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Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself
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Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,613 ratings  ·  172 reviews
"Most people will never find a great psychiatrist or a great Buddhist teacher, but Mark Epstein is both, and the wisdom he imparts in Advice Not Given is an act of generosity and compassion. The book is a tonic for the ailments of our time."--Ann Patchett, New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth

Our ego, and its accompanying sense of nagging self-doubt as we work
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 16th 2018 by Penguin Press (first published January 1st 2018)
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 ·  1,613 ratings  ·  172 reviews

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Jan 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
The title immediately intrigued me. Instead of a perhaps more gentle of diplomatic way of phrasing it, it's a "get over yourself" message which is sometimes necessary. So it seemed like this could be an intriguing read.

The author uses a mix of Buddhist teachings combined with Western therapy to aid his patients and to provide guidance (but no quick solutions) to the reader. It's also speckled with stories of his patients and their interactions. Honestly, the book was incredibly boring. Another r
Kathleen Flynn
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book that gave me a lot to ponder. If you are interested at all in Buddhism and how to apply the practices of meditation and mindfulness to the challenges of everyday life, this is one not to miss.
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book is a mixture of freudian psychotherapy and buddhism. I love the concept and I learned a lot. It's a short book and it's not as scientific as Robert Wright's "Why Buddhism is True" or as practical as some of the other guides like Zinn's or Radical Acceptance. But it's good.
Bon Tom
Sep 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I guess I'd call it a crash course in both buddhism and psychotherapy.
P Michael N
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book. The view of the ego and mindfulness presented here is extremely practical and easy to follow and understand. According to Mark Epstein, the ego is not something that we need to eradicate - rather, it’s something that we need to mold and learn to harness. The book offers a mix of psychotherapy and Buddhist practices that can help us lead better lives. The book is divided into sections that cover the 8 fold path to enlightenment:
1. Right view - a balanced/complete view of everythin
Stephanie Thoma
This one was a little hard for me to get into since it wasn't more broadly applicable, although it was a quick read with some insights/food for thought.

- Meditation is a temporary alleviation of anxiety/pain that doesn't dictate how at peace one will be in their moment of death; a truthful response may not be a zen one
- "Learn the backward step that turns your light inward to illuminate yourself." - Japanese Buddhist phrase
- 8 worldly concerns according to the Buddha 1. gain 2. loss 3
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
The author provides his take on the Buddhist eight-fold path to enlightenment, informed by his traditional psychological training. I found his friendly discussion an interesting way to learn about the path to enlightenment, with stories that sound more like they are out of the pop psychology books I am familiar with. I will look for more on this topic, and would positively consider books by Epstein.
Jan 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received Advice Not Given by Mark Epstein for free through Goodreads’ Giveaways program.

Epstein, a psychiatrist and a Buddhist, explains Buddhism’s Eightfold Path within the context of psychotherapy. It’s an interesting idea. Buddhism does say that life is suffering, and when do people usually go to see a psychiatrist? When they are suffering.

I have almost no knowledge of Buddhism, and I think some knowledge would have been helpful. My guess is that this book is for those who have a greater un
Jillian Doherty
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Understanding the eight fold path is not easy endeavor, especially when considering enlightenment from a western's perspective.
Mark Epstein uses his past experiences, his practice, and intimate stories to well illustrates full round learning - which includes moments of growth and moments of tripping along the way.

He also reflects on how his career psychiatry parallels with Buddhism; our live may feel like many individual paths but after years they can been seen as all flowing together.
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. I really enjoyed it. I have read two of Mark Epstein’s other books and have listened to him on podcasts etc so I was familiar with his background coming into it. I liked how the books focus on the ego was centered around the eightfold path. I always appreciate plenty of examples and interpretations of ancient Buddhist texts especially from someone I respect. I like hearing about DW Winnicot and his theories but don’t necessarily want to read him dire ...more
Oct 05, 2019 added it
Shelves: buddhism
Raises a great point I haven't heard in a lot of books on mindfulness--that mindfulness can cause a person to become really unsettled. Mindfulness isn't automatically grounding or peaceful, it can put us in touch with all the kinds of thing we're trying to block. I've experienced this when practicing mindfulness or meditation, walls coming down. As others have pointed out, it's not a panacea for a bad workplace, a loss, etc. It can be too much for a person without other kinds of professional hel ...more
Mila Gamaiunova
Aug 11, 2018 rated it liked it
A nice book, but I found the title a bit misleading.
Joshua Buhs
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: b12, non-fiction
A thought-provoking interpretation of Buddhism. Epstein allies Buddhist practice not with cognitive-behavioral theory, its usual accomplice rather with the less fashionable Freudian psychoanalysis (which puts me in mind of John Gray, whose philosophy similarly unites the two).

After an introduction in which Epstein describes his dawning realization that more explicitly bringing Buddhist ideas into his therapeutic sessions might help his patients, the book is arranged according to the eight-fold p
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Epstein, a psychiatrist in New York City and a practitioner of Buddhism, presents this "guide" as an explanation of his ongoing understanding of the similarities between these practices and the potential ways one might combine, or merge, or think about them together. As a relative newcomer to therapy (and knowing little about Buddhism), I was intrigued by his ideas, and I found that much of his advice (given and not given) resonated with me--his explanations of the Buddhist Eightfold Path, and h ...more
Caro Raciti
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very easy to follow and simple writing to explain the eightfold path.
I thought the examples the author uses were good to make the points. Also, there is a good explanation of meditation, plus how it is not something that you reach and maintain, we have to deal with impermanence, or as the saying goes, the only constant is change.

Epstein explains the eightfold path in more detail but here I highlighted what grabbed my attention the most.

"Concentration is the secret ingredient of meditation, the
Meghan Burke
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I always enjoy Mark Epstein, and this is one of the best books about Buddhism I've read -and I read many! I do think the subtitle is misleading: the book, like Mark's typical approach, is so much more thoughtful than "getting over yourself" implies. It's much better put on one of the final pages of the book: "Buddhism is all about releasing oneself from the unnecessary constraints of the ego. Every aspect of the Eightfold Path is a counterweight to selfish preoccupation." The book walks us throu ...more
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it
three and a half... there were a few too many specific examples of his patients that made it hard to apply outside of those situations. It felt like part memoir and the rest a light psychology text with some Buddhst parables. I guess I was expecting more explicit Buddhism. did give me a lot to think about though - he comes across as a kind and smart person, maybe just not the most compelling writer.
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: z2018q4
I enjoy the connections Epstein is making here. A little more on the intro level of practice, and while the book follows the right fold path, it was a little meandering for me.
Betty Zyvatkauskas
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
At the intersection of psychotherapy and Buddhism, Mark Epstein offers practical guidance. Your mother would tell you to take his advice.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: dharma
Epstein is the author of some very well-known books on buddhism-infused psychotherapy. In 'Advice Not Given', he gets personal by sharing his experiences both as a meditator and as a therapist, describing how buddhism began playing an increasing role in his work with patients. He structured this book around the Eightfold Path and provides some interesting interpretations of these age-old (but still very helpful) ethical guidelines. (Far more helpful than the mostly outdated Ten Commandments, to ...more
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book came at a pivotal time in my life. I picked it up from the "new releases" section of my local library on a whim, mostly intrigued by the inside jacket's description of the book as a blending of western psychotherapy and Buddhist teaching. Having a mild interest in both, I decided to give it a try.

The author, Mark Epstein, sets out to share his "advice not given," as throughout his clinical practice he has often hesitated to give explicitly Buddhist advice, choosing instead to use Weste
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Less of a “guide” and more of a series of stories that serve to illustrate the similarities between western psychotherapy and Buddhist practice. These were illuminating at times, but I had a difficult time “getting into” the book - perhaps it was Epstein’s quiet voice and sometimes flat tone? (Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly well-suited for the therapist’s couch!)
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
An exploration of the relationship between traditional Freudian-flavored talk therapy and Buddhist ideas. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Very good writer but a bit humorless. I found it kind of inspiring though.
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As both a clinical Freudian psychiatrist and a long-time practicing Buddhist, Dr. Epstein is apparently one of the lauded professionals to merge the two, and it’s no surprise. His style and voice and wisdom and humor pour through the pages nicely, and he convincing portrays Buddhist philosophy with modern-day psychology. With this book, he tackles the ego, “at once our biggest obstacle and our greatest hope. We can be at its mercy or we can learn to mold it according to certain guiding principle ...more
Susan Neuwirth
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Just what I was looking for - read it while attending a silent retreat

Our ego, and its accompanying sense of nagging self-doubt as we work to be bigger, better, smarter, and more in control, is one affliction we all share. And while our ego claims to have our best interests at heart, in its never-ending pursuit of attention and power, it sabotages the very goals it sets to achieve. In Advice Not Given, renowned psychiatrist and author Dr. Mark Epstein reveals how Buddhism and Western psychothera
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mindfulness
"Get a life."

"Past and future preoccupy us because we are trying to control things, while being in the present necessitates openness to the unexpected. We surrender to impermanence when we meditate. Wherever it may lead."

"The mind is capable of so much. When we put it into neutral gear, as happens in meditation, it does not shut down; it opens."

"Right view is being realistic about ourselves and the nature of things."

"A simple acknowledgement of the reality of things could help life become more b
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Adam by: Tammy
And another by Mark Epstein. I found Epstein almost two years ago now when a good friend and (unfortunately former) colleague told me about The Trauma of Everyday Life. I immediately devoured the book, though can now hardly tell you what it was about. I enjoyed his writing so much that I began to read his other works, starting with the most popular. Eventually, within a year or so, I had consumed them all - including his, mundane, collection of rather academic essays on psychotherapy a ...more
Rating: 3.5
I first heard about Dr Epstein through Dan Harris' book 10% Happier, in which it's described that he served as an encouraging force to get Harris into meditation. A Buddhist psychotherapist with lots of experience on retreat. His perspective sounded encouraging to me too and soon after that I picked up the first book by Epstein I could find. It was called "The Trauma of Everyday Life". But I was disappointed in that book of his. First of all I can't help but be suspicious of the whole
Greg Broom
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
While some of the “Advice Not Given” can be helpful—especially the idea of “getting over yourself” as a daily practice—I can’t ignore the gnawing idea that these prescriptions are more than often just short-term salves that do not deal with structural and political inequalities that create a substantial amount of the anxiety and depression in this country and world. I do know that politics is not the focus of this tidy self-help book but it is telling that all of his examples are based on “succe ...more
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a clear, concise and nuanced guide to understanding how Buddhist thought can improve your life. It is pragmatic, not pedantic. It is useful and direct. Epstein peppers his text with illustrations from his own life and from those of friends and patients. This has the effect of making the book practical. It is not in any way an obscure religious tract. It is -- as the title says -- a guide to getting over yourself.

Epstein is a Western-trained psychiatrist who gravitated to Buddhism as a co
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Mark Epstein, M.D. is a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and the author of a number of books about the interface of Buddhism and psychotherapy, including Thoughts without a Thinker, Going to Pieces without Falling Apart, Going on Being, Open to Desire and Psychotherapy without the Self. His newest work, The Trauma of Everyday Life, will be published in August of 2013 by Penguin Pr ...more

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