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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Secrets of Happy Families and Council of Dads, a pioneering study of the disruptions upending contemporary life and a bold guide for how to navigate life’s growing number of transitions with more meaning, balance, and joy.   Bruce Feiler has long been writing about the stories that give our lives meaning. Recently he began From the New York Times bestselling author of The Secrets of Happy Families and Council of Dads, a pioneering study of the disruptions upending contemporary life and a bold guide for how to navigate life’s growing number of transitions with more meaning, balance, and joy.   Bruce Feiler has long been writing about the stories that give our lives meaning. Recently he began to notice a new pattern: our old stories, with their predictable plot points along linear paths, no longer hold true. The idea that we’ll have one job, one relationship, one source of happiness is hopelessly outdated. Yet many people feel overwhelmed by this change. We’re concerned that our lives are not what we expected; that we’re living life out of order.   Galvanized by a personal crisis and family emergency, Feiler set out on what became an epic journey to harvest American stories and see what he could learn from them. He crisscrossed the country, collecting hundreds of life stories from a breathtaking range of Americans in all 50 states. He then sifted through and coded these stories, building a massive database of patterns and takeaways that can help all of us live better.   LIFE IS IN THE TRANSITIONS introduces the fresh, pressing vision of the nonlinear life, in which personal disruptions and lifequakes are becoming more plentiful, nontraditional life shapes are becoming the norm, and each of us has the opportunity to write our own story. Drawing on an extraordinary trove of insights, Feiler offers a powerful, new transition toolkit with original strategies for coping with the difficult, painful, or unsettling times of life.   From a master storyteller with a timely message, LIFE IS IN THE TRANSITIONS can move readers of any age to think deeply about times of change in their lives and how to transform them into periods of creativity and growth.


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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Secrets of Happy Families and Council of Dads, a pioneering study of the disruptions upending contemporary life and a bold guide for how to navigate life’s growing number of transitions with more meaning, balance, and joy.   Bruce Feiler has long been writing about the stories that give our lives meaning. Recently he began From the New York Times bestselling author of The Secrets of Happy Families and Council of Dads, a pioneering study of the disruptions upending contemporary life and a bold guide for how to navigate life’s growing number of transitions with more meaning, balance, and joy.   Bruce Feiler has long been writing about the stories that give our lives meaning. Recently he began to notice a new pattern: our old stories, with their predictable plot points along linear paths, no longer hold true. The idea that we’ll have one job, one relationship, one source of happiness is hopelessly outdated. Yet many people feel overwhelmed by this change. We’re concerned that our lives are not what we expected; that we’re living life out of order.   Galvanized by a personal crisis and family emergency, Feiler set out on what became an epic journey to harvest American stories and see what he could learn from them. He crisscrossed the country, collecting hundreds of life stories from a breathtaking range of Americans in all 50 states. He then sifted through and coded these stories, building a massive database of patterns and takeaways that can help all of us live better.   LIFE IS IN THE TRANSITIONS introduces the fresh, pressing vision of the nonlinear life, in which personal disruptions and lifequakes are becoming more plentiful, nontraditional life shapes are becoming the norm, and each of us has the opportunity to write our own story. Drawing on an extraordinary trove of insights, Feiler offers a powerful, new transition toolkit with original strategies for coping with the difficult, painful, or unsettling times of life.   From a master storyteller with a timely message, LIFE IS IN THE TRANSITIONS can move readers of any age to think deeply about times of change in their lives and how to transform them into periods of creativity and growth.

30 review for Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    A fascinating and deeply researched examination of how we can navigate inevitable personal disruptions for more growth and creativity.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne

    Anyone who reads books knows that a book is written far in advance of the actual publication date. So to say that Bruce Felier’s new book Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change in a Nonlinear Age was prescient may be the understatement of all time! Felier begins his book discussing how modern time’s increases in life longevity, job choices and travel mobility has led to the end of life’s predictability. While we’re not all like the band REO Spedwagon’s song “Roll With the Changes”, with fin Anyone who reads books knows that a book is written far in advance of the actual publication date. So to say that Bruce Felier’s new book Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change in a Nonlinear Age was prescient may be the understatement of all time! Felier begins his book discussing how modern time’s increases in life longevity, job choices and travel mobility has led to the end of life’s predictability. While we’re not all like the band REO Spedwagon’s song “Roll With the Changes”, with fingers crossed that recent events have proved otherwise, Felier pre-pandemic book traces the roots of 225 Americans who suffered (and oft times triumphed) after experiencing what he termed “life disruptors” based on the 1967 life stress inventory developed by psychiatrists Holmes and Rahe. Before Covid-19, the disruptor “Collective Event (war, storm, protest)” was just one tiny speck in a sea of his “Deck of Disruptors”/life changes that thankfully many of us don’t ever experience. Again, back to Felier’s thesis that life is unpredictable, never say never is not just a cliche. Felier goes into detail how depending on the individual and other concurrent changes, a disruptor can amount to a “life quake”, eliciting either the voluntary or involuntary need for significant life change. Fortunately, the book’s final half explains a step-by-step guide to navigate the process needed for meaningful and graceful change. In other words, a guide to turning life’s lessons into re-birth, growth and success. While I was sometimes overwhelmed by the details of the 225 life stories, Felier’s chronicle was reassuring that our current Covid-19 experiences will lead to learning lessons and new beginnings for all of us if cool heads and love for each other prevail.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    I have studied and written about transitions. I’ve advised transitioners professionally. I am still fascinated by transitions. So I put this book on my “to read” list. I was impressed by the large number of people who loved the book. My guess is that people feel alone when they’re undergoing a life change. They’re eager to find others who have been in the same spot. These stories normalize a wide variety of experiences, so they’ll be reassuring to almost anyone. It’s probably a good book for these I have studied and written about transitions. I’ve advised transitioners professionally. I am still fascinated by transitions. So I put this book on my “to read” list. I was impressed by the large number of people who loved the book. My guess is that people feel alone when they’re undergoing a life change. They’re eager to find others who have been in the same spot. These stories normalize a wide variety of experiences, so they’ll be reassuring to almost anyone. It’s probably a good book for these readers. But if you’re looking for a more detached, analytical discussion, and if you’re familiar with qualitative research, you may want to look elsewhere. The biggest problem is the sheer number and variety of stories. The author sampled over 200 people, yet he includes stories of people he most likely didn’t interview, such as J J Rowling. His sample was large, but non-random and not representative, so there’s no way to derive meaning from the statistics. From the list of questions, the author seems to have developed a structured approach. The questions could be more open-ended. Often with qualitative research – as opposed to surveys – researchers find that questions shift as potentially interesting threads are discovered. What would be interesting would be an analysis across the categories. For instance, did the desire to create a ritual appear more among some people than others? Were there any patterns of choosing ritual categories? Some observations are simply baffling. Referring to Bettelheim’s discussion of fairy tales, the author suggests that the wolf draws out the hero’s best qualities. It would be helpful to get an explanation. Didn’t Red Riding Hood give away her grandma’s location to the wolf? Did she use her own skill to escape the same fate? And I don’t know why Feiler chose to add this offensive paragraph: “As we age we feel a greater sense of alienation, loneliness, and loss of purpose, and we feel bored.” Storytelling, he suggests, represents the cure. The point doesn’t seem related to the topic of life transitions and it would be helpful to see citations or research or examples. In any case, the qualities he associates with aging are not inevitable and not related to chronological age. They result from the way society treats older people, as useless and ill-equipped for real jobs with market wages I recommend that readers search on google for studies on giving older people more control over their lives. Read What Makes Olga Run. Look up Willie Murphy, the 82-year-old bodybuilder who drove a burglar out of her home. Look up Betty Nash, still flying for a major airline in her eighties. Google the Langer experiment and the BBC follow-up. Generally, more research would have helped all around. At one point Feiler suggests that transitions are neglected as an area of research and writing. In fact, at one point there was practically a cottage industry of articles on transition in the social science journals. Anthropologists studied transitions and liminal states for years; look up Victor Turner. Helen Ebaugh’s book, Becoming An Ex, uses sound sociological research methods; it also raises questions about this book’s emphasis on turning one’s back on a previous identity. Numerous authors have also written about specific examples of transition, such as divorce, relocation, entering or leaving a religious order, relocation, changing careers, parenthood, illness, death and more. Elsewhere we find a reference to research showing that people who mastered an identity crisis seem stronger on several psychological dimensions. Where is that research? How do you define an identity crisis? Are all identity crises also transitions and/or vice versa? Very few people have lived full lives without encountering at least one challenge to their identity. Some stories were more like lucky breaks than transitions, such as the singer who found someone who took him to Nashville and paid for a hotel room. We don’t see examples of failed transitions, where the person was left worse off. I can’t remember where I read about a doctor who decided to try his luck in Hollywood; after failing spectacularly, he was unable to find a job as good as the one he’d had before. In an old book Cinderella Complex, a woman also tries her luck at working in the Hollywood movie industry. She quits her job as a teacher and moves to Hollywood, where she earns a living as a tax preparer. Soon she realizes it’s a youth-oriented industry, she just doesn’t have enough years to put in, and her savings were depleted. Maybe at some point she turned this experience into a satisfying success…but not everyone does. Incidentally, Beverley Bass was one of the first female pilots for American, but not the first. That honor belongs to Bonnie Tiburzi who wrote a book, Takeoff! about her experience. It’s not clear why the publishers omitted basic fact-checking. Studies focusing on one aspect of transition tend to be more successful in yielding new knowledge. Think of Becoming an Ex or the many books and articles on divorce and career transition, e.g., William krummholz. The book has been immensely popular. Perhaps the reason (apart from the author’s name recognition) is the book’s reassuring message: there’s no way to do a transition wrong. If you read enough stories, you’ll conclude that you’re not alone and you’re probably normal. You may be inspired to share your story and you may feel better afterward. I would have liked to see a tighter focus, with careful attention to specific transitions or specific components of transitions, more deeply researched, and more thoughtful questioning of the data. But if your own research or life experience lead you to question the message, this isn’t the book for you.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lorilin

    Some key things I learned from this book… The three key ingredients of a well-balanced life according to the author are: 1) agency — freedom, creativity, mastery 2) belonging — relationships, community that nurtures you 3) cause — calling, direction, purpose There are three parts of our narrative identity: who we are as individuals, who we are as part of a group, and what ideal we serve. Most of us prioritize one part of our identity over the others. The author also talks about lifequakes. These are d Some key things I learned from this book… The three key ingredients of a well-balanced life according to the author are: 1) agency — freedom, creativity, mastery 2) belonging — relationships, community that nurtures you 3) cause — calling, direction, purpose There are three parts of our narrative identity: who we are as individuals, who we are as part of a group, and what ideal we serve. Most of us prioritize one part of our identity over the others. The author also talks about lifequakes. These are defined as forceful bursts of change that lead to a period of upheaval, transition, and renewal. We may not have control over when these lifequakes occur (though sometimes we do), but we do have control over if and how we transition and experience renewal. Basically, we have to make our own meaning out of the Poop Salads of Life. The crazy thing is that most adults will go through at least, like, eight lifequakes—which means we experience big change about every five years. There are three stages of transitions: the long goodbye, the messy middle, and the new beginning. The author gives seven tools for navigating them. 1) Accept it. Identify your emotions. 2) Mark it. Ritualize the change. 3) Shed it. Give up old mindsets. 4) Create it. Try new things. 5) Share it. Seek wisdom from others. 6) Launch it. Unveil your new self. 7) Tell it. Compose a fresh story. The last point I found really insightful has to do with the “narrators” in our lives. We (and kids especially) rely on co-narrators. These are people who reflect at us the significance of our actions and help us find meaning in events that we are often too close to to see. There are five different types of narrators, and I’m sure you can think of at least one person in your life who fits into each category. 1) comforters — you can do it! 2) nudgers — maybe you should try it 3) slappers — get over yourself! (but I love you) 4) modelers — follow my lead 5 )naysayers — you’ll never succeed All in all, this was a fascinating book that held my interest start to finish and taught me some important info along the way. Definitely worth a read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dan Connors

    Transitions are the most vulnerable times of our lives. When we are going through a transition, we are shedding many of the beliefs and resources that served us in the past and taking on new routines and ideas that may or may not work out in the future. There's an inevitable learning curve whenever trying new things, and the mistakes that come with transitions can be trying and costly. This book, by author Bruce Feiler, looks deeply into transition periods and how they can effect us. The linear Transitions are the most vulnerable times of our lives. When we are going through a transition, we are shedding many of the beliefs and resources that served us in the past and taking on new routines and ideas that may or may not work out in the future. There's an inevitable learning curve whenever trying new things, and the mistakes that come with transitions can be trying and costly. This book, by author Bruce Feiler, looks deeply into transition periods and how they can effect us. The linear life is dead, according to Feiler, and major disruptions can happen at any time. He believes that each of us experiences 3-5 major disruptions, (which he calls lifequakes) in our lifetimes, and 30-40 significant disruptions in our lives that potentially can send us off into entirely new directions. What are the most common sources of these disruptions? These are the events that you would think- deaths of family members, serious illnesses, new jobs or careers, marriages, divorces, having children, or major natural disasters. Some disruptions are pleasant ones and some are dangerously unpleasant, and unless we approach such life changes with the right attitude, they have the potential to overwhelm us and throw us completely off course. Feiler undertook something he called the life story project, in which he interviewed in depth some 225 people from around the United States and asked them about their high and low points, turning points, and the transitions that changed them the most. He interweaves the stories of these people throughout the book, and it makes for an interesting way to illustrate his points on transitions. The book is very thorough, detailing some 52 different disruptors that fall into five general categories- love, work, health, identity, or beliefs. He claims that most of them can happen at any age, and can be bunched together or spread out. There is no such thing as "middle age crises" according to this author, and life stories don't usually play out in any kind of predictable script. It's easy in times of change and transition to want to cling to the past, but this is not healthy nor possible long-term. Change is inevitable, and the key to stronger mental fitness during time of change is to adapt and grow. People have to move from resistance to acceptance (in our own way) and take agency over the transition instead of passively waiting for it to happen to us. Transitions come in three stages according to this book- the long goodbye, the messy middle, and the new beginning. It's possible to go through all three stages at once. The long goodbye can be the most painful, and often it's helpful to get help from others during this vulnerable time. During the long goodbye we realize that something is off and not working, and look for ways to fix it. When we realize that minor fixes won't work anymore, and major changes must be made (or when the major changes force themselves upon us), then we must confront the grief and pain that comes from saying goodbye to a part of our lives. The messy middle is just that- messy. It's why people don't want to go back to school, go back into the dating scene, re-evaluate their religious or political beliefs, or move out of their cluttered houses. Change can bring chaos, and the fear of this can keep people stuck in bad situations for years. There's too many decisions, too many things that can go wrong, and an unknown amount of risk. It's almost easier to retreat to what we already know, but this stage is essential for growth. To deal with the uncertainties of the messy middle, Feiler has several rules that he found from his interviews that helped others. - The Matisse Rule- Experiment with new ways of doing things when the old ways don't work. (Matisse used scissors to create great works of art when he was confined for years to a wheelchair and couldn't paint) - The Baldwin Rule- Write about your experiences, gain control of the narrative, and journal yourself into a new life like James Baldwin did. - The Tharp Rule- Use your old stuff and your past as a springboard to new inspirations. - The Feldenkrais Rule- Move your body to stimulate new pathways in your brain like the famous Feldenkrais method did for thousands of people. If you persist, you get to experience the final stage- the new beginning, which is the most powerful and hopeful of the three stages of transitions. Feiler recommends sharing your stories with others, and noticing the "first normal moments" of the new life you are in. You know you've made the transition once you feel like you have some normalcy back in your life (however transient), and are able to return to a state of flow. This book is very big on stories and storytelling. It encourages us to think about our transitions as journeys where we are in charge and not victims. It prods us to look at the big changes in our lives and look for the learning experiences and constructive things that came out of it. As long as we're still learning, our lives are in forward, positive motion, which is how we find meaning. Stories are what give our lives meaning. The author asked his subjects to tell him what "shape" their lives were. This curious question brought out three different ways that people assigned meaning to their lives. First- there is agency, in which the shapes all had a direction like an arrow or a mountain. These people saw themselves as the heroes of their story and prided themselves in taking actions that made things happen. Second, there is belonging, in which the shapes looked more like circles and spirals. These people found meaning in the relationships that they maintained and the love that they found. Parenthood and romantic relationships played a huge part in the meaning that these people took from life. And third, there is cause, where shapes with meaning like stars predominated. People who chose cause as their prime source of meaning had an ambitious goal that they wanted to reach for the benefit of many. Feiler uses his interviews to show how different types of meaning were created by the people in his study, and he also relates that our search for meaning can change during a lifetime. People switch back and forth between agency, belonging, and cause, especially if their lives become out of balance. Being devoted to a cause is great unless it means your personal life suffers, and getting along with people is only good if you're able to have a sense of agency and control of your own life. We are always looking at and balancing these three sources of meaning, especially after times of re-adjustment and change that come from transitions. The book closes with five truths about transitions that I thought were a good summary and helpful takeaway- 1- Transitions are becoming more plentiful as our world becomes less predictable. 2- Life is more and more a non-linear experience, and to expect certain things to happen in predictable sequences is not realistic. 3- Transitions can take longer than you think they will. (Sometimes as long as 5 years!) As you get into them, more and more things become clear that also need to change. 4- Transitions are autobiographical occasions. Don't be afraid to write about them. 5- Transitions are essential to life. (Otherwise we'd all be stuck in elementary school forever) If you want to learn more about the Life Story Project, go to the author's website- Brucefeiler.com, where you can fill out an interview just like the author gave to others, or you can start your own project with family members to gather their life stories. During the interviews they ask you to describe a high point, a low point, and a turning point in your life. Just taking a look at those three questions will give you a unique perspective on your life so far and some new ideas for how to do better with the next transitions.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cristy Jimenez-Shawcroft

    I gave this book five stars, not because it was the easiest to read (like a fiction book with a great plot), but because there are so many interesting ideas that I want to return to over time. In college, I was a Media Studies major and was able to do an independent research project on creating multimedia biographies, and this notion of the importance and ways of telling stories has stuck with me over time. It's not something I think about much, but when I do, I'm super engaged and interested. I I gave this book five stars, not because it was the easiest to read (like a fiction book with a great plot), but because there are so many interesting ideas that I want to return to over time. In college, I was a Media Studies major and was able to do an independent research project on creating multimedia biographies, and this notion of the importance and ways of telling stories has stuck with me over time. It's not something I think about much, but when I do, I'm super engaged and interested. In this book, Bruce Feiler did so much more than I could ever have thought to do. He mentioned the field of narrative psychology, which I had no idea was even a field. He has so thoroughly researched this field, as well as so many other related fields, and he has done a rigorous, coded study of stories - it's just amazing. There is just so much here to unpack. I know this book wouldn't necessarily be for everybody, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Note: It's also a helpful book to read during this time of Covid closures, since it reframes transitions or times of change as opportunities for growth and creativity, as opposed to just times of difficulty and frustration. It makes me feel more optimistic.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lorilin

    Some key things I learned from this book… The three key ingredients of a well-balanced life according to the author are: Agency — freedom, creativity, mastery Belonging — relationships, community that nurtures you Cause — calling, direction, purpose There are three parts of our narrative identity: who we are as individuals, who we are as part of a group, and what ideal we serve. Most of us prioritize one part of our identity over the others. The author also talks about lifequakes. These are defined as Some key things I learned from this book… The three key ingredients of a well-balanced life according to the author are: Agency — freedom, creativity, mastery Belonging — relationships, community that nurtures you Cause — calling, direction, purpose There are three parts of our narrative identity: who we are as individuals, who we are as part of a group, and what ideal we serve. Most of us prioritize one part of our identity over the others. The author also talks about lifequakes. These are defined as forceful bursts of change that lead to a period of upheaval, transition, and renewal. We may not have control over when these lifequakes occur (though sometimes we do), but we do have control over if and how we transition and experience renewal. Basically, we have to make our own meaning out of the Poop Salads of Life. The crazy thing is that most adults will go through at least, like, eight lifequakes—which means we experience big change about every five years. There are three stages of transitions: the long goodbye, the messy middle, and the new beginning. The author gives seven tools for navigating them. Accept it. Identify your emotions. Mark it. Ritualize the change. Shed it. Give up old mindsets. Create it. Try new things. Share it. Seek wisdom from others. Launch it. Unveil your new self. Tell it. Compose a fresh story. The last point I found really insightful has to do with the “narrators” in our lives. We (and kids especially) rely on co-narrators. These are people who reflect at us the significance of our actions and help us find meaning in events that we are often too close to to see. There are five different types of narrators, and I’m sure you can think of at least one person in your life who fits into each category. Comforters — you can do it! Nudgers — maybe you should try it Slappers — get over yourself! (but I love you) Modelers — follow my lead Naysayers — you’ll never succeed All in all, this was a fascinating book that held my interest start to finish and taught me some important info along the way. Definitely worth a read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I’m fascinated by life stages, transition and change literature, and life stories, so it was a pleasure to find a new book that dealt with all of these. And when this book explained the origins of the myth of the midlife crisis, I immediately put down the copy I’d borrowed from the library and ordered a hardcover of my own. I’m still glad I did that, but the book lost some of its juiciness for me as it went on. I would have liked more discussion of the themes, backed up by research, and fewer ex I’m fascinated by life stages, transition and change literature, and life stories, so it was a pleasure to find a new book that dealt with all of these. And when this book explained the origins of the myth of the midlife crisis, I immediately put down the copy I’d borrowed from the library and ordered a hardcover of my own. I’m still glad I did that, but the book lost some of its juiciness for me as it went on. I would have liked more discussion of the themes, backed up by research, and fewer examples of people’s stories.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lastoadri

    I'd give it 10 if I could. I read this book on Kindle, but I am planning to buy the paper copy as well. It is one of those books which you want to read many times during your life time, and add your markings on it's papers each and everytime. It helps to see where you are and where you are going to be. I guess this book found me at a strange period in my life. I've been in an extended transition since 2011. Peak was in 2014, and now a new wave.. Bruce kinda helped me understand - and appreciate - I'd give it 10 if I could. I read this book on Kindle, but I am planning to buy the paper copy as well. It is one of those books which you want to read many times during your life time, and add your markings on it's papers each and everytime. It helps to see where you are and where you are going to be. I guess this book found me at a strange period in my life. I've been in an extended transition since 2011. Peak was in 2014, and now a new wave.. Bruce kinda helped me understand - and appreciate - what my past self did to help me. I was only blaming her for the wrong decisions she took, but right now I am grateful to her. She's been trying to be a better person all along the way, without knowing, her compass was in the right direction to heal. I recommend this book to anyone who needs to understand more about life transitions, and who is in a dire need to take decisions, which were postponed for too long.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Clinton Hutchings

    Since I really loved "The Secrets of Happy Families" by Feiler, I was excited to jump into this one! Unfortunately, this was hard to get through. Was way too long. Some good, thoughtful points about life changes that I'll likely be able to include in my world view, but it seemed like a lot of effort for a few nuggets of gold. Since I really loved "The Secrets of Happy Families" by Feiler, I was excited to jump into this one! Unfortunately, this was hard to get through. Was way too long. Some good, thoughtful points about life changes that I'll likely be able to include in my world view, but it seemed like a lot of effort for a few nuggets of gold.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Priya Kumar

    life is non-linear!! bad things, scary things, stressful things will happen - embrace change and use it to continue building your life!!! loved this book, definitely came out with some new perspectives

  12. 4 out of 5

    Roberta Havel

    I probably shouldn't have read this book. I am an avid reader, a social worker and I generally don't like self-help books. To me, Life in the Transitions, just reinvented the wheel. There were no new theories; it wasn't based on solid quantitative data, and it didn't do anything to motivate me to change my life. On the flip side, Life in the Transitions, may be a good book for someone who doesn't have the professional background that I have. There are some interesting stories, and the reader may I probably shouldn't have read this book. I am an avid reader, a social worker and I generally don't like self-help books. To me, Life in the Transitions, just reinvented the wheel. There were no new theories; it wasn't based on solid quantitative data, and it didn't do anything to motivate me to change my life. On the flip side, Life in the Transitions, may be a good book for someone who doesn't have the professional background that I have. There are some interesting stories, and the reader may get some ideas on how to transition thru life's rough spots, but I doubt that it will have a long term effect on changing their lives. I have other issues with the book, but I don't want to be a spoiler. If you decide to read it, I hope I am wrong about its longterm impact on you.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    This is one of the most important books I have read in a long time. It allows us to realize that life does not follow a linear path or plan. We spend most of our time dealing with things that disrupt our lives and Bruce has given us ways to help navigate these transitional times to our fullest capacities. Do yourself a favor and read this book!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melody Warnick

    "The proper response to a setback is a story" is just the inspiration I needed at my own transition point. "The proper response to a setback is a story" is just the inspiration I needed at my own transition point.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ginny

    Can’t read it. Has he not read Gail Sheehy’s Passages, which is an easier read but written almost 50 years ago? So trite and unscientific when there is so much fascinating literature on life transitions and especially on how it affects people differently depending on many factors. I wish the author had included a more thorough and rigorous literature review. Too much is Feiler’s opinion. Feiler is a journalist who obviously doesn’t know this topic. He refers to George Bonanno who I know. Read Bo Can’t read it. Has he not read Gail Sheehy’s Passages, which is an easier read but written almost 50 years ago? So trite and unscientific when there is so much fascinating literature on life transitions and especially on how it affects people differently depending on many factors. I wish the author had included a more thorough and rigorous literature review. Too much is Feiler’s opinion. Feiler is a journalist who obviously doesn’t know this topic. He refers to George Bonanno who I know. Read Bonanno. Of course there are life transitions. Linearity yes ended with Gail Sheehy’s passages 50 years ago. Read this instead. It’s as applicable today as this comic book full of trite chapters like “Accept It” or “Shed It” or “Share it.” Sorry Bruce Feiler and to anyone who benefitted from reading this book. I was indeed looking forward to it. Sigh. I don’t intend to be condescending but I looked at his sources, which are outdated including those for which there is consensus lack credibility. Sorry.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Rice

    I have never related to a book as much as this one. Going on what feels like my 100th lifequake (moving, job loss etc). It’s incredible to have words to describe the mess your life goes through when you experience one. It was also incredibly soothing to see that there are phases you go through and every one goes through them in their own way. It feels free to realize you can live your life in a non linear way. Why couldn’t I see that before? As the author explains the phases and how some flouris I have never related to a book as much as this one. Going on what feels like my 100th lifequake (moving, job loss etc). It’s incredible to have words to describe the mess your life goes through when you experience one. It was also incredibly soothing to see that there are phases you go through and every one goes through them in their own way. It feels free to realize you can live your life in a non linear way. Why couldn’t I see that before? As the author explains the phases and how some flourish in one and others in other ones what really made this book was all the stories. Reading others experiences going through their own lifequakes and how they came out on the other side was uplifting.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hanan AL-Raddadi

    I stopped reading self help books long time ago. They rarely provide genuine practical advice. The reason I picked this book though is because the author is a cancer survivor. I have a tendency to believe people who went through a life turning disaster more easily. Going through a life transition myself, I thought he might have something useful I could learn. Nothing is novel about this book. It is plain common sense that life is hard and that change is the one permanent truth. People are adaptiv I stopped reading self help books long time ago. They rarely provide genuine practical advice. The reason I picked this book though is because the author is a cancer survivor. I have a tendency to believe people who went through a life turning disaster more easily. Going through a life transition myself, I thought he might have something useful I could learn. Nothing is novel about this book. It is plain common sense that life is hard and that change is the one permanent truth. People are adaptive, they move on, they found new ways to live. How can anyone doubt that in the midst of a pandemic? I have 2389 followers on Twitter. I can ask them to tell me their life stories and I would analyze them and interpret them way better that Bruce Feiler did with his 225 people but I can NOT call that robust data. Reading this book to the last page was a test of my endurance and I think I gracefully passed!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bob Walenski

    This book needs to be required reading! The main premise of the book is so jaw droppingly clear and correct that none of us has been able to express it so clearly, yet all of us are aware of it! I hear others OFTEN say how life seems to have 'sped up', how time is accelerating, how the pace of life is running us all ragged. It seems that tragedy and upheaval are everywhere, almost all the time....and this book helps to explain WHY we feel that way. It also explains that that idea is correct..... This book needs to be required reading! The main premise of the book is so jaw droppingly clear and correct that none of us has been able to express it so clearly, yet all of us are aware of it! I hear others OFTEN say how life seems to have 'sped up', how time is accelerating, how the pace of life is running us all ragged. It seems that tragedy and upheaval are everywhere, almost all the time....and this book helps to explain WHY we feel that way. It also explains that that idea is correct.....we are all living NONLINEAR lives, that the old paradigms of life are outdated and wrong, and make us feel uprooted, guilty and afraid because our lives are so out of control. " ...... for generations, people embraced the idea that our lives follow three, five, seven, or eight predictable stages. Insofar as that road map brought people comfort in the past, it can bring us comfort no more. We need different maps for different times. Crises aren't just midlife anymore; turning points don't care how old we are; urges to overturn our routines don't follow handy charts printed in undergraduate textbooks. Life changes happen when they happen, often when we least expect them to happen, and at a pace that would have seemed unthinkable even a few years ago." " The average adult will experience one life disruptor every one to two years ---that's more frequently than many people see a dentist. One in ten of those --- around three to five in an adult life --- will be so big that the person will undergo a major life change." The opening 50 pages and conclusions in this book are priceless! The middle section, sort of symbolic of the 'messy middle' Feiler describes as part of the upheaval pattern our life changes take, is more oriented toward case history and organizing the ideas into patterns. That wasn't as interesting for me, but you may enjoy the detailed insights into so many others' lives. But I couldn't deny the truth of Feiler's main point as it struck me.....the 'straight line path' we were brought up believing is no longer applicable to life....it's a myth that seemed to be somewhat accurate for a brief period, but has become increasingly misleading and causes distress and negative feelings, making us wonder what is wrong with us??! But Feiler reassures us, NOTHING is wrong with us, but life is NOT a smooth line, a wide paved road....instead it's a bumpy, maze of dirt paths that lacks clear road signs and is filled with pitfalls, diversions and major roadblocks and disruptors. Feiler clearly articulates more than 50 " Life Disruptors" and indicates most of us experience between 30-40 of those during our lifetimes. Many of those disruptors happen together, or near to each other. There is no pattern, they are random. And typically it takes us years to overcome, reorient, retrack and reprogram and repurpose our lives. EVERYBODY NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Artemisia Hunt

    Bruce Feiler spent several years gathering hundreds of personal life stories to write this book about the kind of pivotal life experiences that often become the “lifequakes” that force us to make significant changes in our life’s trajectory. Following a statistical approach to his own form of sociological research, Feiler uses graphs, numerical data and the like to uphold his theory that such transitional experiences are more common throughout our lifetimes than standard linear theories about li Bruce Feiler spent several years gathering hundreds of personal life stories to write this book about the kind of pivotal life experiences that often become the “lifequakes” that force us to make significant changes in our life’s trajectory. Following a statistical approach to his own form of sociological research, Feiler uses graphs, numerical data and the like to uphold his theory that such transitional experiences are more common throughout our lifetimes than standard linear theories about life stages and phases have held. The idea that we develop on an upward trajectory from stage to stage with a fair degree of certainty about where we are going with our life is a myth according to Feiler. Instead, we can probably expect many “disrupters” in life that can upend this notion completely, but that that is often what gives us lives of greater opportunity and even unexpected benefits instead. Still, I found myself wondering about the accuracy of some of his conclusions. I have known lots of people whose lives have followed a pretty conventional path without too much upheaval and yet I have also known some people whose lives are constantly in chaos. However, regardless of what you may think of his methods or his conclusions, there is still a lot to think about in this book. I’m just not sure it’s the end and be all to a century or so of social science research and observation. For me though, the best parts of this book were the personal stories of some of the many people he interviewed for the book. These examples of individuals turning adversity into opportunity and even triumph, were inspiring, uplifting and the kind of “good news” we could all use more of these days.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    This is a book that I will think about time and time again. He talks about how we have life changing transitions every 2-3 years. Some are forced upon us (being fired, losing a loved one), some we choose (to become parents, to move), but they are still transitions and are difficult. Each of these transitions take at least 18 months to conquer, longer than most thought they should. Life changes so often and is not a linear path to the end. Really thought provoking. Top lesson - Tell your stories. This is a book that I will think about time and time again. He talks about how we have life changing transitions every 2-3 years. Some are forced upon us (being fired, losing a loved one), some we choose (to become parents, to move), but they are still transitions and are difficult. Each of these transitions take at least 18 months to conquer, longer than most thought they should. Life changes so often and is not a linear path to the end. Really thought provoking. Top lesson - Tell your stories. "We have a choice in how we tell our life story. We do not write it in permanent ink. There are no points for consistency, or even accuracy. We can change it any time, for any reason, including one as simple as making ourselves feel better. After all, a primary function of our life story is to allow us to place experiences firmly in the past and take from them something beneficial that will allow us to thrive in the future. Only when that happens will we know our transition is complete."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Feiler takes the works of Freud, Erickson, Kubler-Ross and says “hey, we’re living longer, life no longer happens in linear and predictable stages” it’s filled with change and transitions and we’d better get good at adapting. “Lifequakes” he calls these events, and how we adapt and move forward is up to us. Through stories gathered and coded for patterns, he gives us themes and advice. He also shares one of his most personal life changing quakes. I’d like to read more about this—he challenges ic Feiler takes the works of Freud, Erickson, Kubler-Ross and says “hey, we’re living longer, life no longer happens in linear and predictable stages” it’s filled with change and transitions and we’d better get good at adapting. “Lifequakes” he calls these events, and how we adapt and move forward is up to us. Through stories gathered and coded for patterns, he gives us themes and advice. He also shares one of his most personal life changing quakes. I’d like to read more about this—he challenges iconic development theories and I want more about current cultural and lifespan changes and developmental theory. This book was written prior to our current collective life quake. He concludes that war, the Great Depression, the farm crisis rallied society in ways that may be of the past. So a sequel is warranted!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Taylor

    Bruce Feiler is a consummate storyteller, who teaches us that meaning is found in our stories and how they connect us to each other. He introduces several new concepts of how we manage our life transitions, which he calls “lifequakes”, and dispels previous theories that the average person lives in a linearly fashion (remember Gail Sheehy’s Passages?) He describes transitions as having a long goodbye to the old way of life and “messy middles” (while we are moving through changes). Lots of anecdot Bruce Feiler is a consummate storyteller, who teaches us that meaning is found in our stories and how they connect us to each other. He introduces several new concepts of how we manage our life transitions, which he calls “lifequakes”, and dispels previous theories that the average person lives in a linearly fashion (remember Gail Sheehy’s Passages?) He describes transitions as having a long goodbye to the old way of life and “messy middles” (while we are moving through changes). Lots of anecdotal evidence, from 225 interviews, shape his theories and provide interesting approaches to understanding our individual journeys. I enjoyed this book and appreciate the time and effort he spent in putting a shape to our stories.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Klein

    In truth, I have long been a Bruce Feiler fan. This book, however, is one of his best. It does an excellent job of explaining how each of us is almost constantly in transition, in flux. It does a great job of weaving personal story with modern psychology. I bought a hard copy to begin with but then purchased an electronic version because there is so much really good material. His timing on this is impeccable. There was no way he would know that the world would be in a giant transition when his b In truth, I have long been a Bruce Feiler fan. This book, however, is one of his best. It does an excellent job of explaining how each of us is almost constantly in transition, in flux. It does a great job of weaving personal story with modern psychology. I bought a hard copy to begin with but then purchased an electronic version because there is so much really good material. His timing on this is impeccable. There was no way he would know that the world would be in a giant transition when his book was released, but here we are. There is so much helpful information for anyone in a transition--or anyone who is trying to make meaning out of their life. Excellent book. Definitely using some of its findings as part of my High Holiday planning.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jason Corso

    I liked this book, a lot. One way to frame this book is how it creates a rich language for transitions, for understanding choices, yearnings, etc. The conveyed anecdotes are interesting and I value the emphasis on data analysis. However, I wanted more from the book; perhaps I wanted a "more" that does not exist. I wanted answers, but what I found seem like possibilities in a large multiple choice question. I liked this book, a lot. One way to frame this book is how it creates a rich language for transitions, for understanding choices, yearnings, etc. The conveyed anecdotes are interesting and I value the emphasis on data analysis. However, I wanted more from the book; perhaps I wanted a "more" that does not exist. I wanted answers, but what I found seem like possibilities in a large multiple choice question.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Finally finished this book! I really enjoyed I just read WAAAAY slower on my e-reader than I do physical books. I thought it was a great way to look at different life events and help ourselves through the “life quakes”.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nick Salenga

    This is a great book that can move readers of any age to think about times of change & how to transform them into periods of creativity & growth.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Francis Kelly

    Perfect for this point in my life.

  28. 4 out of 5

    The_J

    Mastering Change at any age. A Plethora of "stories" but in the end Eh. not enough there there for the work to make it through the text. Mastering Change at any age. A Plethora of "stories" but in the end Eh. not enough there there for the work to make it through the text.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kristina Setka

    This book changed my life. You will undoubtably grow from reading it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    What feels like approximately 100 years ago, my therapist sent me a link to an article (she’s often sending me links; everyone deserves a person who sends them links). It was written by this guy, and I don’t ultimately remember what it said. What I noticed was the end where it says, “Bruce Feiler is the author of Life is in the Transitions...” And I knew I had to get my hands on that book. I am nothing if not a life of transitions! Well, it finally came available from the library, and it did not What feels like approximately 100 years ago, my therapist sent me a link to an article (she’s often sending me links; everyone deserves a person who sends them links). It was written by this guy, and I don’t ultimately remember what it said. What I noticed was the end where it says, “Bruce Feiler is the author of Life is in the Transitions...” And I knew I had to get my hands on that book. I am nothing if not a life of transitions! Well, it finally came available from the library, and it did not disappoint. Feiler went across the country interviewing people about their major life changes (everything from death of infant child, surviving an IED, substance abuse disorder, pursuing an education, leaving an order, entering an order, leaving Wall Street and Silicone Valley, the loss of a parent, suicide, gender reassignment surgery, it runs the gamut), finding patterns in their coping, their skills, their habits, their self-expression, and their self-perception to come up with lessons for the rest of us on patterns that emerged. I’ll give you a clue: agency, belonging, and cause. Alternating between these personal narratives and psychological theories, the author is here to proclaim the good news (at least good for the rest of us) that the linear life is dead. Instead, we are now in the midst of a life of disrupters (not all of them bad), on average one every 1-2 years. And for the really bad life quakes, we spend on average five years in transition to our new selves. This book is a guide on how to weather that event, whatever it may be, and come out on the other side thriving. It was a great book. I found the interviewee stories very compelling and endearing. The schools of thought were well-explained and relevant. The lessons learned were accessible and relatable. In fact, I often felt like Feiler had been peeking in my window and reading my mind for the past couple of years. So even if it had no greater value that this, it comfortingly conveys that the anxious reader is not alone. We are a shared, creative humanity with many struggles and, more importantly, wins to share. 4.5 stars (Crazy side note: I was on page 10 when I discovered my local friend’s boss was an interview subject for the book when I recognized his very distinctive bio - “a country music songwriter became a Lutheran pastor”)

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