Reading and life values: my takeaways

Picture for illustration purposes only.

Andrew Merle once wrote that one habit ‘ultra-successful’ people have in common is that they read, a lot. One thing for sure is although I am nowhere near Bill Gates who reads 50 books a year or young Elon Musk who read 10 hours per day, I try to read some books. Besides reading for career advancement, sometimes, I read for motivational purposes or even to keep me grounded.

I have seen Jay Shetty over the years on various digital platforms. But I never really got around to reading the popular book written by him, ‘Think Like a Monk’ until I found an audiobook version of it, narrated by himself on Spotify. For someone with a busy schedule like me, I have realized of late that I really enjoy ‘reading’ a book by listening to it on digital platforms. This way, I can just let it play in the background while I do the mundane tasks. Talk about time efficiency! Haha.

Anyway, I like the book mainly because of how Jay Shetty has written it. His ideas are well supplemented with facts that you can actually google and it would be true. His life journey of self-discovery is also narrated in a way that along the way, I found myself smiling and listening to some interesting accounts. Although I picked it up as a lazy read, I found myself learning a lot about living a fulfilling life. 

Lesson One: Focusing on Awareness. Jay shared how his personal growth was greatly influenced by how increasingly aware he became of his present, that in turn helped him find his purpose and attain fulfilment in life. One practical tool that I got from the chapters that focused on awareness and visualization is introspection. He said, “Clear the dust in your mind! Audit your values!”. He gave examples of how research has found that the happiest people on earth are more often monks! This is because of their extreme level of acceptance and awareness that one’s inner peace is never dependent on other people or outer circumstances. This taught me to let go and not over-identify myself with thoughts and emotions.

Lesson Two: The Power of Gratitude. Jay defined all the good things that we do daily as ordinary acts of bravery. He talked about showing gratitude not just for other people’s acts of kindness towards us, but also for our own self-compassion. Kindness is apparently an attribute of the valiant, hero. Plus, with the examples that he shared, I understood that all the good things that I give out would return to me in one way or another. I started keeping a Gratitude Journal as he suggested and tried to list down at least one thing that I was thankful for, daily. Almost a month later now, believe me when I say this, I feel like the richest person in the world! Not in material wealth, but because of all the blessings that I have in my life that I may have taken for granted before.

Lesson Three: Forgive and Forget. Jay exemplified studies that showed an increase in mental stress and physical ailments such as back pain, headaches and fatigue among people who constantly carried angry thoughts. With this, he talked about transformational forgiveness. It is never always about forgiving a cheating spouse, it can be as simple as forgiving the Starbucks Barista who spelled your name wrong. Transformational forgiveness is also closely related to detachment. It is all about allowing people to be who they are while allowing yourself to be who you are. Why should we carry grudges and negative feelings towards people or things that are not permanent in our lives? It is time we thought about it.

Of course, this book offers way more than what I just shared. To fully uncover that, I encourage you to actually read the book and see what it means to you. As a matter of fact, I am in no way compensated for promoting this book. I just hope more people would take up reading now that you can even do it on digital platforms. Let’s not let reading become a lost art, shall we?

 

 

Dr. Sarala Thulasi Palpanadan

Centre of Language Studies (CLS)

Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM)

 

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