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The Five Things We Cannot Change: And the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them
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The Five Things We Cannot Change: And the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  679 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Why is it that despite our best efforts, many of us remain fundamentally unhappy and unfulfilled in our lives? In this provocative and inspiring book, David Richo distills thirty years of experience as a therapist to explain the underlying roots of unhappiness—and the surprising secret to finding freedom and fulfillment. 

There are certain facts of life that we cannot chan
Paperback, 159 pages
Published June 13th 2006 by Shambhala (first published January 11th 2005)
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Audrey ❦❦❦
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
1. Everything changes and ends.
2. Things do not always go according to plan.
3. Life is not always fair.
4. Pain is a part of life.
5. People are not loving and loyal all the time.

The point of this book is to accept and move forward, not to resist and deny. There is a life lesson for us all here.
Jul 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
There's parts of this book that I think everyone should read, there's parts of this book that bored me to death, and there's parts of this book that I quite passionately disagreed with, but I always think with books like this that if someone can make you think of things in a different way, even if you end up not in agreement, it's still something which was worthwhile. So for me, the first half of the book was just fabulous, several concepts, which while not necessarily new, were written in such ...more
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is seriously one of, if not, the best self-help book i've ever read. Not that i've read much, but after reading this, I feel no need to read any more. It's basically a trip to the psychologist in a book. David Richo explains the five things we cannot change in life, or "givens", and the things we gain by embracing them. Ultimately wisdom, understanding, loving-kindness and happiness. All throughout reading this book, I realized that most of what we read in self-help books, are the very ...more
Daisy Rose
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book had exactly what I was looking for in it...he is like the answer to Eckhart Tolle. Unlike Eckhart Tolle who urges people to forget, forget, forget, because everything is in the past, and tells us we should live in THIS MOMENT (which is true and excellent advice sometimes), Richo urges us to acknowledge and "stay with" what has happened - good or bad - and deal with it appropriately. His description of how to be with, and stay with, your own emotions/thoughts/experiences, as a way to he ...more
Dec 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
boy, if i could just memorize this and access it when i run into difficulties, i'd be ahead of the game!
Feb 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a great companion book to How to be an Adult in Relationships. It took what might have been some really negative truths about life and talked about how to turn them around and understand our actions and behaviour through their filters. Life is not a painless journey - let's face it. Life is suffering. But all our suffering is an opportunity for learning and behaving in a way that is respectful and caring to ourselves and to others. If we have committed to the Noble Path we can understan ...more
Aug 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
i got more out of the first half of the book than the last. Maybe it needs to be shorter. Has some staements within its pages that are great!
Gustaaf Vocking
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is going over the (not so) obvious things we can't change. By accepting that my life did change for the much better.
Tom Quinn
Jun 26, 2014 rated it liked it
No bones about it: this is a self-help book. But it's a better example of its kind than most. I appreciate that the author doesn't hide The Five Things behind teasers or showy reveals. They're spelled out immediately, in the table of contents and a handy numbered list on page one of the introduction.

I also appreciate his matter-of-fact, compassionate tone. Richo seems to understand his audience well, and he delivers his message quickly, concisely, and helpfully.

At its core, the book is about acc
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
.“We all have to face pain, and we experience it mindfully, we simple feel it as its. When we add the ego layers, the mindsets of fear, blame, shame, attachment to an outcome, complain or obsession, we make things worse”

I’ve read this book several times now, and every time I do, I get something new from it. The givens are not something new or unknown to us, but I think we only know it on a superficial level. They fade in the background when we are going about our day to day living. But once they
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Really found this helpful. One has to say "yes" to life and live without fear.

There are certain facts of life that we cannot change—the unavoidable "givens" of human existence: (1) everything changes and ends, (2) things do not always go according to plan, (3) life is not always fair, (4) pain is a part of life, and (5) people are not loving and loyal all the time. Richo shows us that by dropping our deep-seated resistance to these givens, we can find liberation and discover the true richness t
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is simply too good to be true. I spent about 3 hours yesterday just copying paragraphs after paragraphs onto my journal..
His language isn't accessible to everyone but would be if you are familiar with concepts in mindfulness and existentialism.
This has become my new 'bible' and David Richo has risen above Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield as my favourite spiritual teacher :)
Best gift for myself for the upcoming year.

He is also the author for "How to be an adult", it probably takes one hu
For parents who have an ED-child I've found few too many words that can comfort and instill some deeper understandings than Richo's work-- even though it's non-ED related.

I go back often to his books/words, as he has done with reinstating basic principles of Buddhist thought/practices.

A nice reminder are Richo's "five unavoidable givens-facts that come visit us all" when you may be having a bad day or looking for blame, or feeling vunerable, etc.:

1. Everything changes and ends.

2. Things do not a
Ally Hunter
Aug 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I am not a big fan of self-help books but this one appealed to me. It was given to me by someone whose opinion I value, so I gave it a chance. I am glad I did. Life sucks people! Time to embrace it and be happy anyway! Just kidding, sort of....this book lays out the truth about the human condition. But, there is hope. I like the author's approach which is a touch of psychology, eastern thought, and spirituality all in the right combination at the right time. I also like all of the quotes from li ...more
Sep 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I'd read this book before after Richo's other title (How To Be An Adult In Relationships) had been a real catalyst for change for me. I thought now was a good time to revisit this one, and while I got kind of stuck and bored in the middle of it, the nuggets of wisdom are the still as important. What are the five things we cannot change?
1. Everything changes and ends.
2. Things do not always go according to plan.
3. Life is not always fair.
4. Pain is a part of life.
5. People are not loving and loya
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
I've been looking through this book with my boyfriend for the past 9 months and we keep coming across things that resound for our lives. I'm not into "self-help" kinds of books, but this one is for everyone who bangs their heads about how "other people" are. Richo tells it like it is and sometimes you don't want to hear it, but you have to admit that he's pretty much right on most of the time. "Not everyone is loving or loyal"! if we could just accept that and not get stuck in the mola ...more
Jul 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
Quite a serendipitous time to be reading a book such as this. I think my brain absorbed most of it, but will probably go back and read it again with a highlighter. There are too many gems of wisdom to ponder or to coherently put into a book review. Needless to say, I am profoundly grateful for these gems of wisdom that I find along the path of life. I gratefully put them in my pocket and proceed onward.
Anita Zinn
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Read 4-11-12

WHOW! Packed full of enlightenment - making a lasting impression on the mind - that is a gift from the author to us!

I must say a sincere, "Thank you," to David Richo.

Quote: " When we give up seeking the safety of control, order, and infallible rules, we find our bodily creativity, and then, once again, an axis of little ego and big mind, an incarnation happens. We become the word of life pronounced in poetry and sculptured in light."
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It started good, the introduction. However, I am not making it much past that. I tried, I gave it a go... but it's not fun reading. It's not interesting. I feel like I'm reading "blah blah blah" over & over again.
I've read self-help books before and there are many great ones out there. I like reading ones that go somewhere, tell you a story, and don't bore you with facts and gibberish.
I cannot read this which sucks because I was very excited about it and it came highly recommended...
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Probably the book that has had the greatest positive impact on my life. Learning to live life on life's terms, because those are the only terms we're gonna get! Down to earth, plain speaking and compassionate. I recommend this book to everyone who is searching for their path and especially anyone in recovery who is struggling with step 3. But you don't need to be in recovery to enjoy and be enriched by this book. It is truly a gem.
Kathy Beatty
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wishing to live in the moment
Recommended to Kathy by: Shambhala Sun
My highlighter is running out of color! Every page is a revelation: "I take care of myself, but not at the expense of others. I put others first, but not at the expense of myself." "Every beginning leads to a finale. Changes & endings are inevitable. Nothing is perfect, permanently satisfying, or permanently anything." "Facing the bluntness of reality (in all its beauty & agony) is the highest form of happiness." I am savoring every line.
Kestrel Summers
Feb 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-development
Look, I love this guy's work. I'm super into How to Be an Adult in Relationships, and can totally get behind the five givens in this book.

That said, this book took me at least four years to get all the way through. I found it so hard to read, with an excess of flowery prose and verbosity. Perhaps I just like a more simplistic style.

Still, I pushed through, and learned from this book... it just took a while.
Apr 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
I had to return this book to the library before I finished it bc someone else had requested it. I thought it was very good and am considering buying a copy so I can re-read it. A helpful and thoughtful discussion of how we create pain by trying to grasp or control things and people, from a neo-buddhist perspective.
Aug 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This will probably be on my 'currently reading' shelf for months. Not because I have put off reading it, but because I can't stop REreading it. The language is simple and kind, but the subject so vast and deep that every time I pick up this book a new sentence and idea pops out to me. What he is suggesting is a practice of a lifetime.
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Not a sentence wasted, this book address the expectations we put on our lives and also onto other people which eventually leads to our own unhappiness. By embracing what is, we find that we have already possess everything we need to be happy.
This book is probably best read slowly, a few pages at a time...
May 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
This book really affected the perspective I was taking on life and my relationships with select others. It makes me a lot more hopeful and I feel more inspired to try and be loving instead of vindictive. I can be a grudge-holder so this book really made me look at things in another way. I love the author.
Jul 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
I've read two of Richo's other books which I liked. This is an excellent discussion of the givens, and a very good setup to introduce Tonglen meditation. I was taught Tonglen during a series of teachings with a buddhist master on the Eight Verses for Training the Mind. I found this practice very beneficial.
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great book. Must try and reference it in the future. Almost every other line is inciteful, smart, and telling. Could be a bit wordy and redundant at times but every word a gem. Powerful reference point, did wish it could be more concise and perhaps simpler toward the end.
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
The title made me assume it was of the self-help variety (which I never reach for), but I was relieved to find that I would shelf this book somewhere under psychology. The author adopts a buddhist philosophy and applies it to psychology, and I found his approach to be very helpful and insightful.
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I'm a bit of a self-help nut. I'm fascinated by how people think and behave. I've read this book and Richo's How to Be An Adult in Relationships, and they both are excellent. Great writing and examples, and I just appreciate books that take a deeper look at life and how we live it.
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David Richo, PhD, is a therapist and author who leads popular workshops on personal and spiritual growth.

He received his BA in psychology from Saint John's Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts, in 1962, his MA in counseling psychology from Fairfield University in 1969, and his PhD in clinical psychology from Sierra University in 1984. Since 1976, Richo has been a licensed marriage, family, and chi
More about David Richo...

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“Humility means accepting reality with no attempt to outsmart it.” 150 likes
“Our tears are precious, necessary, and part of what make us such endearing creatures.” 49 likes
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