Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Why I May Never Read Another Book Again

I have always loved reading and books.  New ideas, imaginative descriptions, well developed plots and characters, interesting self-help information. I've owned thousands of books in my lifetime, and have tried my hand at writing more than one of my own.  But lately something has been happening every time I try to read a book, whether it be fiction or non-fiction.  I come away feeling like it was a waste of my time, because everything valuable the book had to say, I already knew. 

The older I get, the more I trust my own experiences and judgment, and the more I see that 99% of everything we discuss is truly a matter of opinion.  Yes, there may be a few facts that we use to prop up our opinions, but we still freely interpret everything we see and hear. The more I read supposedly "authoritative" sources, the more I see that my own experience, my own point of view, is just as valid.  The more I trust my own inner wisdom. 

Every time I read a new fiction book, I come away feeling like it was nothing special.  I say to myself, "I could have written that."  And when I read a book with great self-help tips, those truths seem all too obvious.  Then I say to myself, "I could have written that, but why bother, since its information anybody could figure out on their own with very little effort."  

Why not rely on your own experience?  If you try something, and you find that it doesn't work for you, and doesn't make your life happier and better, then stop it.  And if you try something and you find it does make you happier and make your life better, then continue doing it.  How much easier can it be? Too many times, we don't trust ourselves, we want to rely on the work of others, and don't want to take responsibility for our own choices.  Or, those of us who think we are "right", well, we want to engage in the noble cause of trying to prevent others from making mistakes.  Why?

Because for many of us, we have been raised in a punitive environment in which being right was rewarded and making mistakes was discouraged.  But being raised in that kind of environment means we were lied to about one very sacred truth:

It's ok to be wrong. 

That's right....there's nothing wrong with making mistakes, there's no advantage to being right all the time. Avoiding unpleasant circumstances shouldn't be our goal in life.  First of all, there is no way to avoid all pain or unpleasantness.  If that's our goal, we are doomed to fail. One of the tenets of mindful awareness is to accept whatever comes gracefully, with non-judgmentalism, toward yourself, others or the circumstances.  

Of course, there's nothing wrong with wanting to be happy and trying to pursue happiness, but one should be equally open to experience the pain and unpleasantness of life.  Being willing to experience whatever happens to be in your present moment of awareness is fundamental to spiritual wholeness and ultimate happiness.  

So, you don't need to try to prevent people from making mistakes.  Trying different solutions and finding out which ones work for us is foundational to daily life. Why should we persecute other people, or ourselves, because of our choices?  We made the best choice we could at the moment, given the circumstances and the information available to us. 

What if you just throw away all the books and rely on your own experience as your guide? Trust yourself.  Meditate daily and seek the answers you need.  They will eventually come to you.  Don't rush it.  Take your time.  Value your own feelings.  Your feelings are like a guidance system that will lead you to the truth if you really explore them.  Don't be afraid of what you will find.  Nobody else's opinion is more important or more authoritative than your own. 

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     Judie McMath

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