How Reading Made Me a Better Deputy SheriffAug 29, 2021
Reading Made Me A Better Deputy Sheriff
The wellness training program within Protective Wellness teaches that there are four areas of personal growth and renewal: physical, mental, spiritual and social/emotional. In this article I am going to focus on the mental aspects of wellness training.
Mental training means finding ways to continually hone and expand the mind, to train the mind to stand apart from its own programs. That way, you’re able to expand your field of vision and cultural awareness, and see your own paradigms (i.e. the lens through which you see the world).
One of the main ways to do this is through reading. Good, old-fashioned, reading.
Here’s how reading made me a better person
I grew up in several small towns in the south. Jonesboro-Hodge, Louisiana; Neosho, Missouri; Grove, Oklahoma; Siloam Springs, Arkansas; and Minden, Louisiana. One could say that growing up in so many small, rural, country towns could lead someone to have many preconceived notions about life and people.
Fast forward to college, I went to the University of Florida (Go Gators!). It was during my time in college that I began to read many books that would ultimately expand my vision of the world in profound ways that took me on a path I never ever could have imagined.
The books that changed my path
The list of books that transformed me in my early 20’s include:
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
- The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
- the Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey
These books sparked something in me that forced me to take a harder look at the path I was on- a degree I loathed, that would lead me to a career I would dislike. To my father’s chagrin, I left my fourth year of university to travel. I went to the Cook Islands in the South Pacific and then New Zealand. I was gone for almost a month. Part of that month included travelling by Amtrak train from Houston, Texas to Los Angeles, California at the beginning of my trip, then by Amtrak train again from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, FL upon return to the United States.
The broad swath of people that I saw in my own country while riding the train for a cumulative 5 days was fascinating and memorable (to say the least). I’ll never forget about the man I sat next to that had just been released from prison for stabbing the man he caught sleeping with his wife. GULP! Or, the man that had a tongue that looked like the tongue of a snake, that he stuck out the way a snake’s tongue would. EEK and YUCK!
New Zealand is a profoundly beautiful country. During my time in the country, I met people of Māori descent, the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. I was amazed and saddened to learn from some of them that they were experiencing discrimination in ways similar to the indigenous American Indians and black people of African descent in the US.
What I learned about people
Those are all experiences that I cannot possibly describe in terms of exposure and understanding my paradigm- of how I had been ‘taught’ to view the world. Exposure to the diversity of the people of the train, and the disparate treatment of the minority, indigenous races in other countries, instilled in me more profoundly than ever the following truth: we are all one people, all across the globe, no matter the color of your skin.
We are all one and we all deserve fairness and kindness.
And- all of this came about, or was started by, reading books. Had I never read the books listed above I don’t know that my curiosity and courage would have extended far enough for those experiences.
My point about the books is that it opened my eyes to another vision of the world in such a profound way. It gave me the curiosity and courage to explore our planet, and it’s something for which I am so immensely grateful. It gave me the courage to do things I never knew possible for a nomadic, small-town girl growing up in many different small towns throughout the south. That same girl became the first female SWAT operator at her agency.
I became a deputy after I had these experiences. Imagine how different my outlook could have, or would have, been had I not broadened my knowledge as detailed above. Imagine if I had not read books that broadened my understanding of the world, or people, or cultures.
How about you? What book (s) changed your perception on life? Let me know in the comments or DM me on Instagram.
PS: Want some tips on mental wellness training? Check out a free download on 7 Tactical Steps to Automate Your Wellness Training.
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