Many years ago, in my early twenties, I had a friend and a mentor who was a philosopher professor in my hometown’s university. We were sitting outdoors, enjoying an ice-cream to protect us from the sticky humidity of that summer afternoon. I liked to meet with this professor, because he had wisdom when it came to read what was going on in the world.
I was moving my first steps in journalism, and I wanted to become good at writing about current events and analyze them in a smart way. So that afternoon, I asked for advice to my mentor. “Which newspaper do you read?” I asked him, thinking that the secret of his depth of analysis was the writing of some good journalist or commentator.
My mentor’s response was a surprise, “If you want to understand our times, rather than newspapers, you should read books by great authors, like Saint Agustin.” His response made me pause, and since that day I have started to cultivate an appreciation for history, philosophy, anthropology, and spirituality books.
Sometimes people ask me for advice on what to read for their own personal development. I don’t always tell them to read Saint Augustine or Nietzsche or Socrates. But I do suggest books that help them to transform themselves and the world that surrounds them. I like to suggest books that help people to inquire about their life purpose, to help them discover what their calling is and to inspire them to take action.
In fact, if we want to constantly grow and better serve that part of humanity that surrounds us, then we need to nourish ourselves, and one of the best ways to do it, is by reading.
Since we are moving into the holidays, I thought to share the list of books I have been suggesting to a variety of people. For each book, I also selected a couple of quotes that I have highlighted in my own copy (or kindle version).
As we go into the holiday season, maybe we can find some time to read an inspiring book (or to pick one as a gift for friends and family members). So, here are my top 10 books in personal transformation for world transformation:
”If we can learn to influence ourselves first, before we seek to influence others, we will be better able to satisfy our needs as well as to satisfy the needs of others.”
”I emphasize the concept of going to the balcony. The balcony is a metaphor for a mental and emotional place of perspective, calm and self-control. If life is a stage and we are all actors on that stage, then the balcony is a place from which we can see the entire play unfolding with greater clarity. To observe our selves, it is valuable to go to the balcony at all times, and especially before, during, and after any problematic conversation or negotiation.”
”If you don’t give yourself a moment to visualize the clear results you want to create, then you are less likely to achieve what you desire.”
”If you want to be great at anything, you’ve got to have a clear vision of exactly what you want, why you want it, and when you want it to happen…. Your job is create a vision that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning. If it doesn’t, go back to bed until you have a bigger dream.”
”We can’t control what life throws our way, but we can control how we react to it. As we do, maybe we come closer to a meaningful life than any plan could ever take us. To do this, though, we have to let go of what we think we deserve and embrace what is, which just might lead to something better than we ever could have imagined.”
”What we all want is to know our time on earth has meant something. We can distract ourselves with pleasure for only so long before beginning to wonder what the point is. This means if we want true satisfaction, we have to rise above the pettiness of our won desires and od what is required of us. A calling comes when we embrace the pain, not avoid it.”
”A hero sets off in search of something elusive that has the power to change both their life and the world…. If you want to achieve the unimaginable, you start by imagining it. Before beginning, take the time to count the cost. Understanding exactly what you need to do, and then fining a way to do it, makes a quest much more feasible.”
”It’s better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don’t.”
”Step one is to have a clear vision of your outcome. Step two is to create positive pressure to keep you inspired. The third step is a simple one: never set a goal without attaching a timeline to it.”
”Fear is nothing more than a mental monster you have created, a negative stream of consciousness.”
”I am more than I appear to be, all the world’s strength and power rests inside me.”
”By stripping away the things that make life difficult, we’re left with an effortless life… The only thing that stand in the way of an effortless life is the mind.”
“If we reduce our needs and learn to be content with little, we need to work little to survive.”
“Always remember: the journey is all. The destination is beside the point.”
“Interdependence and emptiness show us that there are no fixed starting points. We can start from nothing. Whatever we have, wherever we are—that is the place we can start from. Many people have the idea that they lack what they need in order to start working toward their dreams. They feel they do not have enough power, or they do not have enough money. But they should know that any point is the right starting point. This is the perspective that emptiness opens up. We can start from zero.”
”The willingness to aggressively go after what I wanted most had become the other personality train that I was know for at the company…”
”I wasn’t just interested in building one school anymore, I wanted to build a movement that changed people’s perception of charity. “
”I started to realize that it didn’t matter how many people were in the room. If I could inspire just one person to take one action on our behalf…, then the organization would have a committed individual to carry it forward…. So with every speech I gave, whether to a large or a small audience, I focused on finding the one person whose eyes lit up most when he or she heard our story of the first time.”
”All life is a spiral of change, a continuous graceful curve toward purpose. There is a definite pattern to it all, and we spend our whole lives seeking that pattern by living with different questions at each age and phase. Searching for the patterns is the heart of our human quest. If we’re aware of that pattern, and our place in it, we can identify the best choices to sustain us along the way.”
”It takes resolve to make what we do reflect who we are.”
”If there is no joy, ease, or lightness in what you are doing, it does not necessarily mean that you need to change what you are doing. It may be sufficient to change the how.”