Leather Chair Reading! A Life Changing Book!
Although we have enjoyed an unusually warm fall season here in Utah where I live, the night air is starting to turn cooler, so it seems the perfect time, (before the busy holiday season) to come home after a busy day and wrap up in a warm afghan for a little while and read a chapter or two in a good book!
To change ones life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions.” William James
For this “Leather Chair Reading” journal post, the book I’m going to share with you literally changed the trajectory of my life and helped me and my husband redefine our true priorities at a crucial time for us when balancing work, family and time together seemed a little off kilter. It is a book you’ll want to keep handy so you can refer to it often, because we all know it often takes constant reminders to help us keep what’s most important in our lives in good perspective!
Life’s Greatest Lessons: 20 Things That Matter! by Hal Urban
“The author has put into wise bite-size pieces some of life’s most important truths. Read, learn, and enjoy!” Obviously, I was intrigued after reading this quote on the inside cover of the book, “Life’s Greatest Lessons: 20 Things That Matter!”, while browsing through some bookshelves several years ago when my husband and I were on a “bookstore date” one of our favorite kinds of dates, so how could I not buy it!
The author, Hal Urban, was a high school teacher for several years, and then a professor at the University of San Francisco, but more importantly, as far as I’m concerned, he raised three sons as a single father, and in this role realized pretty quickly that he had a limited amount of time to get his priorities figured out.
This book is the kind of book you’ll tend to want to devour in a single sitting, since you can’t help but anticipate all the amazing changes that are sure to take place in your life when you finish the last chapter! But realistically, since this book does requires some self-introspection, reading each chapter carefully, even taking time to make notes in the margins, rewards the reader with time to really ponder all the individual topics, and then know better how to implement the lessons learned into daily living. As the wise literary scholar, Ralph Waldo Emerson, once said, “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived in order to be understood.”
Mr. Urban states in the introduction of his book that he wrote it for four reason:
◊ Because they don’t teach how life works or what is essential in school.
◊ Because most of us need help in discovering how good we can really be.
◊ Because old fashioned truth never goes out of style—-even with a new generation.
◊ Because we are never too young or too old to learn life’s greatest lesson…and the time is always right.
I love the common sense approach taken with each lesson so that people from all walks of life can ultimately empower themselves to live better lives. For example, in Lesson 4, titled: “Attitude Is A Choice–The Most Important One You’ll Ever Make!” the author shares a personal story of how he slowly put the pieces of his broken life back together after a painful divorce. In so doing, he tried hard to live by the creed of World War II prison camp survivor, Victor Frankl, who believed that the ability to choose our attitude in any given circumstance should be valued as one of man’s most celebrated freedoms! “We can’t adjust every situation to fit our lives perfectly, but we can adjust our attitudes to fit all situations.”
Lesson 6: “Being Thankful Is A Habit–The Best One You’ll Have!” talks about an experiment Mr. Urban did with his students throughout the years of his teaching career; he would simply asked his students to go for twenty-four hours without complaining. I will admit, I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read that the first response from his students was usually to complain about the assignment, but this was only the first part of the assignment…he also asked his students to list things they were thankful for, then read that list four times a day! The author then goes on to describe the significant changes in his student’s demeanor as they entered his classroom after the experiment, “There were more and bigger smiles, eyes appeared to be open wider and bodies seemed more alive. Was it magic? No, just appreciation. Thankfulness does wonders for the soul! When we focus on what’s right instead of what’s wrong, life improves considerably!”
Probably the lesson I related to the most was number 11: “There’s No Substitute For Hard Work!” I was blessed to have parents who taught me that motivation is fantastic and goals are great, but nothing happens until hard work is added. It’s the last lesson, number 20, that often stumps me the most: “Life Really Is Quite Simple, Don’t Insist On Complicating It!” While we live in a complex world, it doesn’t mean we have to live complicated lives. In the final chapter of his book, Mr. Urban intuitively states, “Living a more fulfilled life is often as simple as looking for the best…in the world, in others and in ourselves! Doing this will unlock your mind to a treasure chest of life’s opportunities and possibilities!”
I will always treasure “Life’s Greatest Lessons: 20 Things That Matter!” as a reference guide on how to be authentic and live my best life!
I’d love to know about any great books you’ve read that have inspired you to live better.