Hand-Me-Downs to Feed the Brain

A photo by Liz Weston. unsplash.com/photos/IOzk8YKDhYg
Photo credit: Hope House Press (unsplash.com)

June 1st– October 3rd

This is a literary review of a stack of books I was given by my wonderful cousin Izzy. One of the best things about the last few months down here in Motueka has been getting to know her and her branch of the family tree. One of the others it chewing on the literature she suggested I read to help achieve my goal of true freedom. As it is a literary blog, I’d like to start with a poem.

Motueka– a Haiku by Stephen Brassett

People are nice here.
Very seldom is it cold.
Come visit. It’s choice.

I know. I know. You are blown away by the overwhelming intensity of such deep sentiments. What can I say? It’s a gift. Fun fact: I chose a haiku because they had a haiku competition at the library here a couple of weeks ago. Well… that and I was being cheeky.

And on that note, I shall move on. The list comprises mostly two types of books: those about entrepreneurship and wealth creation; and those about effective thinking. Often they overlap into both categories significantly.

First up, Ray Avery’s Rebel With A Cause- New Zealander of the Year. This is a great book for anyone who feels hard done by. Having said that, it is far from a sob story claiming rags to riches and ‘woe is me’. Blah blah blah… Ray seems like a top chap with a positively incredible attitude towards life. Then again, he did write the thing, so I guess that’s how one would probably choose to portray oneself.

Seriously though, his story from an abusive family life, through orphanages and some fairly humbling trials made me appreciate my advantages a little more. His school of hard knocks included many beatings, living under a bridge in brutal London weather and shows how, far from keeping him down, it caused him to become more creative. He problem solved and used his positive attitude to win people over in a relentless bid to design a life of independence and success. He managed to put himself through school and build several companies from nothing. His efforts to help people in developing worlds help themselves are truly spectacular and his dedication to quality control systems is something any entrepreneur can learn from. Well worth a read.

Next came The Power of Healthy Thinking to Change Your Attitude and Your Life by ‘The Attitude Doctor’, Dr Tom Mullholland. The title may run on a bit, but the book is actually quite compact. A great one for your handbag maybe. A page out of this has become the background for my phone since I read it. His archetypes of negative thinking patterns and their complimentary alternatives are a kind of retraining system for your mind. The theory is to catch yourself in unhealthy/ineffective thinking patterns and sub in a more useful alternative.

It’s one of those ‘use it or lose it’ types of things it seems. I did find it useful for a little while there, but I haven’t really been using it much recently. Perhaps I will make an effort to. His approach has far-reaching potential in both your mental health and how you communicate. In turn, I could definitely see it having effects in every avenue of life. Stories of his own life as well of those of his clients seem to corroborate that idea too. Probably not for everyone as it is sorely lacking in dragons and sex scenes, but if you are into self-help types of books, you could do far worse. Have a look.

Next up came a couple that I will count as one entry. They are both by Brandon Bays: Freedom Is and The Journey for Kids. They get just one entry because, to be honest, they didn’t hit the mark for me. For those who are not aware (I wasn’t), Brandon is famous for her book The Journey, which talks about the use of intuitive healing. That’s probably got the hackles up for many people as they read it. Personally, I keep an open mind about ‘alternative’ healing methodologies. If they work, that’s the main thing really.

It doesn’t put me off if they get labelled as placebo effects and I’m not bothered if science cannot (yet) explain how things work. As Arthur C. Clarke said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. He reminds us that we don’t understand everything yet and sometimes it’s not because it’s invalid. Only that we’ve not worked it out properly.

Alas, I digress. The thing that made them hard for me to connect with was their infomercial tone. They are both just a litany of testimonials of how wonderful the approach is and how it had helped. While the approach may or may not work, the lack of evidence or even a theory of how it might work made for pretty unconvincing reading. That was MY take anyway. Personally, I think you’d be better off reading/watching The Secret or What the Bleep Do We Know?! The message of attracting those things that you focus on is really the same for me. I did enjoy the way she adapted the Journey Work for kids by laying them out in story form with balloons representing positive internal faculties though.

His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama weighs in next. He bounds out of the blue corner ready to defeat his enemies with love and compassion. Happiness in a Material World- The Dalai Lama in Australia and New Zealand (by Gabriel Lafitte and Alison Ribush) is all about his visits and messages to those of us Down Under and Across the Ditch. It’s what you would expect of such a work if you’ve had much experience of Buddhism. It’s all about non-attachment and calm observation being the key to happiness. I’m a big fan of this approach although I’m also far from a master at it. It seems to be useful to come back to it periodically and be reminded by the pros.

This book’s focus on the verses of Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment was useful for me. I’ve never seen a whole religion so well summed up in sixty-eight verses before. The authors have summarised the Dalai Lama’s explanations of this ancient text quite well and expanded for the lay man where it is not as clear. It also outlines the stories of various Dalai Lamas through history and we see how to be proactive rather than passive while still remaining detached.

In stark contrast come the nest two books about the cut-throat world of business. Cue Presidential Candidate Donald J Trump and his co-author Robert T Kiyosaki jump in with Why We Want You To Be Rich. Although I suspect Meredith McIver and Sharon Lechter (with their names in substantially smaller font) did much of the writing. My first reaction was “I couldn’t give a flying f*%$ what you want Trump”. But once I’d read through all the rest of the books, I figured I’d flick through it.

And flick through is exactly what I did for most of the first hundred pages. They outlined doom and gloom and how dire the situation was for America and all the ‘muricans. Blah blah blah… I felt justified in my hesitation to read it as it seemed like another “Create the problem and offer the solution” type of scaremongering to control the masses. – see Y2K, 9/11, the Gulf War, the War on Terror, the Homeland Security Act, Bird Flu and countless other fear-based control tactics for more information. It was also a blatant plug for Kiyosaki’s range of wealth creation products.

However, I must say that the information after the intro was very good stuff. The only thing that kept me going to that point is that these are two very wealthy men who obviously know about successful lifestyle design. The fact they have designed a different lifestyle to my own vision is irrelevant. Idealism is one thing, but the blunt truth is that you need either the physical resources or the money to buy those resources in order to live sustainably. Currently, I have neither and I’m quickly realising that I need to find a middle way in order to succeed. Decreasing expenses has freed up time, allowed me to develop The Longest Walk and the first of my kid’s books. But creating wealth one way or another is the only way it can continue for much longer.

Anyway, this book and Kiyosaki’s other book (also in my reading list) If You Want to Be Rich and Happy, Don’t Go to School help define a way into wealth creation through investments and entrepreneurship (as opposed to being an employee or self-employed). They are about learning to use your money to create wealth. I’m not big on the property investment focus of it. You may have already read my theory on closing the economic gap. While I can see the obvious advantages for the investor, I struggle to embrace the idea morally, as it keeps the poor powerless. That said, Kiyosaki’s business is all about trying to educate people to help themselves out of this plight too, so he is at least trying to do good while still being ruthlessly pragmatic.

The contrast between Buddhist teachings of living dispassionately and a man (Trump) saying “Without passion you don’t have energy; without energy you have nothing” is tough to bring into alignment. These two heavyweights are definitely not short on pride in their accomplishments but they are also somewhat detached from the money side of it. They seem to be much more interested in money being an indicator of success at ‘the game’. For me, both books have caused a slight shift for me and helped me see money more as a tool and tipped me a little closer to understanding how to make it work for me. They’ve also shown me I need to start practising if I ever hope to get it properly and that’s what I intend to do while I have small expenses.

So that is The Great Motueka Book Review for today. Until next time, stay safe and keep working on how you can free yourself and design your life. I will be. Actually, I have a new idea for that and it will feature in blogs soon. I will be interviewing people about their own paths to success and freedom in the hopes we can all learn from them. There are a couple already lined up and I’m looking forward to it.

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