When I was thinking about what to write this week I was actually reading. Not reading something on my computer screen but actually reading a physical book. I then came to the realization that I started reading more this year.
Having just finished the book Atomic Habits by James Clear it occurred to me that I was about to finish the 4th book of the year. Sure the first few were audiobooks but I had actually made it through a few books this year.
WAIT then it occurred to me again that I had made it through rereading 3 of the Harry Potter books as well. And the final nail in the coffin was the fact that I realized all of this had been done from late March and on when I did my 30-day reading challenge.
When you break that down I've read 7 books in the last 6 or so months. Now that's... that's pretty good nowadays. When I was growing up I used to read all the time but until my 30-day reading challenge, I had not read a book outside of school in 5 years. That's... pretty bad in my opinion.
After thinking about this more and more I realized that the second I started reading this year, I felt that things slowed down in life. Slowed down but only in the sense that I felt the world around me was able to slow down. It was a place where I could give myself a space to not have to be in front of a screen and consume content that would give me constant dopamine hits.
We often find ourselves in constant loops of dopamine hit, scroll, dopamine hit, scroll, etc. However, as I started my reading challenge I noticed that I have been able to get more done, sleep better, and focus for longer periods of time without the need for massive dopamine hit. This is truly one of the better things I have found within my life in the past few months and possibly one of the best things that have come out of my 30-day challenges.
“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” - Mason Cooley
I think this quote really does hold true for me and how I've been feeling about reading this year. But more so in the sense that it is not only a place for us to go when we have to stay still but the fact that when we read we have to stay still.
The truth of the matter is stillness is an extremely uncommon thing in today's world. As French Philosopher Blaise Pascal put it, "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone”. This without a doubt is true.
With constant dopamine hits, works of true focus and art are hindered by our constant need to do something that will stop us from being still, being present. Oftentimes, if not the only time that I am able to create content is when I'm in the state of mind where I am fully present.
While I have listened to a few audiobooks this year and I may continue to do so, I decided that I would improve my "presentness" by buying an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. Funny enough I bought it on a whim after I stared at the book section at Target and thought about the conundrum of being a minimalist who wanted to physically read a bunch of books.
The final chapter to this story is the fact that I stared at two books over and over again that lead me to the realization of what I needed to do. Those books were Love People Use Things by The Minimalists, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.
I went back and forth and thought to myself, "Love people use things... Not giving a f*ck. Use things.... don't give a f*ck... don't give a f*ck use things... WAIT A SECOND". It was that moment that I realized I should not give a f*ck and just go and buy something that would end up being more minimalist in the long run. 1 item to house thousands of books that I could use to help improve my stillness and day to day focus.
So for any of you that are looking to be a little more present I recommend that you think about buying some physical books to read. You'll probably find it surprisingly refreshing to break out of the dopamine hit cycle and just be for a bit.
Have an awesome week!
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*"You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength." - Marcus Aurelius*