Do you ever get the feeling much of what you read is reaffirming what you know? And when you stumble upon something different, it still isn’t noteworthy enough to leave an impact?
When ideas spread, it isn’t long before we keep hearing and reading about them. Sometimes, in new or creative ways. But, still the same idea.
And that’s OK. Because it’s limitless how one idea can evolve.
But, it’s important to also read something that challenges us.
We hear those clichés about thinking outside of the box and getting out of our comfort zones, but are we doing that with what we read?
Are we open to reading what makes us uncomfortable?
Or are we afraid to learn something that challenges what we know?
I’m going to share 3 books that challenged what I know.
That had different ideas than what I was used to. And it changed me for the better. Because it inspired me to not hold back a genuine expression, even if it’s not a popular one.
And as a creative, that’s what I want to do.
Then, in the comments, share something you’ve read that made you think differently…
““The question is why one should be so inwardly preoccupied at all. Why not reach out to others in love and solidarity or peer into the natural world for some glimmer of understanding? Why retreat into anxious introspection when, as Emerson might have said, there is a vast world outside to explore? Why spend so much time working on oneself when there is so much real work to be done?”
This book is about the down side to positive thinking.
Barbara begins by telling us about her experience of being diagnosed with Breast Cancer. How she found herself facing the harsh truth of her mortality while surrounded by cutesy pink merchandise and tired clichés about looking on the bright side.
As someone who recently lost her father to cancer, I can tell you, there is no sugar-coating dying, and to do so in the face of said person who is dying is not only condescending, but delusional and lacks compassion.
Barbara shed light on the idea that no matter how many positive affirmations we repeat to ourselves and to others, it’s not, necessarily, making us any happier or successful and she backs it up with research.
How this book changed me: Besides making me feel more compassion for my own father while he was ill, it made me realize there is such a thing as being too positive.
I’ll turn up the dial on my positivity when I DO positive things with my life, and when I DO positive things that impact those around me in a REAL substantial way.
“Why do people think Artists are so special?
It’s just another job.”
OK, this book was not challenging to read. It’s a memoir of sorts. 241 pages of Warhol’s random musings and personal philosophies about Art, business, life, love, and underwear power.
On my Goodreads profile, I called this book: ”The most brilliant piece of nonsense I’ve ever read.” When I read it, I didn’t feel like there was a book in my hand, but rather a friend sitting beside me.
It’s casual and candid.
He doesn’t talk about Art in a grandiose or motivational way.
There is no talk of muses. There is no inspirational manifesto about self-expression that leaves you temporarily high until the reality of hard work sets in.
Nope. Andy was a working Artist who had no problem allowing money to motivate him to make Art. That’s a different kind of message compared to what I was used to reading in regards to creating Art.
How this book changed me: It made me want to be more intentional about Art as a business – and stop isolating myself in self-expression.
And it made me approach my work with more humility – which is what’s needed when you have to get dirty and do real work.
Self-help is an enterprise wherein people holding the thinnest of credentials diagnose in basically normal people symptoms of inflated or invented maladies, so that they may then implement remedies that have never been shown to work. An entire generation of baby boomers searching desperately for answers to the riddle of midlife has entrusted itself to a select set of dubious healers who are profiting handsomely, if not always sincerely, from that desperation.
Wow, strong words…
Salerno delivers a straight-forward critique on the self-help and actualization movement (SHAM). Some might think he’s being harsh, but I think part of his intention is not only to shed new light on how this industry works…
I view it as a way to show compassion towards those who have lost precious time and money seeking answers in all the wrong places.
Why do such people need compassion?
Because as Steve points out, if “SHAM” doesn’t work for you, then it’s your fault – it’s always your fault. When their methods don’t work, you just need more of it (conveniently), or you’re doing it wrong. You’re being a “victim”.
I applaud Steve Salerno for his willingness to make people uncomfortable.
You don’t have to agree with everything he says, but I believe there’s value in thinking outside of your shamtastic box once in a while.
How this book changed me: It made me feel OK about questioning things that don’t seem quite right and trust my gut. There is value in a critical examination of a genre or industry or a movie, for that matter. There’s a lot we can learn when we question things.
Tell me, do you typically read what reaffirms what you know or do you look to challenge yourself more?