The Little Things That Matter Most, a Book Review
HEAL YOUR LIFE: 25 Ways to Unleash Your Innate Healing Powers by Finding Your Purpose and Connecting With a Higher Power
By: Carolle Jean-Murat, MD
Review By: Rising McDowell
Thinking back to many of the self-help books I have referenced, a distinct feeling of overwhelm resurfaces. Just a couple weeks ago, I purchased a book on herbal antibiotics after a wound in my mouth became infected. The information was dense, but I trudged on, determined to beat the infection without pharmaceuticals.
Eventually I lost patience with the scientific details and went straight to the index. Teeth, mouth, gums… ah ha! I flipped to the appropriate herb and read through the chapter. Yes, this was what I needed. Finally I arrived at ‘Where to Find This Herb’, and there was the information for ordering seeds from a seed company. What? Seeds?! But I have an infection now! Overwhelm is an understatement. I felt paralyzed. What to do? This was supposed to help me, and now what?
Upon finishing “Heal Your Life: 25 Ways to Unleash Your Innate Healing Powers,” the feeling evoked stands in perfect contrast to my disappointment over the seeds. I feel empowered and in control of my life in all the little ways that matter most – my daily habits, my thought patterns, how I nurture myself and de-stress, and most importantly, how I receive life circumstances as they present themselves.
Dr. Carolle Jean-Murat proposes that by strengthening and practicing our faith, we are better equipped to overcome such adversities as pain and loss, grief, depression, anxiety and chronic illness. As a black woman doctor from Haiti, Dr. Carolle has seen all degrees of sickness, hardship and lack along her way to becoming a board-certified OB-GYN in the U.S. Her writing easily reflects the resiliency awarded to those of faith:
“Each time I return to Haiti, I see my people living in extreme poverty… But Haitians are always hopeful that tomorrow will be a better day… They live simple lives, and they pray with great hope, even when their most basic needs are unmet. They are grateful for the small things… and do not complain about things they don’t have.”
In 25 chapters, Dr. Carolle reaches broadly across many aspects of life to suggest how we might holistically restore or establish our own inner strength, faith and health. At the end of each chapter are constructive questions for us to ruminate on. In ‘Dealing With Past Issues of Abuse’, two questions are posed: “What issues of abuse happened in my past?” and, “Starting today, what positive steps will I take to start healing past hurts?”
Some ‘Healing Steps’ include seeking counseling, considering psychotherapy, and finding a way to forgive the abuser. Of course, for victims of abuse, finding a way to forgive the abuser is far from a one-step-process. It may be part of a life-long journey. Regardless, it is the continual planting of these simple seeds that gently guides the reader on a positive and proactive track.
In contrast to the more general advice on abuse, in ‘Practicing Forgiveness,’ Dr. Carolle details a powerful and effective forgiveness exercise step-by-step. More hands-on tools are provided for setting healthy boundaries, making true friendships, and learning to “be in the moment” through breath, dance, hobbies, meditation, music, nature, singing and writing.
Repeatedly, she pairs valuable information with “studies have shown…” or “compelling evidence indicates…” And while I have no doubt that her assertions are true across the board, as a majority of them are already well established and widely known (for example, the benefits of meditation), I love to scour references and read studies when my interested is piqued. Thus, I was disappointed with Dr. Carolle’s decision to exclude most sources for her claims.
Nevertheless, I can relate to the decision, as her work is heavily oriented towards simplicity and accessibility, and a scientific undertone could easily have thwarted the emotive and beautiful plainness of her message: commit to yourself, strengthen your faith, and take simple steps towards your goals, and you will see your life change.
I was deeply touched by the many stories of human endurance and faith through adversity, possibly because I myself have endured incredible hardships – falling over 30 ft. at age 19, breaking my neck, pelvic ring, 8 ribs and a collarbone, and subsequently enduring 3 major surgeries and a long and painful recovery process. Above all, it was my attitude – my faith, trust, and ability to accept and surrender to the reality of my situation that allowed me to heal so much more quickly than my doctors expected.
As life has normalized for me in the last couple years, “Heal Your Life” provided a poignant reminder that ultimately it is my choice and my personal responsibility to take my life into my own loving hands, and keep it there. Who better than myself to care for me? To listen to, understand and encourage me? Dr. Carolle helps us recognize that all challenges in life can be our most potent opportunities for connection with ourselves and our innate healing power. With a deep-seated understanding of this, life takes on a softer tone and a much sweeter flavor.