The OGs: My Top Reads
Unabashedly, I love to read. We have such a bevy of information that we’re exposed to but don’t take the time to critically review. As a kid, although I don’t completely remember and have foggy recollections of, my parents said I used to go to the corner store, buy the Sunday paper every week, and just get lost it in.
Lame? Maybe. Useful? Undoubtedly.
In a world where we are bombarded with so much noise, reading serves as a solitary activity that actually is anything but. It connects us with the experiences of the past, the events of now, and hopefully provides the ability to assimilate this information in a manner to change our future.
To turn it into knowledge.
I got an email for a gentleman in Cambodia who follows me on social who wanted to know
“What book really helped propel your mentality towards a paradigm shift towards hustling…”
I hit him back but decided to make a list too.
Below are many of the reads that helped create the theoretical framework I approach each day with to get the most out of it. I’m a firm believer that everything that you create is a manifestation of your inner workings so what you “consume” is vital. These books caused a “paradigm shift” within my own mentality and therefore I highly recommend.
Note: You’ll notice that there are no books that are strictly in the field of exercise. There’s a time to just study facts applicable to your practice but I argue once you’ve set the mental framework properly those efforts will have more of an impact.
Miracle of The Mind
Beginning the list with one that isn’t actually a book. Miracle of The Mind is a lecture by the late Earl Nightingale, one of the most prolific and iconic speakers/authors on human character development. While the lecture due to the era it was created has a few flaws including the 10% brain myth, it provided immense motivation for me while at the University of Pennsylvania as I dealt with my football injuries and school work.
It shifted me from quantifying myself based upon my thoughts to instead what I actually do/complete. It also assisted in me not being overwhelmed by the so called problems that I had because 1.) Many are out of my control 2.) The only way to fix these problems was to actually constructively tackle them.
It’s a quick lecture with much of it, outside of antiquated scientific theory, grounded in simple strategies that you can utilize to be better in various capacities. My favorite? Take an hour each day to make a list of things you could do to make the tasks you engage in on a daily basis better.
Everyone knows this one (or should) and is where the colloquial usage of “frame shift” for many comes as Covey provides optimal techniques to create them for yourself. Treat this one like a textbook IMO- read a little bit, apply to your daily life to see the positive effects, then return to the book. My biggest takeaway from 7 Habits? Improved communication with one simple trick- take the time to listen to what someone else is saying without formulating a response in your mind before they are finished articulating their thought.
Seems basic but once you’re made aware of how rampant the tendency is to form an opinion on a matter before you actually hear what someone else says this approach will markedly increase positive interactions and outcomes.
Striving to create an internal/external infrastructure for success, especially since I’m constantly on the go, is the only way I can (fittingly) get things done. This book can help you get out your own way and allow your creativity to flourish by removing decision fatigue, sensory overload, and other roadblocks.
“Borrowed” from my coworker during my time working at Health Warrior, it’s safe to say he isn’t getting this one back.
The concept of kindness has radically shifted from a noble trait to one of weakness in Western thought. On Kindness explores this from both a philosophical to then a psychoanalytical lens.
Admittedly a bit dense in content but still a quick read, my biggest takeaways was the concept of “fellow feeling”, or the connection to all humans based upon a shared common experience. Not quite empathy but closely related to it, some argue it can lead to improved moral judgement.
Not just for writers (even though I argue it’s a skill everyone should have) War of Art is an excellent read that simplistically provides a call to arms to get to work regardless of the profession you’re in. Short, relevant, and easy to digest, think of the best Facebook posts or Instagram captions categorized in a small book from someone who is not just trying to get likes but get you to like what you do.
Positive psychology and its assorted concepts, including the flow state, have been a profound influence for me. Not to be lost in the name, positive psychology doesn’t simply just advocate a permanent rosy outlook which can actually do more harm than good but explores basically how to thrive in situations that are often less than ideal aka life.
Finding Flow is then a exploration of the flow concept, or what athletes refer to as “the zone”, and how to connect to that in daily life. We have the habit of simply operating according to a base stimulus, lost in the mundane aspects of daily life, instead of making a concerted effort to improve with small nuances. This book helps explore breaking out of that with empirically based ideas.
If you’re looking for a critical understanding into just how deeply entrenched lobbyists are in our food system, get this book. Nestle is one of the most prominent and trusted voices in the nutrition world and this read stands out. You can check out her website by the same name here.
I read this book at the age of 12 and it created a sense of wonder with the philosophy of yoga and an interest in metaphysics. While you have to slightly suspend belief at many of the claims in this book, approach it with a childlike wonder and become enthralled with the power that the mind can have once you tame it. A favorite of the late Steve Jobs (he gave a copy of this book to everyone at his funeral), Autobiography of a Yogi follows the spiritual journey of Paramahansa Yogananda from his time in India and also in the Americas.
Granted, portions of the book are outlandish but it helped introduce views of meditation and general self realization at a young age which continue to inspire me to this day.
Continuing on with the yoga theme we have the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Yoga for me is so much more than a “flow” but more a pragmatic philosophy that seeks to help you control what is deemed the “mind-stuff” and this book lays out what the true tenants of yoga are. Reading this from an agnostic standpoint and applying it accordingly you see much of what is discussed falls in line with Western thought and classical psychology. Whether you’re interested in yoga or simply want a deeper understanding into how other cultures approach the conscious taming of the mind, strongly suggest adding this to your list.