Gary Goulin-Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul

Author of Book: Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Tom Lagana
Date Read: February 25, 2024

Book Report

“BOOK REPORT #4 Written by Gary Goulin – February 25, 2024

Why I Chose this Book: Recommendation from friend as a “feel good book”

Summary of Book:

This book contains 101 short stories about people in prison – some stories are written by the prisoners themselves; others by people whose lives have been touched by prisoners. The stories detail how prisoners have changed their lives for the better while incarcerated, or how prisoners have positively impacted the story writer. The book is divided into 8 sections: on family, on change, on faith, on forgiveness, on kindness, on love, on overcoming obstacles and on wisdom.

Lessons Learned:

Never take family and friends for granted. They “help keep the torch of the soul afire with hope and life”
Don’t lose your hope, your “light”. Look forward to happy and better
Families are the second victims of the crime, often called upon to accomplish unfamiliar tasks, and meet significant challenges
Be of service to others. Push past the convict or ex-convict role. One can serve others while serving time
Learn acceptance – “find goodness buried beneath layers of encrusted filth”. Accept that which is different
Learn forgiveness, especially of myself
Maintain gratitude; stay optimistic
We are much more than our mistakes

How this book will help me while incarcerated and upon release:

I found this book to be very uplifting. Being incarcerated can lead to feelings of loneliness, helplessness and despair. This book provided many stories detailing why this doesn’t need to be so. Keeping family and friends close – not taking them for granted, helps relieve the loneliness, helplessness and despair. It will make time incarcerated go more quickly and my family and friends can help me stay accountable to my plan of emerging from prison a much

better person than when I entered. Maintaining good relationships with friends and family, will also lead them to better be able to help me with the almost certain obstacles I will face upon release.

Being of service to others is something I’ve done throughout my life, and I don’t intend to stop now or in the future. I have already spoken with one of the heads of the Education Department here. I can be of service as an instructor or tutor to those who are required to complete a GED program, especially in the areas of math and science. I know for sure I can serve others here. Prior to my incarceration, I did volunteer work on Mondays. I intend to continue this work upon my release.

Maintaining gratitude will certainly help me while incarcerated, as well as, upon my release.

I have many things to be thankful for – loving family and friends, a roof above my head to return to upon my release, and a pension. So many here have so little to return to. This really helps me keep things in perspective. There is always someone worse off than me. Knowing this will help me press forward, even when the going gets tough and there are obstacles in my path. Someone will always have it harder than I do, and I must remember this if I am to succeed here and upon release.

Learning acceptance has already helped me and will continue to help me through my release. My beliefs were challenged and my mind opened when I discovered that the scariest-looking of the inmates here were often the most friendly and helpful. That’s growth! Acceptance means also coming to terms with the notion that things won’t always go my way. I have to learn to accept that, come to peace with that, and continue forward. The Serenity Prayer will certainly be helpful. I may not be able to overcome all obstacles thrown my way here and upon release, but I can try my best and be at peace with that.

I have no one to blame but myself for the choices I made that led me here. Learning to forgive myself and to recognize the goodness in me will allow me to have the proper attitude to get through my incarceration as well as upon my release. I must work hard to heal, to never make those bad choices again. This will allow me hopefully a quicker release by maintaining good behavior, and will help me upon my release by maintaining myself as a law-abiding citizen for the rest of my life. Only in this way, can I live a happy, fulfilling, optimistic life.

Viktor Frankl summed it nicely: “We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: The last of his freedoms – to choose ones attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose ones own way.