Most self-help books emphasize will and action. From The Power of Positive Thinking to Skinny Bitch, they sound the same affirmative, even aggressive, bass note. Judith Orloff, a UCLA psychiatrist, appreciates the effort necessary for achievement and its satisfaction. In The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life, she balances this emphasis on doing with a deep understanding of being and the great, transformative blessings of acceptance. Power, she tells us, gains grace when we wear it lightly and peacefully welcome its limitations. It serves us best when we share it with others.
Dr. Orloff draws on women’s traditional wisdom, modern neuroscience, and many spiritual teachings to show us how we can embrace obstacles and turn them into opportunities. Working in Los Angeles with stars and celebrities, as well as more ordinary patients, she speaks with authority and common sense about the limitations of money and fame as well as power. Be grateful for the benefits of money, she reminds us, but always remember that it will not make you happy or increase your self-esteem. You deserve abundance, she says, and money’s greatest gift is that it allows us to give as well as receive.
Dr. Orloff brings the same compassion, common sense, and understanding to helping us free ourselves from our preoccupation about real or imagined physical imperfection. She teaches us to appreciate the beauty of our physical bodies and she enlarges our understanding of the subtle energy—the Chinese call it “Qi,” the Indians “Prana”—that animates our bodies, extends our intuition, and opens the door to spiritual and sexual ecstasy. She helps us, as well, to make peace with the unavoidable hardships that come to us and with aging and dying.
Dr. Orloff is, in short, a wise woman and a capable tender guide on our life’s journey. I confidently refer patients to her and just as confidently recommend her rich, deeply helpful book.