Today, I want to feature the book 'Life Your Way' by Amy Wood and share the top 12 inspiring lessons and insights from her book.
I hope you will find these quotes inspiring and insightful.
#1. Quick fixes don't work for personal growth and transformation
"Most responsible adults are overly caught up in personal improvement because we’re convinced we’re not adequate as we are, we’re searching for an elusive panacea, or both.
Common to these three situations is the misguided conviction that no human dilemma is too big for convenient, one-size-fits-all approaches.
We have come to believe that major life changes are like baking a cake, treating a cold, creating a budget, or tackling a home improvement project. They can be accomplished merely by downloading the instructions, picking up the appropriate Idiot’s Guide, or consulting the right expert.
Unfortunately, quick fix approaches are largely ineffective interventions for personal or professional development because they don’t allow for the true integration that is critical to lasting learning.
Reading ten-easy-steps articles or books or listening to a charismatic self-help guru talk can certainly be enlightening and exciting, but information alone, no matter how fired up you are, won’t do the trick.
Bona fide transformation happens when information is applied consistently, step by habit-building step, over time, and only when the tactics and techniques for change ring true for you."
- Amy Wood
#2. Successful adulthood requires looking at your life as painter's canvas
"Successful adulthood today requires looking at your life as painter’s canvas.
That means starting with a general idea of where you’re going and trusting that the picture will emerge little by little, day by day, year by year. You paint when inspired, and every now and then you step away and view the big picture.
Sometimes you notice that something is missing or that a color you thought was just right is now all wrong. You regularly take breaks from painting to get perspective, and you come back with fresh ideas, ready to make new adjustments that will take your piece of art to the next level, knowing full well that what you apply with confidence one day may not fit at all the next."
- Amy Wood
#3. Be honest about your intentions
"It’s hard sometimes to get to the bottom of what we want because our motives can be complex.
To avoid working hard to acquire something you thought you wanted but really don’t want in the end, it’s important to be real with yourself about your expectations.
Before you buy that expensive car, be sure you want it because you will adore driving it and not because you want to impress your boss with the showy brand.
If you’re seriously thinking about a major life-changing step like cosmetic surgery, understand that you’ll still have the same issues to wrestle with in your tuned-up body.
We Americans are addicted to the thrill of buying shiny, new things because we feel instantly better—but that instant feeling is usually temporary.
If you find yourself wanting something because you hope it will fill a hole inside you, know that the only way to feel better is to do the hard work of learning to love yourself."
- Amy Wood
#4. Optimism isn't about denying reality or plastering a round-the-clock smile on your face
"Optimism is not about denying reality, telling yourself everything is fine when it’s not, pushing down uncomfortable emotions, or plastering a round-the-clock smile on your face.
Optimism is literally optimizing your options, which amounts to taking in the whole truth and choosing to focus on what’s good about it.
The experienced optimist knows that putting a positive spin on life, no matter what the circumstances, in no way brings immunity from curveballs.
There’s no getting through life as a human being without disappointments, failures, losses, and all sorts of other obstacles and unexpected disasters, but a positive attitude certainly makes the trials and tribulations of life easier to bear."
- Amy Wood
#5. Don't strive to make your leisure time productive
"But the ironic thing about a nation hell-bent on saving time—and the problem with our addiction to efficiency— is that the more time-saving devices and systems we have available, the less time we seem to have at our disposal.
The twisted logic is that whatever time is freed up should be devoted to more fast-paced activities, so we rarely get to experience the spare time these time-saving solutions were initially meant to create.
Instead of reading a frivolous novel while our clothes are drying, we should clean the kitchen or work in the garden. Rather than take a much-needed nap on our business flight, we should read a professional journal or catch up on paperwork via our laptop.
As time-saving solutions become more advanced, our deadlines become shorter and our standards more competitive. In the apt words of a former workaholic boss of mine, "When I’m not using extra time to accomplish more work, I feel like I’m throwing away time—and money.”
- Amy Wood
#6. Pause and pay attention - whenever you can
"Instead of willing yourself to enjoy each moment of your life, which is a ridiculously tall order considering that many moments of life are just plain dull and not worth savoring, strive instead to navigate some moments of your life with your senses whenever you think of it.
Make it a habit to stop and notice, at various points throughout your day, what you are seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling.
Take in information through all of your senses. Go beyond the words on your computer screen, the familiar face across the table, or whatever else is right in front of you and drink in the nuances.
Feeling the air on your skin, noticing the color of your friend’s shirt, taking in the aroma of dinner cooking, discerning one instrument from another in a song on the radio, savoring the flavor of the coffee you’re drinking deepens the experience of various moments so that you appreciate them more and remember them better.”
- Amy Wood
#7. Put the past in proper perspective
"The hard part of figuring out what you don’t want is dealing with the emotions that can arise when you come to terms with what’s no longer your cup of tea.
An emphasis on what’s not working can lead to anger at yourself for being impulsive and making mistakes in the past.
Realizing you’ve outgrown your career, social circle, significant other, geographic location, or any other substantial part of your life can be terrifying as you contemplate the major risks and transitions you will have to endure to set things right.
The important thing to keep in mind as you decide what to keep and what to leave behind is that past decisions, no matter how misguided they may seem in retrospect, have helped shape your capacity to know what is right for you now."
- Amy Wood
#8. Take small steps to make big changes
"In our fast-paced culture, we conjure up perfectly legitimate dreams with the comparatively crazy expectation that we must realize our visions instantly. Somehow we believe that putting this kind of pressure on ourselves to perform will propel us forward.
What happens, of course, is that we sabotage our success with goals so daunting that they trigger a fear and flight reaction. No way can I switch careers/paint my house/write a book/lose 50 pounds just like that! We stop in our tracks before we even begin.
Our aspirations are motivating, but our unreasonable approach—go from A to Z this minute!—is paralyzing. So we go back and forth, back and forth between wanting something to happen and realizing we just don’t have what it takes to make it happen now.
Each swing of this pendulum seems to confirm that we must lack the guts, the brains, the willpower, the luck, or some ever elusive goal-manifesting power, when the only thing we’re really missing is a sensible game plan.
Whatever you’ve decided you want to bring into your life by the time you read this chapter, there’s only one way to attract those things successfully, and that’s one step at a time. I know you want to make dramatic strides and I wish I could help you, but breaking your goals down into manageable phases is the only way that really works."
- Amy Wood
#9. It is the act of crossing that line between apprehension and creation that liberates your mind, frees your ideas, and lets your intuition take the lead
"One beauty of a small goal is simply that it let’s you get started—and getting started is crucial because that’s when the magic happens. Every masterpiece begins with a single musical note, brush stroke, or written word.
It is the act of crossing that line between apprehension and creation that liberates your mind, frees your ideas, and lets your intuition take the lead.
Once that first step is in motion, the goal begins to manifest.
Because the secret to starting is outwitting your fear, taking a stride so small that your inner critic sleeps right through it is the way to proceed. All you have to do to get going is decide on a series of steps so ridiculously, laughably, insanely doable that self-doubt doesn’t stand a chance of getting in your way.
If you’re like most time-pressed Americans, you may think, “If I take small steps, it’ll take way too long to reach my goals.” I understand where you’re coming from, but I want to assure you that, contrary to this false logic, taking small steps actually helps you achieve your goals more quickly than you ever thought possible.
With the satisfaction that comes from completing that first small step, you will feel more confident, motivated, and ready for step two, step three, and so on.
Whereas big goals sap your strength and stamina by triggering draining emotions like anxiety and self-doubt, small goals encourage the positive emotions and energy that invigorate real growth and accomplishment.
The goal of cleaning your house may actually exhaust you more than the cleaning itself. However, that first small step of picking up three pairs of socks from your bedroom floor may be surprisingly inspiring.
The big goal of finding a new job may send you into a panic, but a first step of placing a bouquet of flowers on your desk may nudge you toward feeling more worthy of a better career opportunity."
- Amy Wood
#10. Remember courage means meaning forward despite fear and doubt, NOT without them
"Another big reason why people don’t bring their well-laid plans to fruition is that they regard anxiety, uncertainty, and other unsettling emotions and associated disconcerting thoughts as signals that they don’t have what it takes to be successful.
No matter how much experience we have with learning and changing, we forget that the transition from one stage to another almost always makes us hesitant and wary.
Because our brains and nervous systems thrive on the predictability and consistency of routine, even when we’re downright bored with it, most of us experience new undertakings as unnerving at various points along the way.
Whether you’re looking to move to a different neighborhood, read your poetry out loud at a poetry slam, or be more assertive at the office, you may feel scared and suddenly lose confidence once the initial excitement of committing to your new goal has given way to the personal risks involved.
What’s important to remember here is that courage means going forward despite fear and doubt, not without them."
- Amy Wood
#11. We may not have the answers to all the questions in life, but having faith helps
"Life is a mystery to me, filled with questions I may never have the ability to answer.
Why did my most positive, well-adjusted, accomplished friend get struck down by a fast-moving, fatal neurological disease at age 36 when she was doing everything you’re supposed to do to stay healthy?
Why is my father, once the most sensible, appreciative person I’ve very known, bedridden in a nursing home with no quality of life and no end in sight?
And why did my mother-in-law, an uncommonly resilient and independent woman who has endured more than her share of hardship, have to lose all her money to the fraudulent financial adviser our whole family trusted?
What I know at my age is that peace of mind comes from letting unanswerable questions like these just be and focusing instead on doing the best I can with what’s certain.
Faith is knowing that if I learn what I can from tragedy—that life is precious and short and worth living to the fullest with the strengths I have and the people I love as long as I can— life, even with all its unsolved mysteries, will somehow make some sort of sense in the end."
- Amy Wood
#12. Practice acceptance
"The hardest thing about having faith is making space for the unknown in a culture that’s all about solid deadlines, obvious solutions, and absolute answers.
Because we are told that we can be whoever we want to be, do whatever we want to do, and find whatever answers we want to find, many of us are convinced that if we haven’t gotten exactly what we want, it’s because we haven’t looked hard enough.
We have little patience for ambiguity, and so when something doesn’t make sense to us right away, we quickly move on in search of instantly evident resolutions.
We keep looking for the right partner, house, promotion, diet, whatever result we’re after, with the expectation that the outcome will precisely match the picture we’ve conjured up in our minds, according to the schedule we’ve imagined.
Having faith is realizing that, no matter how prepared or sure you are, what you want often comes to you in its own sweet time, in a way that you can’t always anticipate.
You may be looking for your life partner in the form of a blue-eyed, college-educated conversationalist and find yourself falling in love with a strong, silent high school drop-out.
You may be primed for a new professional opportunity when out of nowhere life throws you a personal problem to grow from.
You may be dedicated to saving money for a trip around the world when a medical diagnosis forces you to invest your travel fund in taking better care of yourself.
You can’t always direct what happens to you and when, but, if you know what’s important to you overall and what you want to get out of life, you can have faith that, even if everything comes out of order and contradicts the particular visuals you have in mind, you will end up at the end of your life with the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment we all seek."
- Amy Wood
Excerpts from the book Life Your Way: Refresh Your Approach to Success and Breathe Easier in a Fast-paced World. Reprinted with permission from the author.
About Amy Wood
Amy Wood, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist with deep knowledge of human nature and a gift for helping adults become their own versions of successful. Having worked with clients ranging from seriously disturbed psychiatric patients and incarcerated criminals to corporate executives and high-powered attorneys, she knows how people handle obstacles and how they change. No matter how complex the challenge, Dr. Wood has helped someone through it – all from the empowering perspective that every person, regardless of circumstances, is a unique and valuable individual with the inner resources necessary to articulate and accomplish their goals.
Dr. Wood facilitates growth and development through psychotherapy, coaching, speaking and training engagements, teaching, consulting, and writing. She is award-winning author of Life Your Way: Refresh Your Approach to Success and Breathe Easier in a Fast-paced World and is often featured in media ranging from local newspaper and TV to national radio and popular magazines like Parade and Women’s Day.
To learn more, visit her website www.amywoodpsyd.com.
Now it's your turn, what are your favorite insights from Life Your Way and why. Share them in the comments below.