Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I just finished Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert and I love it. The book is about creative living, regardless of what you’re creating. Whether you’re a writer, painter, photographer, do pottery or anything else this book is inspiring. The book description at The Book Depository says:

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process – and showing us all just how easy it can be. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you long to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work, embark on a long-held dream, or simply to make your everyday life more vivid and rewarding, Big Magic will take you on a journey of exploration filled with wonder and unexpected joys.

I love the book, how it’s written as well as Gilbert’s view on how creativity and ideas work. Much of the context is familiar but Gilbert uses storytelling (from her own life as well as others) to emphasize things and make her point. The five main parts in the book – courage, enchantment, permission, persistence and trust – cover all that’s essential.

The key things I got from the book was to rely on my curiosity, to write for myself, to get started (and keep going) because no one else will do my work.

Some quotes from the book

I’m the kind of person that underline text that is important to me. Your mileage might vary, here are some of what I marked.

Creative living: I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.

The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence and trust.

Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them. (I needed that one…)

Bravery means doing something scary. Fearlessness means not even understanding what the word scary means

You are not required to save the world with your creativity. I would prefer that you made your art in order to save yourself rather than to save or relieve us. (I needed this one too…)

Perfectionism stops people from completing their work but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work.

Curiosity vs passion

Gilbert writes about curiosity versus passion. Instead of chasing a passion (which might be hard to find), follow your curiosity. I love that, curiosity is a powerful tool.

Curiosity only ever asks one simple question: is there anything you’re interested in?

Instead of asking what you would do if you couldn’t fail Gilbert raises a far more interesing question:

What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?

Sit down and write!

Gilbert wrote “Done is better than good” and Seth Godin often talks about shipping (get things ready and deliver them). Even Buddha seems to share the same view.

An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.
Buddha

Is the book for you?

I suggest you take a look at Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED presentation about creativity, A different way to think about creative genius. If you like the content of that presentation then the book is for you.

Katie in love (review)

It’s funny how we can find great books. I was going from author website to author website one day and ended up at Chloe Thurlow. I started reading her blog and was hooked by her way of writing. That lead me to order Chloe’s latest book “Katie in love” and as you can see in the review below I really love that book.

My review of Katie in love

Katie meets Tom at a New Year’s Eve party. Their first meeting leads to much more, life changes for both of them. The book tells the story of their romance and gives glimpses into Katie´s past. At first glance Katie and Tom have nothing in common, during the book they find a shared passion not only for each other. It’s a great story about how love makes unexpected people connect and dare to ride on the current love creates, even when the future is unknown.

Chloe Thurlow is marvelous with words. Sometimes she paints detailed pictures, you really feel as if you’re there (a fly on the wall). At other times she paints in broader strokes to carry the story forward. I love the way the book is written.

To me the hallmark of a really great book is that it awakens something in me, that it makes me think and feel. Katie in love did that.

Don’t let the label erotic scare you off, it’s a great romantic novel including some erotic scenes.

Katie in Love at The Book Depository.

Katie In Love at Amazon.com.

Katie in Love at Amazon UK.

The fifth agreement

I like The Four Agreements, they are great. Now I have started reading “The fifth agreement” by Miguel and Jose Ruiz. That’s a different story, I feel a resistance towards the book and switch between a decision to finish the book (as a learning experience) and stop reading it.

The fifth agreement is “Be skeptical but learn to listen” and I agree with that. It, to me, goes really well with the concept in Your teacup is full (Empty your cup). To listen with an open mind is terrific.

I think my problem with the book “The fifth agreement” is due to that there’s a clash between the fifth agreement and the tone of the book. The authors have all the answers, no room for being skeptic there.

The Rosie Project

While waiting at the station in Malmö I browsed the PocketShop store. I often do that, browse a book store without intent to buy anything. Books matter to me and give me a lot. I noticed “The Rosie Project” book and picked it up. It’s marketed as fun and entertaining. A quick look inside supported that, I bought the book as a fun read. Little did I know that the book would mean a lot more to me.

Love isn’t an exact science – but no one told Dan Tillman. A handsome thirty-nine-year-old geneticist, Don’s never had a second date. So he derives The Wife Project, a scientific test to find the perfect partner. Enter Rosie – the world’s most incompatible woman – throwing Don’s safe, ordered life into chaos. Just what is this unsettling, alien emotion he’s feeling?

Don, the main character, is a control freak (in my eyes). He lives a very strictly planned life, routines are king. Don has for instance a weekly dinner plan that’s repeated each and every week. He has many logical reasons for that. Don also is socially awkward, he’s lousy at picking up cues and goes through life sometimes acting more like a robot.

When I discussed the book with a friend I realized what made the book itch. Don is an exaggerated version of how I’ve been (and sometimes still am). The book mirrored some of my own experiences in life. My friend suggested that I should read the book with that in mind. This turned the book into a personal development book for me.

The book shows me, again, the power of stories. Lessons included in a story are much easier to grasp than a more fact based approach.

What I took with me from the book

It’s OK to be wired differently.

Too much thinking complicates things and life.

Life works better when we drop the excessive parts of our planning.

What brightens our lives is often the unexpected events, people we meet because we open up.

When great things happen – trust your guts and enjoy them!

The Rosie Project

The Book Depository: The Rosie Project

Manuscript found in Accra by Paulo Coelho

Tonight I finished reading “Manuscript found in Accra” by Paulo Coelho. It’s a book that kept me hooked and i read it in only a few sittings. Still, when I’ve finished the book it left me pretty empty. I marked some parts and there are some great quotes but I found nothing new that will affect my life.

The important thing is to get back on your feet. Only he who gives up is defeated. Everyone else is victorious.

Dreaming carries no risks. The dangerous things is trying to transform your dras into reality.

The following two quotes focus on you – the only person you’re able to change.

You will only be loved and respected if you love and respect yourself. Never try to please everyone; if you do, you will be respected by no one.

What is success? It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace.

The Shadow Effect

During the weekend I have read The Shadow Effect – Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self by Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford and Marianne Williamson. It’s a very interesting book and I recommend it.

The shadow exists within all of us. It is a part of us and yet we spend most of our life running from it. But far from being scary, our dark side holds the promise of a better, more fulfilling life. Our shadow makes itself known every day. It is the reason we get furious over a friend showing up ten minutes late, yell at our parents or kids when they have done nothing wrong, and sabotage our own success at the worst possible time. Until we are able to embrace our dualistic nature, we will continue to hurt ourselves and those closest to us and fall short of our potential.

Combining the wisdom of three experts, The Shadow Effect is a practical and profound guide to discovering the gifts of our shadow.

I saw the book at The Power of Slow, ordered it and then read it as soon as I got it.

The Shadow Effect has an official site. I like the text on the front page, it hits home with me:

Make peace with yourself, others and the world.

Find the courage to let go of all that holds you back.

Reconnect with the life you were meant to live and the person you were meant to be.

The book made me realize that I do kick myself too much. Instead I should focus more on the good things in life, self-love and self-respect is key to progress.

Marianne Williamson is the author of Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate which goes well with this book.

This quote by Mary Anne Radmacher will help me stay in (or bounce back into) the light:

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

Living Naked (eBook)

Dayne Herren over at TheHappySelf.com has released a free eBook titled Living Naked: Personal Transformation Through Bare Simplicity.

“Living Naked” is a philosophy of living that strips down living to reveal our natural state of happiness. It is about “getting naked” or simply, back to the basics of BEING. The aim of this philosophy is invigorate your life, your senses, and most of all…your GENUINE and NATURAL HAPPINESS. Living naked is living naturally mentally and physically to unleash your inner joy and happiness.

It’s a nicely formated 40-page eBook that gives good advice on simplifying life. The book has eleven short chapters covering topics such as:
• Strip away life-added toxicity.
• Bring forth clarity to the mind.
• Listen to your internal navigation. Feel. Follow its lead.
• Inject your personal passions.
• Succeed at failing.
• Live happy and be content.

LESS – Accomplishing More by Doing Less

I got a copy of LESS – Accomplishing More by Doing Less by Marc Lesser at Øredev 2009. The book is described like this:

Discusses the benefits of doing less in a world that has increasingly embraced more – more desire, more activity, more things, more exhaustion. This book is about stopping, as well as the possibility of finding composure in the midst of activity. It is also about the power of accomplishing more by doing less.

I like this book, it is well written and it’s summed up nicely in the epilogue:

This book is a collection of tools as well as a manual for doing more of what is important and less of what isn’t.

Another quote from the book that descibes what it’s about:

You will accomplish more of what matters to you. Doing less and accomplishing more is about aligning your actions with your values and your particular passions.

The book is about the Less Manifesto and has chapters on its five categories:
• fear
• assumptions
• distractions
• resistance
• busyness

I like the way Marc writes about these categories, I found inspiration and tools to work with. Marc brings up meditation and mindfulness as useful tools. The book also has some interesting exercises, questions to work with. Under busyness Marc writes that:

A life of busyness is often the result of trying to escape facing our fears.

One part of the book that stuck with me is about paradoxes, like Marc’s own example “I am shy and solitary, and I love speaking in front of people.” It’s an interesting way of seeing that it’s not either-or, we can be both without conflicts.

Embrace paradox and you increase self-acceptance, tolerance of others and your own possibilities.

A question from the book that’s worth thinking about:

What is one change you could make in your life today that would have an impact on the quality of your day?

Read more:
An 18 Minute Plan That Keeps You Focused
The jar of life – stones, pebbles and sand
Start Managing Your Attention

Presentation Zen is a great book

I have read Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds. It’s a beautiful book in itself and terrific when it comes to its topic. The book gives lots of examples, it is inspriring and very well written. Presentation Zen is the kind of book one returns to for reference as well as for new ideas.

I have made some notes while reading the book, things that stuck this time.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo da Vinci

Communication is about getting others to understand why you are excited. Communication is the transfer of emotion.

Make slides that reinforce your words, not repeat them.

What’s your point? Why does it matter?
If the audience remember only one thing, what should it be?

Simplicity is the essence of clear communication.

Bring everything back to the core message.

You have to believe in your message completely or no one else will.

Garr Reynolds has a blog with the same name, Presentation Zen, that I suggest you subscribe to.

Marion Chapsal recommended this book to me. We talked about books around presentations and she wrote If I could recommend only one this would be THE ONE! I am glad I followed her advice since I really love this book.

Get Presentation Zen at The Book Depository.

How to develop self confidence and influence people by public speaking

I have read How to develop self confidence and influence people by public speaking by Dale Carnegie. Here are some of my notes based on the book.

The book has this reassuring quote by Cicero:

All public speaking of real merit is characterized by nervousness.

Dale Carnegie gives this advice: See yourself as a messenger, the message is important. In other words, content is important.

Preparation
Preparation means assembling your thoughts, your ideas, your convictions, your urges. Preparation means selecting, polishing, working them into a pattern, a mosaic of your own. A speech is a voyage with a purpose and it must be chartered.

Outlines
The book lists some types of outlines.
1. State your facts
2. Argue from them
3. Appeal for action

1. Here is a situation that ought to be remedied
2. We ought to do so and so about the matter.
3. You ought to help for these reasons.

1. Secure interested attention.
2. Win confidence.
3. State your facts, educate people regarding the merits of your proposition.
4. Appeal to the motives that make men act.

How to open a talk
The book lists these alternatives:
• Arouse curiosity
• Begin with a story
• Begin with an illustration
• Use an exhibit
• Ask a question
• Open with a quotation
• Tie your topic up to the vital interests of your audience

How to close a talk
The book lists these alternatives:
• Summarize, restate, outline briefly the main points covered
• Appeal for action
• A terse sincere compliment
• A humorous close
• A poetical qouotation
• The climax

This book overlaps in parts with Dale Carnegie’s The quick and easy way to effective speaking. I prefer that one.

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