It’s the halfway mark month of the year, and this year has been flying by like no other. With that said, I’ve also accomplished much more than I have this year than in any other year. I think part of it has to do with having pushed myself to be out there a lot more, but another part is just the level of focus I’ve been giving to the things that matter. When it comes to survival, you really want to be on the right side of all of it. It’s been a great experience so far.
One thing that has been wonderfully different this year is that I finished reading some books. I used to be in the middle of at least fifty different books – and I still am – but I could hardly recount finishing just one book at the end of a year. I would also attribute part of this bad habit to the writers as well – they seem to get tired about the three-quarters way of the book, and the writing and focus gets fuzzy, repetitive, and unclear. I found it hard to get through most of the books I read this year as well because of that.
With that said, I still got through three important books this year that I really loved and wanted to share, in the order of having completed them.
The first book I finished reading this year is Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. It’s a popular book and has a lot of controversy because of him as a person. Placing any political views aside and avoiding taking sides on the personal attacks people made on him, I really found his book helpful at this point in my life to read and absorb. I’ve actually begun re-reading it as well, because I enjoyed especially the first few chapters a lot.
Peterson gives us twelve guidelines to follow for living life – I would describe it as what he calls a righteous life, one that can have a greater meaning beyond oneself. I absolutely loved this idea from the first moment I came into contact with it, because prior to that, I thought my life was about being happy. By the time I got to this book, I was pretty much sold on the fact that a life well-lived was nothing to do with being happy,
I was first introduced to this author by a friend of mine who shared a video clip of Peterson speaking about how we shouldn’t make it a goal to shelter and protect our children. It was a new idea for me, as I thought a lot about how I would protect my kid growing up, not realizing that the feathered nest is the most dangerous nest of all.
I observed people who shelter their kid – making sure the kid feels encouraged about everything, they protecting the kid, and finding reasons to not bring them outside or do certain things. I observed other people doing exactly the opposite – let the kid go out and live, get hurt, make his/her own mistakes, and see how they learn from them. I have ambivalent feelings toward this. On one hand, I felt like lack of loving encouragement creates a lot of issues for people growing up, but at the same time, I feel even more uncomfortable with the level of nurturing support some people demonstrate to their kids.
I don’t have a clear answer for it, but I can say that I do feel more comfortable with the idea of letting the kid make his/her own mistakes, and handling my own insecurities and fears around letting my kid be off on their own and leaving the nest. I would hope to be able to allow as much hand-letting-go as possible at any point of development for the kid, while passing on the best principles and values I can. But my ideas may change as I approach that time as well, and it will have a lot to do with my partner and how we choose to raise kids as well.
Anyways, back to the book – I gained a lot from the discourse in the book related to the principle I just laid out: is life about being happy and joyful, or is it about a kind of shouldering the darkness through the sacred act of responsibility? Through a series of events in my life over the past few years, I came to realize that the world isn’t a happy place to be in, and that the sooner I accepted that, the sooner I could change that in better ways. I had the deep blessing of developing a strong spiritual connection early on in my life, and with this, I gained a curse of believing the world was a friendly place to be in – naively stumbling into horrible situations and not being able to comprehend at all what was wrong, refusing to give up the “friendly universe” paradigm. One of the graces and most important lessons I received from the difficult experiences is that the world is a dark, harsh place where evil does exist and operate – no, it’s not just the ‘absence of the light,’ it’s a real physical force that causes a lot of destruction.
The solution to my paralysis came in the form of spiritual direction, as well as Jordan B. Peterson’s insights. Investing my time, money, and energy into studying this book was a real lifesaver as I moved into unchartered territory and had to work to let go of everything I gained from before, starting from nothing as much as possible. I would not be here without the principles laid out in this book, and I am really glad I read this book this year.
Second book – Love from Heaven, by Lorna Byrne. This book is a really, really simple read, but it also turned out to be really meaningful and impactful for me. Lorna’s approach is a lot more in line with ‘the universe is a friendly place’ idea, but I was more focused on the way I personally was impacted through the reading of the book.
My greatest takeaway from this book is that love is an unseen, physical force that for whatever reason, Lorna can visibly see. The way she described many cases of people loving or not loving themselves, what that looks like in the nonphysical realm, what the angels say about it – all of it helped me to personify and physicalize the concept of love to me as a force I could remind myself of each and every day. I already do have strong faith in Love and Power, but this book served as an important reminder of that to myself, and helped me to release more of the love I have. I prayed a lot throughout the reading of this book, as well as with 12 Rules, and was guided back to the love that resides within me, and how I could apply it to many areas of my life. I was also brought to this book after setting an intention of knowing I am love, so it was a beautiful weaving of the manifesting of that intention.
The final book I finished reading this year (so far) is Give Up to Get On, by Peg Streep and Alan Bernstein. This book was one that was jumping out at me when I saw it, and I’m so glad I picked it up and read through the whole thing. Like the other two books, at times it got repetitive, but the message was so crucially important. The authors write about how we live in a culture where persistence and pulling through is encouraged, and quitting is discouraged, but there are serious downsides to this approach. From early on in the book, the ‘wrong ways to quit’ were also detailed – so it was clear that this isn’t a case of giving up whenever you encounter something difficult. Rather, it is more about the idea of properly disengaging with goals that do not work for us, so that we can set different goals that are in alignment with who we are. It shares a lot of psychological experiments on the subject which shed light on the illusion that we didn’t make something happen because we aren’t good enough – a pervasive cultural myth.
One of my greatest takeaways from this book was in a section that discussed the difference between a ‘state-oriented’ individual and an ‘action-oriented’ individual. I definitely fall into the ‘state-oriented’ type of individual – one that can get paralyzed by an exterior situation inducing a specific state in us (as well as easily uplifted by an exterior event), and those who are state-oriented find it very difficult to quit situations that are not good for us. It has a lot to do with childhood rearing and the level of attachment and security a child feels growing up. ‘Action-oriented’ people, on the other hand tend to move on pretty quickly from one situation to another through applying action and not getting stymied by their state.
I identified my sister to be much more action-oriented than I was – certain things that our parents would say to us wouldn’t affect her as much as it would affect me, and she seemed to go out and do things without too much trouble, whereas I would plan, prep myself emotionally and mentally, then go do it – maybe, depending on my state at the time. She on the other hand, tends to prep herself physically a little, and then just goes out to do it. I found the revealing of my type of orientation to exterior events to be very helpful, as being aware of it helped remind me it wasn’t something I should let stop me, only to be aware of the kind of person I am and help me move through things as they came along.
State-oriented people, by the way, enjoy deeper connection with those around them because we tend to share our feelings and open up to a deeper dimension. This is definitely true of me, so there’s so much good to it as well, as long as we learn how to manage these tendencies and develop ourselves accordingly.
So those are the three books I read and finished this year so far. I’m currently reading a couple others, and it does help that I usually have a commute when I get myself around in the city. I presume it will be more difficult later on to be able to spend so much time reading – as I have a partner and kids and what not – so I’m intent on making the best use of my time now to enjoy what I have.
Let me know if you get a chance to read any of these books, and what you think of them. I’m excited to read more this year and get a major dent going on in my reading list.