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Overcoming Life's Disappointments

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  388 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
From Harold S. Kushner, author of the inspirational #1 bestseller When Bad Things Happen to Good People, comes a book that shows us how to be our best selves even when things don't turn out as we had hoped.Kushner turns to the experience of Moses to find the requisite lessons of strength and faith - the lesson that teach us how to overcome the disappointments that life inh ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published August 15th 2006 by Knopf (first published 2006)
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Jul 22, 2014 Perry rated it it was amazing
For anyone who has suffered a major life setback, lost a job, the house, gotten divorced after many years of marriage, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

I wish I could hail this book from the rooftops for the holiday season. It's like stardust to the woman who views her life as a disappointment in an empty nest or because she didn't live up to her potential in her life's pursuit; to the 40 or 50-something who feels he has failed at life, his hopes dashed because he didn't reach the top
Feb 22, 2011 David rated it it was amazing
This book did not disappoint, except maybe for its title. The austere observer might contend that the solution to “overcoming life’s disappointments” is no complicated matter. It can be adequately expressed in just as many words as the title: “Get over it.” But although the title is not very imaginative, the author’s approach is. He is a rabbi and invokes scripture on many occasions, using Moses as his primary exemplar. But the book has value even to the secular, even to someone like me who sees ...more
Jan 10, 2011 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have two enduring images of this book, both from midrash.

The first is from when Moses came down the mountain with the original tablets containing the Ten Commandments, the ones he smashed. Legend has it that he kept the shards in the Ark of the Covenant alongside the second, intact, set because they symbolized his broken dream. A dream that his people would unite under G-d's covenants and enjoy their freedom after the Exodus. Instead, they betrayed G-d by fashioning the golden calf in Moses's
Devika Koppikar
Jan 03, 2014 Devika Koppikar rated it it was amazing
This book helps makes sense of "bad things" and other disappointments in your life instead of making you fear them. It gives you strategies for working through these setbacks, so that you can have a substantive positive attitude and not a shallow one. However, as anyone reading this book would have likely faced disappointment, it is a tough read. The chapters are long and it will be intense to get through them as it will likely bring up your "disappointing" circumstances.

I would say this book is
Oct 24, 2012 Mary rated it did not like it
Written by Rabbi Harold Kushner, this book heavily relies on the Biblical figure of Moses and Judeo-Christian beliefs to offer comfort for those who are struggling with life's problems.

I often found the book difficult to relate to for two reasons: first, I didn't identify with its religious emphasis, but that is no fault of the author's - just "not for me." I think many faithful Jews and Christians alike could appreciate the lessons Kushner draws.

On the other hand, I did take issue with the auth
Kathy Nealen
Oct 03, 2014 Kathy Nealen rated it really liked it
If I lived in Natick, Massachusetts, I would go to temple on Saturdays just to hear Rabbi Kushner, even though I am not Jewish and have no plans to convert. He is that good. Quotes: "Broken dreams, broken hearts, hopes unrealized should not be seen as emblems of shame, badges of failure. If anything, they are tokens of courage. We were brave enough to dream, brave enough to long for so much, and when we did not get it, we were brave enough to carry the fragments of those dashed hopes with us int ...more
Dec 11, 2009 Andrea rated it really liked it
Rabbi Kushner uses the story of Moses and his ability to overcome major life disappointments to help his readers see that they too can overcome disappointments in love, work, dreams, etc. I enjoyed his ability to incorporate the life of Moses as well as many present day examples and anecdotes, all with a friendly, conversational tone. Uplifting and encouraging.
Feb 23, 2016 Alane rated it really liked it
Accessible exegesis, good scholarship and that inimitable Kushner style. Listened to parts of it with my children who were able to relate it to their own lives while learning previously too dense biblical passages. Found myself thinking of it often. Will need a paper copy to refer back to because parts of it are that good.
May 01, 2016 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A well written book with numerous literature supports to help anyone begin to accept and understand their role in life.
May 02, 2008 Steve rated it really liked it
kind of like a jewish self-help book
Jun 02, 2017 Peter rated it it was amazing
Living the life that one has versus living the life that we dream of is a very good perspective. This book is told from the angle of the Biblical figure, Moses. Disappoints, joys, and such all come in equal measures. We would be a lot happier if we simple accepted each as it came.
Nov 11, 2016 Tessa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-books
This is a great book. It showed me some really helpful perspectives on life. Kushner talks about not being a slave to our dream and really focusing on our kids if we are parents.
Mar 14, 2012 Ensiform rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The author, a rabbi and author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, uses the story of Moses to gently guide the reader into an acceptance of his or her broken dreams. Some of Kushner’s themes grow tired (notably, the image of Moses carefully gathering up the broken pieces of the original tablets on which Commandments were written, just as we should keep our broken dreams as reminders of what we once aspired to, along with our new and more realistic dreams, etc drone) and at times he veers i ...more
Jonathan Mandell
Jul 16, 2007 Jonathan Mandell rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people with marital problems, frustrated at their job
The author of "When Bad Things Happen To Good People," Harold S. Kushner now tackles disappointment, especially in love but also in work, framing this short book with lessons from the life of Moses. Yes, Moses led his people out of slavery, brought them the word of God, and took them to the Promised Land. But he had lots of disappointments too -- he had to take all their whining, and he didn't have much of a family life, and even though he spent 40 years in the desert, he was not allowed to go i ...more
Jul 31, 2010 Jane rated it really liked it
Another in my series of reads by Rabbi Harold Kushner. His pearls of wisdom never fail to inspire and/or put things in perspective. He makes the point here that it's how we react to the events/things that happen to us in life that's important, not the events themselves. In other words, rotten things can happen to us or our families, but we do not have to be prisoner to that. We can define our own outcome. As in his other books, Kushner emphasizes again the need to look at life with an "attitude ...more
Aug 07, 2007 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Okay, so I know this is a technically a self-help book, but in my defense... this rabbi-writer-guy is really cool. Harold Kushner writes as if we've just sat down for americanos, as he explains the world with a combination of stories from the Old Testament, various other self help books and a few pop culture references (my favorite in this one is when he invokes the movie Gattaca).

This book is based on the life of Moses as a lesson in how things really can work out even when we don't get what w
Using the experience of Moses to illustrate his points, Harold Kushner has written an inspirational and helpful book that I am sure I will revisit when facing life's inevitable frustrations. Overcoming Life's Disappointments is a book about resiliency and being strong enough to experience "the honey and the bee stings" that are inherent in a full life. The following is the nugget of wisdom that spoke to me the loudest:

If you succeeded at some things, you blessed the world by it. If you failed at
Nov 07, 2009 Drew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suppose I chose to read this book because of my current interest in Genesis. I've recently listened to Bill Moyer's multi-part series on Genesis, I've listened to John Claypool tapes and I'm reading The Beginning of Wisdom.

Overcoming Life's Disappointments is a self-help book that uses Moses as the teaching model. Kushner is a good writer and dispenses lots of wisdom--too much in my opinion. Not that what he has to say is not wisdom,it's too thinly offered with not enough depth.

I'm not sorry I
Feb 11, 2016 Lindaanne rated it really liked it
Let me start off by saying that I'm not religious, so the book's Old Testament references were lost on me. Still, Rabbi Kushner's accounts of life's disappointments and how to perceive them - and cope without falling apart or becoming bitter - were spot on. One criticism I do have is the sexist tone of the book. Are women really noncompetitive and focused on marriage and children while men forge ahead in the business world? Not where I come from! However I attribute this flaw to a generation gap ...more
Elizabeth Olson
Mar 05, 2012 Elizabeth Olson rated it liked it
Shelves: spiritual, read-2012
Insights into the life of Moses, Biblical and psychological interpretations of possible motives at different points in his story, explorations into language and shades of meaning, numerous other stories and personal anecdotes are all individually interesting and even thought provoking, but overall I found the book's message of "if you're disappointed in not fulfilling a big dream, then find a smaller dream" to be more depressing than inspiring. For my money, if one dream didn't come true, then y ...more
Jul 18, 2014 Nicole rated it it was amazing
A life revolutionary book, teaching about modern life and experiences through the interpretation of Moses, not in his success but in his failures, teaching that failure is human and natural. This book verbalized the problems many people struggle with about their lives and not necessarily how to fix them, but why they bother us so much, and just by knowing that (and that we are not alone in those feelings), is healing.
In life we deal with lost and achievements. Basically, this book persuasively argues ,using the torah and the bible as reference, that life is full of disappointments and failed dreams. The trick is to not let our dreams dream us; our past weight us into not starting anew; letting go of garbage; being free to change, start new things, meet new friends and be appreciative of our unique self. Don't envy the arble statue that is not you but appreciate the clay statue that is you.
Mar 12, 2009 Juli rated it liked it
I thought Rabbi Kushner had a lot of good things to say but was left feeling a bit like I needed to pull up my boot straps and make my life what I want on my own. While I agree that it is important to engage with life and make choices toward a healthy and good life that you want I felt like something was missing. Since Kushner is writing from a Jewish perspective I think that the something missing I was feeling was the hope found in Jesus. This one read more like a self-help book.
Jun 20, 2009 Burnettkw rated it really liked it
I think one of the best lines from this book was about days being divided between sunshine and darkness. People who live in places where there's either too much light (Alaska in the summer) or two much darkness (Alaska in the winter) have a hard time. Life is like that too. Mostly useful advice about how to redesign your dreams when necessary. Occasionally annoying -- a sincere discussion about a t-shirt slogan comes to mind -- but overall thought provoking and encouraging.
Trey Nowell
Dec 07, 2015 Trey Nowell rated it it was amazing
Kushner offers an excellent way of looking at life, explaining how people often focus on the disappointments and not living the life they planned to rather than focusing on the positives they had. He uses the story of the life of Moses to illustrate many of his points, reading between the lines of scripture.
Aug 03, 2010 Nichole rated it liked it
Harold S Kushner is the person to read when grieving. The book is centered around Moses. I learned more about Moses in this book then 8 years of parochial school. Kushner cites many psychologist and therapist making his point clear,take the good with the bad. His writing style is easy and interesting. I also enjoy his quotes and stories.
Oct 06, 2008 Ramakrishnan rated it liked it
Another gem of a book of practical wisdom from Rabbi Harold Kushner. The Rabbi hails Moses as a hero and using his life presents a very practical, yet powerful psychological tools including: "Dared to dream", "A hard road, Not a smooth one", "Keep promises", "It's Not All about you", "The mistakes good people make", and "write your own happy ending".
Dec 22, 2010 Sonyajohnston rated it it was amazing
I heard Harold Kushner speaking on the radio and decided to read his book. I had read When Bad things happen to Good People many years ago. I enjoyed his religious spin on this book. I think this book will give anyone who is disappointed with how life is should read this book. I know it helped me.
Sep 29, 2009 Ashlie rated it really liked it
I really enjoy Rabbi Kushner's take on the world - in all his books that I've read. This is no exception - I was in tears in some parts. My only complaint about the book is that I think sometimes he takes the Moses analogy too far, to a point that became uninteresting for me. But a few pages of uninteresting are definitely worth the rest of the book's insights.
Jeremy Pedersen
Dec 21, 2013 Jeremy Pedersen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book.. I love how he describes Moses taking the broken tablets of the first laws ( tablets he smashed after seeing the golden calf) and keeping them as a memory of "broken dreams". Likewise we may have "broken dreams" but those dreams don't have to create tyranny in our lives. Overall very thoughtful and generally quite good
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Harold S. Kushner is rabbi laureate of Temple Israel in the Boston suburb of Natick, Massachusetts. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he is the author of more than a dozen books on coping with life’s challenges, including, most recently, the best-selling Conquering Fear and Overcoming Life’s Disappointments.
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“Forgiveness is not a matter of exonerating people who have hurt you. They may not deserve exoneration. Forgiveness means cleansing your soul of the bitterness of ‘what might have been,’ ‘what should have been,’ and ‘what didn’t have to happen.’ Someone has defined forgiveness as ‘giving up all hope of having had a better past.’ What’s past is past and there is little to be gained by dwelling on it. There are perhaps no sadder people then the men and women who have a grievance against the world because of something that happened years ago and have let that memory sour their view of life ever since.” 47 likes
“God is the light shining in the midst of darkness, not to deny that there is darkness in the world but to reassure us that we do not have to be afraid of the darkness because darkness will always yield to light. As theologian David Griffin puts in, God is all-powerful, His power enables people to deal with events beyond their control and He gives us the strength to do those things because He is with us.” 17 likes
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