The deep readers out there might be ready to disown me for making my first book post about something other than Lit-Rich-AH. Though I love a good, dense book that I can analyze the shiz out of (bye bye credibility), I feel like this post might be one that attracts a wider variety of people (yep talking to you “nonreaders”) because, let’s face it, we all need help.
I’ll be the first to say that I don’t have it all together, folks. I just don’t. I maintain that no one really does. If someone tells you they do, well, they’re lying with a capital L. Things get crazy and people get crazy, and that’s A-OK. Sometimes we find ourselves crying for absolutely no reason or diving head first into a package of Double Stuff Oreos or online shopping for Disney Channel original movies so we can just go back. Sometimes we do this because it’s a Tuesday, and sometimes we do it to numb, numb, numb.
All of these are hypothetical and relate to me in no way, of course.
So for those who could use some good ol’ fashion self improvement but feel the impulse to gag or roll their eyes at the thought of being seen on the subway or plane with a You’ve Got This! 30 Ways to Make Everything in your life THE BEST!!!!! (not a real book…?), this post is for you.
1.) Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brene Brown
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
So Brene Brown is my spirit animal, my guru, my fairy godmother, my sister from another mister. She beautifully captures what every single person experiences in their lives and tries so very hard to hide–shame.
Shame, the little gremlin inside of us that tells us we aren’t good enough. Shame, the voice that tells us to just hide inside ourselves and pretend that everything is peaches and cream. Shame, the thing that separates us, makes us judge others, and basically screws everything up in a royal fashion.
This book hit me at the perfect time in my life, which basically means a time when I was in what Anne Shirley calls the “depths of despair.” I was lost, I was confused, and most of all, I was wading in a deep murky pool of slimy shame. Yuck. In Daring Greatly, Brown writes that the only way out of shame is diving head first into vulnerability. Crazy, right? She emphases the importance of vulnerability in a culture obsessed with whitewashing perfection onto everyone and everything. As a research professor who has spent a good chunk of her life studying vulnerability, courage, and shame, Brown provides an in depth look at the psychological pressures and outcomes of living with shame and avoiding vulnerability.
As a recovering perfectionist, you can imagine how deeply I needed this book and how often I revisit it. I love how she emphasizes the importance of being vulnerable and open no matter how scared, broken, jaded, or skeptical we are. It’s a book for anyone who needs to hear “you’re fine and worthy exactly where you are.”
So, yeah, basically all of us.
2.) The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, Michael A. Singer
“Billions of things are going on in this world. You can think about it all you want, but life is still going to keep on happening.”
If this book sounds hippy dippy, it’s because it’s kind of hippy dippy, but in the best way possible. The cover does have a stallion galloping across a sandy beach, presumably “untethered”, but don’t let it fool you. The book is deep. Real deep. So deep that I found myself rubbing my temples whispering “Who am I? Who am I?” again and again.
Singer discusses a thought more enticing than bottomless chips and salsa–the possibility of living free from fear, anxiety, and all those other unnecessary little demons that fill our brains and make us bonkers. He talks about the importance of understanding the “inner you” and how that “you” is divine and capable of transcending anything this life has in store. He talks about meditation and mindfulness (two things I sloppily incorporate into my life) and discusses the importance letting go. Whew, what a thought, right? His book is one I go back to when I start noticing my feelers grip tight around negativity and past mistakes. Every page is filled with wisdom and each time I read it I leave feeling a little lighter, a little more centered, and a little more inclined to don my Urban Outfitters’ flower crown.
3.) The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou, Maya Angelou
“I’m a woman
Yes, okay I get it. I get it. This is a collection of poems which is not technically in the same genre (or more accurately, the same galaxy) as a self-help book. However, the blog is mine all mine so I’m going to include it. Also, Maya Angelou should be injected into life as much as possible, so you’re welcome. For those who hear the word poetry and buckle, or worse, think I just don’t get it, consider this the kiddy pool of poetry. Not because Angelou’s poems aren’t deep and life-changing (they are), but because they are so damn accessible. Her poetry is like cheap therapy. Cheap, good therapy. This collection is nice and thick with her words of wisdom and deals with everything from loneliness to death to joy. If you doubt this applies to you, humor me and read “Still I Rise,” “Phenomenal Woman,” and “Refusal,” and then come talk to me. The Complete Collected Poems is filled with fabulous poems that speak to ingrained human needs and shows how connected, yet still undeniably unique, we all are.
4.) The Happiness Advantage:The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Shawn Achor
“Focusing on the good isn’t just about overcoming our inner grump to see the glass half full. It’s about opening our minds to the ideas and opportunities that will help us be more productive, effective, and successful at work and in life.”
Shawn Achor’s book is a great touchstone text for those who want to grow in their careers, and in turn, their lives. Yeah, so everyone. The writer/positive psychologist (yep that’s a thing) is known best for lecturing at a little place called Harvard. He took it a step further and became involved in Harvard’s most famous class called Positive Psychology aka the”Happiness Course.”
Even more impressive to me, though, is the fact Achor was a featured guest on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday (and everybody said Amen).
The book disproves the notion that the harder you work, the more successful you’ll become. Or more popularly, once you’ve “arrived” then you’ll (finally) enjoy true happiness. The Happiness Advantage Cher-slapped me in the face and yelled SNAP OUT OF IT!! Achor and years of psychological studies wholeheartedly disagree with the belief that success births happiness. According to Achor “Happiness fuels success, not the other way around.” Not only does the book explore the importance of maintaining a positive outlook, but it also gives tangible examples of ways we can all experience more happiness on a daily basis (hint: gratitude is a BIG DEAL). And you know what’s fab.com? According to Achor, happiness begets success begets happiness begets success. That’s a trend I don’t mind wearing out.
What’s your favorite self-help book? Have you read any of these recommendations? If so what are your thoughts?