by Miriam Knight May 10, 2015
“Switch On” provides intelligent tools for understanding and overcoming the barriers to thriving in a climate of rapid change and uncertainty. Nick Jankel synthesizes his formidable knowledge of psychology and philosophy, biology and business, to explain how experiences, especially from early childhood, create habits of thought and behavior that become hard-wired in our brains and by-pass our conscious control. In a breezy style attuned to Gen-Xers and Millennials, he describes the roots of the problems and self-sabotaging reaction patterns that lead to stress and despair. With just enough science to inform but not confuse, he explains the psychological and biochemical mechanisms that literally anchor doubts and fears in our mind-body, that lead us to switch off to avoid pain and unpleasant emotions, and give up on our dreams in the process. Once we can recognize what we’re doing to ourselves, we can reverse the process and start reclaiming our life force and switch on to the full creative essence of our being.
The book is simple, without being simplistic, and cleverly illustrated with graphics and typography. For example, the J-shaped curve that describes the 10 stages of the breakdown-breakthrough process drives home the point that things usually have to get pretty painful before we are motivated enough to change. On the downward slope of the J are the problems, patterns and pain that got us to the point of wanting to change. At the bottom we have the point of presence, where we open our minds to the reality of our situation and come to terms with it. Once you come to terms with it you can choose to “metabolize” this problem, as Jankel says, using it to fuel your upward drive to a resolution. You also have the choice not to do anything, which leaves you wallowing in the status quo. The choice to deal with it, to recognize it for what it is, open your mind to the possibility of alternatives, and then to act on it, is what propels you on the upward slope to resolution and power and possibility.
If it were easy to make the right choices, the world would be a different place. However, the insights, thoughts for contemplation, and tools Jankel provides help bring clarity and understanding to how our personal defense mechanisms are working; and as they say: the truth will set you free. By recognizing when and why we go into fear and protection mode, and consciously moving towards connection with source, we can stop cringing and get creative. Being a generation or two older, I was surprised to find how much I resonated with this book. (Note to publisher: being nearsighted I was actually able to read the teeny print, but it was a challenge!) The advice, which sounds hip and contemporary, reverberates with the wisdom of millennia.
Echoing the great wisdom teachers, he calls us to recognize our interconnectedness, and notes that we are innately wired for compassion, not for greed and indifference. In fact our greatest rush comes from oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that floods in when we feel love and connection, and know that we're doing good in the world. Yes, it takes effort, but the alternatives are leading us off a cliff. So, whether you’re a Gen-Xer in a soul-destroying job, a millennial who can’t find a job at all, or a boomer who will never be able to retire, you will find inspiration and guidance in this book on how to take your destiny - and the planet’s - into your own hands. This is the time to switch on and Nick Jankel is a wisdom teacher for this time.