I’ve been on a bit of a personal development binge recently when it comes to book choices. This is a marked departure from my usual repertoire of fiction so I thought it would be worth reflecting over the lessons learnt from five that I enjoyed.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz – covers four agreements you make with yourself to try and live a better life. Simple to understand, but difficult to practise (I continue to try)
- Being impeccable with your word – speak positive and spread positive energy. Don’t sin against yourself with your words (and if possible thoughts too), i.e., do not judge or blame yourself harshly but at the same time take responsibility for your thoughts and deeds. Try to plant more seeds of love to replace seeds of fear, especially in yourself.
- Don’t take anything personally because often when you take things personally you are setting yourself up to suffer for nothing.
- Don’t make assumptions – have the courage to ask questions and clarify things rather than assume. By assuming, you often take things personally and turn situations poisonous even if they shouldn’t be.
- Always do your best in whatever you do or say. Develop an awareness of who you are, learn to master change and transformation and positive intent.
Option B by Sheryl Sandberg – it’s true that the only certainty in life is death, and we all process the grief that comes with loss in different ways. Reading about Sheryl Sandberg’s journey after the unexpected loss of her husband felt like I was having a long, albeit one-sided conversation, with a friend who understood what I went through when I lost my grandfather earlier this year. There is no set time period for grieving – time only blunts the impact of loss and you learn how to live with it, but the sadness that comes from loss never fully disappears.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – I haven’t read Eat, Pray, Love and to be honest, I don’t think I would like it, especially because I felt like she went off on tangents that were a little too hippy for me in this book as well. However, I did like the overall message of this book – try to live a life where you do more of what makes you happy, not necessarily for money or recognition or fame, but for the simple reason that it gives you joy. Often, when we are trying to pursue a passion we are held back by fears such as our work is not good enough or people will laugh at our attempts. To quote, “So many of us believe in perfection, which ruins everything else, because the perfect is not only the enemy of the good; it’s also the enemy of the realistic, the possible and the fun”. In order to live creatively, we need to follow our curiosities without worrying so much about the outcomes or the ends.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson – I listened to this one as an audiobook and it kept me totally entertained (therefore less prone to road rage). In summary, it’s about how your life and who you are is in large part defined by what you are willing to suffer for, and that these are the things you need to focus your attention on (or the things you need to give a f*ck about). Life is a series of problems which will never really end but happiness comes from having more problems in your life that you want to solve. One of my favourite quotes – “Self awareness is like an onion. There are multiple layers to it, and the more you peel back, the more likely you’re going to start crying at an inappropriate time”.
Grit by Angela Duckworth – an interesting insight into how passion and perseverance trumps innate talent when it comes to succeeding in life through the key factors of hope, effort, precision, passion, ritual and prioritisation. You also understand why it’s more important to praise effort rather than talent, the importance of trying and why parents should set high standards for their kids while providing the support and respect to help them meet these higher standards.