Book Review: Just One Thing

just one thingAuthor: Rick Hanson, PhD

Publish Date: October 1, 2011

About the Author: Dr. Hanson is a psychologist and author who specializes in the area of personal well-being. He’s written several books on the topic of “hardwiring happiness” and administers numerous courses for mental health professionals and common folk alike. Click here to learn more about his personal and professional experiences.

Synopsis: This book outlines 52 everyday practices anyone can adopt in order to develop what the author describes as a “buddha brain.” When employed over time, these practices afford more peace of mind in stressful situations, greater inner strength and confidence, and an augmented sense self-worth. These practices are rooted in neuroscience, positive psychology, and the author’s real-world experience with business and raising a family.

My Review

I’ve never been one to seek out self-help books, as I feel that (for the most part) I have my life and emotions in order. However, this one was recommended to me by a trusted psychologist friend, so I figured it was worth the read.

The author discusses 52 mindfulness practices that are split up amongst 5 overarching categories. The practices are designed to be used anywhere at any time; no drawn-out meditation sessions here. In the introduction, he suggests tackling a single chapter at a time and acting on the practices within that chapter for a time period of the reader’s choosing (i.e. one week, one month), so as to really feel the practices’ effects.

I found the content of this book to be extremely relatable and practical. Hanson does a great job of incorporating real-life examples that can speak to a wide audience to explain his principles. I also appreciate how the book included both mental and physical practices. For example, there was a chapter dedicated to acknowledging the relative safety of your present environment, and another centered around enjoying the capabilities of your 2 hands.

My biggest complaint with this book was not the content so much as the setup. I sometimes found the practices within each larger section to be unrelated to that section’s title. I also don’t think one can really reap the benefits of a book like this without dedicating a segment of time to consciously using the practices (per the author’s suggestion). When read in large passages, the power of the practices doesn’t really stick.

I feel that one needs to be very invested in applying the practices to truly derive value from this book. When read in the manner that I did (several chapters at a time), it comes across as more of “book full of nice ideas” rather than something life-changing.

Overall Impressions:

  • Full of useful, feasible tips for how to let go and let live
  • Wide range of subjects covered (i.e. dealing with loss, overcoming rejection, giving love more freely)
  • Make it a point to utilize a few practices at a time if you want to realize the power of this book

The Verdict:


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