Posts by josephsacco

Part time philosopher and full-time Project Manager/ScrumMaster. I enjoy yoga, meditation, blogging, reading, and strength training.

Atomic Habits – book review

Inspirational Book Reviews

Atomic Habits is a book written by James Clear and as you might guess it is about ways to create habits. I happened to opt for the Audible version of this book, which by the way is narrated by the author. It’s not a terribly long read or even listening to it on Audible is less than 6 hours. The paperback version is 205 pages long and is $6 more expensive than the hardcover version on Amazon, which just doesn’t seem right.

What I liked about this book:

The premise behind the book is that the small (atomic) habits you adopt in your life have a major impact on your happiness and success in life. The author explores the psychology that underlies the adoption of a new habit and provides a number of proven approaches to adopting them. The author claims that it is not how long you have been…

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The Fountainhead – book review

Inspirational Book Reviews

Overview:

The Fountainhead was written in 1943 by Ayn Rand who has to be one of my top 5 authors. I have read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged another Ayn Rand novel several times. More recently I have both books available on Audible. There are several key characters in this novel, but the most notable is Howard Roark who is an architect. Howard is the focal point of the book for his individualist character and the love he possesses for his work. As with Atlas Shrugged this novel pits the individualist (capitalist) against those that feel there is little meaning to life and everything should be shared (socialist). Like all of Ayn Rand’s novels there is this good vs. evil plot being played out, or you might look at it as conventional vs. innovative when referring to the central theme of architecture. I won’t give away the details of the…

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The Gratitude Multiplier

While there are a number of emotions or states of being such as love, happiness, anger, anxiety, depression, and pain in our lives; it is gratitude that can act as the multiplier to either create the positive emotions or help us deal with the negative ones. Gratitude has the power to create a sense of well being and at the same time destroy those ego driven emotions such as I have not achieved enough, life is unfair, I am not appreciated, or I am not good enough. When you are truly grateful it becomes more difficult to be angry or feel unappreciated. In fact you might use gratitude as the powerful tool that it is, to turn things around and think about that situation that is making you angry, and write down some reasons why this situation makes you grateful. An example of this might be some attitude you have been fostering about your partner or your work. Are you letting your ego rule the mind? Is this person or role you play at work all bad? Probably not, most likely you are stuck in a negative thinking pattern and digging the hole deeper day by day. The reasonable approach would be to use gratitude to break this negative thinking pattern, which will of course make you feel a bit of a fool for indulging in it so fervently in the first place.

Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher, who served as consul in the year 63 BC. I like this quote as it supports my assertion that gratitude creates the positive emotions or virtues that we all want to foster.

Many have said that when you live of life of gratefulness that more is returned to you and while I agree this is true, you must ask why? From a purely psychological perspective feelings of gratitude put you in a position to do more, create better relationships, appreciate other people and yourself. This is because the feelings of gratefulness have the ability to destroy those negative emotions that are pulling you down the rabbit hole. I think gratitude is a true multiplier of your ultimate potential. Here are just a few ways it can drive positive change in your life:

  • Instead of inventing or finding ways to criticize the behavior of others you start to appreciate their positive traits and yes almost everyone has traits you can appreciate if you look hard enough.
  • If you have some appreciation and better yet are grateful for those you live and work with, do you think this will create a better relationship? What does this do for your own piece of mind? This is a win/win situation and is key to you thriving in this world instead of just condemning those you interact with. This is one of the reasons I don’t like to talk about politics with anyone, as most people start out telling me how much they hate the candidate from the opposite party than the one they are affiliated with. They can’t appreciate anyone they don’t completely agree with.
  • Maybe there are aspects of your work that suck, but you in your infinite wisdom have decided to focus on those aspects and create a life of misery for yourself and others. All this results in you not putting in the effort at your work that would benefit your career. When you are grateful for your work you put in more effort creating better results, more opportunity, and most of all greater job satisfaction for you. No one expects you to like all aspects of your work, but maybe there are some things you can be grateful for such as:
    • The length of your commute
    • Benefits
    • Core aspects of your work
    • Compensation
    • The people you work with
    • Your customers
    • Working at home
    • The fact you are employed
    • Provide a useful product or service
    • Purpose driven organization
    • Growth that provides career opportunities
  • Beyond your relationships and your work the level of gratitude you experience benefits your personal well being. Who knows maybe you will start finding reasons for living because you are grateful for what you have. No one wants to just exist, struggling to make it through the day, so you can do it all over again tomorrow. Start with a gratitude practice and all the other shit in your life will begin to fall in place.

I hope I have made a compelling case why gratitude is such a powerful virtue that benefits you and all those around you in so many profound ways. I wrote a post a while back on the importance of really feeling grateful and it might be worth a look. Get a journal or one of the phone apps and get started today.

Namaste

Feeling Grateful

For some time now I have been keeping a grateful journal, maybe a couple years or so. In this journal I write down 4 or 5 things I am grateful for and then I read them again to myself. While I figured I was heading the in the right direction, this journaling didn’t seem to make me more grateful. In fact I was still the same pain in the ass that I was two years prior to adopting this practice, but then one day it happened. I actually started to feel grateful; I mean a full on sense of gratitude for everything in my life.

The funny thing is I don’t know exactly why, but what was different is I was feeling it, not rationally thinking about stuff I should be grateful for, but instead deeply feeling grateful. It was all about the feeling not some method of convincing myself that I need to be grateful. Maybe my previous attempts at writing down what I was grateful for were too mechanical and laden with some kind of expectation that I should be grateful. Once I started feeling grateful the journaling on gratitude become more specific and insightful. The previous journaling would be things like:

  • I’m grateful for my family
  • My home
  • My work
  • My investments……

This was like trying to brainwash myself, repeating the same old worn out shit day after day, and it didn’t work. Real felt gratitude results in deeper insights into what you are grateful for and seems to be self perpetuating, where as making up super high level stuff like I was results in nothing. You can’t brain wash yourself into being grateful, but it seems you need to feel grateful or the journaling becomes a waste of time.

So where does this leave us when it comes to journaling? These are a few insights I’ve had over the past couple of days:

  • When you do feel grateful by all means write something in your journal and be specific.
  • You don’t have to feel grateful for everything, so if you only have one or two things that you feel truly grateful for then write them down, but don’t feel compelled to write down 4 or 5. It seems like you kill the magic feeling when the whole thing becomes some kind of stupid writing exercise.
  • Don’t time box yourself, if you get up in the morning to write in your grateful journal, take a few minutes to think about it and feel it. Forcing yourself to write something down doesn’t move the ball forward. It’s not about using up paper and filling a page. It is about discovering and feeling real gratitude.
  • Accept that there may be days where you write nothing at all. Maybe you just don’t feel all that grateful today; that’s alright your not a gratitude machine.

I would love to hear about your gratitude journaling experiences and what works for you.

Namaste