A friend who visited my home and office a few times last year would joke with me about the many (many, many) self-help and personal development books I had lining my shelves.
My friend was right. It was a lot. Much less than some people I know (who combine the book addiction with the CD addiction with the seminar addiction with the information product addicition….) but far more than the average.
And don’t get me wrong — I am not judging the people who buy this stuff. I am one of those people! I am not criticizing the information either — it’s good stuff. Almost all of it that I have digested in some way has been great. And valid. And realistic. And relevant. And actionable.
Therein lies the problem. In the “actionable” part.
We can read, listen, watch and absorb until we are (sometimes literally) blue in the face.
But nothing happens until you do something.
I think I need to say that part again.
NOTHING HAPPENS UNTIL YOU DO SOMETHING.
Yes, the doing. The action. The part where the pedal hits the metal. The part where you put the book down or leave the seminar and take your inspiration and your AHA! and your “OK I totally get it now” and actually DO SOMETHING.
Gosh, that part is so freakin’ hard sometimes.
And when my friend poked fun at me, I naturally bristled. I told him I wasn’t like “all those other people” who read the books and ruminate and think and nod their heads and make a list for next week.
No….I WAS DIFFERENT.
I was all about the action. And the doing.
Oh yea, except that I wasn’t doing the action or acting on the doing or whatever.
I was still reading the books. And listening to the CDs and podcasts on my iPod. And even in real life believing that just by associating with people who claimed to “know” and to have all “the answers” that I was changing and evolving and getting stuff done.
But at the end of the day, I was so spent from the many pseudo-revelations I was having that I was actually not getting far at all. I would stop the process in its tracks. At the information stage. Because I figured I had the message, I “knew” what to do. (Or not do. Or think. Or not think.)
I was golden. Because knowledge was power (right?) and I had all the knowledge in the world at my fingertips.
But then my friend burst my bubble. And I didn’t like it one bit. Because we don’t like to hear someone tell us a truth about ourselves that we aren’t yet ready to face.
So I told him to shut the heck up. Or something along those lines.
But he wouldn’t let it go. Thought it was reallllllly funny.
So late last year when I was re-organizing my office, painting the walls a different color (an orange that prompted the painter to tell me that it looked like a pumpkin threw up all over my walls) and moving furniture around, I decided to take a stab at the bookcase and to see what I was willing to part with, if anything at all.
No matter what the book, a true book lover like myself finds it very hard to say goodbye. They are my babies. My teachers. My loves.
But as I started to go through book by book, I began to see that my friend had a point. A huge point. OMG what a point.
There was more about living, loving, thinking, being, seeing, knowing, feeling and forgiving than I care to live, love, think, be, seem know, feel or forgive — ever.
So I set to doing what needed to be done. I started making a pile. The Pile. The pile of self-help books that had done their job, that had been so very dear to me, but that were no longer right for me or for my life.
Because I knew that I no longer needed this fake life-preserver.
I just needed to do and live. Because if I didn’t actually do and live, I would continue reading about doing and living for the rest of my life. And that s*** was getting real old for me.
So what I actually did was fill up a bunch of these crate-box things with many of these books (I did keep some) and transfer them from my office into the garage. Where they now live. I am waiting for someone or someplace to present itself to me as the entity that most needs these books right now. (Come by and pick them up!)
In the meantime, as I was thinking about this blog post (in the shower, of course), I started to think about what I had learned during my self-help quest. And really, there are only a handful of very general but very important principles or laws or ideas that I feel I need to know in my heart and carry around wherever I go.
There may be more but the ones that took me something like 3,000 hours, 1,500 to-do/resolution lists, 200 books, 32 breakthroughs and less than five but more than zero heartbreaks to figure out are so, so simple. So simple, in fact, that I knew them before my revolution or evolution ever even started. And you already know them, too.
But for your reading pleasure, consider this the shortest self-help book in existence. Or, your very own Cliff Notes’ version. Surely, there are more, but this is a great beginning. Or ending. Or just the place to stay in for a while:
- As you think, so you become. (As in, thoughts become things. As in, what you focus on expands.)
- The more happy and grateful you feel, the more you will have to be happy and grateful for.
- You are always in the right place at the right time. Always.
- You always have everything you need. Always.
- Mistakes, heartaches, waiting, sadness, disappointment and grief are all great gifts with specific purposes in our lives.
- There are no accidents or coincidences. (Everything happens for a reason, every person comes in or stays in or leaves our lives for a reason and with lessons.)
- In any given moment, you have the power to change anything and everything.
- Fear and ego are always with us. Face them, embrace them and get it done anyway.
- Better to screw up doing something wrong or badly or off than to screw up by doing nothing.
- It’s all love and fear, pleasure or pain. That’s it.
#thatisall (I think. Let me know what I missed.)