You're Not That Great: (but neither is anyone else)

You're Not That Great: (but neither is anyone else)

I am addicted to positivity. I am addicted to positivity. I am addicted to positivity.I care more about feeling great than being great.I am NOT THAT GREAT. The self-help industry tells you that if you're positive, if you put your best foot forward and if you just believe in yourself that you will find happiness. Let's be real, you can read all the inspirational quotes y...

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Title:You're Not That Great: (but neither is anyone else)
Author:Elan Gale
Rating:

You're Not That Great: (but neither is anyone else) Reviews

  • Lisa

    I really enjoyed this book because it's no nonsense good advice. And I relate to it because all of my life I have felt the need to convince everyone that I am worthy of being here! The premise that the things that make us not so great are indeed the things that make us strive to be great is not new to me but Elan in his matter of fact tone brings a level of authenticity to the topic that just blew me away. Working in HR, I am asked often for a book on personal development. Going forward, this wi

    I really enjoyed this book because it's no nonsense good advice. And I relate to it because all of my life I have felt the need to convince everyone that I am worthy of being here! The premise that the things that make us not so great are indeed the things that make us strive to be great is not new to me but Elan in his matter of fact tone brings a level of authenticity to the topic that just blew me away. Working in HR, I am asked often for a book on personal development. Going forward, this will be the first book I recommend each and every time! I really took my time with this book and used the notes feature in my Kindle. I love that I can go back an reference parts that really inspired me!

  • Gwen - Chew & Digest Books -

    This has one of the most hilarious and completely true opening sections that I have ever read. It was so dead on that I was in tears and ready to apologize to both of my parents. Giving you more detail would only ruin the moment for you, so I won't. It really brought things into perspective with parental relations though and for that, every reader should be at least a bit grateful, especially to their mother.

    The laughter and honesty keep coming in the following chapters and freakishly, it's ofte

    This has one of the most hilarious and completely true opening sections that I have ever read. It was so dead on that I was in tears and ready to apologize to both of my parents. Giving you more detail would only ruin the moment for you, so I won't. It really brought things into perspective with parental relations though and for that, every reader should be at least a bit grateful, especially to their mother.

    The laughter and honesty keep coming in the following chapters and freakishly, it's often dead on, like one of those comics that has you nodding your head in agreement as you laugh.

    There are also major nuggets of gold here to use for those that are in the market. It's true, you're not that great, but neither is anyone else and you can do better if you acknowledge your flaws and quit the self-defeating mantras that we all have almost hardwired into our heads from day one.

    I want to avoid giving spoilers because Gale's work is valuable and so damn entertaining in situ. However, there is a specific market for this self-help book and it wasn't me. It's all about using those negative emotions you have to work for you and that makes so much sense unless you have a mental illness and these very negative emotions are the ones holding you back.

    Let me give you an example so that you can see the difference and hopefully decide for yourself. You are dealing with something very common among all people, stage fright, before a speech, event, or even sharing your great idea at a meeting. It's a wonderful idea to throw a lasso around that anxiety and use it as your energy to make your move and deliver that great speech, idea, etc.

    However, if you have been actually diagnosed with Anxiety by a mental health professional, you are probably so damn crippled that you can't get out of your jammies and bunny slippers or maybe even open your door. There is a difference, that doesn't make the book useless to those of us with actual anxiety, it's solutions are only less useful. The premise is still dead on for us all, we are not that great but no one else is either. That's actually a vital thing for those of us to realize that have any sort of mental illness, we always feel alone and "other". We are and at the same time, we aren't. Everybody sucks, they just do it in their own unique way. (I should trademark that phrase if possible!)

    While the ending chapters were sort of a let down for me, the sort of person with an actual mental illness, there were still some golden nuggets and so much humor about it all that it was indeed useful. He even included a couple of quotes in his epilogue that totally disagree with his premise and that's brave as well as helpful for those other people like me.

    So, would I buy it for everyone? No, I would buy it for many if not most though, which is saying a lot. Besides the mental health issue, I would shy away from those that are more into clean humor and writing because while I don't' remember any actual cussing, it is fairly irreverent and in your face and I can think of a few people that I attended Catholic school with that wouldn't see it's humor or appreciate it.

    The bonus is that it's short, doesn't have any time-consuming worksheets and yet the humor of it keeps it fresh in your mind for a while.

  • Krystyna

    Fucking brutal. This book was nothing like the fluffy self-help books I've been reading. It was uncomfortable and real. Maybe not for everyone, but I really appreciated the honestly and truth as well as a different viewpoint on life and how to succeed and get past anxiety and self-doubt.

  • Savannah Wooten

    There were some great points in here! In some ways it was a valid and needed personal (and societal!) call out. That being said, the author verges on unkind to people who do not meet his standards of success and strikes me as still growing in his own ability to be both self-reflective, self-improving, and content/fulfilled - he hints at this at the end.

    Some components were incredible - laugh out loud funny (the part about the hand on the hot stove had me in stitches and really illustrated his p

    There were some great points in here! In some ways it was a valid and needed personal (and societal!) call out. That being said, the author verges on unkind to people who do not meet his standards of success and strikes me as still growing in his own ability to be both self-reflective, self-improving, and content/fulfilled - he hints at this at the end.

    Some components were incredible - laugh out loud funny (the part about the hand on the hot stove had me in stitches and really illustrated his point well) but some were weak, poorly-put together, judgmental, and gimmicky. There really are people in this world who strive for what Gale calls "a mediocre live" and find it THEIR personal success. And they are generally enthusiastic and fulfilled and chugging along towards their own indicators - this is okay and good and healthy! He seems like he's learning this (and consistently writes "don't get me wrong, I'm NOT doing this") but it's fairly apparent that he is and hasn't fully internalized it yet.

    ALSO ANOTHER THING wow for someone who is very publicly feminist/anti-Trump/supportive of the women he works with, the use of "make xxx your bitch" and other gendered language really struck me as inconsistent, unnecessary, and an example of him not following his own directive to challenge himself to be better.

    Sum: interesting, quick read, etc etc but the author needs to understand 1. you can motivate yourself without hating yourself (i.e. you can dislike and actively work on certain traits you have without disavowing self-love) and 2. you can motivate others without judging them (i.e. figure out what THEY want and don't assume they are complacent because they aren't breaking their back for a singular One Goal - they could be actively and consciously choosing to live the way they are).

  • Jake Harris

    A not-very-well-written book about a great way of living that gets repetitive around page 50. At 179 pages, it could’ve been way shorter and just as effective.

  • TJL

    I'm of two minds about this book.

    On one hand, I agree with a lot of what the author says: The positivity movement is weirdly condescending, fluffs peoples' egos beyond belief, and does make some people incredibly hyper-sensitive to criticism. I agree that there are some people who are so desperate for positivity and compliments and ego-fluffing that they overshare on social media or constantly seek validation from others.

    I also greatly agreed with the idea that criticism and some degree of negat

    I'm of two minds about this book.

    On one hand, I agree with a lot of what the author says: The positivity movement is weirdly condescending, fluffs peoples' egos beyond belief, and does make some people incredibly hyper-sensitive to criticism. I agree that there are some people who are so desperate for positivity and compliments and ego-fluffing that they overshare on social media or constantly seek validation from others.

    I also greatly agreed with the idea that criticism and some degree of negativity are necessary for people to change and make themselves better; and that there are people who, when they say to "be positive" or "not negative", mean "please don't ever criticize me ever, and if you do, you're the bad guy".

    The author made good points. The positivity movement has gone too far in a lot of ways, to the point where it's a detriment to people who rely to heavily on it.

    But I didn't agree with

    , and there's a reason for that.

    I'm a middle-ground person. I don't like extremes. That's part of the reason why the positivity movement makes me nauseous: I can't stand the constant, patronizing ego-boosting and the villainization of anyone who says anything remotely critical.

    But I'm also not fond of people who use "I'm just being honest" as a shorthand for "if I've offended you because I said something really blunt, then you're just a baby who needs to get over themselves."

    Like, in the beginning: Yes, there are parents who go

    too far in protecting their children's feelings. But see, here's the thing: Every example used as a criticism (complimenting a child's sub-par drawing, celebrating because they used the toilet correctly) was just... I mean, its not portrayed very honestly?

    As an adult, we look at a kid's drawing and go "Wow, that's terrible", because we're adults and we have a standard for art that's well-done and art that's not. I mean- what, do you expect your five year-old to be a Marvel cartoonist? Of course their drawing looks bad to an adult! THEY'RE FIVE! There is a DEVELOPMENT process that occurs with children: They don't come out of the womb painting like Monet!

    It's called Positive Reinforcement. When a kid hears "Hey, you did a good job", it encourages them to

    And

    they keep doing it, they begin to touch up on things: The stick-figure becomes more human-like, the dog gets spots and a collar instead of just being a blob on the page. A reasonable amount of positive reinforcement is what encourages kids to keep trying instead of giving up. It's the same thing with toilet-training: You give them positive feedback when they do it right because you WANT THEM TO KEEP DOING IT THAT WAY.

    One of the things that bugged me in this book is that the author seems to willfully ignore or misinterpret basic things so he could make it out to be "THE CULT OF POSITIVITY GONE MAD". The stuff I mentioned above is BASIC SHIT for raising kids who don't want to kill themselves when they're teenagers; and you can spin it however you want, but if you tell a five year-old their drawing sucks, then you are an asshole of a person.

    The author, I think in chapter two, says that negative reinforcement is what puts fire under you and encourages you to change- i.e. people telling you you're not good enough, that you'll never be anything, that you're worthless.

    And see, for some people, that

    work. But it doesn't work for

    .

    There are people who think that calling someone who's overweight a fat slob and making oinking sounds at them is "motivation" to make them lose weight. And there are people who have lost weight who say that that sort of harassment encouraged them to lose weight. But there are even

    people who say that that sort of criticism pushes them into a depression and makes them eat even

    .

    The author is pushing this idea that one-size fits all; and he doesn't seem especially interested in drawing a distinction between "criticism" and "actual, literal assholery".

    At one point in the book he gives an example of someone who asks you how they look in their pants; and he implies that if the "honest" answer is "you look like crap" and the asker responds badly to that, then it's just their over-sensitivity coming out.

    But... God, I'm sorry, but there's this thing called

    that you are more than capable of using if you want to answer a question honestly. If you say "how do these pants look on me" and someone responds with "you look like crap" then they're being a dick. There are people who use "I'm just being honest" as an excuse to be an asshole, and they really love playing it like anyone who reacts badly to them is just over-sensitive and can't take criticism.

    Like I said before, there is a

    . You can be honest without being a gigantic dick, and you can be positive about things without being completely unable to take any sort of criticism.

    No matter how honest it is, not

    piece of criticism you receive is valid. The author thinks you should take everything the 'haters' say about you and make yourself better- and THEN, after you have, you can tell them to fuck off if they're still coming after you.

    But please, enlighten me- at what point do you know that you are the

    ? At what point do you stop, take a realistic look at yourself, and say, "Okay, look, I'm never going to be everything that these people say I SHOULD be, so I think maybe I need to start finding satisfaction with what I am now"? Because let me tell you: Opinions are like assholes, because everyone has them. And if you think being the "most amazing person ever" will stop the 'haters' from tearing you a new one, then trust me, you're in for a shock. Someone will ALWAYS find fault with who and what you are, and there IS value in putting your foot down and saying, "Okay, enough of this, I am actually okay the way I am and y'all can go to hell."

    The problem is that this book pushes the opposite extreme of the positivity movement: It's pushing this idea that negativity is the ONLY way you can change yourself for the better, and that by indulging in any sort of positivity (because, you know, god forbid anybody have a shitty life and maybe want something good every now and then) is going to destroy you.

    It plays this idea that 'positivity' does not encourage you to work harder or make yourself better, but instead to accept mediocrity- which I disagree with on the idea that what counts as 'positivity' for one person could be very different for someone else. You don't know what kind of 'positivity' a person could be embracing: It could be 'hey, I have a great job that I love, and even if it doesn't make me a millionaire I'm happy where I am' or 'hey, I may not be a supermodel, but I have a spouse who thinks I'm gorgeous and I don't feel the need to change my body to fit a standard'. Is that so

    ?

    And also, there's this idea that if you take in ALL the negativity and criticism that you can, you will eventually evolve into something amazing. Because clearly our society is

    full of people back-stabbing each other to get to the top so they can be the best, or people who drive themselves crazy and make themselves sick trying to be perfect.

    Which... Is honestly just as dishonest as the extreme stuff the positivity movement pushes.

  • Caroline

    You’re not that great was maybe... not so great 🤷🏼♀

    You’re not that great was maybe... not so great 🤷🏼‍♀️

  • Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell

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    I snagged a copy of this ARC because the title made me laugh and I loved the paradox of the snappy, sarcastic title against the baby pink cover. "Mean" can sometimes be funny, as evidenced by the movie

    , and sometimes we all need a reality check. I was expecting something tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic, witty. Your best-frenemy-for-ever as she channels her inner-Dorothy Parker while sipping on mimosas at your favorite cafe.

    Instead I g

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    I snagged a copy of this ARC because the title made me laugh and I loved the paradox of the snappy, sarcastic title against the baby pink cover. "Mean" can sometimes be funny, as evidenced by the movie

    , and sometimes we all need a reality check. I was expecting something tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic, witty. Your best-frenemy-for-ever as she channels her inner-Dorothy Parker while sipping on mimosas at your favorite cafe.

    Instead I got... something else.

    First, I understand why people are not totally on board with "positivity." It gets a bum-rap in the media, and its advocates are portrayed as irresponsible hippies or culturally appropriating phonies with no drive, who spend all their time smoking pot or meditating. This is NOT an accurate representation, however, and while this book appears to have been created to take cheap shots at self-help books like

    , and pop psychology books like

    , it operates on the assumption that "happy" people are delusional people who aren't grounded in reality.

    YOU'RE NOT THAT GREAT is bitter and misanthropic. It encourages unhappiness, seems to suggest that you should wallow in it, and angst, hate, despise, sulk, and seethe freely. There were some passages I agreed with - the part about accepting the anxiety of your future and using that anxiety to propel yourself into action when it comes to accomplishing as much as you can before your own inevitable demise, for example. Death is uncomfortable but it happens to us all, and in a way, it's the driving force behind creativity and insight, because if we lived forever, we might all just become a bunch of dull, indolent vampires passing the days away in an endless malaise.

    The part about the author's mother getting cancer and her recovery was also quite touching, and portrayed - bitingly real - insights about the pain of recovery and how much of it relies on luck as much as fortitude, and how difficult it is to be brave in suffering. Although that was the point of no return for me as well - when I realized that I wasn't getting Dorothy Parker so much as Ernest Hemingway.

    And you know, I get it. I used to side-eye happy people too. I thought they were a bunch of fake, cultish people eating up their own lies like it was the most delicious thing they had ever tasted. And to some extent, Elan Gale has a point: being mindlessly, foolishly happy

    a good way to live your life. That was one of the cautionary aspects of Aldous Huxley's

    ; unhappiness keeps society from stagnating; it can trigger change; it keeps pleasure from becoming a dull, drugged haze. But true positivity isn't about that - it's about learning to accept yourself, flaws and all, minimizing stress, and embarking upon the endless, and yes, sometimes futile, struggle of self-betterment.

    I couldn't really get on board with this book. But maybe darker souls than I will find it funny.

    1 star

  • Emily

    I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting out of a motivational book authored by a producer on The Bachelor. In the hands of someone struggling with a mental health issue, this could be a very dangerous book. The concepts in it aren’t altogether wrong, but the way they are packaged and presented might be quite triggering. The basic concept is that we need to be motivated to greatness through negativity; positivity only motivates us to mediocrity. Hm. What exactly is the author’s background on t

    I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting out of a motivational book authored by a producer on The Bachelor. In the hands of someone struggling with a mental health issue, this could be a very dangerous book. The concepts in it aren’t altogether wrong, but the way they are packaged and presented might be quite triggering. The basic concept is that we need to be motivated to greatness through negativity; positivity only motivates us to mediocrity. Hm. What exactly is the author’s background on this topic, just years of manipulating people on a TV show? What about evidence based approaches, like learning and behavior techniques, such as positive reinforcement?

    Despite all that I do agree with *some* of what he says, like how the phrase “everything happens for a reason” is garbage. Again, it’s just the *way* he is saying these things that can be dangerous in the wrong hands. As a therapist, I believe there’s a happy medium between an approach that is all happy/sunshine/unrealistic and doom and gloom negativity. This is much too extreme for me.

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