Book Excerpt: Dr. Phil's "Real Life"
An excerpt from Dr. Phil's new book, Real Life -- Preparing for the 7 Most Challenging Days of Your Life.
From REAL LIFE by Dr. Phil McGraw. Copyright © 2008 by Phillip C. McGraw. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc, NY.
If, by chance, you're one of those people who is tempted to skip ahead and read the last part of a book first, we are actually on the "same page," so to speak, because I want to work backward with you here for a minute. I want to tell you right off the bat how I am going to end this book. It really kind of makes sense to start this way because these few beginning pages are actually the last ones that I am writing after spending more than a year working on how best to help you, me, and the ones we love prepare for the seven most challenging days of your life.
So here's the endnote: You might expect that after being immersed so fully in the dissecting of the difficult details of days that are anything but welcome, that I might be a bit ragged or pessimistic about life. But in actuality, nothing could be further from the truth! Life can be tough, but we are not victims -- at least we don't have to be! This is a book about hope, joy, personal strength, and, most importantly, peace of mind. These qualities of life can only be enhanced by doing and actively acknowledging that you have done the work needed to maintain your "life balance" and help those you love maintain theirs, in the face of the ups and downs that have always been part of life. Though they are a part for which most of us get very little preparation. Real Life has been written with the goal of helping to fill what I think is a real void in how we are prepped for the most challenging days of our life.
Despite the fact that life isn't always comfortable and can, in fact, be downright painful, I absolutely, unequivocally love it and cannot wait for what lies ahead in the years to come. After living in this world for more than half of a century, I have seen a lot. Frankly, I have seen more than a lot, and, just like yours, my life hasn't always been fun. It hasn't always been easy, and I certainly haven't always had the best reactions -- especially early on in my life. But all in all, I do love being in this world and feel blessed to be here. In fact, given some of the days I've had, I feel blessed to be anywhere!
So far, I have lived just over 21,000 days. I don't remember specifics about most of those days, but some stand out because they have been nothing short of tremendous and spectacular. Many of these really good days can be attributed to good health, a wonderful, God-centered family, and a career that is so much fun I almost feel guilty getting paid for it -- almost!
But (and isn't there almost always a big but?) there have also been days that stand out because they were anything but tremendous and spectacular. In fact, some of those days I remember because they were among the most difficult days of my life. They were days that threatened, took away, or destroyed that which I held most dear. Some of them felt as though they were a month long and at times made me question everything I thought I knew about myself and the world around me. These were days that sometimes left me feeling inept, inadequate, and out of control -- especially when they impacted or involved those closest to me. If you are at all like me, you too have sometimes wondered, in the face of those bad days, if you would ever regain your balance, your joy, and your hope and vision for any kind of future. If life can be so harsh, why am I so passionate about it and looking forward to what's coming?
Because I have come to believe that all of us, you and me included, have within us (or, if you don't believe in God-given gifts, can acquire) the strength and wisdom to deal effectively with every challenge we will ever face in our lives. I don't say this as a "rah rah" platitude, and I'm certainly not saying that we have algebra or geometry knowledge built into our DNA. But when it comes to the real questions about life, survival, peace, and happiness -- no matter how much they are threatened or challenged -- I believe that the ability to get to the truth and the answers needed to meet the demands resides within us and always has. We have what it takes to make this life a huge net plus. We are beyond equal to the challenge. I know this because I have learned to step back and watch myself and others triumph in the darkest of hours. We have all seen ordinary people show extraordinary depth and resourcefulness in the face of overwhelming challenges. The hardest part in making sure that you are one of those people is overcoming all the noise, clutter, and distractions of life that may have buried and distorted the strength and wisdom you have within you and need in order to get through the toughest times.
The pace and complexity of life in this day and time sometimes make it very difficult to get back to a place in our mind and spirit where we are able to access all that we are and need to be. There is no substitute for good old-fashioned hard work, informed preparation, and clearly thought out coping strategies for difficult times.
That is what Real Life is all about. I want to help you access the best parts of who you are, especially in the worst parts of your life. Think about it: If you have an average life span, you will live approximately 78 years, or 28,470 days. Some (hopefully most of them) will be really good; some will be so mundane it will be as if they didn't even happen; some won't be so great; and a few (hopefully a very few) will be really tough -- tough enough to affect your experience of all the other days. How much depends on how ready you are for those critical times.
You know I'm right and that you and those most precious to you are worth the time and effort it takes to prepare. In the pages that follow, I have not tried to "reinvent the wheel," and I have made a concerted effort not to bog you down with more information than you need or can really effectively use when facing challenging times. I could have written hundreds of pages about each of the seven days that I have chosen to address here, and in fact many experts have done exactly that and done it very well. If you feel you need more information on any of the crises I discuss here -- and you very well may -- there is extensive information at the back of this book. But my intention here is more focused on giving you what is, based on my experience and opinion, the core information that will help you manage your crisis one day at a time, without having to dig through an endless body of research (most of which was not written for real people in the real world anyway). Others might disagree, but I feel pretty strongly about what I've included here.
I have put verbs in my sentences and tried to get to the point in a clear, concise, and usable fashion. I am going to identify what some of the most challenging days are; tell you what to expect when they come so you are not surprised, ambushed, or shocked; and then suggest a strategy for getting you or your loved one back to better days. You will see that while there are some important differences, there are also some powerful commonalities in the coping strategies suggested for navigating through these tough days, so the good news is that you don't have to learn seven totally different game plans! My hope and prayer when you have finished this book is that you feel a sense of calm in knowing that you are one of those people that are prepared for all that comes in this life. This preparation can yield huge dividends for yourself and even empower you to lead and help others in difficult times.
- latest show clips
- celebrity friends
- cooking videos
- rachael between the scenes
- backstage pass
- tips and stories
- be on the show
- set tour
- audience tickets
- rachael's bio
- what's rach wearing
- rach on the radio
- follow us on twitter
- join us on facebook