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Active Reading

February 14, 2014 by  
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Great books can do great things for you in your life. They certainly have for me and I use a simple method to make sure I don’t forget what I’ve learned from the best books I’ve read. It’s really simple and I highly recommend you give it a try.

First, as I read, I underline the best points made by the author, the ones that jump out at me and instruct, inspire and motivate. Next I make a note in the front or back of the book, with the page number and a short summary of what struck me as a real gem. After I have finished the book I take an 8” X 11” piece of card stock paper and transfer all the page numbers and quotes onto that paper. Then, anytime I need a mental, emotional or motivational push I quickly and easily review my notes of a particular book. It’s easy and simple.

As I have said in the past, and as it was preached to me by my mentor Paul J. Meyer, “It’s better to re-read or re-view over and over, 20 or 30 or 100 great books than to read 1,000 average books”. I have never forgotten that and it have served my life and dreams very well.

In looking through my stack of 8 X 11 cards I see my notes on books like “Satisfaction”, “Outliers”, “Flow”, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”, “Tipping Point”, “Fat Chance”, The Power of Now”, “The Willpower Instinct”, The Four Doors”, and of course a couple of my books “The Next Step to Waking up the Financial Genius Inside You”, “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living. That is to name just a few. Next week I will give you a few of what I think are the best short summary statements from a few of those books to show you exactly what I mean, what jumps out at me and what helps me like I am pretty sure it can help you.

Find Your Forward Movement

February 25, 2011 by  
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For me the most helpful point in Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, is to take time to set structure to our lives, including tough goals that push us to the limit. He says true enjoyment is characterized by forward movement; the act of pushing ourselves beyond what we are programmed to do to achieve something unexpected.

There are likely a number of things you do already that reach or approach this ideal and get you to that state of flow. For me it includes:
• Playing a close game of tennis that stretches my ability
• Pushing myself to the max in stretching , yoga style
• Reading a book that reveals things in a new light
• Closing a tough real estate deal
• Having a conversation that leads to a discovery of gives me new ideas
• Spending time writing in my journal and setting more goals and plans with dates to push myself
• Working out very, very hard
• Climbing or cycling up a big tough mountain

I think we should all become aware of the flow experiences that push us towards the unexpected, giving us the experiences and forward movement that brings true happiness and contentment. Consider taking the time to figure out what those are for you. Then make them a priority and see if you don’t find your life quite a bit more satisfying.

Increase Contentment–Shut out the ‘Self’

February 11, 2011 by  
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In the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Csikszentmihaly says the battle over self is the only battle that you must win for complete contentment, that all other battles will be relatively easy when battle over self is won.

It’s not an easy battle, I can tell you. But it helps if you understand what ‘self’ is and can recognize it.

Self is that part of you that is instinctual, the part that would prefer to rest, eat more, and spend more time in physical pleasures. This part of ourselves is rooted in our long ago past. Way back when every day was focused on just surviving, we had to rest whenever we could because every waking hour was spent hunting and gathering. It was also a time when food wasn’t always readily available so you would eat up when you could. And as lifespans were short, a strong sex drive was a matter of survival for our species. These desires for rest, food, and sex were a necessary part of our lives.

Our society and our way of life have evolved dramatically in a relatively short time but these impulses did not. We still battle the instinctual self every day, trying not to be distracted by it so we can accomplish the things we want and know we should be doing. When we are in ‘flow’, however, all of this inherent self falls away. Our world becomes the challenge we are engaged in and nothing more. We are no longer battling old instincts or even wrestling with modern pressures. There is no self to be concerned with, just the task at hand and that sense of contentment it brings.

It would be great if we instantly fall into this flow state whenever we needed it but it’s just not that easy to overcome the self. However, we can work towards it in many things we do, shutting out that voice that sidetracks us or complains about the work to be done. This is the old, unnecessary ‘self’ talking to you. Learn to recognize it for what it is and shut it out. We can’t do much about it being there, but we don’t have to listen to it either. That is another thing about modern man. We have a choice.

Getting into the ‘Flow’

February 4, 2011 by  
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I recently sat down and re-read, for maybe the 6th or 7th time, Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s fantastic book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. He has some very intriguing ideas and I wanted to share some them with you over the next few weeks.

First of all, the basic idea of the book and the theory he discusses is that we are happiest when we are in, what he calls, a state of ‘flow’. This is that moment when you become completely engrossed in what you are doing and everything else around you kind of disappears. Some people call it being in the zone or getting in a groove. But whatever it’s called, it is usually spoken of with fervor, excitement or longing and I think we’d all like to spend a lot more time there.

You can only be in flow, though if the task on hand is of particular interest to you and you have some level of skill to work with. Plus it needs to be challenging–nothing frustratingly hard, but challenging enough to motivate you to keep working at it. A natural interest combined with a testing of our skills gives us an intense sense of fulfillment, so much so that things like time, food, comfort, and even ego are lost. We get to a point where we do the task for the sake of the task and reach a state of productive harmony.

I’m thinking, though, you don’t have to get into the zone or a groove to make these ideas bring more happiness into your life on a regular basis. Whether it’s tasks you are accomplishing at your job, with your business, while working on a hobby or even fixing up the house you can develop your skills so that you do what you do well. Then challenge yourself and your skills. That same sense of fulfillment and happiness can be a part of your every day then, not just those super cool moments when you’re in the flow. But, of course, making it a goal to have more of those trance like flow moments would certainly make for a happier you as well.