After presenting my readings of the month, I am eager to give some insight on the books I carefully selected for the upcoming weeks (they have either been recommended by friends or chosen after hours of Internet browsing).
After a month of cutting down on self-improvement books (I needed to feel a little less pressure to being the perfect happy person with her life together) I am back with some pretty compelling books that I have not read yet but I am eagerly waiting to begin.
The Little Penguin Principle – do you suffer from overadaptation?
The first book I need to talk about is The Little Penguin Principle by French author Jean-François Gauvry. This book was given to me by a colleague one day that I was particularly anxious about my life projects. He could see how much pressure I was feeling and putting on myself and although he was carrying the little book for himself he graciously offered it to me once he saw how much I apparently needed it. Long story short, the main message this book wants to convey is that we are wronged by a society that makes us believe that we have certain needs and that to fulfill them we have to adapt to a certain type of life and to respect certain codes. The author first tells the story if this little perfectly happy penguin who was sliding and playing all day long until he was approached by a devious seal who promises him money in exchange of working for him. At first the little penguin is happy, he discovers money, and all the things he can buy with it, and how the more he works the more he earns money and buys new things (things the seal is selling him). And the penguin becomes rich and buys lots of things, always more, but he is sad, and tired, and doesn’t feel that well so he buys even more stuff and needs more money therefore more work. Until he is fired because he is too depressed to work, gets home, finds his old life and is happy again. The End. I’m kidding this is just the first part of the little book.
So the message from the author is that many of us are just like this little penguin and suffer form an over-adjustment syndrome, aka people’s excessive efforts to adjust themselves to their environment’s conditions or expectations. By doing so they act against their own natures, they eventually feel an imbalance in their lives, which gradually becomes unbearable, most of the time insidiously.
“Everybody living in a hostile environment tends to die slowly, its needs no longer finding means to assume its development. The Human Beings have this ability to adapt themselves very easily, which can sometimes end up with the syndrome of over-adaptation. The remedy suggested by the author is to stop acting this way, to learn how to make one’s choice and to take things easier! This practical book gathers exercises that will allow the reader to identify and get rid of various obstacles. “
The first thing it tought me is to find what my true nature and needs are, me as an individual, to be happy. Also I need to take things easier, for real, I am the one trying to overadapt to become this ideal version but I do have the choice not to and I am the hardest judge of myself, feeling I could be so much more and constantly beating myself up because I am not “it” yet.
How to Be an Adult in Relationships – apply the 5 hallmarks of mindful loving
The second book I am waiting to receive and is going to be my next reading is How to Be an Adult in Relationships, by Ph.D., M.F.T. & psychotherapist David Richo.
“Most people think of love as a feeling, but love is not so much a feeling as a way of being present.”David Richo
Why? I was interested by his perspective on love and relationships, one that focuses not on finding an ideal mate, but on becoming a more loving and realistic person. I have always had ideal standards in all my past relationships, maybe coming from Disney movies or all the romantic comedies I like to watch. Although I am a realistic and pragmatic person at work and in life in general, I also know that deep down I have unrealistic expectations that I project on my companions, friends and family. I was always very clear about how the behavior and the feelings of those around me should be, but becoming (almost) 30 years old has been a lot about appreciating the difference among people and what they have to offer. In this spirit of change of perspective I was touched by the Buddhist concept of mindfulness used in this book which explores the five hallmarks of mindful loving while explaining how they play a key role in our relationships throughout life:
- Attention to the present moment; observing, listening, and noticing all the feelings at play in our relationships.
- Acceptance of ourselves and others just as we are.
- Appreciation of all our gifts, our limits, our longings, and our poignant human predicament.
- Affection shown through holding and touching in respectful ways.
- Allowing life and love to be just as they are, with all their ecstasy and ache, without trying to take control.
“When deeply understood and applied, these five simple concepts-what Richo calls the five A’s-form the basis of mature love. They help us to move away from judgment, fear, and blame to a position of openness, compassion, and realism about life and relationships. By giving and receiving these five A’s, relationships become deeper and more meaningful, and they become a ground for personal transformation.”
Third book of the list is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, who after an epiphany at the bus stop decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.
This book chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.
“Rubin’s project makes curiously compulsive reading, which is enough to make any reader happy.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Aided by her formidable intelligence and willingness to try anything, she spent a year road-testing every theory about happiness she could get her hands on, using her own life as the road.”
“Well-researched and sharply written, she sprinkles her text with observations on happiness from Aristotle and Plutarch, Samuel Johnson and Martin Seligman, The Dalai Lama and Oprah.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
From the reviews I have found online, I feel close to Rubin’s journey as I have been trying new things in the past year (starting from this blog’s challenge) to know me better and sometimes find happiness in novelty.
You are a Badass – find what you want and get it now
Finally, You are a Badass, written by #1 New York Times Bestselling Author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves a book full of inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises for those who are ready to make serious changes in their personal and professional life. This is a guide on ‘How To” identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, blast past your fears so you can take big exciting risks, figure out how to make real money, learn to love yourself and others, set big goals and reach them. This one was given to me by a friend that loved it so, although the themes are pretty standards I trust it to be enlightening in some new ways. As long as I learn something new and I am a little closer to my new life it is never a waste of time.
To make my life cozy and balanced – apply Hygge and be happy like a Danish
One cold night of this past February while I was waiting for some late friends in the windy streets of Paris, I decided to warm up in a bookshop in front of tube station where the appointment was. I barely get into libraries anymore as I am buying everything online these days, but I always love to look at the latest arrivals and find some inspiration.
That’s when I discovered a funny little book about Hygge, a word I had never heard of before.
“Hygge is as Danish as pork roast and it goes far in illuminating the Danish soul. In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family – that’s hygge too. There’s nothing more hygge than sitting round a table, discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are the happiest people in the world?”
The Hygge manifesto is all about mindfulness, being in the present, and findind pleasure in simple things:
The book is also filled with pictures to explain Hygge, a word that has actually no exact translation in any other language. And because just watching this pictures brought me peace I bought the book to read it at night with a nice herbal infusion, a confy pajama.
- The Little Pinguin Principle : do you suffer from overadaptation? (French version)
- How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving
- The Happiness Project
- You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
- The Little Book of Hygge : The Danish Way of Live Well
Have you read some of these books? what do you think? Please share any book that has brought you joy or you are eager to read!