Book Review:  ‘Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less’ by Greg McKeown

Book Review: ‘Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less’ by Greg McKeown

If you are a client or friend of mine you will have heard me recommend this book many times over the last couple of months. There is a good reason for that! ‘Essentialism’ is a game changer and a book that will have you thinking about how you choose to live your life from the moment you pick it up.

Within his book Greg McKeown (writer, speaker and Harvard Business Review blogger) explores the one thing the majority of us seem to struggle with on a daily basis … time! How often do you wish you had more hours in the day to get everything done? How often do you feel overwhelmed by your never-ending ‘to-do’ list? And how often do you find yourself committing to something and then later regretting it?

“There’s a word for trying to do everything all the time. Madness!”
Greg McKeown

What I loved about this book is that it isn’t about time management. Instead it’s a book about mindset and consciously choosing how we want to live our lives. In today’s world we are all busy and over-committed, and yet we continue to say ‘yes’ to things without ever stopping to ask ourselves whether it is essential, important or how we want to be spending our time.

Within this book Greg McKeown provides three steps to help you work towards living a life of an Essentialist. These three steps are:

  • Explore & Evaluate: How are you actually spending your time? I always ask my clients to think about how they want their lives to look, and feel, five years from now. Then I ask them to write down exactly how their life looks, and feels, today. I want you to do this now too. Think about the different areas of your life such as family and relationships, career, finances, health & wellness, and spirituality and make two lists. The other big question I always ask my coaching clients is (and I know this is going to sound morbid!), ‘if you know you are going to be lying on your deathbed tomorrow how would you have wanted to spend today’? Does the life you are living today look similar to the one you would love to be living? Or are they miles apart?
  • Eliminate: This step is about saying ’no’ to those things that aren’t working for you, serving you or aren’t going to help you achieve your life goals. Let me give you one example that I have implemented recently. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the amount of emails I was receiving each day. When I sat down and thought about what I really wanted to achieve in the next year my answer (from a business point of view) was to build my coaching practice to full capacity, as I know it is what I am good at and the best way that I can help others. So I unsubscribed to everyone that wasn’t talking about how to build a thriving coaching practice. It doesn’t mean that I am not interested in what other people have to offer, it just means I am not focused on that side of things right now in my business. And you know what? When I am ready to implement what they are teaching I can always subscribe again. And until then I won’t feel so inundated by all the noise out there in our online world. So … what’s one thing that you can let go of today that isn’t serving you?
  • Execute: This step is all about having the courage to say ’no’. Let me give you just a couple of examples. If spending time with your family at least four nights a week is important to you, and you get asked to be on a committee that is going to eliminate one of those nights what decision do you need to make? Or if you have committed to a yoga practice twice a week because it makes you feel good, but you get asked to take on an extra shift at work on one of those nights, what decision seems most important to you? Saying no is one of the most challenging things we are faced with. But I promise you that if you say it with grace, love and respect no-one will think any less of you.

“If you don’t prioritise your life, someone else will”
Greg McKeown

I think the hardest step of all is not just executing, but committing to execute time and time again. How many times have you looked in your wardrobe and decided that it’s time to have a clear out? So what do you do? You go through all your clothes, give away what you don’t wear or what doesn’t fit anymore, and you are left with just those clothes that look good on you and you feel great wearing. And you swear that you are going to keep it this way. Six months later … and again your wardrobe is full of clothing that you bought on a whim and never actually wear!

This is something that I talk to my clients about all the time. I don’t believe in trying to overhaul your entire life in on go. I encourage my clients to make one small positive change at a time. Once this becomes second nature to them, and they start to feel good and see the benefits, then we move on to the next thing. I truly believe it’s the small changes we make … and stick to … that make the biggest impact over a long period of time. If you’d like to have a quick 30 minute chat about how I can help you achieve this as well, then please feel free to book a time that suits you here.

So, now it’s your time to make a commitment to yourself. Are you tired of overcommitting and feeling overwhelmed? If so, then I highly recommend you read this book. I promise you won’t regret it. And if you have read this book I’d love to hear your thoughts or take-aways from it, so please leave me a message in the comments below.

Yours in Healing & Health,

Nicola

PS. If you know of someone who you think would really benefit from reading this book then please feel free to share this post with them.

Book Review:  ‘You Are Enough:  How To Elevate Your Thoughts, Align Your Energy & Get Out Of The Comparison Trap’ by Cassie Mendoza-Jones

Book Review: ‘You Are Enough: How To Elevate Your Thoughts, Align Your Energy & Get Out Of The Comparison Trap’ by Cassie Mendoza-Jones

A few weeks ago I shared an interview with the amazing Cassie Mendoza-Jones for the launch of her first book, ‘You Are Enough’. If you haven’t read the interview you can do so here.

Cassie is an author, kinesiologist and naturopath who works with women who feel stuck, unworthy and disconnected from themselves to help them increase their self-belief, elevate their thoughts and align their energy. You can learn more about Cassie’s work by visiting her gorgeous website www.elevatevitality.com.au.

Over the last few weeks I have been delving into Cassie’s new book and today I want to share with you some of the insights and ‘lightbulb’ moments that I took away. And as someone who struggles with perfectionism believe me when I say there were many!

While I am going to be focusing on perfectionism in this post, I really encourage any (all) of you that find yourself hopping on the comparison train from time to time, or who find it hard to set boundaries in your life, or who suffer from low self-worth to go out and buy this book today. You definitely won’t regret it!

My struggle with perfectionism was challenged early on in Cassie’s book when I read the following sentence:

“Please let this book be 100% yours … Dog-ear the corners of pages that you love, highlight words, phrases, sentences or whole paragraphs if they ring true for you.”

I have to admit that all the books I own look as brand new as the day I bought them. Every insight I get from a book is carefully recorded in a journal. I have never dog-earred a page or highlighted a sentence in my life. Not even in my textbooks from University. But it was obviously time to start!

At the beginning of her book Cassie shares six comparison blocks that we get caught up in. The first two had my name written all over them.

“Comparison Block #1: You compare yourself to your ‘perfect’ self”
“Comparison Block #2: You compare yourself to your ideal potential”

Before reading Cassie’s book I would have said that I didn’t suffer from ‘comparisonitis’. What I now realise is, while I may not struggle with comparing myself to others, I constantly compare myself to my ‘perfect’ or ‘ideal’ self.

From here Cassie challenged me to ask why I felt the need to push myself so hard? Why wasn’t I able to see that who I am now is enough? What Cassie helped me realise was that my constant striving for perfectionism actually masked a fear that people would think I was a fraud.

It is very easy, particularly when you work and market yourself in an online space, to feel like the whole world is watching you. This often makes me feel like I need to be living a certain way in order for people to choose to work with me. But what I now understand is … people aren’t going to work with me because I drink green juice or do yoga every day, but because the knowledge that I have as a physiotherapist and life coach can help free them of pain.

Not only has this fear been driving my relentless need for perfection, but it can also cause me to hold back from sharing my work with the world. The following questions that Cassie asks really hit home for me in relation to this:

“How scared was I of not doing the right thing? How scared was I of actually becoming successful? Was I up for the challenge? Did I want to draw attention to myself, to become visible? Did I have the confidence to lead, and to make big, bold decisions?”

What these questions made me realise is … if I am really committed to helping you learn ways to manage stress and overwhelm, to listen to the messages your body is sending you and to make self-care a priority in your life, then I have to be up for that challenge. I have to be seen. And I have to have the confidence to lead. So, thank you Cassie for giving me the permission to do so by knowing that who I am now is enough!

Managing stress and overwhelm is something that Cassie also talks about a lot in her book, along with the physical symptoms that being in a state of constant overdrive can lead to. When we constantly push ourselves to ‘do’ and ‘be’ more we forget to listen to the messages our body is sending us. Cassie is spot on when she says:

“We don’t listen to our bodies so we don’t rest when we are tired, we become mentally depleted and emotionally fragile. I see this with my clients where they push themselves through physical exhaustion to the point where they end up injured.”

Does this sound like you? My bet is that you are nodding your head right now.

Cassie also provides a wonderful set of tools to help you get unstuck, let go of what is holding you back, release the ‘old’ to make way for the ‘new’ and start living a life free of comparison. Her book will help you build your self-worth, self-esteem and self-acceptance and start you on an amazing journey towards living a fulfilling life.

So I really encourage you to head to Cassie’s website (www.elevatevitality.com.au) today to grab your own copy of ‘You Are Enough’. I promise it will be a game-changer.  And if you have already read Cassie’s book I would love for you to share your own insights with me in the comments below.

Yours in Healing & Health,

Nicola

PS.  My guess is that you will know of at least one person who you think would benefit from reading Cassie’s book as well, so please feel free to share this post with them.

Book Review:  “Heal Your Body:  The Mental Causes For Physical Illness & The Metaphysical Way To Overcome Them” by Louise Hay

Book Review: “Heal Your Body: The Mental Causes For Physical Illness & The Metaphysical Way To Overcome Them” by Louise Hay

Have you ever noticed that when something isn’t going quite right in your life that you often end up sick, injuring yourself or your shoulder starts playing up? Louise Hay, one of the original founders of the self-help movement, believes that this is because of the intimate connection between our thoughts and emotions, and how they manifest in our body.

“Illness, however mild or severe is an indicator of your emotional state, caused by your thoughts and focus”
Louise Hay

I have had Louise Hay’s book, ‘Heal Your Body’ sitting around in my bookcase for a while, but it hasn’t been until recently that it has become my go-to guide in terms of figuring out what emotions may be behind both my own pain, and those of my clients.

‘Heal Your Body’ is more of a guide than a book. Within it’s pages Louise Hay has listened an A-Z of problems that we may experience in our lives, the probable emotional cause that may have triggered these problems and then provides a new thought pattern around this emotion.

Those of you that receive my weekly newsletter will know that a few weeks ago I wrote about how my lower back had been niggling at me for a while, before waking up one Sunday really stiff and sore. I thought it would be interesting to see what Louise Hay’s ‘Heal Your Life’ guide said about lower back pain. And there it was!! The underlying problem to this area was ‘Fear of money. Lack of financial support’. Ding!!

The day before my fiancé and I had had one of our ‘challenging discussions’ right around this topic (feel free to interpret this as a humongous row about money!). Now, I am well aware that my beliefs and habits around money is an area in my life that I need to do some work around, so it was really interesting to me that this came up. Message received loud and clear!!

So today I want to share with you some other symptoms, and the potential underlying emotions that may be attached to them, that Louise highlights in this book:

Fatigue: Resistance, boredom. A lack of love for what one does.

Foot Problems: Fear of the future and of not stepping forward in life.

Headaches: Invalidating the self. Self-criticism. Fear.

Hip Problems: Fear of going forward in major decisions. Nothing to move forward to.

Jaw Problems: Anger. Resentment. Desire for revenge.

Knee Pain: Represents pride and ego.

Muscle Pain: Resistance to new experiences. Muscles represent our ability to move in life.

Neck Pain: Refusing to see other sides of a question. Stubbornness, inflexibility.

Sciatica: Being hypocritical. Fear of money and the future.

Slipped Disc: Feeling totally unsupported by life. Indecisive.

As well as these musculoskeletal problems this book also lists other symptoms such as bad breath, menstrual pain, anxiety and cold sores; as well as illnesses such as cancer, liver problems and pancreatitis.

“Pain is a messenger. Through pain and difficulties we grow, we learn and we get cleansed”
Swami Satchidananda

I would be really interested in hearing if any of the above resonates with you. I know a few of them do with me. And if there is any other area of the body, an illness or a physical symptom that you are interested in knowing what the emotion behind it may be, then please let me know in the comments below. And if you would love to hear more about this topic then please feel free to sign up for my weekly newsletter where I share more about learning how to heal your body from pain.

As always, thank you for being here. Until next week …

Yours in Healing and Health,

Nicola

PS. If you know someone who you think may need to read this post then please like and share this article so they too can read it. I’m sure that they will thank you for it later!

Book Review:  “Dying To Be Me:  My Journey From Cancer, To Near Death, To True Healing” by Anita Moorjani

Book Review: “Dying To Be Me: My Journey From Cancer, To Near Death, To True Healing” by Anita Moorjani

It has been a long time since I have picked up a book that I haven’t been able to put down. This is one of those books that will have you absorbed in the incredible story from the moment you start reading. I knew a little about Anita Moorjani’s story before reading her book but I hadn’t realised the extent of the amazing journey that she had been on, or the power of the message that she was now spreading around the world as a result of her near death experience (NDE). I really encourage you to put this book on your ‘reading list’. It’s another of those game-changers!

“I believe that the greatest truths of the universe don’t lie outside, in the study of the stars and the planets. They lie deep within us, in the magnificence of our heart, mind and soul. Until we understand what is within, we can’t understand what is without. I share my story .. in the hope of touching your heart in some way and reminding you of your own magnificence”
Anita Moorjani

In her inspirational memoir Anita Moorjani speaks about her four year battle with lymphoma which ultimately resulted in her body shutting down as her organs failed, leading her to fall into a coma. It was while she was in this coma that she entered into a near-death experience, and where she was ultimately given the choice to pass over to the other side, or to return to living her life on earth.

She chose to return and the lessons that she was gifted during her NDE changed the way that she experienced life forever. Not only that, but within days she amazed the medical world by having no trace of cancer found in her body. She began telling her story, and in time it was heard by Dr Wayne Dyer who became not only a mentor, but a true friend to Anita. He also ‘told’ Hay House that they had to publish her story and so the book ‘Dying To Be Me’ was released to the world.

Today I just want to share with you some of the insights (I like to call these ‘light-bulb moments’) that I got from reading this book:

1. One of the most important lessons that Anita learnt during her NDE was in order to experience true joy and happiness, she would only find this by loving herself, going inward and doing those things that brought her joy. She realised that during those times in her life that she felt ‘lost’, she had actually lost all sense of herself. The times when she wasn’t deeply connected with ‘who’ she truly was and her ‘why’. Those times when she had stopped listening to her inner guidance, or intuition.

Often when we feel like our lives are lacking direction, or we experience that awful feeling of being ‘lost’, we turn to outside sources such as books, podcasts, websites, courses and coaches to ‘fix’ us and the problems we are experiencing. But what we are actually doing is continuing to give away our power to others. Instead we honestly must remember that all the answers we need are deep within us. We just need to have the courage to sit and go deep within to discover our own inner strength and wisdom. It’s all right there within you, I promise!

2. Anita talks about the first step to conscious awareness being our ability to understand the magnificence of how the universe intended us to be, without feeling the need to change ourselves. She believes that we are all at our most powerful when we truly learn to accept and love ourself for who we are.

When I read this my thoughts went straight to the beauty of nature. When we see a bird, the sun, trees, a lake or even our pets we admire them for all their beauty. We don’t look at them and think, ‘hmm … that bird’s wing is a little bit too big’, or ‘that lake has curves in it where it shouldn’t’, or ‘that dog’s tail should really be a little bit longer’. No, we look at them as if they are perfect.

But you know what? The Universe that created these things with perfection also created you! You were made perfect as well. It is only when we try and live up to expectations of what we perceive to be perfection that we feel inadequate. We just need to learn to love ourselves just as much as we love all that is around us.

3. Anita also helped me get my head around the difference between living from a place of ‘doing’ rather than one of ‘being’. Our lives are complicated and busy and there are so many external factors that we give our power away to. We try to control not only our lives, but our emotions, and we spend most of our time living from our heads. When we do this we begin to loose touch with our inner GPS, and it is when this happens that we feel ‘lost’. We are essentially in ‘doing’ mode, rather than ‘being’.

‘Being’ means living from our soul. Anita describes it as a state of allowing. It doesn’t mean that we don’t do anything (this is what I had been struggling to understand to be honest!), but that we live and make decisions based on our feelings while staying in the present moment. ‘Doing’ means that we are living from our heads, focused on creating a list of ’things to do’ that we believe will take us to a particular outcome.

The only question that we need to ask ourselves in each moment is this, ‘am I choosing to do this from a place of love, or a place of fear?’. If it’s from a place of fear then you are living from a place of ‘doing’. If it’s from a place of love then you are living from a place of ‘being’. One question is all you need to ask. That is it!

4. One thing that I really want to talk about here is Anita’s thoughts on positive and negative thinking. So often we hear that we need to ‘stay positive’ for positive thinking will attract positive things to us, while negative thinking will only attract more negativity into our lives.

Anita talks about how important it is to acknowledge any negative feelings when the creep in. To let them flow through us in a natural way without judgement. Otherwise, when we try and suppress or push them away we will find that they will just push back and come out in another form, such as illness.

Believing that we need to be positive all the time can also make us feel worse when we are going through a tough time. All it does is create a sense of fear that if we aren’t ‘putting on a brave face’ we will only attract more challenges and tough times. Anita has essentially given us a permission slip to simply feel whatever it is we need to feel … as long as we are doing it without judging ourselves.

“I can’t say this strongly enough, but our feelings about ourselves are actually the most important barometer for determining the condition of our lives! In other words, being true to ourselves is more important than just trying to stay positive!’
Anita Moorjani

‘Dying To Be Me’ is more than just a memoir. It is filled with so many amazing insights and lessons, and I have no doubt that there will be something in this book written just for you.

If you have read this book then I would love for you to share with me in the comments what your biggest ‘AHA’ moment was from this book. And if you know of anyone that you feel might really need to read this book right now, then please feel free to share this post with them.

Yours in Healing & Health,

Nicola

Book Review:  “Broken Open:  How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow” – by Elizabeth Lesser

Book Review: “Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow” – by Elizabeth Lesser

 

‘Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow” by Elizabeth Lesser was recommended to me by my good friend Katherine MacKenzie-Smith and as soon as I opened the book and read this first quote I knew it was going to be a game-changer:

“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
Anais Nin

Elizabeth Lesser is a best-selling author and the co-founder of Omega Institute, the world’s largest education and retreat centre focusing on health, wellness, spirituality, creativity and social change. Broken Open is beautifully written blend of other people’s moving stories, practical guidance and her own personal memoir. Throughout the book Elizabeth offers tools to help us make the choice that we will all face when we experience those big-life challenges that threaten to tear us down and rip us apart: “Will you be broken down and defeated, or broken open and transformed?”

Elizabeth calls this transformational process ‘The Phoenix Process” and this is how she describes it:

“I have my own name for the quest. I call it the Phoenix Process—in honor of the mythic bird with golden plumage whose story has been told throughout the ages. The Egyptians called the bird the Phoenix and believed that every 500 years the Phoenix bird renewed his quest for his true self. Knowing that a new way could only be found with the death of his worn-out habits, defenses and beliefs, the Phoenix built a pyre of cinnamon and myrrh, sat in the flames and burned to death. Then he rose from the ashes as a new being—a strange amalgam of who he had been before and who he had become. A new bird, yet ever more himself; changed, and at the same time, the eternal Phoenix”.

We all will, at some time in our lives, face a challenge that will either break us down or break us open. For some of us that ‘life challenge’ will be devastating. It may be illness or loss of a loved one. Like Elizabeth, it may be the end of a marriage. For others of us it may just be the loss of a job or simply the realisation that the life we are living does not feel purposeful, or that we have lost ‘ourselves’ along the way.

For me my Phoenix Process came in the form of a broken marriage, a destroyed house in the devastating Christchurch earthquakes of 2011, and a failed business all within an 18-month period. I was completely ripped apart by these life events and for a long time they broke me down. But slowly I was able to ‘rise from the ashes’ to become ‘broken open’. I became stronger, wiser, more courageous and more in touch with my purpose in life. Today I am so grateful for that period of my life, because if I had not experienced them I would not be where I am today.

When we are in the middle of struggle our instinct is often to shut down or run away. In this book Elizabeth shows us that this is the opposite of what we should do. Rather than resist change she shows us how these difficult times have been presented to us to help us blossom into who we were meant to be.

You may have already experienced a life challenge that has provided you with the opportunity to either be broken down or broken open. If not, then believe me when I say that at some stage you will! These life difficulties are presented to us to help us grow (personally, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) and become the person that we know we are capable of becoming – and want to become!

So when your Phoenix Process is gifted to you, I want you to remember this:

“May you listen to the voice within the beat even when you are tired. When you feel yourself breaking down, may you break open instead. May every experience in life be a door that opens your heart, expands your understanding, and leads you to freedom. If you are weary, may you be aroused by passion and purpose. If you are blameful and bitter, may you be sweetened by hope and humor. If you are frightened, may you be emboldened by a big consciousness far wiser than your fear. If you are lonely, may you find love, may you find friendship. If you are lost, may you understand that we are all lost, and still we are guided—by Strange Angels and Sleeping Giants, by our better and kinder natures, by the vibrant voice within the beat. May you follow that voice, for This is the way—the hero’s journey, the life worth living, the reason we are here”
Elizabeth Lesser – Broken Open

I knew this book was going to be a game-changer as soon as I opened it, and it was. It is simply one of those books that everyone should read. I absolutely loved it and I truly believe you will too.

If you have read Broken Open I would love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments below. Or if you read it sometime in the future, make sure you pop back here and let me know what you think. And if this is a book that you feel someone in your life needs to read then please feel free to share this review with them.

Yours in Healing & Health,

Nicola