Over the past few months I've read three of the best (nonfiction) books I've ever read in my life. All of them have completely resonated with me. They are sincere, entertaining, moving, well written, thought provoking, and life changing.
"Reading more often" has been on my to-do list for (what has felt like) forever, and so I'm thrilled that I've been more consistent this year! I've learned that I do much better reading books with practical (life) application - I take something away each time, large or small. I like being challenged to think outside the box and look at the way I live my life.
In conclusion, I've enjoyed these books so much that I feel obligated to Blog about them! Note: if you believe that "self help" books aren't for you, I'd still encourage you to give one of them a shot :). #2 would be my recommendation for non-self-help types...
1. The Gifts of Imperfection (by Brene Brown)
I blogged about this book a month or two ago. It is simply refreshing and awesome. I highly recommend this book, especially if you consider yourself a perfectionist whose instinct is to beat yourself up instead of saying "I am enough and okay with not doing everything perfectly."
Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we'd no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, "What if I can't keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn't everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?"
In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, "No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough," and to go to bed at night thinking, "Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn't change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging." (Source)
2. The Happiness Project (by Gretchen Rubin)
I was introduced to this book by my friends Maria and Marianne. We love it so much that we are contemplating doing our own Happiness Project(s). We also have plans to see Gretchen Rubin in October for her book release! I can't wait to meet this brilliant author.
The Happiness Project is about a woman (Gretchen) who decides to change her life in one year by focusing on improving one particular area of her life each month (ex: marriage, kids, finances, organization/clutter, etc). The book is fun, entertaining, thought provoking, and practical. It reminds me how helpful it can be to focus on doing one thing well, rather than trying to do 10 things at once and feeling disappointed in the end. Again, I highly recommend this book to anyone, even the non self help types. :)
3. Excuses Begone! (by Dr. Wayne Dyer)
Disclaimer: I am not done with this book yet. I've been plowing through it for the past few days and am 2/3 of the way through. Boy, do I love it. My friend Megan recommended this to me last year, but at first I was hesitant to pull the trigger. Let's be honest about "judging the cover" - this guy kind of looks like a nut and the book seemed a bit too "new-agey" for me. However, Megan still encouraged me to just let go and give it a try. I AM SO GLAD I DID!
I had the benefit of starting this book on my recent vacation to Colorado. In the mornings, I sat outside by the mountains reading page after page (yes, with my nerdy English major yellow highlighter). As cheesy as it sounds, I felt so awakened after just the first two chapters.
This book is a slap in the face in the best way possible. The message is POWERFUL. It talks about how often we make excuses that prevent us from living the life that we truly desire. Instead of living in the present, we tend to dwell about the past or think too far ahead. Dr. Dyer writes: "I'm writing this book to help you gain awareness of the excuses you use for behaving in ways that don't help you achieve the level of health, happiness, and success you desire" (14). He later says: "The only thing an excuse gives you is an option out of the life that you'd like to live" (81). Wow.
One of the main reasons why I love Excuses Begone! is that it helps you be aware of your behavior and habits, including letting go of past experiences that you think have caused the limitations in your life. Ultimately, we create our own limitations and it's up to us to decide what we truly value, want to prioritize, and (therefore) how to live our lives. We need to be willing to say: "I'm the product of all the choices I've made in my life. I have no one to blame for anything that isn't going the way I'd like it to go, including myself" (119).
What a refreshing way of thinking! Let me tell you, as I've read this book, I've really thought critically about the elements of my life that I struggle with. I've learned how much I've made excuses for not living the life I want, usually out of fear, insecurities, or exhaustion. These are just three of the 18 excuses Dr. Dyer features in his "Excuse Catalog" in Chapter 3 (quite entertaining but so valid). This book has already proven to me that we have way more power than we think we have to live the life we want.
I feel so thankful to have read three live changing books this year. In upcoming months, I am hoping to develop my own Happiness Project that is rooted in the excuses/fears that I've been living with for a long time (more on that later).
What is a book that has helped you re-think the way you live or made you a happier person?