A personal development book read ≠ a personal development book understood

Note: I’m taking a little break from my travel insights series – it’ll be back next week.

These days many of us have more time for reading.
And if you had the urge to not only tidy up your house but also your mind, you might have picked up this personal development book or motivational guide your friends have raved about (The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle anyone?!)

This is a post about reading inspirational and motivational books in the personal development category, something I’ve obviously binged over the last years 😉

Over the last months, when working with free apps, I have gotten a lot of ads from an app called ‘Blinkist.’ It claims to get you reading ‘4 books a day’ as it provides you with summaries of them. These books are in the non-fiction spectrum, of course (why would you want a summary of a novel?!)
That on its own sounds fine to me, yet it got me thinking about the purpose of reading.

I’m just ‘wild-guessing’ here that Blinkist assumes we don’t have enough time to read a book, so we need a summary (except that they probably hadn’t anticipated the current situation – let’s leave this aside for this post though!) Fair enough, many non-fiction books have long-winded intros, too many personal stories for my taste and self-promotion for the author. So, yes, give me the handy details!

On the other hand, isn’t the whole purpose of reading to devote time and dive into a topic slowly?
And what’s even more important: If this app makes us read several books a week, does it mean that we then also learn several times as much as if we read one book a week?
I have devoured self-help books with awesome-sounding principles, clapped my hands in excitement, and having ‘aha’-moments, only to finish the book to never think about it again, my head already in the next book that would ‘improve’ my life even more.
With every book I read, I put a mental checkmark behind an imaginary ‘essential books to read to make your life better.’
Did my life change 180 degrees, just like the book felt it had after I finished reading it?

It took me a long time to see reading these sorts of books as ‘exercise books’ or ‘courses.’
I realized how I’d only learn anything if I actually stopped, contemplated what the author had written, and suggested I do, and then try to experience or apply it!

This is the only way to see whether you actually agree with the author’s suggestion and opinion. Because sometimes things don’t work for you and that’s ok and why I guess, there are so many self-help books out there.
The book itself won’t make a change for you though! You are the person who has to do the work and look out for ways to experience what the author wrote about. Otherwise, you’ll complain and think, ‘what a nice idea, but it doesn’t help.’ Or you just continue reading, patting yourself on the back for ‘working on yourself,’ yet not really getting anything out of it. And yes, I’ve patted myself on the back so much….

I’ve just finished reading the book ‘The Willpower Effect’ by Kelly McGonigal, a book that presents the science behind motivation and willpower and how mindfulness comes into play as well. I absolutely loved its insights and you know why? Because the book confirmed some things, I had recently learned about my struggles of instant gratification through social media, food cravings, short attention span, … I had already experienced many of the points the book presented in its scientific explanations, so instead of having new strategies to hear about, I got a confirmation that I’m on the right track 🙂

Anyway, reading the above book prompted me to think about this topic and I hope it’ll make you ponder a little about how you are tackling reading this sort of genre.

On a final note, I noticed how at times, points in a book didn’t make sense to me. I would glance at them, shrug my shoulder and continue reading. Only months or years later would I experience something, that would give me a ‘eureka moment’. Just with many circumstances that happen in life, the real reason behind them can unravel much later. Patience is a virtue 😉 Happy quarantine reading!

Accepting myself without make-up/ Travel Insights Series #1

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I am taking the time to go through my old reflections that I had during my trip. They are from my private Facebook or my journal.

Part one will be my reflection on not wearing make-up anymore. I stopped with it about 1.5 weeks into my trip. I had started in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and then moved on to volunteer on a farm.


Below is my old post, followed by my reflection.

Even though I’m not really into make-up, there’s this certain ‘touch-up’ in the morning, just like brushing my hair.

Working on a farm and being covered in mud and dirt daily made it pretty unnecessary 😛

So the first morning when I walked around without make-up, I felt really self-conscious about what my face looked like. It’s so rare for me to be around other people without make-up. I didn’t really like what I saw in the mirror. I thought I looked bland and not pretty.

Almost three weeks later I looked into the mirror this morning and suddenly felt satisfied and happy with what I saw.

I got used to seeing me this way day after day. And I started feeling more confident. So here’s a rare (make-up free) selfie just because I felt like sharing! *(edit: I am going to leave out the picture for now..)

Will I stop wearing make-up? No, because I enjoy its look for certain occasions 🙂

Do I think it’s awesome to be ready so much for faster in the morning? Totally 😀

What did I learn: besides accepting myself for what I look like one other important thing:

You can learn to like your look by repeatedly ‘confronting’ yourself with it (look into the mirror). It’s like creating a new habit: at first it feels forced and uncomfortable but over time, it will start becoming natural. ❤️




Reflecting on this status, I can say that I have not worn any make-up since October 2018 and almost forgotten what it feels like applying it every day.

I noticed coming back that in our everyday life, I was coming across a lot more people wearing make-up. When backpacking, many people will eventually ditch their make-up because there is little reason to apply it when you’re at the beach, hiking or turning beds.

In ‘normal life’ I became a little more self-aware of people’s faces and their make-up. I still think that it can look really pretty on people, I definitely understand why people wear it!! And for a minute I thought about going back to my old me, who wouldn’t leave the house without my regular make-up. And then I felt that I wanted to see how I’d feel if I continued the way I had been doing it for the past year.

Every time I met a friend I thought someone would comment on it. Nobody did. Admittedly, I had never worn heavy make-up, so it might not have been that noticeable.

The most challenging time was when I went to job interviews. I actually thought it might be something of a prerequisite to apply make-up, just like the fact that you’re supposed to wear a suit to certain companies to be ‘well-groomed’.

So I was incredibly nervous when I went to job interviews, feeling self-conscious and expecting to be judged. 

Nevertheless, I didn’t feel any different reaction from other people in that setting despite not having applied any make-up except for some concealer to hide a bad night’s sleep due to nervousness 😉

The one time, I still feel self-conscious these days is when I am displayed on video-chat. In a way, I can see why people put a lot of make-up when on camera – it does highlight your facial features and make your face look more engaging. Having said that, I do believe that it is another aspect to get used to and I’m still at the beginning stage of this path of acceptance. 

And this is another reason, why I am sharing this post today: 

Just like the last sentence of my reflection as well as my Facebook post, I have a feeling many of us are (forcibly) creating new habits and routines these days. And many of us will struggle and dislike them. I am hoping though over time, these habits will settle and you will feel less resistance and more acceptance. And when the time comes, maybe the reverse effect will happen, and you’ll go through a reverse ‘habit shock’. Change takes time to get used to, but it’s worth hanging in there!