Getting a Life: Strategies for Joyful and Effective Living


118 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-88882-178-6
DDC 158





Reviewed by Moira Harris

Moira Harris is a graduate student in animal behavior at the University
of Saskatchewan.


Getting a Life is a rather tedious and oddly un-joyous book. Its premise
and promises are initially inviting: joyful and effective living
comprises a blend of extraordinary attitudes, value-based ways of
seeing, and ways of being. What follows is an exploration of the
life-building process: challenges associated with daily living and ways
of dealing with these challenges. The book concludes with several
chapters detailing ways of developing wise responses and attitudes to
everyday situations.

Individual chapters focus on various aspects of “wisdom,” including
the nature of knowledge, procrastination, work, wonder, creativity, and
co-adventuring. However, a major weakness of the book is the author’s
failure to organize this diverse material into a coherent whole. Another
notable aspect is Macdonald’s emphasis on his own personal viewpoint
concerning the nature of personal happiness; his exceptional life as a
writer, engineer, and independent scholar testify to the success of his
own self-fulfilment strategy. In a literary world populated by ifs,
buts, and other qualifiers, certainty of expression can be welcome;
however, Macdonald’s singular and self-certain path may serve to
alienate and exclude readers whose lives include familial, financial, or
emotional constraints to personal self-fulfilment. Rather than enhancing
happiness, the book could leave the reader feeling inadequate.

A minor irritation is Macdonald’s overuse of italics, bolding,
capitals—even bolded italics and italicized capitals—suggesting that
the writer lacks the skill to make a point through the use of words

Getting a Life is in some places interesting and useful, but as a whole
it fails to meet its goal of helping the reader to create “all-win
mind spaces.”


Macdonald, Copthorne., “Getting a Life: Strategies for Joyful and Effective Living,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 20, 2024,