Book review: The Simple Shift by Chris Helder

The Simple Shift will come in handy right now for anyone struggling as a result of social isolation.

This new book, The Simple Shift is motivational speaker Chris Helder’s latest contribution to personal improvement. Helder, who’s been presenting for 18 years, has written similar books, aimed at the business professional, including the best-selling Useful Belief, Cut the Noise, and The Ultimate Book of Influence. Here’s what The Simple Shift promises:

‘Triumph when times are tough by adopting a simple shift in thinking: -Overcome obstacles by transforming the way you perceive problems -Avoid the things that sap your energy or blur your focus -Identity what really matters and what doesn’t -Let go of perfection, worry and guilt -Uncover valuable lessons you’ve already learnt by overcoming past challenges.’

The Simple Shift is based on one idea: the same one we’ve been hearing about for decades, that is, change your thinking and you can change your reality, although Helder’s quick to point out that dramatic personal transformation is seldom the result of any new modality or teaching. Start small and practical by adopting beliefs that shift the way you see things and, according to him, this results in making major obstacles into easily resolvable issues. 

Reading this, I couldn’t help thinking of the Wendy Rhoades character in Billions: feel good about yourself in order to make more money is what this is actually about and, as such, this wee book is another tool in service to progress and capitalism.

However, The Simple Shift does contain some wisdom that is part common sense and mostly a distillation of much of the current personal healing thinking around today. There are some good ideas in here, such as this paragraph: ‘Be very careful to use the past as a source of learning rather than getting sucked into the “wouda, coulda, shoulda”. When you turn the negative past into learning, it will no longer hold you back.’  And this one: ‘Happiness isn’t actually something to try to achieve. Rather it is a result of living a full life, a useful life, and of being connected to your life.’ Yup.

The Simple Shift will come in handy right now for anyone struggling as a result of social isolation and fear in these uncertain and frightening times. Helder’s message is to ditch positive thinking and replace it with useful thinking. For example, no matter what age you are, decide that life begins at … (insert your age). Well, why not? 

Helder’s solution to one’s life’s problems is a simple one: accept the things you can’t change and stop complaining about them. Accept the things you can’t or won’t change and create a useful belief about them. In other words, come up with a useful spin on your situation. (Which is positive thinking, really.) If you’re in the mood for a short upbeat read then this book will do the trick; it’s a refreshing and practical manual, and could help to build up psychological resilience, at least in the short term. At the end of the book Helder includes a list of useful beliefs to adopt, which makes things easy.

3 stars out of 5

The Simple Shift: How Useful Thinking Changes the Way You See Everything by Chris Helder
Publisher: Wiley
Format: Paperback
Categories: Non-Fiction, Australian
Pages: 120
Release Date: February 2020
RRP: $19.95

Liza Dezfouli
About the Author
Liza Dezfouli reviews live performance, film, books, and occasionally music. She writes about feminism and mandatory amato-heteronormativity on her blog WhenMrWrongfeelsSoRight. She can occasionally be seen in short films and on stage with the unHOWsed collective. She also performs comedy, poetry, and spoken word when she feels like it.