Right off the bat, I would like to say that everything in this post is my personal opinion. It is relevant to my current state of mind and current state of life. You might not agree with some of the things and that is fine. Hell, even I might not agree with this down the line.
But this is what I feel right now - in the moment.
So let's get started.
To understand why I choose these books, you first have to understand why I picked these up in the first place.
I have said in some previous posts that I went through a phase of depression and there came a point where everything I believed to be true about myself was shattered.
I really had to re-evaluate myself.
And that is when I came across the first two books by the same author.
1. Ego is the Enemy - Ryan Holiday
Before this I had never really 'examined' myself emotionally. Never really had conversations with myself and tried to understand who I really am. Why I do the actions that I do and what made me make a particular choice.
I believed I was a humble guy trying to help others, but this book made me question a lot of my actions.
It also made clear to me a question that had been haunting me - why I am I not moving forward in my life?
Turns out I was holding myslef back!
Here are a few quotes from the book that really stood out to me:
"The pretense of knowledge is our most dangerous vice, because it prevents us from getting any better. Studious self-assessment is the antidote."
Talk depletes us. Talking and doing fight for the same resources. Research shows that while goal visualization is important, after a certain point our mind begins to confuse it with actual progress.
Passion typically masks a weakness. Its breathlessness and impetuousness and franticness are poor substitutes for discipline, for mastery, for strength and purpose and perseverance. You need to be able to spot this in others and in yourself, because while the origins of passion may be earnest and good, its effects are comical and then monstrous.
A true student is like a sponge. Absorbing what goes on around him, filtering it, latching on to what he can hold. A student is self-critical and self-motivated, always trying to improve his understanding so that he can move on to the next topic, the next challenge. A real student is also his own teacher and his own critic. There is no room for ego there.
What humans require in our ascent is purpose and realism. Purpose, you could say, is like passion with boundaries. Realism is detachment and perspective.
Passion is form over function. Purpose is function, function, function.
The book opened my mind and I could look in places I never did. I read this over a period of time, and during that time, I slowly stripped away my ego. I completely let go of everything 'I' and saw myself in a new light.
One word of caution though: while letting go of ego, be mindful of the difference between Ego and Self-Esteem. Lose the Ego (me, myself, I) but do not lose your Self-Esteem (the respect you have for yourself).
2. The Obstacle Is The Way - Ryan Holiday
After reading the first book, I had to pick up the second one. And this one had as much impact on me.
Ryan Holiday is a big believer in Stoicism which comes up a lot in his writing.
The book is essentially about making your obstacles the very thing that launches you over them.
This made me think of everything that I saw as a problem in new light.
Made me ask the question, "How can I turn this to my advantage?"
A few quotes from the book that stood out to me:
Objective judgment, now at this very moment. Unselfish action, now at this very moment. Willing acceptance—now at this very moment—of all external events. That’s all you need.
There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.
Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing and wherever we are going, we owe it to ourselves, to our art, to the world to do it well. That’s our primary duty. And our obligation. When action is our priority, vanity falls away.
Think progress, not perfection.
Knowing that life is a marathon and not a sprint is important.
3. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Harari, Yuval Noah
History is something that very few people have been doing while everyone else was ploughing fields and carrying water buckets.
This book gives you perspective man!
It is like taking a look at the history of the world from a bird's eye view. And when you look at aything from that up high, all the little things fall apart in front of the big picture.
You will look at everyday things from such a different point of view after reading this book.
The book is divided into 4 main parts:
- The Cognitive Revolution
- The Agricultural Revolution
- The Unification of Humankind
- The Scientific Revolution
Each part takes us through a different era of humankind and how we evolved during those times and the most significant factors which brought about the change.
Few things I really found interesting were - how we actually evolved to be social beings, the explanation of why The British ruled most of the world at a point of time, why religion was so important in uniting mankind, how the agricultural revolution in a way screwed us and how the technology is advancing so fast, we will bring abuot our own extinction!
There is also a wonderful chapter towards the end where he very logically examines what humans are looking for a what it means to be happy. (my mind was 🤯 )
This is a mind boggling book, and a great topic of conversation.
It changed the way I look at so many things, it gave me a whole new perspective to life.
This is a must read!
4. The Journey Of Souls - Michael Newton
If you are a practical person (like I was), you wouldn't even want to pick this book up. I wasn't willing to read this book. But my wife forced me to read it. And after a month of pestering, I finally decided to give this a go.
And boy I am glad I did!
The author is a hypnotherapist and explains his findings about a "life between lives" through case studies of his patients.
The essense is this - We are all spiritual beings, having a human experience!
There is a world ( the spiritual world if you will ) where we go when we die. That is our actual place of recidence. We all live as spirits and are trying to grow and advance in order to meet the creator.
We do this by incarnating on earth (and other planets!) as living beings.
There are mentors/guides who help us realize (without judgement) what traits we need to learn in order to advance as a soul. We choose a life which will help us learn those traits and then we incarnate into that life.
When we die, our actions are accessed (again without judgement) and it is determined whether we learnt what we were supposed to.
We keep re-incarnating until we learn what we are supposed to, to advance to the next level.
All this is deduced by interviewing subjects who are under hypnosis and are taken to the spiritual world.
The interresting point is that though people describe this world in different ways, essentially they all are saying the same thing.
Now, it is up to you to belive this or not, but for me, this opened up a possible answer to my questions - "what is the point of all this?", "what is my purpose?"
The thing that stuck with me as a concept was that I have chosen this life. I am here to learn something - I don't know what exactly that is, but the events in this life are designed to help me learn that. I have to trust this process, be aware of my actions and take this all in as a learning experience.
This line of thinking helped me calm my mind everytime I got worked up about little things.
I would highly recommed you read this book, and see what happens! 😇
5. The 5 Second Rule - Mel Robbins
I came across Mel Robbins when I watched this video:
Then I watched her TED Talk (which is linked in the description of the above video). But this Impact Theory video if far more impactful (😉).
This book answered something that was puzziling me since a long time - "I have read so much, I have watched so many videos, I know what am I supposed to do to make my life better - BUT WHY AM I NOT ABLE TO DO IT!" (Yes, I had to shout out the last part).
The answer is to take action by following the 5 second rule.
The concept is more like meditation, where you try to maintain your focus and as soon as your mind wanders, bring it back to focus.
Everytime you decide to do something - take control of your life, go to the gym, eat healthy, improve relationships - whatever it might be, your mind tries to talk you out of it, coz its the easier thing to do.
You have 5 seconds before you decide to give up. So the idea is to count down from 5-4-3-2-1 and just take action. Beat your mind to it.
Mel Robbins describes this as very simple (which it is), but not easy. She says "you will never feel like it". You just have to push yourself to do it.
I am in process of reading this book (half way through it), but I am already realizing how this can help and the power of this simple little thing.
Already have a few instances where I didn't feel like it but still pushed myslef to do it, and felt better after.
So what so you guys think? What are the books that changed your life?
Let me know in the comments. I would love some recommendations.
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Until next time...
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