Living Yes, a Handbook for Being Human
written by Mark Morris, MSW, MFA

Book Summary

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a single way to change all of our thoughts, reduce our stress, let go of harsh emotions, find clarity in unsure decisions, and control destructive behaviors? Wouldn’t it be outstanding to use the secret keys that therapists have been developing for the past fifty years? Living Yes teaches anyone how to open themselves to that magic.

Living Yes combines elements of cognitive theory, mindfulness, modern empowerment seminars, and 12 step programs in a new and easy way for all to gain access. Heavily influenced by cognitive theory, Living Yes stands firmly on the shoulders of Viktor Frankl, Al Ellis, Tim Beck, and their accomplished schools of insightful thinkers. However Living Yes presents CBT in a new framework that is unique and accessible. Stylistically, it distills the challenging concepts of a technical journal into lay language.

Living Yes presents a practical manual for living, replete with fresh ideas and solution-oriented exercises. The text, charts, step-by-step processes, and comic strips present a cutting edge conceptualization and prescription for how to change, improve, and expand the gift of life, and it does this in less than 45,000 words.

The Problem

Most people experience the human condition in ignorance. The result is that they live life on the defensive. They are not having fun, avoid discomfort at all costs, and find themselves numbed by their unique challenges. They are frozen by habit, mired in sadness, stuck in judgment and blame, trapped by anxiety and fear, enmeshed in anger, hiding, avoiding, and playing what they believe is a weak hand. They are undermined by suppressed false beliefs that they are inherently broken, worthless, or stupid. They find themselves unable to connect, avoidant, and lonely.

Some people are more fortunate. They feel the presence of love, have identified some insight, and recognize their own progress; however they are still stuck. They have not discovered a singular method to recognize how the lessons of Life are designed nor how to learn them. They are confused because life remains opaque.

In Living Yes terminology, the problem may be stated as: How do we identify the “no” moments which separate us, so that we can choose “yes” moments which reconnect us to others, ourselves, and the very universe in which we live?

The Technique

Living Yes provides a simple prescription that teaches a way to adapt our thinking dynamically so that we can get the maximum benefit from the gift of Life. When read by someone capable of examining his or her own thinking, it offers a rapid way to choose healthy functioning. Living Yes is a cogent, simple series of focused techniques which integrate CBT, ACT, mindfulness, positive psychology, "More to Life” courses, and the secular aspect of 12 step programs. Living Yes is a paradigm that is so simple it is outrageous.


Living Yes is a book for many. Four specific types comprise the primary audience.

I. Spiritual and open minded individual

Description: This Living Yes reader wishes to increase her access to the spiritual world by going beyond scriptural commentary. She is a spiritual person who does not necessarily identify with the medical mental health pathology approach. She is open to the idea of a cognitive-based model to lead her to a better understanding of the gifts offered by the universe. She is open to her higher power without being adversely limited by dogma or rules.

Metric: 203 million US adults identify as Christian. 174 million believe that “many religions can lead to eternal life,” including a surprising 99 million white evangelicals.
80 million US adults call themselves “spiritual, not religious,” up from 64 million in 2005 (Pew Forum, 2008).

Self-help serial reader, psychotherapy veteran, or seminar goer

Description: This Living Yes reader is interested in accelerating herself and expanding her understanding of her role in world. She is a serial self-help reader or cognitive therapy consumer who enjoys opportunities to enhance the connection and meaning in her life. She enjoys opportunities to improve her attitude, expand her life outlook, and enhance her ability to connect with others. She is highly responsive to a CBT “booster shot” as well as being interested in a tool that will offer her an effective life change.

Metric: 42 million people bought at least one self-help book in 2008 (Harris Interactive). 2.4 million people were treated for depression by psychologists and social workers in 2007. Another study showed that approximately 2.2 million people were treated for depression without antidepressant medications (Psychology Today, Charles Zorumski, 2011). Americans spent $11 billion in 2008 on self-improvement books, CDs, seminars, coaching and stress-management programs (Forbes, Melanie Lindner, 2009).

III. Thoughtful and smart but not a “book learned” or privileged person

Description: This Living Yes reader may not have graduated high school or be "book learned," but she has an intuitive self-awareness, and she's smart. Growing up in a culturally or economically limited environment, she has never been exposed to any form of cognitive theory, but she is interested in a mental approach to personal growth and in learning about unleashing the power of being human. She has sought and learned steps toward personal insight on her own. She seeks a simple text that will help her manage her thoughts, emotions and behaviors. She is excited by an opportunity to open up a new way of thinking about EVERYTHING.

Metric: Of the 267 million adults in the US, 227 million adults are high school grads, and only 75 million are college grads, showing a vast potential of less educated readers (US Census). 66 million households who purchased one or more books in one year earn less than $35,000 per year, demonstrating a vast audience lacking privilege (RR Bowker). In addition, 25 million teens live in the US (US Census).

Person suffering from a mood or anxiety disorder (sub-threshold or full blown)

Description: This Living Yes reader is in emotional pain of which she may or may not be aware. She would like more tools to gain insight to make changes that will relieve her discomfort, worry, sadness, and quick irritation. She would like to learn how to be more resilient, openhearted, accepting, and nonjudgmental. She would like a new way of thinking about EVERYTHING.

Metric: 57.7 million US adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder: 21 million with a mood disorder, 40 million anxiety, 6 million panic, 2.2 million PTSD, 6.8 million GAD, 15 million social phobia (Kim Foundation).

Three Selling Points

Living Yes is easy to read.
Living Yes is approachable, manageable and doable. Living Yes presents complex ideas in a way that is simple, accessible, and easy to grasp. These ideas are similar to those in professional books which are often dense and difficult.  When understood, Living Yes is easy to implement.  Living Yes uses multiple modalities such as simple text, graphics, comic strips, and psychological processes.

A rare self help book that is presented like a DIY/how-to handbook.

Living Yes is essential.
Living Yes contains timeless, helpful, practical, user-friendly information, which is grounded in modern ideas of cognitive and other successful, pragmatic therapeutic approaches. Living Yes is presented as a manual and substitutes for an expensive seminar program.  Living Yes addresses common challenges such as acceptance, boundary setting, and anger.

The accessibility significantly expands the potential audience.

Living Yes is singular.
Living Yes offers a unified and comprehensive solution in a simple concept.  Living Yes is spiritual without dogma or religion and is therefore available to everyone. Living Yes helps readers to understand what it means to be human. That freedom results in self-acceptance which relieves one of the burden of being fake, perfect, or filled with self-loathing.

The singularity differentiates Living Yes from the competition.