"A Life's Work: Learning to Overrule My Mindless Brain by Shep McKenney

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A Life’s Work

Learning to overrule my mindless brain

In “A Life’s Work,” Shep McKenney invites readers on an intimate journey through the highs and lows of his professional and personal life, candidly sharing his experiences of seemingly “having it all” while grappling with a profound sense of unfulfillment. With everything he had ever aspired to, he found himself wondering, “What was missing?”

In this introspective memoir, Shep delves deep into this question and unveils a surprising answer. Drawing from his own life, he explores the traditional paths of religion, philosophy, and science, offering a unique perspective on the human quest for contentment. Through his experiences, he comes to a striking realization – the root of our discontent lies in the disconnect between the primitive world our brains were designed for and the complex desires of the modern world.

With thought-provoking narratives and deeply personal anecdotes, Shep McKenney not only unravels the mystery of our perennial dissatisfaction but also imparts invaluable lessons and practices that all of us can embrace. In “A Life’s Work,” he empowers readers to bridge the gap between our primal instincts and modern aspirations, preventing our own brains from becoming unwitting saboteurs of our happiness. Dive into this compelling exploration of the human pursuit of happiness, and discover the wisdom that can change your life.

As an octogenarian, McKenney writes with wisdom gleaned over a lifetime, and his writing style effectively blends humor with poignancy. Many of the book’s life lessons include references to religion, philosophy, and science, reflecting an intellectual curiosity that informs the author’s sharp commentary and storytelling dexterity.

A witty, insightful reflection on living a happy life. ~ Kirkus Review

Brightside Empirical Review Award

Book Reviews

Engaging memoir exploring the urgent life’s work
of changing one’s mindset.

~ Booklife


What struck me most about the book was the author’s exploration of traditional paths to happiness, such as religion, philosophy, and science. He provides a refreshing perspective on the disconnect between our primitive brains and our modern world…


“A Life’s Work” is an inspiring little read that examines why so many people struggle to find happiness in a day and age that’s full of material abundance.


“No matter age, reality or objectives, this book is for anyone who wants to embark on a journey of self-discovery and awakening.”

– Divi Digest


A Masterpiece! I’m so glad I came across A Life’s Work… It wasn’t only a joy to read but also motivating to learn to have absolute control over my brain. It’s not going to be easy to do so, but thanks to the author for sharing his life’s work, I shall certainly try.


This is the most practical and straightforward valuable lesson I have learned to live in true happiness. A well-deserved 5 stars and I couldn’t be more grateful for the author for sharing this. A must read especially to the youth around us who are suffering.


“The book is well-written and will touch deep in your heart and resonate with you in more ways than you think.”


What I love about this book is how McKenney blends personal stories with scientific research to show us that we can truly transform ourselves by being more mindful. It’s an inspiring and candid read that encourages us to embark on our own journey towards a more conscious and happy life.”


This is not a “how to book” offering platitudes and promises for a better life. Rather, it is written from the heart, a humble tale of one man’s path to peace, written out of a genuine hope that sharing his experience might help others.

Brightside Empirical Review Award

Quotes from A Life’s Work

If I can teach my brain to tie my shoelaces, I can teach it to stop messing up my life.
Shep McKenney discovers how his brain's constant calculating was sabotaging his happiness.
Shep McKenney Quote
The best thing we can do for our children is to let them know their main task is to be happy, and to teach them how to navigate around the obstacles to that happiness.
I had no idea how much my brain was polluting my life - Shep McKenney
Heaven is not an escape - Shep McKenney quote
When Setting limits - Shep McKenney Quote
I had everything I knew to want. Now I was after the ability to enjoy what I already had.
Shep McKenney, Author of "A Life's Work"

Shep McKenney

Shep McKenney was born in 1941 and raised in rural Southeastern Virginia. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from William and Mary College. In four separate careers, he practiced law in Norfolk, Virginia, cofounded Guest Quarters, an all-suite hotel chain, bought and managed The Hinckley Company, a Maine boatbuilding company, and cofounded Seakeeper, a maker of boat motion control products, retiring from active management in 2018. Shep and his wife Pat live in their farm in Southern Maryland and have four children and seven grandchildren.

He was inspired to share his story to help others find peace and happiness in their own lives.