As part of my goal to be more awesome! I will read twelve books this year and try to learn something from them. The first book that I chose is The Now Effect by Elisha Goldstein. I’ve previously written about Living in the Now, and I thought this book would give some useful directions on how to do exactly that. Read on to see if it did or not!
I enjoy watching the TV show, The Dog Whisperer. And we don’t even have a dog! One of the things I like about the show is watching how the owners have to change their behavior and improve themselves to address issues with their dog’s behavior. I think that show was the first to make me think about how I should behave / act and that change was possible.
But although the show gives clear advice that you should be calm, confident and trusting, it didn’t explain how you might achieve that. I pretty much just filed the information away in my mind, and didn’t act on it.
I’m hoping that this book will shine some light on how to get there.
The Now Effect
In, The Now Effect, Elisha Goldstein describes an approach to living, known as “mindfulness”. This approach encourages enjoying and experiencing the present, i.e. the “now” and being aware of yourself.
Dr Goldstein makes the argument that you can change how your subconscious thinks and reacts to things with practice. The brain is plastic and can learn new tricks after all.
“You can calm your anxious mind, have greater focus at work and home, feel more empathy toward yourself and others, approach difficulties with more grace and less stress, and be aware of what is most important to you. The secret is in the spaces. ” – The Now Effect
‘Spaces’ refers to the point in time between a stimulus or event that happens, and your reaction to it. This space represents a conscious decision even though we often let it become an automatic / subconscious decision.
The book provides many exercises and techniques to improve your awareness of your thoughts and feelings. Once you start seeing how you react to things (physically, emotionally and mentally) then you can start to decide how to respond. The more you do this, the easier it becomes.
The book is organized into seven parts for a total of 61 chapters. Each chapter is small, just one or two pages, and usually has an interesting anecdote or story. The chapter focuses on a particular aspect of mindfulness and the book as a whole touches upon a lot of subjects. Topics range from understanding motivation, encouraging curiosity or playfulness, dealing with negative emotions, how your brain works, how to listen and be more compassionate.
Each chapter ends with a “Now Moment” which is an exercise or action based on the subject in the chapter.
The NOW Effect is easy to read and, because it’s split into such small chapters, is easy to just pick up for a few minutes.
The kindle version includes hyperlinks to videos on youtube where the author leads some of the meditation exercises.
Do I think the book’s useful?
I admit that I’m a bit of a skeptic when it comes to this kind of stuff. But for the most part, I found the book introduced relevant and interesting topics. It was also fairly reasonable in its arguments. Yes, there’s meditation and introspection and some of the language is a little flowery. But that’s my left brain reacting. My right brain says, “yeah, pretty good”. Even though this book discusses that people have three brains.
There are enough topics covered that you can always select a few areas to focus on, or exercises that appeal to you more.
What I’ve learned so far
With a subject like this, it’s not just a case of applying a few simple techniques and suddenly you’re a different person. This book is really a map; the destination is up to you.
In deciding your destination there’s a lot of introspection / meditation in this book. And I suck at this. For example, I can never easily list my personal “values” or things that are important to me. Yet I see now, at least some of my difficulty is that I want to find “the perfect values for me”. I don’t want to be wrong after all. But this is exactly the kind of thing the book covers; it’s fear that’s holding me back. It’s better to just let it go and move forward. Which is easier said than done of course.
I’m also starting to notice more of how I behave in conversation, especially when it’s a topic I think I’m knowledgeable in. I noticed myself getting very defensive in a couple of discussions at work and was able to adjust course and be more receptive to what was being said.
Small steps for sure, but I’m optimistic.
I’m already on one journey to Financial Independence, have just started a journey to better health, and this is a third journey to improve my mind. It’s going to be a long journey I think, and I never knew I could be in three places at the same time!
Quote of the Day
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.