So one of my New Year's goals was to read books. Before this year, I cannot tell you the last time I read a book. I would bet money that is has been at least ten years, and even before that I probably used "Spark Note" or just skimmed the book for a class and called it reading. I was never the kid that would read and just get lost for hours in a book. Fiction, sci-fi, mystery, romance... none of those types of books interested me.

So when I made the decision to read ten books this year, I already had a few on my radar. Nevertheless I reached out to my lovely friends on Facebook and they created the rest of my list (and more). But the first book I started with was one I actually purchased nearly a year ago in a Target in Tennessee when I was late night shopping with my best friend. The title made me feel empowered and the header "#1 New York Time Best Seller" made it sound worthwhile. That was an understatement.

The author creates this fearless, relentless mentality within you to pursue greatness. The cover even says it: "How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life. Not only is her humor and sarcasm a fantastic addition to her experiences, but the fire she lights under you is what keeps you reading. She gives you such empowerment and creates this go-getter attitude.

First, she addresses fear, especially in pursuit of dreams. She forces you to get outside of your own little head and make you realize that your thoughts become your realities, so the first step is changing the way you think about things. It's about looking at things differently; opportunity to learn versus failure. It's about pushing past the fear and having the attitude that what you want will happen and you have no reason to be afraid of failing.

"You're gonna have to push past your fears, fail over and over again and make a habit of doing things you're not so comfy doing. You're going to have to let go of old limiting beliefs and cling to your decision to create the life you desire like your life depends on it." p. 13

"If you want to live a life you've never lived, you have to do things you've never done." p. 15

Then she talks about the world, and the thief of all joy that is COMPARISON. If you haven't already read my personal post on this, please take time to here. Then she poses the questions:

"Imagine what our world would be life is everyone love themselves so much that they weren't threatened by other people's opinions or skin colors or sexual preferences or talents or education or possessions or lack of possessions or religious beliefs or customs or their general tendency to just be whoever the hell they are." p. 54

"Can you imagine what our world would be like if our biggest heroes succumbed to the perils of comparison? If Marilyn Monroe compared herself to Kate Moss and decided she needed to lose her curves? Or if the guys in Led Zeppelin compared themselves to Mozart? Dude, that guy's huge. Way huger than we'll ever be and he doesn't even have a drummer. I think we should get rid of our and maybe add some harps while we're at it. You are enough. Avoid comparison like the plague." p. 61

One of my favorite chapters was 13: Give and Let Give. It talks about using your talents for the greater good, and then how The Universe will pay you back ten fold just based on the good juju you're putting off.

The chapter starts off detailing a family trip with their nieces and nephews. During a pit stop at a gas station, the author's niece buys some a 6-pack of Tic Tacs, or rather charms her way into having them bought for her. She was so excited, because - you know - kids and sugar. Once in the car, the author asks her niece for a pack. She happily agrees. Then another asks, and another. Next thing you know, she has only 3 left, and instead of greedily keeping them for herself, she excitedly describes how she's going to give one to her brother, one to her sister, and one to her mom. The author couldn't understand why a child, so excited about getting a 6-pack of Tic Tacs, would be so elated at giving them all away. But there she was... happy as ever.

Next the author talks about a woman who fell ill, and the doctor offered many non-traditional remedies, one of which was giving things away. Huh?! It got to the point where she was desperate for anything, so she tried it. 

"By the fourteenth day, she was significantly better physically, her business started booming, and she went on to create a blog that started a movement with tens of thousands of followers who were also giving things away daily. Her blog ultimately led to a New York Times best-selling book called 29 Gifts." p. 111

She ends nearly every chapter with "Love yourself." Followed by some encouraging, kick-in-the-ass one-liner. This speaks to me on so many levels, but mostly because the first and most profound thing a stranger ever said to me was after my first devastating breakup with my boyfriend at the time. This woman walked up to me and after a short exchange and be blabbering out what happened in between hysterical cries, she said "Sweetie, you've gotta love yourself first." BAM. Life motto, right there.

Later in the book, she pays homage to the real go-getters; the people who have gone before us and literally changed the course of history, despite their failures, obstacles and all the people who told them "no."

"Temporary failure is all the rage. All the cool kids have done it:

  1. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team for lack of skill.
  2. Steven Spielberg, a high school dropout, was rejected from film school three times.
  3. Thomas Edison, who was dubbed too stupid to learn anything by a teacher, tried more than nine thousand experiments before successfully creating the lightbulb.
  4. Soichiro Honda, the found of Honda Motor Company, was turned down by Toyota for an engineering position so he started his own damn company.
  5. Beethoven's music teacher told him he was talentless, and more specifically, was hopeless at composing.
  6. Fred Smith wrote a paper while at Yale about his big idea for a delivery service. He got a C. He went on to create FedEx anyway." p. 194-195

"Can you imagine favorite musicians never let themselves make enough money to buy guitars or take lessons or hire producers or buy purple platform boots and tight sparkly pants or lay thousands of dollars for studio time so they could record the songs that saved your ass in high school? Or if the people who build airplanes refused to make the money they need to pay for the research and the materials and the factories and the engineers and the electricity and whatever plethora of other costly things that go into building the miraculous flying machines that allow us to travel the world, hang out on tropical beaches, and visit the people we love so dearly?" p. 209

Finally, I'll leave you with this, because after reading her book cover to cover, I can honestly say this sums it up best:

"If you're serious about changing your life, you'll find a way. If you're not, you'll find an excuse." p. 153