Review and Summary: Life Is in the Transitions

Life is in the Transitions book cover

We are all comparing ourselves to an ideal that no longer exists and beating ourselves up for not achieving it.

Life is in the Transitions by Bruce Feiler

Living life out of order sounds so underrated in the fast-paced world. Exposure to social media and seeing how our peer’s life then set it side by side with ours intensifies our insecurity. Most of us expect life works in a linear way which is the notable reason of our disappointment in life.

This book is based on Feiler research called The Life Story Project where he gathered 225 life stories belong to people from different background across fifty states in the United States. The stories were coded and analyse to identify the hardest life transitions up to the type of advice that helpful the most.

How Feiler builds narrative story of people’s lives from his project and place it in the perfect section is astounding that the reader will be easily immersed reading them throughout the book. I was stunned and inspired by the based-on-true stories—from changing professions to changing relationships; from losing careers to losing loved ones; getting sick to getting healthy and come back stronger than before.

The life story that Feiler collected, studied, and rewrote in this book affects the readers to not feeling lonely in our nonlinear experience of life. This book is belong to the kind of book that I would like to reread occasionally as a reminder that it is normal to have a life out of balance sometime then encourage to survive and thrive in times of upheaval.


‘Midlife crisis’ is an absurd term.

This terms is commonly used by youth aged 20s to 30s without knowingly how it is actually founded. Elliott Jaque is the founder of this concept which based on his literature study on the life of 310 men. There is not a single woman included in his study. He said that menopause blurred midlife transition so he didn’t count women in it.

That is more than enough reason to stop to use midlife crisis to define our chaos in life—asides that we could not really define when midlife should be happened because nobody knows how long our life would be.

Life challenge comes as two types: disruptor and lifequakes.

Feiler makes a distinction between different kind of challenge that comes into our life as disruptor and life quakes.

A disruptor happens occasionally in our daily life. The number of disruptor that we have to go through in our life will be more than we ever expect. It does not always mean negative because disorder in life liberate us and push us to choose and determine what calms us.

Lifequakes is a term to explain the phase where we have to face wreak havoc on our lives followed by years of emotional trauma. This phase will be followed by personal reflection, reevaluation, and identity revisit.

Seven tools for navigating life transitions

  • Accept it: identify your emotions
  • Mark it: ritualize the change
  • Shed it: give up old mind-sets
  • Create it: try new things
  • Share it: seek wisdom from others
  • Launch it: unveil your new self
  • Tell it: compose a fresh story

We don’t have to use all the tools above and those are not in sequence. We are free to pick and personalise the best tools that suit us.


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