Learning Calm from a Book?

I stopped at the bookstore last night. I didn’t intend to stop there when I headed to the city to visit a specialty store for much needed supplies; it just so happened the parking lot of the bookstore was right across the intersection from the exit of my specialty store. And so I made the stop.

I have been curious to see what the experts have to say about my quest for calm and while I enjoy electronic books and magazines, nothing beats the look, feel and smell of a book in my hands. Of course, for me, the best part of seeing the book in person is to thumb through the whole book and not just the excerpts and freebies you get shopping online.

The bookstore has an entire section of “self-help” books penned by various authors of varying degrees of knowledge and experience. The range of subjects that fit “self-help” was quite diverse. In fact, the section was so diverse and so filled with options I was overwhelmed.

I weeded my search down to books that dealt with subjects of reducing anxiety and relaxing. Even then, the choices were considerable. I thumbed through a few selections and found that many of them were filled with lists of how to be less anxious, steps to begin relaxing, exercises to reduce anxiety, etc. The more I looked the more anxious and less relaxed I got.

I could see myself getting one of these books with these plans, starting it and then berating myself for not following the plan just so. I could also see myself questioning whether I was doing it right. I was getting anxious about how to live up to the expectations and plans of some author I hadn’t met in order to figure out how I could learn to relax and hopefully learn to be calm.

And then it dawned on me; you can’t learn calm from a book. You actually can’t learn how to be calm from anyone other than you. All of these books, these authors, these experts were simply talking about generalized plans and ideas. None of these books could be anything more than general ideas and inspirations for my own journey to calm.

We are all unique individuals, like snowflakes, none of us are exactly the same. There is no way a book is going to teach any of us exactly how to address our own personal thoughts, feelings and responses to the world around us. A book can give you an idea, but you must learn on your own journey what calm is for you.

I know you are wondering whether I bought a book. Yes, I did buy a book, but it wasn’t one of those “self-help” books with a plan. I bought a philosophical book that didn’t offer any steps, any day by day exercises, etc. In fact, I’m not sure it will contain anything remotely relevant to learning how to be calm. And I am at peace with that.

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