Books have been only one of many sources of inspiration this year, but a very powerful one, in trying to properly understand the economic, ecological, cultural and social systems that I am part of, whether in my own home or at a global level.
They also make great gifts. In fact, my favourite present that I gave last year was 3 copies of the same book, for the happy recipient to read and pass on.
So I have listed out the 50+ books that I have read this year and accompanied each one with a couple of sentences that don’t so much sum up the book, but represent my neatest personal take-away from it (have also linked the titles through to Amazon).
All these books I read fully, so can vouch for them being worthwhile. But the extra special ones I have marked with a **.
Feel free to share this with anyone looking for present ideas. Happy reading!
Autonomy, mastery and purpose are the keys to motivation. Intrinsic drive is the best way to succeed, and also stay sane. Fantastic – I think I’ll leave my job then.
The world is too complex for rational decision-making to be effective (as much as we believe the opposite). Better to iterate and adapt rather than predict. Oblique approaches more commonly produce successful outcomes.
Do things for better reasons than just making money. You’ll have a better time and you’ll probably make more money.
A “finite game” has a winner and an end, the goal is to veil yourself and triumph. An “infinite game” has no winner and no end, the aim is to be authentic and keep playing. Choosing nonwinnable games is more rewarding, and rare. A pretty consistent message so far…
We love focusing on what doesn’t work, but what we focus on becomes our reality, and so our problems dominate the scene. Escape incessant problem solving by focusing in the best of what is, and envisioning what might be.
Fear and anxiety make you want to move quickly from freedom to constraint, to close off options and stop exploring (or it prevents you from starting). The more you can tolerate ambiguity, the more you can come up with better ideas and creations.
Betterness is the next level of human exchange. 21st century competitiveness is not about kicking the next guy’s arse, but kicking your old habits.
Go. Start something and others will follow. Just make sure you start. Don’t be dissuaded by your Lizard Brain, the voice of Fear.
Same as Poke The Box. Quiet the chatter of your Monkey Mind, fight the forces of Resistance. Sit down and get going.
Most of our time in the office is utterly wasted, often thanks to pointless meetings. Don’t call a meeting unless you have decided something for discussion and circulated a one-pager on it. Don’t turn up to a meeting unless you have some constructive disagreement with what’s been decided.
“My life is for itself and not for a spectacle”. Probably better to read the original than this mash-up though.
Motivation isn’t something that can be done to us, it’s only something we can do to ourselves. Control leads to dependence and inhibits motivation and creativity, and extrinsic goals end up owning you.
Movement is a way of life that we have forgotten. Our brains have taken over our bodies, and even when we exercise we employ our brain to obsess about it. Let loose: scamper, tumble, climb – the body requires it of you.
Miserable fixed mindsets believe their abilities are carved in stone, every encounter is a test. Enlightened growth mindsets believe any ability can be developed, and learn from every encounter. Change your mindset to growth and stop making yourself miserable.
Self knowledge is the only basis of true knowledge. Machine education encourages formulaic human beings. Without the freedom to experience real life, there is no real learning.
Similar take as Dumbing Us Down: self discipline is the best discipline, self-initiated learning is the most efficient and best retained. Mass education serves the institution more than it does children, who are taught not to challenge it. Once grown, adults apply this particular lesson very well.
Each child has a spark of genius in them waiting to be ignited. Schools are stuck in a rut of preparing kids for the next level of tests, on a purely linear track. Mix it up so kids can learn what they love and what they are capable of, and get fired up.
The future is uncertain and we need to be flexible. Conformity is valued more than diversity, and the result is suppressed creativity. So get uo to lots of crazy antics to find out your best, truest self.
Happiness is achieved internally through living a meaningful life, through five dimensions: Health, Relationships, Passions, Growth, Contribution. Just like nef said too.
We must define our purpose and our vision of living that purpose. When our definition is unclear or absent, it is reflected in our self-awareness, and we skim the surface of life, hollow and confused.
Wealth, status and beauty only account for 10% of what makes you happy. 50% is in your DNA. And a critical 40% depends on what you actively DO to be happy. Choose from a list of 12 activities!
Try loads of new stuff. Tear rabidly into your own habits. It’s shedloads of fun, and good for your soul.
An important book to read. In order to stick with it, you must be objective and refrain from criticising and judging his style, which is a fitting and excellent way to put his advice to work immediately.
Humans have become incarcerated in our destructive culture, seeing no alternative. This happened when we shifted from believing that Man belongs to the world, to believing that the world belongs to Man. This must be reversed, so we can return to the natural order ourselves, before nature does it anyway.
Drop your schedule and get yourself and your kids out into nature, because ever since we stopped doing that, we have all gone insane. Along the lines of what I was rapping about this summer.
Only when you get in touch with yourself can you achieve what you want. Then, funky unexpected stuff happens, connections start revealing themselves, and there is no good or bad, just what you make of it.
Being habitually busy has also made us go insane. Insights into simpler living.
There will always be fear; no amount of procrastination will make it go. It can only be faced down when you decide “Whatever happens, I can deal with it”, and doing the thing that scares you.
Many people lived very happily before the “progress” of the industrial monoculture. When it came, it numbed their humanity. Western culture oozed beguiling success on the outside, but desperate emptiness on the inside. A reminder of the sustainable alternative that existed for millennia.
At the root of the desire to acquire is discontent with the way things are now. Focus on what makes you happy through simplification, and elevation of purpose.
Cause no harm, have no goals or expectations, give up false needs, unnecessary actions and the illusion of control, do things you love, don’t do things you hate, don’t rush, understand what is enough. Then have a nice cuppa.
(Notice a pattern yet??) No-one actually believes that possessions equal happiness, but most of us act like we do, because we hear the lie so often. Realise it and snap out of it.
Gain freedom from the tyranny of wage slavery by developing multiple streams of income (i.e. making websites). A rousing message for sure, and useful practical advice…for a highly flexible and spiritually bereft way of earning a living.
Civilisations fall when they can’t address the terminal issues they face. As individuals we need to rise above our own distractions, find a Higher Self in order to address our collective dysfunction.
“I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, to regard man an inhabitant of Nature, rather than a member of society”.
A person must dig long and deep to discover their own truth and the serenity that accompanies it. The more tranquil a person becomes, the greater their success, influence, power for good. Free on Kindle!
‘Sister’ book to Ishmael. We’re still utterly buggered. The solution can only come from people with changed minds; a new vision cannot come from within the existing (materialistic, scientific) paradigm, it must somehow come from outside it. Very through provoking.
We are afflicted by an immature, ego-driven form of masculinity, fuelled by our culture, and its lack of rites of passage into manhood. We need to find our own way to let the chaotic, fragmented Boy ego die, so the mature and peaceful Man can emerge (with a beard, it seems).
Our life is not what happens to us, but how we perceive what happens to us. In solitude, we become reacquainted with our conscious selves. People at peace are those who accept who they really are, and stop making excuses.
Problems cannot be solved by the same level of consciousness that created them. We need a new, higher level of consciousness in leadership that can meet challenges in a more purposeful way.
The academic language of this book I found impenetrable at times, but I found one message especially appealing: Small glimmers of an alternative can have a disproportionate effect.
External conflicts arise from internal conflicts within ourselves. We are deeply entranced by illusions we create for ourselves, and then mistake for reality. We must wake up to the reality beneath the illusions.
It might be too much to ask for projects with “higher” goals to also be profitable and scalable in one jump. Maybe we first simply need more instances of people changing their habits, raising their consciousness, and trying to do things differently.
Crutches – whether Nike trainers, work addictions or praise – make us weak and dependent, and unable to fly free like birdies. Also, barefoot running is totally amazing.
Observe your thoughts without judgment, accept what is, stop reacting. Be present and attentive instead of endlessly preoccupied with events of the past and projections of the future. Then you might stop acting like such a wanker.
Happiness doesn’t come from status or stuff, it comes from living life how you truly want. Nothing too new, but always good to hear it through other people’s personal stories.
The path is not to take you from one place to another but from where you are to a deeper where you are.
The most important thing about any art is to work. Nothing else matters apart from sitting down every day and trying. Reads like a slap in the face.
Governments need our votes and businesses need our money. Starve them of both, while simultaneously taking responsibility and action yourself, to bring about a change of direction.
Act first, reflect later. And mix with people who see the world very differently, or you will be incarcerated by the self-reinforcing conventions of your tight social circle. Pursue freedom, flow and meaning – just like Dan Pink says but with different words.
Nothing worth having comes easily (apart from this book which is 77p). Being impatient about your progress in meditation (or even dwelling on your ’progress’) completely misses the point. Be cool.
Indulge your interests no matter how whimsical they seem or how much ridicule they attract, rather than sticking to conventions. Recognise what is going on inside and act on it, rather than be directed by other people’s ecpectations and values.