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I’m in a phase of life where I’m really into non-fiction books that could help me solve some deep problems or give me some real insight into aspects of my life that I might want to change.
Here are my top takeaways, one from each book:
#1 Processed food is easily and often designed to be addictive.
I just finished rereading parts of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us in which Michael Moss covers in depth the behind the scenes of processed food and the big food companies who make them.
Even good companies will struggle to create a shelf stable product that does not include a considerable amount of salt, sugar or fat, if not two or all three. Companies that serve wall street and chase profits have been focusing for years on increasing market share and stomach share, without much concern for the health of their customers. Industry insiders who have attempted to push for healthier products have had an uphill battle against both the chemical requirements of processed food and the laws of supply and demand. Too often food companies have provided food that create cravings, and then we continue to buy them even when we realize it’s not in our best long term interests to eat doritos and oreos.
#2 Technology can be designed to include or exclude ‘stop rules’, making it addictive to varying degrees.
I read Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter in its entirety this summer. He lays out all the aspects of technology that combine to make it irresistible. This understanding is useful both for parenting and for personal productivity.
Addictive technology is a modern hazard and is constantly all around us, and at the same time we are surrounded by less addictive, supportive technology. In both cases, we need to learn to apply our own stop rules when technology does not. This means always stopping at the end of each episode to consider whether to continue watching when Netflix will continue to play by default. It also means adopting habits such as using a timer when checking email or social media, in order to maintain awareness and give yourself an ending point for activities that have their purpose but can easily take up more time than you intend. For more on this, read my summary of things you need to know about addictive technology.
#3 We are exposed to messages in a variety of ways that keep us from realizing how blessed we are.
I’m in the middle of The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse by Gregg Easterbrook. Reading the first two chapters of this book honestly cured the little bit of post-partum depression that was lingering on me. He methodically goes through and explains all of the ways that life has improved for the average person and that now is the best time in history to be alive. Then he explains the variety of factors that keep us from being aware of how good we have it living in the developed world in the 21st century.
Try a journal with writing prompts
If you feel like you need a mental shift, and are stuck in somewhat of a negative attitude or even just a resigned, blah mentality, try combining reading The Progress Paradox and using this journal for a month. I discovered this fitness/gratitude journal this summer. I love writing but have always struggled to keep a daily journal, but now I look forward to journaling in it because I don’t have to think about what to write. It has writing prompts. Each entry has space to record things that you’re grateful for, what you did to live healthy, ways you appreciate your body, notes from the day, and a short list of things that are inspiring you right now.
I’m also reading Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup, and Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine. I’m really trying to simplify and find ways to feel more like I’m thriving and less like I’m just surviving.
If you identify with that feeling, check out my welcome page.
More good books
I’m linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit Aug 2017 where you can read more book reviews from other bloggers.