Three Books That Shaped My Life

I’ve been listening to the Tim Ferris Podcast recently and loved the final questions he asks his guests. He always asks them what books have shaped their lives. I decided to do that for my own on this post.

Plus, with all the time that we have on our hands, picking up a book might be a good idea–just to take a break from all the Netflix and internet surfing we’re all doing.

With that said, though, this is difficult to do if you’ve read tons of books over the years. I have always been a reader, so this post has been a struggle to write. There are so many good books out there that picking just three is like choosing your favorite child. It’s almost impossible to do. To make my life easier, I’m only focusing on nonfiction books and leaving out the fantastic fiction I’ve read.

I have to really think about it because some of the earlier books I’ve read that might have made an impact when I first read them have probably faded in memory. Yes, it was amazing at that time, but as time passed, I forgot about it. So, in all honesty, I think the three books I eventually pick will be biased towards the one I’ve read in the past five years.

But narrow it down, I must.

To start with, we have to define what “shape my life” means. That could mean anything to anybody. For this post, let’s just say that these books have changed the way I live my life, forcing me to somehow alter the way I think or behave.

With that definition in mind, here are the three books that shaped my life:

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

This book was inspiring. Period. It was the one book that kick-started my religious devotion to a morning routine. I first heard about Elrod on a couple of podcasts, most notably on Farnooh Torabi’s So Money. He was able to come back from a tragic accident that made him paralyzed from his waist down. Despite that, he became the best salesperson at his company while undergoing painful rehabilitation. He now runs a successful company of his own. He also just recently beat his second bout of cancer.

While Elrod’s own story is an inspiration in itself, he does a good job convincing the reader to build a routine that will change the way you live your life and think about your time.

This book changed how I approached my mornings. When your morning starts off right away with a mindset to better yourself, everything you do afterwards is gravy. I started running, writing, reading, visualizing, meditating, affirming my beliefs in the hours even before I ate breakfast. The time I devoted to myself made me a better person in general and also contributed to my success at work.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Mari Kondo

This book was the introduction to my pursuit of minimalism. Kondo has become an international star these last few years, so a lot of people know what she’s all about. I still think that many people miss the point when they claim that she’s only about cleaning and organization. I think the deeper message from her book was about your intention and valuing your time.

Kondo’s idea of keeping only the things that spark joy in your life is a fantastic way of thinking about consumerism. Less clutter means less things that weigh on your mind. This was the breakthrough for me. When I read the book, I finally made the link between buying stuff, saving money, and financial independence. The less money I spent buying stuff that I’d have to clean and maintain meant more time for more fulfilling pursuits. It gave me more appreciation for the things that I already had. This also freed up my time to do the things I wanted to do like writing and creating other income streams.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

I think you’re seeing a theme here…

I recommend this book to everyone. I’ve read this book three times because it’s just so good. The message from this book is clear: Cut out the bullshit.

McKeown gives you the compelling reasons why you should be cutting out the stuff that drains time and resources away from you. He then gives you practical advice on how to go about doing so. He talked about all the successful people who ascribe to the same philosophy in life and you want to become one of those people.

The subtitle of the book is The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. I got my discipline from building a solid morning routine, but I still struggle with pursuing less. I like to think I’m productive, but I always get distracted by projects and interests that keep me from achieving my goal. When I feel stuck, I re-read the passages that never fail to fire up my motivation.

The way of the Essentialist is the path to being in control of our own choices. It is a path to new levels of success and meaning. It is the path on which we enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

Greg McKeown

Since the book is easy to read and is pretty short, it’s easy to go through. Every time I read it, I feel reborn. Whatever mistakes I made in the past, I can learn from it and use it to face my future.

So there you have it. Three nonfiction books that spurred me to action. Normally, I would go through a book and just reflect on the ideas that I’ve just read. I don’t really “act” immediately, but these three books have managed to get me off my couch, lace up my running shoes, or reach for the garbage can.

What are the three books that shaped your life?

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