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A Life of One's Own

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  480 ratings  ·  58 reviews

How often do we ask ourselves, ‘What will make me happy? What do I really want from life?’ In A Life of One’s Own Marion Milner explores these questions and embarks on a seven year personal journey to discover what it is that makes her happy.


On its first publication, W. H. Auden found the book ‘as exciting as a detective story’ and, as Milner searches out clues, the reade

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Paperback, 228 pages
Published November 1st 1981 by Tarcher (first published 1934)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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Janet
Mar 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who connected with The Four Agreements
Recommended to Janet by: Simple Abundance
I've had this book on my "To Read" shelf for several years...ever since it was referred to in "Simple Abundance". I'm so glad I didn't get to it until now because I was fully receptive to the message and suggestions...it came at a time when it would really resonate with me. As I read it, two things amazed me...first, I swear I am a reincarnation of the author! It was a bit eerie to come across someone - a woman who was in her 20's in the 1930's - who thinks EXACTLY like me and has the EXACT stru ...more
Barbara  Klaser
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book will not appeal to everyone, but for those interested in psychology or in personal journaling, it's possible this is going to be a satisfying read. It may appeal more to women than to men. For me it fits in with many other books I've read recently, from the writings of Jung and Jungians to Leonard Shlain's The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, and my most recent reading about the journaling process. I came across mention of this book in both Tristine Rainer's and Kathleen Adams' books on jo ...more
♥ Ibrahim ♥
The author explores over a period of seven years the things that made her happy. The book seems so deep like one of those studies in psychoanalysis. For some reason I feel that Jung would have made excellent use of her book as a case study in consciousness, unconsciousness, and psychoanalysis. I could see Jungian thinking in her comparison of thinking as a male and thinking as a female and how we seem to have both in us. The book is deep; it can be read over and over again, and to probe into the ...more
Rick
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most remarkable and impressive books I have ever read. The author, recognizing in 1926 at the age of 26 that she was not happy despite living the life she wanted to live - fulfilling work, friends and leisure - and set out to discover how she could be happy by keeping a diary for seven years of events and times during which she had been happiest. At the age of 34 she wrote this book, the result of her experiment, efforts and unexpected revelations. She went on to move from ind ...more
Marlene Brown
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Quite simply one of the most thought=provoking, erudite and uplifting books I have ever read.
Katharine Garrett
Outstanding! An engaging record of self-discovery through the author's exploration of her own thought processes, begins by asking questions about what would make her happy. Notion of "blind thinking," efforts to pay attention and train one's thoughts, extension of understanding to appreciation and personal relationships. Body awareness through breathing exercises and relaxation informs the journey. Appropriately Auden described it as a "detective story." One I didn't want to end.
Paul Johnston
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psycho-analysis
Really interesting. If you are wondering about life or about yourself, this is certainly a pleasant and interesting exploration. It's personal and idiosyncratic but easy to read and thought provoking.
Laura Facchin
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. "Joanna Field" (Marion Milner) does a great job of revealing her insights on her path to personal discovery in incredible (yet somehow not yawn-inducing) detail.

One of the most fascinating things that I pulled from reading "A Life of One's Own" was that her conclusions about certain mindsets and behaviors seem to draw upon eastern ways of thinking...a LOT. Since I've been reading a lot about Buddhism and psychology lately this was especially apparent. It's a little unbelievab
...more
Cat
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I started and never finished this book several times but I still always think about it.
Aytac
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psych
Milner's A Life of One's Own is an anachronistic anomaly of a book. It surprises me that all the reviews here are gleaming as if we are in... 1905? 1936? 1986? 2100? What year does this book belong to, that would crown it with such loving attention by its cult of lost souls?

Trolling aside (I did have a momentary picture of Lars von Trier's "famous house" for a second, and it brought shivers down my spine – so now in order to distinguish myself from it, I have some serious reviewing to do), the b
...more
Safae
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
"I had been continually exhorted to define my purpose in life, but I was now beginning to doubt whether life might not be too complex a thing to be kept within the bounds of a single formulated purpose, whether it would not burst its way out, or if the purpose were too strong, perhaps grow distorted like an oak whose trunk has been encircled with an iron band. I began to guess that my self’s need was for an equilibrium, for sun, but not too much, for rain, but not always… So I began to have an i ...more
Y.S. Stephen
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Life Of One's Own is one woman's examination and recording of her own thoughts, daydreams and inclinations over several years and how observing these things pointed her to who she really is and what makes her happy.

WHO WOULD ENJOY READING IT?
Anyone with interested in how human minds work and our popular opinions influence us would be interested in the author's findings.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT
I love the tone of unashamedness in this one. The frankness and scientific approach of the author towards
...more
albin james
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-best
The author comes off as very emotionally mature and hard working.
Leslie
Aug 15, 2009 added it
I just reread this book, by Joanna Field, a pseudonym for Marion Milner, a famous psychoanalyst. I can relate to her interest in coping with the "chattering mind" , and it's a really interesting self-exploration.
Nergis
Jan 30, 2015 rated it liked it
I knew that it was a self book about a woman's 7 years' experiences around the things making her happy but everything was so dull for me. So did not quite like but it was ok.
Nikki
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Insightful book compiled from the musings and diaries of a 27 year old woman in the 1920's. It bogged down and was repetitive in many places but the kernels she imparted were well worth the wading through words that is required.

"All this never resting constant effort to think about something that will get you on - which will make you the sort of person you want to be is but another way of trying to escape surrender - trying to be what you are not. "

"The secret of lack of concentration seems to m
...more
Valerie Pate
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recently I got back into journaling. I was meant to do it as part of my university studies - writing 'morning papers' to cleanse the mind of clutter and unveil hidden gems worth exploring as content for writing projects. This book, a seven year study of personal journals, was recommended to me as an aid to my self-reflection; and it has proven very different from what I had expected.
Marion Milner was a young woman in the early 1920's when she began journaling as an exercise to uncover her own tr
...more
Laoonatic
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grow
If you've ever wished to take a peek at how other people approach their own thoughts and feelings, this book is a nice read. It's the author's attempt to figure out the source of her unhappiness, even when her life seems to be going on perfectly according to the standards of the society at that time. (Might sound terribly familiar.) From there on, she tries different dissection techniques of her thoughts and mental exercises that lead her to a more mindful approach to her life. Although I'm skep ...more
Natalie Davey
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was so important to me in my early 20's. So much so that when I landed in London, I was very confused about my direction in life and I very brazenly looked Marion Milner up in the phone book. She very kindly took my call (I think she was aged about 90 then) and asked me to write to her. I did so and then she rang me back and invited me for tea at her home in Hampstead. She told me a little bit about how she came to make important decisions in her life. She also advised me against attem ...more
Dani
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to keep triple-checking this book was written in the 1920s. So many of her problems and methods for finding a solution are *word for word* my own. Milner would have been proud to know that yoga, meditation, and general introspection have solidly found themselves in the modern consciousness.

I loved reading this book because I saw so much of myself in it, but I think anyone who is interested in a blueprint for discovering their own mind's inner workings might find this useful. However, as M
...more
Ana
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great personal autobiography about the journey to experience beyond rational thinking and self-judgment by Marion in the 1920s. I enjoyed how she walks you through her journey and discoveries. She shares her day to day experiences, hypothesis, and how she slowly learns and develops an awareness that allows her to see beyond the preprogramed explanation and understanding of what happens to seeing life as something to observe and inform her instead of something to explain from pre-constructed expl ...more
Cailen
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020
I couldn't make it past page 60, and I'm surprised I made it that far at all. Vapid, dry and aimless. The format comes across as the author waving her diary in the air and going "Look how interesting I am!" There were a handful of compelling quotes in the preface, and I do feel inspired to start a daily diary as a result. But the preface was the only section worth reading.
Ruth Forrest
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful read, giving privileged insight into the thoughts, feelings and experiences of the author. This is the kind of book that could, mistakenly, lead the reader to thinking that narrative is easy. Clearly, this is due to her skill in seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary and capturing this in language which is evocative and artistic.
Mimi
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Insightful at times, but mostly annoying and dull. Read it on the heels of A Room of One's Own, which is neither annoying nor dull. ...more
K Kirby
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Frustrated that the search for a real life doesn't seem to be attainable.
Armand Cognetta
If Buddha had been born in early 20th century England her name would have been Marion Milner.
Erkan
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Very interesting a self-test of type of living..
Patrick Alexander
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is, I suppose, a Western and home-grown approach to the topics of meditation and enlightenment. I think I will have to revisit it often.
Kate
Jun 05, 2019 marked it as to-buy
Mentioned in Drawing on the Artist within Betty Edwards
Simmy
Aug 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1, non-fiction, psychology
I found this book repetitive with a lack of true experience. I have read books with similar messages that have been much nicer to read.
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“I had been continually exhorted to define my purpose in life, but I was now beginning to doubt whether life might not be too complex a thing to be kept within the bounds of a single formulated purpose, whether it would not burst its way out, or if the purpose were too strong, perhaps grow distorted like an oak whose trunk has been encircled with an iron band. I began to guess that my self’s need was for an equilibrium, for sun, but not too much, for rain, but not always… So I began to have an idea of my life, not as the slow shaping of achievement to fit my preconceived purposes, but as the gradual discovery and growth of a purpose which I did not know. I wrote: “It will mean walking in a fog for a bit, but it’s the only way which is not a presumption, forcing the self into a theory.” 8 likes
“Let no one think it is an easy way because it is concerned with moments of happiness rather than with stern duty or high moral endeavour. For what is really easy, as I found, is to blind one’s eyes to what one really likes, to drift into accepting one’s wants ready-made from other people, and to evade the continual day to day sifting of values. And finally, let no one undertake such an experiment who is not prepared to find himself more of a fool than he thought.” 5 likes
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