Thursday, June 20, 2013

Disrupting the Rabblement

Disrupting the Rabblement: Think  For Yourself, Face Your Fears, Live Your Dreams, and Piss off some Zombies
© 2012 Niall Doherty
~138 pages

There are those who live, and those who simply exist. The majority of people, the rabblement, simply exist, and it's Niall Doherty's mission in life to wake them up, or failing that, to at least ruffle their feathers. Looking to live life more abundantly, Doherty left the trappings of ordinary living behind: he's traveling across the world with his every possession in a 42 liter backpack, and occasionally posts from internet cafes to ask provocative questions and offer advice for better living. Disrupting the Rabblement is an extension of his blog; more than a collection of posts, but not quite a book in its own right. It reads more like an anthology than a cohesive book, but one certainly of interest.

In Disrupting the Rabblement, Doherty calls for readers to ask themselves probing questions to suss out what they really want out of life, to establish their values and then to boldly compare the life they live now, their actions, to their ideals. He suggests practices, like freethought and minimalism, that help people to sort out what is real and what is important from what is assumed, and what we only think is important. This is followed by advice on how to begin creating a more fulfilling life, and here Doherty draws partially from Stoicism, with frequent references to Buddha; he suggests people reflect on and engage their fears.  There are proper reasons to be afraid, of course: it is probably wise to resist that urge to pet the jaguar at the zoo. But why not say hello to the astonishingly interesting girl at the bar?  Sure, people may not respond to us as we wish, but most of the time, the potential rewards far outweigh the potential consequences. One of the more useful sections here is his guide to establishing habits that allow people to learn new skills and wean themselves off of destructive behaviors while establishing healthy ones.

Although I wouldn't go so far as to call Disrupting the Rabblement a book, its informality doesn't diminish from the accuracy of Doherty's observations or the usefulness of his advice, especially considering that he really does practice what he preaches: while writing this, Doherty was a vegetarian, something he adopted after a thirty-day trial. In recent months, however, he has left the vegetarian diet, and done so after subjecting some of his assumptions to scrutiny. He's not afraid to court unpopularity (one wonders if he's ever read the Cynics):  his recent blog and video on quitting vegetarianism have caused quite a stir.

If these ideas interest you, I would suggest  watching some of his videos (like "What would it take to change your mind?")  or reading his posts to get an idea as to whether or not they would be worth your while. I found Doherty accidentally, while looking for videos on simple living, I discovered his "What Minimalism Is Not".  I enjoy his videos, and so figured the $3 ebook would be worth it; and, though I wish it was meatier, worth it it was.  It's not offered as a 'real' book.

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