Review by Maria Surricchio.

“Life is short. And uncertain. It is like a drop of water skittering around on a lotus leaf. You never know when it will drop off and disappear. So each day is too precious to waste. And each day that you are not radiantly alive and brimming with cheer is a day wasted”

Who wouldn’t be interested in what this man has to say, right? You’d have to lack a pulse not to want – better, profoundly yearn for – the life affirming perspective and deep joy in being alive he describes.

But have you or I got the vision, guts and discipline to commit to what it’s going to take? That’s the central question this book poses on every glorious and uplifting page.

Like Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits”, Rao proposes that meaningful change happens from the inside out: You’ll recall Covey’s first 3 habits are about “Personal Victory”.

This book is more powerful because it doesn’t deal with practices – “habits” – for cognitive behavioural change, like Covey. No, Rao challenges the fundamental fabric of our life experience: our very consciousness.

In one sound bite, the rallying cry of this book is: “live a conscious life”.

I’m excited by this. As someone who has lived in a coma – mindlessly propelled by the “conveyor belt of life” – and has jumped off, this resonates very deeply with me.

But this isn’t a quick fix. Rao invites you on a very tough spiritual journey that will last a life time.

Brutally simplified, he invites you to become conscious of your self-limiting, self-defeating models of the world, your judgmental critical dialogue, and to develop insight to shift these, partly using the meditative practice of mindfulness.

The outcome: “Gradually, you get to the point where you can control what you are consciously comfortable with letting into your mind. And that is how you start straightening out of your life”

But that’s not the tough part. What comes next is far more challenging. What if you believed the Universe wasn’t “a dumb, insentient mass” but “a conscious entity that is intimately intertwined with you and not separate from you. It wants to give you what you desire and you can influence it”

Wow! If that was your operating principle, just imagine how different would life be? How much more time and energy would you spend focusing on and manifesting what you want in life instead of worrying and complaining about what you don’t want?

Most of the rest of book is dedicated to building the “Benevolent Universe” model. Rao coaches us on how to let go of guilt, blame, destructive habits and anxiety about what we can’t control. This all uses up valuable energy and makes us feel powerless: far better to channel energy into constructive and resourceful practices that serve us.

Specifically he shows us how to use the “Law of Increase”, the reality that “Whatever you are truly grateful for and appreciate will increase in your life” and how to manifest our deepest desires simply by being resolutely and single-mindedly focused on them with a deep conviction that they are already ours.

Freedom and happiness? We already have them: they’re inside, not outside us.

Thinking we have to “acquire” something to be free or happy is misguided, according to Rao: “The talons of our addiction shred our minds and wreck repose… There is nothing you have to get in order to be happy”

Why go on this journey at all?

Because fundamental to our purpose is contribution: the unique gifts we’re on the road to discovering and manifesting in the world will contribute to the greater good: literally make the world a better place.

“When you stop explicitly focusing on yourself, on what you want and don’t have, and start focusing on how you can be of service to a larger community, then you set loose some very powerful forces”

The reward of accepting the challenge in this book is enlightenment: a deep understanding of your purpose in life and the insight to manifest it.

It will make a leader of you, if you let it.

Are You Ready to Succeed?: An Unconventional Guide to Personal Transformation in Work and in Life by Srikumar Rao