Instant wisdom book review

Instant Wisdom: 10 Easy Ways To Get Smart Fast

Beth Burgess contacted me on email to pitch her book for review. I get sooooo many pitches every week and most books get a polite knock-back, or the pitches are so poor and sometimes rudely demanding they don’t even get a response. But Instant Wisdom: 10 Easy Ways To Get Smart Fast really stood out for me, well rather Beth’s engaging, friendly, yet no-nonsense tone did! So, I accepted the book for review and it is the best self-help book I’ve read since Gary John Bishop wrote Unf*ck Yourself. Yeah, I know, big call right?

Why Is Instant Wisdom so bloomin’ good?

I’ll tell you. Beth writes about what’s real and there are solid, tangible, practical tips within this book to give you not only the edge in personal and work situations, but a little bit of mindfulness and stillness too which resonated with me greatly as an overthinker and worrier.  What comes across in Instant Wisdom, is that it’s ok to be a pain in the arse sometimes, as long as you recognise it and give it a red hot go next time round to handle things a little bit better. The more you put these tools into practice, the smarter your brain gets!

Beth’s style of writing really worked for me and I really enjoyed chapters such as Shifty Eyes, Sportacus and Boss Your Brain Around which are all speckled with humour, making serious issues such as anxiety a little more palatable and easier to digest and read about.

You can get a feel for Beth’s style of writing and some tips and tricks to dealing with that annoying person at work, and the perilous world of self-publishing, in my interview with Beth below.

Thank you, Beth. Reading Instant Wisdom made me feel a little less weird and a little more in control

Instant wisdom 10 easy ways to get smart fast

Interview with Beth Burgess

Author Of Instant Wisdom: 10 Easy Ways To Get Smart Fast

For someone who suffers from anxiety, how did you cope with sharing such a personal story to the world?

I no longer have an anxiety disorder. After trying years of different treatments, none of which had the slightest effect on how I felt, I went to see an NLP-hypnotherapist. Which  I never would have tried, but my ‘woo-woo’ mother suggested it to me. I imagined hypnotherapy was some kind of con or placebo. I thought my mum was nuts, but I was desperate. Within 90 pain-free minutes. I went from someone practically too scared to breathe to someone who was free from all that overwhelming anxiety.

After profusely thanking my ‘weirdo’ mother, I completed my NLP Practitioner course, got a Distinction in Hypnotherapy, and became a ‘weirdo’ therapist myself. NLP and hypnotherapy are amazing and can help people overcome many difficult problems and disorders.

Nowadays, I have ‘healthy’ levels of anxiety. I do still get nervous if required, which is good because it stops me running in front of traffic. But many people who aren’t particularly anxious have told me that they would never share such personal stories about themselves as I do in my books and articles. Why do I do it? Because I have a duty to.

I want everyone suffering from problems and obstacles to know that change is achievable and that you don’t ever have to be held back by, or ashamed of, your past. You can even use your history to help others, just like I do, and then all that awfulness you suffered becomes the most precious gift.

Author of Instant Wisdom Beth Burgess
Author of Instant Wisdom Beth Burgess

I particularly loved the sports references and how professional athletes train themselves to be calm under extreme pressure, but how realistic is it to keep calm when Brenda in accounts throws you under the bus in front of your boss?

I’ve run ‘anti-stress’ workshops for the NHS, which is one of the most stressful places to work in the UK. Every single delegate said they would recommend the workshop to colleagues, including doctors, administrators, and executives. I don’t call it a ‘stress management’ workshop, because I teach people to change, not manage, their state —  emotionally and intellectually. Stressing out is a reaction. It’s not fixed so anyone can learn how to change their reaction.

Some of the tools I teach can be practised over the long-term, but in all my books and other work, I like to give techniques that work on the spot too. So, here’s a great short-term tip. You’re only using one side of the brain when you become agitated or anxious, so if you actively engage the opposite side, your negative state will magically diminish. All you need to do is to stimulate both sides of the brain.

instant wisdom

So, if you’re seething at Brenda, grab something small that you can throw from one hand to the other. Tossing something from the left hand to the right hand, back and forth across your body, forces both the left and right side of the brain to activate, cancelling out the effect of the one-sided negative state. If you don’t have anything to hand (or might risk throwing the object at Brenda), cross your wrists or arms and alternately tap on the left and right sides of your body. So, tap on the right leg/knee/elbow with your left hand, and vice versa. No-one will know what you’re doing, and you’ll soon feel calmer.

Your style of writing comes across very genuine, real and on the right side of motivating. Did you have to filter the real you at all?

Names and identities of others may be changed to protect the innocent, but I always write honestly about myself. And I am someone who walks their talk completely. I don’t write books about things I can’t do myself. One of the reasons people connect so much with me as a writer and therapist is because I truly understand. I didn’t read textbooks about problems – I lived them. And I also know how to overcome them. What you get in my books is me – human, friend, therapist, recovered mess, and everything else that I am.

instant wisdom

The only filtering I do is when bearing my audience’s tastes in mind. I am a nerdy walking thesaurus and I like using big words that match my meaning precisely. But not everyone is as geeky as I am, so I tone down my urge to use words like “discombobulated” and “antidisestablishmentarianism” so everyone can enjoy the book. I also talk about football far less than I would probably like to.

Having published several books, what’s the one ‘trap’ you would warn other authors about.

Never write according to others’ rules. Your book should be structured, grammatically correct and have a good point, of course. But don’t worry about fitting into any other mould. Books about addiction, for example, are apparently supposed to be serious. Mine aren’t. If you read them, you can make serious changes. But why not have some fun while learning to do so? Having an addiction is enough of a horrendous drag without having to read a tedious book about how you can get better. And it turns out, that’s how my readers like it. My second recovery book won an award based on public sentiment towards it, which means much more than having a panel of people in tweed, who have never been addicted, handing over a trophy.

instant wisdom

Also, never believe that you won’t have to do any marketing. You will. But don’t fall for advertising traps or pay lots of money to get your book publicised. As much as I was tempted to splash out cash on marketing packages, I haven’t. Instead, I have done the hard, but rewarding work, of finding people to connect with to help me spread the word.  If your book is good enough, you will find and delight those important people with it, and then they may ask you to do an interview as well (Thanks, Duffy).


Reaching out to the right people is far better than coughing up cash to get your book impersonally blasted out on Twitter to a load of strangers who don’t care. Never pay for reviews, traffic, or social media likes. They are fake and won’t give your book serious traction.

What’s next for Beth Burgess?

‘Instant Wisdom’ was the first book in the ‘Wiseism’ series. I’m working on my next Wiseism book ‘How to Create Your Ideal Life’, which is about how to make your ordinary life extraordinary. I’m giving readers of ‘Instant Wisdom’ the chance to directly influence what goes into the next book. They can follow the link on the last page of ‘Instant Wisdom’ to get the first two chapters of the next book for free. And then, they can then email me to let me know if there are any special areas they want me to cover.

I’d also love to make courses to complement some of my books for people who want to go even deeper. Although I cram as many useful tools as I can into my books, there is always stuff that can only really be presented. But if you’ve read ‘Instant Wisdom’, you’ll know that I’m currently not very well. So, that might have to wait, unless people are prepared to watch videos of me presenting in my PJs. Whatever happens, I will continue helping other people in any way I possibly can. That’s my life now and I love it.

Beth Burgess

Author of INSTANT WISDOM: 10 Easy Ways to Get Smart Fast

Instant wisdom 10 easy ways to get smart fast