Self-help books tend to weird people out. They’re often seen as being hokey and new-agey, or intended to cure some sort of “personal problem” you’re convinced isn’t normal to have. That’s too bad, because a) most problems people worry about are also experienced pretty widely by others, and b) there are so many profound and moving books in this genre–books that can open doors, change perspectives, and demonstrate humanity’s togetherness in facing some of life’s toughest challenges.
The self-help/self-improvement genre is definitely worth exploring for some positive living reads. So are memoirs. Memoirs can be powerful sources of inspiration–people learn surprisingly well through narrative, so reading about another’s experience can teach valuable lessons in your own life, whether you recognize the connections right away or not.
(And if you’re aiming to overcome a specific challenge or achieve a particular goal, reading about another’s experience doing the same thing is scientifically shown to increase your belief that you could achieve the same result.)
Book clubs are a fantastic way to read and share new ideas, especially on positive living. Each reader sees the same thing in a slightly different way and has a unique perspective on connecting takeaways to real life. Discussing a meaningful book with a group of friends adds layers to how you interpret it and really helps apply what you’ve learned to your own life. (And there are usually snacks.)
More info here on how to start a book club.
Positive living books that would make great selections for a positive living book club:
This one’s no surprise. If you haven’t yet, preview of some of the book’s lessons in The Happiness Project post.
//Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon: “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project. In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.
//At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
//Combining Benjamin Zander’s experience as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and his talent as a teacher and communicator with psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander’s genius for designing innovative paradigms for personal and professional fulfillment, the authors’ harmoniously interwoven perspectives provide a deep sense of the powerful role that the notion of possibility can play in every aspect of life.
Through uplifting stories, parables, and personal anecdotes, the Zanders invite us to become passionate communicators, leaders, and performers whose lives radiate possibility into the world.
A sort-of-oldie, but definitely-goodie. If you haven’t read it (watching the movie is not reading it), it’s certainly worth the read for a charismatic account of how to let go and make the most of your life by allowing yourself to learn to be who you are.
//This beautifully written, heartfelt memoir touched a nerve among both readers and reviewers. Elizabeth Gilbert tells how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different cultures, Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy and the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali.