Title: "Get Your Shift Together: How to Think, Laugh, and Enjoy Your Way to Success in Business and in Life"
Author: Steve Rizzo
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2012; 224 pages; $25
A friend of mine has two remarkable little girls, ages 5 and 8, and they have very different personalities. The youngest is spritely, whimsical and exuberant. The oldest is brilliant, methodical and mightily capable. She taught me how to tie a square knot. She’s wont to say things like, "Tara, I can row from this side of the bay to that one, in a boat the size of a bathtub. By myself." And she can.
But she’s young and well-parented, so she has not let her pragmatism dim the high priority she places on fun — not in the least. In fact, she’s somehow managed to find a perfect marriage between the two. After she pulled me out of some brooding moment with a silly story about a caper she pulled off with her schoolmates, she took the occasion of my laughter to say: "You know, every time you laugh, it adds two months to your life."
I don’t know whether that’s true. Research uncovered in my Google search says that it does boost your immune system and your chances of survival, should serious disease strike — it also suggests that laughter adds life to the years we do have.
But in any event, there’s one person I’m certain would agree with my little friend’s assessment: comedian-turned-motivator Steve Rizzo, whose new book "Get Your Shift Together: How to Think, Laugh, and Enjoy Your Way to Success in Business and in Life" launches right after Christmas.
Rizzo starts out by telling a series of stories — one about his own life as a Hollywood comedian opening for the likes of Eddie Murphy, Rodney Dangerfield and Jerry Seinfeld before he had the epiphany that his true calling was to motivate people, not "making it big" in the traditional sense. He tells another about his brother, who lost nearly all his intestines in Vietnam and has lived a full, wonderful life despite doctor’s foreboding prognoses.
Rizzo’s stories remind us that our circumstances impact our lives, but our attitudes and our responses create our final outcomes.
The rest of the book is broken into three parts, broken down to cover buckets of the "shifts" referenced in the title, laughter-drive attitude adjustments Rizzo says hold the potential to change your business and your life:
1. The shift to a happier mindset. Rizzo encourages readers to adopt the viewpoint that happiness is a choice, one they must consciously and constantly make if they truly want to have happy lives. He also makes a good case that most of us who are on a success path fail to enjoy the process — of achieving our goals and of daily living — and, thus, fail to enjoy the bulk of our lives.
The stress and other chronic negative emotions so many people live with on their way to reaching distant goals also hinder productivity and creativity, according to Rizzo, who prescribes personal choice as the key to shifting into everyday happiness and achieving your goals and dreams.
Advocating that happiness is a "personal right" we should simply, aggressively claim all through every day, at work and at home, Rizzo proclaims that "there is absolutely no reason why you can’t plan for the future, set goals, undergo your daily routine, deal with the unexpected and still make conscious choices to enjoy yourself while you do so."
2. The instant shifting power of humor. Here, Rizzo focuses on helping readers practice their most important superpower: the power of choosing to think about the things that take place in their lives in a way that is positive, optimistic and happiness-promoting. He provides methodical guidance for learning how to shift your beliefs and feel better any time you need to.
Finding and focusing on the humor in tough situations is one of the key cures for negativity that Rizzo recommends, here and throughout "Get Your Shift Together."
3. Shifts away from fear and the "big mouth in your head." Rizzo, whose motivational stage name is The Attitude Adjuster, devotes the last section of the book to his insights on how to conquer fear ("the emotion from which anger, worry, guilt, self-doubt and all other negative emotions derive") and something he calls the "Big Mouth in Your Head," an "inner voice" that "plays off your deep-rooted fears and keeps you in a state of constant turmoil.
Laughter is, again, Rizzo’s go-to cure for these darkest emotions. He writes that "the moment you become aware of the deceiving ways of the Big Mouth and allow yourself to laugh in the face of fear, you enter into a higher state of consciousness."
"Get Your Shift Together" is not a hard-hitting, step-by-step, chart-laden, personal growth book. Rather, it’s an entertaining, easy, yet inspiring read for those who are ready to start taking their happiness seriously.