Working at Enjoyment

It’s a weird concept but I’ve been thinking again recently about the self-discipline we require to do the things we love.

We might imagine that we’ll just get on and do the stuff we love doing and that we only need to discipline ourselves to do the things that we don’t like to do; the things we have to anyway.

It takes real discipline and resolve for me to do any gardening and a bunch of other things that aren’t really my thing but what about the things I really enjoy doing?

Shouldn’t those things come easily to me?

Perth’s beautiful weather makes my city the perfect place for cycling. It’s one of my favourite passtimes yet if I don’t discipline myself to get out there on my bike I’ll miss out on something I love. It’s easy to sleep in on a Saturday morning instead of rising early to ride with my cycling friends but I know that if I put in the effort I’ll get greater benefits from cycling than I would from an extra hour in bed.

When I force myself into the habit of regular cycling I feel fitter and more energised, yet that discipline can slip away so easily. With a ride right across Australia on the horizon next year, I’d better get that discipline happening soon or I’ll miss out on my big adventure.

If I love reading so much why do I need to discipline myself to sit down with a book for an hour?

A week or two can often go past without me sitting down to soak in some words from the pages of a good book yet when I make the time to read I can easily get lost among the words and I thoroughly enjoy every moment of it. Sitting down with a coffee in one hand and a book in the other is one of the most satisfying things in the world yet I can waste my time on the trivial things of life rather than reading.

We need to work on our relationships.

Some relationships are easier than others, but we even need to put in a great deal of effort on our relationships with those we love.

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well. ? Theodore Roosevelt

Do you find the same thing happening?

Are there things that you really love yet you find you have to discipline yourself to invest your time pursuing them?

I find the same thing with my faith. I’m never happier than when I feel that I’m in tune with the Creator yet I can let time slip through my fingers without making the effort to recharge my spiritual batteries.

The simple spiritual disciplines of prayer, reading the scriptures, reflecting and others that are absolutely life giving can be easily crowded out in our busy world.

Why do we let ourselves get robbed of the real stuff of life?

It’s somehow strange that we should have to exercise discipline and self-control to do the things that make us feel most alive but sadly it’s true. I guess that’s where priority setting comes into play.

What are you like at doing the things that you love? Are there things you love, things that truly energise you, that you have let slip away?

(This post previously published here at

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101 Best Books


I’m sure they’re designed simply to make me feel inadequate. They’re the lists that pop up from time to time that sit there mocking me. They leave me scratching my head wondering what I’ve done with my life.

Bookshop Dymocks has come up with a list of The Best 101 Books as Voted by Dymocks Booklovers.

Here’s their top ten:

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
4. Magician by Raymond Feist
5. The Lord of the Rings (Books 1-3) by J.R.R. Tolkien
6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
7. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
9. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
10. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

I’ll admit that I’ve heard of most of the books on the list. I’ve read some, like Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca and The Bible. Animal Farm by George Orwell was required reading in school. I’ve seen the movie of The Princess Bride several times. Both 1984 and Wuthering Heights were amazing songs and I can sing along to both, even if I can’t get the high notes that Kate Bush can reach … or David Bowie for that matter.

What I need is someone to fund me to take a year or two off to just sit around and read. I need to catch up. Any takers?

To be honest, I do know what’s happening here. Those lists are designed to create what we now know as FOMO. Fear of missing out. If I haven’t read those books I’m inadequate so I need to rush out right now and by some copies … from Dymocks.

Yes, I should spend more time reading and there are probably many books on that list that I should lose myself in but my life is never going to be measured on whether I’ve read a list of books that others think I should.

There are dozens of books that I’ve read and enjoyed that aren’t on that list. There are still others on my shelf and in my electronic library that I would prefer to read before many that are in the top 101.

Just out of curiousity. If you were compiling a list of top books, what would your top three be?

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To ‘E’ or not to ‘E’?


I guess that by now most of us have had the chance to sample reading ebooks and contrast the experience with good, old fashioned hard copy books. You know … the ones that contain real paper and don’t need a power source.

What’s the verdict? Which do you prefer? Do you do all your reading electronically? Are you devoted to hard copy books? Or maybe, like me, do you mix it up a little?

I’ve been reading a number of books so far this year. I just completed one ebook and I’ve finished a couple of others of the ink and paper variety. I have another hard copy book on the go and I have a few more ebooks that I’m making my way through. I enjoy both and I think both have their advantages but I’m interested in your thoughts. Let me know what’s working for you. What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of each?

To get you started, here’s an infographic that looks at the reasons that 1000 Fatbrainers gave for staying lo-tech when it comes to reading.

(You can click the image to get a better look.)


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We're going to get along fine

coffee_cup.jpgI made a new friend last night. I get the feeling we’re going to be spending a fair amount of time together over the next few years.

After dropping Emily off at youth group last night I had a couple of hours to kill. I was already fairly close to where we’re going to live once we eventually move so I decided to drive past our new house before dropping in to the local cafe. It’s about a kilometre from the new house and I reckon I might be seeing a lot more of that cafe.

I ordered a long black and a melting moment biscuit then sat down with a book I need to read for a review on my radio programme. It felt like home, or at least a home away from home. The staff were friendly, the atmosphere relaxed, the decor warm, and the coffee was just right.

Things don’t always turn out as you plan but I can imagine that I’ll be back at that cafe very soon. I can imagine spending time there alone with a good book or three. I can imagine taking Pauline there for a bit of time out together. I can imagine taking Emily and James there for a treat now and then. I can imagine drinking coffee there with cycling friends that I haven’t even met yet. If you’re in the area you might drop in and have a coffee with me there too.

That cafe and me, I think we’re going to get along just fine.

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Holiday Reading

book.jpgOne of the things I got to do while I was on holiday for the last couple of weeks was to read. I love the opportunity to take large chunks of time to sit down with a coffee and a good book.

Amazing how refreshing it can be.

I really need to make time to do that on a more regular basis. I can’t just go off on holiday every week or so but I can set aside time for a mini holiday inside a book.

As well as my Bible, newspapers and a new cycling magazine, I read Mad Church Disease by Anne Jackson and got a long way through Shantaram, a novel that’s about the size of a three story building.

I’ll be saying more about both books in the coming days.

I’m hoping that our children will develop a healthy reading habit. I think it’s one of those things that makes life a little bit more worth living.

Unfortunately, while I was a quite advanced reader from a young age, the habit of curling up in a corner with a good book was never really encouraged in our home when I was growing up. It wasn’t discouraged but it wasn’t really something that my parents did and so I never ‘caught’ the habit. All these years later I’m still trying to overcome that and place more importance on reading.

What was the ‘reading culture’ like in your home when you were young? Has that carried on with you? Are you a voracious reader or do you have to make an effort? What advice would you give for someone wanting to develop a healthy reading habit?

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