Book Review: Death by Comfort by Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor is ex-military, Irish, and now a scientist. If I am going to listen to anyone, I am going to listen to Paul. And you should too.

Death by Comfort is Paul’s book on how our comfortable lives are killing us. Literally. And this is not speculation. This is fact, as evidenced by the reams of research Taylor has pulled together in this impressive little book.

The first thing that may surprise you is that the holy grail of 10,000 steps, the thing that you have been trying so hard to achieve since being gifted a step tracker for Xmas, is a myth. Or to be more precise, a marketing ploy. Learn how we have been hoodwinked into stepping our way to a figure that is not what we think it is.

That we are sleepwalking our way into a health catastrophe will not be news to you. Just go out for dinner and witness babies being “sedated” by iPads, and tables of couples, and families, “digitally connected, but socially separated.” A great term that encapsulates something that was also touched on by the writer Malcom Gladwell in a recent podcast.

This informative book has chapters on our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and shows why “sitting is the new smoking”. Leading to a chapter on exercise and why this really is the “magic pill”. Combining exercise with a healthy diet seems obvious, but how many of us consider how much processed food we eat? Reading the data may horrify you.

A chapter on stress informs us why a little is good, to motivate us, and a lot leaves us at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. And linked to this, Taylor talks about Jim Stockdale, a United States Vice Admiral who was incarcerated at the “Hanoi Hilton”, the now notorious prisoner of war camp in north Vietnam that housed POWs captured during the Vietnam/American war. Stockdale leant heavily on the works of Epictetus, and so does Taylor. After reading this book, I will be too.

Review by Fran Cormack, Agile Coach & Organisational Coach

Death by Comfort: How modern life is killing us and what we can do about by Paul Taylor is out now.

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