Five years ago, I had big insight about how I read books—it’s like I just gobbled them up! And I have found that I am not alone in this gobbling!
Every so often on Sedona retreats, I tell the following story to clients because it really shifted me: I was reading a powerful book called The Millionaires Course by Marc Allen, who is the owner of New World Library, a big spiritual publishing house. I was flipping thru the pages and something dawned on me! This is the same stuff I have been reading for 20 years—Napoleon Hill, Andrew Carnegie, Stephen Covey, etc.. And then I asked myself a curoius question—“If I have been reading the “same stuff” for all these years then why am I not getting it?” The obvious jumped out at me–what’s missing is the “doing”! I gobbled up these wonderful books then moved right onto the next one. I was not getting inside the book and applying what they are trying to teach.
When you read spiritual or personal growth books, you feel good; you feel what’s possible; you feel an opening to the life you dream of. You read an insightful passage and yell to your wife in the next room, “Sweetie, this is it! This guy knows me! This is exactly what I need to do!” And then in a matter of days that insightful book is residing with the other insightful books on a shelf or under the bed (my thing) and you’re onto the next one!
So what do you do? Slow down! This is my prescription to clients: Read one or two chapters a day—no more! And if there are exercises or instructions of some kind—do exactly as they say! If there is an inspiring passage—highlight it and then write the words in your personal notebook or make little cards and tape it around the house—try to digest it slowly. Now let me offer a caution here. I don’t want you to walk thru your day “trying” to live that insight!
Don’t turn this into a personal growth treadmill. Just let yourself be gently reminded or become conscious of what you got from that passage. Perhaps, you got an insight about how everyone is in a separate reality and that we can’t change the way another person thinks. Then you get into a small conflict with your wife and suddenly you are conscious you are “doing it again”, you are not remembering she is in a different reality than you. You saw yourself suddenly! Which is a long way from being caught in the behavior and not really conscious of how you are acting.
Like me, I am sure you have a few hundred self-help books on your shelf. You could take any one of those books and study it for a lifetime and not get all it has to offer. I often joke: if I truly understood just 10% of my book, The Woodstock Bridge, I would turn into a ball of light!
All these books have one hidden purpose: to guide you to your innate wisdom. So slow down, brothers and sisters, the wisdom is really not in the pages but inside you—the pages are just fanning your own wisdom! Now, this doesn’t mean to stop reading my “stuff”! More fanning is always good!