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May 22, 2013

Change Your Mindset, Change Your Body: My Top 8 Mindset Reads

In my last blog, I outlined the difference between what I consider a Victim Mindset versus that of an Empowered Mindset. The mindset (way we think about the world and how we interact with it) we CHOOSE to adopt impacts how our lives unfold–what we do, how successful we are, how lean we get, where we end up, etc.

Using an empowered mindset as a tool, we get to control outcomes more fully then when we allow ourselves to a victim of circumstances. Our mindset determines our actions which lead to outcomes.

I mentioned how I did not always adopt an empowered mindset (or even understand that I had a choice), and often played the victim. And because of that, I often felt helpless and frustrated with what was going on in my life. I didn’t understand how to make things better for myself, and I guess part of me didn’t want to. Of course we all still play the victim at times, but the good news is that with some insight, we can recognize it faster and turn it around.

A sneak peek at my iBooks library for mindset & business reads :)

As promised, below are my favorite mindset books–the ones that have made the biggest impact on my personal way of thinking and have turned things around for me. My advice to you would be to start with one and see how you do. Keep an open mind, introspect and take what resonates and try to implement one or two new strategies over time. And then repeat :) Good luck!

  1. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz – Jade introduced this to me years ago and since then I have read it almost every year. It’s a fast read–you can probably finish it in an hour or two–that outlines 4 simple “rules” about how to interact with the outside world. The genius of this book is its simplicity. I won’t spoil the fun by posting the 4 agreements here, you’ll have to read!
  2. The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal – Read this a few years and absolutely loved Dr. McGonigal’s approach. The book is heavy on the science of willpower, but offers many practical tips and tricks for how to replenish it and also how to build up your willpower arsenal. Her style resonated particularly strong with me because McGonigal is very into yoga and fitness, so she often spoke to the guilty mindset that often we experience as a result of overindulging. Great read, and you fit gals will appreciate Chapter 7 especially!
  3. Loving What Is by Byron Katie – This is one of several books I’ve read of Katie’s after being introduced to her by my sister-in-law Jillian Teta a few years ago. This book is probably the best “intro” book to her 4-Step “Inquiry” Process. I read this book at a time in my life when I desperately needed a system to help me handle my emotions and a process to deal with them, and her process was it. I am basically obsessed with BK now, but if you are new to her stuff, you might not know what to do with it at first. Katie is the ultimate non-victim, and her consistency in that way is unreal. It can come off as cold to newbies, but honestly, if you can get over yourself :) this way of thinking will literally change your world. It’s more “woo woo” than the other books on this list but if you have an open mind and are willing to call yourself out, it’s worth delving into.
  4. The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz – Jade and I listened to this book years back and we were struck by the novelty of it. The book gives many examples of energy and willpower being finite, like a battery that needs recharging often in order to perform at it best. We often think of TIME management as the key to productivity, when in this book, the authors insist it is ENERGY management that needs attention. I live my own life this way, constantly alternating focused periods of work (2-3 hours) with restorative down-time (1-2 hours) and I usually do 3 rounds of this every single day, and I have never been more productive. Highly recommend for people who want get more done, feel better and increase their quality of life.
  5. Being Happy by Tal Ben-Shahar – Ben-Shahar is a professor at Harvard who began teaching positive psychology classes year ago, and they became incredibly popular. I read his first book Happier, which I loved, and then this one. I wanted to include Being Happy on this list because it is all about the perfectionist mindset, which many of us who work on our physiques can get caught up in–the need to be perfect and the disappointment when we inevitably can’t be. Offers new insight about how to change your mindset from a perfectionist (which is rigid and doesn’t really serve us) to an “optimalist” mindset where we get to be happy while also striving to be better. Sounds good to me! [Honorable mention goes to The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, who studied under Ben-Shahar at Harvard–also a great positive psychology book.]
  6. How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell – When I joined Rachel and Alwyn Cosgrove’s mentorship a couple years ago, they sent me this book. I read it quickly and then I sent it out to all my own Best of You Coaching clients. It’s what I call “a possibility book”–inspires you to take action, to be empowered and make things happen for yourself. A fast read that will get you fired up. I’ve read many of Maxwell’s books but loved this one the most.
  7. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown – This was an absolute game-changing book for me. Recommended and then gifted to me from one of my best friends (and JillFit coach) Sara Baker, I read it in a day. Brene is a PhD researcher who, though exploring her own psyche via her research came to the conclusion that she was living a life of conformity–pleasing, performing, perfecting. She vowed to change that through learning how to accept herself and live wholeheartedly. The book resonated with me because essentially it boils down to one key concept that we all struggle with and that is: being enough. Good enough/thin enough/funny enough/smart enough/hot enough/successful enough, etc. I have written on this before, but this book does a way better job of dispelling all the “gifts of imperfection” and helping us realize our intrinsic power and happiness.
  8. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson – Though this book may fall under the business book genre, it is essentially a mindset book because it outlines specific principles that if implemented consistently can lead to big successes. They include being consistent, showing up daily, having a positive attitude, practicing for the long haul, bundling and using your passion and desire to generate the outcomes you want and be willing to pay the price to get them.

From The Slight Edge: “If you’re not willing to pay a price for whatever it is you want, the price of neglect is far worse than the price of commitment.” <— I love this because it reinforces the notion that if we want something to change, we have to change IT.

Doing introspective work is tough. Taking a look at your own BS is humbling. Getting real with yourself (much like Brene Brown does in TGOP) can be painful. But the alternative–going through life as a powerless victim–is much worse. If you have the courage to look in the mirror, take an honest look at how you’re operating, and see that maybe your mindset could use a little CPR, you open yourself up to world of possibilities you never even knew existed.

There are plenty of other useful books that I have read and loved that could have made it onto this list, but I think this is a good start! Good luck and let me know how you do :) Ox, Jill

Want more mindset? I go in-depth into the psychology of body change and how to begin adopting a more empowered mindset in my 10 Week Mindset Makeover Program. 

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