Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 30 July 2010 00:00
“[To] the outside observer, my life looks pretty remarkable. I’m a doctor—-a neurologist—-and a good one….I earn a handsome salary. I starred on the nation’s number one television show—-the final season of Survivor….Millions of Americans watched me each week as I reported important health news on a major television network…I have my own radio show. I’ve dated kind, spectacular, and brilliant women. I have a wonderful family, devoted friends....[Along] the way I’ve managed to change several lives—-and I’ve saved a few too. Sounds pretty good, right?”
So writes Massapequa native Sean Kenniff, MD in his latest book, Stop Effing Yourself: A Survivor’s Guide To Life’s Biggest Screw Ups, published by Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield, FL.
But not all was well with Kenniff’s world. For beginners, he had serious money problems. “I owed the IRS some money—-okay, make that a lot of money,” he admits. Further, his romantic life was “in shambles.” He was gaining weight, spending too much time drinking beer with his buddies, his body was hurting in “weird places” and above all, he wasn’t sleeping well.
Not only that, Kenniff, during the recession of 2008-2009, lost his job as a health reporter for CBS News.
For that first trauma, Kenniff went back to work and wrote a novella, Etre The Cow, about a French bull at fictional Gorwell Farm.
Now, the Massapequa native has followed that fictional effort with a hard-hitting self-help book, one that is long on hard work and short on self-pity.
In addition to offering a way out of bad habits, the book is confessional. Despite his success on a top-rated television show, Kenniff acknowledges his own failures.
“For years, I chose to spend out of control, and I failed to save money or invest it wisely,” Kenniff relates. I chose to work long hours….I failed to nurture important friendships. I failed to prioritize a healthy diet and exercise plan…And time after time when I was given opportunities to improve my situation, I either failed to act, or I chose actions that would make it harder for me to achieve my goals.”
And so, the theme of the book. Americans may be obese or unhappy in their day jobs. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Old-fashioned hard work and persistence can both drag people out of their depression and into a world of health, happiness, and longevity.
Much of Kenniff’s recommendations focus on the usual health concerns. But for starters, he does not recommend a diet plan—-or even joining a gym. In fact, he notes, obesity and fitness gym memberships seem to rise at the same time and to the same levels. Celebrities who boast about losing weight through a certain diet program admit, later on, to gaining that same weight back.
Instead, adults need to be active in their daily lives: Exercise, walks, gardening, sports such as tennis, plus housework both indoors and outdoors work much better than gym membership. To deal with stress, Kenniff recommends listening to music, taking naps, smelling the roses (literally), washing with soap and spending time with family members, the latter also being a main theme of the book.
To improve personal relationships, Kenniff recommends that young adults become good listeners rather than talking about themselves. There are also money matters. Until recent decades, Americans saved up to 11 percent of their incomes. That number has dropped significantly, but Kenniff offers timely advice on how to save funds usually spent on housing, transportation, food, clothing, and utilities, while also building an emergency fund for unexpected costs, such as physical ailments. In keeping with the theme of the book—-recklessness in all aspects of one’s life—-he implores against “brainless buys,” such as snacks, coffee, alcohol, designer clothes, valet parking, and brand-new technology.
When it comes to work, Kenniff is equally firm. While Americans in large numbers complain about their jobs, their careers, and their bosses, Kenniff is having none of it. Workers, instead, are advised to practice the Benjamin Franklin Doctrine: Arrive early and leave late, become a leader on the job, and plot a results oriented strategy.
Kenniff agrees with those who maintain that dressing well can improve both your work and your standing with workers and superiors. Maintain also a clean desk, while acting professionally with fellow workers (i.e., don’t hold grudges against employees), the author advises. While Kenniff advises against spending money on unnecessary technology, he also advises that workers learn and master the newest technologies. In fact, being resourceful, an “expert” in your field will allow for a productive work life.
“Live humbly, love extravagantly,” is how Kenniff ends his missive. The book is typically American in that making money the honest way does nothing to hurt one’s health or personal life.