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Strategies For The Highs and Lows of Life

July 25, 2019

I have been interested in better understanding the “ups and downs” of life  since reading about the “Law of Undulation” in Letters 8 and 9 of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis earlier in my life. So it was interesting to read PEAKS AND VALLEYS by Spencer Johnson (Simon and Schuster/Atria, 2009). With Lewis the focus is on the spiritual dimension of troughs and peaks but for Johnson the focus is on Getting out of the valley sooner, staying on the peaks longer and having more peaks and fewer valleys.

The book is written like other Spencer Johnson books as a parable or story that teaches a lesson. The first 3 pages begins with a present day situation setting up the need for the principles the story teaches. The next 80 pages divided in  to 9 chapters tell the story of of a young man learning from an older man about peaks and valleys. Then the final 5 pages return to the present day for applications and final reflections.

The book contain much helpful information that I have experienced in real life situations but did not have specific vocabulary to express especially in the form of pithy proverbial statements like, “the errors you make in today’s good times create tomorrows bad times” and the wise things you do in today’s bad times create tomorrows good times?

There were a couple of specific insights that make the book worth purchasing. A couple of my favorites were, “Peaks are moments when you appreciate what you have. Valleys  are moments when you long for what is missing”(p.24) and Avoid believing things are better than they really are when you are on a peak, or worse than they really are when you are in a valley. Make reality your friend” (p.65).

I enjoyed reading the book my self and found the leadership applications helpful but my greatest pleasure was having the opportunity to read the book out loud to my family in the course of an evening and discuss its principles during a time of significant transition.

Like all of the other Spencer Johnson books I have read this one is a gem: small and valuable. Read it for yourself and see!!

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