The Secret to Self-Empowerment

To become an Integrative Gastroenterologist, I had to spend 4 years in college, then 4 years in medical school, then 3 years doing an Internal Medicine internship and residency, followed by 3 years of a Gastroenterology fellowship. Then, when I thought I was done learning, I enrolled myself in a 2-year fellowship at the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine which was founded by Dr. Andrew Weil. At that point, you would think I would be done, right? Well, not exactly. What I learned from the whole process of formal education is that learning doesn’t stop on graduation day. I found myself with more questions than ever.

I had to figure out how to get those questions answered a few years ago. At that time, I was an actively practicing full-time gastroenterologist who would be on call at nights, rounding in the hospital, and seeing patients in the office. At home, I have a wife and two little kids who I also want to spend time with when I’m not working. One day when I was driving to a meeting and I was stuck in traffic, I thought to myself, “man, what a drag; sitting here is such a waste of time.” I would always listen to music when I driving, and it was relaxing; but sometimes I just felt like I needed something else. That’s when the light bulb went off in my head….audiobooks! Yes, audiobooks! This was one way for me to learn about some of the questions I still had and use the time I had in the car more effectively. This was a big transition for me because I always read books. In the end, however, it doesn’t matter if you read or listen to the book…it’s the same book….and what is cool is that many of these books are actually read by the author which kind of makes it even more entertaining.

Wow, what a change it made in my life. In just under two years I read over 100 books! I got hooked and never turned back. After the first several months I was learning so much and sometimes found myself wanting to go run an errand just so I could listen to the next chapter of a book! What happened by reading all these books? Well, I was able to refine the solid knowledge base that I got from my formal education and add the extra layers I was looking for. Not only did this give me a sense of self-empowerment, it gave my patients the same because I was able to convey that knowledge and encouragement to them. I totally changed my life, health, and overall wellbeing personally through this change of mind frame in how to learn. Since I was able to read and learn more at a rapid pace, I was able to apply the knowledge I was getting to my own life. And that is when the magic happened. I started losing weight, feeling happier and more energetic, and I had a new way of looking at life. Yes, just from audiobooks!

I thought I would share with everyone my top 5 audiobooks. These are excellent choices to start your own journey of knowledge and self-empowerment with (in no particular order).

  1. The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani. This is an amazing eye-opening book that will help you understand how to look at things in life and get to the point where nothing can bother you.
  2. Mindsight by Dr. Daniel Siegel. Anything that Dr. Siegel writes is something you should read. This book was one of the first books of his that I read. It teaches you about how our minds work and how this can affect our health, lives, and sense of wellbeing.
  3. The Book of Joy by Douglas Abrams. This is mandatory reading for all human beings. This is a fantastic book that was written based on a series of discussions and conversations that His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu had. It will entirely change your perspective on life and what true happiness really means.
  4. The Telomere Effect by Drs. Elissa Epel and Elizabeth Blackburn. This book is fantastic and easy to read. Dr. Blackburn was awarded the Nobel Prize for her groundbreaking research on telomeres, which are the caps at the end of our chromosomes. Read this book and learn how to live a longer life free from disease!
  5. Food: What the Heck Should I eat? By Dr. Mark Hyman. This is a great book, breaking down the basics of health and nutrition in a super understandable manner. It will help you understand the science behind why we should and should not eat certain foods and help put you on a path towards revamping your own health.

Wow…making this top 5 list was actually really hard. There are so many awesome books that I have encountered and read. This by no means is a comprehensive list. However, these books are a great place to start. I encourage you all to read, read, and then read some more. Read about different topics. Read about things you always wanted to learn about but never had the chance to. Learn about subjects that you never even heard of. Just get the audiobook and pop it in your car and listen. Your life will change. You may not even know how it will change when you start doing it, but if you keep doing it, the change will be apparent. What you will find is that you have a newfound sense of confidence and wisdom. Human beings are very intelligent beings; we can learn an immense amount of knowledge from each other. It is great to read the research and literature that is published in peer-reviewed journals. It is also great to read about what people think and hear different viewpoints and philosophies. In fact, the better written books reference research and the literature so you get a dose of both. Then you will end up combining your own knowledge with what you are reading and develop your own opinions and viewpoints. When this happens, you will have achieved that sense of self-empowerment and it will only make you want to read and learn more and teach others! What a fantastic thing!