Reading This Month – February 2019

The year’s briefest month has sped by and we are now officially into Autumn (at least here in the southern hemisphere). Although we have yet to experience any respite from the heat and humidity which is Summer in Queensland, the days have begun to shorten. I cycle to a local community boot camp once or twice a week in the evenings and now arrive home just as the sky is darkening. Although I ride almost entirely along well-lit walk and bike paths, safety concerns prompted me to purchase small bike lights this week, ensuring I am visible to traffic. Within weeks, I will be riding home in the dark and I don’t want lack of lights to become an excuse to drive instead.

Despite having nothing on (and I really mean nothing – I worked one day in February!), I have managed to procrastinate my way out of writing for several weeks. Thus, the very late delivery of February’s What I’m Reading This Month. As predicted, I did not keep up with January’s mammoth month of summer reading. I did, however, manage to complete two books started earlier, read one in its entirety and start another.

This month I’m reading . . .

This month I finished reading . . .

My favourite read this month:

Surprising myself, my favourite read this month is again non-fiction. Despite the fact that it took me several years to read this in its entirety, I have chosen Arianna Huffington’s Thrive to review this month.

I started reading Thrive a couple of years ago. Somehow, it ended up in the pocket of a backseat door in my car where I rediscovered it at the end of last year. Remembering how much I had enjoyed the beginning, I made ‘finishing Thrive’ one of my 19 for 2019 tasks. (Another one ticked off!)

This little book is packed to the brim with fascinating and useful information. It’s not a quick read because it contains much that requires careful consideration. Written in a style which is easily read, Huffington seamlessly combines personal experiences and observations with research findings across a range of topics, all relating to how we can thrive rather than simply live or even succeed. 

Set out in four sections – Well-being, Wisdom, Wonder and Giving, The Third Metric ties everything together. The Third Metric is a measure of personal success outside of money and power; living a good, worthwhile and fulfilling life.

I highly recommend reading this book. I found it both eye-opening and challenging. It is best read in small installments, to enable reflection and application.

Especially drawn to the section entitled Wonder, I’d like to discuss this a little.

Wonder

Wonder is a state of mind; how we choose to see and interpret the world around us. An example used is rain – do you find this inconvenient or beautiful? In a moment of wonder, rain is beautiful, cleansing and life-giving, sparking feelings of gratitude. Small children live in an almost constant state of wonder and are regularly amazed and excited by things around them. We don’t need incredible experiences to feel wonder. It can be found in everyday experiences and happenings if we approach them with a mind that is open to the possibility of wonder.

Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT suggests constantly documenting life through photography dilutes the experience. We are too worried about documenting it for later to fully experience it now. Being in the moment and experiencing small moments of wonder require our full concentration. As a documenter, especially on holidays, this gave me food for thought. I’ve since stopped taking photos on my daily walks, instead being fully in the moment and in search of wonder – the sun rising above early morning clouds, a baby eagle calling for its parent, fish jumping out of the canal, the cool morning air after a night of rain.

Huffington believes quiet moments of peace are required to experience wonder. I choose not to listen to podcasts or music as I walk in order to fully appreciate my surroundings and sometimes speak with God. As our brain is much better at building connections and structure from negative experiences than positive ones, she suggests consciously taking time to wonder at the world around us, to feel gratitude and overcome our natural bias towards negativity. Although we can achieve this in our everyday life, she advocates the value of holidays and staycations in regaining a sense of wonder and disconnecting from our everyday outside world. A novel environment certainly helps facilitate feelings of wonder.

“Slow down to let wonder do its job, at its own pace.”

Arianna Huffington

Do you make room for wonder in your daily life or do you need to slow down to let it in?

“If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.”

Wu Men

Anna xo

All quotes taken from Arianna Huffington’s Thrive.

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