life changing books

I used to hate reading.

When I was younger, my parents would have to force me to read anything other than a book assigned in school. Today, I’d read all day if I could.

Over the past year, I’ve read about 50 books on topics ranging from business and travel memoirs to quantum physics and psychology.

How does one shift from hating reading to loving it?

For me, it has everything to do with personal interest. Most people would enjoy reading if they chose to read books that were of interest to them.

Whether you hate reading or love reading, these three books have the power to change your life. They’ve significantly impacted me, shaping my current mindset and life views.

If you’re hesitant, I invite you to consider that a few hours and a couple hundred pages could be all it takes for you to have a serious “aha” moment.

Even if these books don’t cause some grandiose epiphany, they will instill important concepts to strengthen your personal will, allow you to realize what matters most in your life and inspire you to find meaning in your life.

 

1.) Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

This book is the true story of the final lesson between a dying college professor, Morrie, and a long lost student, Mitch. Upon hearing that Morrie is slowly dying from ALS, Mitch goes out to find his old professor, who he hadn’t seen in over 10 years. They rekindle their friendship, and Mitch decides to visit with Morrie in his home every Tuesday for a series of final lectures—but this time, the lectures are about life, love, loss, friendship and so forth. Although the book is filled with important lessons, two stand out for me:

 

1.) Relationships are everything

Faced with death, Morrie reveals that the time he spent with friends and family mattered most to him. Look back on your life and reflect upon your favorite memories. Most likely, the events most special to you are because of whom you shared the moment with.  

A 75-year Harvard study confirms that having strong, healthy relationships is the most important factor in determining happiness. [1]

2.) Death should be embraced, not feared

Morrie’s outlook on death is one of optimism and inspiration, which is quite different than our culture’s view on death.

He reveals that people are not prepared to live until they are prepared to die. In other words, by realizing the inevitability of death, we are faced with what is most essential in life.

This perspective allows us to see life in a different light, focus on what truly matters and act accordingly.

 

2.) The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

More than any other book I’ve read, this book changed how I think and how I view my thoughts. This is the most popular book on spirituality in the United States—yet, whether or not you consider yourself spiritual, this book is filled with profound realizations. Eckhart Tolle, one of

Eckhart Tolle, one of today’s most recognized thought leaders on spirituality, details how we can live in the present moment and focus on the “now.” He unveils common pitfalls in our thinking that result in stress and anxiety when we focus too much on the past and future.

His ideas and suggestions provide insight into the human mind that enable the reader to view their thoughts in a new light. Here are two of the most important lessons I took away:

 

1) The present moment is all we have

The past is comprised of memories and the future is just anticipation. Eckhart explains how the past forms our identity and the future offers salvation for what we wish to happen—yet, both are illusions because the past is gone and the future hasn’t occurred.

He also talks about how most people are never fully present because they’re hoping that the next moment will be great and important, which causes us to miss the present moment.

Shifting our focus to the present moment, we do not miss out on life because we are experiencing it instead of dwelling on the past or future.

2.) You are not your thoughts

Many people view themselves to be the same as the image they have of themselves. Eckhart reveals that those two are separate—one is you and the other is the image you hold of yourself (your ego.)

We are the thinker of our thoughts, not the thoughts themselves

By separating yourself from both the thoughts you think and the image you hold of yourself, you become aware that you are solely the observer, as opposed to the event or thing you’re thinking about.

This is liberating because it allows our true essence to detach from external influences that interfere with identity (awards, profession, skin color, etc.)

 

3.) Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

If I could pass on only one book for others to read, it would be Man’s Search for Meaning. In autobiographical style, psychiatrist Viktor Frankl discusses his experiences in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust.

Although Frankl witnessed and experienced many horrors, the book focuses on how he and others survived the atrocities, endured against all odds and found meaning even in their grim circumstances. Here are two lessons I took away:

 

1) Hope is essential

Frankl discusses how, although he and others in the concentration camps were subject to the same terrors, many of those who died had lost all hope for the future.

The prospect of Frankl seeing his wife again and his dream of lecturing after the war motivated him to make it through. In other words, having a will to live is vital.

Those who had a strong, clear purpose of why to live past the war (the hope of finding family, teaching, etc.) were more likely to survive.

Like Nietzsche put it,” He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” Hope is essential to persevere in life.

2.) No matter what we face, we always have a choice…our attitude in a situation

      “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

 

Despite experiencing gruesome and dire treatment, Frankl managed to find meaning in his suffering.

However, he does not deny the grief and rage that stem from his suffering. He just reminds us that though grief and rage, we can still manage to find meaning in life. We cannot always control our external circumstance.

But what no one can take away from us is how we consciously choose to think in any situation.

 

Are there any books that have significantly impacted you? If so, I’d love to hear about them! Send me an email and let me know some of your favorite books and how they’ve influenced you.

 

 

[1] “What Makes Us Happy, According to a 75-Year Harvard Study (Video).” Buzzworthy || The Webs Sweetspot. N.p., 16 Feb. 2016. Web. 07 June 2016.

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