Peaks and Valleys by Spencer Johnson

Review by Alain Burrese

Spencer Johnson has done very well for himself by taking simple lessons and sharing them in short stories. It is not surprising that USA Today called him “The King of Parables.” “Peaks and Valleys: Making Good And Bad Times Work For You – At Work And In Life” is Johnson’s newest parable, and like those before it, this book contains more than meets the eye.

The book is short, only 99 pages, and some of those contain only one quote. And like his other books, it is a smaller formatted hardcover. However, despite its length, there are some practical pearls of wisdom that if applied will make one’s life more positive. It would be easy to dismiss this book as too simple, or too easy. After all, in the text Johnson refers to the story as common sense. But how many people actually apply the simple lessons of life? Treat others as you want to be treated is a universal lesson found throughout history, but do people actually apply it? Some do of course, but so many don’t.

Often, we spend countless hours, sometimes even lifetimes, searching for some profound truth or magic moment that will enlighten us and make all of our troubles disappear and success and riches materialize in abundances we only dream about. While searching for the complicated, we sometimes fail to listen to the simple. We forget what we know. We don’t apply the lessons we do learn because we are too busy looking for something greater.

What I like about “Peaks and Valleys” and the other books by Spencer Johnson is that they remind us of the simple, and encourage us to apply these simple lessons to our own lives. One of the lessons in “Peaks and Valleys” is to imagine yourself enjoying a better future in such specific, believable detail, that you soon enjoy doing what takes you there. This is not new. Earl Nightengale taught the same lesson in his “Strangest Secret.” Nightengale taught “We become what we think about most of the time.” Others have taught variations of this, and it is so simple that it is often overlooked.

Just because I have heard variations of this lesson before does not mean I didn’t enjoy it here. Like the young man in this book, I too forget these lessons at times, especially when the hustle and bustle and stresses of today’s world seem to overwhelm at times. The short time it took me to read “Peaks and Valleys” was a relaxing reminder of some important concepts that when followed make life better.

I would encourage anyone to take a little time for yourself, find a relaxing place, and enjoy this short parable by Spencer Johnson. Then take a little longer to assess how you can apply the lessons from this story to your own life. If you do, you just might find yourself enjoying more Peaks and realize your Valleys are not as bad as you thought.

Alain Burrese, J.D. is a mediator/attorney with Bennett Law Office P.C. and an author/speaker through his own company Burrese Enterprises Inc. He teaches people to live with the warrior’s edge through his writing and speaking on a variety of topics focusing on the business areas of negotiation and success principles as well as self-defense and safety topics. He is the author of Hard-Won Wisdom From the School of Hard Knocks, several instructional dvds, and numerous articles. You can find out more about Alain Burrese at his websites  and

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Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.