Krishna Pendyala is a nontraditional life coach and co-author (with Mike Vargo) of Beyond the Pig and the Ape: Realizing Success and True Happiness. Originally from Chennai, India, the 49-year-old lecturer lives in Hampton. In the self-published book, Pendyala describes his experience with suicidal depression and the soul-searching that helped him persevere. The "pig" and "ape" are icons he uses to describe instinctive behaviors (Pursue Instant Gratification and Avoid Painful Experiences), which often stymie more-human pursuits. Pendyala even gives small porcine and simian figurines to people he coaches.
How do you write this kind of book?
You need to energize people, and I use stories. I've been dumb and smart, so I thought I'd share both. So that was the format, it was going to be full of stories. Then people said, "Krishna, you've got to create a framework." And over three years it evolved into something different. But every story is true.
Self-help books abound. What distinguishes yours?
I probably own about 400 books on personal growth. They fall into two big categories: The first is recipe books, like, "Four steps to enlightenment." Then you have high-level concept books that talk about principles and other things. Some people are inspired by them, others don't even finish them. So I wondered: Could I come up with a friendly, easy-to-adopt book? So you ask the question: "Is my pig or my ape calling the shots here?" It's not tedious or complex.
What about traditional mental-health disciplines, like psychotherapy?
There is no substitute for human help, as long as you get it from people who can actually help. A friend of mine told me, "If you want to get an apple, go to an apple-farmer." I am not a mental-health professional. I've just been fascinated by how to live life, because of its challenges. I really believe you can create an enlightened society where inner awareness empowers people to thrive in harmony.
So how happy are Pittsburghers?
I love Pittsburgh, and I never thought of the pig and ape as regional. But I've been to 35 of the states in the United States, and I used to make it a point to sell Pittsburgh to anyone who sat next to me on the plane. And I found it an easy sell -- except to another Pittsburgher.