STOP CHASING CARROTS: Healing Self-Help Deceptions with a Scientific Philosophy of Life

by Chris Masi

Verdict: STOP CHASING CARROT argues rather than inspires, but get past the harsh exterior and it’s probably more likely to get results.

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A scientifically-led self-help book with the stated aim of blowing the ambiguous drive of the broader self-help genre out of the water, Chris Masi’s STOP CHASING CARROTS lets go of the reassurances and platitudes long standardized in this kind of text. Instead it attempts to come at the concepts of happiness, success and fulfillment from a more technically-driven angle.

The book sets out attempting to alter thought processes and debunk commonly held self-help tropes. Confirmation bias, for example, gets a going over a few pages in. Logic processes follow shortly afterwards. The first few chapters are dedicated to examining harsh realities, and reconditioning our human, intuition-led reactions to them.

The author encourages giving up on the very idea that ‘you can achieve anything’, or that every idea you’re enthused about is a good one. It is, sometimes, genuinely tough to examine what might be dragging you down and what you’re getting wrong. In chapter titles like ‘Why We Do What Makes Us Unhappy’, readers are asked to brutally self-analyze, think about the realism of targets, and the impacts of emotions like guilt and shame in our lives.

Masi gets intensely personal at times. He talks of serious injuries and early-life delusions that have shaped his perspective, a habit that can add a charming, personal angle to the examples. The flip side of his approach is that he can be adherent to emotionless-logic, to the point that it can come across as abrasive. Aspects of his work could be perceived as cold: he’s particularly dismissive of religion on logic grounds, for example, and some of his ideas cast complex doubts over even mundane everyday mental processes.

That’s not to say he’s wrong to do so. If the average self-help book were a warm blanket for life, this – which claims to be the first such evidence-based examination – is a cold bucket of water over the head of those who feel they’re already driving in the right direction; a slap on the cheek of the idea that we’re fulfilling our potential or living as well as we could be.

As the title suggests, STOP CHASING CARROTS is certainly not a pep talk, nor is it claiming to be any kind of surefire direction to achieve all you want from life. What it does do is look at re-examining what fulfills you, adjusting priorities and thinking more clearly. The main criticism the book might elicit is that, despite claiming to be scientific, it can tend towards oversimplification, and is heavy on back up stories that are highly anecdotal (the latter an oddity in the context of the book’s broader stated aims).movie The Girl with All the Gifts 2016 download

The book concludes with ten rules. They’re simple, practical and applicable to life, and promote logical, intrinsic values like efficiency and lifestyle. They would almost certainly help those that tend to base decisions on emotion.

Simply for being so practical, though, STOP CHASING CARROTS may not see mass-sale success in the way it’s quick-fix rivals might. It argues rather than inspires, but get past the harsh exterior and it’s probably more likely to get results.

~James Hendicott for IndieReader

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