Fifty Ways I Screwed Up My Life and How You Can Avoid This by Francois de Waal

Fifty Ways I Screwed Up My Life and How You Can Avoid This is unlike any self-help guide I’ve ever read.

Raw and honest, François de Waal attempts to lay everything out on the line to his readers. In my eyes, he tries to show that just like anyone else, he’s made mistakes in the way he’s dealt with the trials and tribulations of his life; that maybe he hasn’t always done the right things; that hindsight is 20/20.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. The chapters are aptly named, short and sweet, and end with a bullet point list of things you can do to make your life better. It never leaves you guessing, and it is written in plain language. Before I go into more detail about why I would recommend this for you, I need to be clear about one thing.

One thing that is at the core of my being is this: I am very involved with my mental health and the journey of unraveling the inner workings of my own mind and emotions. I have done my fair share of reading of self-help articles and have quite the collection of self-help books. Given my extensive experience with working on myself and my mind, I would have liked to see references for where I could go on and learn more. But that’s just me.

For the average person who is looking for a step towards learning how to live a life rid of unnecessary stressors, I think de Waal’s book does a great job at pointing out very relatable experiences that any one could say “Hey, wow, yeah, I’ve been there too”. In sharing his stories for righting what he describes as ‘wrongs’ he’s done for his own well-being over the years, he shares very clear suggestions on what we as readers can do to overcome similar barriers in our own lives.

de Waal’s writing is very accessible. It reads as a self-help guide while having a very conversational quality. Throughout its entirety, I felt like he was sitting across the table from me and giving me tidbits of advice. I would relate my experience of reading this book to a self-help speed-date event: short and sweet nuggets of advice, leave you feeling both satisfied and wanting to learn more. But rather than learning more about your date, you want to use the suggestions to learn more about yourself.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review in collaboration with Amsterdam Publishers.