Book & Product Reviews

In the Buddha’s Words

Summary

This review of “In the Buddha’s Words” will undoubtedly be a bit longer than many of my other posts. If you haven’t guessed by now I am more than a little interested in Buddhism, which you can find out more about on my other blog thestoicbuddhist. I have the soft cover version of the book, which is 485 pages. The books has high quality print and the font is not too small, making it very readable. The book starts out with a forward by the Dalai Lama, then a preface, list of abbreviations, key to pronunciation in Pali, and a detailed list of the contents of the book. This is a scholarly explanation and exploration of discourses in the Pali Canon. The book is divided into 10 sections and each section includes a somewhat lengthy introduction that helps provide a better understanding of the the text in the Pali Canon.

The Pali Canon represents the words of the Buddha, more specifically his teachings, which his followers had committed to memory and recited to each other. Within the Pali Canon texts know as the Nikayas are the earliest cohesive collection of the Buddha’s teaching in his own words. The preface goes into a lot of great detail about how the Pali Cannon is organized and a good bit of history. Bikkhu Bodhi hand selected the texts for this book and has ordered the chapters in a way that build upon each other. To give you an idea of the concepts that are included in the book here are the 10 sections:

  1. The Human Condition
  2. The Bringer of Light
  3. Approaching the Dhamma
  4. The Happiness Visible In This Present Life
  5. The Way To A Fortunate Rebirth
  6. Deepening One’s Perspective On The World
  7. The Path To Liberation
  8. Mastering The Mind
  9. Shinning The Light Of Wisdon
  10. The Planes Of Realization

Of course I could not help myself from bookmarking and highlighting some of the Buddha’s teachings, such as in Chapter 3 Approaching The Dhamma on page 88:

“These three things, monks, are conducted in secret, not openly. What three? Affairs with women, the mantras of the brahmins, and wrong view. But these three things, monks, shine openly, not in secret. What three? The moon, the sun, and the Dhamma and Discipline proclaimed by the Tathagata.”

Without going into all the details the Buddha speaks of the Five Precepts in Chapter 5, The Way To A Fortunate Rebirth, page 173. Note: I am using the location in the book and not in the Pali Canon.

“There are further, monks, these five gifts pristine, of long standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated and never before adulterated, that are not being adulterated and that will not be adulterated, not despised by wise ascetics and brahmins. What are these five gifts?”

“Here, monks, a noble disciple gives up the destruction of life and abstains from it.”

“Further monks, a noble disciple gives up the taking of what is not given, and abstains from it.”

“Further monks, a noble disciple gives up sexual misconduct and abstains from it.”

“Further monks, a noble disciple gives up false speech and abstains from it.”

“Further monks, a noble disciple gives up wines, liquors, and intoxicants, the basis for negligence, and abstains from them.”

There are many of the Buddha’s teachings to numerous to mention contained in this book, along with The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path as you would expect. In explaining the difference between the Tathagata (Buddha) and a monk liberated by wisdom, the Buddha said:

“The Tathagata, monks, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, is the originator of the path unarisen before, the producer of the path unproduced before, the declarer of the path undeclared before. He is the knower of the path, the discoverer of the path, the one skilled in the path. And his disciples now dwell following that path and become possessed of it afterward.”

Recommendation

I really enjoyed reading this book and the author Bhikkhu Bodhi does a great job of setting up sections of the book mentioned above. His introductions are quite lengthy and I sometimes found myself skipping some of this text in a hurry to read what the Buddha had to say. If someone was new to Buddhism, I would not recommend this book as there are many other books that are easier to read that would prepare someone for what is basically excerpts from the Pali Canon. For the novice of Buddhism, you will not be introduced to the history of Buddhism or various flavors of Buddhism, but if you already have a good grasp of the religion then I would recommend this book to you. On reading the text presented from the Pali Cannon, you will find that the Buddha’s teaching contained a lot of repetition that can sometimes be painful to read, but this is easily overcome as you can skip ahead to the next paragraph.

Overall this is a great presentation of selected texts from the Pali Canon organized in a logical fashion. It is obvious that the author has an in-depth knowledge of the books (Nikayas) that make up the Pali Canon. For me this was an opportunity to read what the Buddha said, not some modern day interpretation of what the Buddha said. If you are a student of Buddhism, I would classify this as a must read. This is a book that you can read over and over again, providing new insights with each reading.

Namaste

Check out my companion blog The Stoic Buddhist for more on Buddhism, Philosophy, and Stoicism.

Book & Product Reviews · Philosophy

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck

Overview

Well here we go again, another book making use of the word Fuck. You might remember another book review I did on Unfu*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop. This book The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson was a book I read partially a couple years ago. More recently I ran into a review of this book on YouTube by the author and decided to give it another try. It turns out this book is pretty good and kind of got me out of a funk I was feeling.

Don’t let the title fool you, it’s not about meandering your way through life and not giving a shit about anything, far from it. One of the key messages is stop giving a fuck about everything. When you give a fuck about all the little things in life, you lose focus on what is really important. The author encourages you to seek out your values and ruthlessly give a fuck about them, but stop giving a fuck about all the other bullshit that is occurring around you. In the span of a few sentences I have said the “F” word way too many times. Let’s take this in another direction and substitute care for fuck.

These values may relate to some aspect of your work, spending more time with your family, a hobby your are passionate about, or anything you consider important, with the caveat that it cannot be everything. That’s the problem if you care about everything you drive yourself and everyone around you crazy.

Another key concept in the book is this idea that we are all pursuing happiness often via pleasurable or hedonistic experiences. You know spending time on vacation, drinking, smoking pot, chasing men or women, or buying shit. All of these things seem fine for a while, but ultimately leave us feeling somewhat empty and consequently we really aren’t all that happy. The author contends it is the challenges in life that present us with problems to solve that truly makes us happy. It’s not that happiness is bad, but the fact that we value it so much and we orient our lives to try to achieve some constant state of happiness that is the issue. Maybe it’s really those times where you achieved something like getting that job you wanted, pursuing a degree, starting that business that took 2 years to become profitable, or any other goal you had set that aligned with your values that really brought you a sense of satisfaction. It was the struggle, overcoming the problems, and this is where you look back and say this thing I achieved brought me happiness.

There are some other interesting topics explored in this book that reinforces the two concepts we just explored, like you are always making choices, suffering is underrated, failing is good, your not really that special, and we all die in the end. Listen, I don’t want to spoil things for you by reviewing every chapter, so I’m going to leave the rest for you to discover.

Recommendation

If you can get by the first couple chapters of using the “F” word in mega doses then I would recommend you read this book. I have the hardcover version and the type is decent size and the book itself is of high quality. Mark Manson interjects a fair amount of humor in his writing, so not only are you learning, also but being entertained at the same time. Here’s the thing he is brutally honest about the fact that we seem to be seeking a life of bliss, when in reality life has way more suffering and overcoming obstacles in store for all of us. This is not a self help book to help you make more money or reach Nirvana, but instead kind of a kick in the ass to help you set your priorities and determine what the hell is important to you. Once you have done this you can truly not give a fuck about some of those things that annoying the hell out of you on a day to day basis.

If you have read this book, I would love to hear your take on it, so just drop me a comment.

Namaste

Book & Product Reviews · Self Help

Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Quit Smoking

Allen Carr's Easy Way To Stop Smoking

Summary

If you are a smoker, you might have entertained quitting, and you may be aware of the book that Allen Carr wrote called Easy Way To Stop Smoking. Now if you are not a smoker, but know someone who would benefit from quitting, then read on. I just finished the Kindle version of the book, but have also read the paperback version which is a little over 200 pages long. The premise of the book is that we continue to smoke because we don’t really understand why and that we perceive we are getting some positive benefit from smoking. He talks about the Little Monster and the Big Monster a lot in this book. The Little Monster being the addiction to nicotine and the Big Monster being our psychological dependence on smoking, with the Little Monster being a mere 1% of the problem, and the Big Monster being 99% of the problem. Now given that I’ve read this book three times, I might be a bit slow on the uptake, but you know they say three times is a charm. He goes on to cite all the people that he has helped quit smoking, some of them celebrities.

The author also makes a great point that using nicotine replacement therapy as it is called, is flat out bullshit. Why would you want to continue to feed the Little and Big Monsters and keep yourself a prisoner to the physical and psychological addiction by putting nicotine in your body, then as the levels drop having to do it over and over. Having experience doing this myself, I can tell you it is a losing proposition that just perpetuates the addiction.

He encourages you to keep smoking while you are reading the book, which I found be a reasonable, if a not so subtle way for you to analyze why you’re are smoking and if you are really getting any pleasure out of it. His own realization came after decades of smoking two packs a day. He finally realized why he was smoking and understood the fact that he received not a single benefit from it, and just stopped cold turkey. He went on to share this realization with other people, writing this book and opening Allen Carr
Quit Smoking Centers all over the world.

What I liked about this book

This book helps you understand that fear is keeping  you hostage to this addiction. You think if I quit I will suffer, when the truth is the nicotine addiction is really fairly mild to overcome. The suffering is mostly the psychological relationship you have developed over the years with smoking. He rightly points out that there are no positive attributes to smoking and the mild relief you get when you light up is just satisfying the addiction. He goes to great pains in the book to repeatedly enforce his ideas about the physical and psychological addiction and how to rephrase them. One of the core themes is that you don’t need willpower to quit, because by the end of this book you realize that willpower would only be necessary if you felt you were giving up something that was beneficial to you in some way.

What I disliked about this book

The book is very repetitive and probably could have been half the length without all the repetition, but realize much of this repetition is a form of brainwashing to get you to rethink what smoking really is. The idea that you keep smoking while reading the book until you get to what he calls your last cigarette is somewhat dis-concerning, but there is also a purpose for this, which is to make you analyze what is going on as you continue to smoke.

Recommendation

If you or someone you know is addicted to smoking or vaping then this book is for you. This book re-frames the whole way you think about smoking or vaping. That is the key to the success of this approach; so instead of thinking quitting is too hard, you understand it is not that hard and there is great hope in knowing you are giving up nothing, well at least nothing but a dirty, addictive, and health destroying habit. I highly recommend this book, but with the caveat that you not skip chapters and be in too big a hurry. Let the information sink in and re-frame your thoughts. Good luck!

Namaste

 

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Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking

 

About the Author

Allen Carr (2 September 1934 – 29 November 2006) was a British author of books about stopping smoking and other psychological dependencies including alcohol addiction. He stopped smoking after 30 years as a hundred-a-day chain smoker.[2]

London-born Carr started smoking while doing National Service aged 18. He qualified as an accountant in 1958. Carr finally stopped smoking on 15 July 1983, aged 48, after a visit to a hypnotherapist. However, it wasn’t the hypnotherapy itself that enabled him to stop – “I succeeded in spite of and not because of that visit” and “I lit up the moment I left the clinic and made my way home…”. There were two key pieces of information that enabled Allen to stop later that day. First, the hypnotherapist told him smoking was “just nicotine addiction”, which Allen had never perceived before that moment, i.e. that he was an addict. Second, his son John lent him a medical handbook which explained that the physical withdrawal from nicotine is just like an “empty, insecure feeling”.[3] He claims that these two realisations crystallised in his mind just how easy it was to stop and so then enabled him to follow an overwhelming desire to explain his method to as many smokers as possible.[4]

Carr teaches that smokers do not receive a boost from smoking a cigarette, and that smoking only relieves the withdrawal symptoms from the previous cigarette, which in turn creates more withdrawal symptoms once it is finished. In this way the drug addiction perpetuates itself. He asserted that the “relief” smokers feel on lighting a cigarette, the feeling of being “back to normal”, is the feeling experienced by non-smokers all the time. So that smokers, when they light a cigarette are really trying to achieve a state that non-smokers enjoy their whole lives. He further asserted that withdrawal symptoms are actually created by doubt and fear in the mind of the ex-smoker, and therefore that stopping smoking is not as traumatic as is commonly assumed, if that doubt and fear can be removed.

At Allen Carr Clinics during stop-smoking sessions, smokers are allowed to continue smoking while their doubts and fears are removed, with the aim of encouraging and developing the mindset of a non-smoker before the final cigarette is extinguished. A further reason for allowing smokers to smoke while undergoing counselling is Carr’s belief that it is more difficult to convince a smoker to stop until they understand the mechanism of “the nicotine trap”. This is because their attention is diminished while they continue to believe it is traumatic and extremely difficult to quit and continue to maintain the belief that they are dependent on nicotine.

Another assertion unique to Carr’s method is that willpower is not required to stop smoking.

His contention was that fear of “giving up” is what causes the majority of smokers to continue smoking, thereby necessitating the smoker’s perpetuation of the illusion of genuine enjoyment as a moral justification of the inherent absurdity of smoking in the face of overwhelming medical and scientific evidence of its dangers. Instead, he encourages smokers to think of the act of quitting, not as giving up, but as “escaping”.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Carr

 

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Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking

Audio Books · Book & Product Reviews

Stillness Is The Key by Ryan Holiday – book review

Stillness Is the Key

Overview

I recently came across the book by Ryan Holiday called “Stillness Is The Key”. I listened to this book via Audible, which took about 7 hours and is narrated by the author who does a very good job. The hardcover version of the book is 288 pages long, and can be acquired at Amazon for less than $15. I became interested in Ryan Holiday by watching some of his videos on YouTube, he has a channel called The Daily Stoic, so I thought I would check out this book. Actually he is a very popular author, media consultant, and entrepreneur appearing on many other people’s YouTube channels. He has several books that he has written and I will be reviewing another of his books in the near future.

If you are new to reading my book reviews, you will notice that I don’t provide lengthy descriptions of the content of the book. One of the reasons I do this is as not to spoil it for you, and another reason is that I am more interested in writing about what I perceive is the value of the book for the reader. You might also notice that almost every book I review on this site is one that I would recommend and that is because the name of this site is Inspirationalbookreviews.com not Wasteoftimebookreviews.com.

What I liked about this book

Everything!

Seriously this is a well written book citing very interesting stories about people like Tiger Woods, John F. Kennedy, and Mr. Fred Rogers, Winston Churchill just to name a few. Each chapter delves into a method for obtaining what he calls stillness, or maybe a sense of calm where rationale thinking can thrive. It also has a number of chapters that provide ideas on how you can enrich your life, but always returns to the theme of how to obtain stillness or in some cases how it was lost. There are also a lot of great quotes by the stoics such as Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. This should be no surprise if you’ve watched any of his YouTube videos, as Ryan is a big fan of Stoicism. Here is a partial list of some of the chapters in the book:

  • Become Present
  • Limit Your Inputs
  • Slow Down, Think Deeply
  • Empty The Mind
  • Start Journaling
  • Choose Virtue
  • Enough

What I didn’t like about this book

Loved it all and I just wish it could have been 1,000 pages long.

Recommendation

Go out an buy it today! This is an excellent book that I intend to read or listen to again and again. In this busy world where we are all driving ourselves crazy, this book offers the antidote to chaos. This book isn’t some self help bullshit that is intended to fire you up and motivate you to do more with your life. In fact it is quite the opposite, offering insights on how to calm yourself, focus, play, and begin enjoying your life.

 

If you would like to support this blog, you can purchase the eBook (eBooks.com) version of this book at:

Stillness Is the Key

About the Author

Ryan Holiday (born June 16, 1987) is an American author, marketer, entrepreneur and founder of the creative advisory firm Brass Check. He is a media strategist, the former director of marketing for American Apparel and a media columnist and editor-at-large for the New York Observer.

Early career
Holiday began his professional career after dropping out of college at the age of 19. He briefly attended University of California, Riverside, where he studied political science and creative writing. He worked for Tucker Max, the controversial fratire author, to orchestrate a number of controversial media stunts including a boycott of Max’s work as part of a movie launch. Later, Holiday worked with Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, on Greene’s 2009 New York Times bestselling book, The 50th Law. Holiday served as Director of Marketing for American Apparel and as an adviser to founder Dov Charney. He left the company in October 2014. He has been responsible for a number of media stunts, and written extensively on the topic of media manipulation.

Writing
Holiday is the author of several books and has written for Forbes, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, The Columbia Journalism Review, The Guardian, Thought Catalog, Medium.com and the New York Observer, where he is the media columnist.

In July 2012, his first book Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator was released by Portfolio/Penguin. The book tries to expose flaws in current online journalism system and catalogs the author’s exploitation of them. It debuted on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. His second book Growth Hacker Marketing was originally published in September 2013 by Portfolio/Penguin and then expanded into a print edition in 2014. The book shows how traditional marketing efforts (billboards, press releases) are no longer the most effective, and why growth hacking is cheaper and more effective in today’s market. The book was named one of Inc. Magazine’s top 10 marketing books of 2014.

In February 2014, Holiday was named editor-at-large of the Business & Technology section at the New York Observer.

Holiday’s third book The Obstacle Is The Way, was published May 1, 2014, also by Portfolio/Penguin. The book is based on the Stoic exercise of framing obstacles as opportunities. The book has sold more than 230,000 copies and was read by the New England Patriots during their 2014 Super Bowl-winning season, as well as distributed through the locker room of the Seattle Seahawks in the following offseason. The Obstacle Is the Way reached #1 on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller List in 2019, five years after its initial release. Two-time NBA Champion Chris Bosh listed The Obstacle Is the Way as his favorite book and added that, when his head coach Erik Spoelstra gifted Miami Heat players copies of the book, Bosh had already read it twice. During a press conference at the Masters in 2019, four-time major champion golfer Rory McIlroy said he read The Obstacle Is the Way as well as Holiday’s following book, Ego Is the Enemy, leading up to the tournament.

In 2016, he published two books. The first, Ego Is the Enemy, uses various historical figures as case studies to illustrate the perils of egotism. The second, The Daily Stoic, is a daily devotional of Stoic meditations. Both books went on to become best sellers with Daily Stoic reaching #3 overall on the bestseller list.

In 2018 he published Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue. It is about the lawsuit between Gawker Media and wrestler Hulk Hogan, as well as Peter Thiel’s involvement in the dispute. It was favorably reviewed by William D. Cohan of the New York Times, who called the book, “one helluva page-turner.”

His latest book, Stillness Is the Key, was published in October 2019.

Stoicism
Holiday, through his books, articles and lectures, has been credited by the New York Times with the increasing popularity of stoicism. He was also described as “leading the charge for stoicism,” which has been noted for gaining traction among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

 

 

Audio Books · Book & Product Reviews

Atomic Habits by James Clear – book review

Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits is a book written by James Clear and as you might guess it is about ways to create habits. I happened to opt for the Audible version of this book, which by the way is narrated by the author. It’s not a terribly long read or even listening to it on Audible is less than 6 hours. The paperback version is 205 pages long and is $6 more expensive than the hardcover version on Amazon, which just doesn’t seem right.

What I liked about this book:

The premise behind the book is that the small (atomic) habits you adopt in your life have a major impact on your happiness and success in life. The author explores the psychology that underlies the adoption of a new habit and provides a number of proven approaches to adopting them. The author claims that it is not how long you have been working on a new habit, but instead the number of repetitions. An example would be say I want to take up playing guitar and once a week I practice playing guitar, so over the course of a month I would have put in 4 repetitions. Contrast this to practicing every day and over the course of two weeks I have practiced 14 times. Another interesting tip was to start very small or as the author says make it easy. With this method you would perform a new habit as little as 2 minutes. Now anyone can do a new habit for 2 minutes, but the psychology here is that it makes it easier to stick with it starting out with these small intervals. Anyone can run, practice guitar, workout with weights, keep a journal, or meditate for 2 minutes. What happens over time is you begin to extend that time period as you have already established a habit. Let’s say I go to the gym and start out doing 2 minutes of exercise, pretty soon you say well I took the time to get dressed and drive to the gym, maybe I can do more. The idea here is that I didn’t try to take a monumental leap from not working out to working out for an hour, and I will be less likely to quit before my workouts become a full fledged habit. There are many more techniques explored in this book that I won’t go into that will help you establish and stick with any new habits that you would like to adopt in your life.

What I didn’t like about this book:

While I was very interested in how to build new habits, I was also interested on how to get rid of some of my bad habits. While the author has a chapter on eliminating bad habits, much of that chapter is focused on creating good habits, so I didn’t get a lot of insights on how I might eliminate a bad habit. About all that was said is understand the negative ramifications of a bad habit and focus on the benefits of getting rid of it. Been there, done that!

Recommendation:

Overall I would give this book a thumbs up! There are so many good techniques for building a habit in this book that you are bound take something away from it that you can use yourself to create new habits. The author also goes into great detail on not only how to create a habit, but how to make it stick. One of the assertions the author makes is that it is much more important to learn to love the process or system that you are pursuing than just setting goals. While goals are great, they are not doing. It is more important to take action and fall in love with the idea of gaining some form of mastery than whatever the goal might be. The book did inspire me to pursue some new habits for myself which include:

If you would like to support this blog, you can purchase this book at:

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Atomic Habits

Audiobooks.com

Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

About the Author James Clear:

Hi there, I’m James Clear. I’m an American author, entrepreneur, and photographer. I’m also the guy behind JamesClear.com (naturally).

This website is the home of my life’s work. I write about habits and human potential. The central question I’m trying to answer through my work is, “How can we live better?”

In order to answer that question, I uncover the latest scientific research and explain it in a way that you can easily understand and actually use. As I share these science-based ideas for living a better life, I like to showcase the habits and rituals of athletes, artists, and entrepreneurs. By analyzing the stories of top performers from many different fields and understanding proven scientific principles, we can start to tease out the common characteristics that make these people the best at what they do.

My specific focus is on self-improvement tips based on proven scientific research.

I believe the best way to change the world is in concentric circles: start with yourself and work your way out from there. If you get yourself sorted out, then that is one less person for the world to worry about. You’ll be in a position to contribute rather than consume. You will add order rather than disorder.

I write about the art and science of how to live better. Science because I am concerned with the root causes of our behavior and the data behind high performance. Art because I want to figure out how to apply these ideas and put them into daily practice.

But I don’t merely write about things. Along the way, I like to try out the concepts for myself as I experiment with building better habits as an entrepreneur, writer, and weightlifter. In the end, my work ends up being one-part storytelling, one-part academic research, one-part personal experiment. It’s a colorful blend of inspirational stories, academic science, hard-earned wisdom.

Source: https://jamesclear.com/about

 

Audio Books · Book & Product Reviews

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – book review

The Fountainhead

Overview:

The Fountainhead was written in 1943 by Ayn Rand who has to be one of my top 5 authors. I have read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged another Ayn Rand novel several times. More recently I have both books available on Audible. There are several key characters in this novel, but the most notable is Howard Roark who is an architect. Howard is the focal point of the book for his individualist character and the love he possesses for his work. As with Atlas Shrugged this novel pits the individualist (capitalist) against those that feel there is little meaning to life and everything should be shared (socialist). Like all of Ayn Rand’s novels there is this good vs. evil plot being played out, or you might look at it as conventional vs. innovative when referring to the central theme of architecture. I won’t give away the details of the plot or how it ends, but I can guarantee you will enjoy reading or listening to this book.

If you have Audible beware that this is a very long book and is over 32 hours. The narration is incredible as the narrator changes their voice for various characters, making it much easier to listen to. Ayn Rand does an incredible job of creating compelling characters with all their virtues and flaws. As I mentioned the key character Howard Roark is what the author would call the ideal man. A man of virtue, dedicated to his work, and idealistic.

Recommendation:

As you can probably tell I loved it. There is nothing in this book not to like and while it is a substantial investment in terms of the time to read it (752 pages), you will not be disappointed. Due to the quality of the narration and the fact that it is a novel, where much of it consists of dialog it really lends itself to the audio book format. If you choose to listen to it on Audible the version I listened to had Christopher Hurt as the narrator. While the underlying theme in this novel is philosophical, it is also entertaining and most of the characters are somewhat complex, making it fun to read.

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The Fountainhead

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Fountainhead

A little bit about the Author

(source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayn_Rand)

Ayn Rand born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum; February 2, 1905 – March 6, 1982) was a Russian-American writer and philosopher. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she named Objectivism. Educated in Russia, she moved to the United States in 1926. She had a play produced on Broadway in 1935 and 1936. After two early novels that were initially unsuccessful, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead. In 1957, Rand published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own periodicals and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982.

Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected faith and religion. She supported rational and ethical egoism and rejected altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral and opposed collectivism and statism as well as anarchism, instead supporting laissez-faire capitalism, which she defined as the system based on recognizing individual rights, including property rights. In art, Rand promoted romantic realism. She was sharply critical of most philosophers and philosophical traditions known to her, except for Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and classical liberals.

Literary critics received Rand’s fiction with mixed reviews and academia generally ignored or rejected her philosophy, though academic interest has increased in recent decades. The Objectivist movement attempts to spread her ideas, both to the public and in academic settings. She has been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives.

 

Audio Books · Book & Product Reviews

Stop Doing That Sh*t by Gary Bishop – Book Review

Stop Doing That Sh*t

I believe this is the latest book by Gary John Bishop and it’s called “Stop Doing That Sh*t“. If you read my book review of UnFu*k Yourself you know how much I enjoy Gary’s writing. UnFu*k Yourself was focused on our internal self talk and the author provided 8 rules or tenants for living a better life; helping you to begin steering your ship in the right direction. This book Stop Doing That Sh*t takes us in a different direction. Mind you it doesn’t invalidate what Gary Bishop wrote about in UnFu*k Yourself, but after listening to it a couple times it really complements it.

As I mentioned I’ve listened to this book a couple times now and found it fascinating and of course very entertaining. Gary John Bishop has a great Scottish accent and a no holds barred style of writing that gives it to you in a raw language that is easy to interpret. Basically I think his style and because he narrates the book himself make it a great candidate for an audio book. So what is this book about? Gary makes a case that the past is driving all your current and future behavior. I know at first I balked at this as I pride myself as someone who cares little about the past and rarely thinks about it. You might think the past has no hold over you, but think about what your believe and the way you act and you begin to understand that the past is running your subconscious mind. It dictates what you value, your relationships, what you think about money, and causes you to repeat behavior patterns, mostly the shitty ones.

For myself I started to realize while I don’t consciously think about the past it has molded me for both good and bad. He goes on to elaborate on the three saboteurs:

  1. You
  2. Them
  3. Life

So what you think about yourself and your limitations, how you view other people, and your outlook on life. The remainder of the book provides some insights on how you can address these three saboteurs and make some constructive change in  your life. I won’t spool it for you, but the last couple chapters give you some insights into how you can start to turn things around.

I highly recommend this book, and I recommend reading or listening to it at least a couple times, because it takes a while to really understand and come to some acceptance of the premise. You might just begin to understand how much you are sabotaging your own life and more importantly why.

Namaste

 

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Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

David Goggins Cant hurt me

I just finished listening to Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. This audible book was over 13 hours and 30 minutes in length and I enjoyed every minute of it. Most of it is narrated by Adam Skolnick with David Goggins mostly commenting during and after Skolnick read the chapters. I won’t give away the whole plot because quite frankly in-depth book reviews that give you a blow by blow description of the of the book just ruin it for you.

So why should you read or listen to this book? Well #1 it is an extremely inspiring story of someone who had to overcome unbelievable odds to achieve what he did. This guy literally tortured himself to get through both Navy Seals and Army Rangers training. There are some brutal descriptions of the pain he endured and his incredible will to succeed. There are many episodes where he did some crazy things like running 100 mile ultra marathons and even set a Guinness book of record for the most pull-ups completed in a 24 hour time period.

This is truly a mind over matter story, where David does some pretty insane things to make him what he calls hard or a bad mother fucker. Yes there is lots of swearing in the book, but you would have already guessed that if you have seen any of his YouTube videos. While the things he did to his body seem a bit crazy his motivation was geared towards making himself mentally tough.

I highly recommend you check out this book. It was so interesting that I listed to it in less than two days. In fact I found it so damn inspiring that I started running again, even getting my lazy ass out in the rain this morning for another run. If you are operating on anything less than 100% effort in your life you need to check this out. I’m going to plug the audio version because there is a lot of commentary by David Goggins during and after the chapters that would not be in the written version. Often the primary narrator would ask David questions and so you get some additional insights only available on the audio book.

While much of this book is about David Goggins overcoming physical challenges, there is certainly lots of lessons that can apply to any challenge your are facing in your life. As David says often in the book “Roger That”.

One last thing I want to mention. Sometimes we get way to comfortable in the work we do, or we become victims due to our own whining and complaining. We kind of give up and feel sorry for ourselves making our problems at work or at home more significant than they really are. Yes, I do this shit too. This book will give you a different perspective on life. After listening to this book I wrote on my whiteboard the following:

Whiteboard can't hurt me

Sorry about the swearing.

Namaste

 

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Find Your WHY by Simon Sinek

Find Your Why
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why you were born.”
– Mark Twain

FIND YOUR WHY was written by Simon Sinek, David Mead, and Peter Docker. This is an interesting book and if you have ever watched any of Simon Sinek’s YouTube videos you will know that he often discusses the importance of understanding your why. This book starts with explaining the power of knowing your why and how it is a motivating force for both the individual and organizations.

The rest of this book is devoted to ways that you as a person can define your why, or if you prefer how your team can determine their why. This is really a workbook in many ways, with exercises to help you articulate what your why is. The idea is that you create one sentence that includes a contribution and an impact. The format would look something like this:

To        Contribution     so that    Impact     .

Seems simple, yet it is a fairly difficult thing to do. You are not creating a goal, although goals might come from understanding your why. Instead you are defining a purpose or a reason for your life. It might be a bit lofty or grandiose, but that’s fine. It is your life and you need to determine why you are here in this world and what you are here to contribute. Knowing your why will help you chart a course for moving forward and it lets the rest of the world know why you do what you do.

Here is an example of what I came up with for myself:

To share with people ways to improve their lives, so that they can create a life filled with meaning and contribution.

It’s still a work in progress, so don’t judge to harshly. Unless you can already articulate your own why then I would recommend you give this book a read. I read the first three chapters in a couple of hours and started crafting my own why that same day. There are also some additional chapters and one in particular that is on finding your Hows. I won’t spoil it for you, but this book is highly recommended especially if  you’re struggling to find some meaning in our life.

While I have focused on how finding your why is important for the individual, this book also provides how you can help your team find their why and how to implement why in organizations. Simon Sinek talks a lot about when an organization knows their why they can build trust with employees and customers. See the TED talk below to get a taste of what of what Simon Sinek has to say about why.

I hope you find your “Why” and once you do; that it provides the reason to pursue your dreams and comforts you during challenging times.

Namaste

 

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The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain

The Paleo Diet Revised

I few months ago I read a book The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain who at the time this book was written taught at Colorado State University. Let me first state that this is an interesting book that makes the case for following a diet that our ancestors did prior to the agricultural revolution some 10,000 years ago.

The premise of the book is that prior to the agricultural revolution homo sapiens were hunter gatherers and as such ate what was available in nature. Dr. Cordain makes a good case of why the hunter gatherer diet is superior to diets that contain lots of processed food or byproducts of agriculture. A paleo diet consists of foods that include:

  • Meat based protein – chicken breasts, fish and shell fish, lean beef, game meat
    • Note there is nothing processed such as lunch meat or any other bizarre concoction that we have come up with that passes as meat today.
  • Fruits – all fruits
  • Vegetables – except starchy ones like potatoes and legumes
  • Fat – mostly from nuts and seeds, and some oils like olive and fish

Things to avoid:

  • Dairy Foods – butter, cheese, cream, yogurt, ice cream, milk
  • Cereal Grains – things like barley, corn, rice, and wheat
  • Starchy Vegetables – potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams
  • Manufactured Meats – salami, bacon, sausages, hot dogs, ham to name a few
  • Sugar – all soft drinks, candy, deserts, and bottled fruit juice

There is a lot more detail in the book, but you get the idea, which is to stick to natural foods and stay away from anything that has been processed. I tried this diet for a few weeks and even to this day I still practice eating about 80% of my diet as Paleo.

Pros:

There is a lot of evidence that this diet is very healthy and you will actually feel better once you embrace it. One other major side effect is that you can easily lose weight especially if you combine it with intermittent fasting. One other great thing about this diet is you can eat as much as you like. With so much of it coming from fruits and vegetables you are getting lots of fiber and vitamins that are missing from many other diets, and the quality protein you are consuming leaves you satiated.

Cons:

The Paleo diet is so focused on natural food sources that you may find it too restrictive especially when you are eating out. It is easy to follow at home, but let’s say you want to go to your favorite Mexican or Chinese restaurant; you will find that the tortillas and rice are a big no no. Remember no bread or grains, arg!

Summary:

You can become a fat burning machine on this diet and feel great while doing it. The Paleo diet simplifies grocery shopping, which is kind of nice. While you might find this diet somewhat difficult to adhere to when eating out, it is still more liberal than the choices a vegan has in the same situation. Ultimately the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience. I really enjoyed the first half of this book and the second half seemed a bit repetitive, but overall is was well worth reading.

Namaste

 

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The Paleo Diet Revised