Hello, my name is Marta and I’m a compulsive book buyer. At home, I have literally tons of them, so whenever I see a bookstore, the rational adult within me drags my inner child to the other side of the street. Yet, it doesn’t happen often that a book changes my entire life. I’m not the kind of a self-help girl, nor I enjoy reading New Age spiritual babble, so to convince me, books have to be well written, entertaining and backed with some serious scientific evidence at the same time.
Today, I wanted to share with you some of the books that I came across during my journey of depression recovery and self-discovery – books, which had a great impact on me, and which, once read, alter the course of your life forever.
#1. My Spiritual Awakening
Why Meditate: Working With Thoughts And Emotions by Matthieu Ricard
If you’ve been considering starting a meditation practice, but have no idea how to begin because sitting still and breathing just seems too boring, Ricard’s book is a must-read. There is both theory and practice, both the spiritual and the scientific side of meditation.
I discovered Why Meditate at the very beginning of my depression treatment. I had heard that true happiness comes from within, but I desperately wanted to know HOW. So in spite of feeling completely miserable, aching and unable to focus on anything, I actually managed to get engaged and read it within one day, which was quite an achievement at that time.
Matthieu Ricard is a French-born scientist and a Buddhist monk who’s been practicing meditation for 37 years. He also participated in many studies that have shown that through meditation one can make significant progress in developing qualities such as emotional balance, attention, altruism, and inner peace decreasing anxiety and tendency towards depression and anger. Speaking from the heart in simple words, Ricard answers all the questions that a meditation novice may have, so it’s not just why meditate, but also what to meditate about and how to do it.
#2. Letting Go Of Shame And Unblocking My Emotions
Brené’s Brown Daring Greatly struck me and broke my defenses. It’s a book about the courage to reach out and take emotional risks; about how embracing one’s vulnerability unlocks a whole new range of emotions with all their intensity and allows you to connect with other humans. Because we are all longing for connection, and vulnerability is the necessary condition to achieve that. After I started to tell and show people how much I care about them, my relationships significantly improved. The possibility of being rejected still fills me with fear, but “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles (…). The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena”.
If I ever meet Brené Brown in person, I am going to be vulnerable and give her a huge hug for what she did for me. If you’ve never heard of her, her TED talk can give you the idea of what the book is like.
#3. Embracing Who I Am
The Comprehensive INFP Survival Guide by Heidi Priebe
Learning about my personality type and traits was a real breakthrough in my self-growth. I took the test and turned out to be an INFP – a type comprising only 4% of the population, which pretty much explains why I have always felt different and misunderstood. In The Comprehensive INFP Survival Guide, I found the answers to most of the “why” questions that had been troubling me since my early teens: Why am I so weird and lonely? Why can’t I be just like anybody else? Why do I struggle in social situations? Why can’t I have just any job that pays my bills?
I especially appreciate the part about my shadow functions, and how to move back to a healthy state. I learned that can’t change my personality, but by working on my weaknesses, I can become a badass INFP! I’m already applying it to my life and it seems to be working.
So if you are an INFP, I highly recommend you this book.
#4. Transforming My Relationship With Money
Having failed to succeed in serious business due to the incompatibility of my values with the products that I was selling, I was convinced I was doomed. I was exhausted, hated running my business and desperately needed money, so I had to accept my failure and find employment once again… Needless to say, being an INFP, I’d rather die than spend the rest of my life in some open space, picking the phone, dealing with nasty customers, and being treated like a doormat while doing some meaningless corporate shit. So deep down in the black hole of depression, I pictured myself as homeless and seriously considered switching to breatharianism and living off prana, which would be ideal, if only I didn’t need to eat so much…
Your Money Or Your Life is a book that completely changed my relationship with money and the way I see employment. For an aspiring businesswoman from a middle-class family, it was quite an epiphany. I realized that happiness had little to do with wealth and that it was actually possible to earn ENOUGH while doing what you enjoy and live a frugal life.
I never actually dared to make the thorough life audit Vicki Robin proposes in her book, but since I’m applying the principles of frugal living, its quality has increased significantly.
#5. Seeing Nature As A Whole
I am in a permanent awe of the complexity of Nature and a tree hugger, but never actually thought of trees as purposeful social beings who communicate, suffer, help one another, and support their children as they grow. Until I came across the Hidden Life of Trees – a compelling tale written by a forester and dendrologist, who truly LOVES trees.
After reading the Hidden Life of Trees, a walk through the forest will never be the same again.
Has any book ever had so much impact on you that it changed your life? I’m waiting for your suggestions about what I should read next!