Steve Pavlina made me cry

There are plenty of reviews of Personal Development for Smart People out there already. If you want to read a straightforward review of the book, go read someone else’s review.

I’m only going to review the parts of the book that brought tears to my eyes.

There are sixteen of them, so this tear-centered focus won’t even make the review any shorter. (;

Before Page 1

The dedication is the most beautiful dedication I have ever read. It’s to his wife, and it reads:

For Erin.
Thank you for teaching me how to love.
Our souls are dancing.

Sheesh, I’m crying again as I write this. We’d best get used to it, because we’re in for quite a ride.

Page 22

Now look at each area of your life again, and ask yourself, What do I truly want? What is my dream, my grand vision? What is the deep desire I’ve been longing for, the one I hesitate to admit because I don’t think I can have it? What path do I most want to experience? Accept that you want what you want, and stop living in denial of your true desires.

Wow. These are powerful words. They’re similar to the words that moved me to quit my job, to follow my heart’s desire and do what I love for a living. In fact, if I hadn’t already done it, that paragraph probably would have moved me to do so. But that’s not enough for Steve. (; He challenges me to look at each area of my life and ask myself the same powerful question.

And you know what? Once you ask yourself that question, really ask it, it can never be unasked. You’ll feel forever restless if you continue to ignore your deep desire. And that’s awesome! Don’t rest if you’re unhappy! Start poking around and figure out what you can do to improve your life! Don’t let your dreams sit on that dusty shelf for one more day! Even if you’re not in a situation to make your goals a reality this very day, you’re in a situation where you can make the first step. Take your heart’s desire off that dusty old shelf, and put it in front of you, where it belongs. See the path from the present to your heart’s desire. Take that first step on the path.

Page 73

Oneness makes compassion unconditional. It doesn’t matter what race, religion, sexual preference, or lifestyle people have. It doesn’t matter if they behave hurtfully toward you. You are connected to everyone. No one is undeserving of love.

Steve’s message of oneness and universal love touches me deeply. I feel my heart and my soul resonate when I listen to these words. There is some part of me that fears I’m undeserving of love. But then Steve reminds me: We are all connected. We are all one. All we need to do to receive love is to give love — no, not even that, simply to remember love as a part of our connected wholeness.

Page 80

Steve talks about “Oneness World”, an imaginary world where everyone is aligned with the principle of oneness.

In this world of oneness, you can always expect fair treatment, regardless of race, gender, or sexual preference. If you need help with anything, you can approach anyone at any time, and you’ll be treated like family. The very notion of individual advancement at the expense of others is completely alien. This world’s mantra is: “We’re all in this together.”

This new world has no weapons, no prisons, and no national borders. There’s no violence or war. People still have differences of opinion, but they settle them by cooperating to discover the truth while treating every individual with compassion and fairness.

Allow your mind and emotions to roam freely through Oneness World. Think about what it would be like to actually live there. Pay attention to how it makes you feel.

Steve just put my dream into words. It was my dream. It was in my head. And here it is on this piece of paper, on page 80 of this book. Steve calls this principle “oneness” and we call it the connection paradigm, but it’s the same thing. Oneness World is a world aligned with the connection paradigm instead of the control paradigm.

This vision is what drives us. Kyeli and I are working to make the world a better place, and this is the better place we envision. This is the goal toward which we move, one step at a time. And here it is, lifted right out of our hearts and plopped down as ink on paper.

Oneness World isn’t just our vision, it’s our home. It’s our expectation. It feels like where we belong. We’re constantly surprised when people are mean or hurtful, when people treat us badly because of who we are or what we look like. We feel a wrenching dissonance. In our hearts, we feel like this is the way people are deep down inside, if they wouldn’t be too scared to let it out. It’s like we’re visitors in this world — it’s Oneness World that is our home.

Page 81

Steve continues to talk about oneness, and I continue to cry.

A very pleasurable way to experience oneness is to put yourself in loving physical contact with another willing person. Snuggle your mate in a spooning position. Hold a child in your lap. Cradle a baby in your arms. Say nothing at all — just enjoy the silent recognition of the connection between you.

As you both maintain physical contact, imagine your consciousness expanding to encompass the other person’s body. In your mind, hear the words I am you. There is no separation, no boundary between you. You both dissolve into each other and share a singular consciousness. Enjoy this feeling of pure connectedness, free of all thoughts of separation. Don’t merely think you’re one; know you’re one.

Just… beauty. I have no words.

Page 82

Incidentally, did I mention what a beautiful, brilliant, and loving person you are?

I think this is my favorite sentence of the entire book. It moves me to tears every time I read it. Here is Steve, writing a book, and gushing out unconditional love to every single one of his readers. And here’s the thing. He means it. He’s not just writing that to be cute or encouraging or inspiring. He’s writing it because he loves you. He feels connected to you, even if he doesn’t know you yet. He takes time out each day to send out love and gratitude and positive vibes to all of his readers. He means it.

Page 101

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

Okay, so Steve was quoting Helen Keller here, but every tear counts, so I include it for completeness’ sake. (:

Page 102

Before you embark on [any path] ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path.

This chapter is full of tear-inducing quotes. This one is from Carlos Castaneda, but Steve really makes this one his own. He comes back to the question “Does this path have a heart?” over and over again, and each time it’s amazingly powerful and heartwrenching for me.

Page 146

My family and I once did a 30-day trial with no TV. It worked well because we spent time talking to each other, playing games together, and going on family outings.

This image makes me so happy and joyfully teary. I imagine the Pavlina family with the TV off, with the soft blanket of quiet broken only by their laughter as they play games and enjoy each other’s company. Then I imagine hundreds of other families turning off their TVs and turning to each other — connecting with one another.

Giving up TV was one of the best things I ever did to help me live an interesting and happy life, so this story connects with me deeply.

Page 166

Here he talks about one of my favorite things: how to discover your life purpose in about 20 minutes. Basically, you start with a blank sheet of paper (or an empty text file), and brainstorm answers to the question “What is my true purpose in life?” until you find one that makes you cry.

It works.

It works really well.

And of course, Steve talking about crying makes me cry. (;

Page 167

Steve shares his own results from the figure-out-your-life-purpose exercise:

To live consciously and courageously;
To enjoy, increase, and share peace, energy, passion, and abundance;
To resonate with love and compassion;
To awaken the great spirits within others;
And to fully embrace this present moment.

Wow. Before I read this, I knew Steve Pavlina was a good person and someone I greatly admired. Now I know that he is a kindred spirit. I not only got teary when I read this, but I also felt a chill run up my spine.

Steve, I feel called to get to know you better. I’m feeling the tingles of a kind of connection that isn’t simple admiration or friendship or a sharing of common goals. I’m not sure what it is, but I think it merits exploration.

Page 168

You deserve to have an empowering career, but that won’t happen until you fully commit to it. The obstacles and setbacks you encounter aren’t intended to keep you from reaching yor ultimate goal. They’re merely part of the training course you must complete in order to prove you’re strong enough to hold on to your dream once you reach it. Demonstrate by your actions that you’re 100 percent committed and the obstacles will tend to recede on their own.

Whoa! Didn’t I just say that myself? Why, I do believe I did, and I may have even quoted Goethe, don’t ya know.

Earlier this week, Kyeli and I had a conversation about fears, roadblocks, stress, and money. At the end of the conversation, we realized something amazing: success is inevitable. Since we are 100% committed to succeeding, since we are ridiculously passionate and tenacious, it’s like we’ve already succeeded. The only question remaining is how long it will take us to reach our goals. Reaching them is no longer up for debate; it’s only a matter of time.

It’s always amazing (and sometimes tearworthy) to see words you were just thinking appear on a page written by someone else.

Page 169

Your career is your primary outlet for contribution. Do your current choices honor the fact that we’re all connected, or do you live entirely for yourself at the expense of others? It isn’t enough to do no harm. You must commit to doing good.

You must commit to doing good! It isn’t enough to do no harm! *mind blows*

Hey Wiccans! Hey pagans! Hey neopagans! Steve Pavlina is calling you out! “An it harm none, do what thou wilt” ain’t gonna cut it any more. It isn’t enough to do no harm. You must commit to doing good.

Hey desk workers! Hey food service employees! Hey IT professionals! Hey marketers! Hey small business owners! I know you’re probably doing no harm. But are you committed to doing good?

This is one of the reasons I needed to change my career. I was doing no harm (well, not a lot) at my old job, but I wasn’t doing good. I had a story in my head about how I was doing good, but my head wasn’t enough to warm me, wasn’t enough to fire me up. I wasn’t doing the kind of good that fed my heart.

Now I am, and let me tell you, it makes all the difference.

Page 191

To sacrifice myself to help others without receiving fair value in return is to enter into an abusive relationship.

That finger of yours, Steve? It’s pointing at me. I’ve been fighting a case of what Steve calls “lightworker syndrome”: the tendency to devalue myself and to try to help everyone without receiving anything in return. It seems kind and altruistic on the surface, but it’s actually not, because it’s completely unsustainable. If you don’t take good care of yourself, you won’t be able to help others. But if you set good boundaries for yourself and stick to them fiercely, you will be sustainable, as well as setting a good example for others.

This comes up for us over and over when we talk about how much of our work we want to give away for free and how much we want to sell. Our #1 goal is helping people, and sometimes we lose sight of the fact that that goal is strengthened, not weakened by our #2 and #3 goals: enjoying the journey and making money. After all, the reason we’re making money is to feed it back into more of #1 and #2.

I’m going to print out Steve’s quote and put it on our wall so we can be reminded of it during future business planning conversations.

Page 221

Steve says lots of sweet things about Erin. (:

Page 253

Remember that you’re always loved.

What a beautiful way to conclude this review of joyful tears.

In summary, this book is one of my five favorite, most life-changing books of all time. (The others being The Paradigm Conspiracy, Ishmael, The Story of B, and The Game of God). I highly recommend you buy a copy, or if you’re local, I’ll be happy to let you borrow mine. (:

Feel clear and confident about your direction in life!


Do you wish you could follow your heart, but it seems impossible? I can help you find the clarity and courage you need.

In other words, I can help you find your path.