“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

Cut the fat – it’s time

“If you don’t take control over your time, and your life, other people will gobble it up. If you don’t prioritise yourself, you constantly start falling lower and lower on your list.”
Michelle Obama – Becoming

Tell me, do you enjoy reading novels, autobiographies or fictional books?
Do you take time to delve into the world of someone else’s mind, or get swept away by a true story of courage and determination?
If you do, I must say I admire your patience and commitment.

From a young age, my folks always encouraged to read books because it’s a great way to grow your perspective on life, your imagination and an opportunity to delve into a world where your mind crafts and creates images and accents to cling onto as you scan through the hardback and enjoy the experience.

Yet, reading books just wasn’t my thing. I’d prefer to wait for the movie, or listen to someone’s critique. It wasn’t high on my list of things I wanted to do. I was a pretty active kid. I’d have preferred to head outside and play or train, hang out with my pals, watch TV or when I was younger, play computer games. Anything but reading.

Even when it came to holidays, and to this day, I’m not one for lying poolside to read a book, I’d prefer to head off and play whatever sports are on offer, stay in the sea for hours, play ‘bat n ball’ or simply sleep 

However, the surge in audio and sonic footprint has changed the way I learn. It’s opened up my mind. In the last year, I noticed that I spend a lot of my time commuting. I took stock and decided to use this time as an opportunity for me to see what audiobooks and podcasts were all about. Moreso audible recently. I find myself listening to them during my drive to work, in the gym, when I head for a stroll or even just a few minutes before I hit the hay.

I’ve now built up a small library of audiobooks which I’ve enjoyed, all quite diverse and interesting in their own ways. I’ll leave a list below. I’d say I’ve heard more books through audible in the last few months than I’ve read in all my life.

Now, not all of them, but the majority of the books I’ve listened to recently have had an underlying theme of mental health and well being which I found quite interesting. The general synopsis highlights that your mental health and lifestyle improve when you remove negativity or when you focus your energy on people who truly want you in their lives and not the pretenders.

I’m a firm believer that you choose whether you wish to be happy or sad, and while the latter is very hard to avoid, in time when the dust settles the focus on being happy and the opportunity to enjoy life surrounded by happy, ambitious and positive people is fantastic.

What’s more, the books have similar approaches, whereby, in order to be happy or to live a happy life, you’ve got to remove the things in your life that are preventing you from being happy, essentially you’ve gotta cut the fat.

Whether that is stepping away from a job which creates a build-up of anxiety for you, or a moany housemate, a negative friend that is bringing you down while in their company, whatever it is, give it the heave-ho.

More importantly, when you do cut the fat and remove the negativity in your lifestyle, you open up the door and your time to those who genuinely want to share their time with you, hear your point of view, sit in silence with you or look forward to sharing important moments of their lives with you.

It’s a two-way street. At times, one part of a friendship, relationship or partnership is trying to be accepted by the other. It is our DNA to want to be accepted and sometimes when we are not, we try far too hard to change opinions. Yet, the biggest strength is not to let other’s opinions get to you. If people accept you or not, that’s not the point. Do you accept yourself is the question?

Life throws curve balls our way at different stages which can be very tough at times, and while we have moments to enjoy, I believe it is so important to share them with people who respect and complement your happiness by being truly happy for you to be in their company. Or those who have your back when you’re not in the room. Nobody should have to convince someone to like them and if you find you’re doing that, you may be putting your energy in the wrong direction.

On Elizabeth Day’s podcast How to Fail, she interviews Mo Gawdat, the writer of Solve for Happy which is one of the best books I’ve listened to. Mo discusses his life and experiences, and deep dives into a number of interesting topics. One of the big take-outs I got from the book is when to know that someone doesn’t want to spend time in your company, knowing that free’s up so much of your time to enjoy with those who in fact do want to be around you for all the real reasons.

At various stages, the books below encourage you to reduce stress and anxiety in your life by removing those people or activities which trigger negativity. I used to think that people had to be selfish to be happy, however, someone very close to me said, it’s those who don’t want you to happy are the selfish ones. Powerful right? To find that happiness, be courageous to remove the pieces in your life that put you down and don’t take for granted the people already in your life that only want the best for you.

If you are finding life hard or stressful for reasons you can’t control, then take control of what you can your life and cut the fat. You’ll be so much happier.

The list of audiobooks I’ve enjoyed to so far:

Start With Why – Simon Sinek
Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker
S.U.M.O (Shut Up, Move On) – Paul McGee
Becoming – Michelle Obama
Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins
The Chimp Paradox – Prof Steve Peters
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
Solve for Happy – Mo Gawdat
Total Recall – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

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