Book review: Awakening hidden potential of teenagers, channeling their energies

By Moin Qazi*

“Let the Real You Stand Up”, “You Can Make a Difference”, “You Are Destined For The Skies!”, “Discover the Hero within You” – all of them self-help books, authored By Fr Alfonso Elengikal (published by Better Yourself Books and Media Pvt Ltd) – are aimed at awakening the hidden potential of our teenagers and also channeling their energies for more constructive purposes.

Self help books are a specialized genre and there are both motivational speakers and writers who have developed a niche in writing them. Teenagers’ mind and body have enormous energies and also the capacity to dream big. Most tend to dissipate the energies and extinguish their dreams in the face of the heavy odds they encounter in life.

These books are an elixir of wisdom that serves to preserve the creative energies of our teenagers and use them more effectively for self-development. Readers learn how to turn their adversity into an opportunity and dispel gloom and hopelessness with courage and determination.

Fr Alfonso expounds on the universal principles of self help and takes special care to address them to the specific needs of the youth. He hits the nail on the head as he dissects the obstacles individuals may face in pursuing their dreams. These honest, conversational, stories light an instant fire in your soul and help you to be upfront with what you want from life. The hallmark of these books is the usage of real-life examples from men and women who have overcome insuperable odds in their own great lives. Each book is actually a follow-up book of the earlier one covering a vast range of themes including friendships, relationships, goal-setting, peer pressure, and so much more.

The stories and the issues handled are very hands-on and full of practical advices .You will learn the causes of mental clutter, how to change negative thoughts to positive ones, design strategies to cope with rocky relationships, how to identify what’s important to you, the importance of meditation, how to goal set, and much more.

The stories are interspersed with anecdotes and quotes of great leaders and learning from scriptures. In sum, the books are the finest quintessence of traditional and modern wisdom gleaned from vast amounts of literature that Fr Alfonso has read. He is now in his third term as editor of India’s most popular magazine for teenagers, “The Teenager Today”. Fr Alfonso has wielded the baton of editorship at different periods, taking time off between editorial responsibilities to test his ideas in the rugged realities of life.

He has harnessed his vast reading and training in spiritualism to delineate for the youth an essential blueprint for both worldly and otherworldly success. His spiritualism is not the spiritualism of the mountain caves but one that has to be practiced and lived in the hard realities of life. He talks of the problems afflicting the national polity –corruption, communalism and the many corrosions in the national character that have emaciated our public life and- and also weakened its vast creative potential.

Fr Alfonso has picked up the stories of so many ordinary individuals whose brave lives and crusading spirits serve as beacons of hope and also as models of responsible citizenship. He consistently exhorts the readers to raise their voice and pen against all forms of injustices. He draws on the lives of so many great men whose singular aim was to bring peace to warring societies. He culls out the principles and strategies that defined the lives and works of these reformers and demonstrates how every individual can make a difference to this world. In other words, he wants each one of us to be a change maker.

He talks about the ego and how to separate ourselves from it. His examples are not just hocus pocus; they really work and are something anyone can do. Whether your suffering is rooted in jealousy, anger, sadness grief, anxiety, frustration or depression, Fr Alfonso will help you see life from varied perspectives, examine its nuances and the finer grains, and awaken yourself to your life’s purpose .You will love to keep the book by your nightstands and flip the chapters when you’re feeling some excess baggage creep in and could use these lessons of wisdom for clearing the cobwebs in your own mind.

Instead of casting the books aside and letting them gather dust, you will prefer to mark out various suggestions and advices you responded to. They drive home the points Fr Alfonso makes through his writing. When you feel a dip in your confidence, going back to your entries will put a positive spin on your day and remind you why you should show yourself more self-love.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed with stress, worry, or anxiety, these powerful books will do their part in offering various techniques, tips, and tricks to cope with an a world which has too many slings arrows and quivers of outrageous fortunes that keep you at bay . Fr Alfonso wants to show the silver lines even in the bleak skies. From creating new habits (and ridding yourself of old ones) to overcoming fear and surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals is one of the best take-away from these books.

We can gift these books to our teenage son, daughter, niece, nephew, or grandchild. They’re the perfect keepsake to pass down to future generations of teens too. These books offer more than a sermon on the importance of living mindfully and in the moment. They help to keep your conscience as fresh and transparent as we can and provide the best recipe for our individual and collective salvation.

*Development expert

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