Bestselling author and physician Bernie Siegel calls this smorgasbord of stories, anecdotes, and short parables "a guidebook for the perplexed." Many of the inspirational lessons here come from his work with survivors of life-threatening illnesses. The trick is to use the difficulties and adversities in our lives as fertilizer for personal transformation. Something good can come out of the bad things that happen to us.

Siegel presents many vignettes on the spiritual practice of kindness. One idea is to constantly leave love notes for mates and other family members. Another is to encourage those who are closest to you; lift their spirits with positive words of praise. Siegel salutes the importance of giving and receiving love, forgiving wrongs, letting go of emotional pain, and making the most of the present moment.

One of the author's prescriptions for a long-lasting relationship is accepting the majority of responsibility — 60 percent. And a few of his ideas on successfully negotiating good times include: wear life loosely, marry yourself, prepare for hot spots, and give yourself a day of rest. Siegel's wisdom is eminently sensible and very practical.