My wife made an excellent observation the other day. She told me the books we’ve been reading recently while gathering ideas for my Biz of You series of books over the last couple years seem to have a similar underlying theme. (list of books below)
Our stress, problems and difficulties with life are an inside job and come from the difference between our expectations and the reality around and within us. Our expectations come from how we think about ourselves and our life. And, our expectations come from our mental models built up from our upbringing, social interactions, societal influences and life experiences. Additionally, what we think about our thoughts creates a layer of expectations upon our already disconnected models. Instead of accepting who and what we are as well as what the world is and how our interactions unfold naturally, we create our own difficulties, problems and stress.
When our expectations don’t match up with the world around us, there’s tension. This tension is dynamic and can fuel the creative life but when the gap between our models of reality and reality itself is too large, the tension becomes stress. If the gap is large enough, all kinds of negative things can happen to our mental and physical health. Not enough gap and we lose our creativity and get lost in the now without driving to improve ourselves. Getting lost in the present is great for a moment or two especially when we are connecting with others in our lives but looking to the future and what’s happening next is integral to a successful happy life. Like most things in life, we need to balance our expectations and the world around us. By balance, I mean maintaining enough of a gap to fuel our creativity and desires, not to little and not too much. Of course this balance changes as we travel through life and find ourselves in different situations or experiences. We have to “mind the gap” between what is and what we expect to be.
Here are some of the books used during the research for the Biz of You series. Many of the books imply while a few directly speak of the difference between what we expect and the world around us. I include this list as I’ve had a couple friends ask me for a reading list after reading my manuscript.
- Willpower by Roy Baumeister & John Tierney
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- Good Business by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- The Necessary Revolution by Peter M. Senge
- Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski
- Evolving Ourselves by Juan Enriquez & Steve Gullans
- Free Will by Sam Harris
- The Wisdom of the Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
- The Quest for Certainty by John Dewey
- A Path of Dual Cultivation by Master Moy Lin-Shin
- The Fifth Discipline by Peter M. Senge
- The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
- The Myth of Stress by Andrew Berstein
- The Moral Animal by Robert Wright
- The Drunkard’s Walk by Leonard Mlodinow
- The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
- Seven Taoist Masters translated by Eva Wong
- Think by Guy P. Harrison
- On Dialogue by David Bohm
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnerman
- Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee
- Psychology of the Unconscious by Carl Jung
- Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- The Art of Strategy translated by R.L. Wing
Some of the above books were read many years ago with the ideas firmly planted in my brain. The roots of the ideas were nurtured through the years and the Biz of You grew out of my experience as an engineer, manager and dialogs with my friends and family.