Body & mind
The Power of Now
A while back I read 'A new earth' from Eckhart Toll, the sequel to 'The Power of Now'. Since then this book was on my wish list. And sure enough I found a second-hand copy (I tend to go for second hand or library books. Buying new books all the time would bankrupt me!).
And this book straight away made it into my Top 6 books that changed my life. Because for me, any book that makes me feel so alive, and my body zinging with energy, fully deserves that accolade.
So, whilst I am a late adopter (the book came out in 1997), the reason I like this book so much is that it aims to provide the key to attaining peace and contentment, by - you guessed it - intending to live in the 'now'.
What does that mean? It means that:
You are good enough as you are
You are not your thoughts, not your mind, not your emotions - as these can all be observed, by ... you
Your past and your future are only in your mind and are therefore not real. All there is is now, and you should endeavour to be present in the now, accept what is happening now
Does this mean that you should just accept your situation and never make any changes? Of course not! Accepting that your life is as it is, in this moment, does not stop you from taking steps, now, to make your future life situation better.
However, it does mean that forever living in the past or in the future, or identifying with what happens in your mind (and getting 'stuck' in your story) or being ruled by your emotions, is - in the words of Eckhart Tolle 'insanity'. Eckhart Tolle's books use language that takes a bit of getting used to, but his message is clear.
My recommendation? If you haven't read this book yet, then you should!
The Art of Effortless Living
I'm sure I'm not the only one in saying that 2020 has done my back in. I envisage my upper back and my left arm and shoulder as this long big enflamed muscle.
Which is why I picked up this book again. Which talks exactly about how us adults start to hold our bodies so tensely. Creating havoc in parts of our body.
Whilst what we could do is live more effortlessly. By living more in our body. Really feeling where you are holding tension in your body. And making small adjustments. I
t talks about the impact of emotions on the body. A thing that we tend to forget. And how releasing some of that tension in our body - moving differently - can help us get in contact with our emotions more easily.
I've loved this book from the first time I read it. I'm all for living more effortlessly. Especially now. And this book provides just the right amount of guidance to help me back on track.
The Diet Myth
OK, so it's true. I'm starting to develop a (healthy? unhealthy?) fascination with the gut. And with the millions of microbes that help you stay healthy.
In this absolutely fascinating book Tim Spector talks us through all the facts and myths associated with each of the elements on the food labels. And dispels a lot of them.
Everyone is unique down to the make up of the microbes in our gut. This is why some diets work for some people but not for others
The more diverse our microbes are the better - so try as many new (unprocessed) foods as possible
Antibiotics are pretty much everywhere and are not good for us
Sugar is in everything too
Fat is not always a bad thing
And - what I always suspected (read: hoped) - too much hygiene can lead to allergies. (Or, in my words, dust and spiders are your friend!)
Gut. The inside story of our body's most under-rated organ
I can hear you say it now: what has my gut got to do with my career?
Well, as it happens quite a bit.
We all know the sayings. We are 'scared shitless', we can be 'pooing our pants'. We can't get our 'arse into gear if we don't get on with things. We 'swallow' our disappointment and need to 'digest' a defeat.
Even our ancestors knew that your gut had a role to play in your behaviour, in your actions, in your intuition. And now science is getting in on the act too!
It turns out that your gut has a lot of say in our decisions as the nerves in the gut influences different parts of your brain (spoiler alert: it's all about movement and change). And having a healthy gut influences both your physical and mental wellbeing.
So, yeah, perhaps not the most obvious choice for a career change book, but if you want to know how your gut and brain work together to help you make the best decisions then this is the book to read!
Martin Seligman is the 'father' of positive psychology, the branch of psychology that looks at how people flourish. This book explains how you can make a conscious effort to be happier. How would you do that? Well, building on what we now know about emotional intelligence (where - by becoming more self aware - we are able to manage our emotions better), we can take active steps to be more positive, about the past and about the future, and in the now. The book provides a raft of exercises that will help you to become more grateful, to forgive, to savour the now and use your strengths in something that is meaningful to you (something that is bigger than just you).
A very useful and insightful book.
Maybe you should talk to someone
Don't we all have a secret wish to see what goes on behind the closed doors of a therapist?
No? OK, just me then.
I love reading how people roll themselves up in their own stories. How they can get lost in grief, or anger. Or, as Lori Gottlieb says, they rattle the bars of their prison whilst the prison door is wide open.
There's a lot to learn in this book. About how we all get burdened with baggage throughout our life. And how it takes a brave person to take that to a therapist week after week to really get to grips with that. To reflect and learn more about yourself and wanting to do the work.
This book is about a therapist, her therapist and how people are grappling with their lives. I particularly liked the description of the struggle with a client called John, and his struggle with his own emotions.
If you want to understand more about how people work through their emotions this is your book!
The inner game of tennis
W. Timothy Gallwey
And sometimes you just find books. On a neighbour's windowsill in this case.
One of the books that's forming the basis of coaching.
Because whilst this book is about tennis it really is about the brain. About how your ego (here called Self 1) should not try to rule the body (emotional) brain (Self 2). But instead should trust it to get it right with minimal instruction.
It's about the art of concentration. it's about what other games are playing out whilst you're playing (like wanting to be the best, or looking good). How our identities can get rolled up in this 'other' game. And what the role of competition is.
Yes, it's a book about tennis. It was written in 1975 and is only 128 pages long, but it's absolutely packed with learning that you can apply anywhere.
An absolute find, which will not appear on my windowsill anytime soon!
The course of love
Alain de Botton
I've got some outspoken opinions on the 'institution' of marriage. Something to do with being trained as a lawyer, and not being keen on lifelong contracts. I won't bore you with them.
So it was only a matter of time before someone made me aware of the views of Alain de Botton. I'd seen his TED talk. And now I've read the book.
And it's a refreshingly realistic view of long-term relationships. It squashes the idea that you'll meet your absolute soulmate and will be deliriously happy for the rest of your life.
Because everyone who is in a long-term relationship will know that's a lie.
Instead it introduces the concept of 'love' as a verb. Something you've got to DO.
It talks about how - because of our childhood - we could enter into and live in a relationship with attachment issues (avoidance or anxiety based).
It talks about how communications (as ever) is key. And the willingness of two people to communicate and educate.
Marriages for land and power may no longer be of this time, but neither is the purely Romantic view of eternal bliss after having found 'the one'!
All told through the lens of an example marriage.
Great book. Lots of learning.
inGenius - A Crash Course on Creativity
I was looking for a book on creativity. And hey presto, there it was! Right in my own book cupboard.
Tina Seelig is a professor at Stanford University. At the design school. And a real expert on creativity.
This book is a swift overview of some of the techniques and exercises you can deploy to ensure that you delve into your innate creativity.
Because we are all creative. In fact, creativity is what sets us apart as a species and which will be one of the key qualities that makes us unique and irreplaceable in the future.
What I found interesting was, yes, the reiteration of some of the better-known techniques: the Six Hats theory by Edward de Bono, the creating of stimulating workspaces that support collaboration and so on.
But also the framework that you can put in place to ensure creativity. From bringing together knowledge to helping to spark your imagination and ideas. From being aware of and influencing your environment, resources and culture to cultivating an open attitude towards opportunities.
My key takeaway? Everyone is creative. Creating the environment in which creativity can flourish is key!