‘Shining Brightly’ Foreword by Dr. Robert J. Wicks: ‘Learn anew about the American Dream’

EDITOR’S NOTE—Just in time for Rosh Hashanah, we are publishing one of the most inspiring books our team has had the pleasure to prepare. With the release of Shining Brightly by Howard Brown, we’re all thinking: New Year? New Hope! In the weeks leading up to that launch, we also are going to take readers inside our publishing house for glimpses of the many ways we share such good news with the world. This week, for example, we are publishing the book’s Foreword by best-selling author and psychologist Dr. Robert J. Wicks. And, over in our Front Edge Publishing website this week, we are sharing a sample email we encourage authors to send to their readers to build excitement about a new book. If you care to help in spreading this good news into the world, please start right now by visiting Amazon and pre-ordering your copy.



By Dr. Robert J. Wicks

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

From the opening story in Shining Brightly there are teachings that are both simple and difficult. Filled with tradition and insight, Howard Brown shares stories not only about the persons he describes but, upon reflection, about ourselves and our stories of life. He speaks about the koans (puzzles that have no right or wrong answers) all of us face, the dangers we must confront, and the ultimate decisions we must make each day—sometimes without knowing it!

The lessons in this book stand out even more because the author is not a mental health professional, professor or in ministry. Instead, he is an “educator of life” in the wisdom tradition of mentorship. To accomplish his goals, he communicates through the lives of people that might have lived next door to us as a volunteer fireman, truck driver or as exotic as a war correspondent. In his vivid and colorful description of them, Brown regales us with stories that make us reflect on the relationships in our own lives and even the ongoing developing relationship we have with ourselves.

In this book, we learn anew about the “American dream” in ways that reflect the character of young and seasoned persons alike who live humbly and share wisdom that allows others to flourish as well. They are persons who enjoy a challenge, love the freedom of independence while simultaneously respecting the import of interdependency. Such persons see themselves as a part of nature and are sensitive to the dangers when they are—even in their minds—apart from it. Moreover, as adults, the “street sages” in this book who walked with Howard Brown, and now journey with us if we let them, model, rather than simply speak about, ways we can impact the young who are the future of America and the world.

In Shining Brightly, Brown’s stories and guidance also help us to meet suffering and uncertainty in new ways. In the pages and chapters that follow, his own story of confronting death is one we now refer to as an example of “post-traumatic growth” (PTG). This occurs when someone facing serious stress or trauma actually deepens as a result of it in ways that would not have been possible had the trauma or stress not happened in the first place. It is very similar to what for ages was known as “the spirituality of suffering” in which the person did not seek the undesirable, play it down, or romanticize it, but was also open to where such frightening events might take them. In other words, they did not see darkness as the final word but possibly the first step in new meaning-making and personal depth.

This new sense of perspective on life, as you will read further on, indicates that it is not the amount of darkness in the world or even in yourself that ultimately matters. It is how you stand in this darkness that turns out to be crucial going forward. As you will also sense in the words of Howard Brown and others, humility—which is not very popular today—is a key element in dealing with vulnerability and fostering resilience.

With a healthy attitude, the author also notes that we shouldn’t be surprised by failure or get discouraged by it because of our ego, but instead to expect it. This is not a defeatist stance but a realistic one because statistically the more you are involved in life, the more you will miss the mark at times. Instead, we are called to energetically march on with respect, compassion, integrity, perseverance, a sense of intrigue and hope.

A contemporary of Jesus, Rabbi Tarfon once said, “The day is short, the work is great, the laborers are sluggish, the wages are high, and the Master of the house is insistent. It is not your duty to finish the work, but you are not free to neglect it.” Ultimately for me, that was one of the messages I took from this book.

Brown, who casts himself like one of his role models, Roger Babson, is truly an “angelic troublemaker” in this work. He seeks to have us face our lives with complete clarity and kindness. Much good can be gained from reading and reflecting or even meditating over its contents. However, in the end, Shining Brightly is more like an unstructured projective device such as the ink blot (Rorschach) projective personality test. What you make of it and take from it will say more about you than the challenging themes and enchanting stories it contains.

And so, in the following journey you are about to take, I wish you well. How you respond will determine which fork in the road you take.


Dr. Robert J. Wicks received his doctorate in psychology from Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital and is Professor Emeritus, Loyola University Maryland. Dr. Wicks has lectured on the importance of resilience, self-care, the prevention of secondary stress, and maintaining a healthy perspective in 20 different countries around the world as well as at the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Divinity School and on Capitol Hill to members of Congress. He has written and edited dozens of books, including Bounce: Living the Resilient Life and Riding the Dragon: 10 Lessons for Inner Strength in Challenging Times.




Care to learn more?

This is a perfect moment to become one of Howard’s growing global community of friends by ordering your copy of his book.

Here are other articles we have published, exploring the launch of this book:

Take a look at the book’s Foreword: ‘Shining Brightly’ Foreword by Dr. Robert J. Wicks: ‘Learn anew about the American Dream’

We ask these timeless questions at each New Year: ‘Who shall live and who shall die?’ In this moving and inspiring column, Howard Brown writes about the powerful spiritual resources in our religious traditions that can help families struggling with cancer renew their resiliency.

Download printable and shareable resource guides for discussing Shining Brightly: