Wrecked: the surprising cure for dissatisfaction

Rockefeller Centre - Pursuit of Happiness

Pursuit of happiness - Creative Commons Annie Mole

“What do you want to do when you leave university?”

I remember asking this question to a bunch of Oxford students a few years back. To my surprise, the majority replied simply, ‘I don’t want to do anything particularly, I just want to be happy. That’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?’

Unfortunately, the goal of happiness doesn’t deliver. We have a whole generation of people who’ve made happiness and comfort their goal and who are now feeling a deep disappointment with life and can’t put their finger on why. We’re like Tyler Durden in Fight Club, feeling restless and dissatisfied.

So what can we do to change this?

Enter ‘Wrecked’, a remarkable new book written by Jeff Goins.
In search of happiness

According to Jeff Goins, to make happiness and comfort the goal of your life will ensure that you will never be happy. If you are looking for happiness, you won’t find it.

“We’ve believed a lie. We’ve been told life is about us.”

Jeff’s answers for satisfaction in life seem crazy and upside-down:

  • The secret to being happy is not seeking comfort, but doing things that make us uncomfortable.
  • The secret to finding meaning in life is not to find yourself, but lose yourself.

He tells stories of people who got ‘wrecked’ – they encountered the brokenness and messiness of this world, and found that they couldn’t fix it. But rather than shy away from this, getting ‘wrecked’ is the thing that gives us meaning:

“The world is broken and remains that way, in spite of our efforts to help it. This is beautiful, in a way, because it breaks us of our self-dependency. In a world that refuses to be healed, we must face the fact that we are not the heroes of our stories. It teaches us to rely on something bigger than ourselves and teaches the source of true compassion.”


Doing good feels bad

I love the fact that he doesn’t offer easy solutions or glib generalisations of the world’s brokenness. So often we think, ‘if I contribute by doing some good and make a difference in someone’s life then I will feel good about myself and that will give me meaning and purpose.’ This is emphatically NOT what he is arguing. He’s pushing deeper than this.

In fact, he goes to great pains to point out that doing good, by and large, makes us feel bad, not good. People are not machines or maths equations, we are not easily ‘fixed’. That means that helping others and doing good can be a profoundly disheartening process.

How I got wrecked

I got wrecked when I went on mission to Mozambique and Zimbabwe. I went out there to make a difference, to do some good. When I arrived I was shocked by the extent of the poverty I saw, and more aware than ever of the futility and puniness of our involvement out there. I had thought that I could be useful by teaching English: when I arrived I realised that these orphaned boys would most likely never leave the country. They needed other things; things I could not give.

But I gave anyway. And it was a life-impacting, heart-changing experience.

Jeff’s book somehow manages to hold in tension the fact that we can’t fix the world, but we should still try. It is good to do good, even when it feels bad.

Here’s one of my favourite parts that expresses so well this experience of being ‘wrecked’:

“We return to a garden that was once beautiful and is now filled with briars and thistles. We plead for mercy. And we find ourselves in good company. Because there in the garden lies a man from Nazareth who sweats blood, already pleading on our behalf.
If we are to follow the Jesus who suffered with us and bled for us, we too must suffer”


I am someone who feels deeply for others, and at times feels overwhelmed by the needs of the world. It was comforting to read that even having that feeling is a good thing, and I felt encouraged once more to not ‘grow weary in doing good’ (Gal 6:9).


This is not your average self-help, motivational book, though it is both helpful and motivational. It causes you to reevaluate your preconceptions and priorities, and has a deep insight into the purpose of life and what drives people.

It’s also the most quotable book I’ve read in a long time. If I were a student I would have his quotes all over my wall. Jeff has a clear and compelling style, and I was hooked from the first page.

This is a really thoughtful and thought-provoking book that has the potential to turn your life upside down. I suggest you buy it immediately.


Jeff Goins: Wrecked - used with permission

Jeff is a speaker, author, and a phenomenal blogger, who has over 80,000 visitors to his site each month. His posts on writing and blogging are the most helpful ones you will find – by a clear mile.


If you buy his book this week, then you will get 6 free gifts worth $158. Find out more here.


(Jeff sent me an advance copy of the book to review. He said that I didn’t have to review it if I didn’t want to, but I could keep the book anyway as a gift. That’s the kind of guy he is.) 


Over to you:

  • Have you ever seen poverty so great or suffering so immense that you got ‘wrecked’ – you felt a compassion to want to help someone but you realised your inability to do so?


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17 Responses to Wrecked: the surprising cure for dissatisfaction

  1. James Prescott 11th October, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    Want to recommend this book – just finished it, and it’s awesome. So challenging, inspiring, discomforting and leaves you changed. A must read. Tanya, you are spot on with the review, and this book is spot on. We all need to be wrecked in order to make a real difference in the world.

    • Tanya 12th October, 2012 at 11:08 am #

      Thanks for your kind words, James!

  2. Nick 5th August, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    We have this treasure in jars of clay.

    The number of times I curse the clay, when I should actually be immensely grateful for it… And for the Potter doing His work.

    • Tanya 7th August, 2012 at 10:42 am #

      Thank you for these words Nick – I really needed to hear them today.

  3. emma 2nd August, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    ‘Doing good feels bad’. So challenging.

    Looking forward to reading ‘Wrecked’ – thanks for highlighting it x


    • Tanya 2nd August, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

      Thanks Emma – weird, I was just hanging out over at your place! Sending you a virtual wave. 🙂

  4. katie 1st August, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    God answered my prayers through this blog today. Recently my grandad died. I have never seen more hurt in my nan or mum in my whole life. Crying isn’t something nanna does, especially not hysterical tears and mum is so angry and upset recently. This isn’t the only thing but one other is that I have got engaged and quote a few of my family members and parents friends don’t approve. This is nowhere near the poverty you experienced but I have always tried to keep everyone happy in order for me to be happy and it has lead to more hurt than I could ever have imagined. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really excited to be engaged but its one of those huge life decisions I knew would be difficult to face. It’s a long, uphill climb towards doing things that I want to do and believe is right just for me and I was praying for more guidance nearly all day. I think some words here were what’s needed. Thank you so much

    • Tanya 2nd August, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

      Hey there. First – congratulations on your engagement! That’s amazing news – and I’m so thrilled for you both! I look forward to hearing all about the proposal! Do you have a ring or are you going to choose one?

      (I shall halt on the girly gushing now…)

      I am so glad that you connected with my blog post today. It sounds like you’re on a stretching journey at the moment – praying that God holds you close and gives you peace. Much love x

  5. sandra delemare 1st August, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    Brilliant review of ‘Wrecked’, Tanya.
    In a modest way, I’ve been wrecked and humbled working as a mental health nurse.

    • Tanya 1st August, 2012 at 10:15 am #

      Thank you, Sandra.

      It’s such an incredible and demanding call to be a mental health nurse – to draw alongside people who are in excruciating emotional and mental pain…that’ll definitely wreck you, no question there.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Joanna 1st August, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    The second worst thing about visiting a Bulgarian orphanage was realising that the babies had given up crying because they knew nobody would respond. The worst thing was that after I had spent some time cuddling a baby boy, I put him back in his cot and turned away and he let out the most heart-rending howl. Endless, bottomless need all around. Thank you for writing this. I have just emailed my 3 student-aged children and told them to read it because I think, to my shame, that when they were growing up I tended to push the happiness lie.

    • Tanya 1st August, 2012 at 10:14 am #

      Oh man… I felt such an ache in my soul reading your comment. I’m trying to think of how to express it – but I just have a few tears. They will have to do. Oh Lord, have mercy on us.

      Thanks so much for sharing – I really value it.

  7. Mia 1st August, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    Dear Tanya
    I found your blog last night and immediately knew this lady knows LIFE. I live in South Arica and see this kind of poverty every day and it breaks my heart so often. I remember the time when a group of us was feeding a grade 5 class at a school at an informal settlement. When we were tidying up, two little girls came up to me, stretching out their arms. They wanted to be hugged and kissed. That broke my heart. I cann’t begin to describe in what conditions these dear little ones live in. I hated that feeling of sorrow. Thank you for reminding that feeling this way is also good. I also suffer from FM/ME.I know that our Lord Jesus also cries when he see His little ones suffering like that.

    • Tanya 1st August, 2012 at 10:11 am #

      Hey there Mia – so glad to ‘meet’ you! Thanks for introducing yourself a little, and for your encouraging words!

      My parents are actually from Zimbabwe, and I have family living in S Africa, so I have a great fondness for both countries. I think the scale of poverty – and as you so poignantly describe, the poverty of loneliness – is just overwhelming at times. It is hard to feel so broken and wrecked by these things – but the alternative is that we grow hard-hearted. To remain soft-hearted, we need to be broken-hearted from time to time.

      It’s great to have found someone else who is a Christian and has ME – I’m glad you future my blog!

      Blessings x

  8. Alice 1st August, 2012 at 7:51 am #

    Woah. Just read Lamentations and feeling pretty wrecked by it! I’m experiencing that sense of uneasily seeing more of who God is and realising that his plans aren’t always the nice ones I have for myself and seeing that my solutions aren’t his.

    I’m finding that the scariest prayer is to pray that God will do what he wants with me. I realise I’m not sure what he wants and I’m certainly not sure I want what he wants – I want to feel good and happy, not wrecked!

    But I’m praying it – and I may just need to read that book!
    Thanks for a really helpful review. xxx

    • Tanya 1st August, 2012 at 10:05 am #

      Hi lovely Alice. Thanks so much for sharing on here. ‘the scariest prayer is to pray that God will do what he wants with me.’ – I SO don’t want to pray that prayer!!

      I’m saluting your courage for praying it – and may the God of grace and compassion meet you in that prayer and give you real, tangible joy – whatever the plans He has for your life.

      Much, much love x

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