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30th May 1999

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Book review

Little book with a big message

"50 Inspirational Stories" - Change your life by changing your attitudes towards life by Shanti Abeyasingha. Reviewed by Charlotte Fernandez

This is no random col- lection of stories. Much effort has gone into their selection. Three reflections too accompany each story. This was the first time, that I had come across a book of stories with reflections. Reading through them, I realised the author's purpose in doing so was deliberate.

The reflections seem to focus one's attention on the attitudes and assumptions that one has towards life, towards people and towards situations that one encounters in life. In other words, the reflections challenge the reader to think positively and see differently and explore different approaches and alternatives to events that happen in his/her life.

Reading this book, made me realise the tremendous potential attitudinal change has in the business sector.

Attitudinal change is not easy to come by. But here is a book, using the time tested mode of instruction, so well used in the past by persons like Jesus, the Budddha, Confucius, to name only a few, to bring about attitudinal and, as a result, motivational change in people. In the preface, the author correctly gives some suggestions on how to use his little booklet. As I kept reading, I became aware, that the aim of the book was not only to provoke attitudinal change but also to build up a corresponding self-esteem and a good self image in the person. I thought the suggestion to use the stories and the reflections as a form of rallying point at the beginning and the end of the day was a good way to achieve this desired effect.

The stories speak of incidents, and events that happen in the day to day lives of people. Unforeseen, unanticipated, unexpected things can happen to anyone, be it in our personal life, our work place, or our business. But the most important thing is to know how to handle and cope with such happenings. The author is firm in affirming, that if we are ready to manage our choices, then we will be able to manage our lives. I think this is true. Our choices are, for the most part conditioned by our own assumptions and our own pet practices and beliefs which we are not ready to change or question. This makes us prisoners of our own making. Shanti Abeyasingha's constant plea in his reflections is, that we must use wisely our power of choice. This is the power that every human being has been vested. It is our choices that will re-programme us and make us awaken to the unlimited potential that is within us. This will certainly infuse hope within us, and make sure that we do not have to self-condemn ourselves to lives of mediocrity or give into self pity.

This hope is something which is very much needed today.The subtitle of the book says: change your life by changing your attitudes towards life. This is true, for hope begins to throb again in a person's life, when he/she begins to look to the future with a new perspective (attitude) towards life. We cannot change our past, but we can always learn from past events and choose to build a new future. The future is in our hands and no one can take this away from us. To my mind, the hidden power and potential of this little book of stories is in making us aware of this powerful reality.

Bravi Press of Kandy too, has done a good job in the printing of the book. The cover, though attractive and conveying the idea contained in the pages of the book, has to my mind one drawback. The wording does not stand out sufficiently to catch the attention of the potential reader.

I have no hesitation in recommending this book to businesses who want to train their staff and workforce into a powerful cohesive and motivated unit. On a personal level, I would consider it also helpful to those grappling with today's problems and living in a society that is experiencing rapid change.

Copies of the book can be purchased directly from the author himself at the pre-publication price of Rs. 100 a copy. Money Orders in the name of the author together with postal charges could be sent to Santa Maria, 40 Pitakanda Road, Off George E. de Silva Mawatha, Anniewatte, Kandy.

The book can also be purchased at the following outlets. 1) St. Paul's Book Centre, 30 Cross Road, Kandy; 2) Maria Farm, Kandy; 3) Ariya Book Depot, Kandy; 4) Bookland, Peradeniya Road, Kandy. The price of the book at these outlets will be Rs. 150/-.

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