I spied this book in the “Read Now” section of my local library and grabbed it in a heartbeat. While I have not followed Gretchen Rubin’s work extensively, I have known that she is a credible author, whose writings resonate with me. Better Than Before is a book on habit forming, a topic that is close to my heart and one that I struggle with all the time.
I relished the first half of the book. Gretchen makes a convincing case for cultivating habits. By doing something over and over, you free up mental space and valuable time that is spent on decision making. She then gives a framework that she calls Tendencies – four kinds of personalities in the context of habit formation. Know your Tendency and apply some helpful strategies that she provides in the second half of the book.
I loved the honesty in her writing. I liked how she does not take the one-size-fits-all approach instead encourages you to delve deeper, figure yourself and your values. I also like that the book is primarily based on personal experiences rather than studies based. If you are someone interested in cultivating a new habit or want to get rid of an old habit, this books is worth a shot!
Every once in awhile you come across a book that elevates your thinking and uplifts your soul. When Breath Becomes Air is one such gem.
The author’s last name and the subject that he wrote on lured me to his essay published in NYT last January. Wanting to know more about this prolific writer cum neurosurgeon, I headed to his website and devoured every word he had written or published. Reading Paul’s writings triggers an unquenchable thirst to write. Such is the magnetic pull of his words, that it ignites the spark to write. To paraphrase the author, words outlive us, they have the longevity that we do not. How very true! Sadly, Paul Kalanithi passed away last March after a 22-month battle with lung cancer. Undoubtedly, a monumental loss to mankind.
When Breath Becomes Air is Paul’s life story – it is about his love affair with literature, his quest to find out what makes life meaningful. It is an account of how he became a neurosurgeon, and it gives us a peek into the kind of doctor that he was. It captures the details of his diagnosis and how he and his wife came to terms with it. The deep thinker that he is, he tosses questions in the midst of his narration and makes you pause and reflect. For eg. If an unexamined life is not worth living, is an unlived life worth examining?
Paul’s health deteriorated rapidly before he could complete this book. Following his passing away, his wife, Lucy, takes us through the last days of his life in the Epilogue. The writing is raw, poignant, and a celebration of Paul’s life. The kind that has tears streaming down your cheek as you read line after line with an unexplainable pang piercing through your heart.
By facing death with integrity, Paul Kalanithi inspires us to look within and figure out what we value and what matters most to us. Because those are the things that constitute a meaningful life.
Don’t miss out on this book. Own it, if you can!
An itchy throat, a lingering headache, and general soreness, nudged me to grab that pack of Knorr Thick Tomato soup from the shelf in the Indian store. I read the nutrition facts just to see how unhealthy this powder of creamy goodness is, which is exactly the mind craved knowing really well that any attempts to please the palate is futile. “High sodium content but the calories per serving is not as shocking,” I tell myself as I read the facts. “Probably high on MSG and has all possible artificial flavors and colors. But hey I am sick, if that’s not a legitimate reason to make an exception, what is?” I argue with myself and put the processed food with conviction in my shopping basket.
I quickly browse through the aisles for other items in my check list and finally place the basket at the cash counter. The storekeeper bills the item one by one and declares that I owe him $32. I slip my fingers into my purse to fetch the credit card. In that split second, I sense my mental wheels making a U-turn, “You can buy it but perhaps not use it” I rationalize. A moment later “….but then why buy it and add to the pantry clutter when you are not going to use it? Remember, you love eating dhal, you can make it just the way you like it. That yummy ginger garlic rasam is not hard to make. And what happened to all grand plans to Detox? Can’t let the word of the year down so early in the year, can I ?” The inner voice is getting louder and louder. “Speak up, speak up, speak up… NOW…!!!!” I humbly surrender to the voice of reason and tell the cashier as I handover the card. “Actually, can you remove the Knorr soup from the checked out item.” Then I say it aloud, not for him, but for ME to hear it loud and clear, in no uncertain terms, “I am trying to avoid processed food. So I should stay away from it.” Phew…! All that drama in my head melted away as I smile to myself with the grocery bags dangling in my hands.
It’s true that the less junk you eat, the less you crave. But the craving is there, taunting you, enticing you into going astray. And that’s where the hard work is. In letting your voice of reason overrule your voice of temptation. Every. Single. Time.