In our modern, fast-paced, technology-driven world, we are so constantly interrupted by thousands of advertisements, constant beeping text messages, and countless tweets, that it is easy for us to go astray and forget our true purpose in life — to learn to be better people, to evolve and improve, and to use what we learn to make a difference in the world.
Rob Whalley brings us back to the basics by reminding us of the Golden Rule and everything else we learned, or should have learned, in life, with his simple, straightforward, and poignant new book, In Life School. As the subtitle expresses, “Living Is Your Classroom, Experience Is Your Teacher, Loving Is Your Test.” Just because we graduate from high school or even earn a Ph.D., does not mean we ever stop learning. We are never going to be smart enough, educated enough, or even wise enough not to receive another life lesson.
Rob has spent his own life learning about life’s true purpose, and in the process, he has learned all the lessons he offers in this book. He has been an accomplished writer and performer of music, been married and divorced, made tons of money and nearly lost it all. He has known moments of great joy, and he has known moments of despair. In other words, he has learned his life lessons and learned them well.
Now, in this book, he offers up many lifetimes of wisdom. A lot of people could write a book about their experiences, but while Rob includes a few personal stories from his life, he is no writer of straightforward autobiography. As a songwriter, he has a love for musical language, and so he weaves together various strands of poetry, inspirational quotes, illustrative stories, proverbs, and personal experiences to create a fugue of wisdom that truly has become his magnum opus.
It is hard to find words to describe a book that reads like a songwriter’s treasure chest, but each chapter is filled with gems the reader will appreciate. This book is one you can read again and again, and every time you will find something new to make you pause and reconsider your life. It can also be opened randomly at any point to have an inspirational quote or an awe-inspiring story jump out at you and give you advice or words of wisdom to help you through a difficult time.
Rather than calling them chapters, in keeping with his school theme, Rob divides the book into sections he calls “courses.” There are sixteen in all, and each one focuses on a major life lesson, such as: Feeling Your Emotions, Happiness, Gratitude, Everything is Happening for a Reason, Forgiveness, Taking Action, and Loving Is Your Test. Each of these lessons is then broken down further into various stories, poems, song lyrics, creeds, or workbook lessons. The variety keeps the book’s momentum going as well as lending the book a tone of wisdom and peace. In fact, as I read, I felt ultimately that peace was exuding from these pages, and it might not be too much to compare Rob’s tone to Eckhart Tolle’s, but I find Rob’s writing more accessible, written in a language we will all understand, and more memorable as a result.
I can’t adequately describe all the stories, poems, and words of wisdom in this book in a short book review, but I will mention a few parts that stood out for me. I loved Rob’s stories about surfing in Mexico, a tug of war between a shark and a car, and how his quick-thinking as a teenager saved his and his friends’ lives. I appreciated all the inspirational quotes from famous and everyday people that he weaves together; a couple of my favorites were: “You are beautifully enough! Your stories of ‘not good enough’ are fictional novels, written by a culture still hiding its light under a bushel of shame” said by his Facebook friend, Jeff Brown, who is also the author of Ascending With Both Feet On The Ground. Another great quote is by the nineteenth century philosopher William James, “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
Changing our attitudes is a big theme throughout In Life School. Positive thinking oozes out of every page. Rob is clearly a believer in the Law of Attraction, and many of his stories and questions ask us to look at our own perceptions and the judgments we make about others and life, and then Rob shows how a simple change of mindset can make all the difference to us. One perfect example Rob shares is the story of “The Three Hairs.” I’ll just share the first paragraph to give you a taste of how a positive attitude can change our lives:
“There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. ‘Well,’ she said, ‘I think I’ll braid my hair today.’ So she did and she had a wonderful day.”
But countless other stories in the book teach other important lessons. For example, there’s a fabulous parable about how a cow and a mouse were able to help one another to illustrate how everything that happens affects all of us, so we must all work together for the common good.
I also appreciated Rob’s writing process. Much of this book was written through Facebook posts he wrote to help himself pull through difficult times in his life. He soon received tons of feedback from his thousands of followers, confirming that his posts were also helping and inspiring them. This positive response encouraged him to write his book in hopes of helping even more people. Furthermore, it is obvious from the poetic smoothness of Rob’s writing that he took no end of care, laboring over every word in this book to tie together all the thoughts, ideas, stories, and lyrics to make it read like poetry.
If you need to make major changes in your life, or if you just need a little cheering up, In Life School can give that lift you need to be living your best life today! Personally, I think it is the perfect graduation gift to give to the high school or college graduate, and it would even make a nice retirement gift for people who might otherwise think they’re done learning. Our life lessons never end, and they can often be challenging, unless we see them as opportunities to become better, wiser, and ultimately happier. Rob Whalley has learned those lessons, though he’d be the first to tell you there will be more for him to learn as well — perhaps someday he’ll write another book for that very reason. In the meantime, we can enjoy reading and learning from In Life School again and again.
For more information about Rob Whalley and In Life School, visit the author’s website.