New Years Resolution: Read more books!

It is officially the first day of 2018. While most people are cracking on with their New Year’s resolutions, many of them involving the gym or eating leaves, I would like to take your attention elsewhere. If you haven’t guessed it already, it’s about reading more books and why that may be a much better New Years resolution.

Here are the top 5 reasons why you should consider adopting the habit of reading every day.

1. Readers are kinder, more empathetic people

A recent study at Kingston University in London found that people who read more tend to be nicer compared to those who prefer to watch TV. The researchers also found that reading books was associated with increased empathy, as people who read tend to have the ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes and are able to relate to them better.

2. Readers are more likely to be successful

Many successful entrepreneurs and professionals alike share this trait. Many of them would actually say that their success can be traced back to the many books that they read. This is because reading increases your knowledge, and knowledge, as we know, is power.

3. Reading increases your ability to focus

To sit down and read a book requires focus. Most of us have had the experience of reading the same line 10 times and still not knowing what we’ve read. That’s because we’re distracted. Reading on a regular basis can improve your ability to focus because it requires focus. This regular practice of focus can then spill over to other areas of your life, and in turn make you a more focused person.

4. Reading increases your ability to think outside the box

We’ve all heard this before but it’s still worth mentioning. When you read a lot, you’re able to see things from different perspectives. Each author has their own way of expressing themselves and each one sees the world in a slightly different way. That’s why the more you read, the more open-minded you become. The more you’re able to understand different perspectives. This links directly to the first point, as the more you’re able to understand, the kinder you tend to be.

5. Reading makes you more cultured and accepting

It has been discovered that people who read regularly tend to have the ability to blend easily with other cultures. They tend to be more accepting of others being the way they are. This is an extremely desirable personal quality as the world is continuously mixing and being able to speak to, understand and accept people from different cultures is essential.

Ideas of how you can incorporate more reading in your day

  • Wake up an hour or so earlier and set aside that first portion of the day to reading.
  • Consider swapping the TV with a book.
  • Take your book with you to school or work and read in your break.
  • Cose up the atmosphere on a Sunday afternoon, make yourself a cup of tea/coffee, get a nice soft blanket and immerse yourself in a good book. Ahh heaven!

 

Book review: The Four Agreements

This book instantly grabbed my attention in the bookstore. It is so small and colourful and screams “Pick me up!”. And so I did. Thank God! This is one of those books that as you read along you find yourself making mental notes such as; “This is important”, “I should write this down to tell mum”, “I must read this passage every day” and so on. That’s how you know you’ve picked yourself a great book!

What is the book about?

Ancient wisdom of the Toltec, a culture who dominated a state in Mexico in the early post-classic period of Mesoamerican chronology. This book shines a light onto all the ills that pain our worlds. The mental ills, that is. As we, humans, are described as predominantly living inside our own minds, for the most part. Don Miguel then talks about how harshly we judge ourselves and those around us. How we try to fit a made-up idea of perfection and how we suffer endlessly when we do not live up to that idea. He offers us four simple pieces of advice. Advice that will help quieten the constant internal judge and help us see our world with clarity.

Who is this book for?

I am so inclined to say everyone because this book is so great, but I will not, as the style of writing and choice of metaphors and examples may not be everyone’s cup of tea. This is a spiritual book that gives us a whiff of ancient, esoteric knowledge. It’s for those who want their wisdom wrapped up in the comfort blanket of spirituality and those who are open minded enough to overlook various metaphors in order to dig out the golden nuggets, as I say, the priceless, timeless, wisdom and knowledge.

The golden nuggets of this book

  • Be impeccable with your word – Choose and use your words wisely. They have the power to build bridges or destroy worlds. Speak with integrity and say only what you mean.
  • Don’t take anything personally – Nothing anybody says or does is because of you. Whatever they say or do is a projection of their own reality. If they shout out to you in anger, know that it is not you that is the cause of the anger, but instead the anger was already within them, and they are simply using you as an object to which they can project that anger. When you free yourself of the opinions and actions of others you will cease to be a victim of needless suffering.
  • Don’t make assumptions – So often we act in ways that are different from how we would usually act because we assume this and that. We assume this person doesn’t really like us and so we don’t call them anymore. We assume that some other  person already has so many friends and so we never reach out to them. The destructiveness of this habit is clearly evident as reality in most cases is very different from those assumptions manufactured in our heads. Find the courage to ask questions and express your truth. Communicate with others as clearly as possible to avoid misunderstandings and drama. You don’t know what kind of world any other person is living in, so don’t assume things. Simply have the courage to ask. Put your ego or pride aside and enquire. This is so powerful that even with this agreement on its own you can transform your life!
  • Always do your best – Your best will be different today than it was yesterday or will be tomorrow. Your best will be different when you are healthy to when you are sick. Whatever life throws at you at any given moment, just do your best from where you are. That’s all. Don’t judge yourself. Whatever the circumstances, just do your best.

My thoughts on the book

This is one of my favourite books ever! Humble and touching. It allows you to tap into the compassionate and loving parts of your personality and broaden your understanding of human dynamics. It reminds us to “do unto others as you would have done unto you” because the others and you are one and the same. We’re all one. Cheese, you might say. But that will only be your reality. And I only have one question for you. Is your view of reality serving you?

 

 

 

If you’d like to purchase this book please click on the amazon logo below to be redirected to the amazon website.

 

Book review: The Blue Zones

 

The blue zones: 9 lessons for living longer from the people who’ve lived the longest is one of the first books that I read about longevity. I think it was the title that captured me. I’m a really big fan of “only take advice from those who’ve already accomplished what they’re giving advice on” so I knew straight away that this book contained some golden nuggets!

What is the book about?

The book is based on the travels of the author, Dan Buettner, to five regions of the world that have an unusually high number of centenarians (people over the age of 100). He refers to these areas as The Blue Zones. Visiting each of those blue zones he takes us on a journey to discover how and why those people are able to live so long, and in most cases, disease-free. He looks into every aspect of their life, where they live, who they live with, what they eat, if they exercise, if they have any particular religious/spiritual beliefs and lots, lots more. In the last chapter, he evaluates al the information that he found and condenses it down to just 9 principles. These 9 principles he believes, are the keys to long-term health and longevity.

Who is this book for?

Anyone who is interested in finding out what it takes to be healthy and stay healthy for a whole century, literally!

The golden nuggets of this book

  1. Move naturally – Exercise. Must be pretty important to make it to the top of the list, you think. You are absolutely right! But not the type of exercise you’d think. The centenarians haven’t done a single workout in their life yet they exercise every single day. Their whole day involves movement, natural movement. Walking up and down the town, gardening, raising animals, chopping wood, all the daily necessities of life basically. Research has shown that sustained low intensity exercise that’s easy on the knees and hips contributes to cellular health and in turn, longevity.
  2. Reduce caloric intake by 20% – Trial after trial has shown that if you reduce the caloric intake of an animal by 20%, the animal lives 20% longer. This has become common knowledge within the scientific community as the experiment has been conducted countless of times on countless of animals, resulting in the same consistent, significant findings. (Food for thought: a fast metabolism might be a good idea for your waistline, while a slightly slower metabolism may be good for sticking around longer).
  3. Eat whole, unprocessed foods and avoid meat: Eating a diet mainly consisting of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds is associated with increased health benefits. As for meat, only 1 blue zone consisted of vegetarians. The rest all ate meat, but only once a month!
  4. Drink red wine: Interestingly, wine was consumed by most centenarians in most of the blue zones. Studies have shown than 1 glass of red wine a day is associated with many health benefits. Also, having a glass of wine with or after dinner makes it an “event” making it more likely that you will eat slowly and engage in conversation with the people around you, thus making you happier. Win win!
  5. Living with purpose: One trait common to all blue zones is that each centenarian had a keen sense of purpose and direction. Many studies have shown that when people retire from work, in the years that follow their health gradually begins to deteriorate. Many people cannot wait to retire, they fantasise about all the free time that they’ll have to what all the things they’ve always wanted to do but after those first few months many people begin to lose that sense of purpose and direction. They wake up with no aim for the day, just living for the sake of living. Job or no job, the people who live longest are the ones that wake up on purpose and live with purpose. Every. Single. Day.
  6. No Stress: People who make it to 100 seem to exude a sense of sublime serenity. They rest frequently, socialise regularly and just don’t sweat the small stuff. They get on with their day in a calm and diligent way. In the modern world, there seems to be so many things to stress and worry about, and it is so difficult to get out of that vicious cycle of stress and anxiety. Some effort to downshift however, will be generously rewarded. Science has only recently began to see the link between stress and almost every known disease. Relax, unwind, breathe.
  7. Belonging: No centenarian was lonely. Everyone lived with their family and had friends living nearby. Social connection and a sense of belonging is so important. Surround yourself with kind and loving people, make an effort to regularly visit family and friends or join a community. Pick a hobby and join or create a community based on that. You’ll be amazed by the amazing energy that is created when people with similar interests come together!
  8. Make family a priority: The people that lived longest, all put their family first. The house, family and children were the core around which they based their lives. Spend time with your family, make an effort and work on those vital relationships. They give you life, quite literally! Whenever I think about family I always think about my closest friends too because for me, and for many others too family isn’t just about blood.
  9. Find your tribe:  Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, surround  ourself with those who share the same values/principles as you. This just brings everything together. It’s no fun living a healthy life alone, because fun is an integral part of living a healthier/longer life. Find your people. People to hike with, people to meditate with, people to have a nice glass of wine while laughing your guts out with. Find them and treasure them!

My thoughts on the book

There’s so much that I love about this book! It’s just so honest and straightforward. In times when there’s just so much information about health out there this book is a like a little oasis. Many other books tell us what we should and should’t do to he healthy but not many actually follow up on how those behaviours affect us in the long run. For example, my health experts prescribe high intensity workouts and training while actually hardcore physical training is not associated with longevity. Quite the opposite. Too much exercise is actually found to be harmful for the body long-term. Every suggestion that the author makes is based on the experience of those centenarians and backed up with the latest scientific knowledge. It is both touching and reassuring, and factual and educational. The principles are very down to Earth, practical and almost common sense. And that’s how it should be!

 

 

If you’d like to purchase this book please click on the amazon logo below to be redirected to the amazon website.