Book Review: The Mindful Twenty-Something
Reading The Mindful Twenty-Something just as I enter my thirties was a revealing task. Being mindful wasn’t something I was particularly worried about in my twenties, but Holly Rogers’ conversational, yet rich treatment of the content made me wish I had picked up her book when I was twenty.
While it is somewhat of a buzzword topic in the psychology and self-help world, mindfulness has earned its spot in the discussion forums of people from all walks of life. Rogers brings it into the conversation at the crux of the struggles of emerging adulthood and the potential for joy, success, and fulfillment found in the same decade of life.
While perhaps not profound or particularly novel content, The Mindful Twenty-Something excels at what many books on mindfulness don’t even attempt – connection. The combination of engaging writing, laymen’s terms, practical steps, and digestible science makes this book a treat for the reader.
The basics of mindfulness and meditation are at the core of Roger’s thesis. They are communicated in an offbeat tone and delivered with examples from both the author’s own adventures as a twenty-something, as well as the adventures of those she studied.
The explanation of the benefits and downfalls, as well as encouragement to keep trying despite it all is par for the course for a book about meditation. But it is the author’s unique perspective and targeted approach that make it more readable. While not overly scientific, the text draws in enough research to support its assertions.
Rogers adds in an addendum to the traditional mindfulness/motivation/meditation trifecta, which is what I would consider life coaching 101. This is where this book becomes a must-read for me; it blends common sense strategies with elevated sense meditation for a study the average person can benefit from in a single read-through.
The emphasis on acceptance, resilience, and core values, as well as the roles they play in everyday life gives the mindfulness concept a little more meat, and also elevates this book beyond the typical new age, self-help approach.
Rogers relies heavily on her own research at Duke, and while it provides a solid backbone for understanding and context, it is when she adds in the “names” of the individuals and their personal story that the research becomes interesting. As a reader, I connected most in those moments, and I would’ve loved to see even more of that than I did.
Rogers also struck a happy balance with enough psychology to empower the reader to actually do something with their new revelations, noted in the chapters such as “Get a Grip on Grasping and Aversion,” “Acceptance Reduces Suffering” (ouch, but true), and “Resilience: Surfing the Waves with Style.”
My favorite section of all was the one on wisdom, specifically how wisdom interacts with experience to create new knowledge and understanding. Outside of the Holy Scripture, wisdom isn’t something the world likes to talk much about, so I applaud Rogers for handling it in such a way that a new generation may be inspired to lead, communicate, and live from such a position.
As much as I enjoyed this book and will be likely re-reading it at some point (maybe when counseling a twenty-something through the decade of discovery and making mistakes), I found the use of the term “mindfulness” itself to be so repetitive, I read over it multiple times without really taking in what was being communicated.
Admittedly, the lack of nuance in the ways mindfulness is often handled dulled my desire to understand the concept anymore. But Rogers’ relatable treatment of wisdom, values, resilience, and happiness offered a stark contrast. She did rather well with demonstrating the other components that lie in correlation with mindfulness. What she didn’t do well is connect all that without wearing out the word “mindfulness” itself.
Based on the content of this book, I would most certainly pick up another attempt by Holly Rogers, knowing that her treatment of overused content results in a fresh, relatable, and widely applicable message. It never once felt like she was trying hard to relate to the twenty-something generation. Instead, it seemed to flow from a familiar well of experience without strain or faux-emphasis.
The thing about mindfulness is that there is a lot out there about it. Bookstores have no shortage of material to sell to the hungry seeker, the aspiring yogi, or the seasoned meditation master.
Where these books usually fail to keep the attention of the most engagement-driven generation in history, Rogers has succeeded. Whether you are a twenty-something navigating the challenges of the emerging adulthood or you’re one of many helping guide a twenty-something through it, this is an excellent primer on understanding the mindfulness connection and what it looks like in a practical, every day experiential way.
The Mindful Twenty-Something: Life Skills to Handle Stress and Everything Else
Holly B. Rogers, MD
New Harbinger Publications
Paperback, 185 pages