Rating: 1/2 out of 5
You're wondering why I haven't read a book for over a month aren't you? Well in addition to going on holiday and being ultra busy, I landed myself a very boring book.
This is the last time I judge a book by its best seller ranking. It was at the very top of the table so I downloaded it without listening to an extract of the audiobook or reading reviews. A huge waste of my audible credits.
What's wrong with the book:
1. The author narrated his own book and he has the most awful monotonous voice.
2. The book is about dealing with anger and emotions and hence managing yourself and others better. I didn't realise this was a major problem. Are there really so many people failing to manage their emotions that they need a how-to manual for this basic function?
Overall, don't waste your time. I'll try to read a little more next month...
This book was recommended by a good friend of mine. I liked it but I have to be the first to admit that I probably didn't fully understand the content. Either I've read it at the wrong point in my life or it's too deep for me.
The book is all about enjoying the here and now and focusing less on the past or the future.
Apparently, once you can fully surrender yourself to enjoying now, you become enlightened. Enlightenment is defined as the end of suffering in Buddhism. Tolle likes this definition because it doesn't go on to define what happens when all suffering ends.
By not going into life-post-suffering, people have nothing to fixate on. People like to create an image or a moving of how they want life their life or a future event; they then fantasise about it and obsess over it. This is not the way to enlightenment according Tolle. Enlightenment is not elsewhere, it's here, now and lies inside all of us. You need to tap into it.
I agree that thinking can be a disease when it's compulsive and involuntary. Tolle says the only difference between a mentally retarded person and you is that the mentally retarded person is constantly vocalising his thoughts and fantasies.
Tolle differentiates between one's life and one's life situation. He then goes on to say life is formless and timeless. The formlessness and timelessness of life is a concept that I am still struggling to grasp.
Whatever your present circumstance is, accept it as though you had chosen it and you will be happier. This doesn't mean you won't work your way out of an unpleasant situation but that you won't spend any time thinking about how hard done by you are. Or worse, complaining.
Tolle says some people live their lives through a "pain-body". Everyone has one but only some people live through it. The pain-body shows itself in the form of impatience, irritation, hurt, anger, grief, illness and other negative feelings. The sooner one is conscious that they are being excessively driven by these emotions, the sooner one can gain control. A negative inner state is more contagious than a disease.
Pain feeds on pain and the more negativity you allow into your life, the larger the pain-body grows. Pain can't feed on joy, it finds it indigestible.
"Ego"according to Tolle is the self-defined self. The ego (and everyone has one) is apparently very vulnerable and insecure; it sees itself as constantly under threat even if outwardly confident.
Overall, I took one real lesson from this book: now is all you have so enjoy it! Is there joy, ease and lightness in what you do, in how you live your life? If not: leave it, accept it or change it - anything else is madness. Complaining makes you a victim.
A final question for you: are you polluting the world or cleaning up the mess? Think about it.
I highly recommend this book.
Because it's so different to my field of work and study, I felt so much better educated after reading it. Moreover, it's not just the information but the characters are spell-binding; I loved, Ann Trason, Emil Zátopek, Jenn Shelton, Barefoot Ted, Caballo Blanco and of course, the Tarahumara.
Because I loved the book so much, it has inspired these four blogs:
The women went hunting too!?!
You were designed to outrun deer
The "best" running shoes are the worst!
The hardest thing about banking that no one ever talks about
Interesting fact to know for when you get stuck somewhere thirsty and without water: urine is perfectly sterile, nutrient rich and apparently is great for whitening teeth, so give it a good swirl around your mouth before chugging it down!
I couldn’t have landed upon a better read.
This book is awesome. Described simply, it’s about understanding the psychology of other people and therefore learning to treat them better with the intention of getting the best out of them. The book is so good that I had to add it to the recommended reading list in my newly published book, To Become an Investment Banker.
The principles in this book can be applied to raising children, developing employees in one’s company, selling and any other interpersonal interactions. As usual, I will share some of the useful insights that were relayed. The book was also full of interesting examples and anecdotes but if you want these you will need to purchase it.
I think this is what they call a “modern day classic”. 100% original and remarkably perceptive of people’s motivations and behaviors. It’s extremely reminiscent of Orwell’s “1984” but is different enough to make it trés original. Thoroughly refreshing and I strongly recommend it as a must-read.
In the book a 'professional' thief goes into a coma and when he wakes up four years later the whole legal system has changed. Prisons no longer exist and in their place is a relearning/reeducation system designed to teach people the error of their ways. The protagonist Michael O'Connor is a guy with great intentions but each time he is out to help someone he uses the only skill he has: breaking and entering. He finds the whole reeducation system painful and wants a way out of it. I won't tell you how the story ends you can find that out for yourself but it will definitely get you thinking.
The book got me thinking about a lot of issues. For instance, the focus away from imprisonment to relearning civil skills; the difficulty of reeducating people that have gone too far down the wrong path; the importance of a good upbringing with two loving parents; the difficulty of catching white-collar crime; the inevitability of governmental control over us - with so many transactions recorded on loyalty cards, credit cards and on the internet the Government can more effectively control all of us - there no point in not conforming e.g. by avoiding taxes as you will almost certainly get caught.
The last book I read (Private London by James Patterson) took me a month because I kept finding something else to do, it didn't grab my attention. This one took two days although it was slightly longer and I work full-time!
A very insightful book that I would encourage everyone to read whether you are currently feeling happy or not. I enjoyed reading Bertrand Russell’s take on happiness more especially because it was written in the 1930s and allowed me to draw parallels between then and now.
I would say not very much has changed, however it is very clear that women had a certain ‘place’ in society at the time e.g. if they got married they were expected to leave work and bear children. Bertrand is rather forward thinking for the time as he expresses the view that he doesn’t think that is at all necessary. He states that a child of nine months can very easily be passed on to someone that specializes in child care allowing the mother to pursue her career and other hobbies.
I will probably write a few blogs this year related to this book but in advance of that below are a few of my favorite Bertrand thoughts, I paraphrase in most cases:
If something comes so easily the pleasure, I find, is less intense and fleets by quite rapidly. “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.” It gives you something to work towards, it gives you a reason to wake up in the morning.
Please note that the kindle versions below are a "modern-day interpretation". The actual book is not currently available on the kindle store.
That said, this statement can be applied quite effectively to less developed countries where credit does remain scarce and hard to come by.
The only annoying thing about this book is that it is only available as a paper copy and as all my friends will know, I read all my books on my phone nowadays. It’s much more convenient because it’s portable, it’s quick and easy to find definitions or to highlight interesting words and phrases. In summary: buy.
I think this is one of the best poems ever written on what breeds happiness in life. Here's Martial:
Of what does the happy life consist,
My dear friend Julius? Here's a list:
Inherited wealth no need to earn,
Fires that continually burn,
And fields that give a fair return,
No lawsuits, formal togas worn
Seldom, a calm mind, the freeborn
Gentleman's health and good physique,
Tact with the readiness to speak
Openly, friends of your own mind,
Guests of an easy-going kind,
Plain food, a table simply set,
Nights sober but wine-freed from fret,
A wife who's true to you and yet
No prude in bed, and sleep so sound
It makes the day come quickly round.
Be pleased with what you are, keep hope
Within that self-appointed scope:
Neither uneasily apprehend
Nor morbidly desire the end.
Daniel Pink explores the issues surrounding what motivates people. Key to his analysis is the argument that people generally enjoy work and that the stick and carrot approach favored by most businesses to encourage people to work may actually me demoralizing and counterproductive because it strips the implicit enjoyment out of work. I fully agreed with this premise, I think it is true for me although it is not necessarily true for all people.
That said, I did not agree with every example he gave, for instance, he presented a study showing that if people are paid to give blood, fewer people give blood because the good-will aspect is taken out of the giving. This may well be true for the developed world but I know for a fact that Malawi has increased blood donations by providing some food and a generous “expenses” allowance. In a country that is so poor even quite a small amount can be a powerful motivator to donate blood, I gave blood myself but gave my money away. Perhaps Daniel’s argument explains why I felt the need not to keep the money.
My favorite take-away from this book is the idea of a ROWE (results-only-work-environment), that is, a working situation where people are given targets and tasks of what needs to be achieved but are given carte blanche on how it is achieved – they don’t even have to come to work – they can work from wherever; this would suit me just fine. I constantly talk about how I hate waking up to be in my office from 7.30 to 7.30, those hours don’t suit me at all. I love work for work in itself but I loathe being micro-managed and I despise face-time even more. It’s Saturday and I started this write-up at 4.50 a.m. because for today, that is what is convenient for me, most people are asleep now and probably will be for quite a few more hours but that’s what suits them. More businesses need to take a serious think about how they could be more ROWEy (yes, I coined that phrase) because it is not only intellectually appealing, it has been shown to be very successful by those that have taken the step. Amongst many things, employees are happier, productivity rises (increasing revenue) and turnover falls (reducing hiring costs).
I started reading this book last year but only picked it up again this year. The book is divided into 3 main sections:
1 Obsessives, Pioneers and Other Varieties of Minor Genius
2 Theories, Predictions and Diagnoses
3 Personality, Character and Intelligence
Part 3 was hands down the most interesting section. Part 1 was good enough to keep going, however, once I reached part 2 I failed to read on, I even had to skip a couple of chapters because those topics didn’t interest me. When Malcolm Gladwell discussed strategy in sport or war my brain seemed to shut down, however, anything related to intelligence, human behaviour and the criminal mind had me gripped. Once I got to part 3 I zoomed right through to the end. Outliers remains my favourite book of his followed by Blink and then What the Dog Saw.
I was most interested by the “stereotype threat” apparently, once a certain group is confronted to perform a task that they are stereotyped as not being good at, they underperform e.g. in a test of intelligence blacks underperform if they are told it is a test but perform equivalently to their white counterparts if the test is just given to them without an explanation; the same underperformance was observed with white men jumping and women on quantitative ability. I didn’t even know some people believe black people are less intelligent until last year!! I guess you’d have to know the stereotype existed to feel threatened by something.
A girlfriend of mine who’s a trader told me that her boss consistently makes snide comments about her being ditsy and less intelligent than “the boys” such that whenever he puts her on the spotlight with a question she find herself hesitating even when she knows the answer. Now I can tell her why.
By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
Time allowing, I love to read. If I read anything interesting, I will blog about it here.