I’ll confess. My plan to write the Friday Favourites as a means to continually drive myself forward has fallen by the wayside somewhat…
And it’s only week one.
To present my own defence, I have been working toward a marketing qualification and had an assignment deadline Thursday night, so almost everything else in my life has been put on hold. It may sound obvious, but the biggest learning I have taken from this week has been that I need to identify ways in which I can continually move forward in a space of hard work, dedication, drive and stillness.
As a life-long procrastinator, I like to convince myself that I do my best work when down to the wire. As the deadline rapidly approaches, the increasing sense of pressure pushes my body into a stress mode from which creative and wonderful ideas emerge. But if there is one thing I am learning, it is that my happiest, most creative self is found in stillness. The pressure may help me to met deadlines and goals, but I pay for it with the damage to my relationships, mental and physical health.
I digress. Here are the few bits and bobs that I have managed to squeeze in this week, hope you enjoy.
I have long been a fan of Tim Ferriss’ work. His interviewing style is exceptional and his podcast has for several years been one of the most popular business podcasts. Ferriss manages to tease out insights that you can directly apply to your daily life from incredible thought-leaders, entrepreneurs and many other world-class performers. In this most recent episode, his questioning skills were truly put to the test as he interviewed 3 men who are serving time in a maximum-security prison in the USA. The resulting podcast is a fascinating insight into human nature.
Ferriss describes an exercise called ‘Step to the Line’ which encourages non-inmates to relate better to the inmates, by understanding how your own actions and circumstances have lead you to one path in life. Think about the time you may have driven home after ‘one drink’ that was perhaps two, or looked up after texting while driving to find you have drifted into the next lane. Had circumstance been different – a policer officer happened to turn down your road, or a motorcyclist happened to be in the next lane, you life may have shifted course in a minor or major way.
To begin to see the purpose of prison as a system of rehabilitation, and in turn to break cycles of incarceration, we must all recognise a commonality in human nature. Humans have the capacity to reflect, to analyse, to reason and thus to grow. Inmates should not be hindered in their attempts to do so, which means equally that as a society, we cannot allow failures or weaknesses to permanently and completely define an individual.
I am currently completing Gretchen Rubin’s course on The Four Tendencies (more info here). In one of the bonus videos she interviews the founder of Whole30, Melissa Hartwig, whereby they discussed the value of reading fiction. Both agreed that fiction is not only a form of entertainment and a means to relax, but sparks your creativity. By pure coincidence, in the middle of writing this paragraph, I received a notification of Gretchen’s new blog post “Reading Is the Best Habit for Lifelong Learning, and It Helps with Other Skills like Concentration and Meditation.” From the perspective of concentration, both fiction and non-fiction books offer two separate but related benefits. Non-fiction books build your concentration just like a muscle – as you build up the mental strength to stay focused on the book, concentration across all aspects of your life gets easier. But I feel fiction offers a different route to concentration through ‘flow’. This is a sense of being so wrapped up in an activity that time disappears. Unlike watching a good TV show, where you may still chat or scroll through Instagram, getting stuck in to a good story is true fantasy escapism. It is from this space that ideas and creativity flow.
So, I decided to read Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights. Having never read any of his work, his name popped up several times over the past several weeks, and whilst I do take pride in staying grounded and value realistic, down-to-earth, rational thinking, I am quite partial to accepting signs from the universe! And I’m so pleased that I did. His work is classified as young adult primarily because the protagonist is a child, but for a young reader the level would no doubt be challenging. Pullman’s extensive vocabulary creates a rich fantasy world with endearing characters and engaging plot development. Rarely do I find a book which has gripped my attention from start to finish as this has done. On to book two….!
Not even remotely related to personal growth, but this was truly my favourite watch of the week! Hope it brings you as much joy as it did me!
Enjoy! Happy weekend!