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Well now that THAT’S over, we move on to 2021. 🙂 I have some interesting book suggestions I want to share with you if you want a different perspective going forward into 2021.
The three books I’m currently reading are:
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living
and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.
At first glance, this might seem to be a motley crew of selections to be reading concurrently. It actually isn’t. These books all play very nicely together, despite the titles. 🙂
First up, Quiet. If you are an introvert, this book will make you feel so understood and validated. We live in a very noisy world that appears to value “personality,” the extroverts who make the most noise.
It can make introverts feel as though something is wrong with them. But guess what? Different isn’t the same as wrong.
I am an introvert at heart. Granted, a fairly high functioning one when I have to be, but an introvert for sure. I don’t need to talk all the time. I don’t need to socialize to feel good. I am perfectly comfortable with solitude and quiet activities.
I was already feeling better when I read in the introduction of this book that there is an actual neurologic difference between the brains of introverts and extroverts. Extroverts HAVE to have socialization to recharge their brain. Introverts need solitude to recharge from the strain of socializing.
I think knowing this can help both introverts and extroverts better understand each other. I think both introverts and extroverts should read this book.
Our loud society tends to place a higher value on extroverts, and this is a mistake. Introverts have SO MUCH to contribute, yet they are dismissed because they aren’t flashy and noisy. Everyone can play a valuable role in any organization, be it a company, a team, or a family.
My husband is an extreme extrovert. Like he could be the president of the Global Extrovert Club, if such a thing were to exist. 🙂 Compared to him, everyone is an introvert. But I especially am. He is very animated, and when I accuse him of interrupting me, he always says, “You paused.” When extroverts see a hole in the action, they jump in to fill it.
He tends to gravitate toward people that are just like him, especially when hiring people for his business. But he is also learning to recognize that less flashy people can also be extremely effective in his business. I think that is a great trait in an extrovert. To be able to see that just because someone is completely different from you, you ignore their value at your own peril.
According to the author of Quiet, at least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They prefer to listen rather than speak. They love to create and are innovative, but don’t like self-promotion. They work better alone than in teams.
She also goes on to feature famous introverts, and explain the power of their quiet strengths. People like Rosa Parks, Chopin, Steve Wozniak, and Dr. Seuss, to name a few. Imagine the world without their contributions.
The purpose of this book is not to say to extroverts, “Shut up, already, and leave the introverts alone.” It also doesn’t serve as a pass for introverts to go around “shushing” the world to force them to conform to their need for quiet.
It does provide an outstanding explanation of introverts, their thought processes, and what they themselves and those who know and work with them can do to harness their powers. It provides insight into how introverts can work toward curating their work and life to allow them to function in a world they find noisy, yet still contribute in a meaningful way.
I find the world to be noisy. Never more so than this past year. 2020 was extremely challenging on all levels for everyone. I have been amused listening to extroverts whine and complain about how the pandemic has cramped their style by limiting their opportunities to socialize.
Guess what, extroverts? It’s been no picnic for those of us who are BUILT for something like this, who have had to put up with your restlessness. 🙂
So if you are an introvert, or know one, (so pretty much everyone) you could benefit from reading this book.
Next up, The Daily Stoic. This is basically a daily “devotional” type book, with a topic per day on the subject of stoicism.
What is stoicism? Misunderstood, for starters. 🙂
I think the dictionary definition is a bit incomplete. It states the definition as “the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.”
Stoicism: The endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.
It is SO much more than that. At first glance, this definition would lead one to believe that a stoic is one without emotion. Not true. If read more closely, it says it is the endurance of hardship without the DISPLAY of feelings or complaint.
A stoic is someone who is not driven by their emotions, but rather by cultivating responses based on self-mastery and perseverance. Stoicism has its roots in Greek and Roman philosophy and was highly valued by great leaders like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt.
It also has modern applications and is studied by CEOs, hedge fund managers, coaching staffs, and others.
Stoicism pursues the discipline of perception (how we see the world), the discipline of action (the decisions and actions we take), and the discipline of will (recognizing and how we deal with things we cannot change, by using judgment). The Stoics believe that by controlling perceptions, mental clarity can be achieved.
This book primarily studies the writings of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca. Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emperor, Epictetus was a former slave who became an influential lecturer, and Seneca was a political advisor and playwright.
The book is divided into three sections, devoting about 100 days each to the disciplines of perception, action, and will. The goal of the study of stoicism can be summed up in the words of Marcus Aurelius:
“All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.”
In other words, control your perceptions, direct your actions accordingly, and willingly accept what is outside of your control.
If we learned anything this past year, it is that we are not in control of a whole lot. The way we are used to doing life changed for the entire world.
We can allow that to undo us and give way to being emotionally overwrought, or we can accept the things we cannot change, and focus on what we are going to do to direct our energy toward what we CAN do.
This really resonates with me. I guess I’ve long been a stoic but didn’t really have the word for it. I’m always the one thinking, “Okay, so what are you going to DO about it?”
The joke about me is, “You kill someone, I’m your first call.” 🙂 I’m not the one you call when you want tea and sympathy. I’m the call you make when you need help with the body.
If you watch Yellowstone, (and if you don’t, you need to fix that) 🙂 I most identify with Rip. He’s the quiet, stoic ranch hand that everyone calls when they’re in trouble. When someone is causing a problem for the ranch, and they need to be given a ride to “the train station,” you call Rip. He’s the fixer.
We were recently watching a Yellowstone marathon and I said to my daughter, “We need a Rip.” She said, “Well, you kinda ARE Rip.” I am not as hot as he is with his quiet rage and strong beard game, but I’ll take it. 🙂
So if you are looking for a way to approach life from a place of reason, to find your center in the midst of chaos, this book gives us the wisdom acquired thousands of years ago and shows us how to apply it to our lives.
This brings me to my final selection: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Normally I wouldn’t be drawn to a book with profanity in the title.
Not that I’m anti-profanity, because sometimes I’m very much for it when called for and used effectively. 🙂 I even have a pro-profanity printable in my Printables Shop.
But it feels like putting the F word in the title of books has become the darling of the publishing world lately, and it feels gratuitous. And normally I’m not a fan of excessive profanity. I even have my coffee mug that I use every day with the words of the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey:
But I decided to give this book a try. It is a wonderful companion read to The Daily Stoic, which is the more scholarly approach. This one is not that. 🙂 This is more like one of your drinking buddy bros who shakes you and tells you to get your act together.
There is a prolific use of the F word in this book, so if that is something you don’t like, you may want to pass on this one. It’s a lot.
I picked them concurrently and yet accidentally, but one even references the other. So it was a good choice.
I’m not sure I would like this author much personally, or at least what he used to be, by his own admission. He seems like he was a world-class jerk. But to his credit, he seems to have internalized all the lessons from his bad behavior and made great changes in his life. And we can all learn from that.
The premise of this book is that we are each allotted only a certain number of “f*cks” to give about stuff, and so we must use them judiciously. 🙂 It is important to learn what it is we can and cannot control. This is what makes it such a nice read to accompany The Daily Stoic.
I am enjoying this book because I am someone who often forgets what things I can and cannot control. For example. on any given day I can get worked up over stuff like:
- Long lines and delays
- People who weigh a lot more than I do who wear crop tops in public
- People who shoot off fireworks for an entire week during New Year’s and 4th of July, keeping my scared dog from peeing outside in the evenings
- Athletic personnel who get paid millions of dollars to LEAVE their jobs. Because they stink at it. What other profession pays you even though they fired you?
- That Cardi B is famous in any way
- People who say they’re going to do something when they have no intention whatsoever of doing it
Do you see what I mean? Not a single one of these things is even remotely within my control. Yet I allow stuff like that to bother me. I am misusing my allotment of things to care about, according to this author.
We also misuse them by choosing inappropriate metrics for ourselves by which to measure success. We must choose VALUES over things and comparisons.
The author tells a great story about a musician who is kicked out of his own band. He is devastated but channels that into an obsession with becoming an even better musician and forming a band with even better musicians. He aims to stick it to his former band with his success. He becomes a man possessed and forms a successful band that sells MILLIONS of albums. Millions. The band is Megadeth.
Yet so sadly for him, the band he was kicked out of was Metallica. Who sold millions MORE albums than Megadeth. So because this musician’s metric for himself by which he measures success is whether or not he is better than Metallica, he views himself as a failure. Even having sold millions of albums with his own band, he still thinks he is a failure because he didn’t outsell Metallica.
The author also talks about choosing our struggles. No one will have a life without struggles or problems. He asks us what pain do you most want in your life? In other words, what are you WILLING to struggle for? If you CHOOSE your struggles and what you’re willing to sacrifice for, happiness comes from knowing that what you are doing aligns with your values.
There are things you may think you want, but in reality, you’re not willing to make the sacrifices and put in the work required to achieve it. And that can be okay. You have to be honest with yourself that you want the end result but not the climb to get there. You won’t be happy until you want both the end result and the process required to achieve it.
He also talks about taking full responsibility for your life. Like, for everything. This is not the same as taking the blame for everything or being at fault. There are many things that happen to us that aren’t our fault. But what we DO with them is our full responsibility. We can’t control some things that happen or how any other person behaves. But we can fully control our reactions and responses to them.
He rails against what he calls “victimhood chic,” or the trend these days where it seems cool to always be offended by something, anything. To paint oneself as the victim in every situation. I know people who do that. They rewrite every narrative to position themselves as the victim, therefore relieving them, in their minds, from taking any responsibility for anything.
The danger with this, among other things, is that it takes the attention away from people who are actually victimized.
He says that we are all making choices every single day, even when we think we aren’t. Avoiding taking responsibility is a choice. If we want to change for the better, we need to change what we care about, take full charge of our responses to everything, and choose better things to care about.
It’s these shifts in thinking that are the “subtle” part of the title of this book.
So those are my book suggestions for the new year. Even though the calendar has turned the page to a new year, we are still facing many of the same challenges we were a week ago, and months ago.
If you are looking for some reading material that allows you to take an honest look at how you process things and respond to them, I can hope these book suggestions give you some food for thought. I’d love to know if you’ve read any of them and what you think.
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