The Longest Journey: Nine Keys to Health, Wealth and Happiness by Sandy Donaghy
|The Longest Journey: Nine Keys to Health, Wealth and Happiness by Sandy Donaghy|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A little book that can make a big impact on your life - if you're prepared to put the effort in.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 166||Date: March 2008|
How many self-help books have you read where the ideas all seem very good, but they've not been tested in the fire, so to speak? The end result seems good, but you suspect that the starting point wasn't all that disadvantageous and more to the point, the cynic inside you wonders if the motivation for writing the book was financial gain. Has it made you shy away from such books? Now, I want you to drop the cynicism, because what we have here is a book that's written from the heart and not the wallet and the only motivation in writing it was to help people. Unusual? Yup; it is.
In 1985 Sandy Donaghy was an alcoholic, living on the streets. He was in debt and says that he was lonely. To me it sounded more like clinical depression, particularly as he was also suicidal, but a chance encounter gave him a lifeline and he gradually turned his life around. The Longest Journey is the story of his life, the way in which he achieved this transformation and the keys which can help you to do the same thing. The subtitle to the book is Nine Keys to Health, Wealth and Happiness. Now I've not quizzed Sandy as to the extent of his wealth, but he has riches that many people will envy. He is happy, fulfilled and approaches each day with gratitude.
Now, I hope that you'll forgive me if this review is rather longer than normal, but there is quite a lot to say. When I receive a book for review I have a quick look at it and experience tells me how long it will take me to read it. I put the time aside – and I do it. Something just a little bit different happened here though. I read the book in rather less time than I expected, but then realised that any review based on that reading would be rather superficial. I decided that I would work my way through the nine keys. There was nothing there that could hurt me and all I had to lose was some time. I didn't even say to Sandy that this is what I would be doing, as I wasn't certain that I would see it through to the end. Sandy probably thought that I'd no intention of reviewing his book!
There are nine stages – or keys, as Sandy calls them – and I'm not going to detail them as Sandy writes about them far more eloquently than I can and you really should read what he has to say, but I will mention some of the stages that I found difficult, or helpful. I should also tell you where I'm coming from. Before I read the book I believed that my worst days were behind me. I had suffered from depression – in fact I have described it as my default setting – and at one stage I regarded the thought of suicide as a comfort blanket. Where I was did not have to be permanent. Those days were in the past, but I was aware that my mental health was still, er, tenuous.
The first step is to write a life story and the key to this is absolute honesty and given that it's you writing your story for yourself that shouldn't be too difficult. But it is. You're going to unearth a lot of history, much of it not having seen the light of day for a long time. You're going to think about where life started to go wrong and where you've done wrong. It's not something to do in one sitting – in fact, I think it took me the best part of three weeks – but what's the need for hurry?
The second step is one with which I've always struggled in similar systems: finding a higher power. If you have a religious faith then this is probably not difficult, but I don't, being firmly of the opinion that if there was a God then he or she would not have burdened us with religion. Sandy has a deep faith but has in the past had a delightful ability to get on the wrong side of the religious. Oops!, as he would say. He gave me a phrase which I took and ran with – god of your understanding. The god of my understanding was firstly my conscience and then the fact that I'm a part of a larger natural system – and after that it was relatively easy.
The hardest part of the system for me was forgiveness. Forgiving yourself is probably the most difficult, but the realisation that you can go over and over the past without any hope of improving it puts it in perspective. I found forgiving most people easy, particularly when I weighed everything up and realised that I wasn't without my shortcomings, but this is an area where I still struggle with one particular person. For the time being I'm handling this by denying the negative thoughts rent-free time in my head. It's helping.
The final step is the thought that twenty four hours is a lifetime. Make the most of today. Enjoy it. I've perhaps lived too much of my life preparing for the future.
The book is easy reading and written in an engaging style. There's no pretention and no preaching, although some people might find that there are too many biblical quotes for their personal taste. They are all relevant though and on occasions I found a light shone onto religious ideas with which I'd struggled in the past. I've had the book for about a month now and I'm conscious of feeling happier and more settled.
I'd like to thank Sandy for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.
Sandy Donaghy was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.