The Six Books that Guided the Way
In order to achieve any type of personal growth, you must constantly educate, and sometimes re-educate yourself, on a variety of different topics. Over the past 10 years, I’ve read my fair share of books on topics such as motivation, stress relief, meditation, fitness, buddhism, neurology, lifestyle, and the list goes on. And though each book imparts at least a small piece of wisdom, these six books were major players on my path to a better me (presented in chronological order):
1- Awaken the Giant Within (Tony Robbins) – Who hasn’t heard of Tony Robbins the self-help guru? As with many of these types of books, it was leant to me by a friend, not sure I would’ve bought for myself. It was my first exploration in the power of the mind, and I can honestly say that this book is responsible for getting me to quit smoking and make other significant changes in my life.
2- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (Richard Carlson) – I discovered this small gem of a book when my dad left it in the bathroom one day. Working in a sleep away camp teaching Muay Thai to kids one summer gave me the opportunity to read this book cover to cover. So many insightful little chapters, easily applied to your everyday life. This book taught me that stress is optional, and with a simple change of perspective, it doesn’t have to be a part of your life if you don’t want it to be.
3- The Way of the Peaceful Warrior (Dan Millman) – First I discovered the movie, which led me to the book, and what a discovery it was. Part fiction, part biography, Millman weaves a tale in such a way as to recognize your own life within the story and apply as many of his teachings to it as you see fit. This book inspired me to seek a new path for my life and was the main inspiration for the Peacewolf way of life.
4- Zen and the Brain (James Austin) – Meditation was a very on and off thing with me in the beginning. Though I knew I liked the idea of it, I never really understood the point of it. Most books on the subject delve in the ways of Buddhism and other spiritual teachings, but rarely do they come straight out and tell you what you stand to gain from meditative practice. This book does. Though it does explain many of the Zen Buddhist concepts, it does it such a way that makes sense, at least to me. But more importantly, it gives concrete, logical and scientifically proven reasons as to why meditation should be part of your life, and so it became a part of mine.
5- The Thrive Diet (Brendan Brazier) – My venture into vegetarianism was a gradual one, basically eliminating one animal at a time. I never did give up on fish, or dairy for that matter. Part of me wanted to, wanted to embrace a vegan lifestyle, but as a trainer and athlete, I worried about protein deficiency in my diet. This book showed me that you can perform at a high level as an athlete without having to turn to animal sources for protein and energy. It opened my eyes to concepts of eating raw and maximizing the full potential of the food you eat. It also has some great information on physical stress and how our body deals with it. Though I still occasionally eat fish and seafood, this book is the reason that I eat much more raw foods and have cut out dairy completely. I haven’t lost a step, in fact, I’m performing at a higher level than ever.
6- The 4 Hour Work Week (Tim Ferriss) - My most recent discovery. I actually discovered Tim Ferriss through his ‘Random Show’ video blog. I then read some of his blog entries and then decided to try the book. It may be one of the most important books I’ve ever read, not so much for it’s content, though excellent, but for the inspiration and motivation that it created in my life. This book is a user manual of sorts for achieving a lifestyle. It gives you tools and insight on how to make things happen, but ultimately, it’s up to you to make the decisions and to take the risks. Though I knew that I wanted a life of adventure, this book finally showed me that a) it was possible and that b) with the proper plan in place I could actually make it happen. This master plan is still a work in progress but so far so good.
Remember that no matter where you’re trying to go or what you’re trying to do, someone has probably been there before you, at least part of the way. Knowledge is your greatest ally, you just need to reach out and get it.