Kirshenbaum believes that each difficult issue is a specific opportunity to learn a key lesson about how to improve your life. Her goal is for you to learn how to eradicate life-crippling issues such as:
- low expectations of what the world has to offer
- little understanding of yourself
- loss of faith in a higher power
- lamenting a recent event or chronic condition
Incidently, Krishenbaum is very qualified to make some of the statistically unquantified statements contained in this book. Her entire family, save her parents, were Holocaust victims. After living her first four years in a concentration camp, Kirshenbaums early years in America were spent in an emotionally broken and physically transient home. Though she had a difficult childhood, she stresses that her many experiences helped her understand that life presents opportunities to learn and improve your future. So she did just that.
Kirshenbaum points out that ultimately, there is only one underlying purpose for misfortune - to use what you learn to make you a better person in the future. She states:
The good that comes out of bad things that happen to you
is to help you become your best, most authentic self. Kirshenbaum cautions that being authentic is very difficult. Why? Because other things push us to behave in particular ways, even if they slow down or impede our personal development. She discusses how behaviors such as seeking approval, pursuing work and fulfilling relationship obligations can inhibit our quest for authenticity. She also advises how to cope with these realities.
In Part II of the book, Kirshenbaum offers ten self-contained chapters, one for each reason that bad things happen. Each chapter follows the same pattern, starting with introducing a universal problem, such as letting go of fear, radically accepting ourselves, becoming a truly good person, finding forgiveness, and discovering our mission. Through case studies and analogies, Kirshenbaum explains how each problem can manifest itself.. She then lists a number of diagnostic questions. If you answer yes to the majority of the list then you have discovered an underlying cause of a current (or recurring, or chronic) problem. The problem then serves as a catalyst to help you more deeply explore issues in your life. The diagnostic questions listed in each chapter will help you get to some important truths about your own situation, setting the stage for you to not only learn from these truths but to act on them.
For a specific example, consider Chapter 7, titled Solid Like a Rock. It starts with the premise that whatever doesnt kill you makes you stronger. Answering yes to diagnostic questions like, Do you feel your ability to move forward into your future is blocked? may mean you lack a firm enough foundation and need to find a skill set or mind set that cant be taken from you. Kirshenbaum advises how to take this diagnosis and create a plan of action.
Overall, Kirshenbaum is tackling some heavy issues. Not only does she focus on handling tragedy, but she urges readers to dig even deeper and deal with the core meaning-of-life themes. Yet, she is never overly pedantic or preachy. Her tone is ultimately positive, and message flows. She makes it easy to keep turning the pages by inserting insightful, poetically stated truths such as: