There is an insidious lie that western culture has propagated.

It has been around for centuries and it has removed the joy of life for many. It has been woven into our mindset and told to us by many parents and friends.

It’s time to rethink this myth and tell a better story.

That myth?

Work and life are separate and work is a necessary evil.

That showing up to the office, work or the factory is a necessary drudgery and then you go home to do what you enjoy, discover some entertaining distraction and maybe even find some happiness if you’re lucky.

In this 21st century we need to learn how to make life meaningful and happy. We need to integrate and combine the 2 categories of life and work into one creative symphony called “life.”

And this can be done despite the challenges and often painful reality that show up.

We now have the platforms, tools and flexibility to do this if you choose. We also have access to technology to help you design that life of freedom.

The first 2 books on this list are insights into how to make life a joyous adventure by applying some attention and focus to the small things.

These include being in the “now” and from that place reach the optimal experience of flow as your creation emerges seemingly without effort.

The other 3 books are a bit like a box of chocolates that surprised me with their insights and wisdom.

All these books compelled me to read to the end and I had trouble putting them down.

1. Awakening Your Ikigai: How the Japanese Wake Up to Joy and Purpose Every Day

Ken Mogi is a neuroscientist, writer and broadcaster based in Tokyo and in this book introduces five pillars of ikigai that are part of Japanese culture to help you make the most of each day and become your most authentic self.

5 pillars include:

  1. Start small and focus on the details.
  2. Release yourself and accept who you are.
  3. Harmony and sustainability—learn to work with and rely on others.
  4. Embrace the joy of little things and savor the sensory pleasure of your everyday experiences.
  5. Be in the here and now and find your flow.

Weaving together insights from Japanese history, philosophy, and modern culture he provides a book that will make you think and help you learn to embrace the simple and small things in life.

2. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

I first read this book 25 years ago and it has now been updated and I decided to re-read it. It was delight to re-visit the insights and discover again what a remarkable book it is.

It promises the keys to unlocking meaning, creativity, peak performance and true happiness. That is a big call but its truth is as relevant today as it was back then.

Legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous investigations of “optimal experience” reveal that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow.

During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life.

I think that most people want to achieve an optimal experience and the lessons and insights revealed within the covers will assist you in making your life more successful and also happier and content.

3. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

I have read all Yuval Noah Harari’s books and his initial best seller that caught my eye was “Sapien” followed by the equally intriguing book titled “Home Deus.”

They challenged my thinking and provided a perspective on what being human means in more context in the grand scheme of history and our potential future.

The book attempts to touch on the broad scope and challenges of the 21st Century within just 356 pages.

The lessons include the technological and political challenges and the lessons for this new century and also a current favorite area of mine on the topic “resilience”. In that category he covers the 3 lessons including education, meaning and meditation.

Want some perspective on this century that will help you flourish?

Then read the book.

4. One Million Followers: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days

A couple of years ago I attended a Mastermind event in St Louis, USA and sat next to a vibrant and effervescent Kim Philips. She was bursting to share some Facebook growth hacking tips with me and the rest of the group.

She showed me and the other attendees in a few simple steps how to grow a loyal Facebook page following rapidly and for low cost. Around one cent a “like” (follower). Within a few days applying Kim’s tactics I hit over 100,000 followers on my Facebook pages

In this book Brendan Kane takes this to a whole new level and shows how he acquired over one million in just 30 days. And this is without having to be a Taylor Swift or Rihanna.

In essence the tactics are one of testing different media and then using analytics to reduce costs and increase your Facebook and social network reach.

But it will require some financial investment and commitment.

So…..do these tactics work?

In one word “Yes” because I have tested them myself and the results spoke for themselves.

5. The Geometry of Wealth: How to Shape a Life of Money and Meaning 

The title for this book is almost mis-leading and it maybe should have been given the headline “The Geometry of Happiness.”

This is more about creating a life of meaning, happiness and purpose while not being distracted by just chasing having more stuff.

The core insight for me was that having enough money allows you to reduce pain and gives you the headspace to create a life of happiness, purpose and meaning.

It is the best book I have read on the true meaning of wealth and the journey to potential happiness and a meaningful life and how money is woven into that mix.

SOURCEJeff Bullas
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Jeff Bullas
Jeff Bullas is a consultant, blogger, strategist, and speaker. He works with companies and executives to optimize their online personal and corporate brands through the use of social media channels. Author of the Amazon best-selling book Blogging the Smart Way—How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media (Jeff Bullas, 2012), Jeff's own blog is included in AdAge.com's Power 150 ranking as a top 50 marketing blog.

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