I posted not too long ago about not sharing the books I’ve read. But when a book inspires deeper self-discovery, I have often summarized the thinking it inspired. This post covers some of the thinking inspired by Jillian Horton’s memoir We Are All Perfectly Fine.
I don’t often read memoirs, preferring my books to be more in the lighter, escapism genres. In the past year, I have also stopped reading many of the self-discovery or self-improvement books, although there is a pile of them on my to-be-read shelf! But books club’s and friend’s recommendations have definitely pushed me into new genres and this memoir was one of them.
While the memoir was not written about retirement transition, so many of the insights she presented in her mindfulness journey reflected my own learning in my retirement journey.
The most powerful question in the book for me was, “What is the first step, the step I don’t want to take?” This is such a great retirement transition question. It encourages thinking, what am I afraid to do or what am I procrastinating? I have personally done many of the things I envisioned in retirement, but there are many things on my Possibilities List that I still hesitate about. Why am I not taking the first step to makes those things happen?
Another question was, “When do I feel resonance?” I just love that term. I wrote about Flow Versus a Rabbit Hole (link here), but resonance is such a better way to talk about it. I felt that internal resonance hum learning about Enneagram, taking classes in Positive Psychology, even writing my book. Synthesizing things and finding frameworks usually does it. So how do I return to this positive space more often?
Horton points out we grow up thinking the family life we lead is “normal”, no matter what the dysfunction in it is. I related to her childhood insight on how “my own feelings had to be carefully managed, contained” as I believed my own role in the family was the peacekeeper. And then to rethink about things “we hear as children that we believe our entire lives”. This insight reminded me to continue to deeply understand my own self-limiting beliefs. Also, as a child, her insight that “the differences between me and others raised suspicion on a subliminal level, that there was something I felt the need to apologize for, one more way in which I wasn’t good enough to belong to anyone or anything” which reflects my own long-term challenge with feeling like I don’t belong. And in every Compare & Despair feeling “less than”. The thought patterns of years are so hard to break.
Another insight, especially true for anyone in retirement transition was the fact that work was a place where people around you spoke your language – they understood your words, your rituals, your ways of doing things. It was easy being in that place. I still miss people who speak my language!
Horton also points out in the book that things are different now: Tweets and Instagrams and virtual everything, multi-tasking with podcasts and audio books, side hustles, and the belief that every person has a “valid voice” on social media. Sad, but true.
I was reminded reading the book that it has actually been proven that we see/hear things we expect to see/hear! This is a huge challenge for me. So, what if I could let go of expectations?
And finally I came away with the realization that I am the primary controller of how I am living my life now. Being aware of my thought patterns, my conditioned responses, and the expectations I hear. Change starts with practicing new thoughts and new responses. It’s a different way to think about mindfulness.
Have you read anything lately that inspired you?
Picture Credit: Me – a sunrise this week.