cover image Everyday Vitality: Turning Stress into Strength

Everyday Vitality: Turning Stress into Strength

Samantha Boardman. Penguin Life, $29 (272p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2227-4

Psychiatrist Boardman (Everyday Resilience) offers advice for cultivating happiness and vigor in this convincing guide. A sense of vitality, or feeling mentally and physically up to a task, she posits, is critical for healthy aging and overall well-being. She poses reflection questions to help one “understand oneself and one’s inner conflicts” and suggests activities such as helping others out, learning something new, and exercising to increase vitality. Boardman’s most successful argument is that society’s focus on self-care does more harm than good, as building community and finding supportive friends and family is crucial to well-being, while focusing too much on the self can increase rumination and, ultimately, depression: “Self-care might be all the rage,” she writes, “but it’s important not to forget ‘other-care’ as a source of vitality and resilience.” A passive lifestyle of “allowing in-the-moment feelings to take precedence” can also contribute to feelings of unhappiness, she opines, and recommends readers take charge of their lives through making decisive actions: “Fantasizing about being successful without actually pursuing it also undermines motivation. Dreaming turns out to be devitalizing.” By encouraging readers to “override the urge to do what’s easy but empty,” Boardman’s helpful suggestions rise above the standard self-help fare. (Aug.)