Book titles can be challenging for an author. In a noisy world where everyone is competing for people’s attention, how do you distill the essence of a 300 page book into a title and strapline of just a few words? And do so in a way that makes a reader want to pick the book up or click for more?
I am well aware that store shelves are heaving with books on mindfulness and meditation. At first glance they may seem to cover the same ground. But as a mindfulness teacher, I realised that none of them provided a lucid account not only of the stress management benefits of meditation, but also of the many other physical and psychological benefits. An explanation of why mindfulness, coupled with cognitive behaviour training can profoundly shift our inner narrative from a negative to a positive trajectory. And most important of all, an account of what exactly mind is, and the nuts and bolts of how we can experience our own true nature.
Grappling with a way to package together these diverse themes, I came up with all kinds of possible titles. The problem was, they took themselves too seriously. And there are plenty of worthy but dull titles out there already.
Mindfulness is Better than Chocolate suddenly bubbled up in my mind, appealing mainly because it is playful and provocative (“Oh no it isn’t!” I could hear people protest immediately. “What nonsense is this? I have to read more …”)
Some weeks after coming up with the title I was at the gym where, over the years, I have discovered many parallels between mind training and physical training, duly shared in the book. No doubt it was an excess of endorphins after a particularly vigorous workout which saw me return home and share my latest brainwave:
‘I’ve had a new idea for the title,’ I told my wife, who was working on her laptop. ‘Mindfulness is Better than Sex.’
She looked at me with that expression of patient indulgence that women use when their partners present them with a particularly ludicrous idea. (Or am I the only one?)
‘I thought,’ she said after a while, ‘that your readers are mostly middle-aged women?’
‘They are.’ I agreed.
‘Well then,’ she shrugged, as though the answer was obvious. ‘You’re much better off sticking with chocolate.’
As it happened, when researching the book further I discovered a separate, scientific basis for my wife’s argument. I didn’t tell her about it – of course – but it’s there in the book if you choose to read it!
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