The best advice from the books I’ve read
Reading and writing have been an essential form of communication for centuries, if not millennia with many ancient texts now translated so we can understand them. As a result, books are one of the most effective ways to learn from other people, and don’t appear to be going anyway anytime soon. Despite advancements in technology, many books are now available online, making them more accessible than ever before.
I have a thirst for learning and knowledge, so it will come as no surprise that I LOVE non-fiction books. I love to get the most from the books I read, and have a specific process I use to extract and retain the information I glean from reading (which I will share with you in a future podcast episode).
In this post I share ‘Words of Wisdom’ i.e. the best pieces of advice I’ve acquired from books I’ve read.
We could be here for the next week if I shared everything I’ve learned, so I will be concise and simply share one quote and piece of advice from ten of my favourite books.
This list is not in any particular order, and is certainly not exhaustible. Ok, let’s jump straight in…
The first piece of advice is from the book How to Grow Old: Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life by Marcus Tullius Cicero, which is to take care of your mind and spirit. Cicero writes:
“And as much as we should care for our bodies, we should pay even more attention to our minds and spirits. For they, like lamps of oil, will grow dim with time if not replenished. And even though physical exercise may tire the body, mental activity makes the mind sharper.”
This advice is particularly important as we grow older. We are mentally engaged from a young age at school, and into our working life. However, we can often become complacent with our learning and stick with what we know. Through this advice, I believe that Cicero is saying we should continue to be curious and learn new things. It is incredible to think something written in 44BC is still so relevant today.
My second piece of wisdom is from Crappy to Happy: Love What You Do by Cassandra Dun. I love Cassandra’s perspective that you always have choices – at work, or in others areas of life. She writes:
“You can make the choice to leave.
You can choose to stay and actively focus on what’s wrong, feel resentful and complain to anyone who will listen. (It’s not an option I recommend but I’m sure we can all think of plenty of times we’ve done this.)
You can stay and be proactive in changing the things you can and accepting the things you can’t. Be grateful for the aspects of your work you genuinely appreciate and the people who make it easier. Remind yourself of your values and make the decision to live by them, even in the face of difficulty.”
Crappy to Happy is delightful little book bursting with practical advice on making the most of your work life. The physical book is a quick read, featuring a beautiful hard-cover and quirky, colourful layout interspersed with quotes and actionable steps, and plenty of gems like this one!
My third piece of advice is from Matt Kahn’s book, Whatever Arises Love That: A Love Revolution That Begins With You. This was my first taste of Matt Kahn’s work, and I’m hooked. I immediately subscribed to his newsletter and am on the hunt for his other books, in particular, Everything Is Here to Help You: A Loving Guide to Your Soul’s Evolution. Reading Whatever Arises Love That was like receiving a warm hug from the universe, and many of Matt’s experiences resonated with me. The piece of advice that resonated the most for me was:
“Whether you know it or not, all orchestrations, encounters, and outcomes are created by the universe as a way to help you expand to full capacity and realise the truth of your divine nature.”
In this passage, I believe that Matt is assuring us that everything happens for a reason, and we can relax knowing that everything that comes our way is an opportunity to learn and grow.
My fourth gem is from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
As you will discover when you start reading, this book is about SO much more than wealth creation. It’s a book I personally believe everyone should read at least once in their life. It was first published in 1937 and although it has been updated and reprinted since, much of the original advice is still as relevant (if not more) now as it was then. One of the key messages that resonated for me is to simply start where you are. Napoleon writes:
“Most of us go through life as failures because we are waiting for the ‘time to be right’ to start doing something worthwhile. Don’t wait. The time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”
My fifth piece of wisdom is from The Little Book of Hygge (hew-gah): The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking (pronounced Mike Viking). I particularly love Meik’s suggestion of using ‘things’ as a reward for achieving a goal, when he writes:
“Link purchases with good experiences. I had saved money for a new favorite chair but waited until I had published my first book to get it. That way, the chair reminds me of something that was an important accomplishment for me. We can apply the same thing to that special sweater or that pair of nice woolen socks. Save for them—but wait until you have that really hyggelig (hew-gah-lig) experience: you want to be reminded of it when you pull them on.”
Much like the word Hygge (hew-gah) itself, this book is like a warm hug, enjoyed best with a warm drink on a cold winter afternoon. I also love Meik’s warm, conversational tone throughout, and will definitely be seeking out more of his books.
The sixth piece of advice I have for you is from A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles by Marianne Williamson. I particularly love Marianne’s warm and humorous advice to do what you love, when she writes:
“Joy has no cost.” Do what you love. Do what makes your heart sing. And never do it for the money. Don’t go to work to make money; go to work to spread joy. Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and the Masaratti will get here when it’s supposed to.”
A Return to Love is one of the most comprehensive books I’ve ever read on “love” – in all its many forms. In fact, I believe this book is essential reading for everyone, and I will be gifting a copy to each of my children when they are 18-years-old (along with my collection of other books I consider “essential reading” for life).
The seventh pearl of wisdom I’m sharing today comes from Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear.
I really liked how James stresses the importance of systems when trying to achieve a goal. He writes:
“Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress…The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.”
This is one of the best books I’ve read about goal setting. James clearly explains what challenges people face when trying to establish good habits, why they often fail and what they can do to set themselves up for success – highly recommended read.
My eighth piece of advice comes from Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill by Matthieu (Matew) Ricard. Who wouldn’t want a “guide” to develop happiness? This charming book is brimming with words of wisdom too good not to share. Matthieu says that wisdom is something to be cultivated and acquired when he writes: “One is not born wise; one becomes it.” Simply brilliant.
The ninth piece of advice I wanted to share with you is from Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin.
Gretchen highlights the importance of growth in our lives when she writes:
“For a happy life, it’s important to cultivate an atmosphere of growth—the sense that we’re learning new things, getting stronger, forging new relationships, making things better, helping other people. Habits have a tremendous role to play in creating an atmosphere of growth, because they help us make consistent, reliable progress.”
This really resonated with me, because seeking growth is a major driving force in my life. Throughout the book, Gretchen also shares some fascinating insights on habit formation, based on research and studies, as well as her personal experience and experiments. As a busy working mum, I personally found many of Gretchen’s observations and strategies practical and achievable. Rather than focusing on discipline and rigid routines, Gretchen approaches the subject of habit change with grace and compassion, demonstrating that even the smallest first step can lead to great things. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Finally, the tenth and final piece of advice I’m going to share with you today is from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
A message that particularly resonates for me at the moment, (as I’m trying to instil confidence and independence in my 11-year-old daughter) is to not worry about what anyone else thinks of you. Elizabeth completely nailed what I’ve been trying to explain in this paragraph of pure gold when she writes:
“We all spend our twenties and thirties trying so hard to be perfect, because we’re so worried about what people will think of us. Then we get into our forties and fifties, and we finally start to be free, because we decide that we don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of us. But you won’t be completely free until you reach your sixties and seventies, when you finally realize this liberating truth—nobody was ever thinking about you, anyhow.”
This is one of the best books I’ve ever read about creativity. Elizabeth is renowned for her captivating and relatable fiction stories, such as Eat, Pray, Love, but Big Magic showcases her deep understanding of the creative process. I implore you to read this book!
So, there you have it, ten pieces of advice from ten of my favourite books. I’d love to know what resonated for you, or what advice you’ve found most helpful from the books you’ve read – drop me a DM on Facebook or Instagram – I’ve love to connect and keep the conversation going.