Friday, April 20, 2007

Book review: Anatomy of Peace

My latest favorite non-fiction book is The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict by The Arbinger Institute. The Arbinger Institute was founded by C. Terry Warner, an emeritus professor of philosophy at Brigham Young University and author of The Bonds that Make Us Free (another favorite of mine).

Anatomy of Peace is a fascinating look at the dynamics of interpersonal relationships and self deception. My interest in the concept of self deception was renewed recently by an article published at Meridian Magazine: Letting Go of Self Deception. This excellent essay caused me to reflect on some of the ways that I lie to myself in an effort to justify my behavior when I know I've done wrong. I expect that all mortals do it to one extent or another. Those that don't are either in denial or deluded. :)

I began to search for more information about this phenomenon, and found The Anatomy of Peace at my local library. It was also published in serialized form on Meridian Magazine. You can access the index of chapters from this page. It is written as a story, which makes for very easy reading and learning of the concepts. It explores the idea that individuals are responsible for their own actions, including their own feelings, and therefore have the power to free their relationships with others from negativity.

I saw myself in the pages of this book. It was uncomfortable to realize how pervasive self-deception is in my life. It affects thoughts, feelings, and interactions with everyone I come in contact with, most particularly my family. By reading this book, I learned not only what I was doing wrong, but practical, usable methods for improving. It gave me a lot of hope. When I am able to remember and apply the methods, things go smoother, and most importantly, I feel much more at peace.

We all have heard that it is futile to change someone else; the only person we can change is ourself (ourselves? any grammar gurus please help me out here). While I agree with that sentiment, I have always struggled to apply it in a practical way. This book showed me how.

I wish everyone would read this book. When I remember to apply the principles, things seem to go more smoothly at home and in public. I feel much more peaceful and charitable toward others. It has literally been an epiphany for me. If anyone has or does read this, I would love to discuss it!


  1. Thanks for a great review, when I finish the book I am on now I will try to read this next.
    I read recently a book Aunt Shauna recommended called the Peacegiver. I was an amazing book that helped me look at the atonement in a whole new way. Basically the author looks at a few different stories in the scriptures and how we can better apply principles learned from them. The bottom line, if we truly believe the atonement, then we believe that eventually the Saviour will make up to us for any wrong we suffer in this life. Therefore we can more easily forgive others when they wrong us because we know that the Savior will make it right. This was a way of looking at it that I had never thought of before. I don't know if this is even making any sense. Just read the book.

  2. Lisa there is a little blurb about your book and my book in the spring BYU alumni magazine page 51. Check it out if you haven't already seen it.

    Also this topic makes me think of a quote that my institute teacher says sometimes. It goes like this: "People who are deceived, don't know their deceived, or they wouldn't be, would they?"

  3. Great review!!! I will have to pick it up. I am sure I will enjoy it and that my life will be better because of it. :)