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Stitches

A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair

By Anne Lamott
9-minute read
Audio available
Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair by Anne Lamott

Stitches (2014) is about embracing the negative aspects of life that you’re powerless to change, and building a community to help you work through them. These blinks explain why so many people run from suffering and pain, and why acknowledging such difficult experiences is the only way to overcome them.

  • Anyone who works with or for other people
  • People who feel overwhelmed by suffering
  • Fans of self-help and Lamott’s other books

Anne Lamott is the author of the New York Times bestseller Help, Thanks, Wow. Her writing offers lessons and ideas, learned through personal experiences, that focus on being happier, more loving and kinder to those around us.

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Stitches

A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair

By Anne Lamott
  • Read in 9 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 5 key ideas
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Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair by Anne Lamott
Synopsis

Stitches (2014) is about embracing the negative aspects of life that you’re powerless to change, and building a community to help you work through them. These blinks explain why so many people run from suffering and pain, and why acknowledging such difficult experiences is the only way to overcome them.

Key idea 1 of 5

It’s easy to find meaning in life when everything is going well, but it can be tricky when the going gets tough.

Isn’t it amazing when life just seems to work out? You and your family are healthy, you have a job you love and everything feels like it’s in the right place.

It’s common to feel that life is in order after experiencing good fortune, and this tendency has to do with the human ability to find sense, meaning or purpose in a string of positive events. Simply put, it’s easier to see meaning in life when things work out for us.

This tends to be the result of expecting things to turn out a particular way, while failing to see chaos as an inherent aspect of life’s overall meaning. Instead, we find meaning in the things we purposefully intend to do, like finding a job we love. If we achieve these things, that sense of meaning is naturally reinforced.

Because of this positive reinforcement, rather than seeing the mess and chaos of our lives as meaningful, we quarantine them, associating them with negativity. The same can be said for stigma and failure, which people tend to associate with painful, difficult or unplanned experiences.

So, given this tendency, it should come as no surprise that, when we experience suffering or difficult moments, we find it hard to feel positive about life or think of it as meaningful. Just consider catastrophic events like terrorist attacks, natural disasters or the loss of a loved one. In painful moments it’s hard to believe that life has any positive meaning at all.

In such instances, it doesn’t even matter if the event happens to us or to another person. The painful experiences of one person are still part of the human community and, in that sense, all people are affected by the negative things that happen to all others.

In other words, we’re all joined together by bad experiences. For instance, if someone murders another human, the rest of society is partially responsible, since they live in the same human community as that person.

But this realization doesn’t have to be a total downer – there’s actually a lot to gain from these negative experiences and, in the blinks that follow, you’ll learn about how to cope with life’s struggles.

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