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Anyone who knows me personally, knows I’m a sucker for self-help books. There is just something wildly inspiring about them. When people skim through one of my treasured books, they ask me: “But isn’t this all kind of obvious? Can’t you come up with that yourself? Don’t you know this already?” The answer is no. For one thing, my memory is not as good as it used to be. I need to read things multiple times before it sinks in. Second, what is wrong with being reminded of important things you’re likely to forget from time to time due to our busy, busy lives? Sometimes it’s good to stop and read something you already know somewhere in your mind or in your heart, and reactivate it.
I’ve read my fair share of self-help books through the years, though I will never have read enough of them. Here is my top 5 favorite best(selling) books that I will read once in a while to refresh my memory of what is important in life and how to accomplish that.
1. The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin
This is my ultimate favorite. The name probably gave it away, but if you hadn’t noticed: this whole blog is based on this book. My enthusiasm for this book is unending and I will tell everyone who wants to hear. The Happiness Project is written by Gretchen Rubin, who was immediately promoted to be my favorite author, is funny and has done her homework. This woman can read an enormous amount of books a week (#goals, check out her instagram account) and probably remembers a lot of it too. She is research minded and tells you things you really want to know when it comes to happiness. And don’t we all need reminders sometimes about the little things we can do to make our lives happier, better, true? I already wrote a post about it where you can read about the five reasons you should read The Happiness Project.
2. How To Be Sick – Toni Bernhard
Now, this is a book that focusses on the (chronically) ill, but it is a nice read for anyone who isn’t sick too. I think most people knwo someone with an illness that severely impacts their life, whether the illness is well-known or remains a mystery. Let me tell you: people with a chronic illness want you to understand what it’s like for them on a daily basis. They don’t mean to whine about, but they do want to be acknowledged. Don’t we all feel the need to be seen and understood? There is not a bigger present you can give to someone who is ill than to read up on what it means. This book offers an insight on what it’s like to be chronically ill, as the author is sick with M.E. like me), and gives practical exercises to deal with it all. Based on buddhist insights, but will not give you the feeling that you are being lectured at all. This book has helped me personally in the process of dealing with being young and chronically ill. I wrote a blogpost about it here and here.
3. Better Than Before – Gretchen Rubin
So by now you’ve probably noticed I’m a big Gretchen Rubin fan. Guilty as charged. Her books just don’t disappoint. They tell me what I need to hear. This book is about habits, or as Rubin states: “What I learned about making and breaking habits – to sleep more, quit sugar, procrastinate less, and generally build a happier life”. I like habits. I like how they can form your life without you having to think of everything and if you add a tiny little one in the right direction, it can have a big effect. Here I’ll let bestselling author Charles Duhigg (The Power Of Habit) do the talking: “Gretchen Rubin combines deep research and observations from her own life to explain how habits emerge and – more important – how they can change. It is indispensible for anyone hoping to overhaul how they (almost unthinkingly) behave.”
Hold Me Tight – Dr. Sue Johnson
I actually did a presentation on this at my university for a communication class because I was so excited about this book. I think people were actually hold their breath as I told them about it. I think. Might have just been me though. This book is about relationships and looks deep into the destructive patterns any one of us tends to fall into. Especially, the conversations we should be having to overcome this if we want to stay together and be happy. Dr. Sue Johnson is a clinical psychologist and professor and the founder of a new therapy called Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. This book is well written, a nice read and very educational if you like to read about relationships and how to make them better. I dare say my relationship still benefits from reading it.
Daring Greatly – Brené Brown
The number 1 New York Times Bestseller. Translated to Dutch like this: The Power of Vulnerbility. This book is about courage to be your truest self in a world that is all about being better than you can possibly be. “But when we step back and examine our lives, we will find that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as standing on the outside of our lives looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to step into the arena—whether it’s a new relationship, an important meeting, the creative process, or a difficult family conversation. Daring Greatly is a practice and a powerful new vision for letting ourselves be seen,” Amazon states. You can watch her inspiring TED talk here. Definitely a game changer. And remember, you cannot open a book and not learn anything from it (Confusius, I think).
I am always looking for new inspiring books to read and review. Do you have a recommendation? Please let me know in the comments!