Since my son introduced me to the world of podcasts a few months ago, it’s become one of my favorite things to do while walking. I used to listen to my own thoughts, and then I discovered iTunes, and I couldn’t get enough of music, music, music. I tried Audible for a while too, but I’m too much of a tightwad to pay for the luxury of listening.
But those podcasts—wow! There’s something for everyone, and they’re free. My biggest challenge is in deciding what to listen to. Lately I’ve been going back and forth between Good Life Project, TEDTALKS, and Grammar Girl.
This morning I listened to an interview between Jonathan Fields and A. J. Jacobs on the Good Life Project podcast. I read Jacobs’ The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World a few years ago and was delighted to learn of his more recent books, The Year of Living Biblically and Drop Dead Healthy. Since I haven’t had the privilege of reading them yet, I’m sharing brief descriptions from Amazon.
(1) “A fascinating and timely exploration of religion and the Bible. A.J. Jacobs chronicles his hilarious and thoughtful year spent obeying―as literally as possible―the tenets of the Bible in The Year of Living Biblically….Jacobs’s extraordinary undertaking yields unexpected epiphanies and challenges.”
(2) Drop Dead Healthy is “…the truly hilarious story of one person’s quest to become the healthiest man in the world….The story of his transformation is not only brilliantly entertaining, but it just may be the healthiest book ever written.”
On the podcast, Fields asked Jacobs to share one thing he’d taken away from each of his books, something he’d learned from the projects. This is where the podcast got interesting to me and when I decided to buy both books.
From writing The Year of Living Biblically, Jacobs’ primary takeaway was the importance of practicing gratitude. Today he earnestly tries to concentrate on the dozens of things that are good and that go right each day instead of the few that don’t. For instance, he’s grateful when an elevator reaches its destination instead of plummeting to the basement. When Jacobs eats asparagus, he’s thankful for the farmer who grew it, the truck driver who brought it to the store, and person who sold it to him.
In his book on health, Jacobs researched all manner of healthy practices and gave them a try. At the end of the year, his #1 takeaway was the importance of movement. Movement of some type each day benefits both body and mind; it aids in thinking and boosts mood. In case anyone thinks of exercises as a self-indulgent activity, Jacobs adds that he does it not just for himself but also for those he loves. He wants to be around for his family.
I’m not sure whether I like the idea of reading these books because of the author’s diligence in researching them, his writing skills, or his sense of humor. It could even be because these topics are right up my alley. Having taught psychology for more years than I care to remember, I know the importance of gratitude and positive thinking on mood and behavior.
And don’t get me started on movement. In Human Growth and Development, the “E” word (exercise) is discussed in every unit except infancy. Its importance in handling stress, combating the blues, and lowering blood pressure crops up in discussions on health psychology, abnormal psychology, and therapy.
Disraeli’s was onto something when he said, “My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me.” I agree with Jacobs’ findings and am looking forward to reading these two books.