A Life Spent Listening by Hassan Khalili

Conflict resolution. Building trust. The power of human connection. Strategies for dealing with loneliness, worry, and anxiety. These are just some of the topics addressed in Hassan Khalili’s A Life Spent Listening. Khalili draws on his personal experiences, as well as insights gained through his years working as a community psychotherapist, to provide perspectives on issues many people find vexing. He also offers reassurance that some of the struggles we might think are unique to us are actually quite common.

Born in Iran, Khalili left his native land to seek higher education in the United States. When political turmoil erupted in his home country, he decided to delay his return. The delay proved permanent. When Khalili went to the Waterford Hospital in St. John’s, Newfoundland for a job interview, he “immediately fell in love with the beauty of the environment and the congeniality of the people.” (p. 46) Determined to fit in, he decided to become a Newfoundlander By Choice, and set about integrating himself into the community. Now, when people ask him where he’s from, he answers “Cowan Heights.”

A Life Spent Listening is an upbeat book that provides food for thought.”

Despite his many post-secondary degrees, Khalili writes in a straightforward, relatable manner. Khalili is candid about his own personal failings and foibles, and the content is lightened by his sense of humour.

The book is divided into four main sections, with 10-15 sub-topics in each. The relatively short length of the sub-topics makes it easy to absorb the points being made. A Life Spent Listening provides lots of logical breakpoints, so it’s an easy book to pick up and put down as time allows. One section of the book deals with relationships, while the final section addresses how to find contentment. Khalili conveys his points through illustrative stories drawn from his years of providing psychotherapy, from his personal life, and from learning in his field. Some of the sub-topic segments take us back to Khalili’s native Persia, while others spirit us off to hiking or mountain climbing adventures that have provided the author with important insights.

A Life Spent Listening contains a lot of practical advice that the reader can take or leave at their discretion. Sometimes, these suggestions arise from the stories themselves. At other times, they are drawn out in a more formal manner. For example, the author shares the Khalili Grid, a system that he “devised many years ago to help my patients achieve a state of contentment and balance.” (p. 16) The Grid focuses on four key factors that affect our lives: health, home, work, and hobbies or pastimes. Khalili notes that the order of importance of these factors changes at different stages of our lives, but when the balance between them is not correct, it can lead to problems. Khalili also provides his “recipe for resilience” and other observations. He comments on the importance of having a “life list” (he prefers not to term it a “bucket list”, as we shouldn’t wait until death looms on the horizon to make one up), but not being a slave to it.

A Life Spent Listening is an upbeat book that provides food for thought. Khalili comes across as a person who genuinely cares about making peoples’ lives better. Near the outset, he notes, “Too often, we allow ourselves to be caught up in the negative. It’s a downward spiral, but we can turn it around. This book is a guide for doing that.” (p. 15) He also states that his goal in writing the book was “to take the reader on a fun and enlightening journey.” (p. 16) After reading A Life Spent Listening, I’d say “mission accomplished.”

Dr. Hassan Khalili has been a front-line community psychologist for over forty years. In his career, he has been the Director of the Waterford Mental Hospital and an Assistant Professor at Memorial University Department of Psychiatry Medical School; he has operated a private practice psychology clinic in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with his associates, for over thirty years. In addition, he has also served on the Board of Directors for various community living organizations, as well as the Newfoundland and Labrador College of Dietitians (NLCD), and is former president of the NL Psychology Association. He is a lifetime member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Psychology Board, American Psychological Association, and Canadian Psychological Association. When he is not in the clinic, he enjoys spending time with his family, checking items off his bucket list, and gardening. A Life Spent Listening is his first book.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Breakwater Books (June 17 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 192 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1550819372
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1550819373

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Lisa Timpf is a retired HR and communications professional who lives in Simcoe, Ontario. Her writing has appeared in New Myths, Star*Line, The Future Fire, Triangulation: Habitats, and other venues. Lisa’s speculative haibun collection, In Days to Come, is available from Hiraeth Publishing. You can find out more about Lisa’s writing at http://lisatimpf.blogspot.com/.