Wednesday, May 31, 2017

10% Happier? Maybe.

I’ve been reading more lately. I always read newspapers and have a stack of books on my nightstand but sometimes TV intrudes on my reading time. This past weekend, I read a ton and finished Dan Harris’s 10% happier. If you’re unfamiliar with the book, Harris is a newscaster who was battling panic attacks and, as he so aptly called, it “the asshole voice in his head” or negative self-talk. Harris embarks on a journey through the self- help sphere in the most skeptical way. It reminded me a little of A.J. Jacob’s books, if you’ve read those.
Some things that have stuck with me from the book:

Just because a book changed someone else’s life doesn’t mean it will resonate with you. For example, Harris doesn’t relate to much of Eckhart Tolle’s writes. In fact, Harris interviews Tolle and doesn’t feel there’s much that’s useable in his advice. There are a number of books, Brene Brown’s work comes to mind, that friends or colleagues rave about whereas I cannot get through them. Unlike Bill Gates, I think it’s fine to put a book down and find one that’s not a struggle.

Wanderlust may be misleading. I am a travel junkie and I have always felt a certain pride in being adventurous. While reading this book, Harris describes the person always looking for the next thrill, trip or high. Maybe, focusing on these amazingly amazing moments makes everyday life feel dull or not enough. We were home this past weekend and, at first, part of me regretted not going to Vermont or somewhere new. Perhaps reading this book played a role but we had the best time. We had no plans, I slowed down…if you’re go, go, go reconsider a bit.

You don’t have to love yourself. Confession- I hate this advice. And again, it’s personal so if you love loving yourself by all means continue. For me, it feels phony. One of the experts on this book says he counsels against it. “Mindfulness gives us a way to examine our self-hatred without making it go away. Just being mindful of it can be liberating.” Harris points out, if we allow ourselves to acknowledge those less-than-lovable parts of ourselves maybe we don’t need to eat, pop pills or do whatever it is to hide it or distract ourselves. WOW

After reading this book I found myself looking at mediation as something with a payoff, I know that sounds wrong. I used to see meditation as something I should do, something other people benefited from. Now, I see it as something that could help me at work, help me pause and not react out of anger and tame that voice inside my head that’s an asshole.
What are you reading? Do you meditate? I’d love to hear.

Monday, May 1, 2017

F-Monday, here are a few distractions

I know there are a lot of blogs that do Friday roundups or “best of the week” lists. I don’t know about you but by Friday, I’m weekend-focused. I need inspiration on Monday. If you’re a “grab the bull by its horns” type of Monday person, that’s terrific. I’m not, it takes me most of Monday to wake up and accept that the weekend is over.
And so, I’m going to try to give you a few useful tidbits on Mondays. Instead of TGIF, maybe ISIM “I’m sorry it’s Monday” …no that isn’t a good acronym for reasons I’m sure you gathered.
  1. I spent most of my weekend watching this on Netflix. There were a bunch of things I found unrealistic, even irresponsible but I couldn’t stop watching. Our school sent an email about this series. After watching it, I feel it’s a useful basis for discussing a hard topic with my kids. The series also confirmed how difficult it is for parents to connect with teens, even if you feel you’re a good parent.
  2. And this is my current favorite podcast. The episodes with Sheryl Sandberg and Ina Garten were fantastic. I ran extra errands yesterday listening to Sheryl talk about her latest book.
  3. I’m a Part’s Unknown fan, I already knew Anthony Bourdain avoids airplane food (and that’s impressive because he’s away 200+ days a year). The Times revealed some of his packing habits- he always brings a real book and its often a novel that takes place in his destination.
  4. Saturday night we had drinks and dinner with my high school friends. Food and drink highlights were the kale margarita here and Brussels sprouts with blue cheese at dinner afterward. That's a happy marriage (Brussels and blue).
  5. And finally, on Friday I received a delivery from Not MilkNYC. Their non-dairy milks are a blend of nuts and seeds and even the flavors are lightly sweetened (we’re talking 1 date per bottle). I found Colombe’s cold brew coffee, Not Milk’s chocolate milk and a touch of NuNaturals to be an enjoyable pick-me-up.

Any favorite finds you’d like to share? Are you pro-Monday or more of a F-Monday person?