I’ve been following Mo Issa’s work for some time now. I mostly go to his blog and read his new posts. I love the fact that he tells his personal stories and I love the plain and simple way he brings words to life in his writing. When I finally got to know he had written a book, I couldn’t wait to lay hands on my own copy. I had an idea of what to expect from Mo because I’d read him extensively. Most importantly, I wanted to know what he was bringing to the world through his book.
So, I got my copy of the book.
The title “The Shift: How to Awaken to The Aliveness Within” made a great first impression on me. “The Aliveness Within” is everything that made me rush to finish reading this book. I am a seeker. A seeker of things that stir internal joy, therefore, any material that touches on our internal growth and well-being greatly appeals to me.
The first thing I did was to skim through the pages (as I usually do with any book I pick to read) and read the chapter headlines and the various subheadings. Every chapter title struck a chord within and increased my desire to consume the book immediately. What you easily notice when you flip through the pages are the various quotes that open each chapter. These are not just quotes plastered around just to decorate the pages of a book. These quotes are the center around which the chapters revolve and they are quotes from masters of the subject Mo seeks to teach to readers.
Authenticity is the opening chapter of the book. If you are a follower of Mo’s work, you will by this time realize that authenticity forms the core of his message and beliefs. He finds a way to weave the concept of authenticity into his writing and encourages readers to strive and live authentic lives. Leo Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilych becomes the perfect character to demonstrate how to live an authentic life. Ivan had lived by the dictates of society and had allowed life to pass him by. On his deathbed, instead of being happy for the life he’d lived, Ivan was regretting for not living life the way he wanted.
Mo goes on to show us “Why authenticity matters” and drawing on the work of Brené Brown, continues to give us the three Cs for “Starting down the authentic path.”
Three Problems The Shift Solves for Me
“The ego represents the sum of all our fears, worries, and negative thoughts; it provides the incessant inner voice of doubt holding us back from any opportunity for wonder, intuition, or awe that might come our way. If we wish to step into our unique power and authenticity, then we must transcend the ego and find the place where our truths reside.”
I have fears and all my fears begin with the question “What if…?” What if my good isn’t good enough? What if people don’t like what I write? What if I fail? What if what I call brilliant appears stupid in the eyes of the public? These questions keep flooding my thoughts anytime I try to do something new. Mostly I don’t start because I don’t want to be a failure. I don’t want people to laugh at me. To me, it’s better I don’t try than to try and fail. Mo tells me this is the voice of the ego and until I learn to recognize it and beat it, I would have no rainbows and sunshine in my life. Now, I’ve learned to question that voice. I’ve learned to disobey it. I’ve learned to act even when the ego strikes.
“…When life becomes untruthful, and without pain, we are unable to learn the necessary lessons to change our behaviors. We forget that life itself is vulnerable; to fully experience it, we must be opened to both joy and pain.”
The lessons I’ve learned over the years are entrenched in my brain and my reaction to life’s circumstances largely depends on the information of my upbringing. I was raised to be a man and in one of the popular adage of my culture “a man is not supposed to shed tears.” Basically, what this adage means is that it’s not in the place of a man to show vulnerability. So even when it hurts, when things traumatize your being, you are not obliged to show vulnerability because you are a man. But Mo’s words are ever loud and instructive when he said; “Vulnerability is not weakness but rather a path to opening our hearts.” This gives me the freedom to show how vulnerable I am if need be and to show the world that beyond the thick skin and occasional valor, I’m as human as anyone else. What hurts hurts me equally.
#3. Simplicity and Minimalism
“If we listen closely to our hearts, there is a deep urge there to simplify our lives. Fewer decisions mean less energy spent. And so instead of more, we should choose less. Paradoxically, this doesn’t equate to having less, because we are then able to focus on, engaged with, and enjoy those fewer things much more.”
I want more. I want more of this and more of that. I work to get more of the things I want. A few days later, I’m bored with what I just had and want more of something else. On and on it goes. It never stops. Each day comes with new things I prefer to have in my life. There is no end to what man wants and that’s how come we keep accumulating. But Mo’s words are true when he says; “As all that extra becomes clutter, the excess stands in the way of our inner peace and happiness.” Less then becomes more “because we are then able to focus on, engaged with, and enjoy those fewer things much more.”
Julia Quinn said; “In every life, there is a turning point.” For Mo Issa, it took Leo Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilych to discover the turning point of his life. In his own words, his awakening journey started afterward. He calls it a journey but I call it a pilgrimage. He took a pilgrimage of the mind and realized what really works when it comes to living a life of authenticity.
The amazing thing about this book isn’t about the fact that someone had something to say and had decided to put it in a book…No! It’s about his personal journey to self-discovery and the things that helped him to SHIFT from a life of regrets and stress to that of a fulfilling one. Mo is not telling you to do this and that. He’s only saying; this is what worked for me and it would work for you too if only you’ll open up to doing something new.
I recommend this book to everyone especially to those who are looking for the way to authentic living. The knowledge and wisdom contained in this book will surely hold your hands and lead you through the maze of life.
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