A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness – A Book Review

This courageous book takes on the establishment norms of talk therapy and pharmacology and offers a simple, natural and clear alternative to achieving good Mental Health. Instead of the old worn paths of focusing on our problems, Gregg Krech talks about the 4 skills of Acceptance, Co-existence with unpleasant feelings, Attention and Self Reflection.

Gregg expands in detail on these 4 pillars and how to take persistent action regardless of interfering feelings and thoughts. He provides clear concise summaries at the end of each chapter as well as several simple exercises to practice and learn these valuable skills to help us live meaningful and productive lives.

This book is packed full of wisdom. Besides Gregg’s own quotes such as “the more we resist or fight these feelings the stronger they become – its as if the nourishment we give to unpleasant feeling is actually a form of nourishment, like water to a plant …” he also includes some timeless quotes from sages and Zen Masters. Here is a further taste: “When we repeatedly talk about our unpleasant feelings it is easy to fall in the habit of simply complaining and wanting our suffering to be the center of our attention – this isn’t characteristic of mental wellness.”  “Complaining makes us good at complaining.”

Similar to his advice about feelings he also describes the futility of attempting to control our thoughts instead of accepting them as ‘secretions in your head’.

One of the skills of Mental Wellness the author covers is Self Reflection. He describes the process and benefits of a Japanese method called Naikan. I enjoyed how he describes developing a ‘habit of attention’ away from our frequent focus on problems and ruminations about what happened in the past or anticipated future difficulties, but rather towards what we often fail to notice – things that support our existence such as our health, our friends and family. He stresses the importance of gratitude and how Self Reflection gives us an opportunity to view our lives from a different perspective.

The final chapter enlightens us to the importance of living a purposeful life and gently guides us out of our illusory comfort zones and into taking meaningful action and dealing with the inevitable risks.

Not only does this book provide new solutions for readers that have treaded the well worn path of medication and discussions of childhood issues in hopes of improving their lives, but I also recommend their book to anyone who is interested in taking their mental (and physical) health to a new level.

In the interests of full disclosure I should note that I have done several of the ToDo Institutes courses and I have been certified by the ToDo Institute in methods of Japanese Psychology. However, I still highly recommend this book as a simple path to Mental Wellness and a nice introduction to Morita therapy and Naikan.

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