Preeti Shenoy’s new book The Magic Mindset is a striking departure in her legacy. In the new inventive book, the bestselling author chooses to look beyond the Internet’s favourite word “positivity” and instead preaches an alternate approach — Magic Mindset, an encompassing attitude where one embraces all that life has to offer.
Over an email conversation, Preeti dissected the meaning of magic mindset, the importance of grieving and what she seeks to achieve with the book. One pandemic and several lockdowns later, mental health has taken the centerstage in conversations, reinstating the importance of her new book. Excerpts:
The narrative structure is interactive. You also write that one need not read it chronologically. How did you come up with such a design?
The book is divided into four parts: Part 1: Understanding the Magic Mindset, Part 2: Practising the Magic Mindset, Part 3:Sustaining the Magic Mindset, Part 4: The Magic Mindset 14 day Challenge.
Most self-help books are ‘heavy’. What I mean by ‘heavy’ is that they have a lot of theory. While we read it, we understand it, but it’s hard to make it a part of our life. Sometimes it is impossible to follow. Then what happens is that we read the book, feel good for a brief period and forget about it.
I wanted to write a book which could be a part of our daily lives. I wanted to give little steps that anyone can take, in order to make small changes. To do this, I broke down the four major areas which people usually have a problem with—health, relationships and finances. In addition to this, there are many other problems which many of us struggle with—like not being able to say no to others, not being able to deal with attitude of people in their family or in their close circles, being on social media but finding it draining etc. Once I identified these stressors, the structure of the book became clear in my head.
Also the book isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’. In order for it to be relevant to the person who was using it, I wanted them to modify the suggestions in the book, according to their needs. For them to do that, I wanted them to think a little, reflect and identify the problem. This is what a therapist does. That’s how I came up with simple exercises integrated into the chapters which the readers can do. Once they do that, they are inadvertently practising what they are reading about.
This book is meant for anyone who needs a little pick-me-up. It wasn’t an easy book to write, so I am delighted about the very positive feedback that I am receiving.
You write about ‘magic mindset’ stating that it is more inclusive than positivity, which, in your own words, “leaves no room for sadness”. How important is it to grieve in the process of moving on? And do we, in the haste to be positive, undermine it?
Positivity had become a very overused term and I think most of us are in a hurry to ‘feel better’. We don’t want to face our pain. But it is extremely important to grieve for a loss—no matter how small it is. We have to process the grief, allow it to flow through us, and learn to sit with it, make peace with it. This isn’t easy to do. But tiny actions that we take each day can help us, process it. That’s what the Magic Mindset does—help you take small steps to get your control (and in the process your joy) back.
A lot of this magic mindset is reliant on being hopeful in the face of adversity. How difficult was it to practise this in a time like this when we are surrounded by such dreaded hopelessness? To be hopeful is to have something to live for. It is integral to living a fulfilling life. It is important to ‘have something to hold on to’. The Magic Mindset is not just a ‘messiah of hope’ nor does it rely heavily on being merely hopeful, while ignoring the ground realities . It gives the principles and it also gives the steps we can take to get there. It recognises where we are, and it outlines a roadmap for us to take. When I spoke to people , I realised that my outlook on things was different. I was doing many things which were helping me cope with adversity. This is a way of life for me. I have been doing it for many years now, and I have shared all of it in the book.
You mention writing a blog after your father’s death. How therapeutic was it to write the book?
After my fathers’ death in 2006, I started a blog which I still write in, though not as regularly as I did back then. The blog helped me connect to people all over the world. I’ve made friends from places as far as Sao Paulo and Iceland as I was sharing bits of my life, very genuinely and people found an emotional connect with my writing. The most popular blog posts were adapted into a book ‘Love a Little Stronger’, many years later. Blogging was therapeutic for me.
But writing the book wasn’t therapeutic at all! The book was written in 2020 and 2021, amidst a raging pandemic. When I write fiction, I can ‘escape’ into the world of my characters. I can ‘be elsewhere’. For this book, I had to travel to those places inside my head which were painful to revisit. I did this because I wanted to share what worked for me. This book was very hard to write.
The Magic Mindset marks a watershed moment in your legacy as an author. It is vastly different from your other books. Were you consciously thinking of writing a book that would be part memoir and part self-help?
It is indeed vastly different from my other books, because it is a non-fiction self-help book, a genre I thought I would never write. I wouldn’t call it a part memoir at all. While I have shared incidents from my life , I have consciously done that because I wanted people to know what worked and didn’t work for me. I have read a lot of books in Manifestation, and I have tried everything written in those books. I have shared instances of things that worked, because I have benefitted from them.
I also have given a lot of real life stories like Ellen Langer’s social experiment where she demonstrated that thoughts were so powerful they could even reverse ageing. I speak about Bhavesh Bhatia who is visually challenged. I have given many such instances where people overcame extreme adversities because of their mindset. They are unknown people, and I gathered their stories, shared what they did. All of these stories elucidate the principles I mention and make it easy for people to understand what I am talking about.
Is there anything you want to achieve with this book?
I would definitely like it if it spreads joy, helps people in their daily life and they feel good after reading the book. It is a book you can come back to, again and again. I would like the book to be a ‘trusted friend’. I am glad I wrote this book, because it is something very genuine—a legacy which I can leave for my own two children, when I am no longer in this world. It is a ‘practical guide to a happier life’. I would like it if people benefit from it.