Sometimes we all need a wake-up call, a great big kick in the ass, or just some plain old-fashioned motivation. I’m sure that we can all think of books that have sparked something inside of us to do something different, or just be a little better at what we’re doing now. These are just a few of the many books that have inspired me.
I don’t know about you, but I am so sick, tired and not at all inspired by all these weight loss stories that end in “I finally lost 100 lbs and now I can fit into that size 4 bridesmaids dress I already bought and my boyfriend is happy and I’m happy too! Thank YOU broccoli smoothies! “
So when I feel like I need to get my ass into gear, I really like giving this book a re-read. A real, honest and hilariously written story about the authors’ experience with a variety of popular diets, finally landing the oh-so-simple eat better and move more. There is no “thinner-is- always-better” subtext, and no weight loss to impress anyone else, this book is just about being your best self and feeling great at size 2, 12 or 22. This book inspires me to order a salad sometimes and try the new machines at the gym.
For those who don’t know, this book is the transcript of the last lecture of Professor Randy Pausch, who had been diagnosed with terminal stage cancer. His lecture is amazing, unsurprising as he was always known as a wonderful and inspiring speaker. But what stayed with me wasn’t anything in particular that was said in his lecture, but the idea of a “last lecture”.
What lessons do I leave behind? What good did I do while I was here? What advice to I have to offer the people I love who will be here after I’m gone. After reading this book I was a little afraid that If I had to give a last lecture it would be very much like this:
“Dipping Wendys’ fries into Frostys tastes like waffles. Also, y’all HAVE to check out Teen Mom, white trash-errific!”
This book inspires me to just BE better.
Laugh all you want, but I would bet that an extraordinary number of little girls started their own BSC, or other small businesses after reading this book. I know two of them personally. I was one of them 😉
Gretchen Rubin: “The Happiness Project”
Sometimes these inspirational biographies (the “Eat Pray Love” sub-genre) can have the opposing effect on me. Often the authors make a such a huge life change that their stories are intimidating and the lessons are almost inaccessible. I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to quit my job and move to Namibia and set up a medical laboratory. It would be cool I guess, but that’s not who I am and I don’t think that should mean that I can’t make changes in my life that have significant impact.
In this book, Rubin makes a series of small changes to her life in the form of theme-driven month-by-month resolutions. For example, one month her theme was Energy, and her resolutions inside that theme included going to bed at a certain hour and to de-clutter her home.
I just love the idea of a systematic method of making things better in a big way by changing the little things. I really believe that for most people, being happy with your life won’t come from selling your home and backpacking for 2 years, but from organizing your photos into books you can cherish, seeing the people you love more often, and getting your ass to a dentist regularly. I did a 6 month happiness project, and some things will stick, others will fail, but it was a valuable experience, and I will almost certainly do another one.
This book is the first hand account of the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster, in which five of Krakauers’ co-climbers died. I find this book inspiring on a couple different levels. Firstly, he climbed a mountain. That is just inspiring all by itself. If there are people out there climbing the highest mountain in the world, I’m pretty sure that I can step up my stairmaster game:
40 minutes at level 10-Because it’s there!
Secondly, the storm and resulting casualties had a profound effect on the author. But not only does he continue to climb, he resists the urge to simply chalk the whole tragedy up to inexperienced climbers or bad luck. He has been very publicly fighting for more stringent regulations and guidelines for dangerous climbs. He turned what was no doubt a traumatic experience into motivation to make a change. It takes a lot of strength to re-live a painful experience again and again in the hopes of doing some good.
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”