My friend Daniel has been writing a little series about the books that changed his life. It is amazing how much he inspires me when he writes. It amazing that two people can connect to the level we have as friends even though geographically we are very far. Reading his posts I began to think of the books that I have read, but it never occurred to me that they would be powerful enough to change my life, but then I read blink.
After reading this book I felt like Malcolm Gladwell was someone that I wanted as a friend. He a talented and best selling author(he also wrote The Tipping Point,) but when he writes he has a conversation with the reader that is spoken in a tone that most people reserve for their best friends. The message of the book is in a way about tolerance and introspection, but the book gave me so much more.
I just turned 30 and self evaluation has kicked into high gear. Event though my birthday has never felt quite like a milestone, this one did and it was partially because of this book. The books title talks about the power of thinking without thinking. In simple terms it tries to let you know that you have a key to your unconscious, but it is not the one that will let you open it.
After reading this book I feel I understand the way I make decisions a little better, but more importantly, I learned that my decisions are being affected by what surrounds me more than I ever even imagined. I then decided that what I was doing for my brain was simply not enough. To put it in computer terms, I have a very powerful machine, but I was just leaving my connection to the internet at dial up speed.
We can all let ourselves be manipulated by what advertisers or media outlets want us to believe about the world or we can go one step further and learn to think for ourselves. Knowledge is power only if it used. One of the biggest problems I have with formal education is that it is almost set up to make you pass tests rather than to actually learn something. After reading blink, you start to see the purpose of gathering knowledge. From being able to read minds to eliminating racism or sexism in some situations. This book gives us the opportunity to look at life in a different way. What if we could literally steer history in a different way by refusing to accept the negative imagery that is presented to us in a regular basis?
The book is powerful because it does not hold our hand by giving us a quick guide as to how to make quicker decisions. Rather it opens up the door for us to make our life and mind better by filling it with better information. The reasons some of the experts on his book are as good as they are is because they took an active interest in a subject and became truly amazing at it. While we might not be able to do it at the scale that some of those scholars did, we can take steps towards being more mindful of all the clues that are out there for us.
While it might have been that I read the book in the weeks before my birthday, I still think there is a lot of merit for the authors ability to make me think. His message is simple while covering very complex subjects. It lets us take a peek into how truly extraordinary people make decisions even when they do not even know themselves.
One simple lesson that you can take with you is that vocabulary is important in any subject. It is probably one of the places most of us get really hung up on. While we might have an opinion about something, not having the correct way to express it can leave us with a simple yes or no answer. If you think about relationships and feelings, being able to voice them is very important, but what if we cannot explain what we are feeling? There are plenty of books out there that can give you the vocabulary you need to vocalize what you feel. When we put a puzzle together we use the picture of what it is supposed to look like to find the right pieces. So if you are particularly stuck with something in your life, it might be a good idea to pick up a good book and find the picture that will help you put that puzzle together.