Book Reviews

Life's Operating Manual

Tom Shadyac

Inspirational, Spirituality, New Thought


Just about everything today comes with an operating manual—from your computer to your car, from your cell phone to your iPad. Is it possible that Life comes with an operating manual, as well? That's ... More

Mar 13, 2015 abiolatv
Tom Shadyac had huge success as a director and Hollywood insider. He made the comedic blockbuster flicks “Evan Almighty” (I liked this movie!), “Bruce Almighty” and “Liar, Liar” among other films. He even had his own plane. Then he gave it all up and went from “Millionaire to Mobile Home” as Oprah described him on her show. His battle with post concussion syndrome left him depressed and over living. He decided that if he was going to die he needed to share his truth. His money and success were not helping him to heal.

Tom’s spiritual advice guide, Life’s Operating Manual, is a series of essays and dialogues with truth and fear.This book is unique and revolutionary yet simple and easy. Shadyac says that he is not a fan of the word “happiness.” His powerful approach of aligning oneself with the highest and best good, however, is a true and clear path. The book was hard to get into at first but the issue was me— not the book. I had to make a mindset adjustment. This is a philosophy tome. Life’s Operating Manual is a book about freedom from the myth that money and success are the key to happiness. Tom, like everyone of us, learned that he had it all along.
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Oct 15, 2013 kccam

I was interested in reading this book after watching the Movie, “I Am”. Tom Shadyac is a very successful film director. He has earned a great deal of money in the film industry as well as a lion’s share of fame and adulation. After a brush with death and a debilitating injury that lasted 5 months, he began to question the way in which he is living his life. Throughout the book, the reader understands that he was well aware of higher level spiritual teachings, but he had not integrated them into his daily life’s practice as evidenced by his own idea that he is living as a hypocrite.

The book switches between 2-4 page expositions of an idea or spiritual truth, sometimes coupled with a story or scientific evidence, followed by a dialogue between “truth” and “fear”. The stories are compelling, and the evidence is interesting. His education is robust, drawing on eastern and western spiritual ideas. I was most interested in the stories about his career and how he made the spiritual realizations come alive in his life. He fully understands the irony of a wealthy man, completely enmeshed in popular Hollywood culture, handing out spiritual truths. However, this is what is appealing about the book. It is one thing for a middle class person to publicly declare wealth is unevenly distributed and that this is not life-giving to the community, and it’s another thing altogether to hear the same message from the one who owns the wealth.

At first, the dialogue between ‘fear’ and ‘truth’ was disconcerting. Then I started to feel like I was at Thanksgiving dinner with crazy Uncle Ed, who was disagreeing with everything that was said. The dialogues are a great tool to presents arguments back to the devil’s advocate, the fear we all have, or even Crazy Uncle Ed.

This is a good book; well researched, and an easy read based on hard concepts. The book sparkles most when Mr. Shadyac talks about his own life in light of the spiritual truths he discovers.

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Aug 05, 2013 melissa6705
The book has a very unconventional and different opinion on life. Tom Shadyac is the director of many hilarious films...Bruce Almighty, Ace Ventura, etc. I would assume that his view on life is one with a sense of humor and it is but it is also very serious.

I do not agree with a lot of the things in the book BUT I do very much like how he presented the information. It takes the way the society views life and "The American Dream" then it presents it in a different view point. Many times in the book, he says "Make life the way you want it" or "You don't have to fit in" make your own decisions instead of letting society (life) make them for you. I loved the fear/truth dialogues through the entire book. It really make his point. I don't think the book would have been 1/2 as good if the dialogues weren't in the book. I wouldn't read this book twice but I think it was a 3 star book.

I was given this book by Hay House to give my honest review.
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Aug 03, 2013 ecardenas

It all started with a mountain bike accident that lead to a condition known as post concussion syndrome. For months, Tom Shadyac suffered the symptoms of a concussion. Awakened by deterioration of his health and his own suffering he declared, "I am staring at the last chapter of my life."

Once he surrendered to the thought that he would die, he then thought, "You cannot die without ever having told your story; you cannot die without having expressed who you truly are." And he lived to tell it.

The book is structured with an essay followed by a conversation or the Fear and Truth Dialogues.

Fear according to Tom Shadyac is the fearful wolf that "walks in anger, ego, envy, greed, resentment, and lies." And what advice do we get from him: bad advice, of course. Shadyac says that fear tells us, "You have to fit in! Don't rock the boat! Do a you're told!" The truth side to all this would be that which tells you to "seek the truth. Follow your heart. Let go."

"If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life, you doubt, as far as possible, all things." ~ René Descartes

Shadyac was lost in a culture of "greed, competition, power, prestige, and material happiness." Awakened to a vision and how the world works, his intention with this book was to "identify the primary cause of the world's ill and in so doing, to state the plainly the solution and empower each of us to be a part of this desperately needed corrective course."

From "broken economic woes to a battered educational system to waning happiness."

This is the result of the the current culture. The bottom line here being that that many individuals are asleep; unaffected by the truth that resides in us; the Divine Spark that each one of us has. The culture of society has become one where we need to aspire to becoming someone, to be the winner, to become happy with our material gains, to be independent, to have it all, which is a mere illusion. Shadyac reminds us that this is farther from the truth. Simply stated- We need not be someone. We already are someone.

What then could be the result or "solution" to the world's problems?

The answer is simple: love. This is what the world needs. We are all hardwired with it for it is what our Creator has given us.

To say that I highly recommend Life's Operating Manual by Tom Shadyac would be an understatement. If you ever read one more book in your life or one book in your life, then this would be the one.

Reseña del Libro Life's Operating Manual (Manual de Instrucciones de la Vida)

Todo empezó con un accidente de bicicleta de montaña que lo llevó a una afficción conocida como el síndrome de postconcusión. Durante meses, Tom Shadyac sufrió los síntomas de una conmoción cerebral. Despertado por el deteoriro de su salud y su propio sufrimiento, declaró, "Estoy mirando el último capítulo de mi vida."

Life's Operating Manual
Una vez que se resigno a la probabilidad de que podría morir, pensó, "No te puedes morir sin haber contado tu historia; no te puedes morir sin haber expresado la persona que eres." Y vivió para contarlo.

Life's Operating Manual, or Manual de Instrucciones de la Vida, está estructurado con un ensayo y una conversación, o los Diálogos del Miedo y la Verdad.

El Miedo en el caso de Tom Shadyac es el lobo temeroso que "camina en la furia, el ego, la codicia, el resentimiento y las mentiras." Y que consejo nos da: consejos malos, por supuesto. Según Tom, el miedo nos dice a todos, "¡Tienes que ser como el resto! ¡No causes problemas! ¡Haz lo que te digan!" El otro lado sería la verdad y es todo aquello que nos dijera "busca la verdad. Sigue tu corazón. Déjalo ser."

"Para investigar la verdad es preciso dudar, en cuanto sea posible, de todas las cosas, una vez en la vida." ~ René Descartes

Shadyac estaba perdido en una cultura de "codicia, competición, poder, prestigio y felicidad de lo material." Despertado por una visión de cómo funciona el mundo, su intención con este libro fue de "identificar la causa fundamental de los problemas del mundo y al hacer esto de indicar la solución y de empoderar cada uno de nosotros para ser parte de este camino correcto que es deseperadamente necesario."

De "problemas ecónomicos a un sistema educativo quebrado a la infelicidad."

Este es el resultado de nuestra cultura actual. Hay muchas personas que están "dormidos." O sea, no se ven afectados por la verdad que está dentro de nosotros. La Luz Divina que todos tenemos. La cultura, o nuestra sociedad, se ha convertido en lugar donde uno debe aspirar a llegar a ser una gran persona, ser el ganador, ser feliz con lo material, ser independiente, tenerlo todo y todo esto es una ilusión. Shadyac nos recuerda que esto está lejos de la verdad. Simplemente- nosotros no necesitamos ser alguien de importancia. Ya lo somos.

¿Entonces cuál es el resultado o la "solución" de nuestros problemas del mundo?

La respuesta es sencilla: el amor. Esto es lo que necesita el mundo. Todos estamos programados con ello porque es lo que nuestro Creador nos ha dado.

Se quedarían cortos si les dijera que les recomiendo Life's Operating Manual por Tom Shadyac. Si leen un libro más en sus vidas o si leen un libro en sus vidas tendría que ser este.

Recibí este libro gratis de la casa editorial Hay House para esta reseña. La opinión en este reseña es imparcial y refleja mi opinión honesta del producto.

I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

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Jul 27, 2013 Lead With Your Heart

This is the perfect book for anyone who is aware that our current world is not in a good place right now, but who is unsure of where to begin to address the issues. I had watched Tom Shadyac’s film, “I AM”, prior to reading the book, so I was somewhat familiar with his personal story and the scientists and theologians interviewed in the movie. He had a very successful and lucrative career as a Hollywood movie director. He had won the American Dream and then some. After several years of having a vague sense that there was more to life than fame and fortune, his life changed dramatically following a bicycle accident that left him with a concussion and rare side effects that lasted for months.

“Life’s Operating Manual” is a small book packed with information and insights. A few chapters cover ambition, agriculture and technology, stressing that they are in and of themselves, neutral. How we use them is the issue.

We have become a fear-based society, and as such are defensive and distrusting, guarding what we own, our way of life, and who we believe we are. This fear is producing a scarcity myth in which we feel the need to collect and protect more wealth and more stuff.

I was especially grateful that he included research findings in the book that human beings are not hard-wired for aggression, violence and selfishness. With the technology we now have available, scientists have been able to show that single cells learned to cooperate through experience, and became multi-celled organisms that also learned to cooperate. Our bodies are perfect examples of cooperation. Contrary to what most of us were taught in school, all of Nature thrives and survives through cooperation, not competition. What we see and hear on the endless loops of “news” in the media are the exceptions and not the rules of human behavior.
Each chapter of the book also contains dialogues between Fear and Truth, as the title implies. At times I found them to be a little distracting, but then also found myself thinking that they would be useful in discussions with others who tend to see the world in black and white terms.

I received this book free of charge from Hay House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing it.

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Jul 07, 2013 BookLover
Life's Operating Manual: With the Fear and Truth Dialogues by Tom Shadyac is a book of short essays and conversations between Fear and Truth. The book starts out with an old Native American legend about two wolves; one bad (fear), and the other good (truth). The author goes on to say that we each have two wolves inside us and which one wins depends on which wolf we feed, fear or truth.

In each chapter of the book the author focuses on different aspects of our lives and humanity as a whole and then has a dialogue at the end between fear and truth.

One of the main points of this book is that humans are not hardwired for competition, we are hardwired to live in cooperation with each other. The author also argues that we are not hardwired for negativity but rather to live positively and that is why we are so captivated with negativity in the news, because it goes against what comes naturally to us as human beings.

I found this book to be a quick, short, and easy read. I read it through all at once and could not put it down. My favorite part of the book was the dialogues between fear and truth at the end of each chapter. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to challenge their current world view.

I acknowledge that I received this book free from Hay House in exchange for my unbiased opinion of the book.
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Jun 30, 2013 HollyValley
Only this: love is how things work
~Tom Shadyac, Life’s Operating Manual

In his 2012 documentary, I AM, Tom Shadyac poses a simple question: “what is wrong with our world, and what can we do to fix it?” The title of the film suggests the answer to the question- our collective consciousness, our shared humanity, our love for one another has the power to heal the planet. We just have to allow it. Similarly, in his new book, Life’s Operating Manual, Shadyac suggests that seemingly elusive instructions for life lie within each one of us, we just have to be willing to open our eyes, minds and hearts to the remembrance of the most important piece of the puzzle of life- love.

Part personal journey, part inner dialogue and wholly affirming, Life’s Operating Manual presents compelling scientific breakthroughs, poignant personal narrative and a wealth of knowledge from the world’s most enlightened leaders, poets and sages. All come to the same conclusion- love is more than simple sentiment; it is at the core of who we are and at the center of all we do. By embracing this truth at its most basic individual level, we can begin to change our world- person-by-person, decision-by-decision.

Through careful examination of issues like public education, the advent of agriculture and its impact on the world’s food supply and the distribution of wealth, Shadyac delivers a powerful message: don’t take more than you need, if you find yourself with too much, give some of it away and always, without question, remain true to your inner source of light. If all the people of the world would adhere to this loving notion of connection, rather than a fearful notion of disconnection, the planet will begin to heal in miraculous ways.

Using the “Fear and Truth” dialogues as a vehicle for this connection, Shadyac shows readers that love always triumphs and “even the slightest change can have an infinite impact.” One has to imagine, as Life’s Operating Manual draws to a close, the impact just one “slightest change” in each individual can have on a planet 7 billion people strong.

Life’s Operating Manual is a definite “must read.”

I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for review purposes.
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Jun 10, 2013 timlarison

Tom Shadyac had it made by conventional standards. A successful Hollywood director whose films had grossed nearly two billion, Shadyac led a life of luxury and fame. “I flew privately everywhere and anywhere I pleased. I bought expensive houses, antiques, and old masters’ paintings at Sotheby’s auctions, and paid tens of thousands of dollars for authentic Persian rugs,” he recalls. Then a near fatal bike accident caused him to reevaluate his priorities and human nature in general. Shadyac shares his insights in his new book, Life’s Operating Manual, a worthy followup to his “I Am” documentary on a similar theme.

“Our culture keeps us so busy counting money and material possessions, focusing our attention on status symbols and skewed definitions of success, that our own happiness, anchored in family, community, creativity, simplicity, and service – is passing us by,” Shayac writes. In Life’s Operating Manual Shayac contends that people are basically good, that cooperation, not competition, is the natural state in the animal world, and that our current society is out of alignment with these fundamental truths. This stance will no doubt draw criticism. Shayac addresses the naysayers in a creative way through a series of “fear” and “truth” dialogs at the end of each chapter. For example, this exchange is included after a chapter on cooperation:

“FEAR: Ah, yes. Just what the world needs, another socialist who wishes to redistribute wealth.

TRUTH: I do not wish to redistribute wealth; I wish to redefine it. When people understand that true wealth is found not in the accumulation of things, but in the advancement of love, wealth will redistribute itself.”

I thought the fear/truth dialogs were effective in summarizing the main points of each chapter while answering any doubts a skeptical reader may have.

I also liked Shadyac’s message to all of us of charging what we need for our services, earning a fair return, without getting as much as we can. “Whether in the grocery or garment industry, in education or entertainment, we are all encouraged, even expected, to charge the highest price for a good or service the market will bear,” he writes. I was moved by Shadyac’s example of St Judes Children’s Research Hospital as an organization that doesn’t overcharge and exists to genuinely serve humanity. “No cancer-stricken child should be denied treatment, regardless of ability to pay,” is the hospital’s motto.

“Society’s so screwed up because we’re so screwed up,” the author writes. “But what if this story about our inherent defects is just that – a story? What if we are actually good in our nature, divinely designed so, hardwired to help and to love?” Is it realistic to expect society to change from a competitive “me first” attitude to the utopia Shadyac envisions? Perhaps not. If the change Shadyac hopes for is to become a reality, it will happen one person at a time. Reading Life’s Operating Manual caused me to reevaluate my priorities, and I think it will do the same for you.

I received a complementary copy of this book from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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May 30, 2013 hhreviewer2

Life's Operating Manual by Tom Shadyac is a book that rips away the veil and forces the reader to face the truth: that everything Western society believes - the Amercian Dream, the empty promises of money and success - is all a myth. A terrible myth that may very well be destroying us at the soul level.

After I finished Life's Operating Manual I felt as though I had just experienced something so incredibly profound. I don't know that my world view was necessarily shaken, but much of what I have becoming to know as truth on my own was painfully and wondrously validated. The author, however, leaves you with, after the knowing, what do you do about it?

If anybody is looking to find answers at the end of Life's Operating Manual they most likely will not find them. Instead, Tom Shadyac has posed questions, weaving them throughout. More than likely you will be filled with more questions than answers but, as the author points out, it is our path to make for ourselves. Nobody else can guide us on our own journey but us.

What I probably found most comforting was that he pointed out that it took him 10 to 15 years after the knowing to finally reach where he is today. It is a slow path to enlightenment.

The book itself is a relatively short, easy read broken out into chapters which include quotes, an expansion on Tom Shadyac's ideas, and dialogue between his own truth and fear. The author suggests that it is fear which keeps so many of us from knowing and acknowledging the truth.

I can't express enough how life changing this book truly is. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to take a step further into their knowing of the truth about life.

This is my review of Life's Operating Manual by Tom Shadyac. I acknowledge that I received this book free from Hay House Publishing to review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment.

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May 22, 2013 alpha_andy_omega

You definitely want to read this book. Life's Operating Manual is so engaging I read it in one sitting. I'm finding it hard not to gush over this one, it really grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Mr. Shadyac makes an incredible argument that competition is not our natural state. If we were hardwired for fighting, then he points out, our systems would flourish under those conditions. Of course the opposite is true, and stress is the number one killer of modern man. We never truly own anything, so why do we strive so hard to get more and more? To lead a simpler, more compassionate life makes a lot more sense than the direction most of us are heading. The fear/truth dialogue technique at the end of each chapter is pretty darn cool. It's an amazing way of taking each idea further, and bouncing it back and forth, while viewing it from every possible angle. I first heard of Tom Shadyac when he was a guest on my favorite internet radio show, Whitley Strieber's Dreamland ( That interview led me to see his film "I Am", which was absolutely brilliant. This book goes much deeper into his philosophy, and his amazing story of how he went from directing blockbuster motion pictures to finding true happiness. Even though I have slightly differing views on God and "The Secret", I have to say this book blew me away.

I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for review purposes.

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