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‘A Guide to Rational Living’ Essay


It seems not so difficult to answer the question – what are all people struggling for? What are they looking for during the whole lifetime? They certainly want to become happy. The notion of happiness is a complex and not one-sided for sure, but there are some common constituents of it for most people. No matter how much we want to be happy, but we so often do things that harm us instead of good, i. e. we take some irrational decisions or steps. It is natural for people to make mistakes and we would probably be never able to avoid all wrong choices in our lives.

The best way out if you feel you did something wrong is to stop and to analyze why it happened so, and what should have been done differently to avoid the unpleasant situation or problem, this process is called rationalization. For the theory of rational living Dr. Albert Ellis is known – he was the author of REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) in 1995. Thus the notion of rational living became essential and often used in the field of psychology.

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The book by Dr. Ellis “A Guide to Rational Living,” was sold about 1.5 million copies, and most of the people thanked for editing this book, which helped them to let the positive changes enter their lives.

The theme of happiness and success is not new for writers, and thus there was already a great number of books promising to make everyone happy and help to get everything a person would need. The book “A Guide to Rational Living” is not known for making promises, the author of the book expressed their hopes that “jump to the conclusion that we hand out the same old hackneyed, Pollyannaish message that you may have long ago considered and rejected as having no practical value.” Their approach could be called rather realistic in comparison to other psychological sources.

The authors state that this book could be helpful for most readers, who can evaluate themselves honestly, but in some severe cases it would be necessary to start individual therapy. Another positive thing about the book is that it almost never uses professional jargon, i. e. some special physiological terms, which are not easy to understand for ordinary people, not studying psychology intensely. The book is a successful attempt to help people to find answers they are looking for and provide for some emotionally disturbed individuals the ground for the better understanding of their problems, of their lives and themselves.

The authors built some particular method for solving the problems and worked out the main ten ideas, which make people suffer and “feel inadequate” (one of the examples of such ideas is #2: The idea that you must be thoroughly competent, adequate, and achieving.”(1)).

Usually, the physiotherapists use the method “You tell me” to answer the questions of their patients, this book is not as much irritating as this method. The method, which is used by the authors of the book, is called “get-to –the-heart-of-the-problem” and seems to be a better one if a person feels the need to make self-analysis – the book could be the best tool to help.

The REBT itself is a therapy that “shows people their dogmatic, either/or, inflexible shoulds, the oughts, and musts, and also shows them some cognitive, emotive and behavioral methods to reduce their self-defeating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors” (2). Besides at the end of each chapter readers can find some practical exercises and applications.

The main idea of the book is that all people have their own beliefs about things. When they understand that their views were false, they become depressed, for example, if they have the feeling that everything should be fair in this world and then happens the situation when life seems to be treating them not quite fair, they are upset. Or another simple example, when a person wants somebody to love him and this doesn’t happen this way, a person is depressed, thus our emotional problems come from our beliefs, actually from “irrational beliefs”, if to continue this example the “rational belief” would be: “I want people to like, but if they don’t it’s ok, and I should rather accept myself as I am.” (1).

So, the book by Dr. Ellis “A Guide to Rational Living” – is good guide for people having problems with answering some of their questions about life and society, it has both strong points, like using no jargon or practical exercises and it has some negative sides, as the division into rational and irrational principles could seem too simple for some sophisticated situations and human emotions.

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