his book My Choice My Life, Realizing Your Ability to Create Balance in Life. Stress management and well-being expert Greenfeld writes about the four pillars in our life--physical, emotional, social, and professional--and how to make positive choices in each area. He stresses the importance of each person taking ownership over his or her decisions and regaining a focus and balance that will make for a happier life.

Jay Greenfeld holds degrees from the University of Winnipeg, New York University, and is currently studying at the University of Iowa. His research primarily focuses on integrating exercise and other health-related behaviors into everyday life. Due to his educational background and his ability to make material relevant to our lives, Greenfeld is a popular speaker on stress management and overall health.

Click here to purchase My Choice My Life.

Title of Document: Book Review
Book Title: My Choice—My Life: Realizing Your Ability to Create Balance in Life
Author: Jay Greenfeld
ISBN Number: 978-1-4327-3331-5
Genre and Target Market: health; stress management; young adult
Publication Date: 2009
Book Length in Pages: 205 (including appendices and references)

I went through a period in my life when I opened self-help books just looking for an answer. Whatever my current challenge might have been, I just wanted a professional to give me the exact steps to fix it. Somehow, the guaranteed solutions never seemed to provide a perfect remedy to my unique circumstances. How could one single approach ever work for the millions of different personalities that exist in this world? I have since come to appreciate the books that, instead of asserting the only possible answer, provide guidance to the readers as they take control of their own progress and improvement. Jay Greenfeld provides just such a book with his new release My Choice My Life, Realizing Your Ability to Create Balance in Life. In his first offering as an author, readers will learn concrete steps of action involving all areas of life and the questions to ask when determining appropriate choices.

While any reader can benefit from the self-reflection that is prompted by Greenfeld in his book, his writing and situational examples apply primarily to a teenage and twenty-something crowd. He addresses issues such as choosing healthy relationships, dealing with the pressure of drugs and alcohol use, and handling the stress that comes with a major change in one’s life situation, such as preparing for college or being organized at that first real job. I worked for many years as first a high school teacher and then as a college advisor. While reading My Choice My Life, I kept thinking about what an important resource this would have been for my students. I can easily see this book finding its place on the syllabus for a health course or perhaps even given to students to read as part of an orientation program. By valuing the personal responses each reader may have to the text and not talking down to his readers like an unreachable authority figure, Greenfeld can be very effective at capturing the attention of an age group that is often difficult to reach.

Greenfeld opens the book with a detailed analogy in which he compares life to a game of Monopoly. Each side of the board is one of the four critical aspects of every person’s life – physical, mental and emotional, social, and academic or professional. We all must decide on the aspect that deserves our time and focus at any particular moment. What about those Chance cards which always make us nervous? These are the uncertainties that get thrown into every person’s life once in a while. Greenfeld also shares his developed symbolism for many other aspects of the popular board game, with the result being a great visual that sticks with the reader as chapters unfold to discuss each piece of the analogy in detail.

Greenfeld uses important reference tools in each section of the book that involve the reader. Each chapter ends with a bulleted list of “Quick Points” which highlight the key pieces of information. If a reader feels drawn to work on an area discussed in a particular chapter, these summary notes can be a good list to copy and keep somewhere nearby. The author also draws in his readers by questioning them about what they are learning. He leaves a notes page to write down thoughts and intended actions. I always appreciate such an inclusion in this genre of books, as I believe that readers must take the material while fresh and apply it to their personal situations. Also, whenever Greenfeld shares a to-do list concerning a particular area in life, he asks the readers to add to the ideas. With all of these pieces, Greenfeld stimulates his readers to brainstorm and take ownership for their own goals.

With the new book My Choice My Life, Realizing Your Ability to Create Balance in Life, author Jay Greenfeld has created a wonderful reference tool for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed by the many directions and choices we are given in life. Greenfeld does not pretend that all of us fit into the same cookie-cutter mold when it comes to our handling of stress and daily responsibilities. Therefore, he provides general hints and suggestions that can apply to every reader and then encourages us to adapt the ideas to our own situations. With its primary focus on younger generations, I believe that Mr. Greenfeld has taken his great experience as a lecturer and published a work that will be tremendously helpful to those who are encountering some of life’s major changes for the first time. Any young adult, or parent of someone in this age group, will benefit from reading and then discussing the lessons that Greenfeld has to offer.

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