So much of our day involves being in front of a computer, on the phone, micromanaging, putting out fires, finishing up a project, or going through our daily list of things to do. There must be a way to stop sometimes and learn how to relax. If we could replace just a few minutes a day with a stress-free habit, such as reading, we will see changes. The benefits of reading are enormous. Even though reading may not be everyone's cup of tea, I challenge you to try to start. Even if you only read ten minutes of the day, reading can be meditative.
The first step is to make sure that what you read helps you relax, which leaves out newspapers and magazines. Choose books that take you somewhere enjoyable. Read a biography, a self-help book, historical fiction that takes you to a different time and place, history, science fiction. Takes yourself outside of life for just a few minutes. Relax, unwind, and unplug and read so you can reboot.
Some books teach us. I especially enjoyed The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates (277 pages, Macmillan, 2021), which is now in paperback. Melinda found through her experiences all over the globe how empowering women can change the world. Taking assumptions from her own life experiences, she realized that women's roles and customs can be barriers to empowerment.
Melinda shared moving stories that helped her realize that success is more tremendous where women helped each other and created support groups. The women sought empowerment through each other. They knew what they wanted and helped each other. If the community succeeds, the boys and men prevail. This book was written with the sole purpose to tell the stories of incredible women worldwide trying to make life better. Progress is possible as long as we understand the worth of women.
It is a fascinating read. Melinda shared that through her foundation, she pieced all these experiences together to come up with her conclusions. For example, she made the connection that family planning and women support groups could break the chain of competitiveness between women in business. Melinda believes that connections are vital to improving the lives of those in poverty. She wrote that we have to include everyone in the mission of empowerment, even those organizations that do not want to include women. When people come together, then everyone rises was repeated several times in the book.
Melinda made permanent connections with the women she wrote about. She tried to see their lives through their lenses in order to have the compassion she needed to understand. We need to realize that taking the barriers away from these hard-working women by creating small steps towards equality makes it easier for these smart women to lift their families and their communities.
So many times, when she was faced with hopelessness, her internal voice wanted to quit, but she was able to keep moving forward, using these negative thoughts as springboards to taking action. Finally, Melinda struggled with the idea of being a feminist and what it really meant. But when she realized that being a feminist meant believing that every woman should use her voice and pursue her potential and that women and men should work together.
I encourage everyone to sit down and read books about other people's experiences. When we read, we get the chance to see life through other people's eyes and world views. The experience of learning about others, from others, whether fictional or real, allows our brain to relax and to leave our own reality for just a minute or two.