Greetings from the middle of a snow-icane! This one’s called Grayson, because apparently the person who names these things thought that a snow hurricane “colder than the surface of Mars” should share a name with your hipster friend’s new baby who wears suspenders and has a mustache pacifier.
As usual, I spent this first week of the new year reflecting on the accomplishments, highlights, challenges, and learning experiences of the last year. It’s been a full-on year and I wanted to share with you all the most impactful things I learned and implemented last year. But what to share? The post-materialist movement to experientialism? The happiness philosophy and how doing what you love impacts your happiness? Maybe a breakdown of habits and how they are formed, changed and improved? I’ll probably share all of those things at some point, but the thing that struck me the most in thinking through the lessons of 2017 wasn’t one particular truth, but rather the way that I learned them.
Of course, life is a phenomenal teacher. Everyday moments teach me about myself, the world, and others whether I am in a mood to learn them or not. My family and friends have opened my eyes to extraordinary things. I see traits in them that I wish were more pronounced in myself and I watch them to see how I can improve. Others I interact with show me parts of my personality that I work to suppress. And while the things I learn from others are invaluable, they don’t stand out as The Most Impactful Things.
This year I attended an intensive four-day personal development conference. The experiential knowledge that I gained in that time has been absolutely life-changing and I would recommend that kind of learning to everyone. Some of the things I learned about myself and learned how to do in that time were The Most Impactful Things this year, but how do you share the energy, introspection, and breakthroughs of an experience with words over the computer? I’ll keep trying, but that won’t be today.
Obviously 2017 was a year of great learning and growth for me, and the most significant of that learning happened through… books! More than ever, this year has taught me that whatever field or study or area of interest you have, however you learn best, and whatever your thinking style, someone has written the perfect book. It might take some searching but it’s out there and it’s worth finding.
The greatest daily behavior that I maintained in 2017 was to keep reading. I read more non-fiction books last year than ever before in my life. Books about changing bad habits, learning to be happier, changing your mindset to impact your overall health, adventuring to the West and learning to survive, implementing Biblical affirmations in everyday life, even one about all the commonly taught do’s and don’ts of pregnancy and how inaccurate they are. This record number of books opened my eyes to the immense wealth of information written down by scholars, philosophers, and average people with truth to share. Guys, if you aren’t reading non-fiction books I implore you to start now.
A few years ago, I started with a company that told their employees that the only way to be successful in the business (aside from cold-calling all of your friends, family, and acquaintances *sorry*) was to read 10 pages of an empowering, non-fiction book every day. There was no point in being in the company if I didn’t do all the steps so I started reading. The first book I read explored the idea that tiny behaviors, over time, create massive change. How very meta. I embraced that idea and kept on reading.
It only took a few months for me to recognize the improvement that was already happening in my life. Here in Maine I have few friends who are invested in improving themselves. I have few friends full stop, but the fact remains, my circle of evolving friends is pretty small. In books, I found a multitude of people just like me, making changes every day, learning about themselves and moving forward, and writing about the things they learn! I found teachers who have dedicated years, decades, of their lives to hypothesizing, experimenting, studying and hypothesizing for the benefit of their readers. I found millions of inspiring stories of “average everyday people” doing incredible things and encouraging others to do the same. I found an inexhaustible fountain of knowledge to draw from, and soak in. My health improved from reading books about food production, exercise routines, and wellbeing. My relationships improved as I read books about expressing and experiencing love. Reading became a part of my nightly routine, and now I even sleep better and fall asleep faster.
Whatever you are interested in, I promise there are more books about it than you could read in a lifetime. If you want to move forward this year, in any area, I challenge you to get a library card, an Amazon Prime subscription, even a friend who has books, and start reading. There are experts in the thing that you are trying to accomplish, and they have written things that will encourage, inspire and challenge you. I dare you to go find them. Heck, I dare you to go become them! I’ll meet you there 🙂
*Back in the days when those thick rubbery colored bracelets were a big deal my brother gave me the most rocking lavender colored one that said “Reading is magic”. I wore it every day, and my more popular and fashion savvy friends rolled their eyes and laughed. Even then I was learning not to care what other people thought of me ❤