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Book Review: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is

July 23, 2010

From time to time I review books relating to beauty, self-esteem, body image and the like. Well today I thought I would point you in the direction of this little gem.  It is a book that I found a little hard to read at times, a little confronting, a little unexpected and written from a point of view that I didn’t always relate to.  In fact, it was the kind of book that I only really ‘got’ at the end and that is why I quite like it.

Laura Munson. This is not the story you think it is

The book is a very personal diary-cum-story of how one woman deals with the fact that her husband comes home and announces that he is not sure that he loves her any more.  If that was me it would be a very short story. I’d probably follow him down to the man-shed screaming all sorts of colourful words while making mental notes to change the locks,  deconstruct the bank accounts and start listing who owns what CD (yes we have quite a collection which now sounds SOOOOO 90’s).   I would be anything BUT calm, blue ocean for a few hours before collapsing in a heap and checking into some health spa for some ZENNING OUT – he never said ANYTHING about not loving the kids, dogs, guinea pigs and mortgage LOL!

Anyway, thankfully I am not having to write THAT story and so we move on.

Laura Munson did something quite amazing on that day a year or so ago. She decided to choose happiness over suffering, to choose to in-source rather than outsource that often neglected commodity. She decided to own her own future and that is a beautiful thing. I won’t spoil it all by telling you all of the gory details but suffice to say that the book outlines an amazing journey of inner calm against a backdrop of outer pandemonium.

The reason that the book ended up resonating with me in the end was this whole idea of the power within.  There have been many times in my life where I have had my cage well and truly rattled by someone else.  I have spent endless nights going over and over things that people have said or done, trying to work out why they made me feel so bad and what I could have done to stop it.  I have then spent days, weeks and months trying to make them ‘see the light’, to like me or to feel better about something only to end up feeling drained and empty when my cunning plans didn’t work.   Well, unlike me Laura resisted the urge to try to  ‘make it all better’, to over-compensate or to become over introspective and needy. She focused on the only thing that she could control – her reaction to the situation and from a place of peace, poise and acceptance she found happiness for her and the rest of her family.

It is funny but when you think about it we do outsource so many of our emotions. Our happiness is controlled by how our families are feeling, what our boss says to us, how much money is in our bank account or what the weather is doing.  Our sense of beauty is controlled by how much we weigh, how many spots or wrinkles we have and how close we look to those magazine models. Our sense of achievement is controlled by the media, the Joneses or how much space we own in which to swing our cat.  This book really gets you thinking about all of these things in a non-confrontational and kind way.  Read it!

Just like in the Wizard of Oz –  happiness, beauty and success were at home all along.  Within you!

71 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2010 11:10 pm

    I’m heading to right away. Sounds like just the story we all (ok, me) need to read and learn from. The best way to real beauty has always been from the inside out anyhow. Thanks. M’lou

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      July 23, 2010 11:16 pm

      I am sure that you will enjoy it! Come back and write your ‘review’ when done as it would be great to read it 🙂

  2. July 24, 2010 1:37 am

    Your blog post reminded me of two sayings I’ve heard in the past that really resonated with me. One is that human beings would rather be “right” than be happy. When we give up the hopeless pursuit of validation from others, we come to that place of peace and contentment. The other is that we create our own reality. That is a huge concept. When we truly accept that, we see the world in a completely different way, and we experience real power.

    • July 25, 2010 4:16 pm

      I do agree with what you said regarding controlling our own happiness. In the end, it should not be what people will say, but perhaps how we are going to feel. In so many ways, we cannot control our emotion but then again, we can at least control our actions. It is in the mastery of these actions that we become superior to the negative thoughts of ourselves and our surroundings.

    • lauramunson permalink
      August 3, 2010 4:39 pm

      I love this. When we step outside of emotional “right and wrong” there is so much freedom. Do you know the Rumi quote: “Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” I love that quote. I love the possibilities of what’s there in that field. yrs. Laura

      • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
        August 3, 2010 9:54 pm

        What a lovely quote. That field is quite elusive, we find it when we are not looking and then loose it again.

  3. July 24, 2010 2:06 am

    Interesting post. I have been lamenting my lack of reading material lately — will go out and look for this book. Sounds intriguing. I like what you’ve said here — don’t know if you’ve heard of/read The Secret, which is all about attracting what you want and need in your life, but it seems to me this book would fall in that category of ‘the power of positive thinking’. It’s a good, fast read and once-upon-a-time not the kind of thing I’d have thought to read, but it helped me change my life and live it more positively. Will check back in from time to time!

  4. July 24, 2010 2:10 am

    I think I need to read this book! Like you, I “have spent endless nights going over and over things that people have said or done, trying to work out why they made me feel so bad and what I could have done to stop it [and] then spent days, weeks and months trying to make them ‘see the light’, to like me or to feel better about something only to end up feeling drained and empty when my cunning plans didn’t work…” Hope the inspriration you got from the books sticks with you and helps you to be happier and more content.

  5. July 24, 2010 2:10 am

    Great Review. I am definitely going to check out this book! Thanks for sharing!

  6. July 24, 2010 2:47 am

    Ok, I’ll have to look it up on Amazon! Thanks for writing this.

  7. ceritasfgp permalink
    July 24, 2010 2:50 am

    yes, going to get it and read it…my sentiments anyway but not always easy to do when surrounded with negativity…we have to shine our own light in the darkness….what we think about we bring about

  8. July 24, 2010 2:51 am

    Awesome book review. Makes me want to go and check this book out! Thanks! 🙂

    Cheers, Niconica

  9. buytupperwarebangalore permalink
    July 24, 2010 2:55 am

    we all have amazing amounts of inner strength which only come to our aid when we face
    opposition…..of any sort. This one was a bit extreme but……

  10. July 24, 2010 2:58 am

    Thanks for the review. This sounds like something right up my alley. Will check it out for sure.

  11. July 24, 2010 4:24 am

    Good to see you posting a review about that book.. I am compiling my own biography currently..
    And its full of sordid stories.. that’s how things have been with me..
    Nice. Someday, someone would post a review on that too..


    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      July 27, 2010 8:47 am

      Wow, big project!
      When you’ve got it all together send it over and I’ll review it for you (not that I’m an expert but…..) Enjoy the process as writing a book is a big deal

  12. CueQQ permalink
    July 24, 2010 5:03 am

    Just what I need before school starts again for me:) I want to be happy or happier and not let people or my surrounding affect me that easily. Thanks for the great review!

  13. July 24, 2010 5:24 am

    Quite interesting. Am Adding it in my wish list

  14. vampireontheinside permalink
    July 24, 2010 5:45 am

    This sounds interesting 🙂
    I think i will buy it! 🙂
    Thank you so much !!! 🙂

  15. July 24, 2010 6:13 am

    A very nice and crisp review of the said book. Will be on my list to read once I knock of the previous ones…

  16. July 24, 2010 7:37 am

    This sounds like a great read! I like the way you captured the essence of the story to convey the emotions it can stir.

    It is interesting how we tend to measure our status against the world around us. It is also interesting to note how futile that can be.

    Today’s excellence is tomorrow’s mediocrity. Contentment is happiness.

  17. sayitinasong permalink
    July 24, 2010 8:20 am

    Yes! So many valid and good points! And I have found, that when you stop stressing and fretting and just “let go”, that’s when the answers come to you. The best advice I eber received was this: “if you don’t like your life, change it”.

  18. Cantdecide permalink
    July 24, 2010 8:54 am

    Congratulations on being freshly pressed. Great post. Your blog and this post are part of my inspirational reading for the day designed to get me blogging about the positives. I’m living in Phoenix and hating it. With no hope of moving, I thought I should start blogging about finding beauty in Phoenix and maybe turn things around. So far, I’m still procrastinating, but your post is another gentle push for me to move forward and to read the book. Thanks!

  19. RealizeBeautyEd permalink
    July 24, 2010 10:19 am

    Thanks to everyone for participating in this blog post with your comments. I didn’t read the secret before because I actually thought that it sounded a bit dumb – I mean we all know that having a positive attitude, giving to others and being ‘in the moment’ helps us to move forward in life. Nobody ever reached their goals from being negative and disempowered! However, after reading this book I can see the more subtle side to this philosophy and that is interesting to me. Viva la vida!

  20. July 24, 2010 12:02 pm

    Such great thoughts! And sounds like an interesting read 🙂

  21. cnhartman2 permalink
    July 24, 2010 12:33 pm

    “he never said ANYTHING about not loving the kids, dogs, guinea pigs and mortgage”

    I couldn’t stop laughing at that! SO true!

    I may have to pick up a copy of this book. =D

  22. July 24, 2010 1:29 pm

    It’s interesting post.Thank!

  23. July 24, 2010 1:52 pm

    I really like your review for this book, especially since I’m that type of person who tries to make things better, who cunningly tries to make people feel better and it would fail and I’d be at a loss of what to do and a loss of energy. Luckily, lately I’ve cared less about what people think… it takes too much energy and time. All I can do is control my reaction to it and how I feel, though I don’t know if I’d like this book… if someone like my husband came up to me and said that they didn’t love me I’d run them out, lock the doors, and move on with my life pretty much.

  24. July 24, 2010 4:31 pm

    This is so informative post.

  25. July 24, 2010 6:19 pm

    Hey! Great blog post & review. Life is a journey and it’s the lessons that we learn along the way that make us who we are! You Rock!

    your friends, XR VOLUME

  26. tiny permalink
    July 24, 2010 6:32 pm

    That’s strange. Why would you get angry at him for having or not having certain feelings and act like *you* are breaking up with *him*? That would make him lose his respect for you and destroy whatever positive feelings he still has for you.
    ‘How dare you not love me anymore!’ What?

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      July 24, 2010 6:41 pm

      It was theoretical. I am sure that rational thought would not be present during that conversation after all nobody owns anyone else, right?

  27. serenequeen permalink
    July 24, 2010 6:44 pm

    Thank you for alerting me to the book, I will certainly look it up!

    “A journey of inner calm against a backdrop of outer pandemonium”. It sounds a lot like my blog: The Evolution of a Serene Queen

    How many of us have spent our lives wondering when it’s going to happen? When will my life get easier? My work more fulfilling? My bank balance healthier? If only I had a bigger house, a smaller bottom, a nicer car, a better partner to support my dreams…

    Who can raise their hand and say “I am truly happy and at peace in my life today”. Can you? I couldn’t. But one day I woke up and realized I wasn’t actually living in the present. That was four years ago and my children were growing up rapidly. I was so busy trying to cope, that I found I was missing the important moments with them and with other significant people in my life. The everyday minutiae that serve to enrich our lives. I’ve made many changes since then, swimming upstream for much of it, but gradually learning to let myself turn and flow with the current.

    Please join me on this journey. SQ.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      July 24, 2010 7:40 pm

      Thanks for sharing your blog with us. Sounds amazing and worth a read! Enjoy the book.

  28. July 24, 2010 8:16 pm

    I think, that’s a book I would love to read. Thanks for the hint, never heard of it before!

    Best wishes,


  29. July 24, 2010 11:32 pm

    Nice read!

  30. July 24, 2010 11:58 pm

    i will add this book to my list of “must-read.”

  31. rosesandwaterfalls permalink
    July 25, 2010 2:37 am

    “If that was me, it would be a very short story.” Hilarious.

    Thanks for sharing, I think I’m gonna add this to my book list 🙂

  32. July 25, 2010 3:29 am

    This was a beautiful write for what sounds to be an inspiring read. Thank you for sharing and I will add this book to my list.

  33. July 25, 2010 3:30 am

    I like your post. Great thoughts.

    Emotional responses are so often the norm for stressful situations. If only we can slow down, relax, and only worry about things within our control. I think it is helpful to read about other people’s experiences and how they dealt with them.

  34. July 25, 2010 5:55 am

    Thanks for sharing, I know a friend who I’m going to recommend this to!
    And congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  35. July 25, 2010 7:27 am

    Good story.Thank!

  36. July 25, 2010 9:23 am

    Off to the bookstore right this minute – great, thanks!

  37. kelliejwin permalink
    July 25, 2010 9:53 am

    I, too, have spent many nights going over scenarios on my head, trying to figure out how I could make something better. The only thing you have control over is your reaction to something. Sounds like a good book.

  38. July 25, 2010 12:15 pm

    Thanks for the post – I am going to have to give it a read. I found myself in a position where I was forced to look inside for the peace, joy and contentment I was seeking – it did not come easily – but it surely came. Thanks for the review

  39. Harsha permalink
    July 25, 2010 4:09 pm

    Will add this to my 2010 reading list! Loved your writing style and humor 🙂

  40. July 25, 2010 11:56 pm

    Munson’s is the first book I have been able to just fall into, without effort, in a few years. I even found myself slowing down my pace on purpose about three-quarters into it because I didn’t want it to end. (I was enjoying each moment, as she might say to herself in a non-New-Agey way.)

  41. Minya permalink
    July 26, 2010 12:06 am

    wow, I like the fact that even though I don’t know anything about marriage (and its complications), the whole thing about ‘choosing happiness over suffering’ really interests me. I think anyone will be able to relate to this book. Thank you for sharing this, =)

  42. atravelartist permalink
    July 26, 2010 12:52 am

    Thanks for the book review. I always enjoy a book that leaves a personal impression.

  43. July 26, 2010 5:30 am

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    I just recently came across Lauren Munson’s original article in The New York Times (published on August 2, 2009) and found it really enlightening. I’ll have to keep an eye out for the book as well. Though she obviously had an inner struggle, it was amazing how calm and patient she seemed to be in the face of her husband’s selfishness and cruelty. I’m not sure I’d be so forgiving, regardless of his reasons.


    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      July 26, 2010 10:33 am

      Thanks for the comment. I keep meaning to have a look at that original column too! Enjoy the book and let me know what you think as it certainly does open up a can of worms!

  44. July 26, 2010 10:09 am

    Must read… Heading to the bookstore now… Thank you!

  45. July 26, 2010 12:05 pm

    Sounds like a good book to learn a few things from, but from my life experiences, I have found that you can resolve not to react to situations in ways that most people feel that are negative, but one day these things will come back to bite you in the butt. As for me, that is what I use to tell myself, that I’m not going to let other people effect me and my life, but as I got older I found that old wounds became inflamed and made things worse. That is why it is important to deal with emotions, our hurts, and bad situations and not sweep them under the rug. Just my thoughts.

  46. July 26, 2010 2:31 pm

    Thank you for your share! I like it very much!

  47. July 26, 2010 4:21 pm

    Sounds like a great read…. One I’ll definately have to check out! 😀

  48. July 26, 2010 5:53 pm

    I really think this book is very interesting.. Would also like for you all to check out another book, ,called ”Audacity to Survive”.. It,s about womens survival in a world that is overcome with the bashing of women..Here is an excerpt..Beth ran through the night like a frightened young deer, she was running from something more terrifying, than being on a lonely road in the pre dawn hour..

  49. novelinsights permalink
    July 26, 2010 8:12 pm

    This is so not the kind of book that I would pick up normally but your review makes me want to get a copy. Thanks for the thoughts on this!

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      July 26, 2010 9:25 pm

      I had it passed to me by a good friend and was pleasantly surprised myself. Give it a go.

  50. July 26, 2010 11:01 pm

    It’s really difficult to overcome all the challenges we have nowadays. It really needs a great person to do so. With all the complications we live in now, people around you force you to think the way we think, TV’s have made it even harder for people, there’s always a perfect man, a perfect woman and a perfect life that we wish to accomplish and reach out to get to it. But once we reach to the point where we love ourselves the way we are and love people for who they are, I believe we will be as calm and as strong as Laura described herself.

    I love the idea of the book, thanks a lot for bringing it to our attention. I too will head to Amazon and get it 🙂

  51. lauramunson permalink
    July 27, 2010 3:38 am

    I want to thank you all for responding and to REALIZE BEAUTY for such a great review. I really want to inspire people, whether they’re married or not, to be responsible for their own happiness. Happiness does come from within. The victim stance gets us nowhere. I had to learn the hard way. I hope my book helps people so that they don’t have to.
    to learn more about my book, here’s my website. You can find the link to my blog there.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      July 27, 2010 8:42 am

      Thanks Laura,
      We laughed and cried with you, now time to celebrate with you. Congrats!

  52. July 27, 2010 6:18 am

    I’m thinking this might be worth while – I often get caught up in what I can’t control. And I appreciate an honest review. Thanks.

  53. July 27, 2010 6:56 am

    Interesting take! I really enjoyed reading it! Plus I picked up some blogging tips from my visit here.


  54. FindingMyUnicorn permalink
    July 27, 2010 6:07 pm

    Wow, I like the sound of this book. I like your blog too. X

  55. July 27, 2010 9:41 pm

    This is something that everyone should realize – that happiness is a choice. If WE choose to BE happy then we will be. Happiness should really come from within. It seems easy but from the way we were brought up and how society and pop culture has taken over our lives, it’s quite a task to re-think how we view happiness and its source and learn to BE happy instead of just finding things to be happy about.

    Thanks for sharing! I’ll definitely look for this book. I hope it’s available here in the Philippines.

  56. August 3, 2010 10:27 am

    Hey I think you have a great blog going here, I found it on Bing and plan on returning regularly for the information that you all are providing.


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