With an M.B.A. as well as an M.D., Sanjay Jain has written the type of book that you’d imagine coming from a physician who thinks in business terms. Optimal Living 360 is smart at times, if short on science and substance, and intends to help readers make sound decisions across a wide range of everyday areas, to improve their behavior, and to live well.
Due to Jain’s business background, he frequently uses the acronym ROI: Return on Investment. If you invest time or energy in a particular aspect of life, such as good nutrition, for instance, your “return” will be improved physical health.
There is other jargon in the book as well, such as Core Asset Protection Strategies, or CAPS — ways to protect our core assets in areas including safety, health, intellect, relationships, finances, and spirituality.
Jain writes that he has purposely crammed a lot into one text so that readers can pick and choose what to focus on. Because of the tremendous breadth of topics, however, the book doesn’t have great depth. Jain defends this move, in a way, suggesting that we don’t need to become experts or “superstars” in any one aspect of improving our lives. Perhaps the business world’s Pareto Principle, also known as the “80:20 Rule,” is in effect here: The notion that the bulk of our results come from our initial efforts in just a few key areas.
But with somewhat superficial treatment of many important subjects, who is this book for? For one, high schoolers would do well to read Jain’s useful tips. We often hear that young people need to learn about checkbooks and cooking before they leave for college; the same can be said of relationships, safety, and and health.
The book could also provide value to an adult who feels out of balance in their daily living. It is so full of accessible, common-sense advice, rather than imposed rigid behaviors or sacrifices we’re told we should make, that its pointers can perhaps help one get back on track.
However, one blind spot in Jain’s approach is his idea that it is not difficult to have a terrific life. Here, he seems a bit sheltered. In fact, living well can be a very challenging proposition for those who have serious barriers to overcome, such as physical or mental health issues, lack of education, or poor role models. It is clear that his audience is a more narrow one.
I enjoyed the book’s ability to remind me about simple, solid advice. Overall, though, it likely doesn’t provide enough substance for most readers.
Optimal Living 360: Smart Decision Making for a Balanced Life
Greenleaf Book Group Press, February, 2014
Hardcover, 248 pages