“What if you could take control of every choice, your every decision, and focus all that you are into becoming the person you want to be? What amazing things could you do? What impossibilities could you turn into accomplishments?…This is your wake-up call; this is your moment; this is your thrive life…and I am going to show you how to live it.”
Straight from the back of the book, The Thrive Life, it’s a tall order for a 165-page book, but author Thomas Winterman strives to achieve this goal in his book. He aims, shoots, and misses entirely.
Readers with little exposure to motivational speakers, self-help books or mental health exercises will likely find The Thrive Life helpful. It outlines the process of setting goals in a detailed fashion. More specifically, the author provides six chapters on fine-tuning and outlining three primary goals.
Anyone that is new to goal-setting practices will find these six chapters well worth the read. Winterman’s process assists in making goals attainable by getting specific and keeping the goals to a minimum. His approach will keep readers from creating a list of fifteen goals to achieve in the next year.
While the first part of the book provides the basis for why the reader is setting personal goals, the final portion of the book is about the journey of attaining those goals. The author expounds on the total behavior mindset, and offers suggestions for dealing with failure, and so forth. That’s about it.
The problems with The Thrive Life are apparent from the start. Each chapter ends with a paragraph or two that relates back to the material presented in the chapter, but they are often pithy and trite. There is little depth to them, and they mainly serve the purpose of reiterating what was said.
Every now and then, the reader receives a motivational catch phrase such as “Live, grow, thrive!” But in case it is unclear, they are not motivating. Rather, the author could have used the final paragraphs as a method for encouraging critical thinking about the material in the chapter. He could have related the questions back to the total behavior concept or the car metaphor he uses incessantly (to be fair, I’m not an auto enthusiast).
Then there is the issue with his explanations of choice theory and reality therapy. While it is clear this book is not intended to be a textbook, Winterman fails to describe either in a detail that provides the reader with an actual understanding. The information enclosed on both of these topics feels like filler for the pages. Considering that the book is only 165 pages long, this complaint poses a real issue.
Additionally, Winterman very briefly touches on the criticisms of reality therapy. He spends one long paragraph of sixteen sentences discussing the criticisms. Unfortunately, rather than sounding supportive, his lack of depth and analysis of criticisms comes across nonchalant and flippant. Does he not truly understand the criticisms of these theories and practices? Does he not think that they are worth discussing, and if so, why mention them at all? This one paragraph crushed the chapter that preceded it because it generate so many questions and created confusion.
Winterman’s lack of clarity and elaboration on certain statements was often frustrating. His statement of classifying feelings had me on edge:
“When you are really focusing on your feelings, try to classify them as good, bad, or neutral,” he writes.
Nothing else. No explanation as to defining “good,” “bad” or “neutral.” Is this classification based on how I feel physiologically? Is this based on whether it is a positive or negative emotion? Winterman leaves his reader without any guidance on this point whatsoever, and then moves on into his next section entirely.
The voice of the author was oftentimes the most distracting aspect. Winterman supplies sarcasm and “wit” (the term is being used loosely) to provide humor throughout his book. However, his voice falls flat, and sometimes it even comes across condescending or patronizing. When his cheerleader-like personality comes through to offer encouragement, it was often difficult to not want to groan in exasperation.
The lowest points were the times that he came across sounding like a high-school football coach: “This stuff works, people!” While I assume he was attempting to keep the mood light, it made me cringe to read.
The Thrive Life lacks real depth. It is like reaching for a rosemary and olive oil cracker to find cardboard slices. I am a mental health and self-help book fanatic; I personally thrive from immersing myself in books on theories, therapy practices, and self-improvement. It is rare for me to find a book that has so little that I find enriching. I was so disappointed by the lack of delivery from The Thrive Life. It was not a wake up call; it was an obligatory school announcement that no one listens to.
The Thrive Life
Self-Published, April 2014
Paperback, 165 pages