Book Review: Why Good Things Happen to Good PeopleBy Jill Suttie | June 1, 2007 | 1 comment
By Stephen Post and Jill Neimark
Broadway Books, 2007, 320 pages
In this very readable book, Stephen Post and Jill Neimark make the case that giving to others—in small doses and from a young age—will help you “be happier… healthier… and even live longer.”
Post, a bioethicist and the president of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, is a leading figure in the study of compassion and altruism; together with journalist Neimark, he has produced a lively and inspiring overview of this research. But Why Good Things Happen to Good People also has some serious weaknesses.
For example, at the end of each chapter, the authors offer self-assessment questionnaires and suggest ways to give, but this material feels tedious and unnecessary. And to the book’s detriment, Post and Neimark widen the definition of giving to include everything from compassionate acts to confronting wrongs to being creative. This dilutes the concept of giving and weakens the book’s main argument.
The authors succeed when they tighten their focus and avoid a self-help approach. The heartwarming stories of others who gave selflessly—which the book, thankfully, includes in abundance—and the research on generosity’s positive benefits are the most convincing aspects of the book. Despite the gimmicky title—which seems too good to be true—this book might inspire even the worst cynics to reconsider their giving behavior.
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About The Author
Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good’s book review editor and a frequent contributor to the magazine.