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My fear, in talking about this book, is that some people will hear the author and immediately tune out. But I want to remind you of the purpose of this blog. We can learn from anyone. Doesn’t matter if you look like them, if you have a different religion than them, even if you have different political affiliations and beliefs. If we strip all of that away, we are all people that have stories. And every time there is a story, we can learn a lesson from it. Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now.
So regardless of your political affiliation, I think you can learn a lot from this book about our former First Lady. The book begins when Michelle Obama (Robinson) was a toddler, and it spans to when her time as first lady is completed. We learn about her home life, her schooling, her values, and even the moments when she questioned some of her decisions. You see that she is a mom, a wife, a career woman, and a real person with thoughts, feelings and ideas.
The book is rather long, and at some points, I was able to listen to the audiobook version. I really enjoyed listening to the audio version (which is weird for me) because it just felt like we were just having a chat. I would definitely recommend this book. If you aren’t into autobiographies, or you just don’t have the time to sit down and read, I’d recommend the audiobook. Ok now let’s get into the lessons I learned. And as always, no spoilers.
“In my blinding drive to excel, in my need to do things perfectly, I’d missed the signs and taken the wrong road.”
This made me feel like me and Michelle Obama were the same person. She’s reflecting on the choices that she’s made in her life, how she wanted to be the best, and wanted to make people proud. There was a whole list of things that were on the list. But the thing that hadn’t made the list was her passion. Her desire.
If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ve already read about a time in my life when I was in the same situation. It seems like sometimes in life we get so focused on the things that we think should be important. Maybe it’s success, maybe salary, could be public recognition, maybe even outdoing someone else. Whatever that thing is for you, it’s your motivation. It’s why you make the choices you make. But when you reach that point that you’ve always dreamed of. You’ve earned the degree, made 7 figures, beat the competition. Why does it feel so empty? Why do you still feel unhappy?
Two things have to happen. First, you have to trust God. Know that He’s the one who gave you that passion. He’s going to see you through, and through Him, you’ll find fulfillment. But second, you have to allow your passion to carry just as much weight as your salary. You have to make sure that what you want, and what you enjoy, show up on that list that you’re making. Don’t let the impracticality of your passion scare you out of giving it a shot. You’ll never know until you try.
“I now tried out a new hypothesis: It was possible that I was more in charge of my happiness than I was allowing myself to be.”
When I read this, I stopped and put the book down. The whole book. Mainly because I felt like I was being attacked. I don’t think this was ever a real issue for me until I had a family. It wasn’t even an issue when I got married. No, this happened when I had a kid.
Suddenly, I found myself keeping score. All of the nightly wake-ups I was doing, vs the ones he did. All of the times he took to workout, while I was watching our son. I was so busy, tallying up all of the things that were unfair, and getting upset about them, that I forgot to come up with solutions to those problems. It was like I was perfectly content to complain. I forgot that I was in control of my own happiness, no one else was. If I wanted to workout, I could carve out time to do it. I had the same amount of time in my day as everyone else. And the thing is, he would help me make it happen. I’d just never asked. I just went straight to comparing.
Sometimes feeling responsible for my own happiness isn’t a weight that I want to carry. It feels like there is a lot of responsibility in that. A lot of work that needs to be done. But when I read this quote, I realized, it’s much easier to figure out solutions than it is to walk around constantly comparing and being upset as a result. A much better outcome too. If I take away nothing else from this book, I’ll carry this with me.
“Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same.”
I once heard someone say something that has stuck with me for a while. I wish I remembered who it was, so I could give them proper credit. But they said, picture your funeral. Imagine the people that you know will be there no matter what. Do all of those people look the same? If they do, are you really inviting diverse people into your life? Probably not. I thought this was so interesting because it seems like a litmus test of sorts. And one that’s rectifiable, if you’re willing.
Blending with people that look different from you on paper, is a great way to appreciate other stories and backgrounds. It lets you see things from another perspective; something that may be hard if everyone around you has the same perspective as you. It also gets rid of fear and stereotypes, because you’ll see first hand that broad generalizations simply aren’t true. When you see a group of people portrayed a certain way, without knowing anyone personally from that group, how can you have any other view? If we make an effort to diversify, we’ll be a lot less fearful of the unknown, because there will be a lot less unknown. Wouldn’t that be great?
Well, that’s all for this time! I’m not sure what I’ll be reading next, but when I figure it out I’ll let you know on my instagram.
Make life sweet, and learn all you can!