Turning Daily Struggle into Opportunities

Martin van Helden

Publisher: Xlibris Pages: 140 Price: (paperback) $11.99 ISBN: 9781669833918 Reviewed: July, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

When author Martin Van Helden was 18 years old, he was faced with the diagnosis of SLE/Sjogren, an auto-immune illness. Turning Daily Struggle into Opportunities is the result of his search to explore all options that could help him emotionally cope with its debilitating effects.

During the early chapters, the author exhorts his readers to exercise self-compassion while managing their emotions. Successive chapters focus on practicing gratitude, developing a positive mindset (such as learning new skills) and maintaining confidence in one’s capabilities, especially when facing setbacks. His closing chapters offer suggestions for “Things to do when you have no motivation to do anything” (such as reducing complexity when feeling overwhelmed) and putting the kibosh on negative thoughts (such as exercising in place).

The options he features are the stock-in-trade of many self-help books, and all of them have redeeming benefits. Still, his book often reads like a catalogue of good ideas instead of a journal of tested experiments. This is largely because he keeps his readers at arm’s length, offering no personal examples of how he specifically was enriched or even touched by the strategies he recommends. It would have been enlightening to know which options gave him the most support and which he chose to abandon when dealing with his condition.

In fact, the only mention of the author’s illness is on the book’s back cover. The text offers no personal information. Instead, chapters are divided into brief topics, with subtitles such as “Get control of your feelings”; Don’t let anyone steal your joy”; “What is it in your life that compels you to seek meaning?” and “The importance of physical fitness.”

Those who often read self-help books aren’t likely to find fresh information here, and anyone suffering from chronic illness will surely wish for more personal disclosure. As such, this book should be seen as a general introduction to self-help techniques for readers newly seeking strategies to convert their struggles into positive outcomes.

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