Previously I brought up the issue of our self-talk. For the next few postings I want to look at a few factors that shape the programming of our self-talk. Being a Bookhead I want to look at reading first of all. Books, whether fiction or non-fiction, are expressions of ideas, concepts, facts, and stories. These ideas can have a positive impact on our mental attitude in our inner programming. Working with students I have seen the power of stories in getting ideas across to them.
Building a habit of reading is important in keeping the mind active and growing. Your reading can be a positive influence on your mental attitude. Beginning with reading topics of interest, helps in understanding and gaining new insights in your areas you enjoy. No matter how good we think we are in a certain area there is always room for improvement. When I do classroom assessments that have a rating scale 1-10 I remind students never give themselves a 10 as there is always room to grow during our journey in this life.
Reading about new topics may open new ideas to your life or challenge your viewpoints. By challenging our thinking we can think through and confirm on a deeper level what we believe and why we believe it. Read material from opposing points of view as that helps understand where others are coming from in their emotions and logic, (or lack of logic), on particular areas. Looking at life as a Christian, I have read Bertrand Russell, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Eric Maisel’s works promoting atheism. Reading their works has actually helps bolster my faith. Their arguments did not win me over and in certain cases their hatred for those who believe in a religious Worldview turned me off.
Magazines and newspapers are reading materials that offer news reporting and information on a wide variety of topics on a smaller scale than books. Reading these are a great way to keep informed on what is going on in the world. As with books if you have a personal area of interest, like flowers, traveling, cars, or cooking find a magazine related to your interest. If magazine subscriptions are too costly an idea is to put in your weekly schedule a time period to visit your local library and relax and read in their magazine room.
Once a student in my Student Success class mentioned to me that he did not like reading books but he researched a lot of his interests about computer networking and news information on the internet. He asked me if that was ok. We live in a computer and internet world. He had a deep passion for computers and I knew he devoured information off the internet. I mentioned to him and the class that there is a lot of bad on the internet but also a lot of good, (like my blog!). In thinking of our reading as part of our mental self-talk programming be questioning of any source be it paper or cyber based. Glean out the positives that will help you improve where you are going in your life journey.
I know electronic books are becoming more popular but I believe I will always be a hard copy book person. To me there is nothing like sitting at my desk turning the actual pages of a book as I read. Likewise, searching for books at a library or bookstore, being able to pull the book off a shelf and leaf through it, is much more satisfying than viewing a virtual image on a computer screen where you can only look at the two pages the publisher allows you to look at.
In thinking through how books and authors affect us, I appreciated a book in my library, More Than Words: Contemporary Writers on the Works That Shaped Them, by James Calvin Schaap. The editor compiled essays from 21 writers on the favorite authors that impacted their lives. The book helped me to think over the books that have shaped my life during periods of doubt and periods of growth in my thinking. I also in preparing this post looked through the internet searching for lists of influential books. I came across a number of interesting lists and websites. One website that may be of interest to fellow Bookheads, is Good Reads, http://www.goodreads.com/about/us. Goodreads is a social network of reading lovers sharing what they are reading and forming book groups. I am not a member but I fully believe in their mission: Goodreads' mission is to improve the process of reading and learning throughout the world.
I will close off with my list of ten favorite influential books in my personal life, (outside of the Bible which is a regular source of reading in my life):
1. Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis http://www.cslewis.org/
2. The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck, M.D. http://www.mscottpeck.com/
3. What’s So Amazing About Grace? Philip Yancey, http://www.philipyancey.com/
4. Who Are You Really And What Do You Really Want? Shad Helmstetter Ph. D.
5. Choice Theory, William Glasser http://www.wglasser.com/
6. Man’s Search For Meaning, Victor Frankl http://www.viktorfrankl.org/e/indexe.html
7. What Color is Your Parachute? Richard Bolles
8. The Success Journey, John Maxwell (now titled Your Roadmap For Success)
9. Write is a Verb!, Bill O’Hanlon http://www.billohanlon.com/
10. Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life, Richard W. Paul and Linda Elder http://www.criticalthinking.org/
Think over the books you have read. Which are books that have been influential in your life? Have they positively helped in your positive mental programming? Take time to write down a list of your top five or top ten favorite books.