6 Books That Changed My Thinking in 2013

Top reads 2013I have always loved reading – a little like Roald Dahl’s character Mathilda pictured here!

Of all the books I read this year, six in particular stand out in having really changed the way I think. Here are my top reads for 2013.

I usually buy my books from Book Depository, a website I love because they do worldwide free delivery and have the lowest prices I have found anywhere (including amazon). I am such a fan that I am now an affiliate – so if you decide to buy any of these books or other books from this website, please do so by clicking on this link or directly on the book titles below so I can earn points to buy even more books (it won’t cost you anything more)!

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

The main idea of this book is that we all have an ‘Upper Limit’ – a set point or thermostat of happiness defined by what we were told growing up and the beliefs we’ve interiorized. When we surpass this limit, we start to sabotage ourselves because we are uncomfortable with so much happiness. This keeps us from making the ‘big leap’ into what Hendricks calls our Zone of Genius – a place where we are able to express our full potential.

I think we can all identify with self-sabotage to a certain extent. This can look like healthy eating and living for a few days and feeling really great…then pigging out on unhealthy foods for no apparent reason. Or it can be finally getting into an exercise routine you feel good about…then having an accident that prevents you from exercising for several weeks.

I read this book while travelling in Australia in October and it made me realize that the worries I often have while traveling is a form of Upper Limit thinking. Simply realizing this changed my travel experience.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

Simply becoming aware of upper limiting behavior like worrying and self-sabotage behavior and focusing on cultivating a feeling of deservedness instead.

Find Out More: 

Watch this 5 minute interview with the author:

 

The Yoga of Eating: Transcending Diets and Dogma to Nourish the Natural Self by Charles Eisenstein

Having studied over 100 dietary theories as diverse as the Paleo Diet, veganism and Macrobiotics during my nutrition training, the approach taken by Charles Eisenstein is actually what makes most sense to me.

Rather than trusting some external doctrine on what we should or shouldn’t eat, this book helps you access a higher authority: Your own body.

The approach this book takes is what I have based my Health Coaching on, and even the name of my website: Healthwise. It is about connecting with your own inner wisdom to find the food and lifestyle habits that nourish YOU best because no one way of eating works for everyone.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

Trusting my own body’s wisdom has helped me find true freedom with food. I also loved the unorthodox view of eating animals which you can read here.

What I have noticed with both myself and my clients is that when you start eating from a place of trust and intuition, this has a ripple effect and you start living your whole life more intuitively.

Find Out More: 

Read my blog post on Eisenstein’s definition of karma.

Watch this 3 minute video by the author

 

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie

I read this book during Christmas 2012, then spent 2013 trying to put it into practice and watching videos on the Byron Katie website. I re-read it this December and it spoke to me even more.

For me, this book is based on 3 main ideas:

1. It is not what happens to us but our thoughts about what happens that cause suffering, especially not accepting the reality of what is. As Byron Katie says,  “When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100% of the time”. 

2. We do not need to attach to our thoughts – we can examine them using the 4 questions outlined in Byron Katie’s method, The Work.

3. For every thought that causes suffering, the opposite or a turn around can be just as true.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

I constantly try to examine my own thinking and this has brought me much more peace. I have also integrated it into my Health Coaching practice as certain beliefs can often stop us from making the healthy change we want.

Find Out More:

You can find all the resources you need to do The Work yourself on Byron Katie’s excellent website here.

Watch this 10 minute summary of the book:

 

The Slow Down Diet by Marc David

Marc David is the founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. He focuses on applying psychology and nutrition in a way that is novel and exciting for me.

This books focuses not so much on WHAT we eat, but on how our attitude to food, the quality of what we eat, when we eat and how we eat affects our metabolism.

Marc David’s main idea is that it is only by slowing down, decreasing stress and truly taking pleasure in eating that we can sustainably change our relationship to food and increase our metabolism to lose weight.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

A deeper understanding of the mind-body connection as related to emotional eating, weight loss, and digestion.

Find Out More: 

Read this blog post I wrote on how WHEN we eat impacts our metabolism, inspired by this book.

 

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

Brené Brown is a researcher and storyteller who has studied emotions such as vulnerability and shame. This book discusses how vulnerability is not about being weak or imperfect, but is essential to living wholeheartedly and truly connecting with people.

According to her research, if we are unable to be vulnerable, to take risks, to open up to people or make mistakes, we risk living a life that is lonely, detached and unfulfilled.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

A realization that to live a truly connected life, I need to risk being vulnerable more, even if this means opening myself up to failure and rejection. It also made me realize that behind perfectionism is a fear of not being good enough.

Find Out More: 

A 3 minute animated film on empathy which summarizes Brené Brown’s approach incredibly well. :

You can also watch her TED talks on vulnerability and on shame.

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This is the opening paragraph of the book:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Doesn’t it already have you hooked?

This book juggles themes such as pride, goodness, love, the human need we all have for magic and escape and enchantment and the lengths we are willing to go to follow our passion…or to prove a point. The structure of the book is also very unique, told from the point of view of different characters at different moments in time. Yet it somehow all comes together in a way that left me spellbound.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

More than change my thinking, this book left me with a feeling: A lingering air of pure magic.

Find Out More: 

Watch the trailer for the book: